Friday, October 26, 2012

Liturgical Pain, Cries of Woe, and the SSPX

 I think this statement from ChurchMilitant.TV is instructive, and something we might all consider and adhere to. It was left as a comment by Terry Carroll, Executive Producer of CMTV, on a previous post.

The position of ChurchMilitant.TV concerning the SSPX is that of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, as expressed in his motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, issued July 2, 2009:

 "In the same spirit and with the same commitment to encouraging the resolution of all fractures and divisions in the Church and to healing a wound in the ecclesial fabric that was more and more painfully felt, I wished to remit the excommunication of the four Bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. With this decision I intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the "Society of St Pius X" to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to the Catholic Bishops ( of last 10 March, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry."

There are two important points here: 

1) The SSPX are not in full communion with the Church and are invited by the Church to rediscover this path.

2) The SSPX has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.

We are well aware of ongoing dialog between the SSPX and Rome. It is to be fervently hoped that these dialogs result in a return of the SSPX to full communion with the Church, granting their bishops and clergy canonical status and the authority to exercise ministry. Until such time as this occurs, our judgment must remain that of the Holy Father.

Terry Carroll
Executive Producer


Mr. Carroll added this comment on “Feel the Pain”; I think he makes many good points (my emphases):

I could not be more sympathetic to the SSPX as a temptation for those suffering through the  insults to Our Lord at so many Novus Ordo Masses. But it is terribly easy to rationalize one's participation on a regular basis as if we were recusants during the period of the English Reformation. The Church Herself has not declared a "state of emergency" and it is hubris to assume that WE can.
SSPX priests are validly ordained, their Masses are valid, but they are in all cases acts of disobedience to the Church. SSPX priests do not have faculties to hear confessions. I, personally, do not wish to "gamble" on "Deus supplet" on a matter so urgent. I, personally, experience even MORE pain at the idea that a priest of God offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in persona Christi disobediently than I do at the worst excuses for Mass that I have experienced in Novus Ordo settings.

Suffer through Novus Ordo Masses, even refrain from receiving Holy Communion, rather than rationalize your participation in a Mass that quite likely is even more insulting to God than the Masses you now endure. The cry of Satan was "Non serviam," the penultimate act of disobedience. It is conceivable that SSPX Masses are as offensive to God as Black Masses. God is not mocked, and God does not bless disobedience. Stay with the Church and, in the best traditional sense, "offer it up" as an act of redemptive suffering within the divine chastisement that we all so painfully experience.

The SSPX are not formally in schism. But the consecration of bishops was declared by Pope John Paul II as "schismatic." This is just a case of hearing "quacks" before definitively concluding that it's a duck. SUFFER through the Novus Ordo Mass and fulfill your obligation to keep holy the Lord's day. Don't pamper your spiritual needs with rationalized disobedience. Pray that the SSPX responds to grace and enters into communion with the Church. This is what the Holy Father asks. As faithful Catholics, THIS is what we should be doing, not reinforcing disobedience.


  1. Dr. Jay, thank you. Our Blessed Mother has used you and Catechist Kev to save me, yet again, from myself. This man is 100% correct. I only wish there were people talking like that twenty-five years ago. I would never have walked away from the Church if there had been.

    It all comes down, in the end, to obedience and humility, doesn't it?

    I will offer my Mass and Holy Communion on Sunday for the two of you and your intentions.

    "Rationalized disobedience" - That sums it up succinctly.

  2. Comparing the SSPX Mass to a Black Mass? And yet the SSPX Mass satisfies our Sunday obligation? It is this type of double speak that creates confusion. The enemies lie deep within the Church, not within the SSPX.

    It is my thought that by suffering through the NO Mass one reinforces disobedience and therefore I choose not be part of it any longer. Our family belonged to a local NO parish for 5 years. I taught CCD & Confirmation, among other things. The bishop (our shepherd) thought it cute to rub holy chrism into the Confirmands' hair. Suffer through you say? At the expense of children?

    My children were due to receive Confirmation the following year, but after witnessing that mockery, we had them confirmed by Archbishop Fellay. His sermon was inspiring and fitting for those receiving the Gifts of the Holy Ghost! (As Providence would have it in our youth, my husband and I were confirmed by Archbishop LeFebvre.) We do not attend an SSPX chapel, but would not hesitate.

    Many have varying thoughts on this . . .

    Our hope lies in the fact that Our Lady's Immaculate Heart will triumph in the end!

  3. I think that some of Mr Carroll's remarks are a bit over-the-top and do not indicate that he has thought very deeply about this whole unfortunate matter. It also has a note of condescension, never very helpful in delicate discussions.

    As I do not attend SSPX Masses some of these matters don't confront me, but the ultimate blame for this whole mess can not be put upon the SSPX. It is the fault of the modernists in the Church that inflicted the Second Vatican Catastrophe (not my term, but I agree with it) upon the Catholic world which turned a vibrant Church into a waterless desert.

    I agree that certain members of the SSPX have at times made questionable decisions but I well understand their frustration with a hierarchy that has seemingly gone mad.

