Search This Blog

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Of Graduation, the Christendom Chapel, and the SSPX

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? 

Really, people? 

 The highest law of the church is declared in the final canon law of the code, i.e., "the salvation of 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.


  1. Some good acoustical/amplifier re-engineering will probably work wonders.

    But another thing that will work wonders is training priests in the art of oratory. That is, to raise the voice (not shout!!) and speak deliberately. Cathedrals built prior to 1930 (or so) did not have amplifiers, yet the congregants understood the priest's sermon.....or so we are told.

    That's because priests were trained properly in the seminary.

    Ah, well. They don't learn Latin any more, either.

  2. Pretty hard to prove schism when the Society exists for the sole purpose of defending, advancing and propagating Sacred Tradition and all its Dogmas.

    The reverse proof, however, when discussing Fr Bisig’s untenable position of FSSP in regards to V II’s subsequent Constitutions is not that difficult. The best they can do is try to prove they say something they obviously do not.

    Sacred Tradition is above Sacred Scripture which derives from it - which means it is Divine Law. An Ecumenical Council must submit to it, not the reverse.

  3. As to the FSSP Priest’s contention, mirroring Fr Bissig’s, that the SSPX is Sede - “… the SSPX is outside the visible Church and that there are writings that indicate they support the sedevacantist position …” - here are the words of its founder Arbp LeFebvre (might as well let him speak for himself)

    “… I do not think it is necessary to have recourse to these explanations. I think it is even an error to follow these hypotheses”.

    What says the SSPX founder, in explanation of these obvious, quantifiable, inexplicable deviations by Popes (plural) and the RCC with them? He says:

    “ … The real solution seems to me to be another one, much more complex, painful and sorrowful … it is supplied by Cardinal Daniélou who says ‘It is obvious that Paul VI is a liberal Pope’. This is the solution that seems most probable historically, because this Pope is like a fruit of liberalism”.

    And that is obviously true - and more so it is every day added to to the advantages of hindsight.

    I would like to know more how Fr Bissig answers that dilemma than how SSPX does - because one has the obvious and honest answer, the other is not honestly facing it; one has taken appropriate corrective action based on that honest definition of the spiritual threat, the other is defenseless based on misidentifying that threat. The truth of that is born out as liberalism sweeps all those ungrounded in Sacred Tradition off their feet.

  4. Typo: “petioles” (quick fill error - argh) should read “faithless”

    1. The comment on which the previous correction is based was possibly lost, so I am re-posting. I fixed the typo in the re-post … which is as follows …

      I’m piggybacking on the topic a little, because it is so important to me. I want to first acknowledge and congratulate you on the educational achievement of your granddaughter and sincere gratitude to God for her and all those with her that give their lives to God in spiritual discipline and love at such a young age. May God protect her, and all those young persons like her, advancing in the Faith in this faithless world.

      That being said … to the sub-theme if this post, I have a book recommendation:

      “Two Timely Issues - The New Mass and the possibility of a heretical Pope”; by Arnaldo Xavier Da Silveira; translated and published by The Foundation For A Christian Civilization. The book was written in 1970 by a Brazilian educated in prestigious Catholic Universities, at the genesis of the current crisis; translated into various languages from the original Portuguese since then; this English edition in 2017.

      It contains two Parts, relevant to this blog post’s sub-topic of remaining faithful in the midst of deviations from Magisterial Tradition within the Apostolic line of the Hierarchy and in the use of its authority to propagate its modern and Modernist errors.

      Part 1, is on the New Mass and why it is fundamentally different than the Mass of Ages, promulgated for all time as a fruit of the Council of Trent (Pius V); why the New Mass is essentially Protestant and thereby heretical; what Liturgical Laws we can depend on, how and why.

      Part 2 regards Hierarchical deviations of authority - starting with the all important topic of Papal heresy, whether and how it changes his status in the holy Papal Office - all the different speculations are considered here. One of the best parts of this section is that terms and premises are precisely defined and consequences drawn from Sacred Tradition.

