Out of the Mouth of Babes

Children are the most mysterious creatures in existence. Walking, talking monuments of morality, children at once can teach us everything we could possibly need to know and yet not be able to tie their own shoes. They have within themselves that perfect balance of wisdom and humility which is so characteristic of the holy, which shakes the very foundations of the Earth with a simple question…

Is it any wonder, then, that our Lord tells us, “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven”? The humility of a child is essential to faith, to that disposition of the soul to trust in God alone as Father, and to wait with palms up to receive His blessing. 

But, if this is the image of the Christian soul faithful to Christ and His Church, what would the image be of one who did not have the faith of a child? The quickest and most reasonable image that comes to my mind is the image of a grownup, which is characterized by the very opposite qualities than that of a child. 

For starters, the grownup doesn’t ask “why”—ever. He knows why. He lectures and lectures until the child, or anyone else in earshot, falls asleep or dies from boredom. He does not have wisdom so much as knowledge. He knows the rubrics, the laws, the teachings, the feast days and abstinence days, and so much and many other things that bewilder the brain just pondering them. But he doesn’t have wisdom. That is the gift only given to the child of the Faith. 

Whereas the child waits upon his Father to receive, the grownup is impatient. He doesn’t wait for anything, but insists upon his own time-table and priorities. He’s a go-getter, and so he goes and gets himself ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop. He’s grownup, and the salvation of souls is his top priority—as if that weren’t the top priority of God when he wrote the Divine law in the stars. He’ll feed the sheepfold with the Eucharist. He’ll heal the sickly lamb with Penance. “God, just sit back in the folds of eternity. I got this,” he seems to say. “No need to rush the culmination of the world. There’s still some soul-saving to do here. Speaking of which, is my flight to Phoenix booked?”

Catholic Twitter and the Sedevacantist blogosphere has been buzzing with the recent episcopal consecration of Charles McGuire, which took place in Cincinnati, at the Saint Gertrude the Great mass center. This just followed Daniel Dolan’s unexpected passing (requiescat in pace). The principle consecrator—actually, the only consecrator—Rodrigo da Silva, was just recently consecrated himself by Dolan. All this consecrating got me thinking, though, and, when I start thinking, I usually start tweeting. I tweeted a few quotes from Church authorities on the matter of mission. 

“…Let all who, being prohibited or not sent, without having received authority from the Apostolic See, or from the Catholic bishop of the place, shall presume publically or privately to usurp the duty of preaching be marked by the bond of excommunication…” (Denzinger, 434). 

Needless to say, that tweet didn’t get much love. So I set to work on the woodworm itself which has been eating away at the Barque of Peter for several decades now. I am speaking, of course, of epikeia, which apparently like a magic word enchants anything it touches with divine powers. Well, I was having nothing of that hocus-pocus. I found some sources which stated that epikeia cannot be invoked in matters of divine law, because the Divine Lawgiver foresaw all contingencies and accordingly provided for them. And, since canonical mission is a matter of divine law, which no one disputes, epikeia cannot be invoked. 

Then someone posted a wonderfully clear excerpt on mission from Abbot Dom Guéranger, an imminent theologian of his day (1800s) which I quote in full:

“We, then, both priests and people, have a right to know whence our pastors have received their power. From whose hand have they received the keys? If their mission come from the apostolic see, let us honour and obey them, for they are sent to us by Jesus Christ, who has invested them, through Peter, with His own authority. If they claim our obedience without having been sent by the bishop of Rome, we must refuse to receive them, for they are not acknowledged by Christ as His ministers. The holy anointing may have conferred on the the sacred character of the episcopate: it matters not; they must be as aliens to us, for they have not been sent, they are not pastors.” 

Well, apparently, it wasn’t clear enough for the grownup Sedevacantists. Not one received the Abbot’s teaching (which is the teaching of the Catholic Church!) with a child-like faith and trust. What they did, those who actually engaged in the discussion, was try to turn the conversation to validity of Holy Orders and supplied jurisdiction, instead of simply accepting the Church’s teaching on the matter, and letting themselves be guided and governed by it. 

