Massimo Sbicego, a 38-year-old parish priest who just joined
the SSPX, recently granted an interview to Marco Bongi for
the District of Italy; their website has graciously given
permission to translate it.
Marco Bongi: How did you become acquainted with the SSPX? Had you heard
about it before you had any first-hand knowledge of it?
Massimo Sbicego: In 1992 I found a back issue of the
magazine La Tradizione cattolica interesting; “I
wonder whether they still publish it.” I tried to
contact the publisher and subscribed. Meanwhile I finished
my seminary training, was ordained in June of 2000 and began
my ministry; not until May 2007 did I visit the priory in
Rimini and meet Don Luigi.
When you were a seminarian, did anyone ever talk to you about
Archbishop Lefebvre and the old Mass?
Tradition in its positive dimension is absent from modern
seminary teaching. If the “pre-conciliar” Mass is mentioned
it is only to emphasize the inadequacy of that liturgy and
that theology. Even recently, in response to the motu
proprio, I know that a certain “liturgist” showed
seminarians the DVD of the [traditional] Mass produced by
the Society of St. Pius X in order to ridicule its ritual
and gestures with them.
What did you experience the first time that you attended the Mass of
that I was in the Presence of God, a little like Moses on
Mount Sinai; for the first time the whole celebration was
“in front of Him” and He Himself was there. In the Coptic
rite the rubrics prescribe that the priest should enter the
sanctuary barefoot; moreover our Pontifical ritual
prescribes special shoes for the bishop; the first time
that I celebrated Holy Mass [i.e. the Traditional
Latin Mass] I suddenly understood why: Moses in front of
the bush. That is what it is like every time I enter the
sanctuary: the burning bush of His presence.
What is life like in the SSPX?
it is a simple, fraternal life. Archbishop Lefebvre designed
it based on his experience in mission territory: he
understood the importance not only of the apostolate but
also of having a place in which to “recharge” spiritually
and intellectually, a place where you live together with
other priests fraternally; he intended a place that would
also protect the priests from the world; this place is the
great because there is always a kind word, a back-and-forth
rather than a doctrinal debate, something to repair, a guest
who has come from far away, prayer in the one liturgy
despite the diversity of the individual national languages.
there are the sisters, who are an example in everything:
prayer, diligent work, attention, modesty, discretion… and
the brothers, consecrated religious but not ordained, who
generously take care of us all: the house, the guests, and
Do the priories host people who do not belong to the Society also?
say that the priory is open to welcome those who respect its
rhythms and purposes: a priest is always available to offer
a word, an encouragement, a time of retreat or discernment.
Then there are specific encounters that are organized for
priests and lay people; the
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are
preached several times a year according to the method of Fr.
Francesco da Paola Vallet and popularized by Fr. Ludovico
What is the daily schedule like? The apostolate…?
essentially two different routines: when we are home (at the
priory during the week, on a feria) and when we are involved
in the apostolate (on weekends or feast days).
priory the official wake-up time is 6:00 a.m., but many
priests rise before that to recite Matins and Lauds; at 6:30
there is recitation of Prime in common, then meditation and
the Angelus; at 7:15 Holy Mass and a thanksgiving; at 8:10
breakfast. Then there is time to devote to study, to
preparation for appointments, catecheses, meetings, or to
articles; time for various sorts of manual work and errands,
or even for a further moment of prayer, for the breviary (Terce
and None), Sacred Scripture, etc. At 12:15 there is the
recitation of Sext and the Angelus, and then lunch at 12:30.
In the afternoon there is again time for study, work or
prayer (the private recitation of Vespers) until 6:50 with
the common recitation of the Holy Rosary and the Angelus (on
Thursdays there is Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament).
Dinner is at 7:20 and at 8:45, Compline, which is followed
by Grand Silence until 8:00 the following day.
apostolate on weekends, feast days and other occasions, the
usual obligations hold for the clergy (Breviary and Holy
Mass) and for all members of the Society (daily Rosary), but
the schedules are flexible depending on the different
situations and needs.
not yet been included in this important mission; however I
see my confreres traveling hundreds of kilometers to help
and meet the faithful, to celebrate Holy Mass for them, to
resolve countless problems connected with the establishment
of chapels, celebration of the Sacraments, lodgings, and the
hostility of the pastors and bishops, in the sense that they
are not very charitable towards us.
Do you think that other priests will follow your example?
sincerely think that other priests and seminaries are asking
themselves the question. As a result of one’s own decision
to be consecrated to the Lord, one discovers that it is
necessary to rethink seriously the priestly dimensions of
the “presbyterate” and the sacrificial dimensions of Holy
ideological trend is petering out in an essentially agnostic
system; among young priests and youth there is, on the other
hand, a reawakening, and they are searching for authenticity
in our faith: hence they draw closer to Catholic Tradition.
modern priest, the first victim of the new ecclesial way,
often experiences a profound identity crisis; he can emerge
from it only by reclaiming the means provided by the living
Tradition of the Church: in the first place the Mass of All
Time, then the breviary, a fraternal priestly life, and then
Many thanks, Fr. Massimo. I thank you.
Translator: Michael J. Miller
LaPorteLatine and SSPX’s
District of Italy
website, for this interview.