ASK FATHER: Future spouse doesn’t want kids to attend Novus Ordo, but I do.

From a reader…


I am engaged to a girl who was raised attending a SSPX chapel her entire life. We will be married by a diocesan priest in the traditional form. She is unsure whether she can receive communion at a Novus Ordo mass, since she was raised being taught (by Society priests and family) that the Novus Ordo is shot through with humanism and that it is a mortal sin to participate if you know of its corruption. We plan on attending mainly traditional diocesan masses as a married couple, only really attending Novus Ordo or Society masses for family functions. This is all fine and well with me.

Our only real dispute is what we will teach our children regarding the Novus Ordo mass. I think that any future children should be taught that although we prefer the TLM, it is permissible from time to time to attend a Novus Ordo. [Like the two of you say you are going to do for family functions.] She is not sure what she thinks about this. … If we ask a Society priest about our dispute we get one answer, if we consult a Novus Ordo priest, we get another. Any comment on this matter would be VERY welcome.

The sacrament of matrimony binds a man and a woman together for life. They share in the “communio totius vitae … the communion of the whole of life”. It’s not merely a partnership, or a living arrangement, but a covenant. The parties remain separate and distinct.  It is a good thing when a married couple have some different interests, opinions, attitudes.  However, they come together as one to signify, not only to themselves but to the Church and the whole world, the intimate love that God has for his people.

From that unity which is a hallmark of marriage, it follows that serious differences of opinions can make a marriage difficult. The more serious the matter, and stronger the disagreement, the more grave the problems that could arise. Different tastes in food, music, clothing can sometimes be a challenge, but mature people usually work those out. Different views of politics or economics can be the subject of heated arguments, but most couples work them through. Some couples have found workable arrangements concerning divergent philosophies or religious differences.  For many couples, they spell disaster to their relationship.

If she truly believes that hearing Mass in the Ordinary Form is a mortal sin, and that it would be best not to attend Mass at all rather than be somehow tainted by attending an Ordinary Form Mass, then you have serious issues to iron out before your big day, especially if you are of the mind that your future offspring must not be wholly isolated away from the Novus Ordo.

It may be tempting to think, “Well, she’s wrong.  I’ll have to work at changing her mind sometime along the way.”   I, however, warmly recommend that you both have a loving heart to heart and mind to mind talk or four and figure out what to do about this together.

Pius XI wrote in his encyclical Casti connubii, “By matrimony the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies.”  You might just read some of that encyclical together.

When it comes to holy Mass, which should be central to the life of the marriage, serious disagreements about validity and efficacy are not going to be just a little bump to run over.  Start working this through now.  Each time you talk about it, you might start by saying a prayer for the swift and complete canonical reconciliation of the SSPX.  After that, keep calm and don’t let any rancorous words pass your lips.  Remember, in your role as husband and father, you will be the head of your little “domestic church”.  I’ll bet that, given her upbringing, she will resonate with that.  Therefore, ask St. Joseph to help you both in figuring this out.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Fr Z,
    You have some of the most complete and substantive answers to questions that I see anywhere online.
    It is a privilege to be able to read your blog. Highly catechetical.

  2. iamlucky13 says:

    I was surprised by this. I held the impression the SSPX preach that the Novus Ordo is badly illicit, and was uncertain what conclusions they make about the actions of those who developed this form of the Roman Rite, but could guess. I was very much unaware that they considered it a mortal sin even to attend. Is that the general understanding of the SSPX, or perhaps only of the priest who catechized this young lady?

    Do they consider the Consecration in the Novus Ordo invalid?

    [No. On the contrary. They say that the Novus Ordo is valid. However, because of various elements in the Novus Ordo, they say that it can be spiritually iffy.]

  3. Geoffrey says:

    This is one of the issues that I have always had with the SSPX, and I will continue to do so until they repent of this kind of nonsense. Sad.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    I also suggest discussing home schooling. So many of my colleagues wrongly assumed their spouses would support home schooling, only to find out after the first child was born that the husband was against it. Ergo, as wives, they had to submit to putting the children in schools. I did bring this up before I got married, and, thankfully, spouse agreed to the idea beforehand.

    One cannot make assumptions, but try and cover all the possible bumps in the road before marriage. Liturgy and education of the children can be big areas of conflict.

  5. catholictrad says:

    Thank you so very much for not ridiculing the young lady’s belief regarding the New Order Mass. Perhaps you can explain that issue in a different thread?

  6. Thanks for recommending Casti connubii, one of my favorites, and still quite relevant today.

  7. HeatherPA says:

    Great spiritual direction, Father Z. I highly encourage a specific novena to St. Joseph (in addition to daily prayer) for clarity. We do this and have done this many times throughout our lives when situations arise that are difficult to discern and he has always made it clear. We have used both the traditional 9 day novena and the 30 day novena.

  8. EVERYONE: The primary point in the question and my answer was to help a couple sort out what to do about an important difference before they tie the knot.

    It could have been about another issue, but it was about this issue.

    Therefore, I not going to open up a debate about the merits of the TLM or Novus Ordo here, or give a platform to your personal preferences.

    So, I’m closing comments.

    I permit (some) comments on these ASK FATHER Question Box entries, but don’t forget that this is “ASK FATHER”, not “Ask Everyone”. Sorry, about that. Imagine the chaos if I didn’t moderate these.

Comments are closed.