Tuesday, April 18, 2017


If rejecting Vatican II's poorly implemented legacy is the way to go for the Church, I would like to ask those who attend SSPX parishes or FSSP parishes to tell me what their parish life is like and how large their parishes are in the number of households.

My impression of the pre-Vatican II Church is that priests and nuns and just a tiny fraction of the laity did everything in the institutionalized aspect of a parish. The pastor consulted no one but only a handful of cronies or good friends. Apart from the school there weren't too many other ministries and the laity's role usually involved major fundraising extravaganzas. Apart from altar boys and the women who kept the church clean and well ordered, there were no visible liturgical ministries apart from the choir and ushers.

My impression too, was that actual participation in the Mass saw many praying the rosary or simply zoning out, but not all of course. Is actual participation in its two expressions combined, that of the interior/contemplative and that of the verbal/exterior better today that in pre-Vatican II times in these parishes?

So, today in these types of parishes, what does the "time (prayer/and religious formation dedicated to God), talent (what the laity do for the instituional church with  the gifts they have) and treasure (tithing) look like?

What does Father's convert class look like and how does your parish compare in size with the "modern" Catholic parishes, liturgies and actual participation nearby?

I ask; you answer.


Marc said...

We are in one of the largest SSPX parishes in the country, a few miles from the district headquarters. We have about 300 families. We have 5 priests in residence: two are assigned to our parish and the others travel on the weekend to their parishes. We also have a newly-minted priest who came to the SSPX after many decades in the Novus Ordo.

We have an attached K-12 school where all the priests teach and the local Franciscan sisters also teach, along with some lay people.

Convert classes are individually done with the pastor. We have several groups: Third Order of SSPX, Holy Name Society for men, Altar and Rosary Society for women. There are seasonal talks given by the priests: most recently a series on the crisis in the Church. We have daily mass at 7:15 at the high altar. Other priests say masses at the side altars and other chapels at the same time. The school has masses during the day.

We have confessions on Thursday night and before and during the Sunday masses. We have a low mass on Sunday followed by a high mass. So two masses on Sunday. Everyone meets after masses for coffee and donuts at the parish hall.

There are first Friday devotions: mass then all day adoration with Benediction ending the day. First Saturday devotions include mass and rosary. We have prayers for vocations by the women of the parish after Sunday mass once per month. We have a group rosary for vocations after daily mass every Tuesday.

I guess people donate as they're able. We have regular second collections for the school and the Franciscan sisters. We don't participate in the usually second collections from the diocese or Rome, thankfully.

Our parish has a theater group that the adults and kids participate in and they put on a production a couple times per year.

People participate pretty heartily. We have a schola, of course, and choir. People clean the parish and what not.

Marc said...

I forgot: we also have a Christ the King festival around the end of October for the feast. We have an altar server guild for the young men and boys. We have the Forty Hours devotion. And we currently have a statue of Our Lady of Fatima going to parishioners' homes for a week at a time this year: the family keeps the statue for a week and the pastor comes over during the week to say the rosary with the host family.

Victor said...

The Liturgical Movement was about judging people, about deciding for the faithful what and how they should think and pray in the liturgy. It was not enough that the priest offered sacrifice on their behalf, but that should themselves now become the priests of sacrifice. I suppose if you had a doctorate in theology that would work, but if you are intellectually challenged, illiterate, or simply overwhelmed, the Mass is not for you.
People before V2 came to Mass to pray to the almighty God. The faithful participated in the life of the Church through the many devotional activities. There were so many priest, nuns, and brothers, that the internal workings of the Church was better off left to them. So now we have amateurs doing that task, good grief, even on "liturgy committees"....

sarto2012 said...

"Visible liturgical ministries". Really? Oy, oy, oy ...

Marc said...

Other things I thought of: since we have a priory for several priests, we have Prime, Sext, and Compline in the church everyday and rosary every evening.

One sees some folks praying the rosary during mass. A lot of people are managing their huge families during mass. The vast majority have hand missals and follow along. People sing during the high mass with the usual Gregorian settings.

Laity teach the children's catechism some too, for the kids who aren't in the academy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Your parish sounds like the alleluia community in Augusta, an intentional community of people that want to be there. Unfortunately their spirituality is a cyncrenism of Protestant Pentecostalism and theology and traditional Catholic piety, but they are elitist and committed and make no room for lukewarm or tepid in their community which has produced an abundance of vocations to the priesthood. They are conservative but not traditional.

Marc said...

I've no experience with the Alleluia Community, obviously, but perhaps you're right. The SSPX is generally quite multi-generational. People tend to marry other SSPX folks and we have a lot of people who've been with the Society from the beginning. So it is somewhat insular in that way. The people are much more friendly than the folks at the other traditional parishes in town.