      This section then draws practical conclusions from the consequences of Apostolic errors - within the Magisterium (Constant, Pontifical and Conciliar) and how the public Laity should then be guided through such fundamental error.

      *Spoiler alert* - the SSPX position is clearly affirmed.

      In my discussions with SSPX Priests, as I arrived at my current position in Catholic Faith according to a well-formed conscience, they have been the definition of truly “Pastoral”. And as I read this book, I see that how they arrive at their carefully, pastorally explained position is in accord with the Sacred Magisterium, when seen in total - impossible for me to do, but naturally attainable for those, such as SSPX missionary Priests of Sacred Tradition and its Dogmas trained in the spirit of its founder Arbp LeFebvre, and its Patron Saint Pope St Pius X.

      Long story short: huge recommend for this book. Hold the line. Stay within the Constant Magisterium. Defend the Apostolic Line of Bishops and their authority to truly rule. Follow only those who will keep you on the straight, narrow path. This book will deliver simple, obvious Hi Fi clarity in a world of complexity, lies, error, static and noise.

      Pax Christi
      Viva Christo Rey

  5. I haven't been to the new chapel. I'm very sorry to hear what you say about the acoustics. No amount of money will ever fix that. They will no doubt hire engineers and throw a lot of cash at the problem but no amount of speakers or buffers or padding or whatever they come up with will ever fix what was deficient in the structural design.

    I an not an architect, but I know when I can and when I can't hear in a church. I've also belonged to a parish that had "sound issues" and they persisted no matter what consultant was hired.

    The cathedral in Pavia, Italy is on the other hand one of my fondest memories BECAUSE of the sound. I was asked to do the readings at mass for our pilgrimage and I was completely blown away by the miraculous way my voice carried throughout the Church with almost no effort on my part. It wasn't a bouncing off the walls echo echo echo, but a motion of sound that rolled through the Church like a gentle wind. I adjusted my tempo to allow the words to reach the rear of the building and the vibration was still so alive I could actually hear it myself from the sanctuary as it reached the back and died out. Building a church requires a lot more than steel beams and stacking stone. It isn't just "what is seen" but also "what is unseen." IF there is a formula for that, then what a crying shame it was not sought out prior to construction.

  6. How can any Catholic be in schism for following strictly dogma and tradition when the Church itself is not? It seems logical to me to say it is Rome that is in schism not the other way round.

    The "emperor has no clothes" and that's the truth so stop trying to kill the messenger. I agree Mary Ann. Make peace and focus on saving souls!

    1. Your first sentence is in error.
      "The Church" can never NOT profess and strictly follow Catholic dogma and tradition. If anyone is NOT professing and strictly following Catholic dogma and tradition, they are NOT "the Church" or any part of it

  7. It's hard to understand your contention that the SSPX isn't in schism when they are doing everything they can to pass on the sacraments and teachings on faith and morals that were rec'd up to the 2nd Vatican Council, while Francis and folks in communion w/him are doing everything they can to eradicate all memory of those same sacraments and teachings on faith and morals. Perhaps since you want to be friends w/many of these conservative catholics you don't see how they have the same agenda as Francis despite all the 'trappings' (aka Church of England which is probably their true communion).

    In terms of your grand-daughter going to (no Saint prefix) thomas aquinas college, long b4 TC (2009), they had faithless sodmite pedophile protector mahony dedicate their new church and perhaps ONLY because of the "famous" alumni (coupled w/Benedict SP) allowed a 1962 mass at 8 a.m. the day daylight savings time began:

    Dedication Saturday (the sabbath of the jews)/ N.O. – Mahony; Dedication Sunday "Neither the previous night’s festivities nor the arrival of daylight-savings time — and the accompanying one-hour loss of sleep — kept students or alumni away from the Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form that was offered in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Once more, the Chapel was at full capacity. The Very Rev. Fr. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P., a graduate of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 1993 and now the Superior General of"

    I wonder how trad FSSP can be when the U.S. head was 'lay'(most likely opus dei) educated.