And he that spoke with me, had a measure of a reed of gold, to measure the city and the gates thereof, and the wall.
Oftentimes when I am busy on Twitter trying to disabuse people of the notion that Sedevacantist clergy are Catholic, I feel like St. Paul when he spoke to the people in the Areopagus, saying, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.” With super-credulity, ready to believe anything their clergy tell them, Sedevacantists try to contain and save the Church by merely human means in human constructions. I hear St. Paul’s admonition of this superstitious people:
God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.
It is no big surprise that Sedevacantists are superstitious, because where there is ignorance, superstition is not long to follow. We must all of us have something in our heads to live by. You can call it an operating system if you want, like a computer, which has its own internal checks, rules, or algorithms which inform and determine actions to be taken. Though everyone has an OS, not every OS is good.
Some operating systems have algorithms like:
If it feels good, do it.
Pain is bad. Pleasure is good. Avoid pain. Seek pleasure.
This is the OS of the typical heathen. Thank goodness Sedevacantists are not so depraved. But Sedevacantists do have their own OS, which is very incompatible with a Catholic OS. The problem lies, not in what things they call facts but in what teachings they accept, and what authorities they follow. If I may stretch the analogy a bit further, I would compare a Sedevacantist OS to a PC, whereas a Catholic OS is like a Mac.
PCs are made to be augmented, changed, upgraded, and in anyway modified. That is their charm. Their computer systems are very much democratic. Macs, on the other hand, are closed and not subject to user modification. Macs are monarchical. The programmers on their throne (somewhere in Silicon Valley) have decreed that Thou Shalt Not modify the computer operating system algorithms—under pain of self-destruction. That is their charm. Why? Because the very charm of the PC makes it very much susceptible to malfunction, being a kind of Frankenstein monster of computing, but the Mac, having an inviolate operating system, is not liable to such malfunction, because it has unity, or wholeness. The PC is a pack of parts, an amalgamation of oftentimes conflicting rules and checks, which ultimately lead to its breakdown. The Mac is simple and united in its rules, which harmonize with each other, because they are the product of a single intellect and will.
Typical Sedevacantist Bishop
Thus, it is no wonder that the CMRI doesn’t agree with the SSPV which doesn’t agree with MHT seminary which doesn’t agree with SGG which doesn’t agree with the CMRI, because each represents a different (and conflicting) set of algorithms which inform its groups’ actions. There is no unitas because there is no single entity of programmers writing the rules. And that is a telltale sign (or mark) that these Sedevacantist groups are not Catholic. So, playing around with this analogy further, how about we spell out what a Catholic OS would look like, what the algorithms would be?
There are certain rules we must accept if we are to have a working machine in our heads to direct our action; otherwise, we will be in conflict with ourselves and wonder why we are still awake at two in the morning scrolling and watching cat videos. So, if you hate watching cat videos in the middle of the night, keep reading.
The Church has already provided us with the means to build a Catholic OS, the catechism. True, there are other rules, like canon law, but these were not written for mere laymen—which I assume you are, my gentle reader. There are almost as many catechisms as there are cultures of Catholics, and this is only right and good. Down through the ages, bishops and councils have commissioned new catechisms to be written for their people, which present a body of essential Church teachings that are easily learned and remembered. I am American, and so I defer to the Baltimore Catechism—the original 1891 version—as my go-to for writing my Catholic OS. We are our own programmers, but we use software to build our Catholic OS. If we use non-Catholic software, our OS will be non-Catholic.
In addition to whatever approved catechism you use, there are some additional rules which may serve well to write your Catholic OS. Computer software follows an internal logic, and so must we.
(Forewarning: the following may be dry to some readers. I’d recommend you take a break and watch before proceeding to the next section.)
Axiom: An assumed and self-evidently true proposition.
Example: The whole is greater than its part.
Postulate: An assumed fact as a basis of a proof.
Example: There exists a rock. There exist rock fragments.
Proof: An inferential argument showing that the stated assumptions logically guarantee the conclusion, based upon axioms and postulates.
Example: A whole is greater than a part (axiom), and there exists a rock, which is a whole (postulate), and there also exist fragments of that same rock, which are parts (postulate). Therefore, the rock is greater than any of its fragments, because the whole is greater than any of its parts.
