Mercy and the SSPX

Two back-to-back pieces of Catholic news are on my mind this morning. The first is Pope Francis’s new bull, Misericordiae Vultus, which opens the Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The second, mentioned over at Rorate Caeli, is that the Argentine government now officially recognizes the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as part of the Catholic Church. There were rumblings a year ago that Pope Francis himself would intervene on behalf of the Society to ensure they acquired proper legal standing in the Holy Father’s homeland, and so it stands to reason that this is what happened. Civil legal recognition is not the same as canonical recognition of course, though it’s not nothing either—especially if the Pope is involved. If this modest but important act is a demonstration of the sort of mercy Francis has in mind for the upcoming jubilee year, then let us be glad and rejoice in it. That is to say, let even Catholics who are at times understandably confused, perturbed, and/or upset with some of the Pope’s words and deeds recognize that mercy is at the heart of the Church’s divine mission.

Blessed Holy Friday


I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic readers celebrating according to the Julian Calendar a blessed Holy Friday. May this time of sorrow prepare you for the unspeakable joys of Pascha and the new life we all seek to find through our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection from the dead.

Not to Suffer Hell, But to Conquer It


When Thou didst descend, O Life Immortal / Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead / And when Thou didst raise the dead from the nethermost depths / All the powers of Heaven cried out / O Giver of Life, Christ our God, Glory to Thee

He who is shut in the depths is beheld dead / Wrapped in fine linen and spices / The Immortal One is laid in the tomb as a mortal man / The women have come to anoint Him with myrrh, / Weeping bitterly and crying: / This is the most blessed Sabbath / On which Christ has fallen asleep to rise on the third day!

– Troparion and Kontakion of the Holy Saturday Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

It Was Fitting For Christ to Descend into Hell:

1) Because man by sin had incurred not only death of the body, but also descent into hell. Therefore it was fitting for Christ to die and descend into hell, so that He might deliver us from the necessity of permanent death (because we shall rise again) and from descent into hell. In this sense Christ is said to have power over death and in dying to have conquered it, according to the prophet, who says: “O death, I will be thy death.”

2) It was fitting for the devil to be overthrown by Christ’s passion, so that He should deliver the captives detained in hell.

3) As He showed forth His power on earth by living and dying, so also it was fitting for Him to manifest it in hell, by visiting it and enlightening it; and so at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, not only of them that are in heaven, but likewise of them that are in hell.

– Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Commentary on the Third Part of St. Thomas’ Theological Summa, ch. XXXVII