Rorate Caeli

Rorate book review: The Remnants

"The crisis is over; we have lost. This is no longer just a prediction, it is a simple observation: Rome has been desecrated. We are in the age of darkness. Triumphalist reactions are in vain. The modern world and the Church deserve the punishment that God is raining down on us." -- John Senior.

When we received a copy in the mail last week of this book, we knew two things from the start: those who have been traditional Catholics pre-Summorum have at least heard the name John Senior. And, we guessed, those younger traditionals or older ones who came to tradition post-Summorum may have never heard of him. 

For those who have, and for those who experienced the pre-Summorum years after the Council and know what faithful Catholics who love tradition have endured for 50 years, the quote at the top of this post will not come as a surprise, sadly. For those new to tradition, who have never had to drive multiple hours one way to the nearest Traditional Latin Mass, the quote may come as a shock, and seem excessive. 

More than a decade following his death, Remnant Press has compiled some of Senior's writings in an easy-to-read book titled "The Remnants: The Final Essays of John Senior." 

We found this short book has something for everyone, regardless of how long they've been traditional, or if they're even traditional at all. Any serious Catholic would benefit from the wisdom and history it contains. 

Senior takes readers through the minds of thinkers like Newman, Virgil and Aristotle. He gives a blueprint on how to recapture Catholic life in the home and how to form young minds. And, because he lived it along with other traditional Catholic warriors like his friend Michael Davies and the late Walter Matt, readers get a glimpse into the dark days following the Council, and decisions many traditional Catholics faced with the Écône consecrations, the early days of Ecclesia Dei and the perhaps presumed choice between love of tradition and "obedience" to the current actions of those at the top of the Church. 

Click here to order this book. "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."


  1. He had some bizarre ideas like the notion that classical music should never be listened to on compact disc.

  2. Dr Senior was one of the forces behind the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas in the 1970's which immersed students in the culture and philosophy of the West as a living tradition.

    Sadly, the program was a victim of its own success as it aroused the rancour of liberal professors who saw in it a threat to their indoctrination of youth. Worst of all, it indirectly lead to many conversions to the traditional Catholic faith which aroused the fury of Catholic bishops.

    More details here

  3. Because of the sonic flattening that occurs with CDs (and mp3s), there's a good case to be made that quality music shouldn't be listened to on them.

    Regarding obedience, this is excellent:

  4. GHessell, John Senior's complaint against recorded music was logical, but not absolute. (He did listen to recorded music all the time. I know, because I listened with him.) His observation was that people don't MAKE music anymore, they just passively listen to it. Instead of a Christian family gathering around the piano in song, with someone actually knowing how to play the instrument, each goes to his own room to listen to his recorded favorites. Of course, John Senior could not even have imagined the emotional isolation of the "texting generation," as college students send idiotically truncated messages to each other, down the hallway, across the same classroom, and even across the same lunch table!

  5. There used to be a large collection of Senior/Quinn lectures available on cassette. I wonder if anyone could reissue those on CD? I am sure Mr. Senior would approve! (By the way, the professors of the Integrated Humanities Program always insisted on being called "Mr." rather than "Dr." They felt that it was more collegial, more Christian.)

  6. I first came across John Senior in an article in The Latin Mass magazine: the article was about the very course mentioned above. One quote stuck in my mind. When Senior was asked why he attended an SSPX chapel (this was in the days when many even in the traditional movement believed that the SSPX was in schism) he replied: "If Weakland is in, whose out?" That was my first presentiment that certain attitudes to Church authority generations had taken for granted could no longer be accepted at face value.

  7. Yes, he had some extreme ideas. "Radical but right," as Peter Kreeft surmised.

  8. I think there are two bishops who might say their conversions were aided by John a time when they were students.

  9. 1. I am very pleased to hear that this book is available. I hope to purchase a copy at the soonest opportunity. Thanks to Rorate for the heads up. John Senior was a giant among among us, and we owe men and women like him a great deal.

    2. I do not quite understand Senior's position on recorded music, but if he meant to say that the quality of CD's was inferior to other media (or live), I wouldn't dispute that. Vinyl provides a richer soundfield. Vinyl is also, alas, less portable and much less durable. I am forced myself to make use of CD's and electronic versions of my classical music - the compromises the modern age makes necessary.

    If he means that we have lost the art and custom of playing music ourselves, it's impossible to dispute him on this point.

