|Christendom College chapel on college graduation day.|
Our granddaughter graduated last Thursday from Chelsea Academy in Front Royal, VA. Mass and ceremonies were held at Christendom College on a beautiful sunny Spring day under a Mary-blue sky. My husband and I arrived about twenty minutes before Mass and entered the new church for the first time. It's very impressive from the outside, more like a European cathedral than a humble college chapel. It has a large foyer, a high choir loft, and and an imposing altar almost dazzlingly white.
The Mass, celebrated by Fr. Daniel Gee, pastor at St. John the Baptist in Front Royal, was an English ad orientem Novus Ordo. Frankly, I was a little surprised since the chaplain assigned to Chelsea is an FSSP (Fraternity of St. Peter) priest and they only offer the traditional Latin Mass (TLM). I had hoped it would be a TLM.
The music preceding and during the ceremony was glorious and the Chelsea choir deserves high accolades for it. The organ filled the church with music fit for the liturgical event. No banal tunes from the Glory and Praise song book. (I can't call it a hymnal.) Our granddaughter, who has a beautiful voice, was one of the cantors.
The students processed in preceded by the beautiful banners which identify each of the four "houses," or perhaps they call them families, to which students are assigned. It contributed a serious processional feel and reminded me of videos I've seen of the Chartres pilgrimage.
While the organ and the singing were beautiful, on the whole the sound system is terrible. The acoustics in the church are awful! My hearing isn't 100% but I haven't had problems other places including the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. which is much larger. No doubt Fr. Gee gave a good sermon. He read a long excerpt from the trial of St. Justin Martyr who was executed under Marcus Aurelius. I understood almost none of it. I heard, "Rusticus said".. undecipherable... and then "St. Justin said"... undecipherable. The echo was terrible. Father was wearing a personal mike at the altar. I wasn't sure as he started the Offertory whether he was reciting the prayers in English or Latin. I finally caught a few words and realized it was English. I hope someone is called in to deal with the problem. What a sad situation to build a multi-million dollar church and have a situation where the readings and teachings are incomprehensible.
The graduation ceremony, held in the commons, which is basically the cafeteria, was lovely. The two students giving the speeches did a great job particularly the Valedictorian who spoke about gratitude, a much neglected virtue in today's barbaric world. I was thrilled to see our latest grandchild graduate (We have three this year.) and move her tassel marking her entry into a new life's chapter. She will attend St. Thomas Aquinas in California in the Fall where she attended their high school summer program last year and fell in love with the school. May God help her grow in knowledge and virtue as she matriculates there.
During the celebration, I spoke to an FSSP priest who was there for a relative's graduation. We got into a discussion about the situation between the FSSP and SSPX. He asked if I attended Fr. Bisig's talk in Front Royal about a month ago. I did not, since we were away, but was sorry to miss it. [Brian Mershon covered it for Catholic Family News.] The priest repeated the default position of the FSSP, that the SSPX is outside the visible Church and that there are writings that indicate they support the sedevacantist position. The implication, although he did not say so explicitly, is that they are in schism. It's become a mantra.
My husband and I discussed the conversation on the way home. He made the point that there is nothing definitive, no formal declaration that the SSPX is "outside the Church." In fact, my understanding is that the SSPX question is assigned to the papal dicastery that oversees situations in the church. If that's true, and I haven't confirmed it, how can anyone say the SSPX is "outside the church?"
|Our Lady of Good Success |
predicted chaos in the Church.
The SSPX is in an irregular situation no doubt, but they are not schismatic. Those of us who attend their chapels are Catholics who love the church and pray for the pope. There is no such thing as a "Novus Ordo Catholic" or a "trad Catholic" or an "SSPX Catholic." We are all Catholics and part of the universal church. We all pray for the pope and the diocesan bishop. Don't we all want to bring souls to Christ? Isn't that our goal? Why are we fighting amongst ourselves when the enemy is surrounding us on all sides?
The highest law of the church is declared in the final canon law of the code, i.e., "the salvation of souls...is always the supreme law of the Church." Not sometimes, not occasionally, but always. The SSPX is totally devoted to the salvation of souls and evangelizing through the Catholic faith. I presume the same is true of our bishop and our diocesan priests.
I spoke a bit to Father about the chaos in the church and the disagreement among theologians and canon lawyers. He agreed that the pope was a problem and that we are likely to get another pope like him since he's named most of the electing cardinals. Our conversation was brief and cut short by photo calls. His emphasis was on the points made by Fr. Bisig, but there are plenty of other voices that disagree with Fr. Bisig's conclusions.
We are experiencing the chaos predicted by Our Lady of Good Success when cardinal will be against cardinal and bishop against bishop. Why is Fr. Bisig a more reliable voice than Bishop Schneider? Why is Cardinal Burke's opinion that the SSPX is in schism more reliable than Cardinal Hoyos' opinion that they were "never in schism?" Every visitation of the SSPX has resulted in positive reports. Let go and let God!
The times are chaotic. Let us all pursue truth and be charitable toward one another. I recently watched the lovely Italian movie about St. Philip Neri. It's not a documentary, so I take the details with a grain of salt, but it's charming. When the saint is under suspicion and the pope wants to know the rules of his confraternity, Filippo makes the point that to be obeyed rules must be few. His only rule is caritas, charity.
That's a good place to start and we could use a little more of it here in the Front Royal area. We all have the same goal don't we?: saving souls. So, please, don't judge your neighbor. Don't fight with him or criticize him behind his back. Don't send folks to the zoning board to oppose a special use permit for a better location. Help us protect the children from the heavy traffic along a busy highway.
Have charity! And take Gamaliel's advice. If it's not from God, it will not succeed. If it is from God, nothing you do can stop it and you will find yourself fighting against God.
"Let us love one another in spirit and in truth."
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.