Feast of the Holy Rosary
The Celtic term Sogarth Aroon means beloved or precious priest. It is taken from a poem written by 19th century Irish poet John Banim, memorializing the tender care provided him by his local parish priest. The term reflects centuries of persecution of Irish Catholics by the British, who often were left priest-less and without the Sacraments. Any priest found who could minister to the Irish in those dark days was indeed “precious.” A shining modern example of a “precious priest” would be the Irish priest Father Willie Doyle, a chaplain during World War I. The works written on his life tell the tale of a deeply spiritual and devoted priest loved by the men he served.
Banim’s poem rightfully commends those brave priests and devoted parish priests who risked their lives and health to fulfill the obligations imposed at ordination. But the downside of the circumstances experienced both by Irish and British Catholics, (and later, to those behind the Iron Curtain), resulted in a dangerous attitude which carried over to American soil. In America, as Irish and American Catholic history attests, Irish immigrants were persecuted for their faith and once again exposed to a lack of priests on the American frontier. Certain areas of the U.S. were still considered missionary territory when the false Vatican 2 council convened.
So priests indeed remained precious. And Catholics remained “priest-hungry,” especially in light of the priest shortage that began long before the death of Pope Pius XII. Following their exodus from the Novus Ordo church in Rome in the 1960s-70s, Catholics generally believed that unless they had access to Mass and Sacraments, they could not receive the graces necessary to gain heaven. This mistaken belief, fostered by Traditionalist clergy who surfaced after the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, prompted Catholics exiting the Novus Ordo to find priests without any thought of checking their credentials or studying the matter to see what the Church has required in similar times to guarantee purity of faith.
Those convinced they must have Mass and Sacraments at any cost made little gods of these “priests,” when most of them were not even validly ordained. And even though there were legitimate questions raised by the disenchanted and complaints made about their validity, liceity or conduct, there were always “loyal” followers who shouted the naysayers down, willing to do anything to keep their precious priests. And so the compromises and denial began, and eventually anyone with a collar calling themselves a priest — regardless of any purported credentials — became eligible to head a congregation. The focus was not the truth, it was not what Christ taught while on earth, it was not the constant teaching of the Church throughout the ages. The focus was on the precious priests and a handful of precious “bishops” willing to ordain more of them and consecrate other bishops.
Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee. I want my Sacraments and my Mass, my graces, my ticket to heaven. I want my precious priest to make myself look legitimate to my family and community, to carry my questions and troubles to. Everyone else has a pastor and a church, why can’t I have one? This is “Catholic” entitlement at its best. “After all,” they will scream at you, “the Church as it was constituted by Christ will last forever, right? We will always have the Mass and the Sacraments. And if you don’t accept that, then you are not Catholic, you crazy stay-at-home people. I don’t care what Francis says; I don’t obey him in the things he teaches that aren’t really Catholic.” But do you really think a true pope could ever publicly teach something that is not Catholic?!
NEWSFLASH: The Church as Christ constituted it consisted of Christ, the invisible Head; St. Peter the visible head; the Apostles subject to St. Peter and his successors and only then, the priests subject to their bishops who granted them short-term, delegated jurisdiction, subject to expiration, review and revocation. If you don’t obey Francis in all things, then you have already admitted the Church doesn’t have a true pope and you are not part of that church. No one who refuses to obey a real pope can remain a member in good standing, or a member of any kind; it is a dogma of faith. And while Traditionalists are condemning stay-at-homes for denying the Church’s indefectibility, they are making a laughingstock of themselves.
Christ constituted the Church with Peter as its necessarily visible head; the bishops can function validly only in communion with and with the approval of a canonically elected Roman Pontiff. All of this is Church teaching binding on Catholics. So if Christ promised that the Church as He constituted it would last forever, where is Peter given that Francis is not a true pope? How can Traditionalists accuse others of impugning indefectibility when they cannot even fulfill the Church’s definition of that dogma themselves?
Are they calling Christ a liar for allowing this extended vacancy of the papal see if they claim that the Church must always exist as Christ constituted it, and yet it does not? Because in essence, that is what they are doing, although few will admit it. They have no basis as a movement or whatever they wish to call themselves for championing indefectibility when they themselves do not satisfy the definition of that term. The only person Christ guaranteed as indefectible in faith was the Roman Pontiff; not the priests, not the bishops, not even the cardinals.
The Church is indefectible, yes; but as approved theologians have noted, the Church primarily is the Vicar of Christ, and only secondarily the entire body of faithful including the hierarchy. The laity can be considered the Church only in times of persecution and calamity, and even then, only if they abide by the teachings of the continual magisterium and ecclesiastical discipline. The Sogarth Aroon was indeed precious; he exists no more. This is the Divine Punishment Christ has laid upon us for disobeying His Vicars and valuing exterior religion over the interior life.
Hear His words in Chapter II of the Apocalypse, where he tells St. John concerning the Church of Ephesus: “Be mindful from whence thou art fallen… do penance, and do thy first works.… Or else I will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance.” The candlestick Rev. E.S. Berry interprets here as the Church, removed from the faithful “by means of persecution, heresy, apostasy and schism. Only too often has this threat been carried out in the history of the Church.” In another place he writes, “Candlesticks represents all churches throughout the world for all time (The Apocalypse of St. John, 1921). But of course, Traditionalists and others claiming the name Catholic do not believe this could ever happen to them.
More importantly, the prophet Daniel foretold the Sacrifice would cease. That his words apply to the Holy Sacrifice and not just the Jewish sacrifice is the unanimous teaching of the Ancient Fathers, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St, Francis de Sales and others. The Vatican Council teaches that when the Fathers agree unanimously on the meaning of a Scripture passage, this constitutes a rule of faith; it cannot be refuted. The Catholic Mass did cease; Traditionalists had no right to celebrate it, and no, Quo Primum did not give them that right. For the very validity of their orders and possession of any remining jurisdiction (in the early years following the death of Pope Pius XII) was in question.
If validly ordained, they were bound under Canon Law to offer Mass privately, with no one in attendance, and no one receiving the Sacraments, because whatever jurisdiction they may have possessed quickly expired, in nearly all cases. Those doubtfully ordained could not function in any way until a true pope ruled on the validity of their orders. Even the attempt to function rendered their acts null and void, according to Canon Law and the teaching of Pope Pius XII. But those following the church in Rome, even though they may find Francis contemptible, will not accept the fact he was a heretic pre-election, and Traditionalists refuse to seriously consider the abundant proofs that John 23 was never validly elected, wiping out his so-called successors.
Drexelius in his classic spiritual work Heliotropium comments that the theologians teach God’s will is expressed in His laws and precepts; these include the laws made by His Vicars, which He has bound in Heaven. Unless we do God’s will, we cannot hope to merit eternal salvation. We find proof of this in Holy Scripture, where we read: “Not everyone who saith to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doth the will of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 7: 21). St. Cyprian tells us that the will of God is what Christ has done and taught. For Christ came down from Heaven, “not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38).
In the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before His death, Christ renewed His intent to obey His Father in all things. He willed to suffer a horrible agony and death to accomplish that obedience and our redemption. He told His disciples that on the other side of this horrible suffering and ignominy was new life, the Resurrection. And still they begged Him not to do His Father’s will; to escape His fate instead. Many beg us to escape our own suffering and forget we must obey. They urge us to attend illicit or invalid Masses and receive invalid or sacrilegious Sacraments; to place ourselves under some invalidly ordained and/or consecrated cleric. Like Christ, we have only one choice we can make if we are to accomplish our eternal goal.