Difference between revisions of "Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea"

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His mother, Ann, consecrated him to Mary as a priest while he was in the womb. Padre Pio confirmed the consecration.
Thirteen years in business. Union man.
1992 Converted at a charismatic prayer meeting.
1993 Joined Holy Apostles seminary a year after his conversion. His mother suffered for six years. His father converted a year and half before his death.
9 January 1999 Ordained a deacon with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FI) in New Bedford, Massachusetts.[1] Religious name: Friar Isaac Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Martyrs. Devoted to St. Isaac Jogues. His mother died after his ordination to the diaconate. He preached at her funeral as a deacon.
~2000 First Lenten series--was on CDs.
~2001 Exclaustrated from the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate? Seems to have stayed with various and sundry groups before moving to Albany, Wisconsin.
March 2007? Preached on the Four Last Things (Audio Sancto) at an FSSP Church in Kansas City, Kansas.[2] [The talk on Heaven, however, refers to an "interregnum," which almost certainly must be shortly after the death of John Paul II (2 April 2005) and the election of Benedict XVI seventeen days later (19 April 2005). The Audio Sancto tapes must be dated wrongly.]
2009 At Blessed Sacrament in Kansas City, Kansas.
2010? Moved to Madison, Wisconsin, with the permission of his superiors and Bishop Morlino, to start the Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of Good Success.
Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of Good Success, Inc.
Physical Address: Albany, WI 53502
EIN: 45-2741438
NTEE Category: X Religion, Spiritual Development
X22 (Roman Catholic)
Ruling Year: 2012
Fall, 2013 Wayback Archive of Fr. Isaac's home page. The page still showed a registration form for a men's retreat, November 8-10, 2013, but the history of retreats given ends in 2012.
19 February 2018 Someone asked me to help them get in touch with Fr. Relyea today. His web page no longer works, so I put in a link to the Wayback Archive.

The Denver Catholic reported that Fr. Relyea was granted faculties in Denver:

"Reverend Isaac Mary Relyea, granted faculties in the Archdiocese of Denver, effective immediately, ad nutum archiepiscopi."

Four Last Things

The four last things are Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven.

Positive features of the mission talks
  • We should be mindful that we are going to die and face judgment.
  • We do not know the day nor the hour when our lives will be required of us.
  • We should consecrate ourselves each day to doing God's will in our lives.
  • We should earnestly pray for our own conversion and for the conversion of other sinners.
  • We should strive to fight the good fight and finish the race (2 Tim 4:7).
  • We should pray regularly.
  • We should examine our consciences and go to Confession regularly.
  • We should repent of our sins and develop the virtues that allow us to do the good habitually.
  • We should avoid not just sin itself, but also "the near occasion of sin."
Negative aspects of the mission talks
I understand how easy it is while preaching to misrepresent my own thought or that of the Church. Fr. Relyea is not using a script, but speaking very passionately and persuasively from the heart. Nevertheless, there were a number of points he made that I think need to be corrected. That is the purpose of most of the comments below.


This is a good meditation on the shortness and fragility of life.

None of us knows when GOD will call us to Himself.

We have no power to lengthen our time on earth--not even by a single breath.

We should think of death every day.

Fr. Relyea recommends praying three Hail Marys each day, asking for the grace of receiving the sacraments at the end of our lives.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."


Three strikes and you're out?

It is not a teaching of the Church that the faithful cannot confess the same kind of sin more than three times.

On the contrary, confessors are to presume good faith and good will on the part of penitents, unless there is very clear evidence to the contrary of the sin of presumption.

