ASK FATHER: Surrounded by modernism, only TLM available is schismatic

From a reader…


I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. In my diocese there is no traditional latin mass available. When we ask through mail, email or petition list, we are ignore. As a result some people, including me, have defected to a unaffiliated mission with a very devout young priest who left the SSPX in disagreement with the possible unification with Rome. We ear the latin mass ounce or twice a month. I have doubts that this is any good for our souls. On the other hand, the entire diocese seems determined to modernize ever more. Do we owe obedience to our bishop when he shows so much contempt for the Tradition of the Church? I suffered the new mass for a good 50 years of my life, longing for the tradition to return. I don’t know who else I could ask for advice in this case. Thank you in advance. God Bless you.


Tough situation. What do we do when our pastors don’t meet our legitimate spiritual needs?

These are difficult times, but difficult times have always given rise to saints.

Firstly, I think we need to have plans in place – long term plans and short term plans.

Long term plans: where are our future priests (and bishops) going to come from. If it’s tough now and we do nothing, it’s only going to get tougher. Pray for vocations and encourage vocations among the young people. Put together funds to help young men pay off any debts they may have and go off to study for the priesthood. If the diocese is shaky and the seminary they support is shaky, encourage the young men to go off and study for one of the stable and orthodox religious orders, even if that order doesn’t have a presence in your community (and if the order doesn’t have a presence in your community, but five men show up each year at the door of their novitiate asking for entrance, it won’t be long before they do have a presence in your community).

Shorter term – you’re getting a “fix” by going to a Mass offered by a priest who left the SSPX. It’s a valid Mass (presumably), but definitely not in communion with Rome and the priest does not have the faculties to hear confessions or officiate at weddings. Things get a bit shaky here, and I realize that you feel caught between the Scylla of a modernizing and unsympathetic diocese and the Charybdis of a schismatic priest. Neither option is appealing, but a third way does not seem to available. Perhaps continuing to split your time between the two is the best option – but the danger is trying to avoid modernism on one hand and schism on the other – two very dangerous dragons to wrestle with.

I wish I had a better answer.

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  1. JustaSinner says:

    Scylla and Charybdis…haven’t heard of them since the Police!

  2. Quanah says:

    Reading this I am reminded of something that happened to Ven. Conchita. When the priest came out of the sacristy she saw that his soul was black with mortal sin. In horror she got up to leave. As she came to the door our Lord asked her why she was leaving. She said, “You know the state of his soul.” Our Lord responded, “And your going to leave me alone with him?”

    [An interesting anecdote. However, I don’t think we should suggest that the priest in question here is like that. He is probably confused and wounded.]

  3. Mike says:

    Considering whence the Modernism flows in ever greater quantities, questions of schism become somewhat vexed.

  4. Angela M. says:

    My in-laws live in Nova Scotia. We go to Mass with them when we visit and my husband wants to move back there. I don’t want to go because my soul will die from lack of good homilies and proper catechesis. My friend tries to encourage me and tells me it will be like entering mission territory, that I can inspire the people I meet and begin a rosary group, Eucharistic Adoration, bible study – all things my in-law’s parish is lacking. I understand how the TLM reader is feeling – Nova Scotia is by and large a Catholic wasteland.

  5. APX says:

    I just checked the Una Voce Canada website and there is an approved Latin Mass in Yarmouth, NS.

    NS isn’t exactly a large (not even and medium) sized province landmass wise, so perhaps it’s possible to commute on Sundays.

  6. fmsb78 says:

    The other question that raises from this reader’s troubles is: So is there a de facto state of emergency in the Church or not? I personally think there is since 1965 when Pope Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council.

  7. Fr_Andrew says:

    I know the priest in question, and while I imagine he is not trying to lead souls away from Christ and thinks he is doing good work, one thing you learn in the more traditional circles is that there’s always more to the story, and usually it’s not very good. Often we priests when we decide we no longer want to be obedient will come up with a myriad of excuses as to why our superiors are wrong to justify our disobedience or departure. I’ve seen dozens of cases in the various traditional societies.

    There is no point (nor would it be charitible or just) to detailing the whole backstory to this situation, except to say, that this priest, like all priests, needs your sacrifices and prayers.

    As to your particular problem, I would note that the SSPX does send one of its priests who is still among its members, occasionally to Wolfville. Perhaps contact the person there that would have information and attend that when possible? This would be a better solution than going to a Mass at a priest who de facto, a schismatic. For whatever difficulties still exist between the SSPX and Holy See at the moment (and they are mostly political), it’s not a situation of schism, and the SSPX priest have faculties.

    Angela has a point. Get good Catholics around you and have Rosary groups, private Holy Hours at the nicer local parishes. Have a nice meal or tea afterward and discuss relevant issues and what can be done. Don’t expect the traditional societies to have to do all the work for you. Get a large enough group and then call the SSPX or FSSP or another of the mainstream traditional groups and get a regular Mass. Approach the bishop and say you have a stable group and want the Extraordinary Form. Priests won’t come if there’s nothing to come to. To borrow the overuse failm quote: “If you build it, they will come.” So build it.

  8. veritas vincit says:

    Sounds like it’s a given that the former SSPX priest is schismatic. But it’s far from clear as to the state of the regular diocesan NO Masses. The Norvus Ordo is a regular Mass form in the Latin Rite. As long as the preaching is not openly heretical, and as long as there are not blatant abuses like clown Masses, I would think a diocesan NO Mass would be preferable to going to a Mass from a schismatic priest.

  9. Fr_Andrew says:


    If you look closely at that site, it is about trying to form a group to get a Latin Mass. They may have had some Masses in the past, but it seems like they do not have a regular schedule, and want to get numbers up to bring in a priest.

    It does not seem that there is a regular diocesan, FSSP or SSPX Mass in NS.

  10. moosix1974 says:

    There is a fantastic priest who comes over to say Mass on Campobello Island from Maine. He is a good friend of the family and can be trusted. He does say the TLM, but hasn’t been since starting his new assignment, which consists of four churches in one parish. The church on the island is St. Timothy. the name of the parish is St. Peter the Fisherman. I would have a look!

  11. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    Driving a great distance is probably the best of the worst options, for a traditional Latin Mass with licit sacraments. If that is not possible, then it becomes a matter of what is better for the soul:
    1) Attending a novus ordo that will result in anger during the liturgy, which is pretty much good for nothing; or
    2) Attending a valid, yet possibly [definitely, in this case] illicit (because of the celebrant), traditional Latin Mass, yet with the intention of simply hearing a beautiful and valid Mass on Sundays and holy days.
    If #2 can be accomplished without the communicant explicitly striving to separate himself from the Church, then isn’t that the better option for one’s soul? I cannot imagine guaranteed anger being a preferred option to fulfill a day of precept.

  12. Fr. Aaron Sandbothe says:

    There is both a Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Syro-Maronite parish in Nova Scotia. There is no need to participate in schismatic worship if the various Latin Rite offerings are…. problematic.

  13. APX says:

    One could also attend one of the Ukrainian Catholic Churches in NS. Bonus: you can find a supplier of homemade perogies and cabbage rolls.

  14. CasaSanBruno says:

    When I was working in that spiritual tundra known as Deutschland in the late 90’s a young family approached me with a similar scenario: the NO Masses were sacrilegious: clowns, wacky homilies, etc. Precisely the type of garbage the parents wanted to shield their kids from. They asked me if they could go to the nearby SSPX Mass. Not wanting to steer them wrong, I relayed the question to CDF and they promptly replied that, in those circumstances, the family could attend the SSPX Mass and receive Communion – so long as their intention was to protect their children from the madness and they never assented to anything that would compromise their own union with Rome.

  15. Uxixu says:

    I would seriously canvas the diocese for something better and licit, though ultimately you can’t really go to something that’s damaging to your soul.

    Francis HAS granted SSPX confessions, extended from the year of mercy. He’s also made it easier for marriages, though this is on a diocese by diocese basis IIRC. Pray for the FSSP. Try to find or help organize a find a group of faithful and petition the bishop to invite them. Be prepared to help and fill in where you can to help make it happen.

