What is an SSPX Brother?

The life of the Brothers of the Society of St. Pius X is sadly not well-known. 

Author: 
SSPX US District

The U.S. District of the Society of St. Pius X has thus produced a short video to help inform everyone of the crucial mission Archbishop Lefebvre entrusted to them. God, grant us many holy religious vocations!

Learn more about the Brothers of the SSPX

 

–– Transcription ––

Credidimus Caritati - the motto of Archbishop Lefebvre was chosen out of zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. From the early days in Ecône, Switzerland to growth and expansion across Africa, Asia, America, Europe, and beyond, the life blood of the Society of St. Pius X's mission has always been: the Catholic priesthood.

Each year, numerous priests join ranks in the Society's apostolic mission which aims to give souls the grace they thirst for – through the Traditional Latin Mass, the traditional sacraments, and even through the formation and education of the faithful.

Founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Brothers of the Society of St. Pius X work to support this apostolic mission of the priests.

The Novitiate in the United States, called the Holy Angels Novitiate, has recently taken new roots in the spiritually fertile and historically formative grounds of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary’s former campus in Winona, Minnesota.

Rooted by voluntary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the vocation of the Society Brother is both simplistic and sublime.

--

My name is Br. Benedict. I’m from Post Falls – I’ve been a Brother for seventeen years now. My religious name is Br. Simon. Br. Mark. Br Rene of Mary. My religious name is Br. Stanislaus. Br. Boniface. I’m originally from Minnesota. My name is Br. Marcel, I was born in South Africa, and I’ve been a Brother 25 years.

Very few of our priories have Brothers. Most people don’t know what a Brother is. And they look at our life as something surprising, shocking, maybe austere, and we’re none of that. We’re normal men.

We have Brothers working and living in Phoenix AZ, in Dickinson TX, in Ridgefield CT, at the district house near Kansas City, Missouri - and of course at the seminary in Virginia, as well as some who work at the Novitiate in Winona.

The Brothers’ vocation, essentially as the Archbishop saw it, was a vocation to help the priest. They are dedicated to serving Our Lord in the priest, and with a very close connection to the Mass. The Brother’s habit is essentially a cassock without the tails on the sash. The Archbishop probably wanted to keep them very similar so that they would be recognized as a society member.

The Brothers of the Society would differ from other religious, first of all, in the sense that they are active so they are involved in the apostolate with the priest. They both serve the Church, they both serve God, they are consecrated to God but in a different way.

The vocation of the Brother in the Society is a devotion to Christ’s Priesthood. It is a consecration of self and dedicated to the priesthood of the Society of St. Pius X. A collaborator with the priest for the salvation of souls and to glorify God.

It could be stated, “Why didn’t you pick the Benedictines?”, “Why didn’t you pick the Carmelites?”. There’s all kinds of religious orders, but this time calls for this religious order in preservation for the Priesthood and for the Mass – and that’s what’s most attacked nowadays.

--

Once a postulant completes his first year, he becomes a novice, taking on the habit of the Brothers, and making an external step that reflects the internal changes that take place during the first years of formation. His habit mirrors that of the priestly cassock to show its corresponding but supporting role in the apostolate.

--

Two words that I would use to describe Brother’s vocation is consecration and sacrifice. Stability and joyfulness. Generous and simple. Peaceful. A challenge. Secure and fruitful. “Ora et Labora” We pray first, and then we work and our work is a prayer as well.

What it means to be a Religious is that God calls that person to a more perfect life – specifically through the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience

Portion of Vows taken by Religious:

Most Holy and most adorable Trinity, I give Thee thanks for all Thine innumerable benefits which have prepared me for this day on which I intend to make the gift of myself, by pronouncing the vows of religion according to the statutes of the Brothers of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X.

O Jesus, my Lord and my divine Master, may the graces of redemption acquired by Thy Sacrifice on the Cross, which is renewed daily on our altars, wipe out all my faults and negligences, so that charity may fill my soul on this day of my religious profession.

O Mary, our Mother, help me to understand the grace of this gift as a cooperation with the sufferings of the divine Priest for the salvation of my soul and of all souls.

Saint Joseph, Saint Pius X, and all our holy Patrons, intercede for me before the divine Master, so that I may persevere in the quest for perfection that these vows express.

I, John Aladdin, in religion, Brother Simon, before God and the Church, take the vows of obedience, of poverty, and of chastity, according to the norms of law and of the statutes of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, for the duration of one year.

--

The whole purpose of living those vows quite simply, basically is living for God, consecration to God, devotion to God. The Brothers of the Society take the three vows of religion as any religious would; poverty, chastity and obedience.

The vow of poverty for example will free somebody from the concerns of material things. The vow of chastity is meant to free you from the concerns of the flesh and family life. The vow of obedience frees you essentially from your own will. The Brothers of the Society are active so they are involved in apostolate with the priest.

