The following statistics were published earlier today. Interestingly enough, January 15 is the feast of St. Maurus. He was one of the earliest disciples of St. Benedict and had been brought to Nursia as a child. He spent many years at Monte Cassino and was appointed prior when St. Benedict went to live in Subiaco. In later life, he and a group of monks went to France where they founded the Abbey of Glanfeuil, which became the generalate for all of the Benedictine monasteries in that particular area.
St. Maurus had many virtues, but the one for which he is most remembered is his obedience. One day, another early disciple of St. Benedict (St. Placidus) had gone to fetch some water from a river for the monastery. However, the jug became too heavy in the current and the boy was swept along with it. Spiritually hearing the boy’s cries for help, St. Benedict immediately sent out Maurus to save the young boy. Maurus ran so fast that he actually walked on water and pulled out Placidus by the hair while standing in the middle of the raging river.
St. Maurus’s obedience was such that he did not contravene the direct order of his spiritual father. He dropped whatever he was doing and went to save another monk. Yet obedience is precisely what the contemporary Church in France sorely lacks.
A famous man once wrote that there are three kinds of lies, “Lies, darned lies, and statistics.” Unfortunately, the statistics on Rorate Caeli are not lies but clearly show the decline of the Church in France. Only a small percentage of people (2.4%) attend Mass regularly and the rest are clamoring for some kind of “reform of the reform.”
Things were bad in France before Vatican II, as some of the commentators on that site point out, but things only got worse after 1965. If you and I think about it, the Church in France is being bled dry day after day and year after year. Indeed, one begins to wonder whether there will be any Catholics left in France within a few centuries.
Our Lord, however, works in very mysterious ways and, during these times, he has raised up several great apostles of Tradition in France. Like St. Maurus, they took upon themselves the mission of re-evangelizing their fellow Catholics and calling them to a stricter way of life. One of these men was Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre, the founder of the Society of St. Pius X.
Archbishop Lefevbre was one of the most outspoken critics at Vatican II. He saw what was going on and, rather than sitting around and doing absolutely nothing, decided to do something about the situation. The Society of St. Pius X was founded to preserve that traditional Catholicism which was rapidly disappearing both in France and around the world. For all of the criticisms that people have leveled at the Society in the past, it must be acknowledged that they have helped the traditional movement tremendously.
Not only this, but the Society of St. Pius X also spawned numerous other traditional groups. The Priest Society of St. Peter (FSSP) was founded by a former priest of the SSPX who went and sought full Communion with Rome. Fr. Schmidberger and his confreres have also helped Tradition to grow in these last 20 years.
As these examples show, God can bring out great good from the most disastrous of situations. On January 15th, let us pray to St. Maurus and ask for his intercession on behalf of the Church in France and around the world that Tradition may be restored.