Of course, it is not our intention to equate the Patron of the universal Church and our beloved founder. But it is a question of imitation. Like our Lord, the life of saints is meant to hold a lesson for us. And here is a saintly Archbishop who ‘emulates’ an example of St. Joseph to protect the greatest gift he received from the Almighty God. In this, we can only admire the prudence and fortitude of Mgr. Lefebvre.
The redemption of the human race, the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Eucharist, the Church, were all contained in this little child who was still unable to move, speak or defend himself. And this unheard-of treasure was entrusted to the care of a single man, unknown to the entire universe and doomed to common indifference, a modest craftsman: St. Joseph. “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to Egypt, for the child's life is at stake.” Without the intervention of St. Joseph, without his promptness, without his faithful obedience, this priceless deposit would have been broken, lost.
It is an astonishing disposition of Providence which exposes its rarest goods to the malice of men who are often powerful and numerous but entrusts them to the protection of other men who are usually isolated. Surprising attitude of God who advances His work by drawing good from the wickedness of men and by preferring to rely on the weakness of other men.
Comparison is not reason, but one can find points of resemblance between Saint Joseph and Archbishop Lefebvre. When the Mass of Paul VI was promulgated, when the hunt for faithful priests was launched, when seminaries became training grounds for progressive pastors, animators of the new liturgy, who kept the precious deposit of the Holy Mass, of the true priesthood, of traditional doctrine, who preserved, protected and transmitted the deposit of true doctrine, of the true Mass, if not Archbishop Lefebvre?
No doubt he is not alone, no doubt he is surrounded by many priests and faithful. But who is Providence asking to go to Switzerland to found a seminary that would maintain the true priesthood, that would train priests in the true doctrine, in the true Mass? It is no exaggeration to think that if Archbishop Lefebvre had not founded the seminary of Ecône, if he had not endured persecution and misunderstanding, if he had not accepted to go into exile far from the perimeter of the official Church dominated by the enemies of Christ the King, this treasure of the Mass would be part of the memories of yesteryear and the booty of Satan.
Abbé François-Marie Chautard
M. l’abbé François-Marie Chautard is the current rector of the Saint Pius X Institute, run by the Society of St. Pius X in Paris, France.