This is being written near Masonicland, that is, Disneyland. The thirty-third degree Mason named Walt Disney was a naturalist who did not really believe in Christian revelation. To wit, Disney left specific instructions that he was to be frozen at the point of his death in the event a "cure" could be found for death. Disney's work involved the creation of naturalistic morality tales, wherein people resolve their problems without any reference to "God" at all, and the promotion of futuristic tales based on scientific projections. Not even Disney himself, however, had enough imagination to create in the 1950s a futuristic scenario now being lived out by Catholics who have come to understand how their treasured past was yanked from them by revolutionaries and replaced with concoctions beyond the bizarre.
As one born in 1951, I had a glimpse of Catholicism before the madness ushered in by the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath took hold of the "mainstream" of the Church. If anyone had told a parish priest in 1956, the year I started Kindergarten at Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, that the Mass he celebrated, which had been the bulwark of the Faith in the Latin rite for nearly 1500 years, would be but a rare museum piece in the life of most Catholics by the third year of the twenty-first century, such talk would have dismissed as fantastic, if not just insane. If anyone had told a bishop in 1956 that successors of his would be preventing people from kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion and threatening to brand as schismatic those who sought out the Mass he himself still celebrated, the bishop would have recoiled in horror. If anyone hold told Pope Pius XII in 1956 that three of his next four successors would engage in the systematic deconstruction of almost everything authentically Catholic, the Holy Father, who was not unaware of the currents at work around him, would have found such a prediction hard to bear. That is, the world in which we now live as Catholics would have been as fantastic as Disneyland might be to a child without any religious training who is looking to believe in something above him.
Alas, the world in which we lives as Catholics is no fairy tale. The great Traditional Latin Mass, although undergoing a revival that can never be crushed by ecclesiastical authorities, has been taken away from the lion's share of Catholics. Catholics who come to understand that it is in the Traditional Mass that God is best glorified and souls better sanctified and prepared for eternity must seek out the treasure that was taken from us by the revolutionaries. Such Catholics must make an effort to find the Mass and then to travel, sometimes great distances, to get there. And a growing number of Catholics, are coming to understand that if finding the Mass where the permanence and stability of God Himself is best protected means going "underground," so to speak, then underground they will go. Part of the not so "fantastic" world in which we live is the fact that ecclesiastical authorities sometimes hound and harass traditional Catholics in a manner most reminiscent of how some of the Roman Emperors treated the first Catholics nearly two millennia ago, forcing them into the catacombs, principally to protect their bodies. With no word of criticism offered by the Chief Shepherd on earth, most of the world's bishops feel free to hound and harass traditional Catholics even after they go underground into the catacombs to find the safety and security that is their baptismal right to protect their souls from the modernist influences of the new religion.
As I have noted in recently commentaries, both in Christ or Chaos and on various websites (including seattlecatholic.com and DailyCatholic.org), I have come in the last few years to recognize the necessity of the catacombs. There are areas in this country where the Faith has been entirely devastated. Even the "indult" Masses themselves are compromised in these areas (frequently combining the Novus Ordo readings into the context of the Traditional Mass), if such Masses are offered at all. Knowing that the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church, a growing number of Catholics are simply refusing to be subject to the unjust and arbitrary exercise of episcopal power as it pertains to the true worship of God. While they pray for bishops, they will not subject their own souls and those of their children to profanations and blasphemies in the context of Holy Mass. They will not permit the innocence and purity of their children's souls to be undermined by the mandatory completion of confirmation "preparation" programs that include some form of sex-instruction. They simply want to live their Catholic Faith in peace.
That is why a surprising number of Catholics are going to independent chapels or churches run by the Society of Pope Saint Pius X. A growing number of Catholics simply want to be able to go to the Traditional Latin Mass on a daily basis and have a full parish and sacramental life. They are willing to be branded as schismatics and eccentrics by relatives and friends and by ecclesiastical officials. They are willing to run all of the risks that are associated with a canonically irregular situation so as to serve the cause of the salvation of souls, starting with their own and those of their family members. Having come to understand how a Catholic's duty to obey legitimate authority has been manipulated by theological and liturgical revolutionaries to keep them in line as such authority has been used unjustly to wreck the Faith, more and more Catholics are beginning to demonstrate the courage and determination of their predecessors in other times of Church crises, most notably the Arian heresy, when some Catholics challenged those in ecclesiastical authority who had lost their way and wanted to impose their falsehoods on their subjects in the name of "obedience."
