The Institute of Christ the King – and its Praises

 

Institute of Christ the King

Church given to the Institute of Christ the King near Liverpool, where Kim and I lived. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean

 

We come now to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest – a young society of Priests I very much want to support, both here in Ireland and the wider world.

We have considered numerous reasons for this in recent posts. Among them is the serious threat to the Church – and its urgent need for renewed zeal and vigour.

In other words, passion is called for – a passion utterly different from the flaccid torpidity that characterises so much Catholicism in recent decades.

And last time, I also evoked my ongoing experience of the traditional liturgy – compared with the Novus Ordo. I suggested that, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, once put it:

The ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy.

Now, much of this experience was in France, where Kim (my wife and fellow blogger at this site) have lived and also travelled much. It was there we came to know the Institute of Christ the King (as well as the Fraternity of St. Peter and even the recently established Institute of the Good Shepherd).

Institute of Christ the King

Institute of Christ the King in Merseyside church above. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean.

All these societies not only offer the Latin Mass, but they very much bear unashamed witness to the sacramental and supernatural Mystery of the Church, as well as the fullness and beauty of her tradition.

At the same time, all my travels in France revealed the Catholic wasteland that country has become. As I said here, I once knew a priest responsible for forty (virtually dead) parishes …

And now I have returned, at long last, to my beloved Hibernia. Now, I witness a situation that parallels France, in so many ways. For French Catholicism also suffered a tremendously vicious propaganda campaign against it – as well as an ultra-liberal Catholicism, which emptied the churches and led to a dearth of vocations.

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The parallels, while not precise, are haunting. For we began this current series of reflections, listening to Irish Papist, who asked of the future of Catholic Ireland:

Will there be daily Mass, outside the cathedrals and a few more prominent churches? … Will Catholics have to travel long distances to attend Mass?

Will RTE [Irish television]and The Irish Times even bother bashing the Church any more? Will the Church even be able to hold onto its churches, never mind find congregations or priests for them?

Irish Papist‘s concerns are very valid, if France is anything to go by. For the French media has largely abandoned its brutal campaigns. The battle, as I said before, has been won.

There is, however, one great difference between Ireland and France. France now has a vital, flourishing traditionalist movement. Compared to the Irish situation, it is never hard to find the Latin Mass in France.

Institute of Christ the King

Institute of Christ the King distributing Holy Communion near Liverpool. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean.

As a traditional nun in France once told me, one never had to drive more than forty five minutes to find the traditional liturgy – at a maximum. (Based on my own experience, that sounds about right. Obviously untold numbers of French are even more fortunate: The Latin Mass is almost on their doorsteps …)

For all this, traditional societies like the Fraternity and the two Institutes (i.e. Christ the King and the Good Shepherd) deserve great credit indeed. For nowhere in the world are these groups more active than in France. (Indeed, they are all of French origin.)

Now, the success of societies like the Institute of Christ the King can be estimated in different ways – either by outwardly demonstrable means or by one’s own admittedly personal and subjective experience. I will say more on my own interior experience of the Institute of Christ the King – which is rich, so very rich …

But let us begin with something more tangible – vocations. For decades, France has known the same vocations crisis that Ireland now witnesses. However, the traditional societies reveal something remarkable.

Despite their still tiny size, they yield a remarkable rate of vocations. Right now, I have no figures at hand. But I believe I am right that while I lived in France traditional vocations accounted for something like twenty percent of French vocations. This is striking – given that less than five percent of French Catholics are involved in traditionalism!

Monsignor Wach

Monsignor Wach and young Canon of the Institute of Christ the King. Photo courtesy of Phil Roussin by (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Now, Irish Papist reported a very sobering thing in the same post we quoted above. Last year, Ireland only had twelve new seminarians. This, I think, is the mainstream figure  – candidates being trained to celebrate the Novus Ordo.

However, last year, there were also two Irish men who entered the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King (in Italy)! If these figures are right, one seventh of new Irish seminarians was traditionalist last year – drawn to the Institute of Christ the King rather than the Novus Ordo.

This would seem remarkable indeed, given the very, very tiny presence of the Latin Mass in Ireland (compared to the Novus Ordo or compared to France).