Catholic Answers, "Can absolution be denied a habitual sinner?"
I have no idea on what Church document he would base such statements. The confessor should always presume, unless there is evidence to the contrary, the repentance of the sinner who is confessing. The Pontifical Council for the Family's Vademcum for Confessors deals with issues of contraception and chastity, but its general principles are applicable:
2. The minister of Reconciliation should always keep in mind that the sacrament has been instituted for men and women who are sinners. Therefore, barring manifest proof to the contrary, he will receive the penitents who approach the confessional taking for granted their good will to be reconciled with the merciful God, a good will that is born, although in different degrees, of a contrite and humbled heart (Psalm 50:19).37
The same document, which deals with the issue of contraception, specifically states that repeated falling into sin is not grounds for denying absolution (emphasis added):
5. The confessor is bound to admonish penitents regarding objectively grave transgressions of God's law and to ensure that they truly desire absolution and God's pardon with the resolution to re-examine and correct their behaviour. Frequent relapse into sins of contraception does not in itself constitute a motive for denying absolution; absolution cannot be imparted, however, in the absence of sufficient repentance or of the resolution not to fall again into sin.
And further on in the document it restates this:
11. Sacramental absolution is not to be denied to those who, repentant after having gravely sinned against conjugal chastity, demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses. In accordance with the approved doctrine and practice followed by the holy Doctors and confessors with regard to habitual penitents, the confessor is to avoid demonstrating lack of trust either in the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent, by exacting humanly impossible absolute guarantees of an irreproachable future conduct.

Are all Catholics obliged to do morning and night prayers on pain of mortal sin?

No. This is wise and good advice, but it is not law binding under pain of sin.

It is a nice rhythm to pray on waking, before and after each meal, and before going to bed at night. This suggestion falls under the virtues of piety and fear of the Lord.

Anger at God?

It is not a mortal sin to feel angry at God and to express disappointment that He allows us to suffer. Sin, like love, is a decision, not a passion. In the book of Job, the man who blames God for his suffering is praised while those who tell him to "shut up and suffer" are condemned. When we are hurting, we may tell God that we feel hurt, just as Jesus did in His agony in the garden and in His suffering on the cross.

Is it a mortal sin to read your horoscope?

No. Superstition is "grave matter," so believing that the basic features of our lives were fixed by the position of the stars at the moment of our birth is contrary to the First Commandment. Simply looking at the predictions in the newspaper does not indicate that one has broken faith with the living God.

Is Harry Potter from Hell?

Some aspects of Harry Potter are contrary to faith and morals; other aspects are entirely consistent with Catholic teaching. Parents should engage their children in discussion of the issues raised by the novels and films.

"No salvation outside the Church"?

Fr. Relyea made some remarks that sounded somewhat misleading.

The truth is that there is no salvation outside of Jesus. He alone is "the way and the truth and the life," and no human being can come to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6).

The Church is the Body of Christ. Whoever is joined to Jesus is joined to the Church.

It is contrary to the teaching of the Church to say that all who are not explicitly and positively members of the Catholic Church automatically go to Hell. If this is what Fr. Relyea thought and meant to express, then he is guilty of the heresy of Feeneyism.

Fr. Relyea does not directly say "All Protestants are going to Hell." He does say:

  • Protestant worship is not pleasing to God.
  • Protestants cannot have divine faith because they do not believe all that the Church teaches.
  • We cannot pray with Protestants.
  • "You cannot go to Heaven unless you accept the Catholic Church" (from talk on Hell).

This is directly contrary to the teaching of Vatican II:[3]

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.
The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.
It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.
Can the Church recognize religious freedom?

Fr. Relyea seems to reject the teaching authority of Vatican II when he speaks as if the Church has abandoned her commitment to the truth in accepting the separation of church and state as a useful accommodation for Catholics and members of all religions. In the very first paragraph of Dignitatis Humanae, the Council fathers make it clear that they are in no way asserting that people have the right to be wrong when the affirm that the state should not interfere with human rights:

Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.

Do Masons worship Satan?

No. This is a demonstrably false allegation from the 19th century. There are other excellent reasons why the Church prohibits her members from participating in Freemasonry: "Therefore the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."

Sunday obligation to rest?

Fr. Relyea makes up norms that are not part of the Church's official discipline:

  • No more than two hours of servile work.
  • No shopping, except for food or medicine.

These may be wise and pious guidelines, but they are not law. Deciding how to rest and honor the Lord after meeting our Sunday obligations is a matter of prudential judgment.

Is it a mortal sin to delay Baptism?

