April 2001

April 28, 2001 -- St. Paul of the Cross, Confessor

We Must Be Like Gideons

From: Chip

Dear Fr. Moderator:

To be perfectly honest with you, the Catholic Church will never be what it used to be before the Vatican II changes. The institutional Church is as far away from Tradition, and is as committed to staying away from Tradition as they can possibly get. I do not see this trend reversing itself. What do you think of this statement I made?

Fr. Moderator Replies

St. Basil said the same thing about the Church of his time, the fourth century. He was almost certain that it would be lost to the Arian heretics. You can read his words, which could have been written about the Church of today in the TRADITIO Library of Files article ARIANS: The Orthodox Saints against the Arian Heresy of the Fourth Century.

Yet that did not dissuade St. Basil, and many other Catholics of the time, from standing against the heresy, which was eventually overcome, and the Church flourished as never before. After the Protestant revolution, no one predicted that the Church would see the first pope-saint in four hundred years, but that is exactly what happened in Pope St. Pius V. After him, the Church was stronger and more numerous than ever before.

But we were not promised a flourishing Church, only a true Church. If the faithful are stripped down to a remnant, so be it. In Gideon's time, God stripped the Hebrew army back to 1% of its number. That's about the percentage of traditional Catholics now vs. Novus Ordinarians.

We have to stop looking for "success" in numbers and recognition. That is not Christianity. We are taught that the Faith flourishes more in times of trial than in times of prosperity. Every page of Scripture proves it. That has certainly been true in many periods of history. We are simply going through a very bad period again. But your test is to practice the virtue of Hope with godly eyes in spite of what the secular world would indicate.

New York Times Recognizes Abp. Lefebvre

From: David

Dear Fr. Moderator:

A beautiful ad of tribute appeared in the New York Times of April 8, 2001. The text, which appears with the Archbishop's photograph and coat of arms, reads:

We Commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of the 20th century's greatest Catholic Prelate.
We Admire his unshakable, heroic Faith.
We Applaud his defense of Catholicism against the errors of Vatican II and the New Mass.
All Catholics are indebted to him for founding and sustaining the Society of St. Pius X.

April 26, 2001 -- Sts. Cletus & Marcellinus, Popes & Martyrs

No Better than the Nazis

From: Jeff

Dear Fr. Moderator:

According to a recent news article,

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, present Prefect of the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei, admitted reluctantly that the Tridentine [Traditional Latin] Mass has never been abrogated. The Cardinal said, "Okay, we recognize that the old Mass is not abrogated and is legitimate, but we cannot say it publicly because there will be too much of a rebellion, and difficulties with the bishops. We cannot say it publicly."

A startling admission! If the Traditional Latin Mass has not been abrogated, it follows that all priests of the Roman Rite have a right to celebrate that Mass without asking "special permission" from their bishops.

This article sparked interest within a young priest in our parish, who has never celebrated, attended, or even seen a Traditional Latin Mass (no surprise there, eh?). I think that he would like to learn to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, but he is basically afraid of reprisals from his superiors. Why are so many seemingly good priests unwilling to take a stand against the bishops and pastors who subject faithful Catholics to the heresies of the Novus Ordo Worship Service?

Fr. Moderator Replies

For all intents and purposes, the Novus Ordo apparatus is being run as a dictatorship by the local bishops. There is little if any recourse to the justice and equity that the Roman Catholic Church has richly developed in its canon law over the millennia, derived from the highly civilized Roman law that preceded it. Galileo got far more legal protection in the 17th century than traditional Catholics get today!

To see just how fair Roman law was recall that Christ, though found guilty by the Jewish leaders, was found innocent on several occasions by the Roman governor, even though Christ was not a Roman citizen and had limited legal rights. The fact that the governor, in the end, capitulated to a political decision does not counteract the fact that the governor's legal decision was just.

The Novus Ordo apparatus exists only on raw power, not justice, and just like the Nazi regime, which likewise existed on raw power rather than justice, will die a horrible death eventually. Remember that after the 1930's, there was 1945. And just as in Nazi Germany, good people capitulated to the regime. So why should we be surprised at the current weakness of those co-opted inside the Novus Ordo?

Your priest's practical option is to get out of the regime, to emigrate, as it were. Thank God, in the United States we do have the religious freedom to practice the true Faith outside the Novus Ordo blitzkrieg.

To Drink or not to Drink

From: Stephen

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Our Novus Ordo priest recently attacked Catholics who refuse to drink from the chalice at communion time. I grew up in a time when we received only the Host, and only on the tongue. What response can I give for not wishing to drink from the chalice? What is the opinion of the Church on this issue?

Fr. Moderator Replies

Your parish, like all arms of the New Order, has been playing fast and loose with the Sacred Liturgy. More than a millennium ago, the Precious Blood was withdrawn from congregational use for very practical reasons, the wisdom of which numerous post-Vatican II cases of sacrilege throughout this country and the world are proving.

You should certainly not participate in this aberrancy and should try to locate a Traditional Latin Mass in your area where the true Sacred Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is adhered to. As to communion in the hand, this practice has been condemned from the beginning of the Church to the present day, as numerous decrees from the popes, councils, and Fathers prove. For further information, see the Library of Files for FAQ10: How Do You Explain These Traditional Catholic Believes in the section "Communion in the Hand."

April 24, 2001 -- St. Fidelis of Smigaringen, Martyr

From the News...

From: Fr. Moderator

Do the Eastern Orthodox Know Something We Don't?

