Please click here for a pdf of the letter below. The pdf also includes the texts (Latin and English) of the Votive Mass for Priestly Vocations, plus '8 Frequently Asked Questions' about the Confraternity of St Peter (CSP).
Tenth Anniversary Letter
to the Members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter
and to all those supportive of priestly vocations
By Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, General Chaplain, Rome, 22nd February 2017
Our first decade
Greetings in the glorious Apostle Peter, our Patron. Ten years ago, on 22nd February 2007, the Confraternity of Saint Peter was founded by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. On this our tenth anniversary, I am writing to you to look back – and forward. The Confraternity was founded to foster priestly vocations and support priestly ministry through prayer and sacrifices. I thank you for your generous response. Your prayers are being heard. See the figures: in contrast with the accelerating trend of seminary and church closures, no fewer than 114 new priests were ordained for our Fraternity since the founding of the Confraternity. That means nearly one new priest ordained every month. What graces!
By the grace of God, together we extend the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. You pray for our vocations and our ministry, and we pray for you. Our 425 priests and seminarians include you in their daily prayers, and every month the Confraternity Chaplains offer Holy Mass at your intentions. There is more. Did you know that your prayer also assists the other 5,230 members of the Confraternity? Please remember one another when reciting daily the Confraternity Prayerand your decade of the Rosary. Including Confraternity members in your intercession does not lessen the impact of your prayer for our seminarians and priests. Unlike material goods indeed, spiritual ones increase the more they are shared.
Even while you sleep
An international Catholic charity recently wrote: “Every 20 seconds a Mass is being celebrated somewhere in the world for a benefactor of ours.” The value of one single Holy Mass is infinite, being the unbloody re-enactment of the unique Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the Cross. But Christ’s merits must be applied to souls across space and time. As this occurs chiefly at the altar, multiplying the number of Masses is salutary. You will rejoice then, no doubt, on considering that every hour and a half, even while you sleep, somewhere in the world the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered specifically for the Confraternity of Saint Peter. That is, for our priestly vocations and ministry, but also for all of you, dear members of the Confraternity.
In addition, every minute, day and night, seven decades of the Holy Rosary are prayed to the same intentions. Lastly, the Prayer of the Confraternity is being prayed without interruption worldwide. No sooner has a member in Australia uttered the conclusion: “Keep them in Thy love, who art one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory and honour forever. Amen”, that another member perhaps in Canada speaks the first sentence: “O Lord Jesus, born to give testimony to the Truth”!
Our happy duty
Why is this so important, one may wonder? Because the Lord Jesus commands it: “Ask the master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest” (Mt 9, 38). Why should this growing stream of prayer for vocations rejoice us? Because Holy Mother Church insists on this command of Christ: “The duty of fostering vocations pertains to the whole Christian community. [...] Urgent prayer, Christian penance and a constantly more intensive training of the faithful [...] will show forth the need, the nature and the importance of the priestly vocation” (Vatican II, Optatam Totius II, 2).
As clearly stated, praying for priestly vocations is not optional. This might be a revelation for many a good Catholic. Praying for priestly vocations is not a matter of spiritual taste or preference. Rather, praying for priestly vocations manifests our shared responsibility in obtaining from God the many “other Christs” – the priests – needed chiefly for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and for reconciling penitents; but also for evangelising, for instructing converts and for performing the countless works of education, culture and charity granted by God to the world through His priests.
To this end, Holy Mother Church gave us the Votive Mass To Ask for Priestly Vocations. It is little known and often missing even in good traditional hand missals. For this reason, we provide for you the prayers of this Mass in English after this letter, including the beautiful calling of young Samuel in the Temple (1 Reg. 3:1-10) and the mysterious revelation of Christ to Nathaniel under the fig-tree (Jn 1: 35-51). These texts can also be used for private meditation.
Alone or in common, you could also pray this once well-known triple invocation: “O Lord, grant us priests! O Lord, grant us holy priests! O Lord, grant us many holy priests!”
People you know will surely be interested. One would wish them to join you and become members of the Confraternity. To facilitate this, we add to this letter a list of Frequently Asked Questions. As you will see, the conditions for joining the Confraternity are broader than one may think. This is meant to encourage prospective members. For instance, Question 5) enquires: “Can I join if I want to pray for vocations not exclusively to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter?” Answer: “Yes, you may join. As a member of the Confraternity, you intend your prayer to benefit principally our seminarians and priests, but you may include others at your discretion.”
A priestly vocation begins before seminary and continues after. God’s calling must be discerned; then answered; and finally fulfilled.
First, your prayer and sacrifices will help boys and young men hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. God generously calls young men by the thousands every year. But the world, the flesh and the devil intercept the divine invitation. Men who hear the call often doubt their capacities. Many who grew up amidst the allurements of modern life have insufficient experience of the power of grace. Unless deep-seated problems rule out a priestly calling, young men must be reassured that Christ Who calls them to serve at His altar and to feed His sheep will not fail them.
Second, not all those who apply to our seminaries will necessarily be ordained. Discernment continues after admission, especially during the early years. For objective reasons, the seminarian and his formators may recognise that God calls him elsewhere: to marriage or religious life for instance. Others who are truly called may experience times of discouragement or doubt. Please pray for our seminarians to be docile and persevering; and for our seminary staff to be fatherly and courageous interpreters of the will of God when a decision must be made.
Third, the First Mass is only the beginning. Your priests are sent into a world increasingly hostile to transcendence and to Catholicism in particular. Avoiding catastrophes is necessary, but insufficient. Rather, each priest must be sanctified as stated in the Constitutions of our Fraternity (#7). Neither lukewarmness nor rashness, but divine charity, must inspire their every thoughts, words and deeds: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).
Did you notice? The tenth anniversary of the Confraternity of Saint Peter falls the same year as that of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in support of the Traditional Latin Mass. It also coincides with the first centenary of Our Lady’s Apparitions in Fatima, for which God’s angel prepared the three children through this striking Eucharistic invocation: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”
Dear Friends, your prayers for our priestly vocations and ministry implement the angel’s call for the conversion of souls. How? Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered by more and more priests, in particular according to the Traditional Roman Liturgy, praised for its dogmatic precision and its aesthetic eloquence. As such, your commitment to the Confraternity of St Peter is most pleasing to God and Our Lady, and powerfully benefits the whole Church and the world. Deo gratias, et Maria!