ARE THE PRIESTS OF ST. PETER’S SOCIETY “MASSING” PRIESTS
Rama Coomaraswamy, MD "I saw again the new and odd-looking Church which they were trying to build. There was nothing holy about it... People were kneading bread in the crypt below...but it would not rise, nor did they receive the body of Our Lord, but only bread. Those who were in error, through no fault of their own, and who piously and ardently longed for the Body of Jesus were spiritually consoled, but not by their communion. Then my Guide (Jesus) said: 'THIS IS BABEL." The Blessed Anna Catharina EmmerickIt was often asked of "priests" in the time of Queen Elizabeth, if in fact they were "Massing" priests - that is to say, did they offer the true Mass and validly administer the other Sacraments. After the Elizabethan destruction and with the passage of time, some of those in the Anglican communion increasingly rejected the doctrines and the spirit of the Reformation. As a result segments of the so-called Church of England became identified as "High," "Middle" and "Low” Church congregations. Those who considered themselves "High Church" tended to retain more and more of the Roman-like ritual; some even returned to the use of Latin in their services and followed the old ways as much as was allowed. Needless to say, many High Church people claimed that their "rites" were valid and that their priests truly confected the Eucharistic Species and validly administered the other Sacraments.The Catholic church, always seeking to protect her faithful from error, and always desirous of proclaiming the truth, denied both the validity of Anglican Orders and, Baptism and Marriage apart, the validity of the other Sacraments they administered. The "Ritualists" (as some of these Anglicans were called) claimed that their Sacraments were valid because of the evident graces that they received when participating in them. We hear the same arguments put forth today with regard to the post-Conciliar sacraments.What follows is a discussion taken from the writings of Father Peter Gallway, a Jesuit who wrote over 100 years ago, in which he shows that our sensible response and subjective conviction about the validity of the Sacraments is no assurance whatsoever of their validity.
***"There are many who, without any reference to history or any study of documents, declare that they cannot doubt but that they are in the enjoyment of the sacraments, and that their clergymen are true priests. What are we to say to these?""In the first place, we must strive to find out on what grounds they reach this certainty. And after examination, we shall find, brethren, that their evidence amounts to this. First: 'Father Cuthbert is so good a man, that it is quite palpable that he is a real priest.' and secondly: 'Our sacraments are undoubtedly real sacraments, because nothing short of real sacraments could make me feel as I do when I receive them.'" "With regard to the first point, as I have already fully discussed the question of the sanctity of the Ritualistic clergy, I need not now stop to examine whether Father Cuthbert's holiness is such as to prove him a true priest. I will only say, that though the Sacrament of Orders imprints a character on the soul, it is only very rarely, and by an exceptional miracle, that this character is made visible to the eye of the beholders. Moreover, I would venture to add that if St. Francis of Assisi, who never would receive priest's Orders, were brought before us wearing a chasuble, there are few eyes upon this earth that could detect that he was not a priest. There are multitudes of pious monks, lay-brothers, and laymen, who if dressed up in sacerdotal robes would assuredly pass for priests. Nay, more than this; even piety is not essential. Since as St. Paul argues, if the Evil One can pass himself off as an angel of light, therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice' (2.Cor. XI). I do not think, then, that a well-instructed jury would give a verdict in favor of Father Cuthbert's priesthood simply because he looks the priest and walks as a devout priest.""Now, therefore, let us come to the second argument: 'Our sacraments are real, because nothing but real sacraments could make me feel as I do.'""I need hardly say that few arguments are so hard to answer as arguments of this kind, which are drawn from those inward regions of our own consciousness into which no one but ourselves can penetrate to test the evidence. When a man who belongs to the party of the extreme Low Church tells you gravely that he is quite happy because he has within him an assurance that he is of the number of the elect, what sort of answer can you make? If you could see into his soul you might have your answer, since perchance you might discover that he is only proving by his words that he is not free from that frailty which, according to the Psalmist, belongs to all men - omnis homo mendax. You might ascertain that, instead of a settled assurance of salvation, there is in his soul a large amount of remorse, terror, and uncertainty. Again, if you were permitted to call in an experienced physician and submit the assurance to a pathological examination, you might discover some explanation of it in the state of the brain, or in the exceptionally effective state of the digestive organs, or in the judicious use of a little wine which ‘gladdens the heart of man;’ but when you are left without any of these aids, you can do nothing against this inward assurance of the Evangelical, the happy feelings of the Ritualist which prove the truth of his sacraments are cousins-germain. It is the same difficult and delicate task to deal either with Evangelical or Ritualistic feelings." "There are, however, some things to be said on the subject which may suffice to convince many Ritualists that it would be very unsafe to conclude that sacraments are true sacraments because the recipient of them experiences certain devotional feelings, just as it would be, on the other hand, very rash to pronounce against the validity of a sacrament because it awakens no pious emotions."
