January 2001

January 29, 2001: St. Francis de Sales

Gibson vs. Clinton

From: Edward

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In telling my son about the story of Mel Gibson's strong traditional Catholicism, he asked me what justification there is when some of the movies he stars in would cause a person to question Gibson's traditional beliefs. The example he mentioned is the last movie of the Lethal Weapon series, in which the actors' fictional girl friend is pregnant and so they plan to marry. My son wonders how Gibson could accept such a part.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It's amazing how many times this question comes up. When Joseph Lieberman, late candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States, called himself an Orthodox Jew, in spite of the fact that that he was pro abortion and pro homosexual behavior, hardly a mention was made. When William Clinton, late President of the United States, called himself a Bible-believing Christian and then attempted to excuse his immoral activity by deceit, lying, and perjury, it was Christians who sprang to his defense. When Jesse Jackson, a Baptist minister, conducted an adulterous affair under the nose of his wife, fathered a child out of wedlock, and paid his mistress hush-money, it is other Christians who encourage him to stay on the public scene instead of hiding himself in shame.

Playing a part in a movie is hardly a statement of one's beliefs. It is fiction. (Even at that, the option of legitimizing an out-of-wedlock child by marriage is certainly preferable to abortion, isn't it?) If an actor plays Macbeth, does that mean he believes in murder? Of course not. If an actress plays Clytemnestra, does that mean she believes in uxoricide? Of course not. Playwrights set adulterers, murderers, and conspirators in their works? Should Catholics be Philistines? Of course not.

So here we have an imperfect Catholic, as we are all imperfect. "...There is none that doth good, no, not one" (Psalm 13:1). (At least Gibson is honest enough to admit his imperfections.) Yet he is a Catholic husband who, if the articles be true, is devoted to his wife and has publicly stated that divorce is never an option for him. He is a Catholic father, who kept his children in Australia with their mother rather than expose them to the Hollywood milieu. Now his eldest daughter has indicated that she feels a vocation to the religious life. Courgeously taking these public positions for traditional Catholic morality cannot be easy in the Hollywood environment.

Gibson is a committed traditional Catholic, who has publicly stated in television and printer interviews that he rejects the unCatholic, modernistic Vatican II version of doppelganger Catholicism. He has built a traditional chapel on his estate, where he personally leads the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary and invites priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass only in the Traditional Roman Rite.

As an actor, he has played in serious films such as Gallipoli, Tim, Man without a Face, Braveheart and Patriot. Yes, he does play other roles in shoot-'em-up fantasies or low comedies, just as Sir Richard Burton, who was a gripping Shakespearean actor, played in far less exalted roles, or Sir Alec Guiness, another great Shakespearean actor, played a kind of panthestic guru role in four space operas. Then, again, Shakespeare wrote some pretty low comedies himself!

Let's put some balance into this. Gibson should get the tisk-tisk award for lowering his impressive acting talent on occasion to stoop to common fictional vehicles. But, then, we don't know to what degree Gibson has control over all of these matters. In real life, Catholic theology recognizes the concept of material (as opposed to formal) cooperation. If you work for Pacific Bell installing telephones, to what degree are you morally responsible if that corporation donates some money to Planned Parenthood? Real-life situations are often not textbook cases. That is where the queen of the moral virtues, prudence, comes in and, if one is so fortunate, the advice of confessor.

Be that as it may, let us save our true indignation for the likes of public figures like Liberman, Clinton, and Jackson, who do not even have the excuse of acting, fiction, and the theater as even theoretical justification for personally-committed acts and publicly-articulated positions of immorality.


From: Stephen

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Should Catholics tithe?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The Church has not insisted upon a particular amount of contribution to the support of the Church, but the scriptural standard of one-tenth is a good guide. The Fifth Precept of the Church indicates that we have an obligation to contribute to the support of the Church. In the case of a traditional Catholic, justice would seem to require that the major share to go to the church or chapel that is providing you with the Traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments. The rest may go to general charities, especially small local ones whose activities you can observe to ensure that they are in accordance with your Catholic principles.

Traditional churches and chapels typically don't have a well-funded base to support them, as many Novus Ordo churches do. Some traditional Catholics are quite generous and are thankful for the great gift that they have in a local church or chapel. Some, however, throw a dollar in the collection plate, not realizing that they have thereby not even paid for the burning of the candles on the altar.

Attending Protestant Services

From: Barbara

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Is it ever acceptable according to the traditional teachings of the Church to attend Protestant Church services such as funerals, weddings, etc.? If so, in what instances is it acceptable?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Canon 1258 of the Codex Iuris Canonici (1917) provides:

  1. It is not lawful for the faithful in any way to assist actively or to take part in the religious services of non-Catholics;
  2. Passive or merely material presence can be tolerated of a civic official or on account of respect ... at funerals, marriages, and similar functions of non-Catholics, as long as there be absent the danger of perversity or scandal.

By attending such services, except in the limited cases provided for, you could easily signal to your non-Catholic friends that Protestantism is just as true as Catholicism. Moreover, attendance at such services could be a danger to your own faith by falling into the same thinking. This is an especially great risk in attending the Novus Ordo Worship Service, which lulls the mind into a secularistic, humanistic, modernistic frame of mind -- yes, even if you just read your traditional missal in the back.

Beware the Occult

From: RoseMary

Dear Fr. Moderator:

A friend of mine has recently bought tarot cards to experiment with, and she is a practicing traditional Catholic. I'm worried about her, can you give me advice? Also, is it a sin to use them since they have to do with magic?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Tarot cards, like astrology, palmistry, ouija boards, and other occult arts are to be eschewed by the Christian, as they are contrary to the First Commandment. Such things may seem innocuous at first, but I know of cases where Catholics have fallen into the active practice of the occult as a result of getting pulled in little by little. One is playing with fire here, and the best thing is to keep away from the flame.

January 27, 2001: St. John Chrysostom

Why the Chastisement?

From: Stephen

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Back when all the heresies were taking place, and we had two or three popes, why do you suppose the Good Lord allowed this to go on for so long?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Scripture teaches us: For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth... (Hebrews 12:6/DR). It was a test of the Faith, and the Faith ended up becoming the stronger for it. Perhaps, too, it was a matter of instruction -- to help the faithful Catholic depend not so much upon any "personality" of the pope, but rather to the Deposit of Faith and the office of the papacy, properly conducted in accordance with its foundation by Christ.

The Church functions best not in times of properity, but in times of trial. Look at all that was accomplished by the first three centuries of martydoms that planted the seed of the Faith. After the Church came out of the catacombs, the popes were within a few years complaining that Christians were becoming little more than the pagans around them. One might say the same of our times.

