Saturday, March 28, 2015


Editor's Note: Like a world-class diagnostician who can detect the presence of a fatal disease in the minutest aberrations visible to the naked eye, Pistrina continues last week's theme by revealing another "little thing" that gives the lie to the cult masters' decidedly wrong opinion of themselves as true heirs to Catholic tradition. 

That Latin was no more difficile/Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle. Butler

Contrary to what others have written us in the last week, the Readers are definitely not opposed to aspiration. Indeed, aspirations, when accompanied by genuine achievement and hard work, lead to greatness in every arena of human endeavor. We do, however, object to abject failures or elementary successes shamelessly promoted as signs of a noble aspiration fulfilled. That's why we work hard to demythologize Dannie and Tony Baloney's fictional narrative that they embody the best traditions of the pre-Vatican II Church.

As a matter of principle, we don't have a problem with any priest's aspiring to match the highest standards of the past. And if he worked diligently to acquire the body of knowledge, skills, comportment, and ethos of pre-conciliar clergy, not only would we applaud him on the way, but we'd support him materially. Then, when he demonstrated after years of effort that he'd met or surpassed the standards, we'd be the first ones to laud and publish his achievement. Our enthusiasm would be honest, for it would be founded on the objective evidence of his performance and manner of life.

Above all else, such an aspiring cleric would inhabit entirely a Latin world of the mind. On all religious and liturgical questions, he would think in Latin and reflexively prefer Latin authors over those who write in the vernacular. He would mutter his personal prayers in Latin and strive daily to perfect his Latin composition. In reading Scripture and preparing a homily, he would exclusively use the Vulgate, never a translation, so that he could elucidate for the faithful the precise meaning of the text upon which he is preaching. In a nutshell, Church Latin would be his second nature.

One of our chief criticisms of the cult masters is that it's evident they don't live in a world totally informed by the Latin language, yet they (and their self-interested supporters) struggle to pretend they do. That may have been their aspiration 40 years ago, but, as our work has proved, they've failed to realize it. (These men just don't have the right stuff to begin with: it's not in their DNA.) It's important for the laity to know that without a complete Latin frame of mind, no cleric can ever claim to equal the best of the best of the pre-Vatican II Church, to being the real thing. Without complete mastery of the Church's Latin culture, it's all monkey see, monkey do. Like seeing a simian leafing through a newspaper, it's amusing to watch, but altogether a sham.

Most decent traditional priests know how far short of the mark of Catholic excellence they have fallen. While cleaving to the standard of the past as guide to their betterment, they are too conscious of their limitations -- and too honest -- to assert parity. They also realize that no sede today, especially an American sede, can hold a candle to the remarkably gifted, carefully selected, and generously trained priests of the past. (For such a cleric, we must look to South America and Europe.) Knowledgeable clergy outside the SW Ohio-Brooksville cult laugh themselves silly at Dannie's, Cheesy's, and Donnie's hollow self-promotion. The cult masters are demonstrably not the equals of the clergy of yesteryear, and that inequality starts with the non-Latin world they inhabit.

To the many we've already assembled on these blog pages, let's add yet another sparkling example of Dannie's alienation from the Catholic Latin world of the past:
On March 10, "One Hand" delivered a sermon on "Mass Math" to the pitiable, little cultling children. Preaching on the text of Mt 18:22, Dannie begins, "Lord, how many times should I forgive my neighbor if he offends against me? Up to seven times? No, up to seven times seventy times." A few minutes later he returns to the numerical expression, but this time it's changed to  "seven times seventy" or "490 times."
Already we hear the Close Loyalists of Dannie (CLODs) roaring that we're nitpicking over a small discrepancy between the expressions. We want assure them -- and our many fans -- that's not our aim here. Furthermore, we aren't quibbling over the fact that the initial quotation is a paraphrase of the Gospel text. Dirtbag Dan was simply adjusting his language for the unfortunate cult kiddies. No problem with that. You've got to keep your audience in mind.

No, our point is that if you were a Roman Catholic priest rooted in Latin, you could never say that the number of times our Lord commanded St. Peter to forgive an offender is 490.

By all means, we can see how an educated Protestant minister, with his faithful adherence to the Greek, might come up with that figure. The numeral in Mt 18:22 presents a well-known textual problem, and the form of the numeral as found in the standard Greek editions of the New Testament has duly elicited comment from standard scholarly reference grammars of New Testament Greek (v.g., Blass-Debrunner, Moulton, Robertson, Zerwick). In addition, we know that many translations note that the Koine figure may be rendered either "seventy times seven" or "seventy-seven times."