My recent article on the late Father Frederick Schell, S.J., paid tribute to a priest who broke from the diocesan structure when he was told he had to give out Holy Communion in the hand. He set off on his own to offer the Traditional Latin Mass, establishing a network of places in southern California for Catholics to live out their Faith in the underground. Father Schell worked tirelessly for souls until his death at the age of 86 on September 28, 2002. He planted seeds that are continuing to flower. The irony is inescapabable; , a place that has been devastated by the likes of Roger Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles since 1986, and the minions he has had Pope John Paul II appoint as diocesan ordinaries in California is a veritable oasis of underground traditional Masses offered by validly ordained priests. These priests are following in the footsteps of Father Schell, and the people are responding.
Indeed, with my wife and infant daughter and I are in southern California to explore the possibility of founding a truly traditional Catholic college. There are a wonderful number of choices to attend the Traditional Mass in the catacombs on a daily basis. One of these is a chapel run by Father Patrick Perez, who is carrying on the work of the late Father Schell. We just amazed to see the hundreds of people who attended Holy Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel in Garden Grove on the Feast of the Circumcision, January 1, 2003, including people who belong to organizations that work within the "mainstream" of the Church to promote the Traditional Latin Mass. Word is spreading. Catholics are finding out where the Traditional Mass is being offered, and they are going there in order to protect themselves and their families. As one man noted to us, "It's nice to see friendly faces." A lot of people, who might at first start out attending such a chapel quite tentatively, are pleasantly surprised to see that so many of their friends have come to the same conclusions and are refusing to be browbeaten any longer by the ecclesiastical fascists.
The truly great scandal facing the Church today is not the way in which ecclesiastical officials have dealt with the cover-up of the sodomite crimes of various priests. No, the truly great scandal facing the Church today is the way in which shepherds, both bishops and priests, have treated Catholics who have come to understand (or, in the case of some very graced individuals, who always understood) and to embrace the Traditional Latin Mass. These people are treated as so much refuge. The salvation of their souls means nothing to the bishops and priests who are intent on intimidating them into accepting every jot and tittle of the Novus Ordo, including authorized and unauthorized innovations, and who want to take control of their children's sacramental preparation so that anything "reactionary" will be purged by the "enlightenment" of the postconciliar era. It is scandalous that Catholics who simply want what is their baptismal right, the true worship of God in the Mass and the fullness of the Deposit of Faith in doctrine, must be considered as disobedient renegades for taking the necessarily extraordinary measures they must take to avoid being part of the fantasy-world that would have been beyond the ken of almost every practicing Catholic fifty years ago (the conspiring revolutionaries who were laying in wait aside, that is).
My insightful wife, Sharon, noted to me after reading this that the point should be made that a lot of traditional Catholics are made to feel disobedient and lawless by other lay Catholics. "Tell them this: that Catholics who understand that their souls are being killed little by little in the new order of things are simply taking the measures they need to take to protect themselves. If Catholic priests were willing to take to the woods to celebrate Holy Mass during the French Revolution so that they and their flocks could save their bodies, why should our own people be so uncharitable to those who are going into the woods, so to speak, to save their souls? The revolutionaries are killing souls. Why can't we protect ourselves from them?" Fear not him who can kill the body. Fear him who can kill both body and soul and throw both into Gehenna.
As the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church, it is time for the Chief Shepherd of earth, the Vicar of Christ, to put aside the negativity of Vatican functionaries who want to lay down all types of burdensome and unnecessary conditions on the creation of an Apostolic Administration for the Traditional Latin Mass. Sinners who simply want to save their souls should not be treated with contempt and opprobrium for merely wanting to be authentically Catholic in worship and in doctrine. It is time to provide traditional Catholics with the canonical protection they deserve as sons and daughters of the Church, affording them with the liturgical equivalent of the Edict of Milan, if you will. End the persecution. End the calumny. Let the Mass of our fathers flower for the good of the salvation of souls, and solely for the salvation of souls.
The people who are taking the underground to go to Mass are not crazy. They are not schismatic. They are not disobedient. They are not wayward. They are not reactionary. They are simply Catholics, people who are aware of their sins and of their need to cooperate with the graces won for all men by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. They simply want to live in peace so as to glorify God and to save their own souls and those of their family members. Is it too much to ask of our Holy Father to cut through all of the internicene Vatican intrigue and hostility to the Traditional Latin Mass and to traditional Catholics in order to provide his children with free and open and unfettered access to glorify God and to save their own souls?
We pray to Our Lady, Help of Christians, to intercede for us so that the Holy Father will be moved to act promptly to end the ecclesiastical warfare against the Traditional Latin Mass and traditional Catholics. We ask her to help convince the Holy Father to recognize that an Apostolic Administration will help to bring about a resurrection of the Church at a time when of such self-made confusion and disarray.
We ask this of our dear Blessed Mother, the Co-Redemptrix of the world, solely for the sake of souls.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.