Scaling the Heights of Sanctity With Joy
Thomas A. Droleskey
One of the reasons I continue the work associated with this site despite the lack of a continuing subsidy from a foundation and without any significant commitment from the general public to provide nominal contributions is that there are souls who write to me to express their gratitude for the articles posted hereon. It is for that reason alone that we keep trying to find some way to meet our monthly obligations without having to cease this work for an indefinite length of time. The articles that appear here are written to give honor and glory to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the hope and prayer that some soul, perhaps one new to Catholic Tradition, will find something of benefit to assist him in his journey in this vale of tears to eternity.
Several truly touching stories have come my way in recent days. These stories are from ordinary Catholics who are seeking the scale the heights of sanctity with joy, souls who are bearing their crosses with fortitude, uniting them with the Cross of the Divine Redeemer as they stand by the foot of that same Holy Cross with our dear Blessed Mother. I want to take a few moments prior to our departure from Wisconsin to the Denver, Colorado, area, to relate these stories, which are full of hope in the midst of suffering to you, my readers.
The first story involves the anguish of a gentleman who is finding his way to Tradition but is afraid that there will be difficulties with his family members, each of whom is committed to the Novus Ordo Missae. Yes, the revolutionaries have been so successful in propagandizing against the Mass as it was taught by Our Lord Himself to the Apostles that men and women who discover the glories of Tradition are faced with the losing spouses and children and other family members and friends for deciding to worship God in the Mass that begins with a priest addressing Him at the foot of the altar and ends with the Gospel of the Incarnation. The hostility for the Mass of Tradition is such that even those Catholics who choose to go to "indult" Masses, no less those who embrace the fullness of Tradition without making any concessions in the direction of the unjust and illicit conditions that have been imposed by the Holy See in the past twenty-one years, must be branded as somehow deranged or otherwise mentally ill for being so inclined. Just as Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston sought to send Father Stephen Zigrang for psychological counseling following his offering of the Traditional Latin Mass at Saint Andrew's Church in Channelview, Texas, on June 28-29, 2003, so is it the case that more than a handful of spouses become concerned about some manifestation of psychological imbalance when their partner in Christ until death parts them finds out that God is most perfectly worshiped and their Catholic Faith preserved whole and intact in the glorious and Immemorial Mass of Tradition.
The gentleman who wrote to me told a story that is indeed quite familiar to me. I know at least two men, one in the West and one in the Southeast, who have been abandoned by their wives because of their commitment to Tradition. Both men are totally consecrated Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. The man in the West is faced with a situation wherein his wife has indeed convinced his children that he is a dangerous lunatic. The children want nothing to do with him. He is not in the least bitter or self-piteous. Quite the contrary. A man of prayer and self-effacement, this good man prays for his wife and children, knowing that each of them will be reconciled in eternity, if not before, if they and he persist until their dying breaths in states of sanctifying grace. He knows that the bearing the cross that God has fashioned for him perfectly from all eternity will help to effect the softening of his wife's heart and the return of his children to his fatherly love. He wants only one thing: to love God with his whole heart, mind, body, soul, and strength as He has revealed Himself through His true Church and to will the good of his wife and children, the ultimate expression of which is the salvation of their immortal souls. However, this man knows that love of God precedes the love of all other creatures, including one's wife and children, and he prefers to be thought a madman than to offend God by knowingly assisting at a Mass he knows to be full of novel profanations.
It is a difficult thing, humanly speaking, to be estranged from one's wife and children and other family members and friends for any reason. We must remember, though, that Our Lord was thought to be a madman by many of the people around whom He grew up and spent his young adult years in Nazareth when He returned to the synagogue there and declared that the Scripture reading He had read was being fulfilled in their hearing. Most of those who followed Him walked away when He preached the doctrine of the Eucharist (Chapter Six of the Gospel According to Saint John). He was abandoned by all but one of His Apostles during His Passion and Death. The human beings for whom He was shedding every single drop of His Most Precious Blood and whom He loved with every fiber of His Most Sacred Heart jeered Him with contempt as He hung atop the stink hole known as Golgotha. No one was more abandoned than Our Lord as He paid back in His Sacred Humanity the blood debt of sin that was owed to Him in His Infinity as God. It is also true, however, that no one was more consoled that Our Lord, Who had His Most Blessed Mother standing by the foot of the Cross as He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood to redeem us.
