QUAERITUR: 1 January Mass obligation and SSPX chapel

From a reader:

Does the Mass according to the Traditional calendar for January 1 satisfy the Holy Day obligation for that day?

We are in Belgium and would like to attend a traditional Mass, since the other churches in Belgium are mostly empty and we’re not even sure if Jan 1 in Belgium is a Holy Day or not, so it might be difficult to find a Novus Ordo Mass that day.

We have been to the SSPX church here, and it is full of families and life and reverence, so that is probably where we will go… at home we go to St. Margaret’s in Oceanside, CA.


Yes.  According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law you satisfy the Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation when you attend Holy Mass in a Catholic Rite on the day itself or on the evening preceding.

You satisfy the obligation even by attending Mass at a chapel of the SSPX. They clearly celebrate in a Catholic Rite and their orders are valid. 

This isn’t the optimal choice, in my opinion.  Regardless of how nice their chapels can be in some respects, the SSPX is not in clear full unity with the Bishop of Rome or the local bishops.  Going to these chapels regularly remains a bad idea and I don’t recommend Holy Communion at those Masses.  But you do satisfy the obligation by attending Mass in their chapels.

Thus, if you go to a TLM in a chapel of the SSPX or an approved church or chapel, on 1 January or the evening of 31 December, you fulfill any obligation there may be.  I don’t know what the bishops in Belgium have determined about the Holy Day of Obligation.  Since it falls on a Thursday this year, I suspect that the obligation has not been dispensed.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Marc Rostad says:


    Here we go again. Father, don’t compromise your integrity by failing to
    mention what other venues aren’t “optimal choices.”

    Flame away

  2. Marc Rostad says:

    My appologies. I forgot that those places won’t be open Jan 1st [Incomprehensible]

  3. Hugo says:

    Here in Orange County the churches won’t be open so we are mercifully spared from having to observe liturgical abuse.

    How many dioceses in the USA still have the obligation?

  4. a religious says:

    As far as I know 1st January is NOT a holyday in Belgium but certainly a public HOLIDAY. The only holyday of obligation transferred to a Sunday in Belgium is the Epiphany (4 January this year). Other holydays tend also to be public holidays. Please don’t underestimate the Catholic Faith in Belgium. Things are not good, but there are also signs of hope. As one wise priest once remarked to me, God never abandons his Church. Also, do the Institute of Christ the King not have an apostolate in Belgium ? The extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is celebrated here and there, though it isn’t well known. Where exactly in Belgium is the reader staying ?

  5. Mark says:

    We are staying in Brussels… if there is a church run by the Institute of Christ the King in Brussels, please let me know… I’d rather go there on Jan 1 than an SSPX church for obvious reasons…

  6. Mary W says:


    In the San Bernardino Diocese Jan. 1st is considered a Holy Day of Obligation this year. Our parish, which is very liberal in many ways, e.g., our pastor is more apt to quote Rev. Schulyer of the Crystal Cathedral in GG than Pope Benedict XVI, is having a vigil Mass and two Masses on the first. I don’t know where you live in Orange County, but if you’re close to the Ontario area there are a few churches you can check out. Or if you want to take a holiday drive, come down to the Temecula/Murrieta area to attend Mass. I haven’t checked the San Diego Diocese website, so don’t know if they’re observing this year. Should be, as Father Z states, since it falls on a Thursday not a Saturday or Monday. By the way I’m a former resident of Orange County.

  7. Simon Platt says:

    The ICKSP has a presence in Belgium at Brussels, Brasmenil and Havré.

    This page gives more information, although it seems to be a little out of date: http://bonvouloir.chez.com/ . The telephone number given is correct according to the Institute’s calendar for 2009.

    The prior in Belgium is Canon Hudson, an Englishman who travels to the north of England almost every Sunday to serve the faithful here – we are very fortunate to have him. He is headmaster of this school in Brussels: http://www.bicschool.be/en/contact.html . You might be able to reach him using the contact details given on the school’s website, which is up to date (although it might be a long shot at this time of year!)

    You might also like to contact this chap, who I think is in Brussels: http://cathcon.blogspot.com/ .

    Good luck!

  8. John says:

    Father, I don’t understand why you say you can satisfy the January 1 obligation by going to an SSPX Mass, but then turn around and say that you don’t recommend Holy Communion at those Masses. If you don’t communicate at the SSPX Mass, then what is the purpose of attending?

  9. John: I am confident that you will reflect on this and figure it out.

    Hint: Communion at Mass is not obligatory.

  10. Juan Pablo Mönckeberg says:

    Thanks for your “very clarifying” answer…

    “You satisfy the obligation even by attending Mass at a chapel of the SSPX”
    “This isn’t the optimal choice”
    “the SSPX is not in clear full unity with the Bishop of Rome or the local bishops”
    “Going to these chapels regularly remains a bad idea and I don’t recommend Holy Communion at those Masses”

    I think that people like you [“people like me”?] are the actual responsibles of confusing everyone and the lost of faith. Someone is asking you if to go or not to go to a mass, then answer clear please, i really cant understand how people like you [“like me”?] that seem to be very prepared on this difficult topics, gives an answer like “you satisfy the obligation but i dont recomend it” … if he is satisfying the obligation WHO ARE YOU to not recommend it!!!
    I hope you dont have to answer this to Our Lord on the last days. [I hope I don’t too. But since what I wrote is precisely the position of the Holy See’s Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, I am not too worried.]

    It might be a good idea next time to answer that since you dont have it clear at all, you cant really recomend it or not…at least it would be just omission and ignorance sins… [What I wrote is the position of the Holy See.]

    I hope you publish this… [I’ll leave this on the board, because I suspect you didn’t realize that you were publicly insulting a priest.]

    Juan Pablo Mönckeberg

  11. Michael says:

    Would attending an Orthodox Church satisfy the “obligation”, since they also celebrate Catholic Rites? The answer I’ve always received is “No”, yet if SSPX satisfies based on the Catholic origin of the Rite they use, why not the non-Catholic Eastern Churches?

  12. Hugo says:

    Juan :

    Very thoughtful, tempered response.

    I’m amazed at how people can have such a quick response (based on emotion) when it comes to the SSPX but strive so hard no to step on toes when it comes to the local parish or ordinary.


    And pray that if a reconcilliation is reached, the SSPX basher don’t run out of the Church into the nearest asylum.

  13. Hugo wrote:

    Here in Orange County the churches won’t be open so we are mercifully spared from having to observe liturgical abuse.

    How many dioceses in the USA still have the obligation?

    January 1 remains a day of obligation in most dioceses in the United States. In fact, the official policy of the USCCB (stated here) is that January 1, August 15, and November 1 are days of obligation unless they fall on a Saturday or a Monday.

    However, each local ordinary can modify this rule in their diocese, and in several California dioceses — including Los Angeles and Orange — have removed the January 1 obligation altogether. This page of the L.A. archdiocese website states that the obligation is lifted all through California, but since Mary W. (above) says that the obligation still holds in San Bernardino, I guess that there isn’t really any uniformity on this throughout California.

    However, Hugo, I think you are being unfair to state that “Here in Orange County the churches won’t be open”. I would be surprised if any church with a resident priest doesn’t have at least one Mass that day.

  14. Mary W says:

    Well, guess I was wrong when I posted that Jan 1st was considered a Holy Day of Obligation in the Diocese of San Bernardino. At the end of Mass tonight, the priest announced that it is “no longer considered a Holy Day in these parts anymore – football has won”. They didn’t have time to make the correction in the church bulletin which states that it IS a HD of O. Only one Mass now on the first not two as stated in the bulletin, also no vigil Mass.

    Still considered the Solemnity of Mary just not a Holy Day. Do you have any thoughts on this, Father? Hate to express mine.

  15. Matt says:

    I think if the choice comes down to no Mass, deformed NO Mass (you know it will be deformed, or other rites, then I would whole heartdly recommend going to the SSPX Mass.

    The priests that I have met are VERY concerned about saving souls, being pius and reverent towards our Lord. I think you will find the tridentine Mass that is celebrated to be very reverent just like a SP EF Mass.

    Just don’t stick around arfterwards if they have a meet and greet. You need to be well formed in your faith before you stick around. Some of what they will talk about will make you think. You need to know which resources to consult to determine how to interpret what you will hear. Some you will agree with, some you will question and some you will wonder “what are they thinking.”

    With Campos being “recognized” I don’t think it will be too many years before SSPX will no longer have validity problems with some in Rome. There will always be arguments about church teachings that are not ex cathedra. This has always been with us and always will.

