NOTE: In the 1980s, the District Superior of
the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in the U.S., Fr. François Laisney,
laid down the rule that if a child coming from a chapel operated by
ex-SSPX clergy wished to wished to receive confirmation, the child would have
to sign a lengthy "Declaration."
You know how hard it is to be a good Catholic and to do what Jesus
wants. You have to work a lot to learn your catechism. You have to stand up for
your faith when other children your age want to do something bad. You have to
get up very early every Sunday and ride a long way with Mom and Dad to get to
Now you'd like to be confirmed, so you can be "a strong and perfect
Christian, and soldier of Jesus Christ." Since you can't receive Confirmation
at the chapel where I say Mass, Mom and Dad took you over to another chapel
where a bishop will come to confirm. The priest there, and the bishop who will
confirm you, belong to an organization called "The Society of St. Pius X."
All the Catholic Church requires for Confirmation is that you know your
catechism. But the Society of St. Pius X is different. Since you usually come
to church where I say Mass, the Society of St. Pius X wants you to sign a
special "Declaration" before they will let you be confirmed. The Declaration is
two pages long, typed and single-spaced - a lot to read if you're ten!
It contains some long Latin phrases and many things which are hard for
you to figure out. Don't feel bad, though! I studied for twelve years to be a
priest, and I can't figure out a lot of things in the Declaration either!
Let's look at some of the things in the Declaration the Society of St.
Pius X asked you to sign and see if we can figure them out together! Here's how
_________, the undersigned, wholeheartedly agree and adhere to all and each of
the following catholic principles (and historical facts):
Hard to understand, right? Not even
I know how someone can "agree and adhere" to a "historical
fact"! Facts are just there - whether a person wants to "agree and adhere" to
them or not! And I'll bet you're wondering about the word "historical," too.
You've only studied a year or two of history in grade school so far, and think,
"Gee, how can I know what's historical? I'm only a kid!"
depart from these moral virtues under the pretext of fidelity to the Faith when
Faith is not at stake, is in fact a departure from Catholic Tradition.
Sort of confusing! Makes a
person think he can "depart from these moral virtues" when fidelity to the
at stake. But even a very young Catholic knows you can't do that!
the evangelical counsels, which the religious make profession to practice, the
most important is that of obedience. Humility is an essential virtue of capital
importance to the religious life.
No, you haven't forgotten something. There was nothing in your
confirmation catechism about how members of religious orders (nuns and
brothers) take vows. Bet you're surprised you have to know
that to get confirmed!
So the Tradition of the Church is the transmission of
the spirit of Faith "in eodem sensu et eadem
Hard to know if you "adhere and agree" to that or not, since it's Latin
and you won't be studying Latin till you're in junior high! (Maybe, though, if
you're an altar boy, you can at least learn how to pronounce it.)
and bishops introduced many things in the Liturgy in the first thousand years.
Almost ALL the Popes after Pope St. Pius V have used this power, either to
introduce new propers. to change propers, . to add to the common of the Mass
such as the prayers after low Mass..
You're thinking: What question was this in my catechism? Will it be on
the test? And if you're one of my
altar boys, you're wondering: What's the
common of the Mass? Is it like the Ordinary or the Proper? Is
there a new part I don't know about?
St. Pius X . made even more drastic changes in the Breviary, which is an
essential part of the Catholic Liturgy, in which he cut more than 40 psalms in
more than 120 pieces!
Very confusing if you're ten! What's a Breviary? Why do I have to agree
that St. Pius X changed it if I want to get confirmed? What's a Psalm? Are Psalms in the Liturgy or the Breviary? Was
each Psalm cut up "in more
than 120 pieces"?
rubrics prepared by Pope Pius XII and promulgated by Pope John XXIII, in which
no one word of the Proper of the Mass has been changed, are in perfect
conformity with the Catholic faith.
Father is confused by this too! Rubrics "prepared" by one pope and
"promulgated" by another? What does that mean? Did Pope Pius prepare the
"rubrics" all by himself? And those who are not altar boys wonder: What are
"rubrics"? Were they in the confirmation catechism?
spirit of "independence" is not a catholic spirit; faithful must be subject to
a priest; priests must be subject to a bishop, and the bishops must be subject
to the Pope.
Mom and Dad probably wonder about this too, since this doesn't sound
like the Society of St. Pius X they know - where priests are
superiors to bishops, and where bishops, instead of being "subject to the
Pope," are excommunicated by him. The Society of St. Pius X sounds pretty
independent, doesn't it?
The (1917) Canon Law explicitly says: quemlibet clericum oportet esse vel alicui diocesi vel alicui religioni adscriptum, ita ut
clerici vagi nullatenus admittantur.
(Can 111) "independent priests (who do not belong to any diocese nor any
religious society) are absolutely not admissible". Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur (Can 1556). The pope is judged by no-one (here below). No
one is entitled to set himself as judge of the Pope.. In case of doubt, the
benefit of doubt should be given to the authority. Prayers for him are more
useful than criticisms.
Still more Latin! (I'll bet Mom and Dad didn't have to sign declarations
with Latin and Canon Law quotes when they were confirmed.) And still more
confusion: Does this mean that when the Society of St. Pius X called the pope
"an antichrist," it wasn't judging him? Was it giving him "the benefit of the
doubt"? Was this really a prayer for him, instead of a criticism? What do
Under the Pope. the Bishops in good standing are the
successors of the Apostles; they are the Ecclesia
Docens (Teaching Church) while priests and faithful are
Ecclesia Discens (Taught
And again more Latin! Is the bishop who will confirm you "under the Pope
. . . in good standing"? If you wrote to the Vatican, what would they say?
. . .
So, I guess you're wondering: If the Declaration is so confusing, why
does the Society of St. Pius X want me, a ten-year-old, to sign it before I get
confirmed? As you get older, I think, you will understand.
The Catholic Church is in very bad shape. Only a handful of priests and
laymen have remained faithful to the Church's teachings and traditions, but no
bishop, priest or group of priests has any real authority (authority from a
pope) to guide all these people and to make decisions which all Catholics have
to follow. So Catholics just have to try to do the best they can.
Sometimes, though, someone will come up with a theory or opinion which
every Catholic must accept as true, or part of the faith - even
just his own idea. He then wants to force every other Catholic
in the world to do or believe exactly what he says. He may even believe that
his idea, or his group, is the
only hope for the Catholic Church in these difficult times.
I call this the "Follow me or die!" approach to our faith. It says: If
you don't follow the idea of Father X or Bishop Y or the Society of Z exactly
(on the pope or the Mass or canon law, for example) you can't even think you're a Catholic, much less expect
them to give you the sacraments.
The two-page Declaration the Society of St. Pius X wants you to sign
would have been a lot easier for you and your parents to understand (and a lot
more honest), if it had read simply: "Follow us or die!" (The Society could
have even put it in Latin: Aut sequi, aut
mori!) In other words:
"Accept all our opinions, even if they make no sense, or even if you can't
understand them, and sign on the dotted line, because
we've got it all figured out! Reject them and forget about getting the sacraments from
us." Sad to say, the Society isn't
the only group that works this way.
But don't worry too much about all this now. By praying hard and
studying your faith, God will help you to understand things better one day, and
He will grant you the grace to be a faithful soldier of His Son.