I had the misfortune of being unexpectedly mauled by a wild ass on facebook earlier this evening. Another person who considers herself a celebrity and expert in Catholic theology. I had taken notice that her theology derailed from time-to-time and that she gnawed on the arms of Catholics who tried to drag her back to safety but didn't think much of it before today.
Some poor slob wrote her explaining how awful her parish is and asked what to do about it.
Catholic writers and bloggers get these kinds of communications on occasion. Most people weighed in and told her to get out, find another parish with a priest who is a true shepherd.
Somebody came along in her comments section and suggested SSPX, said they had been going there for three years and took great refuge in hearing and being guided by the teachings of the Church.
Longtime readers of TTC are familiar with my position on SSPX. I don't recommend it for a multitude of reasons.
There are plenty of decent priests around who need us as much as we need them.
You need to remain where your children will have their Sacraments recorded.
There's a TLM said by priests with faculties somewhere around if you're really desperate.
But the most important reason is, some of the Sacraments they perform are invalid.
Stupidly, I thought the woman and readers there were interested in the pursuit of truth and posted a few links. It was an adult conversation. Badabing badaboom.
I posted a few links from Fr. Z, the most informative being this one, and cited important parts of his magnificent explanation.
The priests of the SSPX are validly ordained. They celebrate Mass illicitly but validly. In normal situations they do not validly absolve, because they lack faculties to absolve (because faculties are necessary – in addition to valid ordination – to absolve validly). They cannot act as proper witnesses to marriages, because they are not recognized as such by the Church. A proper witness is require by the Church for the form of marriage.
How to sort this out? Let’s try it this way...
Not all sacraments are juridic acts, and not all juridic acts are sacraments but, as in the classic Venn Diagram, some sacraments are juridic acts.
A juridic act (canons 124-128) is a human act by which a person, capable in law, observing the requisite formalities, manifests his intention to bring about a certain juridic effect.
For example, baptism is both a juridic act, and a sacrament. A juridic effect is intended (incorporation into the Church). Formalities are observed. The person, capable in law, manifests his intention to baptize (he uses the proper matter and form). The Church, in her clemency and her desire that no one be denied baptism, extends jurisdiction to confer baptism to “any person who has the requisite intention” (can. 861§2). So, while bishops, priests, and deacons are the ordinary ministers of baptism, anyone – even an unbaptized person – is capable in law of baptizing validly.
Confirmation, Marriage, Penance, and Holy Orders are the other sacraments which are simultaneously juridic acts. Reception of these sacraments changes a person’s juridic status in the Church. The Church is more restrictive about who can administer these four sacraments. Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion/Eucharist are not juridic acts. Reception of these sacraments does not change a person’s juridic status in the Church.
Absolution of sins after Confession is a juridic act. The priest, the confessor, acts in persona Christi and judges the penitent. Remember that the confessional has the aspect of a tribunal. The confessor/judge absolves and lifts the sin from the penitent. Confessors also at times lift censures. As a juridic act, it can only be done by someone capable in law. The Church has restricted this, not because the Church wants to make penance less available to people, but rather in order to ensure that the faithful are getting the best possible pastoral care and that they remain within the fold of the Church. Thus, the Church gives faculties, permission, jurisdiction, to act in this way, to use his priestly abilities in a performing a sacramental act which is also a juridical act.
With marriage, there’s an added wrinkle. The ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the parties who get married. The spouses are the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony. Therefore, for a valid marriage to be effected, they are required to be “capable in law”. For example, a couple of thirteen year-olds are not capable of marriage. Someone already married is not capable of marriage. Other capabilities are more relational. For example, Sempronius may be capable of marriage, but he is not capable of marrying his sister, Caia. Neither is Sempronius capable of marrying Titus). For Catholics, an additional burden must be met. For a Catholic to marry validly, he or she must marry before an authorized witness, usually a bishop, priest, or deacon....
The priests of the Society of Pius X, may be holy, generous, stalwart, good men and priests. I have met some. I have been favorably impressed. However, they lack the jurisdiction to hear confessions or officiate at weddings. No proper authority has given them the faculties to act for the Church. When it comes to certain sacraments that are also juridic acts, that makes all the difference.
You are not getting absolved. The SSPX priests may sit in a Confessional and go through the motions,but they are feigning the Sacrament.
I will add my own spin on the mystical aspect of drawing upon the authority to absolve sins from Christ's Divinity. It's a little bit of a different explanation of the same effect.
Remember when Christ was walking in a crowd, people were touching Him, His clothing all day long. At some point a woman touched His cloak and He asked who touched Him. He felt the power flow from Him. Christ gave His Church the authority to regulate that power. The Church regulates mystical power of Divinity in different matters and in different ways.
In this instance, the priest cannot draw the power that absolves from the Church. He's shut off.
I could't believe the screed from Ms. Bigbritches telling me (and readers) the sacraments were all valid. She read Summa, dontcha know. She bet I never read it. She's a teacher. She teaches this stuff all the time. She tried to look in my underpants for my degrees. It was creepy.
Who do these people think they are?
We are talking about a Sacrament that is supposed to wipe a soul of its sin. The authority of the Church is crystal clear. Why would you ever hoodwink a crowd of Catholics into believing a man feigning a Sacrament is valid?
There isn't enough pride in the universe to make me do that to another human being.
In any event - I definitely recommend getting out of a parish with a priest who is misleading with heresy. We are in much better shape than we were fifteen years ago. There's a decent priest within a ten-mile or less radius. You can get more than you need to get by.
But there are a few things I would point out.
I can't remember the last time I heard a homily that encouraged chastity, enlightened us on it's beauty and the benefits we gain. It wasn't this year, the year before or the year before that. The same is true for many other important Church teachings. So you have to supplement, especially if you have small children.
No way is the Novus Ordo community the same thing as a TLM community. Even the best of the best, it is night and day. Your children will learn the magnificence of Church teaching in the TLM Community. It is proclaimed with great zeal and joy, in a way that makes it appear like a diamond.
Here's a comment from Angelqueen that points out the dangers inherent in staying in a bad Novus Ordo parish:
However, Carol needs to take the step that we trads have done regarding their upbringing, namely, GET THE H OUT OF THE N.O. CHURCH! You can’t raise your kids at the party Mass. let them hear heresy from the pulpit, and then try to correct it at home. As Carol notes, it “creates an irreparable rupture.”
You can't sit them before a heretic priest and then try to correct what he says at home. It just doesn't work. The priest is setting your children's moral compass and there is nothing you will be able to do to reset it.
That is what makes the Pope Francis agenda such a dangerous thing.
I don't know what will happen to NO in the future. I can't say how the priests will respond to the edicts and threats Pope Francis has shown with his hand. We'll have to wait and see. But there are enough priests who have valid faculties doing a TLM if things get bad. We are not there yet and we may never get there.
If you have children, I wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of Motu Proprio and let the chips fall where they may in the NO community.