Inaugural Message from CFN’s New Editor-in-Chief
Dear Subscribers, Benefactors, and Friends of Catholic Tradition,
I am honored to have been asked to become the new Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Family News. I still recall the first time I learned of the monthly paper. My family and I were attending a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) out of town on a trip a short time after we discovered the TLM and had been attending it regularly. After Mass, a young lady was sitting at a table and selling various items, including copies of CFN. Ever since my first TLM, I had been reading voraciously to learn about the Catholic history and tradition that my Novus Ordo upbringing had denied me.
First Encounter with CFN
I picked up a copy of CFN and asked her, "What is this?" I had already found a few Traditionalist publications, but this was at a time when the internet was in its very earliest days and I doubt CFN even had a website. I mentioned a few of the periodicals I had read, based on the advice of fellow TLM attendees, and she replied, "Oh, they are good, but CFN is for the really committed Traditionalist who wants hard-hitting articles." I was intrigued. The more I had been reading, the more I wanted to become a committed Traditionalist.
I did not meet John Vennari until several years after this incident. We instantly connected, not only because we shared the commitment to the traditional liturgy and doctrine, but also because we found that we shared several personal connections. For example, we were both Philly boys. He was an alumnus of a rival Catholic diocesan high school on the other side of Philadelphia from the one from which I graduated. We shared a few drinks and some reminiscing about events in the life of our home town, which we both had left as adults. I certainly cannot claim to have known John as long as many other fighters in the Traditionalist Movement, but I considered him a good friend. It is humbling and a bit scary to be following him in a leadership role at CFN.
For those who don't know me, as I mentioned, I grew up around Philadelphia and lived there until I left to go to college at Yale, where I studied English with a focus on Medieval literature. Within a few months of graduation, I married my wife (now of almost 27 years) and received a Fulbright grant to study for a Master's degree in Medieval English Language and Literature from King's College, University of London. On our return from England, I taught high school English at Holy Ghost Prep (at the time, I had never heard of Archbishop Lefebvre, who served for some time as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers).
Two years later, I started law school at the University of Pennsylvania. During that time, when my wife was expecting our first child, we found the TLM. In a sense, I think all the years of studying Medieval language and literature had been preparing me for this discovery. The Mass was consistent with the diction, imagery and worldview of the language, literature, and history I knew. The Novus Ordo and its worldview (which was the only Mass I knew up to this point) was a complete rupture from all of this. I had not recognized the discontinuity until I found the true Mass.
God’s Greatest Blessing
The rest, as they say, is history. I quickly learned that it was more than the Mass that had changed. A whole new world of information—a story of revolution in the Church—was discovered. After law school, I worked for an international law firm which eventually led us to return to England for seven years when I transferred to the London office. We were blessed with six children, and the greatest blessing God could send us is that He led us to Tradition before our first son was born. All our children, therefore, were raised with the Traditional doctrine, liturgy, and praxis. Our oldest son is finishing his third year in St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Virginia. Our oldest daughter, after graduating from St. Dominic School in Post Falls and spending a year with the Dominican sisters in their school in Fanjeaux, France, is back home attending the college where I work. We have two boys at La Salette Boys Academy (and a third to start in September) and our youngest daughter is homeschooling with us.
For the past twelve years, I have taught law on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. My research and scholarship concentrate on classical natural law jurisprudence and its defense against modern errors from various perspectives. I also work extensively on the application of natural law truths to the regulation of economic and business matters. From time to time I have written for CFN, The Remnant, The Angelus, and Latin Mass Magazine. I have also been invited to speak at a variety of conferences, including several CFN conferences.
Maintaining the Mission of CFN
I plan to oversee the work of CFN in the same sense and the same meaning it has maintained since its founding in 1994. That mission has two integral components. First, CFN must be a forum for the proclamation of traditional doctrine, liturgy, devotions, and life. It is essential that the beauty and goodness of the Catholic life in all its fullness be continually explained publicly to the modern world so filled with despair and ugliness. If we are to win souls back and “restore all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10), we must have our minds and hearts firmly fixed on this beautiful and consoling goal. Our love for Tradition must not be hidden under a bushel basket. At the same time, we must clearly, patiently, charitably, and firmly denounce the errors in opposition to these truths that are so pervasive in our world and, sadly, our Church. If we de-emphasize either of these twin purposes, we fall into error and may be the cause of others not finding the true Church.
If we only emphasize the goodness of Catholicism, we leave the door open to compromise and error. The Modernist errors gripping the Church at the highest levels are a deadly virus racing through the veins of the Mystical Body of Christ, and if we don't identify and inoculate ourselves against them, we will become infected and risk spiritual death. On the other hand, if we merely denounce the errors and scandals, we will eventually become obsessed with a bitter zeal, end up demoralized, and give in to despair. That unhappy road leads to separating ourselves from the Church and likely dragging others with us.
Honoring John Vennari’s Legacy
John Vennari so perfectly lived this important balance. He expertly exposed and denounced the Modernist viruses plaguing the Church and appropriately mocked their absurdities. Yet, he could become just as enthused and animated talking about the beauties of Tradition, whether of a traditional devotion, a beautiful Solemn Mass, or a pilgrimage to Quito. Like the great soldiers of the past, he fought with a determination against the enemy in front of him, but his zeal was motivated more by the love of what he was fighting to protect behind him. I am firmly committed to CFN continuing to fight this “good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) in a manner that would make John proud.
Exciting Plans for the Future
I remember saying while John was alive that it seemed like he was doing the work of two men. Well, now that he is gone, we know it is true. Thus, Matt Gaspers, whom you have come to know over the past year, will continue at CFN in the role of Managing Editor. It will take the two of us working hard to fill John's shoes. Under my editorial direction, he will be responsible for the editing and production of the monthly paper you have come to love, as well as for updating and maintaining the website, and will work on several new initiatives that I hope will include very soon the introduction of an e-edition of CFN. I have already begun planning the 2019 CFN annual conference, which I think will be a blockbuster. Stay tuned to the website and paper for details as they are announced. Both the theme and speakers will be phenomenal, an event the entire Traditionalist Movement will be talking about for years to come.
I conclude by asking for your support and your prayers as I begin this great task that Providence has placed in my path. Please pray I will remain true to these principles I have outlined and will have the prudence necessary to avoid the pitfalls which the devil will certainly open up in front of us. In the words of St. Edmund Campion (1540-1581) upon the commencement of his missionary work in England that would end with his martyrdom, "The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored."
In Christo Rege,
Brian M. McCall, Editor-in-Chief