    “Where *ever* two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be”
    “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek”

  16. Lcb says:

    Someone above raised a neat point — must we attend a roman catholic rite to fulfill our obligation?

    Could I attend an eastern catholic rite or an orthodox rite and fulfill the obligation? [Yes. Exactly. Canon Law does not say you have to attend Mass in the the Roman Rite. It says Catholic Rite. You can satisfy the obligation by going, for example, to a Maronite Catholic church and their rite.]

  17. Lcb says:

    I ask because the canon law reference doesn’t explicitly exclude certain rites, or at least so it appears.

  18. Mark M says:

    If it helps the OP, the FSSP are also in Belgium (see here), but I cannot figure out from the website if there will be Mass on January 1st and where.

  19. John Enright says:

    This is probably a moot point since Jan. 1 isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation in Belgium. The Bishops there, with Vatican approval, have this list of holydays:
    – The Ascension of Our Lord
    – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    – All Saints’ Day
    – Christmas

  20. quodvultis says:

    Mr Mönckeberg:

    No doubt you have a motive for resenting the clear distinctions that Father Zuhlsdorf made: probably because you have attached yourself to an SSPX congregation; but the manner in which you have addressed Father Zuhlsdorf is scandalous.

    You are obliged to express your regret and ask his pardon in this forum.

  21. Timothy says:

    The TLM in Belgium is offered by the FSSP, ICRSP and diocesan priests according to Summorum Pontificum. Normally the weekday FSSP mass is at the Cathedral of St Aubain, Namur, about an hour south of Brussels. As it is a public holiday, I would check with them before making a special journey. There is a good listing of TLM’s in Belgium (in communion with the Holy See and otherwise) at http://honneurs.free.fr/Wikini/wakka.php?wiki=StPieVenBelgique. As other readers have pointed out, 1st January is NOT a holy day of obligation in Belgium.

  22. Rob F. says:


    Any Catholic rite will do, eastern or western.

  23. Juan Pablo Mönckeberg says:

    Mr. “Quodvultis”:

    I really dont find the “scandalous” part of my post, i’m just saying that it is this relativism the main source of lost of faith. Then if someone ask something to get clarified, it would be a perfect idea to give a clear answer…. ONE clear answer. [The answer I gave was clear. You satisfy the obligation by attending Masses of the SSPX. It is not recommended to receive Communion in those chapels or go to them very often because, by doing so regularly, you weaken your bond with the Roman Pontiff and local bishop. The priests of the SSPX are at the least suspended a divinis. The relationship of the whole SSPX with Rome is tenuous. The Church’s law, however, does permit a person in grave – for their spiritual good – need to seek out the sacraments from priests not in union with Rome.]

    When i say “who are you to not recommend it”. I still ask the same thing, since at least H.E. Cardinal Castrillón Would as many times before recomend it, specially if you dont have anywhere else to attend the mass. [Card. Castrillon would say go to Masses of the SSPX and receive Communion? I doubt it. Produce your proof for that claim.]


    Juan Pablo Mönckeberg
    Chile, South America

  24. pjo says:

    What is the definition of the CATHOLIC Rite? For me the most important is pronouncing in Canon names of “Our Pope Benedict” AND “Our Bishop N.” – local Catholic Ordinary of proper Rite.

    IMHO sedevacantists does not celebrate the Catholic Rite, as they fail to fulfill the condition described above.

  25. So, after touching on this issue several times, with input from the usual suspects, and having followed some of these arguments VERY CLOSELY, here’s what we have determined so far:

    * Going to an SSPX chapel for Mass satisfies your obligation, thus an unlawful means can be used to accomplish a lawful end.

    * Going to an SSPX chapel for Mass satisfies your obligation, but we really don’t recommend it. We haven’t really explained why. (See “unlawful means,” above.)

    * The Mass at an SSPX chapel is a “catholic rite,” while its adherents are not in perfect communion with Rome. The Divine Liturgy at an Eastern Orthodox church is not a “catholic rite,” as they are not in perfect communion with Rome. The Divine Liturgy at an Eastern Catholic church IS a “catholic rite,” because they are in perfect communion with Rome. We haven’t really explained why. (Give yourself a minute to see the flaw in this reasoning.)

    It probably comes down to this:

    The (private) letter from the Holy See on this matter basically said TWO things;

    1) Mass at an SSPX chapel can in certain circumstances fulfill your obligation, and

    2) having determined that, it is not recommended, especially on a regular basis.

