Fr. Pierre-Yves Chrissement is a professor at the Saint-Curé d'Ars Seminary in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and was previously a missionary in Nigeria for several years. He was the celebrant at the solemn Mass on Saturday, October 30, and delivered a sermon for the pilgrims in the Basilica of Saint Pius X.
Dear confreres, dear faithful,
It is always a great joy to return to Lourdes, to this place blessed by the Blessed Virgin, and it is even greater to be able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for all your intentions.
Only four priests in Nigeria
During the few years that I was given to spend in Nigeria, in a very poor country, I was able to discover faithful, Catholics, proud of their faith, extremely generous, attached first of all to the Holy Mass and to the devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. Many of our faithful spend two or three hours, sometimes more, to come to Mass and as many to leave, in traffic conditions that are often trying. I know one of them who gets up at four o'clock in the morning, another was shot at in the early morning while coming to Easter Mass and they continue to come to Mass because they know the price of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Many of these faithful would like to have Mass more often but unfortunately, we were only four priests, they are only four priests, for hundreds of faithful, and therefore their dearest wish is to have more priests.
We no longer answer the call of the Good Lord
So now that I have been appointed to a seminary in Flavigny, I am very happy to be able to prepare these future apostles, these future priests, but what a disappointment to see so few seminarians when we know the need for priests. In the first year, there are only thirteen of them, including only six French. How many priests will be ordained in six years? It is very few! That is why I would like to share with you today these reflections concerning our vocations which occupy the conversations of our confreres, one of the reasons for this lack of seminarians is not the lack of vocations, the Good Lord still calls as much as before, it is that we no longer respond to the call of the Good Lord. And why are we no longer responding? Certainly because today we live a much easier life, more comfortable, our children do not need to make as much effort as before, and then when the Good Lord calls them to leave the world, to leave their family, it is more difficult perhaps than before.
There is also this crisis of the Church and sometimes our children are not sufficiently convinced by the choices that you, their parents, have made. Often some are satisfied with a superficial veneer and do not really take the positions of their parents, of their priests, and this can also explain this drop in vocations. Finally, another problem that the young man who wants to enter the seminary encounters is this struggle for purity. It has always been a struggle, it has always been a difficulty, but today in a world that is more and more impure it has certainly become more difficult. How can a teenager who lets impurity invade his life respond to the call of the Good Lord to live in perfect chastity? It is no longer a secret for anyone, the internet has been around long enough to realize the ravages it produces and this is one of the reasons, one of the difficulties that our young people encounter in responding to the call of the Good Lord.
Let’s not be naïve
So what should we do in the face of this? The first is to make people love sacrifice. In a comfortable, materialistic society, let us teach our children to love sacrifice. Let's not impose sacrifice on them, but let's make them love sacrifice, let it be a consented sacrifice, freely accepted, so that when the Good Lord asks them to sacrifice their whole life, they will be able to answer with generosity. This is, I believe, the first important thing that explains these vocations that are born, often in great numbers, in certain beautiful families that have always been in the Church, think of the family of Archbishop Lefebvre, of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who give so many vocations certainly because their parents taught them to love sacrifice, to love Our Lord and Our Lord on the Cross. And then, of course, teach your children to love the truth, but here too, let this teaching become a deep conviction in your children. Let what they learn, this truth that they discover at home, at school, make it their own, let them be convinced of it, so that they can understand how the world is sinking more and more into ruin, into decadence, and that the Good Lord is looking for souls to fight against this decadence, to save souls.
And then, of course, protect the purity of your children. Watch their friends, keep an eye on your children, let's not be naive, they too have original sin, they are still weak, don't let the spirit of the world invade your home through magazines, movies, Internet. Teach them to use the internet, it is a tool, an extremely powerful tool that can be used well or badly. In Nigeria, many faithful have known the Fraternity thanks to the Internet, have heard about the traditional Mass in a chapel close, more or less close, to their city and have thus discovered the treasure of Tradition. But alongside this, there is so much danger, so many temptations. Dear faithful, watch over your children. Dear children, understand the advice of your parents, if they do so it is for your own good, to protect your souls, so that you may be made stronger to face the world.
They are there, the vocations
Above all, I would like to address myself more to all these young people, these young men who are already in high school, in studies, have you really asked yourselves the question, seriously, of vocation? What kind of life does the Good Lord want for me? What is the Good Lord calling me to? All these souls that are lost around me because of the lack of priests, is the Good Lord not counting on me? Then you will say to me, “Yes, Father, but I have no sign of my vocation.” There is not necessarily a sign of a vocation, as long as one has the desire to put oneself at the service of the Good God, to save souls, and if the superiors judge us sufficiently suitable by our virtues, by our qualities, that is enough. Others think that you have to be a saint to enter the seminary, to become a priest, and this is also an error, of course the priest must strive for holiness, but look at the priests around you, they are far from being all saints. So let us have the courage to ask ourselves the question clearly and then to answer it generously if the Good Lord calls us, he will always give us the graces we need and then we will be able to participate in this extraordinary work of the salvation of souls. Through the priestly power you will be able to give grace, to preach the truth.
Dear faithful, let us pray today to Our Lady of Lourdes not to give us vocations, they are there, the vocations, but that these people called respond to the call of the Good God. Let us ask this with all our heart, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes who is so powerful on the heart of the Good Lord. You know that before the apparitions of Lourdes, there had already been a first miracle of grace with the conversion of a Muslim leader, right here, who gave the name of the city after his baptism in the Catholic faith in 778. Our country, invaded more and more by false religions, is in great need of priests, let us ask the Blessed Virgin that those whom the Good Lord calls, respond with generosity and participate in this beautiful work of salvation of souls, for the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.