June 2008 - District Superior's Letter
The Motu Proprio has declared that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated and that all priests may celebrate this mass. In response, the Society has sent out a brochure to all 7000 canadian priests which explains the Motu Proprio and proposes that they order a DVD permitting them to learn to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. The effects of the Motu Proprio are discussed.
Latin Mass DVD sent to all the priests of Canada
During the past few months, a brochure put out by the district office of the SSPX in Canada promoting a DVD which would permit priests to learn how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass has been mailed out to all the priests of Canada, that is, to more than 7000 priests. In the face of the silence and scarcity of reactions that the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” of July 7th 2007 had provoked in Canada, it seemed important to us to make the document of Pope Benedict XVI known to the members of the Canadian clergy and to inform them of the existence of such a DVD. The response to these mailings has been promising because we have already received more than 300 demands and more keep arriving in the mail. We have had the joy of receiving some letters of encouragement for our apostolate coming from priests in various provinces. Certain priests amongst them also expressed their joy at being able to learn or re-learn to celebrate the traditional Mass. It is true that we also received some letters of disapproval.
I wish to render special thanks to the Legion of Mary Presidium in Toronto who, by its hard work, has permitted the realization of this project. It was an immense task but a magnificent apostolate towards the Canadian clergy.
Effects of the Motu Proprio
Time and again, we have been questioned on the attitude to be taken in the face of the appearance, while still too minimal in Canada, of Masses according to the new Motu Proprio. The position of the Society of Pius X on this subject has already been exposed by our Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, on the occasion of the publication of the Motu Proprio as well as in the “Letters to Friends and Benefactors”. The Society is sincerely rejoiced by the publication of this document, in particular because it affirms that the Tridentine Mass has never been abrogated. We rejoice also that priests may and in fact, have already recommenced celebrating the Mass according to the ancient rite, thus permitting additional faithful who ignored it or who didn’t dare participate in it out of scruples on “legality” to discover the treasures of the traditional liturgy. In numerous countries, the Society puts this DVD, or other means of learning to celebrate the Mass, at the disposition of priests. The Society priests are also at the disposition of those who wish to be guided or assisted in this apprenticeship.
A Motu Proprio is but the beginning
However, as Bishop Fellay has reminded us several times, if the Society of Pius X rejoices at the courageous decision of Pope Benedict XVI expressed in the Motu Proprio, it doesn’t thereby forget that the law of the liturgy is inseparable from the law of Faith: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Our attachment to the traditional liturgy is intrinsically linked to our attachment to the Faith of all Times, to the Faith that has been professed “always, everywhere, and by all”.
Now, it is sadly still very clear that the crisis of faith is still too present in the Church today. The errors of Vatican II and it’s devastating modernist spirit still imbue the Church authorities, clergy and faithful, particularly those who have known only the new mass or have become accustomed to it.
Relations with Rome after Motu Proprio
Our position has always been and remains an attachment to the Catholic Faith and refusal of the novelties introduced by the Second Vatican Council. A return to the liturgy is an important event that we encourage with all our heart but this remains a step towards a complete return to the traditional teachings of the Church. This is why Bishop Fellay concludes his last letter to friends and benefactors (#72) by these words that I permit myself to quote: (…) The Pius X Society cannot “sign an agreement”. It rejoices sincerely in the papal will to reintroduce the ancient and venerable rite of the Holy Mass, but also discovers the sometimes ferocious resistance of entire episcopates. Without despair, without impatience, we note that the time for an agreement has not yet come. This does not prevent us from continuing to hope, from continuing the route defined from the year 2000. We will continue to demand that the Holy Father annul the decree of excommunication of 1988, as we are persuaded that this would do the greatest good for the Church and we encourage you to pray that this is realized. But it would be very imprudent and hasty to throw oneself into the pursuit of a practical agreement that was not founded on the fundamental principals of the Church, and very especially on the Faith.
And so, what attitude should the faithful then have in light of this situation? Two words resume it: fidelity and prayer.
Fidelity to the liturgy but also to the teachings of the Faith, fidelity to resistance against modern errors. Faced with the amplitude of the crisis in the Church, it is clear that each must bear witness to the Faith according to his state and rank, without animosity but with fidelity. And therefore, if it doesn’t seem possible to the Society to “sign an agreement”, if it seems dangerous to pursue a practical agreement that would not be founded on Faith, how could we encourage the Faithful to do so? How could we urge them to go to even traditional masses where, at the best, silence is kept about these errors when they are not being propagated, as though this was of little importance, as though defending the Faith wasn’t a duty for every Catholic, priest and faithful, when it is attacked? It must be clearly understood that the predication heard, the teaching received on the occasion of the mass are as important as the rite observed.
Prayer : We must pledge ourselves with generosity in the new rosary crusade to which Bishop Bernard Fellay calls us. Each day let us recite the rosary for all these intentions, multiply our prayers so that the Church regains and returns to her bi-millenary Tradition.
With the assurance of my prayers, dear faithful, and of my blessing.
Father Arnaud Rostand
District Superior of Canada