The ChristMass gift Christ longs for and the means to obtain it

The ChristMass gift Christ longs for and the means to obtain it

Prayer Intention for the Month of December:

For you are bought with a great price… you are a purchased people… Offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”


First Friday and Saturday this week


+St. Eligius+

As we enter the season of Advent, we should meditate on the fact that nearly 2,000 years ago God the Father sent us the inestimable gift of His only-begotten Son on ChristMass day — Truth and love Himself.  Born in a crude stable in Bethlehem illuminated by a brilliant star, this light of the world was destined to dispel the darkness of paganism, a darkness that is now engulfing us once again. Our Lord and His Blessed Mother warned us many times of this impending disaster, through various saints and holy people. Holy Scripture itself predicts a time like no other when Truth will be cast to the ground (Dan. 8:12). Those captured in the nets of the operation of error today have forsaken that precious first gift of ChristMass — Truth — to believe lies, lies that others tell them and which they tell themselves. What may prevent some of them from admitting they have erred is the great fear that they have been excommunicated for involvement in a non-Catholic sect and, in the case of Traditionalists, and are guilty of innumerable sacrileges for attending masses and receiving the sacraments from men not certainly ordained.

While no one can deny that technically we are all material heretics for our participation in these sects, those given the grace to see their errors can at least depart from them, denounce them, and spend the rest of their lives doing penance and amending any evil done.  God tells us many times in both the Old and New Testaments that if we shall only return to Him and convert, He will forgive us and return to us. Although grave sacrileges may have been committed in some cases, most of those availing themselves of Thuc and Lefebvre pseudo-clergy were victims of fraud according to Can. 104 and if they leave these sects, this would work to their favor according to Canon Law. The specifics of this topic are  discussed at length here: we will see why no one should believe they are ever beyond God’s forgiveness nor ever despair of His mercy. For this is the very age when the Divine mercy has been extended to the least of God’s creatures – those of us who have been deceived by these destructive sects and now keep the faith at home.

Why God has chosen us despite our many sins

In his work The Way of Divine Love, by H. Monier Vinard, S.J., chronicling the messages received from Our Lord by the victim soul Sr. Josefa Menendez, we learn something of why God may have chosen us to live in these times. Many have characterized the emphasis on the Divine mercy by certain theologians, beginning in the 19th century, as a manifestation of liberalism. Yet we believe it must now be seen through new eyes. No one could have known then that the juridic Church would be taken from us, that we would be forced to live without Christ’s Vicar all these many years. Not even the Catholics of France or Japan left without clergy in the 17th and 18th centuries experienced such a devastating loss, for at least they could be assured a true pope yet existed despite their sufferings. These teachings on Divine mercy and love were the legacy Our Lord and His Blessed Mother left us as a consolation in these times. And we are the ones the servants in the parable of the wedding feast were sent out to gather up on the highways, both good and bad, for the others were not worthy (Matt. 22).

In the introduction to Fr. Monier’s book on Sr. Josefa, we read words that echo what was just written in our two previous blogs on higher education. “His ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts. And that there may be no doubt that the communications come from Him and no other, He chooses weak instruments — humanly speaking, unfitted for the task in view — so His strength shines forth in their infirmity. He did not choose the learned and the great in the world’s eyes to found His Church; St. Paul expressly tells us otherwise. The rapid spread of Christianity could have been attributed to their talents and prestige, but He chose the poor and the ignorant and of these he made vessels of election. And that the greatness of their mission might not dazzle them and lead to vainglory, He again and again reminded them of their nothingness, their innate misery and their weakness. His gifts are only secure when bestowed on the truly humble of heart.

“His Providence has always worked in this way; His glory is manifest in man’s nothingness.If I had been able to find a creature more miserable than you,he said to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque,I should have chosen her. And Sr. Josefa repeatedly heard the same declaration: ‘If I could have found a more wretched creature, I should have chosen her for My special love and through her reveal the longings of My heart. But I have not found one and so I have chosen you. Soon after we hear Him say: I have selected you as one utterly useless and destitute that none may attribute to any but Myself what I say, ask and do… Our Lord’s aim was never to set her as an example to be imitated. He did not speak so much to her in order to draw down upon her the admiring gaze of the world. She was a voice; nothing more. She existed for the message, the message should not exist for her. Christ our Lord willed that she should be a mere nothing. He never drew her out of her littleness. In fact he continually and purposely laid stress on her nothingness and that even when He showed himself with the greatest radiance.

“To be a victim necessarily implies immolation and as a rule atonement for another. Although strictly speaking one can offer oneself as a victim to give God joy and glory by voluntary sacrifice, yet for the most part God lead souls by that path only when He intends them to act as mediators. They have to suffer and expiate for those for whom their immolation will be profitable either by drawing down graces or forgiveness on them, or by acting as a cloak to cover their sins in the face of divine justice. It stands to reason that no one will, on his own initiative, take such a role on himself. Divine consent is required before a soul dares to intervene between God and his creature. There would be no value in such an offering if God refused to hear the prayer. He himself chooses these persons and because they are free, He asks them for their voluntary cooperation.  

“Those who accept put themselves at His mercy and He then makes use of them as by sovereign right.  Assimilated and transformed into Christ, the victim soul expresses the sentiments of Christ Jesus to God the Father and to Christ himself. Her attitude is one of humiliation, penance and expiation, sentiments which ought to animate the souls she represents. And because of this identification with Christ, the victim soul shares in his dolorous Passion and undergoes, to a greater or lesser degree and in various but generally superhuman ways, the torments and agonies that were His. The Passion of Christ being our sole salvation, if we are to be purified and saved, we must, of necessity, come into contact with the blood shed by the Lamb. The great cry of the dying Christ is a pressing invitation to the whole human race to hasten to the Saviour’s fountains from which all graces flow.

“This contact with Christ’s blood is immediately secured by souls that answer His appeal. Others, and alas there are many, voluntarily keep aloof. It is these things that Christ will seek to reach through other souls whom He makes use of as a channel of His mercies. They are the most fruitful of all the branches of the mystic vine loaded with the sap flowing from Christ Himself and completely won with Him, by their solidarity with the sinner they stand liable for his sins; so being one with Him and one with Christ in them and by them, grace is communicated. They are victim souls.

“How intimate must be their identification with the Crucified if they are to carry out their part of the contract fully! Full union with Him is implied whilst He on His part imprints on their souls, hearts and bodies the living image of His sorrowful Passion. All His sufferings are renewed in them: they will be contradicted persecuted, humbled, scourged and crucified and what man fails to inflict that God himself will supply by mysterious pains [and] agonies, which will make of them living crucifixes. They are thus co-redeemers in the full sense of the word. Love for their neighbor urges them on; their mission is different from that of others.

“For whereas God is pleased to allow those other souls of whom He spoke to remain in contemplation of Him, giving glory to His infinite perfections, by their love it is otherwise with victim souls. When they contemplate Him, He unveils the immensity of His love for souls and the grief with which the loss of sinners fills Him. The sight of this breaks their hearts, and their longing to console Christ is not satisfied with mere words of love; it stirs up their zeal. At whatever price they will win souls to Him, and He kindles this zeal still more. It is the love of the Sacred Heart itself communicated to them with which they loved sinners, love which gives them a superhuman endurance well described by Josefa’s own words.” And yet neither Sr. Josefa, nor even St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, were the first heralds of this tender devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

St. Gertrude the Great

“The secrets of the divine heart of Jesus have been called the treasure which is reserved for latter times. But with regard to his spouse it seems our Divine Saviour could not wait the time decreed by his infinite wisdom for the revelation of his Sacred Heart to the world at large… He made [St. Gertrude] the herald of His grace and abounding devotion which not until four centuries later was given to the world. He once told St. Gertrude:I wish these revelations to be for later ages; the evidence of my love to draw souls to My heart. It was further revealed that this Heart is an altar upon which the sacrifices of the faithful, the homage of the elect and the worship of the angels are offered and on which Jesus the Eternal High Priest offers Himself in sacrifice.” Once Saint John the Divine appeared to Saint Gertrude and she asked him if the beating of Jesus’ heart, which so rejoiced her soul, also rejoiced his when he reposed on Jesus breast during the Last Supper. Saint John replied: “Yes, I heard them and my soul was penetrated with their sweetness, even to its very center.” Saint Gertrude then asked: “Why then hast thou spoken so little in thy gospel of the loving secrets of the heart of Jesus?” Saint John replied: “My mission was to write of the eternal word. But the language of the blissful pulsations of the Sacred Heart is reserved for latter times that the time-worn world, grown cold in the love of God, may be warmed up by hearing of such mysteries.”

“Once in answer to an inquiry on the part of St. Gertrude’s the Savior replied: ‘It would be most advantageous for mankind to know and bear constantly in mind that I, the Son of the Virgin Mary, remain ever in the presence of my Heavenly Father to whom I offer Myself continually for their salvation. Whenever through human frailty they sin in their heart, I present My most pure heart to the Eternal Father in atonement. Whenever they offend Him by their evil deeds, I show Him my transpierced hands. Thus in what way soever they sin against Him, the wrath of my Eternal Father is appeased by My merit so that they will obtain a ready pardon if they will only repent of their sins. I therefore desire that my elect, whenever they obtain pardon for their sins, offer Me their gratitude for having given them so easy a means of reconciliation” (St. Gertrude the Great, Herald of Divine Love, Benedictine publication reprinted by TAN Books).

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

“The art of becoming holy is precisely in being able to reach the ultimate goal of life by travelling the long and bitter path of suffering.” And St. Margaret Mary Alacoque knew great suffering in her life. She suffered from ill health beginning in her childhood, various internal trials and many times she was persecuted by the demons. She also suffered intensely on the Thursdays and Fridays of the week preceding the First Friday devotions she was given by Our Lord. In his very first appearance to her, Christ made it clear that he was not pleased with humanity and how He planned to punish sinners.

“Thus she recounts the first apparition of the Redeemer, who was preparing her for subsequent revelations: “As soon as I went to pray, Jesus presented Himself to me covered with sores, asking me to look at the gash on his sacred Side: a bottomless pit dug by an enormous arrow of love…. This is the abode of all those who love Him…. But since the entrance is small, in order to enter one must become small and strip oneself of everything.” Pointing at His wounds, Jesus spoke these harsh words: “Behold at what state my chosen people have reduced me to, they whom I had destined to appease justice, but instead secretly persecute me! If they do not repent, I will punish them severely. Having preserved my just ones, I will immolate all others to the fury of my wrath.” And this message was given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1600s!