Mel Gibson's Daughter to Become a Nun

From: Movie News (via BJ)

Mel Gibson's daughter has no intention of following her father's footsteps into acting -- instead she wants to become a traditional nun. The devoutly Roman Catholic heart-throb has revealed that his eldest child, Hannah, 20, has expressed a keen interest in taking holy vows and becoming a bride of Christ. She is no stranger to donning a veil, as Gibson has built a private chapel in the back yard of his $3 million home in Malibu, California, where each Sunday a priest says the Traditional Latin Mass. The chapel is known locally as "Saint Mel's," as Gibson personally leads the rosary there and insists that all women who attend, including wife Robyn and Hannah, wear long-sleeved dresses and veils.

January 24, 2001: St. Timothy

The Wealth of the Church

From: Nancy

Dear Fr. Moderator:

The Catholic Church has great wealth. It has golden chalices, valuable artwork, etc. How do I explain to my non-Catholic friend who wants to know why this wealth is not distributed to the poor? Why do the pope, bishops, and cardinals live the "good" life materially. She wants to know why the Church is not more like Christ in his simplicity.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

That objection sounds exactly like what Judas hypocritically said in Bethania, as related in the 26th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel. Remember that it was Judas who objected to the penitent's pouring of expensive ointment on Christ, saying, "For this might have been sold for much and given to the poor" (Matthew 26:9).

Christ did not object; on the contrary, he chastized Judas's and the other Apostles' reference to the poor and instead praised the penitent's action, saying, "For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always" (Matthew 26:11).

All through Scripture, from the Old Testament on, we see how man spares no expense for God. And when God Himself specifies in the Penteteuch how the Hebrews are to build the Arc of the Covenant, He does not specify a "simple" box, but rather the most detailed and elegant arc representing the majesty of God.

We must not forget the three principles upon which our relationship to God is founded: truth, goodness, and beauty; that is, true doctrine, true morality, and true beauty that gives truth and goodness its force of attraction to our human senses.

We see many scenes in Scripture in which the poor are benefitting from the beauty and elegance of the wondrous Third Temple, which King Herod built. The poor, just as the rich and the inbetween, benefit spiritually from great religious art. I hope that your friend would not be such a Philistine as to want to smash Michelangelo's Pieta into fragments of marble and sell them for cheap rubble? Or should we rather marvel and thank the Lord for this great art that elevates our minds to prayer and contemplation of His Godhead?

Such a position on the part of your friend belies a rank materialism, which is certainly not Christian. That money is better than religion. That material possessions are better that spiritual possessions. That is perverse. Remember those artisans of the High Middle Ages who built with their own money and hands the great cathedrals? Materialism was not their object. Rather, they, though may were poor, were desirous of attaining a closeness to God that materialism could never bring. They built something that was a ktema eis aei, a monument for eternity, not something that, as Scripture puts it, is thrown out in the privy.

Simplicity is a state of mind, not a count of material possessions around one. One might be privileged to live amongst the greatest works of art around him, but, if anything, this is not a matter of wealth, but humbling. Some ecclesiastics might live amidst weath, but they do not own that wealth. It is a religious treasure for the God's creation, leading us humans to God, our final home.

You might ask your friend whether charity doesn't start at home first, if she truly means what she says. She can sell off her own house and give it to the poor. She can close her own bank accounts and give them to the poor. She can strip herself down to abject poverty and then join the millions in the Cathollic Church over the ages who have done just that in a monastery or convent, devoting their entire lives to God in poverty.

The Catholic Church certainly has nothing to apologize for as the world's greatest guardian of religious art for all humanity and for more of its members living the life of the Evangelical Counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience, more than any other group in the history of the world.

Organ Donations

From: Judith

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I recently read an article in the Houston Chronicle which stated that legislation will be proposed in the next legislative session that would presume all Texans agree to be organ donors -- unless they have taken certain steps to acquire non-donor status. I wrote a letter to the editor indicating my outrage at such a proposition because, for one thing, this "presumption" presumes that our bodies are the property of the state. For another, this is aimed at harvesting organs from those who are either ignorant of the law or have not gotten around to taking the legal steps required to declare non-donor status. I can only imagine my grief if the body of a loved one was violated and I had no power to stop it.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

I guess this just goes to show that abortion isn't the only immoral practice that the state is trying to put over on the people. In answer to several questions, it is moral to offer one's remains for this purpose or for medical research. However, the remains must be decently provided for with a Christian burial. There is a matter of prudence to be considered as well, since several doctors have indicated that on occasion they have seen cases where death was hastened to preserve organs. For example:

January 23, 2001: St. Raymond of Penafort

Classical Masses

From: Nancy

Dear Fr. Moderator:

FAQ07 on the TRADITIO Web Site gives valuable information on Gregorian chant recordings. Perhaps you could recommend some of the elite classical Masses. I know that the Mass in B-minor by Bach is supposed to be one of the best.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Off the top of my head, I think of the following. This will give you a good start.

New Cardinals

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Since the recent selections of 37 new cardinals by the pope, there has been a lot of buz in the papers about who his possible successor will be. Are there any with traditional leanings? We can always hope!

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It seems that the once Sacred College of Cardinals have become mere "chads" in the election of a Roman Pontiff. Naturally, the model they see -- and with them many modern Catholics -- is all a political game to elect a CEO, not a sacred action to ensure the continuance of the Deposit of Faith and the Sacred Liturgy handed down to us from the Apostles. All the speculation is about what changes a new pope will make toward secularism, not the Apostolic Faith that he must maintain.

The modern Vatican has seen to it that there are no traditional Catholic cardinals any longer, just conservative, moderate, or liberal to use the common terminology. We will just have to wait, in God's good time, for another pope St. Pius V, who was elected "contrary to the expectation of all." As far from the traditional faith as current pope is, his successor is bound to be far worse.

January 22, 2001: Sts. Vincent and Anastasius

Anti-Catholic England

From: James

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Are there any books recording correspondence between recusant Roman Catholics during the time period when the Church was Protestantized in England?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Eamon Duffy's The Stipping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, C. 1400-1580 (Yale University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-300060-76-9), is what you want. It is a highly-lauded study of the Protestant Reformation in England by a top-notch historian. Prof. Duffy has delved deeply into the period's primary sources, including hundreds of church logs, primers, manuals, wills, and diaries. An intellectual tour de force, the book is accessible to the average reader. It is the story of traditional Catholics desperately trying to preserve their Faith against tyrannical rulers who tear down their altars, change the language of their Mass, mock their devotions, destroy their statues, and decimate their liturgical year. Sound familiar?

It is a tale of courage amid great tragedy, and it proves that the Faith in England was stolen, not lost. Most of all, it presents the beauty and power of traditional Roman Catholicism. Duffy shows that, contrary to the received wisdom, the Reformation was not a necessary aggiornamento of a worn out Church, but was imposed by a few determined extremists on a largely faithful population.

Another book that has been recommended for this purpose is A Birthday book of the English Martyrs, which has for each day has a story, quotation, poem, or thought about an English Martyr. The book is quite traditional and makes sound theological points.

