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.

Monthly Picks

August Picks

As the days of summer are flitting away, our family is enjoying a little Shakespeare.  In fact, we’ve taken Fr. Z’s Sonnet A Day Challenge and are simply doing that–reading a sonnet a day.

As you may know, Shakespeare’s first twenty or so of the 154 sonnets feature the same theme: they’re all an attempt to convince a selfish, vain young man to get married and have children.  O, what perfect poetry for our culture!

August Favorites:

Favorite Collection of Poems:  Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Favorite Audible Purchase:  J.R.R. Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham.  We do also have this short story in book-form featuring other Tolkien gems, but I wanted an audio version for our trip last week.  We were not disappointed in this version read by Derek Jacobi.  It was so entertaining, our children were laughing out loud.  In fact, we all were.

Best Option For Running Gear?  You know, I like to jog a mile or two every day, and I refuse to wear just leggings.  Or shorts for that matter.  I like Capri Skirts.  I recently purchased these for running.  I love them.

Best Newspaper:  The Remnant.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  This newspaper is a must.  It’s so important to have sane news coming into your home that is not necessarily shouting out of a screen.  If you don’t have a subscription, you’re missing out.  It’s worth it, if only for Michael Matt’s column.  (This week’s edition featured an article outlining the dangers of mask-wearing.  Oooo, so controversial.  Love it.)

The Girls’ Favorite Coloring Book:  Late Victorian and Edwardian Fashions, naturally.  Those Dover Coloring Books are great.

And finally, for a little humor…

Best “News” Story:  15-Passenger Vans Sold Out Nationwide…HERE!

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Monthly Picks

June Picks: Late Edition

Yes, it is now July, and I’m very late in getting after this.  Somehow the summer days slip by, and I thought, ah well, better late than never.

My Favorite June Things

  1. Jumping off docks at 8:00 in the morning is always a great thing.

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    Exhilarating!

    We spent a few peaceful days at my parents’ lake cabin.  Naturally the children wanted to swim all day.  My only requirement was that they first eat breakfast and then wait that full hour before taking the plunge…yeah right.  They shoveled in breakfast, scrambled into their suits, and literally ran off the end of the dock–end of story.

    And how about me?  Did I follow suit?  Not a chance.  I drank my coffee and read The Remnant on shore.

    2.  Catching Fish is a favorite for the boys.
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The boys caught this thing off the end of the dock.  Don’t ask me what kind of fish it was.  I love to eat fish, but I hate to touch them.

3.  Drinking wine on the deck with my husband and eating olives is a lovely way to spend an evening.

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I buy these from Sam’s Club because they’re reasonably priced.

I think I could live off of wine, bread, cheese, and olives–in all their varieties of course.  I’m pretty sure that all the food groups are present in the above list: fruit, grain, milk, vegetables…  Well, what are olives anyway?  Vegetables?  Fruit?  Meat?  Somebody clue me in, for I’m too lazy to Google it.

4.  I love fresh wild flowers from the backyard for my table every day.

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This is the Little Girls’ job.

The Little Girls supply me with fresh flowers for both the dining room and the breakfast-nook table every day.  They just hike up our hill in the backyard and gather at will.

At our old place in North Dakota, the ditches were very obliging for these kinds of bouquets.  We always found such things as alfalfa, aster, sunflowers or goldenrod.

Here, on the very edge of eastern Minnesota?  I’m still figuring it out.  We’ve got butterfly-weed, clover, fleabane, and what looks like daisies.

5.  Corpus Christi Processions are definitely a June favorite.

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Here’s the start of ours, as they were processing out of the Church.

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Father, Jesus, and 4 “Laymen of Distinction” holding the canopy.

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And heading around the block.

Our Corpus Christi procession featured six Torch Bearers, two Acolytes, two Thurifers, a Cross-Bearer, an MC, four Laymen of Distinction carrying the canopy, our priest, and Jesus Christ King of the Universe.  The rest of us trailed behind in gratitude and thanksgiving.

6.  Another favorite?  Campfires in the backyard with s’mores.

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Sure bliss.

The boys built a fire pit in our backyard up on the hill.  After dousing and sanctifying it and the surrounding area with Holy Water, we proceeded to enjoy a small blaze.  Everyone had to have a bath afterwards.

7.  Lastly, a DIY project.  Who doesn’t need a white cross in their backyard?

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In our neighborhood a couple of houses have erected large white crosses, which they lit up brilliantly during Lent and the Easter octave.  (Given these dark times, perhaps we ought to keep them perpetually lit?)

