Sunday, January 30, 2011


Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,/And some made coxcombs nature meant but fools. Alexander Pope

In the January "Most Holy Trinity [MHT] Seminary Newsletter," we read with a mixture of alarm and astonishment the following declaration:
We are initiating a program for those seminarians who are more intelligent, in order that they be ordained sooner. If we give them dogma courses during the summer months over a period of three summers, we will be able to advance them by one year. So if you notice an acceleration of our ordinations, it is not because we are cutting corners, but are merely capitalizing on the intellectual abilities of some of our more advanced students.
This and other websites have reported on the shortcomings of the poorly educated faculty of MHT, its grossly under prepared and backward completers, and its repressive, punitive atmosphere. What concerns the Reader is not so much the problem of stigmatizing the less gifted attendees (i.e., less gifted than the usual lot). What really disturbs us are the very harmful effects this new policy will have on the already inadequate formation these unlucky young dim wits now receive. Our worry is doubled when we reflect that much of the motivation in this institution comes from the liberal application of "hickory-stick pedagogy." The rector mistakenly believes that punishment not only silences but it also confutes.

Every educator knows that "summer school" is no substitute for the regular, year-long curriculum. Even with air conditioning, the sweltering, enervating, suffocating Florida summer cannot promote study and reflection. Learning is a function of time, and compressing time results in imperfectly learned lessons. Additional scolding and penalties will not improve the situation either. MHT's track record shows it has been producing many inferior priests, some of whom have forgotten the Consecration or cannot perform a graveside service decently. What will happen now when the MHT clerical vocational program accelerates the ordinations of its slow, ungifted, and overly chastised louts? Can we really take the rector's word that his socially promoted Neanderthals are truly intelligent? They are more likely to be the best of a bad lot, if we consult our experience.

Beyond these serious concerns lies the gravest objection to the implementation of the social-promotion practice: The "seminary" and its faculty do not possess the competence to teach during a year-long term. A summer term will prove a burden that this failing institution cannot bear.

For some time Pistrina has been gathering first-hand accounts of the low-level of instruction at this clerical vocational program. We say categorically that the teaching is substandard. Not even the worst of America's dismal urban public schools would countenance for long the following practices and behaviors:
  1. One of the principal instructors, a perpetually angry young man, teaches by reading aloud and verbatim from the textbook. No prepared lectures, just the slow and excruciating word-by-word, line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the text material (in heavily accented English) until the class ends.
  2. The same irascible instructor is often indisposed by frequent headaches and must remain in bed for most of the day, so his classes are frequently canceled.
  3. Another instructor's classes are also frequently canceled without rescheduling (because of his "higher" responsibilities).
  4. A third instructor, a would-be (and demonstrably failed) scholar, makes jokes throughout class, frequently resorts to slang and American pop cultural references, and offers little context for his remarks, all to the bewilderment of his foreign-born pupils.
  5. The curriculum (if one can call it that) is unsequenced and unwritten (except for the course-description blurb on the website; ex-seminarians say that some of what is advertised is never actually offered).
  6. Examinations are exercises in demonstrating mere rote learning.
  7. Students receive no written syllabi.*
  8. Students are controlled by threats of punishment and are expected to learn in an atmosphere of fear; the smallest question may result in dismissal.
  9. The classroom atmosphere is decidedly anti-intellectual as faculty refuse to support their assertions by citing authorities.
  10. Faculty members are at odds with each other with respect to essential principles of their peculiar brand of sedevacantism, some going so far as to challenge their colleagues indirectly by way of conversations with seminarians; when confronted with these discrepancies, the rector declares the seminarians liars.
MHT is no fit training institution for clergy, or anyone else, for that matter. The mercurial rector cannot assure consistent, organized, and accountable instruction. The only traits that mark the faculty are its lack of formal training and its mistaken belief that punishment is the basis of sound learning. Most of its malformed, intellectually below-average graduates stand as objects of derision throughout the world (notably in France and Great Britain). The genuinely bright seminarians are either expelled quickly or elect to quit as soon as possible, leaving a depleted and stagnant pool from which future priests may crawl.**

Hoist the "Yellow Jack" plague flag above MHT. Close the place before it breeds more impaired priests. Insofar as the rector is the owner, withhold all donations as the surest means to quarantine the program. As we listen to its death rattle, we should leave the rector and his faculty to thrash any sense out of the simpleminded dullards who remain, and vow never to assist at the Mass of one those socially promoted flunkies. We are much better off home alone.