But we're not talking about Protestants or even Catholic clergy who ground themselves in the Greek text and the scholarly literature about it. Truly traditional Catholic clergy, even if they are competent in Greek, are different. They stand firmly rooted in the Latin Vulgate. In the case of Mt 18:22, they don't need to search outside the text. For, while there may be some doubt about the exact translation of the numeral in the Greek Matthew*, there is none whatsoever in the Latin: The Vulgate unambiguously reads septuagies septies, the numeral adverb meaning "seventy-seven times."

We'd agree that the TAN Douay-Rheims edition's "seventy times seven times" (the same as in the very first edition except for the archaic orthography) is so slavishly literal as to cause confusion in a modern reader. And we know that the Haydock edition of the Douay reads differently, printing "seventy times seven," like the King James version, and glosses the verse with "i.e., 490." Accordingly, we must infer that Dim Dannie has used in his sermonette two very different quantities, drawn, apparently, from different Douay editions without his even realizing the quantities are different!

(What a pea-brain! That kind of textual cluelessness probably deserves a separate post. These guys are not only ignorant, they're slow on the uptake as well.)

If Dannie did represent pre-Vatican II excellence as the cult PR insists he does, he would have first gone to the Latin text of St. Matthew, ignoring all translations. Finding septuagies septies, he would have instantly known without question that our Lord commanded Peter to forgive his brother up to 77 times, not 7 X 70 times (= 490). Seventy-seven times is the figure he should have told the cringing traddie tykes. If he had consulted the Haydock Bible (and we suspect he did), then he would have known not to accept either its figure or the annotated computation for the mathematically challenged.

But as we all have seen, Dannie cannot in any way be equated with the clergy of the past. His ignorance permanently impedes him from attaining the Latin outlook that adorned so many of the pre-Vatican II clergy. If he doesn't have Latin, then he can't possibly possess in full the other necessary characteristics of a Roman churchman.  Latin is the gatekeeper to the traditional faith. Without its perfect mastery, everything else you see is a tawdry façade. What we have in Tradistan is the mindless and awkward aping of tradition, not the real thing: it only looks authentic for a second.


* The problem arises from the Greek numeral printed in critical editions of the New Testament. The absolutely literal translation of hebdomēkontákis heptá is "seventy times (hebdomēkontákis) seven (heptá)." The Greek adverbial for "seventy-seven times" is hebdomēkontákis heptákis, but grammarians and textual critics -- considering the allusion to Gn 4:24 (lit. in Heb.: "If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy and seven") -- regard heptá as a scribal abbreviation for heptákis.

However, in the Vulgate there's no such textual ambiguity. The Latin clearly reads "seventy-seven times." The Jesuit Zerwick has a nice summary of scholarly opinion in this matter (translation by J. Smith, S.J.; transliteration ours for those who don't read Greek):
159. (Héōs) hebdomēkontákis heptá (Mt 18, 22) is not «seventy times seven» , but «seventy seven times» ( = hebdomēkontákis heptákis) as the Vulgate rightly translates it here and in Gen 4, 24, where the LXX has the same imperfect expression. Since the Genesis text deals with vengeance, and Matthew's with forgiveness, it is very probable that the Gospel text intentionally alludes to the OT one (Moulton)...
In confirmation, we find in Robertson, "Moulton considers rightly that the passage in Genesis settles the usage in Matthew." Blass-Debrunner notes the "peculiar" Greek numeral in Matthew should be read "'seventy-seven times' (not 'seventy times seven')..." This is by far not the only instance where modern scholarship confirms the correctness of our Latin Vulgate.

Isn't it a crying shame that the malformed cult masters of Tradistan have neither the training nor the brains to mine its riches?


  1. What a splendid contribution! I concur wholeheartedly with the beautiful exposition in the first part of today's article, i.e. the expectation of dealing with a truly Latin clergy - needed more than ever - when hearing about the self-ascribed excellency of the vagrants mentioned above. But as we all know, they excel in nothing but pompous bumptiousness ... and they fail even trying to formulate some seemingly highfalutin homily. Well, not that any CLOD would even notice.