  4. Dan, just a word in defense of Terry Carroll: I know for a fact that he has thought long and hard about this issue, and that he has engaged in discussions about it with many knowledgeable people.

  5. I don't find anything he says over the top at all. I understand what he is saying.

    Pride and disobedience.

  6. Comparing an SSPX Mass to a Black Mass? And yet hasn't Rome said that the faithful fulfill their Sunday obligation at an SSPX Mass, at least when there are no options? I'd call Mr. Carroll's an over-the-top statement.

    I don't attend an SSPX chapel, but mostly because the only one in the Chicago area is too far for me to get to as I'm unable to drive at the moment. When I WAS able to drive, I regularly went to Mass at St. John Cantius, but occasionally I'd go to the SSPX chapel when the Novus Ordo preferences at Cantius got too much for me. But I admit, even when I would go to the SSPX Mass, I didn't go to Confession there and I was conflicted about whether or not I should be going there at all.

    It's such a difficult, painful situation. I pray for them to be "regularized". Is that the right word?

  7. Terry says, “It is conceivable that SSPX Masses are as offensive to God as Black Masses. God is not mocked, and God does not bless disobedience.” I think this is a very good point, and one to be considered. He’s not saying that an SSPX Mass EQUALS a Black Mass; he’s pointing to the fact that God is not at all pleased with disobedience. No matter the intentions or beliefs of any particular SSPX priest, the fact is that the SSPX was born out of disobedience. I think it’s a shame that Rome will not make absolutely clear where the SSPX stands, because the faithful, as a body, are confused. I’m confused, anyway, and I have been for a long time.

    At any rate, I don’t think Terry’s statement is “over the top”. I think that in this case it is important to examine one’s own motivations for attending an SSPX Mass. Just because we are unhappy with the local Novus Ordo Mass (or even with the Novus Ordo Mass in principle), doesn’t give us license to do what we wish. Rather than just dismiss what Terry says because we are appalled to think that the SSPX Mass can be compared to a Black Mass, we should really think about what that comparison means. Terry is talking about what is pleasing or not pleasing to God. “Obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). We need to think about that.
    Would I be tempted to go to an SSPX Mass if it were readily available to me? You betcha. But that’s why I have a spiritual director. Even though I have said I would attend such a Mass if I could, I would have to consult with my spiritual director before taking that action.

    The thing is, there’s certainly no sin in attending a Novus Ordo Mass; but there is the potential for sin in attending the SSPX Mass. Things are just too muddy

  8. I’d like to attempt to use Terry’s 'rational' thinking.

    If it is a matter of disobedience and being displeasing to God, I would suggest that it is more conceivable that many NO Masses are as offensive to God as Black Masses. (Keep in mind that this is not my way of thinking.)

    But as Terry mentioned, God is not mocked and God does not bless disobedience. We all can agree that mocking God and disobedience are now rampant in many NO Churches. This disobedience reaches well into the hierarchy of the Church. This is not to dispute that there are some NO parishes out there trying to maintain the faith.

    There is no 'potential' for sin by attending an SSPX Mass (unless you intend to receive unworthily). Either attending the Mass is sinful or it is not. Either it fulfills our Sunday obligation or it does not. Would Terry also compare the Orthodox Church liturgies to Black Masses? We can also attend their liturgy when none other are available.

    God reads each individual heart and knows each intention. Since many of us are not learned in canon law, Our Lord knew that there would be times of confusion and lies. However, He gave us some advice on how to discern the matter: By their fruits you will know them.

    What holy fruits could He be speaking of? Increasing vocations to the priesthood? Catechizing the faithful? Maintaining the integrity of the Faith? Increasing attendance at the Tridentine Mass?

    This should lead us to another question: Why does the Church remain silent regarding Our Lady of Fatima’s request? The SSPX continues to pray that Russia is Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Many claim it has been done – if so, where is the peace she promised? I’m just askin’!

  9. Here’s my understanding: The Novus Ordo Mass was promulgated by Pope Paul VI; it has papal authority behind it. Of course, there can be cases where liturgical abuses invalidate an individual Mass, but generally this isn’t the case in the parishes of my diocese. Also, if an otherwise perfectly valid and liturgically correct Mass is celebrated by, say, a “woman priest”, then it’s not a valid Mass, obviously!

    In the case of the SSPX, the priests and bishops are illicitly ordained. No matter how meticulously they celebrate Mass, no matter how good their intentions, as individual priests, they still not licitly ordained. The whole organization is based on disobedience to the Holy Father.

    Suppose there is a validly and licitly ordained priest who holds that gay marriage, contraception, and abortion are okay…and sadly there seem to be more than a few of these. This priest is not being faithful to the teachings of the Church, but his sin does not impact the validity of the Mass he says (assuming he is celebrates Mass according to the rubrics). That, too, is a teaching of the Church.
    Of course God will be displeased with a Mass that contains liturgical abuses said by a priest who is a sinner (and name one who isn’t!), but He will still accept the Sacrifice, barring abuses that invalidate it. The faithful who attend such a Mass fulfill their obligation and do not sin by their participation.

