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November 21, 2004

The Faith Must Be Defended

by Thomas A. Droleskey

[Author's note: an earlier version of this article implied that Christopher Ferrara's scholarly article in The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture, was asserting that there were heresies in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The reference to heresies and errors was to the spirit of Modernism abroad in the Church before the Council, not specifically to Mr. Ferrara's essay. I have corrected the phraseology so as to state precisely the thrust of Mr. Ferrara's article. Apologies are hereby offered for any inadvertent confusion caused by the original phrasing.]

There is yet one week left in the Church's liturgical year, a time during which our attention is drawn to the fact that Our Lord will come in glory at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. None of us knows when the Second Coming is going to occur. Then again, none of us knows when Our Lord is coming for us at the end of our lives. Not even a terminally ill patient, barring some mystical revelation, knows the exact moment of his death. Thus, the Church's liturgy in the last week of the liturgical year reminds us that "end times" can occur for us at any time, which is why we must be prepared at all times for the moment of the Particular Judgment.

As His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bernard Fellay of the Priestly Fraternity of the Society of Saint Pius X has been noting in conferences he has been giving around the United States and Canada in recent weeks, Our Lord knew from all eternity that we would be living in these troubling times. Bishop Fellay noted that while the Apostles were frightened as the waves buffeted the boat they were on, Our Lord, sleeping during the midst of the storm, knew the exact height of the waves and the exact force of the winds. As the Master of all things, Our Lord was able to raise His hand and to calm the waves and the wind. Bishop Fellay noted this Gospel story to explain to us that we must remain calm in the midst of the troubles besetting the Barque of Peter at present, understanding that Our Lord is no more "asleep" now than He was in the boat--and that He can resolve all things in an instant if He so wills. That is, the graces won for us on Calvary by the Invisible Head of the true Church, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, are sufficient for us to bear the crosses we are asked to bear at a time in salvation history when the Visible Head of the true Church, Pope John Paul II, and so many bishops are responsible for helping to foster and promote novelties, including the Novus Ordo Missae, that are harmful to the sanctification and salvation of human souls.

Bishop Fellay is not counseling a form of quiet withdrawal in the midst of the Church's difficulties. Not at all. Indeed, the lion's share of his conferences around the United States and Canada has been devoted to a methodical, scholarly and very Catholic analysis of the errors of modern ecumenism, especially as articulated by Walter Cardinal Kasper. In calm and measured tones, sprinkled with a good deal of gentle humor and irony, Bishop Fellay has been reminding his listeners that is the duty of Catholics to oppose errors quite openly, although doing so in all charity and patience, but nevertheless with persistent firmness. That is, the Faith must be defended when it is under attack, no matter if the attacks are being waged by "well-meaning" individuals in the highest quarters of the Church.

This is very important to remember. There are some traditional Catholics who have been contending lately that it is not necessary to point out and to thus oppose the harmful nature of the Novus Ordo Missae, for example. These individuals believe that we must stress the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass without engaging in the "controversy" of criticizing the Novus Ordo Missae or of criticizing the errors of the Second Vatican Council. Such people believe that the beauty and truth of Tradition will in due time win out over the homeliness and the errors of Modernity and Modernism. We should be attracting people to the cause of Tradition by stressing the positive rather than engaging in harangues about the negative.

Well, it is certainly the case that the faithful do not need to be subjected to angry screeds from the pulpit week after week about the horrible state of the Church. A priest's principal obligation to the flock entrusted to his pastoral care unto eternity is to help his sheep get home to Heaven, to help them to be prepared at every moment of their lives for their own Particular Judgments. The faithful need to be exhorted to the pursuit of the highest degree of sanctity possible by cooperating with graces they receive in the sacraments. They must be exhorted to be totally consecrated to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, offering to her all of the travails of our personal lives as well as those that afflict Holy Mother Church. And the faithful must be exhorted to pray fervently for the Holy Father and for the bishops, never harboring bitterness about their mismanagement of the Church and always recognizing that each one of our own sins add to the problems in the Church and the world. It is especially important for these fundamental truths to be preached in times when the devil wants to tempt us into despair and an empty anger that seeks to strike out at all who are deemed responsible for taking away from us that which is our baptismal birthright: the Traditional Latin Mass and the fullness of the Catholic Faith that is best expressed and protected therein.

Having noted all of this, though, it is important also to point out that it has never been the case in the history of the Catholic Church that error has been fought successfully only by "stressing the positive" without directly confronting and opposing the error. Arianism was opposed actively by the likes of Saint Athanasius, who was willing to endure an unjust exile as the price of his fidelity to the fullness of truth without even the hint of compromise with the forces of heresy and error. Saint Dominic fought the Albigensenes very openly, using Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary as the spiritual weapon for the faithful to use against this particular heresy. The Council of Trent and the Catholic Counter-Reformation sought to oppose the errors of Protestantism. Pope Saint Pius X confronted Modernism, spelling out how its essential elements, many of which found their way into the proceedings and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in Pascendi Domenici Gregis. The heresies and errors condemned by Pope Saint Pius X were able to emerge from the netherworld precisely because Pope John XXIII relaxed the vigilance of the Church against them and actually prohibited any criticism of Communism, for example, in the Second Vatican Council. The resultant ambiguities murky up the waters of the conciliar documents, infecting the Mystical Body of Christ with a variety of viruses, the subject of a very scholarly article by Christopher A. Ferrara in a recent issue of The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture.

Bishop Bernard Fellay understands all of this, which is why he is refusing to make an agreement with the Holy See on the canonical status of the Society of Saint Pius X that would involve silencing the Society's priests and laity from critiquing the Novus Ordo and the novelties of the conciliar and postconciliar eras. Bishop Fellay has pointed out that each of the Ecclesia Dei communities (Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Institute of Christ the King, the Benedictine monks of Le Barroux, the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, the Society of Saint John) formed since 1988 has been compromised by the Vatican's insistence that there be no overt criticism of the Novus Ordo Missae or the Second Vatican Council. And Bishop Fellay has noted that Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan of the Society of Saint John Marie Vianney in Campos, Brazil, has retreated from a very public opposition to the Novus Ordo Missae and the errors of the conciliar and postconciliar eras, the subject of a recent article of mine in Catholic Family News. Indeed, the extent of the difference between the positions taken by Bishop Rifan before his community's "regularization" in December of 2001 and his carefully measured words and confusing actions since that time can be see simply be reading Dr. David Allen White's The Mouth of the Lion. The Vatican does not want open opposition to the errors of the past forty-six years. It does not want to give traditional Catholics a blank check, if you will, to point out the contradictions between the novelties of recent decades and the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church. Most of the apparatchiks in the Vatican want traditional Catholics to accept the little crumbs that are offered to them without complaint--and without mentioning the nasty little fact that Pope Saint Pius V's Quo Primum enshrines in law what is their absolute right: unfettered access to the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.

The inability of priests to maintain the integrity of the fullness of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church in the ecclesiastical structures infected by the Novus Ordo Missae is what prompted Father Stephen Zigrang to offer the Traditional Latin Mass on June 28-29, 2003, at Saint Andrew's Church in Channelview, Texas, understanding that he might suffer severe canonical penalties for doing so. Father Lawrence Smith walked out of his parish in the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, on September 8, 2003, writing a week later that no priest could be forced to offer the new Mass or be denied the right to say the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. Father Stephen Somerville knew he was running the risk of canonical penalties by offering Holy Mass for the Society of Saint Pius X. These priests have come to recognize what many others (Father Gommar DePauw, Father Harry Marchosky, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Walter Matt, Hamish Frasier, Michael Davies) were given the salutary grace from Our Lady to have understood from the beginning of the overt manifestations of the liturgical revolution: that there is no accommodation possible between Catholic truth and the errors of the past forty-six years. These newer additions to the ranks of traditionalism in the priesthood have come to recognize that the faithful have the absolute, unfettered right to the Traditional Latin Mass and that they have the absolute, positive obligation to place themselves in canonical jeopardy to do so, being willing to run the risk of having unjust ecclesiastical sanctions, including suspension and excommunication, imposed upon them as the price of their fidelity to the fullness of Catholic truth.

Although there are some who contend that we should "wait for Rome" to erect an Apostolic Administration to provide full canonical protection for traditional Catholics, such an Apostolic Administration is likely to be founded not on the grounds of Quo Primum but on a "generous" concession from the Holy See to the "desires" of those who "remain attached to some previous liturgical discipline of the Church." An entity founded on false presuppositions is bound to deteriorate over time. That is why the entire conciliar foundation for the so-called "liturgical reform," Sacrosanctum Concilium, was bound to produce rotten fruit as it was premised upon the false, antiquarian presuppositions of Pius Parsch and other leaders of the Liturgical Movement. Thus, our own efforts to restore the Traditional Latin Mass--and thus the fullness of the Catholic Faith--must be founded in nothing less than the fullness of truth without compromise and without a willingness to silence ourselves about the errors being promoted by the Pope and his associates. The Faith needs to be defended when it is under attack.

Consider the words of Pope Leo XIII in Sapientiae Christianae, issued in 1885:

But when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with the power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of the faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains, "Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers." To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good.

Pope Leo XIII had in mind the enemies of the Faith in the secular world when he wrote Sapientiae Christianae. However, one has to be willfully blind not to see that the enemies of the Faith are within the Church herself these days and that we have the duty to help to uproot the errors being promoted by these enemies. And although there are clericalists who contend that the laity have no role to play in this defense of the Faith, Pope Leo XIII noted otherwise in Sapientiae Christianae:

No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not indeed the office the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. "All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Saviour, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from Holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith." Let each one therefore bear in mind that he can and should, so far as may be, preach the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and by open and constant profession of the obligations it imposes. In respect consequentially to the duties that bind us to God and the Church, it should be borne earnestly in mind that in propagating Christian truth, and warding off errors, the zeal of the laity should, as far as possible, be brought actively into play.

It is thus indefensible for any Catholic, especially for one who understands the importance of restoring the Traditional Latin Mass and the Social Reign of Christ the King, to assert that we do not have the obligation to confront the harm contained within and propagated by the Novus Ordo Missae and the other novelties of the recent past. As noted earlier, the faithful do not need to be subjected to endless screeds about these errors. However, there must be a willingness to confront errors when necessary to do so and to refuse to even give the appearance of cooperation with those errors, no matter what sort of ecclesiastical plumbs are dangled before us.

The work we are trying to do at Christ the King College is aiming at doing something very positive in the midst of these errors: to educate our students in light of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church, equipping them to recognize errors when they see them and to give to others cogent reasons for opposing them and fleeing from them permanently. We are not pretending that everything is well or that everything that emanates from Rome is perfectly consonant with the Church's actual patrimony. Quite the contrary is true. This is not the work of a negativist. This is the work required by the Faith itself. It is a feat of great intellectual dishonesty to pretend that all is well or that our silence about the errors of the day will not envelope us in those very errors.

Similarly, my forthcoming GIRM Warfare, which we expect to be printed by this Wednesday, November 24, 2004, is an attempt to point out the horrors of the Novus Ordo by just examining the positivist arguments made by the authors of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal to justify this aberrant novelty. Some will find the analysis too much to bear. "Why can't we just stress the beauty of the Traditional Mass?" they will ask. This is the ecclesiastical equivalent of "motorist" Rodney King's, "Why can't we all just get along?" The truth needs to be told. And the truth of the inherent harm contained in the Novus Ordo Missae needs to be told so as to attempt to convince both priests and the laity to flee from this synthetic concoction once and for all and to seek out the sure shelter that is provided by the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.

As Bishop Fellay has been noting in his conferences around North America, we do not lose heart in the midst of the difficulties that beset us. We keep on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament and close to the Mother of God, especially by means of her Most Holy Rosary. The Church is divinely founded and will last until the end of time. Our lived fidelity to the fullness of Tradition without any hint of compromise or even passive acceptance of the errors of conciliarism will, when united to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, help to plant the seeds for the day when all Latin Rite Catholics will assist at the Mass that begins with a priest addressing God at the foot of the altar and ends with the Gospel of the Incarnation.

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.














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