* All we could find in the pages of material we looked through was a pathetically pretentious Latin weekly schedule of courses taught. We laughed out loud at the column captioned "Tempus" for the class time slot: in Latin, the time of day is 'Hora,' not 'Tempus.' The rector, we submit, is a ridiculous and pompous clown.

** We'll soon be telling the story of one of the extremely bright young men who were purged, a man who has lost his vocation to the priesthood as a result of small-mindedness and injustice.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Some men there are love not a gaping pig;/Some, that are mad if they behold a cat. William Shakespeare

Ed. Note: Below is the complete tale of the cat, which caused such a stir when alluded to the incident last year. Pistrina has opted for the simplest, bare-bones narration of the notorious incident for two reasons.

First, we want the story to speak for itself. We know that everyone who reads it will be sickened at the behavior of so-called Catholic clergy. We also know that anyone who reads this sick tale will agree that the institution must be closed as a place unfit for young traditional Catholic men who may have a vocation to the priesthood.

Second, we want the story circulated throughout the world so young men will never risk losing their vocations and perhaps their faith at such a place. We hope the simplicity of language will facilitate translation into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, and Russian. We ask native speakers of these languages to send their translations to The Readers are now working with a lay coalition of very prominent traditional Catholics, which will sponsor a multilingual website to warn Catholics of the dangers of this boys' industrial school for would-be priests. This story will be featured prominently as a solemn admonition.

Setting & Key: These events occurred on and around December 21, 2008. S1 = a seminarian from a former Iron-Curtain country; S2 = a seminarian from Central Europe; S3 = a seminarian from Western Europe. The other dramatis personae are known to Pistrina's audience from previous posts.

  • S1, an Eastern European unused to animals living in a house, disliked the Rector’s cat, which the Rector allowed to roam freely in the kitchen; as a prank, S1 sprayed the cat’s head with a mixture of insecticide and liquid soap.
  • Soon after, the Prefect saw the cat soaking wet, took photographs with his cell phone, and called the Rector (who was off campus) for advice.
  • The Rector e-mailed S1 and demanded information.
  • The Prefect assembled the seminarians, showed them the photos, and began the questioning.
  • S3 had been studying at the time of the incident but knew that S1 had soaked the cat.
  • S2 explained the situation to S3, who then called (by long distance) his Spiritual Adviser, a priest and faculty member, for guidance.
  • The Spiritual Adviser counseled him not to denounce S1 but advised him to ask S1 to denounce himself to the Rector and Prefect.
  • The Prefect continued his inquiries, and even interrogated a seminarian who only that morning had been able to leave his sickbed.
  • When the Rector returned, he asked everyone to denounce the one who poured water on the cat. S1 affirmed that he did not pour water on the cat, and then offered to affirm his declaration on the Holy Bible.
  • The Rector assembled the three seminarians again and announced that he did not want in his institution a “sick seminarian" who would pour water on a cat.
  • Later, two of the seminarians decided to leave the seminary; they met with other seminarians to discuss how crazy the seminary was. They were careful to leave the informal meeting separately because they suspected they were being watched secretly.
  • When S1, S2, S3 returned to their rooms, they found the doors locked.
  • The Prefect and his Assistant accosted the seminarians outside their rooms; the Prefect uncontrollably screamed at them. Then the Prefect accused them of demonic possession and swore that the faculty knew from the beginning that the three intended to destroy the seminary.
  • Shortly afterward, a frightened S1 told S2 and S3 to prepare to leave within one hour. They agreed, for it seemed to them that the Prefect was capable of anything in his rage.
  • S2 and S3 hurriedly packed their suitcases; meanwhile the Rector spoke to S1. In spite of the voluntary decision of S1, S2 and S3 to leave, the Rector officially expelled all three.
  • At first, the Rector refused to allow anyone to drive the seminarians that night to the airport, but S1 insisted on leaving. The Rector then declared he never wanted to see them again, as the Prefect laughed aloud.
  • Owing to the disturbance, a Good Priest came running from the library and brought a vehicle to drive the three frightened, expelled seminarians to the airport. The Prefect and his Assistant were seated in the back seat; they said nothing during the hour-long drive to the airport.
  • At the airport, as the Good Priest solemnly conferred upon the traumatized young men his priestly blessing, the Prefect and his Assistant were heard laughing about something. The young men all returned to their countries.


