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A Short Musical Setting for the Creed

A PRIEST who is also a church musician quickly finds he has to balance pastoral considerations and musical aspirations without doing harm to either.

As a trained church musician who loves and wishes to preserve the great patrimony of the Catholic sacred music, he naturally wants to have his choir and organist perform as much splendid music as they can. As a priest, however, he learns that this must be tempered by the practicalities of running a well-ordered parish.

In the latter category, inevitably, falls the question of the length of church services, especially that of the Sunday High Mass. Before Vatican II, most harmonized settings of the Ordinary included a musical setting for the Credo. This was invariably the longest of the six movements; it took many rehearsals for a choir to learn, and it consumed a lot of time at the average Sunday parish High Mass.

As a teenager and aspiring church musician during the horrible period in the 1960s when the Vatican II changes were gradually being introduced and old-style sacred music was being dumped en masse, I haunted church music dealers in my home city, plowed through Mass settings that were being sold off for pennies, and bought what I considered to be the best. So here, more than fifty years later, I still have this collection with me, numbering well over two hundred scores.

When I purchased these Masses in the 1960s and again when I organized them about ten years ago, I noticed that in most cases, the Credo settings tended to be far less musically interesting than the other movements. Obviously, I’m not referring to the works of the great masters such as Palestrina, Victoria and Mozart, but those of the B, C and D list Catholic church music composers. I suspect that most of the inspirations the composers got came for the five shorter movements, and that the Credo setting was left till last.

Therefore, when I took over the church music program at St. Gertrude the Great in 2009, it occurred to me that if most musical settings of the Credo not only took a long time for a choir to learn and were usually musically inferior, but also consumed a lot of time for the parish High Mass, why not look for better alternatives? (Continued)

Spiritual Cooties: The SSPV Sacramental Penalties after 30 Years

Purely imaginary!

Coot-ie: n. informalUS. a children’s term for an imaginary germ or repellent quality transmitted by obnoxious or slovenly people.

JULY 4, 2019 marks the thirtieth anniversary of my departure from the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV).

Most traditional Catholics know that some sort of a conflict occurred many years ago among the priests who had left SSPX in 1983-84 and later formed the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV).

Few trads, however, know what caused the SSPV dispute. Fewer still know why the four priests who ultimately remained in SSPV (Frs. Kelly, Jenkins, Mroczka and Skierka), as a matter of policy, still refuse sacraments to lay Catholics affiliated with former SSPV priests such as Bp. Donald Sanborn and myself.

Normally, one would pass over in silence the details of such an ancient controversy. But thirty years on, a new generation of SSPV clergy still enforces this draconian penalty on a new generation of young traditional Catholics, and this naturally ought to raise a number of unsettling questions:

  • Why do you — a faithful twenty-year-old traditional Catholic from my parish or Bp. Sanborn’s, say — have to hide your affiliation if you’re traveling and want to receive Communion at an SSPV mission?
  • Why, if you’re a twenty-year-old former graduate of Fr. Jenkins’ school in Cincinnati, does Fr. Jenkins forbid you to receive Communion at Bp. Dolan’s parish when it’s convenient to do so?
  • Why, if you are a parishioner at St. Gertrude the Great, does Fr. Jenkins refuse to allow you to be a godparent for a nephew baptized at his church? (This incident actually occurred in late June, 2019 as I was writing this article.)
  • Why, if you’re a priest just ordained by newly-consecrated SSPV Bp. James Carroll, are you expected to enforce these penalties or prohibitions on your contemporaries, even though you can’t find the “crimes” they punish described in any pre-Vatican II canon law or moral theology book?

These practices, as we shall see, are all applications of what I call the “SSPV Spiritual Cooties Rule.”

Like the cootie of children’s playground fame, the SSPV cootie is an imaginary creature. You “catch” this cootie infestation by receiving sacraments from a traditional Catholic priest who himself caught a cootie earlier — from someone that SSPV declared cootie contaminated. It makes no difference how long in the past the contamination occurred. The rule has no statute of limitations, and the SSPV cootie has a very, very long arm.

When you step back from it even a bit, it is obvious that the Cooties Rule is nothing more than a punishment based on guilt by association. None of us who are old enough to remember the pre-Vatican II Church can ever remember anything like this going on.

