Thursday, November 25, 2010


"I'll whisper it," said the Messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in the shape of a trumpet and stooping so as to get close to the King's ear...However, instead of whispering, he simply shouted, at the top of his voice, "They're at it again!"

Ed. Note: Below is a message that the Reader sent to Christian Order in response to the Australian Geoffrey Hull's review of Work of Human Hands.

Insofar as a book review represents an odd assortment of impressions, it is no more objective than a lyric poem. As a private, albeit publicly shared, reading, a review does not invite (though it may incite) a response. As an unsolicited, personal, even idiosyncratic recommendation or caution, it is neutral to the reader’s written assent to or dissent from the appreciation it offers. A review presumes the maxim de gustibus and like a post-prandial eructation, it is content to be interpreted according to the individual’s taste and culture.

The exception to this implied restraint is Mr. Hull’s erroneous assertion that most of Cekada’s study upholds scholarly standards. That asseveration is an error of fact. The academic shortcomings of Work of Human Hands are legion. First, there is virtually no notion of systematic composition, for sentences are not developed into coherent, unified and structured paragraphs. Second, the author’s diction is not academic but characterized by American regional slang and colloquialisms. Third, the “latinocentric” author commits numerous errors of translation, transcription, and citation from Latin. Fourth, the author, in several cases, has failed to attribute the source of translations. Fifth, the text is littered with non-standard English and unconventional usage. Sixth, typographical errors and misspellings abound. Seventh, as Mr. Hull himself noted, the book contains factual errors. We could continue, but we will not tax your patience. Suffice it to say that Work of Human Hands is at best a mere pantomime of scholarship.

We attribute no malice to Mr. Hull. Perhaps he suffers from an over abundance of charity, and a careful reader of his review will certainly spy Mr. Hull’s dissatisfaction behind the veil of scholarly gentility. However, we also do not expect you or anyone else to take our word for the massive academic failure of Work of Human Hands: simply visit and begin reading the posts, starting with the first entry in June.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Passages in a foreign language may be translated by the person quoting them if no acceptable English translation of the source has been published; in this case "my translation" should be added either in parentheses following the translation or in the note identifying the source. Where a published translation is used, the title of the translation, the translator's name, and the bibliographical details should be given in a note or in the bibliography, and the relevant page number of the translation should be used in identifying the translation. The Chicago Manual of Style, 13th Edition (10.71)

From Reader #2

Oh, my, Anthony has sorely tried Papa! Just look at his disgusted mien! (Papa is very upright, you know, so he naturally recoils at arrogation of any sort.)

You see, all the Readers were assembled recently at the Meadow on a golden autumn afternoon. The fallen poplar and linden leaves were as bountiful as the blunders and botches littering the ill-written pages of Work of Human Hands.

I first inspired our party's wanton mirth when I remarked how Anthony misspelled the adopted surname name of the "fearsome" Saint Peter Damian as Damien [p. 232, Ed.]. Then we merrily laughed as Reader #4 rehearsed fresh chronicles of Anthony's slapdash work and utter estrangement from general scholarly standards.

In a low voice, he confided that the nastiest example he found occurred on p. 233: Outside of some small differences of punctuation and one or two minor changes in word order, the translations of seven different Latin Collects are identical (or nearly identical) to the translations printed in the St. Andrew Daily Missal! And nowhere does Anthony disclose to whom these translations belong!

"The renderings do not appear," whispered our #4, "to be the result of happy coincidence. To wit, 'sweetness' isn't the word most would use to translate suavitate, nor 'most dear' for dulcissimi. Likewise, 'blandishments' is certainly not the tip-of-your-tongue equivalent for illecebras (albeit quite felicitous). Nay, the similarity would seem to fly in the face of bald coincidence. Ditto for 'detaching our hearts from earthly joys' as a translation for terrenis omnibus abdicatis. "

Sickened, our gaiety dissolved. Anon, with a comforting smile, Mr. D., who loves paradoxes, broke the stunned silence when he chirped:

"Well said, and why not! Truly by the laws of chance we are bound to meet coincidence sooner or later. Why, without coincidence, the world would be as bizarre as Anthony Cekada's Blunderland." He then somewhat crinkled his brow here, scratched his chin absentmindedly, and continued, "But in the present matter, I should venture to say that statistical coincidence may not at all be at work. Yet, to be sure, we might perform a parametric statistical analysis based on a binomial or multinomial distribution..."