Athens, Greece (AP)

The monastic community of Mount Athos issued a Holy Week appeal for Greece's Orthodox Christian faithful to pray for the cancellation of a planned visit next month by Pope John Paul II, ... describing the pope as a "heretic."

Novus Ordo Excommunications

Madrid, Spain (AP)

The Spanish Bishops Conference will discuss on April 24 a decree to exclude formally from the Catholic Church and its sacraments those who have helped the Basque separatists.... If the 85 bishops approve the order, funeral ceremonies for ETA members will no longer be allowed.

It seems that Novus Ordo "excommunications" are only reserved to (1) traditional Catholic bishops who stand by their consecration oaths to God and (2) "political sinners." Apparently, in the Novus Ordo apparatus it is perfectly acceptable to have funerals for Catholic congressmen who have been married four times and international fashion designers who advocate condemned and unnatural sexual practices. --Fr. M.

Protestants End "Ecumenism"

Lexington, KY (RNS)

Southern Baptist officials have decided that their latest round of official talks with Catholics, which have existed for about 30 years, will end next year.

Where Is the Pope on China?

Beijing (AP)

Authorities have detained a 79-year-old bishop, seven priests and 13 followers of China's underground Catholic church, a U.S.-based lobbying group said Monday.

Does no one else see the inconsistency in the advocates of Political Correctness chiding Pope Pius XII for his alleged failure to speak out against the Nazis, whereas not a word is said against the current pope for allowing the Red Chinese to imprison, torture, and even murder bishops, priests, and nuns with nary a syllable from the "enlightened," post-Vatican II papacy? --Fr. M

An Office Mistake

From: Frederich

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What do you do when you make a mistake in the Divine Office? I woke up today and thought it was 4/24 the feast of St. Fidelis, when, lo, it was 4/23, the feast of St. George. And I said Matins and Lauds for St. Fidelis. At Prime, when I opened the Martryology, I discovered my error (since the ribbon was set to the 23rd). Since they are both St. George and St. Fidelis are martyrs, the mistake was not as grave as it could have been (although I missed the Commemoration of the cross at Lauds since St. George is of semidouble rank). I guess to carry on, all I need to do is so switch the Collect for the day, but tomorrow, should I say the Office of St. Fidelis again at Matins? I am sure this rarely comes up, but what would one do?

Fr. Moderator Replies

Not so rarely at all; I would say not infrequently, because of the complexities involved, we have all many times made such mistakes, particularly with the older traditional Office that you are saying rather than the simplified 1962 Office. That is why the prayer Sacrosanctae is said at the end of Office, to redeem just such mistakes.

The principle is erroror corrigitur, ubi deprehenditur [an error is corrected when it is discovered, not before]. Since valet Officium pro Officio [one office is valid for another, of about equal length, that is], you have satisfied your obligation. For the feastday of St. Fidelis, you would say the proper Office, even if it repeats what you already said by mistake.

April 23, 2001 -- St. George, Martyr

Letter from London

From: Russell

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Passing the local Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, the other day, I saw a notice prominently displayed in the front windows advertising a 'Solemn High Mass' for the 'Patronal Feast' of the local church of Saint George, a Church of England establishment. Seeing one of the Sisters later in the day, I expressed my surprise at the notice which was, after all, encouraging all and sundry -- Catholics included -- to commit communicatio in sacris by attending an heretical 'church' to assist at what the Roman catholic Church insists is no 'mass' at all, celebrated by someone who is no priest and no bishop at all.

The reply I received was that my attitude was "old-fashioned" and "uncharitable", my theology "outmoded, misunderstood and superceded" and that any residual concerns I might have as to the validity of the 'mass' could safely be set aside because "they [the Anglican Protestants] use our rite of Mass, now" and "anyway, some of our [Novus Ordo] priests will be concelebrating, so you can be assured of a valid sacrament." She then lectured me on the "narrowness" of my sacramental theology -- "it's not magic, you know. It's Christ in the assembly Who comes to us in the Host of His own free will, not because of what some priest says or doesn't say or because of what some bishop said or did not say at some ceremony called an ordination years before."

I thought you and the rest of the world would like to know what the state of affairs is in 'catholic' metropolitan London in the year of Our Lord, 2001.

Fr. Moderator Replies

When people debate about the validity of the New Order Worship Service, let them account for this common Novus Ordo theology of the Mass. What the Novus Ordo nun is quoted above as saying is multiple heresy: in one breath she has denied the doctrinal teachings on both the Holy Mass and on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, affirming the heretical Protestant teaching on both.

There is no question: the Novus Ordo is not Catholic, no matter how much some people may want to be "one of the boys," "obedient to the pope," "in the swing," and all the other excuses that one hears to accept a Protestantized New Order instead of the immemorial Catholic Faith.

Where Is the Church?

From: Mario

Dear Fr. Moderator:

The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium stated: "Ecclesia Dei subsistit in Ecclesia Catholica." How does this statement fit in with traditional Catholic teaching prior to Vatican II? Surely should not the statement have read "Ecclesia Dei est Ecclesia Catholica."

Fr. Moderator Replies

The final phraseology of the pastoral council Vatican II is: "Unica Christi Ecclesia ... subsistit in Ecclesia catholica" [the sole Church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church] (Lumen Gentium, November 21, 1964, para. 8). This appears to be an ambiguous statement of the constant teaching of the Church and most recently the expression of Pope Pius XII, according to which "The Roman Catholic Church is the only Church of Jesus Christ," the unambigous dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church up until Vatican II.