One Deposit of Faith

From: James

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In the Catholic Church, we have seen laws and customs changed, modified, and even eliminated. Things that occurred as a result of previous councils and infallible decisions by previous popes have now been changed and made "obsolete," according to Modernists. My question is this: do new councils and decisions by new popes change dogmatic decisions from the past? Is that the way the Catholic Church sees these new changes brought forth from primarily the Vatican II? I know it "seems" that way to the majority of Catholics I know, but is it really that way?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

No, it is not that way. The Catholic Church as founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Church of Tradition. The Deposit of Faith, handed down by Christ and His Apostles through the Church does not change. Theft is not immoral one day and moral the next. Adultery is not moral one day and immoral the next. The Mass is not "the sacrifice, an act by which the Church gives to Almighty God, officially and in the name of all, the worship that is due to Him alone, in which Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine" (Trent) on one day and "the congregating of the people of God gathering together as one, under the presidency of a priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord" (Novus Ordo). The latter definition was condemned as heresy by the chief cardinal theologian of the Church when it was proposed.

Certain accidentals, for example, the specific provisions of fast and abstinence, could be modified somewhat if conditions truly justified such a modification, but to do away with the Apostolic principles and essential practice of fast and abstinence entirely, as the Novus Ordo has essentially done, is a rejection of Christ's own example and the practice of the Church since Apostolic times. That is intolerable.

Another example would be the reining in of popes and bishops around the 15th century back to the principles of Christ, which had been lost to venality and even public immorality on the part of those bishops and popes.

Before the time of Vatican II, the concept of "renewal" was a return to traditional Catholic practices that had been deviated from over time because of sloth, immorality, or unjustified differences in the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church," or, as St. Paul put it: instaurare omnia in Christo [to re-establish all things in Christ].

January 21, 2001: Third Sunday after Epiphany

Was the Novus Ordo Worship Service Composed by Protestants?

From: Toni

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have a question concerning the "composition" of the Novus Ordo Worship Service that sadly took place after Vatican II. Were Protestants or any other denominations involved in and/or consulted it? Were their ideas incorporated into it? If so, is there any documentation or a citation that I can point to that will serve as proof that they were involved?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

In 1970 a photograph was published showing Paul VI posing with the Protestant Observers that had helped draft the "New Mass" as adviser to the Consilium that composed the New Mass. Not only were these six individuals heretics personally, but they were acting in their official capacity as such. La Documentation Catholique names the six as Dr. George, Canon Jasper, Dr. Shepherd, Dr. Kunneth, Dr. Smith, and Brother Max Thurian, representing respectively the World Council of Churches, the Anglican and Lutheran communions, and the French Protestant Taize community. After the Consilium had met and finished its work, Dr. Smith, the Lutheran representative, publicly boasted, "We have finished the work that Martin Luther began."

Brother Thurian had been the subprior at Taize from its foundation in the late 1940s. In 1969 he expressed his satisfaction with the "New Order of Mass" by stating that Protestants could now celebrate the Lord's Supper with the same prayers as Catholics. On May 12, 1988, the French daily Le Monde announced that Max Thurian had not only become a Catholic, but had been ordained to the Catholic priesthood.

On July 24, 1996, Fr. Thurian, now a member of the International Theological Commission, published in L'Osservatore Romano an article highly critical of the Novus Ordo, including the statement that "the great problem of contemporary liturgical life (apathy towards worship, boredom, lack of vitality and participation) stems from the fact that the celebration has sometimes lost its character as mystery, which fosters the spirit of adoration."

What Is Heaven Like?

From: Stan

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Are their different levels of Heaven? If so, how do they pertain to us?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It is a matter of faith that the beatitude of heaven is proportional to the individual's merits. This belief comes from, among other sources, St. John's Apocalypse in the New Testament. The Church reflects this belief in the classes of the Saints in the Divine Office -- first the Apostles and Evangelists, then the martyrs, followed by the Doctors, Confessors, Virgins, etc. The "Paradiso" of Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia reflects this belief in beautiful literary form.

The Old "Schism" Red-Herring

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

While I hold that the Novus Ordo Worship Service is not only on shaky ground, but that its roots are Masonic in principle and the pope has defied Tradition, what is the "formal adherence to schism" that is mentioned in Ecclesia Dei?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

You have to read that one carefully, as it is full of Vatican-II-Speak and has to be understood carefully in a specific canonic context. "Formal" schism has a very specific meaning in Canon Law and is a very difficult standard to meet. Certainly, traditional Catholics cannot be schismatic, as they are not trying to separate from true doctrine and practice in the Church, but to the contrary, they are trying to sustain it!

Perhaps you didn't know that according to Catholic doctrine, even the pope can become a schismatic from the Church if he departs from the Apostolic forms of worship. For further information, see the Library of Files for The Limitations of Papal Authority from the Writings of Roman Catholic Popes, Councils, Saints, and Theologians.

There was a case (of the so-called Honolulu Six) brought before the Vatican, when a diocesan bishop wanted to excommunicate a group of traditional Catholics who had an indepedent chapel to which they invited Society of St. Pius X and other traditional priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, administer the traditional Sacraments, etc. The Vatican in 1993 ruled against the bishop, not the traditional Catholics, and found that they had done nothing worthy of any penalty. Within a year, as it happened, the diocesan bishop was removed from his office for a crime of immorality.

Suffice it to say that one is not safe following the pope if the pope is not following the Deposit of Faith. Most Catholics who wish to give the person of the pope a status that equals or exceeds Christ's (which is, of course, heresy, but common in some conservative circles these days as an extreme position) have apparently not read carefully the dogmatic council Vatican I, as it clearly shows the traditional limitation of the pope's authority as follows:

For the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter NOT so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the Revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles. --Constitutio Dogmatica Prima de Ecclesia Christi (Pastor Aeternus), chap. 4, "De Romani Pontificis Infallibili Magisterio").

The very name "New Mass" and "New Order" belie this doctrine. As Catholics, we cannot uphold any authority of the pope to deprive the Catholic faithful of the Apostolic rite of their Faith. Such an action, as St. Robert Bellarmine and other Doctors of the Church clearly indicate, would be a schismatic act on the part of the pope against the Church and should not be obeyed by any Catholic.

January 20, 2001: Sts. Fabian & Sebastian

Reading Non-Catholic Material

From: Roger

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I read in a 1958 traditional Catechism published that it is a mortal sin for lay Catholics to read literature of non-Catholic or false religions. My question is: may Catholics read non-Catholic literature under certain circumstances without commiting a mortal sin?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Like so many general principles, this one certainly admits of specific exceptions. Some laypeople, who are not generally as knowledgeable in such matters, might expose their faith to danger by getting involved in readings of other religions, particularly those people who are of a more dubious or scrupulous mind. However, for a legitimate purpose that does not pose a proximate danger to the faith, such reading could be justified. In case of doubt, as always, you should consult your confessor for guidance.

January 17, 2001: Chair of St. Peter at Rome

What's in a Name?

