ASK FATHER: SSPX or Diocesan TLM – It is an “undue burden” to have to wait 3.5 hours?

From a reader…


Lately I’ve been attending the EF mass but my only two options all week are a diocese EF mass at noon on Sunday or go to the local SSPX chapel for 8:30 am Sunday Mass. I want to give preference to the diocese but I prefer going earlier in the day.

Am I required to make the effort to go in the middle of the day to avoid the SSPX or can I attend the SSPX mass so long as I’m not intentionally avoiding the diocese or taking on a “siege mentality” ( I just want to go to a reverent Mass…)?

In earlier blog posts you spoke of “undue burden” for the faithful to reception of valid sacraments and participation at Masses, would this situation apply?

Lemme see.

Two choices for Sunday Mass, the unapproved one at 8:30 at the SSPX, and the approved one at 12:00 at the diocesan parish.

It is an “undue burden” to have to wait 3.5 hours for Mass?

Channeling my inner Jerry Seinfeld… really!?

A whole 3.5 hours?

You haven’t mentioned that you have a bunch of kids and a wife in tow and that you have to drive 2 hours each direction.

Oh… wait… you don’t, or you would have mentioned that.

I suspect that some people here might envy you the choice between two TLMs, which seem not to be all that far away.  They, too, might be thinking, “Really!?”

Look.  If you want to go to the SSPX chapel, don’t fiddle with excuses.  God cannot be fooled.

Sigh… I really look forward to formal and complete reunification and reintegration.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Matt R says:

    Losing half of the day of rest before even getting to Mass is a burden. Forget about trying to keep a longer Communion fast, it’s hard to focus on pious things for that long, unless one stays in bed until 11.

    So, I would point this out. In my case, it is a choice between 8 AM low Mass and a 12:15 Sung Mass. Unfortunately, no one nearby sticks the TLM in between their other Sunday Masses. There is something weird about sticking a principal form of worship at midday, instead of offering a later Mass for the convenience of those who don’t get to Mass earlier, especially when the earlier celebrations are more or less the same.

    [Either way, that’s not an “undue burden”. Also, one could argue that since the WHOLE of Sunday, not just the early morning when some prefer to go to Mass (thus, “getting it out of the way”?) is the Dies Domini, having Mass in the middle of the day is not inappropriate.]

  2. tamranthor says:

    We have exactly one Latin Mass here in the Great White North, and it is the Dominican Rite. We have one priest who prays that Mass, and it is scheduled at 4:00 pm on Sundays.

    That means that we often rearrange our schedules to make that Mass. We give up cooking Sunday dinner, or going to see my parents on Sunday, because that is disrupted by the Mass.

    When we can’t get there, we settle for the ordinary rite, but the music choices alone then compel us to make a stronger effort to make the 4:00 on Sunday.

    I guess YMMV.

    [Holy Mass = Sunday Disruptor.]

  3. RichR says:

    We get one TLM a month if we’re lucky on an off feast day during the week because our diocese isn’t with it yet. Priests are very wary in the current climate.

    My wife, 5 boys, and I would be in Heaven if we had a weekly Sunday TLM at noon. Go to that one and pray for those who don’t have this silly dilemma to face. Instead, we have harmonicas at Mass. I kid you not.

  4. APX says:

    Our EF High Mass is at 12:30 pm (used to be 12:00 pm), which I found quite wonderful when I used to drive 2 hours into the city each Sunday for Mass. I could sleep in and still make it to Church by 11:30 am. If it was earlier, I probably would never have made it a regular Sunday thing.

    Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind having Mass at 10:00 or 10:30 am because I like to start my day with Mass, as it helps set the tone for the rest of my day, but I don’t consider it an undue burden to have to wait to go to Mass; after all, what else do I have to do on Sundays? Our Lord didn’t find His Passion and Crucifixion to be an undue burden for me to get to Heaven. Surely we can “suffer” this “undue burden” of waiting 3.5 hours to attend a Mass that is pleasing to Our Lord on Sunday, rather than go early to Mass offered by suspended priests, which, objectively speaking, is displeasing to God. Is that where we’re at these days? “I’d rather attend a Mass that offends God because it’s offered by disobedient priests who are suspended and thus, don’t have permission to offer Mass, than to wait 3.5 hours to attend a Mass objectively pleasing to God. “?!? Since when is Mass about me/us and what we prefer?

  5. APX says:

    “We have harmonicas at Mass. I kid you not.”

    I believe you. Growing up we had a guy who took harmonicas to a whole different level at Mass. He had a harmonica apron with about 20 different harmonicas he’d play from. I never really thought about the harmonica as a serious instrument until then. I thought it was just some thing people blowed in and out of to make noise that sounded like random chords.

  6. PTK_70 says:

    Come on, SSPX sympathizers, seriously, get over yourselves. What are you waiting for? What other olive branch or accommodation do you want? Do you think the Latin Church could possibly renounce the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council? There is no such thing as a “Novus Ordo” church. There is a Latin Church within which are various Rites, the Roman being the most prominent. Anyway, with respect to the Council, THE issue is its implementation. Influencers are found on the inside.

  7. JonPatrick says:

    Go to the Diocesan Mass. While I have nothing against the SSPX I feel the diocesan masses are always one priest reassignment away from disappearing and need all the support they can get. The more people that go the harder it is for Bishop McButterpants to say let it die as no one goes to it. Have a small breakfast early so that you have at least a 3 hour fast then have an early dinner afterwards.

  8. Imrahil says:

    What surprises me here is the following.

    “Official” EF Masses (you know what I mean) have the burden that they must be fit in in some Churches with their other Masses.

    SSPX Masses do not have that burden.

    Considering that, why the SSPX would make their Mass at 8:30 am is beyond me. 8:30 is a nice time on a Sunday to get up – and if you are or pretend to be young, looking for youthful pleasure not indecent but not so really compatible with Good Friday either, then it’s a nice time for it to be a sacrifice to get up for Mass, or a nice time to sleep another hour.

    Why the SSPX, forced by noone, usually appealing to attendances from larger areas around them which have to drive some time to Mass, usually liking to have a Rosary some time before Mass and an occasion to have Confessions, would make 8.30 am the very time when Mass actually begins, which means that even if you live in the same quarter you have to get up at 7.30 am to appear in Church, freshly washed and shaven and preferably some with some silence beforehand – that is, as I said, beyond me. Except they are into the “the less pleasure the better” theory; the German SSPX isn’t, but it wouldn’t be the first time for this fallacy to be heard of in religious circles.

    On the other hand, midday is a rather fine time for Mass to sleep in long and keep the midnight fast (which sure would be a bid of a burden), or to get up at a normal time, have breakfast, and still keep the three-hour fast that Pius XII once decreed. When it’s over (provided it takes reasonably long) it’s still a good time for midday dinner. It doesn’t break family visits, which are typically in the afternoon and at least can in much easier manner be shifted to later hours than subjected to sudden “we’ve still got an appointment” break-up. And if you want to do some pious stuff, it does seem more natural to me to extend the prayer before Mass than to extend the thanksgiving after Mass (beyond a certain point).

    That being said, it is official that the SSPX Masses may be visited (I’ll spare the citations of old, but anyway: supposing that SSPX priests can be called for Confession, which the Holy Father has explicitly granted, but their Mass not attended would be preposterous). The thing about “not imbibing a schismatic mindset” is, as the name implies, a decision of the mind. (And it is one thing that is of course, in itself, clear; but supposing there is a particular danger of that in the SSPX seems to me an unproven assumption. Though I admit I don’t know the formerly-Williamsonite American SSPX so much.)

    I’m still not terribly sure what about attending the SSPX for the Sunday duty (though here, again, logic implies that if the Priests have ordinary Confession faculties, in spite of being known to count attending SSPX Masses as fulfilling Sunday duty, then the Sunday duty fulfill they do) – but after all, one can visit any validly (however illicitly in its liturgy) celebrated Saturday night mass (remembering that mistakes in the liturgy are the fault of the celebrant, not the attender) to get on the safe side on that point.

  9. John Grammaticus says:

    Reasons I go to the SSPX and not the diocesan Mass

    1) Its a 3 hour round trip to the Diocesan Mass Vs 1.5 hours to the SSPX
    2) The SSPX Mass is at the Traditional time of 10:00 vs 12:15 for the Diocesan
    3) SSPX Sung Mass vs Low Mass for Diocesan
    3) The PP of the Diocesan Mass (a good fellow BTW) doesn’t want to socialize after Mass, which is understandable as he’s only had a biscuit between midnight and the end of the Mass.
    4) At the Low Mass there is no social after Mass as people just want to go home for lunch (again understandable given the out of the way location and the time of day). As someone who lives in a Non catholic home, quite often Sunday Mass at the SSPX is the only time I see fellow believers.
    5) Confessions available before the SSPX Mass

  10. It depends on what you mean by an “undue burden.”

    If Sunday is truly a day of rest, why make a concern out of how long you’re away from home? Yes, it may be a one or two hour drive. Play road trip games in the car on the way there. Go to breakfast at the Steak and Shake after Mass, talk about the Gospel reading and homily on the way home. Go for a walk in a park near the parish. Geez, Louise, people, get the burrs out of your saddles and enjoy the day. God rested on the Sabbath, and we are commanded to do the same.

    You say you have fussy children? Of course you do! Why are they fussy? Are their parents being equally fussy? That might explain it. Do the kids need a nap? Play Chopin’s Nocturnes on the way home, and they’ll fall asleep. (Always worked with my son.) Are they bored? See above? Is Johnny poking Suzy? Tell Johnny that if he doesn’t cut it out, you’ll strap him on top of the car for the rest of the trip.

    That always worked with my son too.

    (One more thing. TK_70 asked: “What other olive branch or accommodation do you want? Do you think the Latin Church could possibly renounce the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council?” Are you sure you’re ready for the precedent set if they did? Uh, no.)

  11. tominrichmond says:

    Just go to the SSPX for goodness sake. It’s clear beyond contention that such a Mass fulfills your obligation, and is perfectly acceptable as long as you don’t intend to be schismatic, which you are clearly not.
    “Undue burden” is really not the issue (though I agree that going to the Diocesan Mass would not be an undue burden!), rather the issue is “can you lawfully attend the SSPX Mass,” and the answer is yes, assuming the lack of an intent against the unity of the Church.
    It’s possible to be too “Jansenistic” about this kind of issue, to borrow a term from another Fr. Z post.

  12. Dan says:

    Well in the defense of the original asker, they were probably taught that minutes represent an undue burden and true necessity by their priest. The instructions of the Girm and Redemptionis sacramentum say Extraordinary ministers should only be used in true necessity and a slight prolongation is not to be considered that, but nearly every NO parish uses them even for small daily masses. So a couple of minutes in that case is taught to represent undue burden.
    Then in most NO parishes the Roman Canon is practically extinct, replaced by Eucharistic prayer II the shortest one, because the Roman Canon takes 3 minutes longer.

    When brought up being taught that minutes are an undue burden, when making the transition to a traditional parish 3.5 hours could seem like an eternity.

    [Hmmmm. I doubt it.]

  13. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    Bah.. If the diocesan Mass is the Mass of 1962 I wouldn’t go to either. I Get up early and drive 130 miles to go to 10:00 Mass in the Latin rite. [Taking a queue from a movie, I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.] There are 3 Masses there on Sunday 8:30 10:00 ( Sometimes a high Mass ) and 12:00 the last one is for Spanish people The homily is in Spanish. I am on disability and Can’t go every Sunday . Holy days of obligation are8 AM. noon and 5PM. On occasion I might get up at 4 AM to go to a daily Mass Going to Mass is NEVER a burden.. I wish I could go more.

  14. “Just go to the SSPX for goodness sake. It’s clear beyond contention that such a Mass fulfills your obligation …”

    Can you explain, then, how an unlawful means can be used to accomplish a lawful end? (Yes, I’ve read every correspondence from Rome on the subject. They are not without their caveats.)

    [I’ll close this rabbit hole now: Catholics fulfill their Sunday and Holy Day obligations by participating at Masses at SSPX chapels. PERIOD.]

  15. kat says:


    My guess is that if there is only one Mass at the SSPX church, and it is at 8:30 AM, it is because that Mass is not taking place where a priory is located, hence the priest is traveling. In all likelihood, after that 8:30 Mass, the priest will take off for another location and say a later Mass, and perhaps travel again to a third place for a third Mass before he stops for the night.

    Most SSPX chapels which have a priory will have two or more Masses at the church, normally an early low Mass (say, 7:30 or 8 AM), followed by a later high Mass (9:30 or 10 AM), (With Catechism classes, etc. held in between).

    Thus, they are not making an 8:30 AM Mass to be inconvenient, but due to travel by the priest.

    God bless!

  16. hwriggles4 says:

    Years ago I had,a job where I could only make it back home approximately every other weekend. The weekends I was on the road, I would make Sunday Mass , regardless of time, etc. Yes, some of them were not the type of Mass I preferred, but they fulfilled my Sunday obligation.

    Also, in those days, Sunday was my only day off, and there were times I would attend Saturday evening anticipatory Mass instead if I found it more convenient – one parish was only ten minutes away from a construction project that I helped with.

  17. JesusFreak84 says:

    When I attended the TLM in Louisville, I actually LIKED having the Mass in the noon hour. Yeah, I slept in. Also, if it snowed, there was more time for the plows to do their thing.

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