A Curious Case of Catholicism

There’s a very little known fringe group of Sedevacantist Catholics you may have heard of but probably never met. These are called by various names, from the most popular and designedly offensive “Home-Aloner” to the more complimentary “Catacomb Catholic,” or to my personal favorite (because I made it up), “Eclipsed Catholic.” From blog posts to comment boxes, there has been much vitriolic hatred for this fringe group, almost entirely from Sedevacantists themselves. Indeed, when once I visited a com-box, and the participants got wind I was a Home-Aloner, figurative fangs came out, and I was given two options: stay and be slain by verbal stoning, or flee to the mountains! Now this curious phenomenon needs explaining, doesn’t it? 

Comment-Box Combat

If we take Sedevacantists as a whole and in their basic belief––which is that the Chair of Peter is vacant because a heretic cannot sit there––and compare this group as a whole to that of other “Catholic” groups (Catholic in quotes here meaning those who identify as such but are not in fact), then the picture which emerges is quite curious. Sedevacantists as a group are outcasted and ostracized themselves by both the Novus Ordo liberal and SSPX-er. What’s the point here? Eclipsed Catholics are treated by Sedevacantists the same way Sedevacantists are treated by the other groups, and, I would argue, for the exact same reason. 

Why are Sedevacantists persecuted in general? Some charge them with judging the Pope, with exercising judgment over that which is superior. Others argue that Sedevacantists place too much importance on their conscience, that by it they sever bonds and communion with those they shouldn’t. Naysayers say Sedevacantists live in a fantasy land, who build up for themselves a phantasmal church. “The Church is a visible institution,” they say, “Its ecclesiastical structures must hold until the end of time.” Still more scoffers say, “Without a hierarchy, how will we ever see another reigning pope again? Your theory destroys the Church!” These arguments the world throws in the face of Sedevacantists like sand. And the Sedevacantist, blinded by a billion motes in his own eyes, turns to his brother Sedevacantist, and says essentially the same exact thing!

Ecclesia in the Clouds

“You’re a Home-Aloner!” they say, “What authority or learning do you have to judge whether our clergy have valid or licit orders, huh?” Or they will say, “You Home-Aloner, you’d see the faithful denied the Mass and Sacraments, the Priesthood destroyed, and Apostolic Succession cease!” Or my personal favorite, “You have no hierarchy to get a pope back, loser!” scoff, eye-roll, then Twitter block!       

The prima facie case for Eclipsed Catholicism is not good. All the arguments against Sedevacantists seem to redouble in potency against Eclipsed Catholics. Home-Alone Catholics look more like one of those loners you’d see dressed in black in some dark corner, headphones on and hiding behind some book, while the basketball game carried on, and cheers and popcorn and soda and happy joy swirled round about the high school gymnasium.     

But on second thought and inspection, Eclipsed Catholicism is just the last and logically necessary and completing step of the Sedevacantist hypothesis. If there is no pope, then there cannot be a hierarchy as such. Its like saying there could be a computer without a microchip processor, or a ship without a rudder, a sheepfold without a shepherd, or a liturgical vestment hanging without a peg: “In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the peg be removed, that was fastened in the sure place: and it shall be broken and shall fall: and that which hung thereon, shall perish, because the Lord hath spoken it.” The idea is unreasonable, and, quite frankly, not Catholic.

When God walked among men, He established His Kingdom among men by appointing Twelve Men to go out and rule the world––in a spiritual sense, of course. But God, in His infinite wisdom and love, established one Man among the Twelve to rule over the Twelve. This was, I am sure you all know very well, Peter, who along with his successors ruled the world––again, spiritually, of course––for about two thousand years, give or take a decade and a hiccup here and there during short interregna. But for 22,968 days, as of this writing, Catholics have been without a Pope, a true successor of Saint Peter, and the world is spinning––more than it usually does, as in more than zero, but that’s a subject for another post (Geocentrism forever!).    

During this painfully protracted period without a pope, the Antichrist has set up shop in the physical buildings once Catholic and consecrated, now desecrated by his unholy hands. His aped episcopate and priesthood have spread throughout the world and have covered all that is holy in filth and vileness. Most inhabit this false church of Antichrist unwittingly. Others blasphemously believe this church of Antichrist to be Christ’s Spotless Bride. But the Bridegroom sings, “How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art thou!” in ecstasy at the sight of Her beauty. Satan, in his hatred for the Church, sneers, “Thou! Thou filthy and defiled thing!” and spits in Her face. Novus Ordo clergy and laity are complicit in the defilement by either commission or omission, by carrying out sacrileges themselves, or not speaking up against it. And the Recognize and Resist crowd are happy to join Satan in jeering and sneering at Christ’s supposed Spotless Bride.

Sedevacantist clergy are a different matter. They are something better than Novus Ordo and Recognize and Resist, and yet something worse. They have this veneer of holiness which is like sweet spiritual honey to those fleeing from the False Church of Antichrist, like a gilded vestment of elaborate floral leaf that breaks your heart by its beauty. They have the sacraments, which draw faithful souls in love with God after them: “Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments.” Why do I say, then, that Sedevacantist clergy are worse than the other sects? Because beauty is more dangerous than ugliness.

It cannot be demonstrated within the space of this article what I am about to claim. Others more intelligent and virtuous have taken great pains to do so elsewhere, like here. The scope, purpose and mission of CatholicEclipsed is not to convince but to shake awake people fast asleep. Once awake, they can take a look about the room and see for themselves where they are and come to their own conclusions. Anyway, my big claim is: Sedevacantist clergy have no manifest mission from the Church, and so must be avoided as a heretical sect. There, I said it out loud. Excuse me while I duck under my desk and wait for the stones to stop flying!

St. Francis de Sales Preaching to Sedevacantists

When St. Francis de Sales wanted to re-evangelize the fallen away of Chablais who joined the Calvinist sect, he had his own troubles. Between assassination attempts, starvation, and being scorned and called a sorcerer, the saintly priest somehow managed to convert back to the Faith some 72,000 of the Calvinist sect. How? By simply proclaiming the basic truths of the Faith by posting in little tracts in public spaces, or slipping them under doors at night.  

In beginning his mission, St. Francis de Sales spoke to the sects about the most important and fundamental thing he could think of: mission. He begins like this, “First, then, your ministers had not the conditions required for the position which they sought to maintain, and the enterprise which they undertook.” He goes on to preach and reprimand the people with his secret little pamphlet. “Tell me,” he says to the conscientious Catholic-turned-Calvinist sitting by the fireplace, reading, “What business had you to hear them and believe them without having any assurance of their commission and of the approval of our Lord, whose legates they called themselves?” The Calvinist is silent in his seat, and reads on.   

“Now you cannot be ignorant that they neither had, nor have, in any way this mission. For if Our Lord had sent them, it would have been either mediately or immediately,” that is to say, by the Church, as in those to be consecrated to the episcopate would have a papal mandate, or by God Himself, like Moses, the Prophets, and last of all the Apostles, who all made their mission known by miracles. 

The doubting Calvinist stirs in his seat, looks up about the room (he’s waking up), then back down at the hand-written note, held now with a tremulous hand, “But neither in the one nor in the other way have your ministers any mission. How shall they preach, says the Apostle, unless they be sent?” The pamphlet gently falls to the floor, and the Catholic lowers his head into his hands and weeps bitterly in the crackling firelight. 

