December 2019 - District Superior's Letter
Advent is not Christmas
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As this letter comes out for the very beginning of the season of Advent, it is a providential opportunity to launch a serious appeal to all our readers on the very meaning of Advent. Every year we sadly notice how a growing number of our faithful are gradually being caught in the spirit of the world, which truly does not know what Advent is. For most people, Advent is the beginning of the festivities of Christmas: decorations go up, parties begin, cribs with Baby Jesus go up…
It is normal for a faithless world to always find a reason to celebrate: how can it encourage people to fast and do penance? Remember the three temptations of Our Lord in the desert: three attempts from the devil to pull Our Lord from the penance he was doing, in great humility. The same pattern is later found on Calvary: “Come down from the Cross and we will believe in you!”
From the earliest days of the Church, Advent was a preparation for Christmas very much likened to Lent, although at a lesser level. It was a custom to fast Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays of this season, to attend extra masses and receive Holy Communion more frequently, to stir up in everyone’s heart great longing for the Saviour. We still have the three Ember days the week after the Third Sunday of Advent. The future pope Benedict XIV, when he was still archbishop of Bologna, urged his faithful to awaken in their heart the high idea that the early Christians had of the Holy Season of Advent, that it was not just for priests and religious. To assert that the faithful do not have to do penance is temerity and truly scandalous, since Holy Mother Church has the right to set practices destined to prepare the faithful to the great feast of the Nativity of the Saviour.
In the Philippines, even now, there is a novena preparing for Christmas, nine masses very early in the morning, they are called Misa de Gallo, and are held at around 4h30 am… I have seen many hundred people present at such early masses in our churches in the “Land of the Holy Rosary” as Pius XII called the Philippines.
Advent practices certainly vary from place to place. The Advent wreath with the four candles is quite common in some areas, even in churches. The Advent Calendar is popular too with children. In many families, little sheep (one per child) gradually move closer (or further back…) to an empty Crib – according to sacrifices, good works, special acts of charity the children do as a preparation. Advent carols - and not the Christmas ones yet – help us to beg for the Saviour to come. “O come, o come, Emmanuel!” Families can do family sacrifices as a preparation for Christmas… It will make one appreciate even more the Christmas goodies accompanying the celebration of the birth of the Saviour.
The four weeks of Advent are a clear reminder of the 4,000 years of waiting for the Messiah to come. It would be a good time to read stories of the Old Testament, to get acquainted with these great figures, and with the incredible faith the early saints had. Read as a starter, St Paul’s chapter XI to the Hebrews. They who had so little of the Faith that we have today really put us to shame. We know so much, and yet we waiver so easily, we give up so quickly…
And, are we not in a way, in even more dire straits than the Just of the Old Testament? It is said that the corruption of the best is the worse. A once-upon-a-time Catholic country that has lost the faith easily falls lower than the pagan countries who never had it. In many such countries in Asia, we can still see natural virtues that we have long lost. We don’t have far to go, we see the loss of faith right here in Canada, especially in French Canada. Advent is then a reminder that we, today, in our society plunged in unnatural vices, do need, more than ever, to beg for the Saviour to save us. Don’t we need priests, brothers, nuns (teaching and contemplatives)? Don’t we need Catholic politicians, heads-of-state that will ensure the political frame of a true Christian civilisation, pro-life, pro-family, pro-God? There we have the deep reason of Advent every year: we need to pray and do serious penance during this season to show that earnest desire to see the Social Kingship of Christ established everywhere, to see the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which we are awaiting so earnestly!
A word about Christmas cards that are sent during this Advent season. When a mother has a new baby, she doesn’t send pictures of her neighbour’s family to her relatives, but that of the newly born baby. Similarly, Christmas is Our Lord’s birthday, let our Christmas cards recall His birthday. It is not a celebration of our families, but of His birth. Let our cards be truly Catholic, with Catholic themes and Catholic art, Catholic wishes, not the empty: Season’s Greetings. May it relate to the mystery we celebrate. And, please, keep Santa out of Christmas…
A truly Catholic Advent to you all that will ensure a shower of graces on the feast of the birth of our one and only Saviour, Our Lord Jesus-Christ.
Fr. Daniel Couture
December 1, 2019
First Sunday of Advent
Notice concerning marriages in the District of Canada
Please be advised of an important update to our policy concerning marriages celebrated by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X in Canada. This measure will become effective on December 1, 2019.
The faithful who intend to get married within the apostolate of the SSPX must present themselves to their pastor between 7 to 12 months before the foreseen wedding date; under no circumstances less then 7 months. This is to allow sufficient time to prepare the documents and follow the required protocol. The complete file must be presented to the district notary no later than 6 months before the foreseen wedding date. Fr. Christoph Pfluger is the district notary.
November was a busy month in our district with:
- The annual Priests’ Meeting, which was attended by 21 priests of the district and with the presence of our Superior General, Fr. Davide Pagliarani.
- The visit of Frs. Rivero and Gomis, from Argentina, who came to present to some of our chapels the beautiful missions of the SSPX in South America. May Our Lady of Lujan bless them abundantly!
- The visit of Fr. Karl Stehlin, who came to encourage our numerous Polish faithful and stir up the knights of the Immaculata.
A group of Canadian pilgrims will be going to Quito next January. To know more and to register for this pilgrimage in whole or in part, please consult here.
Two groups from Canada will be joining the international pilgrimage to Lourdes and Écône, next October-November. The group from Montreal, led by Fr. Couture, will also be visiting: Rocamadour, La Sainte Baume (St Mary Magdalen), Le Laus, Annecy (St Francis de Sales and St Jeanne de Chantal) on the way to Écône. Contact: Jacinthe Bélisle.
The group from Toronto, led by Fr. Boulet, will be visiting other shrines between Lourdes and Écône: Avignon, La Salette, Ars. Contact person: Frank Kasmara