I remember 1988. Specifically, I remember packing for a Cadet Camp in the grounds of Glenstal Abbey, and seeing the 9 o'clock news on BBC 1. There were the pictures of Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop de Castro Mayer and the four newly consecrated (and excommunicated) Bishops. I can still recall the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as I realised that the high (if naive) hopes that I and many others had, had been dashed. We thought that the SSPX were about to continue the fight fully on our side but instead they let us all down. The sort of pain that comes from a division like that is what one wise friend described as "a living death", something like a divorce. The source of the pain is constantly present and it's a "gift" that keeps on giving.
On Saturday last the first steps were taken in repairing that breach. I'm not that skinny 15 year old any more. The Indult Mass I attended then is long gone, moved on to bigger and better things. Two of the three celebrants are, to my certain knowledge, gone to their eternal reward. The convent chapel we used is gone, the convent is now a nursing home and the landscaped grounds are filled with apartment blocks. Poor Sister Wenceslaus (our sacristan) is long gone, carried off by Alzheimers. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of that particular rift, in which case Deo Gratias. There have been almost 21 needlessly wasted years but God can bring great good from bad things. From Archbishop Lefebvre's act of disobedience we got the FSSP, and the recognition of the ICR, and the reconciliation of the Benedictines of Le Barroux, foundation of CRMD, and so on, all within the Church, spreading Tradition far and wide.
Above all, Tradition is no longer (if it ever was) the exclusive property of the SSPX. It has started the long journey back to the parishes and dioceses throughout the Catholic world. Msgr Lefebvre and his collaborators started that journey and lead us when no-one else would. We thank them and pray for them. However, we no longer depend on them for our survival. If they are willing to join the Holy Father as part of the team, I like any other faithful Catholic, will welcome them with open arms; if they expect to come in to run the show, they will almost certainly experience a rude awakening.
Of your charity, pray for the Four that they will receive the grace to find their way back to full communion, and for the Holy Father (and the Curial Officials who will have to do the detailed work) so that this will have a happier outcome than the high hopes and bitter disappointment of July, 1988. Oremus pro invicem.