Society of the Holy Cross
Societas Sanctae Crucis
The Society of the Holy Cross - or SSC from the Latin Societas Sanctae Crucis - is a Congregation of priests in the Anglican Communion, who live and minister under a common Rule of Life.
There are currently over 1,000 members around the world, mainly in the UK and North America, in parishes, missions, chaplaincies, schools and other areas of pastoral ministry, committed to witnessing to the Cross of Christ by their lives and ministry. The Society has a number of members here in Australasia.
The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) was founded in London in 1855 by a small group of Anglo-Catholic priests led by Father Charles Lowder.
At a time when the Catholic Revival in the Church of England was threatened by persecution and misunderstanding, these priests came together for support, mutual prayer and encouragement. Fr Lowder spelled out the objects of SSC: "To defend and strengthen the spiritual life of the clergy, to defend the faith of the Church, and to carry on and aid Mission work both at home and abroad".
The members of this society, meeting together as they did in prayer and conference, were deeply impressed with the evils existing in the Church, and saw also, in the remedies adopted by St Vincent de Paul, the hope of lessening them.
Priests of the Society live under a common Rule of Life, and meet together in their local SSC Chapters every month or two for prayer, Mass, and some kind of study or conversation. Presiding over the Society worldwide is a Master-General who has a special responsibility to ensure an on-going fidelity among the Brethren to the spirit of the Society.
SSC is not a devotional guild, but takes its stance upon a shared vision of : “a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual rule.” It is this Rule of Life which unites the Brethren in their various priestly ministries and lives. They are required to: ‘consider their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond...which takes precedence to that of any other voluntary society.’
This obligation includes a commitment to attend local SSC Chapter meetings and annual Regional and Provincial Synods. The life of the Society is experienced primarily through the local Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is of obligation unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.
Priests of the Society can be recognized by the small gold lapel cross that they generally wear. On it is inscribed the motto of the Society - in hoc signo vinces - in this sign, conquer!
In Hoc Signo Vinces
In this Sign Conquer
Wednesday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time
“They shall see God” (Mt 5:8)
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395), monk and Bishop
Homilies on the Beatitudes, 6,1
When from the height of the Lord’s steep words I contemplate their infinite abyss as from the top of a cliff, my mind gets the same impression one gets when gazing at the immensity of the sea… My soul feels dizzy before this word of the Lord: “Blest are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” (Mt 5:8) God gives himself to the gaze of those who have a pure heart. But Saint John says that “no one has ever seen God.” (Jn 1:18) And Saint Paul confirms this idea when he speaks of him whom “no human being has ever seen or can see.” (1 Tim 6:16) God is the abrupt and highly sharpened rock, which does not give even the smallest hold to our imagination. Moses also called God the Inaccessible One… He said that “no man sees the Lord and still lives.” (Ex 33:20) But what? Eternal life is the vision of God, and these pillars of faith certify that this vision is impossible? What an abyss! ... If God is life, the person who does not see him does not see life either…
But the Lord stimulates this hope. Did he not give Peter the proof? Under the feet of this disciple who was close to drowning, he consolidated and hardened the waves (Mt 4:30).Will the hand of the Word also stretch out over us who are submerged in this abyss, will it strengthen us? Then we shall be reassured, for we shall be firmly led by the hand of the Word.
“Blest are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Such a promise goes beyond our greatest joys; after this happiness, what other happiness could we desire? … The person who sees God has every imaginable good through that vision: life without end, perpetual incorruptibility, inexhaustible joy, unconquerable power, eternal delights, true light, the sweet words of the spirit, incomparable glory, uninterrupted happiness, finally, every good. What great and beautiful hope this beatitude thus offers us!