New Star Wars Andor Episode 4 is Propaganda

Andor Propoganda poster

Star Wars Andor, a new television series, just released episode 4, which, I must say, I found to be incredibly boring. I even warned my children about how boring it would be, and advised that if they watch it, then should have some Legos handy to offset their boredom.

But this got me thinking; why should a show like Star Wars be so boring? It was not intuitive, until I starting to work out the cause. What follows is my attempt to do that, though in a circuitous way, hinting at things rather than demonstrating them.

Propaganda as a Weapon

When I was a student of military journalism at the Defense Information School, I learned that the agenda and image of the branch of service for which I served was of paramount importance. The truth was not. The ethics of military journalism are far different from the ethics of civil journalism, and well, they should be. It was our job to inform the world of catastrophic causalities or deployment operations, the divulgement of which at the wrong time and with too much truth could jeopardize the mission.

My mission as a Navy journalist was simply to be a propagandist and report the favorable image of the Navy, to promote morale, and release only as much information as the public needed to know, or the crew for that matter. When doing journalism, the agenda, the mission, was first, never truth.

You see, propaganda is a weapon, and as a military journalist, I know first-hand how strategic it can be. There is such a thing as “display of dominance of power,” which is why you oftentimes hear of a bunch of Navy ships in the Pacific somewhere doing seemingly nothing more than launching aircraft and turning in circles at high speed. To the enemy of America, the Navy is asserting its maritime dominance, but my point is that our enemy wouldn’t even know about such dominance were it not for yourself truly and shipmates like myself photographing and writing stories about how awesome the Navy is.

You are probably wondering what any of this has to do with Star Wars Andor, the new American television series streaming on Disney+. Well, after watching the first few episodes, and the most recent fourth episode in particular, I am convinced that the writers of the show are military propagandists and not cinematic artists.

Andor as Political, Commercial, and Religious Propaganda

The virtue of art, as opposed to military journalism, which is propaganda, is beauty and truth. Insofar as art represents life and does so beautifully (an essential), it is art. If art only aims at truth, it is little more than journalism. If it only aims at beauty, or that which pleases when seen (Thomistic definition), it may be art, but it is very superficial and low art.

Propaganda, on the other hand, neither aims to be truthful or beautiful, but merely to persuade. What is propaganda? The definition in the Encyclopedia Britannica, as found on the Wikipedia page, is as follows:

“Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is being presented.”

Andor is heavy on the aim to persuade people to a particular agenda, which is that corporations are evil and political power is corrupt, or corrupts. I am not going to bother you with mentioning names in the show, in part because I can never remember myself what the characters are called, which is perhaps a consequence of my bad memory or my lack of interest in the characters–which is itself a consequence of the show being propaganda and not art.

False Dichotomy

I wanted to talk briefly about Andor as propaganda in order to get us thinking about why it is propaganda and not art, something that seemingly almost everything made today is after. Episode 4 of the show slowly develops a plot of characters after either domination or revolution. There is no third way, that of all seeking the common good of each and all, which is Christian solidarity.

Andor presents a world that is super-charged with either one of two characters, that of the rebel or that of the overlord. Either you are revolting against an order of domination or else you are suppressing an antagonist to that dominating order. This is a false dichotomy, and so a falsity of reality. The world is not separated by those who dominate and those who are dominated. Well, perhaps it is now, but my point is that it need not always be because it wasn’t in the past. A typical counter-example could be Saint King Louis IX, who helped to rebuild France, which was (fittingly) being plummeted into darkness by the rebellious noble class.

The false dichotomy dynamic is mostly seen in the relationship between the Empire and the little brigand band of rebels who, in this episode anyway, have adopted the identity of a people very much fashioned after the Scotts of the Highlands–who, interestingly enough, opposed Catholic conversion on the whole, preferring Calvinism.

So, you have these oppressed people the leader of which is painfully Irish in appearance, who are ready to execute an insurrection against the Empire stationed there. The show harps on the idyllic lands visually, and harps (pun intended, we are Irish for the moment!) on the sob story of how the indigenous tribes or clans were moved on by the Empire to make way for an outpost and staging area for the Empire. And we are made to feel that this is bad somehow, but if pressed to articulate in theoretical language why, I am sure no one could possibly say.

The show attempts to persuade the viewer of the opinion that the Empire is bad for being orderly and structured and the band of rebels is good for, well, rebelling against that order. Now, one knows why exactly it is bad to be big and strong and ordered, and no one really knows why it is good to be a part of the rebellion.

The costuming also charmingly underscores this mindless mind-shaping show. The Empire characters are always seen, and the Military Corporation, too, as neatly groomed, with ironed uniforms, and professional comportment, what in the Navy we would have called “squared away,” which was always complimentary.

Now, compare that to what the Rebels look like, in particular the main character, Andor, and you see what I mean. They are never really groomed, their clothes look like something out of a hipster catalogue or else something a bum would wear, and they slouch or lack good posture. They are lazy and lack discipline, unless we are talking about what seems to be a boss character of the Rebels. Then you have a character who shifts from a traveling salesman-like character to a flamboyant art dealer in the twinkling of an eye.

What the show cares little if anything about is developing interesting characters and moving the plot along. What the show does very well is develop this narrative that order, power, discipline are vices, and decentralization, weakness, and loafing are virtues. It is clear that the show is aiming neither at truth nor beauty but something else, an undercurrent and agenda which is, in the finally analysis a detriment to the American mind and culture.

Hence, propaganda as a weapon. Andor is a piece of propaganda which was made presumably to undermine civilization as such. Too far? Consider that before the issue was between the Republic and the Monarchy. The socialists have all but killed or hollowed out monarchy today, and so what is left is democratic republicanism, which the show Star Wars champions. The Empire is always evil, the Republic is always good. But the problem remains to change an Empire into a Republic.

Lest the reader think these are just imaginary musing on a television show with no practical application, I will remind him or her that our last sitting president who was attempting to make America great again was defrauded his re-election, and when the rebels came, they were not party to the republican president but to the democratic overthrow of that president through a farce of an election in which there was more fraud than could be adequately documented or presented. Anyone who doubts that needs to consult the history books.

The same rebels of Andor, and consequently, the same group of people the show is targeting to influence, were the ones with the fire bombs in the streets igniting cars when Donald Trump was elected president the first time, and who crowded the streets and did violence against Trump supporters on January 6, 2021.

The hero of Andor is quite literally the enemy of America. Andor was uprooted from his homeland, in which he had to fight the Empire and Corporations at a young age. This is the same type and character in the narrative currently influencing contemporary American culture, the African American, and South and Central American, or the non-White American, really.

(I should probably have mentioned that the uniforms of the Empire in this show are interestingly white, except for the individual Empire dissenter helping the pretender Irish Highlanders who have a shocking resemblance to the irredentism of the IRA, who is not white. He is black, and his uniform is black, too.)

Anyway, the show depicts the hero Andor as a rebel fighter really for his people. He is the rebel without a cause, even though the show talks a lot about “the cause.” We are not really sure what that is, if it isn’t to displace all order in the galaxy with a bunch of loafers in sheepskin and blasters, which seems to be the same agenda of the hidden Globalist Elite pulling the strings on these rebels in the American streets.


I write this post in anticipation of Columbus Day, which is October 10. I plan to do a Chromocast for it, which should be very interesting. Let me just conclude by saying that we need to be on our guard against propagandist media. The forces of darkness have been trying to upset the order in the galaxy for a while now, and have been very successful in doing so, because God wills it. Make no mistake, Satan is at the back of all this, and the Antichrist in the Vatican (in other words, Francis) is doing his part in it all.

The move is to make Western civilization feel remorse for its past, just as the Second Vatican Council wanted to make the Catholic Church feel remorse for its past. This is because Western civilization is the Catholic Church. We see, then, that ultimately the political and commercial propaganda of Andor is at its roots religious propaganda.

Just as the superstitious pagans of England worshiped at Stonehenge, which was itself an astrological and religious site, so the show Andor has their raid and insurrection happening at the precise time of an astronomically significant event–which (we hope) the writers will get to in episode 5–at an astrological and religious site. The people from all over the land will be there to witness the phenomenon, and will do so as they gather at some kind of monolithic structure reminiscent of Stonehenge. Coincidence, or propaganda. You decide.

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Laying impious hands on the quasi-sacred text of a literary genius by proffering a senseless and sacrilegious translation from English to English was apparently deemed necessary by the flightless dodo bird over at the Society of G.K. Chesterton. I am speaking, of course, of Dale Ahlquist, who is the president of that nefarious organization supposing itself to be anything like Chestertonian intellectual tradition—the simple proof that it is not is that Chesterton was Catholic whereas Ahlquist is not.

Anyway, the story was broke by another impious and non-Catholic organization, Word on Fire, which interviewed Ahlquist about his new brainchild (more on this idea in a bit), the book Orthodoxy: An American Translation. Forgive me if I seem to rant for the next few hundred words, but first of all, at even a basic level, is not any American offended by such a title? Since when did standard English of the educated class of England become a foreign language to Americans? What was the motive behind such a literary enterprise to translate English into English? When did the oftentimes simple sentences, proverbial and prosaic prose of Chesterton become something like gigantic Egyptian hieroglyphs needing a Rosetta Stone to decipher?