    If you’re in a situation where the only way to attend a valid Catholic rite is at an SSPX chapel, then the higher law of “salus animarum” takes effect. Otherwise, it probably does not. It seems to me that people in this situation are obliged to be completely honest with themselves in forming their consciences on the matter. That would seem to require giving 2) nearly as much attention as 1).

    It’s important to “bottom line” things like this, and avoid resorting to the endless polemics likened to Talmudic scholars. It’s also important to give the whole story, not just the parts that appeal to us.

  26. John says:

    Gee, thanks for your answer, Father Z – I must be even more ignorant than I look. I believe Juan Pablo has forcefully addressed my question, but I have to say that the whole SSPX issue is a troubling enigma. On the one hand, we have H.E. Cardinal Hoyos issuing repeated assurances that the SSPX is not schismatic and that its priests and faithful incur no penalties, etc., [But they do incur penalties. The deacons and priests are suspended and the bishops are excommunicated.] but on the other hand, we have statements like those of Msgr. Perl, who says that “the PCED does not, and cannot, encourage long-term attendance at SSPX chapels due to what it calls the danger of potential schism.”

    So what exactly is a “potential schism”? [That is more difficult to say. But there is clearly the problem of “creeping incrementalism”. A whole generation of people have grown up at SSPX chapels separated from clear and full unity with Rome. This state of division is all they have ever known. Their whole frame of mind is conditioned by it. When does this become truly schism? I don’t know.]

    It seems to me that on the status of the SSPX, the Vatican double-talk is as least the equal to that of the Third Secret and the “new springtime” caused by Vatican II. [Yah… that whole Third Secret thing bothers me too.]

    For example, this article:


    And frankly, having read numerous SSPX books and articles, I find their unwavering embrace of and obedience to the faith [but refusal to obey the Roman Pontiff…] to be much more trustworthy than the great bulk of the Conciliar gibberish that has issued from Rome, and esp. from the USCCB. That, however, does not solve the enigma.

  27. Banjo pickin' girl says:

    Wow, I am just a convert and don’t know anything but I am amazed that Jan. 1st is not a Holy Day of Obligation everywhere. Our parish will have a vigil Mass and 4 Masses on the day. But then, at our parish there are always LINES outside the confessionals. A great parish for a convert to feel inadequate!

    I learn so much from this blog it is amazing.

  28. Hugo: Here in Orange County the churches won’t be open so we are mercifully spared from having to observe liturgical abuse.

    Maybe someone there ought to submit this item to Sports Illustrated for its weekly “Sign of the Apocalypse” feature.

    Whether or not it means the end is near, it may raise in some naive minds a question whether the local SSPX chapel may be more fully in union with Rome than the local diocesan bishop.

  29. ssoldie says:

    Henry Edwards last lines “the local SSPX chapel may be more fully in union with Rome then the local diocesan bishop” rings so true. We in the area where I live are so blessed to be able to attened the TLM (tho some drive up to an hour to do so) with a wonderful 88 year old priest. Hopefully and prayerfully we will see in the future that there will be the TLM in every parish, every day, thru out the world( and that it dosen’t take 40 years) I thank God for Bishop Marcel Lefevbre, and pray for the SSPX daily, for without either, the TLM would be lost.

  30. Hugo says:


    I’ve been to a dozen Ordinary Form masses where the priest said: “Our pope and our bishop”
    No mention of names.

    Two most ago, the pastor went blabbing on about all levels of the hierarchy: the auxilliary, the priests, brothers and sisters, laity called to minister in this parish , permanent deacons and all people thoughout the world who pay honor to God in many unique ways through thousands of religous traditions..”

  31. paul says:

    I just wanted to comment on not receiving Holy Communion at Mass. My understanding is that Catholics are obligated to attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy days of obligation, receiving communion is obligated during the Easter time. Attending Mass and not receiving communion does not make one’s attendance pointless. There are many people who should not receive communion- anyone in mortal sin, non- catholics and others. Those who can not receive communion can make a spiritual communion- which is spiritually very profitable.

    In the EF of the mass it used to be on Good Friday only the priest received Holy Communion- communion was not permitted to the laity on that one day of the year.

  32. I think Ecclesia Dei may want to clarify or rethink their postion regarding telling Catholics they can fulfill a Holy Day obligation by attending an SSPX Mass.

    SSPX may have lovely liturgies but no matter which way you slice it, they are NOT in full communion with Rome. In my humble opinion, an “out” like this gives weak, or poorly catechised, Catholics the excuse they need to attend, oh say, a Lutheran service or an Old Catholic service under the guise that because they may have a liturgy that closely resembles a Roman Catholic one it’s alright to attend in lieu of a Roman Catholic church.

    I know some of you think, no way will that happen. Trust me: it can and does.

    A list of Catholic Rites and Churches that ARE in communion with Rome is listed here However, if you are a ROMAN Catholic, I believe it is strongly recommended that you attend a ROMAN Catholic church unless their is, honestly, no other option (ie you are traveling abroad and there is not a nearby Roman Catholic parish but there is an Maronite Catholic one).

    A poorly done Roman Catholic liturgy, in my opinion, is no excuse for attending a different Catholic rite.

    I know what you are trying to say Father, and I know this position is not one you just dreamed up on your own, but I find this position tenuous, even if it did come from a Pontifical Comission, since I think it opens the door to a lot of confusion and may give people the impression they can feel free to go elsewhere if they don’t like the way a Roman Catholic liturgy is celebrated.

  33. John says:

    Paul – thank you, you anticipated my next question, which was: are we obligated to receive Communion on Holy Days? In response to your post, I’ll revise that to ask, is Easter the only Holy Day which so obligates us?

  34. John says:

    Father, more enigma (for me, at least): the priests and deacons incur penalties, but the laity do not?

    “Catholic Laymen Incur No Penalty

    Following this quote in the German interview, Cardinal Castrillón emphasized again what he said in the March 17 interview, his fearing the possibility of schism and heresy, quoting St. Jerome. However, the fact remains that the lay faithful who attend SSPX masses to fulfill their Sunday obligation are not sinning nor incurring any canonical penalty by doing so.”

    (from the article I linked above)

  35. Cathy: Actually, the position comes from the Code of Canon Law. The SSPX, with valid orders, celebrates Mass in a Catholic Rite. When we consider the way the Church interprets law, we cannot be overly restrictive about fulfilling the obligation.

  36. John: The mere fact of going to an SSPX is not a sinful act. The reason why one goes could be, but the mere act is not. Also, with clerics the issues are clearer. It is hard to know what would constitute “schism” or some other state that would invite a remedy from the Church.

  37. The contributions of those who present themselves as ardent advocates of tradition in this thread do not put them or the cause they claim to trumpet in a good light. Far from it.

    Accusing Fr. Z of being some sort of modernist is pretty laughable; I mean, he’s really a kumbaya-clapping, tamborine-slappin’ kind of priest, isn’t he?

    Maintaining that there isn’t some sort of problem about the relationship of the SSPX with the Church as a whole is completely untenable. Of course there is a problem; there is a wound to unity, and the very fact that SSPX partisans either deny it, or deny this is a problem, actually proves the matter. Well, then, when there is such a problem, then it is good not to be a party to it. Yes, it is better to be in full communion with Peter, than not! What a thing to have to explain this to so-called proponents of Catholic Tradition!

    Arguing about who’s to blame is beside the point. Fr. Tetzel caused a great deal of harm with his indulgence-selling jingle, so does that justify Martin Luther’s rebellion?

    Well, yes–it would be easier to know what to do if Mother Church simply laid down a law: never go to a church or chapel associated with valid sacraments but which are not in full communion — i.e., Orthodox, SSPX, Sedevacants, Old Catholics, the occasional Anglican that managed to get valid orders — but Mother Church is a little more sensible than that. A parent might well say, “Look, I don’t want you going over to that house, there; but in case of necessity, okay.” Common sense.

    Some here might do well to reflect on the importance of visible, tangible unity with Peter and his successors. This idea of intangible, moral unity being sufficient…remember, that is a Protestant argument.

    Finally, those who have gone off somewhere, and say, maybe we’ll come back when everything is just the way we think it ought to be; meanwhile, others are hard at work trying to make things better. You could try to help a little more?

  38. Father: I know it’s in Canon Law but I was responding to one of your comments above (in red) where you said it was also the position of Ecclesia Dei.. Sorry for the confusing way I stated it.