Theorem: a statement that has been proved using inference rules of a deductive system to establish that the theorem is a logical consequence of the axioms, and postulates.
Example: The rock is greater than its fragments.
What is exciting, if you allow the logic to penetrate your soul, is that the theorem is all postulate terms. Did you notice? The raison d’être of the statement has been infused into the factual terms by a kind of Angelic alchemy, whereby the mere fact now holds an intelligent, logical necessity. Dry, yes, but like Chardonnay, not sand.
So, if we understand that our Baltimore Catechism provides us with the requisite axioms, then thinking through the difficulties of the present Apocalypse will be much easier—and will actually be Catholic. But I must make a caveat. Though the teachings presented and numbered for our learning convenience and recall in the BC is easy enough to comprehend, and so our axioms are easily gathered, gathering postulates can be problematic and difficult. Oftentimes what we are dealing with in terms of gathering postulates is historical facts, not so much present facts. This is so because Apostolicity involves lineage, which is a historical fact. This perhaps accounts for most of the disagreements, because what often happens (in Twitter debates) is that there is a dispute of the fact. To solve this difficulty, what must happen is to show through a proof that a postulate of a historical fact is or is not according to an axiom. Put another way, if there is a disagreement about a postulate, then you must show how that postulate is impossible or necessary given a relevant axiom. I think an example is in order.
There is disagreement that Thuc fell from his office as archbishop the moment he signed the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Some say it was an act of public defection (which I do), but some say Thuc didn’t have the requisite knowledge to know that the documents were heretical, or that even the documents themselves were not overtly heretical but were interpreted as such by the antipopes that followed. So, there is a disagreement about a postulate of a historical fact.
The problems with this scenario are complex, and I do not wish to bore you with trying to spell out all the hidden assumptions to be found herein. But I will say that the fact of the V2 documents being heretical or not is not a historical fact, but an eternal fact which can be verified. These writings exist and can be plugged into our Catholic OS to determine our course of action regarding them. If we do that, then we can say whether Thuc was acting according to a Catholic OS, or something other than. That way we can prove a postulate of historical fact necessary or impossible based upon our catechetical axioms. Grab your wine glasses. Here we go!
Axiom (A1): The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible Head, (BC 489).
Axiom (A2): They who do not believe all that God has taught are the heretics and infidels, (BC 1169).
Postulate (PS1): There exists a document from the Second Vatican Council which states the following teaching about the Church: “This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure,” (Lumen Gentium, 76).
Proof (PR1): The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ (A1). But, according to (PS1), this Church only subsists in the Catholic Church. Parts of the the Church of Christ are outside the Catholic Church. But this is impossible according to (A1). Therefore, (PS1) is impossible, and is not the teaching of the Church but its contrary. That which is contrary to the teaching of the Church is heresy, according to (A2). Therefore, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy.
Theorem (T1): The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy.
Postulate (PS2): There existed a one, Ngô Đình Thục, who was a signatory to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, including Lumen Gentium.
Proof (PR2): Given that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy (T1), and that Ngô Đình Thục was a signatory of the documents of the same (PS2), Ngô Đình Thục was a heretic, according to (A2), because he did not believe all that God has taught, but on the contrary believed the contrary.
Theorem (T2): Ngô Đình Thục was a heretic.
From here it is not difficult to see that anyone who traces his episcopal lineage back to Thuc is not Catholic, but derives his holy orders from a heretic. To maintain anything to the contrary is simply acting according to a non-Catholic OS. The Sedevacantists have their own OS, because they have tampered with the software, manipulating the axioms which inform the OS’s algorithms. Is it any wonder their systems crash so often? Is it any wonder Sedevacantists are often up late watching cat videos?
It will be noted that I have borrowed Euclidean concepts of geometry to help write our Catholic operating system. Geometry is a useful science. It helps with the building of architecture. The Church is an intelligible, spiritual architecture constructied out of living stones. Sedevacantists do not use the same measure as Catholics, which is why their church is so ugly and irregular. They do not even use the same measure among themselves. But God would have us know His Church by the rule and measure which He set and determined. Think of your catechism as that reed of gold the Angel used to measure the Church by, which St. John recorded in his Book of Revelation, his vision of the Apocalypse, his vision, that is, of our present day.