Well, apparently Ahlquist & Co. thought that Chesterton is too difficult to read for today’s readers. I would say that the thought never occurred to Ahlquist just to increase literacy instead of decreasing words, but that did occur to him when he set up a Chesterton Academy for High Schoolers. Ahlquist admits, though, that his attempts to teach Chesterton have proven difficult:

“What helped convince us was that we’ve been teaching Orthodoxy to our freshmen and sophomores at Chesterton Academy, a classical high school in Minnesota, and I had to admit, they were having real problems reading the text,” (Source).

I will let the irony of a secondary school Academy dedicated to the thought of a single man for which it is named being unable to teach its students how to read the man sink in. And it is a matter of teaching, is it not? I mean, surely young men and women were reading and enjoying Chesterton in his time, no? Or are we to believe that the journalist who had world-reknown, who toured even “illiterate” America, giving lectures to stadia packed full of hapless Yankees, was passed over by this ignorant race when it came time to read one of his seminal early works, namely, Orthodoxy?

So, granting that Americans were able to read Chesterton then, but are not able to now, what changed? Ahlquist unwittingly alludes to the cause:

“Chesterton was a giant of English literature in the early twentieth century who went into a strange eclipse after his death, but now is experiencing a deserved revival. Most importantly, he was in every way a bulwark against what we call modernism, which includes relativism, materialism, progressivism, and deconstruction.”

Is it strange that Chesterton, who indeed was a bulwark against modernism should be eclipsed? Of course it isn’t, if we consider that the whole world was deprived of the light of the Church of Christ, which itself was eclipsed! The same dark forces, the agents of darkness as they have been called on this website, have worked to eclipse Chesterton just as they have worked to eclipse everything Catholic. The eclipse of one of the greatest literary minds of the twentieth century began with his death:

“Shortly after Chesterton’s death in 1936, Pope Pius XI sent a telegram, which was read to the vast crowd gathered for Chesterton’s requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral. In the telegram, the Pope described Chesterton as a “gifted Defender of the Catholic Faith.” Ironically the secular press in England refused to publish the Pope’s telegram on the grounds that “the Pope had bestowed on a British subject a title held by the King.” That the title of Fidei Defensor was originally bestowed upon the King by the Pope was either overlooked or forgotten. It was, in any event, singularly apt that Chesterton should be the first Englishman honored by the Pope with the title of Defender of the Faith since Henry VIII had dishonored the title four hundred years earlier,” (Source).

Chesterton was more than a mere journalist. He was a prophet, and the people knew it. It is only that the press knew it, too, and they fought against his influence, which was Catholic to its core.

Now, how then is Chesterton being censored today, you may ask? Do we not have freedom of the press and freedom of speech? Ahlquist himself has planted so many seeds of Chestertonian societies across this land that one would be silly to say the man is being censored in anyway. And yet, I do say it. I say Ahlquist is censoring Chesterton! Bizarre claim? Let me explain.

It was the modus operandi of the Freemasonic infiltration and takeover of the Catholic Church’s infrastructure to be embedded in the Body of Christ as like a virus, and act the part of an amicable body until the time was ripe to take over the host organism, which happened at the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Faith was undermined in every possible way, from its liturgy and worship in the mass and the rosary being renovated—even worship spaces, with sacred art and music being replaced by their counterfeits—to its law and catechisms. True, the changes were progressive and subtle, and as a rule always easy and not intimidating, unless your particular parish was set for demolition for no apparent reason. Then it was admittedly violent. But the enemy of the Church and the human race is nothing if not wily. The Church was soon taken over almost without a peep from people in the pews. No significant counterreformation, no large scale revolt against the imposition of a new religion. And why? Why no revolt against the Great Apostasy? The answer to that question lies in the tactics of the enemy still underway, epitomized by Ahlquist in rewriting Chesterton, as his Protestant and Freemasonic predecessors did a generation earlier in rewriting and dumbing down our religion, our eduction, and our culture.

To get an idea of how this rewriting takes place, Ahlquist provides us with a sample:

“Okay, here’s a passage from the original:

“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity.

“Now, here’s the American translation:

“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Giving birth to a work of art is as wholesome as giving birth to a baby.”

Does it not strike you that this passage in Chesterton is terribly easy to read? Very simple syntax, word choice and subject matter. Ahlquist thought so, too, since the only thing he rewrote was the very Catholic idea in the last sentence, and changed it to the the very modernist idea, if we maintain as an assumption that Ahlquist was trying to interpret Chesterton’s thought and translate it in contemporary American English. Only, that is not what Ahlquist does. Rather he essentially changed the meaning of Chesterton. Paternity has nothing to do with giving birth to a baby! What on Earth would make Ahlquist think that paternity had to do with giving birth? Paternity is the state of fatherhood, which is the art of crafting and molding the minds and wills of a child into virtue and holiness. This is a very fitting analogy with art, for that is exactly what the artist does with his imagination, will and intellect: he molds preexistent matter into the form of something beautiful, which beauty is caused by the thing’s goodness and truth. The rewrite would not have been any more startling or unsettling had Ahlquist written:

“Artistic maternity is as wholesome as physical maternity.” That is because, that is exactly what he did, because maternity means giving birth to a baby. The maternal act is about the matter of the child. The paternal act is about the form. Artistic acts are always about the form and never about the matter. Mothers are closest to God, because through their bodies they help create life, but fathers help form that life like artists form clay into pots or words into sonnets.

Ahlquist completely destroys this distinction and likens paternity to maternity as if there were no difference. And isn’t that the whole ugly, black notion behind modernism? The destruction of distinction? We are told there is no distinction in art or learning or religion, that equality among us must reign. The impetus to this leveling is obvious enough: if everyone is equal, or all tolerably stupid, uncultured, illiterate and superstitious instead of religious, then the mass of mankind may be molded into a new image, not that of God but that of Man. This is a topic for an entirely new post. What concerns me here is how Ahlquist, in rewriting Chesterton, destroying distinctions, mixing up paternal and maternal, is either playing into the hand of the enemy, or else he is himself the dealer. I tend to think the latter. Let me explain.

About a decade or so ago, I made my first sortie into the Catholic Combox. I was defending a thought of Chesterton which he expressed—in all places—in the book Orthodoxy in the combox—in all places—on the Chesterton Society website. The controversy broke out over the editor of the Chesterton Society writing a piece about how great Harry Potter was, and how much Chesterton would approve. I demurred and offered as a proof, that Chesterton emphatically would not like Harry Potter, the following text from the first chapter of Orthodoxy:

“The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the centre is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons. The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world.”

Whatever good can be said of the wildly successful Harry Potter book series and movies, this much is certain, Harry Potter is not an ordinary boy. The whole point of the story of Harry Potter—though I confess I never read it—is that he is not ordinary. Had he been ordinary, the author would have found something more interesting to be name the title after. Harry Potter is the star. Harry Potter is oddity. Harry Potter is the magical boy. The world is not. That is directly and diametrically opposite Chesteton’s view of what makes for a good book. Chesterton may be wrong, and but that doesn’t make the editor of the Chesterton Society right. He was wrong in Chesterton then just as Ahlquist is wrong in Chesterton now.

In addition to advancing the notion that Chesterton would be on friendly terms with a sorcerer boy, which idea is flatly contradicted not only on the textual analysis above but also on the fact that the few places Chesterton does mention magic, he says it is black magic and worked by the powers of Hell, I know that Ahlquist believes in a proposition which was condemned by Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors:

“17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. — Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863, etc.”

This asinine proposition was defended by Ahlquist on the Argument of the Month event and show, which debate was entitled, “Do we have a reasonable hope most non-Catholics will be saved?” Actually Catholics would have simply known that such a proposition was already solemnly and infallibly condemned by a Roman Pontiff, and so, of course one couldn’t hold to such a belief. But that is just how modernists operate. With the airs of piety and compassion, they undermine dogmatic authority and destroy what foundation Christ Himself has laid for the building up of the Church. This is necessary to do away with the old Church of God and build up the new Church of Man.

The Church has been replaced by the Modernist sect which is the cult of Man. This was accomplished over years of reeducation in education, art, culture, and religion. The process is ever ongoing until the Race of Imbeciles is materialized. Perhaps the best way to achieve this end in education, art, and culture, is the same way it was and is being achieved in religion–by taking away the Spiritual Paternity of the Papacy and the Priest, and the domestic Headship, by suppressing any notion of the Fatherhood of Form, in exchange for a mere material-maternal principle which is able to be shaped according to the whims and fancies of man’s imagination instead of God’s truth.

Gratuity is Next to Godliness

This evening in the northern hemisphere will mark the autumn equinox and the beginning of the fall season. Soon, pumpkins will multiply on front stoops, corn stalks will emerge as if miraculously from the ground, and black cats, unseen in the shadows, will now start to be observed as if they had only just then popped into existence.

For my family, and apparently for all Catholic families in the Roman Rite churches, almost since the time of the Apostles, autumn is marked off as beginning with the Michaelmas Embertide, where thanks for the bounty of the previous season were given to God, and a blessing was asked to be on the vintage.