Simon on the Way of the Cross. Our Lord is carrying the Cross and He needs the help, so they bring Simon of Cyrene – and the Brother is that Simon. So the priest is carrying the Cross, the apostolate, and the Brother is there as that Simon to carry the Cross with Him, to help Him, to be underneath Him, but to be there to support Him. So he can fulfill his mission, and that is being on the Cross. The priest has to be on the Cross with Our Lord and so we’re there to help him.

The religious life in itself is very peaceful, because you Christ as your anchor and Christ doesn’t change.

So the Brother helps the priest in his apostolate by his example of living a religious under the vows, by his prayer life in common with him, and then lastly but not least his active work as a Brother – what he does day to day.

It’s in various material and spiritual sides, the spiritual side – with the attendance of the Office, serving of Mass, helping in the administration of the sacraments.

The Archbishop, when he was in Africa, had Brothers who had helped construct schools in Africa, schools which have lasted to this day.

It’s common that a Brother has a particular skill or a trade that he learns, maybe he even goes to some classes or schooling for it. And then he uses that trade which could be anything from woodworking to electrical to even agriculture if that’s going to help support a community in the future.

He can work as an accountant. He may be able to work as a teacher, work as a schola director, as a sacristan. It can be driving the priest to his mission runs or a sick call. It can be cooking. It could be maintenance work. Teaching. Woodworking. It could be anything.

You don’t necessarily need to come with some kind of skill or some kind of trade, or some kind of career before. The Novitiate will give you a formation in some kind of professional trade or schooling for academics if that’s what your talent is from God.

Your God-given talents, and we all have them whatever they might be, you use them in the religious life - not just for yourself but to use them for the glory of God. Before I became a Brother I’d just gotten my Journeyman’s license as an electrician so obviously my work, a lot of my early work as a Brother gravitated towards that field.

My main line of work is the formation - a technical formation of Brothers in artistic works - but I also work for the US District on their projects. Design work.

I’m at school so during the school hours of the day then I teach two classes and I prepare for the classes. And then outside of school hours then I am a house father to boarding boys.

I also have charge of the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen in the US District. I also work with the Kansas City Scout - the Boys’ Scout group, Catholic scout group.

We built the doors for the seminary - all the exterior doors, and right now we just finished up building the ceiling for the library. And we’re currently working on the bookcases for the library.

The material work that we do relates to fulfilling a spiritual calling. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing materially – every Brother is doing the Will of God and I think that sums up the vocation of a Brother.

What drew me to the Brothers was the fact that it was a very simple life. What attracted me was the simplicity of the life – something I’d never thought of before, and it had that it was actually possible to do.

You give everything to Our Lord so there’s a great joy and a great peace that comes with it that can’t be described to anybody in the world - even people that live with the Brothers that work around the Brothers, they don’t know the peace and joy that comes with the life.

I think if someone’s thinking about a vocation then they should definitely try it out. And I would encourage a man that is considering a vocation to talk to a Brother. Each of us has our own story, and they’re pretty amazing. How our own vocations developed and fostered, and how we finally took that leap.

I would say if one is having cold feet about thinking about a Brother’s vocation I would say that’s completely normal. Of course when you’re encountering something which you didn’t see coming your way you’re going to be scared, you’re going to be afraid. The best thing to do is what any priest would ever give any advice to any person discovering his vocation: Pray, be open to your priests, be open to your parents if you’re young, and pray.

The devil doesn’t want you to have counseling and often times people come to retreat at a crossroad, and it’s the best time to come on retreat - when you’re trying to make a big decision in your life. Go on retreat, you can settle down, you can listen to that Divine whisper, you have excellent counseling from the priests. Your mind – the world is tuned out and God is tuned in.

On the Day of Judgement, God willing, we are found faithful to our calling. And imagine you’ll have a special badge you’ll be wearing as a religious – you were a special friend to Our Lord, a close friend, and that's what the vocation is all about - being a true friend of Our Lord.

Only so many can be priests or have that vocation, but it’s much more open to be a Religious. I think that the Brothers are very necessary, not just to help the priest, but also simply as religious to help save souls. Because we all know that there’s lots of souls out there to be saved today.

 And so somebody can dedicate their life to God by being a Brother and no matter what they’re actually doing, whether they’re gardening or whether they’re washing dishes – they’re doing it with the vows under obedience and they’re meriting very much, and they could be saving souls that way.

--

Credidimus Caritati is the motto from which flows the interior and exterior work of the Brothers of the Society of St. Pius X.

It is through the three Evangelical counsels that the Brothers bind themselves to God. It is through their daily work that they support the priestly apostolate in saving souls and glorifying God.

The salvation of souls relies upon the work of the priest. The work of the priest relies upon the commitment of each Society Brother.

Let us also believe in Charity. Credidimus Caritati.