Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Thoughts on the SSPX, The Church and the Crisis of The Faith
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SSPX AND OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE
Those who know me know I am grateful to God for the presence of the SSPX in the world in that I believe they have promoted Tradition and thus been a thorn in the side of Rome for several decades. It is my personal belief that Archbishop Lefebvre was an instrument of God in the forming of the Society, and I do not underestimate the courage this great man needed to stand against the might of the Church of Rome, Mother and Mistress of Truth, when she veered from her true course.
Bishop Fellay, the current Superior General of the SSPX, is one of the few courageous, sound, balanced Episcopal voices of today, and I am delighted he holds the office he does in the Society, since I think he continues very much in the mould of the great Archbishop.
The priests of the SSPX whom I have met have been, on the whole, very balanced men very much in the mould of Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Lefebvre, with one or two slips that have disturbed me (such as a homily in which a priest said, “N, whom Rome today would have us believe is a saint…” –which suggests a rejection of the legitimacy and authority of the post-Vatican II Papacy and is thus a contradiction to the said priest offering Holy Mass and praying for ‘Francis our Pope, and N., our Bishop’ (that bishop being the Ordinary of the Diocese in which their Mass centre is situated).
CONCERNS ABOUT THE SSPX AND ITS LAY ADHERANTS
I do however, have serious concerns about a number of SSPX lay adherents whose positions seem to me to be more reminiscent of Bishop Williamson than of the Society per se. these concerns arise from the fact that from a number of the SSPX laity I hear convictions that 'the Novus Ordo Missae is evil', and that 'the priestly ordinations and epsicopal consecrations according to the post-Vatican II Pontificale are invalid' (sadly, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has all but aligned himself with this latter position, if reports of his sermon during the ordinations on June 29th 2016 are correct).
My concerns is that there is a growing attitude among SSPX laity that the Catholic Church no longer exists except in the SSPX, since the Church of Rome and all those in Communion with her have lost valid Orders over the last 50 years by use of a invalid Rituals. If the Rituals are in fact invalid, there can be no valid Bishops and priests in the Roman Church, but that leaves the SSPX laity heading toward a sedevacantist position since only a validly consecrated bishop can in fact hold the See of Peter and there are, they say, few if any valid bishops left in the Catholic Church. Thus, very soon there can be no Pope. This begs two questions: first, if the Papacy has been lost, why are the SSPX seeking union with Rome at all? Second, if Rome is the Rock of the Church and it has been destroyed, in what way can they claim to have faith in Christ who declared that His Church would NOT be overcome? They follow a Christ who is either too weak to protect His Church, or a Christ who has not bothered to keep His promise.
THE CRISIS OF THE FAITH
Yes indeed there is a deep and profound crisis in the Church of today that we cannot deny: there is little or no Catechesis worthy of the name in Catholic schools today; we celebrate a liturgy that focuses on affirming man and are part of a dying post-Vatican II Church, as indicated by a precipitous fall-off in baptisms, marriages, Mass attendance, religious vocations and ordinations -all of which has Bishops the world over establishing projects focused on the ‘renewal of structures’ that are really about managing decline rather than promoting the Faith, no matter how they dress it up (and it is usually dressed as ‘the Holy Spirit providing us with the opportunity to utilise the gifts of the laity in ecclesial ministry’, yet Vatican II -the Council on which they purport to base their changes- clearly stated that the laity were to be engaged as the leaven in the world. Vatican II never once used the term ‘lay ministry’ (a term which is an elephant in the room that the contemporary Church never acknowledges), the Council only spoke of lay mission.
Of great concern to me is how a number of people I have spoken with, and this includes young people, are losing their faith. One reason why their faith is being lost is that they see the Church is in a woeful situation and that the bishops appear to refuse to acknowledge this, either because they have not the humility to admit they were wrong; are too blinded by error to see that they are wrong, or are wilfully following their own designs rather than the direction of Vatican II (which stands in direct contrast to today’s man-centred liturgy, religious indifferentism and use of the laity as ministers). We are certainly in a time of crisis; a crisis that is pushing people to opposing extremes: a large portion of the official Church pushing its distorted application of Vatican II further and further while the SSPX appears to harden in one limited understanding of the pre-Vatican II Church. A second reason that faith is lost is that many are fighting a political corner in the Church, be it liberal or Traditional, when they should be fighting to overcome their personal vices; to acquire personal virtues and to promote social virtues.
Many folk seem to have forgotten that there have been times huge crisis before in the Church before. One thinks of the Arian Crisis, of Augustine’s battle against the Donatists, of the split between East and West, and of the Protestant Revolt. Today’s crisis is not something that has no precedent -and just as Rome has always triumphed by the hand of God in the past (since He is indeed faithful to His promise that the Church will not fail) we can believe that Rome will triumph again today (it may not be in our lifetime –and I doubt it will be during the Pontificate of Francis- but it will come).
OVERCOMING THE CRISIS
It is my firm conviction that the Church must  restore the Penny Catechism (the English equivalent of the Baltimore Catechism) to schools (since unless the faith has been changed this cannot be objectionable to the Bishops), and  order that the Novus Ordo be celebrated according to the directives of Vatican II (Latin for the Ordinary with Gregorian Chant as its proper music) and according to the rubrics approved by Pope Paul VI (which favour ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and presuppose Holy communion received on the tongue); rubrics he saw as embodying the reforms required by Vatican II. Until these are restored we must pray for grace for the Church, and challenge respectfully wherever we see Rome and the Bishops making pastoral, liturgical or teaching errors. As an encouragement to readers who are dismayed by the state of the Church and consider leaving the Faith I want to conclude with part of today’s second reading from the Novos Ordo Divine Office. It is a reading from St Augustine:
Our Holy Scriptures do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the Gospel is not silent about scandals, but ‘he who preservers to the end will be saved’…
You find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the time of their parents, and should complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now…
have we forgotten those burdensome times of famine and war [of the Arian Crisis, of Donatism, of the Protestant Revolt? –Fr GD]. What times those were!