From: Anthony

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Over the last six years I have noticed an ever-growing number of Novus Ordo parishes naming themselves St. So-and-So "Catholic Community." But now I noticed that there is a parish calling itself St. Joseph "Worship Site." What's next? "Spiritual Port"? "Celebration Center"? "Inclusion Zone"? "Prayer Integration Matrix"? What ever happened to just plain old "Catholic Church"?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

As I've said before, the goals of the Novus Ordo are not secret. It will tell you exactly what it is, if you but listen to it. First of all, it calls itself a "New Order." That, in itself, condemns it, as the Catholic Church, by the nature of its foundation, is ordered by Tradition. If something calls itself a new order, it is by that term condemning itself as unCatholic.

For years now, TRADITIO has been calling what others call the "New Mass" (clearly an oxymoron) by the phrase "New Order Worship Service," as that is what it is, not a Mass in any traditional sense of that term. Now the Novus Ordo is beginning to use that term about itself! So once again TRADITIO has anticipated the next move of the Novus Ordo.

As Our Lord says, "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear." The handwriting is scribbled large upon the wall. The whole New Order establishment is something that even it can no longer term "Catholic Church." As George Orwell pointed out in his "Politics and the English Language," as did semanticists before him, the words we use to speak about something have a significant impact on how we understand it.

In this connection, the change from Latin to English in the Novus Ordo, which some (even some traditional Catholics) underestimate, is actually the first and most significant underlying factor in the deconstruction of the Catholic Church. Traditional Latin theology and liturgy had an unmistakable meaning because of their clarity and lack of ambiguity. The vernacularized, vulgarized theology and liturgy of the New Order could thrive only if the Latin were abandoned.

And that is exactly what the New Order did, recalling to us Pope Pius XII's prophetic words:

The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs.

Time of Holy Mass

From: Silvia

Dear Fr. Moderator:

There is no Traditional Latin Mass in my town. The nearest is six hours from here, so I read the Missal. Sometimes it occurs to me that I do not pray in appropriated time. Till what time should I read the Mass? Is there a limit on the hour for a priest to say Mass?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Holy Mass may commence from one hour before dawn to one hour after midday. For those who use the dispensations after 1955, evening Mass may begin at 4 p.m. or later. The typical time on Sunday would be after the Hour of Terce (or about 9 a.m.).

January 15, 2001: St. Paul, First Hermit

Communion in the Hand

From: Diane

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Since I underwent conversion to the Novus Ordo three years ago, it seems that accepting the Holy Eucharist in one's hand at communion is a common practice. As a matter of fact, the pastor at my parish made it plain that he preferred all of us being confirmed to receive in the hand. I am very uncomfortable with this. I recall when I was a child that much greater respect was given to the Eucharist. I feel that some priests act as if they were distributing a mere "morsel of food" instead of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord. This bothers me badly. Can you explain this all to me?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Your concerns are quite valid. Communion in the hand is clearly against the teaching and tradition of the Church, not withstanding the fact that the post-conciliar bishops forced Pope Paul VI into allowing the National Bishops' Conferences to permit it because (as in the USA) the bishops had already so pervasively violated Sacred Tradition that they claimed it was too late to reverse the practice. What self-serving nonsense!

Traditional priests never give Communion in the hand. That Novus Ordo practice has been one of the most significant factors in trivializing the Sacraments, turning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into some kind of communal meal, and allowing (according to a 1991 Gallup poll) some 80% of Catholics, both laymen and priests, to identify the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist with the Protestant doctrine instead of the Catholic one! For further information, see the Library of Files for FAQ10: How Do You Explain These Traditional Catholic Beliefs?

Which Rite Is "Skewed"?

From: Argie

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Having been to many Catholic Masses and Eastern Orthodox masses, I realize that there is a great deal of difference between the rites. My question is: when did the Catholic church skew from its traditional Masses? I do understand that the Eastern Orthodx Church has also skewed from its traditional Masses, but it seems to a lesser degree. From my observations, I would have to argue that the Catholic church has skewed more from the traditional Mass.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

By "Catholic," I assume that you mean Roman Catholic, specifically the Roman Rite. The Traditional (Pre-Vatican II Roman Missal) Latin Mass in all its essentials was passed on by St. Peter, the first pope, to the Church. The Apostles themselves, according to St. Ambrose, worked at its elaboration. It reached its complete perfection with Popes St. Damasus (fourth century) and St. Gregory the Great (sixth century). As the great liturgical scholar, Fr. Adrian Fortescue, wrote, this Mass is "the most venerable in all Christendom, with a history of unbroken use far longer than that of any Eastern rite, there being no doubt that the essential parts of the Mass are of Apostolic origin."

The Roman Mass remained essentially unchanged until the highly controverial period of Vatican II (1963-65), after which, for the first time in two millennia, a "New Mass" was "composed," instead of being handed down from Apostolic Tradition. Increasing numbers of Catholics are finding the so-called "New Mass" of 1969 to lack validity and are leaving the New Order Worship Service to attend exclusively the Traditional Latin Mass, which goes back to the Apostles.

In the East, although there were ancient, apostolic Eastern rites, such as those of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, very few Eastern Orthodox today preserve these unchanged. The apostolic forms have been changed over the years because of wars and political takeovers in the Middle East, whereas the Roman Empire, and then the Holy Roman Empire, retained its stability in the West. Moreover, especially in the United States, many Eastern Orthodox have "vernacularized" their Sacred Liturgies into vulgar tongues against the Apostolic form.

January 14, 2001: Second Sunday after Epiphany

How to Resist Evil

From: Florian

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What did Christ mean when He said "But I say to you not to resist evil" (Matthew 5:39). Are we to be pacifists?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

As always, one must take such statements in their context. Matthew 5:38 preceding describes the lex talionis, that is, the law of vengeance, an eye for an eye. By law, the Old Testament Hebrews had placed a limit on such personal blood vengeance; that is, only an eye for an eye, not a life for an eye. In the New Testament Christian context, Our Lord emphasizes personal forgiveness, as one sinner to another. The context here is not referring to legitimate self-defense, either by deed or word, or about resisting evil in the moral sense. Of course, we must resist evil personally and publicly, as Our Lord certainly did.

January 13, 2001: Octave of the Epiphany

Judge Not?

From: Francois (France)

Dear Fr. Moderator:

There is a question that, as a traditional Catholic, I am often asked by my indifferent relatives or friends when I only try to remind them of the basic contents of their catechism, particularly as far as Purgatory and Hell are concerned: "What right have you got to judge?" Naturally, there is a good deal of bad faith in this question, for I would never state anything even remotely resembling a judgement against any soul (who I am to judge souls, anyway?), but it annoys me not to be able to answer and -- why not? -- convince them with a few simple and well chosen words. Could you help, please?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

One must make a distinction between internal and external judgment. When Our Lord says: "Judge not, that you be not judged," that dictum refers to one man's judgment of another man's interior state of soul. Only God can see within the soul: was the external action done out of good or ill, out of friendship or fear, etc.? Man can only see the external result, not the interior intention.

