THE CATHOLIC MONITOR
Bishop Gracida: “Ten years later when I was made Auxiliary Bishop of Miami I realized that this had been God’s plan for me all along. I was too emotionally involved in my departure from the monastery to even imagine that that might be the case”
Airman, Monk, Priest, Bishop: An interview with Bp. Rene Henry Gracida
The retired Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, now 92, discusses fighting in World War II, being a monk and priest, taking a stand against pro-abortion politicians, and his friendship with Mother Angelica
January 11, 2016 Jim Graves Interview 10Print
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, the retired Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, has released his autobiography, An Ordinary’s Not So Ordinary Life, available through Amazon.com. [https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2016/01/11/airman-monk-priest-bishop-an-interview-with-bp-rene-henry-gracida/]
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida’s 100th birthday is coming up on June 9 so I started reading his autobiography in preparation for the great day. Here’s a episode of a heavy cross in his life that was “a classic case of God writing with crooked lines”:
From 1953 until 1959 I had enjoyed a good relationship with Archabbot Denis. According to the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict the abbot took the place of Christ in the monastery, he was like a father to the community. I do not believe that anyone enjoyed a close relationship with Archabbot Denis, he did not have a warm personality and rarely smiled. Perhaps his rather austere and unapproachable personality had been formed, or malformed, during the period from 1929 until 1947 when he was running the military school, Saint Emma’s, for black boys. After just three years back at Saint Vincent Abbey he was elected its Archabbot. During those three years he was in charge of maintenance. I imagine that what the monks saw in him as a possible candidate for the office of Archabbot was his stern demeanor that spoke of discipline.
There is no question that both the College and the Monastery needed a building program. The College needed new dormitories and the Monastery needed a new building to accommodate the increase in the number of monks. Perhaps the community saw in Father Denis Strittmatter the talent needed for the construction of those new buildings. In any event, Archabbot Denis set about planning the new dormitories. He hired a commercial builder in Pittsburgh to design and build the dormitories.
There are two things wrong with that approach. First, the hiring of a construction firm to both design and build the buildings meant that there would be no competitive bidding for their construction. That is not good. On a project costing over a million dollars it is best to have competitive bidding in order for the owner to be sure he is paying a fair price for the construction of the project. Secondly, when the construction firm uses an ‘in-house architect’ to design the buildings there is a conflict of interest from the start. The contractor’s architect is not independent, he is subject to the pressures and orders of his employer to design the buildings using systems, elements and materials that are in the contractor’s best interest, not the owner’s. On a project of the size of the dormitories it is best for the owner to engage an independent architect, a member of the American Institute of Architects, who acts as an arbiter between the owner and the contractor during the construction of the project. During the design of the project the architect must follow, within reason, the wishes of the owner with regard to materials used in the construction of the project. I, of course was totally incapable of designing and supervising the awarding of contracts and construction of such a large project. I lacked the staff to undertake it and so the Archabbot was justified in going outside of the monastery for the dormitory project, but he should have hired an independent architect not a construction firm.
Business affairs of a monastery are conducted by the abbbot in consultation with his Little Chapter, consisting of the Prior, the Sub-Prior, and two monks elected by the General Chapter of the monastery which consists of all monks in solemn vows. There are financial limits on how much the Abbot with the Little Chapter can spend, beyond those limits the abbot must seek the approval of the General Chapter.
When it came time for Archabbot Denis to submit his plans and the contract for the construction of the college dormitories to the General Chapter, the Archabbot placed the plans for the dormitories in the chapter room of the monastery for several days in advance of the meeting of the General Chapter in order to give the monks the opportunity to study the project. Naturally, I, being a monk in solemn vows, examined the plans. I was shocked to see that the system of construction was more residential than institutional and that it would require much more maintenance and upkeep over the years to keep it in good condition. It seemed to me that it was possible the in-house architect of the contractor could have been influenced by his employer, the contractor, to use materials either that the contractor already had in his warehouse or could obtain at a favorable discount from his suppliers.
Now I was faced with a dilemna. I knew that if, as an architect, I spoke unfavorably about the project at the chapter meeting it could influence the community to vote down the project. I knew that that would infuriate Archabbot Denis and I had no idea as to how he would react. On the other hand, there were enough monks in the community with experience with building, some of them were, or had been, pastors of parishes under the care of the Archabbey and had themselves had to work with architects and contractors, and so I could hope that the monks would not need my opinion expressed in Chapter and so I resolved to ‘play it by ear.’