Perhaps you will say: It is a fluke, unlikely to be repeated anytime soon! This may be true. Still, if the Latin Mass progresses in Ireland and the French example is anything to go by, it may be a harbinger of things to come.

In Ireland, we may yet witness a phenomenon, like France, which clearly demonstrates the vigour of traditional Catholicism (when compared with the dwindling vocations elsewhere.)

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This, then, is one tangible, demonstrable factor of the vibrancy of Catholic traditionalism. Alas! Much else is far less easy to substantiate in a society addicted to ‘proofs’. I can only invoke my rich, personal experience of the new traditional communities. But speak of that I must.

Now, my own experience is largely to do with the Institute of Christ the King, founded and still led by Monsignor Gilles Wach. For although I experienced all three major traditional societies in France (at least of those faithful to Rome) providence, it seemed to me brought me repeatedly in contact with the Institute. Kim and I had to travel much in France and – oddly, it seemed – the Institute of Christ the King was always more along our route than the other two.

And after leaving France, we lived briefly in Madrid and then Liverpool in England – both places where the Institute of Christ the King has established nearby apostolates.

Institute of Christ the King

Canon Amaury Montjean of the Institute of Christ the King holds the Crucifix to be kissed in Good Friday liturgy, near Liverpool. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean

And so the grace of God, it seemed to me, led me back and back again to the Institute of Christ the King.

This Institute of Christ the King – what a profoundly moving, enriching experience it rendered to my soul in Spain and England!

Their English apostolate on the Merseyside is still young, as I write these words. But I had both the joy and privilege of witnessing its birth. Within weeks, a disused church had been transformed into a liturgical haven – and heaven – with a daily Latin Mass, daily confession, adoration and devotions. Its passion and beauty were breathtaking.

In contrast to young apostolates, the older apostolates of the Institute of Christ the King (as well as the Fraternity of St. Peter etc.) reveal rich, sustained development as they put down roots – forming expansive communities and building schools. The Institute of Christ the King is also establishing convents of nuns.

Several times I stayed in Besancon, France – where the Fraternity of St. Peter has been established many years. I had the joy of meeting several (large) Catholic families there. This experience was very deeply moving to me, as they spoke about how the Latin Mass had transformed their lives for over twenty years.

Indeed, I saw how it had. I clearly sensed how it had nourished wholesome family life – so much so that one young family there helped to change my life.

For sensing this wholesomeness in their little home, I saw something unwholesome in my own heart – which led to repentance and confession. The outcome of this was a decisive change: a small miracle in my life.

But leaving that cryptic remark aside, I saw similar things when I went to live in Madrid. There, Kim and I became part of a community of families and young people associated with the Institute of Christ the King’s apostolate there. Again I saw how nourished people were by the integral Catholic life the Institute provided. For not only was there twice daily Latin Mass, daily absolution in Latin, adoration and devotion, but the priests were running beautiful study groups and catechesis for the young.

Now, I have said, earlier in this series of posts, how I wrestled with the tragedy of the Church’s decline for many years, considering everything from liberal answers (e.g. the Church has failed to march to the beat of modernity) to New Age ideology (e.g. the Aquarian dispensation ushers in a new non-religious spirituality).

But after all these years, I arrive at Joseph Ratzinger’s uncomfortable conclusion: The ecclesiastical crisis is deeply related to liturgical devastation.

Here, then, is why my greatest hope for the renewal of the Church lies with with groups like the Institute  – in Ireland and elsewhere.

This is not to say that tradition is not provided for outside these new priestly societies! It is – often by a variety of local initiatives and networks. But, in my experience, these new traditional apostolates possess resources that the local networks often lack.

At least, I am sad to say that I have witnessed many local initiatives -in France, England and Ireland – which, despite valiant effort, failed to provide what the new apostolates do.

Institute of Christ the King

Institute of Christ the King procession through neighbourhood in greater Liverpool area. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean.

Institute of Christ the King

Institute of Christ the King proceeding further through the neighbourhood. Photo courtesy of Canon Amaury Montjean.

Problems beseige them. For example, often there is no single priest to supply the Sacraments. As a result, a rota is set up with rotating priests or even irregular masses. These efforts, I say, whilst brave and necessary, are not enough.

And so I  pay this special tribute to the Institute of Christ the King and societies like them For in my experience, they can offer a complete traditional liturgical Catholic practice. With their stable priests, their resources, their schools and their convents, as well as their vigour and their beauty, they create rich oases in the desert of secular materialism.