On the other hand, we must make external judgments. We do this every day. A parent judges his child's action unacceptable and punishes him. A judge or jury judges a criminal guilty. We judge that murder is wrong, that adultery is wrong, that theft is wrong. These are external judgments that we must make. Otherwise, the common weal falls. We must judge the external action -- we don't want criminals walking around because they cannot be judged! For your relatives to argue otherwise is downright silly.

Thou or You

From: Ralph

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Some prayers have words such as your and you, for example, "to Your Sacred Heart." I always say "to Thy Sacred Heart." I feel that the use of such daily terms (as though I am talking to another person ) is not reverent enough. I would appreciate your opinion. Also I very much enjoy your booksales and will continue to buy! I am very excited about the recent book I will be receiving from you very shortly, the traditional 1942 Missale Romanum. It is in very good condition, and they are becoming hard to find.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

There has been a tendency in recent Biblical translations to abandon the use of the formal second-person pronouns (thou, thee, thy, thine, ye), which one finds in translations such as the Douay-Rheims and King James from the 17th century. The Catholic Confraternity Version of the 1940s-1960s maintained these, but somewhat less than the Douay-Rheims. The Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition from the 1960s abandoned them entirely.

There is an argument in the case of the New Testament that since the Greek is Koine Greek, that is "Common" Greek, equivalent to the Latin "Vulgate," one can argue that that the "common" usage should be maintained in the translation, that is, the use only of the modern English you and yours.

On the other hand, Koine Greek makes a distinction between the second-personal singular (= thou, thee) and the second-person plural (ye, you), as does Vulgate Latin and as did English up to the 17th century and beyond. Therefore, the use of the more formal English pronouns preserves that distinction, which can be critical to an understanding of the meaning, to determine whether the speaker is addressing one individual or more than one (e.g., Peter only or all the Apostles).

A Question of Greek

From: Antonio

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What is the Greek word used in St. Mark 6:3 for brethren? A Protestant says that the word is adelphoi and refers to "blood brothers" as opposed to spiritual brothers. Of course, you know why I am asking: the never-ending debate with Protestants, who labor to dismiss Our Lady by denying her perpetual virginity.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Adelphos (plural: adelphoi) can mean either a natural brother, a relative not a natural brother, or even a spiritual brother (as Christians among themselves). In the passage you mention, it is known from St. John's Gospel (19:25) that James and Joseph were not natural brothers of Christ, but rather cousins. That is just one proof that adelphos cannot be taken invariably as meaning "natural brother."

January 9, 2001: Within the Octave of the Epiphany

It All Happened Before

From: Arata (Japan)

Dear Fr. Moderator:

My wife, daughter, and I travelled to Singapore two weeks ago and had the opportunity to attend the Traditional Latin Masses of Christmas. It was a very happy and satisfying experience for us, all the more because we also made new friends who share the exact same faith.

As I attended the series of ceremonies and pondered about and prayed for those who did not have access to them as we did, I happened to recall the first time I attended the Traditional Latin Mass in Tokyo and how grateful I was to be attending a Traditional Latin Mass at all. I suddenly realized that I was getting too used to having Traditional Latin Masses to attend, even once a month at our location.

As some of you may know, Japan is the only country in the world where Catholics survived without a single priest or Mass for more than two centuries. I want to make it my New Year's resolution to remember that having masses to attend is a gift from God and that I must be grateful to Him for that alone.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Thank you for your insight. I find all too many traditional Catholics carping about what they don't have rather than being thankful for what they do have. If they have monthly Masses, they carp because they don't have weekly Masses. If they have Sunday Masses, they carp because they don't have daily Masses. Or they carp because they Traditional Latin Mass isn't located around the corner.

Apparently, these people have forgotten that for three centuries, something like 11,000,000 Catholics were persecuted for the Faith, and how many Masses they were able to attend, no one knows. They have forgotten that for more than a century, to practice the Catholic Faith in England meant a fine, imprisonment, or death. Now you remind us that Japan had no Mass for two centuries. What Masses were available in the United States in the eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries in outlying areas? The pioneers may have seen a priest once a year.

The 1940s and 1950s in the United States were not the rule, but the exception. We all need to read much more widely in Church history through twenty centuries to acquire a much more balanced view of access to the Mass and Sacraments, and thank God for what we have, which many, especially in our own times, do not have. Some participants here gladly travel five hours on a Sunday to attend Mass. Now, that may be heroically commendable, but why should we complain when it takes us thirty minutes, or even a hour, to attend Mass on a Sunday? What would we otherwise be doing? Watching a football game and worshipping the God of Sport rather than the God of the Universe?

"Ecumenism" Fails Horribly

From: Fr. Moderator

While the Vatican is trying to smooze ecumenically with everyone from Martin Luther to pagans, the Mohammedans are taking their religion seriously -- and Christians are taking the brunt of it. Now we know why the popes initiated the Holy Crusades, whose original goal was simply to protect access to the Holy Land for Christian pilgrims and to prevent the slavery of Christians by the Mohammedans.

We notice from the article below that when Catholics are slaughtered at Mass, the pope can't even come out with a condemnation, but only a passing reference. The Vatican made a big hoopla about having representation at the United Nations. Where is the outcry there of the Vatican delegate? And many in the Novus Ordo apparatus have the gall to condemn Pope Pius XII!

JAKARTA, Dec. 25, 2000 (ZENIT) -- According to police sources, at least 14 people have been killed and another 47 wounded in a series of unprecedented attacks against Indonesian churches during Christmas Eve celebrations last night. On top of that, security forces also deactivated another 15 devices containing between 6 and 9 pounds of explosives set to explode at 11:30 at night, local time. This would have made the Christmas Eve massacre that much more horrific....
Police have confirmed five onslaughts in Catholic and Protestant churches in Jarkarta, the capital. Police Chief General Suroyo Bimantoro explained that a total of 18 bombs exploded in 8 cities in the country. The attacks were separated by only a few minutes, which leads security forces to think the terrorist plot was well orchestrated.

With 212 million inhabitants, of whom 44% follow Islam, Indonesia has the greatest number of Muslims in the world. Christians represent about 9% of the population (2/3 of these are Protestants). From the Vatican, John Paul II in his Christmas message specifically mentioned the suffering experienced at this time by "our brothers in the faith" in Indonesia, having changed his prepared text at the last moment to refer to these most recent violent attacks.
The Vatican Fides agency reports of stepped up attempts to convert Christians in Indonesia to Islam. Christians are forced to undergo circumcision with razor blades, and some women made to marry Muslims. The Indonesian Bishops' Conference estimates that some 6,000 Christians stranded in the Mollucas are threatened by violence. The governor of Ambon, Saleh Latuconsina, stated that "it cannot be denied that in Keswui and Teor, forced Islamization is taking place."

January 8, 2001: Within the Octave of the Epiphany

Another "Indult" Mass Polluted

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

<\P> Well, it looks like you were right again. You warned us over and over again to be cautious about attending "Indult" Masses, as more and more of them are departing from the Traditional Latin Mass to mix the Novus Ordo in. Today at my local "Indult" Mass here in S., we were informed that from now on they will be having married lay deacons "assisting" at Mass. I view this as an attempt to condition the laity for a future "married" priesthood. I'll never set foot in that church again.

What Standard Should Traditional Catholics Follow?

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Regarding the practice of fasting and abstinence, a few try to lighten the obligation for these penitential practices to almost nothing. Now, I realize that the laws of fast and abstinence may be changed from time to time by the Church, as they are not matters of dogma. However, most traditional Catholics, it seems, disregard all changes made from Vatican II on, whether involving dogmatic matters or not. Should Catholics still consider themselves gravely bound to the traditional practices of fast and abstinence?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

As Catholics under God we are bound not only to orthodoxy, that is, correct belief, but also to orthopraxis, that is, correct practice of the Faith. Here we have another example of the apostolic traditions of the Church being treated as mere man-made "rules" that can be changed at any time willy-nilly. On the contrary, this is an instance not of "change," but of root-and-branch rejection of the basic apostolic practice.

It is one thing, for example, to provide for a slight mitigation of the Eucharistic Fast, as Pope Pius XII did in 1956, from midnight to three hours before Holy Communion, in recognition of the fact that, as a result of World War II, Sunday afternoon and evening Masses had become more common. The traditional Eucharistic fast before the Midnight Mass of Christmas, after all, was four hours, so Pope Pius was within the bounds of reasonable Catholic practice throughout the centuries.

It is another thing, however, virtually to wipe away the Eucharistic Fast by allowing Novus Ordo Catholics to down a Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast and just fifteen minutes later attend Mass and receive Communion. That is not a "change"; it is a virtual rejection of the apostolic practice and the due reverence with which the Blessed Sacrament must be regarded.

As to the Friday abstinence, this goes back to the early Church. It is catholic and apostolic. What does it say when the Novus Ordo apparatus turns its back on such an ancient practice of the Church for no reason whatsoever. Is it now, in post-modern times, impossible to avoid fleshmeat one day of the week (which many do for health reasons anyway!). The same argument could be made about the Lenten fast, which is also very ancient, in recognition of Our Lord's fast of forty days and forty nights in the desert before His public ministry.

This rejection of orthopraxis, that is, the correct practice of the Faith is just as dangerous as the attempted destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When Our Lord Himself sets us the example of fast and abstinence, and this practice is carried down to us by the Apostles and the Traditions of the Church, should we look for some excuse to weasel out of our serious obligation to our Creator in religion to offer some acts of penance here on earth?

We have seen the disaster to souls when the traditional practices of the Church, some going back 20 centuries, are made "optional" or "just a matter of change." Given our human frailty, we then use this as an excuse to do no penance at all. (Just ask a Novus Ordinarian what penance he has substituted for the Friday abstience, and he'll almost certainly look puzzled and say, "What are you talking about!") Yes, we do have a grave obligation to do penance here, as Our Lord required, and this is the way that the Church has traditionally asked us to do it.

Do you really trust the post-conciliar "New Order" to protect your spiritual life -- or do you trust 20 centuries of apostolic Church tradition? For my part, I hold with the latter; I don't trust the former at all!

Pope vs. Pope

From: Bill

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Is it true that one pope cannot bind future popes by obligation in such cases as that of Pope St. Pius V when he said that the Traditional Latin Mass was obligatory "in perpetuity"?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

This is a statement sometimes heard from Novus Ordinarians to undermine the traditional Catholic Faith. The idea seems to be that the Church is some kind of big power game, just like the Republicans and Democrats, vying with each other for control. It is a Modernistic concept, as if a "liberal" pope can undo what a "conservative" pope did or vice versa. In this scenario the conclave to elect a pope becomes just a political game.

One must step back to see the whole picture. In the case of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are not talking about some jot or tittle of minor legislation. We are talking about one of the greatest Sacraments, if not the greatest Sacrament, that Christ left His Church.

According to the definition of the papacy dogmatically defined at Vatican I, all popes are bound to "religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles." Pope St. Pius V simply canonized the Mass of the Roman See of Sts. Peter & Paul, purged of some minor regional accretions over the centuries, as the Mass of the Roman Church.

What Pope Paul VI did was to approve a man-concocted Mass, which defied the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, a Mass that was "composed" by an alleged Mason, who was later "exiled" to Iran by the same pope, with the assistance of six Protestant ministers.

What Pope St. Pius V did was within the office of the papacy as dogmatically defined and in accordance with the dogmatic Council of Trent and with Apostolic Tradition. What Paul VI did was in contravention of the same in the name of a merely "pastoral" council. There is no comparison whatsoever. It is not a question of one pope "overruling" another. It is a question of both being bound by the very nature of their office to transmit faithfully the same Apostolic Tradition.

A Question of Greek

From: Flo

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In the scriptural passage "love thy neighbor", do you know what tense of love is used in the earliest Greek manuscripts?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Looking at Matthew 19:19, I see that agapeseis is in the future indicative. The Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament that is quoted from in the New Testament) uses the future tense to denote commands. As we say in English: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

It is often overlooked that the word for "love" here denotes neither a sensual feeling nor even a friendship (there are other Greek words used in Scripture for these). Rather, it is the word used for a religious respect or desire for our fellow man's ultimate spiritual good, just as we would wish for ourselves.

"In the Spirit of Chartres" Fourth Annual Phoenix Pilgrimage

From: Fr. Moderator

We don't generally publicize individual organizations' events here, but the annual "In the Spirit of Chartres" Pilgrimage is one for which we make an exception, as the organizers have consistently made an effort to be inclusive of all traditional Catholics without discrimination. The priest-celebrants are selected from a variety of those not representing any particular organization, but traditional Catholicism as a whole.

For four years now I have known the organizers of this pilgrimage -- simple, devout, committed laypeople -- who have often had to suffer for their inclusive approach. Yes, we traditional Catholics can sometimes be black widows, turning on our own, to our detriment. The organizers of this pilgrimage wish to change that.

This year's pilgrimage -- for those who don't plan on making the expensive trek to Chartres, France! -- will be held on Saturday, February 24, the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. The pilgrimage begins at 9:00 a.m. and processes from downtown Phoenix, Arizona, arriving at Hance Park at approximately 11:00 a.m. for a Traditional Latin Mass. As the pilgrimage processes, traditional Catholic hymns are chanted and the Most Holy Rosary is recited. For further information, request information from the "In the Spirit of Chartres" Committee.