    I’m still convinced that this position gives the “give an inch, they will take a mile” crowd something to latch on to when they claim they can’t stand the liturgy at their local Roman Catholic parish so they decide to just go to another Rite.

    We need to fight for our Church’s liturgy. How can we do that when people may just decide to go to another Rite?

    Father Fox said: Finally, those who have gone off somewhere, and say, maybe we’ll come back when everything is just the way we think it ought to be; meanwhile, others are hard at work trying to make things better. You could try to help a little more? I could not agree more. Father Fox’s comment gets to the heart of what bugs me here. I know many would rather walk away rather than fight. Catholic history of the last 40 years or so tells us that if more people stayed and fought, we would not have the numerous liturgical disasters we have now.

  39. DM says:

    “Yes. Exactly. Canon Law does not say you have to attend Mass in the the Roman Rite. It says Catholic Rite. You can satisfy the obligation by going, for example, to a Maronite Catholic church and their rite.”

    Even if the Mass they celebrate is not for the feast which is supposedly the reason why the day is a holy day of obligation in the first place? Is the obligation for the calendar day or for the feast?

  40. DM: The obligation is to one’s rite. A Catholic of the Roman Rite is obliged to attend Mass on those days which are considered obligatory in his own rite. On the other hand, and for example, a Catholic of the Byzantine Rite would not be obliged to attend Mass (of any rite) on the 1st of November, as they do not celebrate the Feast of All Saints that day, nor would it be a day of obligation in any case.

  41. DM: The law says “Mass”… not “the Mass of the day according to calendar X”.

  42. DM says:

    So here’s a question:

    I live near a Traditional Latin Mass apostolate, several Novus Ordo parishes, and a Ukrainian Catholic parish on the Julian Calendar.

    In my Diocese, the Feast of the Epiphany is a Holy Day of Obligation. In the new calendar, but not in the traditional calendar, the feast is transferred to the nearest Sunday.

    I thus am able to attend, on Sunday January 4th:

    1) The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (TLM)
    2) The feast of the Epiphany (Novus Ordo)
    3) Whatever the Ukrainians celebrate on Christmas Eve when it falls on a Sunday.

    Would any of these fulfill the Epiphany obligation?

    This is moot, as I plan to attend the TLM on the 4th and 6th (I think transferring the feast is offensive beyond words, and it seems that the spirit of the law is to fulfill an Epiphany obligation by actually celebrating the Epiphany), but I had a disagreement a few years ago over this question, and want to know who was right.

  43. DM:

    In light of the answers provided by both Father Z and myself, and on the assumption that you are a Catholic of the Roman Rite, you are obliged to attend Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany when YOUR RITE celebrates it. That would be on the 4th of January, the obligation and the feast having been transferred to the nearest Sunday. This would be regardless of the rite of the church you happen to attend on that day, the 4th of January.

  44. David Osterloh says:

    he’s really a kumbaya-clapping, tamborine-slappin’ kind of priest, isn’t he?

    “giggle-snort” just can’t gEt the picture of Fr Z in tie-dye and doing the boogie out of my mind

  45. Hugo says:

    Hey before we bounce on people who don’t sound charitable towards the SSPX, consider, for a moment the manner in which the SSPX treats Feeneyites.

  46. Richard says:

    January 1st is not a Holyday of Obligation here in England.

    But the travelling issue has confused me in the past. Which set of obligations do I have to obey – the ones for my home diocese, or for the diocese in which I am present on the day?

    This could work two ways. Does an obligation of my home diocese still bind me if I am in another diocese on that day where there is no obligation (assuming I could find a Mass)? Alternatively if I happen to be in a diocese on a feast day that it treats as a Holyday of Obligation but my home diocese does not, am I bound by the rules of a diocese that I am merely passing through (assuming of course that I know about the local obligation)?

    And is there a difference between a feast that is a Holyday of Obligation in some dioceses but not others, and a feast that is a Holyday of Obligation in both but has been moved to a different day in one diocese but not the other?

  47. Tiny says:

    We need to fight for our Church’s liturgy. How can we do that when people may just decide to go to another Rite?

    I don\’t attend the Eastern Rites because the Roman Rite is so bad; I attend because the Eastern Rites are so good! It\’s not a push but a pull.

    W/regards to the SSPX, I agree with the position I\’ve seen posited here and there. Namely, that they occupy an immature position; the natural conclusion of which is either reconciliation or sedevacantism. And I\’m not sure whether it is a good idea to force a choice between these two alternatives at this time.