Anyway, as we had some extra wood lying around, my husband put one together.  And if you look closely at the photo, you’ll also see a small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus off to the right.  This is our children’s mini shrine.

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Here’s Jesus.  We didn’t want Him to tip over, so we had to “ground” him in a flower pot.  The Little Girls are growing marigolds for Him.

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This is a view of the valley which our Cross overlooks.

DIY: Instructions on how to build your own Cross:

  1. Rummage around the garage for some spare wood.
  2. Get one of your sons to saw two pieces of wood to whatever lengths you desire, allowing extra length for the vertical beam to be buried.
  3. Grab the spare can of white paint from the basement.  If it’s not crusted and rusted over, and if it happens to be an exterior paint as well, paint your wood.
  4. Use one stake and a couple of screws to affix the crossbeam to the vertical beam.
  5. Get your husband to dig a deep hole.  (Who are we kidding?  In this household, my husband’s been doing all the work on this project already.)
  6. Keep digging.  You’ll need the hole to be deeper than you think.  (Apparently 10% of the length of a transmission pole, plus an addition foot, is buried beneath the ground for stability, etc.)
  7. Stand off from afar, as your husband holds the heavy cross, and say such things as, “A little to the left now.  Oh, well, a little to the right.  That’s it.  No, now it’s crooked!”
  8. Send a kid to the garage for the level to place on the crossbeam.
  9. Fill in the hole, crack a bottle of wine, and enjoy it from a distance.

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It’s nothing fancy, but because it’s white, you can see it when you enter the valley about a 1/2 mile away.  I can’t wait to wrap bright, white lights on it for Lent.

Life is Worth Living

DIY: Art Walls

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that I am not crafty–I don’t like messes, multistep projects stress me out, I loathe construction paper, and I don’t own markers.

That said, I do have an Art Wall.

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Here is my Art Wall; it’s in the dining room.

Now I had to have an Art Wall because my children draw, and just where was I to put all their lovely art work?  On the table?  On the kitchen counter?  On the floor?  In the trash?  Nope.  On the Art Wall.

Do It Yourself Art Wall

Of course I couldn’t make the Art Wall.  (Remember, multistep projects stress me out.)  So, I enlisted the help of my husband.  “Dearest,” quoth I, “If I buy a chunk of wood and some clothespins, would you kindly glue the things on and screw the whole thing to the dining room wall?”

“As you wish, darling.”

Ah, what a great man I’ve married.  He even took the time to accurately measure equal distances between my ten clothespins.  (I’d have eye-balled it, if forced to do such tedious work.)

In any case, for those of you interested, here are the steps for making your own Art Wall.

11 Step Art Wall

  1. Decide how long you want your board to be.  I had about a 5 foot space of wall for this project, so I wanted a board about 4 feet long.
  2. Look around your garage for spare hunks of wood.  Grab a hand saw and cut it to your preferred length.
  3. No spare wood in your garage?  No problem.  Drive to Menards–if they’re open–and check their scrap pile.  That’s where I got mine.  I paid about $1.30 for it.
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  4. Check your junk drawer for old clothespins.
  5. None there?  Ask Grandma to check her clothesline for any spare ones.
  6. Grandma on lock down?
  7. Order some from Hobby Lobby online.  They’re super cheap; it’s where I got mine.  I went for the mini-ones.
  8. Decide how many you want on your board.

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    Art Wall from my old house.  Not nearly enough clothespins and not nearly long enough.
  9. Beg your husband to measure and glue those clothespins on so that they’ll be straight.
  10. Make your husband his favorite drink and beg of him to screw the whole thing to the wall.
  11. Make yourself a drink.  You are done.  Cheers.

Art Walls Are Necessary

During this time of Mandatory Lock Down, we’ve been forced to be a bit more structured in the afternoons, as the children were becoming bored and restless.  My solution?  I instituted an hour of drawing, cursive-writing, and audio books.

Therefore, this increased time of creativity naturally resulted in more art work.  Of course we do send pictures to Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie and whomever else we can think of, but in the meantime, it certainly gives me peace of mind just knowing where to put all those papers.

Lastly

Lastly, if you’re following Coronavirus and the plight of the Church, I strongly recommend Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s latest interview with The Remnant Newspaper HERE.  I wish more bishops and priests would follow suit.

And one more thing…lastly, lastly, the governor of Wisconsin waived all state park fees.  So, we’ve been trudging through the rain and the muck and greatly enjoying the wilderness.

Here are some of the children at Parrot State Park.  Have you been venturing more outdoors lately?

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Taking the Road Less Traveled.