Questions and Answers on the Indult Mass
By Fr. François Laisney
Q. Some Traditional faithful have made and are making great efforts to get the "Indult". What do you think of this?
A. The past is a lesson for the present and future.
Who has been coming to the help of so many souls disturbed, and often scandalized, by the constant innovations in the new liturgy, in the new doctrine, in the new morals, in the new worldly behavior introduced by the innovators in the 60's and 70's?
There have been some conservative priests who tried to hold fast to as much as they could. They did much good for souls. Unfortunately many among them thought they had to "obey" and take the New Mass. But what happened after their death, or their retirement? All they had worked for has been destroyed by the new priests who replaced them. A few, a remnant, of their parishioners went to other parishes, thirsting for sound doctrine and reverent worship. Most of the time, they returned discouraged!
If these priests would have had the courage to offer the Traditional Tridentine Mass, relying upon St. Pius V's "Indult in perpetuity" (Quo Primum), their good work would have lasted long after them.
Many faithful, and a good number of priests understood that Faith was greater than obedience; obedience being a moral virtue, there can be an excess in it: if a law leads to the diminution of the Faith or to its loss, then to obey it is an excess of obedience! The Pope was promised the assistance of the Holy Ghost, "not to teach a new doctrine, but to keep entirely and expose faithfully the Deposit of Faith" (Pope Pius IX, in the very definition of Papal infallibility). "The Master stroke of Satan was to induce disobedience to Tradition in the name of obedience" (Archbishop Lefebvre).
The priests who understood this with the grace of God and kept the Traditional Mass, went through great difficulties and even—let us use the word—through a real persecution. All kinds of pressures were used against them, trying to make them stop offering the Traditional Mass. With the grace of God, they persevered, and brought forth lasting fruits. Many vocations came from these chapels, good families were given the graces and strength to be faithful to the laws of God, many returned to the sacraments after years away from Our Lord.... These priests have provided food for these souls and an assurance of continuity in the future.
Among them, one Bishop had a prominent role and has been a drawing example for many others: Archbishop Lefebvre. The Divine Providence had prepared him, as a missionary Bishop in Africa and later as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, for his role in the present crisis of the Church. He opened his seminary in 1969 (Fribourg), the very year of the New Mass; he founded the Society of St. Pius X which was canonically approved and erected in the diocese of Fribourg on All Saints day 1970, the very year when the New Mass was being imposed all over the world.
From the very beginning he saw that one could not train good priests with the New Mass, since it hides the sacrificial character of the Mass and has been made acceptable to most Protestants. Thus he always kept the Traditional Mass and taught his seminarians to be uncompromisingly attached to the traditional Mass. He became a sign of hope for many, and requests for priests came to him from all over the world.
At first, he always followed the Canon Law to the letter: he asked and obtained the required permissions to open priories (Fribourg, Ecône, Albano...). By the grace of God, his seminary grew at a time when so many others were closing. Jealousy and persecution by his brothers in the episcopacy follow him: in 1975, the Society of St. Pius X was illegally suppressed. He made two appeals to Rome, which were not heard. Permissions were withdrawn from him. He was thus faced with the following dilemma (which many good priests shared): either to obey and abandon the faithful in the hands of the modernists bishops and priests, or to continue to help these faithful in an apparent disobedience.
His choice was made. "The Charity of Christ urges us." The good shepherd does not abandon his sheep when he sees the wolves coming, but "he lays down his life for his sheep!" No other Catholic Bishop has been mistreated as he has been in the past twenty years. It is in order to provide for all these faithful and seminarians that he ordained priests and even consecrated four bishops, and for no other reason, until Rome comes back fully to the unchangeable Traditional Doctrine and Liturgy of the Church. "Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." All this persecution has brought forth much fruit: what other bishop has, in the past 20 years, opened 6 seminaries, more than 70 priories, helped and supported the foundation of more than 20 religious monasteries or convents of Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines and other orders?! "By their fruit you shall know them." In a time of destruction he has built; as the Scripture says, "Behold a high priest, who in his days pleased God, and was found just; and in the time of wrath was made a reconciliation. There was not any found like to him, who kept the law of the Most High!" (Epistle for the Mass of a holy Bishop!)
Pressed by the growing evidence of the fruitfulness of the Traditional Mass, and being unable to stop it, Rome granted in 1984 an "Indult", and in 1988 has asked for "a generous application" of this Indult.
