From the Vatican II religion to Catholicism…
From Novus Ordo Presbyter to Roman Catholic Priest:
An Interview with Father Michael DeSaye
Few things could be more difficult than for a Novus Ordo priest to realize that, despite his sincere love of God and genuine piety, the religion to which he has been unwittingly adhering all his life is not in fact the Roman Catholic religion of time immemorial but a counterfeit concocted in the 20th century.
Probably the only thing more distressing still is the realization that, through no fault of his own, his ordination to the priesthood was most probably invalid, meaning he has never in his life offered a valid Mass nor granted a single valid absolution. Indeed, contemplating these things must be utterly horrific.
Although there are no doubt numerous Novus Ordo priests harboring similar suspicions, not many seriously investigate further, and even fewer still muster the courage to take the next step and resign from their diocese or leave their religious community so they can embrace real Catholicism and receive proper training and valid ordination from a sedevacantist bishop.
Nevertheless, there are some who do.
In the United States, Fr. Michael Oswalt, of the diocese of Rockford, Illinois, is one such exceptional soul. His 2009 letter “Rejecting the Imposter Church”, addressed to the clerics in his former diocese, is dynamite.
Another presbyter of the Vatican II Church who generously cooperated with God’s grace is Fr. Michael G. DeSaye of the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. It is the latter who was (re-)ordained this past June 29, along with three others, by Bishops Donald Sanborn and Joseph Selway at Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida. The complete video of the ordinations and the Solemn Pontifical High Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul can be viewed here. (For contrast, his invalid Novus Ordo ordination is available here.)
We have reported on the Rev. DeSaye in the past:
- Novus Ordo Priest becomes Sedevacantist, Diocese Excommunicates (July 2021)
- Interview with Former Novus Ordo Priest Michael DeSaye (April 2022)
In this post, we are pleased to present a written interview with the newly-ordained Fr. DeSaye. It was conducted by Mr. Cory Tesch (not affiliated with Novus Ordo Watch) and is being published with permission.
The interviewer’s questions and remarks will be in bold print; Father DeSaye’s responses will be in regular typeface.
Father, could you describe your time in the Novus Ordo? From the education you received, the formation; and what exactly was the last straw that was witnessed that made you come to the conclusion of sedevacantism? Did you, Father, grow up at a liberal Novus Ordo or a conservative Novus Ordo parish?
I grew up at a liberal Novus Ordo parish. I graduated from Novus Ordo elementary and secondary schools, and my experience at these schools was typical. My parents taught me the duty of attending Mass on Sundays and of going to Confession at least once a year; they also taught me to pray the rosary.
My formation in seminary in the Novus Ordo began at Catholic University of America, where I studied philosophy. The philosophy program was presented under the rubric of Modernism, in which philosophy is reduced to worldviews undergoing a transcendent evolutionary process. Despite this, the specific content of the philosophy courses was very good. I read Plato, Aristotle, Boethius, St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas. It was obvious to me that these philosophers were superior to Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. I wanted to read everything by St. Thomas Aquinas, and I thought that Descartes and the Rationalists were wrong.
My theology classes were at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. These classes contained a fair amount of theological drivel from Joseph Ratzinger [Benedict XVI], Karol Wojtyła [John Paul II], Romano Guardini, Louis Bouyer, and other Modernists. Nevertheless, this material was also mixed with a large dose of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. This is because, in the 1960s, the faculty at Mount Saint Mary’s decided to pursue an approach in which they would attempt to find continuity between a scholastic intellectual formation and the Vatican II program of priestly formation, instead of altogether rejecting scholastic formation, as other seminaries did.
I became interested in the traditional Mass in seminary, and tried to attend it whenever possible (secretly, of course, for fear of being expelled from seminary). I secretly taught myself Latin as best I could. I bought and read Fr. Anthony Cekada’s book Work of Human Hands. I intended to celebrate it as much as possible after ordination. I was under the impression that Ratzinger had given priests the freedom to do so.
In reality, despite Summorum Pontificum, no diocesan priest can freely celebrate the traditional Mass without being punished. At best, he could try to introduce it on occasional days as a marginal curiosity, as if he were a part-time curator of a liturgical museum. Even this is rarely tolerated, and is often punished. Under Jorge Bergoglio [Francis], there is no appeal from this punishment.
