permission to reprint this
defining work was personally granted by
Father James F. Wathen, O.S.J. in 2001.
Chapter Six

Part One


See EDITOR'S NOTE for an explanation of this work.

The Burden of the Priests

      "And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt Between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him."
      3 Kings 18:21
    Anyone should be able to perceive that the days of the "New Mass" are numbered. It is only a matter of time before the Church will reject this indigestible "Meal," and return to the "Sacred Banquet in which Christ is consumed, the memory of His Passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace and given a pledge of future glory."64 O Sacrum Convivium, Magnificat Antiphon from the Second Vespers of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Roman Breviary.

    The restoration will come, but this says nothing of the fate of present-day conformists, those middle-of-the-roaders, who refuse to see that they are exactly where their seducers have planned for them to be. The abandonment of the True Mass is an act of highest infidelity; participation in the "New Mass" (in any form, in any language) is complicity in the Great Sacrilege. Those who either "say" it or attend it are helping to prolong its life, are effectively denying their Faith, and are exposing themselves and those in their charge to its satanic influence.

    All must admit that insofar as they have accepted the "New Mass," they have allowed themselves to be "processed" into identifying the True Faith with the humanistic pantheism of the Revolution. While granting almost divine honors to Pope Paul VI, we came to regard the Holy Mass as nothing more than a human fabrication, a mere Masonic exercise. Thinking our superiors would never dream of doing in its regard anything but what was good, necessary, and permissible, we stood by and watched them make a Joke of it, to the delight of those who hate it more than we love it. Thus, we ourselves have now grown used to their impious familiarity, their priggish presumptuousness, and their rough-shod iconoclasm. This could only mean that we must have lost something of our former reverence and devotion for the True Mass. We accepted as true what they taught us, that the Mass is no more than, and whatever, and only, what they made it, and no more than the enemies of Christ and of His ineffable Sacrifice always said it was. Before anything else, therefore, we must recall ourselves to our former awareness, meditate on its infinite grandeur and utter irreplaceability, and pray for the grace to esteem and honor it worthily. Only if we do this shall we be able to rise to the occasion of our present crisis and assume that burden which our noble Faith imposes upon us.

    We can and we must pray that Pope Paul will himself retract his "wishes" and himself put an end to the present malaise. However, it would be unrealistic to expect him to, and we certainly may not wait for such a conversion. It would be utter folly to expect our bishops will begin to act like successors of the Apostles. This is no place to speak of them at length. As a group, they obviously do not know their theology. If they do, they give no promise of letting anyone else find out about it. Since at least the Second Vatican Council, they have, with only a few exceptions, shown themselves shallow, craven, irrelevant, and totally incapable of reading their times. For years now, we have waited for them to stand up to the Pope as St. Paul would, (Gal. 2:11), and as we have a right to expect them to. Amid the confusion and deterioration of the Faith and the runaway liberalization of all discipline which has emanated from the Vatican, their dominant concern seems to have been survival - and let the devil take the hindmost!


        Moreover, I maintain and profess, without doubting, all the other teachings handed down, defined, and declared in the Sacred Canons by the Ecumenical Councils, especially by the Most Holy Council of Trent and by the (First) Ecumenical Vatican Council, particularly that of the Primacy and the Infallible Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff; and at the same time I condemn, reject, and abominate all opinions to the contrary and all heresies whatever which the Church condemns rejects, and anathematizes.

        I, N…, promise, vow, and swear that, with God's help, I shall most constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved and which I now freely profess and truly hold. With the help of God, I shall profess it whole and unblemished to my dying breath; and, to the best of my ability, I shall see to it that my subjects and those entrusted to me by virtue of my office hold it, teach it, and preach it. So help me God and His holy Gospels. (Appendix III).

    The foregoing comes from the Oath known as "The Profession of Faith," which all priests are required by the Code of Canon Law to take both before and after their Ordination. Who would not say that it is highly providential that this Oath makes specific mention of the decrees of the Council of Trent (which defined the doctrines of the Mass) and the First Vatican Council (which defined the doctrine of Papal Infallibility)?

    The "Profession" concerns Catholic doctrinal belief. It is made regardless of all earthly authority. It is made directly to God, before the Tabernacle of the King of kings. Nothing could possibly happen to make its tenets untrue, hence, to dispense any priest who pronounces it, be he Pope or simple curate. It seems that most priests have been so affected by the "spirit of renewal" (read: "Revolution"), that they feel no obligation at all to this commitment. In a way, therefore, they are no different from some of their confreres who have abandoned their priestly ministry altogether; that is, they do what they are allowed to do instead of what they promised.