The more time passes, the more one can question the sincerity of this "Indult". Indeed if Rome were sincere in supporting the Traditional Mass, it should acknowledge the value of the "Indult in Perpetuity" given by St. Pius V rather than pretend giving a new "Indult": no one can give to his neighbor what already belongs to this neighbor! The right to offer the Traditional Tridentine Mass already belongs to every priest without any restriction by St. Pius V's "Indult in perpetuity": what does a restricted Indult give anew to these priests?
Moreover, if Rome were sincere in supporting the Traditional Mass, the evident means would have been to approve Archbishop Lefebvre, his Society and all the good Traditional Priests who had been giving this Mass to the faithful for many years, the best means would have been to grant the bishops Archbishop Lefebvre had asked to consecrate.
But to offer a generous application of a restricted Indult in the very document that condemns the champion of the Traditional Mass seems contradictory: it gives the faithful two different signals very opposed to one another! Very suspicious.
Practically, it amounts to this: the Catholic faithful attached to the Tradition of the Church (= really "faithful") would have to ask for the permission to have the Traditional Mass (to which they already have a right!) from the very modernists bishops who have persecuted this Mass for so many years. The sheep have to ask the wolves to lead them to good pastures! After having been beaten and called all kinds of names by these modernist bishops, the faithful would have to go to them to obtain a permission WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO THEM BY A SAINT: Pope Saint Pius V!
Moreover, with time passing by, it is easier and easier to see the real intent behind this "Indult". The annexed Letter from the Bishop of San Antonio reveals what the American Bishops are up to and intend. And Cardinal Mayer, according to Mr. Michael Davies (Remnant Jan. 15, 1990), has approved what they do!
Their real intent is to bring the faithful attached to the Traditional Mass slowly to the new Doctrine and Mass of Vatican II. Cardinal Gagnon had already said (30 Days June 1988): "We went too fast!" He did not say: we went in the wrong direction, no, he just said we went too fast. Now it is precisely this new direction, the ecumenical direction, of the New Mass which we refuse: we want to worship God, not to worship man; we want a liturgy that lifts our soul to God, not a man-centered liturgy; we want a liturgy that feeds our Catholic Faith, not a watered down liturgy acceptable by the protestants; we want the Mass of the Saints!
This intent is evident in a letter of Cardinal Mayer to Msgr. Ruscitto, dated November 30th, 1989: "The only solution to your problem remains the submission of your intellect and will to the faith of the Church as it continues to be taught by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in union with him (cf. Lumen Gentium, nn. 19-25). If you cannot perceive the continuity in the Church's teaching tradition, then, dear Father, make an act of faith that it is so because the Holy Ghost will never abandon the Church." So when Pope John Paul II says "Collaboration is possible" with the Communists (Doc. Cat., No. 1997 p. 3), we are to "make an act of Faith" that he is in continuity with Pope Pius XI who said "Communism is intrinsically evil and no collaboration on any ground can be admitted!" When Pope John Paul II participates in a Lutheran service, we are to "make an act of Faith" that he is in continuity with Pope Leo X who anathematized Luther! There would be thousands of other examples...
It is clear from this letter and the following facts that the real intent behind this "Indult" is to bring the good Catholic Faithful—who are attached to the Tradition of the Church precisely because they want to be "faithful" to the unchangeable Doctrine of Christ—slowly in line with the new orientations which are OPPOSED to that very Catholic Tradition. Dear faithful, do not let yourselves be deceived!
Some facts: the American Bishops, approved by Cardinal Mayer, want to mix more and more the "Indult" Mass with the New Mass. Already in California, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, in Albany, in Hudson Falls, in San Antonio, etc., the New Lectionary and Novus Ordo Liturgical calendar is used for the "Indult Mass". The New Lectionary has the new translation of the Bible; the New Calendar has all these "Sundays of the Ordinary time", most of the Feasts of the Saints have been either deleted or reduced to a commemoration, or moved to unfamiliar places... The very choice of the readings is completely different. The faithful cannot follow this "hybrid" Mass in their Traditional Missal.
Moreover, some places have this "Indult" Mass facing the faithful; communion is given in the hands (for those who ask) in some places. The faithful have to undergo "a series of instructions on 'the spirit and theology' of the Second Vatican Council."
I'll let you foresee the future!
Q. But Father, is it not better to have the Traditional Mass "in obedience" with the Indult Mass, rather than "in disobedience" with the Society of St. Pius X, or other good Traditional Priests?
