Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma [available
ST: Summa Theologica
When can the Prayer
to St. Michael against the devil and the bad angels be recited?
prayer (see below in its original entirety), written by Pope Leo
XIII in 1888, was incorporated into the Roman Ritual in
1925 (Tit. XI, Cap. 3) with the rubric that it can be recited by
bishops or by priests who have received the authority to do so
from their Ordinaries. However, this rubric concerns the public
prayers of the Church that are contained in the Roman Ritual.
The same restriction does not apply to the private recitation of
this prayer by any individual priest, or any of the faithful for
that matter, as many bishops permitted and encouraged before
traditional teaching concerning the recitation of private exorcism
prayers is contained in the Moral Theology manual of
Dominicus Prümmer (Vol. II, §463):
It is not only
clerics who can pronounce an exorcism in a private and secret
manner, enjoying a special power over the devils in virtue of the
order of the exorcistate, but also the laity themselves. It is in
no way forbidden to the laity nor does any inconvenient arise from
it. Thus we read in history how several lay persons, such as St.
Catherine of Siena and St. Anthony of the Desert, cast out devils.
Consequently, it is
in no way inappropriate for the laity to recite the exorcism
prayer of Pope Leo XIII, provided that they do so privately. It
will certainly be very powerful in overcoming the temptations and
evil snares of the devil.
One wonders why it
is that post-Vatican II authors have scruples concerning the
recitation of this magnificent prayer, stating that since the 1983
Code of Canon Law it is no longer permitted. In fact, the
same rule of the necessity of permission for public exorcisms is
retained (Canon 1172). There is, however, no determination
concerning the private recitation of an exorcism prayer, which is
consequently perfectly permissible. Of course, we all know why it
is that the modern church has changed the rites of exorcism, done
away with the traditional powerful prayers, and discouraged all
such commands in the name of Christ against the power of evil: it
is that the devil is henceforth treated more as a mythical figure
than as a reality that we must deal with every day, as St. Peter
teaches: “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (I
The gravity of sin,
the danger of eternal damnation and the personal power of evil
that the devil is able to exercise in this corrupt world, the
corruption of the Church, and its infiltration by its enemies,
even to the papacy, are so many realities pushed aside by the
modernists, but of which we are reminded in this prayer:
On men depraved
in mind and corrupt in heart the wicked dragon pours out like a
most foul river the poison of his villainy, a spirit of lying,
impiety and blasphemy; and the deadly breath of lust and of all
iniquities and vices. Her most crafty enemies have engulfed the
Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, with sorrows, they
have drenched her with wormwood; on all Her desirable things
they have laid their wicked hands. Where the See of Blessed
Peter and the Chair of Truth have been set up for the light of
the Gentiles, there they have placed the throne of the
abomination of their wickedness, so that, the Pastor having been
struck, they may also be able to scatter the flock. Therefore, O
thou unconquerable Leader, be present with the people of God
against the spiritual wickednesses which are bursting in upon
them: and bring them the victory.
Is it any wonder
that the modernists consider this prayer “dangerous” for the soul?
In fact, to the contrary, it is the refusal to pray in this way
that is dangerous for the soul.
Is it true to say that
now there is a "conciliar" Church?
The term "conciliar" is an adjective that has
long been used to describe those things that relate to the Second
Vatican Council, such as the documents, commissions, or novel
teachings such as Religious Liberty and Ecumenism. The question
raises the objection as to whether this adjective can be used to
describe the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council.
In order to respond to the question a clear
distinction has to be made. If by the term "church" is understood
the visible, hierarchical structure, founded upon the rock of St.
Peter, then clearly there can only be one Church, the Catholic
Church. If we were to call the Catholic Church after Vatican II "conciliar"
in this sense, then we would claim that it is no longer Catholic
at all, but instead a separate visible, hierarchical structure.
However, this is manifestly false, both because the adepts of
Vatican II have hijacked the visible hierarchical structure of the
Catholic Church, and because they profess publicly to be
However, there is another sense in which the
term "conciliar" can rightly be applied to the majority of persons
who profess to be Catholic, as well as to their ideas and
opinions, profoundly influenced as they are by the Second Vatican
Council. In this sense "conciliar" refers to the persons who have
embraced and who promote the novelties of Vatican II, as well as
to the novelties themselves. There are varying degrees of
influence of the modern errors, from liberal Catholicism through
rash opposition to Tradition to outright apostasy. The term
conciliar or post-conciliar can consequently be applied to the
modernist church, not as it is a canonical institution, but
inasmuch and to the degree that it promotes the revolutionary
errors of Vatican II.
Archbishop Lefebvre understood this reality
very clearly, and the grave danger brought about by the
infiltration of all these modernist principles within the very
bosom of the Catholic Church. He had this to say of Rome in 1974,
in his famous declaration of November 21:
We hold fast, with all our heart and with all
our soul, to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic Faith and
of the traditions necessary to preserve this Faith, to Eternal
Rome, Mistress of wisdom and truth.
We refuse, on the other hand, and have always
refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant
tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican
Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued
In his book Spiritual Journey,
Archbishop Lefebvre explained how the end result of this Conciliar
Church is to separate its members little by little from the true
Catholic Church established by Our Lord. By this he means that its
revolutionary principles of freedom at all cost separate the
clergy and faithful little by little from Tradition and produce
indifferentism for all religions, eventually destroying the
Catholic faith in the one true Church, and bringing about a
generalized apostasy, even of those persons who outwardly appear
to still be members of the Catholic Church.
Certainly, the Church itself guards its
sanctity and its sources of sanctification, but the control of
its institutions by unfaithful popes and apostate bishops ruins
the faith of the faithful and the clergy, sterilizes the
instruments of grace, and favors the assault of all the powers
of Hell which seem to triumph. This apostasy makes its members
adulterers, schismatics opposed to all Tradition, separated from
the past of the Church, and thus separated from the Church of
today, in the measure that it remains faithful to the Church of
Our Lord. [p.54]
[Answered by Fr.
Peter R. Scott]
Why is it that priests are not assigned
to their own countries, or to their own part of the world even, or
to their own language?
Although there are a multitude of different
factors that superiors have to take into account in assigning
priests, and although these include the natural capacities of the
priest, his understanding of culture, language, historical
background of the people to be administered to, there is another
much more profound reason according to which priestly assignments
must be seen as the work of divine Providence.
This reason is precisely the maintaining of the
profoundly supernatural quality of our work to restore all things
in Christ. This is why it is that the assignment of priests is not
uniquely, or even primarily, on account of language or natural
gifts and talents. There can be no place for personal empires and
endeavors in a Society like ours. Each of us must, like St. John
the Baptist, "decrease" that Christ might "increase"
(Jn. 3:30). The priest’s willingness to accept this is the sure
sign that his work is Christ’s work, the work of grace.
Likewise the willingness of the faithful to
accept the transfer of priests is essential to the success of our
work. Frequently, there will be no apparent reason. In fact, often
times, it will simply not make sense at all according to any human
calculations, on account of the difficulties of dealing with
priests who may not be familiar with the language, culture,
history, customs of the souls entrusted to them, or on account of
the great sacrifices of self-denial required by both priests and
However, the great treasure is that it is
precisely through such reassignments that the work remains
profoundly and fundamentally the same, and that is maintained the
supernatural unity of our Society, living its motto Cor unum et
anima una, having "but one heart and one soul" (Acts
4:32). Indeed, for the soul who understands the Faith and
spiritual things there is one common language that transcends all
else, and it is that of the Faith. It is a great consolation to
know that regardless of what part of the world we come from, which
language we speak, what be our social, educational, economic or
cultural background, we share, promote, preach, teach, live the
same supernatural inheritance. It is this religious spirit that is
essential to the supernatural work of our Society.
