There is an old saying of which I am extremely fond, “For the hard of seeing, you write with big letters; with the hard of hearing, you shout!” The following article is about an issue that has been raised by Bishop Dolan and Father Cekada at St. Gertrude the Great and which, I believe, should be discussed and examined because it says a great deal about its author(s).
In order to better understand the issue at hand, it is necessary to take it apart piece by piece rather than swallowing it whole. Therefore, our first order of business is to examine the Canon of the Mass and one of its prayers. Namely, the following (Te igitur):
We, therefore, humbly pray and beseech Thee, most merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, that Thou wouldst accept and bless these gifts, these presents, these holy, unspotted sacrifices, which, in the first place, we offer Thee for Thy holy, Catholic Church: which vouchsafe to pacify, guard, unite, and govern through the whole world, together with Thy servant N., our Pope, and N. our bishop; as also, all orthodox believers and professors of the Catholic and apostolic faith.
This prayer is extremely important because it applies the first fruits of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to the Church as a whole. As Dr. Pius Parsch, a renowned liturgist notes, “We ask four blessings, namely: peace protection, unity, and divine guidance… The verbs imply that these blessings are at times in danger of being lost. It is not an abstract Church that we have in mind, but the actual community of Christians now living on earth. Therefore, we mention by name the present pope and the bishop of the diocese” (p.224). Dr. Parsch continues and says that the addition of the Pope’s name is an established custom going back to the time of Pope Pelagius I who required it.
Among the sedevacantists, who believe the Chair of Peter is currently vacant, the issue of the Pope’s name presents an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, it is something that has been mandated by the Holy See. The reigning Pope’s name must be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. However, some sedevacantists have come up with ingenious ways of skirting the issue altogether. According to Brandon Young, a poster on the now defunct Rogue Bishop forum, the words used by a sede celebrant are “una cum apostolica sede” (One with the Holy See). As a friend of mine once said, “That’s an extremely long name for a Pope.” Indeed, the “una cum apostolica sede” brings up an interesting question: How is it that sedevacantists can be in schism and yet still be united with the Holy See? It’s an interesting issue, but one that we will have to skirt until another article.
In his article, Fr. Cekada writes that there are some sedevacantists and other traditionalists who may find themselves in a situation where they will assist at a Mass that mention the Holy Father’s name in the Canon of the Mass. He believes that sedes are to have nothing to do with such Masses for a variety of reasons including linguistic, canonical, and so on.
His basic premise can be summarized in the following syllogism: Benedict XVI is a heretic, all heretical popes are not commemorated in the Canon of the Mass, therefore, Pope Benedict XVI should not be commemorated in the Canon of the Mass. If we take Cekada’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, we would have to say that any sedevacantist who attends a Mass offered by the FSSP, SSPX, or a diocesan Mass is giving full assent to the teachings of the Holy Father and the Holy See as well as anything that the celebrant says from the pulpit.
To make his argument much firmer, Cekada argues that attending an “una cum” Mass is like offering a grain of incense to a false idol. He cites the stories of numerous martyrs who gave their blood for Our Lord during the early centuries of the Church rather than offer sacrifice to the false Roman gods. One could also make the same argument for the English martyrs of the Tudor and Stuart eras who would not attend the new services mandated by Elizabeth I and Edward VI because they viewed them as heretical.
Obviously, this kind of hard line creates a problem for those people who find themselves on a Sunday with no sedevacantist chapel in sight for miles around. Where should one go, for example, if the nearest chape is eight hundred miles away? Attend the FSSP or just sit at home and not do anything. If one takes the hard line, the solution is to stay home and recite the Mass prayers. However, Holy Mother Church teaches that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on a Sunday or Holyday of Obligation. Therefore, the person would probably swallow his pride and go to the FSSP.
I know of one traditionalist group that takes a much softer approach than Cekada and Dolan do. This group has a mission in Australia and New Zealand. For more than a decade, this mission was left without a priest. Therefore, the parishioners of this mission were advised to attend Mass with SSPX since a priest from the group could only come by every few months. The solution worked and nobody was the wiser.
However, Dolan and Cekada have gone so far with their line that they will refuse the Sacraments to anyone that has attended an “una cum” Mass. These people are barred from their parishes and churches. This situation has created a great deal of discomfort and anger among some of their parishioners. However, the party line continues to be exactly what it was in the past: “You don’t attend and we don’t commune them.”
It’s interesting to me that the grain of incense argument works both ways. As we know, the traditionalists believe that the reformation of the Mass began when Blessed John XXIII added St. Joseph’s name into the Canon of the Mass. According to the most common arguments, this created a buffer zone in the Canon and essentially stopped its flow. After that, these same apologists will reason and argue, it was possible to overhaul the entire Mass and bring about the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI.
By refusing to commemorate the Pope, the sedes have clearly shown where their loyalties lie. Clearly, they are not with the Holy See. Even if they have bishops that are willing to bring them the Sacraments, these bishops are rogues who have been consecrated without the mandate of the Holy See and who have no real authority. Therefore, the refusal to name the reigning supreme Pontiff could essentially open a new can of worms that goes in the opposite direction.
Of course, the “una cum” question is not the newest thing to make the rounds in sede circles. Yet it shows how these traditionalists try to skirt issues that they never would have had to deal with had they stayed with Holy Mother Chruch and worked with her from inside against the reforms hoisted upon her.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
Pope St. Pius V, pray for us!
Blessed John XXIII, pray for us!