Within a few months after my Novus Ordo ordination, I knew that I had to stop celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass and identifying with the Vatican II religion. I did not know how I was going to do this, but I knew that I had to exercise my priesthood wherever traditional Catholicism was being exclusively preached and practiced. By that time, I had understood how evil Modernism was, and how I had unwittingly waded deep into the Modernist swamp by making many compromises with it. I hated celebrating the New Mass of 1969. I hated working for that religion. I knew that Vatican II contained error. I wanted to celebrate exclusively the traditional Mass, pray the traditional Divine Office, and thunder against the errors of Vatican II from the pulpit. But I did not know how to arrive at that point from where I was. I was confused on certain issues because I had become favorable to the position of the SSPX, about which I will discuss below.
In my final year in the Novus Ordo, by Divine Providence, I happened to be reading St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Francis de Sales, the Vatican Council (1870), and the encyclicals of more recent popes, all of which helped me conclude to the sedevacantist position. There was no “last straw” moment; I simply discovered, from reading these sources, that the chair of St. Peter is vacant in our times. What struck me in particular was the teaching on the Roman Pontiff as an indefectible rule of faith. It is contrary to the faith that the Roman Pontiff could teach error to the universal Church and promulgate bad Masses; whereas it is not contrary to the faith that there can be a lengthy period of a vacant see. By the grace of God, I found Most Holy Trinity Seminary on the internet, and reached out to Bishop Donald Sanborn.
What was it like celebrating the New Mass? Did your superiors persecute you for trying to search for the truth? What was the piety and formation of the modernist seminary like?
New Mass: I always hated the New Mass. I hated attending it as a layman, and my hatred for it grew greater when I was behind the altar as a Novus Ordo priest. The reason I put up with it was because I had assumed that something was wrong with me rather than with the Mass; I thought that, over time, I would grow to see the wisdom of the Church in instituting the Novus Ordo. But as I studied it more and more, I realized that the Novus Ordo is the liturgical instantiation of Modernism; it is not a Catholic rite at all. It is something conceived and born in Modernism. I realized that my original aversion for the Novus Ordo was legitimate. It is the same aversion that any Catholic should have for a heretical rite.
Persecution: I was excommunicated for rejecting Vatican II and declaring myself a sedevacantist, but this is obviously a null and void excommunication. I did not suffer as a result of this excommunication, since I did not intend to receive sacraments from the Modernist Novus Ordo religion, nor do I intend to have anything to do with the Novus Ordo ever again.
Modernist Seminary: A polarization exists in the Novus Ordo between liberals and conservatives. People should understand that seminaries in the Novus Ordo operate on a scale of liberal to conservative; there is no “standard” Novus Ordo seminary. Theological College (where I attended for philosophy) is a very liberal seminary. As far as pious customs were concerned, I remember there being one optional Holy Hour once a month. The daily Rosary was not encouraged. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament were not encouraged. Meditation was once a month, during which most of us took a nap. Confession was whenever you felt like it. Marian piety was nonexistent. Vice was rewarded, and virtue punished. Spiritual direction was modern psychoanalysis. Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg (where I attended for theology) is a very conservative seminary. They had two Holy Hours per day with daily Benediction; seminarians were strongly encouraged to attend one of them. Daily meditation was encouraged. Confession was mandatory at least once every two weeks. Daily Rosary was very strongly encouraged; Marian piety was fostered publicly and encouraged by the faculty. Daily spiritual reading of saints was encouraged. Vice was punished and virtue rewarded. Other seminaries fall somewhere between this spectrum.
Do you, Father, have any apostolates you wish to start in the U.S., such as missions or Mass runs? Keeping in mind for the audience that this needs permission from the Bishop.
If there is a desire somewhere for a traditional priest, Roman Catholic Institute would be happy to consider the request. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, and always discussed with His Excellency Bishop Sanborn and the other priests of the Institute before any commitment can be made. My desire currently is to support Most Holy Trinity Seminary, Queen of All Saints Academy and Chapel, and the other apostolates of Roman Catholic Institute.
Fr. Michael Oswalt, when he was a Novus Ordo priest, had moments when the apostasy of Vatican II really showed through the normal life of the Novus Ordo, doctrinally speaking. Myself, the interviewer, remember coming across the Arian heresy at my old parish from catechists. Were there any major heresies or errors that you came across, Father, as a priest or layman during your days in the Novus Ordo?
