From a reader…
We prefer to attend Ascension Day Mass on Ascension Day whenever possible. This year, we have 2 options – drive 2 hours later in the evening with 4 young children), or attend an SSPX chapel about 30 min away.
If we were to attend the SSPX chapel, would it be correct to receive communion?
There are several factors to consider here.
First, it was clearly the will of Sovereign Pontiffs that people should have generous access to Holy Mass also celebrated in what has come to be called the Extraordinary Form, the traditional form of the Roman Rite. John Paul II, in Ecclesia Dei adflicta, literally commanded by his Apostolic Authority that bishops be generous. They defied him and people suffered. Benedict XVI provided with Summorum Pontificum a juridical solution to both that defiance and the fracturing of Catholic identity in the Church that resulted from the precipitous imposition of an artificially created rite on the Church. Many bishops still defy this legislation. Francis has been signaling to the world his desire to put people at their ease when frequenting chapels of the SSPX by, in indirect ways, granting faculties to otherwise irregular SSPX priests validly to absolve sins. More recently he has provided a way to make sure that marriages witnessed by SSPX priests do not lack proper form.
Also, in her desire that people be able to receive the sacraments in a timely manner and without undue burden, the Church allows that people can go even to non-Catholic ministers with valid sacraments when there is a moral or physical difficulty in accessing a regular Catholic priest. The SSPX is Catholic, not non-Catholic.
The Holy See (Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“) has said that people fulfill their Sunday and Holy Day obligations by participating at Masses of the SSPX.
The Holy See (PCED) has also stated that, in justice, one can give them donations at collection since they have received services from them.
If there were an opportunity to go to Mass in the Extraordinary Form close to you, I think you should always give it preference.
Catholics are obliged by law to receive Communion once a year. There is no obligation to receive Communion at every Mass. We aspire to, of course.
In the past I have not recommended to people that they regularly receive Communion at SSPX Masses. Depending on the priest and the chapel, the tone of the teaching and preaching, one could be in an environment which purposely and openly attempts to undermine unity with the local bishops and with the Pope. One should avoid such places.
Similarly, we acknowledge, one could argue that a regular parish with horrid abuses and with horrid teaching should be avoided, if possible.
However, my recollection is that the PCED has allowed that people could receive occasionally.
So, weigh together these factors and make your decision. If, occasionally, you go to an SSPX chapel 30 minutes away rather than a couple hours with several children in tow, I think you are on pretty solid ground. If, after due consideration, you should receive Communion I don’t think you would automatically err.
The moderation queue is ON, and I will be picky. I don’t want the same old same old.