Saturday, March 26, 2011


The pathetic almost always consists in the detail of little events. Edward Gibbon

The want of genuine spiritual formation, the lethally incompetent pedagogy, the woefully under-prepared faculty, the heavy-handed reliance on chastisement, the unsettling whimsy of the rector, and the septic defects of the curriculum are sufficient reasons in themselves to condemn Most Holy Trinity Clerical Vocational Program. Nevertheless, the Reader would be remiss to pass over the absence of what Tertullian called Romanitas, the Roman manner, Roman-ness, and now the thorough coloring of Roman ecclesiastical culture, without which practitioners of the Latin rite are shrieking, gesticulating apes.

The virtue of Romanitas rests squarely on mastery of the Latin language. It’s not enough to get the gist or even be able to puzzle it out it with a fair amount of accuracy. The practitioner has to be thoroughly at home in its idiom. As the grossly stupid blunders in Work of Human Hands testify, Anthony Cekada (MHT’s liturgy and scripture “specialist,” LOL) is not at all at home in Latin. In this post, the Reader submits that Latin is also fundamentally alien to the rector, and hence to MHT.

We don’t intend to embark upon a head-spinning linguistic discussion. (If you’re interested, you may wish to read Pistrina Bids the Rector to School.) Indeed, we'll keep it simple. One very small example will be more than enough to make our point. You know, even the Readers have to take a deep breath when some of their colleagues enter the grammatical lists.

As with all mastery, it’s the little things that count. Any vapid late-night comedian can mimic superficially salient features. We know it’s not real, for the essential details are missing. That’s why we laugh. (Otherwise we would marvel.) The obvious failure to model significant, subtle traits and mannerisms betrays the poseur, the impostor, the phony, the mountebank, the faker, the bunyip (for our chorus of Down Under reviewers). Getting right the characteristic and apparently insignificant marks takes years of living a culture authentically, of becoming fluent through assiduous study and practice. As the following note makes clear, the rector, like his shallow pal Anthony Cekada, didn’t sweat the small stuff that virtuous Romanitas demands:

The Reader recently came across a copy of an MHT certificate of ordination. It was all tricked out with polychrome print, an elaborate border, and fancy fonts. The text was virtually the same as the Reader has seen on old certificates issued by Archbishop Lefebvre (a vigorous promoter of Romanitas) and the SSPX. However, the rector’s amateur hand was plainly visible in one word (twice printed!): Brooksvillense (the swampland breeding ground for MHT pests).

He meant the word to mean “at Brooksville.” However, in Latin the suffix -ensis makes an adjective of locality, not a noun! The rector's word formation, then, is completely off base. Moreover, even if you could make Brooksville (the city) a Latin noun with that suffix (and you can’t), the case ending –se is wrong: in the locative, it would have been Brooksvillensi. (You wouldn't write that you spent the summer "at [or in] Bostonian," would you? Again, all this is explained in excruciating detail in Pistrina Bids the Rector to School.*)

The seemingly microscopic error—like the rector's ignorance of the right Latin word for ‘time’ when it refers to the time-slot cell on the class schedule (see the Jan. 30 post, footnote)—declares that neither the rector nor MHT is capable of transmitting the Church’s enduring Roman culture. All MHT can produce are impersonators of the Roman Catholic priesthood.

* Sanborn's buddies, "One-Hand" Dan Dolan and Blundering Tony Cekada also don't understand that the ending -ensis is an adjective, not a noun, for in one certificate issued from the SGG cult center, we find in archidiocesi Cincinnatensis. It looks as if those two pinheads think that Cincinnatensis means 'of Cincinnati.' The correct form is Cicinnatensi, an ablative so that the adjective agrees with the noun it modifies (viz., archidiocesi). Had they just copied the ending shown on their own ordination certificates from Archbishop Lefebvre (dioecesi Sedunensi), they wouldn't have made themselves so ridiculous. (BTW, the SGG certificate also contains a few other howlers as well; maybe we'll post them soon, if you'd like. Ordinati: demand corrected documents from those clowns!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success. Sigmund Freud

The rector’s February MHT Newsletter is a veritable downhill race of Freudian slips. He begins with a recent sighting of a miniature, remote-controlled helicopter photographing his pesthouse. We’ll wager that scene occasioned something like an acid flashback! Certainly he must have recalled the anxious reports he heard of that day in Michigan when the stuttering, resonant drone of slashing rotor blades announced a plague of media whirlybirds swarming like angry, metallic locusts over his Mary Help of Christians Academy. On that day long ago, an eager press corps had come looking for answers to hard questions. This time, in the swampland, a robot mechanically captured stark images of the sepulchral, white outlines of a dying enterprise.

Rattled (or addled) by those haunting memories, the rector next launches an attack against Catholic mothers and young men “excessively attached to their mothers.” According to his half-baked historico-sociological analysis, today’s moms don’t encourage their sons to live independently. They mollycoddle them; they smother them with their suffocating motherly attentions. As a result of the mommies’ refusal to let their pampered sons face life like men, the boys, in the rector’s amateur opinion, are nest-bound, ineffectual, emotionally stunted, unconfident, and indecisive. All these tight apron strings, so muses the rector, are obstacles that mothers put in their male offspring’s way to the priesthood.