"1) First, then, it is quite clear from the teaching of Holy Church, that grace is often present in the soul in great abundance without being felt at all. A saint, for instance, may lie in a fit of apoplexy, awaiting the moment of death, his soul richly adorned with Divine grace, the presence of which, however, is not indicated by any feelings. Nay, the soul may be full of grace, and the feelings may give evidence in the opposite direction, and lead us to suppose that grace is not present. Hence when our Blessed Lord cried out on Mount Calvary, 'My God, my God, why hast thou abandoned Me?' He was, as the Holy Fathers teach us, uttering a word which was to reassure many a holy soul passing through the hour of desolation, during which the grace that is present is hidden, and all seems dark and full of sin. In like manner, the presence of the grace given in Baptism is, in an ordinary rule, not betrayed by any outward sign discernable to the eye or the senses... In conclusion, oftentimes the feelings and the senses are as much at fault with regard to the presence of grace in the soul as they are with regard to the presence of Our Lord's body under the sacramental species..."
"2) In the second place, we must bear in mind that when God gives grace to the soul, whether it be a grace manifested by feelings or a more hidden grace, He sometimes uses the ministry of men as a medium of communication, and sometimes acts without such ministration. We see a specimen of both these methods in the story of the Wise Men. Sometimes they are guided by a star, sometimes by the teaching of priests. At the present time, therefore, as in all former ages, our Father in Heaven sends down His graces in these two ways, sometimes through the channel of Sacraments, and sometimes without the interposition of Sacraments. In fact, from the very nature of things, it is only at occasional intervals that we can receive a sacrament, whereas every day and every hour we are in want of graces which come to us without the intervention of priests and Sacraments." "3) Thirdly, in addition to this it is certain from the teaching of the Church, that when a Sacrament is duly administered, grace may come to the recipient in two ways to which technical names have been given - (1) ex opere operato; (2) ex opere operantis. That is, first, by virtue of the work done; secondly, by virtue of the disposition of those who take part in the administration of the Sacraments. thus, when Baptism is properly administered, our Blessed Lord, in His charitable compassion for the souls of men, has ordained that the sacrament shall take effect, although the priest who baptizes may himself be in a state of grievous sin. So long as the minister of the Sacrament intends to do what the church prescribes, and actually performs the prescribed rite and pronounces the appointed words, the Sacrament will confer grace by virtue of the work done, even though the priest should chance to be a wicked man. On the other hand, if an adult were receiving Baptism, and had prepared himself for it by many fervent prayers, and if, moreover, the priest baptizing were a very saintly man, and besought God with great earnestness to grant many graces to the catechumen, in this case, over and above the sanctifying grace given by virtue of the work done, there would be additional grace given in consideration of the good dispositions of the catechumen and the ministering priest. this is the grace called ex opere operantis. This being so, let us suppose a case in which a pious man desires to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in Holy Communion, and prepares himself for that holy Sacrament with much earnestness, and presents himself at the altar with very lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, and a strong desire for the life-giving Bread; and let us further suppose that by some unusual accident an unconsecrated host is given to him instead of the Sacred Body of our Lord. Under these circumstances what effect will be produced on his soul? He has not received a true Sacrament, and therefore he will not receive the grace which we have described as given ex opere operato - by virtue of the sacramental work done. No Sacrament has been administered, and therefore the effects proper to the Sacrament will not be produced by virtue of any sacramental act; but he has brought with him to the altar very good dispositions; he has prepared himself with much care, and he has in spirit and desire received the Body of Our Lord, and made very fervently what is called a spiritual communion. Consequently, he now receives in good measure the graces that come ex opere operantis that is, in consideration of the good dispositions which he brings with him; and therefore he may retire from the altar much happier and more fervent than many others who have received the true Sacrament; and to the end of his life he may never become aware of the fact that he did not receive anything more than unconsecrated bread." "Grace then may be given, and