According to the Gregorian Calendar as used in the Roman Rite, today, November 1, is the Feast of All Saints. It is also the 45th anniversary of the canonical erection of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the 71st anniversary of the repose of Venerable Andrey Sheptytsky, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) from 1901 until 1944. At the time when God called Venerable Andrey home to his heavenly reward, the Roman Rite—and the Latin Church as a whole—had not suffered the disastrous effects of the Second Vatican Council and the gross liturgical reforms which followed. Although the Slavo-Byzantine Rite as served within the UGCC had undergone some illegitimate deteriorations due to centuries of political and ecclesiastical pressure, Sheptytsky, with prudence and love, directed his church to reembrace its authentic liturgical heritage without attempting to alienate those who had grown accustomed to certain pious practices most commonly associated with Latin Catholicism. Although Sheptytsky’s vision has not yet been fully realized, there can be no doubt that the UGCC would not be where it is today liturgically without Venerable Andrey’s leadership, spiritual influence, and continuing prayers in Heaven.
Similarly, the traditional Roman Rite, long the treasure of Western Christendom, may very well have been lost altogether without the work of the SSPX and its prophetic founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Like the Byzantine Rite among the UGCC, the Roman Rite has still not been perfectly restored within the Latin Church, but clear advances have been made, and a new generation of Latin Catholics, eager to build-up what the prior generations discarded so casually, can help complete this work in the light of Catholic tradition. Lefebvre, like Sheptytsky, knew that the heart of the Church is the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, which unites us in Christ and takes away all our iniquities. Without it, what are we? Dead souls in tattered, dirty robes.
Perhaps on this day you may join me in offering prayers for the canonization of both Metropolitan Andrey and Archbishop Marcel, a holy soul whom Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI called “a great man of the Church.” They were true shepherds of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. May God send us more like them.