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 himself submit to a legitimate Pastor of the Church. Therefore, the Augustinian and sacerdotal Concord does not intend to form “wondering” Priests but Catholic ones. Furthermore, the Concord’s Priests are above all Friars. Nowadays, the condition of secular Priests has become almost unbearable considering the great danger there is when a profession has to be added to the priestly mission. In order to save the Priests from having to provide for their needs through secular means, the Concord only ordains Friars. Consequently, it is composed of no secular Priest.
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 an internal Theological School, the Augustinian and Sacerdotal Concord gives a theological education to its future Priests. The Friars who are foreseen for the Priesthood, after having been tested in the state of lay Friars, are accepted in the clerical studies, which last about five years subject to the Professors’ appreciation headed by the Bishop. The theological degree course may be longer according to the applicants’ aptitude and the Professors’ decision. The promotion to the tonsure and to the minor and major Orders are conditioned by a global appreciation of the applicant by the Bishop, who will take into consideration the acquisition of necessary theological knowledge, but also his moral suitability as well as his good behaviour in the Household to which he belongs.
The general plan of the studies follow the method applied prior to the installation of Modernity, as it has been described by the ecclesiastical Authors of the 17th and 18th centuries. 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. The Concord 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 Concord will insist on giving the Clerics a knowledge which will abandon none of its parts to the apologetic whims of the modern times and even less to the lay agencies who pretend to dictate to the Clerics the content and the limits of the Sacred Science which is theirs by state and by right.
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 which can be summed up, on one hand, by 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, are 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.
The holy Liturgy is the source of our faith according to the adage: Lex orandi, lex credendi, “that which we must believe comes from that which we must pray”. And a special care is given to the liturgical formation of the future ordinands. Yet the religious character of the Augustinian and Sacerdotal Concord tends to favour the Catholic sobriety and simplicity, since in a world where traditional liturgy (or what means to be) is enjoyed merely for mundane aesthetic and snobbery reasons. The Liturgy is the centre of the Christian life and not a time where the senses are flattered, but rather where the soul ascends towards God, in order to apply oneself to live for the glory of God as soon as are heard the dismissal words : Ite, missa est.
The Bishop and Head of the Concord does not intend to increase Priests, responding to the wishes of all those who think “they have a calling”: the imposing of hands is not done lightly (I Tim. V, 22) but according to the pastoral need of the Community. Let’s say it again, the Priests are above all Friars, whose mind being formed by the three Vows, will be essentially preoccupied by the common good, by the Church’s service in general through the fulfilling of the particular ministry entrusted to them.
Depending on the needs, the Friar-Priests can be sent as missionary by the Bishop, so to preach the word of God, and to work in the Lord’s harvest (S. Mt. IX, 37) as faithful workers. Therefore, becoming “all things to all men” (I Cor. IX, 22) for the salvation of all, the Augustinian and Sacerdotal Concord’s Priests are to be the witness of the invariability of the Lord Sabaoth, who declares: “I am the Lord and I change not” (Mal. III, 6)
The 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. Therefore, the future Friars and Priests will be required to leave their particular opinions behind, in the world they have resolved to leave. They will have 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.
A special emphasis is made upon the fact that usurpation of the clerical functions constitute a priori a disqualification for the entering into the Clerical carrier, according to the Can. 985 § 7 and particularly that of teaching. 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. Lk. X, 42) and no one can deprive a Priest of it or usurp it.
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.