Wednesday, 8 January 2014

High Society

                                                        What's not to like?                             Picture:
I would imagine that, in the wake of what appears to have been going on in the first year of this papacy, the congregations at SSPX Masses must have increased considerably.

And why not?

Let me state here and now that I am not a member of the SSPX laity but I would have no qualms in attending one of their Masses if it was down the road from where I live.

As a family, we do owe a great debt to the Society of St Pius X.

In the bleak years from 1988 to 2005, we only had the Society (apart from occasional forays to London some 270 miles distant where we could attend St James' Spanish Place).

Even then, we had to travel long distances to attend Society Masses.

All orthodox Catholics are indebted to the Society in many ways, not least of which was the spread of Latin Masses in dioceses throughout the land.

Without the SSPX we would have far fewer Latin Mass centres around Britain.

The spread happened as a result of some members of the laity using the threat of the SSPX opening a possible Mass Centre in the diocese.  This news was guaranteed to galvanise the bishop into action.

This is how it worked. Someone would let slip the fact that the SSPX were sniffing around the diocese looking for an old chapel to buy up as their next Mass Centre.

Now, I don't know if this would be a genuine fact or a made up one, I would hope the former.

The knack was to release this info to a person or persons firmly with their feet in the NuChurch.

This would result in a fairly immediate phone call to the bish and, hey presto!
Next thing would be a Tridentine Latin Mass being offered regularly at one or two of the diocesan churches.

The bishops fear the SSPX more than they fear the devil!

But, I sense that, among many orthodox Catholics, there is a certain reserve about attending Society Masses.

I don't quite know why.

They are licit and, what is more, they are one hundred per cent liturgically accurate.

That is not to say that our priests who have to offer both the OF and EF Masses are, in any way, liturgically untrue, it is just that Society churches are designed for the task.

The sanctuary is architecturally perfect and, if you are an altar server, you will appreciate how important that is.

I do, however, have some issues with the SSPX, minor ones really.

I don't agree with their obsession regarding women's clothing. For example; I believe that, provided due modesty is observed, it is not the right of anyone to criticise dress styles.

And, due to the pressured peripatetic role of most of their priests, the important after Mass pastoral care element is, all too often, missing.

This morning I was reading some background to the late Michael Davies, great man that he was, may he rest in peace.

Michael Davies was a fully paid up member of the Society and really, that ought to be good enough for anyone harbouring any doubts about attending their Masses.

Here is a link to an interview Mr Davies gave to Christian Order, the last interview before he died.

At the end of the interview he makes a somewhat prophetic statement, really referring to his Catholic instruction:

“…sorry, I tend to think in this way, blame it on the Jesuits”

So, before condemning the SSPX and its good works, may I suggest that you do two things.

Available at £11.95 from Carmel Books
Firstly, read Archbishop Lefebvre’s excellent book: ‘Open Letter to Confused Catholics’

And, secondly, attend one of their Masses.


  1. Richard, having attended SSPX mass centre for 25 years, agree with all you have written. For anyone who is not familiar with the Society the books of Michael Davies and Archbishop Levebres Letter to Confused Catholics are an excellent read. Still hoping and praying for a reoncilliation with Rome. How much longer?

  2. utterly concur...if it looks, sounds, smells, and indeed is Catholic (apparently JPII wanted to bless the SSPX with bishops but other bishops wouldn't allow...who can say) then it is, Catholic.

    “I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy.”
    …Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
    9 November 2004

  3. Excellent post. I too would be attending an SSPX chapel if it were closer to me. Several years ago, I was one of those who was afraid of them. It took some time and some reading and learning. The book you mentioned, "Letter to Confused Catholics" went a LONG way to helping me over the fear of the unknown. Great book and dispelled my fears. God bless the SSPX.


    Up the raging Mississip
    And at the St. Paul’s source,
    South below the ragged cliffs
    There is a fiercer force.

    A force which surges
    Human blood between her banks each June
    Then tears and rents herself for all
    She is Winona’s womb!

    And like the raging Mississip
    Her channels open wide
    And birth the men who are the priests
    The source of Mother’s pride.

    And from that raging Mississip
    And at that St. Paul’s source
    South below the ragged cliffs
    Push priests from land of Norse.

    Who ride the river far and wide
    For souls from shore to shore
    And bring them home to Mother’s side
    To leave Her never more.

    And up where current’s all the rage
    And sin is sorrow’s source
    Still south below the ragged cliffs

  5. Our SSPX chapel is 5 minutes away and I couldn't be happier somewhere where I can practice my Religion and be Catholic, as we always were and always will be.

    Long live the Holy Sacrifice and God bless the great Archbishop Lefebvre!


  6. Excuse the spelling mistake: should read reconcilliation. My father was a proof reader, no doubt turning in his grave at my error!