Here again, Fr. Relyea presents his advice and his opinion as if it were the law of the Church.

  • "Parents must not delay Baptism more than a month."
  • "Children in Limbo are deprived of the Beatific Vision."

Limbo is not a dogma of the Church.

The Church has no regulations about how soon after birth parents should bring their children to be baptized.

Never correct your children in anger.

This is supremely excellent advice.

Does the Church condemn sharing beds?

There is no Church law which prohibits this absolutely.

When children are young, there is no intrinsic evil in allowing them to sleep together.

It is not intrinsically evil for a mother to nurse her child in bed and to fall asleep with the child. Fr. Relyea is correct that there is a real danger of the baby being smothered, and mothers should be very cautious in that regard.

It is also true that shared sleeping arrangements may be a near occasion of sin for parents or children. It is wise to be cautious about this, but there is no absolute prohibition of allowing children to sleep with each other or with their parents.

Is dating a mortal sin?

The Church does not teach that dating is, in and of itself, a mortal sin.

Fr. Relyea speaks of these two guidelines as if they were Church law. They are not:

  • "Never two alone": Fr. recommends that the two who are courting should never be all alone; there should always be a third person to act as a chaperone.
  • "Never date for more than a year."

Marriage requires a proper sexual appetite on the part of the man and woman for each other. Recognizing their God-given desire for union with this specific person is part of preparation for marriage. It is not evil for the couple to be aware of their longing for consummation.

It is true, especially in our culture, that spending long periods of time alone over a long period of time can be a near occasion of sin. The couple needs to decide how to express their affection for each other appropriately and at the same time abstain from foreplay and intercourse until it is time to consummate their vows.

Never argue in front of your children.

This is excellent advice!

Are nursing homes evil?

Fr. Relyea condemns all children who have placed their parents in nursing homes.

This is not a teaching of the Church.

For those who can care for their parents at home until they die, I am confident that there will be great blessings for them, as a general rule.

Problems in marriage

Fr. Relyea mentioned two common difficulties:

  • "The silent treatment."
  • Denying matrimonial relations.

These are signs of serious difficulties in a relationship. I think couples who are having difficulties like this should seek help from older couples who have learned how to work through problems together. I do not think it is wise or helpful to make couples in crisis feel more guilty than they already do about their broken relationship.

Is abusing NFP as bad as using contraceptives?

This is not a teaching of the Church.

This is Fr. Relyea's opinion.

Couples who use NFP to postpone conception are making a sacrifice that unites them to each other and to God. That, to me, is very praiseworthy.

It may well be that some couples could be more generous in giving life, but the Church is deliberately vague in her official teachings about how the couple is to decide about choosing to use the fertile times in their relationship. It is not possible for an outsider like Fr. Relyea or myself to judge that the couple are in a state of mortal sin on objective grounds. The couple has the right, the freedom, and the duty of making up their own minds about their particular circumstances. As in so many of the points above, this, too, is a prudential judgment.

Are men obliged to reverse vasectomies?

It is sound practice to ask penitents to make restitution for the wrong they have done.

Confessors may not make vasovasostomy a condition of giving absolution. They should encourage the penitent to be generous with God and truly contrite.

"Most women today are on the way to Hell."

That is very definitely Fr. Relyea's own opinion, not a teaching of the Church. Father's grounds for this sweeping condemnation of women is the prevalence of immodest dress in our culture. He also said:

  • Wearing dungarees is a mortal sin.
  • Wearing pants emasculates men.

While I would like to encourage God's daughters to dress modestly, I cannot agree with these three sweeping condemnations. There is certainly no handbook of Church law which specifies what is and is not the right way for women of faith to dress.

Is it a mortal sin to go to the beach?


It is a mortal sin to give our minds and hearts over to lust.

A beach may be a "near occasion of sin."

The remedy is to practice "modesty of the eyes."

[I am not a beachgoer myself. I am happy not to have to deal with the issue directly.]

Should girls avoid athletics?

Fr. Relyea condemns women's athletics on two grounds:

  • Immodest uniforms.
  • Threat to fertility from physical activity.