In the first draft of the constitution Lumen Gentium, it was still put: "the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church." A German Protestant, Pastor Schmidt, an observer invited by Cardinal Bea to take part in the Council, made the written proposal that the word est be replaced by substitit in. He gave the proposal to Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, who was at the time the peritus of Cardinal Frings of Cologne. Fr. Ratzinger in turn gave the proposal to Cardinal Frings, who presented it before the Council, and the words subsistit in were incorporated into Lumen Gentium.

So much for the "traditional" Card. Ratzinger!

April 21, 2001 -- Saturday in White

Bishop Sheen Was Right!

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

After 5 years of home schooling my daughter, we were at an impasse. Where should we send her to High School? The studies were getting a little beyond my expertise and my daughter wanted to attend a regular school. We had two choices. The first was a smug little Novus Ordo Academy that was very good academically, but very cliquish and welded to the preaching of Vatican II. The second choice was our local public school, also very good academically, but with no religious training. We decided on the latter.

Much to our surprise, my daughter's sophomore history teacher was teaching things very complimentary to the traditional Catholic Church. She would often state: "the Church is right and your book is wrong," and then she would prove it. After she refuted the Second Vatican Counsel one day, I just had to meet this teacher. As it turned out she was a traditional Catholic girl who attends the same church we do! The reason we never met is that she attends the "early" Mass.

Father, you could search the entire diocese and never find a teacher like this. We had to go to the public school to find her. Fulton Sheen was correct. Find a decent secular school for basic education, and make it your own job to teach and preserve the Catholic Faith in your children. Stay away from anything Novus Ordo, and you will be ahead of the curve.

Whence Liberalism?

From: Zing

Dear Fr. Moderator:

There was a time in history when the Catholic church was at a time of conflict between its traditional doctrine and a more liberal one. Please elaborate, and what role does the church play in the modern world?

Fr. Moderator Replies

The fight against the error of Liberalism, so strongly condemned by the Church and the popes, started perhaps as early as the 12th century with the philosophy of Peter Abelard, condemned in 1121. This had in it the seeds of philosophical Subjectivism, which was four centuries later, almost to the year, to grow into the much more flagrant error of the Protestantism. In three more centuries, it produced the error of Modernism, so eloquently condemned by Pope Pius IX and most vigorously by Pope St. Pius X at the turn of the 19th/20th century as "the synthesis of all heresies."

Unfortunately, this Liberalist/Subjectivist/Modernist error is all around us more than ever. It is really nothing new, but a modern knock-off of the classical Greek Sophists who proclaimed "man is the measure of all things." It is a man-centered, egotistical, "feel-good" philosophy, as opposed to a God-centered, objective reality.

Christ's mission, as He Himself said, was a spiritual one. "My kingdom is not of this world." The Christian should primarily be focused not on his brief lifetime in this world, but his eternity. Basically, if the Church, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments, and the doctrine of the Faith, can raise man's mind to Christian goodness, beauty, and truth, man will act according to God's law rather than his own.

What to Do for the Dying

From: Perry

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I am a Registered Nurse in a large Catholic hospital; my specialty is Emergency Medicine. Very often I have patients come in that die very shortly after they get here, long before we can get a priest. At times these people can barely respond to me. I know that they are Catholic, but I have no priest present for Holy Viaticum, to hear their Confession, or grant absolution. I have the medical part down pat; what can I do for them spiritually in their final moments of life? Is there any thing I can do or offer to them? Please guide me.

Fr. Moderator Replies

You can't find a priest in a Catholic hospital! What's the Church coming to?

The most important thing, of course, is to summon a priest to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and, if the person is conscious, Penance and Holy Viaticum as well. If that is not possible, there is not much one can do for an unconscious patient than pray for his final perseverence and penitence.

If the patient is barely conscious, see whether you can get him a crucifix to contemplate and help him utter at least the Holy Name. Or, you could say prayers, like the Commendation of the Soul, to be found in the more complete traditional missals like the St. Andrew, to which the patient could at least partially advert, even if he can't say the prayers himself.

God bless you for taking such care with these patients. The body lasts only a few years in the best of circumstances, but what you are doing is for eternity.

A Holy Thursday Fit for the Unholy

From: Robert

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What of the "liturgy" our local parish held on Holy Thursday, in which the pastor said (when we were expecting him to call the men (and women!) up to have the Mandatum: "This year I have decided to change it. Instead of washing feet, I want to wash hands. All of you who feel comfortable with this, please come up and I will wash your hands." And so he did. Then instead of our kissing the crucifix during the Veneration of the Cross, we were asked to walk up and simply bow to the crucifix on the wall. On Easter Saturday night, all the lilies surrounded the lectern and the "table." There was not one flower beside the tabernacle.

When I wrote to our bishop a few years ago about such modernistic practices, his response was: "Change is difficult."

Fr. Moderator Replies

We traditional Catholics are not going anywhere. We're staying with the same Faith taught by Christ, handed down by His Apostles, handed down by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the popes and councils. What you are describing is a sacrilege, as is the whole concept of a "New Order." The real question is what justification would there be for being present at such a scandalous travesty? What justification would there be for subjecting oneself to such a bishop who has lost his Catholic Faith and permits sacrilege to go on in his diocese?

April 19, 2001 -- Of the Octave

A Young Man Gets It Right

From: Jonathan

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I love your commentaries regarding the liturgical changes that took place after Vatican II. You have provided me with many insights into the errors of the Conciliar Church. Just to let you know that I am 20 years of age. I wonder how many young people like me have realised that we have not been brought up in true Catholic Faith.