  7. God Bless, Hannah; prayers that this fruitful branch of the True Vine comes within, at least a few hours drive-time for those indecent 'traditionalists'.

  8. They look like priests that are honoured to have been ordained, to offer the sacraments and save souls.

  9. I do not go to SSPX Masses. Well for a start my wife wouldn’t let me. I do however go as and when I can, to the FSSP Mass which is reasonably close. Deo Gratias!

    The SSPX excommunication was lifted by Benedict XVI in 2009. They have never been doctrinally in dissent from the Church since their position is pre-Vatican II, and as we all know that Council did not alter or define any doctrine. Their Orders are, and always have been valid.

    Personally, I see no reason at all why one can’t go to their Mass, although, of course, I don’t have to, having a perfectly good alternative within reasonable reach.

    As for the future, I suspect the mainstream Novus Ordo Church will decline as the clergy fades away, and a small but steadily growing remaining Church, based on the Vetus Ordo, and a drastically Reformed Pauline Mass, which will sooner or later receive back the SSPX, will be the future of Western Catholicism.

    That will probably be about four Popes away.

    1. Jacobi named for the most loyal apostle...Your wife wouldn't let you! I cannot tell you how long I prayed for my husband to LEAD me. Get a grip man! (verbal slap across the face)

  10. I only met Michael Davies once, I'm sorry to say; but I know and admire many of his books. Did Mr Davies not speak highly of at least one Jesuit, Fr Paul Crane?

  11. Whilst the Masses celebrated by SSPX priests may be licit insofar as they are celebrated according to the appropriate liturgical norms, they are celebrated illicitly because the priests consented to be ordained by an excommunicated bishop, or now one who was ordained without a pontifical mandate (cann: 1383); furthermore the priests cannot have been granted faculties by a diocesan bishop and so celebrate Mass illictly, and invalidly hear confessions and marry people (apart from in extremis).

    1. Gabriel - we fulfil our obligation by attending a Sunday SSPX Mass, that's good enough for me.

    2. Only if that is your only option for Mass, otherwise you are spreading scandal as the catechism calls it. They currently hold the same status as the Russian Orthodox.

    3. Truecatholic, I'm sorry but you are quite wrong. The rule is that one may validly attend an SSPX Mass (and fulfil your obligation) provided that you do not exclude any prayer for the Holy Father.

  12. Excellent summary... and conclusions that most reasonable Catholics who understand the crisis in today's Church would agree to. Of course, this naturally excludes low information Catholics who simply wish to be led, rather than to hide under the basket, rather than let their Faith shine squander their heritage, rather than to invest in their eternal future. God Bless the SSPX and their apostolate.

  13. Thanks for posting this, it's really refreshing to read about all the good the SSPX really have done, I think many Catholics sometimes forget it. Having spent a lot of time with SSPX friends, and also supervised at their summer school for a couple of years I feel as though I have to disagree with your statement on the Society's "obsession" with the correct way for women to dress. Though some individuals are more focussed on this point than others, I don't think it's fair to say that the Society as a whole is obsessed. I speak as a young woman who hasn't been forced to compromise her opinion on modesty when dressing to SSPX standards...and I'm not someone who thinks we all ought to wear ankle length skirts all the time! Members of the Society I've come across, Sisters, Priests and the laity seem to have a very balanced opinion when it comes to's necessary that they work for high standards as in practice these will always be slightly lowered (unpleasent but true), as a result most (-I agree not all :(... members accept and approve of a reasonable level of modesty, and are not obsessed.

    1. Amber,thank you for your comment. My view is based upon attending Mass on several occasions at St Padarn's. I sat through, on each occasion, a diatribe for about 30 minutes, on the dress style of women. This while the world around us is descending into anarchy.
      I agree, this is just one church, just one priest and that the Society has many great priests but I have also experienced a similar prejudice at the SSPX chapel in Lourdes.
      To my mind, it is an unhealthy preoccupation, especially when women in the congregation are decently attired.
      I have spoken at length with Society priests who agree with me but who have stated their reluctance to oppose their brethren. I know you will appreciate that, as the father of three daughters, I am zealous in preventing them from being condemned from the pulpit when they are modestly attired (but not in the eyes of the priest concerned). God bless.

  14. Thanks for your reply. I agree, this priest (at St. Padarn's) does sound a bit obsessed, it's an unfortunate preoccupation when he might be offending parishioners. Thank goodness it's not the whole of the society who share this obsession! I can see how unpleasant it would be to have one's family criticised, especially unjustly. However I do think that the Society's guidelines, placed outside their Chapels etc., are helpful for reminding parishioners of the importance of modest and respectful attire, and as helpful advice for non-Traditional Catholics attending; SSPX for the first time.

  15. Long Skirts. So good to see your poetry again. I miss the "comments" on Rorate.