There is heresy everywhere in the Novus Ordo. I came across heresies so frequently that I cannot possibly list them all here — usually from the clergy, not the laity. The Novus Ordo religion is Modernism, which welcomes and celebrates all heresies. Sixty years of Modernism has produced a situation in which nearly every error conceivable can be found in Novus Ordo parishes. The most common error found in the Novus Ordo is a rejection of the Church’s indefectibility. On the one hand, Novus Ordo liberals perceive the “pre-Vatican II Church” as a hopelessly defective Church in need of ongoing reform: a stale, rigid, and encrusted Church in need of constant aggiornamento [updating], opening the windows, etc. On the other hand, Novus Ordo conservatives perceive the “post-Vatican II Church” as a hopelessly defective Church in need of a reform back to the way it was. They see the present Church as a liberal and immoral Church plagued by scandal, in need of a return to its old doctrine, its traditional worship, and its old laws. But whether one is liberal or conservative, the Novus Ordite fundamentally accepts the principle of a defected Church, a principle which is entirely Protestant.
Father, who is your most disliked Novus Ordo music composer — Marty Haugen, David Haas, or Michael Joncas (“On Eagle’s Wings”)?
I passionately dislike all music composed for the Novus Ordo without exception. Nothing edifying exists in that repertoire whatsoever. Could you imagine St. Pius X or St. John Vianney humming along to Marty Haugen while at the altar? Such music is sickening; not worthy of man or beast. Great music ennobles the soul and helps raise it to the contemplation of higher things. Chant and polyphony (which is a development and descendant of chant) are the only suitable forms of music for the sacred liturgy.
Father, what do you have to say to the clergy remaining in the Vatican II religion? Why and how should they abandon the errors of Vatican II? Is there a reading list of some sort to show how Vatican II is wrong?
Errors of V2: We are presently working on an article exposing the errors of Vatican II in great detail. It is nearly finished, and we hope to publish it soon. There is a great deal of written material already available on our website, mostholytrinityseminary.org. Many sermons, classes, and spiritual conferences are available on our YouTube channel, Roman Catholic Media.
No Catholic — priest or layman — may assent to Vatican II, for to assent to error is to abandon the faith. No Catholic may ever abandon the faith for any reason, for we promise at baptism to preserve it unstained until heaven. Catholics must reject Vatican II not only privately, but publicly. For to publicly assent to the council, while privately rejecting it, is hypocrisy: it is a sin of bearing false witness.
To accept Vatican II as a valid council is also to accept the false popes of Vatican II as true popes. Therefore, a rejection of Vatican II is also a rejection of the authority of the men who promulgated it as false authorities. No priest who rejects Vatican II may consider himself to operate under the hierarchy of Bergoglio. He must call his bishop and declare that the Catholic faith requires him to profess the non-authority of Bergoglio, and that the Church is currently in a condition of sede vacante [the Holy See is vacant]. Whatever consequences follow, he must be willing to suffer these crosses. God never denies us the grace to do what faith requires of us. In fact, He blesses those who suffer for the sake of the truth. I would also insist that mortification, fervent daily prayer, a firm purpose of avoiding all sin, and a devotion to Our Lady, with the daily Rosary, are morally necessary to break from the Novus Ordo.
Abandoning Vatican II: The laity ought to abandon it by completely severing from the structures of the Novus Ordo. They should not receive sacraments from priests in union with Bergoglio; they should seek to receive them from priests who are validly ordained and not in union with him. They must also verify that the priest from whom they receive sacraments received good training at a reputable traditional seminary, for there are many men out there claiming to be Catholic priests operating independent chapels who have had little or no training, and who may not even be real priests.
Novus Ordo priests ought to abandon Vatican II in the form of a phone call to their bishop and resignation from their diocese. On a personal note, it was emotionally difficult coming to terms with the invalidity of the Novus Ordo episcopal consecration, and the consequent invalidity of my own priestly ordination in the Novus Ordo. But this is merely another example of the far-reaching poison of Modernism. Modernists are not content with the perversion of mere doctrine, but relentlessly press on to the dismantling of the sacraments and the entire moral order. For they regard everything that is holy in our beautiful religion as clay, to be broken, melted down, and re-fashioned into hideous monsters of their own imaginings. It is necessary for Novus Ordo priests and bishops to come to terms with the extent of the damage caused by Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. When they do, they will realize that there can be absolutely no compromise with it.
In that same vein, Father, what do you have to say to the SSPX [Society of Saint Pius X]? Why should they abandon the Recognize-and-Resist (R&R) position?
Like many seminarians, I was powerfully influenced by SSPX media. I read Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Michael Davies, Christopher Ferrara, The Remnant, and other popular SSPX authors. There was something very appealing to me about the “fight for Tradition” in a world that has rejected it. Sedevacantism seemed like an extreme position to me; it seemed that one could be a traditional Catholic without ‘going as far as’ sedevacantism.
The SSPX is aware that the Church is holy, and cannot deliver bad worship, bad doctrine, or bad morals to her faithful on a universal level. For this reason, they use ambiguous language to describe the Novus Ordo; they generally say that it is problematic, that it is less good than the traditional Mass, or that it is a difficult issue for our times. They say that Vatican II ought not to be taken as if it were universal Church teaching; rather, it ought to be taken as a pastoral council, which could be subject to error without compromising the Church’s holiness. They also say that the Roman Pontiffs defected from the faith many times in the past, and that the situation that we are living through today is no different than these past times. They say that Archbishop Lefebvre was an Athanasius of the modern world, which they interpret as meaning he stood up to a pope who had defected from the faith. They say that St. Paul resisted St. Peter to his face, and that they are doing the same.
Several things persuaded me to abandon the SSPX position (and all of R&R). First, having completed a great deal of research on the Novus Ordo, I had come to the firm conclusion that it was an evil Mass. I also knew from direct experience that it was the cause of a catastrophic loss of faith and morals among the faithful. It is not a ‘problematic’ or ‘difficult’ issue; it must be said clearly that the Novus Ordo Mass is something evil. The Church is holy and cannot promulgate evil rites. Therefore the Novus Ordo cannot be a legitimate universal promulgation of the Catholic Church. And since the only one who has the authority over the Church to universally promulgate rites is the Roman Pontiff, he who appeared to promulgate this evil rite to the universal Church could not have been the Roman Pontiff.
Second, it must also be clearly said that Vatican II contains many errors which had previously been condemned by the Church’s magisterium. No ecumenical council can contain error, for an ecumenical council is an exercise of the supreme teaching authority of the Church, from which there cannot be any appeal. Therefore all of Vatican II must be completely rejected as invalid; it is not a point of concern to be potentially solved in future discussions. With a rejection of the council comes a rejection of the popes who promulgated it and continue to do so. For the formal validity of a council comes not from the fact that bishops were gathered, but from the pope promulgating it. Thus, in order for Vatican II to be an invalid council, it must have come from an invalid pope.
Third, contrary to what the SSPX teaches, the Holy See has never defected from the faith. Indeed, the Vatican Council (1870) teaches that the Roman Pontiffs can never defect from the faith. St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Francis de Sales also reiterate this teaching. No Catholic saint or theologian teaches that the Holy See can defect. Only Protestants teach it. The SSPX and all of R&R join themselves to Protestants and keep company with them on this position. The anecdote about St. Athanasius is a Protestant argument refuted by St. Robert Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, IV, IX). The anecdote about St. Paul resisting St. Peter is another Protestant argument, also refuted by St. Robert Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, IV, IX). I discovered many similar arguments commonly used by present-day R&R media which are traceable directly to the Chroniclers of Magdeburg, a group of Protestant academics. The fact that the SSPX appeals to Protestant arguments to support their position — arguments which were refuted by Catholic saints and popes — was a clear indication to me that they were wrong.
Sedevacantism is not a rejection of the papacy, but a preservation of the papacy from defection.
The July 2022 MHTS newsletter has revealed that you, Fr. DeSaye, will be staying with the school and parish in Brooksville. What exactly will you be teaching at the Academy with the Sisters?
As of this writing, I do not yet know what I will be teaching. I am very busy helping with the move to Reading, Pennsylvania, and preparing articles for the new website.
Father, do you accept the Thesis of Cassciacum? Is it the solution to the crisis in the Church?
Yes, I do accept the Thesis of Cassiciacum. I would not say that the thesis is the solution to the present crisis; it is only a diagnosis of the present crisis. The solution to the crisis will be a true pope. But I do not see how it is possible to explain the current crisis in the Church — while also preserving the Church’s marks, indefectibility, and visibility — without appealing to the principles outlined in the thesis. In that regard, the thesis clarifies exactly what the problem is: an interior defect of consent in the pope-elect, pre-existing his exterior manifestation of acceptance, positively determining his will, and de facto nullifying his papacy. The thesis proposes various possible means of resolving the crisis (by means of the obtainment of a true pope) which are reasonable, which appeal to traditional principles of moral theology and ecclesiology, and which avoid conspiracy theories or appeals to miraculous interventions, the latter of which seem to be putting God to the test. Even if God were to perform a miracle for the benefit of the Church worldwide, it would still not answer the question: how is the indefectibility of the Church preserved?