"That will do!" thundered Papa, who had been dourly listening to our lively chatter. He set down his shimmering glass of sherry (barely tasted), glowered, and muttered something like mee-may-TACE GO-ace. And eying us each one by one, he intoned: "No one can brook such bad form. If one does, then he is no scholar -- and certainly no gentleman."

Sunday, November 14, 2010


From Delaware, Ohio

You were right on the money! That silly sad sack transcribed sonat instead of sonant, which I have underscored in the attached scan of the passage [Ed. Note: See our Nov. 11 post below]. He must not be able to understand Latin as he reads on the fly. I bet he has to work it on word by word. This is a scholar???

Additionally, thank you for forwarding the reference information for Cappello's Tractatus Canonico-Moralis de Sacramentis. A local seminary library did not have a copy of the 1951 edition which Cekada used, but it had a 1938 edition. Except for the section number and the correct form non, you will see that the text is identical to that cited by Cekada.

I have to tip my hat to you Readers: you are tough professionals. Thank goodness someone in Traddieland has standards. By exposing all of Cekada's dumb mistakes, you are performing a great service. Maybe you can wake some of your people up. Work of Human Hands has no place in any library, and no one with any sense should ever cite it. It's just too compromised. I am not a traditionalist so I cannot fathom how anyone with an ounce of brains could find anything of value in that bundle of boo-boos.

The Reader replies: Our method for detecting the Checkster's blunders is simple. We apply the dull hypothesis: everything Anthony writes is muddleheaded, wrong, misguided, shallow, featherbrained, shoddy, obtuse, cretinous, or addlepated. With this default position, the rest is like hiking through a cow pasture: if you know what to look out for, it's easy to spot.

As an explanation for the poor judgment of otherwise smart folks, perhaps traditional Catholics may be so happy to have any new ammunition to attack the Pauline reform that they are willing to shut their eyes, hold their noses, and try to find something good to say about a very bad book that backs their position. They're not looking for quality ordnance: for them, a handful of fresh, steaming dung, apparently, is as good as a sleek M109A6 "Paladin" howitzer.

They needn't jeopardize their good reputations, however. In the Conciliar Church there is a growing and transformative revisionist movement. It's already produced very able scholars like Stefano Carusi, whose nascent studies have recently yielded valuable insights. Moreover, some of the Conciliar seminaries are being reformed in order to prepare a new crop of Motu-Proprio priests. These institutions are recruiting bright, educated, devout young men from good backgrounds, who are interested in really learning Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew.

With the reprinting of classic theological and liturgical manuals, the new breed is being formed in the traditional mold under professors with real academic credentials and trained minds. Once ordained, these men are also going on to recognized graduate schools. We are certain soon to have a solid cadre of scholars who will provide authoritative evaluations of the Mass of Paul VI. Ergo, Cekada's Work of Human Hands, with all its contemptible errors of fact, poor documentation, amateurish analysis, and hideous execution, can serve no purpose other than to pollute our landfills and remind us that unlettered chutzpah is never a substitute for informed intelligence.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour…and so I became a miner instead. Peter Cook, “Sitting on the Bench"

As a result of this long ecclesial crisis, a great many traditionalist priests, especially American sedevacantists, have been formed at “ seminaries” that dared not impose selective admissions criteria or enforce high academic standards. Nowadays validly ordained priests are needed much more than well educated ones. Often earnest but ill-formed youngsters with little formal schooling are rushed through a diluted curriculum into holy orders and sent out to the faithful. Winnowing the chaff by insisting upon mastery of the sacred language of the Church or by administering rigorous exit examinations is an unaffordable luxury.