  16. Kenneth Wolfe says: Attending a novus ordo that will result in anger during the liturgy, which is pretty much good for nothing;

    I can’t agree that this is good for nothing. There are places where the very-badly-celebrated Novus Ordo is quite literally the only option. And yet: we are required to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. I don’t see how we get around this requirement, even when all there is is the Mass celebrated in an offensive manner. (I suspect the bar for invalidity is pretty high even then.)

    Surely there is merit in obedience, even obedience with gritted teeth. There may be situations when obedience is our only lifeline.

  17. TRW says:

    The priest saying the TLM isn’t incardinated or isn’t in obedience to whoever his legitimate ecclesiastical superior is? The situation of a rogue priest, however devout, “doing his own thing ” is entirely inimical to the visible unity that IS Holy Mother Church.

  18. Angela M. says:

    APX – while NS is a small province the mindset is that driving anything further than a 45-60 minutes is like going to the moon for them. If I lived in my in-law’s town I’d have to drive nearly 5 hours to get to Yarmouth – even though I live in a large western province and am used to driving long distances, I would not drive 5 hours one way just to get to Mass.

  19. TonyO says:

    I think Anita Moore has the right of it – about the anger. So suppose you go to the NO mass, and it makes you angry. OK, let’s work with that: there is such a thing as righteous anger. If the priest and parish are doing wrong things, it is correct to be angry about it. But then you have to turn the anger to the right channel: to ask God for deliverance, and then to urge correction. Channel the anger into energy used to push, carefully and entirely well documented, exactly WHAT is wrong, and WHY. And tell the priest. Tell the parish council. Tell the bishop. Send to Rome. Tell the papers. Tell your neighbors, and so on. All while praying for the right changes. You do all these not in the expectation that your arguments and actions in anger will turn someone’s mind around, but because they are righteous things to do, proper ways of employing the passion for truth and righteousness. Let God handle the outcome. If He causes a change, great. If He does not, you have done your part – like the prophets of old who were ignored by the people.

    Yet on the other hand: we should be cautious in what we say about the mass of the former SSPX priest: it is not that the mass he is saying is contrary to forms: each priest is allowed to use the extraordinary form of the mass, so he is making a licit choice in doing so. So (as far as I know, but I would welcome correction please) the mass itself is licit. What is out of order is that he is effectively trying to erect a parish of sorts without the approval of the bishop. This is what is illicit – a pretense of a formal church community that is operating like a parish. So: when you go to mass, you go ONLY for the mass, and not for the schismatic proto-community that enjoys it. So, you don’t go in order to approve of Father’s irregular position, and you don’t support him. I think it is at least arguable that by merely going to his mass, and NOT being vocally or fiscally supportive of him, you do not formally cooperate with his schismatic ways. But I am not at all sure of this. We could use a good casuist here.

  20. Ave Crux says:

    While visiting Canada for several weeks at a time over the course of many years, I’ve had to have recourse to Novus Ordo Masses, as I must frequently also in the United States since I don’t near live near a Traditional parish for daily Mass.

    I have to say that my experience in Canada in the novus ordo parishes was nothing short of terrifying. The experience was dreadful and frightening. It is difficult to express how radically emptied of all sacrality and the supernatural the Church in Canada is becoming.

    I understand from reading a recent article that it appears they will be closing one third of their churches over time in the not-too-distant future. And I can well understand why, after having experienced what’s left of the Catholic Faith in that once Catholic country.

    If I were this person I would attend the Traditional Mass that’s available with the priest who left the SSPX, and for the Sacrament of Confession try to find at least one good priest affiliated with the diocese to ensure the validity of the Sacrament, rather than try to hope in supplied jurisdiction due to necessity.

  21. HvonBlumenthal says:

    I really like Fr Andrew’s advice. Here in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg we asked repeatedly for a Motu Proprio TLM and got nowhere. So we opened an SSPX chapel and what d’ya know? Within about 5 minutes the diocese graythe Motu Proprio mass! So now we have both!

  22. JonPatrick says:

    @moosix1974 I am familiar with St. Timothy Campobello as we go there when we are in the area. Yes the priest Fr. Clement is very orthodox. However Campobello is at least 5 hours from Nova Scotia and requires one drive through the US via Calais and Lubec as there is not all year ferry service to Campobello from the mainland.