devotional feelings may be excited in the soul, in consequence of the good dispositions of the man or woman who comes to take part in any holy rite; but in this case, the devotional feelings aroused are no proof that any real Sacrament has been administered. It is easy to illustrate the doctrine by an example which Ritualists will have no difficulty in comprehending. A Communion Service is periodically celebrated in the Baptist meeting-houses or Tabernacles. The celebrant is a layman who does not pretend to any sacerdotal powers. He has received no sacrament of Orders, nor does he believe any ordination to be necessary. He is a layman, and nothing more. Therefore, every well-instructed Ritualist will affirm that what he gives the people can be nothing but ordinary bread and wine. There is no administration whatever of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. A ceremony is performed, but it is not the Sacrament. Now let us suppose that some simple-minded man in the congregation prepares himself with great fervor for this rite, and has an earnest desire to be fed by the Body and Blood of Our Lord; this being so , there is no reason why this devout man should not, in consequence of his good faith and his earnestness, draw down a blessing on himself and much peace to his soul. If he goes home happy and light-hearted, his feelings are no proof that a true Sacrament has been administered. At the most they can only prove that grace has come to him, not through virtue of a Sacrament, but by virtue of his good disposition." "This being so, would a jury of good theologians admit that Anglican Orders are valid, that ritualistic Clergy are true priests who really consecrate and validly absolve, merely because a certain number of Ritualists experience devotional feelings when they have recourse to the ministrations of the clergy? Assuredly not. We all want evidence of quite another kind before we can admit that Ritualists have true priests among them, and have the benefit of true Sacraments."
***It is extraordinary to note how apt are the points which Father Gallway made over 100 years ago, to present day circumstances. One has only to replace the term "Ritualist" with "post-Conciliar Catholic" to give his argument pertinence and what the modernists like to call "relevance." We have then yet further evidence in favor of strictly adhering to the constant ritual practice of the Church. It is this alone that can assure us of the validity of the Sacraments. Blessed are those of us who can claim to be in the same Church as Father Gallway, and who can rest secure that we enjoy the same Sacraments he did. Before discussing the Society of St. Peter and the use of traditional rites, it is necessary to consider some of the specific problems relating to the present situation in the Church. First of all, the number of Catholic and would-be-Catholic groups that describe themselves as “traditional,” have increased to the point that the word has almost lost its meaning and usefulness. The term has, of course, always had a multiplicity of applications – but all of them related to its intrinsic meaning of what is “handed down,” what was received. Its religious usage is closely related to that of Revelation. What our Lord and the Apostles taught and did has come down to us through the written word – Scripture – and by oral transmission, called Tradition. Tradition with a capital “T” usually refers to those teachings and practices which can be traced back to Our Lord and the Apostles, while tradition with a small “t” to those established in sub-apostolic times. Immediately an element of confusion enters, for it is often difficult to draw clear lines between the practices established by the Apostles as opposed to their successors; and between what was “revealed” (and hence incumbent) and what was approved but not mandatory. Finally the adjective “traditional” can be applied to the principle of adherence to what was revealed and established by the Apostolic Church and preserved intact as a precious pearl, as well as to practices established at a later date that are consistent with those established by the Apostles. Finally, the adjective can be applied on a cultural level to those patterns of acting and thinking that can be characterized as “truly Catholic.” Thus, for example the true Mass can be said to be Traditional (and indeed, its core was revealed); blessing oneself with holy water as “traditional,” and saying of the Rosary as “traditional.” Obviously, it would be absurd to claim to be an “untraditional” Catholic, and hence the confusion. Any true claim to be “traditional” must include the rejection of the new and post-Conciliar rites and doctrines. In the practical order, this means that one must take a firm stand with regard to three things: 1) the Mass and the other Sacraments, especially Holy Orders; 2) Vatican II; and 3) the post-Conciliar “popes.” Let us consider each in turn.1) It is against the laws of the Church for one to use or receive sacraments that are in any