How I was nourished by these oases in France – and how I pray for these oases in Ireland!

And now, a final note about Ireland. The Institute of Christ the King, I suspect, is struggling here. I suspect; I do not know. Alas, I am a long way from Limerick and have only managed to attend three of its Masses. Each one was a joy – however this hardly equips me to say much regarding this Institute in Ireland.

However, considering the situation of the Latin Mass in Ireland, it certainly seems to struggle very much compared to the situation in France.

The brave and solitary priests here offering the Latin Mass are not enough. And the crisis in Ireland is grave. It seems to me that the Institute of Christ the King is desperately needed here.

This is why I have written this special post in tribute to the Institute.  I hope that it will not only flourish in Limerick, but in time be able to establish further apostolates as it has throughout France.

Indeed, this aim of supporting the Institute has occupied me for several posts now. I think, then, in upcoming entries we will take a little break from the Irish situation.

Among other things, I mean to speak of Hilaire Belloc again, as well as Valentin Tomberg – and the remarkable hope he has given me for the future of the Church.

But we shall certainly return to Catholic Ireland, before very long.

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16 Comments

  1. Brad Withers
    Posted 19 September 2013 at 20:46 | Permalink

    I was accepted into the pre seminary program of the ICKSP, though I did not take up their offer. I did this after speaking with a few priests and much prayer. Even though I decided not to pursue my vocation with them I have nothing but good things to say about them. I went to their North American HQ in Chicago and spent a few days with them. I met many priests of the Institute and I can say in all honesty these were the most holy and gentlemanly men I have ever met. The charity that came from them was palpable and the good they are doing in that rather poor part of Chicago is amazing. The Masses I assisted at we’re other worldly.

    When I hear Mass I love to picture myself at one of the Mass rock’s in the time of the persecutions in Ireland. To think how much our ancestors suffered for the Mass and how easily we’ve given it up. The traditional Mass is necessary in the restoration of the Church not just in Ireland but through out the world. Being young I’ve never known the Ireland of the past. It is very saddening to see how far we’ve fallen. But I want to be part of the restoration. The ICKSP is part of that. Tradition is necessary. Might I also suggest supporting Dom Kirby and Silverstream Priory in County Meath.

  2. Posted 19 September 2013 at 21:29 | Permalink

    Thank you for this testimony Brad! It is very moving to hear your testimony to these Institute of Christ the King priests in this poor part of Chicago!

    Also your point about Dom Kirby and Silverstream Priory is well-taken!

    Having recently moved back to Ireland, I do not yet know them in the way I know the Institute. But every oasis offering a regular daily Latin Mass and rich devotional life is vital. So I must visit them and write of them as well.

    Finally, this is very beautiful:

    When I hear Mass I love to picture myself at one of the Mass rock’s in the time of the persecutions in Ireland. To think how much our ancestors suffered for the Mass and how easily we’ve given it up. … Being young I’ve never known the Ireland of the past. It is very saddening to see how far we’ve fallen. But I want to be part of the restoration.

    I am very, very gladdened to hear of young people in Ireland with your aspirations Brad. Thank you so much.

  3. Posted 19 September 2013 at 22:01 | Permalink

    Note: In the interest of Transparency, I need to say something here.

    The comments that are now coming in regarding the Institute of Christ the King have been asked for – i.e . solicited – at a traditional internet forum..

    The reason for this was the same reason I had for posting this blog entry: I think the Institute of Christ is doing very remarkable work indeed. I wanted to speak about that openly, based on the fact there are not many people in Ireland who really know the Institute’s fine work.

    But around the world, there are other people who, I know, have really seen the wonders the Institute can do.

    And I put out a call asking anyone who sees this what the Institute can do to add their testimony.

    Real gratitude for the responses now coming in ..

  4. S. Marir
    Posted 20 September 2013 at 03:19 | Permalink

    May God continutally bless the Institute of Christ the King abundantly! I have spent the last 7 years under their guidance, and am so thankful to Our Lord for it. If it were not for the good priests of the Insitutute, my husband would never have come to love Jesus and the one true faith! Unfortunately, the Institute has been asked by the bishop to leave the small apostolate that has been serving our diocese for years.