A. First the Society of St. Pius X and the other good Traditional Priests are not really disobedient, but only in an appearance of disobedience. Faith is the first and fundamental obedience of our spirit to God, to Christ. There can be no true obedience to something that diminishes or endangers our Faith. To provide the faithful with the means to keep the Faith, to nourish it, to live it, is obedience to the fundamental mission of a priest, of a bishop. Mr. Michael Davies wrote that, "while such prelates as Weakland are still in good standing with Rome it would be ludicrous to so much as think about the Society being schismatic" (Remnant Jan 31, 1989, p.5): this is the common sense of the faithful. I would say, that Archbishop Lefebvre is no more disobedient than St. Joan of Arc, who was burnt as a "heretic, schismatic, sorcerer, witch, relapse, etc..." She had been condemned, not by the British, but by an ecclesiastical tribunal; but this judgment had no value in the eyes of God; neither the "condemnation" of Archbishop Lefebvre!
Secondly one must consider not only the Mass, but all the other sacraments, the marriage instructions, spiritual direction, and all the facets of the apostolate. The Mass is the heart of the Church; a healthy heart is necessary but not sufficient. Now, as the annexed letter of the Bishop of San Antonio makes it clear, the faithful who go to the "Indult" must receive the rest of the sacraments from their local modernist parish.
Thirdly one must consider the guarantees for the future: the Indult Mass can disappear without warning at the whim of the local Bishop, as it happened in Houston in 1985 after just six months. The Society of St. Pius X, in spite of many trials, has offered and is offering more and more guarantees for stability and future to the faithful.
Fourthly, beware of the circumstances: when an old conservative priest offers the Indult Mass, he often says it well. But when a modernist priest offers it, he can hardly prevent himself from introducing some modernism in it, either in his sermon, or in the negligences in the Liturgy, or in the giving communion in the hands, or in mixing rites, etc...
If a Catholic wants to be supported in his fidelity to the Tradition of the church, he should address himself to a priest already dedicated to this Tradition, rather than to one who is not; if a priest wants to be faithful to the Tradition of the church, he should rather rely on the "Indult in perpetuity" given by a Saint, a canonized Pope, than on a Motu Proprio condemning the very bishop most outstanding for his defense of Tradition!
The only attractive side of the "Indult" is to avoid persecution by the local diocese. But if one wants to do good, he should not be afraid to suffer for it: are we not the children of the Martyrs? The Traditional Mass will come back in the Church, thanks to those who have stood up for it without compromise with the novelties and innovators!
Yet the Divine Providence excels in drawing good out of evil. The "Ecclesia Dei" Motu Proprio, which intended to detach many people away from the Society of St. Pius X and good Traditional Priests, has rather brought many other faithful and priests back to the Traditional Mass! It has given greater evidence of the thirst for it among the faithful and good priests. In this we rejoice, as St. Paul says: "But what then? So that by all means, whether by occasion, or by truth, Christ be preached: in this also I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." (Phil. I 18)
Q. Christ promised that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church". Therefore, should we not just patiently wait?
A. And do nothing? Christ promised that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church; He did not promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against those who do nothing to defend the Church and its Tradition!!! Remember the useless servant in the Gospel's parable!
Q. Is it presumptuous to think YOU can save the Church?
A. We do not think we can save the Church. We rather want to be saved by the Church, and to save many other souls, by using the very same means by which the Church has saved so many generations of Saints, viz. the Traditional Mass and Sacraments!
Q. Could you give us some practical guidelines?
A. 1) If you have access to both the Traditional Mass offered by a priest uncompromisingly attached to Tradition and the Indult Mass, go to the Traditional Mass offered by the Traditional priest. Your attachment to Tradition will be best protected and fostered by that priest, even if it means traveling a little farther. This is even more necessary if you have children: that priest will provide them with good Catechism (the Indult Mass requires you to get catechism from your local parish).
2) If you have access to the Traditional Mass offered by a priest uncompromisingly attached to Tradition, do not lose your time making petitions for an Indult Mass. As Father Wickens said very well: "One Traditional Mass is worth more than a thousand petitions!" You will do more good living the Traditional Mass according to the examples of the Saints, and drawing other souls to it.
3) If you do not have access to the Traditional Mass offered by a priest uncompromisingly attached to Tradition, but only to the Indult Mass, you must be careful and distinguish:
— if that Indult Mass is offered by a good priest, who teaches the Traditional Doctrine (and not the new theology, as the American Bishops would like), giving a good commentary of the Gospel, or a good homily; if he does not mix the Traditional Liturgy with the New Liturgy, if he does not allow Communion in the hand (which the Traditional Liturgy does not allow), if he does not introduce any of the modernist practices, then you can go there.
— if on the contrary he mixes the Old with the New Liturgy, or admits Communion in the hand, or preaches the "New Theology" (which by the very fact that it is new does not come from Our Lord Jesus Christ), or introduces any of the modernist practices, then I advise you not to go there. Indeed they just want to lead you slowly and slowly to all the innovations, away from the unchangeable Faith of our Fathers! Do not start this infernal process of changes. The past twenty-five years are sufficient to prove to you where that can lead you.
You may do what many good Catholic families have done: move close to where you can get the Traditional Mass every week, or even every day!
"He that shall persevere until the end, this one shall be saved!"
From the Chancery Office San Antonio, Texas
The Archbishop shares... "The Mass in Latin"
We, the bishops of the USA, had our June meeting at Seton Hall University, in Newark, NJ. We had two full days of discussions. Our nation is so large and diverse in our cultures and religious practices, even among our Catholic people: Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals, and the diversities among our Catholic people from Western Europe.
One of our main discussions was the celebration of Mass in Latin according to the Roman Missal of 1962 approved by Pope Paul VI. Sometimes this Mass is incorrectly referred to as the "Tridentine Mass"; correctly, it is the Latin Mass of the Roman Missal of 1962.
When Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre withdrew into schism from the Roman Catholic Church, some of his followers did not wish to go with him, and others, for whatever reasons, asked for the celebration of Mass in Latin, Pope John Paul II approved under certain conditions. Our discussion centered on the conditions set forth by our Holy Father and the general laws of the Church as stated in the II Vatican Council's document on the Sacred Liturgy and the Revised Code of Canon Law.
Both affirm our Holy Father's authority to order the liturgical life of the Universal Church. Both, also, affirm the bishops of the Local Dioceses are "the moderators, promoters and custodians of the whole liturgical life of the Church committed to them" in their individual dioceses.
Our Holy Father made it very clear in his pontifical letter, "Ecclesia Dei" ("The Church of God"), that the permission he was granting was not establishing a separate "Rite" for the celebration of Mass in the Latin Church.
The bishops of the USA for our nation and I for our Archdiocesan Church have approved the following "NORMS" for the celebration of Mass in Latin in our archdiocese:
1. The celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 in Latin is a privilege and not a right. Its celebration is to be determined by the Archbishop of our Archdiocese, in accord with the Norms and Regulations of the Sacred Liturgy and all directives that may be enacted by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States.
2. The people who participate in a Mass celebrated in Latin according to the Roman Missal of 1962 do not constitute a parish. They are a group of people who avail themselves of the privilege granted by our Holy Father. All attending remain parishioners of the parish in which they reside.
3. The bishop of the Local Diocese is to determine and under what conditions, for example, when, where, how often. For our Archdiocese, I approve the following:
(a) One Mass in Latin may be celebrated on the first and third Sundays of each month in the San Antonio area—at Incarnate Word College Chapel, 4301 Broadway. Monsignor Tom French will be the celebrant.)
(b) No Latin Masses may be celebrated outside this church.
(c) READINGS OF THE MASS—CALENDAR FOR THE DAY: Since our Holy Father made no mention of an exception to the Liturgical laws and reemphasized that, with; the exception of the Mass, all other prescripts of the Latin Rite are to remain in effect, it must be presumed that the "Readings of the Mass" and the "Calendar of the Day" are to be the approved readings for the 1969 Lectionary and the Mass is to be celebrated according the 1969 Calendar.1
4. In keeping with the privilege granted by our Holy Father for the celebration of the Latin Mass, it is to be noted that all other Sacraments are to be received in the parishes of residence of the participants. Hence, no weddings or funerals are permitted to be celebrated in Latin, nor are any of other Sacraments to be celebrated with the Mass. All Sacraments other than the Mass (the Eucharist) are to be celebrated according to the approved English version of the Roman Rite and in the proper parish of the recipient.
5. While the Homily retains its rightful place in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, a series of instructions are to be given on "the spirit and theology" of the Second Vatican Council in order to assist those celebrating to deepen their own appreciation and understanding of the Sacred Liturgy in the life of the Church and in the lives of all Catholic people. "One has to speak of an ever deeper grasp of the Liturgy of the Church, celebrated according to the current books and lived above all as a reality in the spiritual order," our Holy Father noted.
6. While a collection will be taken at each celebration of a Latin Mass to defray the expenses of using the College Chapel and the chaplain, all participants are reminded of the financial obligation to support their parish of residence.
7. The above "Norms" were agreed to by the bishops of our country.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Patrick F. Flores, D.D.
Archbishop of San Antonio
1. An evident falsehood as the 1984 Indult states explicitly the 1962 Calendar and Missal are to be used, and that there is to be no mixture of rites. Ecclesia Dei merely asked for a wide and generous application of the same Indult.