    The Oath is unconditional. The Church is "in command." No one has to take it; but one must take it if he is going to enter the priesthood or, having entered, ascend to a higher office and dignity. The Code of Canon Law requires that it be taken before the reception of the subdiaconate. After ordination it must be reiterated before faculties are granted for preaching, teaching, or hearing confessions. It is required again when one receives a pastorate or professorship in a Catholic college or seminary where one intends to teach philosophy or theology. It must be renewed by a bishop-elect and a cardinal-elect and by him who accedes to the papal throne.

    Since those who have a higher rank in the Church must have taken this Oath more frequently, it must be a graver thing for prelates to violate it than for those "down in the ranks." One feels inclined to say that the former are more strongly bound by it for that reason, if such were possible.

    One thing is certain, the Oath is absolute; it is strictly worded-clearly, and uncompromisingly. There can be no excuse for a cleric not knowing what it says or what it means. There is nothing in it which suggests its terms are alterable or dispensable. No reason-even a direct command from the Supreme Pontiff-is conceived for its future retraction.

    No great imagination is required to appreciate how much strength the Church has derived from such a commitment on the part of each of its priests, when each of them adhered to this Oath literally and fearlessly. No wonder the Revolutionists who now infest the Church had to begin the process of emasculating and eventually discarding the Oath. You may remember a few years ago they began by abbreviating its companion, The Oath Against Modernism. You can be sure it was only the first shot! And no wonder that, while the cry of obedience to the Pope is being dinned into our ears, mention of this Oath is regarded as a most impolite digression.

    Every priest takes the Oath individually. What a grand and bold affirmation it is, and how gladly and proudly we uttered it! In that day, we were ready for the sword or the lions! (Bring them on!) The faithful are bound to wonder whether their priests would (or should I say, could) bring themselves to repeat the ceremony now, in view of recent events, using the very same words they used in the adventurous days of their subdiaconate. Would they, or do they now, have some reservations? Would they now, at least internally, attach certain conditions?

    Most priests, if they were honest (in a simple, child-like way-not in an "adult" way), would admit they have excused themselves from the literal terms of their priestly Oath. This is a nice way of saying they have perjured themselves through their acceptance of the "New Mass," whose very existence is a clear and inarguable violation of the Canons of the Council of Trent. To have accepted the "faith" represented by the "Novus Ordo" is to have abandoned that of Trent and to have apostatized from it. And every time they follow the "New Order," they are renewing that original forswearal (a less abrasive word than "lie").

    Such priests exist, therefore, in a condition very similar to those who live in adulterous marriages, only worse. Adulterers live in sin and compound their guilt with every act of intercourse. Those priests, however, add the dimension of sacrilege to their perjury when they parody the Mass.

    Well did the prophet Ezechiel say of them:

    "Her priests have despised my law, and have defiled my sanctuaries, they have put no difference between holy and profane; nor have distinguished between the polluted and the clean; and they have turned away their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I was profound in the midst of them."

Ezechiel 22:26

    Therefore, the dilemma for priests nowadays is more compelling than they wish to admit: Either they must acknowledge they do not believe any longer the tenets of the Council of Trent and do subscribe to the "New Religion" with its worship of man, or they are falsely performing the rites of the "New Religion," while secretly holding to the "Old Faith." In their present predicament, they will have to decide which is the greater sin, as well as which sin they choose to be damned for, I really should say "sins," because, as you can see, their acts have many dimensions.

    For the present, it looks as it most of them will continue to convince themselves that the "New Mass" is the "Old Mass," that the "New Religion" is the True Religion, that there is no essential difference between what was and what is. All the while they will keep their eyes peeled for a "break" in the situation, keep a careful count of the months before their retirement, when they will say the "Tridentine Mass" privately, just to be on the safe side! They will also keep up a lively interest in the question of whether Pope Paul VI will retire: there is some hope in that quarter!

    During the interim, they will keep telling themselves they are doing the prudent thing, rendering the greatest service to the people, maintaining the peace, keeping things going, saying their prayers, trying to make the "New Liturgy" as respectable looking as possible! They will scrupulously avoid consulting their theology texts and the "pre-Conciliar" papal writings. The Council made all those obsolete, you understand. They will find themselves treating as some kind of malevolent strangers those few daring, single-minded people (for it takes daring), who accost them with bland and blunt questions, which need highly-technical theological training to understand the answers to. You know: "But, Father, how can you justify…?"; "But it says right here in this book…!" etc. Having become accessory to the negation of all traditional belief and authority, they will perforce run to hide behind the skirts of their "Revolutionary 'mother church,'" which can dispense them from anything and everything.

