Strength Against Adversity

Peace be to you. Everyone ought to know more about the Society of St. Pius X. It is an asset to the Church. They refuse outright the heresies of Modernism and Moral Relativism in an age where Joe Catholic wants entertainment instead of beauty and truth. I got into a lot of trouble in my seminary days for showing public support for their incorporation into the Church, resulting once in my being accused of the sin of schism. Well I continue to show my support and without reserve or apology. Though the liberal media and liberals within Church governance want them to be hated, I say they are upright. Would that they would soon join us.

*Edit, because I have more to say*: This post is not meant to be as explosive as some have interpreted it. It is clearly the wish of the Supreme Pontiff that the SSPX participate some day in the fullness of communion with the Church. His wishes will never be actualized if people are too afraid to support them.

Images from various SSPX liturgies:

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7 Responses to “Strength Against Adversity”

  1. Jon Says:

    God bless them and bring them back into visible Communion with Peter. Their ranks make up a large portion of the next generation of faithful Catholics.

  2. Peter Paul Fuchs Says:

    Hi Cliff,

    I saw your posting about the Society of St. Pius X, and I have a comment which I hope you will allow on your site in the spirit of dialogue. You know, to a great degree in life our opinions or considered conclusions about things are a mixture of overarching abstract concepts and the opposite, particular anecdotal experiences. I wouldn’t try to dissuade you in terms of the abstract matters of faith in these folks. And anyways I am someone who has a long-term fascination with diverse, quirky religious expression. On that score a friend of mine from the seminary days recently told me about a guy we went to St. John Vianney with named Gregory Alan Francisco. Apparently now he a Bishop of a quirky breakaways Anglican Church, technically what they call an Autocephalous Church. If you look him up on Facebook you can see quite an entertaining picture of him all dressed up.

    Anyways, what I want to say is that I can give you a personal anecdote, not from my own life, but from someone I knew that you might want to factor in. When I was a kid I was for a time quite interested in becoming a pianist. Long story short, I don’t think I remotely had a great talent for it. But I did have some talent and a great love of music. And so I became a favorite for a time of a well-known piano teacher in Miami Shores. She was a type like that movie with Shirley McClaine where she plays someone with name like Madame Suzatska. Anyways, for partial anonymity’s sake let us shorten my teacher’s name to Mrs. K. Mrs. K put a lot of work into me trying to make me a great pianist. In fact I played Mozart and Beethoven concerto movements with youth or community orchestras in Florida. When we are down in Florida we sometimes go to a restaurant called Argen-Tango on Hollywood Circle (by the way, it’s very good and well priced for a steak house). But I always think of having played Mozart’s Concert Rondo, K. 386 with the Hollywood Symphony in the former bandshell right in the Circle there. I played the same piece for a special concert at Vizcaya with orchestra on the big terrace behind the mansion facing the water. I mention this to indicate how serious and busy, and also how virtuously devoted Mrs. K was to her students.

    But there is another side to this story. I am only going to tell it because her husband is long dead and the indications I have is that she is beyond the point of caring or knowing of things like this. And they have no kids. You see Mr. And Mrs. K were devotees of the Society of Saint Pius X, long before it was trendy. Mr. K. was a fascinating and intense man who had a great interest in Heraldry. In fact I think he is even responsible for a particular type of cataloguing rubric for Heraldic symbols which even bears his name. But one thing about the guy was that he was a real racist. In fact one of the strange and off-putting memories of the guy was when he told me why he left St. Rose of Lima Parish in Miami Shores which they had attended previously. He said that in the Sixties he went to Mass there and the priest in the sermon ended up praising the work of Martin Luther King. I can still recall his saying in a huff, while smoking his pipe, that after that he decided to go to St. Mary’s Cathedral . Well, I am sure that you will share the same bewildered impression of his logic , knowing the location of St. Mary’s Cathedral. But in point of fact in those days the Cathedral was more into traditional liturgies. But by the time I had graduated and gone to St. John Vianney even the Cathedral was too much for them . The next I heard they had joined the Society of Saint Pius X and were great devotees of it. The only time I went to one of their liturgies was with them. Believe me, it felt all very forbidden. All I remember is that it was way out somewhere in a little building and that everyone was very intense about it. But the reason I relate all this is to connect it with an unfortunate thing I learned about Mr. K. earlier. One day when I was at there house for piano lesson I happened to glance at their daily mail which was sitting on the a chair near the front door. In the pile was a publication from the Ku Klux Klan addressed to Mr. K. I was very shocked by this. And to this day I am amazed by it. He was such an intelligent person, a “Dr.” who had gotten his Ph. D. in Economics from the University of Vienna. Mrs. K. had studied at the Vienna Conservatory and was in the same Master Class with Friedrich Gulda as a fellow student. These were cultured, educated people. And he was a member apparently of the Ku Klux Klan. It was one of the first times I realized that many beautiful cultural facets can walk hand-in-hand with very ugly reactionary valences. One has to be very aware of the deep Gestalt of an organization before you join it. All organizations are complex and imperfect. But if they are deeply related to intolerance, be careful! The fact that one famous Bishop of the Society of Saint Pius X was convicted in Germany recently is, for me, of a piece with what I already knew of it culturally from Mr. And Mrs. K. I wish well, and Pax Tecum.

