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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Opening a Can of Worms and Reflecting on Bishops Cancelling all Public Masses


Oh my....


I opened a can of worms with a brief statement on my Facebook wall Sunday night:
Went to a drive in Mass in Front Royal this evening and received my Lord and Savior on my knees. Thank you, Jesus. Thy will be done.
The incredible uproar began!

One gentleman accused me of being in mortal sin for disobeying the bishop. (More on that below.) A fellow blogger said I was committing serious scandal and demanded I take down the thread because the Mass was offered by a priest of the SSPX. Another ranted that I was willing to endanger and even KILL people.

Hysteria and incivility seem to be the order of the day during the coronavirus plague.

Please......Everybody take a deep breath.....

Now....Let me begin by describing the event.

A friend sent me a notice Saturday evening (oops! actually it was 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning) saying a drive-in TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) was being offered at the fairgrounds in Front Royal Sunday afternoon. Both the Warren County police and the Warren County fairground approved it. Let me say that again. The Warren County sheriff, well aware of the CDC guidelines for limits on public gatherings, along with the fairgrounds approved it!

You needed to sign up and there were strict rules for distancing. So I went to the website and signed up. We were to stay in our cars which were spaced 6-8 feet apart. If we were receiving Communion the priest would come to the car and people could get out to receive and immediately return to the car. There was no interaction with anyone except the priest who did not touch anyone. I have never had a priest during the Latin rite touch my tongue when they distributed Communion. I can't say the same for receiving on the tongue in my home parish.

Some people received Communion; others did not.

I took my missal and we read the Mass as the priest prayed. Since the TLM is mostly silent, problems with hearing (It was very windy.) and seeing (There were a lot of cars.) didn't affect us much.

The Mass was offered by an SSPX priest from Maryland. I found out after the fact that Bishop Burbidge, our local ordinary, had a statement on the diocesan website. Here's the statement:
Statement regarding Society of Saint Pius X gathering in Virginia: 
Based on recommendations from the public health and scientific communities, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge maintains his directive that all public Masses in the Diocese of Arlington are suspended until further notice. We have been notified that the Society of Saint Pius X, which is a schismatic sect and not in full communion with the Holy See, is holding Masses in Front Royal, VA. This group did not request permission for their gathering from the Diocese of Arlington. 
Bishop Burbidge highly encourages the faithful to follow the guidance of public health and scientific leaders and stay home whenever possible. In order to stop the spread of coronavirus, all people, including those of religious faith, must be willing to make temporary, uncomfortable sacrifices for the long-term good and health of the community.
The Diocese will be live streaming Holy Week Masses at and through the diocesan Facebook and YouTube accounts.
SSPX Parking Lot Traditional Latin Mass in Allendale, MI -- 4th Sunday of Lent, March 24th
Back to the uproar on Facebook. I'm accused of committing a mortal sin for disobeying my bishop and also that I'm willing to infect and kill people by being in public at a Mass despite the strict distancing rules. And, of course, I'm misleading people into thinking they can go to an SSPX Mass, etc, etc....

I'm not interested in arguing and at this point I'm just responding with a Hail Mary over every comment whether positive or negative. And I'm also going on a Facebook fast for the rest of Lent. I'm one day in and can say unreservedly it was the best decision I could make.

But did I, in fact, disobey the bishop? This appears to be a carefully worded statement. Nowhere does the bishop impose any kind of judgment or penalty on those who attended the Mass. Ironically, he didn't even urge people not to go. He simply stated the fact that, based on government recommendations, he has suspended public Masses in the Diocese of Arlington. Then he urged us to "follow the guidance of public health...leaders."

Think about that for a minute. These are the same public health leaders who are allowing the slicing and dicing of little babies to continue uninterrupted during the pandemic. Gathering at the abortuary is fine; gathering for the Mass (with more than ten in the congregation) is not. So the bishop tells us we should follow government guidelines. Hmm...we all know what a friend the government is to the weakest and most vulnerable as well as to the Church. Don't we?

In fact, the bishop's statement did not address the people of God except to "highly encourage(s) the faithful to follow the guidance of public health and scientific leaders." Which, let me point out, the Mass at the fairgrounds did. So...did I disobey the bishop? I think a Jesuit would have to say no.