I am currently persuading a seminarian in Toronto that after Vatican II the Catholic Faith has been changed. When I told him that I follow the 1962 calendar, he says the following:

I see that you are a great fan of the Tridentine Mass. I hope there are some churches in V. where you can attend the Latin Mass. However, you must also understand the shortcomings of the Tridentine Mass and the pre-Vatican II liturgy, which have become very much deviated from the central principles of liturgy in the first 1000 years of the Church. I regard the liturgical movement and reform in the 20th century as a very good thing, but the reform should continue in order to lead Catholic liturgy to a better balance among all issues.

I also talked to a Sister in my university's Catholic college and she asks me not to restrict myself only to the 500 years after the Council of Trent and before Vatican II. She claims that Council of Trent changes the "principle of liturgy" and locked itself in the concept of "sacrifice". She also claims that a "memorial" is a much stronger concept than the unbloodly sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. She said that Vatican II is supposedly reclaimed all of the early Catholic Church's values that was changed in the Trent. Also, she told me that there are only two infalliable dogmas and both are about the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all other dogmas are revokable, so to speak.

Fr. Moderator Replies

For the Novus Ordo seminarian, he obviously hasn't studied to the point where he would learn that Pope St. Pius V and the Council of Trent simply canonized the Traditional Latin Mass that had existed substantially from the beginning of the Church. There is really no really a "Tridentine" Mass; that is a misnomer. It is the Traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite from Apostolic times. It is, rather, Vatican II that fabricated a Novus Ordo Worship Service, with the assistance of six Protestant ministers, so that it wouldn't be "too Catholic" for the Protestants to use. In fact, some Protestants do use it now.

For the Novus Ordo nun in the "Catholic" college, Catholic colleges just don't teach real Catholicism any longer. Even Archbishop Fulton Sheen admitted that in 1967. He said that it was better to go to a good secular college, which at least didn't pretend to be Catholic.

What the nun said about the Roman Catholic Mass is tantamount to heresy. The Mass is a Sacrifice. That was what was taught from the earliest days of the Church, from the Apostolic Fathers and the Fathers of the Church. Trent changed nothing, but simply expressed the doctrine that had already been expressed from the beginning. Vatican II was not a dogmatic council, so it could teach no doctrine other than what went before it. That was confirmed by both Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.

Her statement about dogma shows an abysmal ignorance of the Roman Catholic Faith. By her definition, the existence of the Holy Trinity, the human and divine natures of Christ, the existence of Heaven and Hell, and numerous other de-fide dogmata of the Church would would be "revocable." Now that is truly heretical!

From the Novus Ordo to the Truth

From: Brianna

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I was bapized at a Novus Ordo church five years ago as an adult. I had no religious upbringing. None. I felt called to the Catholic Church as the one true faith. The RCIA program felt more like psychology and a feel-good chat group. I came out not having memorized prayers or the Rosary, only receiving communion in the hand. Gay and lesbian altar servers and eucharistic ministers had taken over. I went to make confession, which they described as talking with a friend over coffee. I participated all through Holy Week very concerned and confused. I could go on and on.

I have been reading up on my own, which has lead me to this site. I am finding myself in agreement with traditional Catholics.

Fr. Moderator Replies

You are another example of one of many Novus Ordinarians, not knowing the traditional Catholic Faith, but rejecting the Novus Ordo in favor of traditional Catholicism. There is much hope for the traditional faith, as your experience is shared by more and more Novus Ordinarians. Through no fault of you own, you fell in with the "New Order," whereas what you wanted was the bona fide, traditional Catholic Faith of two millennia. Your first step is to check the listings in the Traditional Directory for your area. Shake off the Novus Ordo dust from your feet and start attending the Traditional Latin Mass in your area.

The New Fire

From: Ivan

Dear Fr. Moderator:

A Protestant friend asked about the origins of the "new fire." Would you give me some information on this?

Fr. Moderator Replies

The blessing of the new fire arose from the Lucernarium, the blessing of light before Vespers. Those who were present for the sacred rites of Holy Saturday heard the beautiful prayers of blessing the new fire. In the first prayer, Our Lord is referred to as the "fire of enlightenment, produced from flint" (claritatis ignem, productum e silice). In the second prayer, the pillar of light that guided Moses leaving Egypt is recalled. In the third prayer, this fire is contrasted to the "ignited weapons of the enemy" (ignita tela inimici). (Those who attended the rites as they were abridged and adapted after 1955 heard only the first of these prayers.)

April 16, 2001 -- Of the Octave

Novus Ordo Gives up On Conversions

From: Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

"The decision of Vatican II, to which the Pope adheres and spreads, is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of the ecumenism of a return, by which the others whould 'be converted' and return to being 'Catholics.' This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II. Today ecumenism is considered as the common road: all should be converted to the following of Christ, and it is in Christ that we will find ourselves in the end.... Even the Pope, among other things, describes ecumenism in Ut unum sint as an exchange of gifts. I think this is very well said: each Church has its own riches and gifts of the Spirit, and it is this exchange that unity is trying to be achieved and not the fact that we should become 'Protestants' or that the others should become 'Catholics' in the sense of accepting the confessional form of Catholicism." (Adista, Rome, February 26, 2001, p. 9)

A Prophecy for Our Times

From: Larry

Dear Fr. Moderator

Our Lady of La Salette prophesied that Rome would lose the faith, that the shepherd would be cut down, and that the sheep would be scattered. How could they be more scattered than they are at present, and are becoming more so with each passing day? It certainly appears that this prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. Where is the living magisterium? Where is the standard-bearer of authority to uphold the Catholic truth? One must sneak out Catholic truth from a web site.