It is not physical activity in and of itself that threatens fertility, but poor nutrition and exercise-induced amenorrhoea. Parents should certainly stand guard over their daughters and see that their participation in sports are truly healthy, both physically and spiritually, but the Church does not prohibit girls from being active in athletics.

Is dancing a mortal sin?

Not in and of itself. Lust is a moral sin. Some dances are unquestionably X-rated and inappropriate for the faithful. Other kinds of dancing are innocent.

Are EWTN chastity speakers from Hell?

No. There are different chastity speakers on EWTN. Each is responsible for his or her own views and recommendations. Some are better than others, it seems. I do not have a scorecard for who has spoken on EWTN and whose approach I would recommend or criticize.

Is the woman the queen of the household?

Yes, she is.

Are many bishops and prelates guilty of apostasy?

I don't think so. I am not in a position to judge them. I am not God. I do not know the state of their consciences or their relationship to God.

Is Vatican II negligible?

Fr. Relyea said, "Vatican II taught nothing new, so we should turn to the twenty preceding councils which did."

This is a novel and non-traditional method of interpreting the work of a council.

There are no new dogmas in Vatican II on par with the two dogmas taught by Vatican I (that we can recognize God by the use of reason and that the pope can exercise the infallibility of the Church when teaching about faith and morals). That does not mean that the words and work of the council are negligible--far from it! Vatican II is the definitive interpretation of the twenty preceding councils; it clarifies their meaning in terms that are relevant to today's questions and concerns. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, produced by Cardinal Ratzinger under the direction of Pope St. John Paul the Great, organizes and synthesizes the teaching of Vatican II. Nothing in the Catholic tradition justifies setting aside the Magisterium of the Church as Fr. Relyea seems to do here.

Are tornadoes, meteorites, and tsunamis signs of the end of the world?

No. They are reminders, for us who survive them, that death is coming for us all and that we need to be ready to meet the Lord every day.


Are Catholics who attend irregular marriages going to Hell?

Not necessarily. There are no "automatic" mortal sins. The meaning of attending a marriage ceremony is not defined by the Church. It is not communio in sacris, so long as the Catholics do not take communion at the service. Working out the meaning of attending or not attending is very personal. Catholics must not give scandal, must not cooperate actively in sin, and must not seem to be indifferent about their faith. But it is possible that, under some circumstances, these conditions can be met.

Are Catholics who enter the houses of those in irregular marriages going to Hell?

No. Jesus entered the houses of public sinners. He let Himself be religiously contaminated by the woman who touched the hem of His garment. He let a woman of ill repute bathe His feet with Her tears. He talked to the woman at the well, although this was not acceptable in His culture. We may do great good by bringing the light of faith into homes that lack faith.

What does "judge not lest ye be judged" mean?

Fr. Relea defines this prohibition as "Make no rash judgments." I suppose that is an acceptable definition. I think the saying goes beyond that: I should not presume to announce who is and who is not going to Hell. That judgment is reserved to Jesus, our Savior, our love, our Lord, our King. I think King Jesus prohibits me from saying, "Fr. Relyea is going to Hell because he judges so many others as going to Hell." I am in no position to judge Father's relationship with the Lord. I do judge that many of his teachings are inaccurate, unwise, or quite contrary to the teaching of the Church.

Is Hell a "place"?

For Fr. Relyea, saying "hell is not a place" is the same thing as denying that there is a Hell or that anyone can or will go to Hell.

Pope St. John Paul the Great said that [hell is first and foremost a state of being, not a "place" in this universe.

"Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory."
In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him.
"Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us."[4]

John Paul was not denying the reality of hell. He was affirming it in no uncertain terms.

Fr. Relyea believes Hell is in the center of the earth and that Russian drillers heard the sounds of the damned in agony. He invited people to listen to the recordings on the internet. But an internet search shows that this was a hoax:

"Well to Hell Hoax."

The world has not yet come to an end.

The bodily resurrection of the dead has not yet taken place universally.