    There was a priest in St. John NB Fr. Tim Melanson who was saying the TLM every Sunday at Holy Trinity but that Mass has been discontinued and he has been transferred. I believe he does come back once a month and say the TLM but at a different location in St. John.

  23. BrionyB says:

    I agree we are obliged to attend Mass even if it makes us angry, and a valid Mass can never be “good for nothing”! Also worth remembering that anger is a choice (and can be a sin), so these situations can be an opportunity to practice controlling our emotions and develop the virtues of patience and charity. I try to look at it that way when circumstances mean I have to attend my nearest church (though the lady cantor who thinks she can sing but REALLY can’t is a sore trial to me…)

    Having said that, in the correspondent’s situation, I think I would be tempted to go to the valid-but-illicit TLM at least some Sundays.

  24. APX says:

    Maybe I missed something somewhere, but since when is it okay to attend the illicit Mass of a schismatic priest? Jesus didn’t come down from the cross, and neither do we.

  25. Jerome Charles says:

    I concur with BrionyB. I also get angry at times at my parish, especially with the preaching, and regarding many choices our priests have made since coming to our parish. I often try to go to another parish for Mass. However, if I don’t have time to drive a distance, I will go to my church which is just a few blocks away. I try to shut out that which angers me and focus on the prayers, readings, and Eucharist. It is still God’s house, regardless of who thinks they’re in charge.

  26. excalibur says:

    I do not believe that the fairly regular attendance at a Mass by a schismatic priest is a good idea at any time. Perhaps you can persuade Father to seek solace and return to the SSPX? But it seems that he is totally opposed to Rome to the point of his schism

    Better to watch a televised Latin Mass said by a priest not in schism then attend in person one said by a priest in open schism.

  27. Ave Crux says:

    @APX: It’s not about staying on the Cross; it’s about not attending liturgies that destroy one’s faith and destroy one’s own reverence and spiritual wellbeing.

    As someone who must frequent the new Mass for daily Holy Communion, and who can only attend the Traditional Mass far less frequently, I have found the new Mass and Modernist atmosphere is definitely damaging to one’s spirituality and supernatural perspective.

    When I’m finally able to attend a Traditional Mass again, the effect is like a floodgate of grace opening and pouring into my soul a spate of transformative graces.

    Don’t judge someone who feels a compelling need to drink at an unsullied fount for the sake of his own soul and union with God.

    The Traditional Mass pours forth all the graces which Christ precisely died upon the Cross to obtain for our sanctification.

  28. Imrahil says:

    Dear APX,

    the word „okay“ can mean many things. Of course it is not quite „okay“ in a sense. But if we speak more specifically about „not sinful“, then yes, in this sense it is okay. See St. Alphonsus and the Council of Constance (the topic is „excommunicatus toleratus“).

    That being said, I personally would prefer the utter worst sort of NO, if celebrated by a non-suspended priest (however much he‘d have deserved censure) over the most reverent Mass celebrated by a farther-than-SSPX priest (while I practically treat the SSPX as if they were in good standing, though I mostly don‘t attend there nowadays.)

  29. Lili of the fields says:

    Hello All!
    This is a very confusing situation for all involved, including myself. The young priest in question answers to his superiors who share his predicament. He does not “do his own thing” nor does he try to stir us away from anything. If there was do demand for his presence, he would simply stay home.
    As for us, we are not angry, mostly people who are not welcome in the “official church” because of various “defects” on our part: desire to kneel in our pew after receiving communion in our hands, wearing a hat at NO mass, having “too many children, having opinions concerning heterodox homilies, or asking for confessions on a regular basis.
    I will urge people here to be careful not to judge that priest too harshly, he is courageously and generously giving all his time and efforts to care for a few souls during very troubling times. Unfortunately, reading the answer and opinion given here, I realize there are no clear solution to this problem. More prayers are needed, I supposed.
    We thank you for yours.

  30. Ben Kenobi says:

    people here to be careful not to judge that priest too harshly, he is courageously and generously giving all his time and efforts to care for a few souls during very troubling times.