    While I completely agree to the premise and the conclusion, I might say that I would be less harsh if the circumstances were different. Of Danny were to preach to a more adult and capable audience ... and I might add, he should know his homiletics, being a deacon for o so long ... I wouldn't complain at all if he were to allude to Daniel's prophecy of the seven weeks by employing a different translation of ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά - as does Cornelius a Lapide, even though he is probably wrong by conceding all too easily that seventy times seven is the correct literal translation.

    It is very sad that the SSPX in those troubled days did not stick more closely to the great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, which orders among other things, that "no one is to be admitted to the study of philosophy or theology except he be thoroughly grounded in this language and capable of using it, i.e., the Latin tongue.

    Or maybe it is already like my professor in Canon Law likes to say in reference to the aforementioned document, and he actually still heard his lectures at the Gregoriana in the native language of law: "Did you notice how well you understand Latin? It is almost as if I were speaking in the vernacular." Of course, he was talking in the vernacular ...

  2. Tarquin, you're thinking too much like a real Latin-rite Catholic when your reflexes send you to Cornelius. Most of that great cleric's work is not accessible to the cult masters since, as far as we know, very little has been translated into English. The English translation of Matthew, available on Catholic Apologetics, wouldn't have helped Dannie, for here's how v. 22 is glossed:

    Jesus said unto him, &c. That is, times innumerable thou shalt forgive thy brother’s trespasses, if he repent. This is what I meant when I said (as in Luke xvii. 4) thou shalt forgive him seven times. By seven times I meant seventy times seven, that is always, times without number.

    The principal translator, Mossman, was an Anglican, so he approached the work from a decidedly different point of view, at least with regard to the sacred text, for he paraphrased the King James text, 70 X 7, not the Douay.

    The archbishop's neglect on high standards for Latin at the time is truly to be regretted. If he had instituted them, many of the rogue clergy who vex Catholics today would never have been admitted and hence never ordained.

    The injunction of the constitution VS is more forceful in the original Latin than it appears in English translation: the seminarian must be "plane perfecteque...eruditus" (manifestly and perfectly well-instructed) in Latin and "ejusque...usu praeditus" (possessed of its frequent usage). That means much more than simply being able to the rubrics of the missal with a modicum of fluency. And it certainly means more than working through a programmed learning series to get enough basic Latin for seminary admission.

    The standard the constitution imposes is one of complete mastery of the tongue. What's important is to remember that the constitution didn't extend the prescription to merely those fortunate pupils who had begun classical studies at an early age. Even those beginning their sacred studies without the benefit of a sound classical education were under the stricture.

    Thus, while the archbishop may have allowed these untutored louts to matriculate, he never should have advanced them until Latin became their second nature.

    Now that would have set a high enough bar to send those ignorant American jerks back stateside. Well, the archbishop's reprehensible laxity was repaid when these curs turned on him.

    1. Thank you very much for your informative reply. I purposely cited the English translation of the aforementioned Apostolic Constitution, lest the Terrible Trio doesn't get the idea. But your commentary makes it all the more understandable and the issue even more pressing.

      Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a friend of mine who is a classical philologist. It truly saddens my heart to hear him quote the Fathers in Latin or Greek by heart ... while the traditional clergy has a hard time getting their declensions right. O tempora ... !

      Speaking about Mossmann and comparing his translation with the original, it appears to me that he rendered almost the whole article into the English tongue. Be that as it may, if Danny had checked the Anglo-Catholic's work - we should cut him some slack here, after all, the Checkmeister is the cult's »scholar«, not him - he would have noticed the correct translation of the Jeromian rendering.

      In fact, if ol' One-Hand had any tiny little bit of Latin Catholicity in him, he wouldn't have made the mistake. While we surely do not accuse him of not having had a classical education in his younger days ... a cleric simply cannot be excused for: 1. Not having the slightest clue about Latin, thereby violating the sacred canons 2. Not employing the holy Vulgate in contempt of tradition and the authority of the Church ... and maybe 3. Not conferring with Catholic commentaries before delivering a Homily.
      The third point wouldn't be strictly necessary if Dan were properly schooled ... but well, he isn't. And this lack of education and careful preparation puts all those children in great risk of being filled with errors and distortions. And yea, I know, these poor kids probably have other things to worry about at SGG ...

  3. American Popish clergy thinking in Latin? My father knew tons of them from the undertaking business. Most were frustrated drunks.

    You must be thinking of the educated Episcopalians.

    1. Actually, no. We're remembering the superbly educated Roman priests who taught us. They demanded from us oral reports in Latin, and they corrected us as we went along. They could recite at length long passages in Latin, and had a swift, technically detailed answer for everything.

      Yes, there were the hopeless drunks, just as many as there were Anglican queens, but in our personal experience, even the miserable lushes were 1000 times better prepared than the malformed sede trash of today.

  4. Well, you were indeed very fortunate. Cherish those memories!

    There is a revival of a sense of mission amongst the younger Latin teachers who are working very diligently to make Latin a lively experience.

    Alas, most are Unitarians and Atheists!

    1. They are great -- and inspiring -- memories. We'll have to say that our teachers weren't concerned about Latin as a "lively experience." As one used to say, "Learning isn't fun. It's hard work. What's fun is having learned." By that he meant the confidence that comes from mastery. He -- and the others -- taught by the thrill of drill. They demanded real achievement and effort. Just as there is no Royal Road to geometry, so there is none to Latin. It took daily work, a lot of self-criticism, tons of strict correction from disciplinary masters, and a no-excuses approach to teaching and learning. These mean would never have tolerated the errors of Cheesy and Dannie, who probably could never have survived their rough tutelage.

  5. Times have changed. Latin teachers have to do all sorts of things to attract and keep students.


  6. Yes, it's a pity, and we fear that Latin studies must suffer under the present circumstances.

    BTW, thanks for the link. The writer's comment, "oggi nella Chiesa la pratica del latino si assottiglia sempre di più" not only applies to the Novus Ordo institution but even more so to the traddies, who, as you have seen on these pages, are grossly ignorant and get worse every day.

    There's a telling story about one of the trad big mouths who once tried to write an article in Latin. A Frenchman criticized him so ferociously that he's never again attempted to write in the language. What ignorance, for theological Latin does not demand the same skill set as Ciceronian Latin. These guys are too lazy to work at it every day to become proficient. It also condemns their formation. That's why we say they're not the real thing. How interesting that they haven't one man who's really dedicated himself to becoming a Latinist like Gallagher. Then they'd have someone to correct all their mistakes before they are exposed to public ridicule.

  7. While it's indeed sad about the state of affairs regarding Latin, have you taken a look at just plain English lately? More & more "educated" people (I use the term loosely) are having trouble with spelling & grammar in plain English. It's getting embarrassing. Then there's Penmanship! They don't even bother to teach it anymore because, they say, everyone uses a computer and, you know, handwriting is so old-fashioned and not really necessary any more. I work in a school and it's depressing.

    1. We have seen the problems, and they're terrifying. Many years ago, we read a study that showed a correlation between the loss of higher-level native-language skills and the decline of formal Latin and Greek studies. The solid, old-fashioned approach of grammatical analysis pays off in increased understanding of the mechanics of the mother tongue.

      We think the absence of rigorous Latin-language instruction among the Trad priests is responsible for the errors we continue to expose. For instance, Cekada's perverse translation of papal teaching and his many other horrific blunders could not have occurred if he'd been given a real foundation in Latin grammar and syntax, for he would have had the analytical tools to decode correctly the texts. Without the skills, he was left to his own devices, and the result is not pretty. The situation is even worse for those deficients who "learned" their Latin by the Waldo Sweet method: they're impaired for life.

    2. I completely agree with you. I see so many trad Catholic websites, blogs, etc. quoting Cekada & Sanborn as experts. These poor trads, educated in the modern schools, really have no foundation & are therefore easy prey for the false Christs. springing up like weeds. It's almost more than I can bear. Our Lord can't come quick enough. How many more abominations must take place?

  8. You know that if these sites offer Cekada and Sanborn as experts, they're in deep, deep trouble, starting with the uneducated "trad-lodytes" themselves. Nothing betrays their deficiency like their admiration for these two boors.

    No matter. Their failures are now documented online for all to read. Of course, the zombie trads won't (or can't) read the truth about them, but at least some other Catholics who might have been susceptible to the hollow cult PR are now aware of their frightening shortcomings. They'll go elsewhere and leave the dregs of the earth as host bodies to allow the cult masters to survive.

    They've been far out on the margin for many years. It's interesting how much of a fuss was kicked up over Williamson's consecrating a new bishop in Brazil but there's nary a peep when Tradistan hatches a new, no-nothing prelate. These guys don't count, so the world refuses to take notice. They're not even worthy of rising to "enemy" status. For all anybody cares, they might as well be backwoods Pentecostals handling snakes and oppressing their womenfolk. Outside the grossly untutored minds of the mad cultlings, they are nothing, zilch, zero, nada.