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
Tuesday of the Ninth week in Ordinary Time
In Christ God has caused us to pass from his image into his likeness (Gn 1:27)
Saint Peter Chrysologus (c.406-450), Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church
Sermon 148, On the mystery of the Incarnation
Oh man! why do you despise yourself so, seeing that you are so precious to God? And why do you demean yourself in this way when God honors you by Christ's birth in our flesh? Why search out how you were made and not enquire what you were made for? Was not this whole dwelling, this world that you see, made for you? For your sake light spreads abroad and causes darkness to fade; for your sake night is ruled and day measured; for you heaven shines with the varied splendors of sun and moon and stars; for you the earth is spangled with flowers, trees and fruits; for you was created this amazing mass of animal life, in the air, the fields, the loveliness of water, so that no dismal solitude should spoil the new world's joy. (...)
Besides this, the Creator seeks out what else he can add to your dignity: he sets his image within you (Gen 1:27) so that your visible image might make present upon earth the invisible Creator, and to you he entrusts the care of earthly goods so that so vast a domain as this is should not be lacking a representative from the Lord. (...) And what God accomplished in you by his power he graciously assumed into himself: he wanted to be truly manifested in the man in whom, hitherto, he had only appeared in image. He enabled us to become in reality what had only been a mere likeness before. (...) And so Christ is born to restore all its integrity to fallen nature.