    If he is hearing confessions, he is putting the souls of everyone who comes to him at risk. You cannot be caring for souls while at the same time denying their access to the sacraments through simulation. Again, just because people like him is not justification for schism. Calvin was liked, Luther was liked. They were seen as ‘reformers’ who were the cure for a sickly and corrupt Church.

  31. Ben Kenobi says:

    Don’t judge someone who feels a compelling need to drink at an unsullied fount for the sake of his own soul and union with God.


    If it were antifreeze, would we not be compelled to stop you from drinking? It is precisely because it is sweet and deadly that it is drunk. Same here.

  32. Robert says:

    I’m confused by the headline of this post. Fr. Zuhlsdorf in past post has declined to label the SSPX as “schismatic.” So what makes a priest who leaves the SSPX “schismatic”? How can leaving a priestly society constitute an act of schism? [You are working way to hard to make this difficult.] It is not as though he has joined the Orthodox or the Old Catholics – he professes the same Faith as before. I know the priest and attend the Mass in question. It is well known that the circumstances of his departure had to do with being forbidden to preach that the prospect of a “deal” between Rome and the SSPX was troubling, in the context of (inter alia) Amoris Laetitia. There have been a number of prominent Catholic commentators who are in good standing with official diocesan structures who have said the same thing: that they fear that a “deal” offered in this moment is a trap and that the SSPX would do well not to sign it. Would we label these people “schismatic”? It is difficult for many of us who are latecomers to tradition to appreciate the internal turmoil in the SSPX over this issue. We tend to want to hasten the “deal” because we think it will benefit the Church and be a step toward the restoration of tradition. From the point of view of those who have been resisting modernism their whole lives, it is not at a clear that this is how things would play out. The justification for the irregularity has always been that there is a state of emergency. Can anyone honestly say that we are in less of a state of emergency today than in 1988? Has not rather the emergency reached an unprecedented gravity?

  33. MrsAnchor says:

    We’re finding ourselves in a similar predicament but instead of the “SSPX” Priest our option would be Eastern Orthodox…

    We live in a wasteland to be sure… and my health is not what it used to be where I could drive my way into a nice Parish or that of the closest FSSP 6 hrs round trip or for that matter 3 hrs for a “Father Zuhlsdorf” with young Children listening to the Homilies… Just what is the step outside of relocation?

  34. JD says:

    Nova Scotia does feel like a Catholic wasteland. The average age of the parishioner is ~70 and two parishes have closed recently. The welcoming committee is not natural or seems forced. You walk in further and there is loud chatter everywhere. The choir practises most of the time as people arrive. Hard to say the rosary and pray before Mass in this situation. During the Mass the new speakers blast out the the choir like there is no tomorrow. The Priest seems spiritually absent and is more interested in telling jokes during the homily. He repeats the same homily time and time again. The funeral Mass is the same homily every time. The Priest only does confession on Saturdays morning for 1 hour which is frequently cancelled or by appointment. I took my mother to the Christmas eve Mass about an hour away and a Birthday cake for Jesus was on the alter. The people just seem secular to me.
    There is a Latin Mass in Dartmouth which is fantastic. The Priest is passionate, thoughtful, and travels from New Brunswick. There is confession before Mass (people line up). The liturgy is revert and the music beautiful. I could pray there! There is a great collection of people both young and old. They seem special to me… less secular… The facility is amazing.
    The SSPX Mass at Bishop Hall in Wolfville is great as well. It’s closer but the Mass is less frequent as I don’t remember one being there all winter. The Priest travels from Quebec so driving in the winter would be ill advised in my mind. Priest is amazing as well. I’d say the same for the people who attend here as well.
    The difference between attend NO and TLM are like night and day to me.

    Links of Interest:
    Dartmouth: (Visits Dartmouth, NS) – Official Page (Unofficial FB Page)

    Greenwich Mission (close to Wolfville): (UnOfficial)
    Call for Mass Times
    Address: Bishop Hall, 10032 Nova Scotia Trunk 1, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R2 P
    Phone: 1 450 390 1323

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