A few weeks later, S1, a favorite of the Rector, was allowed to return to the seminary despite the Rector’s own rule that no dismissed seminarian could ever return. Later the Rector dismissed his pet S1 for the second time from the seminary when he learned that S1 had posted on the web photos of himself seated in a confessional wearing a violet stole (as a joke, in the company of a friend).

Just before this posting, Pistrina learned that the (Novus Ordo) Institute Christ the King and High Priest prejudicially denied S1 admission to its seminary in Italy. The Good Priest is no longer associated with the Rector, having recently become independent.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"Let's go bowlin'." The Big Lebowski

Ed. Note: A week go, a humorless and Pecksniffian moderator banned the exuberantly irrepressible Cajetan from a forum discussion about problems with a certain seminary completer. The moderator, unable to abide Cajetan's pronounced attitude, declared the wit uncharitable and his relish reprehensible. The Reader thought Cajetan deserved one more roll against (1) a bone-headed defense of the priest who forgot the Consecration and (2) the training program that malformed the numb skull. We've advised Caj not to go over the line with images of social climbing bishops' and parvenu priests' washing down half-chewed mouthfuls of haute cuisine with expensive vintages before returning to the rectory for a more satisfying grape pop. And we also won't allow him to follow up his witty aside on mimosas and scones with a remark about Orange Crush and Ritz Crackers. Therefore, with his 'tude showing and poised to shut down the other team with a six bagger, here's the last frame...

From Cajetan

I'm always flabbergasted by the chutzpah of the errant clergy's spinmeisters. No matter how awful the story, their apologists are always ready to defend bad behavior. Take, for instance, the three arguments one of their mouthpieces offered in hopes of minimizing a priest's failure to consecrate.

First, the vacuous vindicator shifted blame to the reporter by asking rhetorically whether the failure was public news or not. I had known of the incident for a long time but didn't post until the priest himself made it public much, much later. As the authoritative Fr. J. B. O'Connell counsels, "as little public attention as possible is to be called to the occurrence of [a] defect."* So, the question should have been addressed to his bumbling buddy. Nevertheless, for the spiritual well being of Catholics, I'm glad the priest broke this rule as well.

Second, in trying to soft peddle so gave an error, the ardent apologist referenced the Missal's treatise De Defectibus. He then shockingly affirmed, "[t]he Church expects them [defects] to occur occasionally and expects them to happen to priests trained to perfection in the best of seminaries." Balderdash! The Church expects no such thing -- no more than a pesticide manufacturer expects a gardener or her children to ingest a hazardous product when it prints first-aid instructions on the label! De Defectibus gives directions to remedy essential and accidental defects that may come about. The treatise is an almost divinely inspired catalogue of every defect imaginable, even of those that appear improbable to anyone familiar with the Canon and the layout of the Roman Missal. Anticipation is not expectation. In fact, priests are supposed to study De Defectibus carefully in order to prevent defects from arising. Apparently this clown didn't get the message. Or it wasn't taught in the liturgy module at his vocational facility.

Third, this champion of chumps accused critics of behaving like Donatists and Jansenists (and of impugning the treatise itself) when they reproached the priest's formation. Nonsense. Skipping the Consecration is the mother of all defects. Ask any intelligent priest. The offender is in dire need of intervention lest further damage occur to souls.

If ecclesiastical jurisdiction existed in the traditional movement, the malformed wretch would have been removed from contact with the laity until he got it right. Moreover, in the old days, ecclesiastical officials, after interviewing this priest, might have reconstituted the seminary under new leadership and faculty. That's not Jansenism. That's how it's done right.

*The Celebration of Mass, vol. 1 (1942), p. 210

Sunday, January 16, 2011


[T]hen gradually the rats began to appear again in numbers that went on increasing throughout the day. People out at night would often feel underfoot the squelchy roundness of the still-warm body. It was as if the earth on which our houses stood were being purged of its secreted humors; thrusting up to the surface the abcesses and pus-clots that had been forming in its entrails. Albert Camus (tr. Stuart Gilbert)

You, like us Readers, deserve a break from the pestiferous chronicle of priestly incompetence and negligence. Like Dottore Peste of the pandemics of yesteryear, we all need to rewax our linen gowns, sterilize the pointer canes used to turn over the infected or shoo away the wheezing rats, and repack our beaks with fresh aromatics before returning to the miasmal corridors of the swampland's plague-house of formation.

