Strictly speaking, a vocation is the calling to enter the clergy which the bishop addresses to a male individual in whom he discerns the necessary talents. Through the bishop, it is the Church who is calling, it is the Holy-Ghost who is speaking to the person, showing him God’s will for him. But in a general sense, a vocation is the efficient calling God addresses to the lost sheep (cf. S. Jn. X, 16), and makes them enter into the fold of the Church.
That is the reason why S. Paul uses this word in his exhortation:
The Christian vocation is above all a coming out from darkness into the kingdom of the beloved Son of God, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins” (Col., i, 13-14).
St Matthew's call, by Il Carravagio
As such, this vocation implies a radical change of life, of behaviour and mentality: those who go through the Church’s door by baptism truly walk “in newness of life” (Rom. VI, 4), according to Scriptures: “they who are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences” (Gal., v, 24).
The vocation to become a child of God does not consist in finding an “asset” for one’s soul in order to live as you like, according to your own selfishness. God “hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the times of the world.” (II Tim., i, 9).
The fact that Modernity has totally destroyed the traditional structures is no excuse for the Christian not to face the main purpose of Christian life which is to glorify God in the least actions of his life (I Cor. X, 31). The means to glorify God are given by God himself: they constitute the states of life found in the Christian religion, that is: the lay state, the religious state, and the clerical state.
The lay state has a sacrament which is peculiar to it: that of marriage.
The generalisation of the bachelorhood phenomenon among young converts is the symptom of a growing asocial behaviour resulting from the very kind of conversion : one is converted to defend the Church ; now, in order to do that, the clerical function of teaching is usurped, which leads to structuring one’s life in a wrong way, which causes lots of psychic dysfunction and perturbation.
Our Lord Jesus Christ states: “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” (S. Luke X, 16), meaning that the words of the Priest must not only be listened to, but also that the – modern –layman must overcome the temptation to despise and reject them. And why is that? Because it is the only teaching allowed; a layman’s word, who is usurping the task of teaching sacred subjects, is not that of Christ and even less that of his Father: it belongs to a man whom God did not send.
Only the words of the Church, conveyed, transmitted, and communicated by the Priest are edifying for the soul as well as for society.
Fides ex auditu. To despise the word of a Priest teaching the Law, is to reject the very word of the Son of God. Now, whosoever “heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof” (S. Mat., vii, 26-7).
If laity has no vocation in the strict sense of the word, the layman has, because of his baptism, a vocation to eternal life which is fundamental. “Wherefore, brethren, says S. Peter, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your vocation and election : for doing these things, you shall not sin at any time” (II Pet. I, 10). The layman can only sanctify himself as long as he remains in his state. Any encouragement made to come out of it, so to become an ex professo defender of the Church thus becoming a “cause”, is not traditional and does not come from the Spirit of God. That is not our Fathers’ teaching.
All Christians are called to love God: laymen as well. Now, no one can love God if he comes out from the boundaries of the state in which Providence has placed him.
The Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord intends to encourage lay people to remain in their own rank. Thus, the Pastors will be able to accomplish their duty which is to devote themselves entirely for the Lord’s sheep. If, unfortunately, there happens to be some unworthy pastors “who kill the sheep” (Ez. XXXIV, 3), there are also a great many of those sheep scattered upon the hills of their pride, having “turned aside into [their] own way” (Is. LIII, 6) or, in other words, its own way of being an activist… That is why the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord integrates the reprobation of militancy as it was formulated by the provincial Council of Paris (1849, tit. III, cap. XI) and of Rennes (1849, decr. XXIII) and many other authorities.
The lay’s distress, the inner sorrows which eat up individuals; the serious problems which tear families up, which divide spouses; the constant powerlessness which make it impossible for parents to hand down their faith, in spite of the efforts they make; all that is not the work of the Church’s enemies: it is the result of a pathological interest for a so call “cause”, a permanent alibi (and, unfortunately, an ancient one, too) of passion, self-will and disorder.
Those who have urged the sheep to assume the Pastors’ mission have “scattered [them], and driven them away, and have not visited them.” (Jer. XXIII, 2). Only those who have received the mission to do so, i.e. the Clerics, can gather; acting differently is to scatter (S. Mth., xii, 30).
If the Religious and the Clerical states are slightly different than the laymen, it nevertheless remain that they are all part of the mystical Body of Christ: there is:
The general framework in which fit all the states of the Christian life is that of God’s new Covenant with the people Christ has bought by his precious blood (S. Luke XXII, 20), renewing the first Covenant made with Abraham, before the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, talking to our Fathers, God declared to Moses: “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev. XXVI, 12) and through S. Paul: “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people acceptable, pursuing good works.” (Tite ii, 14).
