11 March 2015

Fr Zuhlsdorf and the SSPX

I subscribe to the nuanced views expressed recently by Fr Zed archiblogopoios. I also think that what appears to be the current policy of the Holy See is intelligent: the old idea that a meeting of theologians will deliver results has given way to a sensible policy of multiplying personal contacts, by means of visits both to and from Econe. If the Holy See ever wants an Ordinariate priest to visit Econe and report back to the Holy Father, I am their man! No no! This is not a joke!

I have had a soft spot for the Society ever since, while I was still in the Church of England, the family sent us to Avignon on the occasion of our fortieth wedding anniversary. We went to a 'mainstream' church for the Sunday Vigil, and then on Sunday morning I went to the exquisite little SSPX chapel (Chapel of the Black Penitents, Rue Banasterie). It is a baroque/rococo masterpiece; amid all the splendours of the City of the Popes it was the highlight of my trip! I did not conceal that I was an Anglican priest, but they treated me to a very warm welcome. These were not prickly bigots. The congregation embraced all age groups ... unlike the congregation we had joined the previous evening ... and the liturgy was reverently done ... and I felt very much at home. This is the only SSPX Mass I have ever been to: perhaps it was untypical, but I take people as I find them.

There is one thing that Bishop Fellay could do which might be understood as significant (I very humbly suggest) in Rome. On Good Friday, he could be known to use the elegant, biblical, and sensible Oratio pro Iudaeis composed by Benedict XVI. After all, the Society does already use the highly modified 'Bugnini' Holy Week Rites which in the 1950s Pius XII substituted for the ancient Roman rites. And, in the 1962 Missal, the Prayer for the Jews was itself modified by S John XXIII. If the Society were still using the ancient pre-1950s forms, I would sympathise with a disinclination to fiddle around with them. But if they are going to use Pius XII-as-modified-by-S John XXIII anyway, is it a big deal to use Pius XII-as-modified-by-S John XXIII-and-by-Benedict XVI? It would be an edifying act of acceptance of a living Magisterium

Or perhaps Bishop Fellay already does this. Does anybody know?

I shall not enable comments which show disrespect to the Society. The Ordinariates are Pope Benedict's remarkable gesture towards Christian Unity, and this post stands in the same spirit of a desire to see gathered into one the orthodox broken fragments of Latin Christendom.

FOOTNOTE It is interesting that the Bugnini Commission had not tampered either with this prayer, or with that for Heretics. Incidentally, in the Church of England its (still doctrinally normative) liturgy, that of 1662, still prays on Good Friday " ... Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ... ". I wonder why all the noisy bigots who so malevolently attacked the Vetus Ordo and Pope Benedict and the prayer he composed never get hot and bothered about this. I believe that Prince Charles filius Fidei Defensoris is Patron of the Prayer Book Society, which advocates use of the 1662 book.


motuproprio said...

I suppose it's because nobody thinks the Church of England matters any more.

Patrick Sheridan said...

It seems to me that a collect in use for hundreds of years carries considerably more authority than one composed in my life time by a pope-but-lately-retired which mentions "Israel" in an undefined way. To supplant it may be "living magisterium," but it is not Tradition.

Romanitas Press said...

Father, a great piece and thanks for your kind words about the SSPX.

I just wanted to clarify that the SSPX actually uses the 1955 OHS with some pre-1955 customs (such as the "Gloria laus" rite of knocking on the church door with the processional cross).

Also, while Bugnini did serve as the liturgical commission's secretary for the Pius XII reform of Holy Week, his actual influence was nil. This was attested by Archbishop Lefebvre on at least one occasion and corroborated by those in the know such as Cardinal Antonelli.

Unfortunately, Bugnini is deceitful in his book on this matter (should this come as a surprise?). One red herring is when he claims that he was able to introduce "Mass facing the people" on Palm Sunday by changing the direction of the celebrant during the blessing of the palms.

But that's not the Mass! And the direction of the offering of the Holy Sacrifice was never altered in the OHS, nor even in Bugnini's commentary on the reformed Holy Week rites in "L'Osservatore Romano".