Fr. Moderator Replies

Yes, isn't it wonderful that Our Lord confounds error by always providing an alternative for those who truly seek Him? After all, our personal faith is not proven by ease, but by how much we struggle for it. Consider Joseph the Patriarch, consider Job, consider the Maccabees, consider St. Paul and thank the Lord that we too have these difficult times to show our personal faith to Our Lord not in ease, but in adversity. "For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6/DR).

Did you notice the verse in Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday, in Psalm 68 (v. 26): "Let their habitation be made desolate: and let there be none to dwell in their tabernacles." Now there is a prophecy, right in Scripture, that has come true again on our time, just as it did among the pre-Christian Jews. After all, isn't that the important thing: to find God, wherever He is. If that be in certain web sites or CDs or books or videotapes in a time of inconvenience, or even persecution, so be it.

Irishman Laments Loss of Traditional Catholic Heritage

From: Dr. Cyril Daly (Ireland)

Irish Medical News
February 17, 2001

Give your consideration to the shattered sanctuaries of our Irish Catholic churches.... Where then was a voice of civilised Dublin while our altars were being vandalised?

Where, in particular, was the voice of Catholic Ireland when our altars were being levelled to the ground so as to accommodate a new table with a new liturgy? The violation of our sanctuaries was massive. It was immensely expensive. It was bucolically ignorant. It was ruthlessly executed. This coast-to-coast, parish-to-parish violation was achieved by our Irish Catholic Bishops. The past is a foreign country and, most assuredly, the Bishops do not want to live there.

Altar. Pulpit. Communion-rails. To the Irish Catholic mind they had become as familiar as a shower of rain or a shaft of summer sunlight. They were smashed. Physical features in our churches that had themselves helped to sculpt and to inform our understanding of the faith were hammered. With scarcely a sibilant whisper of discontent.

What ultimately hammered those altars? What brought them to the ground? ...Not the sledgehammers. What smashed our Catholic altars was the force of particular ideas. Ideas that waited five centuries for their triumph.

Irish Catholics watched the altars come down and they soaked in the new ideas. They changed their Catholic ways. They stopped genuflecting before the Divine Presence. Instead they learned to bow as though to a district judge. And they learned to talk loudly in the aisles and to laugh, as though persuaded of the Divine absence.

These acts of vandalism speak to us. They are a language, a coarse language. They are a mode of expression. A way of saying things so that they need not be put into words that might startle. An altar is for sacrifice. A table is for a meal. Draw your own inference. A communion rail separates the priest in the sanctuary from the people. Avulse those rails and draw your own conclusions.

With dispiriting zeal our Irish bishops re-arranged the shrines in our churches. They took the kneelers away. It was a small phrase in the new brutal language. It succeeded in preventing Catholics from kneeling before the statues of Our Blessed Lady to ask her intercession. Intercession to other saints was also muted by the new geography of the shrines.

The great majority of Irish Catholics had, at first, no idea that their faith was being changed by the changes in our parish churches. But those who made the changes knew exactly what they were about. They were shaping the Catholic mind so that it would be receptive to the new ideas which were, in truth, quite old and frigid. That warm and easy intimacy with the Divine, which was once such a strong and sometimes even humourous feature of Irish Catholicism, shrank before the new self-regarding devotion to the community of the people rather than to the Communion of Saints.

The most striking changes have, of course, taken place in the rite of Mass. The old Mass, the Tridentine rite, the Mass of all time, was abandoned. Generations who had once been taught to love the old rite of Mass were now taught, with obdurate zeal, to abandon it. And they did abandon it. The altars were smashed and the tables were moved.

There is now only one Catholic Church in the length and breadth of Ireland where the old Mass is celebrated every day of the year - St John's Church, Mounttown Road, Dun Laoghaire. Our Irish Catholic bishops, who jostle with one another to attend non-Catholic services, draw the line at St John's. Not once in ten years has an Irish bishop put a foot inside this church where the incontrovertible Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated. Dangerous territory.

The old Mass, grave with liturgical dignity, lucidly eloquent of Catholic doctrine, speaking of sin, of grace, of atonement, the cradle of centuries of saintliness, universal in its language, defended with heroism, and even with life's blood, is now almost a suspect ceremony.

That shining and graceful act is treated as though it were something dark, something dangerous, something potentially toxic to the Catholic soul. The very concessions to its celebration are themselves warranty that it is, at best, to be kept at arm's length, implicit of a potential to contaminate.

The profundity of this universal insult to the old Mass is illustrated by an arrangement made for elderly priests. They were given special permission to continue saying the old Mass - provided it is in the privacy of their room.

The old Mass speaks in a sacred language. The new Mass speaks the language of the evening papers. In the old Mass the priest, together with the congregation, faces the altar to approach the mystery. In the new Mass, the priest is trained to engage directly with the people. Sometimes he expresses the banalities of television performers from whom, indeed, he may be receiving a certain quality of education. The old Mass is uncompromisingly the Sacrifice of Christ's blood as a propitiation for sin. The new Mass wears the dubious habiliments of a meal.

What I find striking is the absolute ease, not to say headlong enthusiasm, with which the Irish people, together with the priests and the bishops, turned their back on the old rite of Mass as though it were simply a casual change of wallpaper. They will cite obedience, as though the virtue of obedience did not carry with it, clear and implicit, the necessary option of dissent, loyal and ultimately obedient, when great issues are at stake.

Where Was Good Friday?

