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Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Pg.2)

Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition | Latin Mass/Catholic Trad. Q & A

Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Page 2)

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Answer

Considering the State of Things, Is it Really So Wrong to Support a Catholic Organization That is Schismatic?

Even considering the problems facing the Church today, it is still wrong to support truly schismatic organizations. Although it is highly praiseworthy to preserve traditions, it is not praiseworthy to endanger one's soul to do so. Rather, it is best to work from within the Church to help correct the problems. Do not leave the Church, even for the best reasons. History repeatedly shows that those who leave the fold end up in heresy (even though they may have had the best of intentions to begin with). Does not the very fact of leaving the Church imply heresy - e.g. that God has allowed the gates of hell prevail over her?

Some people who leave the Church continue to believe that they are somehow still within the Church. But how can this be? 

  • They are not in communion with other Catholics

  • The are not obedient to the Bishop (or the Pope)

  • "They are not nourished by the priests sent to them by the Pope or those in communion with him"

  • They cannot easily submit their people to the diocesan bishop for confirmation or holy orders

  • They cannot submit their people to Rome for beatification or canonization

  • Thy cannot use the Church's court system

  • They most likely do not remit funds to the Pope or Bishop (even though the Pope is the supreme administrator of all ecclesiastical goods)

  • They have no use of (or access to) Church goods for their purposes

How is it that that they think this is acceptable? How can they think this is Catholic?

Also, consider the following quotations:

"I say and protest that it is as wrong to divide the Church as to fall into heresy." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

"For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy." (Pope Pius XII)

"Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the church's law." (Pope John Paul II)

"Make no mistake, my brothers: If anyone joins himself to a schismatic, he will not inherit God's kingdom. If anyone chooses to be a dissenter, he is cut off from Christ's passion." (St. Ignatius of Antioch)

"Whoso separates himself from the Church is joined to an adulterer and has cut himself of from the promises made to the Church; no one who quits the Church of Christ will attain to the rewards of Christ." (St. Cyprian, 3rd century A.D.)

"Only those are really to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith and who have not unhappily withdrawn from body-unity or for grave faults been excluded by legitimate authority." (Pope Pius XII)

"Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that not only all pagans but also all Jews and heretics and schismatics who end this present life outside the Church are about to go into the eternal fire that was prepared for the Devil and his angels." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, 6th century A.D.)

"Whosoever shall have separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how praiseworthy such a person may fancy his life has been, yet for that one crime of having cut himself off from the unity of Christ he shall not have eternal life, but the wrath of God shall abide with him for ever." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"[T]hose who make schism and are destitute of the love of God, who look to their own advantage rather than to the unity of the Church, who for any kind of trifling reason cut apart and divine the great and glorious body of Christ and destroy it in so far as they are able - men who talk of peace while making war." (St. Irenaeus, 2nd century A.D.)

"He who does not maintain this unity of the Church, does he believe that he retains the faith? He who deserts the chair of Peter on whom the Church has been founded, does he still believe that he is in the Church? Does he who strives against and resists the Church, believe that he is in the Church?" (Attr. St. Cyprian, 3rd century A.D.)

"For a man ought to suffer anything and everything, rather than divide the Church of God, and it is no less glorious to incur martyrdom to avoid schism than to avoid idolatry; in fact in my opinion it is more so. For in one case a man is a martyr for the sake of his own single soul, but in the other for the sake of the whole Church." (Dionysious of Alexandria, 252 A.D.)

"Secede not from the Church; for nothing is stronger than the Church. Thy hope is the Church; thy salvation is the Church; thy refuge is the Church. It is higher than the heavens and wider than the earth. It never grows old, but is ever full of vigor. Wherefore holy writ pointing to its strength and stability calls it a mountain." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

"It happens that, as in the human body, some member may be cut off - a hand, a finger, a foot. Does the soul follow the amputated member? As long as it was in the body it lived; separated, it forfeits its life. So the Christian is a Catholic as long as he lives in the body: cut off from it he becomes a heretic - the life of the spirit follows not the amputated member." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Why are there quarrels and ill will and dissensions and schisms and fighting among you? Do we not have one God and one Christ, and one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And is there not one calling in Christ? Why do we wrench and tear apart the members of Christ, and revolt against our own body, and reach such folly as to forget that we are members of one another?" (Pope St. Clement I, 1st century A.D.)