Well... from our experience, the rector’s description of today’s youth sounds a lot like the feckless, undereducated, timid, unsure, crybaby, wimpy completers of Most Holy Trinity Clerical Vocational Program. When a real man from a loving family enters MHT—that is, someone with genuine schooling, a decent and normal background, informed courage, a healthy psyche, and a sense of independence—he usually faces expulsion!

History and personal experience confirm that a man’s success in life is very often the result of a nurturing mother, because, as we’ve said on these pages before: no one ever makes it alone. The Reader knows several devout Catholic mothers who love their sons so much that they would no sooner allow them to enter MHT than they would permit them to travel in a cholera-ravaged, third-world country in the midst of a bloody civil war. Each of us owes his or her life to a mother’s uncanny intuition when danger loomed; we are all now profoundly grateful for Mom's proactive intervention in behalf of our body and soul.

The truth is, MHT is disfigured by its notorious reputation. No mother wants to dissipate the family treasure or imperil her son’s future by paying tuition to a third-rate institution that mistreats young men to whom God may have given a priestly vocation. A mother’s resistance to MHT is not over protectiveness. It’s just Mom’s sound prudence. She doesn’t want her son bullied and harassed in an environment inimical to spiritual growth. She doesn’t want her boy to become one of those priests who fail to consecrate or can’t conduct easy ceremonies. She doesn’t want her son associating with all those comatose MHT underachievers and the program's inept faculty. Above all, she doesn’t want her son working for the likes of “One-Hand” Dan Dolan and blundering Tony Cekada.

Mothers, in the end, have but two wishes: (1) they want their sons to be successful in life and (2) they want to be proud of their sons as men. Any mother’s sixth sense screams that MHT will deny her both fundamental hopes.

The rector’s heartless savaging of Catholic motherhood perplexes us. Those of you who know his history are aware that he himself hasn’t snipped any apron strings. If nothing else, the rector is a model of filial piety – just ask the priest who had to vacate his quarters at MHT. We’re impressed. It’s obvious that maternal devotion didn’t stand in his way to an assertive, independent life. We ask, then: Why can’t other Catholic men be devoted to their mothers without suffering the rector’s vilification? Even more germane: Why can’t other Catholic mothers love their sons and want the best for them without being pilloried for thwarting a good?

Edna Ferber got it right when she titled a story “Mother Knows Best”: Mom knows that MHT is not a fit place for a son to become a holy priest or a good man.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


In this decayed hole among the mountains/In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing/Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel/There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home. T.S. Eliot

Ed. Note: Over the past two months, Pistrina has revealed that the Most Holy Trinity (MHT) Clerical Vocational Program is an intellectual and liturgical desert. This post exposes the pesthouse as a spiritual wasteland as well. The problem lies not simply in weak or inept spiritual formation. Rather, as the following pasticcio of anecdotes from MHT survivors suggests, the institution itself may be radically opposed to Catholic spirituality in any form.

By the rector’s misguided rule, MHT seminarians were forced to choose from a very limited number of priests as spiritual directors.* Accordingly, sacramental confession was infrequent. First-year seminarians were advised to take the clone (the “vice rector”) as their spiritual director, but the problem was that the clone only showed up about once monthly. Apart from the few occasions for confession, there were no other pious exercises. **(5) Even thanksgiving after Mass was often restricted to a few brief minutes, as seminarians were fearful that lingering in prayer**(1) might result in a fierce scolding from the irascible prefect. The administration often canceled Vespers**(1), (3) or the Rosary**(1) for more important and pressing matters -- like attending to household cleaning chores.

Seminary staff often irreverently reinforced the official MHT aversion to spiritual growth in every way possible. It was not uncommon to hear celebrants snarl sharp corrections duringMass! **(1) Once, Scut the Prefect, with the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, harshly ordered a seminarian to go to his proper place to receive communion.**(2) On another occasion, when a seminarian sang the wrong note, the horn-mad prefect loudly interrupted the chanting of Vespers**(1) to discipline the offender sternly. In another instance of shocking behavior, as a seminarian silently prayed the Holy Rosary in the car during a drive, the prefect's toady assistant (a.k.a.Grover Dill) savagely barked: “Don’t pray in the car! **(1) In addition, there were no annual retreats**(4) other than the almost spontaneously scheduled ego-fests presided over by the discredited “One-Hand” Dan Dolan whenever he needed to escape the bleak Ohio weather or the wrath of former parishioners. (Dolan once publicly gushed how solicitously the seminarians attended to him and served his meals, so you can imagine that no retreat is ever held for the young men’s spiritual benefit.)

Bottom Line: The MHT pesthouse is dangerous to the interior life of young Catholic men with a vocation to the holy priesthood. The place is a spiritual frozen tundra, which decent young men must avoid or from which they must escape.

The laity must not support MHT, its clergy, or its rector in any form. The time is past. Starve the beast. Do not be a benefactor. Tell prospective seminarians you know to run for their spiritual lives. If you live in Europe, find out the names and email addresses s of the three young men in France whom the rector is recruiting: Warn them before it's too late.

* It’s instructive how the rector cannot adhere to authentic Catholic tradition. Here’s a quote from the canon-law commentary of Bouscaren, Ellis, and Korth regarding seminary confessors:

In addition to the ordinary confessors, others are to be designated to whom the students can freely go (c. 1361, §1). If these confessors live outside the seminary, and a student asks that one of them be called, the rector must call him without inquiring in any way into the reason for the request, or showing any displeasure; if the confessors live in the seminary, any student may freely go to them, without prejudice to the discipline of the house (c. 1361, §2). When there is a question of admitting any student to orders, or of expelling him from the seminary, the advice of the confessors is never to be asked (c. 1361, § 3).

** Compare to Bouscaren, Ellis, and Korth note on the exercises in piety required by canon law:

The Bishop is to see to it that the students: (1) every day, say morning and evening prayers in common, spend some time in mental prayer, attend Mass; (2) confess at least once a week; (3) receive communion frequently, with due devotion; (3) on Sundays and feast days, attend solemn Mass and Vespers, serve at the altar and practice sacred ceremonies…; (4) every year, make the spiritual exercises for several days continuously; (5) at least once a week, hear a spiritual instruction closing with a pious exhortation (c. 1367).

Sunday, March 6, 2011


There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision. William James

Ed. Note: One of the most straight-forward ceremonies of the Church is the Ordo Ad Faciendam Aquam Benedictam (rite for making holy water), printed in both the Roman Ritual and the Roman Missal. Outside Mass, the rite requires the bare minimum: a book, a dish of salt, some clean water, a loaded aspergil, a surplice, a violet stole. You don't even have to light a candle.

The ordo itself is a study in simplicity: a mere five prayers. You can bless both the water and the salt or the water alone, if exorcised salt is available. If you're just blessing water, skip the first two prayers and begin with the third. After the fourth, take salt in your closed hand, drop some into the water three times, tracing three crosses as you say the formula Commixtio salis etc. Then, recite the salutation Dominus vobiscum, and finish up with the final prayer. Voilà, l'eau lustrale! Should the priest lack sufficient training to understand and execute the brief rubrics, vernacular explanations may be found in readily available handbooks.

Easy, right? Not if you're a completer of the diseased swampland's MHT Clerical Vocational Program. Read on, and either weep or burst out laughing:

Our French priest (see Feb. 20 post) shares with his Mexican and Argentine classmates their abysmal ignorance of sound priestly praxis. They all learned at the feet of the infamously unable Anthony Cekada, so there should be no surprise here. Certainly the oppressive malformation at dysfunctional MHT has produced a soul racked by paralyzing self-doubt and crippling second-guesswork. His pathetic sermons are no more than labored "readings," not painstakingly crafted, heart-felt messages to the soul; his confessions are 20-30 minute marathons of aimless uncertainty. In sum, he is a man bereft of confidence, as you will read in the following report:

According to an overseas reporter, one Sunday after Mass, a French parishioner asked our MHT dunce to bless some holy water for home use. The knowledgeable layman understood the MHT alum had been crushed under the intellectual and moral burden of the priesthood, so he helpfully assembled all the basic materials: a Rituale Romanum, a bottle of water, and some already exorcised salt.

The MHT underachiever, with his customary affected gravitas, returned to the little sacristy to gather his surplice, stole, and another copy of the Roman Ritual. He came back looking somewhat embarrassed, behaving as though he were missing something. He hesitated. He gestured clumsily; his posture seemed uncertain while he readied--or steadied--himself to conduct what is one of the simplest of rituals. But just as he started to pronounce the opening versicle, he melted under the fervid heat of his torrid doubts and burning scruples.

He first fretted whether it was permitted to use salt that had already been exorcised. If so, he wondered aloud whether he could omit those prayers. Then, in irresolute self-torment, he debated exchanging the blessed salt for unblessed salt. Next, he agonized over the diameter of the neck of the water bottle: Was it so narrow that he might not be able to make the sign of the cross as he introduced the salt?

"It would have been easier," he lamented feebly to the astonished layman, "to have poured the water into a large bowl in order to make the sign of the cross while simultaneously commingling it!"

After this paroxysm of doubt had abated, he returned to the opening versicle and commenced, insecurely, fearfully, hesitatingly. His pace was numbingly slow. At length, after 15 long minutes (!), he removed his stole. With a look more of relief than of satisfaction, our shaken, malformed MHT simpleton gasped, "Voilà, it is finished!" Then, beset once more by a plague of refreshed uncertainties, he added waveringly: "I hope it's valid."

Sick! Sick! Sick! These guys don't know what they're doing.

Reverend Rector: Close that pesthouse down!