Where would you point someone to learn more about this thesis of Bishop Guérard des Lauriers? Perhaps a website of some sort?
We are working on a website dedicated to presenting the thesis in a manner which is clear and easy to understand, and which answers common objections. In the meantime, please check out the articles about the thesis by Bishop Sanborn, Father Francesco Ricossa, and Father Damien Dutertre at mostholytrinityseminary.org.
How is the seminary move going? Is the seminary in need of financial help with this ongoing move?
As of today, we have moved nearly the entire library to Reading, as well as many desks, beds, chairs, bookshelves, decorations, and other pieces of furniture. With each passing day, the Reading campus begins to look more like a seminary and less like a construction site. Local Brooksville families have been extremely generous in helping us load trucks and pack boxes in the intense summer heat of Florida; and they have done so joyfully and without complaining.
We are trying our best to secure the most cost-effective way to move this institution a thousand miles from where it is currently located. Rental trucks, insurance, gasoline, hotel bills, airfare, moving supplies, hardware, and many take-out meals while on the road, are all expenses which are above the normal day-to-day operating costs of the seminary. According to Bishop Sanborn, the total cost of the move is going to be between $40,000 and $50,000. This seminary depends entirely on the generosity of individual benefactors. Unlike Novus Ordo seminaries, we receive no income from dioceses or religious orders. Therefore any donations to our general fund to help bear this burden of moving would be received with our profound gratitude and prayers.
Could you describe your vocation, Father? What would you say to the young people that feel called to the priesthood or religious life?
My vocation was complicated by the fact that the Novus Ordo priesthood is not the Catholic priesthood, and I did not know it. But once I understood that, I wanted to be ordained a priest more than ever. And I hoped and prayed that Bishop Sanborn would think the same.
The vocation to the priesthood or religious life has always been characterized by suffering for the faith: by a burning desire to be a victim with Our Lord, united to Him in will, bearing our own crosses, for the glory of God and salvation of souls. But in our days, the vocation to the priesthood and religious life will be characterized by a willingness to suffer not only from heretics and schismatics, but also from fellow Catholics who refuse to abandon the perversity of the Novus Ordo.
Apart from this unique challenge arising from the crisis in the Church, the priesthood and religious life continue as they have always. Typically someone who feels called to the priesthood has a persistent and burning desire to be at the altar, to be in the confessional, to be at the sick bed, to be at the pulpit, to be in choir, to be living the common life, to be studying philosophy and theology, to be frequently in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, to be frequently recollected in prayer and contemplation, and to submit his own will for whatever is necessary to preserve and cultivate the Catholic religion. Religious vocations desire the above as well, minus the aspects which pertain uniquely to the sacrament of holy orders. Although they may experience temptations to impurity in body and mind, as well as to pursue worldly treasures and ambitions, those who have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life realize that they have also received many graces to resist these temptations, and to love deeply the virtues of chastity, poverty, obedience, and humility; they feel that God will continue to give them similar graces throughout their lives, not because of anything they have accomplished, but purely because He loves them and has chosen them. And finally, those who feel called to the priesthood or religious life should speak openly and honestly to a priest about it, preferably a priest to whom one regularly confesses.
What do you recommend for spiritual reading or for growth in the spiritual life?
Anything by a saint or by an approved spiritual writer before Vatican II, such as Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange or Fr. Jean-Baptiste Chautard, is good spiritual reading. If you discover a pre-Vatican II author but do not know if he or she was generally approved, ask a priest. Do not be frustrated if you find spiritual reading difficult. I found it difficult when I first started; this is because the saints are not like us. We approach them like a worm approaching an angel. Do not be discouraged; reading the saints becomes easier with practice.
Thank you Father, and God bless you.
We thank Fr. DeSaye and Mr. Tesch for permission to publish this interview. The original text was slightly modified for clarity and consistent formatting.
As a bonus, we are including here Fr. DeSaye’s first Sunday sermon as a real Catholic priest. It is, quite appropriately, on the unfailing Faith of St. Peter, the first Pope:
Please pray for Fr. DeSaye and Fr. Oswalt, and for all Novus Ordo priests who would like to escape the counterfeit church but have not yet found the courage to do so.
May God grant them all the graces necessary to do His Will.
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