I got a question from a reader. This comes up once in a while. I guess I really need a better blog template with a search feature.
First of all, I want to say that I love your blog. It’s really informative and a great source of Latin Mass information!
However, I’ve been wondering about receiving Communion at SSPX Masses — I saw your blog post from a while back where you basically said you’d advise anyone attending an SSPX chapel for Mass not to receive Holy Communion. I agree with this. But you also seemed to say that ultimately, the choice to receive Holy Communion was up to the individual. I apologize if I misunderstood, though. At any rate, I know a lot of people who think that it’s ok to receive Holy Communion there (these individuals might go to SSPX chapels on very rare occasions). But even so, since their Masses are illicit, that would make their sacraments sacrilegious (despite their validity), wouldn’t it? And so wouldn’t anyone receiving Communion from an SSPX priest (unless in danger of death) objectively be committing sacrilege? Why don’t people seem to be aware of that? Would it reduce their culpability by not knowing? And I guess the bottom line here is, why don’t things seem to be so cut-and-dry regarding this situation?
The choice to receive Communion is always an individual choice, even if a person is under censure or in the state of mortal sin. Only in rare circumstances is it up to the minister of Communion not to administer It.
Under normal circumstances if people attend Mass at a chapel which not in explicit union with Rome, or which Rome has identified as okay for inter-Communion, I advise that they do not receive Communion.
Yes, even if the Mass is valid. Manifest unity with the Bishop of Rome is very important. The SSPX, if it is not a schismatic group – and we are told by high authority they are not – does not have manifest unity with Rome.
However, there may be those circumstances in which a person is impeded, physically or morally, from attending an approved Catholic church or chapel and from receiving Holy Communion. By a "moral" impediment I can envision that either there is a personal reason why a person can’t go to parish X, or that the Mass there is celebrated with so many abuses that one can’t overcome repugnance, etc. By physical impediment I mean something like distance. In any event the impediment must be real, not just an excuse. God cannot be fooled.
In those cases, when a person has been without Holy Communion for a grave reason, and for a long time, and it is a burden, or there is the obligation to receive Communion according to the Church’s law (at least once a year), then a person could receive at such a chapel. This would be similar to a person in a country where there are few or no Catholic churches, such as in Greece, where one would have a preponderance of Orthodox churches. Optimal? No. But the good of one’s soul requires some leeway.
I hope and pray for greater manifest unity between Rome and the SSPX. These folks can do a great deal to accelerate the good changes which will occur as a result of Summorum Pontificum and the efforts of our Holy Father. It is time to start effecting change from within.
Are their Masses "sacrilegious" because they are not celebrated in perfect union with the Roman Pontiff?
No, I don’t think they are. They are certainly irregular. But in most cases I think they want, they tend to unity with Pope even if they don’t manifest that desire through obedience. If they were sacrilegious, I would say no one could ever go. So, I think we have to set aside the category of "sacrilege". Not everything done in disobedience is automatically sacrilegious.
It is far more likely that you could find a Mass celebrated in a sacrilegious manner, because of liturgical abuses, where the Novus Ordo is being twisted beyond recognition. And there are such Masses, as that video from Call To Action demonstrated.
There just aren’t easy answers to any of this. Indeed, so much could be cleared up by a softening of hearts, an opening of minds, and clear, unequivocal submission to the Roman Pontiff.