From: Jim

Dear Fr. Moderator

I noticed that driving back from Good Friday services, it was like any other day: people shopping, working, talking, and enjoying the beautiful weather. As I walked into the house, one neighbor commented that it was a beautiful day to have off!

Fr. Moderator Replies

Sad, isn't it? The Pope & Co. could have resisted the secularization of human society. All they do is talk about the "culture of death," but do nothing about it. They only enhance it by supporting the Novus Ordo, rock music, and all the other deadly spiritual and intellectual garbage that they pander as "the Church of Vatican II." But take heart: the Novus Ordo too shall pass.

A Bimillennial Perspective

From: Larry

Dear Fr. Moderator

We are what you once were.
We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped.
If you were right then, we are right now.
If we are wrong now, you were wrong then.

The quotation above, when I first saw it a few years ago, seemed poignant enough as an expression of the traditional Catholic's basic position. However, I don't think that it is a very effective reply to Novus Ordinarians today, for the following reasons.

Extremely few folks today who attend the Novus Ordo have any memory of what the Catholic Church was like prior to 1958, or even 1962-1965 when Vatican II was going on. Those who do have any memory at all are at least in their 50s now. If they still attend the N.O., they've bought into this Modernist mentality lock, stock, and barrel, and have no intention of turning back to Catholic Tradition. And they most certainly are not in the mood to discuss the matter with any kind of open mind. I know folks in their 70s and 80s who love the N.O. regime, and become quite annoyed by any suggestion that they might not be Catholic in their beliefs and practice.

It has been 43 years since a Pope reigned who kept the Modernists in check. Most of those who might be truly approachable in terms of discussing the issue -- a younger generation below 40 years of age -- have no clue that what they've been taught (or not taught) is not Catholic. So, the quote above doesn't relate to them at all as individuals because they have never believed or worshipped with the traditional and divine Catholic Faith.

In addition, the notion of right and wrong is a relative term to those in this age group. As a practical matter, that's all it is to them -- a notion. Absolute and unchanging right, absolute and unchanging truth -- these words are very strange and foreign to their ears. I know, because I have close relations with some of them. Talking in terms of immutable truth is liking talking Greek to a Chinese.

Fr. Moderator Replies

That description is far more pessimistic than I hold. The fact that these people who "love the Novus Ordo" become annoyed when traditional Catholics force them to confront the issue indicates that some interior spiritual guilt. Otherwise, they would ignore you or treat you with charity as they do the Protestants.

First of all, traditional Catholics have got to get out of this perspective of "nostalgia" for the 1940s or 1950s. That was a blip in the Church, a unique and transient blip, that resulted from the unusual situation of the Second World War. The Church has much more often been under persecution, whether it was by the Roman emperors, by the English Protestants, by the French Liberalists, or by the U.S. Ku Klux Klan, or the anti-Christian activists of our own day.

Traditional Catholics must have not the narrow perspective of a few decades of a single human lifetime, but of two millennia. We are not talking about the 1950s as opposed to the 1960s. We are talking about the 60s as opposed to the 1960s.

Ignorance does not change objective truth. I see more and more Novus Ordinarians, and even Protestants, trying to find the true Church and realizing, in greater and greater numbers, that the Novus Ordo or Protestantism is out of step with the Church of two millennia. They read the Church Fathers and even the Scripture and find the truth.

April 8, 2001 -- Palm Sunday
through April 15, 2001 -- Easter Sunday

On Retreat for Holy Week

From: Fr. Moderator

TRADITIO will be on retreat this week. We encourage our readers to withdraw as much as possible from their usual pursuits and concentrate on the spiritual message of each day of this most Holy Week. Meditate upon the four Passions. Follow each day in your missal if you don't have a Traditional Latin Mass available to assist at each day. If you do, don't fail in the special opportunity given you to assist at the holiest Masses of the year.

"Today we enter Holy Week, the great week of the Christian year, a week so rich in associations for all Christians who take the Church's year seriously. It is nothing less than the celebration of Easter, the remembrance of Christ's death and resurrection. At this point, perhaps we shall need to revise some of our ideas. The celebration of Easter does not begin with Easter Sunday and does not consist merely of Christ's resurrection. It begins on Palm Sunday -- or rather on Passion Sunday -- and consists of the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection. We cannot separate the cross from the resurrection; they belong together. They belong together, too, in the life of the Christian, a life of grace which consists in conforming to the likeness of Christ's death and resurrection." -- Pius Parsch, Seasons of Grace, 1963

April 7, 2001 -- Ferial Day

Which Mass?

From: Roman

Dear Fr. Moderator:

On April 6 I attended Mass and was somewhat surprised that the priest offered the votive Mass to the Sacred Heart (with a commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary). I did not realize that a votive Mass could be substituted for a feast of this stature, or for any other week days in Lent for that matter. Can you please clarify this?

Fr. Moderator Replies


April 6 was a First Friday. In 1889 Pope Leo XIII allowed one votive Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart to be said on the First Friday of the month, which has the privilege of a solemn votive Mass properly so called. If the First Friday falls on the day of a Double of the First Class, the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart is prohibited, but the Feast of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary holds only the rank of a Major Double, which is below that of a First-Class Double. Thus, it was proper to say the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on that day.

Attack rather than Defend!

From: Albert

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Don't ask me why, but I always thought if I just defended the traditional standpoint it would be good enough. You're right: traditional Catholics should be on the offense because it is the Novus Ordo has destroyed our Church. Your statement really enlightened me.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

With the Novus Ordinarians, traditional Catholics can't let themselves fall into the role of playing defender. Be the prosecutor! Challenge their errors rather than try to defend your correct position. You'd be surprised how tongue-tied most Novus Ordinarians get when you intelligently pull the carpet from under the Novus Ordo Worship Service. You don't have to defend the Traditional Latin Mass. That's already been done by the Chruch for 2000 years!