way dubious. Indeed to do so is a sacrilege. Now, each and every one of the post-Conciliar sacraments, with the possible exception of Baptism and marriage (neither of which depends upon the sacrament of Orders) is at least dubious. It is only natural that traditional Roman Catholics should insist on the Mass as codified by Pius V or one of the parallel traditional Eastern (Uniate) rtes. They also insist on their priests being ordained by traditional rites – those in use up to 1968. What is not as well known is that the rites of Episcopal Consecration have been more drastically changed than any other sacrament. Priests “elevated” to the episcopacy (i.e., made bishops) after 1968 are almost certainly only priests without the power to ordain others (and if ordained as priests after 1968, laymen). 2) Traditional Catholics reject Vatican II as a false council. Vatican II has been declared to be at least “the supreme form of the ordinary Magisterium,” and is hence totally incumbent upon the consciences of post-Conciliar Catholics. (According to a de fide statement, the ordinary Magisterium is binding upon the Catholic conscience.) Now it will be argued that there are many orthodox statements in Vatican II. The point is granted. The same can be said for the writings of Luther – and indeed, Satan quoted Scripture to our Lord when he tempted him. The presence of occasional orthodox statements in heretical writings has never led the traditional Church to lend approval to such productions. It would be as if a physician mixed poison with good medicine. And hence, the only “traditional” attitude one can take toward these documents is total rejection. The same applies to the various catechisms and other “doctrinal” documents produced after Vatican II. 3) The third area of importance relates to the status of the post-Conciliar “popes.” Now certain principles must be kept in mind. First of all a true pope is “one hierarchical person with our Lord” which is to say that when he speaks or teaches, it is our Lord who is speaking and teaching. The pope makes this clear when he speaks in his triple function of teacher (magister), ruler (jurisdiction) or sanctifying (as in the Sacraments). Now, in these settings he partakes of infallibility precisely because when he speaks, “it is Christ who teaches, rules and sanctifies.” As a result, we owe him obedience. Either we recognize his authority or we don’t. It is a teaching of the Church that one must be in obedience to the pope (and the bishops in union with him) in these areas which pertain to his infallible authority. Again, the reader is referred to my essay on the Magisterium. Catholics who reject the new “mass” and even a single teaching of Vatican II are in DISOBEDIENCE to those (i.e. the last four “popes”) presently sitting on the Chair of Peter. Attempts to justify this situation are to a great extent responsible for the present chaos. Several possible solutions can be taken: a) One can simply refuse to follow these individuals when they depart from the Faith. This follows the principle that “one must obey God rather than men.” It leaves the state of these “popes” open but recognizes that they are in fact commanding us to sin against the Holy Spirit in obeying them. The problem is that it leaves one very much on one’s own with regard to spiritual matters. It forces one to “pick and choose” what one thinks is Catholic. B) One can declare that these “popes” are somehow in control of the papacy, but have no authority. Varieties of this position have labeled these “popes” as anti-popes, usurpers, etc This is in essence the materialiter/formaliter argument. And C) one can declare these men are manifestly heretics and as such have either lost or never had any authority – that they are not popes at all, which is essentially the sede vacantist position. What all these attitudes have in common is a declaration that these “popes” have no authority – that they do not speak with the voice of Christ. It matters not whether one takes the sede vacantist position or whether one says they are “popes” without authority. To say they have no authority is to say they are not one hierarchical person with Christ and do not speak with His voice. A pope without authority is no pope at all. It is often argued that we cannot declare these individuals to be false popes, for that is the function of the Magisterium. Actually, a study of the Magisterium would make it clear that it is the Magisterium which has in fact made it clear that they cannot be popes. However, one should not abandon one’s common sense. It is a matter of simple logic that these men who claim to be “popes” are not Catholic, and it is a teaching of the Magisterium that a person who is not a Catholic cannot be a “pope. (He who is not a member of the Body cannot be its Head, and he who is not a member of the “learning church” cannot become part of the “teaching Church.”) Those that loudly proclaim their loyalty to these “popes” and hold them to be true popes, are as Catholics obliged to obey them. Should they argue as many do that they will obey these “popes” when they speak in accord with tradition, but not when they do not are simply proclaiming themselves as Protestant. They are picking and choosing on their own authority what they find acceptable which is nothing less than to declare themselves to be the Magisterium. Paul VI made this quite clear to Archbishop Lefebvre when he told him that it was up to him as pope to decide what was and what was not traditional, and further that he (Lefebvre) had to give his full intellectual assent to the entire content of Vatican II. It goes without saying that the Church cannot ask us to give our intellectual consent to error.
THE MASS OF THE INDULT