St. Gemma Galgani

Our Lord told another victim soul, St. Gemma Galgani, who died in 1903: “What ingratitude and wickedness there is in the world! Sinners continue to live obstinately in their sins. My Father will bear with them no longer. The depraved have no strength to overcome their sins. The afflicted fall into confusion and despair. The fervent become tepid. The ministers of my sanctuary (and here Jesus was silent and only after some minutes continued) … I have entrusted to them the great work of continuing the Redemption … (again Jesus was silent). My Father will tolerate them no longer. He has continually given them light and strength and they instead? These whom I have always held in predilection, whom I have always regarded as the apple of my eye, continually I have received from creatures only ingratitude and every day their indifference increases… I have need of souls who will give Me consolation in the place of the many who give Me sorrow. I am in need of victims, strong victims, in order to appease the just wrath of my father… Speak of My desire to the Holy Father, tell him a great chastisement is threatening and that I have need of victims; that my Heavenly Father is exceedingly wrath… These are my words and the last warning that I shall give” (Gemma of Lucca, Benedict Williamson, 1932).

Sr. Josefa Menendez 

“Obedience… binds me to all legitimate authority in which I see Thee and through whom Thou speakest to me and makes known to me Thy will. But love must go further still. I must not only obey all authority but listen to the interior voice to which I am sometimes deaf because I find it too costly to follow its behests or transmit what it tells me to transmit… No Lord,

“I will obey for love of Thee and will ask for no reasons, nor will I hesitate or complain, for it is not my will but Thine that must henceforth live in me and all I do must be for Thee…” Jesus told Josefa: “I will make it known that my work rests on nothingness and misery — such is the first link in the chain of love that I have prepared for souls from all eternity. I will use you to show that I love misery, littleness and absolute nothingness. I will reveal to souls the excess of my love and how far I will go in forgiveness and how even their faults will be used by Me with blind indulgence — yes, write — with blind indulgence. I see the very depths of souls. I see how they would please, console and glorify me… What does their helplessness matter? Cannot I supply all these deficiencies? I will show how My heart uses their very weaknesses to give life to many souls that have lost it.” And in this same work by Fr. Vinard, Our Lord also tells Sr. Josefa: “It is not sin that most grievously wounds My heart,” He said, “but what rends and lacerates it is that after sin, men do not take refuge in It once more.”

Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, before ascending to the papal throne, said of Sr. Josefa’s writings: “I have no doubt whatever that the publication of these pages filled as they are with the great love which His grace inspired in His very humble servant Maria Josefa Menendez will be agreeable to his Sacred Heart. May they efficaciously contribute to develop in many souls a confidence ever more complete and loving and the infinite mercy of this Divine Heart towards poor sinners such as we all are.” In the conclusion to Sr. Josefa’s work, Rev. Fr. Charmot, S.J., writes: “Ah! Who would not love with a measureless love Him who has so loved mankind? How could any religious of the Sacred Heart fail to engrave on her heart the great words written large in letters of fire in the message: devotion to the Sacred Heart, charity, kindness, confidence, abandonment, total gift of self, humility, compassion, reparation, the salvation of souls and the mediation of Mary.” And are not these the very sentiments expressed in the Prayer Society statement on the Home page of this site?

Fr. Demaris

We may be victim souls of a sort by default only, for it would be almost impossible for us to even approach their holiness and we cannot be certain by way of direction from our superiors that Our Lord has even called us. Frustrated by the ingratitude of men, He has withdrawn from us all earthly support in order to force us to turn our gaze on Him alone. Jesus’ aching Heart and outstretched arms beg us to recognize Him as the sole source of truth and love. We are obligated today to choose the path that we have chosen – obligated by His laws and those of the Church, obligated, most importantly, as a matter of faith and fidelity to Him and the teachings of His Vicars. One can scarcely be credited with choosing something out of the ordinary when that very thing is strictly owed and is essential as a condition of membership in the Church.

Yet no one can deny that God has left it to our free will to accept this state of affairs as His holy will and keep our faith at home, if we wish to save our souls and avoid offending Him even more. It is an all or nothing invitation, a true calling. And no one can deny that Pope Pius XII commanded us to assume the role of the hierarchy, within certain limits, in their absence; this too, is a definite calling. Who could ever dictate to us, then, the extent of our generosity or the depth of our longing for union with Christ in His Passion, a Passion we now have been invited to share with Him if we are to be members of His Mystical Body? No one can limit our protestations of love or forbid us to limit our acts of sorrow for sin and reparation for those sins. No one can shame us into cooperating in sin by following pseudo-clerics. Fr. Demaris, in his work They Have Taken Away My Lord, written two centuries ago for those deprived of priests and Sacraments in France, tells us: “

Abraham obeyed in immolating his son, and in not immolating him, but his obedience was greater when he took the sword in his hand than when he returned it to its scabbard

We are obedient in going to Communion, but in holding ourselves from the sacrifice we are immolating ourselves. Quenched of the thirst of justice and depriving ourselves of the Blood of the Lamb which alone can slake it, we sacrifice our own life as much as it is in us to do.  The sacrifice of Abraham was for an instant, an angel stopped the knife; ours is daily, renewing itself every day, every time that we adore with submission the Hand of God that drives us away from His altars, and this sacrifice is voluntary.  It is to be advantageously deprived of the Eucharist, to raise the standard of the Cross for the cause of Christ and the glory of His ChurchLet not the love of the Eucharist drive us away from the CrossI seem to hear the Savior saying to us:

Do not be afraid to be separated from My table for the confession of My Name: it is a grace I give you, which is very rare.  Repair by this humiliating deprivation that glorifies Me, all the Communions which dishonor me… Feel this grace.  You can do nothing for Me and I put into your hands a means of doing what I have done for you, and to return to Me with magnificence, that which I have given you that is the greatest.  I have given you My Body, and you give it back to Me, since you are separated from it in My service.  You give back to the truth what you have received from My love.  I could not have given you anything greater.  Your gratitude matches by that, the grace I have given you — the greatness of the gift I made to you.  Console yourselves if I do not call upon you to pour out your blood like the martyrs, there is Mine to make up for it.  Every time that you are prevented from drinking it, I will regard it the same as if you had spilled yours; and Mine is far more precious.”

This ChristMass season, heed the words of these wise saints and holy people. Consecrate yourselves to the Sacred Heart, pining away for the love of sinners, and to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Make reparation for your sins and those of your loved ones. Abandon your own will and unite it with God’s will for us in these times, — to be deprived of Mass and Sacraments that Scripture might be fulfilled. Pray for the virtues of humility, compassion, charity, kindness and confidence in God.  And most importantly, make that gift of self to God to return to Him the love He sent us that ChristMass Day. A wonderful booklet for offering this gift was written by Fr. John Nicholas Grou S.J., who was forced to leave France for England during the French Revolution (and this can be ordered here: Fr. Grou wrote at approximately the same time that Fr. Demaris wrote his little treatise, the late 1700s, and very likely wrote his work in response to the spiritual woes of those times.

As you kneel at the manger this ChristMass, kneel there with your heart and soul in your hands, and offer it to the Christ Child in union with the living Sacrifice He came to earth to offer for us.

Some final thoughts on mis-education & a Blessed Thanksgiving

Some final thoughts on mis-education & a Blessed Thanksgiving

+St. John of the Cross +

Final wrap up on mis-education

In explaining the dangers of receiving modern liberal arts degrees, those offered as such by the Church in ages past were not a consideration, for they no longer exist. For those receiving such degrees from modern colleges and universities today, the point that should have been taken away from all this is that one cannot rely on such education to reliably inform either oneself or others regarding the practice of the Catholic faith. If not infused with the Catholicity the Church requires and demanded in the days when Catholic universities were in operation, these subjects as taught today are not to be relied upon as capable of guiding one’s conscience in matters of faith or in teaching others about the faith. That is not to say that if one later converts after receiving such an education it becomes absolutely useless and cannot be applied to some extent to matters not concerning the faith.  But sorting out thinking errors absorbed in such studies takes time and is often more distressing and confusing than simply starting from scratch by studying more intensely the Church’s, laws, teachings and practices in these matters.

If one’s study of the faith is limited only to the basics this becomes quite difficult, since higher learning is “unlearned” only by replacing it with those things taught by the Church on the same level. This only makes sense. And asking those not sufficiently versed in the many pitfalls that can plague the thinking process to judge how their content is contrary to Catholic teaching is ridiculous, for only the legitimately established hierarchy of the Church could undertake such a task. As Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey explains in his The Spiritual Life, “Philosophical knowledge [is] acquired by the exercise of reasoning; …theological knowledge by applying reason to the data furnished by faith.” If the exercise of reasoning is attenuated in 1,000 imperceptible ways by erroneous thought patterns learned in a secular college or university, (or a Traditionalist seminary minus approved Catholic teachers trained accordingly), how can this possibly be sorted out by lay people expected to know only the basic catechism? And how, then, can it be reliably applied to theological knowledge? One would need to study the works of St. Thomas Aquinas for years, from approved sources, to even be able to begin to undo the damage done.

In Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Aeterni Patris, he stresses the great importance of the study of philosophy in the Catholic Church. The Pope writes: “The Church, built upon the promises of its own divine Author, whose charity it imitated, so faithfully followed out His commands that its constant aim and chief wish was this: to teach religion and contend forever against errors. To this end assuredly have tended the incessant labors of individual bishops; to this end also the published laws and decrees of councils, and especially the constant watchfulness of the Roman Pontiffs, to whom, as successors of the blessed Peter in the primacy of the Apostles, belongs the right and office of teaching and confirming their brethren in the faith. Since, then, according to the warning of the apostle, THE MINDS OF CHRIST’S FAITHFUL ARE APT TO BE DECEIVED AND THE INTEGRITY OF THE FAITH TO BE CORRUPTED AMONG MEN BY PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT, the supreme pastors of the Church have always thought it their duty to advance, by every means in their power, SCIENCE TRULY SO CALLED, and at the same time to provide with special care that ALL STUDIES SHOULD ACCORD WITH THE CATHOLIC FAITH, ESPECIALLY PHILOSOPHY, ON WHICH A RIGHT INTERPRETATION OF THE OTHER SCIENCES IN GREAT PART DEPENDS.