Where did the rule come from and why is it still in place? The answer is quite different from what you might at first imagine, and the thirtieth anniversary of my departure from SSPV is the perfect occasion for me to explain.

The Daughters of Mary, Round Top NY. No canonical status and merely private vows.

The Daughters of Mary

In early 1984, a year after our expulsion from the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Kelly announced he was going to found his own order of nuns, the Daughters of Mary. He promptly purchased a property for it in Round Top, New York, an isolated location nowhere near our numerous mission Mass centers and a three-hour drive from our Oyster Bay headquarters.

Before proceeding further, we should be clear on the principles in church law that apply to founding an institution like this in the post-Vatican II era.


For Neo-Trad Sedevacantists, “Sex Sells”


As I noted a few weeks ago in The Errors of Athanasius Schneider, the “right” in the Conciliar Church — “conservatives” or, in the case of those who promote the old Mass in the Novus Ordo system, “neo-trads” — has become more and more vehement in denouncing Bergoglio. A mere six years ago, talk of papal heresy was routinely dismissed in these circles as “schismatic sedevacantist fantasies” or as “rejecting Christ’s promise that the gates of hell would never prevail.”

Now, however, we find establishment conservatives and neo-trads, in an “Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,” declaring that “We are accusing Pope Francis of the canonical delict [i.e. crime] of heresy.”

Strong stuff, and a good development. It is encouraging to see conservatives and neo-trads finally begin to take seriously the notion that heresy itself – and lots of it — is behind the degeneration of faith and morals that came about universally after the Second Vatican Council. And it is likewise encouraging to see them acknowledge that heresy can and indeed does (at least in the case of Bergoglio) come from a putative pope.

But why now? It’s simple: “Sex sells,” says the adman. In other words, it gets the attention of our fallen human nature, one way or another.

Hence the shock and outrage that erupted last summer among Catholics everywhere over the clergy sex abuse scandals, both towards cleric-predators and towards their enablers: McCarrick, Cupich, Wuerl, Farrell, Maradiaga, Ricca, Zanchetta, and hundreds among the lower clergy. Because of the sexual component, the story caught fire in broadcast, print and social media, and shows no sign of petering out.

This would have been a volatile enough mix on its own, but it became linked in many people’s minds with Bergoglio’s more egregious heresies on sexual morality – divorce/remarriage, who am I to judge, the alphabet soup Mafia, “breeding like rabbits,” etc., coupled with his loony dissimulations about “clericalism.”

This combination overthrew the one constant that establishment conservatives after Vatican II felt they could always count on: unchanged official teaching on sexual morality which declared that divorce and remarriage, homosexual acts, contraception, abortion and similar practices were always sinful. While under Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, these official teachings were widely ignored in practice, they nevertheless remained “on the books.” For conservatives, it was as if sex was all that mattered for a true Catholic. (Continued)

Does the Pope Honorius Affair Refute Sedevacantism?

Pope Honorius I

THE MULTITUDE of theological errors and evil laws that have emanated from the Vatican II popes over the past fifty years — and that is exponentially increasing during the madcap reign of Bergoglio — has prompted many traditionally-minded Catholics to seek out ways to reconcile the notion of papal authority with the obvious destruction wrought by those in our day who claimed to wield it.

Sedevacantists like myself settled on the following explanation a long time ago: the very errors and evils officially sanctioned by the Vatican II popes demonstrate that they never truly obtained papal office (or authority) in the first place, and were therefore false popes. (For an explanation, see Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer)

Others — be they Novus Ordo conservatives, neo-traditionalists within the Vatican II establishment, or traditionalists of the Recognize-and-Resist (R&R) variety — shied away from this conclusion. They sought to reconcile “recognizing” the V2 popes as true Successors of Peter with simultaneously “resisting” them — minimizing any obligation to adhere to the teachings of the V2 popes, to observe their laws, or in practice, to submit to their authority.

To achieve this end and to negate the logical appeal of sedevacantism, the conservative/neo-trad/R&R camp sought to demonstrate two things:

  1. Since ordinary papal teaching lacked the “infallible stamp” that the rare ex cathedra papal pronouncement possessed, Catholics had no obligation whatsoever to submit or adhere to it. Ergo, you’re free to ignore Bergoglio’s (or for that matter, Paul VI’s) teachings and laws. 
  2. Some popes in the past (Nicholas I, Vigilius, Honorius, Liberius, Celestine III, John XXII, Alexander VI) were heretics, but nevertheless were always recognized as true popes. Ergo, a pope can teach heresy and still remain pope — take that, wicked sedes!

This is old stuff that the “right” subjected to constant recycling, even before Bergoglio’s Laudato Sì, and it always manages to float back, like gas from the landfill. I refuted point (1) in section 1 of 9/11 for the Magisterium, as well as in the introduction to my recent article, The Errors of Athanasius Schneider. I have refuted point (2) in a variety of articles listed in section 3 of my sedevacantist primer — and in so doing, please note, I have always pointed out that it was the Protestants, the Gallicans, and other haters of papal authority who raised these charges of “papal heresy” and were roundly trounced by an array of Catholic dogmatic theologians.

For the conservative-neo-trad-R&R camp, however, the historical case that seems both to provide a refutation of sedevacantism and to demonstrate the validity of points (1) and (2) is the case of Pope Honorius. From this, we are supposed to draw by analogy a principle for a course of action vis-à-vis Bergoglio and all the Vatican II popes that will allow one to recognize them as popes, but never, ever submit to them.


The Errors of Athanasius Schneider

The Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Mary in Astana

SIX YEARS’ WORTH of the antics of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (aka “Pope Francis”) have left a lot of previously clueless Catholics really shaken. The radical and destructive nature of the Vatican II doctrinal and moral revolution, kept discreetly masked to a large extent under the regimes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, finally emerged into the light of day once Bergoglio took charge in March of 2013 and began to implement the Council at full speed and with a vengeance (often literally).

The “right” in the Conciliar Church — those we will here call “conservatives” or, in the case of those who promote the old Mass in the Novus Ordo system, “neo-trads” — were at first stunned, then outraged by the breadth, depth, and sheer volume of errors that Bergoglio began to crank out by word and deed.

Lengthy and open critiques of Bergoglio started appearing in conservative and neo-trad opinion outlets. Soon even the words “heretic” and “heresy” began to pop up. But since Bergoglio’s critics in these circles had long pronounced sedevacantism to be utterly unthinkable, they had to create some sort of plausible theological justification for their overall position. This “third way” would somehow need to allow them to continue to do two things:

  1. Utterly ignore the errors and heresies Bergoglio teaches and acts upon, and
  2. Still claim Bergoglio is a true pope, the Successor of St. Peter, and the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.

The justification the conservatives and neo-trads have come up with for squaring the circle is this: The theologians who taught that the pope receives some sort of special assistance from the Holy Ghost in his authentic magisterium — the teaching function that he exercises every day — were wrong. Similarly, theologians were likewise wrong in saying that Catholics must give “the assent of the intellect” to what the pope teaches through this authentic magisterium.

Poof — There you have it! Problem solved! The pope has no rights, and you have no obligations!


My Seminary Life as Student and Teacher

IN ADDITION to my writing and pastoral work since my ordination in 1977, I’ve been involved in teaching seminarians, first in the Society of St. Pius X in Armada MI and Ridgefield CT (1977–1983), and then at Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Warren MI and Brooksville FL (1995–present).  My current work at Most Holy Trinity takes me down to Florida for one week a month during the academic year.

One of my colleagues (and former students) Fr. Nicolas Despósito thought this aspect of my priestly work might be of interest to traditional Catholics, so I sat down with him for an interview on the topic in February 2019. It was only then that a surprising fact occurred to me: seminary teaching, in one way or another, has been a part of my life for nearly 30 of my 42 years as a priest — a turn of events (as you will learn from the video) that I could have never foreseen in my twelve years as a seminarian!

May God continue to grant us more well-trained and zealous priests!


A Bit Rich, Vicar! Fr. Hunwicke vs. Pius XII

Fr. John Hunwicke

On his Mutual Enrichment blog in early January 2019, ex-Anglican-turned-Novus Ordo High Church apologist Fr. John Hunwicke posted three short articles that attempted to refute my lengthy study of the 1968 Rite of Episcopal Consecration, “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void,” which, among other things, demonstrated that the essential sacramental form in the new rite did not univocally express the conferral of the episcopal order, and was therefore invalid.

Fr. Hunwicke, it seems, had posted the first two articles on the topic more than a year ago, and in the second, written in his coy and ever-so-precious style, dropped hints about the existence of some supposedly damning “evidence,” which he then failed to deliver.

Now comes Fr. Hunwicke with a third article and the supposed evidence, claiming that the form Pius XII himself specified in 1947 did not univocally express the conferral of the episcopal order.

Yes, you read that right.

As his proofs, Fr. Hunwicke offers (1) an opinion from Cardinal Gasparri (+1938) in his treatise on Holy Orders, and (2) a “medieval manuscript” that reads “mysterii” where the Pius XII form reads “ministerii.”

In response: (Continued)

Hollywood Meets Homeschooling: A Saint in Hiding

THE POWER of film to engage the heart and mind for the good is tremendous, and faithful Catholics who can skillfully employ the filmmaker’s techniques to edify and instruct are now able bring the truths of the faith and a spirit of devotion to countless souls who might not otherwise be inclined to pick up a catechism or a saint’s biography.

For this reason, I was delighted to view a new movie by Hannah Petrizzi, A Saint in Hiding. (Continued)

Bp. Dolan’s Anniversary: Celebrating an Influential Apostolate

Most Rev. Daniel L. Dolan

NOVEMBER 30, 2018, the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, marked the 25th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of the Most. Rev. Daniel L. Dolan by the Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas. We observed the happy occasion at St. Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester, Ohio, with a splendid Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Dolan and attended by a dozen priests and two bishops.

The story of how his consecration came to pass, however, is worth telling once again as we celebrate this event.

Our Search for a Bishop

Well before 1993, the year of the consecration, the situation looked bleak for the apostolate of former members of the Society of St. Pius X like me. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre had expelled nine of us from SSPX in 1983 because we opposed his step-by-step program to “reconcile” his organization (even then!) with the heretics in the Vatican, and with the chief heretic of them all, John Paul II. Readers who are unfamiliar with the history of this crisis can consult the then-Father Donald Sanborn’s 1984 article, The Crux of the Matter and my own extensive account of the events, The Nine vs. Lefebvre.

Because Our Lord established the sacraments as the principal ordinary means of salvation for Catholics and since most sacraments require priests to confer them, the question of finding a bishop to ordain future priests for our group weighed heavily on our minds. Virtually every bishop in the world had embraced the religion of Vatican II. The few prelates who were worried about the Council’s effects would not take a public position by ordaining priests, we suspected — still less, by consecrating a bishop.

De Castro-Mayer with Lefebvre

Nevertheless, we charged on, contacting a retired South American bishop and a retired American bishop who had belonged to an Italian missionary order. Fr. Sanborn spearheaded the effort. He met with Bp. Alfred E. Mendez, the former bishop of Arecibo, Puerto Rico (who in 1993 would in fact secretly consecrate a bishop for the SSPV).  We rejected Bp. Mendez because he told Fr. Sanborn he wanted to draw all traditionalists into a sort of “ordinariate” under John Paul II — to become part of the heretical V2 religion under its false popes, in other words. (More facts about Bp. Mendez’s unsuitability would come to light later.)

Fr. Sanborn travelled to Campos, Brazil, to meet with Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer to ask him to ordain for us. Bp. de Castro-Mayer, though more of a hard-liner than Abp. Lefebvre, was not a sedevacantist then (he would become one later), so he declined. But he told Fr. Sanborn to “Go to Guérard” — Guérard des Lauriers, a Dominican theologian and one of our former professors at Ecône who had been consecrated a bishop in 1981 by Abp. Pierre-Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, former archbishop of Hué, Vietnam. Since Guérard was a theologian, Bp. de Castro-Mayer continued, one could be certain that his consecration was valid.


WWPD — “What Would Pius Do?”

The 1950s Pius XII liturgical reforms were trial balloons, created by the Mason Bugnini and company, for the Novus Ordo Mass that the same modernist gang created in 1969. But since these changes were promulgated by a true pope, Pius XII, would traditional Catholics still be “legally obliged” to follow them?

Father Anthony Cekada discusses the cast of characters involved, and answers this somewhat controversial question in this video.