This text has been reviewed by Fr. Robinson. It is based off a live transcription that I did.
Dear faithful, I’d like to begin by introducing myself. My name is Father Paul Robinson I was ordained a month and a half ago. During the last month and a half of the seminary, Fr. Novak came by. He was already looking forward to this day. God sees things from all eternity, Fr Novak was imitating God in this way, by planning in advance, and he put an announcement for this ceremony in all the deacons’ boxes. He was asking if one of us would be willing to come for this special day at this special church.
When I met some of my classmates the next day, one is from New York, the other is from Alberta, Canada. We asked each other, “Did you look at that thing from Fr. Novak?” And all eyes were on me, because I come from the beautiful southern state of Kentucky, and what could be more fitting than for a southern boy to come to this beautiful southern state of North Carolina? It is a great privilege and I’m very happy to be here, to say a First Mass for you.
Now, every time a new priest visits a church for the first time after his Ordination, the Mass he celebrates there is considered a “first Mass.” So today, you are at my First Mass, with all the privileges of grace that the Church grants for such an event.
Now today is going to be a bit of a marathon. This Mass is the beginning, we will then have a procession immediately following, and then have Benediction, then I will give First Blessings.
During the Ordination Ceremony, the ordinand’s hands are smeared with chrism and they are given a special power to bless. So just as I can give a First Mass, each of you can receive a First Blessing. There are special graces attached to the blessing. But you’re going to be hot, a little tired, because first blessings take a while. It’s a special day, I ask for you patience.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Fr Novak, dear seminarians, dear faithful. Everyone needs a hero. We all have to have models of imitation placed before us that we look to for an imitation of a good life.
I would say that both the world and the church are in touch with this need of human nature. Both of them put before us many heroes, but in a very different sense.
To the world, a man is a hero who has great success, perhaps from rags to riches, or in his walk in life, achieves great honor, glory, or wealth. It doesn’t matter how upstanding or moral he is, as long as he is materially successful.
Of course the Church sees things completely opposite. She places before us spiritual success. Those whom the world may put in the “loser” category, the Church puts in the “hero” category. Those the world puts in the “hero” category, the Church puts in the “loser” category.
One of the big reasons we are here today in this historical building is to honor a great American hero, Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, a hero in the eyes of the Church but not the world.
Fr Price was born in a North Carolina that was extremely hostile to the Catholic Faith. His mother gave him the Faith, and she was a convert. The number of Catholics in North Carolina at that time was probably in the hundreds. His mother made great sacrifices to make sure that not only did he get the Faith, but also that he kept it. His father did not become Catholic until 6 years before his death. As a young man growing up in North Carolina, in a North Carolina in which I would say that the prejudice was great, Father noticed this hostility, that sort of ostracism that weights heavily on the young especially. When I first came to Wilmington yesterday, I talked to a man who has lived here several years. He said, “You wont believe how many churches there are in Wilmington, Father: Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic...” You can imagine Fr. Price walking the streets, seeing all these foundations, and contemplating what he had been given, compared to these other "walks" of faith.
Because he loved this Faith, he had a great ambition, he was very ambitious in the spiritual sense. His motto was “every Tarheel a Catholic.” He wanted to make every single citizen of this state a Roman Catholic. That was not an ambition easy to fulfill, but he had a strong faith. His mother had him educated here at St. Thomas, and this was his parish church. Fr. James Gibbons (later Cardinal) was his parish priest and encouraged Fr. Price’s vocation.
When Father Price became a priest, he was given permission to pursue this dream of his, to convert North Carolina. He realized what he was up against.
I mentioned the word prejudice, because it is the best description of the spirit of the time. Fulton Sheen once said that 99% of the people who hate the Catholic Faith do not hate Catholic Faith itself, but what they perceive to be the Catholic Faith. That was exactly the case in North Carolina. There were many lies circulating, and as he would go out into these remote missions, he would be en route to some place where there was a tiny pocket of Catholics, he would be sometimes be out very late and need a place to stay. He would knock on a door, and sometimes, the door would open and shut without a welcome. When he said that he was a Roman Catholic priest, some responded by saying that they didn’t want to have anything to do with him, and for him to go somewhere else.
Fr Price realized the power of the press and he wanted to destroy all these lies that were being spread about the Roman Catholic Faith. He felt that all that he needed to do was to get the citizens get over this “wall” of prejudice. In order to communicate to Tarheels the reality of what the Faith was, it was just a manner of getting the word out and doing it well. He founded a publication which he edited for 13 years. It had a subscription base of 120,000 at his death, which is close to the subscription numbers for the Angelus, maybe a little bit more (laughter).