Now this puts me in a curious position physically. The Ember days may be understood in a spiritual sense, of course, but the historical application and origin is very much in the physical, since the Catholic Church adopted the practice directly from the agrarian culture of Pagan Rome. Whereas before the conversion of the Roman people, the heathens would give thanks to their gods they believed governed the seeding and harvesting, now Catholics, who recognize but one God in Heaven, give thanks for the same but in a manner befitting the truth of the cosmos, as opposed to the superstitions of an ignorant race. So, what work am I to ask God’s blessing on, since I am a medically retired Navy veteran? I ask for God’s blessings on this website, of course! But what is the vintage, the harvest I pray for? That has two parts, both spiritual and physical. As to the spiritual vintage I pray for, it is the conversion of those who do not know the true Catholic Faith, because it has been obscured by the forces of the Antichrist, enthroned on the See of Peter, which Antichrist has usurped. I pray that, by means of the work I do, in writing popular articles and writing scholarly articles, making videos, making graphics, and recording podcasts, I am able to be a productive laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, helping to harvest souls for Heaven. The spiritual remuneration I receive for my labor is significant though unquantifiable. It is to the physical remuneration which I now would like to speak on.

Since launching the website back in 2021, I have had only a handful of donors. This is not unexpected, since any venture must begin somewhere. This year, on account of having taken a hardline in a disputed question concerning whether one is a heretic simply because he does not believe a teaching from a Roman Pontiff to be ex cathedra, I have lost the one donor I had heretofore called a CatholicEclipsed benefactor, insofar as this individual recurrently donated to CatholicEclipsed. It was on account of this generous benefactor that I have been able to expand my operations into podcasting, with the acquisition of the necessary media equipment. Yet, such necessary purchases have reduced the CatholicEclipsed fund to almost zero. Consequently, without donors or benefactors in the foreseeable future, CatholicEclipsed will be operating on a loss, because it isn’t free to run a website. Domain costs, hosting fees, and updates and maintenance of technology, are all expenses taken into account. And that does not even take into account the wages a labor ought to receive for his work.

It is often said, on such popular websites like OnePeterFive, the RemnantNewspaper, NovusOrdoWatch, etc., that one does not like to ask for money. I have no problem asking for money, when it is demanded by justice, which I think it is. Of course, no one should pay for what he does not like. My readership has been steadily increasing ever since I launched CatholicEclipsed, which means that people are reading and watching and (presumably) enjoying it. My contention, and plea to justice is, if you enjoy what you read and watch on CatholicEclipsed, then you should show your gratitude for the benefit you received, and offer a donation for that benefit received, in proportion to the pleasure you received from it. Were I a street performer with a gigantic harp, playing at a Metro station entrance (as one young lady was want to do on my commute to DC for school), and you passed by, stopped to listen to the enchanting harmonies and soft, angelic melodies I was plucking, and were moved to tears by the unearthly music, seemingly echoing the celestial spheres, but couldn’t be bothered to throw a quarter into my cup, I would say you had done me an injury, or injustice. Yet, had you stood and listened but were unmoved, and subsequently did not give even two cents, I would not blame you, because you did not benefit from my performance.

So, the question is, do you benefit from the performances on CatholicEclipsed? If not, then that would justify the zilch donations I have received in the past month or two. Do you benefit in any way from the content on this website? If so, to what extent? Is it a benefit equal to the beneficial quality of a hot beverage from Starbucks ($5) or a burger and fries and a drink from Applebees ($10-15) or a steak dinner with a glass of wine from Olive Garden ($20) or perhaps a caviar dinner from the Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar of Chicago ($75+)? The point is, to whatever extent that you do in fact benefit from this website, it is a principle of justice that you should offset that benefit by an act of gratitude. I would be pleased if you simply offered a gratuity based upon the benefit you received from the content you consume on this website, which is to say, a gift or tip of money based upon a percentage (20%) of the principle value on the item consumed. Thus, if you liken CatholicEclipsed in value to the food stuffs above, your gratuity would be $1, $2, $4, or $15. That is not so very much, is it?

GKC has said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” I would add that giving thanks is not only the highest form of the intellect, it is also the highest form of the will, because it brings us nearer to the principle of God, Who created the world out of nothing by a free act of His will. The world need not exist, we need not exist, caviar need not exist, yet it does because God is gratuitous. Likewise, CatholicEclipsed need not exist, but it does through a generous act of its author and sub-creator, yours truly.

So, this Ember Day of Autumn, while you consider the benefits you have received from God and give thanks for these, don’t forget the benefits you’ve received from CatholicEclipsed, and give a tip as well. At least that way we’ll be able to keep the lights on.

Be like God. Be gratuitous.

Donate to CatholicEclipsed with PayPal.

On the Secret of Life

Elysian Fields or Limbo?

The secret of life is death. Life as such is no mystery. We are born according to set laws by which the universe is governed, both physical and metaphysical. Of course, the soul is a mystery, since it is caused directly by God, and partakes of His eternality, but even this is proven by natural reason, that is, that there must be such a thing in man as an eternal soul.

So, as I was saying, life is no secret, but death is a huge secret in the most perfect sense, for no one save One has ever come back to tell its secrets, and He was rather mum about the affairs of the underworld, save that we ought to avoid Hell as a place of unending torment.

But this brings up an interesting point: what does it mean when we say and believe that “He descended into Hell”? Does it mean that our Lord dwelt in a place of torture and defilement for the time His Body lay in the tomb? By no means, as the BC teaches us:

65. The word “hell” was sometimes used to signify the grave or a low place. In the Apostles’ Creed it means Limbo.

Now that is interesting, don’t you think? Limbo. I recall in my childhood a debate which broke out between my Dad’s friend and my stepmother, and it was over this idea of Purgatory and also Limbo, both ideas I seem to recall were abhorrent to my Dad’s friend, who was Protestant (of course) yet dogmatically certain to my stepmother, who was Catholic.

Protestants labor under the bewildering delusion that our Lord died and descended into Hell, which, I suppose must mean that He went down into the abyss of despair, because a Protestant—at least my Dad’s friend—didn’t believe in Limbo. I don’t know, but that seems to me to smack of blasphemy, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Anyway, what concerns us here is the secret of life, which is death, and what, as Shakespeare says, is the “undiscovered country,” in particular as it relates to the question of Limbo.

What is Limbo, and is it still a place one may find himself in after death? To answer these questions and others, one would do no better than to take fifteen minutes and read the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia on Limbo. I’ll wait.

You didn’t read it, did you. Oh, well, I’ll summarize it for you now.

The answer to the first question, according to the article, is that Limbo is understood in two senses, one, according to the old dispensation (Old Law), under which the just were awaiting the Redeemer to open the Gates of Heaven, and lead them into life eternal and into the Beatific Vision, which is precisely what He did when He descended into Hell. The other sense is according to the New Law of Grace, whereby man is redeemed according to baptism into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. Hence, those who die without baptism, or without the desire thereof, yet without personal sin, enter into what is called in English, the Borderland of the Children, Limbus Puerorum, which, to my mind, sounds a lot like Candyland.

Now, in what this life exactly consists there has been considerable dispute, with the Greek fathers teaching that Limbo was not a place of punishment on account of original sin, to Saint Augustine teaching otherwise, and persuading the Church in his time to view it accordingly, to Saint Thomas Aquinas arguing to the contrary, upholding the Greek Fathers, yet seeking to reconcile (however imperfectly) them with Saint Augustine. Then, in the modern period, a kind of revival of the Augustinian view held sway with prominent theologians, yet the conclusion to be drawn from the back and forth, is that whether Limbo was a state of everlasting natural bliss or not, it is undeniable that, as a natural state, it could never compare with the eternal bliss of grace in beholding God Himself, the mere instantaneous act of which would out measure all the the ages of ages of a purely natural existence.

I am no fan of C.S. Lewis on account of his heresy, but, as a man of considerable literary genius, he gave is an wonderful little image of the joys of Heaven compared with those of the earth:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Speaking of the sea, I remember that the Greek psgans also had a name for such a place where the souls of the just would go: Elysium, which comes from a verb meaning to be deeply stirred by joy. This is how Hesiod describes it:

“And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep-swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them.”

To dig a bit deeper, let’s listen to Lewis again. Here he remembers a time when his brother showed him a diorama garden while he was a tender youth, which experience and stirred him deeply by joy:

“I call it Joy. ‘Animal-Land’ was not imaginative. But certain other experiences were…The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult or find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s ‘enormous bliss’ of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to ‘enormous’) comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse… withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased…In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… The quality common to the three experiences… is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.”

I have had such experiences of joy, as I hope you have, too. It is as Lewis describes, a desire that arises out of an experience of beauty but lasts only so briefly, and which desire, if I can even say this, is itself desirable, because it is a longing which is tinted by love but the object of which is not present, just as a lover loves to long for his beloved when away—something I myself was very fond of when underway at sea. But what is it that is desired? For me, it is never associated with person but place, because the emotional movement of my being begins in solitude and ends in solitude, and which arises through a landscape, be it the vast vista of the ocean (which I have ever loved) or a grassy hill I can never see the other side of. Is it a memory of my childhood? Is it a memory of paradise?

