Discussion on the steps of the church concerning Ecclesia Dei Masses.
[ Editor’s note: For those who may not be familiar, “Ecclesia Dei” is a Conciliar Church structure created in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, in response to Archbishop Lefebvre’s episcopal consecrations. It is an umbrella structure which includes pseudo “traditionalist” groups such as the Fraternity of Saint Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, and many others. The Ecclesia Dei structure was clearly designed by Modernist Rome to keep a firm grip on these organizations who desire the Tridentine Mass but yet who refuse to speak and act openly against the Conciliar Church’s errors. Modernist Rome, through Ecclesia Dei, keeps a tight grip on these groups by giving them certain perks: allowing them to celebrate the 1962 Tridentine Mass, to enjoy friendly relations with Rome, etc. ; but at the same time Rome destroys them slowly, by requiring them to conform to and not speak out against the Conciliar Church’s errors: the documents of Vatican II, the New Mass, the New Catechism, the constant scandals of the popes, etc.
Because of the perks granted to these groups by Conciliar Rome, many lesser-informed and otherwise good Catholics, desiring to avoid the evil New Mass and only attend the Tridentine Mass, have made the mistake of attending these Tridentine Masses offered by Ecclesia Dei member groups such as the Fraternity of Saint Peter, etc. — putting themselves in great danger of being pulled more and more into the Conciliar Church. ]
Father has a discussion outside the chapel with Philip, a 17 year-old member of the congregation. During the conversation, Philip talks about the last weekend he spent with his friends in Paris. Philip says that the group of friends he was with chose to go to an Ecclesia Dei Mass there 1…
Philip : Why are you making that face, Father ? After all, it is the right Mass !
— Father : Undoubtedly the Mass is good ; but that’s not the main thing.
Philip : Not the main thing ? What more do you need, Father ?
— Father : Well, let me make a comparison. Whiskey is a good thing, isn’t it? (Philip aquiesces, smiling with an air of understanding). Right. But every time you drink whiskey, you are not necessarily carrying out a good action. (Philip understands). So, it’s the same for Holy Mass. That the Mass is good in itself is one thing ; but it is also necessary that assisting at this Mass be a good thing ; it is necessary that assisting at this Mass be a good action.
Philip : Okay, but whiskey and Mass are not quite the same thing, after all ! You seem to be saying that you can do wrong by assisting at a Traditional Mass !
— Father : Exactly, that’s just what I meant! Just as you can make bad use of whiskey, so it is not necessarily good to assist at a True Mass. It can even be bad.
Philip : Well, that beats all I ever heard !
— Father : Philip, I can understand your astonishment. Normally a Catholic should not have to think twice about assisting at a Catholic Mass ; but at the moment in the Church there are a lot of abnormal things. For example, we say Mass in halls transformed as best we can into makeshift chapels. The local clergy is hostile to us. We are called “lepers”, “excommunicated”, “schismatic”… Many people don’t come here because they think that it is wrong to do so. And yet it is the right Mass! Where they are mistaken is in thinking that it is wrong to come here.
Philip : Yes, exactly, they are mistaken, since it is the right Mass !
— Father : No, Philip, be careful. Their problem is not the Mass ; their problem is that they have been told that it is wrong to go to it. It’s completely different. Well, the problem with Ecclesia Dei groups is of the same kind : their Mass is good; okay, but is it good to go to it ? That’s another kettle of fish ! Do you see the distinction ?
Philip : Okay, I see the distinction. But I really don’t see why it’s wrong to go to the Fraternity of Saint Peter or the Institute of Christ the King !
— Father : You see – once you start asking yourself if it is right or wrong to assist at such and such a Mass, you are immediately talking about the priest who says this Mass. Isn’t that interesting ?
Philip : I don’t really see what you’re talking about…
— Father : Okay. Someone says, like you have just done : “I am going to the right Mass with the Fraternity of Saint Peter, with the Institute of Christ the King, with the Society of Saint Pius X, and it is the same Mass in each case”. Yet, assisting at Mass in one or the other is not the same thing. It all depends on the priest who says the Mass.
— Father: Because Mass and whiskey are not the same thing! Earlier on, you could have said to me: “But, I’m careful when I drink whiskey; there’s never any problem, since I drink it with moderation!” But Mass is not something which is consumed alone in a corner in a purely private fashion.
Philip: What is it then? Personally, I go to Mass to recollect myself, to pray and to go to Holy Communion. Big deal if the priest belongs to the Fraternity of Saint Peter or the Society of Saint Pius X. After all, that’s something you have to sort out among yourselves!
— Father: Holy Mass is the Church’s highest act of public worship. In other words, it is an act which is first and foremost a social act, in which we honor our God, and we receive its benefits under the authority of the Church, the society which God has instituted in order that He can be honored as He desires.
Philip: That’s a bit harsh, Father…
— Father: Let me start again. In private, you can pray to God quite freely, when you like, how you like; in a certain way it’s your prayer. But the Good Lord has wanted to be also and especially honored by bringing men together around the Cross, by the Mass; and that is the public and official prayer of the Church. She thus renders to God, in the name of all men, all the honor and glory which are due to Him. The Mass is therefore not a private devotion of either those who assist at it or of the priest who says it. It is a common act of worship which supposes that the one who carries out the worship (the priest) has received from the Church the authority to do so. He must depend on a bishop, who in turn depends on the Pope. That is why I was speaking about the authority of the Church.
Philip: But, Father, you are independent of this authority.
— Father: Philip, we have now arrived at the heart of the problem. You are saying the same thing as the Conciliars and their followers when they say that it is not permissible to assist at our Masses. Once more, they don’t say this because the Mass we say is bad; they say it because we are resisting the hierarchy, resisting Rome. And we in turn say: you must not assist at Ecclesia Dei Masses because they submit to the Conciliar hierarchy.
Philip: If I understand correctly, then, the nub of the problem is submission to the current hierarchy?
— Father: Exactly! Normally in the Church, a priest is subject to his bishop, who is subject to the Pope; thus he receives a mission to celebrate the Mass and the other sacraments for a portion of the Church’s faithful. However, for about forty-five years now, the fact is that, in order to keep the Faith, the faithful have asked those priests who also wanted to keep it, to take care of them, to the point of resisting the bishops and the Pope. Their aim was not to resist for the sake of resisting, but to defend their Faith faced with the decisions of Rome which were contributing to the loss of Faith among the faithful.
Philip: Which decisions?
— Father: Well, for example, the promulgation of the New Mass of Paul VI in 1969. But before that there was the Council, with several bad texts, notably on ecumenism and religious liberty. Later, there were the changes in the other sacraments, then the new Canon Law in 1983. There were all the scandals of ecumenism, such as Assisi in 1986. And then there was the fierce struggle against Archbishop Lefebvre who, as he often said himself, was only doing what he had done throughout his life with the approbation of Rome. In 1988, the Archbishop consecrated bishops because he had understood that Rome wanted to destroy Tradition. The Faith of the faithful continued to be threatened. Here is the main thing which must be understood: the hierarchy, the bishops and the Pope, are there to lead the priests and the faithful in the Faith. If they do not do this, the faithful and the priests must resist and seek to keep the Faith, which is, at the end of the day, a higher form of submission.
Philip: Alright… But, how do the Ecclesia Dei Masses fit in with all that? Will I lose my Faith there?
— Father: You have to look at the problem from the other end…
Philip: (Interrupting) From the other end?
— Father: Yes, the other end. The question of knowing if I will lose the Faith is indeed capital. But, we must also ask ourselves: what is the correct attitude of a man of Faith in relation to Ecclesia Dei Masses? In the question you asked me, isn’t there something of the following attitude implied: if I’m careful, since it’s the right Mass, there will be no problem, just like me drinking the whiskey. Am I wrong in saying this?
Philip: No, Father, I agree!
— Father: Therefore, we must look at the other end, the one which I explained earlier. The Mass is above all a public and hierarchical act. The Mass of an Ecclesia Dei priest is the Mass of a priest who, at least officially, obeys the local bishop and the Pope; a priest who will therefore from time to time receive his bishop for ceremonies; a priest who does not preach that the New Mass is bad, dangerous for the Faith; a priest who will therefore gather around himself faithful who are weaker in their Faith, less well informed on the serious dangers which threaten Catholic life in the Conciliar Church; a priest who, if he is logical with himself, thinks that the situation in the Church today is basically normal, in any case normal enough to render a public resistance illegitimate; a priest who, by obeying liberal and modernist authorities, will inevitably deviate; finally, a priest who betrays everything Archbishop Lefebvre did, who betrays souls and tricks them by making them believe, by his public submission to the hierarchy, that the Pope truly leads his sheep and lambs in the paths of the True Faith…
Philip: You’re going a bit far there, Father!
— Father: The Archbishop spoke like that in his time! An Ecclesia Dei priest, right now, does not have a just position in the Church. He is not in order with the Good Lord. He is not in the truth. He is between two stools, torn between his desire to do good and his submission to to the Conciliar authorities. His sermons necessarily feel the effects of this, as well as the bookstall and the periodicals which are on sale there. There will also be diocesan documentation at the back of the church. There is also the serious risk of allowing himself to become lukewarm over time by being in contact with faithful who are less well informed in the Faith, as well as the risk of letting himself be attracted either by a more lenient doctrine, or, as the case may be, by the sympathy of the people or other priests.
Philip: So, you can never go to an Ecclesia Dei Mass?
— Father: You can never offend God! These Masses are not for us! If, for exceptional reasons you have to be present at an Ecclesia Dei ceremony, then you should keep a discreet attitude, avoiding giving the impression that you adhere to their submission to the bishops and the Pope – for example, by abstaining from receiving Holy Communion. Because you also have to think about the example you give to others around you.
Philip: What about if it’s the only Mass you can get to on a Sunday?
— Father: If you have understood our conversation, then you will be able to conclude yourself that in this case, even on a Sunday, you are not obliged to go to such Masses. You cannot be obliged to assist at a Mass of a priest who does not publicly profess that the Conciliar church puts the Faith of the faithful in danger. It’s not possible to be obliged in these conditions. The Good Lord will give you graces in another way, if only by rewarding your courageous fidelity and your attachment to the truth.
Philip: To the truth?
— Father: Yes, to the truth. Let’s summarize a little. At the beginning, I was saying: the Ecclesia Dei Mass is good, but that is not the question. The question is: is it really good to assist at it? By this Mass do I really, in all truth, attach myself to the Church and to Our Lord? The answer is no, because the Ecclesia Dei priest is not in a true position, he does not resist the bad shepherds, whereas he should. He fools himself, and fools the people. With him, under his influence, under his priestly authority, how could you expect to find a real love of the truth, of Our Lord, of the Church, and even of the Pope? The priest is in error in an essential matter!
Philip: Undoubtedly, it all goes much farther than I thought!
— Father: Yes, it must be said that it’s not obvious. Today we have to form ourselves more than ever, in order to know what we are doing. Danger is everywhere. But it is also an extraordinary time, as Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, because it pushes us to love the Church and Our Lord Jesus Christ more truly, and to remain strong in the Faith! And it is also the best service of charity that we can render to those who still find it hard to grasp all the difficulties of the current situation. Let us be witnesses of the truth and of the Will of God!
[This text written by Fr Jacques Mérel (SSPX) was published in the Newsletter of Priory Saint-Jean-Eudes (France) in July/August 2008. It was the official position of the Society since the time of Archbishop Lefebvre. Would all the priories publish it again in the year 2015 to warn their faithful against the Ecclesia Dei Masses?]