While the Angelus is a publication mostly for Catholics, this was not for Catholics. It was for non-Catholics. He called this publication “Truth.” He wanted to give them Catholic truth.
As Fr. Price advanced in his spiritual life, he was not even satisfied with his dream of converting North Carolina. His zeal was so great, that he looked at the American church and said that we were missing something – he thought that the Church in America would not grow until we sent out some of our own into the mission fields. He wanted to send young men out to bring those in far off lands to the Faith. He worked with another priest, Fr. James Walsh, and founded the first American missionary order, Maryknoll. At the age of 58 he personally supervised their first mission in the country of China.
It was crazy, but it gives you the example of the zeal and passion for the Faith of Fr. Price. For not only did he ask, at the age of 59, but indeed he begged to go. He wanted to bring others to the Faith. And so he went. His great dream, of being a martyr, wasn’t fulfilled in the literal sense. But he did experience a certain martyrdom. What did he find in China? A language that was impossible for him to learn. After a year there, he could only babble a few phrases. He found great sickness and a climate that was very difficult. Then he had appendicitis, and they kept telling him to go to the doctor. He was operated on, after he kept ignoring it and pushing on, but then it was too late, and he died on his hospital bed in Hong Kong. When I look back on this life, of Fr Price, when I look back on the life of this American hero, I see a great theme, a great thread woven throughout, namely, a love of the truth.
The truth is very exacting. The truth does not leave any room for options. The truth says this is the way things are. I would say Fr. Price on almost every occasion stepped up and was not found wanting.
Truth asked for a certain price and Fr. Price paid that price. He was following the example of his mother, Clarissa Bond Price, a convert from the Methodist religion. She came into contact with a Catholic family – truth forced her to make a decision that was very difficult. Her family was very hostile to the Faith. “You join the Catholic religion and we will have nothing to do with you from that time on.” She not only joined the Catholic Faith but she wanted to pursue a Catholic vocation, though her father prevented this. She was disowned by her family and came to Wilmington. She knew her duty as a mother. Though she had a non-Catholic husband, her duty as a mother was to give her children the Faith at all costs. At the end she had three vocations out of 10 children, 2 Sisters of Mercy and Fr. Price.
Fr. Price himself followed this truth, he recognized this truth, he recognized the obligation that this truth imposed on him.
Heaven, hell, this life is a reality. There is but one path we must take to get from this life to eternal beatitude. Therefore, what is our conclusion?
We must not be indifferent to those around us. Father looked at all these different churches and venues, and saw that he had been given something that they had not been given. He thought, “I must give this great gift to them at all costs.”
I would say that the great “dogma” of the modern world is utterly opposition to the spirit of truth. The doctrine of the modern world is one of tolerance. “I cannot tell you what is right or wrong, that is your own personal opinion.”
They will not object if you tell them that they might need 3 pillars to build a particular bridge. But, if I tell you about religion, spiritual matters, this “fluffy” stuff, well, that is all uncertain. My dear friends, this idea has not only penetrated our world, and all modern civilizations, except for the Muslims – though they do not have the truth, they at least believe that one exists -- this idea has penetrated even Holy Mother Church herself. It destroys family, society, religion. It makes everyone completely indifferent to morals, to living according to reality, pleasing God. It is a very dangerous position.
If you knew of a teacher at a school that was using a periodic table of elements that was completely jumbled up, you would never send a child there. Why? Because what would happen if your child took classes from this teacher? Perhaps he is a sincere teacher, is enthusiastic, perhaps he is a nice guy, but if your child goes to a lab, and mixes the chemicals, there will be an explosion! This is the same thing with error. You take errors and feed it to a child, and after you feed the child, and he works out the principles he has been given, the child will come out a disaster.
As much as this world wants niceness, great tolerance, there is one thing it will not tolerate, and that is truth itself. And that is because truth violates the very doctrine of tolerance. Here we say that America is the land of freedom, and that we have freedom of speech, but do we have the freedom to tell the truth?
For example, that there is a hell, there is one way of getting to heaven, and if you do not follow that way, you will be damned.
Or that homosexuality is a sin against God!
My dear children, evolution is a lie, God created this universe. We didn’t come from apes.
Can we say that as Americans? Can we teach our children that in public? Do we really have freedom of speech?
I’m afraid that in many cases, we have freedom, but we are given a freedom to commit sin. Provided that we don’t infringe on the well-being of our neighbor, we have the license to propagate any errors we want to propagate.
I would say that the Society of St Pius X tries to continue the legacy of Fr. Price, his fidelity to the truth. The recognition of what God has revealed to us, and our duty to be faithful to it.
Look how much Archbishop Lefebvre suffered for the truth. How about Clarissa Price? She suffered very much. So too the Society, trying to be faithful, receives a lot of flak. All these names, these labels, these accusations, we are not being nice guys. This is the only sin these days, not being “nice” in believing that truth exists, and that only by following the truth can we save our souls.
Of course a great fight of the Society is made for the Mass, we must belong to the Mass. Yet I should say I’m in fear of a phenomenon I often see among Traditional Catholics.
They think the primary fight of the Society is the Mass. It is one of them, but our fight is primarily for truth and doctrine. Not all Traditional Masses are created equal. It is the same Mass, but what is behind that Mass?
How many Traditional Catholics hop around to different parishes every week? They try the Indult, try the FSSP, the Institute, the Sedevacantists, the Feeneyites. They skip around – as long as it’s a valid mass – what’s the problem? The problem is that the fight is about the truth – and if you mix poison with truth, you will have deleterious results. And by the grace of God, so it seems, from all appearances, the Society is holding on to the integral Catholic Faith.
And so, if Rome gives us “back” the Mass, we will welcome it with open arms. It is something we have asked not for ourselves, but for the whole world, because we already have it. If Rome gives us “back” the Mass, but doesn’t come back to the Catholic Faith, then we cannot make a deal. It is very simple.
I fear that if it ever happens, and the Society has to say we still can’t “make a deal,” how many will say “look you asked for the Mass and you got it! What’s going on? What is your problem? Wasn’t the fight about the Mass?”
It’s because the fight is about truth, and we pray and work that the church will return to the integral Catholic doctrine. We must hold on to this precious treasure, and not betray it.
My dear faithful, let us imitate this great American hero, Fr. Price, who had such a tremendous zeal to pass on the truth. His constant theme was Our Lord Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. That is the great truth of our Catholic Faith, Our Lord hanging from the Cross for our salvation, suffer to gain for us the eternal reward.
Number one. Love truth, you must have a great love for the truth. A great love comes from the truth itself. God is truth. God is truth. If you love the truth you love God Himself.
Everything that is real, all reality, comes from God, only God makes reality, we don’t make anything of ourselves. The correspondence to that truth is a great sign of our love of God
If we love truth we will want to drink it up, to devour the truth. For a newly ordained priest coming out of the seminary, having been formed for 6 years, if anyone would be in a position to set aside the books, you would think he would. However, a newly ordained priest realizes he that he knows nothing. He has so much to learn, and the more that you learn about the Faith, the more you realize what you still have to learn. There are so many doctrines…
I would say that very good means of being closely locked into the truth is through mental prayer. For example, take the Incarnation or the Mysteries of the Rosary. They are so deep and rich.
Secondly we must live the truth, if you are not living the truth, we are living a lie. And how many lies do we swallow today, how many lies are fed to us? Everything contrary to God’s law is glamorized. These sins give a brief pleasure and then leave us depressed. We must live according to the truth. That is what will make you a balanced person. A person who does not live according to reality, lives in a dream world.
By your presence at this Mass you show you are paying the price. You are making that great sacrifice. This is the Mass, this is the Catholic faith, this is the way to save your souls. It may have been a long drive, there may have been many obstacles, but you corresponded to the grace of God, you have come, and will continue to come. That is what we must do. We must pay the price that truth exacts of us. In so doing we will receive a peace that one else can give, that sets you free, for error binds you to a life of sin. Following the Truth gives you the opportunity to make the right choice at every point in your life.
Thirdly I would exhort you to share the truth you have been given. You have been given a very special gift. How any people today have this gift? It should not be a source of pride for us at all. We do not deserve it, it did not come of ourselves. Indeed it is a mystery why God chose us and not others. For some reason God has chosen us, and we have been given the Catholic Faith, the true path to Heaven.
Of course, in interacting with others we need to maintain a great spirit of charity. We must not sledgehammer people with truth. We must spoonfeed them – that is if they are willing to take it. If we force it on them it will have a very bitter taste.
My dear faithful, we have much to be grateful for. I congratulate you on being here today. I exhort you to have great courage, to persevere on this road, and in so doing, save your souls.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.