January 6, 2001: Epiphany

Moving toward Traditional Catholicism

From: Tim

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have grown up Catholic, and although I haven't always been an active member of a church during my teens, I came back to the Church some 20 years ago. I have been very satisfied with my experiences. However, over the past couple of years, I've been having problems adjusting to some of the changes I'm seeing in the Mass. I'm a traditionalist (although I don't feel we need to go back to Latin). The last couple of churches that I've been attending have become very touchy-feely. They have you greet everyone around you before Mass, and during the Lord's Prayer they want everyone to hold hands. It's now at the point where they want people to cross the aisles. I've also recently attended a couple of Masses where the homily for a Gospel reading is drastically different from the interpretations I've known for 40 years.

I am feeling very out of place in the Masses and dread attending. Can you offer any insight as to what is happening and possibly offer any suggestions for me? I realize that in many cases change is good. I see a lot more young people attending and that's great (even my teenage daughter is active). But I don't feel like I fit in anymore.

Fr. Moderator Replies. First of all, your own experience must lead you to question your statement that "change is good." Certainly, that is an unCatholic position when it relates to the doctrines of the Faith or to the Sacred Liturgy as handed down from the Apostles. Pope St. Pius X warned all Catholics about accepting such a principle, which he called it the heresy of Modernism, "the sum total of all heresies."

Moreover, one cannot be a traditional Catholic and contend that "there is no need to go back to Latin." The error was in ever departing from that Sacred Language of the Roman Rite, which takes us back to St. Peter and St. Paul. Pope Pius XII warned: "The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs." And just as he, and his predecessors, warned, when the New Order moved away from Latin after Vatican II, the Church sank into such an abyss that Pope Paul VI said that the altars of the Church (the "New Mass"?) were enveloped in "the smoke of Satan."

As to your daughter, is she being introduced to the elevated thought of the Church of 2000 years as expressed in the Traditional Latin Mass, or is she hearing the ever-changing babble of a vulgar tongue in the New Order Worship Service? Is she hearing the great sacred music of the Gregorian chant, Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn, or is she hearing profane popular music in church? Is she worshipping in a church built in the traditional cruciform style, representing Our Lord's cross, or is she worshipping in some modernistic "church in the round" with no kneelers even?

You are definitely on the right track, but you need to go even farther to maintain the Catholic faith and worship as they have existed for 2000 years. The TRADITIO Web Site will help you with that. There are many articles there on the New Order Worship Service, the necessity of Latin for the Roman Catholic Church, and other timely topics in the Library of Files.

"Bach Is Bach, Just as God Is God" (Berlioz)

From: Martyn

Dear Fr. Moderator:

We know that J.S. Bach was a stalwart of the Lutheran Church, i.e., a staunch Protestant, yet he produced the most sublime music ever written for the Christian Church. Should we have a problem with this or any other music that can uplift the hearts of its listeners spiritually?

I have always wondered where the B-Minor Mass came into the scheme of things. As an essentially Lutheran church composer, how did he come to compose a Mass setting? Perhaps it was in one of those short periods when he worked for aristocratic patrons? I would be interested to know your thoughts.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The Church has in the past been the world's greatest promotor of the best in culture. After all, the early Christian Church could have eschewed entirely the classical Greek and Roman cultures that preceeded it, but it did not. Instead, it welcomed the brilliance that those cultures contained, more than any others in civilization, and made them its own. It did not demolish the great classical temples like the Roman Pantheon, but converted them to Christian churches, in the same way that modern traditional Catholics have turned non-Catholic buildings into sites for the Traditional Latin Mass.

Just how "stalwart" a Lutheran Bach was is in some doubt. It is too bad that he happened to live in an area of Germany that was Protestant rather than Catholic. There are some who argue that he was a closet Catholic, or at least very sympathetic to the Catholic Faith, but because of his circumstances in having to support -- what was it? -- twenty children, he had to make his living teaching Latin and writing music for the Lutheran Church, albeit the High Lutheran Church of the 17th century, whose services were still partly in Latin and followed closely the structure of the Roman Mass.

Yet, I am not aware of anything that Bach wrote that is incompatible with the Catholic Faith. And his output was copious! One can see this in one of his most beautiful chorales, "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" [O Sacred Head Surrounded] from the second part of his St. Matthew Passion. One cannot listen to this chorale without being moved at the reality of the Passion of Our Lord, Who died on the cross to redeem mankind. It is not happenstance that this most beautiful of Bach's chorales was based on the hymn "Salve Caput Cruentatum" of none other than the Catholic Doctor of the Church and so-called Cytharista Mariae [Harpist of Mary] because of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin: St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The power of Bach's music is so great that the Church has taken it over and uses the organ chorale preludes based on Gregorian melodies as interludes at Holy Mass, so well do they match the Catholic melodies and spirit.

There might be some dispute about what the greatest piece of music ever written was. In the mind of many musicologists, as well as my own, that place is taken by Bach's B-Minor Mass. Not the Beethoven Ninth, not the Mozart Fortieth, not the Brahms First can begin to approach its sublimity. Interestingly, it was written on commission from Prince Augustus the Strong von Sachsen (Saxony), who had just converted to Catholicism to become eligible to be elected King of Poland. Therefore, it was Catholic in its origins and conception.

One could almost lay aside the catechism and listen and mediatate upon this Mass, and all the truths of the Catholic Faith would be presented to the mind in a more sublime way than even words could accomplish.

January 5, 2001: Vigil of the Epiphany

Who Is Really "Outside" the Church?

From: Nestor

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What would you say when Novus Ordinarians attack traditional Catholics, alleging that we are disobedient to the pope and that it is the right thing to stay inside the Church and fight any abuses we see rather than outside causing, or at least creating the impression of, disunity?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

First of all, the terms have to be defined. What is "inside" and what is "outside"? The Church is dogmatically defined primarily by doctrine, the Deposit of Faith, composed of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, to which all Catholics must adhere -- only secondarily by structure.

St. Basil the Great articulates this Catholic doctrine when he says (371):

Who has lost and who has won in the struggle -- the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith? The Faith obviously. That therefore the ordinances which have been preserved in the churches from old time until now may not be lost in our days,... rouse yourselves, brethren,... seeing them now seized upon by aliens.

Therefore, don't let these people define the terms of the argument for you contrary to Catholic teaching. Don't let them imply that you, as a traditional Catholic, are "outside." Rather, you are on the "inside," holding fast by St. Paul's dictate to the traditions that you have been taught. It is rather than Modernists and Innnovators and Novus Ordinarians who risk being on the "outside," no matter what property they might have.

As to the pope, he answers to the same Lord and Savior that we all answer to. He has been given specific authority, and if he operates contrary to that authority, the Fathers and Doctors teach that he must not be obeyed. For further information, see the Library of Files for The Limitations of Papal Authority, from the Writings of Roman Catholic Popes, Councils, Saints, and Theologians.