So... let's look at the "lighter side" of malformation with a few random vignettes. In place of a continuous narrative, we'll opt for a pointillist's canvas of luminous little dots of information:

Point 1: The Rector of Injustice used to lavish upon a favored seminarian gifts of expensive clerical clothing from the papal tailor Gammarelli in Rome*. However, he made certain his minion was aware of his status as "the second best-dressed man in the seminary," the rector being the first, naturally. (In a poignant note, the trendy cosset had to lay aside his so-very-glam sash when his rule-savvy fellow inmates informed the rector that the accessory was an ecclesiastical fashion no-no. Oh, my, the distresses of the clerical catwalk!)

Point 2: The Scut Farkus (sic) and Grover Dill of the institution's nomenklatura, that is to say, the "seminary" prefect and his diminutive toady, used to dumpster dive through seminarians' trash in order to discover evidence of rule infractions.

Point 3: When morally outraged seminarians brought to the Rector of Injustice's attention that one of his favorites (or 'nephews,' in the seminarians' argot), a recruit from Eastern Europe, was habitually untruthful, the rector severely counseled them all to make allowance for his falsehoods since lying was customary in the pet's former Iron-Curtain hometown.

Point 4: One evening, Scut the Prefect had a high-pitched, shrieking tiff with another priest. The next morning, the defiant priest beat Scut to the private chapel, where Mass could be said out of the sight of the laity. (Scut once admitted hating to talk to the people and criticized another priest for spending so much time with the laity after Mass.) When Scut the Prefect arrived to find his opponent saying Mass first, enraged, he assembled all the seminarians in the courtyard for a good tongue lashing. (Maybe we should change his name from Scut the Prefect to Colonel Klink: "Into the cooler. Throw away the key!")

Point 5: Scut the Prefect suffers no one to remove his laundry from the washer, even when he fails to show up on time to claim his load so as to give others access to the communal laundromat.

Point 6: Seminarians failing to mop the floor correctly were required to recite the Seven Penitential Psalms. (No wonder the completers don't know too much. Between the drudgery of housework and vindictive time-wasting penalties, there's no opportunity to study.)

Yeeeccch! You know, this is worse than narration. Please accept our apologies. We intended to provide an amusing interlude while we all washed off, but instead we are more nauseous than ever at the image taking form before our eyes. We'll skip, we think, reference to the deacon's crying game. It's all too much.

Next Sunday, we'll go back to simple, straightforward reporting. We need the greater distance that only bald narrative can supply.

*Gammarelli's "My Red Hose" web page boasts that "[t]hey also sell the famous red, purple and black socks that delights aesthets from all over the world." We bet they do!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Then there is my noble and biographical friend who has added a new terror to death. Sir Charles Wetherell

In an e-mail, a charitable Catholic asked Pistrina whether the pressures of having to serve a previously neglected chapel might have caused the inexperienced and horribly trained Lethied Levite to forget the Consecration.

While it's true that his current chapel had been grossly ill served before his transfer there -- this post will show you precisely how dreadful his predecessor was -- you must know that the amnesic's problems started well before his current assignment. We have space for just one more anecdote before we go on to the case of his ill-starred forerunner.

When our unmindful minister was teaching religion at a shockingly troubled school in Ohio, he instructed his high-school-aged charges that riding on a roller coaster was a mortal sin. The skeptical pupils reported his precept to the lay principal (a man long at the center of an ongoing scandal). He promptly told the teens to ignore the priest. Now the real problem here is not simply ignorance and stupidity. The real problem is that the next unit of study was on dating, marriage, and sex. Ah, we can hear the youthful wheels whirring away even now: Why, if Father's wrong about the sinfulness of roller coasters, might not he also be in error about other adolescent fascinations? We Readers are not quite so old as to forget how we might have been tempted to answer the question, especially if prom night were approaching!

No, friends: this repellent priest arrived already broken to inherit the dire legacy bequeathed by his immediate predecessor. We only need to take a brief look at this predecessor to make our point about the woeful completers of the clerical industrial school that cluelessly boasts of being the "best" seminary in the world.