At the chapter meeting to vote on the dormitory project, as I had hoped, there were enough monks with experience in planning and building buildings who expressed doubts, reservations and even opposition to the Archabbot’s proposal for the construction of the college dormitories that I kept my silence. However, as the meeting was drawing to a close and we approached the time to vote on the project, one of the monks said, “Well we have not heard from Frater Rene and with his background and experience surely he has an opinion on this project, we should hear from him.”
My heart sank within me for I realized that this was a moment of truth that I could not escape. So I stood up and said basically the same things I have written above. The community listened and then remained silent. After what seemed like an eternity the Archabbot called for the vote. The motion to grant permission for the construction of the project failed. The Archabbot, red faced, adjourned the chapter meeting and left the room.
I did not sleep well that night. I knew that the dormitories project represented a considerable investment of time, money and prestige on the part of the Archabbot. It was obvious the way he ended the Chapter meeting that he was unhappy. Just how unhappy he was I would find out the next morning.
The next morning, after Matins, Prime, Lauds, conventual Mass and breakfast, the secretary of the Archabbot came to my room and said that the Archabbot wanted to see me. With dread filling all my being I went to his office, knocked and entered. The Archabbot, seated behind his desk, looked at me and said, “Frater Rene you can forget about being ordained a priest!” That was it. No preliminary words leading up to his death sentence. That was it: “You can forget about being ordained a priest.” Stunned, I must have stood there speechless for several minutes. Then I stammered, “But Father Archabbot, there is no proportionality between your dormitories project and the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He glared at me and then said, “I repeat, Frater Rene, you can forget about being ordained a priest, that is all, you can go.” With that I left his office and went straight to the Archabbey Church to pray; I was devastated.
At the time, I and the other members of my novitiate class, having professed both simple and solemn vows and having completed five years of theology and having been ordained transitional deacons were scheduled to be ordained in a few months to the priesthood in Greensburg Cathedral. The Archabbot, lacking the power to ordain priests had to follow the canonical process of issuing dimissorial letters to Bishop Lamb, the Bishop of Greensburg authorizing and delegating him to ordain his monks. Normally the monks of Saint Vincent were ordained in the Archabbey Church in the presence of the community, however relations between Bishop Lamb and Archabbot Denis were reportedly strained and so Bishop Lamb decided that we would be ordained in his cathedral.
Saint Vincent Archabbey was scheduled later that month to have its triennial apostolic visitation by two abbots from our American Cassinese Federation of abbeys. I decided to not immediately appeal to the Holy See the Archabbot’s decision to withhold a dimisorial letter authorizing my ordination to the priesthood until after the visitation. During the visitation each monk of the monastery has the right to be interviewed by the Abbot Visitators. When my turn came I told the whole sad story of the Chapter meeting on the dormitories and the subsequent punishment inflicted on me by Archabbot Denis for exercising my canonical right to express my opinion during the meeting. The two Abbot Visitators were visibly shocked by what I told them and they explained that as a transitional deacon I had a right to be advanced to the presbyteral order in the absence of any serious moral delict or impediment. Since I had not acquired either, they said that they would speak with Archabbot Denis and tell him that he must issue the dimissorial letter.
Evidently the Abbot Visistators were successful in persuading Archabbot Denis that he had acted wrongly because in due time he issued my dimissorial letter to Bishop Lamb along with the letters for my classmates and on May 23, 1959 I was ordained a priest in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral by Bishop Hugh Lamb, the Bishop of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
The next two years were happy years for me in many ways: I began to teach theology to freshmen in Saint Vincent College, I went on weekends to parishes in the lower Monongahela River Valley south east of Pittsburgh, principally in the little coal-mining town of Clarksville. I loved doing both. It was a joy to relate to the people of a small congregation of 150 people and I enjoyed teaching. I also was able to do architectural projects for the Archabbey, the College and some of the parishes under the care of monks from the Archabbey. What was missing in my spiritual life, however, was a good relationship with my Archabbot. He would not speak with me, he would not acknowledge that I even existed. For a Benedictine monk that is intolerable. I began to think about transferring my vows to another Benedictine abbey. I discretely inquired of the Abbot of Holy Cross Abbey in Colorado if he would accept me and he immediately indicated that he would.