He who is not baptised is “without Christ, alienated from the society of Israel and strangers to the covenants, having no hope of the promise and without God in this world. But now in Christ Jesus, you, who some time were afar off, are made near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one” (Eph. II,12-14). The Christians, who are partakers of the dignity of the people of Israel (Prayer of the 4th Prophecy of Holy Saturday) form the “Israel of God” on whom dwells the peace and mercy of God (Gal. VI, 16): they are, in no way, still Gentiles, pagans.
The first pope and model of all the others, S. Peter, exhorts the Christians to live a holy life among the Gentiles, so that, “considering you by your good works, they may glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Pi., ii, 12).
With God’s help who called them to their mission, and in union with all the clerics who are orthodox and professors of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith (Canon of the Holy Mass), the Bishop and the Priests of the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord intend to continue working on…
Talking to the laity, the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord exhorts them to come out of Babylon: “Go out of the midst of her, my people; that every man may save his life from the fierce wrath of the Lord” (Jer. LI, 45), to live an orderly, simple and pious life — the very same one our Fathers were teaching about, before the surge of innovations.
According to Our Holy Father Augustine, since man has a sociable nature, the more we love our brethren and work at helping them in their needs, the more we show God that we love him, and the more we unite closely to him (De doctr. christ., I, 22).
The restoration of discipline in the lay state is absolutely necessary. The Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord stresses that this is in no way an utopian idea, but on the contrary, it is the only way to end the disintegration of the Catholic people, whose only characteristic seems to be to have abandoned charity as a typically liberal notion — thus losing its right to the name of Christian.
The Lord calls some to live in a state of greater perfection.
The religious life, strictly speaking, is not the result of a vocation. It is opened to all, because the lay Christian life is already a separation from the world (S. James I, 27), a firm and definitive renouncing to the devil, his works and vanities (Baptism Liturgy). Nevertheless, the religious life is fully evangelical, it is the live to which all must aim at, even the lay people according to their own mode, which is the object of divine merciful tolerance (I Cor. VII, 9). No doubt, the lay people have a raison d’être: it is accomplished in marriage and procreation. Therefore, to become a friar is not the consecration of celibacy caused by an asocial behaviour or misanthropy: it is the realization of the desire for perfection, from a soul with a normal forma mentis, who wants to love God in a sacrificial way, who answers in an absolute manner to the Saviour’s word:
If the Saviour’s precepts are imperative to all, the keeping of the council belong to the highest form of love of God. To enter Religion is a death to the realm of self-will and to the senses: therefore, it must not be done lightly. Again, it is not a right; the Superiors have no obligation to receive an applicant who would not seem qualified for the life of charity and renunciation, but also for a community life.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (S. Matt. XVI, 24): no one enters Religion to show-off but rather to give-up a life of cupidity, by loving God above all and his neighbour as himself.
The Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord receives Friars who will, later on, be sent in the Houses according to the needs. It is careful to give them an appropriate teaching founded upon the Rule of Our Holy Father Augustine, as well as on the Ancients’ recommendations. After a probationary period (generally of one year), the Friars take the three vows in a simple manner, for a length of three years. Later come the solemn Vows.
The Friars are those to whom Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks first:
The applicants meet the Superiors for some preliminary interviews. The judgment is made by them who then refer to the Bishop; his decision is irrevocable, even if the probationary period had been accomplished already.
Once accepted, they look after the tasks belonging to their state, under the direction of the Elders and the Superiors, and the protection of the Bishop.
They lead a life of prayer and meditation punctuated by the singing of the Divine Office. The Novices receive an advanced teaching on religious life as well as on the foundation of Christian world view. A special attention is given to the working of the ground and other such things which, besides, can prove quite useful for the lay people of the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord.
The Friars wear a special habit, according to the customs of the Augustinian Family.
The Augustinian spirituality emphasises on the gratitude towards God for the free grace he bestows upon whoever he wills. That brings about a great peace and a deep joy, which lightens the Blessed Saviour’s yoke (S. Matt. XI, 29). The religious life, which is naturally difficult, is influenced by that joy when the love for God is its deep and sincere motivation. He who does not bear Christ’s “sweet and light” yoke is crushed by the intolerable burden of self-love.
According to their aptitudes, their seniority and the needs of the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord, the Friars can be given some tasks assisting the Clerics’ mission. Did Our Lord Jesus Christ not say: “He who is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater” (S. Luc, xvi, 10).
At the top of the religious state is priesthood. It is not so much a state of life by its own, than a series of functions in the ministry of divine right and prioritized among themselves, through which the Only Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ governs his flock: “you were as sheep going astray, but you are now converted to the pastor and bishop of your souls” (I Pet. II, 25).