The dogmatic First Vatican Council made this point clear when it decreed about the infallible Magisterium (Constitutio Dogmatica Prima de Ecclesia Christi (Pastor Aeternus), chap. 4, De Romani Pontificis Infallibili Magisterio:

For the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles.

How to Convert

From: Ian

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I've been fortunate since my conversion from the Modernism and problems in the Novus Ordo to come across many people who have, for some reason or another, been at least interested in the true Faith and the traditional beliefs. Some are conservative Protestants who have begun to see the light, but I run into a wall of uncertainty about the traditional method for Protestants and other validly baptized Christians to enter the true Church. I know that it is not the liberal program now in use in the Novus Ordo, RCIA, but I am not familiar with what the traditional conversion would involve. If you would briefly explain, I would definitely appreciate it, and it would certainly help me to explain the process to those who I am trying to convert to the true Faith.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

For adult conversion, the individual would need to learn the basic doctrines and practices of the Catholic faith. This would typically be accomplished by a study of the Baltimore Catechism under the supervision of a traditional priest, which usually takes about six months. At that point, the individual would be received into the Church after an Abjuration/Profession of Faith (basically a more detailed statement of the Faith than the Apostles Creed). The convert is then absolved from excommunication in the external forum.

January 3, 2001: Octave Day of St. John Ap.

Brethren against Brothers

From: Robert

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I am trying to find out who the "brethren" were in the New Testament. A Protestant friend of mine is stuck in the belief Mary had multiple children because of that reading from Scripture.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

You are correct; "brethren" are not "brothers." If your friend checks St. Paul's Epistles, for example, he will find that St. Paul frequently addresses with that appellation his brethren, who are spiritual, not genetic, brothers. The word, based on the original and the common usage at the time, would more accurately be translated "relatives." We know some of the people who are called "brethren" of Christ (e.g., Mark 6:3), and they are cousins. In Biblical times, "extended families" were regarded as much closer, like brothers, than in our times.

The Origins of Canon Law

From: LeRoy

Dear Fr. Moderator:

It is my understanding that the Code of Canon Law of 1917 was never officially signed by Pope Benedict XV or any other Pope; is this true? Prior to the 1917 code how many codes did we have, and were there any significant changes in them? Also, does the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges of John Paul II meet the requirements for being an infallible document, binding the Code of Canon Law of 1983 on all Catholics?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Before 1917 Canon Law was much like Roman law, being based on decretals (of which there were several compilations and commentaries), custom, and curial procedure. In 1917 a Codex Iuris Canonici was compiled, being mostly the work of Peter Cardinal Gasparri, one of the most eminent Roman canonists, and was promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in the Apostolic Constitution Providentissima Mater Ecclesia on Pentecost 1917.

Typically, canon law, except to the extent that it happens to repeat Divine Positive Law, falls far short of any criteria for doctrinal infallability. Moreover, anything in a "New Order" that by its nature contradicts the Tradition of the Church and is redolent of the heresies and schisms so ably defined by Pope Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X must be regarded as highly suspect.

Vatican Silent on Catholic-Killing From: Reuters

It seems that the Vatican can find time to apologize (for what, God knows) to Martin Luther, to Galileo Galilei, for the Holy Crusades, for the Holy Inquisition, and a number of other "politically correct" causes, but when its own priests and nuns are butchered, there are no fiery words of condemnation, as Pope Pius XII enunciated against Hitler. It seems that in the eyes of the modern Vatican, only historic Catholics committed sin.

Monday January 1, 15:49 UTC. CASTRIES, St. Lucia (Reuters) - Suspected members of an anti-Roman Catholic cult hacked at worshipers with swords and set them on fire in an attack at a cathedral in St. Lucia that killed two people and injured dozens more, the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) said on Monday. In a New Year's Eve assault that one witness described as a "scene from hell," the four or five attackers walked calmly into the Catholic cathedral before dousing churchgoers with gasoline, setting them alight and slashing at them, CANA said.
Calling the attackers "sick and demonic," St. Lucia's Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, said in a statement: "The evidence of the monstrosity of the act was spread out inside the church. There was blood in the spots where persons were hacked, burnt Bibles, a desecrated altar and other church furniture either burnt or upended in the melee." A church spokesman, the Rev. Theo Joseph, said a male worshiper and a nun, Sister Theresa Elgin, died from injuries suffered in the morning attack at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in the capital, Castries, of the tiny Caribbean island.
The main celebrant of the service, the Rev. Charles Gaillard, was doused with gasoline and set ablaze at the main altar. Gaillard remained at a hospital in critical condition on Monday. In total, about 12 people were taken to a hospital for treatment for cutlass wounds and burns, a hospital spokesman said. Others were injured in a stampede when hundreds of worshipers fled the flames and the attackers.... While the motives for the attack were unclear, Joseph said an anti-Christ symbol embracing the crucifix had been posted on Catholic churches ahead of the attack.

What Is Incense?

From: Randy

Dear Fr. Moderator:

My wife and I went to Mass Christmas morning, and the celebrant blessed the altar with incense before the Introit and at the Offertory. My question is what plant does incense come from?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Incense comes from the resin (pitch) of trees native to the Holy Land. Its wondrous fragrance represents the ascent of prayers to God and is frequently referred to in the Psalms: Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo [May my prayer be directed to Thee, O Lord, like incense in Thy sight]. You and your wife are indeed blessed to have the privilege of assisting at a Traditional Latin High Mass for Christmas and to partake of wondrous fragrance of the ancient incense.

Frankincense is also one of the three gifts of the Magi to the Christ child, as reported by St. Matthew in his Gospel, in which case it represents the adoration of Christ as High Priest, as is emphasized in the Propers for the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.

January 1, 2001: Feast of the Circumcision

The Third Christian Millennium Begins

From: Fr. Moderator

Today is the first day of a new year, a new century, and a new Christian millennium. And it is due to the Catholic Church that the world reckons time in this way.

The original Roman calendar was a lunar calendar until Julius Caesar, as Supreme Pontiff in pre-Christian Rome, instituted a solar calendar in 45 B.C. to correct a two-month error. However, because of errors in the Julian calendar, by the sixteenth century the calendar was already off ten days, and Easter was coming too early in the year.

Finally, the dilemma was presented to the Council of Trent. After the council Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) consulted the most brilliant minds of the time for implementing a new calendar, which is called "Gregorian" after him. The ten extra days were eliminated, and three leap years were to be eliminated from every four centuries. The year is now still 26 seconds over the actual astronomical calculation, but with the present system it will be about 34 more centuries before the calendar will be off by a day, which will not occur until about the year 5300. Thus, the world owes a great deal to the Catholic Church for the now nearly universal implementation of an accurate calendar.

In about the 6th century, because of the historical work of a Catholic monk, it became common to number years not from the foundation of the city of Rome in 753 B.C., as before, but rather from the year of the birth of Christ, or Anno Domini, or A.D., 1. Thus, today is the first day of the year of Our Lord 2001, the first day of the 21st century, and the first day of the third Christian millennium.

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