The Physics of Faith

What Goes Down, Must Come Up

I remember an event which happened just a few years ago and which I shall never forget until I die: the unearthly and hauntingly beautiful experience of observing a solar eclipse. It was summer, and the day was bright and warm. A very small black disc inched its way over the all-powerful, blinding sun. And after what seemed like an eternity, the time of totality was upon us. As soon as the last rays of the Sun escaped to the Earth, I first saw the shadows fade then disappear. The earth was shadow now, at least for almost as far as the eye could see. There was a rim of blue and a bright ring of sunny day about ten miles out on the horizon all about us. But at the epicenter of the eclipse, where I stood with my family, my wife and children, all was dark. The birds fell silent. The air itself was stilled and thinned and cooled, like a perfect autumn in the midst of zero summer. I was more giddy than my young children. I was on the verge of tears, overwhelmed by the beauty, but before I could be so conquered by the natural phenomenon, it was over, it was passed, the thing hadn’t lasted. The sun returned from behind the ominous disc of black. The air was again heavy with summer warmth. Shadows returned, and sunlight poured once again through the foliage of trees full of birdsong. As my family made their way back into the house for lunch, I stood quiet and still for a moment on the driveway and wondered at what just happened.   

The world thinks nothing good lasts, whereas the Christian thinks nothing evil lasts. “What goes up, must come down,” the worldling says. The Christian reverses this maxim, and says, “What goes down, must come up!” and obliterates all desire to worldly despair. Instead of despair, the Christian has hope, which is the good fruit of Faith. Through a study of the Physics of Faith, we understand that what goes down, must come up, that he who is willing to die, will live; he who is humbled, will be exalted; he who loses everything, gains an inestimable treasure, and so on and so forth throughout all the Gospel.  

Christ’s death epitomizes this phenomenon. Our Lord dies and is buried, but rises. The greatest evil that could befall creation––the Death of God––only lasted about three days. True, those were the longest three days of existence, and all the created order––Angels, Saints, Humans, Animals, Plants, Rocks, and Elemental forces––groaned in lamentation, bewailed the greatest of crimes, deicide, but this only for a while. 

Do you know of another phenomenon that doesn’t last? Solar eclipses. If a solar eclipse were to last longer than, say, seven and a half minutes (the typical time of an eclipse), animals would probably go insane and start eating each other, would run wild and confused into the streets, losing all sense and instinctual compass and immediately die horrible and unnatural deaths soon after such an extended period of totality befell them. 

Well, something very much like that is happening now in the spiritual world, because the Catholic Church is in Eclipse. Look around. The headquarters of the New World Religion, I mean the promulgators of the Novus Ordo Missae, the Vatican, doesn’t let a day go by or a sun go down without inserting at least one of those Save the Rainforest slogans into their website articles. You know the kind: The world’s future is bleak! Rainforests are dying! Oceans are rising! Oceans are drying up! Global warming! Global cooling! Plastics don’t biodegrade! Ad nauseam, ad infinitum. These concerns about the Earth and its ecological or climatological health may have their place––just no where here on this blog, and surely no where on an organization’s website whose aim (at least sixty years ago) was the supernatural hereafter, not this fleeting world of mud and rock. But times change.

All Roads Lead to Death.

Continue to look around. You see R&R fairing no better than the spiritual authority they recognize yet resist to the face. For example, one Remnant Newspaper columnist wrote the other day: “The devil seems to have been given much freer rein now than ever before. Perhaps it was that the flood of grace which the Latin Mass brings was cut down to a trickle after the Second Vatican Council. At this late hour, however we parse the cause, we have only death, and each road that seems to bring us back to the light of life leads to death, too,” Jason Morgan, “Supreme Mort: America’s Danse Macabre with Death,” Remnant, article online.

Now I do not take issue with the author’s bleak description of American politics, because it is accurate. The killing of babies––no, not just killing but the ritualistic sacrifice of infants in the womb to devils––is a bleak reality. But my point is, the R&R proponent suffers from the same ideological disease as the Vatican he opposes and resists. The columnist is in love with despair, because he adheres to the Physics of the World, instead of the Physics of Faith.

Our columnist concludes his song of despair with these words: “…I have given up on winning back the Supreme Court. It makes no difference now, I’m afraid. Our government, and much of our society, have developed a full-blown addiction to the suffering and murder of children and the horrible loneliness and psychological scarring which ensues for their mothers. And for a thousand other hateful and anti-human pastimes. Like hell itself, the currency of Washington is cruelty minted in the image of lies. Supreme Mort.” 

