Give the Faithful Their Due
Thomas A. Droleskey
Reaction continues to mount following the recent admissions by Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and the President of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, that the Society of Saint Pius X is not "in schism" or "out of the Church" and that Immemorial Mass of Tradition has not been abrogated. Obviously, the admissions by Cardinal Hoyos only ratify the actual facts of the matter. His Eminence's admissions fall short of the mark in some respects. As I noted in Loyal to the Faith, Not in Schism, Cardinal Hoyos did not include any recognition of the fact that priests were protected by Pope Saint Pius V in Quo Primum from being forced to offer Mass in any other way than that prescribed in the Missale Romanum of 1570. All of that having been noted, however, Cardinal Hoyos's recent interviews might open the eyes of a few of the Catholic laity who have "taken the word" of their shepherds at face value about the "schismatic" nature of the Society of Saint Pius X and who have been deprived of their birthright as Latin Rite Catholics of complete and unfettered access to the Traditional Latin Mass.
A handful of brave souls, both priests and members of the Catholic laity, having received special graces from Our Lady, saw very clearly the danger signs to the Catholic Faith coming out of Rome during the Second Vatican Council. Intent on preserving the Faith in its fullness without any Modernist influences, these brave souls sought to take extraordinary measures to protect their own souls and those of others, knowing that the first law of the Church is the salvation of souls. Unintimidated by sloganeering rhetoric and by incessant cries of disobedience and schism leveled against them the Vatican, local chancery offices, parishes, schools, Catholic and secular newspapers, relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and casual acquaintances, these brave Catholics knew that tampering with the Mass of all ages would bring about a diminution of belief in the articles contained in the Deposit of Faith. They thus separated themselves in many instances from official diocesan structures in order to preserve the Faith and to render unto Our Lord the fullness of the worship that is His due, the worship that He Himself taught the Apostles to render unto Him.
Those who acted so courageously, eschewing all manner of human respect and estranging themselves from family friends, understood clearly that they were not being disobedient to Our Lord. They dissented from not one whit of any article contained in the Deposit of Faith. They worshiped as Catholics had worshiped for only one thousand nine hundred years. They sacrificed themselves endlessly, sometimes even mortgaging their homes to help to purchase buildings to serve as chapels and schools wherein the Faith of our fathers could be maintained in the "catacombs," so to speak. These good people laid the foundations in one place after another so that future generations of Catholics who wanted to have access to the fullness of the patrimony of the Catholic Church could seek out safe havens in the midst of the storms unleashed by the Second Vatican Council and the synthetic entity known as the Novus Ordo Missae.
The sacrifices made by stalwart traditional Catholics in the 1960s and 1970s made possible the flowering of Tradition in the 1980s and thereafter. That the Vatican itself was more or less forced to make some concessions, albeit premised upon unjust and illicit conditions, in the direction of Tradition in October of 1984, was a sign of how many inroads were being made by disparate cells around the world. Diocesan priests who had left their dioceses to offer the faithful their due, that is, the Traditional Latin Mass and the fullness of the Catholic Faith that is best expressed and protected therein, were attracting large numbers of people. Chapels associated with the Society of Saint Pius X were also growing substantially. The Society represented a particular problem for the Holy See given the fact that it was founded by an archbishop who had participated in the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican thought that offering a few crumbs would satisfy the "old fogies" who were "attached" to the "old" Mass and that the whole thing would disappear within a short period of time as the younger people were solidified in their attachment to the "new" Mass.
As we know, the "indult" backfired. Oh, yes, some people were trapped by the indult mentality, believing, falsely, that a priest needs permission to offer the Traditional Latin Mass and that it is an act of disobedience to criticize ecumenism or religious liberty or the Protestant foundations of the Novus Ordo Missae. Some of these people were (and remain) content to have "just the Mass" on Sundays and Holy Days and do not understand the importance of having the entirety of the Catholic Faith preserved in their lives by having all of the sacraments administered according to the traditional rite. Others, however, saw in the Mass of all ages the way in which God must be worshiped, the way in which they could better sanctify and thus save their souls, the way in which they could escape from this world and focus on First and Last Things. These people, profiting from the legacy of the brave souls who had laid the foundations for them, escape from the indult mentality and from the indult itself, seeking out the fullness of the Mass of all ages without compromise, without any of the unjust and illicit conditions that have been imposed by the Holy See since October of 1984. A new generation of traditional Catholics was thus spawned, people who were not content to take the crumbs offered to them and who came to realize for themselves what the first generation of traditionalists understood from the very beginning: that no authority on earth can abrogate or place any limits upon the offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.
A new generation of priests began to break with the diocesan structures. A few of these priests have had their stories chronicled (see, for example, Mass, Where Is Thy Priest? Priest, Where Is Thy Mass) in books and articles. Others have toiled anonymously just to serve souls without any fanfare. Some have left while trying to teach their flocks a lesson about the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass and the necessity of resisting novelties that have devastated the Faith. Father Stephen P. Zigrang, for example, made these points very well when he offered the Traditional Latin Mass on the evening of June 28 and the morning of June 29, 2003, at Saint Andrew's Church in Channelview, Texas. His Ordinary, the Most Reverend Joseph Fiorenza, thought that Father Zigrang was in need of psychological counseling for such a "rash" act, for being so "attached" to the "old" Mass. Alas, such is always the recourse of revolutionaries: those who resist their ideological schemes must be mentally ill. How can it be that there are men who remain attached to the "old order" of things.
As I had posed a few questions to Archbishop Fiorenza in Loyal to the Faith, Not in Schism two days ago, it might be wise to review what led up to Father Zigrang's decision: six months of abject silence from then Bishop Fiorenza concerning Father Zigrang's written request to be granted a personal parish wherein he could offer the Traditional Latin Mass (and all of the sacraments according to the traditional rite) exclusively. This is from my report on the matter in July of 2003:
Father Zigrang had served on the marriage tribunal of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, where some of his fellow canon lawyers found him to be too “rigid” in his refusal to accept grounds of nullity offered by petitioners, some of whom were powerful and influential Houstonians close to Bishop Fiorenza. He also taught at the diocesan major seminary (theologate), where he distinguished himself as an exceptional teacher of dogmatic and moral theology. Considered by many of his fellow priests as something of an eccentric because of his doctrinal orthodoxy and the care with which he presented himself as a priest by the wearing of his cassock in public, Father Zigrang became even more of a pariah among his fellow priests when he began to take an interest in and to develop a devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass back in 1997. Father applied himself assiduously to the study of solid liturgical history, coming to understand that it is in the Mass of our fathers that God is best worshipped and human souls are better sanctified.
Father Zigrang began to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass privately in his rectory in 1998, making it known to traditionally-minded Catholics that his rectory door would be open at around 6:00 a.m., at which time he heard confessions prior to his 6:30 a.m. morning Traditional Latin Mass. Father Zigrang even began offering the Traditional Latin Mass publicly in 2000, offering it at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays as part of the official parish Mass schedule. Bishop Fiorenza found out about this in 2001, telephoning Father Zigrang to find out if the reports of the phenomenon were true. Father Zigrang told him that they were true, whereupon Bishop Fiorenza ordered him to stop. Father Zigrang explained that he did not believe that he needed a bishop’s permission to celebrate the Mass that has never been suppressed and is indeed incapable of being suppressed, but he said that he would obey the bishop’s edict. Father Zigrang did, though, ask Bishop Fiorenza if he had his permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass privately. Bishop Fiorenza said that he did.
As more time passed, however, Father Zigrang recognized that he could not much longer abide the profane nature of the Novus Ordo, the invasion of the sanctuaries by lectors and extraordinary ministers and altar girls, the banal and offensive music offered by those involved in “music ministry,” the sacrilege of Communion in the hand, having to administer Holy Communion to the faithful while they stood to receive the King of kings and the Lord of lords, having to stand behind a freestanding altar to offer Holy Mass facing the people, and the very prayers of the Novus Ordo that do not as fully communicate the truths of the Faith as those contained in the Traditional Latin Mass. He consulted with like-minded priests around the nation. Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Priestly Fraternity of the Society of Saint Pius X spent four hours with him several years ago to discuss his situation. He knew that the day would have to come, sooner rather than later, when he would have to make a break with the Novus Ordo.
As Father Zigrang is very much attached to the people of his parish, his fondest wish, expressed in a letter sent to Bishop Fiorenza on January 17, 2003, was that his own bishop would permit him to transform Saint Andrew’s Church in Channelview into a fully traditional parish. Barring that, it was his hope that Bishop Fiorenza would permit him to open a small chapel under diocesan auspices where he could offer the Traditional Latin Mass and all of the sacraments in the traditional rite. . . .
Bishop Fiorenza, however, ignored Father Zigrang’s letter. Father Zigrang took an incremental move in April of this year, announcing from the pulpit that he would refuse from that point onward to distribute Holy Communion in the hand. Father Zigrang decided ultimately to make his historic announcement in his parish on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, thereby giving his parishioners public notice of why they might never see him again in Saint Andrew’s Church. He also gave his parishioners an opportunity to hear the Mass of our fathers. Not everyone, according to the reports that have given this writer by eyewitnesses, was pleased by what Father Zigrang did (the folks with the guitars for the “folk Mass” were said to be somewhat upset when they had been preempted by the Traditional Latin Mass, as were some lectors and extraordinary ministers). However, many parishioners were in awe of what they had witnessed, coming to understand the profound difference between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo: that the Traditional Latin Mass is about the worship of God by the offering of the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross to the Father in Spirit and truth, a propitiatory sacrifice for sins. It is not about the deification of man or the glorification of self or, God help us, entertaining the congregation.
The reaction from the chancery offices of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston was immediate. The same people who would do or say nothing if a priest advocated contraception from the pulpit or supported women’s ordination or put into question (if not denied altogether) the historicity of the miracles of Our Lord acted with great swiftness when word had reached them of what Father Zigrang had said and done at Saint Andrew’s Church.
Father Zigrang decided to associate with the Society of Saint Pius X, offering the Traditional Latin Mass at Queen of Angels in Dickinson, Texas, and at Saint Michael's Church in Spring, Texas. He left the rights and privileges of a diocesan pastor to live without a salary as he administered to souls so devotedly in his new apostolate as he had done for over a quarter of a century in the diocesan structure. His one goal has been to serve God by saving souls, recognizing that there are impediments to the salvation of souls in the diocesan structure that require too many compromises and too much silence in the face of sacrileges and in the face of abject denials of articles contained in the Deposit of Faith. He did not join a "schismatic group." He simply exercised his full rights under Quo Primum to offer the Traditional Latin Mass without any conditions whatsoever. He waited for his bishop to respond to him. His bishop only responded to him after he had exercised his full priestly rights under Quo Primum, which is why Cardinal Hoyos's recent remarks are important to note as they put the lie to the claims made by Archbishop Fiorenza (and others) that the Society of Saint Pius X--and/or any priest who offers the Traditional Latin Mass without "approval"--is outside of the Catholic Church.
Others have followed in the wake of what Father Zigrang did in July of 2003. Two of these priests, Father Lawrence C. Smith and Father Paul Sretenovic, left, respectively, the Diocese of Davenport and the Archdiocese of Newark, learning how to offer the Mass of the ages from Father Patrick J. Perez at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California, an oasis of the Faith that is still growing on a weekly basis. Other priests, such as Father Stephen Somerville and Father Richard Voigt, have left to offer the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. These priests have been able to act as they have because others laid the foundation for them over the years, exhibiting the courage of the English Martyrs by offering the Mass that is hated by the Protestant Revolutionaries and their like-minded Modernists in the Catholic Church, the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.
Father Smith issued a statement on September 23, 2003, to explain his reasons for leaving his diocesan assignment. His statement is a masterful summary of the truths that are only beginning to be recognized in a piecemeal and at times left-handed manner by the Holy See:
Why I have done what I have done…
- – No one has the authority or the right to impose a New Mass on the Church.
- – Sacrosanctum concilium neither intended nor mandated the fabrication of a Novus Ordo Missae.
- – It is impossible for the clergy or the laity to be bound to worship at such a Mass.
- – The missionary mandate of the Church from our Savior requires her to evangelize all people.
- – Eastern schismatics, protestants, Jews, muslims, and pagans are in need of the Sacraments, ecclesial unity, and faith in Christ Crucified for the salvation of their souls.
- – The Magisterium has denied, obscured, and attempted to alter this teaching, thereby misleading countless souls into error regarding the need for, the means to, and the source of salvation.
- – Sin is an offense against the Divine Majesty and without repentance sinners will be damned.
- – The United States of America and the western world at large have given legal sanction to child murder, usury, and sodomy, sins which cry out to Heaven for vengeance.
- – No action has been forthcoming from the hierarchy of the Church to publicly, consistently, and unambiguously condemn these sins, and to levy ecclesiastical penalties commensurate with the gravity of these crimes against Catholic legislators, executives, and judges complicit in their commission.
I can not in conscience give support to this woeful state of affairs. Neither by word nor by silence, not by action nor by inaction will I permit myself to be allied with principles and practices injurious to the faithful and perilous to my own salvation. Degraded worship, false ecumenism, and cooperation with abominations are not part of the patrimony of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; none may participate in such outrages against Our Lord.
Henceforward, I will seek the Sacraments, dogma, and practice of the Catholic Church in fidelity to her Tradition received from Christ the Lord through His Apostles and handed down in unbroken continuity through the ages. His Holiness and the episcopate will receive my respect in keeping with the dignity of the offices they hold, as well as my prayers, penances, and mortification for their sanctity and the grace to persevere in the Truth. My life shall be devoted to holy poverty, study, contemplation, and witness to the Gospel of Christ Crucified. I ask for your prayers for me in tandem with mine for you. May Our Blessed Mother Mary, St. Joseph her spouse, St. Michael, and Sts. Peter and Paul guard and guide us always in keeping with God’s will and His supreme law of love.
Father Lawrence C. Smith
23 September 2003: St. Linus
That is why, you see, Cardinal Hoyos's remarks are so important and why some of us have paid such attention to them. Cardinal Hoyos's remarks, which he has made on other occasions before earlier this month, to be sure, might make it more possible for more Catholic priests to follow the recent examples of Fathers Zigrang, Smith, Sretenovic, Somerville, and Voigt, and they might make it more possible for more lay Catholics to seek out the Mass of Tradition in its fullest expression. Yes, there is a long way to go, as Bishop Bernard Fellay has noted in his conferences recently. The novelties of ecumenism and religious liberty must be opposed with vigor as the perennial teaching of the Church concerning the Social Reign of Christ the King, for example, is proclaimed loudly and the seeking of converts to the true Faith is done with apostolic zeal for souls. Yes, there is a long way to go. Nevertheless, it is important to point out to those who are have the graces to see the truth for what it is that the claims made by the stalwart traditionalists of yore and by those of us who are newer to the cause are not made up out of whole cloth but are indeed completely true. Perhaps just one more priest and one more layman will decide to protect his soul and worship God exclusively in the Mass of Tradition for the rest of his wife as a result of some of these belated but still and all welcomed admissions from Cardinal Hoyos.
The larger problems facing the Church in her human elements will not be rectified anytime soon. Some pope is going to have to consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with all of the world's bishops to cease the spread of the errors of Russia, which are the anti-Incarnational errors of Modernity in the world and the errors of Modernism in the Church. A certain of peace will be granted to the world. Tradition and the fullness of the Catholic Faith will be restored within the bosom of the Church. Catholics will have their due given to them, the fullness of Catholic worship and the fullness of the Catholic Faith.
In the meantime, let us pray for the priests who have risked all to serve the cause of Tradition with such valor and devotion. Let us pray that more and more souls will avail themselves of the sacraments from their hands and will entrust their salvation to shepherds who are not for hire and who spend themselves tirelessly in imitation of the Good Shepherd Himself.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.
Saint Ambrose, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Rita, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Gregory the Great, pray for us.
Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.