Like our absent-minded abbé, his predecessor was another student from abroad who has incapacitating troubles with the English language. When he was a toady at the clerical industrial school, he was known for accusing seminarians of "grave peccatum" if they didn't wield a mop correctly. But he really earned his spurs there in the infamous incident reported below:

Once, upon making his confession to this man, an earnest seminarian confided a concern. Thereupon, the confessor asked the seminarian whether he could consult another priest in this matter. The seminarian agreed, only to learn that the rector of the seminary had been informed. The rector subsequently expelled the seminarian.

When this wretched excuse for a Catholic priest was sent to the chapel in question, on one occasion he said a Requiem Mass--with relics on the altar!-- for a long-time parishioner who had died without the consolation of the Holy Viaticum. (The poor soul had the audacity to pass away before the priest's regularly scheduled sick call.) When the priest arrived at the cemetery, he discovered he didn't know how to conduct the graveside service (one of the simplest in the Rituale Romanum). Luckily, the deceased's family was spared further grief by the presence of other clergy who offered immediate on-the-job training.

Priests like these are death to the faith. A Catholic should prefer to be "home alone" rather than trust his or her immortal soul to their ministrations. To be sure, they are culpable, and deserve our utmost contempt; however, in justice we must reserve our fiercest criticism for the institution and men that formed them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Real education must ultimately be limited to one who INSISTS on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding. Ezra Pound

The herding dog has no interest in making the animals independent, for the sole purpose of mustering the group is to exert control through modified predatory behavior. When the "authorities" at any educational enterprise are chiefly concerned with casting, holding, and barking, then their "students" will never attain genuine knowledge. As a result, the "students" will never function well when let out on their own.

Pistrina will make clear in the coming months that malformed completers of clerical vocational programs (like the one at which Anthony Cekada, according to the back cover of his book, "teaches liturgy and canon law") present a material and present danger to the faithful. As a result of a training facility's insistence on riding herd rather than imparting knowledge, the intelligent faithful will be haunted by grave doubts about the validity of the sacraments they receive from the hands of the ill educated and unsuited.

We have learned about one such completer who failed to pronounce the words of Consecration during Mass. Instead of being recalled to his alma mater (or is it atrox noverca?) for discipline and transfer, he was allowed to remain as pastor. Then, by way of expiation, in a recent sermon, he lambasted the faithful for making him work so hard that he neglected to say the essential words.

Priests and laity alike cannot imagine how this witless Levite managed to overlook both forms for the consecration of the bread and the wine.

Nevertheless, he did.

From the many reports Pistrina has received of this man, it's easy to understand how, in his case, he missed it. In charity, let's say he'll never be ready for prime time. His imprudence is terminal. For instance, one correspondent related that, in a sermon, this man once boasted--to the visible and audible horror of his astonished parishioners--of breaking off a fragment from the wall of an ancient church in Rome for a pious souvenir.

Some have tried to excuse him on account of his almost scandalously humble origins and his intellectual backwardness. The people at his current assignment are apparently so used to his incompetence that they no longer bother to comment on his admission of skipping the Consecration: they're just waiting for the other shoe to drop. They know they can't send him back to the factory, which wouldn't or couldn't warrant quality in the first place.

Today's Catholics don't expect geniuses or saints. All they want is valid sacraments. Yet in the case of this lost soul, on at least one awful day, he celebrated an invalid Mass. If a new ciborium had been on the Corporal, then the laity who approached the altar received mere bread, like Protestants. Furthermore, if there were an intention, no ministerial fruits resulted.

In one moment of culpable stupidity, a peevish, extraordinarily ungifted young man converted his chapel into the abomination of desolation. At grave spiritual risk are all the faithful entrusted to his negligent cure.

The story doesn't stop there, however. Only a week or two ago, this wretch urged the men of his forlorn little chapel to make their confession to him face to face so that he could "advise" them better. Although repugnant to American sensibilities, it may not be a bad idea, for then the faithful might be certain he administered absolution correctly.

From all reports, this man is uncommonly inept. However, because he responded so well to his drovers, he has advanced without supervision. Very few of the faithful at the chapels to which he has been assigned have any illusions about him. No doubt his current parishioners now undertake the precautions necessary for their spiritual health. They probably won't ask for a replacement because they will just be sent someone worse. They'll just have to make do with one of the herd's most intimidated sheep in order to keep the wolf from returning.