"Those, indeed, who belong to God and to Jesus Christ- they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church - they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: it anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.)

"Can. 1325 § 2 Any one who after baptism, while remaining normally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any one of the truths which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, is a heretic; if he falls away entirely from the Christian faith, he is an apostate; finally if he rejects the authority of the supreme pontiff or refuses communion with the members of the Church, he is a schismatic." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"But we believe in Holy Church, assuredly the Catholic Church; for even heretics and schismatics style their assemblies 'churches.' But whereas heretics violate the faith by their false ideas about God, schismatics, by their wicked separation, cut themselves off from fraternal charity. Hence neither do heretics belong to the Catholic Church, for it loves God; nor do schismatics, for the Catholic Church loves its neighbor." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

"They who have not peace themselves now offer peace to others. They who have withdrawn from the Church promise to lead back and to recall the lapsed into the Church. There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering." (St. Cyprian of Carthage, 251 A.D.)

"Heresy is of its very nature opposed to faith, but schism is of its very nature opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity. Since, then, faith and charity are different virtues - although whoso lacks faith lacks charity - so, too, schism and heresy are distinct vices; and while a man who is a heretic is also a schismatic, the converse is not true... At first sight and from one angle schism appears to be a different thing from heresy; yet there is no schism which does not fashion for itself some heresy - for example, that it is right to have left the Church." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also consider:

"No one shall pray in common with heretics and schismatics." (Council of Laodicea, 365 A.D.)

"No one may prefer his own will to the will of God, but in everything we must seek and do the will of God." (St. Basil, Doctor of the Church)

"Attempts to be virtuous that are joined to disobedience to the will of God, no matter how good they may appear, will actually work for our damnation." (St. Thomas More)

"[S]trength of mind is not commended as virtuous, if it be without moderation or rectitude or discretion" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Those ordained by schismatic bishops, who have been otherwise duly ordained, the due form having been observed, receive, indeed, ordination, but not jurisdiction." (Pope Clement VIII, 1595 A.D.)

"Can. 953 The consecration of a Bishop is reserved to the Roman Pontiff so that it is not permitted to any Bishop to consecrate another as Bishop without first having gotten a pontifical mandate." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Nobody at any time and for whatever human pretext may haughtily set himself above the office of him who by Christ's order was set above all and everyone and whom the universal church had always recognized as its head." (Pope Gelasius I, 5th century A.D.)

"Wherefore as no heresy can ever be justifiable, so in like manner there can be no justification for schism. 'There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism...there can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the Church' (St. Augustine)" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

Of course, this doesn't mean that we are expected to love what is harmful to the Church or tolerate evil, but rather that we should instead work from within the Church to help restore her. In fact, the Church very much needs her children to do this, rather than to leave her. The Church is undergoing a "passion" of sorts, and our job is not to leave her there alone, but to stand there with her, at the foot of the cross, and to assist her in her "hour of need", so that we may also be with her when she is again seen in her full glory.

"[W]hen general interests are at stake, egotistic estrangement from the scene of struggle can never save an individual, nor absolve him from the crime of treason." (Liturgical Year)

"Under the pretext that they cannot live with the bad, they break the net which kept them in the apostolic track, and die far off the shore... Let us not imitate their folly. If grace have made us holy, let us be patient with the bad while living in this world's waters. Let the sight of them drive us neither to live as they do, nor to leave the Church. The shore is not far off, where these on the right, or the good, will alone be permitted to land, and from which the wicked will be repulsed, and cast into the abyss." (Liturgical Year)

Which Organizations Are Schismatic?

It is not within our competence to "officially declare" any particular organization schismatic. If you have a question regarding the status of a particular organization, we recommend that you submit your question to the Vatican.

What Happens if I Am Commanded by a Prelate to do Something Which Is Adverse to the Honor Due to God?

Obedience is necessarily limited to appropriate commands of lawful authorities. Obedience is not accorded to commands which violate faith or morals. According to Pope Leo XIII, "Commands that are issued adversely to the honor due to God, and hence are beyond the scope of justice, must be looked upon as anything rather than laws." ("Sapientiae Christianae", 1890)

Note that both wrongful obedience and wrongful disobedience would be sinful. In cases where obedience to man would cause disobedience to God, it is clear that one must prefer obedience to God: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). One must be careful that obedience is not called for in any particular case, considering the serious admonition that if "If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." (Pope St. Clement I, c. 80-98 A.D.) One must also remember that even if a particular command does not require obedience, lawful authority must not be wrongly rejected - all appropriate commands must be obeyed.

Note: Click here for some obedience / disobedience Reflections (Catholic Life Section)

Isn't Being a 'Traditionalist' Divisive?

How can it be divisive to cling to the nearly 2,000 years of Church teachings derived from Scripture, the Church Fathers, Popes, Saints, Doctors of the Church, Councils, etc. from within the Church? In fact, that is what Catholics are called to do. The divisions in the Church weren't created by those who truly cling to tradition, but by those who have abandoned tradition and want others to join them.

Remember that if one is against tradition, he or she is actually condemning thousands of saints, hundreds of popes, numerous councils, etc. and aligning oneself with a handful of "moderns".

Further, it is interesting to note how those who call Traditional Catholics - that is, Catholics who want a uniform liturgy throughout the world - "divisive" are the ones who want liturgies with many options, inculturated liturgies, Masses in multiple languages, etc. What could be more divisive than that?

Note: There are some persons who call themselves 'traditionalists' who may truly be considered divisive - e.g. those who engender schism, those who reject the pope. Such persons, however, are not truly 'traditionalists', since no known saint or pope would ever have recommend schism or rejection of legitimate popes as a solution to problems in the Church. To call them 'traditionalists', therefore would be incorrect.

Why Do Traditionalists Tend to Disapprove of 'Religious Liberty'? Doesn't This Go Against the Vatican Council?

Traditionalists may disapprove of a false concept of 'religious liberty' because the Church has always disapproved of false concepts of religious liberty. For example, consider the fact that Pope Pius IX formally condemned a false concept of religious liberty in the Syllabus of Errors:

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.)

As Pope Gregory XVI warns: 

"Experience shows that there is no more direct way of alienating the populace from fidelity and obedience to their leaders than through that indifference to religion propagated by the sect members under the name of religious liberty." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Inter Praecipuas", 1844 A.D.)

Pope Pius IX points out that such liberty is really a "liberty of perdition":

"And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that 'that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require.' From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an 'insanity,' viz., that 'liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.' But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching 'liberty of perdition;' and that 'if human arguments are always allowed free room for discussion, there will never be wanting men who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the flowing speech of human wisdom; whereas we know, from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, how carefully Christian faith and wisdom should avoid this most injurious babbling.'" (Pope Pius IX, "Quanta Cura", 1864 A.D.)

This, of course, does not mean that one is forced to be Catholic - such an idea has always been condemned, but rather that those who preach a false religion may be legitimately prevented from doing so in public. But why should one be prevented from publicly preaching a false religion? Because (1) false religions propagate errors which can lead to the loss of eternal souls, (2) because false religious propagate errors which harm individuals as well as the common good (e.g. toleration of contraception, divorce, abortion), and (3) because "error has no rights." As Fahey has stated:

"Nothingness can have no rights since it has no existence. It is impossible for a thing which does not exist to have any rights. Therefore to attribute rights to a non-existent entity is an injustice. But what are you doing if you attribute rights to error except attributing them to a non-existent entity? It is enough to consider what truth and error are in order to understand this. Truth is found in the intellect in the measure in which the intellect is in exact conformity with reality. When the intellect has an idea which is not in conformity with reality, then we have an error. But what is really happening in such a case? I have in my mind the idea of something as if this thing formed part of the order of being. I attribute it rights in my mind, as if it were portion of the divine scheme of things. But it is not so in reality. In point of fact it is a baseless creation of my own mind. How can I take as the foundation of my life and of my actions a 'reality' which is no reality? What can be the outcome of such an aberration? Precisely what happens in the case of any structure raised without foundation. If I take as a basis for my life and action an idea of my own to which nothing real or objective corresponds the whole intellectual and social edifice I raise on that basis is of necessity bound to crumble. There can be no other solid foundation for action and life than an objective reality. This then is why truth alone has the right to exist in the individual and in the social order. From no point of view can error claim this right. When it gets a footing in a mind or among the multitude, it usurps rights not belonging to it, it is unjust. Evil is the privation of the being and goodness due to a thing. Now error is the specific evil of the intelligence, the privation of the grasp of the order of the world which the intelligence is meant to have. It is a malady to be cured, a disease to be healed, a cancer to be eradicated, not a perfection to be extolled and proclaimed worthy of respect... Our Lord came down to restore the Divine Life of Grace to the human race and to each individual in it. For this end He revealed truth to the world. This truth belongs to Him in virtue of His divine right and also in virtue of His work of redemption. If this truth belongs to Him and is given to the world by Him in a well-defined sense and for a very definite purpose, then to ruin or lessen it is to commit an injustice. It is to sacrifice the rights of Jesus Christ... Certainly there is no place for anything but truth." 

One may compare a person's indiscriminate public preaching of a false religion with a case of a person standing on the street corner spraying corrosive acid. Certainly one can see in such a case that the person's "right" to spray acid must end when it endangers others. In just the same way, those who spew the "deadly poison" of error in matters of religion are rightly prevented from harming the eternal souls others (souls which are much more precious that one's body). Not only do such errors harm the Church and individuals, but such errors are an offense to Almighty God.

Further, the rejection of a false concept of religious liberty does not go against "the" Vatican Council. The first Vatican Council states that:

"The meaning of Sacred Dogmas, which must always be preserved, is that which our Holy Mother the Church has determined. Never is it permissible to depart from this in the name of a deeper understanding." (First Vatican Council)

And: 

"If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema." 

Even the Second Vatican Council's teaching on religious freedom states that it...

"leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ."

Therefore, how can a true 'right' to religious liberty have been invented? Still, however, the Council document is seen to grant a new right to "indiscriminate, public religious liberty." Faithful Catholics question how can an indiscriminate, public religious liberty go from 'insanity' to a supposed 'right', from a "liberty of perdition" to "human progress"? They may wonder, "If it is a human right, why did Moses not recognize such a right? Nor hundreds of popes, nor saints, nor councils?" At what point, then, did error and heresy acquire rights? Even though "it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights" (Pope Leo XIII), are we now to believe God - Truth itself - now actually wants error to have such rights?

Considering that the Church is not authorized to change or create new doctrine, but that she must retain the same doctrine that she has always had, and with the same understanding - and that prior to the Second Vatican Council, all the councils, saints, popes, etc. rejected a false concept of 'religious liberty', traditional Catholics feel safe continuing to reject a false concept of religious liberty. 

One may also do well to remember that the Pope who closed the council, himself said that: "Given the Council's pastoral character, it avoided pronouncing in any extraordinary manner, dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility." (Pope Paul VI, General Audience, Jan. 12, 1966)

As Cardinal Ratzinger, council father and the future Pope Benedict XVI has said, "There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest." (emphasis added) 

As Cardinal Felici, Secretary General of the Council has said, "Taking into account conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred synod has defined as binding on the Church only those matters of Faith and Morals which it has expressly put forward as such." He has also been quoted as saying, "We have to distinguish according to the schemas and the chapters those which have already been the subject of dogmatic [infallible] definitions; as for the declarations which have a novel character, we have to make reservations."

Even one Bishop has admitted: "I was relieved when we told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council statements as tentative and liable to be reformed." (Bishop Morris)

Finally, it's interesting to note how many Catholics who accuse 'Traditionalist' Catholics of "going against the Council" or "going against the pope" - even though the council said it "leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ."- seem to have no qualms about going against many councils and many popes - and may often go against even their own beloved Second Vatican Council (e.g. by failing to protect the traditional rite of Mass, by not using Latin at Mass, by not using Gregorian chant or pipe organ, etc).

Note: For more on 'Religious Liberty' click here (Catholic Life Reflections).

Why Do Traditionalists Disapprove of Ecumenism? Doesn't This Go Against the Vatican Council?

Click here for 'Why Do Traditionalists Disapprove of Ecumenism? Doesn't This Go Against the Vatican Council?'

What Are Sedevacantists?

"Sedevacantism" refers to a period when the chair of Peter is empty. In fact, all good Catholics are "sedevacantists" after the death of a pope and prior to the election of a new pope. In today's world, however, there are those who reject a number of popes (usually dating from those reigning since the Second Vatican Council). In fact, such persons consider recent popes to be "anti popes", or persons wrongly claiming to be pope. 

Such Sedevacantists have set themselves up as judge and jury and have pronounced various popes guilty of heresy, and therefore have ruled that they cannot be pope (since a heretic is not Catholic, and a non-Catholic cannot be pope). The problem is, of course, that the popes are not subject to the individual judgment of laity, who have no jurisdiction or competence to make such judgments against their superiors. Further, their position is untenable in light of Christ's promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (according to the Sedevacantist position, virtually no part of the visible structure of the Church has escaped their judgment of heresy). Their theory also is fatally flawed if they claim an extinction of hierarchy since there would then be no power for ordaining. They are also shown to be misguided in the fact that the post-conciliar popes have been recognized by the Mother of God herself [e.g. the Virgin of Fatima (in apparitions to Sister Lucy *after* Vatican II)]. Sedevacantists, however, may be unwilling to give up their position and may argue militantly against those who disagree with them. They usually think they are the only "true Catholics" and some sedevacantists have even elected their own 'popes'.

Is it Ever Acceptable to Reprove the Pope?

We see in Scripture that St. Paul rebuked the first Pope, St. Peter. His actions, therefore, show us that it may sometimes be acceptable for some persons to rebuke the pope. Clearly, one should never reprove the pope with regard to any infallible doctrine that he pronounces. One should also respectfully avoid rebuking or judging the pope on a personal level. One must also remember that the Pope answers to God alone. Clearly, the Pope deserves our highest respect and all due obedience.

On the other hand, it would be wrong to consider everything the Pope says or does to be infallible - that would make a "god" of the Pope and would tend to confirm the Church's enemies in their errors. Remember that the protection of infallibility is limited (click here) and that it is possible that a Pope can act against the faith. As Davies points out, "Insofar as the Pope upholds the Catholic faith we have an obligation to give him our support, but our first loyalty is to the Faith itself. When the Faith is endangered it is our duty to speak up even if this lays us open to the charge of being disloyal to the Pope. Now where did loyalty lie in the case of the new rite of Baptism? The fact that the Pope did revise it proves that it was indeed deficient. Is it not fair to conclude that the truly loyal Catholics were those who brought its deficiencies to the attention of His Holiness and succeeded in having them rectified?" 

Further, Davies states: "There are a good many Catholics who believe in all sincerity that it is wrong to criticize anything approved by the Pope and that, ipso facto, anything approved by the Pope must be above criticism. To show how untenable such a view is it is only necessary to refer to the fact that a new rite of Baptism, promulgated with the Pope's approval in 1969, contained a number of serious doctrinal deficiencies. As a result of representations made to the Pope this new rite was itself revised in 1973 with improvements made upon the specific instructions of the Pope himself, including a clear reference to the fact that Baptism removes the stain of original sin."

We also know that St. Catherine of Siena spoke to the pope about the location of the papacy. In another case, a pope held erroneous doctrine (although he did not teach it infallibly, of course), which clearly would not have been acceptable to give one's assent to. History also shows that popes can be sinners, even great sinners (click here for brief papal biographies). 

As one can see, it is sometimes acceptable for the Pope to be rebuked. Such an action, however, must be done appropriately, for the appropriate reasons (not because someone simply "doesn't like" something the pope has said), and it should be done by appropriate persons. Furthermore, any correction should be done in such a way that it does not assist the Church's enemies. 

What Might One Experience on Becoming a Traditional Catholic?

On one hand, traditionalists may experience hostility, persecution, ridicule, ostracism, peer-pressure, disapproval, disrespect, charges if ignorance, insults, and even personal attacks. They may be labeled as disobedient, rebellious, schismatic (no matter how much they accept the pope and refrain from all schismatic activities), etc. They may encounter numerous obstacles [e.g. traditional Masses being offered only at off hours (e.g. very early or late), traditional Masses offered changing times, traditional Masses being offered at moving locations (even locations far apart from each other), traditional Masses being purposely omitted from bulletins / websites / etc., traditional Masses offered only in unusual / undesirable places (for example: mausoleums, ultra-liberal parishes, unaccommodating parishes, etc.), traditional Masses offered only infrequently or only at great distances, etc.). They may be treated as enemies. They may feel that the bishop or priests are against them. They may see a complete disregard for their rights (e.g. 1983 Code of Canon Law, Can. 214: "The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church."). They may suffer unwarranted charges of disobedience - often by those who are truly disobedient - and may even suffer unfair punishments. As St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, said during the Arian heresy, "Only one offense is now vigorously punished: an accurate observance of our father's traditions. For this cause the pious are driven from their countries and transported into deserts." Further, traditional Catholics may even be seen as enemies - "as if we were trying to impede the 'wonderful' renewal which is taking place." They may find that heretics, blatant sexual offenders, practicing homosexuals, those living in adultery, etc. are actually treated "with far more sympathy than Catholic traditionalists". And all this simply because they want to worship in the same way as their ancestors have for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years!

As Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI said, "That which previously was considered the Most Holy [that is, the traditional Latin 'Tridentine' Mass] suddenly appears to be the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council. On the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules or even of the great truths of the Faith, for instance the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc., nobody complains or only does so with the greatest of moderation... All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church today is really the same as that of yesterday of if they have changed it for something else without telling people."

On the other hand, a traditional Catholic is likely to find strengthened faith. He may experience a deep peace knowing that he is following the time-honored and praised traditions of the Church. He may find that he has protected himself and his family from error. He may find his spiritual life reaching new heights. He may even begin to feel as if he has now, finally, become "truly Catholic".

That is not to say that all will be easy. The traditional Catholic may find it nearly impossible to have a "normal parish life". He may be pressured to leave the Church (e.g. to fall into schism or to become a sedevacantist). He may suffer isolation, discouragement, and persecution. He may find that other 'traditional Catholics' tend to lead him into error. He may also find that some 'traditional Catholics' are "way out there" and may tend to give others a bad name. In any event, he must be careful and watchful. "Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you." (Rv. 3:3)

What Can I Say to Someone Who Condemns Me For Being a Traditionalist? 

You might find the following popular phrase to be helpful... "We are still what you once were. We believe what you once believed. We continue to worship as you once worshiped. If we are wrong now, you were wrong then. If you were right then, we are right now."

Hasn't the Second Vatican Council Superseded the Other Councils?

That is not how things work. One valid council does not supersede another valid council. As Von Hildebrand states, "Now, the moment one implies that one council has rendered others outmoded, irrelevant, the question immediately arises: Whence does one derive the conviction that the truth of the Holy Spirit is to be found more in this council than in the other ones? In the first place, even if a council could err in its dogmatic definitions, there is no reason to suppose that the latest council is less exposed to error than the former ones. But, of course, any contradiction in defined dogma is incompatible with the infallible magisterium of the Church. Any implication, therefore, that Vatican II has in any way abrogated dogmatic expositions of former councils calls into question the divine institution and perpetual guarantee of the Catholic faith." 

What is the "Spirit of the Second Vatican Council"?

Since no other ecumenical council has ever had its own "spirit" before, one cannot be quite sure what to make of such a "spirit". However, in practice, this very active "spirit" is frequently used to put in place things that the Second Vatican Council never called for - or even things that go against what the Second Vatican Council called for. One may say that it is a "catchy phrase" that liberals use to implement whatever novelty they want in the name of the Second Vatican Council. In any event, it seems impossible to associate this so called 'spirit' with the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself.

 "I feel that, at a lot of points, the implementation of the Council decisions has gone beyond the Council. Earlier on there was a phrase going around: 'the Spirit of Vatican II.' I think 'the spirit of Vatican II' meant the misuse of Vatican II to bolster up some idea of one's own." (Bishop Morris)

Can You Tell Me More About the Second Vatican Council?

Vatican II, held in the 1960's, was the 21st ecumenical council. It imposed unprecedented changes in many areas of the Catholic Church (including external changes in the liturgy and other sacraments), while issuing no infallible dogmatic definitions. Many liberals praise many of the changes, but complain that it did not go far enough. Many conservatives and traditional Catholics point to reduced Mass attendance, defections from the Church, reduced number of vocations, disbelief in main tenets of the faith, confusion and misinformation in the Church, etc. Some say the Council issued a "new springtime in the Church", a "new Pentecost", others point to statements such these:

"From some crevice, the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God...This condition of uncertainty reigns within the Church as well. After the Second Vatican Council, we believed that the history of the Church would enjoy a period of sunshine. Instead the day became ugly, dark, cloudy, and stormy." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"[T]he opening to the world has become a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking. We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent." (Pope Paul VI)

"The results appear cruelly different from everyone's expectations, beginning with those of John XXIII and later of Paul VI. A new Catholic unity was expected; instead, there was a dissention that...went from self-criticism to self destruction... The balance, therefore, appears to be negative... It is undeniable that this period was decidedly unfavorable to the Catholic Church." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, 1984)

For changes since the Second Vatican Council, click here. For fruits of the Second Vatican Council, click here. For the Second Vatican Council Topic Page, click here.

I'm So Frustrated With the State of Things Today - Would it Really Be So Wrong to Leave the Church?

Should one find himself tempted to leave the Church, he should take heed of the wisdom of Pope Pius IX: "In the midst of so many calamities and confronted with such fury against the Church, we are not despondent for 'Christ is our counsel and our strength; without him we can do nothing, through him we can do all things. While confirming the preachers of the Gospel and the ministers of the sacraments, he said: 'Lo, I am with you always, to the end of time.' We know for certain, moreover, that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church which stands and will stand immovable with Christ Jesus, our Lord, as guardian and protector, who has built the Church and who has been 'yesterday and today and forever.'" (Pope Pius IX, "Quanto Conficiamur Moerore", 1863 A.D.)

We must remember that there is no salvation outside the church (click here), and that we must stay in union with the Pope, never abandoning the traditional doctrines and practices of the Church. Should we feel rejected and outnumbered, we would do well to remember that Christ was once rejected and outnumbered prior to His glorious Resurrection. We should not give in to discouragement or lose heart. Remember that we have an enemy who will rejoice in our succumbing to discouragement and will use every means he can to work our downfall.

It is also wise to remember that the Church has faced many problems in the past, only to rise stronger than before. History shows that those who have left the fold (despite even seemingly good intentions), ended up on a dangerous path.

Further, you should realize that you cannot fix the Church by leaving it - you simply desert the battle. Instead, you should consider the various ways in which you might help the Church from within. Note: Click here for some suggestions. 

When you face discouragement and disappointment, you may be comforted to realize that you are not alone - many others throughout the world face similar trials (cf. 1 Pt. 5:9). And, again, take courage, the entire Church spread - with the help of the Holy Spirit - with just eleven men. 

No matter how tempting, no matter how discouraged you may be, no matter how many disappointments you may suffer, no matter how scandalized you may be - do NOT leave the Church. Such an action can only make things worse for you, and for the Church.

Does Catholic Tradition Really Matter?

Yes, Catholic tradition does matter. In fact, is bound up with the faith. Not only may our souls be at stake, but also our honoring of Almighty God may be at stake. If we allow ourselves to become caught up un the multiple heresies that abound - not that they are actual Church teachings, mind you, but that they are so widespread as possibly to appear as if they are - we even risk our souls. The Church has been very clear about her teachings against heresies in the past (click here for some examples). Longstanding, proven Catholic traditions help protect us from such errors and are therefore beneficial for our souls and presumably more pleasing to God. We must remember that our enemy is lurking and wishes to secure our downfall. When "yesterday's orthodoxy has become today's heresy" (Davies), we know special diligence is required on our part.

As Von Hildebrand states, "We must not fail to grasp the call of God to fight against these evils with all our might. It would be totally false to think that God expects of us only a resigned 'Thy will be done'. That would be a disastrous quietism. The criterion for determining the response which God expects of us is the will of God in the first sense, in the sense of that which is pleasing to God. It would be a great, indeed a catastrophic error to think that something is pleasing to God simply because it has happened, because it has come into existence... It is always the will of God for us to struggle against what is evil and false. Whether we will prevail in our struggle, that we do not know, and here again we should say, 'Thy will be done.' As Pascal says so beautifully, we must fight with Christ, but we do not know whether we will conquer with Him. But that Christ will conquer in the end - that we know." 

As Pope Leo XIII has said, "Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good." He further lamented that "those who wage war on religion seem to show more energy than those who repel it." (Pope Leo XIII, "Inimica Vis", 1892 A.D.) Traditional Catholics must "look beyond the ivory tower in which we may have placed ourselves and discern the general trend which the reform is taking, and the effect which it is having upon so many of the faithful with regard to Catholic teaching on the Real Presence and Sacrifice." Note: Click here for more negative effects. Clearly, we must work to restore Catholic tradition not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of the Church at large. 

We should also keep in mind that "it is praiseworthy to give away one's own, but not another's property. And much less should the things of God be neglected, for...'it is most wicked to overlook the wrongs done to God.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Therefore, it is most appropriate for good Catholics to fight (appropriately) for Catholic tradition, for what is right - and for the honor and glory of God. 

"This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights." (Pope Pius XI, "Quas Primas", 1925 A.D.)

Note: Click Here for 'What to Do / How You Can Help'

What if I'm a Traditionalist at Heart, But Am Unable to Fully Practice My Traditional Faith?

One may have to work within his circumstances, if it is impossible to change them (if one is able to change them, of course, one should consider what efforts would be appropriate - even moving, switching rites, utilizing the church court system, drafting petitions, writing letters, etc.). Remember, though, that top priority must be given to protecting your faith.

Although you may be wrongly prevented from attending the traditional Mass, you have the right to (and definitely should) find a parish where Mass is said validly and as reverently as possible. When attending Mass, keep in mind that no one can legitimately stop you from following along in your "Tridentine" Missal, even during a Novus Ordo Mass. As Pope Pius XII has said:

"So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Alternately, if a Missal isn't available, you can quietly recite the Creed, various other appropriate prayers, the Rosary, etc.

Further, no one should be able to stop you from dressing appropriately for Mass (including veils for women), behaving appropriately during Mass (click here) and receiving Holy Communion worthily (and on the tongue, from the priest). Further, you can counteract progressivist exposure by exposure to the truth (e.g. reading scripture in an older, approved translation, complete with footnotes, reading traditional lives of the saints, partaking of other traditional spiritual reading to enrich your faith and to counteract any negatives you may be exposed to, etc.). You should also attempt to avoid as much progressivist exposure as possible. As Von Hildebrand states: 

"We have to realize that our time is like the time of Arianism, and so we have to be extremely careful lest we be poisoned ourselves without noticing it. We must not underestimate the power of those ideas which fill the intellectual atmosphere of the time, nor the danger of being infected by them when we are daily breathing this atmosphere. Nor should we underestimate the danger of getting used to the evils of the times, and then becoming insensitive to them. At first perhaps many people see the devastation of the vineyard, and react in the right way. But gutta cavat lapidem (dripping water slowly erodes the stone) - after a while one becomes accustomed to it. Then, too, there is this to consider, that the devastation of the vineyard is an increasing process, and so certain evils which belong to the earlier stages, seem harmless in the light of the later stages. And so we are in danger of becoming insensitive, on the one hand, because we get used to the devastation, and on the other hand, because the devastation progresses, and its beginnings seem insignificant in light of its advanced forms. But it is still worse to become infected than to be insensitive. The first thing to be done in order to avoid both dangers is to realize completely how extraordinary is the situation in which we live today. St. Peter tells us, 'Brethren, be watchful, be sober, for your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour' (1 Pt. 5:8). Just fifty years ago this watchfulness mainly referred to our temptations to sin, to the danger of offending God by sins of impurity, pharisaism, pride, greed, ambition, lack of charity, disobedience to the commands of God. Of course, even then there was the danger of being tempted by those intellectual and spiritual trends of the time which were incompatible with the revelation of Christ - but those dangers were outside the Church, and the danger for a Catholic was to fall away from the Church under their influence (and this happened often enough). But today these trends are able to develop within the Church... Since these bad trends encounter so little resistance within the Church, it has become much more difficult for the simple faithful to grasp their incompatibility with the deposit of faith. Thus St. Peter's exhortation to watchfulness applies today in a special way to watchfulness with respect to heresies within the Church... [T]oday we have to develop in ourselves a special awareness, a holy mistrust, for we not only live in a poisoned world, but in a devastated Church. In our present trial God requires of us this watchfulness, this holy fear of being infected. It would be a lack of humility to think that we are in no danger of being infected. It would be a false security rooted in pride if we were to think that we are immune. Each of us must become aware of his frailty, and understand that this special watchfulness is required of us by God in the trial which we are going through."

Finally, remember that Mass is only an hour or so a day (or week). The rest of the time you should be able to fully live out your traditional faith.

Important Note: Persons are not excused from attending Mass simply because they do not wish to attend Mass in a rite that they consider (or that truly is) less desirable. Remember that despite one's feelings concerning certain rites, THE most important part of the Mass - the Holy Sacrifice - is equally valid in properly said Tridentine and Novus Ordo (new) Masses. It would be very wrong to condemn a proper Novus Ordo Mass as invalid. Although traditional Catholics may have to suffer by attending Mass at non-traditional parishes, it may be helpful to consider that your role there may be to assist other parishioners to return to tradition. This, of course, may be best done if you are well educated and behave appropriately.

Continued on Next Page

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