Additionally, the Dominicans had traditionally faced the same direction (towards the people) for blessing the palms.

Thus it is not accurate at all to refer to the reformed Holy Week rites as "Buginini".

Woody said...

Dear Father, may just report that my own experience, as now an outsider, of the SSPX milieu is very similar to yours, and when one considers that Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society as a missionary society, this is not surprising. The SSPX priests I have met have been unfailingly kind and understanding, not at the "circle the wagons" kind of traditionalists that is insinuated in circles with no close knowledge of them. And by the way: did you see the video showing Bishop Arrieta (a member of Opus Dei) saying that he knows the SSPX well? To me, that suggests visits, fraternal meetings etc.

Athelstane said...

Some trads *did* get worked up about Benedict XVI altering the Oratio pro Iudaeis. The instinct toward any further tampering with the old Roman Rite is understandable, of course. But if you've already accepted the alterations to the Holy Week by Pius XII, and the alteration to *that* prayer by St. John XXIII, why is Benedict's alteration really a bridge too far?

And if you *don't* accept the Pian and Johannine reforms - there are some traditional communities that still use the pre-1955 Holy Week, after all - I'm still not clear why a strong objection is lobbied. Unlike the equivalent prayer in the Novus Ordo Good Friday (which amounts to something so vague as being almost impossible to characterize), Benedict's revised prayer still DOES, in fact, pray for the conversion of the Jews. Just as it prays for the conversion of all other non-Catholics.

I have heard of at least one SSPX celebrant using the Benedictine prayer. My sense is that most do not - but I really don't have any real data to work with on this. I have no idea what Bishop Fellay's personal practice in this regard has been.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the 1970 version?

Unknown said...

The charge of donatism against the society is one that resonates in my own life. Sometimes I find myself avoiding people for fear of 'contamination'. It really is a difficult conundrum to unravel.

Cordelio said...

As an SSPX “adherent,” I have never understood the SSPX to object to the New Mass on the grounds that the Roman authorities can never change the liturgy, but because the radical changes and omissions of the New Mass obscure Catholic doctrine – most particularly on the nature of the Mass and the priest. Moreover, obscuring this doctrine was the avowed purpose of the creators of the New Mass.

Consider that today the SSPX finds itself in a world where, at least from its perspective, the human constituents of the “living Magisterium” are not only content with this gravely deficient liturgy as the norm, but require acceptance of it in principle as the sine qua non of offering the proper liturgy. Consider that Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, referred to the traditional liturgy as “a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product,” but consistently offered it himself without apparent objection. In other words, the SSPX finds itself in a world gone mad, liturgically speaking, where the Roman authorities are unaware of the problem or refuse to do anything about it.

In such a world, it becomes a much bigger deal when these same Roman authorities try to impose any rewrites to the traditional liturgy. Added to this, the new prayer is not - considered relative to the prayer it supplants - entirely unobjectionable.

Matt said...

Dear Father, I daresay the antidote to reckless innovation and destruction is not the endorsing of more innovation. Doing the wrong thing for well-intentioned reasons is still doing the wrong thing. Why throw away a prayer which is one of the oldest in the entire Missal? One should not change the Rite just to make others happy - the exact reasoning for the changing of the Oration in the first place. I daresay our liturgical Rites should not be subject to the whims of Jews and those of dubious orthodoxy.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I finally decided to allow the last comment, but I dislike the tone with which it talks about "Jews", for the following reasons.
(1) All Christians are Jews ... wild olives, perhaps, but grafted into the true Olive.
(2) Using "Jew" in a narrowly racial sense forgets that there are Christian Jews, loved by God because of the promises, but cruelly treated by their fellow Jews (as Cardinal Lustiger was).
(3) Not all non-Christian Jews deserve to be tarred with the same brush. Perhaps the greatest living Jewish scholar is Jacob Neusner, a friend of Benedict XVI, who acidly commented that, since the Synagogue prays daily for the conversion of Christians, it is odd that Christians should be criticised for praying, once a year, for the conversion of Jews.