“It may be well here to speak more fully in the words of one of the wisest of Our predecessors, Sixtus V: By the divine favor of Him who alone gives the spirit of science wisdom, and understanding, and who thou ages, as there may be need, enriches His Church with new blessings and strengthens it with safeguards, there was founded by Our fathers, men of eminent wisdom, the scholastic theology, which two glorious doctors in particular angelic St. Thomas and the seraphic St. Bonaventure, illustrious teachers of this faculty, . . .with surpassing genius, by unwearied diligence, and at the cost of long labors and vigils, set in order and beautified, and when skillfully arranged and clearly explained in a variety of ways, handed down to posterity.

And, indeed, the knowledge and use of so salutary a science, which flows from the fertilizing founts of the sacred writings, the sovereign Pontiffs, the holy Fathers and the councils, must always be of the greatest assistance to the Church, whether with the view of really and soundly understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, or more safely and to better purpose reading and explaining the Fathers, or for exposing and refuting the various errors and heresies; and in these late days, when those dangerous times described by the Apostle are already upon us, when the blasphemers, the proud, and the seducers go from bad to worse, erring themselves and causing others to err, there is surely a very great need of confirming the dogmas of Catholic faith and confuting heresies.

“Although these words seem to bear reference solely to Scholastic theology, nevertheless they may plainly be accepted as equally true of philosophy and its praises. For, the noble endowments which make the Scholastic theology so formidable to the enemies of truth  — to wit, as the same Pontiff adds, “that ready and close coherence of cause and effect, that order and array as of a disciplined army in battle, those clear definitions and distinctions, that strength of argument and those keen discussions, by which light is distinguished from darkness, the true from the false, expose and strip naked, as it were, the falsehoods of heretics wrapped around by a cloud of subterfuges and fallacies.”

So given the clear instructions of Pope Leo XIII above, which should convince any rational Catholic that what was written in our last blog was unquestionably the truth, we need to look in another direction — to examine the possible motives of those insisting that secular credentials in philosophy can be considered legitimate and trustworthy contrary to the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. Any truly serious student of philosophy should already have read this most important encyclical and firmly and irrevocably accepted it as the Church’s official teaching on this matter. This brings us to another topic that should be better understood in these times when it seems that every tool of the devil is being used to deceive the unwary.

After years of answering questions and accusations from various critics, it is time to apprise readers of the modus operandi of the majority of these strident objectors and the reason they make the rounds as they do. At the bottom of things their motives and arguments are all the same, and come from the same sources, even though they are very careful to make it appear they are unrelated and only pop up at random. To help explain what is really at the root of all these attacks, which issue from a familiar enemy, we have posted an article as a bookmark here exploring their origins. Whenever a new objector appears on the scene, we will simply refer to this bookmark rather than issue a lengthy response. That being said, we hope that by doing this we can avoid further distractions and move on to the many important issues Catholics are struggling with today.

The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving

Several years ago, while still a reporter, I wrote the following article. It has been amended and updated for this blog piece.

“While American school children have always learned the traditional celebration of the first Thanksgiving began with the Pilgrims on this country’s eastern seaboard in 1621, this was only one of several “thanksgivings” in America, and it was not the first.

“Some 55 years earlier, expedition leader Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a fervent Catholic and founder of St. Augustine, Fla. accompanied by Father Francisco López, his fleet chaplain, along with their crew, celebrated a feast of thanksgiving with Native Americans there after first offering a Mass of thanksgiving for their safe journey. The meal was nothing like we celebrate with today, being ship’s fare rather than the fruits of the Pilgrim’s first harvest. It reportedly consisted of salt pork, garbanzo beans, bread and wine. But the Mass of Thanksgiving was infinitely greater than any simple a meal celebrated by non-Catholics could ever be. It placed a mark on this land for Christ as His own.

“The largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, 208 feet high, now marks the location of this first offering of thanks.  Every year on September 8, the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity, Floridians commemorate the landing of Menéndez in 1565 and the Catholic Mass that followed, with dignitaries from around the world gathering in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S., to reenact the event. Other thanksgivings may also have been celebrated by Coronado, as he moved throughout the Southwest, as well as Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto. French, Portuguese and Hispanic Catholic contributions to American culture have received little notice in the history books in decades past, even Catholic history books.

“Southwestern historian Dennis Lopez has noted that one of these later Thanksgivings was celebrated in southern Colorado when a Thanksgiving Mass was offered on Aug. 19, 1598 or 23 years before the Pilgrims. ‘It made me want to learn more because I realized that the first Thanksgiving was NOT with the Pilgrims but with the Spanish! The Spanish had been exploring the Americas for years. Without their exploration and the stories going back to Europe, Europe would have probably never gotten involved in the New World.’” 

“’None of us can afford to diminish or set aside the history of another group, especially when it affects all of us. Our beginnings in the Americas are not the pilgrims, or the trappers or Jamestown. It is part of the history of Spain. [The Spanish] chronicled the Native Americans, the lands from the eastern seaboard to California. Understanding their history is like filling in several holes in our own European history. It is past time to learn, share and sometimes even agree to disagree but let us do it with tolerance, respect and understanding. So let us share the day, the family stories, the laughter and the smiles. We will all be better for it!’”

I have heard some Traditionalists remark that Thanksgiving really is only a “Protestant” invention and should not be celebrated as a national holiday by Catholics as though it was the equivalent of ChristMass or Easter. But while it may not be the equal of these two greater feasts, it is not something instituted by the Protestants after all, nor should the excellent opportunity to render thanks to so good a God be passed up on this day. Gratitude is a very important virtue and to set aside one day in a year to express it is precious little. We give thanks every day in our after meals prayer. We thank God or should in our daily prayers for every grace, every, benefit, every cross He has sent to us.

On Thanksgiving Day, we should offer a spiritual mass and communion, also our Rosary, for the countless graces and blessings we receive every day from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother; for the many blessings of yet holding dear close family members and fellow Catholics, including the faithfully departed, and for all of God’s many material blessings. Those living in this country forget that in large part, without the explorations of the Spanish and French, this continent might never have been settled as quickly and successfully as it was. God’s hand was upon this country when St. Brendan first glimpsed it and called it the “isle of the blessed.” Columbus landed on her shores, and Our Lady’s Guadalupe title graced the spot where he landed, just as it did the land of Mexico. Our country has been corrupted and co-opted by those who were determined that she never fulfill her Catholic destiny, but God alone will be the One who decides our fate. If possible at all, it would take a disastrous and devastating fall, a bloody rebirth, followed by a brief but poignant victory, but it is difficult to abandon all hope that this country could somehow convert. In our Thanksgiving prayers we must remember to pray fervently for that miraculous conversion.

My heartfelt gratitude for all the contributors and supporters to this site and may you and your families enjoy a peaceful and blessed day of thanks.

What in the World… It’s not about politics

What we have resigned ourselves to as the prevailing political system today in this country would classify everyone in various parties, but for the Catholic this classification is meaningless. The issues at hand are not political, as I told one media colleague emphatically long ago, but moral. They are moral maladies warned against by the popes for decades, even centuries, prior to Pope Pius XII’s death. They are dangers to the Catholic faith as well, since in the case of secret societies, communism and socialism, they involve the worship of false gods and culminate in atheism. There is no need here to go into the abortion issue, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism or transhumanism, all of which are innately opposed to the natural law and everything ever taught by the Church. The principalities and powers ruling over us may have politicized all these things, but they remain issues of faith and morals long ago condemned by the popes and in Holy Scripture.

Likewise with the creation of a one world order, first advocated by Pres. Woodrow Wilson. In a hauntingly accurate description of what would result from such a system, Pope Benedict XV on July 25, 1920, in an address honoring St. Joseph as universal patron of the Church, warned of the evils inherent in such a plan and the suppression of individual freedoms which would follow if it was implemented:

“The advent of a Universal Republic, which is longed for by all the worst elements of disorder, and confidently expected by them, is an idea which is now ripe for execution. From this republic, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and community of possessions, would be banished all national distinctions, nor in it would the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society, be any longer acknowledged. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror.” And much of this has already occurred.

A young combat photographer recently returned from some of the bloodiest battles fought in the Pacific theater during World War II wrote much the same thing in the late 1940s. Having just embarked on his writing career about that time, the echoes of recent peace discussions were fresh in his mind. The realization of the horrors of war, never erased throughout his lifetime, were at their most intense, and after an unsuccessful bid for a writing position with The Baltimore Sun he wrote:

“In the event of another war, the people of the world will be faced with one of two decisions: total annihilation or a swift arbitration and consolidation of peoples, governments and cultures worldwide. Not one nation could be omitted from the list, for as long as one nation remained independent and self-governing, there would always be the temptation and high probability of aggression on the part of the major nation. This temptation would have to be eliminated, for so long as one man or one nation has something that another has not, the greed of possession will be uppermost in the mind. Thus civilization and advancement will come to a standstill, and in time, like a timepiece sitting in the weather, the functioning parts of the mechanism will become rusted and will deteriorate into a solid, immovable mass.”  — William E. Stanfill, Soliloquy

We have been fighting that war now for decades, a spiritual warfare never recognized as such but one that has taken from us first our beloved Church, and now our country. There will come a time, and it may be sooner than we think, when a line will be drawn in the sand, one we cannot afford to cross. That day will divide all those who now present as Catholic or Christian and unmask them for who they truly are — the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Those who stand firm will be openly persecuted and many will eventually be martyred. The rest will be counted among the ranks of Antichrist and his system. In the coming weeks, we hope to able to present some spiritual consolations and practical helps to prepare us for those times and strengthen our faith for the fight ahead.

A primer on the origins of Godless education in America

A primer on the origins of Godless education in America

+St. Josaphat+

The last blog touched briefly on the dangers of secular education, dangers most Catholics today, even Traditionalists homeschooling their children, well understand. But what they don’t understand is the deficits they themselves are saddled with if they were educated in public schools or even so-called “Traditionalist” schools, many of which have been racked with controversy, scandal and frequent changes in staff, providing an unstable learning environment for young children. Those educated in secular colleges or universities will have the greatest obstacles to overcome in successfully operating a home school. For unless they do their best to deprogram themselves successfully from the indoctrination they received, much of which is so deeply lodged in the intellect it escapes identification and correction, they will not be able to competently instruct their own children. Understanding the deviant nature of such indoctrination and how to combat it is key to ridding themselves of its effects. 

