Anymore during this reign of Antichrist, it is altogether almost unheard of that two people’s minds should meet. Of course, people may agree on such things as have no importance at all or which are so self-evident as to be instantaneously believed upon hearing, but in the main, with those things which are important, which challenge people to grow and be other than they are, a meeting of the minds almost never happens.
Knowing this to be so, because I live it daily, where does that leave CatholicEclipsed? What is the use of writing about important truths no one really agrees with, unless they do already? This blog is, I suppose by virtue of the times in which we live, always preaching to the choir, because only those who actually agree with it read it. The rest sneer and talk past it.
The age of debate, of systematically presenting one’s ideas, providing syllogistic proofs and refutations according to set rules of reason, is dead. We live during the Apocalypse, and we who are more spiritually inclined and know our Scriptural prophecies, know that this world shall end in a flood of fire. But, as we approach that Day of Wrath, we must pass, as it were, in reverse fashion through the Biblical narrative once again. After the Flood, Noah and his family set out of the Ark to populate and inhabit the world once again. It wasn’t long, though, before pride set in, and people were building a tower to Heaven. God looked upon this insolent race and subsequently confused their tongues as to make each misunderstand each, and scattered the lot to the four winds of the world.
Babel means confusion. When people try to read those with whom they disagree, what often happens is that one is confused about what they read, though they may not think so. The practical result is that there is disagreement about what is being argued, why it is being argued, and the discussion often ends in flames and a falling away—or, in other words, people scatter.
Now, some of you may have noticed that a post went missing in action recently, which was written by Teresa Benns. I pulled that post, which was a response to Introibo, because it contained what I believed to be an error. It wasn’t necessarily a big error, but an error it was nevertheless. I gave Benns the opportunity to correct the error, but she instead doubled down on it, and wrote one of her lengthy posts in support of it. Such a response is to be welcomed if something to the purpose were produced, but that was not to happen.
The error to which I refer was Benns’s claim that immediate jurisdiction was a Protestant heresy. Leaving aside the qualification of Protestant, the claim may just be that immediate jurisdiction is heresy. Okay. Well, heresy is something the Church has defined within a narrow definition. To say that such and such an idea is heretical should be easily demonstrable therefore. The subject matter of the faith and of heresy are the same, namely, Divine revelation, that is, those truths which are either found in Tradition or Scripture that are proposed for belief by the Church. The heretic, then, denies an article of belief which has been defined by the Church as having been Divinely revealed. The problem with denying mediated jurisdiction by a Roman Pontiff, or, positively stated, affirming that bishops receive their power of jurisdiction directly from God, is that the teaching has never been defined by the Church as having been Divinely revealed. Pius XII seemingly settles the matter within an encyclical letter, that jurisdiction is mediated through the Roman Pontiff, but the denial of this does not arise to the level of heresy, because heresy is not defined as a denial of a papal teaching, and Pius XII did not dogmatically define it as having been Divinely revealed.
I took issue with this because it reflects on us Pray-at-Home Catholics. We are already marginalized and compared to Feeneyites. We have to fight tooth and nail just to get a hearing in the broader Catholic blogosphere, and often times we are laughed out of the combox entirely. We must be rock-solid in our conclusions, especially when those conclusions involve claims of heresy, the belief in which may mean hellfire. I tried to get Benns to see this, but she refused to listen. Let me make this clear, though: Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics is Catholic. She is a good woman, and a very studied woman, who has been defending the papacy and the teachings of the Church for a long time running. I do not have an issue with her personally, as she has been personally there for me and my family in a time when I thought I wasn’t sure what would happen to me. I look at her as a friend and a fellow Catholic. That said, however, it is incumbent upon me to show where another has erred, especially if that may make people discredit what we say on our websites.
BetrayedCatholics has a lot of good on it, most of which I haven’t even read yet. But the problem is there are errors on it, as I am sure there are errors on my website, too. The difference is I am willing and eager to be corrected, whereas Teresa has shown a reluctance to be corrected by anyone. Catholic apologetics in the time of the Apocalypse in which there is not a hierarchical Teaching Church is already a shaky enterprise. Introibo has reminded me (not that I really needed it, but it is a good point) that theology is a science, indeed the Queen of the Sciences. This means that words are technical and are not to be loosely used to try to prove a point. But the power of science rests in the exactitude of definition and in linking defined terms with defined terms through valid laws of logic. I am not a theologian, nor is Teresa Benns. I confess I do not have the training to conduct this kind of rigorous scientific activity. Neither does Benns. That is why I have stressed time and again that here on CatholicEclipsed I must present whatever argument I may based upon received and approved teachings of the Catholic Church, principally found in the Baltimore Catechism. Should we poke around into encyclical letters to try to discern what the Church teaches regarding certain matters? Perhaps, but only if such things are not dealt with by a Catechism. And this is an interesting point, if an encyclical letter teaches a matter that is not implicitly or explicitly taught in a Catechism, why do we the laity think it is something that we should know? If the papal teaching did not find its way into a Catechism, perhaps it was too obscure for the faithful? Perhaps it would have required a theological education almost no laity have, in order to understand.
As a case in point—and I apologize for the rambling nature of this post, but I feel like rambling—I was recently contacted by an individual who believes that the popes from Leo XIII to Pius XII and after were all false popes. This individual claims that Pius XII was not the pope because he wrote in an encyclical letter:
“For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith,” (Humani Generis, 36).
It is perhaps instructive to note that this encyclical, as I believe almost every encyclical, was addressed to the bishops of the world. Now, I am not sure if it was the practice of the local ordinary to make available these papal encyclical letters to his flock. Perhaps he did. But I think it is clear that, unless one knows how the Church’s magisterial organs work, how they go about defining doctrines and condemning errors through investigations such as what Pius XII seems to call for here, people may get confused as to what is being called for, and conclude that popes are saying something they are not. It is telling that the quotation shared with me by the emailer did not quote the paragraph in its entirety, which ended with the following cautionary qualification:
“Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of Divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question,” (Ibid.)
What am I driving at here? I am trying to say in a rather rambling and circuitous way that Catholic bloggers should be more humble and not seek things beyond their understanding or station in life or learning. If God wanted me to be a theologian, He would have created me during a time when I could have been. I was born in a time which makes the pursuit of theological training impossible, because there are no theologians alive today from whom I may learn the science. The learning of a science, as the learning of an art, requires feedback. The student of the science or art must be responsive to the instructions of the master’s corrections, that the student might grow in their understanding or technique. In a very real way, no one teaches himself anything. This is so from the lowest art, which is probably cooking, to the highest science, which is most certainly theology. There are those who make it seem like they can cook, but the fact that they can heat things up without causing significant food poisoning hardly qualifies them as a chef. Likewise, the fact that one can blog out a bunch of quotes seemingly touching upon a disputed question in theology, and opining from these to a conclusion which has no necessary connection with the sources cited, hardly qualifies them as a theologian. In either cooking or theology, a technique and procedure is needed which accords with the demands of the subject matter, be it making and baking gluten-free cinnamon buns (which I do splendidly and deliciously well), or making an argument that a heretofore un-condemned proposition is heresy, which I don’t think anyone without a theological faculty can do well.
CatholicEclipsed is just a blog on which I share my opinions about the Apocalypse. I am not trying to erect a tower to Heaven. God has already provided a ladder for that: the Catechism. If we confine our conclusions on doctrinal issues to what is stated verbatim in catechisms, then there would be a lot more agreement and a lot less confusion. There will be those who read BetrayedCatholics and agree with every conclusion published there, because its readers are already willing to agree with whatever the author Teresa Benns says. I hope and pray that those who read my silly little blog will have more independence of mind not to agree with everything I say, and when I am in error on something doctrinal, please send me an email saying why you disagree with me. I hope we all can agree on the Catechism. At least then, our minds may meet and be of one mind with the Church, just as God intended. Maybe then we shall be far less scattered. Maybe then we shall no more be Blogs of Babel.
A very concerned commenter and critic of mine has stated that I have violated my own simplistic approach to apologetics in not sticking with the catechism in this post. I concede their point, which was true in its way, but I also am writing in a transitional period of CatholicEclipsed. Coming up on the actual one year anniversary–I thought that that was the octave following the Feast of the Sacred Heart, but the Antichrist Paul VI changed the date on me (as prophecy foretold). The actual anniversary date of CatholicEclipsed will be August 22, which Pius XII established as the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Some observant visitors to CatholicEclipsed will notice that the DATABASE page is gone. This was not a glitch in the Matrix. I intentionally removed that page, because it had links to resources which I am not sure it is wise to delve into, at least not until one has mastered his catechism.
And I suppose that is the fine line here. Am I saying that we shouldn’t read anything other than catechisms? No, that is not what I am saying. But I am saying we should not build up an apologia for the faith based upon those materials which we lack the training and education to explore and expound upon. Perhaps the greatest difficulty lies in reading Sacred Scripture, and yet Holy Mother Church encourages us to study the Bible. But She does not encourage us to write up our own exegesis of particular passages, or even form our opinions of the faith based upon our reading. Rather, we must consult approved commentaries to learn the sense of the Sacred Scripture, while also referring everything back to our catechetical formation–which, under normal circumstances, we would have fully received before we could drive a car.
To follow up with my critical commenter, I would add this from the Baltimore Catechism (BC):
Q. 1004. Can bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church always exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders?
A. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.
You see here that the BC teaches two ideas at once: First, that in Holy Orders bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church receive power; the second is that this same power may not be exercised unless authorized and sent by lawful superiors, that is, the Pope principally for bishops in sees, but also the local ordinary for parish priests. The lesson also teaches us that this same power cannot be taken away from the bishop or priest or minister, but the right to use said power may be withdrawn for causes the Church deems fit or good. Finally, the passage concludes with a pithy statement on communicatio in sacris, or the communication or participation in holy things with those who have not right to them.
It may be a stretch to say, or a gross simplification, but this lesson alone may just be all that is needed to prove that the Sedevacantist clergy, though they have valid orders, are not lawfully operating, and that those who attend their missions, chapels, seminaries, monasteries, and who participate in their ceremonies are guilty of sin, and are not acting like good Catholics. The lesson further teaches us that an ecclesiastical law may only prevent the lawful exercise of powers conferred in Holy Orders, but such a law could never take away the valid use of them. That should clear things up for those who think and argue at length otherwise.
The BC is amazingly powerful to clarify issues and to give one a peace of mind, no matter their level of intelligence or learning. One doesn’t even need to be able to read to learn the truths of the Catholic Faith. One need only be willing to listen and believe. That is the real reason why CatholicEclipsed moving forward in the 2022-2023 year will only be using the BC. I envisioned this blog to reach the lowest of the lowbrow to the highest highbrow, through being humorous yet serious, commonsensical yet profound, researched yet accessible. I believe this is the way to proceed so as best to serve my Lord and Lady. I want to be humble yet indomitable, and the only way that I can achieve this goal is to build my house on the Rock, refined and smelted down into the gold of authentic magisterial teaching found in the catechism.
I welcome comments and questions to this developing editorial stance of CatholicEclipsed, and to other concerns or criticisms my readers may have with anything on my blog, as I am willing to be fraternally corrected by my fellow brothers and sisters of the Faith, and to make amends or change according to new insights by my readers. That is how God speaks to us, not through a booming voice in a cloud (unless we are saints of the Son of God) but through our loving and caring neighbor’s thoughtful comments or criticisms. We must be open to our neighbor if we are to be open to God.
May God bless us all!