Until the body is re-formed by the soul, the soul is, like the angels and like God, a pure spirit. It cannot be contained in a "place."

The bodies of the damned, just like the bodies of the just, remain on this earth when the soul departs.

The thought that Hell is in the physical center of this earth is not a doctrine of the Church.

A man who listened to his talk claimed that he went to Hell that very night and returned to confirm what Fr. Relyea had said. This is not public revelation. People make all kinds of claims about mystical experience. Some of the mystical experience is demonic. I am not inclined to take Fr. Relyea at his word that this man's experience confirms Father's teaching about the physicality of hell as inside the planet earth.

Are Catholics obliged to boycott Disney?

Some Disney movies certainly are morally objectionable.

The claim that they are full of X-rated material is mostly unfounded.

When the illustrators have inserted objectionable material, the Disney corporation acts to remove it as soon as possible.

Is yoga from hell?

Wisdom about the capacities of the body to be trained and disciplined are not from hell.

The spiritual practices taught along with yoga are not consistent with the faith.

Do the physical exercises if you find them helpful.

Do not embrace the philosophy and theology of Hinduism that is routinely preached by yoga teachers.

Was Hurricane Katrina a chastisement for occult practices in New Orleans?

Heaven only knows.

The Church has no official teaching on this.

Fr. Relyea is welcome to his opinion.

I am not obliged to accept it.

Whenever we see large populations of our brothers and sisters struck down, we should think of whether we ourselves are ready to suffer and to die.

Did Teresa of Avila drink from a skull?

Not that I have found.

Santa Francesca Romana is said to have done so.

Do priests command God?


God commands priests.

When we consecrate the sacred species, we are obeying Jesus.

We have no authority over Him whatsoever.

He holds all authority over us.

Are all who take communion in the hand going to Hell?



Do only dummies believe that the Pope consecrated Russia to Mary?

Fr. Relyea says that:

  • No pope has claimed to have made the consecration.
  • Only dummies say that the Pope has done so.

Among the dummies are Sr. Lucia, one of the three visionaries, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I side with the dummies and Pope St. John Paul the Great.

Should gun owners refuse to give up their guns?

There is no official teaching from the Church on gun ownership. We have a general responsibility to obey civil authorities and to adhere to the laws of the land. Fr. Relyea was expressing his own opinion, not a teaching of the Church, when he said, "Never give up your weapons."

Will there be a trial by fire?

There is a private revelation that the world will be tested and purified by "fire from the sky." The bishop of Akita has declared that the apparition is of divine origin, but neither he nor Rome can impose belief in the sayings of Our Lady on all Catholics. Those who wish to give credence to the prophecy may do so.

Apparition of Mary in Akita, Japan, 1975.
As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.



Satan can take the beautiful practice of praying the rosary, or attending daily Mass, or other devotions and slowly incite in us a feeling of smug superiority, elitism, or pride. Gradually, others are thought to be less devout, even in error, because they do not do or observe what is optional or encouraged but not required. What is beautiful and holy is thus employed to incite ever-growing pride and cynicism. A most extreme form of this comes from those who take the beautiful and powerful devotion to our Lady of Fatima and allow Satan to set them against even the Pope and all the world’s bishops by claiming that they failed, either ineptly or willfully, to properly consecrate Russia. And thus one of our most beautiful and informative apparitions can engender in some people distrust of the Church and disunity from her, from multiple popes, and even from Sister Lucia herself. It is an astonishingly crafty work of the evil one to take what is good and religious and corrupt it in the minds of some.
The root of this schismatic act[1] can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, "comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth".[2]
But especially contradictory is a notion of Tradition which opposes the universal Magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the Body of Bishops. It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church.[3]
  1. The "schismatic act" was the ordination of bishops by Marcel Lefebvre against the explicit command of the pope not to do so.
  2. Vatican Council II. Const. Dei Verbum, n. 8. Cf. Vatican Council I, Const. Dei Filius, cap. 4: DS 3020.
  3. Cf. Mt. 16:18; Lk. 10:16; Vatican Council I, Const. Pastor Æternus, cap. 3: DS 3060.