I have never had the pleasure of visiting the Redwood forests in California, with their steeple-like trunks jetting up in dizzying heights to the blue beyond; but if I ever do get a chance to walk through that true forest primeval, there is every likelihood that, if I walk long enough, I will stumble upon the tallest recorded tree in the world without knowing it, because the tree, Hyperion by name, is kept secret for fear of its destruction.
What irony it is that the tallest living thing should be practically invisible in the obscurity of a hundred thousand things that resemble and surround it yet differ from it in glory and honor! So it is with the Church. The Church Militant on Earth, like Hyperion, is the most glorious and honorable living thing, but is made to dwell in the obscurity of a hundred thousand things superficially resembling and surrounding it, and precisely for the same reason: She is kept secret for fear of Her destruction! And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Look around and count the sects if you can. The Protestant sects are about as numerous as the stars in the sky, and about as bright as them in the light of truth compared with that of the Sun, so leave these aside. Count the “Catholic” sects. There’s the full-blown apostate sect headed by the Vatican, the Pachamama worshipers and suchlike. Then there are the liberals who, though they would not necessarily say they worship Mother Earth, they are very comfortable with sacrificing their unborn babies to her in a ritualistic murder no less diabolical than the Aztec human slaughter house. Then there is the conservative sect who get squeamish about worshipping demons and sacrificing their children to them, but who are cool with worshipping with those who do worship demons, as in the Assisi prayer gatherings, or who embrace the endorsement of demon worship in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Then there are the traditionalists. These are about as untraditional as the Pachamama lovers, if not more so, because they deny the very foundation upon which the Church was built, namely, the papacy. They say the pope can teach heresy, which is a denial of the dogma of papal infallibility, which preserves Church doctrine from error, and the dogma of papal primacy. They say the popes have taught heresy (which is a lie from Hell), and so they can ignore their teachings in favor of their own interpretation of tradition.
Finally, there are the sedevacantists. These have their own pet heresies, like the material-formal thesis which denies the teaching found in Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, which teaches that a heretic can never become pope. But what really separates these from the others is not so much that they muddy Church doctrine as they murder Church law. To understand how this is, one would need to read studies and articles on the subject. This brief blog post could not do the subject justice, so I direct you to a couple resources to get you started, here and here.
These sects, and all those sub-sects which belong to them, are the obscuring agents of darkness HOMEBASE speaks of. Just as it is not Hyperion’s fault that he is surrounded by lesser entities, and which conspire to obscure his greatness before the eyes of men, so it is not the Church’s fault She is obscured by these sects. But is it doctrinally sound to say that the Church is in obscurity? The short answer is yes. The long answer may be found here and here.
The Church is in the desert as St. John envisioned in the Book of the Apocalypse at the end of days. He who withheld the Gates of Hell for two thousand years, the pope, was taken out of the way, to make room for the Antichrist and his Antichurch, and to usher in the Great Apostasy. The three attributes of the Church, authority, infallibility, indefectibility, without which the four marks of the Church, unity, sanctity, catholicity, and apostolicity, cannot fully exist, are guaranteed by divine promise to one Church alone, the Church of Rome. Since the death of Pope Pius XII, that Church has been without a head, without a bishop. Subsequently, the universal Church has been without a head as well, and its visibility has been considerably dimmed.
But I argue that the attributes of the Church, and subsequently the marks of the Church, do exist, not in their formal cause, in the pope and the bishops in communion with him, but in their material effect, in that which they left behind, in approved catechisms, and papal teachings through encyclical letters, even in canon law. These, along with baptism (which anyone may receive from anyone) are sufficient to make a man a Catholic.
There are so few Catholics left, one is tempted to despair that the visibility of the Church doesn’t mean anything. But this is a mistake. The visibility of the Church is not dependent upon numbers. Was that the case in Noah’s epoch, who was one just man among millions upon millions, called out of the world and into the life of grace and salvation? That massive Ark on the horizon was visible, yes, but only to those in the immediate area. For most of the world, Noah’s Ark wasn’t even talked about let alone seen. So it is today with the Church. The only difference now is that, instead of one lonely, gargantuan boat swallowing up all the kinds of animals in the world, we have tens of thousands of boats pretending to be the Church of Christ.
What is a believer to do? How can one be saved in these times, one who is of goodwill and wants to belong to the Church, but cannot locate it? I confess I do not know, apart from the divine call of grace. For many are called, but few are chosen. But, as a comfort, I do know that the Church teaches one may belong to the Church either in Body or in Spirit, those members of the Body being outwardly visible, whereas those who belong to Christ in Spirit, are invisible. Thus far I have spoken of belonging to the Church in Body, in believing in everything that the Church teaches, in participating in Her sacraments as far as possible, and in wanting to be governed by Her lawful pastors. But membership in the Church may be through belonging to the Spirit of Christ as well, in desiring these things, but not knowing how or in what they consist.
To make the position of CatholicEclipsed clear, the Catholic Church is not invisible, only existing as the Spirit of Christ on Earth. The Body of Christ is visible in its members who profess the Catholic Faith, partake of Her sacraments, and would willing subject themselves to lawful pastors were there any to be subject to. These Catholics are not invisible. I know a handful by name and have had regular correspondences with them. They do not belong to any sects, but hold to the undiluted, unadulterated, undefiled Faith of their Fathers. They are visible for all the world to see. Two such Catholics have websites of their own, which is a way to publicly profess the faith. But owning a website is not required, of course, just a willingness to profess your Catholic Faith, before family, friends, or the postman if he’ll listen to you.
A big part of the mission of this website is to make the Church more visible in its members for the world. Through a tireless production and promotion of videos and articles on social media, I look at myself as another St. John the Baptist—minus the holiness, honey and locusts—crying out from my keyboard in the wilderness:…make straight the way of the Lord, like a gigantic Redwood reaching to Heaven!