No. 40 November 2006

Regnavit a ligno Deus

November 1, 2006
Feast of All Saints

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

After the term break during the second half of September, the Seminary is now well headed towards the goal of the year, final exams, then retreats in preparation for the reception of the Tonsure and every one of the orders, culminating in the second ordinations to the priesthood at Holy Cross, on Wednesday December 27. You are all warmly invited to attend this ceremony, so important for the Society and for the Church. Three deacons will receive the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the hands of His Lordship Bishop Richard N. Williamson during the Pontifical High Mass that will be celebrated in a tent outdoors, as last year. Lunch will be provided, so that everyone can stay back to receive the First Blessings of the newly ordained priests, and so that we can celebrate this day together as a feast in honor of the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The First Masses, the following day, December 28, will be celebrated by Fathers Johnson, Lavin and Curtis at 7:00, 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. respectively.

Procession with the relic of the True Cross

The procession with the relic of the True Cross makes its way around the Seminary
on the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Sunday September 17,
held firmly in the hands of Father Juan-Carlos Ortiz.

Work projects have of necessity slowed down. However, the painting and carpeting of the storage sacristy was completed just a couple of weeks ago, so that the sacristans were able to move in all the sacristy items that had been spread in diverse places. Attention is now being focused on completing the second house for faculty members on the Seminary grounds, whose remodeling has been ongoing for several months. However, the tiling and plumbing in the bathroom is now completed, and finish trim and painting are presently being done.


I have been asked what we ought to think of the rumors that are now intensely circulating concerning a new Indult or Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, supposedly approving and even encouraging a much more general celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. Although at the date of writing there is no firm proof of the existence of such a document, it seems likely, on account of the many reports, that it is at least in the process of being prepared. It seems that the “backbone” of the document hinges on the principle “there is only one Latin rite, with two forms: the ordinary (Paul VI) and the extraordinary (St. Pius V)” and that “these two forms have equal rights” (D.I.C.I. §144), and that this would give to the Tridentine Mass the status of “extraordinary universal rite”.

However, even this principle is contested by the Congregation for Divine Worship, objecting that two rites cannot coexist at the same time, and that the very existence of the traditional rite is an enemy of reform, for “Can a church have two rites, according to two different appreciations of the Council?” (Ib.) The French episcopacy is likewise concerned because “the risk of loosening the links of full affiliation of these particular faithful with their diocesan church does not seem to us opportune” (Card. Ricard in D.I.C.I. Ib.)

Some have optimistically interpreted this as Rome’s return to Tradition; others have hailed it as an official approval of the work of the Society, and of its “re-incorporation” into the conciliar church. More realistic is the opinion that the Pope is using these rumors to create discussion and to push consensus in a more conservative direction, allowing greater freedom to the traditional Mass but without questioning the new orientations of Vatican II. This would then be simply the next stage in the constant evolution of the Church that would make it always new, due to the constant pulling in opposing directions of liberals and conservatives, accomplishing the inevitable Hegelian dialectic that makes reality and that has henceforth taken the place of the Truth. We shall see if and when Rome feels that it has found enough collegial consensus amongst the modern bishops to actually publish such a document. We do not question that such a document would produce many good effects, for the more traditional Masses that are the celebrated, the greater the blessings that will be received by the faithful, regardless of the defect of intentions.


However, it is impossible to accept that the two rites should have “equal rights”. Why? It is quite simply that one is a Catholic Mass and the other is not. The whole question of the Faith, that the Mass expresses, professes and nourishes, has been left out of this legalistic discussion, and yet what could be more crucial? For as long as it is omitted, the resolution will not be Catholic. Pope Pius XII very pertinently highlighted the close connection that exists between the Mass and the Faith, defining “the relationship between Faith and the sacred Liturgy in absolute and general terms” as “Let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer”. (Mediator Dei, §48). As all freely acknowledge, the Mass of Paul VI is a different rule of prayer for it expresses a different rule of belief. The question is simply whether or that new rule of belief places the true, unchanging and Catholic Faith in jeopardy.

The details of the changes in the liturgical ceremonies and prayers introduced by Pope Paul VI are clear to many persons who have assisted at both Masses. The difficulty that folks sometimes experience is that of reflecting on what the changes really mean, that is of putting them together as a whole and seeing the systematic and logical coherency that drives and motivates them, and consequently the differences of Faith that underlie them. The deliberate obscurity and ambiguity of the new Paschal Mystery theology, combined with the use of the technique of deliberate omission to bring about a practical denial of certain truths, exacerbate this difficulty. Nevertheless a careful study (Cf. The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, Angelus Press, 2001) demonstrates the close interior connection between all the changes and the theological principles upon which they are based.


The first and most obvious sign of the New Mass’s rupture with the Faith is the exaltation of the Resurrection and diminution of the gravity of sin, of the necessity for Penance and satisfaction and the role of the Passion as a reparation for sin. In fact, one of the four purposes of the Mass – expiation - has been removed from the New Mass, just as vicarious satisfaction has been removed from the modern explanation of the mystery of the Redemption. Christ’s death is no longer considered as the payment to Divine Justice of the debt of our sins (as frequently described in Sacred Scripture), but simply as the manifestation of His love. The deliberate and consistent omission, in numerous ways, from the New Mass to state that it is any more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is tantamount to an implicit denial of the dogma defined by the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass is only one of praise and thanksgiving…but not one of propitiation…or that it ought not to be offered…for sins, punishments, satisfactions…let him be anathema” (Session xxii, Can 3).