  3. Theodore Says:

    Mr. Whitty: excellent site. Mr. Peter Paul: very interesting story. I personally desire and appreciate the heraldy of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, I pity the members of the St. Pius X society who cannot figure out how to solve the problem stubbornness. Sure, they have tons of reasons to pretend to be right. But we all need to be disciples and that is the last thing a stubborn person wants to be. Ci vediamo a Roma.

  4. ibookworm Says:

    Mr. Fuchs, please don’t judge the SSPX by the insanity of some of its members (and that includes His Excellency Bishop Williamson). Judge it by fruits. Doctrinal faithfulness. Defense of the pope against the media. The formation of knowledgeable young Catholics who practice and love their faith. Lasting marriages. Vocations.

    Fact is, the SSPX is perceived as being a hardline and extremist organization. This means that it attracts certain people who want to be hardline and extremist in bad ways. Racists (though those are actually pretty rare). Geocentrists. Confederates. Most of the really kooky ones tend to drift off into sedevecantist groups after a while, where they loudly decry the SSPX for not being hardcore enough.

    The SSPX is trying to preserve tradition. It’s not a matter of pride. It’s not something they claim to have invented. They are just trying to continue doing what the Church did for 2000 years. They believe — with some justification, I think — that this cannot be done at this time in an ordinary canonical union with Rome. But they don’t try to subvert Rome’s authority, or deny Peter his throne. And a case can be made that the old mass still exists, and enjoys a new freedom, because of their efforts.

    Pray for the SSPX and for all the Church. It look brighter for tradition than it has for decades, but there is still a long way to go.

  5. Peter Paul Fuchs Says:

    Geocentrists?? Well, that is one I didn’t anticipate. Does that mean that with their support for the Tridentine Liturgy comes a de facto condemnation of Galileo?? Do they believe it was right to burn Giordano Bruno as well . Sir, people of goodwill are willing to grant others the right to believe anything they want, but at some point a certain basic sense of personal embarrassment ought to kick- in. What the Society of Pius X and the regular Roman Church in Rome seem to have in common is a basic lack of embarrassment at this point. Sedevacantist is not the half of it. It is the complete vacancy or evacuation of common sense.

    • C. Whitty Says:

      Let’s keep the comments from turning into a back and forth tennis match about right vs wrong please. Feel free to argue with each other by email since this is not a political/church governance blog. Pax.

  6. Peter Paul Fuchs Says:

    Hey Cliff,

    Allow me to use your stricture — a good one generally, and particularly because, heck, it’s your blog and you can do whatever you want with it — to make a point that is often on my mind. People of a more reactionary disposition often have a love/hate relationship with the artistic glories of the past. The are wont to view the inviolability of doctrine as related a vigorous and with-it cultural currency of today. They may take pride in the great aesthetic past, but they are also uncomfortable with it. When there is discomfort things often veer into fetishization. Thus this basic discomfort gets projected on a lot of other realms, like politics and governance which you wisely don’t want to have muddy the point of your elegant blog.

    I always think it is strange that those with the discomfort seem to bizarrely downplay the standards of aesthetic beauty while apotheosizing them as well. I do not wish to offend traditionalists, but I see their movements as primarily aesthetic phenomena of a wobbly sort. You did not live through the seventies so you cannot know the retrospective horror with which I view a particular part of my youth that was spent sitting through guitar-sodden liturgies. The solipsism of this terrible music and self-serving piety is only matched by the deadening effect it has on the person’s spirit. So in this sense I think the Society of Pius X’s efforts were perfectly understandable in an aesthetic sense. It was like an instinct for aesthetic sanity. But for it to have worked in a real-world context you would need to combine it with a deeply liberal sense of the continuing development of life. This is the sine qua non of of a healthy personal psyche. But to do this you have to admit that nine-tenths of what religion does is support the possibility of personal sanctity and spirituality by providing an aesthetic environment for development. If you read Church History with an eye for how the average person was affected, and not just the leaders, you repeatedly encounter this sense as the basis for religious engagement. The failure to acknowledge this basic historical reality has bad effects. Primarily, it divorces interpretation from reality. Most participants in any religious reality are not leaders or saints. What has changed in our era, and which groups like the Society react to, is that religious organizations no longer see their basic function as providing that aesthetic ambit for religious development. Ironically, they have struck a Faustian bargain with the most intellectually bedraggled aspects of our age, and rejected the finest which are ineluctably related to a more basic life-affirming liberal viewpoint, even if pious. Like my Liturgy [!] professor at Catholic University Kevin Irwin who spent most his class quoting and glossing on quasi-self-help books popular in the eighties. This managed to negate the whole point of an intellectual life and an aesthetic sensitivity at once. If I had not lived through it I would not think such weird combinations are possible.

    So I guess I am saying, Cliff, enjoy your attraction to all these beautiful phenomena of the past, but do it in a way that gives you more real-world options, not less. This has been the point of it, for most of Church History, for most people, anyways.

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