The joy of heaven is incomparably more joyful than any earthly paradise, hence the belief that the denizens of Limbo do not know that there is a heaven, and this by a miraculous and merciful act of God. But this discussion about a blessed realm for the just does put me in a fanciful frame of mind. What would such a world be like? In what way would these children live? Would they grow up? Is there generation in this natural existence? Would they give and be taken in marriage? Is sin possible in Limbo? Is grace required to live such a blissful existence? Whatever the answers we may devise by our imaginations, it is certain that such are reasonable and considerate of those children who have gone before us, not marked by baptism or faith, into the oblivion of time and place. And therein lies the secret of life, which we find in the mediation on the secret of death. Many there are who perhaps would pine for the unborn-unbaptized, yet I see a profound beauty and order and justice and mercy, which is the secret and mystery of God’s own justice: The one consolation, the one thing that makes the mass murder of so many infants in the womb bearable (if so great an evil can be borne with in the heart of man), the cutting of so many lives short, snuffed out even before beholding the light of day, is that the babes unborn will never know the evils of this world, apart from their own death, but will wake to a life eternally blissful as like on the first day in the Garden of Paradise.

Apparent Aporia in the CatholicEclipsed Position

There is a growing sense of the tension between holding the view that there will always be a Church hierarchy until the end of time, based upon a teaching from the Vatican Council, as well as numerous doctors and theologians, and the fact that we are faced with from day to day, namely, that there is no shepherd and teacher to whom we can look or by whom to be governed and sanctified. There are those who argue that it is dogmatic to believe this, that there will always be shepherds until the end of time, but I question, not only that it is dogmatic so stated, but that it is true so understood.

The only dogmatic source for the teaching that I can find, is found in the fourth session of the Vatican Council, which Steve Speray happily quotes ad infinitum:

“So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world , even as he had been sent by the Father, in like manner it was his will that in his church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.”

This, as the story goes, solidifies the teaching that there will always be shepherds and teachers until the end of time, which, in practice means that there will always be bishops. There are a number of issues with concluding that this is a dogmatic teaching. For starters, the text doesn’t say that. Rather, what it does dogmatically teach is that God willed that there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time, not that there in fact would be.

To this idea of God’s will I will return momentarily, but I want to briefly discuss the text above, but quote it in its full context:


“Pius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. The eternal shepherd and guardian of our souls [37], in order to render permanent the saving work of redemption, determined to build a church in which, as in the house of the living God, all the faithful should be linked by the bond of one faith and charity. Therefore, before he was glorified, he besought his Father, not for the apostles only, but also for those who were to believe in him through their word, that they all might be one as the Son himself and the Father are one [38]. So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world [39], even as he had been sent by the Father [40], in like manner it was his will that in his church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. In order, then, that the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation. 

Upon the strength of this foundation was to be built the eternal temple, and the church whose topmost part reaches heaven was to rise upon the firmness of this foundation [41]. And since the gates of hell trying, if they can, to overthrow the church, make their assault with a hatred that increases day by day against its divinely laid foundation, we judge it necessary, with the approbation of the sacred council, and for the protection, defence and growth of the catholic flock, to propound the doctrine concerning the institution, permanence and nature of the sacred and apostolic primacy, upon which the strength and coherence of the whole church depends. 

This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole church. Furthermore, we shall proscribe and condemn the contrary errors which are so harmful to the Lord’s flock.”

The strength and foundation of the Church is, of course, the Rock of Peter. The Pope is the principle of unity of the episcopal office, and through the unity of the bishops in communion with the pope, the faithful are united and one as well, which also results in the visibility of the Church–because oneness is a mark by which the Church is known. As the BC teaches us:

547. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible Head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests, and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.

550. It is evident that the Church is one in government, for the faithful in a parish are subject to their pastors, the pastors are subject to the bishops of their dioceses, and the bishops of the world are subject to the Pope.

It is the foundation of the Church in the Pope which will last to the end of the world. Teachers and Shepherds will not always be until the end of the world without the Pope. The clear teaching above in the dogmatic constitution of the Church of Christ is that Peter constitutes the unity we are to look for in the Church by which it is known. It is false to say that we must seek for the bishop in the woods to know where the Church is, unless that bishop is the Bishop of Rome, though he be in exile: “Ubi Petrus, ibi ergo ecclesia,” that is, where Peter is, there must be the Church, as St. Ambrose says, not, “Where the bishops are, there is the Church.”

But Sedevacantists, or those Traditionalists who are leaning that way–like those in views espoused at the WM Review–do not seem to be overly concerned with finding where Peter is, only where the bishops are. As John Lane writes:

“We do not believe that the Church has a hierarchy because we have read about this or that “good bishop;” nor do we base our theories on what might appear to be far-fetched theories about unknown bishops. Rather, we think that the Church’s hierarchy must always exist in act, because this is what we are taught in the Church’s theology. Possible solutions are posited after we have grasped this necessity of faith. This possibility of such solutions shows that we have no need to deny the existence of the hierarchy; and even if one or more of these solutions are proved to be false or impossible, then the situation has not changed one iota, in dogmatic and logical terms.”

In order for the hierarchy to exist in act, there must be a pope to actualize it. I am not sure of the possible solutions Mr. Lane is referring to here, but those solutions which I know of, namely, the Material-Formal thesis (which you can read the refutation of here), which says that the hierarchy does exist but only materially (that is the hierarchy are designated but have no authority) does not exist by definition in act, because it lacks the form of authority to bring it into act–I apologize for the philosophical terminology, but Mr. Lane used it and so I have to, as well. All act means is being really what it is.)

Then there is the bishop in the woods (or behind the Iron Curtain) theory. Yet this theory is also contradictory for the reason that, insofar as the bishop is in hiding–even if he be the Bishop of Rome in exile and so able to constitute the Church in his own power and office–it is obvious that he isn’t shepherding or teaching anyone, since he is hidden. Thus, we are back to the problem of an invisible Church, even assuming the existence of a bishop in the woods.

Then there’s the theory that Steve Speray espouses, which I have already addressed elsewhere. But it is to this statement of his that I would like to speak:

“The home-aloner has to appeal to a theory with no evidence to maintain the existence of the Church. The problem is that if the Church exists only in the hope that some bishops exist somewhere even though no one knows where or how, the devil has ultimately won anyway. The gates of hell have prevailed, because the will of Christ and His purpose in having shepherds and teachers are ultimately thwarted. Christ left us shepherds and teachers for the benefit of the whole Church only to be incapacitated and our benefit effectively lost. The Church is effectively incapacitated throughout the whole world, which is exactly opposite to the will of Christ and His promise.”

I agree with Steve that, if we maintain that the Vatican Council teaches that there must always be shepherds and teachers in the world, then we appeal to a theory with no evidence. But, that is why I never believed that there must always be shepherds and teachers in the Church, not because (as Mr. Lane would say) I do not see them, but because the Church never taught this dogmatically. What it did teach was that:

1. God willed that there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.

2. The shepherds and teachers would be unified by the Roman Pontiff.

3. The faithful would be one with their shepherds and teachers under the Roman Pontiff.

The curious thing is, that Sedevacantists get their name, not from sede vacante of episcopal sees but from the Apostolic See itself. And yet, they insist upon the teaching of the Vatican Council, when this teaching completely destroys any of their claims to be shepherds and teachers, precisely because the Chair of Peter is empty.

So, here we are. We have no pope to unify or even confirm bishops. No one knows either where a true bishop is or, what’s more important, where the true Vicar of Christ is. Yet there is this teaching from an ecumenical council (dogmatic and infallible) which teaches that God wills that there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. Where might we look for a solution to the question and seeming contradiction between the evidence of our experience and Church teaching? Perhaps the answer lies in what the Council means by “willed.”

In the Summa Theologiae, Part I, Question 19, Article 6. “Whether the will of God is always fulfilled,” St. Thomas Aquinas answers the question in the positive, but not without making distinctions. The first distinction to be made is between the universal will and the particular will:

“The will of God must needs always be fulfilled. In proof of which we must consider that since an effect is conformed to the agent according to its form, the rule is the same with active causes as with formal causes. The rule in forms is this: that although a thing may fall short of any particular form, it cannot fall short of the universal form. For though a thing may fail to be, for example, a man or a living being, yet it cannot fail to be a being. Hence the same must happen in active causes. Something may fall outside the order of any particular active cause, but not outside the order of the universal cause; under which all particular causes are included: and if any particular cause fails of its effect, this is because of the hindrance of some other particular cause, which is included in the order of the universal cause. Therefore an effect cannot possibly escape the order of the universal cause. Even in corporeal things this is clearly seen. For it may happen that a star is hindered from producing its effects; yet whatever effect does result, in corporeal things, from this hindrance of a corporeal cause, must be referred through intermediate causes to the universal influence of the first heaven. Since, then, the will of God is the universal cause of all things, it is impossible that the divine will should not produce its effect. Hence that which seems to depart from the divine will in one order, returns into it in another order; as does the sinner, who by sin falls away from the divine will as much as lies in him, yet falls back into the order of that will, when by its justice he is punished” (Emphasis added).

I draw your attention to the celestial image, because it is very much instructive and apropos to our question and the crisis in the Church. What is the Sun but a star, and an eclipse but a hindrance? To bring it home, God wills that there shall be a Sun which gives off its light until the end of time (the Shepherds and Teachers in the Church), and yet an eclipse happens which hinders the light. But the eclipse (the Great Apostasy and Reign of the Antichrist) is cause of the universal influence of the first heaven (God). Therefore, God both wills that the Sun should shine but also that it should be in eclipse, just as God wills that there should be Shepherds and Teachers in the world until the end of time, but that these are hindered from showing forth their light.

Next, St. Thomas makes an argument for the will, not according to itself, but in relation to antecedent and consequent conditions to it:

Objection 1. It seems that the will of God is not always fulfilled. For the Apostle says (1 Timothy 2:4): “God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” But this does not happen. Therefore the will of God is not always fulfilled.

Reply to Objection 1. The words of the Apostle, “God will have all men to be saved,” etc. can be understood in three ways.

Thirdly, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 29), they are understood of the antecedent will of God; not of the consequent will. This distinction must not be taken as applying to the divine will itself, in which there is nothing antecedent nor consequent, but to the things willed.

“To understand this we must consider that everything, in so far as it is good, is willed by God. A thing taken in its primary sense, and absolutely considered, may be good or evil, and yet when some additional circumstances are taken into account, by a consequent consideration may be changed into the contrary. Thus that a man should live is good; and that a man should be killed is evil, absolutely considered. But if in a particular case we add that a man is a murderer or dangerous to society, to kill him is a good; that he live is an evil. Hence it may be said of a just judge, that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts. Nor do we will simply, what we will antecedently, but rather we will it in a qualified manner; for the will is directed to things as they are in themselves, and in themselves they exist under particular qualifications. Hence we will a thing simply inasmuch as we will it when all particular circumstances are considered; and this is what is meant by willing consequently. Thus it may be said that a just judge wills simply the hanging of a murderer, but in a qualified manner he would will him to live, to wit, inasmuch as he is a man. Such a qualified will may be called a willingness rather than an absolute will. Thus it is clear that whatever God simply wills takes place; although what He wills antecedently may not take place.”

Thus we see that, if the teaching of the Vatican Council is taken according to its antecedent conditions, what God wills may not take place, because the conditions which are consequent to His will are not considered as restricting the application of the act of His will. Further, the argument that is made based upon the necessary and volatile modes of speech in my recent post is vindicated, insofar as we understand that an antecedent will is a kind of desire or wish and not an absolute willing with all things considered. As St. Thomas says, “Such a qualified will may be called a willingness rather than an absolute will.”

So, the question is, is the teaching from the Vatican Council that God willed that there always be Shepherds and Teachers until the end of time an antecedent willing or a consequent willing? Is it a willing with qualification or a simple willing? What justifies the interpretation that God is willing here simply and consequently (taking into account everything that would unfold in the course of time) and not willing antecedently to any condition in time? I believe that we have ample evidence that the teaching of the Vatican Council is of God’s willing that there should always be Shepherds and Teachers according to His willingness rather than to His absolute will.

This would solve the apparent aporia–logical or theoretical impasse–of the CatholicEclipsed position, and, actually quite fortuitously, give the very name of this website substantial ground upon which to stand. The Church is indeed in eclipse. God so wills that the Church should shine out its divine light, and yet we know that, just as there are solar eclipses which hinder the light, so the Great Apostasy and reign of the Antichrist has obscured the Church. As akaCatholic even acknowledges:

It is often said, and for very good reason, that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, she who “enjoys perfect and perpetual immunity from error and heresy” (cf Quas Primas 22) is somehow in eclipse.

As analogies go, this one has an impeccable pedigree. In the gospels, Our Lord says:

And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. (Matthew 24:29)

In his commentary on Sacred Scripture, the eminent biblical scholar Fr. George Haydock cites St. Austin (d. 604) who taught: “By the sun is meant Jesus Christ, by the moon, the Church, which will appear as involved in darkness.”

I am not interested in trying to have the best theory to solve the crisis. All I care about is satisfying my sanity and my Catholic conscience. I believe that the explanations reached thus far on CatholicEclipsed do both, that is, keep us reasonable and faithful. The theories thus far provided: 1. The Pope, Non-Pope Thesis of Sanborn; 2. The Redefined Pastors Theory of Speray; and 3. The Shepherds and Teachers in the Woods idea by nameless Home Alone Catholics, have all been proven false and violate either faith or reason or both. The CatholicEclipsed theory may be called the Denying the Consequent Will Theory, which means that I deny God willed consequently that there should be Shepherds and Teachers until the end of time. The name has the added benefit that if someone where to disagree and say, “I affirm consequently that God willed…” I could stop them there and shout, “Fallacy!” And have my laugh.

On the Form and the Matter of the Papacy

I have completed my critique of the Material-Formal Thesis of Bishop Sanborn, and have published it over on the QUASI STELLAE page. I reproduce it below with the CE Log signature colorizing which you have come to know and love–or else merely tolerate.

By way of comment on the overall conclusion of the article “On the Form and the Matter of the Papacy,” I would say this: Sanborn’s thesis, that there is a material-formal distinction of the papacy, is not wrong, as there really is a material-formal distinction of the papacy. What is wrong with the thesis, is that it confuses what the material and formal principles of the papacy really are. I argue that the formal principles of the papacy are designation and jurisdiction, as these really are formal with respect to the subject, which is a material principle. Further, I argue that the matter of the papacy is not merely a man of sound mind but a man of faith.

The material-formal thesis offends both faith and reason, which is nothing other than our Catholic sense. It has stood for too long without the metaphysical grounds upon which it is based being challenged. I do not claim to have done a perfect job in challenging those metaphysical grounds, but I do believe I have shown adequately that the material-formal thesis cannot stand as argued, because it violates both metaphysical principles, which are known by reason, and theological principles, which are known by faith.

Another objection to the material-formal thesis, besides the ones already articulated in the following articles, is that it is not understandable by the vast majority of those who desire to be members of the Catholic Church. This is a consequence, not of its density and difficulty of subject-matter, which is metaphysics, and which difficulty is real and to be expected, but rather because the material-formal thesis owes its near incomprehensibility to its contrariety to Catholic sense, which is to say, to its absurdity. Even those most elaborate truths, when the terms are explained, become intelligible. Indeed, those truths which are complex, i.e. admitting of a multiplicity of principles whereby an essence of a thing comes to be and is known, are more intelligible in themselves, though with difficulty is the total of their truth understood. But, incomprehensibility may be through a complexity of principles or through a confusion of principles, the latter of which, I would argue, is what makes the material-formal thesis difficult to understand. Simply put, the Cassiciacum Thesis disturbs the heart because it does not rest in the truth but rather rests in falsehood.

Cor nostrum inquietum est donec requiescat in Te.

Saint Augustine

On the Form and Matter of the Papacy

(In Three Articles)

As all things which are exist either on account of themselves, or through another, and, insofar as things do exist in the concrete of our experience, these must exist as a composition of two principles, namely, form and matter, and, since the subject matter under investigation in the present is of the papacy as it is understood in the concrete, that is, as to its formal principles found in matter, in order to know under what conditions a man is said to be in possession of the papacy, and indeed, to be the pope, the following points of inquiry are here undertaken:—

(1) Whether the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction? (2) Whether the material part of the papacy consists of a man of faith? (3) Whether a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church? 


Whether the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction?  

We proceed thus to the First Article:—

Objection 1. It seems that the formal principle of the papacy does not consist in both designation and jurisdiction, since the proper object of designation is to select a lawmaker, whereas the proper object of jurisdiction is to make laws. Hence, designation is not fittingly ascribed as the formal principle of an authority, but rather should be considered as the material principle, that is, as that which receives power or act, just as matter receives form which is its proper act. 

Objection 2. Further, designation, being a potency principle in relation to jurisdiction, seems to be unfittingly described as a formal principle in relation to a subject, insofar as potency does not perfect potency, since a subject is in potency as it relates to the act of a formal accident which perfects it. Therefore, designation is a potency principle, not a principle of act, and so not a form of the papacy. 

On the contrary, It is written, (Matt. 16: 18-19): And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. Now designation and jurisdiction are formal principles of the papacy, as is evident by the fact that God both designates and gives jurisdiction, as is clear from the above. That thou art Peter, is an act of designation, or a naming, which comes from the Incarnate Word of God, and that jurisdiction presupposes and depends upon a designation, which jurisdiction is granted by the words, And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, etc. Therefore, both designation and jurisdiction are formal principles of the papacy, both by virtue of their cause, which is God, and with respect to their necessary composition and order to each other in a subsistent subject.

I answer that, the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction in the subject of the power of the papacy. With respect to the subject of the papacy, these accidental forms are both formal principles and material principles, the formal principle being jurisdiction, the material designation. But, just as these accidental forms are ordered to the subject, they are ordered also to each other, as designation is prior to jurisdiction and without which jurisdiction cannot be. The papacy as far as its formal cause is concerned is the conjunction of the act of designation with the accompanying perfection of jurisdiction. Yet, even in a sense, the act of designation presupposes the act of jurisdiction. For example, the power of designation belongs to a cardinal to elect a pope by virtue of his membership to the Body of Christ and by virtue of his designation as a cardinal-elector, yet which designation required a prior act of jurisdiction by one who could so designate, which alone is the pope. Hence, it is clear that the accidental form of the papacy, or any authority, such as a cardinal-elector, presupposes both designation and jurisdiction, just as St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles were designated and given the power of jurisdiction symbolized by the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Reply Obj 1. The proper end of the act of designation is not the making of a lawmaker, which is but the intermediate end of his action, but rather the making of law which is the final end of his action. Consider an example: a voter in the United States has the power of designation by virtue of his citizenship. He casts his vote for a representative, one which will serve his community well by drafting and voting on laws which will increase the common good of his community. The voter does not only act to elect a lawmaker, which is proven by the fact that he would not vote if there were no one in whom he had confidence to work for the common good of his community. Rather, he votes for a lawmaker for the potentially good laws that lawmaker will make. Thus, the voter, as an agent of designation, acts according to the end of making law, which is properly called authority or jurisdiction. Therefore, the formal power of designation is not separable from the act of jurisdiction with respect to its final cause, that is, the purpose for which it exists.   