With regard to the SSPX being "in schism." A number of prelates have said that isn't so including two who headed the commission, Ecclesia Dei. But I leave that argument to others. Here's what Fr. John Hardon, that bastion of orthodoxy, said about attending SSPX Masses during a conference on liturgical abuses:
I will begin each resolution what is a crisis with a short title. First, attending a Lefebvre Mass - among Catholic Cannon lawyers there is a divergence of opinion. One group canonists conclude that Catholics attending Sunday Mass in a traditionalist church, whereby traditionalist we mean Lefebvres although as I know there are other traditionalist churches not coming from Archbishop Lefebvre. The first group of canonists declares Roman Catholics may attend such a Mass. However they also hold that a person that is a Catholic may be violating his separate obligation to maintain communion with the Catholic Church. Moreover scandal must be avoided when people see an otherwise faithful Roman Catholic regularly attending the Eucharistic liturgy celebrated by a priest who is publicly known to be out of communion with the Bishop of Rome. That one group of canonists. 
Other cannon lawyers take another position. They write it makes no sense to speak of Catholics fulfilling an obligation which they have within the Catholic Communion, but participating in a Mass which is outside that Catholic Communion. According to them therefore, if a Catholic attends such a Mass on a Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation he or she has not fulfilled their obligation. 
Now my own opinion which I have been giving now for years. In my judgment, Catholics do fulfill their duty of assisting at Sunday Mass by attending in the Holy Sacrifice a church affiliated with those who are members with a schismatic group like the Lefebvres. But then I also must add the Catholics be sure at those seeing them attending these schismatic Masses are not scandalized into thinking that professed Roman Catholics have given up their fidelity to the Bishop of Rome.
He reiterated this at two retreats I made with him, when asked by participants. I HEARD HIM and what is written above is essentially what he said.

Of course, he did not have in mind the idea that bishops would ban public Masses throughout the entire country. (I wonder what he would say about that!) He was talking about Catholics having their children scandalized by local gong-show Masses celebrated by modernist priests. Their Masses, while licit, might very well be invalid. (My husband and I didn't receive Communion at a Mass in Hampton once because we doubted its validity.) And many bishops do nothing to rein in the scandals. The SSPX Masses, on the other hand, are valid, but illicit, as was the Mass in Front Royal. But since it is currently THE ONLY CHOICE, I went in good conscience and will probably go again if it continues. 

But isn't it interesting that the only ones trying to find creative ways to offer the Mass and bring Christ to His flock during this pandemic are the bishops and priests of the SSPX? Ironic eh, while they continue to be vilified by so many. Here are the SSPX guidelines during the pandemic. 

One other interesting titbit. We had a confirmed case of coronavirus in our parish of a person who attended Sunday Mass (10:00 a.m.) on March 15th before the bishop suspended Masses the next day. My daughter and her family attended that Mass but sat on the other side of the church. The health department advised our priests to go into voluntary quarantine until March 29th. We have heard of NO other cases in the parish as of today, two days after the end of the advised quarantine.

In conclusion, when the Mass is restored at our local parishes I will return with joy. I go to my little parish church every morning to pray the Mass in my Magnificat. This morning there were four of us in the church. In the meantime, I will do what I can to receive the bread of life despite the ranting rages of the Facebook and other Church monitors. And I thank God for the priests of the SSPX whose bishops allow them to continue serving the little ones -- i.e., US. 

To all my Facebook "friends," you follow your conscience; I'll follow mine!


Aqua said...

I have read the book, “An Open Letter To Confused Catholics”, Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre. I recommend it. It explains everything necessary about them and the current crisis to which seemingly only they have answers and solutions.

Here it is, free.

There is a focused effort on cancelling all that is sacred and crushing those who desire God and to be in communion with Him. Archbishop LeFebvre faced similar conflict, precedent to his book to “confused Catholics”. Now we all get to face similar pressure (from within the Faith, including the “Pope”) and facing similar choices of eternal significance.

As for me and my house ... we will serve the Lord and attend Mass with a grateful heart. I never knew how much I loved Mass until it was taken away, which brought tears when announced. Pure joy with my brethren at Holy Mass. It is the highest of spiritual sins to remove or advocate the removal of the Holy Sacrifice. Of that, I have no doubt.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

To the Unknown person who sent me a private message. Thank you so much! Your words of support meant a lot to me. I'm praying for you in thanksgiving. May God reward you for your kindness.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

In Karl Keating’s E-Letter (March 8, 2005), he noted that for 26 years of the John Paul papacy, of which Ratzinger was the doctrinal watchdog for 24 years, only 24 people were disciplined. Keating comments: “That is fewer than one per year!… The Catholic Church boasts 1.1 billion members. This means that, on average, over the last quarter century, the Vatican has disciplined only one out of a billion members per year. This is about as close to zero as you can get. Is there any social, commercial, or governmental organization that disciplines such a small percentage of its people?… If the Church had the kind of inquisitorial bureaucracy that its critics imagine, the Vatican would be disciplining 24 people each week…. However you look at it, 24 cases in 26 years is…laughable.” It appears that Ratzinger (now Benedict) is not the Panzerkardinal after all, not God’s Rottweiler.