The so-called Mass of the Indult, frequently and incorrectly referred to as the “Tridentine,” “Latin” or “traditional” Mass is in fact the Mass of John XXIII. Even though – providing the priest is properly ordained and has the right intention and uses proper form and matter – the Consecration is valid, this is not the traditional Mass as fixed by Pius V. It is in fact a sort of half-way house on the way to the Novus Ordo and has been called by some “half-way Bugnini.” In allowing for its use John Paul II specified certain conditions: namely the acceptance of the post-Conciliar “popes”; the acceptance of all the teachings of Vatican II; and the recognition that all the post-Conciliar sacraments are valid. This may not be insisted on as it originally was (people had to sign statements to this effect), but it remains true in principle. To accept the Indult is to accept the Church that gave the Indult. Among the changes that the Mass of John XXIII specified was a new and different Breviary (which contained writings of individuals who were clearly heretical and subsequently left the Church), and a different Church (liturgical) calendar which made previous Breviaries and Missals obsolete. This was a direct attack on the spiritual life of priests. Those who attend the Indult do so in order to receive a valid Sacrament. However, two things should be kept in mind: 1) older priests are dying out, and 2) It ties one hand and foot to the new and post-Conciliar Church which is of course its intention.
THE LEFEBVRE POSITIION – THE SOCIETY OF PIUS X
Prior to the consecration of the four bishops against the commands of John Paul II, Archbishop Lefebvre had taken a well-known position. This can be characterized as holding that 1) John Paul II was a true and valid pope who had some modernist ideas – but not such as to make him a formal heretic. Hence he expelled from his Fraternity any priest who would not recognize the post-Conciliar “popes” and pray for them within the Canon of the Mass (where they are thus characterized as both “orthodox” (having “true faith and sound doctrine”) and Catholic. 2) Vatican II was capable of being interpreted in a traditional fashion. 3) All the post Conciliar sacraments were in se (in themselves or as they stood) valid. Hence he allowed priests ordained with the new rites to join his Fraternity without insisting on conditional re-ordination, and such is the policy of the Society of Pius X to this day. Archbishop Lefebvre was suspended in divines for many years, which means that his activities in running seminaries and ordaining priests were acts of disobedience to the authority which he recognized as valid. When he was negotiating with the Vatican about consecrating bishops, he stated that accepted the New Code of Canon Law (take a moment to look at canon 840) and considered it binding. This Code clearly states that for one to consecrate a bishop without papal permission results in automatic excommunication. He then proceeded to ordain four bishops against the express will of John Paul II, while in no way repudiating his stand. He stated that his reason for going ahead were that he had lost confidence in the Vatican, but he reiterated his stand on the various points listed above. Such an act placed him, at least in schism if not open rebellion. Not only is he in schism with the post-Conciliar Church, he is also in schism with the true Church, for he recognizes the new sacraments and because of his attitude towards Vatican II. The net result is that his followers are placed in an untenable position. They must accept John Paul II as Christ’s Vicar on earth, and they must disobey him and receive sacraments – some of which are questionably valid – from priests who are excommunicated. Like it or not, the Society of Pius X is tied to the post-Conciliar Church and is part and parcel of it. In view of all this the recent negotiations between the Society and Rome are somewhat of a joke. Again, many are duped into thinking that the Society is going to bring the new Church back to tradition. The fact that the Society insists on the use of the Indult Mass ties it irrevocably to the post-Conciliar institution. The bottom line is always the acceptance of Vatican II and the new sacraments. But the post-Conciliar church is delighted to play this game.
