Spirit of the Society: Self-giving to the Priesthood and to the Mass

Letter to our brother priests

The following is a translation of an article that appeared in the June edition of Lettre à nos freres prêtres, which is published by the SSPX District of France.

The Statutes of the SSPX

The particular purpose of the Statutes (Constitution) of a religious society is to define the essence of that society. Here is a brief resumé of the statutes of the Society of St. Pius X set down so that it might be better understood.

A Priestly Society of apostolic life

The Society of St. Pius X is defined in the first article of its Statutes as:

a priestly society of common life without vows, following the example of the societies of the Foreign Missions.

This definition uses the terminology of the Code of Canon Law of 1917 (Canon 673). According to the 1983 Code, it is a society of apostolic life (Canon 731).

It should be noted at the outset that the Statutes of the Society of St. Pius X make no reference to a doctrinal or liturgical crisis and do not contain a direct critique of contemporary errors or deviant practices. Each line of the Statutes is orientated towards the sanctification of the members and, consequently, to the radiance of its apostolate.

The purpose of the Society, explains the Statutes, is the priesthood and all that relates to it, and nothing but that which concerns it. The Statutes detail the works that the Society of Saint Pius X can undertake, in decreasing order of proximity to the essential purpose which is the perfection of the priesthood.

  • First and foremost, all works of priestly formation and all that pertains to it.

  •  Second, everything that can help the sanctification of priests such as retreats, priestly associations, periodicals destined for the sanctification of priests, etc.

  • Third, there is the formation of auxiliaries of the priesthood (religious brothers, sisters and oblate sisters) for the preparation of the liturgy, the teaching of the catechism, the material assistance of priests and priories, etc.

  • Fourth, Catholic schools for the purpose of cultivating vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

  • Fifth, the parish ministry and the preaching of parish missions, which must however be the object of contracts with the Ordinaries of the places in order to allow the Society to exercise its apostolate according to its particular grace.

  • Finally, the Society will come willingly to the aid of aged, infirm and even unfaithful priests.

The rules governing the administration of the Society of St. Pius X, the organisation of the common life and the apostolate are classical and merit no further comment.

A spiritual and priestly life orientated towards the Mass

The most remarkable dimension of the Statutes of the Society of St. Pius X is the link that they establish between the spiritual life of the priest and his apostolate. If there is a spirituality proper to the Society, it is that of the Mass.

The Statutes attempt to orientate the priest and realise in his life that which is essentially his raison d'être: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with all that it signifies, everything that flows from it, everything that is its complement. Therefore, the members of the Fraternity will have a genuine and continual devotion for their Holy Mass, for the liturgy that hallows it, and all that can make the liturgy expressive of the mystery that is accomplished within it... A profound theological knowledge of the sacrifice of the Mass will convince them ever more that in this sublime reality is realised all Revelation, the mystery of faith, the completion of the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption, the efficacy of the apostolate... Nothing will be neglected so that piety may be oriented and derived from the liturgy of the Holy Mass, which is at the heart of theology, pastoral care and life of the Church.

The Social Reign of Christ the King

Another central element of the "spirituality" of the Society of St. Pius X is indicated by the Statutes in two notable sentences:

They shall have a devotion for the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ over persons, families and societies in proportion to unlimited infinity of His Kingdom... If they are to manifest a political preference, it will always be in line with this Social Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Pius X, pray for us.

View all articles from Ite Missa Est