  48. quodvultis says:

    Mr Mönckeberg:

    Please note that I did not refer to any “part” of your post, but to the “manner” in which you have addressed Father Zuhlsdorf (in the whole of your post), which is, I repeat, scandalous: “publicly insulting a priest” as Father Zuhlsdorf rightly terms it.

    I observe that as yet you have neither expressed your regret nor asked Father Zuhlsdorf’s pardon in this forum, as you are obliged to do.


    quodvultis (or what-you-will)

  49. SARK says:

    The SSPX parish in Brussels is a wonderfully vibrant one and High Mass on the first will be very fine. The choir in particular, made up of ordinary families from the parish, is truly exceptional. The congregation is very friendly, large, full of children and young people and in fact quite mixed – and not at all the rather regimented traddies of some SSPX parishes.

    Regular attendance could do nothing but good for ones Faith.


  50. Chris M says:

    “Regular attendance could do nothing but good for ones Faith.”

    Moving further away from the authority of the Holy See is not good for ones Faith, regardless of the quality of the liturgy or the dedication of the congregants. Otherwise, I’d still be an Anglican.

  51. SARK says:

    Dear Chris M,

    Interested in your thoughts on the similarity between the SSPX and Anglicans. Perhaps you don’t know much about the current situation of the SSPX.

    At St Joseph’s in Brussels it will be the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy and the congregants will be practising and professing the traditional Roman Catholic Faith. You would see nothing that the Holy Father could possibly object to – its exactly what the SP is aiming to promote.

    The Holy Father has admitted that there is a crisis in the Church echoing the words of Archbishop Lefvebre when he claimed a state of necessity and consecrated the four SSPX Bishops. Given this it is surely only matter of time before the unjust excommunications are lifted by the Pope and other disciplinary measures removed from the SSPX pretres.

    The SSPX and their faithful have repeatedly expressed their filial devotion to the Holy Father and repeated this in their recently renewed requests for the lifting of the excommunications.

    The SSPX is niether schismatic nor heretic.

    In all these ways they differ, as night differs from day, from Anglicans or schismatic and/or heretic groups more generally.

    There is currently a rosary crusade for the intention of the lifting of the excommunications – will you join us in this.


  52. Fr. Z and Brian:

    May I recommend a middle way in the form of the prudence that is offered by the emminent Mark Shea?

    Years ago, in this country, in mission regions, it was hard to get a priest to perform the wedding. Couples w/o benefit of clergy would jump over a broomstick and when Father passed thru town, he would bless the union.

    Try that today with mass communications and all you got is a silly ceremony. With all of the options available today: Reverent Novus Ordo, FSSP (if you must) or travel to another venue— is it too much to ask for the faithful to treat an SSPX wedding the same way? It may or may not be valid. Why take a chance?


  53. Frank Fanelli says:

    Why all of the pandering to the SSPX? Either let them come back in on their knees or don’t let the door hit them on there collective posteriors on the way out!

    Scott Hahn says that there’s a word for people who hold positions such as theirs: PROTESTANTS


  54. SARK says:

    Dear Frank,

    Scott Hahn – who he?


  55. SARK:

    Probably the 2nd greatest theologian in the Universe, after Mark Shea ;-)

  56. Nathan says:

    Brothers who support and associate with the SSPX, a couple of (hopefully) gentle thoughts:

    –Please, treat Father Zuhlsdorf with full Christian charity. He has provided a forum here where you have been able to express openly the injustices Tradtion-minded Catholics have suffered for the past forty years. In my opinion, he states the position views of the Holy Father and Roman curia in their area of competence regarding the SSPX openly and fairly.

    –This blog is read (as I understand) daily in a number of Curial offices in Rome, as well in some of the chanceries in a wide range of the English-speaking world. Has anyone else with that access provided the laity who associate with the SSPX an “open microphone?” I remember well the years and years of silence, when only an occasional visit from Michael Davies or Dietrich von Hillenbrand would provide the Holy Father with information on what was going on to you and your families in the regular parishes and why you were going to the SSPX Chapels. I really think that Fr. Z is working in good faith–with results–in affecting the regularization of the relationship of SSPX with Rome and with local Ordinaries.

