When the opportunity presented itself to review some of Fr. Cekada’s collected works, I readily volunteered to review this volume. I had read Father’s work for years. Like many others, I was convinced of the truth of Sedevacantism, in no small part, by his convincing writing.
Although I have read practically every article on fathercekada.com for the past 12 years, I had not delved into some of his earlier work. I had assumed it to be “of its time” or “affecting only the U.S.” I was mistaken. The first striking feature of this volume is Fr. Vili Lehtoranta’s foreword. It is exceptional. If you read nothing else, read the foreword. Father guides the reader efficiently through the volume by discussing the key events in Fr. Cekada’s life, and the consequent effects on his thoughts and writing. Father’s prose is accurate and succinct, whilst simultaneously demonstrating a deep respect and affection for a fellow priest and friend. If Fr. Lehtoranta can write this well in English, I regret that I cannot read what he can produce in his native Finnish.
As the foreword indicates, those who expect the famous Fr. Cekada wit to tumble off the first pages, will be disappointed, at least in the first chapter. Father was known as a verbal swashbuckler. He could, rhetorically, draw his rapier; run his opponent through with a lethal strike; withdraw it; wipe off the blood, and then sheath it before his enemy knew what had happened; with a constant cordial smile on his face. However, this style (which we learn in the foreword, was heavily influenced by Peter F. Anson, an English convert), does not appear in the first article The Mass Examined which is a clear explanation for laypeople, of the prayers and gestures of the Mass. This article was part of a series that covered the entire Mass, so this instalment covers only from the prayers at the foot of the altar, to the end of the Sequence. It does so with some detail and historical context, occasionally contrasting with the Novus Ordo. Did you know that the simple Confiteor originated in the 8th Century, and was codified at the Council of Ravenna in the early 14th Century? The prayer is 1,200 years old in its origin, and 700 years old in its current form in the Roman rite. The article is a useful aid and devotional for laypeople in understanding what is taking place at the altar, and why. It is more than worthy of your time.
The reader need not wait long for the sardonic flashes that late became synonymous with Fr. Cekada, to show themselves. In the second article Father goes to war with the “Old Catholics”, and demolishes them. This subject was entirely new to me, simply because this schismatic and heretical offshoot of the no-less-schismatic-and-heretical-Jansenists, had never had any significant presence in my native England. Not so in the USA. Despite this sect having its roots with the Jansenists in the Netherlands, England and France are represented through the characters of Arnold Harris Mathew and Joseph René Vilatte, described by Father as “colourful gentlemen”. The numerous condemnations and excommunications issued against these characters and their episcopal lineage would be comical if they were not so serious. A précis could not do the whole story justice. You need to read the book.
I will not bore the reader here by pondering each article in its entirety. It suffices to say that this volume comprises articles covering the full gamut of Fr. Cekada’s early priesthood experiences: from the validity of the Thuc consecrations to the CMRI/Mount Saint Michael's controversy; exiting the SSPX, and SSPV controversies. Instead, I will discuss only two more articles.
For those still struggling with the idea of Sedevacantism, or who may be unsure about articulating what they know to be true, this volume contains two articles, that have been to me, of profound importance. These are: “Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope” and “Sedevacantism: How to Tell Aunt Helen”.
“Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope” clearly lays out the reasoning for the sedevacantist position whilst referencing all the claims made with quotations from renowned theologians, popes and councils of the Church. The Bibliography runs to 22 volumes, all written by highly-respected theologians. Beware clergy who do not reference their arguments! It suffices to say, that this article made quite an impression on me.
“Sedevacantism: How to Tell Aunt Helen” condenses all the material covered in the previous article into something that a layperson can understand – a common sense approach that can set an inquirer on the right path without reference to theologians whom most will have never heard of. This is a perfect remedy for all of those relatives and friends who would say “this is too difficult to understand”. Fr. Cekada has ensured that it is not.
In summary, this is a volume (in addition to volumes 2 and 3), that I am very happy to have on my shelf. Yes – most, if not all, of the material is online, but there is nothing as convenient as having this kind of reference material to hand when discussing these controversies with friends and family. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I am sure that when the history of this time in the Church is written, the name of Cekada will be written with great respect. Father will continue to persuade Catholics of the truth, long after he put down his pen for the last time. He deserves his rightful place on your bookshelf.
 The second article was discussed almost 10 years ago. The recording of that discussion is freely available on True Restoration’s YouTube channel.
Related item: The Problems with the Prayers of the Modern Mass ~ also by Fr. Cekada