Therefore, in the case of Anthony Cekada, we see how present necessity has become the mother of pretension. True, Cekada is a tad better than the backward boys who attend the clerical vocational school at which he "teaches." In the end, though, he is found wanting when contrasted with the robust criteria of the past. More cunning than intelligent, Anthony sometimes, if he has his theology reference books at hand, can fool people who should know better. Nevertheless, to our great fortune, there is one discipline that always unmasks the pretender: Latin.

Over the last five months, the Reader has regularly demonstrated just how weak is Anthony’s grip on what Ben Jonson called the “queen of tongues.” Our objective has not been to shame an unfortunate who is outpaced by his ambitions and impeded forever by mediocrity. Furthermore, we know there are many worthy priests working for the salvation of souls, who cannot parse every word in the Roman Canon, construe each lesson in the Breviary, or scan the hymns of the Hours. However, WHH and others represent Anthony Cekada as a scholar. Therefore, we assert our right to contest the claim, for in order to write seriously about the liturgy and Catholic theology, one must possess more than the middling Latinity Anthony exhibits throughout his printed and electronic œuvre.

To support once again our contention that Work of Human Hands is of little value to the serious student of the reform of the Roman rite, we present here a cluster of bewildering botches to substantiate Cekada’s ineptitude as a translator, proofreader, and transcriber of Latin theological text. His gross mistakes are magnified when we consider that they all occur on the same page and are relative to the same text.

On p. 348, Cekada translates a passage from a Jesuit canonist and supplies the underlying Latin text in note 132. The first error we see is that in the footnote he prints English “not” for Latin non. (That can’t be a spell-checker intrusion.) The second is his woeful rendering of sacerdos consecrans not [read non] tantum id referat quod Christus dixerit as “the priest who consecrates not only refers to what Christ said.” Here referat does not mean ‘refers to’ but rather ‘repeats’ or ‘reports.’ Like an ignorant schoolboy, Cekada resorts to “false-friend” cognates since he does not understand the fundamental meaning of referre, viz., ‘to bring back, carry back.’

The third egregious error is twice printing what must be “sonant” as “sonat.” The first appearance occurs in the main text, as he pretentiously supplies sonat in parentheses after his translation “they signify.” (We say pretentiously because real academics supply such interpolations only where the English translation does not convey the exact sense; however, ‘signify’ [or ‘mean, express, denote’] is one of the exact senses of sonare, as even a pocket Latin dictionary will tell you.) The second occurrence is found in the footnoted citation of the Latin text.

Note that we wrote must have been because we no longer have access to a copy of volume I of the Tractatus Canonico-Moralis de Sacramentis for comparison. However, we do possess decent Latinity as well as a degree in classical languages from an accredited Catholic institution of higher learning (and post-graduate studies, to boot). Accordingly, we’re sure we’re right. You don’t have to be a Richard Bentley to observe that ipsa, the subject of the Latin verb meaning ‘signify,’ has a neuter plural antecedent (verba) and is therefore neuter plural, too, requiring the plural form sonant, not the singular sonat. In addition, Anthony Cekada himself supports our conjecture, because he translated the word as “they signify.” (How lovely that when he gets it right, he condemns himself!)

A legitimate question is, Why, then, do some intelligent and seemingly educated people appear to treat Cekada and WHH seriously? We’ll hazard an answer: First, they may agree with Pliny the Elder that nullum esse librum tam malum, ut non aliqua parte prodesset. One of our correspondents recently commented that Cekada’s bibliography might be useful, and we’re somewhat inclined to concur. Second, even outré personalities can naïvely stumble upon an insight or two. After all, at some time in the past, a smudged and Latin-less miner must have by happenstance unearthed a tiny nugget of thought that would strike us as valuable. The difference is that he didn’t bury us beneath a mother lode of blunders.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

From Reader #2

I do believe I told Anthony so. Indeed I'm sure I did at the Mad Tea Party. Any silly goose knows it would never do to write so many American col--lo--qui--al--isms. It's too ridiculous! Have you heard how Anthony's flippant regional chickens have now come home to roost?

