The distinguishing religious characteristic of the semi-contemplative Fraternity of the Transfiguration is its inheritance of the spirituality and work of Msgr. Vladimir Ghika (1873-1954), a Moldavian prince born into the Orthodox Church who, after moving to France and studying at Paris, was received into the Roman Catholic Church at the age of 30. He was ordained at the age of 50 by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris, Msgr. Dubois, in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Lazarist Fathers.
In 1927, Msgr. Ghika founded at Auberive (in the diocese of Langres, 190 miles south-east of Paris) a small community whose life was to be characterized by the presence of the Apostle St. John, the witness of the Heart of Jesus; solicitude for Christian unity; Thabor; and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament of unity par excellence. After a life full of apostolic labor and good works, Msgr. Ghika died, a martyr for the faith and unity, on May 17, 1954, in a Communist prison.
Divine Providence did not allow Msgr. Ghika's community to endure, but the memory and teaching of the Prince inspired his disciples in France long after his death in the Romanian gulag. Encouraged by one of these disciples, Fr. Lecareux founded the Fraternity of the Transfiguration in the spirit of Msgr. Ghika's work, which was characterized by: 1) a life of prayer and adoration; 2) the quest for true Christian unity by the return to the one sheepfold, the holy Roman Catholic Church, of those who have unfortunately broken away, "ut unum sint" (Jn. 17:21); and 3) missionary zeal for this work of unity in the truth received from the Church and in charity, according to the word of St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: "Veritatem autem facientes in caritate - doing the truth in charity" (Eph. 4:15).
The "spirituality of Thabor" signifies ascent towards God and a plan of Christian life directed to getting there: participants in the mystery of the Incarnation, we reach contemplation of the Trinity by the intermediary of the Paschal mystery, the redemptive sacrifice offered for the redemption of all men. The Fraternity of the Transfiguration's motto, "Adorare, Unire, Servire," sums up this way of life.
Desiring to remain faithful to the constant Tradition of the Church's two millennia and attached to the Roman See, the Fraternity places itself in the wake of the Society of Saint Pius X to keep the Faith and to work for the extension of the reign of Christ the King. Its candidates to the priesthood receive the sacrament of Holy Orders at Ecône.
The Fraternity comprises two branches, one masculine, including priests and Brothers, and one feminine (see below). There is also a Third Order, whose members are known as "familiars," who communicate around them the spirit of unity that characterizes the Fraternity.
Our motto :
"To begin to perceive God, one must have lost sight of self." Msgr. Ghika
The goal of the religious life is personal sanctification by the practice of the Christian virtues and the evangelical counsels. The Fraternity of the Transfiguration's first end is the praise of God. Holy Mass is celebrated according to the Tridentine rite. Every day, the offices of Prime, Sext, and Compline are recited in common, as is the Rosary. Each member makes a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and recites Vespers privately. Additionally, every Friday the community gathers for a holy hour, and for sung Vespers and exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
"O God, who settest straight what has gone astray, and gatherest together what is scattered, and keepest what Thou hast gathered together: we beseech Thee in Thy mercy to pour down on Christian people the grace of union with Thee, that putting disunion aside and joining themselves to the true Shepherd of Thy Church, they may be able to render Thee worthy service." Collect of the Mass "Ad tollendum schisma"
The principal work of the Fraternity is prayer for the return to unity with Rome of the Christians who are separated from it. To this end, each member offers his life, his prayer, his sacrifices, his labor–all that makes up the warp and woof of his days - for the realization of Christ's prayer "ut unum sint."
Doctrinal and liturgical formation are approached with this end in mind: philosophical, patristic, and theological studies are in accordance with the constant Tradition of the Church, based on Thomist philosophy. Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Mortalium Animos serves as their rule of thought and conduct so that they avoid the false ecumenism condemned by the Pope. As may be inferred, in the spirit of Msgr. Ghika, the Greek Fathers are accorded a greater place in priestly formation there than elsewhere. Special attention is also given to the study of the icon. This essential element of the expression of faith in the East is studied in its technique and theology. The Fraternity seeks to foster an authentic veneration of these sacred images, "windows open upon the invisible."
Every day during holy Mass, the priests of the Fraternity recite the prayers of the Mass for the Unity of the Church (the votive Mass "Ad tollendum schisma"), and the entire community recites a prayer for union". Moreover, every year, their customary pilgrimage to the Holy Land and trips to Latvia or other lands help the Fraternity maintain its ties with friendly Catholic Eastern Rite communities. Their monthly bulletin, Le Simandre (named after the special gong used to summon the monks to prayer in Eastern Rite monasteries), publishes news on the persecutions of Christians taking place throughout the world today, and strives to make known the world of the Oriental Churches.
The missionary spirit of the Fraternity of the Transfiguration is manifested by their desire to spread the gospel to humble folk (especially in rural areas), and the care of marginalized or abandoned people.
In addition to Our Lady of the Rosary Church at Merigny–Le Bois, the community also assures the pastoral ministry of six other Mass centers in the region east of Poitiers. Ministry to children takes the form of catechism, religious instruction at two schools, the Wednesday afternoon youth group, and the chaplaincy of the St. John Bosco Scout Troop.
To develop the spiritual life of the faithful, the priests offer retreats for men and women, for married couples, and days of recollection for engaged couples. The Community also offers sessions on Gregorian chant and bookbinding and repair held in its guest house.
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