Questions and Answers

by Fr. Dominique Bourmaud, SSPX

Is it safe to say that I get some graces from listening to or watching Mass on TV?

“Because of where I live, I am unable to get to Mass on Sundays, but I always listen to a live airing of the Mass from Our Lady of Fatima in Pittsburgh, and had a few questions: Is it safe to say that I get some graces from listening to or watching Mass on TV?

“If I am unable to get to Mass otherwise, does this fulfill my Sunday obligation?”

By itself, watching and piously associating with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even when done only through television or radio, can be meritorious, but not in the same way that attending Mass is. Christ instituted the sacraments as outward signs to give grace, which effect what they signify. Because of this necessarily external component of the sacraments, the Church has always insisted that to directly participate in them, we must be physically and morally present. Thus, though we may receive graces because of our pious acts, we are not directly receiving graces as if we were attending a Mass. Put another way, when we watch or listen to Mass on TV or radio, we are not actually attending that Mass or directly participating in its merits. Any grace we receive in this way would amount to the devotional prayer of someone reciting his missal at home.

For the question of obligation, it is very simple. If you are able to attend Mass, and the distance is not seriously inconvenient, then you must attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. If, however, you are unable to do so, listening to Mass on the radio doesn’t fulfill your obligation, for the simple reason that the Church does not oblige you in these cases. The obligations imposed by the Church exist for the sake of our salvation, and the Church does not seek to oblige in cases that are impossible or gravely inconvenient (such as extended travel required to attend, or family illness).

Does the Pope have the power to bind error in Heaven?

“For example, the Pope has canonized a couple of questionable souls, such as the founder of Opus Dei and beatified many more such a John XXIII and John Paul II. I am heavily criticized for not addressing them with their given title of Blessed or Saint or as ‘Great’ because I do not believe they really are any of those things. So how can I simultaneously accept the canonization of Padre Pio and that of Escriva de Balaguer without seeming inconsistent when they were elevated by the same, Modernist, authority?”

You are getting at the core of the mysterium iniquitatis in the Church, with a Pope who hardly believes in his Papal powers and refuses to use them for the simple reason that he does not believe in unchanging truth (vs. antimodernist oath which he himself swore several times for sure!). It is difficult to believe in the infallibility of Church canonizations in the postconciliar era, which has sabotaged the canonization process. In the course of the 25 years of John Paul II’s pontificate alone, there have been more saints canonized than in 2,000 years. In fact, often today, the canonizations are conveniently organized according to the trips of the Pope: does that sound like Catholic practice? So, the real sanctity of Padre Pio is not increased by the official canonization, no more than the non-sanctity of Escriba is magically turned into sanctity by an all too hurried process of canonization. With more reason can we affirm the same about forcing the beatification of John Paul II, which seemed to have been a media coup.