[Answered by Fr. Peter Scott]
Are the prayers after Low
Mass to be recited for the conversion of Russia, and if so why is
this rarely announced?
It was Pope Leo XIII who prescribed the
recitation of prayers after private Low Masses, by a decree dated
January 6, 1884. This included all the prayers that are
customarily said after private Low Masses, with the exception of
the prayer Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
The three-fold repetition of this prayer was strongly recommended
by St. Pius X on August 19, 1904. Benedict XV requested that these
prayers continue to be said, but it was only Pius XI, who in a
consistorial allocution of June 30, 1930, requested that these
prayers be said for the freedom of the Church in Russia. At the
same time, he urged priests and bishops to remind the faithful
frequently of this intention.
As is well known, atheism reigns supreme in
Russia, despite the apparent fall of Communism. The Church
continues to be persecuted, despite the attempts of Cardinal
Kasper to promote ecumenism with the Orthodox, and the Catholic
Church is not one of the four religions that enjoy freedom of
religion in Russia. Furthermore, we are very far from the
conversion of Russia, that Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray
for, as a sign of the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
Consequently, it is eminently appropriate for us to often renew
this intention given by Pope Pius XI. If priests rarely announce
this special intention, it is probably because they presume that
the faithful are aware of it. However, it would not be at all out
of place to renew this reminder more often.
[Answered by Fr. Peter Scott]
Is it a sin for a traditional
Catholic family to have a television in the home?
I do not believe that the
question is asked in the correct way, which would be: Is it the will of God for
a traditional Catholic family to have a television in the home? I think that
simply by rephrasing the question, the answer becomes much more obvious.
Nevertheless, let us answer the question as posed.
It is manifestly obvious that in
itself the television is but an electronic gadget, and the fact of owning such a
gadget is neither morally good nor morally evil. It is indifferent. The morality
comes from the end for which the television exists in the home, and from the
associated circumstances that inseparably accompany the existence of such a
gadget in the home.
It is equally obvious, and every
traditional Catholic will admit it, that the regular watching of television for
children is an occasion of sin, and this not just because of the obvious sins of
impurity, but especially of materialism, concupiscence of the eyes, the loss of
the Faith and the perversion of the mind by the parading of the false ideals of
subjectivism and liberalism continually before the eyes of the young. He who
exposes himself deliberately to a proximate occasion of sin commits a sin, and
it will be a mortal sin if the proximate occasion to which he exposes himself is
of a mortal sin. How much more serious is the culpability of those parents who
expose their defenseless children to the perversions presented as ideals by the
world of television!
However, there are many
traditional Catholics who admit the above principles, but who still feel that
they can keep a television in their home. After all, they are intelligent
people, and they are perfectly capable of controlling the use of television to
only good, approved shows, and it enables them to watch videos which are
entirely within their control. Why would this not be licit, they maintain.
Such an abstract consideration of
the use of television fails to consider an essential circumstance that
substantially modifies the morality of the use of television. It is profoundly
addictive, for it panders to our desire for visual self-satisfaction and to our
inborn laziness. Any person who claims that he can control its inroads into his
own life, let alone his family’s life, is sadly deceiving himself. He denies the
ugly reality of the wounds of original sin, that we all have to live with.
Furthermore, television, in the practical use to which man puts it, necessarily
provokes the capital vice of sloth. For it preoccupies man with transitory,
visual, material things, paralyzes his ability to think and to elevate his soul
to spiritual things, and prevents him from rejoicing in the things of God, in
divine truth, and in heavenly aspirations. This is precisely how St. Thomas
Aquinas defines the capital sin of sloth. By promoting sloth, television
destroys recollection, the interior life of prayer, and union with God. How rare
indeed is that situation in which, in practice, it is not at least an
imperfection or venial sin for a traditional Catholic man to allow a television
to remain in his home!
Some folks object to this radical
conclusion by stating that they only use their television for watching videos,
and especially religious videos, and that there is no sin at all in watching
such videos. This is all perfectly true, and there may indeed be some families
in which there is such strict discipline that there is no temptation to use this
means other than for such edifying videos, and in which such audiovisual means
are kept so carefully under control that there is no danger of provoking sloth.
In such circumstances there is manifestly no sin at all, but we all know how
infrequent and fragile such a situation is.
Furthermore, a family that is
truly God-centered, a family that strives to maintain an interior life, a family
that desires to distance itself from the world, is going to have a horror for
this terribly effective instrument for the perversion of modern society. It will
realize that the television is a destroyer of all family life, of shared
activities of all kinds, as well as of the supernatural life. It will see that
the little benefit to be gained by an occasional video is far outweighed by the
grave danger of placing such an occasion of worldliness in their midst, and will
reject it outright.
It is precisely for this reason
that the television is forbidden in religious communities, which furthermore
have the discipline that could potentially prevent its abuse. Archbishop
Lefebvre was a great example in this regard. After he fought against the
introduction of the television into the Holy Ghost Fathers during the 1960’s, he
had the wisdom to include this very categorical prescription in the Statutes of
the Society of St. Pius X:
They shall take care to break
with the habits of the world, which has become a slave to radio, television,
vacations and costly leisure. Hence, there shall be no television set in our
communities…. Our true television is the Tabernacle, where dwells He Who puts
us in communication with all spiritual and temporal realities. (VI, 7)
Note that the Archbishop does not
just forbid television in our houses, but also gives the reason why. If such a
rule is good enough for the spiritual family of the Society, why would it not be
good enough for traditional Catholic families, in which there is much greater
danger of abuse?
Our holy founder had likewise the same wisdom when it came
to writing the rule of the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X. Not only
did he list "to abstain from television" amongst the personal obligations
of Third Order members. He also listed it again under the obligations of the
married, when he described how their home should be, and when he lists
television as one of two examples of things that can harm the souls of children.
Here is the full obligation:
To make of the family home a
sanctuary consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary where evening prayers
are recited in the family and, if possible, the Rosary. Liturgical life should
be paramount on Sundays and feast days. Avoid everything that could harm the
souls of children; television, unclean magazines.
Surely this means that
televisions should not even be present in the home, in the same way that a
Catholic man would detest the thought of having unclean magazines somewhere
hidden in his home.
It is this aspect of the rule of the Society’s Third Order
that has most discouraged the faithful from joining. They consider that it is
too difficult, too radical, too different from the ways of the world. They
consider that it would be much easier to join one of the other older Third
Orders, which do not have this in their rule, such as the Carmelite, Franciscan
[Ed’s note in the October 2003 issue of The Angelus:
It has been brought to our attention that, contrary to a July 2003 answer in
this column, it is not only the Third Order of the SSPX which
has in its statutes a requirement that its members abstain from television. The
Dominican Tertiaries attached to the Convent of la Haye-aux-Bonshommes in Avrillé,
France, also have the same rule in their statutes: "Insofar as they are in
authority, they will not have television in their homes" (Ch. IX, no. 43
under "The Obligation to Avoid Worldly Outings and Amusements").
It should be further noted that the other traditional Third Orders are currently
under the direction of Society priests, and not priests of their respective
Orders (i.e., Carmelites, Franciscans). As these Orders
similarly forbid "worldly outings and amusements" in their Third Order
constitutions, certainly if their Rules had been updated for modern problems
(which the traditional Dominican Fathers of Avrillé did), they too would have
forbidden television in the homes of their Tertiaries].
seriously deceive themselves, for if the exclusion of television is not a part
of these Third Order rules, it is not that it is any less important for these
Third Orders than it is for the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X, but
simply that the television did not exist when the rules were written. Any person
who is serious about his own and his family’s spiritual life, and who desires to
join a Third Order, will have a great desire to rid himself of the television,
and will consider that the little gain of being able to watch videos is nothing
compared to the grave danger of having such an instrument of perversion in the
midst of his family.
This elimination of the
television from the homes of Third Order members is in fact an illustration of
the great value of the Society’s Third Order. Not only is it adapted to the real
times in which we are presently living, but in addition it unites the laity to
the priests in their daily Masses, spiritual life, and sacrifices, so that they
can share in the special grace of the Society to fight for the Social Kingship
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and contribute their own merits to this combat. May
there be many generous families willing to rid their homes of the television,
grave impediment to their spiritual life as it is, in order to live the
supernatural life of grace more profoundly. [Answered by
Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Protestants say that a tithe of
10% of gross income is obligatory according to Scripture. Are Catholics bound to
keep this rule?
The obligation of offering a tenth part of the produce as
an offering to God and to His ministers is one of the legal prescriptions of the
Mosaic law (Dt. 14:22) that Our Lord did away with when He came to
fulfill the law in His own person. It is certainly true that under the new law,
as under the old, the faithful owe support to the ministers of the altar.
However, since the new law is interior, it is left to the generosity of the
faithful in the practice of the virtues of justice and charity to determine the
In fact, the Church has declared that support is strictly
owed in justice to the ministers of the Church, and that it is not pure alms
that can be withdrawn at will. The contrary opinion was one of the errors of
John Wycliffe condemned at the Council of Constance in 1415 (Dz, 598).
This is indeed a part of the natural law, that requires that those who minister
receive a commensurate remuneration. It is also according to the divine law, as
taught by Our Lord, "for the workman is worthy of his meat" (Mt. 10:10)
and by St. Paul:
Know you not, that they who
work in the holy place, eat the things that are of the holy place; and they
that serve the altar, partake with the altar. So also the Lord ordained that
they who preach the gospel should live by the gospel. (I Cor. 9:13,14)
Thus it is that the Waldensian heretics had to recant the
denial of this when being received back into the Church in 1208 by professing:
"We believe that tithes and first fruits and oblations should be paid to the
clergy, according to the Lord’s command." (Dz, 427). Consequently
those who refuse to contribute to the support of the Church and the
clergy are guilty of two sins: they are guilty of injustice, by refusing the
support that they owe, and they are guilty of a sin against religion by not
contributing according to their means to the support of the Church.
In many places during the Middle Ages it became custom and
particular law for the 10% figure to become obligatory, especially in the East. Bouscaren & Ellis in their Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, have this to
say: "(This) has long since become obsolete except in a few churches
which have kept the ancient custom by reason of local statutes" (p. 747).
Consequently, the Church’s law gives no precision about the quantity of the
donations that are to be given in support of the clergy. The current mind of the
Church on the matter is reflected in canon 1502 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law:
"Local statutes as well as laudable customs regarding tithes and first fruits
are to be respected."
When speaking of this issue, St. Thomas Aquinas explains why it is that the
Church does not demand the 10% tithe, and why it would be dis-edifying and
inappropriate to revive this local custom:
The ministers of the Church
ought to be more solicitous for the increase of spiritual goods in the people,
than for the amassing of temporal goods: and hence the Apostle was unwilling
to make use of the right given him by the Lord of receiving his livelihood
from those to whom he preached the Gospel, lest he should occasion a hindrance
to the Gospel of Christ….In like manner the ministers of the Church rightly
refrain from demanding the Church’s tithes, when they could not demand them
without scandal, on account of their having fallen into desuetude, or for some
other reason. Nevertheless those who do not give tithes in places where the
Church does not demand them are not in a state of damnation, unless they be
obstinate, and unwilling to pay even if tithes were demanded of them. (ST, IIa IIae, Q. 87, A. 1 ad. 5)
This judicious balance of the
Angelic Doctor is remarkable. The principle of contributing to the support is
maintained, but the Church is not so small-minded as to insist on a certain sum
or proportion, although it has the right to do so. It leaves all this in God’s
hands, knowing that God will provide for all the needs of His true Church, and
of the clergy who have consecrated their lives to its service. Protestants who
demand a tithe err by acting as if the Mosaic law were still in vigor, by a very
materialist conception of the law, centered upon temporal goods, and by failing
to give due priority to the Church’s true mission —the salvation of souls.
Consequently, no Catholic should
feel under any kind of moral obligation to give 10% to the support of the
Church, and most importantly if it would mean sacrificing the necessities of
food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Yet every Catholic is under the
moral obligation to give according to their means, whether their farthing be 1%,
or whether, perhaps, if they are comfortably established in life, it be closer
to 20% or even more. It is for each person to decide before God what is a
reasonable proportion to contribute to the support of the Church, and the
Church’s charitable works, concealing his generosity, so that, figuratively at
least, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Nevertheless,
if he is prudent he will also include this proportion, whatever he decides upon,
in his budget for the month. [Answered
by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Is Alcoholics Anonymous
penetrated by the principles of naturalism, and if so, how can it be justifiable
for a traditional Catholic to belong to it?
There can be no doubt about the
essential accusation of naturalism, nor that it is penetrated by the principles
of syncretism, that theory that regards all religions as different aspects of
one world religion. It is certainly true that AA has never pretended to be
anything else but this. It openly encourages all to believe in their god or
power, as they understand it. As such it is a danger to the Faith of the weak.
In this way it is penetrated with the ideas of Freemasonry. However, it cannot
be equated with this condemned organization, which truly is a secret society and
has a hidden purpose. AA’s purpose is not to promote anti-Catholic philosophies,
but to help alcoholics, albeit by purely naturalistic means.
I always feel uncomfortable
recommending our faithful to attend AA. However, sometimes there is simply no
choice. A purely spiritual solution does not work, for these people have a
severe personality disorder that requires a natural and psychological help.
Anybody who maintains that confession and the spirit of penance suffice to cure
alcoholism have absolutely no medical understanding of the condition at all.
They are necessary, but not sufficient. The weak character, filled with
self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and poor self esteem also needs help. There
can be no denying the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous is particularly effective
in providing this psychological help. Innumerable are the traditional Catholics
who owe their sanity and their ability to live in the state of grace to the
psychological support that this organization has given. In actual fact, we have
no serious alternative to AA, with the sole exception of regular weekly
professional counseling, which can be prohibitively expensive, and often times
not nearly as effective.
Consequently, I maintain that it is permissible to use AA,
in cases where the alcoholic has a strong faith, and provided that the danger to
the faith be avoided by regular reception of the sacraments and spiritual
direction. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Why is it that the priests of the
Society do not send faithful who have grounds of annulment to the local diocesan
Not infrequently the priests of
the Society are contacted by faithful who have been previously married, but
whose marriage failed. They will sometimes present convincing evidence of the
nullity of their previous marriage, such as the refusal of children on the part
of one or both parties. They are there placed in a difficult predicament:
On the one hand the Society does not have jurisdiction to establish
tribunals that could give a certain judgment in such a case;
On the other hand, the diocesan tribunals do not
grant certitude either, for even when there are solid potential grounds to
truly question the validity of the marriage, they will always resort to the
easy grounds of "lack of due discretion," provided for in the
1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1095, §2.
Consequently, if a traditional
priest were to send his faithful to a diocesan tribunal, he would effectively
condemn them to uncertainty, to never knowing for sure their marriage status.
However, the whole purpose of an annulment tribunal is to establish moral
certitude, on the basis of which a person can act. A tribunal that refuses to do
this does not perform its duty and is worthless. The modernist tribunals almost
always consider exclusively psychological reasons, such as lack of maturity,
that make the marriage imprudent. They call this "lack of due discretion."
However, this in no way proves that the marriage did not happen, and that the
vows were without any object, as when one of the couple refuses true consent.
Consequently, the decision of the modernist tribunals gives no certitude at all,
and certainly does not give the person the ability to act as if he or she were
not married and to enter into another marriage. This is why the Society of St.
Pius X refuses to marry people who have decrees of nullity from modernist
The faithful who have an upright
intention, who are seeking true certitude, and who would never dream of entering
sacrilegiously into a subsequent doubtful marriage, consequently come to the
Society asking us to resolve their doubt. Our priests know full well that it is
not because there seems to be some good grounds that the marriage can be
considered as null and void. It takes a tribunal to make such a declaration,
after due consideration, following all the norms of canon law. The salvation of
souls requires that the Society have such tribunals, and consequently the Church
supplies jurisdiction for such judgments, as it does for marriages themselves.
Sometimes it is objected that the
Society should study the case first, and then send it to a diocesan tribunal.
The problem is that simply studying the case will not obtain the required moral
certitude. It is only a canonical judgment, following the norms of marriage
tribunals that can do this. We can only study it by erecting tribunals to treat
these cases. Any other way of studying them would be misleading, unjust and
would perpetrate the uncertainty.
Another reason why Society priests refuse to refer their
faithful to the Novus Ordo tribunals is to avoid confusion and scandal
for the weak. How can the faithful be expected to accept our firm rulings,
protecting the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage, if we were to send our
faithful to tribunals who do not at all, in practice, accept them? Human nature
is such that they will listen only to the answer they want to hear. It is only
years later, after entering into a second, and possibly invalid second marriage,
that they will have to grapple with their compromised conscience. It would be a
total contradiction of all that we are doing to restore all things in Christ and
to save souls, if we were to do this. The continued worsening of the crisis in
the Church has made it more necessary than ever before for us to be very firm on
this point. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Why does the Society of St.
Pius X administer conditionally the sacraments of baptism and confirmation to
those who received them in the Novus Ordo?
It is forbidden for a priest to administer a sacrament
conditionally unless there is some doubt about the validity of the sacrament
already received. A mere suspicion does not suffice, but any real doubt does (i.e.,
when there is a positive reason to think that the sacrament might have been
invalidly administered), since the sacraments are so necessary for the salvation
and sanctification of our souls.
In general there is no doubt as
to the validity of the sacrament of baptism administered in the post-Conciliar Church, since the matter
and the form are very simple and have been retained, despite the whole new
theology replacing the washing of original sin (and actual sin in adults) from
the soul with the nebulous social concept of belonging to a community. In
general, there is no reason to doubt that the priest has the intention of doing
what the Church does, even though he may have a false notion of what this is.
However, it will happen from time to time, that the sacrament is administered in
such a sacrilegious way as to place in doubt even the matter or form or even the
intention of doing what the Church does. In such rare cases, in which even the
rules of the Novus Ordo are not followed, it may be necessary to administer the
sacrament of baptism conditionally in order to guarantee validity.
The bishops of the Society administer the sacrament of
confirmation conditionally when the faithful request it, that is, when they have
a reasonable doubt as to the validity of the sacrament that they received, and
this doubt cannot be resolved, as is usually the case. This is the case if oil
other than the sacred chrism is used, or an oil other than olive oil (highly
doubtful, since at variance with the divine institution of using olive oil) as
is now permitted in the new rites, or if the signing with the sacred chrism and
the imposition of the hand were not done at the same time, or if there is a
doubt about the words used. Since there is a great variety in the words used,
and since the traditional words "I sign thee with the sign of the cross and I
confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost" are never used, there is very frequently a doubt
about the validity of the administration of this sacrament. This is the
reason why the Society’s bishops do not hesitate to administer it conditionally
when asked to do so. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Is the Novus Ordo Mass
invalid, or sacrilegious, and should I assist at it when I have no alternative?
The validity of the reformed rite of Mass, as issued in Latin by Paul VI in
1969, must be judged according to the same criteria as the validity of the other
sacraments; namely matter, form and intention. The defective theology and
meaning of the rites, eliminating as they do every reference to the principal
propitiatory end of sacrifice, do not necessarily invalidate the Mass. The
intention of doing what the Church does, even if the priest understands it
imperfectly, is sufficient for validity. With respect to the matter, pure
wheaten bread and true wine from grapes are what is required for validity. The
changes in the words of the form in the Latin original, although certainly
illicit and unprecedented in the history of the Church, do not alter the
substance of its meaning, and consequently do not invalidate the Mass.
However, we all know that such a New Mass celebrated in
Latin is an oddity, doomed to extinction by the very fact of the reform. The
validity of the New Masses that are actually celebrated in today’s parishes more
than 30 years later is a quite different question. Additives to the host
sometimes invalidate the matter. The change in the translation from the words of
Our Lord, "for many" to the ecumenically acceptable "for all"
throws at least some doubt on the validity of the form. Most importantly,
however, is the fact that the intention of the Church of offering up a true
sacrifice in propitiation for the sins of the living and the dead has been
obliterated for 30 years. In fact, most liturgies present the contrary intention
of a celebration by the community of the praise of God. In such circumstances it
is very easy for a priest to no longer have the intention of doing what the
Church does, and for the New Mass to become invalid for this reason. The problem
is that this is hidden and nobody knows. Whereas the traditional Mass expresses
the true intention of the Church in a clear and unambiguous manner, so that
everyone can be certain of the priest’s intention, the New Mass does no such
thing. Consequently, the doubt of invalidity for lack of intention, especially
in the case of manifestly modernist priests, cannot be easily lifted or removed.
Clearly, an invalid Mass is not a Mass at all, and does
not satisfy the Sunday obligation. Furthermore, when it comes to the sacraments,
Catholics are obliged to follow the "pars tutior," the safer path. It is
not permissible to knowingly receive doubtful sacraments. Consequently nobody
has the obligation to satisfy his Sunday obligation by attending the New Mass,
even if there is no other alternative.
However, even if we could be certain of the validity of
the Novus Ordo Masses celebrated in today’s Conciliar churches, it does
not follow that they are pleasing to God. Much to the contrary, they are
objectively sacrilegious, even if those who assist at them are not aware of it.
By such a statement, I do not mean that all those who celebrate or assist at the
New Mass are necessarily in mortal sin, having done something directly insulting
to Almighty God and to our Divine Savior.
Sacrilege is a sin against the virtue of religion, and is
defined as "the unbecoming treatment of a sacred person, place or thing as
far as these are consecrated to God" (Jone, Moral Theology, p.108).
The moral theologians explain that sacrilege is in itself and generally a mortal
sin (ex genere suo), but that it is not always a mortal sin, because it
can concern a relatively small or unimportant thing. Here we are speaking of a
real sacrilege, the dishonoring of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by the
elimination of the prayers and ceremonies that protect its holiness, by the
absence of respect, piety and adoration, and by the failure to express the
Catholic doctrine of the Mass as a true propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.
Here there are varying degrees. Just as it is a grave sacrilege and objective
mortal sin for a lay person to touch the sacred host without reason, so it is,
for example, a venial sin to do the same thing to the chalice or the blessed
linens, such as the purificator or pall.
Likewise with the New Mass. It
can be an objectively mortal sin of sacrilege if Holy Communion is distributed
in the hand or by lay ministers, if there is no respect, if there is talking or
dancing in church, or if it includes some kind of ecumenical celebration, etc.
It can also be an objectively venial sin of sacrilege if it is celebrated with
unusual respect and devotion, so that it appears becoming and reverential to
Almighty God. This in virtue of the omissions in the rites and ceremonies, which
constitute a true disrespect to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to the
Blessed Trinity, and of the failure to express the true nature of what the Mass
really is. In each case, the subjective culpability is an altogether other
question that God only can judge.
However, regardless of the
gravity of the sacrilege, the New Mass still remains a sacrilege, and it is
still in itself sinful. Furthermore, it is never permitted to knowingly and
willingly participate in an evil or sinful thing, even if it is only venially
sinful. For the end does not justify the means. Consequently, although it is a
good thing to want to assist at Mass and satisfy one’s Sunday obligation, it is
never permitted to use a sinful means to do this. To assist at the New Mass, for
a person who is aware of the objective sacrilege involved, is consequently at
least a venial sin. It is opportunism. Consequently, it is not permissible for a
traditional Catholic, who understands that the New Mass is insulting to Our
Divine Savior, to assist at the New Mass, and this even if there is no danger of
scandal to others or of the perversion of one’s own Faith (as in an older
person, for example), and even if it is the only Mass available. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Can Ss. Catherine of Siena and
Therese of the Child Jesus be considered Doctors of the Church?
The term "Doctor of the Church" is a title of honor that
was first attributed to those of the Fathers who were most eminent in the wisdom
of their writings and the holiness of their lives. They were consequently
extraordinary teachers of the Faith. The original or great Doctors were the four
Western doctors, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the
Great, and the four eastern doctors, St. Athanasius, St. Basil the
Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzen and St. John Chrysostom.
Additional Doctors have been declared over the centuries,
and it was Pope Benedict XIV who laid down the three conditions for such a
proclamation: eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, Ecclesiae
declaratio, that is eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity and the
express declaration of the Church, as Pope Pius XI reiterated at the time of the
proclamation of St. John of the Cross as Doctor of the Universal Church in 1926
(Die Vicesima Septima). The theologians add that there is a fourth and
presumed condition, namely the orthodoxy of faith (Cf. Zubizarreta, Vol.
I, No. 692).
The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about the
conferring of the title Doctor of the Church before Vatican II:
In practice the procedure
consists in extending to the Universal Church the use of the Office and Mass
of a saint in which the title of Doctor is applied to him. The decree is
issued by the Congregation of Sacred Rites and approved by the pope, after a
careful examination, if necessary, of the saint’s writings. It is not in any
way an ex cathedra decision, nor does it even amount to a declaration that no
error is to be found in the teaching of the Doctor. It is, indeed, well known
that the very greatest of them are not wholly immune from error. No martyr has
ever been included in the list, since the Office and Mass are for Confessors
(Vol. V, p. 75).
It is not surprising that most of the early Doctors were
bishops, since the bishops make up the Ecclesia docens, the teaching
Church, whereas the rest of us make up the Ecclesia discens, the Church
inasmuch as it is taught or instructed. The reason for this distinction is that
the bishops alone have the official function to teach the deposit of the Faith,
whereas the rest of us have the duty to learn and keep it. It is certainly
understandable that the concept of Doctor would be enlarged to also include
priests who were saints, for priests participate in the bishops’ teaching role.
Thus St. Jerome, a Father of the Church is included, and also other priests
such as St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernard, and St. Anthony
of Padua. It is also reasonable that St. Ephraem, who was a deacon,
would also be included. All are Confessors, and the liturgical privileges of
Doctors can be applied even to those who are not Pontiffs.
However, the post-Vatican II idea
of including these very great women saints in the list of Doctors is a novelty.
Liturgically they are not Confessors but Virgins, nor can they be treated as
Confessors, for the public teaching of the Faith is not something that can be
delegated to women, according to St. Paul:
Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not
permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they
would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame
for a woman to speak in the church (I Cor. 14:34, 35).
This being said, it is nevertheless manifestly obvious
that the lives of these three great women fulfill all four conditions laid down
for the proclamation of a Doctor of the Church, and that they played no less of
a leadership role for the Universal Church than St. Joan of Arc did for
France. No Catholic can doubt their orthodoxy nor their sanctity. Moreover if
they did not have the eminent book learning of Sacred Theology that is generally
associated with a Doctor of the Church, they most assuredly did have infused
knowledge from God, allowing their words and writings to make a profound impact
on the history and development of the Church.
Moreover, it must be remembered
that there was nothing feminist about these great saints, whose every action
defending the Church’s magisterial teaching authority, whether it be St.
Catherine of Siena, encouraging Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, St. Teresa
of Avila laying down the principles of the mystical life and the Carmelite
reform for both men and women, or St. Therese of the Child Jesus, opening up
to all souls the little way of childlike abandonment by the incredible story of
her soul, thus becoming the patron of the missions.
We could legitimately ask the question why clergymen would
feel the need to expand the notion of a Doctor to include women, and whether
there is in this desire a deep-seated influence from the feminist egalitarianism
that is one aspect of the post-Conciliar revolution in the Church. It certainly
seems that this is the real motivation. However, the right of the Church to
extend the concept of "Doctor" in an analogical sense, to those who share the
necessary qualities, but who are not actually Confessors, that is public
teachers, but Virgins, cannot be denied. The term "Doctor" still retains a very
real meaning, even if the differences, as in every analogy, are greater than the
This is what is meant by Pope John Paul II in his
Apostolic Letter of October 19, 1997, Divini Amoris Scientia, which
admits that "in the writings of Therese of Lisieux we do not find, perhaps,
as in other Doctors, a scholarly presentation of the things of God" (§7),
but nevertheless declares that the eminence of her teaching concerning the
spiritual life is the basis for this honor:
From careful study of the
writings of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and from the resonance they have
had in the Church, salient aspects can be noted of her ‘eminent doctrine’,
which is the fundamental element for conferring the title of Doctor of the
He makes a comparison with the
proclamation of St. Catherine of Siena as Doctor of the Church by Paul VI in
We can apply to Therese of Lisieux what my Predecessor,
Paul VI, said of another young saint and Doctor of the Church, Catherine of
Siena: "What strikes us most about the saint is her infused wisdom, that is to
say, her lucid, profound and inebriating absorption of the divine truths and
mysteries of faith…" (Ibid.).
In conclusion, we can certainly accept the proclamation of
these great saints as Doctors, for as John Paul II says of St. Therese, she
"appears as an authentic teacher of faith and the Christian life" (op.
cit. §8). However, we must be aware that we are not using this term in the
same way as it is used to indicate Doctors who are Confessors, whether Pontiffs
or not. When applied to a Doctor who is a Virgin it takes on an analogical and
quite different sense to that which it has for a Doctor who is a Confessor.
These holy Virgins taught despite themselves, moved by divine inspiration,
without having any pretense of having the public function of doing so.
Furthermore, these Doctor Virgins can clearly not be assimilated to Doctor
Confessors in the texts of the Liturgy. However, it is in the liturgical offices
that the practical consequences of the title of "Doctor" are most felt, hence
the bizarreness of Doctor Virgins, for whom there is no place in the traditional
Mass. [Answered by Fr. Peter R.
Can a traditional Catholic go to
confession to a Novus Ordo priest?
It would certainly be valid to go to confession to a
priest who still celebrates the Novus Ordo Mass, provided that the
penitent were assured of the doctrinal orthodoxy of the priest, his intention of
doing what the Church does, and his use of the correct formula of absolution. It
would furthermore be permissible in a state of necessity, such as when a person
is dying and no traditional priest can be found.
However, it is not easy to have the assurance of a valid
absolution, given the fact that the post-Conciliar Church consistently
downgrades the reality and gravity of mortal sin, the benefits of confessing
venial sins, the graces to be obtained from frequent confession, and the
necessity of doing penance. Very often souls who have felt the urgent need to go
to a Novus Ordo priest have come to me afterwards in confession, doubting
the validity of their confession to this priest, on account of his trivializing
of their sins.
Furthermore, I do not hesitate to strongly recommend
against going to confession to such a priest, even when there is an assurance of
a valid absolution. A penitent does not go to confession simply to receive the
absolution of his sins. He has the desire to receive all the effects of the
sacrament, including the direction, and if need be reprimand of the confessor,
growth in the love of God and in sanctifying grace, a firmer purpose of
amendment and the satisfaction of the temporal punishment due to his sins. All
this is only possible if he sees in the confessor a judge, a teacher, and a
physician. It is to guarantee these full effects of the sacrament of Penance
that the Church supplies jurisdiction so that the faithful can ask any priest to
hear their confessions, for any just reason (canon 2261, §2, 1917 Code
and canon 1335 of the 1983 Code).
Manifestly it is not possible to
have confidence in the guidance of a priest who compromises with modernism by
celebrating the New Mass, even if he otherwise appears orthodox. Neither his
judgment as to the reality of our contrition, nor his instruction as to the
gravity of our sins, nor his remedies for the ills of our sins can be depended
upon. The supernatural vision of Faith will necessarily have been undermined by
the humanism and naturalism of the New Mass and the spirit of Vatican II. Our
souls are much too precious to place in the hands of those who lack conviction.
Consequently, outside case of
danger of death, it is preferable to make an act of perfect contrition, and to
wait until one can open one’s soul to a traditional priest that can be trusted. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
How can I get my four-year-old
to participate in our daily Rosary?
The prayer of little children is a very delicate thing.
Not unlike the disciples, who rebuked those who brought little children to be
blessed by Our Lord, we find it difficult to understand that children can do
what we find so difficult ourselves, namely prayer. Yet Our Lord was clear:
"Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom
of heaven is for such" (Mt. 19:14).
Children can indeed pray, but only within the limits of
their capacities, namely their understanding, concentration, and attention span.
Moreover, their prayer must retain childlike simplicity to be genuine, that is
spontaneity in asking for what they need, in praying for Mommy and Daddy, in
telling Jesus they are sorry for their faults, etc. Mary Reed Newland’s
article, "Teaching Children to Pray" in Raising Your Children
[available from Angelus Press] has some practical suggestions:
Children have such simple faith in the efficacy of
prayer that it is easy for them to form the habit of praying on all sorts of
occasions …occasions of minor crises during the day …They will voice their
prayer aloud, matter of factly, and with the simplicity of the faith that is
as a grain of mustard, they wait for the mountain to be moved…. It is very easy
to plant the habit, and their world is so much more secure, because of this
faith that God is ready and willing to help them on every hand, that calling
on Him is second nature to them (pp.137-138).
If the family Rosary is not to become an interminable
chore for little children, these principles must be applied. It must first be
recognized that every family and every child is different. There are some
families and some children, used to a more strict discipline, who will kneel or
sit quietly during the recitation of the Rosary. There are others who find it
impossible to stay still. The discipline required for the Rosary must be in
proportion to the discipline required for the rest of their lives. If family
life as a whole is disciplined, little Johnny will know how to sit still and be
quiet during the sacred time of prayer. However, flexibility needs to be shown
on the exterior details, depending upon the individual circumstances for each
child (e.g., age, temperament and maturity) and each family.
Furthermore, unless they be malicious disruptions,
distractions and lack of concentration should not be punished, lest prayer
become onerous and painful. The emphasis should rather be given to positive
rewards for good efforts, such as a fun activity or a treat after the recitation
of the Rosary. The active involvement of the children, according to their age
level, is crucial. This does not just mean saying the Our Father’s and
Hail Mary’s, when they are able to do so. Each decade could be preceded by a
very brief discussion of the mystery, and the children could be asked their
intentions for each particular decade. A special virtue can be asked for, as
well as sorrow for a fault. In this way the spontaneity can be renewed at the
beginning of every decade.
Another key help to profiting
from the daily Rosary is to take advantage of children’s ease in praying always,
as Our Lord suggested. Their trust in Providence can be so profound, their sense
of right and wrong so acute, that it can bring on a spontaneous prayer for God’s
help or forgiveness. Very short but fervent prayers can punctuate the day. A
parent can do well to take advantage of this and spread out the mysteries of the
Rosary during the day.
However, above all else in
importance is the example of the parents themselves. If the parents are bored
and distracted during the recitation of the Rosary, irritable and picky towards
their children, and if they recite the Rosary in a mechanical and routine
manner, without unction or fervor, then the same will be found in their
children. However, if they are recollected and fervent, able to verbalize the
object of their meditation and the graces to be obtained, and if the parents
find this an enjoyable time in God’s presence, rising above the million and one
interruptions of fidgety children, then their children will strive to follow
their example. [Answered by Fr.
Peter R. Scott]
Is it permissible to attend a
concert where music is performed in a Catholic church?
answer to this question is immediately obvious to the Catholic who understands
why a church is blessed or consecrated: "By the term church is
understood a sacred structure devoted to divine worship for the principal
purpose of being used by all the faithful for public divine worship" (canon
1161 of the 1917 Code). This is precisely what Our Lord meant when he declared
"My house shall be called the house of prayer (Mt. 21:13)". It is
sacred, and must consequently be separated from all secular use, as from
personal profit or advantage, under pain of becoming "a den of
thieves". The consequence of this is drawn in the canon 1178 of the
1917 Code, which states that: "Business and trafficking, and in general
whatever is out of harmony with the holiness of the place, should be
excluded". Canon 1220,§1 of the 1983 Code says the same.
question is, then, whether the performance of music in a church, which is not
for the liturgy, takes away from its sacredness. The answer is given by canon
1264, §1of the 1917 Code, which simply reproduces a decision of the Council of
Trent, but which is, alas, not maintained in the 1983 Code. "Music,
whether instrumental, from the organ or other instruments, or vocal, in which
there is any tinge of the lascivious or impure, must be entirely excluded from
order to understand this, a clear distinction has to be made between the
different kinds of music. There is first of all sacred music, which is that used
in the Sacred Liturgy, and which is primarily Gregorian Chant, but also on
occasion polyphonic music in the tradition of such composers as Palaestrina.
Secondly, there is religious music, which is not composed or performed for the
liturgy, but which has as its purpose to elevate the soul to the contemplation
of divine truths. Finally, there is secular music, that has no rapport with
religion at all.
Clearly, the performance of
sacred music is possible within Catholic churches, even outside the liturgy. An
instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of September 3, 1958 also
indicated that it is permissible to perform religious music in churches outside
the liturgy, under certain conditions:
Religious music …that seeks to express and stir up pious and religious
emotions …is to be greatly esteemed and opportunely promoted, because of its
obvious benefits to religion. [this type of ] Religious music cannot be used in liturgical or
other sacred functions, since it belongs properly to the music hall or
theater, and not to the church dedicated to divine worship. Where no
auditorium or hall is available, a concert of religious music may be given in
a church, if such a concert can be expected to benefit the faithful
spiritually. (Quoted in Matters Liturgical, p. 49).
religious music would include the singing of hymns, or the great Masses, and
Oratorios of the Baroque period.
Clearly, this presumes that
precautions are taken to avoid disrespect, such as the removal of the Blessed
Sacrament, and the forbidding of applause. However, rarely will it be the case
that a concert is of purely religious music, with such a spiritual objective in
mind, and more rarely yet is it the case that no suitable auditorium is
Moreover, it is clearly not permitted to perform or attend a concert of secular
music in a Catholic church, for secular music is appeals primarily to the
senses. This would include all music written in the style from the romantic
period down to the present time, and all popular and modern music, such as folk
music or spirituals. To use a blessed or consecrated church as a concert hall
for such music, without regard for its sacredness, would certainly be to steal
the honor and glory owed to Almighty God. This is, alas, what is currently
happening, and Catholics must refuse to perform at such concerts or attend them.
It is no justification to say that Novus Ordo churches are desecrated by
secular music in the liturgy itself, as if one person’s desecration of a
church would justify another to do likewise. Clearly these prohibitions do not
apply to protestant churches, which are in no way sacred, provided that in
attending a concert there one does not, at the same time, partake in any
religious ceremony (cf. canon 1258 of the 1917 Code). [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Has the consecration of Russia
to the Immaculate Heart requested by Our Lady been accomplished?
Our Lady of Fatima asked that the Holy Father consecrate
Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, together with all the world's bishops (June 13,
1929). Pope Pius XII twice consecrated Russia to Her Immaculate Heart himself,
in 1942 and again in 1952, but alone. The consecration made by Paul VI in 1964
and those made by John Paul II on May 13, 1982 and March 25, 1984 did not
mention Russia specifically. Furthermore, although the world's bishops were
invited to join in, many did not participate. This was the point made by Sister
Lucy in 1985 when she explained that the consecration requested by Our Lady at
Fatima had not been accomplished. (cf. Fatima Priest by Francis
Alban, pp.84-85). That is why Russia has not ceased to spread its error of
atheism. [Answered by Fr. Peter R.
I do not believe that it is
right for the Society of St. Pius X to say "we are not the
Church," for are not the other bishops all apostates?
The statement that "we
are not the Church" is made in answer to the accusation that we in the
Society of St. Pius X believe that outside the Society there is no salvation.
Now this is a manifestly preposterous statement. Society priests do not have a
monopoly of the Catholic Faith. There are many other Catholics, in all the
rites, who accept all that the Church teaches.
The problem with many of the
modern-day Catholics and bishops who have effectively apostatized, since they
deny one or more doctrines of Faith, (a recent study showed that only 17% of
Catholics between 20 and 39 years of age agree with the pope that only men can
be priests) is that they are still members of the visible Church. They perform
functions in the Church, and they hold authority in the Church (which they abuse
by spreading their modernist errors), although they are dead and corrupt members
(separated from the principle of union, Christ, by their lack of faith and
supernatural charity). However, since they have not been publicly condemned as
having separated themselves from the Church, they remain within the visible
structure of the Church.
are many faithful and priests in the post-Conciliar Church who do not understand
the gravity of the modern errors, but who are yet in good faith and have
supernatural faith and charity. Due to ignorance, they fail to understand the
contradiction of the new humanistic ideas with the Catholic Faith. The motive of
their faith is still intact, that is the authority of God who reveals.
They are not only visible members, but also living members, of the mystical
body, and some of them have a sanctity which puts to shame some traditional
Catholics who have regular access to the traditional sacraments and true Mass. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
there so little unity among traditional groups?
I can understand why you
are scandalized by the division in the traditional movement. Many others have
also been scandalized, until they realize that unity is impossible without a
strong hierarchy to enforce it and insist upon it. There will only be true unity
when we have once more a strong pope, backed up by docile bishops.
It is a part of the
diversity of the Church that there be different groups, organizations, religious
orders and activities to defend different aspects of Catholic Tradition. They
complement one another, and should retain their specific differences in order to
do their best for Holy Mother Church. This is in no way opposed to the unity of
the Faith, which binds us all together. Thus in Tradition there are diverse
orders of teaching sisters; there are active orders such as the Society of St.
Pius X; and there are contemplatives, such as the Benedictines, Dominicans,
Capuchins and Redemptorists. They all have a different role to play in the
Church. There is also a place for lay organizations, and specific apostolates
such as Fr. Gruner’s to promote devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Despite
their different methods and emphasis, all these organizations share a profound
unity. However, there are some groups that cannot be considered a part of this
unity. These are the sedevacantists and the communities (e.g., St.
Peter’s, St. John’s, Institute of Christ the King, etc.) which accept
the orthodoxy of the New Mass and Vatican II and which celebrate the Indult.
Such are outside the moral unity of the traditional movement.
Clearly it is imperative
that all these truly Catholic orders, organizations and apostolates work
together. It seems clear that this profound unity can be found in all of those
which are officially affiliated with the work of the Society of St. Pius X. It
is when a group or activity refuses such an affiliation that it becomes forced
either into a compromise with liberalism or into the excesses of rigorism. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Does the Society of
X promote Nocturnal Adoration in the home?
The Society of St. Pius X does indeed
promote Nocturnal Adoration in the home. This apostolate is a part of the
Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Home, as promoted by Fr. Mateo Boevey-Crawley
and by all of our priests However, it is not obligatory, but is an additional
practice that very generous families will chose to offer to Our Lord. It
consists of taking a nocturnal hour once a month, sometime between 9:00 p.m. and
6:00 a.m., in order to make reparation to the Sacred Heart. Many mothers are
involved in this apostolate of prayer and sacrifice, and that is why the
Nocturnal Adoration is organized by the Catholic Mothers Exchange.
However, not only mothers, but any Catholic can watch for an hour with Our Lord
once a month. Contact information can be obtained from the
Office. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
Should the mother or the
father be responsible for teaching children their catechism?
The very formulation of the
question presupposes a false dichotomy, since both are responsible. Yet both are
not responsible equally and in the same way.
Since the father is the head of
the family, he has the responsibility for planning, and foresight is his
prerogative and duty. His is the responsibility to look to the future, and to
plan out the religious formation of his children, just as it is his duty to lead
the family in prayer and other religious activities. He has no right to opt out
of all involvement, on the grounds that he is not home long enough, but must act
towards his family as Christ, who is the invisible head of the mystical body,
the Catholic Church. His paternal prudence requires that he determine how and
when his children’s religious education is to take place, even if he is not able
to do it himself.
Ed Willock had this to say a half century ago:
Few fathers realize their own dignity as fathers, and few see the unique
role that the Church insists that they play in this work of revolutionary
change (i.e., the formation of character in children). He should recognize
that the American tradition of the last quarter century, which assigns to him
the role of eternal adolescence, is a belittlement of his vocation. He is the
bridge between Church and State. He is the bridge between state and family. He
is the bridge between family and Church (Fatherhood and Family,
Angelus Press, p. 81 [available
from Angelus Press]).
However, the mother is the one
who is responsible for the daily implementation of her husband’s foresight. She
is the one who will teach them the holy names of Jesus and Mary at her knees,
and who will repeatedly go over their catechism questions with them by heart.
Nevertheless, as the children
grow older the father’s role in the actual teaching of the Faith ought to
increase, inasmuch as it is possible. It is he who ought to lead family
discussions defending the great teachings on the Faith, and who must instruct
his children on how to defend their Faith out in the world, and how also to
defend the Church. By so doing, his authority and leadership will make the
learning and expression of the Faith a profound reality in the lives of his
children, instead of a superficial veneer. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]
In what way is feminism a
harmful movement? Surely it is time women began to assert themselves as equal to
It was Rousseau who claimed
that man is born free, that all men are by nature equal and that man is
naturally good. This triple dogma of the sage of Geneva is mingled with truths
and errors which must clearly be distinguished for one of the currents
underpinning the Feminist Movement as Rousseaustic in origin. It is true in the
psychological order that is when each acts in accordance with his nature, that
every activity and every tendency is directed toward the good as towards its
proper end, but in the moral order a necessary distinction imposes itself; the
higher faculties reason and will have a morally good natural tendency; by
definition they are conformable to reason, but the lower appetites, the inferior
faculties can oppose and frustrate reason.
Liberty is natural to man, i.e.,
the basic power or faculty itself but regarding the exercise of his freedom man
enjoys only a partial and not an absolute independence of action for he must
indeed submit to laws not only for his own good but also for the good of
society. That all men are equal as regards the constitutional elements of man’s
specific nature, in an abstract way, agree; with reference to men’s individual
nature, all men are not equal neither in fact nor as a matter of right; the
variety of talents which each possesses ensures that human nature does not make
Furthermore in questions of merit
and demerit, each man cannot receive the same reward or punishment. Equality is
for the most part an illusion.
It is this lamentable lack of
reason which underlies feminist thinking if it can be called that. Men and women
are different physically and psychologically. Their respective human natures are
not in opposition nor do they seek to usurp each other’s function and role but
The Church has always been,
historically, a great defender of woman. In ancient civilizations women were
frequently subject to male tyranny and despotism. Christianity raised woman from
this degrading servitude by sanctifying marriage and making it inviolable. The
Church sanctioned the supernatural equality of man and woman by praising both
marriage and virginity.
The recognition of the unique
role of woman and its defense must not be confused with radical aberrant
fanatical feminism; the latter fails to appreciate and value the true purpose
and aim of womanhood. Feminism is a vain and foolish imitation of masculinity at
the expense of a tragic loss in feminity. Feminism is not the exaltation of
woman but her obliteration, the reduction of the feminine character to that of
the masculine. It is a self-imposed slavery and loss of identity. It is a
travesty of nature in so far as it refuses the nature of woman in the divine
plan; it is a perversion also in the natural sphere. Feminists have not
understood true freedom, human nature, nor the essential distinctions involved
in a proper evaluation of the notion of equality.
The natural order differentiates
the two sexes by subordinating the one to the other. In the order of creation
the woman comes after man. She is subject to man though not his final end. The
final end of both is absolutely equal.
St. Paul makes it clear: "There
is neither male nor female just as there is neither Jew nor Gentile nor freeman
nor slave" (Gal. 3:28). There are specific differences between
male and female but all the baptized are clothed in the same dignity before God.
As Sacred Scripture points out, the subjection of the female to the male does
not have its principle in the male but in the Lord.
subject to your husbands in the Lord." Furthermore, this matter is more
fully explained when St. Paul addressing married couples in his letter to the
Ephesians says: "Be subject to one another."
There is a subordination which
many choose to ignore, a subordination given us by Divine revelation:
head of every man is Christ; the head of the woman is man; and the head of
Christ is God."
Feminism refuses the true nature
of woman, confuses the natural and supernatural relations between the sexes and
embarks upon a deviant path at the end of which the suicide of thought and the
death of womanhood is inevitable.
[Answered by Fr. Leo Boyle]
Can it still be affirmed that
a wife should be submissive to her husband, given the changes in modern society?
The due submission of a wife to
her husband can be considered on two different planes:
of the natural law, man and woman having each a profoundly different
function in the building block of society which is the family;
on the supernatural plane.
This second perspective is by far
the most important, and illuminates all of married life. For if the submission
of a wife to her husband is totally clear in the natural law to any woman who
has not been tainted by the rebellious principles of liberalism, it was
explicitly confirmed in the New Testament. St. Paul, in the fifth chapter of
his epistle to the Ephesians, lays down the principles. A husband has, in virtue
of the sacrament of matrimony, always to imitate Christ in His love for the
Church, and a wife has always, in virtue of the same sacrament, to imitate the
Church in her love for Christ. Thus a man is really the head of his wife, and
has the duty to take leadership, whereas the wife must strive to be the heart
responding to and dependent upon the head.
Pope Leo XIII treats
of this question explicitly in his Encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae
of Feb. 10, 1880:
The husband is
the chief of the family, and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is
flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and
obey him: not, indeed as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience
shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents
Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in
him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in
their respective duties. For "the husband is the head of the wife, as
Christ is the head of the Church... Therefore as the Church is subject to
Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things" (Eph. 5:23-24)
(Matrimony, Papal Teachings, by the monks of Solesmes, p. 141).
Since man's nature cannot change,
neither can the natural law, and since divine revelation was completed with the
death of the last of the apostles, neither can this supernatural plan change
either. In order to resist the corruption of nature and God’s supernatural
gifts, husbands and wives need to remember that they do not belong to this
world, otherwise modern-day liberalism will succeed in destroying the family.
Husbands will consequently take responsibility and leadership, even when they
feel inadequate, and wives will take delight in denying their own will and
obeying their husbands.
These questions have
been treated often in The Angelus, and I would like to take the
opportunity of recommending the following articles, which treat explicitly of
Angelus, June 1997: The two articles: When Mothers Need
Mothering and. Flesh of My Flesh.
Angelus, October 1995: The two articles: The Leadership of
Fathers and, What Is a Mother?
It is this authority
of a man over his wife (not of men over women) which the liberals detest, and
which, alas, Pope John Paul II has fought against on the basis of the false
rights of man. In his analysis of this change of teaching, author Luigi Accattoli does not hesitate to affirm (approvingly) that the
the teaching of St. Paul" (When a Pope Asks Forgiveness, Alba
House, pp.105-108, 1998).
In regard to the
radically feminist nature of the assertion of the equality in marriage of
husband and wife, it suffices to quote some passages from the above author,
based as they are on the pope's September 1988 Encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem:
The boldest stroke
is also found in Mulieris Dignitatem, which contains a summation of the
biblical references to individual women and even corrects two thousand years of
interpretation of the passages in St. Paul which describe man as the "head" of
the woman. He even corrects St. Paul —or what is based on antiquity in his
writings —when he states: "All the reasons in
favor of the subjection of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the
sense of a mutual subjection of both out of reverence for Christ" (Ibid.,
citing Mulieris Dignitatem 9;24).
certainly accurate in pointing out that this is a radical transformation in the
Church’s teaching. Nobody could possibly doubt that the letter and sense of
St. Paul is of a one-sided submission, and that the pope, by reinterpreting it
as a "mutual subjection" is both emptying the text of all sense
and going directly against divine revelation for the sake of his humanistic and
false principles on the equality and dignity of man.
Truly feminine wives will
consequently abhor this feminine perversion of Catholic Truth, and practice the
submission and obedience which both nature and grace incline them to. [Answered by Fr. Peter R. Scott]