SSPX and the Volontas Dei

A missive from the Umbrous Kingdom:

Perusing through these topics, the royal eyes read, many times, an excessive amount of hand-wringing in which the word “prudence” is thrown about. It causes the royal blood-pressure to rise, since his servant Prudentia is primarily related to the intellect’s correct judgment, not virtuefying caution. In short, “prudence” cannot be a principle used to justify action (or inaction) anymore then “thinking” or “reasoning” or “science” can; they are tools, not principles.

His Highness’ theologians therefore propose a different theological concept to discuss in relation to the SSPX: the Volontas Dei. It is the position of His Highness’ government that the SSPX does the Will of God when its priests say the Mass, both because the Tridentine Rite is desired by God, and because of the infinite merit of Christ.

Thus spake Tenebrous.

For His Majesty’s consideration:

So as to neither strain His Majesty’s eyes nor patience, I offer to him the following exerpts:

“One does not in any way wish to judge the stances adopted by any of these priests in such an extraordinary situation in the life of the Church. They were terrible years. But thanks to the work of St John Paul II, completed by Pope Benedict XVI, those years are over. The usus antiquior is a stable part of the liturgical life of the Church and remains so under the current Holy Father. Given the number of young people deeply attached to, or indeed entirely formed and immersed in, its riches and culture, it would be impossible, in practice, for any pope to reverse that.
In this situation, how, then, are we to celebrate the usus antiquior with integrity? For it is a fact that many who celebrate it, formed in the optionalism inherent in the usus recentior, can at times treat the older liturgical rites with a subjectivism that is utterly alien to their nature: what the priest (or MC, or whoever) likes, not what the liturgical books say, sometimes informs how the usus antiquior is celebrated.”

“Here it must be said that we cannot be said to be acting with integrity if we arrogate to ourselves authority that is simply not ours, no matter how good our motivation. Indeed, the reformed rite of priestly ordination includes an explicit promise “to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people”—something implicit, surely, in the older rite of ordination.
I am perhaps reasonably qualified to evaluate the pre- and post-conciliar liturgical reforms and could, I hope, make appropriate proposals to competent authority for any needed adjustments to the liturgical books. But I cannot, on my own authority, implement what I think should be the case. Integrity demands that I and those under my authority follow the official liturgical books (in our case as authorised by Summorum Pontificum and the Instruction on its implementation, Universae Ecclessiae, 30 April 2011). To do otherwise could well be to fall into the temptation articulated so clearly by T.S. Eliot in Murder in the Cathedral, when he writes of this “last act” as being “the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.””

" No, integrity demands that we celebrate the usus antiquior as the Church gives it to us today. If obedience to this precept requires the setting aside preferences, let that offering be made in charity. If I believe that permission should be given to depart from the liturgical books in force, let me set out my petition to due authority with all humility and patience. To do anything other is to be less than Catholic."

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


If it’s not Your Majesty’s intellect and correct judgment that Your Majesty uses when Your Majesty wishes to determine the voluntas Dei in a given situation, which mental faculty, may one ask, does Your Majesty use instead?

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His Highness thanks you for your reply, though he instructs his Chamberlain-in-Charge-of-Titles to point out that he is a Highness, rather than a Majesty.

He has further instructed his Philosopher to point out that his objection was to using Prudence as a concept, rather than a means or method; hence, his most excellent treatise noted “‘prudence’ cannot be a principle used to justify action (or inaction) anymore then ‘thinking’ or ‘reasoning’ or ‘science’ can.” All present, whether royal or commoner, have been subjected at one time or another to the silly reply “well, you’re wrong, because science says so!” That is the usage that tires His Highness.

On the contrary, as your worthy self has presented it, His Highness nods in agreement; prudence is the intellectual virtue used to analyze the concepts in order to come up with correct action (hence his childhood friend Socrates connected it with the intellect or, in the government, with the ruling principle).

And so, in the interest of aiding the exercise of prudence, His Highness the Monarch of the Umbrous Catholic Kingdom (MUCK), proposes that consideration of the Volontas Dei is a principle for reflection in this matter.

Your Highness is most gracious. Your Highness’ humble servant is deeply indebted for Your Highness’ kind consideration. It is clearly a great privilege to live in MUCK.


