“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in an address to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, June 1972
The Old Roman apostolate and its Operation Fidem Servare seeks to serve the current diaspora of Traditional Catholics across every nation and continent of the world who are disaffected, or who feel isolated or alienated from their local parishes due to the Modernist crisis prevalent in the Church today.
The Old Roman apostolate emphasises the importance of lay involvement in the Church and strives to empower the laity to actively participate in the faith. Operation Fidem Servare encourages lay Catholics to embrace their Christian vocation and contribute to the renewal and restoration of unity in the Church and an end to the current crisis.
Trusting in Christ’s promises
Trusting in the promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of the Old Roman apostolate anywhere is the Cell, a small group of at least two or three individual Catholic Christians committed to the principles of Operation Fidem Servare or “preserving the faith.”
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”St Matthew 18:20
Each cell serves as a foundation locally for a wider apostolate, acting as an initial unit of support, teaching, and fellowship. These cells are typically formed by individuals who share a common commitment to the Catholic faith, its realisation in traditional devotion and praxis, and a desire to spread its teachings. By meeting together, they strengthen their own faith and unite in their mission to live and preserve authentic Catholicism.
The idea of the cell system is rooted in the early Christian communities, who would gather in small groups to worship learn, and support one another (see Acts 2:42-47). This model provides for a more intimate and personal form of spiritual growth, fostering a strong sense of community among its members.
And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers… Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
Within each cell, members engage in various activities aimed at nurturing their faith and passing it on to others. These activities include regular prayer meetings, Bible studies, discussions on Catholic doctrine, and outreach programs to share the message of the faith with others through acts of corporal and spiritual mercy.
Most importantly the members will meet socially together regularly, to pray, share meals and through their conversation receive support and encouragement to develop individually and collectively their faith and its realisation; to build a family of Christians.
Rebuilding the Church: living stones
Amidst wars, moral corruption and materialistic pursuits, St. Francis received a divine message from Christ Himself. He heard the command, “Francis, go and rebuild my Church.” This call resonates with our present time, mirroring the challenges and chaos that surround us.
Yet St Francis had invaluable advice, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” These words offer a guiding light, inspiring us to make a difference and initiate change, however daunting the task may seem.
Through the establishment of cells, the Old Roman apostolate aims to create a network of interconnected communities that collectively work towards the preservation and perpetuation of the Catholic faith. By nurturing individual faith and fostering fellowship, the cells play a vital role in ensuring that the Catholic faith continues to thrive and inspire generations by relaying a firm foundation upon Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).
“Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”1 Peter 2:5
The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Christ, Who is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself, the foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.” The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation.
Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build upon (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.
The Old Roman apostolate in its effort toward the restoration of the Church regards each “living stone” founded upon Christ by baptism as integral to its mission, and each group of “living stones” as a foundation upon which to build “a spiritual house” a worldwide oratory that will glorify God, make reparation to Jesus, and bring souls to salvation.
“Other Sheep I Have”
In addition to the cell system, the Old Roman apostolate also emphasizes the importance of evangelization and spreading the message of Catholicism beyond the confines of the cell groups. This can be achieved through various means, such as organizing retreats, hosting public talks, engaging in charitable activities, and utilizing modern communication platforms to reach a wider audience.
The Old Roman apostolate sees itself as of ancillary service to the Church, not an alternative, and to this end, any Catholic minded toward Tradition as the answer to the current crisis is welcome to join a cell and participate in the activities of the wider apostolate. Whether they belong to a conventional parish, a Traditional Catholic mission or parish or attend an Old Roman mission or oratory. All are welcome who are willing to work toward the restoration and unity of the Church.
Cells may be supported by an Old Roman priest who will visit as often as may be practicable or members may travel regularly together to an Old Roman mission to receive the sacraments. It is not required that members receive the sacraments exclusively from Old Roman priests. Ultimately cells belong to an administrative area of the apostolate, a territory or region overseen by a traditional Catholic bishop who both guarantees the provision of sacraments according to the traditional rites, and assures the orthodoxy of teaching and praxis.
The principles of Operation Fidem Servare together with the Cell system, and through evangelism, the Old Roman apostolate seeks to create a vibrant and resilient Catholic community that remains faithful to its mission and actively works towards preserving and spreading the faith. Through the dedication and efforts of individual cells, the Catholic faith can continue to flourish and inspire future generations to embrace its precepts and values.
In this way the great work envisioned by Pope Leo XIII may be realised;
This good and great work requires to be helped also by the industry of those among the laity in whom a love of religion and of country is joined to learning and goodness of life. By uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, Venerable Brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church…Pope Leo XII, encyclical “Humanum genus” April 20th,1884