If a Priest or a Deacon be respected by the faithful, he must be himself submitted to a legitimate Pastor of the Church. Therefore, the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord does not intend to form “wondering” but Catholic Priests. The concord which exists between the high and the low clergy guarantees the harmony among the people of God who “is Charity” (I Jn. IV, 8): “From whom the whole body, compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supplieth, according to the working in the measure of every part, maketh the increase of the body, to the edifying of itself in charity.” (Eph., iv, 16).
During the 19th century, certain ecclesiastical authors had suggested that the degree course of the studies should focus on the refutation of the mistakes of the times; the subduing of the modern sciences in order to make them useful to the faith; as well as the integration of the idea of development of dogma. The results of such “progress” have been obvious during the 20th century, especially after Maritain — the good and the bad one ! — had ratified the destruction of what was left of Catholic mentality by promoting the neo-Thomism the Trojan horse of every change.
In the context of S.-Charles-Borromeo Theological School, the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord gives a theological education to its future Priests. The students belong to the Concord and stand between the Friars and the older Clerics. The studies last around five years subject to the Professors’ appreciation headed by the Bishop. The general plan of the studies follow the method applied prior to the installation of Modernity.
There is no doubt in the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord view that, when they are followed, the ancient methods produce Priests foreign to the modern forma mentis, and thus able to guide the faithful in “the old paths” (Jer. VI, 16), while remaining in them themselves. It has decided to deliberately consider the issues of early Modernity as outmoded and irrelevant.
The context of post-modernity is no longer that of the prestige of the old critic and new sciences: the fact that everyone has integrated the principles of the critic has made this avant-garde idea a commonplace which henceforth needs to be treated with the contempt it deserves. All this is outmoded; the truth alone remains intact, and the manner in which our Fathers handled it in the various branches of the Sacred Science.
The way of grasping the truth determines a forma mentis which conditions its application. Therefore, without ignoring absolutely the issues of modernism and criticism (since the Anti-modernist Oath requires a good knowledge of the problem), nevertheless the S.-Charles-Borromeo Theological School stresses less on the apologetical system built, more or less, on modern premises, but rather emphasises on the old and traditional text books, by which were formed the pre-modern Clergy.
The theological study outline is given to the postulant, as soon as he is accepted by the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord’s Bishop.
If knowledge is necessary for the Clergy, we know that without charity which edifies, it is only good to puff up (I Cor. VIII, 1). That is why the clerical virtues such as on one hand, obedience to Christ in the person of the Superiors and on the other hand, imitation of Jesus Christ in one’s life serving the Church, is regarded as very important. For the clerical state, love for the Church — one, holy, Catholic, apostolic and roman – in its Head, its apostolic College and its members, is the purest way to manifest love for the neighbour.
Among the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord, the young Clergy learns to love the people of God as the Good Shepherd loves his flock and cherishes it.
Consequently, a very special care is given to the celebration of the Holy Mysteries of the Christian religion, which are really the summit and the heart of the ecclesiastical life. Thus the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord gives great attention to the liturgical beauty and its solemnity which must be analogical to that received in heaven by Christ who is Centre.
Wanting to be “all things to all men” (I Cor. IX, 22) for the salvation of all, the mission of the Priests of the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord is to testify the invariability of the LORD of Host who declares: “For I am the Lord, and I change not” (Mal., iii, 6).
Candidates to the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord must profess the Catholic Faith in its full orthodoxy, without any adding of innovations or particular opinions, and of course of heresy. While it encourages private piety, the Concord considers that many forms of devotion carry with them a weakening and a distortion of the primacy of the love for God.
The students will be required to embrace the customs of the Concord, its love for the Catholic Church and the Apostolic See, as well as its spiritual and structural specificities.
It is to be strongly noted that any usurpation of the clerical functions constitute a priori a disqualification for the entering into the clerical carrier, according to the Can. 985 § 7. The Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord is particularly attentive to this fact.
The Ordination liturgy has a wonderful response from Our Lord Jesus-Christ’s own words to his disciples: “I will not now call you servants … but… friends” (S. Jn. XV, 15) thus concluding the ceremony which gives a man the power to act in Persona Christi.
This friendship with the eternal Word of God is a supreme privilege, similar to the “one necessary thing” (S. Luke X, 42) that no one can deprive a Priest of or usurp.
Keeper and dispenser of the Holy Knowledge, the Priest united to his Bishop is the one who guides the souls towards the friendship with God, which is charity’s aim or, in other words : Heaven. Now no one can be Christ’s friend, the King of kings (I Tim. VI, 15) without being, first, inserted in the ecclesiastical order, which is the order of things, the order of the world as God has created it for Himself.