The best expose of public (and private) schools was written in 2001 by John Taylor Gatto, who before his retirement in the 1990s was declared Teacher of the Year by both New York City and New York State. The book is based on his 30 years of teaching experience in the public school system and his many frustrations with uncooperative school administrations who failed to put children first. His book, which is heavily documented and goes into great detail, can be downloaded at Some may be familiar with Gatto’s first book Dumbing Us Down, a bestseller ever since it was released in 1992. In this work, Gatto presents the bare outline of his 2001 book, which was the result of 10-years-worth of research.  Promotional material for Dumbing Us Down reads:

“John Taylor Gatto has found that independent study, community service, large doses of solitude and 1,000 different apprenticeships with adults of all walks of life are the keys to helping children break the thrall of our conforming society. For the sake of our children in our communities, John Taylor Gatto urges all of us to get schools out of the way and find ways to re-engage children and families in actively controlling our culture, economy and society.” While Gatto, who describes himself as a lapsed Catholic, is perhaps too quick to question some Catholic educational practices and leans towards personalism, an excessive freedom of individual behavior and expression, with emphasis on love of the person as an individual. (Personalism is an error emanating from ecumenism popularized by the leftist Dorothy Day and advocated by John Paul 2.) Such leanings, however, must be understood in the light of its contrary — the total eradication of the personality and the individual talents and excellences of students in public education. In his 2001 work, Gatto is insistent that the moral and faith-based principles of education are indispensable to its success.

Public schools and colleges founded on German military principles

These criticisms aside, Gatto’s work is otherwise brilliant and thought-provoking. Some of the quotes from The Underground History of Education will give the reader an idea of what to expect from his research and observations. The major premise of his work is as follows:

“It took seven years of reading and reflection to finally figure out that mass schooling of the young by force was a creation of the four great coal powers of the 19th century. Nearly 100 years later on April 11,1933, Max Mason, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, announced to insiders that the comprehensive national program was underway to allow in Mason’s words: ‘The control of human behavior…” In 1935 at the University of Chicago’s experimental school where John Dewey had once held sway, Howard C. Hill, head of the social science department, published an inspirational textbook called The Life and Work of the Citizen. The title page clearly shows four cartoon hands symbolizing law, order, science and the trades interlocked to form a near swastika. By 1935, Prussian pattern and Prussian goals had embedded themselves so deeply into the vitals of institutional schooling the heartless soul noticed the traditional purposes of the enterprise were being abandoned…” Gatto demonstrates just how the Prussian system of education was introduced in the 1800s, a system of compulsory education intended to create: “Obedient soldiers to the army; obedient workers for mines, factories and farms; well subordinated civil servants; well subordinated clerks for industry; citizens who thought alike on most issues; national uniformity in thought, word and deed.

“Traditional American school purpose — piety, good manners, basic intellectual tools, self-reliance, etc. — was scrapped to make way for something different… the compulsion school institution was assigned the task of fixing the social order into place… Society was to reflect the needs of modern corporate organizations and the requirements of rational evolution. The best breeding stock had to be protected and displayed; the supreme challenge was to specify who was who in the new hierarchical order… At the heart of the durability of mass schooling is a brilliantly designed power fragmentation system which distributes decision making so widely among so many warring interests that large scale change is impossible without a guidebook. Few insiders understand how to steer this ship and the few who do may have lost the will to control it.”

“The great destructive myth of the 20th century was the aggressive contention that a child could not grow up correctly in the unique circumstances of his own family; forced schooling was the principal agency broadcasting this attitude… God was pitched out of our schooling on his ear after World War II and this wasn’t because of any constitutional prescription (there was none that anyone had been able to find in over a century and a half), but because the political state and corporate economy considered the western spiritual tradition too dangerous a competitor… I lived through the great transformation which turns schools from often useful places into laboratories of state experimentation with the lives of children, a form of pornography masquerading as pedagogical science… The evidence of your own eyes and ears tells you that average men and women don’t really exist except as a statistical conceit… What has happened in our schools was foreseen long ago by [Thomas] Jefferson. We have been recolonized silently in a second American Revolution. Time to take our script from the country’s revolutionary start; time to renew traditional hostility toward hierarchy and tutelage.”

Fabian socialism and Hegelianism

Gatto’s keen insights predicted long ago the exact situation in which we find ourselves today: “The direction of modern schooling for the bottom 90% of our society has followed a largely Fabian design and the puzzling security and prestige enjoyed at the moment by those who speak of globalism and multiculturalism is a direct result of heed paid earlier to Fabian prophecies that a welfare state followed by an intense focus on internationalism would be the mechanism elevating corporate society over political society and is a necessary precursor to utopia… Fabian practitioners developed principles which they taught alongside Morgan bankers and other important financial allies over the first half of the 20th century. One insightful Hegelianism was that to push ideas efficiently, it was necessary first to co-opt both political left and political right. Adversarial politics competition was a losers’ game.

“By infiltrating all major media, by continual low-intensity propaganda, by massive changes in group orientations (accomplished through principles developed in the psychological warfare bureaus of the military) and with the ability, using government intelligence agents and press contacts to induce a succession of crises, they accomplished that astonishing feat… Thus the deliberate creation of crises is an important tool of evolutionary Socialists. Does that let you understand the government school drama a little better or the well-publicized doomsday scenarios of environmentalists?” And Gatto links Darwinism and its principles to the Fabians. But it doesn’t stop there. For those who want to crow about being highly educated, consider what Gatto says here:

Schools Masonic, Rockefeller funded, and psychopathic

“The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid. That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its scientific presentation in the Bell Curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It’s a religious notion [and ]school is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid. School is a religion [and] without understanding the holy mission aspect you’re certain to misperceive what takes place as a result of human stupidity or venality or even class warfare. All are present in the equation… [John] Dewey’s pedagogic creed statement of 1897 gives you a clue to the zeitgeist:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven. and John Dewey’s patron was John D. Rockefeller. Gatto explains: “The Rockefeller foundation has been instrumental through the century just passed along with a few others in giving us the schools we have. It imported the German research model into college life, elevated service to business and government as the goal of higher education, not teaching. And Rockefeller financed University of Chicago and Columbia Teachers College have been among the most energetic actors in the lower school tragedy.”

Gatto further describes public schools, even the less offensive ones, as peddlers of psychopathology. Their bewildered and confused graduates, he claims, come away from their school experience having learned emotional and intellectual dependency, indifference, memory loss, lack of self-respect and self-confidence, lack of empathy, inability to experience true intimacy, materialistic, purposeless, shallow, superficial, indecisive, entitled and perpetually fixed in adolescent mode. Perhaps this explains Traditionalists’ insane fixation with exterior religion and dependence on Traditionalist pseudo-clergy. Seldom in touch with self, always fixated on the outside world. One wonders if perhaps the some 40 or 50 percent who left the Church following Vatican 2 were those who at least had received some Catholic schooling, while the others remaining with new church had been sent to public school and CCD classes. Many of those children who are now adults in Traditionalist groups, if they were not homeschooled, doubtlessly were forced to resort to public school once Catholic schools no longer existed. (And attendance at dysfunctional Traditional schools does not count as a Catholic school education.) This accounts for their unreachability.

So given all the above, exactly why would anyone striving to be truly Catholic attend such obviously Masonic, anti-Catholic institutions or behave as though such institutions could possibly educate them in anything other than error and immorality? Why would they brag about credentials they have received from them? It is beyond belief that those homeschooling their children, Traditionalists among them, stop at the 8th or 12th grade of schooling to send their children to so-called ”conservative” high schools and colleges, even public high schools and secular colleges. That they pay to send them to such perverse academies is communicatio in sacris, cooperation in a false religion, as Gatto so well illustrates. We are to be in this world but not of it, and even if it means we might make less money or appear to be less desirable in the world’s eyes as an employee, our faith demands we spurn such institutions as inimical to our beliefs and a clear and present danger to both Church AND state.

Self-education the only option today

Gatto sums up his observations as follows: “My purpose is only to show that the wisdom tradition of American Christianity has something huge to say about where we’ve mis-stepped in mass compulsion schooling… Americans have been substantially broken away from their own wisdom tradition by forces hostile to its continuance. No mechanism employed to do this has been more important than the agency we call public schooling. In neglecting this wisdom tie, we have gradually forgotten a powerful doctrine assembled over thousands of years by countless millions of minds hearts and spirits which addresses the important common problems of life which experience has shown to be impervious to riches intellect charm science or powerful connections.” In his Dumbing Us Down, Gatto writes: “We need to trust children from a very early age with independent study… We need to invent curricula where each kid has a chance to develop private uniqueness and reliance… As they gain self-knowledge, they also will become self-teachers, and only self-teaching has any lasting value.”

In this world today, the only kind of education available to true Catholics is self-education. This is not by choice, but by necessity. What we wouldn’t give for true bishops, priests and Catholic nuns to teach us!  Traditionalists, had they followed the laws of the Church, could have helped establish Catholic communities centered not on the Mass and sacraments, which they could not convey, but on catechetics, Catholic dogma and the spiritual life, which all can attain to according to their ability. They could have used the old Catholic teachings and methods to train catechists and baptizers, to instruct those aspiring to the married state and to assist parents with training in child-rearing and home-schooling. In this way strong, largely rural Catholic communities could have been built comparable to those maintained for nearly two centuries by the Amish and Mennonites.

Regarding such teaching, Pope St. Pius X taught in Acerbo Nimis, his encyclical on catechetical instruction, in 1905:

“Now we must inquire who has the duty to safeguard minds from this pernicious ignorance and impart to them the necessary knowledge on this point. Venerable brothers, there can be no doubt this very grave obligation is incumbent on all those who are pastors of souls. They are certainly obliged by the precept of Christ to know and to nourish the sheep confided to them. NOW TO NOURISH IS FIRST OF ALL TO TEACH. I will give you,God promises by the mouth of the prophet Jeremias, pastors according to my own heart and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine. And so the apostle said: Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel,indicating thus that the first office of those who are set up in any way for the government of the church is to instruct the faithful in sacred doctrine.”

This tells us volumes. First of all, had Traditionalists truly been lawful “pastors of souls,” they would have nourished the sheep by teaching them, not setting up chapels and simulating Mass and Sacraments. Secondly, they must not have been “pastors according to My own heart,” for they did not impart to the faithful “knowledge and doctrine.” And finally, we see that such knowledge must proceed the administration of the Sacraments, as Christ himself modeled to the Apostles in establishing the Church. For only after three years of preaching and educating them did he bestow on them the power to confer the Sacraments and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice. Traditionalists calling themselves clerics were never set up in any way for “the government of the Church,” or they would have nourished the flock, not thrown them to the wolves.