    This has been a terrible loss to our family, like loosing a loved one. The Institutes spirituality nourishes my soul for the war that we are in as the Church Millitant. They constantly encourage me in my vocation as mother and wife. They preach the truth in charity, but do not mince words. Their dedication to a true traditional Catholic life and liturgy are a blessing from heaven. We pray every night that they may recieve many holy vocations and every dollar and square foot necessary to educate them!

    • Posted 2 October 2013 at 12:46 | Permalink

      S. Marir –

      Thank you for your passionate, sincere testimony – so evidently heartfelt from one who clearly recognises the real blessings in her life as well as real tragedies.

      I am very sorry to hear your suffering under this Bishop’s decision.

      So little understanding of what this Institute of Christ the King can truly do for families and the Faith in these troubled times …

      But your witness helps. Thank you.

  5. Sean Connolly
    Posted 20 September 2013 at 06:26 | Permalink

    There had been a Latin Mass since the late ’80s here in Oakland, but since the Institute came in and really taught the Traditional Latin Mass properly, there has been a spillover effect, and now we see more diocesan TLMs starting to pop up in the San Francisco Bay Area. People still travel from miles around, however, to assist at Holy Mass at this stellar Institute apostolate in the lovely wee gothic revival church St. Margaret Mary. I sincerely hope for and now keep in my prayers the efforts of the ICKSP in Ireland. Pax et bonum.

    • Posted 2 October 2013 at 12:57 | Permalink

      A belated thank you for this Sean and your prayers.

      What you write about “spillover” hardly surprises anyone who knows the Institute of Christ the King – but it needs to be said.

      Because so many do not know …

      Warm thanks!

  6. Posted 20 September 2013 at 17:39 | Permalink

    I am a revert because of the Institute and their presence in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I belong to their Society of the Sacred Heart as well! I love the priests, oblates and sisters and could fill this whole com box with their praises.

    I found this blog yesterday as I get emailed alerts regarding news of the Institute., FYI.

    May God bless you!

    MotherCrab

    • Posted 2 October 2013 at 13:01 | Permalink

      Belatedly, thank you so much MotherCrab.

      I know precisely what you mean about filling the com box with praises for the Institute.

      I was also grateful to hear how you discovered this page – in a different manner apparently from those above …

  7. Steve
    Posted 23 September 2013 at 15:53 | Permalink

    I love the Institute! I would not be where I am today without them.

    • Posted 2 October 2013 at 13:03 | Permalink

      Would not be where you are now … I hear and know what you mean, Steve.

      Warm thanks!

  8. Posted 9 October 2013 at 14:32 | Permalink

    Wonderful to hear of these things in Ireland. We lived there for three years and found that there was -sadly – little interest in the Traditional liturgy.There was an “Indult” centre not far from us, but they refused to do Traditional baptisms. All so sad.

    • Posted 27 October 2013 at 09:59 | Permalink

      Belatedly thank you, Alan. Sad indeed. A great deal of work must be done … Ora et Labora.

  9. Eileen Colby
    Posted 16 March 2014 at 23:10 | Permalink

    I too love the Institute. They run an Oratory in New Jersey, all of us are nourished in our faith. It takes some people an hour or two to come for Mass. We have Mass everyday, we also have Holy Hours and confessions before each and every Mass. On Sundays there are three Masses. We are truly Blessed and a family is being formed. We have one priest from the Institute, Canon Moreau and Fr. Richard Munkelt. They are treasures. We also have bible study. My prayer is that the Institute will send us a second priest.

    God Bless all in the Institute.

  10. Posted 16 March 2014 at 23:16 | Permalink

    The Institute runs an Oratory in New Jersey and we all are truly Blessed. We have Mass every single day of the week with three on Sunday.Confessions are heard before each and every Mass. We have Canon Moreau from the Institute and Fr. Richard Munkeldt. They are wonderful, we are becoming a family. Along with Holy Hours, Stations of the Cross and Bible Study. There is also religious education for the children. My prayer is that we may have a second priest from the Institute. May God Bless all the priests.

    • Posted 31 March 2014 at 10:43 | Permalink

      Eileen, a very belated but most warm thank you for your comments here regard ICKSP! Your rich, vibrant picture of the community devotional life created by the Institute is most appreciated – and parallels my own.

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