QUAERITUR: attending an SSPX on a Sunday – obligation fulfilled?

I got a question via e-mail:

I have very close friends who attend the SSPX masses. They have invited me to attend the confirmation of one of their children in St Mary Kansas. If I go I will be there on through a Sunday and staying at their home. My question is: If I attend Sunday mass at a SSPX chapel, will I still need to attend a diocese mass as well to fulfill my Sunday obligation? I have heard yes and no on this question from different priests. I don’t normally attend SSPX masses but being that my friends have extended this invitation and I would be staying at their home, I am trying to discern the right course in this situation.

Rest assured that if you attend Mass on Sunday at the SSPX church, you will have fulfilled your Sunday Mass obligation. 

It is clear in the 1983 Code of Canon Law that if you attend Mass in a Catholic Rite on the Sunday or its vigil, you fulfill your obligation.  There is no question that the SSPX Mass will be a validly celebrated Mass in a Catholic Rite.

At the same time, I will not recommend that you receive Holy Communion during the Mass under these particular conditions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kradcliffe says:

    Father, would that mean that one would be *obligated* to attend the SSPX Mass if it is the only Mass they could get to?

  2. Michael R. says:

    What about an Orthodox Divine Liturgy in a similar situation? The Byzantine Rite is “a Catholic rite”.

  3. BK says:

    Thanks Fr. Z!

    Rapproachment will only come with generosity, kindness and humility on both sides; trust will only be restored when Truth is spoken in charity by both sides.

    (Though I’ve only once attended an SSPX mass, its good to see such a simple, honest and straight forward response by a recognized “expert.”)

  4. Kradcliffe: would that mean that one would be obligated to attend the SSPX Mass if it is the only Mass they could get to?

    No, it would not.

  5. Michael: What about an Orthodox Divine Liturgy in a similar situation? The Byzantine Rite is “a Catholic rite”.

    Orthodox Church, no. However, if it were an Eastern Catholic Church, yes.

  6. Nick says:

    I thought that Catholics were not allowed to attend Masses celebrated by the SSPX because they are illicit. This website says we shouldnt:


    I have also been under the impression that it could be grave matter to participate in an illicit Sacrament such as receiving Holy Communion at an SSPX Mass. I am not trying to be contentious here, but I just would like clarification on these issues. It was very confusing for me to read here that, seemingly, it is permissible to attend SSPX chapels when I have always heard otherwise.

  7. Bill says:

    I think it would be wise to add that a person should attend a valid, licit Mass whenever possible.


    “Q: Are the bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X validly ordained? If so, can someone fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation at an SSPX chapel?

    …The SSPX Mass, though gravely illicit, is valid and thus theoretically could fulfill the Sunday obligation when no valid, licit Catholic Mass is available. But because of the SSPX’s freshly schismatic state, it would be extremely imprudent to attend an SSPX liturgy, and it could cause scandal. When no valid, licit Catholic Mass is available, one is exempted from the Sunday obligation, so there is no need to try to fulfill that obligation at an SSPX chapel.”

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Personally, I would attend for devotion and to fulfill the obligation, but not receive Holy Communion.

  9. Jackie says:

    Are Catholics allowed to recieve Communion at a SSPX mass since it is illicit? I know there are certain rules for recieving when it comes to Roman and Orthodox liturgies…is it the same for SSPX?

  10. Michael says:

    Kradcliffe: would that mean that one would be obligated to attend the SSPX Mass if it is the only Mass they could get to?

    Fr. Z: No, it would not.

    Father, I think that many traditional Catholics will welcome your response here. It echos what many have been saying all along: A Mass,simply by virtue of its validity, does not compel attendance. Other considerations, apart from validity can and do excuse the faithful from their obligation.

  11. Brian Mershon says:

    Here we go again. Thank you again, Fr. Z, for bringing clarity to a situation that seemingly everyone, sincere or not, wants to make unclear.

    Scruples, people, are not a sign of spiritual health and/or maturity. The Church has spoken CLEARLY on this several times.

    Why not just trust Fr. Z and the Church?

    Catholic Answers, lo and behold, is not always right, especially in matters traditional. Neither is EWTN.

    But the Church is ALWAYS right about itself.

  12. Somerset '76 says:

    Msgr. Perl laid out the detailed issues and conditions for permissible attendance at an SSPX Mass in an official response known as Protocol 539/99, which in turn was modified in a 2003 letter to Una Voce America.

  13. Bill says:

    Some might want to read a response from Monsignor Camille Perl of Ecclesia Dei:


    Note “in the strict sense” and “we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass.”

  14. Jack says:

    Fr. Z

    I was always under the impression that one could fulfil the Sunday obligation by attending an orthodox Mass *if* a Catholic Mass were not available, and only if a Catholic Mass were not available. Since SSPX are also schismatic I presumed that the same rule applied to them, but I would have imagined that you could not fulfill your obligation if you could reasonably (in conscience) get to a Catholic Mass.

    Though I also understand (as you say) that in such cases one is not obliged to attend schismatic Masses.

    is this right?

  15. Farther V. says:

    I would rather attend a Novus Ordo Mass that is licit than Traditional Latin Mass offered by SSPX that is illicit.

  16. Okay… I am closing the combox. This will get out of hand.

    What I wrote at the top was correct.

Comments are closed.