His Highness, the Monarch of the Umbrous Catholic Kingdom (MUCK), accepts your offering of service graciously, and extends to you, therefore, honorary citizenship of the Regency of Fidelius.

He has, however, instructed me that, though he considers your article to be written by a worthy lord-spiritual, and will be glad indeed to speak about its points, he is, at the moment, interested in discussing whether the Sacrifice of the Mass by priests of the SSPX have merit, due to the infinite merits of Christ. There will be plenty of time to discuss legal considerations and the concept of obedience.

To re-iterate, it is the Umbrousian position that the SSPX acts within the Volontas Dei; the Theologians of the Kingdom are united in believing that to say otherwise would be impossible without denying the merits of Christ in the Sacred Mass.

Missit Nomine regis

Your Highness,
On this matter I would consider it important to differentiate between the offering of the Mass in itself, which may vary in most things exept the essential words and substance, and the schismatic offering of it. The first is pleasing to the Supreme Majesty of God by its very nature. However the schismatic offering of the Holy Sacrifice is not.
I have the honor to be,
Your most loyal servant in Christ,
Edwardus Stephanus.

His Highness acknowledges your argument, but rejects it on the grounds that it less-plausible to believe that the SSPX is in schism, rather than the contrary.

Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, who acted as the general editor of the Code of Canon Law noted in his commentary Il Diritto nella Chiesa that "The schismatics, insofar as duties and rights are concerned, find themselves in a situation similar to the apostates and heretics, in that they also [the scismatics] are under excommunication."1 Yet, it is clear that, in the case of the SSPX, this is not the case, since they have been - per Misericordia et Miseria - given such rights and duties by the Church in the exercise of confession (and then, also for marriages). There have been other minor instances, but most of them bore His Highness and so he does not spend much time on them.

The Theologians of the Kingdom, therefore, point out that, if the SSPX is in schism, it is undeniable that they would be unique among schismatic groups. Not even the Orthodox are given such rights and duties (they have none under canon law). It is further undeniable that this unique position among schematic groups, if it exists, is not yet provided for under Canon Law. Consequently, His Highness invites the eminent Edwardus to consider whether the position of the SSPX does not have more in common with an institute in the Church, rather than one foreign to it.

As such, the MUCK proposes that it is more plausible to say that the Mass of the SSPX is not schismatic, and therefore included in the merits of Christ.

1"Gli scismatici, per quello che riguarda l’adempimento degli obblighi e l’esercizio dei diritti, si trovano in una situazione simile a quella degli apostate e degli eretici, in quanto anch’essi sono colpiti da scomunica" (c.f. canon 1364).

Ex cathedra regis

As His Highness’s knowledge of the SSPX is undoubtedly far superior to mine, may it please him to correct me if I err in my assertions upon the state of the aforementioned Society. The Society’s condition is certainly unusual in their capability to perform sacramental absolution and matrimony. However, it is given to the illustrious successors of St. Peter to bind and loose in matters similar to this as they will. His Holiness the Pope may, if he wishes, permit the members of the SSPX to properly perform the sacraments of Confession and Matrimony while withholding the great privilege of celebrating the Mass. This action would be remarkable, but if His Holiness has not extended the invitation to them, they could not licitly celebrate the Mass. Also, if my memory serves me rightly, the SSPX does not recognize the current Pope as the true Pope, and are thus in schism with him.
I have the honor to be,
Your most loyal servant in Christ,
Edwardus Stephanus.

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Your memory is incorrect. You are possibly mixing them up with the SSPV. The SSPX’s former superior, Bishop Fellay, in fact signed the dubia, in which acknowledged Pope Francis as the legitimate Pope.

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I stand corrected.

The sign of a true thinker; the MUCK tips his crown.

The MUCK also admits that the Society is in an unusual position, but that this position is not schism (or, at least, that that is a far less likely conclusion). Since it is not schism, their Masses are not, by definition, schismatic.

Umbravia regards liceity as a different concept, since it is not a factor that affects validity and, even if it were to carry canonical penalties, those would not approach excommunication - which is the penalty for schism. It is the opinion of His Highness’ shadowy theologians that the question of the Volontas Dei cannot be reduced to liceity, and that the Will of God to have the Mass said (which is done in persona Christi) is of greater merit then the possible canonical demerit (which, on the contrary, is done Nomine Christi).

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