And our priests are very welcoming and helpful. We have a child in the hospital and our pastor has been very willing to come to baptize him and give him blessings. He even came when he was born in case we needed emergency baptism. So our priest was there in the OR with me when my son was born.

I'm quite happy with our community and our priests. I imagine most people tend to think there's a lot of anger at SSPX parishes. But, at this point, we rarely hear about Vatican II or the crisis. It's much more about simply being Catholic in the ways people have already been catholic. That would probably surprise you the most, if you were to visit our parish.

rcg said...

Our FSSP parish has a Pastoral Council. We simply advise the priest on issues and help prioritise for execution based on the cost, schedule, risk, and resources. We have a Finance Committee that are basically heavy weight donors. Only one priest, no sisters. No school, but most are home-schooled and we have a small library.

Lay groups are the Altar Rosary Society and I am looking to transplant a council of the Knights of Columbus. That is an intersting endeavour worthy of some additional discussion. Otherwise, men's group are currently ad hoc or under the firm guidance of the ARS. I am working on that.

We have a schola that interacts with the parish and local community quite a bit with fund raiser concerts, etc. We have First Friday and Saturday, pot luck once a month, donut Sunday every other week that ends up pot luck anyway. Picnics during nice weather, barn dances when it isn't nice weather. We make lasgna food trays for StVdP.

Basically, the pastor directs the parish and helps us grow our spiritual lives. We work with him to keep the parish in good physical shape and manifest our faith through his guidance with good works such as the Food Pantry.

We have a lot of highly educated and experienced people as well as very spiritual people. I am not aware that anyone who is qualified to challenge the priest has done so. There have been a few misguided zealots that have tried, but they are easily handled. Mass participation is pretty good. I might start a class on the lay responses for the benefit of the NO folks who want to visit and are lost. Regular parishoners follow Mass like hawks in their personal missals, some folks can follow by ear. The priest's movements are a dead give away as are the servers and deacon when we have one. Our schola is always at 1030 and Holy Days or special Masses and they help out, too, of course.

In my less than humble opinion the Old Form gets a bad rap for being complex or difficult. It has far less variance than the NO as does the parish life. One shepherd, one liturgy, and loads of spare time to focus on helping where it is really needed. Easy-peasy.

Michael said...

Decently sized FSSP parish here. Enough parishioners to make 3 Masses necessary on Sundays (Low Mass, High Mass, Low Mass). Confession 30 minutes before every Mass, always with long lines. Frequent processions, events, and similar things outside of Mass. Lots of altar servers. Adoration every Wednesday night, which draws a sizable crowd, along with men's and women's groups. Frequent food-fund-raisers that get a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

While these are good questions Fr. McD, my question would be, what percentage of pre-Vatican II Catholics went to heaven as opposed to the percentage of those Catholics baptized post-Vatican II?

I know we can't know with any certainty, but my guess is even the people praying the rosary during Mass in the pre-Vatican II days stand a better chance of reaching heaven than post-Vatican II Catholics.

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. I guess I'll just keep praying.

God bless.

Cletus Ordo said...

As "judgmental" and "negative" as Bee Here's observation might be, he brings up a good point. If you look up the writings of various saints on the number of people who actually go to heaven, the numbers that our saints give us are small, VERY small. Sister Lucy of Fatima once predicted that in the next war, most of those who die will go to hell.

On THAT cheerful note, I think it is important for us to consider the problem of sacrilegious Communions. NO ONE preaches against this practice any more. I greatly fear that millions of Catholics are dooming their souls by the unconcerned manner in which they approach the Eucharist, while so few are ever in line for Confession. Can you look around at your parish and say that the majority of parishioners are growing in holiness? Can you look at our world and say the majority of Catholics are growing in holiness?

It is ALSO a very Protestant way of thinking to presume that one is saved. We have great hope of salvation through Jesus Christ, but the fact is, all of us are prey for the enemy and we could lose our souls at any time. I greatly fear for so many of us who go to Communion when not in a state of grace.

Carol H. said...


I'm praying for your family, especially for your son and your wife. She is okay?

God bless you all.

Ryan said...

My FSSP parish has a couple of priests. Knights of Columbus for men, Squires for boys, Catholic Scouts for girls, etc. Homeschool group (parish is 99% homeschooled). Lots of altar boys. The Devine Office is chanted several times throughout the day in the church. Confessions twice every day. We have outgrown the church and had to add a mass to accommodate the growth. It is a dream come true and is an absolute great place where the children are surrounded by other devout Catholic kids who carry rosaries just they do. Socializing all the time. Our homes are blessed by our priests. You can't get people to leave church, they enjoy being there and enjoy the company of the priests and their fellow Catholics. It is worth the hassle and the financial blow to relocate to be in such a wonderful parish.

Carol H. said...

You are very blessed, Ryan! Where is your Church located?

Anonymous said...

Ryan describes Catholic dystopia, actually.