A second rupture with Catholic theology is the New Mass’s presentation of the Eucharist as essentially a memorial, rather than a sacrificial act. It is spoken of as “a memorial of the Last Supper” and of the Paschal Mystery, by which is meant chiefly the Resurrection and no longer the Passion. Such a memorial is said to represent the Christ’s death and resurrection not as an unbloody renewal of the one sacrifice of the Cross, not then as a true and proper sacrifice, but simply in the sense that it brings Christ’s redemption and victory to mind. Hence the acclamation of the second coming that immediately follows the consecration. It is difficult not to see a radical rupture with the same Canon of the Council of Trent that states: “If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass…is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the Cross…let him be anathema”.

The relic of the True Cross returns in procession to the main entrance of the Seminary at the end of the procession.


A third rupture concerns the very idea of Christ’s presence in the Mass. The Real Presence brought about by transsubstantiation, by which Christ is “truly, really and substantially” present as victim, under the veil of the sacramental species, has been evacuated, and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament greatly reduced. In its place has been substituted Christ’s spiritual presence in the Word and in the congregation or assembly where two or three are gathered in his name. Without being a direct denial of the Real Presence, it is nevertheless not an accident, but is a direct consequence of a whole new notion of the sacraments. They are no longer considered as the outward signs that give the grace they symbolize, but rather as symbols that make sacred things present.

Thus the term sacrament is no longer limited to the seven sacraments, but is now applied to every visible sign that is a mystery, that is that makes a sacred reality present by evincing an act of Faith. In this way Christ is considered a sacrament, making God present to the believer, and the Church is considered as a sacrament, making Christ present. The new definition of the Church contained in Vatican II is not an accident, but entirely in conformity with this new theology: “The Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (Lumen gentium, §1).

Widening the concept of a sacrament, and reducing it to a symbol that presents the divine, that is the occasion of a religious experience, is redolent of immanentism, that aspect of modernism that reduces religion to an experience of God within oneself condemned by Saint Pius X in 1907. Extending the term sacrament to all such symbols rids the seven sacraments of the specificity that is theirs, namely of acting ex opere operato to produce grace. Follows the constant emphasis on other “sacraments”, such as the experience of community and of the word of God, at the expense of the seven sacraments. Is this not dangerously close to Protestantism, and is there not a danger of falling under one or other of the following anathemas?:

“If anyone shall say that there are more or less than seven (sacraments)…let him be anathema”

“If anyone shall say that these sacraments have been instituted for the nourishing of the Faith alone…let him be anathema”

“If anyone shall say that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify, or that they do not confer that grace…let him be anathema”

“If anyone shall say that by the said sacraments of the New Law, grace is not conferred from the work which has been worked (ex opere operato), but that faith alone in the divine promises suffices to obtain grace: let him be anathema” (Canons 1, 5, 6, & 8; Session vii, Council of Trent).

Innumerable examples can be given to illustrate these points – whether it be the prayers of the Ordinary of the Mass (e.g. omission of the Offertory), whether it be the proper prayers of the collects (e.g. omitting the fear of judgment or hell or the need for purification from sin), whether it be the gestures (omission of most of the signs of the Cross and genuflections), whether it be the church’s configuration (e.g. place of the altar and tabernacle), whether it be the absence of any precautions to prevent desecration of particles containing the Real Presence (e.g. Communion in the hand and no purification of chalice and paten). But above all, if we maintain the big, overall picture, we will understand why it is that the New Mass is a grave danger to the Catholic Faith, why it lacks the integral profession of Faith that is essential to the Sacred Liturgy, and consequently why it is evil, lacking the good that it ought to have.

Consequence: we cannot accept to have two Masses side by side. We cannot attend traditional Masses celebrated by priests who still celebrate the New Mass, or who do not see any problem with it. We cannot accept to regularly share altars and churches with the post-conciliar Mass. We must continue to revendicate the rights of Tradition, namely that there is only one true, Catholic, Latin right Mass and it is the Tridentine Mass, and it is the complete profession of the Catholic Faith and the rejection of the errors of Vatican II. Here lies the reason why our Superior General, Bishop Fellay, has consistently refused to compromise with the Roman authorities and look for any other than the true solution to the crisis.

Let us at the same time maintain our Faith that God will not abandon His Church, and a supernatural hope that does not rely upon human means, nor expect a resolution of the crisis from such political endeavors as this new Indult (if it ever appears). Our hope is in our sovereign high Priest, priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech, who has not and will not abandon His Church, nor leave it without the true Mass and sacraments. Our hope is in his Holy Mother, Co-Redemptrix & Mediatrix of all graces, who will continue to apply her Divine Son's infinite merits to our souls by her all powerful prayers.

Father Peter R. Scott

Sacristans clean the newly remodeled storage sacristy
in preparation for the moving in of liturgical items on October 14, 2006.


Sacristan, Mr. Jonathan Anthony,
moves vestments into the newly installed vestment chest in the storage sacristy.

Head sacristan, Mr. Mark Hardess,
moves a variety of liturgical items
into the storage sacristy on October 14.


Please make a note of the following public events, in which all our friends and benefactors are invited to participate:

Priestly Ordinations.

Sat. Dec.23:

 9:30 a.m. Ordinations to the Minor Orders and to the Subdiaconate.
  Sat. Dec.23:  3:00 a.m. Confirmations
  Wed.Dec. 27:  9:00 a.m. Priestly Ordinations.
  Thur. Dec.28:   First Masses of newly ordained priests.
     7:00 a.m. Reverend Father Robert Michael Johnson
     8:30 a.m. Reverend Father Michael James Lavin
    10:00 a.m. Reverend Father Christopher Richard Curtis



Men’s 5 day:             Monday January 1 – Saturday January 6, 2007
                                Monday January 15 – Saturday January 20
Women’s 5 day:       
Monday January 8 – Saturday January 13
                                Monday January 29 – Saturday February 3

Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia