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 Twenty-fourth week in Ordinary Time
God call us unwearyingly to conversion
Saint Basil (c.330-379), monk and Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church
Longer monastic Rules, prologue
How long are we going to put off obeying Christ, who calls us into his heavenly Kingdom? Aren’t we going to purify ourselves? Won’t we resolve to forsake our customary way of life to follow the Gospel radically?… We claim to want the Kingdom of God yet without bothering to concern ourselves with the means of obtaining it.
What is more, in the conceitedness of our souls, without taking the least trouble to obey the Lord’s commandments, we think ourselves worthy to receive the same reward as those who have resisted sin to the death! But how could anyone sit and sleep at home during the time of sowing and then gather sheaves by the armful at harvest? Who has ever brought in the grapes without having planted and tended the vine? Fruit is for those who have toiled; rewards and crowns for those who have conquered. Has anyone ever crowned an athlete who did not even strip to fight his opponent? And yet, not only must we win but we must also “fight according to the rules”, as the apostle Paul says, that is to say according to the commandments we have been given…
God is good; but he is also just…: “The Lord loves justice and right” (Ps 32:5); that is why, “of kindness and judgement I will sing” (Ps 100:1)… See how wisely the Lord exercises kindness. He is not gracious without consideration, nor does he judge without mercy for, “gracious is the Lord and just” (Ps 115:5). So don’t underestimate God: his love for men should not become a pretext for negligence on our part.