    –I am unworthy and unqualified to comment further on the relationship between the SSPX and Rome. I do think, though, that the Holy Father is cognizant and sympathetic to the legitimate desires of clegy and laity associated with the SSPX. I am personnaly indebted to the SSPX for bringing me into the Church at a very difficult time in 1980, and while I haven’t been to an SSPX Mass since 1986, I am (along with Fr. Z, from his earlier post) joining the intentions of reconciliation into my daily Rosary.

    In Christ,

  57. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    bttt, Nathan
    I think it is great what you said; really this blog is a marvelous opportunity for detente at the grassroots level and yet here we go again with some inflammatory comments on both sides.

  58. Hugo says:


    I too am grateful for the work Fr. Z does on this forum. He seems to have the SSPX’s best intentions in mind (unlike some others).

    I’m grateful for his writing and his PICTURES. I can’t think of anyone else heard at such high levels(who allows our imputs) who cares. Does anyone think that the producers at EWTN would pick up the slack if he got disillusioned?
    Would Catholic Answers Live let you get anything past Jimmy Aiken on the air?
    God Bless Fr. Z

  59. SARK says:

    Dear Nathan,

    I fully agree with your post in relation to Father Z. This blog provides a potentially really important bridge of good will between the mainstream Church and the SSPX. I personally never forget the good Father’s generosity in allowing a voice to those like me who have decided that their family’s Faith is best protected and nourished through the SSPX, their parishes and their schools. I try to post only if there is a clear misunderstanding of the position of the SSPX faithful (although I can only speak from my own perspective and on the basis of my own experiences of course gained over the last 20 years of ‘exile’) and only then if I I can make a constructive contribution.


  60. RBrown says:

    It seems to me that on the status of the SSPX, the Vatican double-talk is as least the equal to that of the Third Secret and the “new springtime” caused by Vatican II. [Yah… that whole Third Secret thing bothers me too.]
    Comment by John

    I don’t dispute what the Vatican said was the entire texts of the Third Secret–nor the interpretation given it (though the Vat said it is AN interpretation).

    But my reaction after having read the text was: So what? If this is all there is to it, why did they wait so long to published it?

    For so many years the laity saw first hand the mass exit from the priesthood and religious life, homilies (and articles) contradicting the doctrine of the faith and morals, the destruction of the sanctuary and the perversion of Eucharistic theology, and the persecution of anyone who wanted Latin liturgy. For the Vatican to think that the laity would be upset by the text of the Third Secret is an indication of a lot of clerics seriously out of touch.

  61. RBrown says:

    During the snows of January and February, talk of the coming Springtime does little to clear the roads and sidewalks. Clearing the roads and sidewalks means reforming the priesthood, seminaries, and liturgy.

  62. Nathan: Excellent points, well stated!

  63. John Prentice says:

    1 January has not been a holy day in Belgium for the past two centuries (at least) under a concordat signed in Napoleonic times reducing the number of holy days to four (Ascension, Assumption, All Saints and Christmas). These are also public holidays.

    As a British resident of Brussels for the past fifteen years, I can confirm that the liturgy is by and large in a parlous state in this country and the churches are empty as a result. With an acute shortage of priests, most churches outside the city centre cannot provide daily Mass. Even in those that do (with some notable and noble exceptions), the standard of celebration is low, with invented prayers, unauthorised canons, wholesale ommissions and spectacularly inappropriate sermons and commentaries at every conceivable moment. One priest I know who has for many years been trying to buck the trend and celebrate properly told me recently that one of his fellow fathers had labelled him “pre-concilar”. Yet those who falsify the liturgy in this way wholly fail to make the connection between their unauthentic celebrations and their empty churches. The 1970s are alive and well in Belgian churches!

    But God never deserts his church or his people and there are points of light. The TLM is celebrated every Sunday in a school chapel and a FSSP father celebrates in a beautiful city church once a month. Some Novus Ordo Masses ARE celebrated according to the proper rites and with the utmost devotion. Eucharistic adoration is even making a comeback in a small number of churches. Something is afoot and it can only be to the good.

    The SSPX have a beautiful church here, very close to my office, and I admit I do sometimes attend (weekday) Mass there.

    If we do what we can to improve things while at all times maintaining charity, prayerful patience, humility and a sense of humour, we know that God will not fail us.

    Thank you, Father Z. for your wonderful blog!

    Greetings from Brussels.

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