THE SOCIETY OF ST. PETER.
Given these facts, it is easy to understand that many of Archbishop’s Lefebvre’s followers abandoned his position and welcomed the offer of the Vatican to form a new society, that of St. Peter. In order to encourage the followers of Lefebvre and other conservative Novus Ordo Catholics to stand within the post-Conciliar fold, they were promised the Mass of John XXIII and where seminaries were established, ordination according to the traditional rites. All this sounds wonderful. Many saw this as proof that John Paul II was returning the Church to tradition. One could eat one’s cake and still have it. One can be in communion with the post-Conciliar Church and all her dogma-denying heretics, and still have a valid rite in Latin. Seminarians can wear cassocks, behave and act like priests, and have the approval of modernist Rome. But there is a catch which the directors of “the pope’s own traditional order” never mention. And that is that there are no bishops to ordain them! We are told they will be ordained by Cardinals Meyer and Ratzinger, individuals whose seemingly conservative stance is constantly stressed. (Some have sought out older bishops elsewhere.) But both these individuals were made bishops after 1968 – Paul Augustin Meyer on February 13, 1972 and Joseph Ratzinger on May 28, 1977 (both in the diocese of Passau in Bavaria), by the new and highly dubious post-Conciliar ceremonies. The Society of St. Peter has also had some problems because they have been told that they must say, upon request of the bishops in whatever diocese they establish themselves – the Novus Ordo Missae – especially on Holy Thursday. Any idea that they are traditional is clearly removed by the recent Protocol 1411. Recently a traditional priest who made inquiries about the possibility of joining this Society was told that he had to sign papers stating that he accepted all the teachings of Vatican II and the validity of all the new sacraments. This he was of course unable to do. And so we have clear cut evidence that this is just another conservative ploy of the post-Conciliar Church. In addition, it adds confusion to confusion. Not only do we have Archbishop Lefebre accepting priests ordained with the new and highly dubious rites of ordination, now we are going to have St. Peter’s priests ordained with traditional rites by “bishops” who lack the Apostolic Succession, but we are going to have them present themselves as priests in cassocks and as saying something reasonably close to the traditional rite even though they have no power to Consecrate. Before long, the world will be filled with traditional priests providing useless sacraments in Latin! And so we must ask with Father Galloway, “ARE THEY “MASSING” PRIESTS? ©Rama Coomaraswamy, MD 2002
 Conservative Novus Ordo Catholics who are adequately informed about these issues and are aware of the doubtful nature of the post-Conciliar sacraments, cannot use this as an excuse for attending such sacraments. The term "ex opere operantis" is commonly understood by the faithful to mean an increase of sancifying grace according to one's dispositions in receiving valid sacraments. It would only apply to the receiving of invalid "sacraments" if the individual were invincibly ignorant of their invalidity.
Father Peter Gallway, S.J., Lectures on Ritualism
, Burns Oates: London, 1878.
For a time there were validly consecrated bishops available, but these have almost completely died out. With regard to the invalidity of the new rites of consecration, readers are referred to my essay on Holy Orders.
Some, it is true, have been ordained by older bishops, but such is an exception.