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?
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.