Low on priests and religious to teach the faithful, the popes, beginning with the Vatican Council in 1870, did their utmost to engage Catholics in Catholic Action to fill the gap, with little success. No one rose up to bear the standard handed them by Pope Pius XII to assume the responsibilities of the hierarchy once they had all apostatized. In a column on Communism written by author Solange Hertz for The Wanderer in the 1980s, sent by a reader, we read the following:

“Fr. François Dufay, who witnessed the battle at close quarters in China [in the 1940s], says to lose no time in preparing the Church of the Catacombs: “Take as principle that normal exterior life – liturgy, teaching, apostolate – should continue as far as possible [but only when certainly valid clergy are available — Ed.]. But, at the same time, prepare Christians to preserve their essential religious life in the absence of priests, worship and Sacraments… Prepare memory aids on the dogmas of necessary means, marriage without clergy, perfect contrition, assistance to the dying, Baptism, child education, etc., and place these leaflets in safe places…

It would be good if trustworthy priests of high caliber were to set themselves to living the life of the people. They need profound dogmatic and spiritual formation, especially on the theology of the Church, the meaning and value of persecution and suffering, and should be steeped in the remembrance of the great saints and martyrs of the past. Thus armed, the Christian faith will use its bad times for growth in charity,” making the most of the service Communism will render it by purifying and detaching it from all that is not God here below. And again, “Actually it’s solitaries who must be found and trained, in other words, Christians capable of living their faith all alone, amid the strongest pressures, the most painful happenings and the most forbidding of deserts.”

Gatto was looking to build those strong solitaries among his students. He knew that atheistic materialism — Communism and its forerunner Fabian socialism — had infiltrated the schools. He knew that, as we learn fromthe Catholic Encyclopedia:

“• Intellectual education must not be separated from moral and religious education. To impart knowledge or to develop mental efficiency without building up moral character is not only contrary to psychological law, which requires that all the faculties should be trained but is also fatal both to the individual and to society. No amount of intellectual attainment or culture can serve as a substitute for virtue; on the contrary, the more thorough intellectual education becomes, the greater is the need for sound moral training.

“• Religion should be an essential part of education; it should form not merely an adjunct to instruction in other subjects, but the centre about which these are grouped and the spirit by which they are permeated. The study of nature without any reference to God, or of human ideal with no mention of Jesus Christ, or of human legislation without Divine law is at best a one-sided education. The fact that religious truth finds no place in the curriculum is, of itself, and apart from any open negation of that truth, sufficient to warp the pupil’s mind in such a way and to such an extent that he will feel little concern in his school-days or later for religion in any form; and this result is the more likely to ensue when the curriculum is made to include everything that is worth knowing except the one subject which is of chief importance.

“• Sound moral instruction is impossible apart from religious education. An education which unites the intellectual, moral and religious elements is the best safeguard for the home, since it places on a secure basis the various relations which the family implies.”

Tell that to those who would have us revere credentials received from these halls of “higher learning.” And when these same people advise us to give Traditionalists credit for their alleged accomplishments, when all that these “accomplishments” amount to is decades of skewing the truth, remind them of what Fr. Dufay said above. Ask them how it is that they have secured the salvation of souls and prepared their followers for these times with their perpetual bad example, infighting, immorality, and denial of the necessity of the papacy. They must answer to God for their sins. We are to avoid them, warn others against them and through prayer, penance and self-education, do our best to persevere until the very end.

Fools professing to be wise and attempted marriage clarified

Fools professing to be wise and attempted marriage clarified

+First Saturday+


In the preface to my last blog, I made a point of stating that not all questions would be answered. I also requested that my critics please allow me to complete the full explanation of all statements and terms before prematurely jumping to conclusions. Apparently, that was too much to ask. The latest accusations are that these blogs encourage the dissolution of doubtfully valid marriage contrary to the presumption of validity stated in Can. 1014, and that today marriage before a non-Catholic minister in a religious ceremony, contradicting the clear warnings of canonists, must be considered valid, when this event actually falls under the conditions outlined in Canon 2319 §1. Perhaps I should have indicated in the last blog that a further explanation would be provided later, but I have been trying to adjust what is presented here to the questions raised. While I had already intended to write further on this topic, this specific question now has presented itself and is answered below.

 Meaning of “attempted” in Canon Law

While marriage is not an offense of course, for two Catholics to attempt it before a non-Catholic minister in a religious ceremony is definitely an offense, as Canon 2319 §1 and Pope Pius XII state. Those pretending attempted means the same as actually completed need to follow the rules of the Code and define attempted. Webster’s 7th Collegiate Dictionary defines it as: “1. To TRY: an unsuccessful effort.”  This is simple grade school research that anyone should be capable of conducting. Lest objections be made that the meaning of this word in Canon Law differs from the accepted meaning, the definition of this term from the Code on attempted offenses is provided below.

“Whosoever institutes or omits actions which of their very nature lead to the commission of an offense but does not complete the offense either because he changes his mind or because its completion is impossible owing to the insufficiency or inadequacy of the means is guilty of an attempted offense… If the law decrees a special penalty for an attempted offense, the attempt constitutes a true offense… An attempted offense induces liability which increases in proportion as it approaches nearer to the consummation of the offense although the liability is always less than for the consummated offense” (Canon 2212, °2048 and °2049). This explains why Woywod-Smith state in Can. 2319 that: “The law of the Code has superseded the particular law of the Council of Baltimore [noted in Kinkead’s Baltimore Catechism no. 3, Q. 1040] insofar as the marriage of a Catholic with a non-Catholic before a non-Catholic minister is concerned. But the law of that council remains, we believe, with reference to the marriage or rather attempted marriage of two Catholics before a non-Catholic minister. For the Code does not punish this offense of two Catholics with a latae sententiae censure” (since Canon 2316 mentioned here is only a ferendae sententiae censure).

This is where Traditionalists also err in evaluating these laws, for one of them writes: “Presumption of Validity: Marriage is a unique sacrament because it enjoys the favor of the law.  That means that regardless of the type of doubt which may occur after the attempted contracting of marriage, marriages are presumed valid until and unless they are proven invalid.” But as Woywod-Smith explain below, a doubt concerning validity arising in the case of marriage exists only to certainly contracted marriage. Attempted marriages cannot, by definition, be presumed valid; the parties never achieve the completed act, meaning the contract cannot, by Church law, be entered into. Under Can. 1014 Woywod-Smith state: “If a doubt arises as to the validity of a MARRIAGE CONTRACTED, the validity must be upheld until the contrary is proved. No contract which exercises so important a role as marriage… in the lives of Christians should be set aside unless it is absolutely necessary.” But no marriage is actually contracted in the cases being considered here, only “attempted.”

Under these same canons, Dom Charles Augustine also notes: “The external act committed exists whenever one does something which of itself would lead to the perpetration of a crime but does not consummate the crime itself, either because he gives up the criminal intent or because the means chosen are insufficient or inadequate to produce the criminal effect… If attempts at crime have a determined penalty appointed in the law, they constitute separate crimes,” and as Woywod-Smith note this includes the excommunication from the Baltimore Council in addition to Can. 2316, specifically because the offense was only attempted, but was prevented from actually happening by the laws themselves.

So if the attempt to commit this crime had not been impeded by Canons 1063 and 1094, the crime itself would be complete and would be punished with the latae sententiae censure of Can. 2314. Instead it is punished with a ferendae sententiae penalty which applies only because the act of marriage was not able to be competed under the two canons mentioned. Here the canonists expect those familiar with the Code to understand the nature of an attempted offense, a concept that this author intended to better explain to readers of this blog after further research and a better understanding of this concept.  The words “seemingly” and “appears” were used to acknowledge the fact that all terms had not yet been fully explained.


Two baptized Catholics cannot marry validly in a non-Catholic ceremony even under Can. 1098 when a justice of the peace is available. Woywod-Smith are saying above that an attempted offense is always punished less severely than a consummated offense and that it is impossible for two Catholics to enter into a Catholic marriage under Can. 1094 or the exceptions provided in Can. 1098, which are to be interpreted strictly. There he says that Catholics must not use a non-Catholic minister if a justice of the peace is available and if for some reason they do so must never allow him to use a religious ceremony. Those quoting our articles to critique them mention only those Catholics marrying before a non-Catholic minister, but omit the important part about the religious ceremony to try and make their fictitious “case.” Nearly all Traditionalists and Novus Ordo members, however, engage in such a ceremony. We move on now to further points to help better summarize these blogs.

Timeline for determining marital status

Some will be wondering how one can determine any kind of timeline regarding marriage validity since the advent of Vatican 2. The following is suggested as a general guideline.

— Those baptized in the Catholic Church prior to 1959 and partially raised in the NO – If married before 1963 (some believe this should be 1965) by a priest whose bishop was appointed by Pope Pius XII and had not left his diocese, is valid.

— All marriages between 1963-March 1969, even those performed by priests under bishops appointed by Pope Pius XII who had not left their diocese: doubtfully valid.

— Trads or NO who have been validly baptized, raised in either sect and marry in that sect were validly married in that sect but not in the Catholic Church.

— Those realizing the Novus Ordo or Traditionalist sects were not Catholic who then left one of these sects to pray at home but later returned to them and married in a religious ceremony before one of their ministers: validly married in that sect but not in the Catholic Church.

— Baptisms are considered valid unless proven otherwise in certain cases, although good reason often exists to suspect them following 1968 and the introduction of the new rites.

All the blogs posted on marriage are based on the fact, examined in great detail on this site, that John 23 was not validly elected and could not provide jurisdiction to anyone following the death of Pope Pius XII.  The discrepancy in determining when all this began (1963 vs. 1965) enters in because some believe that the bishops should not be held culpable until the completion of Vatican 2 for failing to recognize that John 23 was a heretic, and the council was not a true ecumenical council. But already in the first session held in 1963 and even before this date, Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton was vehemently pointing out the dangerous direction in which the Church was headed, and he and a few others vehemently protested the propositions proposed at the first session of Vatican 2. Bishops are not permitted to be culpably ignorant; cooperation in heresy is punished with the same penalties as heresy itself. And with heresy comes loss of jurisdiction. Nevertheless, until this question is settled, 1965 can be used as the date in doubtful cases, at least.

Who incurs the censures of Canon 2319 §1

First, we would also like to clarify the meaning of a “sacramental” marriage, since our critics have accused us of assuming that marriage among baptized Catholics outside the Church is not sacramental. “Any two baptized persons, Catholics or not, receive this Sacrament if no diriment impediment blocks their marriage” Sacramental Theology, S.J., Vol. I, p. 378; Rev. Clarence McAuliffe, S.J., 1958). No impediments today, however, apply to us under the emergency law for China. But here we are talking about marriages VALIDLY CONTRACTED, and attempted marriages are never contracted. Even if such marriages were simply unlawful, Rev. Kinkead in his no. 3 catechism tells us that receiving the Sacrament of Marriage unlawfully is a mortal sin and deprives Catholics of the graces of the Sacrament (Q. 1006). Marriages only attempted do not confect the Sacrament, and those marrying validly but unlawfully in ceremonies they believe to be Catholic receive no graces.

 It should not have to be said that attempting marriage in a sect that closely resembles Catholicism, but in reality is not even Catholic, is more reprehensible, even, than marrying in a religious ceremony before a Protestant. At least non-Catholics marrying each other validly contract, in the Church’s eyes, and their ceremonies do not pretend to be something they are not. Their members simply are not contracting in the Catholic Church. The following person are considered to be excommunicated according to our best information from the canonists under the Canons mentioned above.

  • As a general rule, under Can. 2200, two baptized Catholics in the NO or Trad sects who intend Catholic marriage, marrying before one who is not a priest but presents as one: at least material heretics in the external forum, outside the Church and forbidden to receive the Sacraments (Can. 1063, 2260, 2319). On departing from the NO or Traditionalist sects, may later renounce the marriage as attempted only, and under Can. 104 as an act of fraud or error.
  • Those professing to be Catholic with the intellect and means to have discovered that there is serious doubt regarding the liciety and validity of Traditionalist sacraments, but who either attempt marriage before their ministers or remain in their sect despite this knowledge.
  • A couple, one of whom at least, for a time, professed to be a pray-at-home Catholic but later returned to the NO or Traditionalist sect and attempted marriage in that sect.
  • One professing currently to be a pray-at-home Catholic who inexplicably gives way to human respect or for some other unknown reason attempts to marry before a Traditionalist minister in a religious ceremony.

As Woywod-Smith note under Can. 1098 °1120: “The Church does not dispense in cases of necessity from invalidating laws,” and resorting to a non-Catholic religious ceremony in a non-Catholic Church violates Can. 1094, an invalidating law. Canon 2203 also states: “If a person violates a law by the omission of proper diligence or care, the liability is diminished to a degree to be determined from the circumstances at the prudent discretion of the judge. If the offender foresaw the infraction of the law and nevertheless neglected to use those precautions which any prudent person would have employed, the guilt is practically equivalent to deliberate violation of the law…” Here we are forced to be our own judges based on the teachings of the Church in these matters, relying on Canon Law and Church teachings only. Violators of the law are presumed guilty and must prove their innocence as stated in Can. 2200. This could be done by swearing out an affidavit to this effect and including exculpatory documents.

All those mentioned above in the bulleted points eventually become formal heretics under Can. 2314 if they do not repent within six months. There may be some hope for those who are unable to completely understand the theology of the pray-at-home position, or who are in fear for their souls if they leave the Traditionalist movement. Yet still they are bound by the censure for heresy and schism under Can. 2200 until they are able to present a believable case that proves their innocence.

As far as renewing consent goes, this ideally should be done using Can. 1098 as soon as possible and videotaped and dated to create a permanent record. Even in doubt that consent needs to be renewed, as with all the other Sacraments, a (conditional) renewal is the safest course. For those who must leave the marriage for serious reasons or whose partners refuse to commit to the promises not to molest the faith of the one staying at home and agree that the children are to be raised outside these sects under Can. 1098, perhaps it is best to separate for three years. This would allow for the completion of the probationary period prescribed by Canon Law for those guilty of heresy and other crimes. It would also give reluctant partners time to recant and would allow for study, reflection and prayer to prepare for a reunion or possible new marriage. But if there is serious danger of impurity involved in such a lengthy time period, it would not bind one who wished to remarry before completing the probationary period.

The study of marriage and related research will continue, and any additional information, especially anything that would better explain or change what has already been presented, will be reported.

Instructions on marital purity available

Finally, a refutation of a controversy conducted online for years regarding the teachings of St. Alphonsus Liguori on lawful sexual conduct in marriage has been found in two older, most useful and circumspect volumes written by Canon Alois De Smet. See Betrothment and Marriage, p. 206, Vol. 1: Lawfulness of the Sexual Act Between Married Persons. They can be downloaded here: and here:

The foolishness of this world

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice… Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:18 21-22).

I am not concerned about what readers think of my credentials (or lack thereof) or their opinion of me as an individual. Why? Because I don’t rely on either of these things to substantiate what I write. This blog is not about me. As a general rule, I don’t present my own opinions here — and when I do I say so, even though this only invites jeers from my opponents. I present what the popes, the councils, the canonists and approved authors have written themselves, not what I think about what they have written. They can speak quite well for themselves, thank you. We are to believe what they say and obey, not question what was written or taught by the popes and councils or the individuals they designated to expound what they taught. This is not a high school debate club, and Catholic teaching is not up for debate. Why would anyone think that? Well those who have not had the benefit of a Catholic education would believe, as is now popular in the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist circuses, that all theological questions are open to debate. All this tells us is that their education was decidedly secular and/or Novus Ordo and their thinking poisoned by a modern educational system that was even being condemned as anti-Catholic and dangerous in the 1930s. (Search for Crucifying Christ in Our Colleges, by Dan Gilbert, 1935).

The Church’s general attitude towards public schools and universities need hardly be mentioned here. Catholics were always forbidden to attend these schools whenever it was possible to attend a Catholic school; the Code treats of this in canons 1372-1383. I thank God for my Catholic parents who made many sacrifices to send their five children to Catholic elementary school. I also frequently thank Him for the great grace of being able to learn all three levels of the Baltimore Catechism from the Sisters of St. Joseph into eighth grade, and this before the changes of Vatican 2 wracked the Catholic school system. (So no, I already graduated with “A’s” from that level of education so scarcely need to be “re-educated” by rank amateurs.) I pity those who were not able to enjoy this privilege, but as I have said before, Catholics are expected to move on as adults as best they can in these times and obey Pope Pius XII’s command to carry on in the absence of the hierarchy.

(Note: The Kinkead Baltimore Catechism is only a starting point because it does not offer a complete assay of all the Church taught up to the death of Pope Pius XII. Taking on the duties of the hierarchy as Pope Pius XII commands requires much greater study and research. According to this manifestation of his will as a lawgiver, we are obligated to make certain everything is done to obey and uphold “the laws of the Church and ecclesiastical discipline,” as he instructed when commissioning the faithful to supply for the hierarchy. This is why there must be insistence on obeying Canon Law and everything taught by the popes. The Kinkead Baltimore Catechism, which we consider the most reliable, was written prior to the Code and many of the Church’s laws and teachings are therefore not included in the scope of this work, although later editions were updated to some extent. It is our opinion, however, that while approved, some of these later editions are liberal in nature.)


Those touting degrees received from secular or Novus Ordo institutions as evidence of their credentials and superior knowledge are only demonstrating their ignorance of Catholic teaching on this subject. And the higher the level of education even in the best of these cesspools, the worse the effects of the indoctrination received. All PhD means today is excrement piled higher and deeper. Unless re-educated in Catholic institutions truly grounded only in Catholic philosophy, such persons would not be allowed to act as Catholic teachers. Truly Catholic universities were struggling even in the 1940s and 1950s. They died in the 1960’s. Anything after that was nothing but pure heresy, apostasy and licentiousness. Leading Traditional “clergy” received degrees from these secular institutions in addition to their training in so-called seminaries operating outside the laws of the Church. They and their students are the supposed “experts” in law and theology today. And like the elite we see ruling in the political sphere, they rule absolutely. But where does their so-called knowledge issue from? The polluted founts of modernism, rationalism, naturalism, pragmatism, traditionalism and all the many isms that foul these secular institutions, and without the Church they are ALL secular institutions. Even non-Catholic conservatives today are horrified by what is taught in these “hallowed halls” of education.

Christ chose 12 uneducated men to serve as his apostles. Great Roman and Jewish schools of learning existed then, but the apostles had not attended these. Christ Himself comments on this in Matt. 11: 25: “I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones.” And from Acts 4:13: “Now seeing the constancy of Peter and of John, understanding that they were illiterate and ignorant men, they wondered and they knew them, that they had been with Jesus.” Many of the saints had only a basic education; some could not even read or write. If we are to come to Jesus as little children and learn from His lips only, and the lips of His Vicars, we cannot carry with us the hateful philosophies of this world.

There are those who will use the age-old tactic of divide and conquer to try and convince the unwary that only the enlightened ones who have imbibed the teaching of devils blessed by a degree can properly instruct them in spiritual or secular things; thus did the Gnostics deceive many Christians in the early ages. But these tactics will succeed only as far as God allows. We are in His hands and must pray we ever remain there.


“Those already praying at home who now are seeking release from marital situations or suffering from anxiety about the validity of their marriages will be surprised to learn that they are not considered validly married under Canon Law if they were married by a Traditional or Novus Ordo minister whom they believed to be a true priest, but who in fact could not validly witness the marriage.” This is the second paragraph of the first article written on marriage. It is clear from this paragraph that in this series I was addressing ONLY those praying at home or considering the pray-at-home position. Given the consistent stand on this site that Traditionalist and Novus Ordo believers are not Catholic it would be ludicrous to think I was addressing anyone else here as “Catholic.” Any true Catholic who knows about these laws would have an obligation to notify pray-at-home individuals that such laws exist and apply to them. Not to do so would be a grave sin and would definitely not be in keeping with the safer course in all things involving the Sacraments which has always been advocated on this site.

Catholics must have absolute certainty regarding the validity of the Sacraments. A doubtful law has no force only when it involves the lawfulness of an act, not its validity. It is the unanimous opinion of theologians based on the teaching of Bd. Pope Innocent XI that the safer course must always be taken when a doubt concerns the validity of a Sacrament, and it is a mortal sin to do otherwise. Canon 1094 treats of validity, not lawfulness. Unless one renews vows under Can. 1098 after leaving any non-Catholic sect, the contract they made in that sect is not considered valid in the Catholic Church; only when vows are renewed does their marriage become sacramental having been previously invalid. Marriage in non-Catholic sects between two baptized non-Catholics is sacramental in the sense that two validly baptized persons receive the sacrament, but not the full complement of graces necessary to their state; it is sacramental only in a wide sense. For they are not members of Christ’s Mystical Body, which alone assures them of the fullness of those graces. Deny that and you are outside the Church. This will be better explained in a future article.

