In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear friends, my dear brethren:
The Feast of the Purification brings us together once more to confer Minor Orders on some of our seminarians and on some members of communities who have asked us to do so; but we are here today especially for the clerical investiture of those preparing for the grace of the priesthood. It is particularly you, my dear friends, whom I shall address, and firstly, those who are going to receive the cassock. I shall insist not so much on the role of every ordination - indeed, the receiving of the cassock is not an ordination, but a preparation to Orders, and consequently, a preparation like ordination for tasks in relation to the Mystical Body of Our Lord, the Church; rather, I shall particularly stress with the Church, by the prayers which the bishop is going to recite over you in a few moments in the name of the Church, the interior dispositions which you must have in order to receive the graces which are going to be given to you by the receiving of the cassock.
In a certain way, the cassock can be compared to the cloister, for you are going to enter the cloister, withdrawing in a certain sense into a hermitage. Henceforth, you will be separated from the world, as the prayer says: a mundi impedimento et a sæculi desiderio - "from the burden of the world and worldly desires." You are going to be separated from the world and from temporal desires. Ab omni cæcitate spirituali et humana. You are also going to separate yourselves from the blindness given by the things of the world, this blindness not only spiritual but human - as Holy Church says: humana - "human," because it is a fact that, when the light of Our Lord Jesus Christ has been lost by the world (the world of sin, subject to Satan and his influences), then good common sense is lost also, together with plain, simple and upright intelligence; through error, the simple understanding of reality, of the truth, is lost. In the Psalms which have been chosen for this ceremony, it is also written: Beatus qui non accepit in vano animam suam - "Blessed is he who has not received his soul in vain." Profound thought indeed, which makes us truly reflect: have you, or have you not, received your soul in vain? Certainly not. The precise reason for your coming to the seminary was to reply to this question put by God and to say: no, I do not want to have received my soul in vain. Why then, this separation and detachment from the world? Why this aversion from the blindnesses of the world? Why reflect upon the grandeur of your soul and on the great goodness of God in giving it to you? It is in order to receive the light: lumen gratiæ æternæ, gratiæ vitæ æternæ - "the light of eternal grace, of the grace of eternal life."
It is this that the bishop asks for you: that you receive the light of the grace of eternal life. This light of eternal life, which you will receive all the more fully precisely because you will be separated from the world by the cassock itself, by your habit separating you from the world from now on, gives you once again a cloister; this cloister must be for you an opportunity to receive this light. What does this light signify? It is the light of eternal realities, of the everlasting truths, of the simple eternal values. You will reflect upon what eternity is in relation to time, what spirit is in relation to matter; finally, you will reflect upon what God is in relation to yourselves, poor creatures: upon Him Who is Everything, as St. Theresa of Avila said so well, and upon him who is nothing, as she said. You will reflect upon Him Who is Everything, and upon what you are, that is to say, nothing, because you are only creatures; and not only creatures, but sinners also. You will then reflect upon the great love of Our Lord Jesus Christ for you, this immense love which is preparing you for the grace of the priesthood, thanks to His Cross, thanks to His Blood, which has redeemed you and been given to you by baptism, by all the sacraments which you have received - an immense love indeed.
So then, you will reflect upon these things in the solitude of the seminary, and even out in the world, though separated from it. And the light shall descend upon you; this light is nothing other than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: ego sum lux mundi - "I am the Light of the World," said Our Lord. He is the Light of the World, the light which enlightens every man coming into this world, as St. John says in his Prologue. And St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort tells us in very simple but very significant words: qui scit Christum omnia scit - "He who knows Our Lord Jesus Christ knows everything." On the other hand, he says that: "He who does not know Our Lord Jesus Christ knows nothing" - even if he knows all the sciences of this world, all that man can know here on earth, he knows nothing if he does not know Our Lord Jesus Christ. You, on the other hand, will apply yourselves to knowing Our Lord Jesus to loving and serving Him. This will be your consolation, your happiness and your joy. And in so doing, as the prayers of the ceremony for the clerical investiture say, you will receive the portion of your inheritance. When the aged Simeon received the Infant Jesus from the arms of the Blessed Virgin, he said his nunc dimittis...uia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum - "mine eyes have seen Thy salvation," my eyes have seen Jesus Christ the Savior of the world; he then asked God to take him to be with Jesus Christ forever in eternity. In a moment you also will recite Dominus pars hereditatis meæ - "O Lord, be the portion of my inheritance.
It is Thou Who hast restored this inheritance to me" - Tu es qui restitues hereditatem meam mihi. And I am sure that you will recite it with all the fervor of your souls. You will say these words which the bishop recites over you at the moment when he gives you the tonsure. May Jesus truly be the portion of your inheritance so that you receive the crown of this inheritance just as you receive the crown of the tonsure.
This is what the Church asks of you, my dear friends; these are the thoughts of the Church. May you be enlightened by the light of Our Lord Jesus Christ so that you yourselves be the lights of the world, as Our Lord was. Vos estis lux mundi, just as Our Lord said that He was the Light of the World, He said it to you also, starting with the disciples when He said in the Sermon on the Mount, "You are the light of the world." If you receive the light of this world, you will then be able to give it. If you do not receive it, you will not be able to give it.
You, my dear friends, you who are going to receive the Order of Porter, you will simply repeat the words which the bishop is going to say to you in a few moment's time, when the keys of the Temple of God are entrusted to you: sic agite quasi reddituri Deo rationem pro his rebus quæ iis clavibus recluduntur - "act as men who will have to give an account to God concerning all those things locked up with these keys." Those are the bishop's words. Imagine, then, that Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is in this temple, together with all the things which are used for adoration, for the worship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Church asks you to have fidelis-sima cura - a very careful watch over all that is enclosed by these keys, the keys of the Temple of God. It is certainly of no small importance to have charge over the Temple of God where Our Lord dwells, the God of heaven and earth He Who created and redeemed us. Be faithful, therefore, and if you are so, you also will have a share in his inheritance which God has promised us in His goodness.
My dear friends, you who are going to receive the Order of Lector, the Church exhorts you to practice a special degree of virtue; as the prayers and the bishop's admonitions say at this moment, you must stand in a sufficiently high position, and pronounce the words of the Gospel distinctly and clearly, in order to teach the faithful. Just as you are high up in order to diffuse the Word of theGospel, you must also be "in a high degree of virtue" - in alto gradu virtutis. Again, the Church tells you: quod agenda dicant, opere compleant - "may they also fulfill in act what they exhort in speech," may they not only speak to the faithful, may they not only preach virtue to the people, but may they practice it themselves, giving by their actions the example of a person who practices virtue.
That is what the Church asks of you, my dear friends, and if you do that, dear lectors, then you will have a share in the inheritance of those who have preceded you and who have already preached worthily the Word of the Gospel. That is what the bishop says when you receive the book of the Gospels: partem cum iis qui bene administraveruent ab initio, you will have a share with those who have been good ministers of the Word of God from the beginning of the words of the Gospel.
My dear friends, that is what the Church promises you and asks of you. As you have noticed, it was from the arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the aged Simeon received Our Lord Jesus Christ and the light - this light which illuminated his eyes and his soul. It is certainly through Mary that you also will receive Jesus, the light which you need. Go to Mary, appeal to Mary, for she will give you Jesus, she will give you this light which will enlighten your souls; and you will ask her to help you to understand better the great mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ as she did so well, and she will make you participate in the love which she herself had for her Divine Son.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Sermon of Msgr. Lefebvre on the feast of the Purification
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.