In his sermon given during the Pontifical Mass offered in thanksgiving for the 25th jubilee of the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations at Econe, Bishop Fellay recounts how we have much to be grateful for despite the crisis in the Church.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Your Excellencies, dear Fathers, dear seminarians, dear religious, dear faithful,
If we are assembled here together today, it is to thank God, firstly for the action taken here 25 years ago now by our venerated founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, together with Bishop de Castro Mayer: the episcopal consecrations, which the Archbishop called at the time “Operation Survival.” Looking back over these 25 years we can see now to what extent his words not only were, but indeed remain true. And so our thanks, our gratitude to the Archbishop, to Divine Providence and to all its instruments is very great today.
There is a shadow. We were four that day, 25 years ago. Only three are here today, and it is true that a certain sadness overshadows this celebration.
One can say that today’s Gospel, from the Mass chosen by the Church for the anniversaries of episcopal consecrations, today’s Gospel says a great deal. It is taken from the Gospel according to St. Mark, chapter 13. From beginning to end, it is rather short. There is a single word that is repeated several times, throughout the text, and it is vigilate. It is easy to see that this is the watchword addressed to the bishop: watch. It can mean, “Watch over yourself,” and “Watch over souls,” for Our Lord will come we know not when: when He wills.
And yes, this sad incident is for us an invitation to ask immediately and daily for the grace—for it is first of all a grace, which we must then live up to—the grace of fidelity. It is a grace: a grace for bishops, a grace for priests, a grace for the faithful. It is a grace that we must all pray for, and every day. The word “faithful” says it already: it is derived, obviously, from the word “faith,” referring to those who have the Faith; also, those who have given fealty. We find both meanings in Baptism: the Church gives us the Faith, but we give our fealty, we make a promise, a promise of fidelity, with our baptismal vows: and today, most certainly, we pray for both kinds of fidelity for the future.
We also believe that today is the time to assess the situation, to assess the Society’s relationship with the Church, and with what is happening within the Church. For this occasion we have prepared a Declaration which I wish now to communicate to you.
We publish this text today, in memory of these 25 years, of this episcopal jubilee. Today is also the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and we ask, rather we place in her hands once again, in the hands of our Lady, of the Immaculate Heart, this episcopate. May she guard it! May she guard it for us, for the Society, and for the Church, so that as we have just said it may indeed contribute to the triumph of Our Lord and of Our Lady, to the glory of the Church, and to the salvation of souls.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen