Born in 1958, though I had a cradle, I was not a "cradle Catholic" for I was raised without the luxury of a Catholic upbringing. It
took a lot of time to find religion and learn "the ropes" regarding it. As
a result, I have found that it is far easier to teach something I once did
not know than it is to teach something I knew from the beginning - that is because I
can still understand what it is not to know something, and therefore, hopefully and prayerfully, I can present
something more useful to the reader or hearer than otherwise possible.
The Jehovah's Witness Years
The first religion I encountered was that of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Coming from an utterly atheistic background, this was great progress as I
learned a lot about the Bible (reading it straight through for the first
time in my life), and many basic things that still hold up despite my
subsequent discoveries as to their errors. What the Jehovah's Witnesses seemed to
give me was an idea of God which did not offend my basically humanistic
sensibilities, and yet furthermore a God who would soon bring about a far
more sensible world. What I actually gained was an appreciation for the Bible, and
such concepts as God, Creation, Accountability, the End of all things, the
Virgin Birth, the Inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus and His death for us, Sin,
Forgiveness, and Evangelism.
Even my subsequent discoveries as to the methods of manipulating their
sources (Biblical and scholastic and theological and psychological) showed
me much of the science of forensic examination of all information. To see
through the lies one must understand the nature of lies and their essence,
how and why they are done, and made to seem persuasive. As I learned of
their lies and saw them for what they were, I learned additional things
regarding the Gospel as actually presented in Scripture and believed by the
Church. I learned about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the nature of man,
the judgments of God, and so forth.
Evolution toward the Evangelicals
Soon after, on the night of April 26, 1980, I presented myself to a local
Evangelical Church to "give myself to Jesus." I had learned from the books
against the Watchtower Society that there was a different, but still
cohesive understanding of who God was and what He is doing contained in
Scripture, which I had not seen in my Watchtower days. Although it left much
to remain beyond my understanding, I had discovered the fundamental point
that any religion I could completely understand was therefore only a
man-made religion and as such not a religion coming from a greater source
than man. The Watchtower religion had seemed real to me because I could
understand it completely, but "Bible Christianity" showed its far greater
reality in that I could not understand it completely. I longed for something
Then I began regularly attending the Evangelical church, and learning from
an extraordinarily wise and insightful pastor, for which I am grateful.
Steering clear of divisive topics, he nevertheless found much to say of
great value and interest, and much of what he taught holds up extremely well
even today, in view of everything I have learned since. I cannot think of a
better place for a new Christian to have gone. (Would even the pre-Vatican
II Church have impressed me as much? I was in need of far more basic lessons
than even their most basic. For example, what authority actually was, which
Catholic catechists take for granted, presupposing that the listener already
And then one day the pastor left, having built up his congregation
from scratch and now finally deciding to go to Seminary for the first time.
During my sojourn with the Jehovah's Witnesses, my schooling gradually fell
off and for three years I did not attend anywhere, but in 1980, I began
gradually returning to college, first with a single class, then two as a
part-time student, going back to part-time work, then as a full time student
by early 1981. I changed my major to Computer Science, having first gone in
as a declared Philosophy major, but continued to take some classes in
Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Anthropology, and to audit others. I also
frequently attended discussions held at the Robert Maynard Hutchins Center
for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a well-known "think tank"
temporarily run at the time by future Congressman Walter Capps and conveniently located
on the UCSB campus.
The Pentecostal Pause
I finally graduated in 1984 with a degree in Computer
Science, having also done a Senior honors thesis in Parallel Processing.
During that period, after the departure of the Evangelical pastor, many of my friends
in his church began going over to first one, then another more Pentecostal
church. The Pentecostal movement intrigued me with its claim to miracles,
signs and wonders, so in due course of time I followed these friends over to
the one, then the other Pentecostal church. The more time I spent with them,
the more I saw that there was very little if anything miraculous there, and
an awful lot of drummed-up enthusiasm all caused so as to "make" God do
something. Jesus worked all of His miracles out in the open, in the streets,
the gates, the countryside, and on the water, and that around faithless and
unbelieving crowds, but Pentecostals today can only work in an enclosed room
full of wildly screaming, gyrating, swaying and swooning believers, just so
that maybe they might squeeze out some marginal "miracle" or two.
The Baptist Blip
time I had graduated, the Pentecostal fire had burned out of me as I began
taking refuge in a quiet, conservative Baptist church.
Soon after graduation, I began my current career as a computer engineer at
Vandenberg Air Force Base. I then attended a small independent church which
was mostly Evangelical, lightly Pentecostal, and where the pastor was
solidly established in the Bible, and also knowledgeable in the early Church
Fathers. After about a year, the pastor of this church decided to "graduate"
to the missionary field, and once again I was without a mentor. They were
not affiliated with any denomination and so had some difficulty finding a
new pastor, and the ones they found were no better than being without a
It was then that my attention began to be turned to Catholicism.
Separating the wheat from the chaff of the Novus Ordo
No one else
I knew of seemed to have a truly Christian sexual morality, except the
Catholics (and so far, Novus Ordo types as well, but I knew nothing then of
the distinction). With extreme difficulty I had to break off an engagement
to a girl I dearly loved because her morality was contemporary Protestant,
and she wanted to use a contraceptive. That, plus the fact that Jesus called
the bread at Communion His Body (not merely a symbol or metaphor, etc.), and
an increasing appreciation for the Blessed Virgin Mary caused me to enquire at what I thought
was the Catholic Church. Fortunately, the local Novus Ordo parish still had
an arch-conservative Pastor who had been permanently installed back in 1955,
and who had maintained a substantially Catholic atmosphere there despite his
having gone over to the fake new liturgical "forms." The elderly Novus Ordo
(but still Catholic-at-heart) Priest, Msgr. Andrew McGrath retired and went
back to Ireland shortly before I completed my training, but the new incoming
Pastor, Msgr. John Rawden, was also staunchly conservative, and finished my
training. Despite my having been baptized two times before (Once by the
Jehovah's Witnesses on July 1, 1978, and again by the Evangelicals on June
18, 1980), Msgr. Rawden scrupulously insisted on giving me a conditional
Baptism on May 3, 1986, which given his staunchly conservative and "old
school" approach, explicit teaching on Baptism (which he gave me during his
part of my training), and his admission (later on when I became aware of
these issues and asked him) that his intention was "to do what the Church
does," leaves no room to doubt that I have a valid Baptism. He also
confirmed me that day with the same intention, and while there is room to
doubt the validity of Novus Ordo Confirmations in general, by all evidences
I can see this one seems to have took for it is as Christ said in John 3: 5, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
I promptly began making myself useful serving in the choir as accompanist,
youth group, anti-abortion marches, Confirmation class, and later on joining
the Legion of Mary and the Knights of Columbus. I definitely leaned towards
the Conservative side and against the Liberal side. Had I known of
traditional Catholicism I would have promptly joined it instead, but this
seemed as close to it as I could get.
The first "Latin Mass" I ever saw was
a Latin Novus Ordo, said by Msgr. Rawden in 1987 to commemorate the 75th
Anniversery of the (once Catholic, now Novus Ordo) Parish, La Purisima
Concepcion. I had already picked up the fact that the Mass had been previously said in Latin, and was quite anxious to see such a thing. This was during the week so I took time off work to attend it, and everything was
in Latin, even the homily. But it was only a one-shot event.
It was in 1991 that I encountered my first traditional Catholic
correspondent. She had been a nun (Sister Mary Cecilia) teaching
Kindergarten for the traditional Catholic school under the very controversial Francis Shuckardt, but she had
since left that group at the urging of Home Aloner/Conclavist Ken Mock and became a Home Aloner herself. While I could never buy the Home-Aloner
contention that there is no Catholic Church left (other than some very few
scattered lay believers), she did manage to point me to a number of very
good books on Catholic Theology (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Canons
and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Vatican I, "The Church Teaches" by the
Jesuit Fathers, etc.), published mostly by TAN books, which at last gave me
the solid grounding I have longed for. She also told me where to at least
get a look at what the Tridentine Mass looked like, namely her
ex-congregation up at Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane.
Catholic at Last
In August of 1992,
I went up to Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane and saw my very first
traditional Latin Tridentine Mass. A year later I went again and saw another
such Mass, and then also visited the SSPX Priory in Post Falls, saw a couple
Tridentine Masses there (partaking of a traditionally consecrated Eucharist
for the first time), and learned where the SSPX could be found closer to my
home (still three hours driving away). Over time, I took in any traditional
Latin Mass I could find, averaging almost one per month, and spending
considerable time reading every traditional Catholic book and periodical I
could find. I really had no personal life then, my job and this reading
being all that I did for seven years.
One thing that had become clear to me however was that, while traditional
Catholicism was indisputably the true and authentic continuation of over
1,900 years of Catholic and Christian history, the fragmentation that had
occurred made it difficult to even assess the size let alone the scope of the
traditional Church today, or even to be able to know who to trust. I recall
wishing at the time that there could be some sort of "Who's Who" book of all
the players in this whole movement so as to introduce me to the movement as
a whole instead of what particular pieces I had happened across.
As we all know, there was no such book, and my desire to learn of it was
such that rather than merely complain over the lack of such a book, I would
dig and do research and take time and do pilgrimages to as many players as
are still alive or at least contact them, and spend however many years it
would take to learn the extent of it and the true relations each player has
to the others. Even at my original visits to the church in Spokane I recall
pointing out to one of the nuns there how good it would be for all of us traditional Catholics to be able to get together. She wanly agreed,
obviously having given up any hope of that and now only doing what she could
to save her soul and those in her care.
So I began subscribing to every traditional Catholic periodical I could
find, indeed all those listed in my Bibliography, and reading them cover to
cover, no matter whether I liked the article or not, and often being
pleasantly surprised by the consistent message of holiness I found in all
cases. I also tracked down as many books as I could find, reading them as
well. This voluminous reading also included a tremendous amount of prayer
and meditation on what I was reading and finally learning about the Catholic
Faith, and about the current efforts to preserve tradition.
One day after Mass at Fr. Dominic Radecki's church in Newhall, I was speaking with
Richard Jamison (who had recently made his "The Vacancy" video) and I
mentioned that I was working on a book to document this entire movement, showing support for it all and seeking to provide a basis for it to unite. He responded that theologically there are such sharp disagreements that had
to be resolved or else my book would be a mere superficial history of little
use or value. I agreed that there must be some sort of theological
consensus that can be made and followed and which would provide my book with
the structural backbone needed to tie it all together. His response was
along the lines of "Yes, that would be nice, but I really don't think that's
possible." But at the time I already had the germ of an idea as to how this
really could be possible. With that, he had thrown down a gauntlet, a
challenge for me to meet.
After my initial fantasy of having or writing the "Who's Who" book, in time my understanding grew and I began several drafts of books that in the end were abandoned as I learned more. Finally, in September of 1996, I finally
began work on what would become my final and published book about
traditional Catholicism today, entitled The Resurrection of the Roman
Catholic Church. [Editor's Note: See review of this work at Book Review.] Much of my older research proved useful for historical and
biographical details that I wove into the final edition for which the first
full-length draft was completed in the middle of 1998 (and expanded and updated this year).
By this time, my original insight had matured from a way to explain all
traditional Catholicism from sedevacantist through SSPX to Indult to being
an understanding as to what exactly it is that has been going on all these
years. Taken in the framework of all the dogmatic teachings of the Church,
it really explains the whole thing.
It is my hope and desire in future
installments here in this column, which I have chosen to call "Griff Ruby's Straight Stuff", to be able to explain this insight and share it with all who
hold to the authentic Faith and Church. But I want to talk about other
I make no claim of fancy degrees after my name nor of any Divine revelation
(apart from that revealed to all and available to all through Scripture,
Tradition, and the Magisterial documents of the Church), but rather hope and
attempt to make what I have to write stand on its own, either with reference
to other known documents and teachings, or else from pure logic and forensic
evidences and deduction. If anything I write is found or proved wrong, I will gladly
revise or even withdraw it for I remain a humble searcher of the fullness of the truth on this short journey called life.