It's Still Better This Than Purgatory (or Worse!), part 1
Thomas A. Droleskey
Each of us is called to carry the Cross in our daily lives. This is the only path to our salvation, which we must seek earnestly with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Lest we have had some mystical revelation, none of us knows the moment when death will call us to render unto God an account of our lives at the Particular Judgment. This could occur in my case before this article is completed. Much more likely, however, it could occur in your lives before you have read this article.
The story of each of our lives, therefore, is pretty much the same. That is, we are called to perform the duties associated with our freely chosen states-in-life without complaint. We are called to perform these duties as perfectly as we can for the honor and glory of God as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We are to accept each and every cross that comes our way, mindful that we deserve far worse because of our sins than our all-merciful God permits us to suffer in this mortal vale of tears. We are to recognize that nothing we suffer in this life is the equal of what one of our least venial sins caused Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer during His Passion and Death. We are to embrace with love each cross that comes our way, recognizing that each cross has been fitted for us perfectly from all eternity by God Himself and that the graces He won for us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, are sufficient for us to prosper under them.
This was, as I noted almost exactly eleven months ago now, uppermost in our own minds when the word came, after over three months of planning and preparation, that a grant of land for purposes of establishing Christ the King College as a "brick and mortar" institution was not going to materialize. We had tried everything imaginable to keep the online institution afloat, pouring most of the proceeds of book sales from G.I.R.M. Warfare and Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations into the work of the college. Not enough people were interested in supporting the effort. Not enough people were interested in taking courses from an unaccredited institution. It was simply not in God's Holy Providence for this effort of ours, which did get good, solid Catholic material into the hands of about 200 or so people, to succeed.
Although I was by August of 2005, at the time of Benedict XVI's visit to Cologne, Germany, for World Youth Day and his addresses to Protestants and Talmudic Jews, beginning to question privately the ability of those who deny defined articles of the Catholic Faith to hold ecclesiastical office legitimately, I did not say anything publicly, choosing to continue to pray and to read and study as I remained in the "recognize and resist" camp. One does not want to be wrong about such a thing, especially when one is in a position to influence others (and to have that use of influence count against him at the moment of his own Particular Judgment). I read articles at Traditional Latin Mass Resources and Catholic Restoration and CMRI Index (Traditional Catholic Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen) and other places that proved to be most helpful in assessing the situation facing us at the present time. Also, of course, Pope Paul IV's
Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, which had been staring me in the face for several years now, played its own role in helping to raise questions in my mind about how those who dissent from articles of the Faith can remain Catholics in good standing and hold ecclesiastical office legitimately.
After the collapse of the land-grant prospect, which came on Monday of Holy Week last year as we were packing up the motor home for a trip to the state in which the land was located, I resolved to be a bit more assiduous in letting the truth of the matter take me where it would, knowing that this would strain friendships we treasured and terminate working relationships that provided me with a means to get my work into print. I knew also that examining the issues that have been explored on this site, sometimes more cogently and ably than on others, in the past eleven months would be interpreted as "slamming" priests ordained by conciliar bishops consecrated since 1968 at whose chapels we had assisted and that we would lose significant financial support from the readers of this site. Those already predisposed to disparage my work because of previous positions taken were likely to unleash a new firestorm of criticism and invective.
Nevertheless, however, after much prayer and soul-searching, I made contact with His Excellency, the Most Reverend Mark A. Pivarunas, the Superior of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, and a few other priests to ask for their review of materials that I was beginning to post shortly after Easter of last year. Most instrumental in helping us to raise questions about the depth of the problems we face was the study of the 1968 conciliar rite of episcopal consecration that was authored by Father Anthony Cekada, a study that was read without prejudice to our disagreement over the matter of the death by starvation and dehydration of the late Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo. And it was after reading that study, combined with all of the other research that had been done, that I used a commentary on the remarks made by His Excellency Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais in his interview with Mr. Stephen Heiner as the context for raising questions about the theology of the former Joseph Ratzinger.
It was our plan to go on our speaking tour in early-May of last year to address some of these issues, especially as they related to the conciliar error of ecumenism and inter-religious "dialogue," while at the same time holding onto the rental home in Amberg, Wisconsin, that had served as our residence between November 21, 2005, and April 30, 2006. Once we had been to Cincinnati, Ohio, where I spoke at a "neutral" location on May 10, 2006, we realized that we could not return to live in Wisconsin. We had become convinced that there were enough questions about the validity of the consecration of the conciliar bishops so as not to put ourselves in the jeopardy, as we saw it, of knowingly assisting at dubious Masses. Knowledge is given to us for a reason. We knew that we had to act on the knowledge we had been given.
Entering the "Swampland"
Indeed, it was evident even by the time of my lecture at the Norwood Community Center on May 10, 2006, that I had become pretty convinced of the doctrinal soundness of the sedevacantist position. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Daniel L. Dolan, who came to the lecture and sat just two seats away from Father William Jenkins of the Society of Saint Pius V (yes, I was aware of the difficulties and continue to hope and to pray that divisons that serve the interests only of the adversary and his friends in conciliarism will end once and for all; with God, you understand, all things are possible), informed me that Paul Likoudis, my former colleague from The Wanderer, had written a column that I, Thomas Droleskey, "had entered the swampland of sedevacantism." Leaving aside the fact that Mr. Likoudis did not see fit to telephone me for any comment on the matter in consideration of having written for The Wanderer for over eight years, I smiled ear-to-ear when Bishop Dolan said, "Welcome to the swampland."
We were, truth be told, very impressed with the beauty of the Mass as it is offered at Saint Gertrude the Great, where the liturgical year just comes alive day after day after day. My dear wife Sharon and I wanted to stay put in West Chester, Ohio, almost immediately after we assisted at our first Mass there, which was on Tuesday, May 2, 2006, the Feast of Saint Athanasius. Although pulled in many different directions for a short time thereafter, our month-long stay in a campground in Lebanon, Ohio, some thirty-one miles or so northeast of West Chester, cemented our bond with Bishop Dolan and Saint Gertrude the Great, meaning, of course (and sadly) that we had "excommunicated" ourselves from those who believe, as I once did, that the episcopal lineage of the late Archbishop Pierre Ngo Dinh Thuc was questionable. And it was during that stay in Lebanon, Ohio, from August 11, 2006, to September 11, 2006, that I felt confident enough to move beyond a statement that had been solicited of me by Mrs. Kathleen Plumb for publication in The Four Marks in May of 2006 and to conclude that the conciliar pontiffs have been illegitimate and that the conciliar church is not the Catholic Church.
However, there were many miles that were traversed between May and September. Many miles, and more than a few adventures.
Gratitude to All Who Labar in the Catacombs for the Good of Souls
Deciding to return to Wisconsin on May 11, 2006, so as to pack up the few belongings that remained in the rental home in Amberg and retrieve the van that has gone back and forth between us and Sharon's only Catholic sister and her husband and children (it's now back with the Turpins) before driving to New York for several speaking engagements, we braved very strong winds and driving rain on Interstate 65 in Indiana, praying fervently as our much-beleaguered motor home, which is God's chosen instrument of penance for us erring sinners, was moved around quite a lot on the highway. It was all I could do to keep the motor home on the highway. The winds did not really abate until we had headed west on Interstate 80 to hook up with the Tri-State Tollway, which accepts E-Z Pass, the East Coast-based toll-reading system that permits Big Brother to know where you are all the time and to take money directly out of your bank account (which is why the old token system had been replaced in its entirety in the New York City area by E-Z Pass lanes), and thence to take Interstate 94 north to Milwaukee--and from there to take US-41 to Apple Creek Family Campground in De Pere, Wisconsin, for an overnight stay.
Apart from the winds, which were quite fierce, the most difficult part of the 512 mile trip was encountered just about an hour south of De Pere. Just three months after the motor home's Ford V-10 Triton engine had blown its first spark plug, a saga recounted in
Merrily We Roll Along, part one and
Merrily We Roll Along, part 2 , it appeared for all the world that another spark plug had been blown as we left a rest area on US-41 after a very brief pit stop. The noise was the same, just not as loud as before. The noise--and the fumes--would worsen over time. Lacking money to deal with the problem, however, there was nothing we could do about until early August, at which point the noise had become so deafening that I had to buy ear plugs for each of us to use as we drove in the motor home.
We assisted at Holy Mass the next day, May 12, 2006, our brother-in-law Benoit's fortieth birthday, at Saint Michael's Church in De Pere, Wisconsin. Even though we have come to embrace the sedevacantist position (replete with a good review of the personalities inside of the Society of Saint Pius X who were on opposing sides of the issue back in 1983), we continue to have nothing but great admiration for the priestly zeal of the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X--and for priests ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre who are no longer in the Society and who are not sedevacantists.
One of these is Father Hector Bolduc, who spends himself tirelessly for souls despite having congestive heart failure. Although we came to understand a few months later the importance of avoiding the "una cum" Masses (see Bishop Donald Sanborn's Una Cum: Mass 'in Union with our Pope'?), we did indeed go to Saint Michael's on May 12 (and then again on May 13) and to the Society of Saint Pius X in Syracuse, New York, a few days later and in August when our motor home was in a shop in Tully, New York, for the better part of three days. We have nothing but the highest admiration for Father Bolduc's service to his flock in De Pere and treasure the friendships that we made while I was lecture there early last year. It was good to see him one last time before we packed up our belongings in Amberg, some eighty-five miles north of De Pere, and continued our wanderings around the nation in behalf of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen.
"Um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um!"
The process of cleaning out the rental house took precisely three hours. Conscious of the fact that we had a long trip to make on the Feast of Saint Robert Bellarmine, May 13, and the eighty-ninth anniversary of Our Lady's first apparition in the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal, to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos, from De Pere to the Cleveland area so that we could assist at Holy Mass at Saint Therese Church in Parma, Ohio, I wanted to get back down to De Pere from Amberg relatively quickly, especially since Sharon would have to be driving the van in tandem behind the motor home and its tow-buddy, our Trail Blazer. And the drive on May 13 turned out to be a very hard 536 miles in bad rain and limited visibility. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Before leaving Wisconsin, however, we stopped at a cheese store just along the Wisconsin border on Interstate 94. We had a full supply of Lack's extra sharp cheddar cheese (aged six years!) in our motor home's refrigerator. As good as the six year old extra sharp cheddar cheese is, however, we were amazed at the taste of nine year old sharp cheddar cheese. As Lucy's puppet Pink Bunny is wont to say most rapidly in a high pitched voice, "Um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um!" (Lack's cheese is made in Greenleaf, Wisconsin. One can find its products online by placing the name "Lack's Cheese" in a search engine. Enjoy. Get some for after Easter. "Um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um!")
Venturing into the Darkness at Crystal Springs
Adventures awaited us upon our arrival late at night at Crystal Springs Campground in North Ridgeville, Ohio. The campground is, shall we say, rather underdeveloped. Most of the sites are located on grass or dirt, making it pretty difficult to walk around even during the daylight, as we found out in October of 2004 during the Catholic Family News conference at the Best Western hotel near the Cleveland airport. It was very, very difficult to find the site to which we had been assigned upon our arrival late on May 13, tougher still to find out which electrical box had the thirty amperage socket for us to place our electrical wire. Indeed, I wound up inadvertently turning off the electricity of a mobile home next to our site, prompting the man who lived therein to come on out and threaten to do violence to me.
"This is getting old," the rather inebriated fellow said, evidently communicating to me the fact that other overnight campers had turned off his electricity as they stumbled in the pitch dark to search for the right switch to use when staying in the same site that had been assigned to us. I prayed to Saint Michael the Archangel. The man was really intent on beating me up, which wouldn't have taken very much to do, mind you. I placed a call to the owner to ask for his assistance. The owner then promptly shut off the man's electricity himself, prompting the fellow to come out again in an angry rage. The owner said, "It's me, Chris!" The owner was able to assuage his permanent tenant, who returned to his abode as he yelled a few choice expletives in my general direction. It wasn't as though I intended to to turn off his electricity, you understand. There was simply no lighting in the area of the electrical connection--and our flashlight really didn't help in a drenching, driving rain.
We assisted at Mass, offered by Father William Jenkins of the Society of Saint Pius V, at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Parma, Ohio, the next morning, May 14. Rather than to press on our way to New York, however, where I was scheduled to give what I pretty much knew would be my last presentation in a venue of the Society of Saint Pius X, I decided to give my ladies the day off the road. Sharon had had a long, hard drive the day before. Thus, we took Lucy Mary Norma to the Cleveland Zoo, which turned out to be quite a nice experience. One can certainly get a bit of exercise by walking around that zoo. Indeed, I told Sharon, "I think we've gotten our cardiovascular exercise done for the month of May."
Travels in Upstate New York
There are probably few things that are more penitential than having to drive on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, as we did on Monday, May 15, 2006. Oh, the scenery in in the Allegheny Mountains is beautiful, certainly. The drive, however, is long and somewhat monotonous. I have driven Interstate 80 end-to-end hundreds of times since I first did so on January 3, 1973. We have done so in our motor home a good forty times in the past five years and eight months. The drive on May 15 was relatively uneventful, ending when we turned off onto Interstate 81 to drive through Scranton and from there to Florida, New York, where we stayed for the night at a campground so as to be able to pick up our mail in Pine Island on May 16 (and to afford Lucy the opportunity to visit her beloved cousins for a little while that day).
Stopping for Mass, offered by our friend Father Joseph Collins, who has a laser-sharp mind that is able to penetrate sophisms quite quickly, at Saint Michael's Church in Glenmont, New York, on May 17 en route to Syracuse, we stopped at a campground in Oneida, New York, prior to my evening talk on the errors of ecumenism at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church, which drew a very nice crowd of people from all of the various traditional camps in the Syracuse area. I was very grateful to Father Timothy Pfeiffer for permitting the talk to go on as scheduled after my articles of the previous few weeks had caused such a firestorm of criticism. The Pfeiffer brothers, Fathers Timothy and Joseph, are very good priests who give of themselves endlessly to their flocks. I was to learn later that Father Joseph Greenwell of the Society of Saint Pius V grew up in the same general area of Kentucky as did the Pfeiffer brothers, assisting at Mass offered by the late Father Francis Hannifin, who died on January 14, 2001, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel on the Pfeiffer family's property. It is, as we know, a very small world, even smaller (despite all of the divisions and disagreements) in the world of traditional Catholics
We shifted headquarters the next day, Thursday, May 18, after having a bite to eat at our favorite restaurant in the Syracuse area, Dominick's, driving down the New York State Thruway to Schoharie, New York, so as to park our motor home for two days as I gave my talk on ecumenism at Father Collins's chapel in Glenmont. It would be nice to settle in the area of Glenmont, which is near where I obtained my doctorate thirty years ago this year at the State University of New York at Albany. Indeed, I made an inquiry of my dissertation committee chairman, now a professor emeritus, to see about the job prospects in the Capital District of New York. No success was to be had. Lacking any guarantee of regular income, therefore, we could not pursue the thought of settling in that area. We can't settle in any area (and there are several we like where the Immemorial Mass of Tradition is offered by priests who make no concessions at all to the legitimacy of the conciliar hierarchy, places such as West Chester, Ohio, and Omaha, Nebraska, Spokane, Washington, and Monroe, Connecticut, to name just a few) until and unless I can secure regular employment and thus have a source of steady income without going on the road to "sing" for our supper. As my dear my wife notes, however, "The only way I'm going out of this motor home is feet first!" (She has given getting real estate brochures whenever we find a place where would we like to settle.)
Speaking of supper, we drove on over to western Massachusetts on Saturday, May 20, after Holy Mass at Saint Michael's Chapel, whereupon I treated friends of ours in the Berkshire Mountains to something that I made rather regularly in households across the United States in the 1970s and 1980s: my pizza (which features its own homemade dough), salad (containing lots of cheeses and meats) and "ice box cake" (a dessert made of whipped heavy cream placed on Nabisco "Famous Chocolate Wafer" cookies, which are designed to absorb the moisture in the heavy cream, expanding and becoming soft upon refrigeration, thus making a dessert rich in calories and in great delights for the palate). It was good to see our friends again and to have Lucy visit with the farm animals on their property.
Long Island: Home, Sweet Home
Upon our arrival at a campground that evening in Nassau, New York (a community about twenty miles east of Albany, not to be confused with the county on Long Island where I have spent the lion's share of my life), I became very, very sick. I was gratified to learn that no one else had gotten sick, fearing that my dinner was poisoning our friends. However, I, who almost never get the sort of stomach virus that felled me so low that night, I had a real offering to give to the Blessed Trinity through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart in reparation for my many sins of thought, word and deed. As Father William Jenkins noted four months later when he had a similar kind of virus, "It's the sort of thing that prompts you to think at first that you are going to die. Then you think that you are not going to die!", meaning that you want to die given the violent nature of the illness. I had not been so sick in a long, long time.
Thus it was on Sunday, May 21, 2007, which would have been the late Raymond Burr's ninetieth birthday had he not died on September 12, 1993, that Sharon and Lucy had to assist at Holy Mass on a Sunday by themselves, marking the first time that such a thing had happened. I could not muster the strength to move off of the fold-out couch in the motor home's main cabin that I was convinced would be my deathbed. (All right, I'm being just a bit melodramatic here.) All I wanted to do was to sleep and sleep and sleep.
Although I was feeling a little better on Monday, May 22, 2007, I was praying to regain strength enough to give my talk at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Hicksville, New York, the next evening, Tuesday, May 23. Hooking up the Trail Blazer to the motor home, we drove down to Long Island, being back "home" again for the first time in over four and one-half months.
Long Island is where I spent the first twenty-one years of my life. It is where I have spent about twenty years in the interim between January of 1973, when I left to pursue graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and my late parents sold our home in Oyster Bay Cove to move to Texas, to July of 2003, when we moved out of our basement apartment in Bethpage to resume our full time life in our motor home, something that has continued from that time to this (save for the five months we were based in Amberg, Wisconsin, from November of 2005 to April of 2006). Long Island will always be my home no matter how far and wide we travel across the nation.
One of the best things, humanly speaking, about Long Island is the variety of restaurants. A lot of the ones from my childhood (Le Petit Moulin, Great Neck; Patricia Murphy's, Manhasset; Lauraine Murphy's, Great Neck; Vila Victor and Viennese Coach, Syosset; Maude Craig's and Andre's, Lake Success) have closed over the decades. Others (The Milleridge Inn, Jericho; George Washington Manor, Roslyn; Maine Maid Inn, Jericho) remain. Some newer ones (Major's Steakhouse in Woodbury) have opened in the past two decades or so. I was able to experience these finer places to eat during my childhood as my late father, Dr. Albert Henry Martin Droleskey, was a hard-working veterinarian whose small-animal practice in Queens Village, New York, was very successful. Obviously, I don't have the budget to treat my family as my father did his when I was growing up on Long Island. However, we do get to the Milleridge Inn once during each of our trips back to Long Island. We did so on Monday, May 22, 2006, as I was regaining my strength. It was nice to see our friend, Mr. Bruce Murphy, one of the owners of the Milleridge Inn and a most delightful man despite the fact he is a fan of the incarnation of all evil, the New York Yankees.
My talk the next evening, May 23, at the VFW Hall, which has been the seen of many an offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition over the decades, went well, although it was sparsely attended. My rejection of the indult lost us a lot of friends on Long Island. Needless to say, my movement in the direction of sedevacantism in has lost us even more friends. We just hope and pray there will be a happy reunion in Heaven, please God each of us dies in a state of Sanctifying Grace. We were grateful for the few people who did attend my talk, including a couple who drove down all the way from Connecticut.
Although Lucy Mary Norma only lived on Long Island for the first fourteen months of her life, she loves her father's native place. She is particularly fond of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in the hamlet of Oyster Bay, the place on Long Island in which I have spent the most amount of time and to which I am most attached. Lucy loves to run around at the park and throw clam and oyster shells into Oyster Bay Harbor. There are some very fat squirrels who live in the trees in the park. Oh, how they love to eat Ritz crackers! Lucy gets a real thrill out of throwing them the delicious (but so very fattening) crackers.
It is not unusual to walk down Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay and run into a classmate of mine from Oyster Bay High School (Class of 1969) and to exchange a few casual words. New Yorkers are a funny breed of people. We can go for several decades without seeing someone and then say, as though we had seen them the day before, "Hey, how are doing? Good? Hey, great to see ya!", continuing on our merry ways thereafter. Some of the buildings have changed in Oyster Bay over the four decades since my parents moved us there from Great Neck on August 2, 1965. However, a few of the establishments are still run by the same people (Snouder's Corner Drug Store, Bernstein's Hardware Store, the famous "Bonanza's" hot dog stand across from the Oyster Bay Post Office on Audrey Avenue). One of the landmarks of Oyster Bay, Nobman's Hardware Store, had burned to the ground by the time we toured Oyster Bay again in late-May of last year. That store had been in business since 1911. From dust unto dust, yes, even for hardware stores.
Apart from good pizza, especially at Raimo's on Woodbury Road in Hicksville, New York, there are two things are almost impossible to find outside of the greater New York City-Long Island metropolitan area: real hard rolls and authentic bagels. As I have stated many times in my talks, prayers are offered daily for the conversion of the Talmudic Jews to the true Faith, that is, Catholicism. I do hope, however, that they will never stop making bagels after they convert! There is nothing like a Bagel Boss bagel (with butter or regular cream cheese or sun-dried tomato cream cheese) in the morning. (Yes, I know. It's kind of cruel to be writing about food during Lent. Just look at the penances, though, I am offering my readers. As we are out of the Long Island area and will not be back until the Spring, if, that is, our motor home ever gets repaired, writing about such delicacies, which are not available here in Lafayette, Louisiana, is no penance at all for me. I have the hope of enjoying them after Easter if it is God's will for us to survive until that time and thus to travel back to the East Coast again).
Biding Our Time
With no talks scheduled after the one I gave on May 23, we had to bide our time, situating ourselves for a week in the mid-Hudson Valley so as to get to Mass at Saint Michael's Chapel in Glenmont, and then returning to Long Island around May 30 for a brief while. We then returned upstate to assist at Holy Mass in the underground, visiting with Sharon's parents in Kingston, New York, as our motor home underwent a oil change and had its electrical cord (whose plug had become "toast," causing intermittent interruptions of electrical current in the coach, which interruptions caused an old digital clock to act in the most strange manner, including displaying election figures from the 1968 presidential election) replaced at Camper's Barn in the community where my dear wife was born. And we introduced Lucy to a new diversion while situated in upstate New York: miniature golf, which my dear wife has proclaimed to be "the sport of traditional Catholics." Although we have not played the game regularly in some time now because of the cold weather back East (we played once at a campground in Picayune, Mississippi, on Tuesday, February 13), Lucy became quite good at the sport, scoring herself more than a handful of holes-in-one between June and December of 2006.
We were back on the road again on July 7, 2006, driving out to the Cleveland, Ohio, area so that I could give a talk at Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Parma, Ohio, the next evening. A delay of two and one-half hours was encountered on Interstate 80 just about an hour west of Interstate 81. Election-year construction was being done to line the coffers of contractors, whose executives then line the coffers of the politicians of both major political parties responsible for giving them the biennial contracts to tear up roadways that are not designed to withstand the heavy weight of commercial trucks and buses. The delay kept us from getting into the Yogi Bear Campground some forty miles east of Parma until around 10:00 p.m. on Friday, July 7. This particular campground was a bit of an upgrade, shall we say, from Crystal Springs, where we had had that unpleasant experience with the fellow who was displeased with my inadvertently unplugging his electricity.
I knew that my talk at Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Parma, which was very well-attended, would be my first and last in a venue of the Society of Saint Pius V. Although very grateful to Father William Jenkins for his kindness in extending to me the invitation to speak, I do not believe that God has limited Himself in this time of crisis to the Society of Saint Pius V, which is composed of priests who offer the Immemorial Mass of Tradition quite well. We are also most grateful to the then Father Joseph Santay, consecrated a bishop by His Excellency Bishop Clarence Kelly at Saint Pius V Church in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, on February 28, 2007, for being so very good enough to visit my late father-in-law, Mr. John Collins, when he was hospitalized at one point during the summer of last year.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that the "exclusivism" practiced by the Society of Saint Pius V is correct, and it was and remains my desire to speak to Catholics about the Social Reign of Christ the King and the errors of conciliarism to groups of Catholics across the fault-lines of traditionalism. Having received a most gracious invitation from Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas to speak at the Fatima Conference at Mount Saint Michael's Church and Academy in Spokane, Washington, I knew that it would be a matter of time before we would be "excommunicated" from receiving Holy Communion in chapels administered by the Society of Saint Pius V. As noted above, however, we remain grateful to Father Jenkins, who gave a truly masterful sermon on July 9, 2006, about the heresy of religious liberty, for his kindnesses to us and certainly did enjoy meeting the good people at Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Parma.
We spent close to two weeks in and around the Cincinnati, Ohio, area after our stop in Parma, affording Lucy a chance to visit her friend Genevieve Ahern, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Barry Ahern (Mr. Ahern's brother is Father Daniel Ahern; their mother, Mrs. Mary Ahern, died recently), and to pay a return visit to the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, and the Cincinnati Zoo. It was also our privilege to participate in a Rosary Procession led by His Excellency Bishop Daniel Dolan on Thursday evening, July 13, 2006, in and around a series of restaurants in West Chester, Ohio. A wonderful witness to the Faith.
I did a lot of writing in the ten days we were in the area, parked for about a week at a campground in Kentucky and then for a few days in the back of motel off of Interstate 75 that is not far from Saint Gertrude the Great Church. It was also at this time that I was interviewed over the telephone on Thursday, July 20, 2006, for an academic position in my chosen field of political science, which position was not in the Providence of God for me to obtain. That was the first real "bite" I had had in the academic job market in about eleven years. As I told my life, "It's get to get 'nibble' every once in a while." Excellent letters of recommendation from past chairmen and colleagues attested to my teaching ability. It was just not God's Holy Will for me to obtain the position. (One cannot simply "apply" for an academic position. Academic departments must first advertise a position when an opening occurs and then review applications. It is not uncommon for there to be over 100 or 200 applications for one advertised opening.)
En route to the Indianapolis, Indiana, area on Friday, July 21, 2006, we learned that Lucy's beloved cousins from New Jersey were at the Indianapolis Zoo. Quickly parking our motor home at a campground southwest of the city, we scooted off to the zoo to permit Lucy the chance to visit and play with her cousins once again. This was a most unexpected treat for our daughter, who loves playing with her cousins so very much. Sharon also had a chance to visit with her sister Bridget.
An all-day conference was given in South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday, July 22, 2006. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Chabot of the Midwest Catholic Forum were good enough to make the arrangements for this conference. We are very grateful to them for their generosity. One attendee came from Lafayette, Indiana, where I had given the "Living in the Shadow of the Cross" lecture program over the course of ten weeks at Saint Boniface Church in the Fall of 2000 (my days of speaking in diocesan venues were coming to an end by then!). And it was on the next day, Sunday, July 23, 2006, that the ever-gracious Father Casimir Puskorius of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen informed me that I had received invitations to speak at several of the congregation's venues on the way out to the Fatima Conference in October, including Akron, Ohio, Omaha, Nebraska, and Rathdrum, Idaho. Our Fall speaking program was beginning to take shape.
Coming Full Circle
Stopping in the Detroit, Michigan, area on Monday afternoon, July 24, 2006, so as to assist at Holy Mass at Saint Joseph's Church in Wayne, Michigan, Sharon and I got a chance to meet the twin brother of the priest, Father Dominic Radecki, who had first instructed Sharon in the Faith in Santa Clarita, California, ten years before. Father Francisco Radecki and Father Gregory Drahman took us to breakfast after Mass. Father Radecki was good enough to give us a copy of the excellent work, Tumultuous Times, that he had written with his twin brother, Father Dominic Radecki. He also gave us a copy of his Family Catechism, quizzing Lucy about the Faith and surprised that our daughter knew so many answers (Sharon is doing a wonderful job home-schooling Lucy, who is already reading entire books out load).
There is a bit of irony in all of this. While Sharon loved going to Mass at Father Dominic Radecki's and grew very close to the parishioners there, she did not know enough at the time to "make the decision" about the little matter of the legitimacy of the pontificate of John Paul II. She was thus received into the Faith at the hands of that zealous pastor of souls, Father Daniel Johnson, on July 30, 1999, at Saint Mary's by the Sea Church in Huntington Beach, at which parish I would start giving my "Living in the Shadow of the Cross" lecture series on March 11, 2006. (Oh, before I get unsolicited mail about the matter, yes, we know that Sharon's confirmation needs to be re-done. Thanks for thinking of us, though.) God brought us together so that we could find our way out of the Conciliar Church and into where Sharon had been from the beginning, that is, in the Catholic Church. As one man, Mr. George Sullivan (who sent me an e-mail a while ago that was eaten by my old computer), said at the Fatima Conference, "It certainly took you long enough to get here!" Indeed, it did. All I can say is that I am not very bright most of the time and that I simply did not want to make a mistake about where to place my family during this time of apostasy and betrayal.
Not in God's Holy Providence
It was off on the road again on Tuesday, July 25, 2006, hoping and praying that the academic position would come through for me. An e-mail received that morning from the chairman of the department said that she hoped to be in contact me by "Thursday at the latest, if not sooner." Well, Thursday came and went. I got the news that God had known from all eternity would come my way while checking e-mail at a FEDEX/Kinko's in Albany, New York, on Friday, July 28, 2006. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! We were meant to continue our life on the road, which was to continue after we spent about a week or so dividing our time between the Saugerties, New York, area and Long Island, to which we had to travel to get more repairs done to the coach part of our motor home at the only competent and reliable repairer of Forest River motor homes anywhere in the country, Tag Motors on Route 112 in Medford, Long Island.
It was our intention to spend a month in Ohio prior to a trip to Florida for a conference on Christ the King that was scheduled to be given in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, September 16, 2006. Our plans were delayed somewhat after the noise emanating from the motor home's engine became intolerably loud on Saturday, August 5, 2006 (after assisting at First Saturday Mass offered at the hands of Father Joseph Collins at Saint Michael's Church in Glenmont, New York). "We just can't go on like this," I told Sharon. "This thing has got to get fixed."
Not a Blown Spark Plug This Time
We stopped at a campground northeast of Syracuse, knowing that we could get to Mass at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church the next day, Sunday, August 6, 2007 (we had yet to "move" to the position that we should avoid una cum Masses, something that occurred gradually during our four weeks of assisting at Masses at Saint Gertrude the Great Church from August 11 to September 11). And though the four days we went to Mass at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church would mark the last time that we would assist at Masses in a chapel administered by the Society of Saint Pius X, we were most edified by a marvelous sermon on the Cristeros given by Father David Hewko, who had just completed a trip to Mexico with Father Timothy Pfeiffer and a group of young people from that large and growing parish in Syracuse. These good priests remain in our prayers on a daily basis.
Efforts to get to Holy Mass the next day, Monday, August 7, 2006, were stymied by a massive tie-up on the New York State Thruway. Lucy remembers the tie-up to this day, telling us recently, "Yes, that I was the time I was leading the Rosary in Latin." We had to offer up the lack of Mass that day to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, concentrating on trying to find some place to repair the motor home's engine.
Laboring under the belief, which turned out to be mistaken, that the problem with the motor home's engine was another blown spark plug, I tried to find a garage that would be able to make the repair by means of the rented repair kit that Ford manufactures but will not permit its own service centers to use, insisting instead to sell customers a new engine head (for somewhere around $3,500) that has the same problem as the engine head that keeps spitting out the spark plugs in the first place. John Calvin and Adam Smith, call your office. Alas, no garage in and around Oneida, New York, that had been recommended to us by Father Edmund Castronovo, on whom we paid a visit when we saw him outside of his church in that community as we were driving around on August 7, were able to be of assistance.
It was the secretary at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church in Syracuse who recommended to us that we try a garage in Tully, New York, some twenty miles south of Syracuse. The gentleman at that garage with whom I spoke over the telephone had the tools to repair the engine if it turned out to be the case that a spark plug had been blown.
"A Georgetown?" the man asked. "I've got the tools." He knew the problem, which Ford denies is the result of design flaw of their making, and told us that it would take several hours to repair the next day, Tuesday, August 8, 2006, if we brought the unit into his shop first thing in the morning. Thus, switching campgrounds on Monday afternoon to be a bit closer to Tully, we arose very early on August 8 and drove the motor home about fifty miles from Turning Stones Campground in Oneida down to Tully, leaving off the motor home in time to get back to Syracuse for Holy Mass at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church at 7:15 a.m.
Thinking that the motor home's engine would be fixed in a few hours and that we would be on our way once again, this time to Ohio, we got some rather stunning news after we had taken Lucy to the famous carousel in a Syracuse mall: the problem was not a blown spark plug. Oh, no. Bolts from the exhaust manifold had been sucked into the engine. The bolts would have to be taken out individually, a time-consuming task that would cost a minimum of $1800 to repair. The gentleman told me that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. It was "just one of those things," he said. Yes, it was "just" one of those things that God knew from all eternity would happen and would be for His greater honor and glory and for our own sanctification as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. As I mentioned before, each cross we are asked to bear has been perfectly fitted for us from all eternity.
We had to go searching, therefore, for a motel room in which to spend the time. That took some time, especially without any prior reservations and without knowing the Syracuse area well enough to know where to look (I did live in Utica, New York, thirty years ago while teaching at Mohawk Valley Cheapo Community College, where the pay was bad you had to pay them for working there!, but I never drove the forty-five miles or so to Syracuse except when just passing through on the New York State Thruway). Once a room was secured, though, we had to drive down to Tully to pack up some things for the motor home for what could be a two or three nights' stay at the motel.
One of the reasons we love our motor home, although it is a means of penance for us (which should cause us to love it even more, I know), is that we rarely have to pack up. We are always home, which is why we decline the generous offers made to us by various Catholics around the nation to stay in their homes. We love our little home. Saint Joseph arranged for its financing in July of 2001 quite miraculously. We are homebodies who never like to be out of our home. Alas, we had no option on August 8, 2006. We had to move out. The process of taking the bolts out of the engine (and of replacing a sway bar that had fallen off, causing the motor home to sway badly from side to side as we drove down the highways and byways of America) would be a lengthy one.
Father Richard Voigt, a Salesian who is in residence at Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (and who would remonstrate with me two months ago about my embrace of the sedevacantist position), was kind enough the next day, Wednesday, August 9, 2006, the Feast of Saint John Marie Vianney, to offer us to stay in the bottom floor of a house across the street from the church. We accepted the generous offer, moving ourselves out of the motel and into the house, which is located in a "challenging" part of Syracuse, shall we say.
A Mouse in the House
Our first and only night in the house saw me do battle with a mouse, who scampered about quite freely from place to place as I set some baited traps for him. (Go on, report me to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) He took the bait, it appears, and lived to tell the tale (or is that tail?) Well I remember the story my late mother, who would have turned eighty-six years of age this coming March 6 had she not died on March 18, 1982, a quarter of a century ago now, told of how a bold little mouse in their house in Harlingen, Texas, scampered across my father's bald head and took a nip out of her own turned-up nose one night while they were trying to sleep, circa 1980 (with our aging beagles, Laddie, then fifteen, and his son, Blanky, then fourteen, fast asleep and completely disinterested in the mouse). I had visions of a mouse scampering across my balding head and taking a nip out of my bulbous nose! Lacking the ability to sleep as I hunted for the mouse, I wrote a few articles for this site.
The next day, Thursday, August 10, 2006, was spent getting some errands done before we got word late in the day that the motor home would be ready to be picked up by around 4:30 p.m. The final cost was well over $2500. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you! Save souls!
Hello, Quiet Engine, Bye, Bye, Generator
Moving back into the motor home after I paid the bill, we headed on off for Ohio on the New York State Thruway, which was to take us into that sliver of northwestern Pennsylvania along Lake Erie and into northeastern Ohio, where we stopped at a campground late that night, August 10, knowing that we could get to evening Mass in Cincinnati the next day, Friday, August 11.
We had not gone too far west of Syracuse in our nice, suddenly quite quiet motor home, however, when the generator, which runs the electricity in the motor home when we are not plugged into a thirty amperage socket, went out. Off went the air conditioner (we have two units, front and rear; the front one has not worked since the summer of 2005 and the back one is gasping for freon in Lafayette, Louisiana, as this is being written). Open went the windows on a hot evening. The three of us said in unison, "All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
The 270 mile trip from Ashtabula, Ohio, to Lebanon, Ohio, for our stay at Olive Branch Campground was penitential in that it was very, very hot. There is no air conditioning emanating out of the dashboard fan. The blower has been inoperable since a man in San Antonio, Texas, pulled fuses in the front of the motor home to try to fix our slideouts on the evening of September 7, 2005. It is bitter cold in the winter and incredibly hot during warmer weather. Indeed, it's gotten up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the front on several occasions (and I still don't lose any weight, thank you). It was while sweating profusely late that afternoon of August 11, 2006, that the odometer on the dashboard rolled over into six digits, registering 100,000 miles. When combined with the 100,000 miles that was placed on the old 2000 Saturn station wagon that was totaled when we were broadsided by a teenaged driver in Middletown, New York, on November 22, 2004, and the 30,000 miles we put on the van we have had now and again and the 50,000 miles we've put on the Trail Blazer since November 30, 2004, we've done about 280,000 miles in the past six years. That's a lot of gasoline stops, especially when driving the motor home, which has an eighty-two gallon tank and gets, at most, five to six miles a gallon.
Olive Branch Campground, although some thirty-one miles from Saint Gertrude the Great Church, proved to be a nice place to have parked the motor home, although we did have to take it out on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Tuesday, August 15, 2006, to get a switch on the generator fixed. We were told that the generator, which never worked well from the first day we had the motor home fresh off the lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had to be replaced, that it would simply peeter out and die one day, which is exactly what happened in December as we were driving from Tucson, Arizona, to Houston, Texas. We did not have $4000 for a new generator. Thus, we hoped and prayed that it would last for a few more trips.
A Month Long Turning Point
Our assisting at daily Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great church proved to be most instrumental in convincing me once and for all that the conciliar church is counterfeit and that it is impossible, therefore, for the Catholic Church to be the author of the errors and the novelties of the past forty years, that it is not possible to say that one is in full communion with a "pope" while one picks and chooses over the course of four decades which documents and disciplinary norms he is going to accept or reject. This is without precedent in the history of the Church. Bishop Daniel Dolan's daily sermons on the lives of the saints were (and remain) most inspiring. We were most edified and uplifted by his kindness and pastoral solicitude for his flock. He is a true pastor of souls. We learned (and continue to learn) so much from His Excellency, who permitted me to speak at Saint Clare's Church in Columbus, Ohio, on September 3, 2006, and at Saint Gertrude the Great Church on September 10, 2006.
Our stay at Olive Branch Campground ended on Monday, September 11, 2006, as we headed off for Holy Mass at Saint Gertrude's offered by Father Oscar Saavedra, who is the pastor at Saint Clare's in Columbus. Although we hoped to be back a week later for a six day-reprise prior to our trip to Akron-and from there to Omaha and Spokane, we were very sad to leave Saint Gertrude the Great. (We were also sad to leave Mary Immaculate Church in Omaha and Mount Saint Mary's Spokane and Our Lady of the Rosary Traditional Catholic Church in Phoenix and Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Stepney, Connecticut.) Lucy says each time we leave one particular place, "I don't want to leave here." We are meant, however, to be on the road.
What Was That?
We went off down the road on Interstate 75 for our 900 mile drive to Florida, intending to get to morning Mass at Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida, the next day, Tuesday, September 12, 2006. I had a few moments of apprehension about an hour and one-half after leaving Saint Gertrude's, encountering a driver near Lexington, Kentucky, who was driving very erratically. The man was all over what was then a three-lane highway. He did not appear to be drunk, just incompetent. He was also driving at an inconsistent rate of speed, first fast and then slow. I made sure to get sufficiently ahead of him so that we would not have an accident. We lost track of him by the time we were in southern Kentucky, passing through the community, Corbin, Kentucky, where the late Colonel Harland Sanders started to serve his fried chicken.
"What was that?" I asked Sharon as we left a gasoline station near Marietta, Georgia, around 8:00 p.m., on Monday, September 12, 2006. "I don't know," was her response. The clanging noise sounded like something had dropped from the motor home. Notice our deep concern. Neither of us looked back. We are used to things falling off of our motor home. As Sharon said, "If we slowed down every time something fell off of our motor home we'd never get anywhere."
The Wisdom of Ralph Kiner
Both of us had our answer as soon as we got back onto Interstate 75: a sway bar had fallen off again. We were swaying back and forth quite precariously as we drove on down the road into the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, passing by Turner Field, where the soon-to-be dethroned, fourteen straight vision champions (three in the Western Division, 1991-1993, eleven in the Eastern Division, 1995-2005) Atlanta Braves were playing the Chicago Cubs. In fact, as Sharon just reminded me, I yelled out the window as we passed by Turner Field, "It's over!!!!!!!!!," doing my best impression of fellow New Yorker Robert Murray Stern. It's the closest I came to a major league baseball game in progress all during 2006. Imagine that, sports fans! Nope, I didn't even drive near my beloved William A. Shea Municipal Stadium at any point during our trips to Long Island in 2006, no less while a game was in progress.
Wonder of wonders, however, we caught up with the erratic driver again as we were swaying from side to side on Interstate 75. He must have passed us when we were standing still getting gasoline outside of Marietta, Georgia. He was still driving erratically, still oblivious to how other drivers were trying most assiduously to avoid all contact with him. I then remembered a line that Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who has been broadcasting games for the New York Mets since their inception in 1962, evidently still doing so, although on a very limited basis, uttered during the broadcast of a game over radio station WJRZ (later WWDJ) in the Spring of 1968. Speaking of an elderly driver who was weaving across the roadway that he had encountered in St. Petersburg, Florida, Kiner said, "He's the sort of driver who will never be in any accident but will cause accidents every day of his life as people try to get out of his way." Mr. Kiner has had some pretty good lines over the years. That was one of his best.
The Not-So-Sunny Sunshine State
Well, we made our way down into Florida, not realizing that we would be returning there in but three months to speak to a group of Catholics who assist a the Immemorial Mass of Tradition offered by Father Francis Miller, O.F.M., in Pensacola. I had to stop, however, at a rest area around 2:00 a.m., just about two hours north of the campground where we had made a reservation. We continued on our way and arriving at the campground with just enough time to make it to an 8:00 a.m. Mass. I detached the car and gathered the family to rush on down to Brooksville for what I thought was an 8:00 a.m. Mass. We had what we call in our little family "the surprise ending;" Mass was at 7:15 a.m. However, there was a Mass at 11:15 a.m., something I wish I knew beforehand but offered up to our good God through His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. I did have a chance, though, to meet brief with the seminary's rector, the Most Reverend Donald Sanborn, whose incisive articles on the situation facing the Church have helped so many Catholics, including me.
We are not enamored with the Sunshine State. So many of the elderly who have moved there waste their days dressing immodestly, living as though they were juvenile delinquents. We had to spend a good deal of our time asking Lucy to close her eyes so as not to have her immortal soul injured by the indecency of the senior citizens. Although it is certainly permissible to retire from a given line of work, it is impermissible to spend one's entire day "relaxing." God expects us to work hard at something, starting with the salvation of our souls, until we die, admitting that physical or mental debilitation may limit the work that can be performed. It has never been any part of Catholic theology that getting to be "old" qualifies one to waste time. Wasting time is a sin, and take it from one who has wasted a lot of time in his life, especially as a child watching television back in the 1950s. Relaxation? Fine. All day long? Every day planned around "leisure" activities and "fun"? No.
The conference that was given in St. Petersburg all day on September 16 went well, although the attendance was minimal. As I explained to the organizers, everything happens in God's Providence. The souls who were there were meant to be there. Recordings were made of the talks, although the young man who recorded the talks was aghast when learning that I had accepted the sedevacantist position, denouncing me in no uncertain terms to his e-mail list. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! We were very grateful to Mrs. Eleanor Drechsel for the hard work she expended in organizing the conference.
After arising early on Sunday, September 17, 2006, we left the KOA Kampground in the St. Petersburg area and drove up for Sunday morning Mass in Brooksville at Most Holy Trinity Seminary, returning to the campground from which we had left on Friday morning to get a few hours of sleep before we hit the road again for Cincinnati, intent on making it to the 11:30 a.m. Mass on Monday, September 18, 2006, at Saint Gertrude the Great. The drive back, although a bit challenging because of the swaying problem, which would not be repaired until we got to Spokane, Washington, a month later, was long and tiring but otherwise without incident. I had to take a bit of siesta in northern Kentucky at a rest area just south of the Cincinnati area, timing the brief nap to miss the rush hour at the I-71/75 bridge over the Ohio River, which is one of the worst bottlenecks of traffic in the whole nation (and this is from a native Long Islander who is quite used to bottlenecks of traffic, thank you).
Off on the Road Yet Again
We managed to park the motor home at the motel near Saint Gertrude the Great and get ourselves to Holy Mass on the morning of September 18, enjoying another six days' worth of Masses there before we left on the morning of Saturday, September 23, 2006, to drive to the Akron, Ohio, area for my talk on the Social Reign of Christ the King at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church on Sunday, September 24, 2006, where we were privileged to meet Father James McGilloway and his parishioners. It was simply a delight to spend time there and we look forward to a return visit at some point.
Although it was my intention to drive straight from Akron, Ohio, to Omaha, Nebraska, to get to Holy Mass the next morning at Mary Immaculate Church there, I recognized after we left Akron that it might not be possible to complete the journey safely, especially since we had to stop in Toledo, Ohio, later on the afternoon of September 24, 2006, to pay one of our all-too-infrequent visits to my late father's widow, Mrs. Joanna Droleskey, who was married to my father for just about ten years prior to his death on September 5, 1992. Joanna was very good to my father, bringing him back into the Faith after he had been away for over four decades and saving him the depths of despair following my mother's death twenty-five years ago. I will always be indebted to Joanna for the good care, spiritually and temporally, she gave to my father in the last ten years of his life. He would have been lost, perhaps for all eternity, without her. And "Grandma Joanna" has been very generous to her step-granddaughter, Lucy, whenever we have paid her a visit, which we hope to do again after Easter this year.
Thus it was that I made the decision while driving through the Chicagoland area about three hours after leaving Toledo not to "push" myself by driving all through the night to Omaha. It is my principal goal as a husband and father to get my family to the daily offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. There are those handful of days in the year, however, when circumstances intervene. I needed to sleep. It had been a long two weeks of driving and lecturing. A determination was made to stop just north of Davenport, Iowa, staying at a campground where we had parked a little over eight months before when I had spoken to a group of Catholics in a community center there. We trudged on the rest of the way to Omaha on Tuesday, September 25, 2006, after having breakfast at a place called The Machine Shed in Davenport, which features a John Deere kind of theme in its six restaurants in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. (Each of the "servers" wears overalls.)
God has a good sense of humor. Omaha was the city where Lucy Mary Norma was baptized, at Saint Patrick's Church, on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2002, four days after her birth, by Father Eric Flood of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. I did not know that Bishop Mark Pivarunas and the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen were located in Omaha, Nebraska, and, of course, I would not have gone there at that time. How good to be on the "right side of the tracks" during our last visit to Omaha, where we situated ourselves at a KOA Kampground in Gretna, just about thirty miles or so west of the complex that is home to the parish and to Mater Dei Seminary.
Upon our arrival at the campground, however, we discovered that the heat and the cooking gas in the motor home were failing to work. The fact that it was the two of them together ruled out the possibility that the motherboard of the furnace had given up its ghost again, as happened in December of 2004 when we were parked at a campground in Saint Charles, Missouri. A mobile recreational vehicle repairman named "Joe" (thank you, Saint Joseph) found the problem to be in a connection at the gas regulator near the propane tank. He had to order some parts for that, also getting a new fixture to cover the vent for our refrigerator, which had taken a beating over the years from tree limbs. We had heat and cooking gas once again, although we would have, as most of you know, renewed problems with the heat come late-December of 2006 and into early January of this year, 2007.
Yet Another Courageous Shepherd
We were introduced to His Excellency Bishop Pivarunas on Tuesday, September 26, finding him to be a most down-to-earth, sincere, humble shepherd of souls. He is also highly intelligent, able to pierce through sophisms in an instant. Blessed with a wonderful, self-effacing sense of humor, Bishop Pivarunas serves the spiritual needs of his flock at Mary Immaculate Church, teaches the students at Mater Dei Academy and at the Seminary, and drives himself in a beaten-up, non-air conditioned 1985 Subaru every other week to say Masses in eastern Colorado and in Denver. His yellow Labrador Retriever, Buster, accompanies him on these trips. His Excellency, however, will also attend to the temporal needs of his flock, being ready, willing and able to put on work clothes and chop down a tree in a parishioner's yard that needs to be taken down. An expert hunter, both with a bow and arrow and a rifle, Bishop Pivarunas once shot a buffalo through the heart with an arrow while perched in a tree. His hunting helps to feed the students at the academy and the seminary!
Our stay in Omaha came at a time when a seminarian, Mr. Randy Welp, was ordained to the subdiaconate by Bishop Pivarunas. This occurred on the Feast of the Dedication of Saint Michael the Archangel, Friday, September 29, 2006. We were most privileged to be able to assist at this Mass, so edified to hear His Excellency's sermon. And what a treat it was for us to visit with the Bishop and Mr. Welp and his family (two of his sisters are sisters in the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen at Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane) at a luncheon after the ordination. It had been just a week before, on September 22, that we had lunched with Bishop Dolan in West Chester at Mitchell's Fish Market. Sharon and I tried to impress upon our dear daughter how blessed we were to get to know and to visit with such courageous shepherds in these times of apostasy and betrayal. We were getting the chance to meet the sort of heroes of the Faith that we have been reading about in the Mary Fabyan Windeatt books about the lives of the saints. What a great grace given to people who took so long to "see" things clearly! Thank you, Blessed Mother.
In addition to my lecture on the Social Reign of Christ the King that was given after Mass on Sunday, October 1, 2006, I also taught for five days in the academy. The boys and girls are taught separately for most of their classes, as should be the case (Pope Pius XI made this abundantly clear in Divini Illius Magistri, December 31, 1929). They were, however, brought together for my own series of lectures, which I enjoyed giving to them so very much. Indeed, it was hard to say goodbye on Wednesday, October 4, 2006 (we wanted to stay until the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, knowing that a long, barren stretch of highway awaited us in the form of Interstate 90; it was highly unlikely that I could make the 1400 mile drive from Omaha to Spokane in one sitting). We knew, though, that we would be seeing His Excellency again at the Fatima Conference in a little over a week. And we looked forward to seeing the good people at Mary Immaculate Queen, two of whom, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Steffens, we had known from our days at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California, at some point in the future. We did not know then that the future was just two rather eventful days away!
Bishop Pivarunas gave us a variety of goodies before we left Omaha (including frozen steaks, frozen hamburger meat, bread, cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes twinkies). One of his seminarians, Dan Sullivan, wrapped the sideview mirror on the passenger side of the motor home with duct tape to prevent it from falling off as it has done several times in the past. And we were privileged to receive yet another episcopal blessing.
"What A Nice Trip We're Having"
Leaving Mary Immaculate Church around 1:00 p.m. on October 4, 2006, we drove up Interstate 29, a route I traversed very frequently when teaching at Morning side College in Sioux City, Iowa, in the 1992-1993 academic year. and during my campaigning for Patrick Joseph Buchanan from December of 1995 through the day of the Iowa caucuses, February 12, 1996. We made excellent time thereafter, passing through the city of Lucy Mary Norma's birth, Sioux City itself, sad that we did not an opportunity to visit with some of our longtime friends there. We said some prayers for them as we passed through Sioux City, which will always have a special place in my heart.
Excellent time was being made as we drove up Interstate 29 into South Dakota, a land where speed limits are real speed limits. There's nothing like a 75 mph speed limit to warm the cockles of a marathon driver's heart, especially when he has to drive over 1400 miles. We continued to make excellent time as we passed through Sioux Falls, South Dakota (not be confused with Sioux City, Iowa, mind you) and turned onto Interstate 90 to drive ourselves out to Rathdrum, Idaho, where I was scheduled to speak at the kind invitation of Father Benedict Hughes, CMRI, at Mary Immaculate Queen Church on Sunday, October 8, 2006 .
Although we did not need to get gasoline, I took advantage of a pit stop in Hartford, South Dakota, to fill up the tank, conscious of the fact that driving 75 mph eats up more gasoline than usual. We thus continued on our merry way, praying our family Rosaries as we did so, passing through Mitchell, South Dakota, the home of the Corn Palace, and rolling on along without incident.
"What a nice trip we're having, " I said as I smiled from ear to ear. My wife chimed in, "Too bad we don't have time to stop in and visit Wall Drug Store," the famous establishment that was some 200 miles west of Mitchell.
"What was that? (part deux)
It was shortly after uttering those words that some kind of flying creature, what exactly we will never know until all is revealed on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead, smashed into the left windshield of the motor home. It was around 5:40 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time, on Wednesday, October 4, 2006. There was no blood, only a feather sticking to the thoroughly smashed windshield.
"What was that?" I asked out loud.
We were in the middle of nowhere, having driven some thirty miles west of Mitchell, South Dakota. What to do? What to do?
Well, we prayed and prayed and prayed. It was hard, very hard, for me to see well enough to drive. As can be seen from the photographs posted at A Pictorial Essay, part 1, I had to lean to the far left side of the windshield to see well enough to drive. Knowing that I had to stop, I exited at exit 296, entering into the community of White Lake, South Dakota, in search of assistance. I did not know if we should drive the motor home beyond White Lake, looking longingly at a sign for a recreational vehicle campground. I did not know how long it would take to get a replacement windshield. I did not know whether it would be better to drive back to Mitchell in the hopes of finding a repair shop--or whether it would be best to drive yet another 236 miles to Rapid City, South Dakota, a larger community than Mitchell, to find a place.
I drove the severely handicapped motor home north down the main street in White Lake, passing by an automobile repair shop on our left as we found ourselves quickly on the outskirts of the town. Turning around on a side street, I made our way southbound on that same main street to ask for assistance at the automobile repair shop. Before I could do so, however, a gentlemen in a car slowed down and motioned to me. "Oh, no," I told myself, "he's going to tell me I have a smashed windshield." No, that wasn't it at all.
Bullwinkle the Moose and White Lake, South Dakota
"You have a headlight out, sir," the man deadpanned in all seriousness as he looked at me.
"Thank you, sir," I said in utter amazement, refraining myself from saying what I really wanted to say: "Are you out of your mind, sir! Don't you see this windshield! And you're worried about a headlight? You can't be serious?" No, I didn't say those things. I wanted to do so, though.
The man's deadpanned concern for the headlight was reminiscent of a line from a Bullwinkle episode in which the erstwhile moose from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, was told by a man in Nevada, "We get less rain in August in Nevada than in any other month." "How much is that?" Bullwinkle asked. "Zero," deadpanned the man.
Well, I stopped at the automobile repair shop in White Lake, which was just about to close for the day. I assayed the damage to the windshield from the outside, and I can say very truthfully that I have never seen a windshield so damaged except as a result of serious head-on collisions.
The folks in the repair shop could do nothing for us. They had no such windshields in stock. They would not have installed a replacement if we had been able to secure one instantaneously. I thanked them for their time and then called our insurance company to find out what to do.
The representatives at GMAC Insurance were helpful when I telephoned on the evening of Wednesday, October 4, 2006. The nearest shop that would be able to install a replacement windshield was in Huron, South Dakota, about seventy-four miles northeast of White Lake. There was a shop in Rapid City, South Dakota, 237 miles to the west. Concerned about getting to Rathdrum in time for my talk--and hopefully in time for First Friday Mass, I said that we would take the chance to drive to Rapid City, knowing that I was indeed taking quite a chance. We thus got back onto Interstate 90 for one of the most harrowing trips of our lives, and this is from one who has now done over a million miles of long distance, marathon driving since Friday, December 29, 1972, when I drove our three beagles (Laddie and his two sons, Blanky and Pokey, who was run over and killed in Harlingen, Texas in September of 1973) from Oyster Bay Cove, New York, to Bryan-College Station, Texas.
A strong wind was blowing from the west as we drove westbound on Interstate 90. Concerned that Sharon and Lucy would be hurt if the windshield collapsed (which Sharon thought at first was a remote possibility because of the lamination that is used in the manufacturing process), I sent them to the bedroom of the motor home, where Sharon prayed Rosaries for the the better part of four hours as I prayed as best I could while trying to see well enough to drive. Very, very fine, sand-like particles of glass (yes, I know that glass is blown from sand) were being blow into my scalp and into my mouth. The particles had a "gritty" feel to them as they were ground by my teeth. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
"That things's coming in on you!"
Sharon came out to the front of the motor home after Lucy had been buckled in and gone to sleep. She said, "That thing's coming in on you! The wind is pushing it in." I replied, "Hey, you told me it couldn't collapse." Sharon said, "Well, I wasn't counting on you driving 240 miles in a driving wind." We both laughed heartily. I asked her to keep praying as I kept driving. We had no option than to get ourselves to Rapid City. (Yes, I did notice that he windshield was getting a little closer to me after Sharon mentioned the phenomenon.)
I drove at a slightly slower speed than usual (my penance was not being able to use the 75 mph speed limit) in order not to do more damage to the damaged windshield as it was being buffeted by the high winds off of the northern plains. Our trip thus took nearly a little over four hours to complete. However, we arrived safely at Berry Patch RV Park in Rapid City at around 10:00 p.m., Mountain Daylight Savings Time, on Wednesday, October 4, 2006. Bracing myself for a cold night as a result of the wind whipping into the motor home from the gaps in the windshield (see photograph at A Pictorial Essay, part 1), I thanked Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and Saint Christopher and Saint Raphael and our Guardian Angels for getting us off the road before the windshield caved in on me, which would have resulted in my decapitation, as Sharon noted to me when she saw that it was being blown in more and more by the wind.
Being in Rapid City would not have been such a bad thing insofar as getting to the daily offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition had we not stopped indulterating three years ago. There is a chapel administered by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Rapid City, at which we even assisted at Mass (offered by an elderly Franciscan who is an unquestionably ordained priest) on a snowy day on November 3, 2003. That was then. We were not going to compromise with what we know to be true. We were not going to give credence to the indult or to praying that we are "una cum" with a putative pontiff who does not believe that the Catholic Church has a mission given her by her Divine Bridegroom to seek with urgency the unconditional conversion of all men on the face of the earth to her maternal bosom. More on that in a few moments.
Two Phones at Once
Anyhow, we found ourselves in Rapid City, having to focus early on Thursday, October 5, 2006, on getting a replacement windshield sent to a glass shop so that we could get on our way to Rathdrum for First Friday Mass and my talk on October 8. After contacting a glass company in Rapid City, whose manager said that he could install a motor home windshield, the representatives of GMAC put me in contact with the representatives from Safelite Auto Glass. The representatives of Safelite Auto Glass put me in contact with representatives from Duncan Systems, the company that stocks and ships motor home windshields for Safelite Auto Glass. Got all of that? Suffice it to say, as can been seen from one of the photograph posted at A Pictorial Essay, part 1, I was on my own cellular phone and Sharon's at one point trying to sort out what was going on and how soon we could have a replacement windshield arrive in Rapid City and installed so that we could get on our way again.
One representative said that a windshield could be shipped via next day air. Not so fast, said another. Shipping a motor home windshield via next day air would cost someone $2200, and that someone was not going be GMAC or Safelite Auto Glass or Duncan Systems. I told them that that someone was not going to be me. The best that could be done, therefore, was to ship it via third day delivery, which meant that it was guaranteed to arrive on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 (which would have been my late father's eighty-seventh birthday had he not died in 1992, as noted earlier). That was cutting things awfully close to make it to Spokane for my dinner talk at the Fatima Conference on Thursday, October 12, 2006. Awfully close. However, we had no other choice. We had to offer this up to the Blessed Trinity through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as her consecrated slaves.
Other choices remained. What do we do about First Friday Mass? What do I do about my talk in Rathdrum? Do we try to drive to Rathdrum in the Trail Blazer so that we could get to First Friday and First Saturday Mass and give the talk in Rathdrum as scheduled, making it necessary for me to fly back and to pick up the motor home and drive to Spokane in time for the Fatima Conference? Do we stay put in Rapid City and simply not go to Mass. I went back and forth most of the morning and into the afternoon before I settled on our plan late that night (after taking Lucy some fifty miles east to see the famous Wall Drug Store complex in Wall, South Dakota, which was started by Catholics who wanted to settle in a place in the 1930s where they could find daily Mass, believe it or not): to take the Trail Blazer and drive back the 522 miles to Omaha to go to Mass for the next four days at Mary Immaculate Church there. Father Benedict Hughes, who had not announced my talk on October 8, was agreeable to postponing it for two weeks, until one week after the end of the Fatima Conference, pushing it back to October 22. Thus, I believed it best to go back to Omaha and get ourselves to First Friday and First Saturday Mass.
I know. I know. Some of you out there in cyberspace will say, "You're crazy. You had a Mass right there in Rapid City. You've really lost it, Droleskey." Well, once again, all gets revealed on the Last Day. I am responsible for my own soul and for that of my wife's and daughter's. I have come to believe that priests ordained by bishops consecrated after 1968 are doubtfully ordained and that they are not offering Holy Mass, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. And I am not going to give any further credence to the indult than I had in my misspent past in the 1990s. No, Bishop Dolan narrowed the path for us during the time we spent at Saint Gertrude the Great from August 11, 2006, to September 11, 2006. We are not going to go backward into a world where error must not be opposed or even acknowledged as error.
Back to Omaha
Thus we got into our Trail Blazer around 9:00 a.m., Mountain Daylight Savings Time, on Friday, October 6, 2006, and drove the 522 miles back to Omaha, making it to 6:00 p.m. First Friday Mass at Mary Immaculate Church with about six minutes to spare. Lucy is so good. This was the first extensive trip we had made in the Trail Blazer since having flown to New York to retrieve it at the beginning of 2006 following our unsuccessful effort to sell it in November of 2005 (see:
Inventive Ways to Steal). She's used to traveling long distances in the motor home, not in the car. However, she was a good girl, occupying herself by playing with her statuettes of saints after we prayed the family Rosaries.
Only Good Until the State Line
We stayed in a Kamping Kabin at the same KOA Kampground in Gretna, Nebraska. We hate hotels. Lots of noise and unruly patrons. The Kamping Kabin suited our purposes just fine. I even got an article or two completed during out stay, which lasted until after Holy Mass on Monday, October 9, 2006. As we knelt for another blessing from Bishop Pivarunas I asked him if this one was going to be any better than his last one, to which His Excellency responded that "My blessings are only good until you cross the state line." What a wonderful shepherd! We then drove back to Rapid City to await the expected arrival of the new windshield. And we wait and wait we did after we dropped the motor home off at the glass shop (and picked up a new headlight at a auto parts store) early on Tuesday, October 10.
Bear Gall Bladders and a Day of Waiting
The windshield had not arrived by noon. It had not arrived by 1:00 p.m. It did not arrive until around 4:00 p.m., after numerous phone calls had been made to Duncan Systems to try to track down the shipment. We had to bide our time until then doing all sorts of things, including taking Lucy to Bear Country, USA, about sixteen miles south of Rapid City. A local newspaper contained a story about how the owners of this drive-through wilderness park and zoo had to pay a fine for selling bear gall bladders in Alaska. The woman at the ticket booth, therefore, was not amused when I asked her if they were still selling bear gall bladders. You think I'm kidding. Here's the story from the June 23, 2006, edition of the Rapid City Journal:
The periodic slaughter of black bears by Bear Country USA, the popular tourist attraction caught up in a federal case over the illegal sale of bear gall bladders, was handled legally under a state permit, state veterinarian Sam Holland said Thursday.
The permitted slaughter included regular inspections by representatives of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, which Holland heads.
But the sale of gall bladders taken from those bears ran afoul of laws in other states and a federal law that protects wildlife species from human exploitation.
Kevin Casey and Brendan Casey, two members of the family that owns and operates Bear Country, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two federal misdemeanor charges of illegally selling bear gall bladders - which are used in alternative medicine - in 2001 to buyers in Spearfish and Alaska. Bear Country USA, as a corporation, pleaded guilty to separate misdemeanor counts of illegally buying and transporting two grizzly bears from Minnesota.
Bear Country,a drive-through wildlife park on U.S. Highway 16 south of Rapid City, had the proper state permits to slaughter and process bears and label the meat products for sale, Holland said Thursday. The slaughtering and processing, which ended several years ago, were handled by RC Western Meats in Rapid City, under inspection by the state, Holland said.
"At the time, RC Western Meats was doing the processing, mostly of individual bears," Holland said. "I don't think we ever had a load of bears, like we have a load of buffalo."
Bear Country USA issued a written statement Wednesday in response to comments on the case by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law-enforcement agent Bob Prieksat of Pierre comparing the bear operation at Bear Country to a "puppy factory."
The Casey's objected to that term, saying that it incorrectly implied that Bear Country USA was "in the business of breeding bears in an inhumane fashion for the purpose of selling them on the open market," when in fact, the operation provided visitors a chance to see bears in "a humane and safe setting."
The Caseys also corrected a statement attributed to Prieksat in the Journal story Thursday saying that bears were kept at the family's 5,500-acre ranch near Wind Cave National Park, noting that there were no bears at that ranch. Bear Country has kept bears at its Cedar Creek Ranch east of Rapid City, which is the one Prieksat was referring to in his comments.
The Caseys declined to be interviewed and limited their comments in the statement released Wednesday "in order to preserve the integrity of our judicial system."
When contacted by phone in Washington, D.C., Holland said he wasn't well-versed on the federal law involved. But Holland said slaughter of the bears and the sale of parts was not a violation of laws or rules administered by the state Animal Industry Board, which regulates and permits the possession and handling of certain nondomestic animals - including legally acquired black bears.
"I'm not familiar with the law on that by other federal agencies. It's my understanding that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is contending that the sale of gall bladder was in conflict with certain federal statutes," Holland said.
Holland said the Caseys had been "good to deal with" over the years and had followed state rules consistently.
Federal court documents contend, however, that the Caseys were in violation of the law and should have known that. The investigation that led to the federal charges began in Colorado, where the sale of bear gall bladders is expressly forbidden by state law. Wildlife officers there received reports of the illegal sale of bear parts from Bear Country USA.
Wildlife officers began investigating the operation in 2001, leading to the guilty plea by Kevin and Brendan Casey for selling 84.5 ounces of bear gall bladder.
In October of 2001, a federal wildlife agent working with Prieksat seized 65 bear gall bladders from storage areas at Bear Country, leading investigators to conclude that the business was doing extensive trading in bear parts. Although the sale of bear gall bladders isn't illegal under the South Dakota Animal Industry Board regulations, the federal Lacey Act - which is being used in this case - makes it illegal to sell parts originating in South Dakota in states where such sales are illegal.
The Caseys admit that they sold gall bladders to Steve Hauff, owner of Prairie Harvest in Spearfish, who sold them to a buyer in Alaska. Alaska state law prohibits the purchase, sale or barter of most black-bear parts, including gall bladders.
Under a plea agreement, the Casey brothers agreed to forfeit the 65 frozen bear gall bladders and pay a fine of about $25,000. In a separate plea arrangement, Bear Country USA will keep the two grizzly bears, with certain stipulations restricting what the business can do with offspring from the animals. Bear Country could also pay an additional fine for that violation.
Putting aside the issue of the bear gall bladders, the wildlife park was very nice. It was a good diversion for Lucy Mary Norma as we awaited the arrival of the windshield, which was installed by around 5:30 p.m. on October 10. We were off on the road again for the 900 mile drive to the Spokane area. As tired then as I am now from writing this travelogue, the only real danger of note that occurred during the long trip was some pretty close encounters with a several herds of elk on Interstate 90 in Wyoming on Montana during the nighttime hours, forcing me to brake rather suddenly (and the Rockies were taking a toll on the motor home's brakes once again). All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you! Save souls!
We arrived in the Post Falls, Idaho, area around 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 11, 2006, the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was our intention to stay at one unnamed campground. Finding it impossible, however, to get into the site that had been assigned to us--and wary of some of the campground's patrons, I explained to the owners that we were going to find another campground, one closer to Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane. This infuriated the owners, who berated me and charged us the equivalent of a three night stay for their "inconvenience."
Tired and just desiring to get to Mass at Mount Saint Michael's in time for the 11:40 a.m. Mass, we found our way to the Alderwood R. V. Resort in Spokane, just about seven miles from Mount Saint Michael's, in time to get settled and get ourselves to Mass. And while we had a bit of challenge following directions to get to Mount Saint Michael's, we got there time, being greeted by one of the first people we saw in the building, the erstwhile Mr. Michael Cain of The Daily Catholic, who has been right on the money about the state of the Church ever since he began investigating the sedevacantist thesis four years ago now. I've been working with Mike for most of the past six years now. How great it was to see him again. How wonderful it was to be at Mount Saint Michael's.We enjoyed our stay there immensely.
Part two of this travelogue will chronicle events from our arrival in Spokane to our most recent trip from Pensacola to Lafayette.
As noted at the beginning of this travelogue, each of us is called to lift high the Cross in his own daily lives. Even absent all of the apostasy and betrayal that emanates from Rome in its conciliar captivity at the present moment, we must remember that we betray Our Lord in small and great ways each day. The only way to pay him back for these acts of betrayal is to do our daily duties for love of Him as the consecrated slaves of His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and to bear our crosses in joy and in gratitude as we recognize that the Holy Ghost Himself inspired the following words to be written:
My son, reject not the correction of the Lord: and do not faint when thou art chastised by him: 12 For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth: and as a father in the son he pleaseth himself. (Proverbs: 3-11)
To be continued.
Vivat Christus Rex!