In like manner, you see, Our Lady stands by the foot of our own crosses. We are never alone in our suffering. Those people who must undergo a situation of stress or estrangement from their spouses in order to show forth their love for Our Lord by worshiping Him in the Mass He taught the Apostles to offer are far, far from alone. Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Andrew, who underwent his own crucifixion to bear witness to the Faith, and all of the angels and the saints, including the Poor Souls in Purgatory, keep us company during each torment we endure in this vale of tears. As I have said over and over again in all of the years of my teaching and speaking and writing, including the period before I could call myself a traditional Catholic, there is nothing that anyone can do to us, nothing that anyone can say to us or about us, nothing that can happen to us that is the equal of what one of our least venial sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross. We must not only bear our crosses with joy, we must pray for those from who we have become estranged as a result of our embrace of the fullness of Catholic Tradition without, as the man I described above, harboring one bit of resentment or bitterness whatsoever.
With this in mind, I wrote the following to the gentleman who had written to me to ask me about what to do in situations where a husband or a wife finds himself or herself becoming more traditional while his or her spouse remains committed to one degree or another to the Novus Ordo Missae:
Yours is a situation not unfamiliar to me. We meet many people in similar situations along the road. Given time constraints, my answer will be relatively brief. However, I will refer you to two good priests to provide you counsel.
We must please God, not any man, including a spouse. Once one comes to the realization that God is offended in the manner of the prayers offered at the Novus Ordo Missae and that the Traditional Latin Mass was taught by Our Lord to the Apostles, then one must run all risks necessary to show forth one's love for God as He is best worshiped. This will cause pain, perhaps even estrangement. The suffering you endure as a result should be offered to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart for the opening of the eyes of your wife and father and other relatives. We must have no contact at all with the Novus Ordo Missae.
Like your own relatives, I believed I was strong enough to endure the problems in the Novus Ordo and went on a daily basis when I could not find the Mass of Tradition daily (I've been going to Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays and Holy Days for well over fourteen years now--and I would seek it out as often as I could during the week in "approved" situations in the 1990s). I was wrong. It was not until I withdrew from the Novus Ordo that I could see the truth of our situation so much more clearly.
There was no one thing that prompted me to withdraw from the Novus Ordo during the week. Essentially, however, I realized that I could not expose my daughter to two different religions and that I would have to make the sacrifice of daily Mass in some instances rather than continue to offend God and jeopardize my own soul and that of my wife and daughter.
Fortunately, I have a wife who had converted to the Faith through the Traditional Latin Mass before I met her. God was preparing her to meet me in March of 2001. She has been a tremendous influence in my decisions to embrace Tradition without compromise. If either of us lost the graces that have been given to us, though, I can assure you that the one of us who remained Traditional would continue to assist exclusively at the Traditional Latin Mass.
Continue offering your Rosaries for your wife. Commend her to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Just keep praying that she will come to see that we must worship God only in the way He Himself taught the Apostles to worship Him.
I had sent a copy of my e-mail to Father Patrick Perez, whose oasis of the Faith at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California, continues to grow week after week. Father Perez wrote back to me with a most touching story, one that I hope will inspire men and women in situations of "mixed marriages" (Traditional-Novus Ordo) to persevere in the grace of Tradition and to trust in the love of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart:
I read the letter to the man whose wife remains N.O. . Just thought you might like to know that we have many similar cases here, but one in particular stands out this week. Leonard Cruz has been a parishioner for some time, but his wife Jacklyn, a convert from Protestantism to the N.O., chose to stay there a while. Three weeks ago she finally decided that the time was right to become traditional and started coming to Mass faithfully with her husband; she was very happy at Our Lady Help of Christians. The day before Thanksgiving she went into the hospital with some complaints and was given the complete care of the Sacraments by Fr. Sretenovic. She died Friday night of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 40 years. She and Leonard had been married 22years and there were never any children. Her Rosary is tomorrow at 7, and funeral will be Thursday at 10. Please keep her and Leonard in your prayers.
There are many miracles of grace in this remarkable and moving story.
The first is that Father Patrick Perez, who knows more about Immemorial Mass of Tradition than even the late Michael Davies, is carrying on the work that had been begun by Father Frederick Schell in southern California. Heedless of all of the names is called and all of the shots that are taken against the work that he is doing, Father Perez just serves souls day after day after day. He will go anywhere at any time of day or night to counsel the doubting and to administer the sacraments to the sick and the dying. Knowing full well that he is exercising his absolute rights under Quo Primum to offer the Traditional Latin Mass regardless of episcopal sanction, Father Perez's priestly witness is helping even those who have left the Church entirety in recent years, no less those who have had to endure the horrors of the Diocese of Orange and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to find their way back into the practice of the Faith and the frequenting of the sacraments. The fact that over 800 people assist at the three Masses at Our Lady Help of Christians on Sundays is nothing less than a miracle of grace.
The second miracle in this story is that Mr. Cruz kept praying for his wife to join him in his embrace of Catholic Tradition, demonstrating that we are never to give up in our prayers for relatives and loved ones who do not share our embrace of Tradition. We should not only pray for the repose of the immortal soul of Mrs. Jacklyn Cruz, we should pray to her in a special way for the needs of all spouses, both men and women, who are divided over the matter of the Traditional Latin Mass. She died within hours of having received the sacraments. Even if she is not in Heaven, her prayers from Purgatory will be most helpful to support men and women who are enduring the pain caused by growing in the Faith to such an extent that they realize God must be worshiped in a fitting and reverent manner, not one in which the "assembled people of God" become the focus of attention and praise.
The third miracle in this story is that Father Paul Sretenovic was in southern California to minister to the sacramental needs of Mrs. Cruz when she went into the hospital. It was just a year ago this Saturday that Father Sretenovic was taken to lunch by my wife and I at the North Star Diner in Wayne, New Jersey. Father listened to us as we explained to him the importance of offering the people their baptismal birthright, the Traditional Latin Mass and all of the sacraments according to the traditional rite. A few seeds were planted. Father Lawrence C. Smith, however, then in California himself, explained the situation to Father Sretenovic over the telephone with his characteristic frankness and clarity. It was within twenty minutes that Father Sretenovic was writing to his archbishop to explain his decision to leave his archdiocesan assignment. Father Sretenovic, who was on call while Father Perez was visiting his parents in northern California and offering Holy Mass at Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel in San Jose, was there to help Mrs. Cruz have a happy, holy, and sacramentally provided for death. Yes, the first law of the Church is the salvation of souls. Father Sretenovic is in a position to give souls the fullness of the Catholic Faith without compromise and to available to serve the sheep who have sought out their baptismal birthright in the catacombs, so to speak, after fleeing from the rot of the diocesan structures. What a miracle that this good young priest was able to provide Mrs. Cruz with the care of the Sacraments.
Those who find themselves in marriages troubled by our ecclesiastical crisis must neither despair nor surrender to the easy path of human respect. They must persevere in the Via Crucis, the Via Dolorosa. And the same applies to those of us who have lost friends, including priests, as a result of our embrace of Tradition. All of the just will be reconcile one unto the other on the Last Day. The prayers and sacrifices we offer for those who consider us daft for doing what we must do to worship God fittingly and to save our souls are not in vain. Sometimes the results are to be seen even in this life, as Mr. Cruz was blessed to realize before his dear wife of twenty-two years died.
The other touching story of scaling the heights of sanctity with joy involves a matter that is common to many women: the loss of an unborn child as a result of a miscarriage. Mind you, I am not even discussing the pain and emotional distress that women who have killed their unborn children, either by chemical or surgical means, experience for years on end, sometimes even after they have received the soothing balm of Absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. No, I am discussing the matter of the pain associated with miscarriages.
We have experienced this pain firsthand. Sharon lost Lucy Mary Norma's brother or sister, whom we named Jacob Therese Marie, on December 29, 2003, while we were in California. Sharon was only early in her pregnancy when she lost the baby. Having just listened to a recording of a catechism class given by Father Phil Wolfe of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, however, we knew exactly what to do to try to save our child's soul. With the help of her Guardian Angel, Sharon found an intact sac containing the child. I examined it after she had found it, recognizing it indeed as our child.
Following the instructions that Father Wolfe had given in his class, I punctured the sac, pouring Holy Water over the child as I did so, saying, "If it is possible, I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." As we do not know precisely when the soul leaves the body, a conditional baptism in this instance makes it possible for an unborn child who has died in the womb to know the glory of the Beatific Vision. We will not know for sure until eternity. Granted. However, there was for us great consolation in the midst of the loss in knowing that we had done all we could do to save our child's soul. Sharon, who is as brave a soldier of Christ as I have ever met in my entire life, was actually joyful in having been able to bring forth a life that might very well be in Heaven to await our own entrance there should we, please God and His Most Blessed Mother, persevere until the end in states of sanctifying grace. Father Perez buried our child on January 1, 2004, after Mass on the Feast of the Circumcision. It was a most moving rite.
A Catholic gives all of his joys and sorrows to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart without counting the cost. The sorrow of the loss of an unborn child turns naturally into joy when one considers that the whole point of human existence is to live in such a way as to have a holy death and thus enjoy the glory of the Beatific Vision in Heaven for all eternity. A child baptized in the circumstances described above goes straight to Heaven if his soul had not departed his body by the time the conditional baptism was administered. Rather than surrender to maudlin sentimentality and depression, a Catholic is called to rejoice in God's Holy Will and to give all to Him through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sharon's only Catholic sister, Bridget Turpin, who had converted to the Faith through the Traditional Latin Mass two years before her, lost her own unborn child, Blandine or Benedict Turpin, a few days ago. She wrote to us early on Sunday morning, November 27, 2005, fearful that she was losing her baby, saying that she was standing by the foot of the Cross with Our Lady as she watched her Son die. This is what she wrote to a friend after she had indeed miscarried the child on Monday, November 28, 2005:
I am celebrating tonight!
Sounds weird from a woman in the midst of miscarriage pain and
cramps. But I am. I believe that God answered completely my prayer
tonight. A few days ago when I realized that I was losing the baby, I
asked only one thing of Our Lord: (and that I asked at Divine Mercy
Hour because I am a crafty negotiator and know how to put the cards
in my favor...)
I asked Him to allow me to find the baby intact, so I could recognize
it and baptize him, and that He, being All-Powerful, would keep the
soul intact until the baptismal water flowed over his tiny body. God
knows that I would have rather carried this baby to full term only to
watch it die in my arms baptized, than to let him go now unapprised.
And tonight, after many days of lessening hope, out came, with
nothing else, a one or two inch long sac completely intact and
clearly recognizable, with clear fluid inside and a small red area
inside and out attached to each other...
So I pinched it open as we are supposed to do and let flow the Holy
Water, "if possible, I baptize thee..." Tomorrow I will bury my
And if God is all-powerful, which He is, and if He answers the prayers that He promises to answer, which He does, then my baby is in
Heaven tonight. (And I do not know if this syllogism I just poured
forth answers all the requirements of logic to be valid, I don't even
know all the rules of logic after a semester of studying them, but
with Faith, its validity is foolproof!)
That Sharon Lucy Droleskey and Bridget Turpin are Catholic and see the events of their lives so clearly through the eyes of the Faith is truly a miracle of grace. There are millions upon millions of cradle Catholics who are steeped in the despair and emptiness of a naturalistic, earthbound way of looking at their lives and the world around them, partly the result of the influence of Modernity in the world and partly the result of Modernism in the Church. Their clear embrace of the Cross in some of the most tragic circumstances that women can face should inspire other Catholic women to do the same. Both Sharon and her sister Bridget have been given the grace to recognize God's hand in everything that happens to them, accepting the simple fact that God has known from all eternity that each event of our daily lives would occur and that His grace is sufficient to deal with them, no matter how painful or mysterious. May their grasp of the sensus Catholicus help other women in similar circumstances to take actions to save their unborn children's souls and to give their babies a Catholic burial. Like the spouses enduring the crosses of rejection for their embrace of Tradition, Sharon and Bridget, who are closer as sisters in the Faith than they ever were before as sisters in blood, are truly scaling the heights of sanctity with joy.
May each of us attempt, especially during this penitential season of Advent, to scale the heights of sanctity of joy, keeping Our Lady company at the foot of the Cross in the Mass of all ages and offering ourselves to her Immaculate Heart as he consecrated slaves each day, especially by our meditative and reflective praying of her Most Holy Rosary.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of the Unborn, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.
Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us.
Saints Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Rita, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Barbara, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, pray for us.
Saint Ambrose, pray for us.
Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Saint Juan Diego, pray for us.
The Christmas Novena, which begins today, November 29, and ends on the Vigil of Christmas (said fifteen times a day)
Hail and blessed be the hour
And moment in which the Son of God
Was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
At midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my God!
To hear my prayer and grant my desires,
Through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
And of His Blessed Mother. Amen