Sunday, April 02, 2017

Is the SSPX the real BenOp?

Rod Dreher's striking omission. Gabriel Sanchez is long back in the church doing good with his writing. This piece is like my idea of looking to the 20th-century history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, his church home and my part-time one, for a working model of "intentional Christian communities," traditional Catholic ones, under extremely adverse conditions.

I have a lot of respect for the Society of St. Pius X; we have the traditional Mass in the official church again because of them. But I'm not associated with them because my impression (and I have been to them many times) is, like with the Orthodox, while it's a good culture, they're too narrow, a bookend of the militantly low-church, insufferably self-righteous liberals (and yes, most of them were heretics) who scoured our churches of our culture 45 years ago, saying they were doing God's will, which baited some traditionalists into sounding like the caricatures many churchmen accuse them of being. Sanchez handles this well: he explains it's about principles, not nostalgia (certainly not about Latin in church): an authentic horizon beyond liberalism, one where Christ the King reigns supreme and the final end of man is not earthly satisfaction but rather eternal beatitude with God. I don't think "the American way" is the answer like political and church neocons do but I do believe Catholicism can live in the old American republic (the U.S. was never supposed to be a democracy, thank God).

More important than my first objection, Catholicism 101 includes being under your lawful bishop, your local successor to the apostles (the diocese is the church's basic unit; this is Vincentian-canon stuff the Orthodox, other dissident Easterners, and classic Anglicans agree with), who of course answers to the one church's head bishop. Wrong opinions aren't necessarily heresy; you can't break with the reigning Pope or your bishop just because you don't like him (and no, I don't like Pope Francis). The only religious thing I officially belong to is the bare minimum, a parish of the diocese. The SSPX conscientiously is not a separate church in theory but in practice is one.

A third objection is related to the first: there's real Christianity vs. "secularized and part-time Christianity," but "the Catholic Church: here comes everybody," not a perfectionistic micromanaging cult of of the self-righteous, the caricature of traditionalism, which is not the big tent of the real pre-Vatican II church (the faith of Francisco Franco and Dorothy Day; heck, the Irish and Italians in America used to hate each other). Still, the clergy's job in part is to point out the "authentic horizon" Sanchez mentions. Sound teaching from the pulpit and decorum in the sanctuary (a rite teaches and keeps order in church) but "come as you are" for the laity; private/home devotion is a free-for-all, for example. (The local SSPX chapel's Christmas Midnight Mass is packed... with local people, not just the parishioners you'd expect.)

Sanchez's criticisms of Dreher are fair: Dreher has left the church and is a writer who claims to critique contemporary liberal culture while remaining deeply embedded within it who wishes to curry favor with media elites who will draw attention to his book or give him free airtime, which seems to confirm my suspicion that his most vicious critics are right that he's a Judas trying to persuade conservative Christians to surrender (certainly leaving the church fits that), the "fixat[ing] on same-sex marriage and gender issues" being "bloggy outrage porn" (the critics' words) to get our confidence; bait.

Of note: "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?" Even in secular terms Vatican II's a flop. Last fall, in rural Virginia, the Society opened a brand-new seminary to house the influx of vocations pouring in — something which no Catholic diocese in America has been able to boast of in decades.


  1. ". . . an authentic horizon beyond liberalism, one where Christ the King reigns supreme and the final end of man is not earthly satisfaction but rather eternal beatitude with God. I don't think "the American way" is the answer like political and church neocons do but I do believe Catholicism can live in the old American republic (the U.S. was never supposed to be a democracy, thank God)."
    Well this does not describe modern American society at all! Today we are no longer Christian, much less, Catholic, as a society. I prefer the term, Judeo-Christian, which encompasses an ethic/morality that even the Deists of our Founding Republic recognized and agreed with. Now we have moved beyond being Pagan into being secularists/atheists/agnostics/religious indifferentists to a highly militant degree. There will be Hell to pay for this, especially with the prime characteristic of this apostasy against Judeo-Christianity. This prime characteristic is abortion on demand which subsumes all the sins of our god-less society under one huge tent. Yep! Hell to pay . . . .

    1. The American way isn't the answer but the old American republic's religious liberty is an answer for Catholics, an opinion on which the SSPX and I differ. I think they're mostly about objecting to Vatican II on religious liberty and ecumenism; saving the traditional Mass is secondary. I'm not the kind of American Catholic who tries to be 200% American (such were around before Vatican II, trying to out-American the WASPs, supporting all our wars, and there's the legend of George Washington, that agnostic Mason from the "Enlightenment," seeing Mary at Valley Forge) but I do like our country. By 1960, Catholics peaked here, scaring a lot of Protestants. A perfect storm of events and maybe a plot or two put paid to all that.

      As you know, I like to point out that the irreligion, even being anti-religious, is worse in our mother country and indeed throughout Europe. You'd think that the country with the Queen and mitred, coped bishops who are also in the House of Lords would be a Burkean conservative model but no. Heck, Canada (Australia, and others) has the Queen and is spiritually worse off than we are.

      No-fault divorce and contraception, particularly the Pill (the message of both: no-cost, no-responsibility sex), paved the way to the abortion holocaust and the rest.

  2. The reality is that following Vatican II the Catholic Church in Rome abandoned the Catholic Faith i.e. Tradition, and it embraced Protestant Heresies in its Liturgy...Rome abandoned the Faith. God chose Archbishop Lefebvre to establish the SSPX so that the Catholic Faith, the Catholic Priesthood and the Catholic Mass could be saved.

    1. No. The Catholic Church is indefectible. Our doctrine doesn't change. If you think Rome abandoned the faith, ex cathedra, then you're not Catholic. By the way, Vatican II did not come from Protestantism but a naïve faith in "progress": "Streamline the church for the space age and it will get even better." The then-new field of liturgical studies (learning the history of liturgies) gave some the novel idea of rewriting the services. Not heretical (the new Mass is orthodox) but imprudent. And some modern-day heretics did imitate Protestantism.

      What about the Eastern rites? I go to the Byzantine Rite once a month and my home prayer life is largely Russian-based (yes, like the Orthodox: I do prostrations in front of icons). Even without Archbishop Lefebvre helping save the old Mass, the new Mass, while arguably unfortunate, is valid (and Benedict XVI cleaned up the English translation, making that clear) and we still have old forms in the Eastern rites.

    2. Ditto! Rome and the majority of "Catholics" - and I am very generous here as today's neo-Catholic is simply a crypto-Protestant - have long abandoned the One True Faith. Mons. Lefebvre and his cohorts were there to grab the baton as the usurpers and the unsuspecting didn't drop it, but kicked out unmercifully​.

      The Lord promised the gates of Hades would not prevail, but he wasn't specific how they would be kept shut. For the conciliar "church" not only have the gates of Hell prevailed, but also the Petrine Chair is occupied by Vicar of Satan.

      As in the time of Athanasius of Alexandria, it is the small that preserves the Apostolic deposit.

    3. Myers is more accurate. And... we ARE Catholic. Your bold vanity will hurt you, my friend.

    4. Radical traditionalism demonstrates that not everything with Catholic trappings is Catholic.

    5. John, outside of the Byzantine rite, and then not always, almost all the lesser eastern rites have adopted the novus ordo, this is especially true of the Maronites.

  3. I do not believe that Catholic traditional groups are reflective of the Dreher Benedict Option, but a group that has the most bizarre, modernist liturgy, coupled with Byzantine Ikons and papolatry most certainly are:

    You may peruse youtube for examples of their liturgical celebrations, they make the most bozo-the-clown novus ordo celebrations look traditiona. Pope P.P. II loved them. I find them frightening.


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