Mons Lefebvre was disciplined because he wanted to be able to worship God as did his father, as did the father of his father, as did the father of his father's father etc etc back to time immemorial and he was convinced that if he did not consecrate his own bishops that would not have happened.

In any event, the excommunications have been lifted and there is absolutely no problem with the Faithful assisting at the Holy Holocaust of the SSPX and the claims that it is wrong to do so reveals that the N.O. was imposed upon the faithful and the Real Mass forbidden because the LIl' Licit Liturgy was the educational vehicle intended to transport all of us into the New Theoolgy and the New Faith.

However, the Pope is as beholden to Tradition and me and Thee and Pope Paul VI was acting Ultra Vires in doing what he did with the Lil' licit Liturgy which is the New Faith which is the boot sempiternally stomping on the face of the faith.

A Pope CAN NOT forbid that which was holy for scores of generations of Catholic Faithful and the idea he can revels how successful the N.O, has been as as vehicle of mass (pun) destruction.

Don't sweat the complaints Mary Ann. If those complaining were told by their Bishop tha they never had to assist at Mass again, they'd be fine with that.

DebbieInMD said...

oh my, first reaction was such heartache that I could not go to that Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion myself !! I'm very happy you could do so!

And thanks, Aqua, for that link to Archbishop LeFebvre's Open Letter, I'm happy to have it.

11rhymesandreasons said...

Well said ABS.

Clare said...

I am so grateful we found the SSPX about 5 years ago. As a convert (20 years) I was becoming so disillusioned I'm not sure I could have stayed Catholic. SSPX priests are holy and full of charity, real men of God. And then to get to know Archbishop Lefebrve through his writings-he is not at all what the world and the leaders made him out to be. He was so humble. Anyway, I pray that more and more Catholics wake up to what is going on

Mike Hadro said...

Per March 29th interview with Archbishop Vigano, "We must always remember that living the Sacraments cannot be replaced by visualizing the Sacraments. At a more banal level, we cannot feed our bodies by looking at a photograph of a loaf of bread."

Mike Hadro

St. Christopher said...

You were correct in going to the SSPX Mass.

First, Abp. Athanasius Schneider stood up for the True Faith when, on March 30, 2020, he said, "Attending Mass is as essential as shopping at grocery stores or using public transportation, both of which have not been shut down." (Cardinal Burke also said Mass should not be denied to Catholics.)

Second, the Bishop was incorrect to state that the SSPX is a "schismatic sect." In fact, the Pope himself authorizes SSPX administration of the sacraments, hardly what would be done if they were "schismatics." Perhaps there is a definitional issue here, but only one such as arguing, "how many angels dance on the head of a pin."

The SSPX (to which I do not belong) should be praised and supported for its robust embrace of the Traditional Catholic Faith. The present institutional Catholic Church has abandoned its flock, all the while whining about environmental, immigration, and worker compensation issues.

Continue to seek Christ at the SSPX Mass. Thank you for your courage.

Aqua said...

@Mike Hadro. That made me laugh. It also helped me understand. Good one.

Fr. VF said...

People need to learn HOW to receive Communion on the tongue.

Put your head BACK (not BOWED) and don't stick your tongue way out. Just hold your tongue FLAT. Close your eyes. Not merely a pious gesture, but it prevents FOLLOWING the Host with your eyes and thus prevents WAGGLING the tongue to "help" the priest find your mouth, and LICKING the Host out of the priest's fingers. Do not move toward the priest, and do not rise up on your toes as the Host approaches your mouth. (If your eyes are closed, and if you are kneeling, this certainly won't happen.)

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thank you, Father.

I spoke to my spiritual director (a priest) for some time last night and he basically said the same thing Fr. Hardon said. We may not give anyone the idea that we reject the authority of the Holy Father or that we are separating ourselves from Rome. But if there is no alternative, one may go to a valid, even if illicit, Mass. So I will continue to go to the SSPX drive-in Masses with a clear conscience until our Masses are restored. Let me say very explicitly that I pray for the Holy Father every day and do not belong to an SSPX chapel, although I am very thankful for their dedication to the sheep during this challenging time when many churches have gone dark.