    Even if the faithful can fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending an SSPX Mass or an Orthodox liturgy, this is not preferred or to be the norm. That, I believe, is what the Church says. The water is just so muddy. Sigh.

  10. "SUFFER through the Novus Ordo Mass and fulfill your obligation to keep holy the Lord's day. Don't pamper your spiritual needs with rationalized disobedience." Don't pamper your self indulgence either. Isn't your criticism of bishops and priests rationalized disobedience? Close your blog. Mr. Carroll close your business. Offer it up. After all it is conceivable that what you are both doing is offensive to God.

  11. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but:

    Unfortunately, the NO way is the 'norm' now. Archbishop Lefebvre justified his decision to consecrate bishops by citing a provision in the code of Canon law for extraordinary measures during a "state of emergency" in the Church. The state of necessity is an objective situation of the Church and one must surely be blind not to see it. (Just look on YouTube for liturgical abuses - we never imagined it 50 years ago - and it keeps getting worse). The salvation of souls is THE paramount necessity! Are you willing to entrust your soul and the souls of innocent children to clergy who openly profess heresies and celebrate scandalous ceremonies, because that's the best Rome can do? They falsely pose as authentic Catholics along with their followers (i.e. Biden, Pelosi), who loudly preach the same heresy without any fear of excommunication. But take comfort, because the ChurchMilitant.TV assures us that we aren't in any state of emergency!

  12. I certainly don’t have the answers. I do know that the Church says that parents are the first and primary teachers of the faith to their children, and so if we teach our children the faith, then we have done our part. If we cannot trust a particular priest of parish to administer the sacraments within the bounds of validity, then we need to find a different priest or parish. Thank God for the FSSP. How do you get them to come to your area?!

    Also, Mike, I’ve considered many times whether I should “close my blog”. But I think there’s a difference between my pointing out clear evidence of bishops’ and priests’ failures to properly lead the faithful according to Church teaching and documents, and the SSPX bishops defying the orders of the Pope.

    I’m not at all unsympathetic to the issues raised by the SSPX, nor to those raised by those commenting here. I, like the rest of you, am trying to do the right thing as best I can discern it. Thankfully, for me, the SSPX is not an option. Sadly, there’s no FSSP chapel nearby either. And the local NO Masses are not clown Masses or beer tent Masses. So I WILL offer it up, and I WILL continue to complain to the bishop about liturgical abuses, and I WILL continue to ask for an EF Mass. Acts of futility? Perhaps. But with God, all things are possible.

  13. I really like your blog, Jay, and you are kind enough not to red-ink us when we get on our soap-box! It's a journey for us all! : )

    Pax Christi

  14. Thanks, HSE! You're right - it is certainly a journey for all of us. Seems like we can all learn from each other, and use each other's perspectives to form our own.

    I think all of us commenting here are very sincere in our efforts to discern what is truly the right thing to do in our own individual cases, as well as trying to figure out the general principles that should guide our thoughts and actions.

  15. Thanks, Jay. I love your level-headedness and kind acceptance of differing opinions!

  16. LOL, Elizabeth - Iknow a few people who would definitely disagree with your characterization of me! But I appreciate your kind words very much!

  17. The late, great Scottish journalist Hamish Fraser once aptly stated that the Novus Ordo has turned Catholics into "mass-going Protestants."

    Hamish never said that the Novus Ordo was not a legitimately-promulgated Catholic rite, but he did say that it was a disaster of untold magnitude and a complete mistake on the part of the Church to impose it. And since the charism of infallibility does not apply in the case of concocted on-the-spot Mass rites Catholics are fully free to not attend it in favor of any ancient Catholic rite.

    The New Mass was imposed by an act of Episcopal abuse, whether we like to admit that or not.

    In my view there is no doubt whatsoever that it will be one day consigned to the trash heap of history. A hyperbolic statement, perhaps, but I believe a true one.

    (And, no: please don't close your blog. We need it.)

  18. Dan, I agree that "the New Mass was imposed by an act of Episcopal abuse"!! And your hyperbolic statement rings true for me, too. It HAS to be consigned to the trash at some point.

    (Thanks for the vote of confidence on the blog! I just pray that nothing I say or post leads the truly faithful astray!)

  19. I have been a practicing Catholic all of my life. At my local Catholic Church, the priest brought up Obamacare and that Tea Party People were angry and wanted everyone to be angry. I stood up, something I have never done in my life, and stated that Obama Care will kill babies..the priest told me to sit down, I didn't and then he said to leave. I was escorted out of the church crying. I went to confession at the church I had attended for many yrs and told the priest what happened and that I had written a letter to my local Bishop who chastized me and said "he was distrubed by my disrupting the literagy but more 'the scandal I had caused'. The priest told me that he could not give me absolution!. Just more salt thrown on my open sore. I have been attending and am registered at a SSPX church close and I love it. The reference and respect for the Eucarist is unbelievable. No talking out loud, no chattering during mass etc. I was a Catholic before Vatican II. I went thru yrs of confusion due to the changes. No one can tell me that God is unhappy with me. That is God's call. PS. Women dress modestly.

  20. Wow. I say good for you for standing up right then and there. Our poor Church needs help. You're in my prayers.


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