Book Review

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and SSPX

I just finished reading Bernard Tissier de Mallerais’s The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X.

I’ve always wanted to read this book, as I’ve always been interested in the origins and life of this infamous, traditional society. Call me crazy, but I admire their pluck and nerve. May God bless them all!

Since I wanted to read this MAMMOTH book, I thought, hey, why not invite others too? So, I gathered a group of curious ladies and away we went. (By the way, if you’ve ever been burning to read a book, but need motivation, get others to read it with you. It’s much more fun.)

TWO inches thick.

Did I mention that this book is HUGE and expensive? Due to its extreme FATNESS and excessive expense, some of us are sharing, myself included. This meant I had to read the book double-quick in order to pass it along.

One member of our group had the genius idea to simply call the local SSPX priory (is that what they’re called?) and ask for a cheaper copy. She got hers for $10 less at their bookstore, versus buying it online. Smart woman.

My hardcover copy. I paid an arm and a leg for it. Fortunately it was worth it.

This 642 page book was fascinating, even if it read a bit like a history book. It’s even got maps, charts, pictures, and footnotes along with important letters and documents in the back with a timeline, bibliography, and index. All very organized and thorough, just as one would expect from SSPXers.

Just What Is This Book About?

We began our book club discussion of Marcel Lefebvre with first reading a bit from a completely different book, Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s, Christus Vincit. Schneider has a whole chapter dedicated to the Society of St. Pius X, and we wanted a perspective from somebody we trusted in the Church.

Now, this is important, and read it slowly…the Society for St. Pius X is NOT in schism. I know this will shock some of you, but it’s true. Schneider says, “They are already in communion with the Church, since they recognize the current pope, mention him in the Canon, pray for him publicly, and pray for the local diocesan bishop. The SSPX has received faculties for absolution from the pope, and the priests of the SSPX may now obtain faculties from the diocesan bishop or from the parish priest canonically to assist at marriages…the members of the SSPX are not excommunicated.” (See page 149.)

This was important for us ladies to understand before diving into this fascinating history, which begins with Marcel’s parents in northern France and details his deeply Catholic upbringing, all the way through seminary, priesthood, missionary life in Africa, the second Vatican Council, the chaos which resulted from it, the birth of his priestly society, and then his death in a Swiss hospital.

Really, after reading it, I have more respect for those priests and religious who fought for tradition. Incidentally, and perhaps in spite of the text itself, I couldn’t help admiring Cardinal Ratzinger’s role in negotiating between Pope John Paul II and Lefebvre. What an undertaking!

Lefebvre met everybody, including Padre Pio. See upper left picture wherein Padre Pio kisses Lefebvre’s ring.

I don’t have time to summarize and analyze this immense book, however. I can only say, that if you’re curious about the second Vatican Council or those controversial ordinations in 1988 or anything else related to traditional things, take out a loan and buy the book.

Timely Mention

Lastly, I was reading our latest issue of The Remnant and lo and behold! On page 8, there’s an entire article on the importance of recognizing the role of SSPX in paving the way for other traditional groups like the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King (ICKSP). The author, Robert Morrison, even quoted de Mallerais’s biography of Lefebvre. That was just fun to read.

Awfully small, I know. Can you see it?

What am I reading next?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for our local Well-Read Mom book club.

Book Review

What Are We Reading?

Today I’ll give a brief overview of what everyone in my family is reading. This might give you some book ideas, if you’re stuck in a rut.

Speaking of ruts…are you stuck in one? I mean, when’s the last time you picked up a book instead of your phone to read something?

For those of you who are addicted to technology and treat your phone like a god, put it down! Take a break. See if you can not touch that Thing for a whole day. (After you’ve finished reading this blog post, of course.)

Books, Books, Books

Shall we start with the youngest?

The two Little Wreckers aren’t actually able to read, so they just drop in wherever anyone else is reading a book. They are not deterred if that person is silently reading. They just plop themselves down and look on.

For example, yesterday, I wondered upstairs to find this:

As you can see, the Older Sister was finishing up Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Littlest Wrecker undeterred, hopped in her chair, threw a doll down, and worked at dressing another doll. The Other Wrecker less obtrusively looked on. Eventually they did beg the Older Sister to read aloud, which she happily did.

I noticed last night, however, that the Older Sister started a new book from the Fairchild Family Series by Rebecca Caudill. Now she’s reading Happy Little Family.

How about the boys?

At this moment, the boys are all deep into the Redwall Series by Jacques Brian, again. There are some twenty or more books in this series, and we only own the first eight or nine. So every now and then the boys beg me to pick up a few from the library, which I did earlier this week. They’re currently reading Long Patrol, Marlfox, and Legend of Luke, I think.

The boys also have a few audio books going. At lunchtime, we’re listening to The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This is the original book–not a modern, edited version–and it’s difficult, but beautiful and definitely worthwhile.

We do own a hardcover Illustrated Classics version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and another edited version that my boys read when they were little, but I wanted them to hear the original language and be very familiar with it. This book is so important. I can’t tell you how many times The Pilgrim’s Progress is mentioned in other books.

The other audio book we’re listening to during Art and History Time is from Tan Publishing. It’s volume 4, The Story of Civilization: The History of the United States. This whole series is great and worth owning in both print and audio versions.

The Eldest

The Eldest is reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe for her Literature class and Honey From the Rock by Roy Schoeman, which she picked up off of our bookshelves for fun.

Honey From the Rock is a fascinating read as it chronicles the conversion stories of 16 mostly well known Jews. I can particularly remember Alphonse Ratisbonne, who dramatically converted while in Rome after taking a dare to wear the Miraculous Metal. He eventually became a priest.

There is also the story of Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, which some of you may know from Catholic Answers and LifeSiteNews.

My Husband

My husband is currently reading a Ham Radio manual and Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, FSSP. It must be a good book because my husband enjoys pausing and telling anyone in the room all the biblical and historical reasonings behind every gesture, item, and action during the Traditional Latin Mass.

Me?

I just finished rereading two books: The Quiet Light by Louis De Wohl and In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden. Both are excellent reads. The Quiet Light is a delightful romp through history with spiritually edifying insights. It also features a sacrificial love story of a knight, thwarted by his lady.

In This House of Brede is just downright good. If you’ve read it, you know. My favorite sister is Dame Agnes because she’s so cranky and always right. Dame Veronica, the book’s Drama Queen, gets a close second, though, because I love it when her chin quivers. She’s hysterical.

And what am I going to read next?

I think I’ll read Robert Hugh Benson’s The Queen’s Tragedy, which chronicles the reign of Mary Tudor in England. I’ve never been disappointed with Benson’s historical novels.

How about you?

Have you read anything good lately?