Have you ever assisted at a Mass with a heretics name recited in the canon and the subsequent offering of the blessed sacrament in union with the said heretic? If so, then you need to understand exactly what that means, below is an excerpt from an article written by Fr. Anthony Cekada
IN OUR LIVES as traditional Catholics, we make many
judgments that must inevitably produce logical consequences
in our actual religious practice. The earliest
that I remember making occurred at about age 14. Guitar
songs at Mass, I concluded, were irreverent. Thereafter,
throughout eight years in the diocesan seminary,
I never once opened my mouth to sing one.
For some questions, the practical course of action
that follows from a judgment is self-evident: If the Paul
VI rite for making priests and bishops is invalid, we
should avoid the Masses these priests and bishops offer.
For other questions, how we must act may not be
so obvious — or it may be dictated by instinct, because
we cannot necessarily explain all the underlying principles.
For some sedevacantists, one issue in particular
falls into the latter category: a traditional Latin Mass
offered by a validly ordained priest who utters a
phrase in the Canon referring to Benedict, our Pope. This
practice is followed by all priests who offer the recently
instituted Motu Masses, as well as by priests of
the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), its affiliated organizations
and the majority of “independent” traditionalist
These Masses are also sometimes referred to as
“una cum Masses,” from the Latin phrase in the Canon
into which the name of a reigning pope is inserted: una
cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. (together with Thy servant
N., our Pope)
Now, since a sedevacantist is a traditionalist who
has concluded that Benedict XVI is a heretic and not a
true pope, his first instinct is to seek out a traditional
Latin Mass offered by a sedevacantist priest, and to
avoid traditional Masses where the priest refers to
Benedict XVI as a pope. To act otherwise seems contradictory
or somehow “feels” wrong for the sedevacantist,
even though he may not necessarily be able to
articulate any theological reasons or arguments for
what he does.
He has read or heard the stories of countless early
martyrs who chose horrible deaths, rather than offer
even one grain of incense in tribute to the false, ecumenical
religion of the Roman emperor. So better to
avoid altogether the Masses of priests who, through
the una cum, offer a grain of incense to the heresiarch
Ratzinger and his false ecumenical religion…
In many parts of the world, however, the only traditional
Latin Mass available may be one offered by a
priest (Motu, SSPX or independent) who puts the false
pope’s name in the Canon. Faced with choosing this or
nothing, a sedevacantist is then sometimes tempted to
assist at the Mass anyway.
The temptation will be much greater now, since
Ratzinger has permitted the Motu Mass. In some dioceses,
older priests who were validly ordained have
come out of retirement to offer Mass according to the
’62 Missal. Moreover, a substantial number of priests
who were validly ordained in SSPX have defected to
organizations like the Fraternity of St. Peter and will
also offer the Motu Mass. Such Masses will be valid.
Why not simply overlook Benedict’s name in the
Canon, and “just go for the Mass”? It’s just one grain of
incense, after all…
Although various arguments have been offered to
justify the assistance of sedevacantists at una cum
Masses, none of them really seems to ring true.
The priests who offer these Masses assert in the
Canon that Ratzinger is a true pope, while a sedevacantist
(by definition) affirms the opposite. By actively
assisting at such a Mass, a sedevacantist condones the
assertion that the celebrant publicly makes in the name
of all present — Benedict, OUR Pope — an assertion that
the sedevacantist knows and believes to be false.
The inconsistency — a complete disconnect between
belief and worship — should be obvious after
about 10 seconds of reflection. The theoretical conclusion
(Ratzinger is not a true pope), we sense, should
dictate the practical conclusion (don’t assist at Masses
where the prayers say the opposite).
But what are the underlying principles that should
dictate our course of action here? Why is it wrong for a
sedevacantist to assist actively at a traditional Latin
Mass in which the priest employs the phrase Benedict
our Pope in the Canon?
Because I have written much over the years about— 2 —
sedevacantism, canon law and the sacred liturgy, I am
now often asked this question. In this article I will answer
it at some length, because I consider the issue
crucial for the future of the traditionalist movement.
Moreover, there is a vast amount of material in the
writings of popes, dogmatic theologians, canonists,
moral theologians, Vatican decrees and liturgical
scholars that, taken together, provides us with a very
clear answer to this question.
Not everyone will have the patience to slog
through a long article. I promise such readers that I
will soon produce a brief summary of what follows,
much as I offered a short résumé of my study on the
1968 Rite of Episcopal Consecration.
In either version, though, the structure of our inquiry
will be fairly straightforward, and we will examine
the following points:
(I) The meaning of the una cum phrase in the
Canon, both linguistically and theologically, and how
that meaning must be applied to Ratzinger.
(II) Whether the sedevacantist who actively participates
in an una cum Mass likewise participates in
the prayer that contains that phrase.
(III) Why a sedevacantist should not actively participate
in such a Mass.
In this, the long version of the article, we will also
present various arguments that have been made to justify
assisting at Masses where Ratzinger is offered his
grain of incense, and demonstrate how these need to
be taken with more than a grain of salt. We will conclude
with a summary.