    3. "Sadly, the program was a victim of its own success as it aroused the rancour of liberal professors who saw in it a threat to their indoctrination of youth." For all the rancor directed at Church authorities in the "bad old days," there is nothing so intolerant and control seeking as many modern progressives. The mere existence of the Old Mass as a live liturgical concern remains an affront to many, viewed by them (perhaps subconsciously) as a repudiation of their life's work.

  10. "The mere existence of the Old Mass as a live liturgical concern remains an affront to many, viewed by them (perhaps subconsciously) as a repudiation of their life's work."

    The Old Mass is Itself a rebuke to the drained rite that practically replaced it. Small wonder that modern progressives would detect a repudiation of their 'life's work'. With respect, it's about time they woke up.

  11. I'm a post-SP trad. I'm currently reading his book, "The Restoration of the Christian Culture". It's depressing and his quote above may be true but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try...

  12. I will have to order as soon as I can, thank you for the recommendation.

    I wouldn't count my self as a post-SP traditionalist, but I really am too young to have heard of or read about men like Michael Davies or Mr. Senior before reading about them here at Rorate. I would love to see Rorate do a series of retrospectives detailing these gentlemen (and ladies) who fought the good fight back in the years after Vatican II and the introduction of the NO.

  13. Anonymous12:18 AM

    Alphonsus Jr.:

    The argument Abp. Lefebvre makes for "legitimate disobedience" is the same flawed argument that Martin Luther and every schismatic in history has used.

  14. Since when is Peter Kreeft a judge of traditional orthodoxy?

  15. Archbishop Lefebvre said "there is a price to be paid in order to remain faithful to the Roman Church". I believe him. No Martin Luther was this great Churchman of our lifetimes!

  16. Anonymous3:07 AM

    @ Mark Boutross

    You might be more credible if you actually tried to explain why this argument, espoused by countless saints (including St. Thomas), Church Fathers, Doctors, and Popes, is "flawed". Not only is it backed by the teachings of these holy men and great defenders of the Faith, but is quite obviously also a matter of common sense.

    Do you think the countless millions of former Catholics who have embraced heresy and apostasy, "obediently" following the errors of modern(ist) popes, will be able to use that excuse when called to give account to God? Bad priests and prelates take countless souls with them to hell... but to hell they all go, even if they "only" followed. It is not only a right but a duty of a Catholic to disobey, when obedience means danger to and loss of the Faith.

    And, in case all the saints and Doctors of the Church are not credible enough to you:

    "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
    (Galatians 1:8-12)

  17. The link which David provided @ 16:02 is to a review of Bob Carlson's Truth on Trial. Much of what Carlson wrote in it later appeared in the founding document of Wyoming Catholic College, of which Carlson is a co-founder.

  18. I believe Dr. Senior thought that music was best experienced in "live time" , that this was a real, human experience, whether one was listening to or performing a composition. To have a type of poetic knowledge and love of music, to become truly enriched by it, was best accomplished without MP3s or CD recordings.
    This was probably presented as an ideal...not a dogma.

  19. "The crisis is over; we have lost". The discouragement of John Senior in those words is understandable. I think all of us Traditionalists have this attitude at one time or another. But then Hope is revived in us anew. God himself revives that hope in us so that we may continue to battle for his Church. The crisis is not over and we have not lost!

  20. Sounds like somebody suffered from an acute case of Denethor syndrome, To quote the Great Sigilitte "Hope Always Remains"

  21. Dr. Senior is a legend! Thanks for the post - just ordered the book. My wife was a student in St. Mary's at a time when many of her professors were formed by Dr. Senior. I also understand he was the cause of many vocations. I don't get caught up in the fineries of music (CD, Album, MP3 - whatever) - he was a staunch defender of the faith and culture! Thanks you!!!

  22. I don't think the above quote is really representative of John Senior.

    'The Restoration of Christian Culture' is a beautiful, very hopeful book about the Benedictine charism being the seed of the future.

    I always found Senior to be very similar to Cardinal Ratzinger.

  23. The crisis will get worse yet. However, we have not lost and will never lose, if we hold fast to Sacred Tradition and obey what Our Blessed Lord has handed on to us through His Apostles.

    It is up to us support The Latin Mass and the Roman Catholic priests who, against all the liberal modernist odds, keep faith with the perpetual rights of The Latin liturgy codified by both Pope t Gregory The Great & Pope St Pius V. No one can abrogate this at any time. It is not subject to the whims of bishops.

  24. "The dark days after the Council"

    In Scotland we are still living through them.


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