The Vigiliante has sometimes belatedly realized that bringing up his past (including Sacraments) with the SSPX in certain circles is a tragic mistake. The conversation is hijacked, everything else that was being discussed is forgotten, and the Vigilante must expend every diplomatic effort in his capacity to keep it from spinning into a vicious debate. If, like me, you have such (undoubtedly valid) Sacraments or have attended an SSPX chapel (for whatever reason) you might find it prudent to not disclose it in in the presence of some FSSP or Right-Wing Catholics. Though I often admire Catholics in that region of the Church, I have to disagree with the unfortunate ultramontanist streak that manifests itself at times.
The worst part is, it is always the same talking points. I have heard the same things repeated so often that I wonder whether they are all reading from the same “apologists”. Maybe even the same ones about whom John Grump is always griping (I wouldn’t know as I don’t read 21st century pop apologetics). The most striking and strangest one is that the SSPX are “like Protestants” because they “reject authority”. This will sometimes even lead to a comparison of Blessed Mgr. Lefebrve to Martin Luther!
Indeed, the man who converted millions to the Faith in Africa, who was the greatest missionary and evangelist in a bleak century, is compared with a coprophiliac nun-marrying heretic. Whether by design or due to lack of critical thinking, whoever came up with this strange equivocation seems to have missed the entire point of Protestantism. Luther did not become a protestant when he opposed a hedonist pope. He became protestant when he rejected basic dogma, threw out entire books of Scripture, and denied the state of Purgation after death.
“For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones; but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works.” – Origen
Also, contrary to all reports, von Balthasar does not speak for me!
While I may think the comparison of Lefebrve to St. Athanasius to be a bit of a stretch, he can certainly be compared to Francis Xavier, Thomas the Apostle, or any other holy man who brought the faith to a pagan people open to receive it. Luther is forever known for ripping the Faith asunder, his heresies gradually depriving entire sections of Europe from the Real Presence of the Eucharist. Lefebrve helped bring millions to the bosom of the Church so that they could partake of that same Sacrificial Lamb. Indeed, his most lasting legacy may not be the SSPX, but the budding (if impoverished and sometimes messy) Church in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only time will tell if years from now we are revering him as “St. Marcel of Africa, Equal to the Apostles”…
By your fruits you shall know them. Wherever this pernicious fallacy originated, let us realize it for what it is and put it to rest. Blessed Marcel Lefebrve has nothing in common with Luther. One man lived for the Church and (most ironically) may have helped build the part which may be a bastion of orthodoxy for years to come. The other sought to destroy it and died by the pain of his hemorrhoids.
Blessed Marcel Lefebrve, pray for us!