We are what you once were.
We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped.
If you were right then, we are right now.
If we are wrong now, you were wrong then.

April 5, 2001 -- St. Vincent Ferrer

A Power Limited by God

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Though I myself observe the traditional Eucharistic fast, I believe that the Eucharistic fast is only a Church Law. Church laws can be changed, so I believe that the new Eucharistic Fast is valid, even though it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI, a well-known progressivist.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

That statement belies a Novus Ordo mentality, as if sacred things were simply a matter of man's law and could be changed at any time for any reason. Not so! Such sacred matters are not "only" a Church law that can be changed willy-nilly. That erroneous notion (it certainly can't be a "belief") is what got us the Novus Ordo in the first place.

Rather, such matters partake of what is known in Catholic moral theology as Divine Positive Law. There is ample divine commendment in both Scripture and Tradition for the preparation of the body before reception of Holy Communion. Now, in fulfilling that commandment, the Church does have a certain reasonable range that it can operate within to maintain Divine Positive Law, but clearly a Eucharistic "fast" of 15 minutes before Mass, with communicants belching their breakfast at the Communion rail, is beyond any reasonable parameter. Three hours is about that minimum period within which solid food can be digested in the human stomach. Anything less than than would become sacrilege.

Incorrupt -- Hardly!

From: Albert

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Many Novus Ordinarians are now using the allegation that Pope John XXIII was found incorrupt just recently as proof that the Holy Ghost is guiding them. Can you eleborate on this?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Another Novus Ordo myth. Reread the report that was carried by the Religious News Service. The body is not "incorrupt." It was simply less corrupt (decomposed) than the morticians expected because the body had been artificially preserved at death with formalin, a solution of formaldehyde with a small amount of methanol.

Even the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Ciro Benedetti, stated this: "The fact that the body is well preserved needs no comment or hypotheses concerning supernatural causes, which cannot be verified by what has happened." Prof. Vincenzo Pascali, a forensic pathologist at the Catholic University at Rome, said that "formalin fixes the tissues in a more or less irreversible manner and that the triple lining of the coffin typical for popes kept out oxygen, which would have caused deterioration." The Vatican was playing word-games by using the term "preserved" instead of "embalmed," since the bodies of popes are not normally embalmed. However, other sources did not hesitate to use the term "embalmed."

In other words, the pope was artificially preserved by man in formaldehyde, like the biological specimens that one sees preserved in bottles in zoology classes. It is no "miracle" that such a specimen would be fixed in a well-preserved state, particularly after less than forty years.

Nor was there any comment at this time on the persistent report when the pope's coffin was first opened after his death, he was found to be facing downward instead of upward.

1984 Reprised

From: The Fatima Crusader

In George Orwell's 1984, an allegory of totalitarian communism, the mythical society of Oceania is ruled by the omnipresent god-like dictator known as Big Brother. The main character, Winston Smith (who struggles against the regime's effort to reprogram him) recalls how the chocolate ration was cut, but the brainwashed citizens were told the ration had been increased. The people obediently rejoiced at their good fortune, and praised Big Brother for his generosity.

The state of affairs in the post-conciliar Church is similarly Orwellian. We are expected to proclaim with joy that which is not, while ignoring that which plainly is. Although the Roman liturgy has been wrecked by unprecedented innovations, we are expected to rejoice at the "liturgical renewal." Although ecumenism is a manifest failure, with Protestant sects drifting ever further from the true Church and even from the natural law, we are epxected to proclaim the "growing unity" of Christians. Although the great majority of Catholilcs practice abortion, contraception, and divorce as readily as Protestants and Jews, we are expected to marvel at the lively faith Vatican II has engendered. Although Catholics are being slaughtered by Muslim fundamentalists around the world, local wars rage on every continent, and the abortion holocaust flames rise higher and higher in the sight of God, we are expected to hail the advent of the "civilization of love."

Much of the human element of the Church has become enfeebled in its activity and confused in its message, but the Vatican apparatus proclaims that the Church is more vigorous than ever. Let us have a Jubilee to celebrate the wonderful news. Yes, let us have little celebrations for everyone: A Jubilee of Young Peopl,e a Jubilee of the World of Entertainment, even a Day of Pizza Makers. Let us have crowds and music and thunderous applause for an entire year. Let us rejoice that the chocolate ration has been increased.

April 4, 2001 -- St. Isidore

Can a Pope Abdicate?

From: Jack

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Can a pope abdicate, and, if so, has there ever been an abdication?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Yes to both questions. The following abdications have occurred:

Is Psalm 42 Omitted during Passiontide?

From: Fr. T.

Dear Fr. Moderator:

This Friday the Feast of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to be celebrated, while we commemorate the feria with Collects and Last Gospel. Since it is a feast, Psalm 42 is recited, correct?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The historical reason for the omission of Psalm 42 (Iudica me Deus) is that on Passion Sunday that psalm serves as the Introit. Remember that historically the Introit was chanted as a processional to the altar, from which fact it was eventually subsumed into the Missa Recitata (as the form of "Low" Mass became more common) as what we call today the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. One would not recite the psalm at the foot of the altar and then repeat it as the Introit. Therefore, that psalm is more generally not said in Masses of the Season (De Tempore), as an additional sign of the deeply penitential nature of Passiontide.

The omission of the Gloria Patri is another characteristic of Passiontide. From Septuagesima, to Lent, to Passiontide, to Holy Week, and finally to the Triduum Sacrum, the Divine Office (and the Mass as part of it) is stripped back to its most basic form, and any intimation of joy (such as the Gloria Patri) is omitted.

However, the Gloria Patri is not completely omitted until the Triduum. In Passiontide it is omitted, as the Ordo indicates, only in the following cases:

  1. in fine psalmi "Venite exsultemus" et in responsoriis Nocturnorum, Horarum (Minorum) et Completorii;
  2. ad Aspersionem Aquae Benedictae ante Missam principalem;
  3. in Missa de Tempore ad Introitum et "Lavabo", in qua etiam omittitur "Iudica me Deus."

The Feast of the Seven Dolors holds the rank of a major double in Lent. It is not a Missa de Tempore; 3), therefore, does not apply, and Psalm 42 is omitted.

April 1, 2001 -- Passion Sunday

What of the SSPX? -- Update VII

From: Catholic World News

March 28, 2001
Copyright 2001 Domus Enterprises
Pope, Cardinals Meet To Discuss SSPX

VATICAN, March 28, 2001 (CWN) - Pope John Paul II brought together the heads of the curial dicasteries on March 22 to consult with them on the possible results of the dialogue started with the Society of St. Pius X, according to the Milan newspaper Il Foglio on Tuesday.

Il Foglio said the Pope and cardinals spoke about the possibility of rescinding the 1988 excommunication of the Lefebvrist movement. Two solutions were presented, that of a personal prelature identical to that of Opus Dei or that of an apostolic vicariate which would offer the movement almost total autonomy from diocesan bishops.

Two cardinals were apparently opposed to the idea, according to Il Foglio, namely Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, prefect of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. These two cardinals reportedly renewed the arguments of certain French bishops who were opposed to a rapprochement with the Lefebvrist movement.

In addition, a book originating with the Society of Saint Pius X recently republished in France and entitled, "The Problem of Liturgical Reform, A Theological and Liturgical Study," was reportedly, during the meeting, a significant point in favor of those who would like the current situation to remain in place. Indeed, this book includes in its foreword the "Address to the Holy Father," written on February 2, 2001 by Bishop Fellay, superior of the society, which recalls point by point criticisms by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the "new liturgy."

Novus Ordo Institute Bites the Dust

From: Fr. Moderator

Remember all that hoopla few years back about Adoremus, the organization of conservative priests, part of the Fessio/St. Ignatius Institute conglomerate out of the University of San Francisco? It had no essential objection to the Novus Ordo, but simply wanted a "better translation" of the Novus Ordo Worship Service? They were of the now discredited school of thought that if only the "real" intent of Vatican II had been implemented, the Novus Ordo would be okay?

Well, in an act of poetic justice, the Novus Ordo president of the Jesuit-run school, has "reorganized" the Institute (Vatican II speak for: "pulled the plug"). The Novus Ordo apparatus is a steamroller that does not hesitate to roll over even those who are friendly to it. The Fessio/Ignatius conglomerate would have been better off to have shaken the dust off their feet, moved out of the Novus Ordo sphere, and become traditional Catholics!

An Honest Man

From: Fr. Moderator

The Greek philosopher Diogenes carried a lamp and said that he was seeking an honest man. Well, one may have been found in a strange place.

A federal appellate court on March 28 upheld as constitutionally-protected free speech an anti-abortion Web site called "Nuremberg Files." Physicians practicing abortion are named on this site, and the Liberals had gone to court to shut it down.

One of the physicians named on the site did not give the expected Liberal knee-jerk reaction against the court's decision. Instead he was honest enough to hail the court's decision as a constitutional victory:

Obviously, I think the content and structure of that thing, those "Nuremberg Files," is very inflammatory. But I agree with Voltaire, who said, "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I'm a firm believer in the First Amendment. It's not the speech we like that needs to be defended; it's the speech we don't like.

There has been an effort in the post-Vatican II decades, even in civil society, to suppress the right to free speech. In the issue of the Novus Ordo, for example, the dioceses have tried to quash traditional Catholics' position not by argument, but by trying to silence them. They have even tried to argue in court (and lost) that only "they" have the right to call themselves "Roman Catholics." They have tried (and lost) to prevent traditional Catholic churches from being listed in the telephone book as "Roman Catholic." It seems that the Church organization still seems to think that it can suborn the legitimate civil law.

I know of one case in which a Novus Ordo/"Indult" priest in Northern California physically tried to remove traditional Catholic picketers from the sidewalk in front of the church. He even tried to enlist police assistance in his quest. The police told the priest -- who was an immigrant to this country from Communist Eastern Europe and should have known better -- that in the United States, the First Amendment still applied.

I even know of a case in which an Novus Ordo presbyter in Southern California physically threatened the life of a Catholic (not even a traditional Catholic), who was fighting to prevent the interior of an historical church from being Novus-Ordoized. The Catholic was advised to inform the police of the threat, and the presbyter was subsequently charged with assault. The bishop, who previously wouldn't even speak to the preservationist Catholics, immediately wanted to "dialogue." He was told that no dialogue would be entertained until he mounted the pulpit of the church and apologized for the criminal behavior of his presbyter. The bishop failed to do so, and the presbyter languished in jail for his criminal behavior.

Sometimes we must be like St. Paul, who never hesitated to exercise his rights proudly as a Roman citizen. If you are in any doubt of that fact, reread the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.

Return Arrow Return to Commentaries from the Mailbox.