Again, this all may be very much true––which I tend to think it is––but the quote above was the very last sentence of the article the Remnant writer typed in a putative Christian newspaper. Where is the hope? Where is the call to change, an encouraging word that Christ has conquered death? The concern of the the Remnant columnist is worldly, the tone, a long, sad discordant song of despair to the end, to accompany the Dance of Death he so much “protests.”   

Meet “Bp.” Nutty

Let’s look at one more group, the Sedevacantists. This group is the sanest of the insane squirrels and other frantic animals running around in the streets. They say the Vatican is illegitimate, that it is not Catholic, so naturally they are not inclined to resist Francis to the face, because they rightly observe and believe he is not the pope, because he is a heretic. But that is about as far as their sanity gets them. The Sedevacantists still suffer from the illusions of the Physics of the World, because they presumably haven’t study enough the Physics of Faith. Let me explain. 

Early on, decades ago, Sedevacantist clergy got their start when bishops who had mission and jurisdiction, such as once Archbishop Thuc or Archbishop Lefebvre, went on a consecration campaign, without papal approval (this was the time after the usurpation of the papacy by modernists), and made this man and that man and any man a bishop who seemingly wanted to be, and these arbitrary bishops went on to ordain this man and that man and any man who wanted to be a priest. 

The resultant catastrophe of this consecration-happy campaign was the admixture of baser matter to the episcopate and priesthood. How was this possible? Because, once a few bishops got wind that the Catholic Church was being eclipsed, they started shouting in the streets, “Emergency! Emergency!” which, they thought, gave them special powers to do what they did. It was like the new Pentecost all over again, and the bishops of the Church were running around like they were drunk.  

Later, those who benefited from such disregard for ecclesial disciple, bishops and priests of the next generation, shouted down the opposition––obedient and faithful Catholics––with yet another slogan, “Epikeia! Epikeia!” This new slogan gave them, so they thought, the absolute powers of a pope: de facto universal jurisdiction, which enabled them to set up shop whenever and wherever they wanted, to make bishops at will, erect mass centers, establish monasteries, and found seminaries and even parochial schools for children, to extend their new-found empire over the earth, and all because they said the Church was in a state of emergency and epikeia could exempt them from all ecclesial law, not to mention papal decrees.

The Sedevacantist Squirrels are still in the streets, frantically running amok, though “emergency” doesn’t seem to be on their little lips anymore. One “Bishop”––we’ll lovingly call him, “Bp.” Nutty for the sake of anonymity––would often report in his congregation newsletter on the antics of his cat, or make banal comment on the weather. No emergency alarms ringing there. All was hunky-dory, though epikeia was still readily talked about and weaponized against dissidents all the same.  

“…And the sun was darkened…”

But this is just another instance of the Physics of the World at work. True, the Catholic Church went into eclipse at the death of Pope Pius XII, and in particular with the public defection of almost all the world’s bishops at the time the Second Vatican Council. But Catholics would not have despaired, because the Physics of Faith would have taught them that what goes down, must come up. The Church was in eclipse, but such phenomena don’t last. The Faith would shine out soon enough, in God’s good time. The answer was not to go insane and think one could save the Church or prevent the spiritual passion of our Lord. “…[Christ] turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” Christ was being crucified anew in his Mystical Body, in the Church. We, the faithful, were to stand at the Cross with our Mother, to pray and to weep and to hope. And we stand with Her still.      

The spiritual eclipse of the Church is decades long now––22,964 days, to be precise––and many there are who have lost their minds because of its extended duration. Some have fallen into despair, others into utter lunacy, still others into apostasy. But I prefer to be a giddy child, just as I was during that eclipse of the sun. The world’s atmosphere is still and cool. Things are so clear and crisp and easy to understand, like who is with Him, and who is against Him. A gentle autumn wind blows through all things, all souls, throughout all the world. Can you feel it? It is the fan of the Lord: He is winnowing the wheat from the chaff, and so the unquenchable fire is not long to follow.