The 2018 General Chapter made the decision to have all members of the Society of Saint Pius X make their final engagement in the Society first, and only then allow them to receive the major orders. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, more than 30 members in the United States District took the wonderful and far-reaching step to commit themselves to the work of the Society of Saint Pius X "ad vitam."
Writing the Statutes of the Society of Saint Pius X in the late 1960s, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was convinced that the crisis of the Church after the Second Vatican Council would be of short lasting nature. Therefore, he decided that the members would regularly renew their temporal engagements for the period of 10 years, before making their final and perpetual engagements in the Society. Once the crisis would be over, the members could easily return into the dioceses or into the various religious communities after their return to Tradition.
The Crisis Continues
The same crisis has now persisted for 50 years and sadly, the end of the crisis is not to be expected soon. What everybody sees today is a worsening of the situation: Doctrinal deviations, dysfunctional hierarchy and scandals mark the face of the Church. It does not look as if those in charge will come to their senses to take the steps to remediate the damage.
Consolidate the work of Tradition
In the middle of this crisis, facing constant opposition, the Society has grown to 700 member priests. Most of them have made their final engagements and have given themselves to work for the Society for the rest of their lives. The subdeacons, the deacons and the younger priests however are still in a precarious situation: having received the major orders they are committed to work as priests for whole their lives whereas their committment to the Society is still a temporal one.
During the General Chapter, in summer of this year, the decision was made to adjust the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X to the general rule in the Church and receive a member on a permanent and lasting basis first - and so give them a home and a permanent family first - and only then have them receive the major orders.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception the deacons to be ordained in 2019 made their final engagements in the Society. 24 district priests who were still under temporal engagements "caught up" and entered the Society of Saint Pius X family forever.
True Disciples of Christ
Before the priests make their engagements, the representative of the General Superior admonished them explaining what are the key characteristics of a Society priest as our founder archbishop Lefebvre wanted to form them.
Firstly, they have to be true disciples of Christ, wanting to carry the Cross every day, seeking a life of poverty and of the imitation of Christ, being meek and humble of heart.
The key virtues and habits of a Society priest are to be the virtue of justice which make the priest to give to God first what he owes Him: true piety, a life of prayer and service. Then the virtues of poverty and chastiy.
Finally, a priest of the Society commits to make the Sacrifice of the traditional form of the Holy Mass the center of his priestly work; he engages himself to administer the sacrament of confession as the main means of sanctification of the souls, and he promises to preach and teach the Catholic Faith in its purity and integrity.
Patronage of the Immaculate Conception
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre wanted the Feast of the Immaculate Coneption to be the day his priests engage themselves in the Society. In his admirable sermon of December 8th, 1977 he explains the reasons for this choice:
That is the point at which God made known His plan to produce this admirable creature that is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to render her immaculate in her conception.‘I will put enmities between thee’ – between Satan who deceived Eve…who drew her with Adam into sin – ‘between thee and (the descendants of) the woman’ …
God had thus foreseen in this way the entire history of mankind. Henceforth there would be the family of Mary, and the family of Satan. […] Without doubt, when God said ‘et semen…illium’, this referred to Jesus Christ, who is the First Descendant of the Virgin, the Son of the Virgin, and in whom we ourselves become sons of God…by Jesus.
But Jesus Himself is truly the Son of the Virgin Mary; consequently, you see that it really is to Mary's family that we must belong if we want to oppose the family of Satan and not come under the influence of Satan. This is why the Feast of the Immaculate Conception has a primordial importance in theology, in the history of the Church, in the liturgy. It was in view of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was to be born of the Virgin Mary, that the Virgin Herself was immaculate from her conception. Thus began a family!…A family that totally escaped the rule of Satan…and the first person to be exempt from Satan's domination was the Virgin Mary.
And, alas!…it is necessary to say…these two families are not as yet clearly separated. They are – in the course of this trial that has been given us – they are mingled together. The members of the family of the Virgin Mary and the members of Satan's family are found in the same houses; in the same establishments; in the same countries; in the same regions; they pass each other in the streets; they meet and speak together. What will become of Mary's family in these conditions?
Will we be protected in our character of the sons of God in the midst of this depraved world? This is why the Church, whose Mother is Mary…the Church has always desired throughout her history that there should be a ‘front line’, a particular phalanx. A phalanx of priests, a phalanx of monks and nuns, of people consecrated to God, to show in a public way – to manifest by their lives, their promises, their commitment; by their faithfulness to the virtues of Our Lord Jesus Christ – to show the world that there is a family of the Virgin Mary, and that this family is powerful… that this family is alive…and that this should serve as an example to attract the faithful, to encourage faithful Christians to hold on to their state as children of God.
This is why our Society of St. Pius X – which it has pleased the Good Lord to bring forth in these difficult times – wants to be, and promises to be, in the line of these religious families.