In the Spring 1960 I went to Archabbot Denis and told him that I would like to transfer my vows to Holy Cross Abbey in Colorado. To effect the transfer I needed the permission of the Abbot of Holy Cross, I needed the permission of the Archabbot of Saint Vincent and I needed the permission of the President of the American Cassinese Confederation. Without hesitation Archabbot Denis replied that he would not give the necessary permission. That ended it because he was also the President of the American Cassinese Confederation so I had not recourse of appeal. I then told him that it was obvious to me that he did not want me to remain at Saint Vincent Archabbey and so I asked him what he wanted of me. He replied curtly, “Leave the Order!”
For the second time Archabbot Denis literally took my breath away, I was shocked. When I regained my composure I told him that I would have to think and pray about that.
The City of Miami, Florida as it appeared in 1960.
: evil or immoral
Full Definition of NEFARIOUS
: flagrantly wicked or impious : evil
Examples of NEFARIOUS
- a nefarious scheme to cheat people out of their money
- the chaste heroines and nefarious villains of old-time melodramas
Origin of NEFARIOUS
Latin nefarius, from nefas crime, from ne- not + fas right, divine law; perhaps akin to Greek themis law, tithenai to place — more at do
First Known Use: circa 1609
Related to NEFARIOUS
Synonymsblack, dark, evil, immoral, iniquitous, bad, rotten, sinful, unethical, unlawful,unrighteous, unsavory, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked, wrong
CANON 971 (1917 Code of Canon Law) (c.1026, 1983 Code of Canon Law):
“It is NEFARIOUS, by any method, for any reason, to coerce anyone into the clerical state or to block one canonically suitable for it.”
GOD WRITES STRAIGHT WITH CROOKED LINES
A Portuguese Proverb
I have no doubt that Archabbot Denis’ telling me that it was his will that I leave the Order of Saint Benedict was a nefarious act! I had legitimately exercised my right under the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict as a monk in solemn vows to express my opinion in General Chapter. To be punished for what I said about his college dormitories plans was unfair, unjust, nefarious!
After consultations with my confessor/spiritual director I came to the conclusion that since it was the will of my superior, my Archabbot, that I should leave the Order of Saint Benedict I had an obligation under my vow of obedience to obey him and to seek a dispensation from my solemn vows and a transfer to the secular (diocesan) clergy in some diocese in the United States. The procedure was complex and yet at the same time simple. In order to have the Congregation for Religious in Rome grant me the dispensation I would have to name a specific diocese to which I would go and in which I would become a priest in its presbyterate. Once I had decided on the diocese I would inform the Archabbot and he would have the Archabbey’s canon lawyer draw up a petition for dispensation of solemn vows, the Archabbot would sign it, I would sign it and it would be sent to Rome.
The only bishop I knew was Bishop Coleman Francis Carroll, Bishop of Miami. I came to know him when he made his ordination retreat at Saint Vincent just prior to his ordination as Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having studied philosophy and theology at Saint Vincent Seminary before his ordination to the priesthood he chose to ‘come home’ for his retreat. The Archabbey Guest Master appointed me, fresh out of the Novitiate and now in Simple Vows, to take care of Bishop-elect Carroll during his retreat. We hit it off immediately when he discovered that we had mutual friends in Houston. I lost contact with him after his ordination as Auxiliary Bishop but I decided that I would write to him and ask him if he would accept me into his presbyterate in Miami if Rome granted me the dispensation from my solemn vows. He wrote back immediately and in his warm letter he expressed his eagerness to receive me.
I gave a copy of the letter to Archabbot Denis and he attached it to the petition and sent it off to Rome.
