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July 9, 2004


by Thomas A. Droleskey

The history of the true Church is replete with examples of men and women, coming from the ranks of both the clergy and the laity, who laid down their lives rather than choose the easy, comfortable path of cowardice and human respect to avoid making the ultimate sacrifice in behalf of the totality of the Catholic Faith. Thousands upon thousands of Catholics were forced to choose between the Faith and rendering unto the Roman Emperor a false worship that is forbidden by the First Commandment. Many of these Catholics were martyred before the cheering multitudes in arenas throughout the Roman Empire. Some of these first martyrs were killed simply because they were Catholics, people who held beliefs that were unfashionable and even threatening to the political and culture elite of Ancient Rome. This kind of martyrdom has continued to our very day, as will be discussed later in this essay.

One of the fiercest persecutions occurred in the wake of the Protestant Revolt in England, a period that lasted intermittently between 1534 and 1729. This epoch of persecution against English Catholics who remained faithful to Tradition and Truth despite being threatened with the loss of their physical property and their very lives began when King Henry VIII sought to exterminate any Catholic who would not acknowledge him as Supreme Head of the Church in England and recognize his marriage to Anne Boleyn as legitimate. Over 72,000 Catholics, fully three percent of the population of England at the time, were slaughtered just between 1534 and 1547. More were killed under the reign of Elizabeth I, including Saint Edmund Campion, and more yet during the bloody reign of the despicable anti-Catholic bigot and despot named Oliver Cromwell when his Puritan Roundheads controlled England between 1649 and 1660. The Catholics who went to their deaths during this period of time remained steadfast in their observance of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, seeing in the multifaceted aspects of the English Protestant Revolt liturgical novelties that undermined and supplanted the Faith of the Fathers. How tragically ironic that many of the liturgical novelties that were resisted by the English Martyrs wound up being adopted by the true Church herself as she came under the influence of her own Modernist revolutionaries (Annibable Bugnini and company, working under the aegis of papal approbation during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI).

Saint John Fisher was the only one of one hundred bishops who resisted King Henry Tudor's unjust and illicit claims when they were asserted in the early 1530s. Another thirty or so were remained faithful during the reign of Elizabeth I, who sought to imitate her father's vengeful fury as she undid the efforts of Queen Mary, her half-sister, to restore England to the Faith. Nevertheless, the Bishop of Rochester, John Fisher, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul III as he awaited his execution, was the only Successor of the Apostles in Henry's England who was willing to remain faithful to the Deposit of Faith and to the fullness of Tradition by paying the ultimate price of his very life. Saint John Fisher is thus the model for all contemporary bishops to pattern themselves after as the State makes its own unjust claims upon the Church and as the Church herself abandons Tradition in behalf of the very regime of novelty cooked up by Thomas Cranmer and his cronies.

Oh, there are a few Saint John Fishers in our own day. The Archbishop of Saint Louis, the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Burke, has shown himself to be fearless in resisting the unjust claims of the civil state to possess the authority to repeal the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Numerous bishops of the true Church, which operates in an "underground" manner in the so-called People's Republic of China, have been arrested and tortured in recent years, with nary a word of protest from any politician of either major political party in this country and without so much as a peep from the likes of Roger Cardinal Mahony and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, men who have much more in common with the Protestant Revolutionaries of Henry's England and the bishops of the so-called Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in Red China. Few American Catholic bishops pay any attention to the plight of their persecuted brothers in Red China, no less bother to give active support to the efforts of Joseph Kung, the nephew of the late Ignatius Cardinal Kung (who was elevated to the College of Cardinals himself while he was in prison), and his Cardinal Kung Foundation to come to the aid of the persecuted Church there. The bishops of the underground Church in Red China are the contemporary embodiments of the spirit of Saint John Fisher. With a few exceptions here and there in various parts of the world, they have no equals, especially in the "developed" world of Europe and North America.

There are numerous priests, though, who have exhibited the courage of Saint John Fisher in resisting the regime of novelty that has been imposed by Catholics unjustly by the highest authorities in the Church in the past forty years. The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was one of the most famous of these. Father Gommar DePauw even predates Archbishop Lefebvre in breaking publicly from the third wave of revolutionary changes ushered in by the publication of the Ordo Missae of 1965. (The first wave of changes came with the Holy Week "reforms," instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII, who accepted uncritically what we know now to be the false claims of one Monsignor Annibable Bugnini that the "reforms" were the "restoration" of an earlier Holy Week liturgy. The second wave came with the Missale Romanum of 1962, issued by Pope John XXIII, that included radical changes in the liturgical calendar, the suppression of the Confiteor prior to the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful, and the separation of the connection between the Gloria and the Ite, misse est, thereby eliminating the Bendicamus Domino as the norm in Masses where the Gloria had not been prayed.)  The late Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani saw the problems with the Novus Ordo Missae, imploring Pope Paul VI in 1969 not to implement it. The late Father Frederick Schell, S.J., refused to give out Communion in the hand, setting forth to offer the people of the Los Angeles, California, area the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, which he continued to do until a few months before his death on September 28, 2002. And Father Paul Wickens, who died on July 8, 2004, resisted the unjust and illicit efforts of the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, the Most Reverend Peter Leo Gerity, to implement sex-instruction programs in his parish.

Father Wickens understood the harm of all sex-instruction programs, knowing that it is never permissible to discuss the delicate subject of marital intimacy in classroom settings, taking quite seriously the absolute ban on all such classroom instruction that had been imposed by Pope Pius XI in Divini Illius Magistri in 1929.

Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.

Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.

In this extremely delicate matter, if, all things considered, some private instruction is found necessary and opportune, from those who hold from God the commission to teach and who have the grace of state, every precaution must be taken. Such precautions are well known in traditional Christian education, and are adequately described by Antoniano cited above, when he says: "Such is our misery and inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself. Hence it is of the highest importance that a good father, while discussing with his son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not descend to details, nor refer to the various ways in which this infernal hydra destroys with its poison so large a portion of the world; otherwise it may happen that instead of extinguishing this fire, he unwittingly stirs or kindles it in the simple and tender heart of the child. Speaking generally, during the period of childhood it suffices to employ those remedies which produce the double effect of opening the door to the virtue of purity and closing the door upon vice."

False also and harmful to Christian education is the so-called method of "coeducation." This too, by many of its supporters, is founded upon naturalism and the denial of original sin; but by all, upon a deplorable confusion of ideas that mistakes a leveling promiscuity and equality, for the legitimate association of the sexes. The Creator has ordained and disposed perfect union of the sexes only in matrimony, and, with varying degrees of contact, in the family and in society. Besides there is not in nature itself, which fashions the two quite different in organism, in temperament, in abilities, anything to suggest that there can be or ought to be promiscuity, and much less equality, in the training of the two sexes. These, in keeping with the wonderful designs of the Creator, are destined to complement each other in the family and in society, precisely because of their differences, which therefore ought to be maintained and encouraged during their years of formation, with the necessary distinction and corresponding separation, according to age and circumstances. These principles, with due regard to time and place, must, in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that, namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public.

Recalling the terrible words of the Divine Master: "Woe to the world because of scandals!" We most earnestly appeal to your solicitude and your watchfulness, Venerable Brethren, against these pernicious errors, which, to the immense harm of youth, are spreading far and wide among Christian peoples.

In order to obtain perfect education, it is of the utmost importance to see that all those conditions which surround the child during the period of his formation, in other words that the combination of circumstances which we call environment, correspond exactly to the end proposed.

As was the case with Pope Pius XI before him, Father Wickens knew that it was patently immoral to attempt to prevent young people from falling into sins of the flesh by exposing them to the near occasions of sin by means of what is contained in all forms of "sex-instruction," including so-called chastity-based education. A person does not need instructions in various forms of murder in order to observe the precepts of the Fifth Commandment. A person does not need instructions in various forms of theft in order to observe the precepts of the Seventh Commandment. Similarly, all a person needs to know try to resist temptations to sin against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments is the following: 1) The prohibitions contained in the Sixth and Ninth Commandments; 2) the positive commands of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments; 3) exhortations to persevere in daily prayer, especially by means of Daily Mass and Eucharistic piety and total consecration to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart; 4) exhortations to cooperate more fully with sanctifying grace to grow in holiness and to avoid all of the near occasions of sin. That's all. If one should sin against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, then they must be reminded of the Divine Mercy that awaits them in the Sacrament of Penance and of the supernatural helps received therein to start one's life over again and to become great saints in the manner of Saint Mary Magdelene and Saint Augustine, among others.

Father Wickens resisted efforts by Archbishop Gerity to impose this rot upon the young parishioners entrusted to his pastoral care unto eternity. At at time when all but a handful of his brother priests surrendered to the evil novelty in the life of the true Church (many of them doing so because they did not want to lose their pastorates or because they felt it was useless to resist and thus be stigmatized as "disobedient"), Father Wickens went the extra mile, being rewarded with canonical suspension for his refusal to comply with his archbishop's unjust demands. Father Wickens even refused to leave his rectory until a court order forced him out. He knew that the mere fact that an order had been issued by a metropolitan archbishop did not make the order just, giving a manly example of courage.

Throughout the remaining twenty or so years of his life, Father Wickens sought to keep the true Faith alive as best he could, remaining a man of humility and total service to the pastoral needs of the parishioners who help build the impressive church, Saint Anthony of Padua, where he offered the Immemorial Mass of Tradition (partly at the late Father Frederick Schell's urging) until he became too ill with esophageal cancer to do so. His care for souls and fidelity to the truths of the Holy Faith were very much, therefore, in the spirit of Saint John Fisher. Father Wickens did indeed give up everything he had insofar as career prestige was concerned to defend the integrity of the souls he knew had been purchased by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood. How very sad that an ecclesiastical authority told Father Wickens two years ago that the price of his "regularization" by the Archdiocese of Newark consisted of his apologizing to the Archbishop Gerity, who has been retired since 1986, for having resisted the latter to the face in the matter of sex-instruction. May God have mercy on this gentle priest's pastoral soul.

Oh, yes, there are plenty of examples of Saint John Fishers in the priesthood in this country and elsewhere in the world, men who recognize the Protestantized nature of the Novus Ordo Missae and of the warfare made against the true Church by wolves in shepherds' clothing, men who insist that matters of de fide doctrine can be changed or interpreted anew in light of the regime of novelty that has been imposed by the Church herself in the past forty years.

There are also plenty of Saint Thomas Mores around, although you will not too many of them in the realm of partisan politics. That is, there are lay people, both men and women, who have remained entirely faithful to Truth and Tradition no matter what it has cost them in the midst of this passing world. The late Walter Matt walked away from his birthright at The Wanderer to found The Remnant because he recognized that nothing but rotten fruit was going to be produced by the novelties that would be characterized later by Pope John Paul II as having brought about "the springtime of the Church." With no money and no assurance that his new publication would be successful, Mr. Matt simply trusted that God would reward him for taking a stand in behalf of that which was believed and practiced by every saint in the Catholic Church prior to 1958. So many others come to mind as well, including those who have eschewed whatever "success" they may have enjoyed in the midst of the Church and/or the world for running the risk as being known as "schismatic" and "disobedient" and "heretical." And this includes those who have stood up for the Faith in general in the midst of the world, sometimes suffering the loss of jobs and income and prestige as a result.

Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More are thus saints for all seasons. Bishops and priests should be inspired to resist the civil authorities who seek to command obedience to ordinances that violate the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. All Catholics should be inspired to resist not only the civil authorities but also those ecclesiastical authorities who deny Catholics their right to the Traditional Latin Mass and who foment violence to God and to His Most Blessed Mother when countenancing abominable acts of false worship offered by Hindu "priests" in Catholic churches and shrines, as happened on May 5, 2004, in the Chapel of the Apparitions in the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. Father Nicholas Gruner's own courage in resisting the de-construction of Our Lady's Fatima message and in pointing out what is actually happening in Fatima at present is also the stuff of which martyrs are made.

We know that the Church is Divinely founded. She will last until the end of time. We know that the errors of Russia, which are the errors of Modernity and Modernism, will not be vanquished until some pope actually consecrates Russia properly with all of the world's bishops to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. Nevertheless, we must pray fervently that at least a few more Saint John Fishers will be raised up in the ranks of our bishops and priests. We are sheep. We need shepherds who are going to resist all injustice, whether ecclesiastical or civil, in order to plant the seeds for restoration of that which was overthrown by the Protestant Revolution: the Social Reign of Christ the King and of Mary our Immaculate Queen.

Vivat Christus Rex!

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.

Saint John Fisher, pray for us.

Saint Thomas More, pray for us.

All of the English Martyrs, pray for us.






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