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December 10, 2015

On Growing Pointy Ears

It is rather annoying to be accused of  being a Lefevbvrist merely because one has been seen attending a Society of St Pius X Mass—as has happened to me on more than one occasion.

In  fact, Stramentaria and I could  save ourselves a 20-mile round trip  every Sunday by attending the SSPX church of St John in Mounttown, Dún Laoghaire. Instead, we drive to the Latin Mass chaplaincy in Harrington Street, Dublin because we believe that if the archdiocese provides the Traditional Latin Mass, then, other things being equal, one ought to attend it.  A piece of literature I was once handed in St Johns stated that if the only choice I had was to attend the Novus Ordo or what used to be (incorrectly) called the Indult Mass, I could be excused my Sunday obligation.  Pixies can sometimes be quite pig-headedly wrong—the Irish ones, anyway.

Image result for pixie ears

I’m told—and I believe it—that the English variety are more broadminded. The ones I met at their chapel in Taunton, Somerset 10 days or so ago seemed a pleasant and cheerful bunch. Most had driven large distances in foul weather. Their priest, incidentally, was a French ex-paratrooper.

No one could describe Fr John Zuhlsdorf  as a Pixie sympathiser.  Yet in a recent post on his blog wdtprs (What Does the Prayer Really Say?) he states:

May I attend a Mass by an SSPX priest during the Year of Mercy to fulfill my Sunday obligation? What is the current status of their Mass and is it affected by the Year of Mercy declaration by Pope Francis on the SSPX?

Yes, attendance at a Mass by an SSPX priest can fulfill your Sunday Obligation… even before the Year of Mercy and also afterward. This is unaffected by Francis’ decision to grant (albeit indirectly) the faculty to priests of the SSPX to receive sacramental confessions and to absolve validly.

In order to absolve validly, a priest must have more than just his valid priesthood. He must have the Church’s permission to exercise the power to forgive sins because absolution involves the binding and loosing associated with the Power of the Keys, jurisdiction. That’s different from the priest’s ability validly to confect the Eucharist. The priest needs the Church’s permission to say Mass, but that permission is needed for liceity, not for validity. In the case of confession, the priest needs permission for both validity and liceity.

The Church’s Law (for the Latin Church) says that to fulfill our Sunday (and Holy Day) Obligation we must attend Holy Mass in a Catholic rite on the day itself or on its vigil.

Canon 1248 § 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states:

The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.

That’s the law, plain and simple.

Some claim that you cannot fulfill your obligation at an SSPX chapel.  Unless there has been some kind of official statement to the contrary from the Holy See, they are wrong.  It has been the long-standing position of the Holy See that you do fulfil your obligation this way.

My own completely fallible and subjective opinion is that if one hears Mass regularly at an SSPX chapel one should, from time to time, attend  a Novus Ordo Mass in order to be certain of remaining in communion with the ordinary of your diocese.



One comment

  1. This is my attiude. After attending my NO parish Mass. I would occasionally drive over to the SSPX Mass to keep in touch with the religion of my youth. Our bishop won’t let us have kneelers for Holy Communion which I need to get up again.
    I am beginning to value the SSPX more than in the past.

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