    They do not want to see it or to be reminded of it, but the fact remains: these "middle-of-the-road" padres, these many-hued ministers of the "New Establishment," have become a new-born generation of T. S. Eliot's "hollow men," "men of straw." They are the compliant "yes men" which the Revolution produces and finds so useful. And they work so hard, preoccupying their minds, drowning out their consciences. Watching them, one cannot help recalling Orwell's work-horses in Animal Farm. As Father Fahey wrote: "Profanation of the Blessed Eucharist has, on many occasions at least, been part of the preparation of apostate Catholics to be fitting instruments of revolution…"65 65. The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism. Rev. Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp. Regina Publications. Dublin. p. unknown.

    They pretend such great independence and voluntariness and such strong belief, all as if nothing untoward were happening in the whole wide world. On "safe" subjects, they are veritable titans of Orthodoxy and principle. (Grrrr!).

    They are such dutiful and honorable and obedient men, not because they are servants of Christ, but because they are insecure, nervous, and unhappy. They used to be leaders, men of discipline, a force to be reckoned with. (The atheist Nietsche warned his followers to keep a safe distance from them.) Now they are has-beens, relics, cast-offs. They are without purpose, without dedication; there is a thorn in their side, a pebble in their shoe, and a scar across their eyes. All their answers are circuitous; they wish to change the subject. "But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men." (Mt. 5:13).

    If they were honest, they would at least consider seriously the contentions made in these pages; they should have made them long before now. There is no excuse for this. Either such men should never have been ordained, or they are using their priesthood as a benefice. However, the reason these priests have not given the matter any thought is that those of their confreres who are customarily more alert to matters theological, and their bishops, have played the coward and not dared to raise the question for them to consider. A perusal of periodicals written for priests during the past few years is a perfect example. The "New Mass" is usually treated in the "question-and-answer" columns. I need not describe the pettifoggery one encounters there.

    The conclusions I have come to here do, of course, seem extreme. The reason, however, is not that my conclusions are inaccurate, but because most priests have ceased to mean what they say. Is it too much to expect that they give sound reasons why they consider themselves no longer bound by their priestly oaths. Do not the people have a right to some sort of explanation? Since when is any Catholic-priest or layman-not supposed to have a good reason for everything he does? Indeed, here is the momentous glaring discrepancy in the whole "renewal" argument and effort: there are no adequate reasons for any of it! None of all its adherents seem to be able to deal with these questions according to the rules of honest argumentation. Their pusillanimous invocation of the Pope is well calculated to make our Religion what our worst enemies have always said it was, even though our enemies knew better. Their efforts to justify the insufferable "new Mass" amount to one argument: "The Pope said to!" And this is the Faith without which there can be no salvation. Imagine!

    All priests cardinals not excluded must return to the True Mass immediately. This obviously involves two steps - if they do not do the second, they still must do the first: (1) They must stop "saying" the "New Mass." They must completely separate themselves from it and the churches where it is "said"-or separate the "New Mass" from the churches in their care. They must desist doing anything to compromise themselves in this regard. To "say" the "New Mass" is an act of sacrilege and desecration. (2) They must begin to say the True Mass with total disregard for any earthly consequences, whenever and wherever this can be done, but only in accord with the Code of Canon Law. How they manage it is their affair; they are of age, strong, brave, and consecrated men. They will be surprised at how God will provide for them. Even should they have to suffer great hardships, these will serve as partial reparation for their previous disloyalty and infidelity, as well as the first installments on that great expiation which the whole Church must in time surely make for the Great Sacrilege. Let them be reminded that Pope St. Pius V, in Quo Primum, envisioned that penalties might someday be threatened those who adhered to his command. No matter what sufferings their act costs them, none are so cruel as those the Revolution has in store for them once it is through with them! They must proceed to offer the True Mass for as many of the faithful as they can get to attend it, as often as is possible and canonically permissible. They will find in this apostolate enough.

    I need to add that a priest does not have to agree with all my contentions concerning the "New Mass" to be bound to the "Traditional Mass;" he is so bound by his Oath, independently of all other considerations.

    Let priests take their example from those six thousand priests of Spain who, in a body, swore they would never accept the "New Mass." 66 66. Itineraires, March, 1970. Many questions suggest themselves by this heroic act, none of which, by the way, clerical periodicals have dared to raise. The only question I have is, "Where are the Americans?"

      • Next: Chapter Six The Burden Part Two - The Burden of the People

      • Previous: Chapter Five The Apostolic Constitution of Paul VI Missale Romanum

      The Great Sacrilege by Father James F. Wathen