IT ISN’T easy to be young and a traditional Catholic these days. Practicing the faith – and even just getting to Sunday Mass – requires a lot more effort and determination now than it did when I was growing up in the balmy pre-Vatican II era, and Mass was just a short bike ride away.
Then there is conflict among different traditionalist groups. While the average young Catholic pre-Vatican II encountered no doctrinal or disciplinary disagreements, and could safely go from one Latin Mass to another without worry and be left in complete peace, now he often encounters doctrinal problems and other types of disputes. I have addressed this issue before in a talk called Young People and Conflict among Trads that I posted here last year.
To this there is joined another acute problem: If I am serious about practicing my faith, how do I find a spouse who is likewise serious about the faith? How could the differences among various traditionalist groups affect my potential choices? Sometimes, too, young trads – and alas even many older ones! – wrongly believe that the only issue is “the Latin Mass.” Any group or priest that offers a Latin Mass is just fine.
But “the Latin Mass” is not the whole story because trads are in fact engaged in a battle against the doctrinal errors of Vatican II and the false pope and hierarchy who adhere to them. Our high school catechism teacher here at St. Gertrude the Great (SGG) asked me to speak to his students about the topic this past Sunday. To keep the issues and groups clear, I came up with a one-page chart as a “field guide.” Since the problem that occasioned it and the issues it addresses are of general interest to faithful Catholics, I decided to make it available here. (You can click on the chart to enlarge it.)
SGG, SGG Approved Chapels List, CMRI: Obviously, potential spouses from the chapels in the first three columns are on the proverbial same page as regards Vatican II, the false popes, and Holy Orders of priests in their chapels. They are all sedevacantist – that it, they believe the papal see is vacant. I’ve listed the numbers of chapels in these categories in order to show young people that their possibilities for encountering potential spouses is not limited to one local chapel. We at St. Gertrude the Great have taken the firm position that, since the post-Vatican II popes are heretics and therefore false popes, it is objectively a sin to participate in traditional Latin Masses that name them as true popes in the Canon of the Mass. (For a short explanation of the reasons, see my short article here and the longer study on which it is based here.) Such Masses, sometimes called “una cum Masses” (from the Latin phrase used to insert the name of the false pope into the Canon) are offered by the Society of St. Pius X, certain independent traditional priests, SSPX affiliates, the Fraternity of St. Peter and others. Since you know and believe Francis is a false pope, you should not participate actively in a Mass that proclaims he is a true pope. For the sake of avoiding misunderstanding, I must note here that CMRI and other clergy on our approved chapels list disagree with this position, and see nothing wrong assisting at una cum Masses if nothing else is available. I even held that position at one time myself, but rather extensive research into the issues forced me to conclude otherwise.
SSPV, Immaculate Conception: Of all the groups on the list, this causes the most problems for our young people. The clergy of SSPV and Immaculate Conception (its affiliated Cincinnati-area chapel) regard clergy at the chapels listed in the first three columns as invalidly ordained, forbid attendance at our Masses, publicly refuse the sacraments to laymen who receive sacraments at these Masses, forbid SSPV laymen to be baptismal sponsors at such chapels, etc.
These policies, as you can imagine, caused great heartache and division in families, because SSPV and Immaculate Conception clergy insist that one side of a family in a marriage treat the religion of the other side of the family as non-Catholic. In the case of one potential SGG/SSPV marriage, the local SSPV priest, Fr. William Jenkins, even insisted that I participate in a public debate with him over SSPV policies with the couple present. Some engagement party! (Those who are interested can view the tape of the debate here.)
Nevertheless, many lay people who go to SSPV or Immaculate Conception simply do not believe what their priests say on these points, and observe the SSPV policy only because of social/familial pressure, school possibilities or mere geographical convenience. On a local level here in Cincinnati, in fact, many Immaculate Conception parishioners ignore the policy entirely, and assist at Mass or receive sacraments at St. Gertrude the Great whenever convenient. (A waggish priest at St. Gertrude’s, who shall remain nameless, suggested that Fr. Jenkins might therefore consider running a courtesy shuttle over to SGG as a fundraiser.) In any event, a potential spouse from among the latter group who was willing to ignore the flack and to start going to Mass at a chapel in one of the first three columns would not therefore be a bad bet.
SSPX: While this organization recognizes the false Vatican II popes as true popes and some of its lay followers are militantly anti-sedevacantist, others are not and have no difficulty assisting at Mass at a sede chapel. In the case of a potential spouse, sometimes contact with sedevacantist clergy will lead a lay SSPX-er to examine the sedevacantist position more closely and embrace it. This will become more common, I think, once Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) really gets his revolutionary program into gear.
MOTU PROPRIO, FSSP: These refer to organizations that offer the “Latin Mass” under the aegis of the modernist hierarchy. A problem can arise if a potential spouse’s family members are really militantl anti-sedevacantists or “conservative” Novus Ordo “legalists.” They would regard marriages in sedevacantist churches as invalid and “schismatic.” Again, though, the contact of a potential spouse with sedevacantist clergy sometimes leads him to re-examine his position. As with SSPXers, Bergoglio has offended many conservatives by his outrageous words and actions. For a recent example of this conservative reaction, see the recent blog post by Steve Kojec, It Doesn’t Take a Rigorist: Why All Catholics Should be Concerned about Pope Francis.
STANDARD NOVUS ORDO: The Novus Ordo does not recognize our sacraments at SGG as valid, treats any marriages that we perform as null, and routinely allows spouses married here or in one of our affiliated churches to marry again. On the other hand, since the nature of the new religion is decidedly indifferentist, potential spouses from this milieu are usually “non-militant.” Contact with a traditional Catholic from one of our chapels sometimes leads them to discover the true Catholic faith for the first time.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: First, one of my hopes in founding TradCircle was that it would become a social meeting site for young traditional Catholics and hopefully, future spouses. Though we had a number of marriages come from it, this has yet to happen on any large scale, probably because of the rather fragile ecosystem of social media sites. Perhaps we will still find a way of making TradCircle (or some other social media site) effectively achieve this end in the future.
Second, what we have said here is intended to address just one specific issue involved in choosing a potential spouse. There are many other important points for the young Catholic to ponder as well.
Finally, and most important of all: Since Catholic marriage is a sacrament and a means of sanctification established by God, agreement between spouses on religious principles will be the key to their success in the married life. In the matter of considering and choosing future spouses, however, I urge our young people to reject the temptation to soften or compromise the religious principles I have mentioned, should they take an interest in someone from a “Latin Mass” group that espouses questionable doctrinal ideas. Save compromise in marriage for the color of the wallpaper. When it comes to future spouses and your faith, seek instead to convince and convert. Your priests will be happy to help! St. Raphael, patron of future spouses, pray for us!