Reply to Obj. 2. Designation as an accidental form with relation to the subject of the papacy is not a potency principle but the first act whereby a man of sound mind and faith becomes a pope, and as such should be considered as a formal principle. With respect to the accidental form of jurisdiction in the subject of the papacy, designation is a potency, or material principle in relation to jurisdiction, whereby the man designated pope so acts. 


Whether the material part of the papacy consists of a man of faith?  

We proceed thus to the Second Article:—

Object 1. It seems that the material part of the papacy does not consist of a man of faith, for even St. Ambrose while he was yet a catechumen and so not counted among the faithful was designated to the episcopacy of Milan. But the papacy is nothing else but the episcopacy of Rome. Hence, since a man need not have faith to be designated a bishop of Milan, neither then does a man need faith to be designated bishop of Rome.  

On the contrary, the Theologian teaches, “One should say that Christ is the foundation through himself, but Peter insofar as he holds the confession of Christ, insofar as he is his vicar,” (Commentary on Matthew, 1384). 

I answer that, faith is that upon which Christ builds His church, as is evident by the words, And I say to you that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, (Matthew 16:18). Now, a foundation is a kind of matter, and, since not the man himself, Peter, but his confession or faith in Christ is that upon which Christ builds His Church, that is, the foundation or matter, so then does the matter of the papacy essentially consist in the faith of Peter and his successors with the same, and not merely a man.  

Reply to objection 1. Though St. Ambrose was designated to the episcopacy of Milan without baptism, and so not counted among the faithful, this in no way implies that the saintly man was without faith. On the contrary, that the people of Milan desired Ambrose to be their bishop even while he was a catechumen demonstrates his faith. For, inasmuch as Ambrose loved God, and desired baptism, he was sanctified without baptism by his faith. For no one can love what one does not believe in. As the Theologian teaches, “Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism, which desire is the outcome of  “faith that worketh by charity,” whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly. Hence Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: “I lost him whom I was to regenerate: but he did not lose the grace he prayed for,” (Summa Theologiae, III.68.2).


Whether a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article:—

Objection 1. It seems that a pope is not a man of faith designated with authority to govern the Church, for a man without faith only posits an impediment to the reception of the form of authority as such, and not to the form of designation, which is the right to exercise authority but not the power to exercise authority. Authority as such comes directly from God, whereas the right of the use of authority, which is designation, comes from the Church. Hence, it is possible that a man who does not have faith may be designated pope by the Church, for designation does not require faith, even while a man so designated does posit an impediment to receiving the power of authority from God. Therefore, a man without faith may be designated pope without authority, which man would be called pope materially but not formally. 

Objection 2. Further, insofar as designation, or the right of electing, is not jurisdiction as such, on account of the different objects, viz., the object of designation is the continuation of the hierarchy, whereas the object of jurisdiction is the making of laws, it follows that he who has only a designation to elect electors, but not the power to make laws, nevertheless is able to designate electors to elect a pope, even if these same electors have not the faith, just as a man without faith may receive the right of designation, for he who has is able to give, according to the contrapositive of the axiom, nemo dat quod non habet. Therefore, he is designated pope by those who have a right of designation. 

On the contrary, It is written (Luke 21:31-32) “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” 

I answer that, it is altogether impossible for a man without faith to be designated pope without the form of authority, for designation stands in potency to the act of authority, which perfects it, as was shown in the preceding article (Article 1. Reply to Object. 2.). The pope, designated and with jurisdiction, is in act in relation to men he decides to designate as cardinals. There must be a proportion between this act of designation by the pope, which act is exercised through the power of jurisdiction—thus proving the dependency of designational acts on jurisdictional acts—by the pope on the men just as God acts on a man to be pope, both with respect to the act of designation, and jurisdiction, as was proved by the words, thou art Peter, etc. The difference being however that the act of designation is mediated by a long succession of popes acting on men in designating them cardinals who in turn designate popes, whereas the power of jurisdiction is given to the man designated to be pope immediately by God but dependent upon a designation which is dependent on God also, but through the succession of designated designators. Thus the source of both jurisdictional power, which is not mediated by men, and designation, which is mediated by men, is the same, namely, God. A man who is disposed to receive the designation of the papacy is by that very act able to receive the perfection of that designation, which is the power of jurisdiction. The distinction between the two powers is as form is to matter, not a distinction of essence. To be designated to an office is to be in the possession of the right to exercise the power of that office. The right of designation is the matter from which but not by which a man exercises authority of jurisdiction. But the power itself of ruling is given concomitantly with the power of designation, yet the right precedes the use of the power as matter precedes form and potency precedes act—yet act precedes potency, as all matter is in act, without which act matter cannot be. The authority, exercised as a power, gives form to the right of the power, whereby it comes into act in a subject. Therefore, he who has an impediment to the reception of the use of authority necessarily also has an impediment to the right of authority, for right is prior to use, and use is dependent upon right. But the right to the power of the authority depends upon faith, as was shown above (Article 2), as form depends upon matter, since faith is the necessary matter which the form of designation perfects. Therefore, a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church. 

Reply to objection 1. As was shown in the body of the article, designation, or the right to use the power of authority, indeed comes from the Church as through a succession of designated designators, yet not ultimately, as to the first cause of the right of designation, which is God. Hence, the right of designation depends upon authority which grants the right, for nemo dat quod non habet. But this right of the use of authority is granted on the grounds of faith. It follows, then, that he who is without faith does not receive the right of designation. Therefore, a pope cannot exist materially only, if he lack faith, which is the matter of the papacy, for then he would be and not be at the same time in the same respect, that is, in respect to the matter of the papacy, which is the faith—which is absurd. 

Reply to objection 2. Though designation is not in the proper sense jurisdiction, as there exists a distinction between right and use, nevertheless, right depends upon use, as matter depends upon form, as designation depends upon authority to be designated, for all acts of designation are acts of jurisdiction, just as all acts of jurisdiction are acts of designation, insofar as use presupposes right also, as form presupposes matter. Therefore, he is not designated pope by those who do not have authority to designate.      

Top Ten Reasons to be a Home Alone Catholic

G.K. Chesterton wrote concerning his conversion to the Catholic Church: “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” I do not have the same difficulty in explaining the reasons to be a Home Alone Catholic, because there are not ten thousand reasons but only one reason: that Home Alone Catholicism is the only true way to be Catholic today.

And yet there are at least ten—probably ten thousand—consequences or effects of this elephantine truth which may be enumerated to elucidate the principle reason or cause. If there is no bishop in Rome who is the legitimate and actual successor of Saint Peter, as there surely isn’t, and if there are no bishops who have retained the faith and so are truly apostolic, having been appointed by a true Vicar of Christ, as there surely aren’t, and if there are no known priests with legitimate and valid holy orders who have jurisdiction to offer the Sacrifice of the mass publicly and absolve sins in the tribunal of the confessional, as there surely doesn’t appear to be, then the Home Alone position is so very much demonstrable that its denial either arises to the height of stupidity or else sinks to the depths of heresy. I think most who do wage intellectual combat against Home Alone are simply wielding the intellectual equivalent of butter knives. It is not a fair fight when you have the certitude of dogmatic authority and your opponent has mere opinion which turns out to be heresy.

So far then has the truth of the Home Alone position been demonstrated on the pages of this blog, I would like to offer my top ten reasons to be a Home Alone Catholic, which are the consequences of the truth.

10. No More Mass in the Hood

When my family and I realized that the mass of Paul VI—aka the Antichrist—was invalid at best and Satan’s supper at worst, we decided to attend the mass offered by the Institute of Christ the King in St. Louis, which was over two hours away. Though we didn’t realize at the time the multitude of inconsistencies in attending the indult mass, because we were blissfully ignorant of the spiritual dangers of offering a mass una cum—offering the mass in union with the Roman Pontiff—with one we did not believe could be the Roman Pontiff, I recall a Midnight mass where we became frightfully aware of the physical danger of attending mass at midnight in a metropolis.

The mass had concluded and we were sent out into the cold night, and, having nursed a long fast, and feeling quite peckish, we decided to hit the Jack in the Box drive-thru before our flight back to Little Egypt. The line was long, which I suppose one is to suspect when grabbing a bite at midnight in the city which never rests, but my impatience boiled over into extreme restlessness to get my burger and get the hell out of there when I distinctly heard the clear ringing out of at least two small caliber pistol shots not a block or two from the fast food lane I was currently stuck in with my family. I finally rolled up to the barred drive-thru window, and rolled down my car door window, received my food—which was forgettable—and entered the freeway home, leaving the nightmare of attending midnight mass in a metropolis—which was not forgettable—to the past and my memory.

9. Goodbye to Glutenation

I almost do not want to mention this reason because some may misunderstand me, or think I speak irrelevantly about the Blessed Sacrament. Let me just preface my remarks by saying that I would give up all bodily comfort for the chance to partake of my Lord and God sacramentally in the Holy Eucharist again, if I knew that the reception of Him by the hands of the priests available today would be lawful. But, since I think it is not only unlawful but sacrilegious to do so, I cannot help mentioning as a happy consequence of this fact that my family no longer need fear ingesting gluten, which is one of the accidents of the substance of the bread which remains after the miracle of transubstantiation, wherein the substance of the bread—that which it really is—is changed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

As we attended the Saint Gertrude the Great Mission, my wife, Laura, being more sensitive to gluten, had already to abstain from sacramental Communion, and offer up a spiritual communion instead, so now we all abstain from sacramental communion and offer up a spiritual communion instead, being most sensitive to sacrilege.

8. Cutting Costs on Clothes

Anyone who has more than the Freemasonic atomic family of four knows that clothing costs are exponentially more the more children one has. This effect is mitigated by the necessary protocol of hand-me-down, but not altogether neutralized, especially with boys who, after wearing a pair of jeans for a month, wear kneecap holes so big mother is obliged either to discard the pants, or hem them so high they become shorts.

As I have six children, the costs of clothing is already about as expensive as a second mortgage, I sure am glad that I do not have to afford a Church wardrobe for the children. That probably would make me have to take out a second mortgage on our home.

Think about it, six children, that’s six pairs of dress shoes every six months, each about 50 dollars on average—I’m talking JC Penny here, not Kmart. Then there’re hats for the ladies, or veils, dress coats and pants, and pretty dresses, the costs of which so far exceed my budget that we would have to dip into the grocery fund and start eating conventional food, i.e., genetically modified, toxically fertilized, pesticide-laden poison, just to pay for it. So I guess this is two for one, since not only do we cut our costs on Church clothes, since we do not need to be so spiffy in our living room offering mass and spiritual communion, we also don’t have to buy the cheaper conventional food. The Great Apostasy is a gift that keeps on giving!

7. Home School, Not Parochial School

It is doubtful that, had we never left the Novus Ordo, or the Sedevacantists, we would have become a classical homeschooling family. The tradition has always been for Catholics to send their children off for instruction at the hands of strangers three-quarters of the waking day, to receive training in the arts and sciences by religious sisters, usually very competent and skilled in doing so. Most of the Novus Ordo has abandoned this practice, and prefers to let laity run their parish schools, but one group of Sedevacantists still carries on the tradition. At QUEEN OF ALL SAINTS ONLINE ACADEMY which, though it has a veneer of being classical, doesn’t even require (so far as I can tell from the website) or even offer courses in either Latin or Greek–peculiar, to say the least, of a supposedly Catholic academy run by traditionalist religious that doesn’t require Latin of its students! We probably would have been tempted to enroll our children into the Sedevacantist academy, and would have never expanded our children’s language horizons beyond two world language credits, probably in Spanish or French.

Now, since we are Home Alone, our children are learning Latin and Greek, in addition to every single subject the Queen of All Saints Online Academy offers, plus some. The bonus boon is that I don’t have to pay for those adorable sweater vests and ties. And, what’s even more awesome, I get to spend more time with my children, and learn with them, and foster bonds with them that will last a lifetime–because they don’t spend three-quarters of the day away from mommy and daddy. Thank God for Home Alone.

6. Local Poor More Well-Off

In the Book of Proverbs we learn that “He that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth to the Lord: and he will repay him.” Now, since we do not tithe to the Novus Ordo churches, nor the Sedevacantists, we have a hefty item to balance on our budget every month, which is allocated to tithing ten percent of our income. Those who can find a worthy–and efficient!–charity which does not have so high an overhead as to make your contributions worthless, great for you! I know of none. But I do know of one charitable way of giving, or tithing your ten percent, which doesn’t have any overhead, usually because the one to whom you give doesn’t have a ceiling, let alone a home. Neither does this entity who stands to benefit from your benevolence require a salaried staff, which often is the sole beneficiary of your tithe. I am speaking, of course, of your local beggar on the street corner with the Sharpie-inscribed cardboard sign pleading with you to fulfill the commandment of God to love your neighbor as yourself. That is your actual neighbor, and not someone in Zimbabwe, who isn’t. As St. Thomas teaches, there is an order of charity which must be observed in performing acts of charity, and in relation to our neighbor, to the degree of his closeness:

“Moreover there is yet another reason for which, out of charity, we love more those who are more nearly connected with us, since we love them in more ways. For, towards those who are not connected with us we have no other friendship than charity, whereas for those who are connected with us, we have certain other friendships, according to the way in which they are connected. Now since the good on which every other friendship of the virtuous is based, is directed, as to its end, to the good on which charity is based, it follows that charity commands each act of another friendship, even as the art which is about the end commands the art which is about the means. Consequently this very act of loving someone because he is akin or connected with us, or because he is a fellow-countryman or for any like reason that is referable to the end of charity, can be commanded by charity, so that, out of charity both eliciting and commanding, we love in more ways those who are more nearly connected with us.”

It follows, then, that to give to our fellow-countryman on the corner is more commanded by charity than to give to a family in a hovel on another continent. So consider giving to your local poor as a way to tithe. I guarantee you, God will not be outdone in generosity.

5. Children’s Choir

When attending mass at some beautiful traditional chapel, one is amazed to hear the beauty of the Catholic musical heritage on display: the pipe organ, with its majestic nuanced tones, powerful as they are subtle, like the breath of angels, or the choir loft, so lofty one cannot even see the singers, but one would have to be tone deaf not to hear the overwhelming beauty of the Gregorian chant and Sacred polyphony. The loss of these are very much regrettable when one has to stay home for mass, and, were I anymore of a heathen, I’d probably give up the position all together, if only to savor the auditory delights of the Missa de Angelis. But, thankfully, that is what Youtube is for.

And yet there is a good which we receive from staying home and not attending mass with the professional choir. We ourselves must learn how to sing. Thankfully, my wife is already naturally talented to sing, and has a beautiful voice and discerning ear, so we already have a cantor to keep the children’s choir in line. There would simply have never been a reason to develop our ears and voices to glorify God had we remained in the pews of the sects, absorbed as we were in the beautiful professional choirs and majestic pipe organ, which, as I have alluded to, may be the last thing keeping people in the pews. Now, we sing a cappella, and hear every voice of the choir, even the little, mousey voices of the youngest. And, though we do not expect to be recording any chant album anytime soon, our choir is intimate and beautiful in its humility, and that pleases us, but, what’s infinitely more important, it delights our Mother Mary and our Father who is in Heaven.

4. Matrimony, the Mother of Souls

It goes without saying perhaps that the domestic Church is indispensable to being a Catholic. I say perhaps, because some people think it is antithetical to Catholicism, but that is just because they aren’t Catholic. Any real Catholic knows that the home is where holiness happens. True, we receive sacramental graces from going to communion, provided we go to ministers of the word and the sacraments who are actually sent to us by the Church, but when that is not possible, there are graces which we receive from praying at home, particularly through the Sacrament of Matrimony, which, the BC teaches, has particular graces:

1028. The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are: 
   1. To sanctify the love of husband and wife;
   2. To give them grace to bear with each other’s weaknesses;
   3. To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.

It is axiomatic that, when one breaks a leg, the other leg becomes stronger. Now, the sacraments may be considered the supports or the legs of the Church, and, when one is not available through the break in apostolic succession, the other sacraments become stronger through an increased dependence upon them. Matrimony is just one such, and my wife and I rely upon the sacramental graces which flow from our Matrimonial union to strengthen us on the most difficult task yet devised by God: the bearing with each other’s weaknesses. Most people, and I do mean most, even among so-called Catholics, simply divorce, and attempt to marry again, I guess with the assumption that their first marriage (and only marriage, since, when once married, always married) broke down on account of matter and not will. Well, being Home Alone, my wife and I depend upon the sacramental graces of Matrimony as if our lives depend upon it, because they do, not only our physical lives but our spiritual and eternal lives depend upon it, as well as our children’s lives, which is the whole point of Matrimony, the raising of our children in the fear and love of the Lord.

3. Isolated from Evil Influences

The world is wicked. Period. Not just the bad actors behind the globalist cabal–probably Luciferian in origin–but also your neighbor across the street, as well as yourself, if you are honest. That is why it is so important to try to control what comes into your home, and what comes into your children’s souls through evil influences, be they from children at school or church. Our children live what many may consider to be very isolated lives. We prefer to call it monastic in body if not in spirit. Being members of worldly associations is not altogether conducive to sanctity, as any monk or cloistered sister would tell you. As the Imitation of Christ teaches:

“What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your [home]? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see all existing things, what would they be but an empty vision? 

Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in your [home], for nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you would have remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it.”