Lord, have mercy on us! Christ, save us!

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Mary Ann. You know our Governor supports Sunday Mass and has exempted them from his shelter in place recommendations/orders.

The Secular authority DeSantis says, Yay Mass.

Florida Bishops say NO WAY JOSE

The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church in West Palm Beach prays for Francis during the Rosary prior to mass and also during The Te Igitur... and it is The SSPX which offers the Holy Holocaust every Sunday while the craven Bishops of Florida keep the churches shuttered. Of course, such actions reveal what is in their hearts and their souls and this is especially true after they have wasted countless months promoting The Americanist heresy/religious liberty.

The longer this situation prevails, the greater will be the growing interest in the Real Mass vs The Lil' Licit Liturgy.

Pope Francis and the Bishops are the best SSPX recruiters currently operating.

Aqua said...

Mary Ann, I appreciate your choice of topics and opportunity to participate in a conversation about them. I also appreciate your assistance to those who need Mass in a dark land to help find Him and spiritual discussion of the complexities caused by our present situation.

I may disagree with you on this that or another (as you know). I think Catholics can all agree, however, with St. Paul that we should not be divided with some following Paul, others “Apollos” (etc) - but united rather in Christ. How we get there is easier said than done, I do grant that. Charity is the currency of the Realm that helps us solve all temporal dilemmas.

For me, that means keeping my eyes fixed in Jesus Christ which has never basically changed (with varying degrees in the struggle) going back long before I converted to the One True Faith. I follow Christ behind my Priest, behind my Bishop, behind the Pop*e* (singular), behind the Blessed Mother. Through them all, I follow Christ until death (by God’s Grace ... may I never waver or deviate), so if anyone in front of me deviates off the path that leads to Life, I will not follow them - they disappear from my field of vision - because I stay on the path of the orthodox Catholic Faith, with Dogma as guardrails on either side, and Christ before me always.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, said today as in every other day, is offered by SSPX Priests at great risk to themselves - their light very visible and obvious in a darkened Catholic land. And I see it as the greatest gift of my almost six decades of life that I can attend.

It is difficult to appreciate the hard choices of the Faith, made by Archbishop LeFebvre - knowing as he did at that time of great moment, that his choices either way would lead him to heaven or hell and countless souls with him. Imagine, being asked by the Pope to deviate from Sacred Tradition! Well ... we need not imagine, because we are faced with very similar choices of eternal consequence. We are in “his shoes” choosing one path or another. And it is not immediately obvious which path is of God and which is of Satan (there are only two). And so - Jesus; Sacred Tradition; Dogma; Fruits of the Spirit. They guide me.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

The drive-in Mass made LifeSiteNews

I thought this paragraph was particularly interesting:

The group’s canonical status is said to be “irregular,” although it has moved closer to full Communion with Rome recently. Since the beginning of the Year of Mercy (late 2015), Pope Francis has granted all SSPX priests jurisdiction to hear Confessions around the world. Catholics may also validly and licitly be married by SSPX priests, where local bishops have given their permission. The SSPX claim that the state of the crisis in the Church is so bad they have “supplied jurisdiction” that allows its priests the freedom to operate outside the authority of ordinary diocesan bishops.

Unknown said...

Mrs. Kreitzer: Please know that you and your family are in our prayers. I have multiple letters from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei confirming that a Catholic may fulfill his Sunday obligation (or in this case, worship God since our bishops have forbidden to allow us to have access to Holy Mass)at the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X.

Their bishops are no longer under presumed penalty of excommunication and all of their sacraments are valid.

Pax Christi in Regno Christi!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

A friend of mine sent an email to Bishop Athanasius Schneider asking if Catholics may receive Communion from the SSPX during this trial. Here's the email and the bishop's response:

My friend: “Your Excellency, I don't expect you to answer me directly. I'm hoping that you will answer in a public forum if you see fit. I live in Front Royal, VA and the SSPX is coming to the Fairgrounds and saying Mass while we stay in our cars. Father then is coming car to car to give us Communion. Our Bishop has said that they are schismatic and that we should not go. Other people are saying we are under a Divine Interdict and we should not go. My question is (I know they are not in schism) is it permissible for us to receive the Eucharist if it is available despite what the Bishop says. Thank you and God bless you.”

Bishop Schneider: “I think given the specific situation, one can receive Holy Communion from the priests of the SSPX.”