I had no way of knowing it at the time, but all that had transpired between me and Archabbot Denis was a classic case of God writing with crooked lines. Ten years later when I was made Auxiliary Bishop of Miami I realized that this had been God’s plan for me all along. I was too emotionally involved in my departure from the monastery to even imagine that that might be the case. There is a good lesson in this for anyone undergoing a serious trial in their life; trust in God, do the right thing and perhaps in time you will come to see that eventually God will write with straight lines in your life and undo any remaining effects of the trauma you suffered earlier when he wrote with crooked lines in your life.[http://extraordinarybishop.blogspot.com/2014/09/here-is-series-of-posts-by-bishop-rene.html]
Pray an Our Father now for reparation for the sins committed because of Francis’s Amoris Laetitia.
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church as well as the Triumph of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Stop for a moment of silence, ask Jesus Christ what He wants you to do now and next. In this silence remember God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost – Three Divine Persons yet One God, has an ordered universe where you can know truth and falsehood as well as never forget that He wants you to have eternal happiness with Him as his son or daughter by grace. Make this a practice. By doing this you are doing more good than reading anything here or anywhere else on the Internet.
– Doctor of the Church St. Francis de Sales totally confirmed beyond any doubt the possibility of a heretical pope and what must be done by the Church in such a situation:
“[T]he Pope… WHEN he is EXPLICITLY a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church MUST either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See.”
(The Catholic Controversy, by St. Francis de Sales, Pages 305-306)
Saint Robert Bellarmine, also, said “the Pope heretic is not deposed ipso facto, but must be declared deposed by the Church.”
– “If Francis is a Heretic, What should Canonically happen to him?”: http://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2020/12/if-francis-is-heretic-what-should.html
– “Could Francis be a Antipope even though the Majority of Cardinals claim he is Pope?”: http://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2019/03/could-francis-be-antipope-even-though.html
– If Francis betrays Benedict XVI & the”Roman Rite Communities” like he betrayed the Chinese Catholics we must respond like St. Athanasius, the Saintly English Bishop Robert Grosseteste & “Eminent Canonists and Theologians” by “Resist[ing]” him: https://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2021/12/if-francis-betrays-benedict-xvi.html
– LifeSiteNews, “Confusion explodes as Pope Francis throws magisterial weight behind communion for adulterers,” December 4, 2017:
The AAS guidelines explicitly allows “sexually active adulterous couples facing ‘complex circumstances’ to ‘access the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.'”
– On February 2018, in Rorate Caeli, Catholic theologian Dr. John Lamont:
“The AAS statement… establishes that Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia has affirmed propositions that are heretical in the strict sense.”
– On December 2, 2017, Bishop Rene Gracida:
“Francis’ heterodoxy is now official. He has published his letter to the Argentina bishops in Acta Apostlica Series making those letters magisterial documents.”
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church by the bishops by the grace of God.
– Intel Cryptanalyst-Mathematician on Biden Steal: “212Million Registered Voters & 66.2% Voting,140.344 M Voted…Trump got 74 M, that leaves only 66.344 M for Biden” [http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2020/12/intel-cryptanalyst-mathematician-on.html?m=1]
– Will US be Venezuela?: Ex-CIA Official told Epoch Times “Chávez started to Focus on [Smartmatic] Voting Machines to Ensure Victory as early as 2003”: http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2020/12/will-us-be-venezuela-ex-cia-official.html
– Tucker Carlson’s Conservatism Inc. Biden Steal Betrayal is explained by “One of the Greatest Columns ever Written” according to Rush: http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2021/01/tucker-carlsons-conservatism-inc-biden.html?m=1
– A Hour which will Live in Infamy: 10:01pm November 3, 2020:
What is needed right now to save America from those who would destroy our God given rights is to pray at home or in church and if called to even go to outdoor prayer rallies in every town and city across the United States for God to pour out His grace on our country to save us from those who would use a Reichstag Fire-like incident to destroy our civil liberties. [Is the DC Capitol Incident Comparable to the Nazi Reichstag Fire Incident where the German People Lost their Civil Liberties?: http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2021/01/is-dc-capital-incident-comparable-to.html?m=1 and Epoch Times Show Crossroads on Capitol Incident: “Anitfa ‘Agent Provocateurs‘”:
Pray an Our Father now for the grace to know God’s Will and to do it.
Pray an Our Father now for America.
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church as well as the Triumph of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.SHARE
Excellent. I enjoyed reading this. An important lesson for me. Things are going well for my family and I now, and the timing of our family and I getting out of Central Virginia last year was God’s timing even though I had wanted to move several years ago.