Well, it's very provoking. A week ago, it seems, a real scholar in Europe inferred that Anthony Cekada had called him a Freemason.* Then Anthony, who isn't in the least clever at explaining words, had to tell him that "Augé and company" was an American idiom. (You know, the kind ne'er-do-well scribblers use when they try too hard to be witty rather than thoughtful). Oh, Anthony is such an unsatisfactory drudge, I declare!

Next, in a very disagreeable fit of pique, Anthony whimpered that the European scholar ignored his "evidence." I daresay in our country you generally must write seriously if you wish to be read seriously. I'm afraid Work of Human Hands is not a serious book, and its author is certainly no scholar. Why, compared to Matias Augé, Anthony appears "but as a fly by an eagle."

Well, at least Anthony begged pardon because he couldn't write Italian. Papa says he should apologize for all his blunders in Latin, too. Anthony, as Papa often repeats, is like someone who's "'been at a great feast of languages, and stol'n the scraps.'" Pity he hadn't the presence of mind to carry off some orts of the Queen's English.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


From a sadder but wiser former Gertrudian (Cult Central, U.S.A.)
Not everyone who assisted at Cekada's cult was a Billy-Bob. There were plenty who could see through all his posturing and bluffing. He really didn't like it if someone corrected his blatant errors or challenged him on his groundless claim of being a "learned canonist."

You are right that he never saw the inside of a real college let alone a shabby night law school. And he certainly never studied at CUA or any other canon law institute. Anybody with any sense knew he was just a dabbler. He got a pass because people wanted to hear the true Mass. Period! Of course, he was still able to lord it over the great unwashed of his cult -- and that includes quite a few of the clergy who visited as well as the nervous, sad young men from that hinterland "seminary" in FL, who were pressed into service at Easter or Christmas.

Believe me when I say your reach is far wider than your hit counter indicates. Your articles are forwarded to a worldwide circle of people who are delighted to see Tony exposed. (The French are exceptionally keen on this point.) I know Europeans who love your documentation of his ignorance of Latin. Even if you're busy this quarter, I hope you can keep posting occasionally.

The Reader replies: We are not immune to kind words, so for your friends in Europe, we offer yet another case of Anthony Cekada’s estrangement from Latinity.

(Fair warning to the Checkmeister’s hollow-eyed, drooling, sallow-faced bumpkin votaries in the cyber peanut gallery: the point that follows is a subtle one, but remember that we’re writing for the bright-eyed, clear-browed, well washed select few who, like our Oct. 17 correspondent, appreciate the considerable importance of such seemingly minor details.)

On p. 323, here is how our woodenheaded Maundering Scholar translates Zerwick’s Latin (cited in note 62 as phrasis…menti nostrae [non praemonitae] excludit illam universalitatem operis redemptivi quae pro mente semitica in illa phrasi connotari potuit…):

The phrase…excludes from our thinking (if not sufficiently instructed) that universality of the redemptive work which the phrase could connote for the Semitic mind…

This is a classic example of Anthony’s reckless and really witless approach to translating Latin. He's so eager to reach an unusual (and slanted) rendering that he quite misses many obvious points in the original text. It is much more plausible and natural to regard menti as a dativus iudicantis rather than a dative of separation (i.e., of the remoter object), especially since excludere is a verb of “depriving” that prefers the ablative of separation.

Here is Zerwick’s text properly translated:

The phrase…to our (unforewarned) mind excludes that universality of the work of redemption (lit., redemptive work), which that phrase could connote for the Semitic mind (lit., which for the Semitic mind could be connoted in that phrase).

Note that in addition to over-translating the Latin original, the hapless Anthony missed bringing out the admirable contrastive parallelism of menti/mente. But of course, his poor Latin is always accompanied by a poorer sense of English style.