You see, God did not leave us abandoned. He gave us simple rules to follow and to trust, that we might not be led astray, even during the Apocalypse and reign of the Antichrist. One does not need to know anything about supplied jurisdiction, colored titles, conditions for consecration validity, sacramental theology, etc. These things are important in their way, but for the simple, obedient and humble child of the Faith, all that is required is to know and to ask that man in black with the white collar standing at your door, “Did Papa send you?”    

11 thoughts on “Out of the Mouth of Babes

  1. Thank you Robert…another well worded article. The “Johnny -come -lately group, the sedevacantists think nothing of usurping the authority themselves. Your article’s title says it all..out of the mouths of babes. Excellent last words you state–“Did Papa send you” should resonate with them and hopefully they recognize their own folly…( May the grace of the Holy Ghost enlighten our senses and our hearts) God Bless, JWM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen to your prayer, JWM. God is the one who calls us out of the world. We don’t call ourselves. And He enlightens the humble heart. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent article!! Christ warned us of this time we are living in.
    “If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not.”
    [Matthew 24:26]
    Keeping it simple is best, as you have pointed out. We must be like obedient, humble children. Imagine what it was like after Jesus ascended into heaven… the apostles must have felt a bit lost. They kept close to Blessed Mother and kept the Faith.
    Thank you for this beautiful article. I will share it.

    Like

    • Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. I have often thought of this verse in connect with the mass centers and their sacraments. My family’s first traditional “Catholic” confessions were actually down in a Holiday Inn chair closet. You have got to laugh at yourself sometimes.

      Like

  3. Excellent points, and I agree 100 percent.

    But there is a little bit of 20/20 hindsight going on here and I will explain why. It wasn’t until relatively recently, say 20 years ago, that some Traditionalists even admitted the binding authority of the ordinary magisterium, limiting the obedience they owed the popes to perhaps 12 or more encyclicals from the extraordinary magisterium throughout the ages. Respected early priests such as England’s Oswald Baker even taught openly the ordinary magisterium was not infallible.

    Then there was the question of excommunications — well you know, even if your excommunicated, Canon 2261 covers, right? Wrong! So who listens to Papa when all his words can be explained away? Catholics were truly at a loss. I don’t know that it is possible to demonstrate the intensity of the attacks against the papacy and the deviousness of the arguments brought against it in the last century — remnants still exist on the Internet but don’t tell the whole story. To this day Traditionalists resort to the theologians and ignore the popes unless they can re-interpret what they meant. Humani generis means nothing to them.

    All I am saying is that it began with the definition of papal infallibility, and the meaning of that definition is still under attack. Until that is resolved, no one in the Traddie camp will be able to fully give a firm and irrevocable assent to papal decrees. They have destroyed the idea of the papacy by turning everything over to the “bishops,” and the end to that, sadly, is they may well be on their way to electing their own “pope” who will be sure not to demand much of anything from them at all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So what you are saying, it sounds like, is that within this Traddie camp, in which I presume we ought to lump Sedevacantists, there is a residual Gallicanism that permeates the air of even those who insist upon obedience to the Pope, all the while denying him his rights as the supreme ruler of the Church, from whom alone are they to receive their mission. Now it is bishop X to bishop Y to bishop Z, never mind that X defected from the faith, lost his canonical mission as a result, nor did X have the authority to send Y anywhere other than into his own diocese, which he relinquished when he defected or was moved on by the Antichrist.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Very good point. Yet another manifest sign that the Sedevacantist clergy are not Catholic: They are anti-unity! Thanks for reading and your comment. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do lump sedevacantists in with Traditionalists. They all operate without a true pope and follow doubtfully valid “clergy.” They all pay the popes lip service while denying their supreme jurisdiction, so really even their lip service means nothing. You can’t practice selective obedience and pretend this is what the Church demands us to observe in order to remain members in good standing. Yes it is Gallicanism, because they perhaps recognize the popes in their administrative capacity. But by denying the supreme jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiffs, a jurisdiction that demands approval for the men parading as clerics whom they follow, they destroy the very apostolic mission Christ granted to His Apostles. Yet this is the very mission that they claim to uphold in accepting these men as the continuation of Christ’s Church on earth. They implicitly deny St. Peter’s appointment as Head bishop, sole chief and judge of those nominated to become bishops.

    Schizophrenic? You betcha!

    Liked by 1 person

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