Those “reeling” at the damage to marriages they claim will follow from making these laws of the Church known must not be very confident in the faith and good will of those praying at home. The “damage” they predict will apply to relatively few; a good number of those praying at home have already renewed their vows. What they seem to be envisioning is the damage that might result if those in the Traditionalist sect start questioning the validity of their marriages. And this would be a bad thing? And is this even a valid concern? As stated before, it is highly unlikely that those in the Novus Ordo or Traditionalist sects will ever leave those sects in large numbers to pray at home. A few here and there perhaps, but that is all. So what are those opposing the release of this information really objecting to and why? Could it be:

  • The laws of the Church, based primarily on papal and conciliar law
  • The fact that we are bound to observe those laws unchanged during an interregnum to remain Catholic
  • That many of these laws and their true import have been suppressed and obscured for decades and are now coming to light
  • That perhaps this might create additional fissures in the already shaky foundations of certain Traditionalist organizations

Honest answers to these questions might help explain their true motives for objecting to these blogs.



Church teaching on marriage woes: Can. 2319 and more

Church teaching on marriage woes: Can. 2319 and more

+Feast of All Saints+

Prayer Intention for November

That each day of this month all prayer associates recite a prayer of  their choice for the Poor Souls

Marriage is a very complex subject requiring careful study and the clarification of many fine distinctions. Those critiquing this difficult canonical work would do well to let the author complete the explanation of the current situation before arriving prematurely at any conclusions. Those involved in serious research, especially, should know that one proceeds from the general to the particular. What is presented below will not answer all questions but should serve to help readers better understand points mentioned in the previous two blog posts. Because of the confusion created by our critics, we must make certain the following is understood.

  • We speak here only of marriage between two certainly baptized Catholics.
  • In cases of marriage, doubtful baptisms are presumed to be valid until proven otherwise.
  • The Church teaches that the marriages of those not Catholic are valid, but not fruitful regarding grace and not recognized by the Church as valid Catholic marriages. This would include Traditionalist and Novus Ordo marriages since these sects are schismatic.
  • The marriage of two Catholics acting in a time period when no Catholic priest is available appear to be invalid if held as a religious ceremony before a non-Catholic minister in a non-Catholic church.
  • It cannot be admitted that an after-the-fact invocation of Can. 1098 as a kind of “supplied jurisdiction” or application of epikeia can be said to validate Novus Ordo or Traditionalist marriages given the implications of Can. 2319.
  • The only situation anticipated in these discussions is that of a Traditionalist or Novus Ordo person who decides to become a pray-at-home Catholic, renounces his/her previous errors, makes a Profession of Faith, arrives at moral certainty that the marriage was not valid and now wishes to rectify matters.

Excommunication for marriage by a non-Catholic minister

In an article on Can. 1098 for The Jurist,” pgs. 168-69, 1954, we read: “Nothing prevents an action that complies with the requirements of the law from being validThey may also marry before a non-Catholic minister, not as a minister of religion but as an official empowered by civil law to witness marriages; he must not be allowed to use any religious ceremony, as is seen in Canon 1063” (The History and Application of Canon 1098, John De Reeper, MHF). Can. 1063 was officially interpreted by Pope Pius XII as will be seen below.

Traditionalists do not comply with the requirements of the law; they marry in a religious ceremony before their “priests” as ministers of religion. They marry before them believing they are priests when they are not, which alone invalidates the act, (Can. 104): “Error annuls an action, when the error concerns the substance of the action or amounts to a conditio sine qua non — that is to say, if the action would not have been done except for the error [in this case that the minister was a valid Catholic priest authorized to witness marriages]; otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states otherwise…” (Can. 104). “Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition sine qua non. Any other error leaves the act valid unless the law provides otherwise” (Revs. Bouscaren-Ellis, Canon Law, a Text and Commentary, 1946).

If it had been possible for Traditionalists to understand that the men officiating at their marriage could not be official witnesses as the Church requires for validity; or (validly) or licitly celebrate a nuptial mass; or validly hear their confession before the wedding; if this had been explained to them and understood, would they really have gone through with it? The condition sine qua non here is a valid priest actually delegated for the ceremony by a valid bishop. Can. 1094 makes this a condition of validity for the marriage. Traditionalists believed themselves married before a certainly valid priest, but this was not the case; it was an error, amounting to fraud. Furthermore, the canonists Woywod-Smith, under the heading: Mixed Marriages Before Non-Catholic Minister…,” (Can. 2319 ° 2167) state that: “Many commentators restrict the penalty to Catholics who marry a non-Catholic, but some commentators (Cappello, others) assert that the penalty is incurred also by two Catholics who give or renew the marriage consent before a non-Catholic minister as minister of religion. Two Catholics who marry before a non-Catholic minister are guilty of the offence of Can. 2316…” [IF, in fulfilling Can. 1098, they avail themselves of a non-Catholic religious ceremony when they could merely have gone to a justice of the peace].

“The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore punished with ipso facto excommunication reserved to the local ordinary Catholics who contracted or attempted to contract marriage before the minister of any non-Catholic sect. The law of the Code has superseded the particular law of the Council of Baltimore insofar as the marriage of a Catholic with a non-Catholic before a non-Catholic minister is concerned. But the law of that Council remains, we believe, WITH REFERENCE TO THE MARRIAGE, OR RATHER ATTEMPTED MARRIAGE, of two Catholics before a non-Catholic minister, for the Code does not punish the offense of two Catholics with a latae sententiae censure [Can. 2316 is considered to be a ferendae sententiae censure]. Canon 2221 empowers the legislators to enforce both the divine and ecclesiastical laws with penalties or to increase the penalty decreed by law (Canon 2244,°2085).” Rev. Ignatius Szal writes in his Communication of Catholics with Schismatics (1948) that the Council of Baltimore excommunication additionally applies because it is a particular law considered as still in effect under Can. 6 no. 5 of the Code. Since this excommunication is mentioned under Can. 1063, it is considered to be retained in the Code.

Under Can. 1098, Woywod comments regarding the use of a non-Catholic minister: “The parties are justified in going to a justice of the peace or any other official of the government who is entitled to witness marriages so that their marriage may have the recognition of the civil law. They can also marry before a non-Catholic minister, not as a minister of religion but as an official entitled by civil law to witness marriages. They must not allow him to use any religious ceremony If they can without great difficulty approach a civil official entitled to witness marriages, there is no reason to go to the non-Catholic minister.”

Woywod-Smith seem to be explaining above that because no latae sententiae sentence is prescribed for two Catholics marrying in a religious ceremony before a non-Catholic minister, this is only an attempted marriage; otherwise the two parties would only be subject to the one excommunication under Can. 1063. Under Can. 2316, both parties also are guilty of an act of communicatio in sacris and incur ipso facto the censure for suspicion of heresyAfter six months, if the parties have become aware of their delict and its consequences but have not amended, they are considered formal heretics (Can. 2315). The two citations below mention both marriages actually contracted (mixed marriage, which according to a 1925 private decision of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments is valid but illicit) and attempted marriage (between two Catholics).

To approach a non-Catholic minister as such for marriage is to communicate formally with him in sacred things. Such action is a manifest participation in the sacred things of non-Catholics, and a recognition of their cult. All those who formally co-operate in the non-Catholic marriage ceremony of a Catholic are likewise guilty of the sin of religious communication. Some co-operators can incur the excommunication which is incurred by Catholics contracting or attempting such a marriage. Those who command, and all others who so induce the consummation of a delict, or so concur in it in any way, that the delict would not have been perpetrated without the command or concurrence are bound by the censure.'” (Rev. John R. Bancroft, C.SS.R., J.C.B., S.T.L., Communication. in Religious Worship with Non-Catholics, 1946). 

Pope Pius XII clarifies the application of Can. 2319 §1 as follows:

Qualifying Clause of Canon 2319 §1 no. 1 Expunged

Pope Pius XII, Motu proprio, 25 December 1953 AAS 46-88

“The good of the Church demands that we take all possible care that the stability of Canon Law be not endangered by the uncertain opinions and conjectures of private parties regarding the true sense of the canons and that interpretations which rest on subtleties and cavils against the clear will of the of the legislator do not result in undue indulgence toward violators of the law, a thing which disrupts the nerve of ecclesiastical discipline. But certain interpreters of the sacred canons, paying too little attention to these considerations, have extenuated the force of canon 2319 §1, no. 1 and, relying too much on the prescription of Canon 1063 §1 to which it makes reference, have taught that not every marriage contracted or attempted by Catholics before a non-Catholic minister is punished by excommunication reserved to the Ordinary.

Accordingly, lest the faithful, no longer fearing the penalty, might dare to commit such crime We, after consulting the most eminent and most reverend fathers of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, of Our own motion and in the plenitude of Our Apostolic authority, decreed and ordained that the words “Contra praescriptum canonis 1063 §1” be expunged from Canon 2319 §1 no. 1. We order also that this Apostolic letter, given of Our own motion, be published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.”

This seems to indicate that both those contracting mixed marriage AND those attempting marriage do incur the excommunication. The separate treatment of those who have contracted marriage and attempted marriage indicates that here Pope Pius XII is considering two distinct situations. The question asked in the 1925 decision on mixed marriage was: “Is mixed marriage before a Protestant minister valid if conditions of Canon 1098 for marriage before witnesses only are verified?”  Reply: if all the conditions which are required by Canon 1098 for the validity of marriages before witnesses only are verified, the circumstances that such marriages were blessed in a non-Catholic church is an argument not against validity but against licitness.” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. IV, Can. 1098). This does not indicate that these marriages, however, were celebrated in a Protestant or schismatic ceremony; only that they were celebrated before a Protestant minister without the proper dispensation required before marrying a non-Catholic at that time. Yet according to what Woywod-Smith state above, this same application of Can. 1098 would not apply to the marriage of two Catholics.

But Can. 1014 states marriage is always presumed to be valid

Yes it does, but presumption must yield to truth. The truth here seems to be that two baptized Catholics presenting before a non-Catholic minister and engaging in a religious ceremony only attempt marriage; there IS no presumption that it ever existed. Novus Ordo adherents and Traditionalists almost always solemnize marriage in a flashy religious ceremony. Yet they are not commissioned to be, nor could they ever be so commissioned, as official witnesses for the true Church under Can. 1094. They are non-Catholic sects claiming to be Catholic, just as the Anglicans long claimed to be. It would be ridiculous to think that two baptized Catholics could expect to be joined in a valid Catholic union outside their own Church that results in an excommunication excluding them from Church membership and reception of the sacraments.

Renewal of consent

This is covered under Canons 1136 and 1137. Canon 1136 states: “A marriage which is invalid through lack of consent is validated if the party who did not consent now gives his consent provided the consent of the other party continues. If the lack of consent was merely internal it suffices that the party who did not consent now gives consent by an internal act. If the lack of consent was manifested also outwardly, it is necessary to renew the consent outwardly, either in the form prescribed by law, when the absence of consent was public, or in some private and secret but external manner if the lack of consent was occult.” Woywod-Smith comment:” In the chapter dealing with matrimonial consent, (Canons 1081-93), the Code treats of the various forms of defective consent: consent vitiated by ignorance, by error, by fear and force and by a condition attached.” This is where Can. 104 enters in, regarding error but also indirectly a condition.

One who marries believing the minister consulted is a witness acting in the official capacity of the Church when this is not the case has made an error that nullifies the act performed; that of giving consent according to the laws of the Church. Were it not for the fact that these attempted marriages involved a participation in a non-Catholic ceremony, they might be said to be valid; but almost always an actual ceremony is involved. The condition sine qua non for the validity of a Catholic marriage is a true priest possessing the proper delegation by the Church to officiate at the marriage. Technically these marriages are invalid for lack of form: they are only attempted marriages. But one is not aware of this unless it is first realized that the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist sects are not able to validly witness marriages followed by a religious ceremony. And this is not to mention that in the external forum one incurs an excommunication and suspicion of heresy. As Woywod-Smith note under Can. 1098 °1120: “The Church does not dispense in cases of necessity from invalidating laws,” and resorting to a religious ceremony in a non-Catholic Church invalidates the attempted marriage.

Canon 1137 reads: “To validate a marriage which was nullified by a defect in the form it must be contracted again in the legitimate form.” Woywod-Smith comment: “If the parties were married outside the Church, if the priest who witnessed the marriage was not properly qualified, or if two qualified witnesses were not present, the marriage is null and void, and such a marriage can be validated in no other way then by the observance of the prescribed form of marriage. The rule here stated is now general application for all marriages in which at least one of the parties is subject to the law of the Code on the form of marriage. If one of the parties cannot be persuaded to validate the marriage before the authorized priest and witnesses, as happens quite frequently in mixed marriages contracted outside the Church, nothing remains but to get the sanatio in radice to validate the marriage.” And this is available first from the bishop, then the pope, which sadly are not available to us. This covers marriages before Novus Ordo and Traditionalist ministers who were not qualified witnesses and whose ceremonies are not Catholic.

Some canonists have opined that Can.1098 and the China exemptions automatically legitimate all these marriages or prove them able to be legitimated. This may have been true when we still had a true pope and bishops, in a sort of supplied jurisdiction manner, but it is not true today. Can. 1098 is an exception to the law and is to be interpreted strictly. Canon 19 states: “Laws which… establish an exception to the law must be interpreted in a strict sense.” Woywod-Smith comment: “These classes of laws are considered odious. It may seem strange that a law which contains an exception from the general law is called odious whereas in fact it may be very acceptable. However, it is a recognized principle of legislation to favor the universal or common law and to discourage exceptions. Archbishop Cicognani writes in his Canon Law that: “Things deviating from the common law are in no respect to be drawn into precedent. That which is granted gratuitously to one person ought not to be drawn into precedent by others; for whatever is granted to a person contrary to the common law is odious even though the exception be established by law.”

Of course today, Can. 1098 is the only law Catholics can observe, where, as a general rule, while the Church still existed, it was resorted to only occasionally. But it could never be used to “cover” those marriages which the Church holds to be only attempted, not actual. And as we will show below in the appendix, the China exemptions only apply to us today to a certain extent. For they too are exceptions to the law permitted under certain circumstances and cannot be stretched beyond the intended will of the legislator. Next, we will see where all the above leaves us in regard to marriage today.


We are not worried here about those who will remain in the Novus Ordo or Traditionalist sects and believe themselves to be married in the Catholic Church. They marry validly in their own sects but are not Catholic; they are not members of the Church, nor are they married in the Catholic Church. If both parties, baptized in the Catholic Church and married in a solemn ceremony by a Novus Ordo or a Traditionalist minister should leave one of these sects or another non-Catholic sect to pray at home, they would need to observe the following order, adapted from Pastoral Companion, Fr. Honoratus Bonzelet, O.F.M., 1939:

  1. If there are serious doubts concerning Baptism in a particular case, conditional baptism may be given. Otherwise, a renewal of baptismal vows.
  2. A profession of faith must be made.
  3. This must be followed by an examination of conscience and a Perfect Act of Contrition, then Spiritual Communion.
  4. The couple must publicly renew their consent under Can. 1098, before two (preferably Catholic) witnesses and keep a record of the ceremony. In a Can. 1098 ceremony, any civil official or judge, even a ship’s captain, could witness the marriage. But ideally a Catholic male friend can officiate and witness the recital of the vows. The marriage can then be registered with the state. It can be a marriage (or renewal of vows) just as lovely as any other marriage ceremony.
  5. A three-year period of penance and amendment should begin, to satisfiy canonical requirements regarding return from heresy and schism.

Should one party wish not to renew consent but promises not to molest the faith of the one staying at home and agree that the children are to be raised outside these sects, the consent of the Catholic party wishing to pray at home is sufficient. If this is not possible, then the one converting may proceed as though there was never a marriage to begin with, because this is what Canon Law teaches. All cases would need to be submitted to the Holy See for examination and rectification should a true pope ever be elected, but that is highly unlikely. Catholics must abide by the marriage laws of the Church, not cater to the feelings or perceived needs of those involved in non-Catholic sects, offering them assurances that all is well when this is far from the case. Pope Pius XII says we must obey the laws of the Church if we wish to be counted as members of the Mystical Body (Mystici Corporis).

There are concerns about the motives of certain individuals calling themselves pray-at-home Catholics, and they are justified. Fr. Bonzelet writes: “Converts should be received with great care, especially if they are strangers to the pastor. The pastor should above all try to ascertain their motives. If material considerations (intended marriage) are compelling motives, he should apprise them that such motives are not sufficient. He should not, however, for that reason refuse to instruct them, since grace often builds up on extrinsic and natural motives.” There is no longer anyone to “vet” those who seemingly wish to leave these non-Catholic sects.  There are deep concerns about those claiming to be newly converted given the fact that some might simply pretend to convert, then leave and publicly denounce those praying at home to shame them; or simulate conversion solely to justify leaving a spouse. All of this must rest solely on the consciences of those reading what is written here – no one is demanding that anyone do anything. Each person must decide for themselves what is true for their own situation. This was made clear from the beginning. Free will is just that — we answer to God for all our choices. This is why it is suggested that anyone wishing to become a pray-at-home Catholic spend three years on probation so to speak, but all of this must be on the honor system. The Internet is no guarantee of anything. We can only tell readers what the Church teaches and after that, we are at the mercy of the good will and honesty of others.


Marriage decision of the Holy Office issued for China During Communist Rule

We do not (yet) live in a Communist country and are still free to follow many of the Church’s laws that did not and could not apply to the Chinese. The Church was especially concerned that the cautiones or promise that the children be baptized and educated as Catholics be at least given sincerely at the time of the marriage, even if they could not later be fulfilled.

Can the China law be applied to marriages taking place today, now that its existence is known? Only very cautiously and to the extent that is necessary. This is because the reply to the original decree explains that the positive law must be observed whenever it is able to be observed. The need for canonical form and even the witnesses is lifted in rare cases where Communist oppression was at its worst, according to one Spanish canonist, but we can easily use the correct form under Can. 1098 and find witnesses, even if they are non-Catholics. The lifting of the impediments is what mainly applies here, because there is no one to determine when or if they may be lifted and no appeal to Rome is now possible. Can the decree “retroactively” apply to past cases? Only if there is a question of impediments and whether or not they applied at the time of the marriage. This seems to be in harmony with the decree.

Here the distinction must be made between a declaratory decision or decree by the Holy See and an authentic interpretation. On Dec. 21, 1949, the Holy Office explained that the decree on China given in January of that year: “…has the nature of a declarative interpretation and hence can be applied retroactively and in other territories only to the extent that it deals with prescriptions of positive law which in view of extraordinary circumstances in the territory cannot be observed as to other matters it has the character of a positive provision which is not retroactive nor applicable in territories not mentioned in the decree” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. IV, p. 330).

Abp. Amleto Cicognani in his Canon Law explains that: “Interpretation is authoritative if it is given by a superior who possesses public authority. Laws are authoritatively interpreted by the lawmaker and his successor and by those to whom the lawmaker has committed the power to interpret the laws (Can. 17 §1). Cicognani goes on to explain that interpretation is merely declarative when it explains “terms of the law which are in themselves certain; declaratory properly so-called when it explains really doubtful and obscure terms of law,” which it does in this case. An authentic interpretation of the Code can be given only by the commission set up by Pope Benedict XV for the authentic interpretation of canon law. Can. 17 §2 reads further: “The authoritative interpretation of the law, given in the form of law, has the same force as the law itself; if it merely declares the meaning of the words of the law that were certain in themselves the interpretation need not be promulgated, and it has retroactive effect; if the interpretation restricts or extends the original law or explains a doubtful law, such interpretation does not have retroactive effect and must be promulgated.” The China decree is the latter.

This Dec. 21, 1949 reply was private and appears never to have been officially promulgated, as it is not appended to the Code, nor is it listed as being entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Therefore it does not actually have the force of law accorded to the canons. The canons must apply first, whenever they can be obeyed and only in emergency circumstances beyond the lifting of impediments would the China decree be able to be extended to cover marital situations. And while these impediments can be said to have been retroactively lifted in all cases, this does not change the fact that two Catholics marrying before a non-Catholic minister in a religious ceremony only attempt marriage and additionally incur suspicion of heresy under Can. 2316, in addition to excommunication under 2319 §1.