Home is where humans and heaven meet. God became Man, and dwelt among us, in a home, in the Holy House of Loreto, which, as pious legend has it, was so holy that the angels where ordered to relocate it from the Holy Land to Loreto, Italy, which stands today as one of the most visited shrines in the country. There He lived isolated from evil influences, safeguarded by Saint Joseph and Mother Mary. Living out the faith at home alone in imitation of the Holy Family–it doesn’t get much more holy than that.

2. Increased Prayer Life

I know that when my family attended the fake mass at the Novus Ordo, we almost never prayed at home, and when we started to attend the Traditional Latin Mass, we prayed the rosary, and when we attended the mass of Sedevacantists, we prayed the Angelus and the Rosary, and some more personal prayers, but only when we decided that the Home Alone position was the only way to keep the faith and the commandments of the Catholic Church, did we start to pray much more:

  • Angelus, 3x daily
  • Rosary
  • Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition
  • Consecration to the Sacred Heart daily
  • St. John’s Mass and Spiritual Communion on Holy Days, including every Sunday
  • Confiteor, Mass prayers and parts, etc.

And a handful of other prayers it would be tedious to mention. The point is, being Home Alone, we pray so much more than we ever did, and prayer is a means to attain grace, as the BC teaches:

1117. The fruits of prayer are: 
   1. It strengthens our faith,
   2. nourishes our hope,
   3. increases our love for God,
   4. keeps us humble,
   5. merits grace and atones for sin.

I can attest to the fruits of prayer in my family. Are we perfect? By no means! Do we still have a lot to work on? Absolutely. And yet I wonder how we would be today, had we remained in the Sedevacantist mission, being content with saying our daily Rosary and the few prayers, compared with now, where we pray throughout the day. We who pray at home, pray at home! The whole point of Home Alone Catholicism is being a Catholic at home, which means we are not depending on being a Catholic at church, and praying there, since that option has been taken away from us. And, though the loss of the sacraments and attending mass is harder than I can say, there are benefits from being Home Alone none of our opponents consider. An augmentation of the fruits of prayer is, simply put, an increase in holiness. If we pray more, we become more holy.

1. Home Church

The last reason to be a Home Alone Catholic is the building up of the Home Church. The way in which we do this has already been explained in the preceding nine reasons. We do not go to church because there are no lawful pastors, so we bring the Church home, and build it up through works and prayer, and build it on the Rock of Christ:

Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock. And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof, (Matthew 7:24-27).

The Rock of Christ is the rules and articles of the faith, which one may learn from their catechism. There it teaches that we must not go to unlawful ministers who have not been sent to us. It also teaches everything we must know and do in order to save our souls. We can carry on the faith at home, and, as I think I have at least strongly suggested, carry on the faith at our Home Church even better than trying to do so in the Novus Ordo or Sedevacantist churches, and this is so even if they were lawful–which they are not! The Novus Ordo is heretical, and the Sedevacantists are schismatic, which means no one receives graces from their sacraments. Of course, had we be born in a difference age, and not during the Great Apostasy, then living out our faith at home would have been greatly influenced and made more holy by the reception of the sacraments from actual Catholic ministers. We would have had the spiritual benefit of a confessor who could not only absolve us of our sins, but also offer us Catholic counsel, because he had been trained in an actual Catholic seminary, as opposed to whatever you want to call happening down in Florida, were it is deemed near miraculous to have seminarians who have manners. But the necessity to have a Home Church would have been the same, even during normal times. The only difference is, not that Home Church is now indispensable whereas it wasn’t before, that now we can look to nowhere else for grace.

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Introducing QUASI STELLAE: A Journal for the Inquiring Catholic

Perhaps you have noticed in the menu bar the new addition of the QUASI STELLAE tab? I originally envisioned the idea for a philosophical journal as a whole new website, but after I started to think about the project, I thought that a page on CatholicEclipsed would work just as well.

It is my intention to explore the crisis of the Church from philosophy, and publish articles on the QS page which dive into the principles behind the crisis, to help make sense of things. There will of course be overlap into theological principles–those truths which come from Divine revelation instead of reason–but generally I would like to focus on the philosophical underpinnings of what we believe, as that is my special competency and training.

As you navigate through the page, you will see that there is a table of contents which has hyperlinks to the various content on the page. This will be periodically updated with new material, which I will announce through the CE Log. The one I am currently working on, and which is published in part, is On the Form and Matter of the Papacy, which takes a look at what the papacy is from an analysis of the form and matter. Though it does not state outright, the article (which is made up of three articles), has Bishop Sanborn’s paper, On Being Pope Materially in the background, which gives voice to the objections the articles try to deal with.

Let me share with you a word on the method of the Dialectic of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which I have adopted for my mine on QUASI STELLAE. There is a great short article on, “St. Thomas Aquinas for Beginners,” by David A. Smither, which I encourage you to read in full. Below is a section taken from the website, on how to read the articles written in the dialectic style of Aquinas:


Articles of the Summa are written in the style of a “scholastic disputation.” These are really short, systematic debates, and once you know your way around them they are a ton of fun to read. Sadly, most people who open the Summa get lost in the seemingly obtuse structure of the articles, get discouraged by this, and end up giving up on St. Thomas.

The basic structure is as follows.

  1. Statement of the Question, usually in a yes/no form.
  2. Objections, wherein Aquinas summarizes arguments against his own position.
  3. “On the contrary,” wherein Aquinas quotes from an authority like the Bible, a Father of the Church, or ancient pagan philosophers like Aristotle, in support of his own position.
  4. “I answer that,” wherein Aquinas argues for his own position. This is typically the longest part of the article and where the real substance of Aquinas’ one view is to be found.
  5. “Replies,” wherein Aquinas answers each of the previously stated objections and explains why it’s wrong, frequently by recourse to careful distinctions that show the objection to be partly right and partly wrong.

It is very difficult to write as clear as Saint Thomas Aquinas, because one needs to have the clarity of thought that he had in order to do so. Oftentimes elaboration and a casual style are more appropriate for difficult and complex issues of philosophy. When this is the case, I will venture from the scholastic disputation style of Aquinas, and write more in the classical style, with an introduction, definition of terms, body, and conclusion. But the method used in presenting arguments in the Summa served Aquinas and generations after him very well, so I will utilize mainly this method.

I hope you check out the QUASI STELLAE page, and frequently return to it for new articles. Further, I hope it may help to clarify certain issues, or open up your mind to grander vistas of the faith.

Against Reactionary Distributism: Civilization Built Upon Technocracy

The Technocratic Island of Númenor

I woke this morning with the fog of a dream on my head, which I vaguely recall had something to do with restoring the guild-system to furnish artifacts once again actually worth having as furnishings. In my dream the item was a crucifix, no doubt inspired by the replica crucifix hanging behind me, which was modeled after a crucifix of a chapel in a Word War II warship, which itself was sunk in the sea so many years ago. Finding my way through the fog of that dream to my coffee pot, then to my rounds on the internet, I came across a delightful little blog, which featured the article by Ben Reinhard, “Amazon, Tolkien and the American Technocracy.” I do not know, but I am assuming that Reinhard is a devoted distributist, as indeed any sane and reasonable Catholic would be. But there are different flavors of distributism, nor do I claim to have theoretical knowledge of the economical complexities that bless or plague the word and the theory. But, as far as I can make out from the happy article, Reinhard seems to be an exponent of a reactionary kind of distributism.

What is demanded for in any theory, be it practical or speculative, is a certain modicum of consistency and what might just as well be called fair-play, and, as the practical theory under discussion at present deals with the notions touching (however disagreeably) on economics, we might say also fair-trade. The system cannot contradict itself, and when a contradiction arises based upon the essential structures of the system, you have a collapse of the system as a practicable theory. Take the case of what I shall call reactionary distributism, as in that which Reinhard seems to promote. In the article cited above, Dr. Reinhard (sorry for not mentioning he is a doctor and teacher at Franciscan University of Steubenville) speaks eloquently against Amazon for making everything so convenient and quickly available. He chides Bezos for his billions, and casts him as a kind of second Servant of Sauron, after Saruman, ready to make waste Middle Earth by his technocratic dictatorship. Now, there is something to say for how big business has become pretty much the only business, but there’s something that the adversaries of big business never allow, and that is, that big business tends to have standards that little businesses have almost all but forgotten or never had to begin with. This is because big business is no longer an isolated endeavor and enterprise of one or a few merchants wanting to make a buck. Big business has left the shop mentality behind and has become a culture, a people of its own. Big business has become, in no small measure and not equivocally, in its essentials the medieval guild which distributism so exalts to the stars.

The guild system of medieval Europe consisted in general outline, as groups of highly skilled tradesmen and merchants who were unified by their art-science, and ensured productive quality based upon rigorous standards of membership. In a word, the guild was a society and culture, much like the society and culture of Amazon, for instance. What the guild was precisely not, and what it actually stood against openly, was the independent workman with no credentials, who insisted on his own way, his own technique, his own name brand. The guild stood against and wanted to crush the (ever idealized in our contemporary American culture) Ma and Pop Shops, because these were a spot on the guild’s standards and undermined their profit margins, through selling inferior goods. This brings me back to the notion of contradictory systems.

The brand of distributism that Reinhard pushes is contradictory in this regard, that, not only is it reactionary but it conflates the bad with the good. As Reinhard says:

“There does not seem to be a universal solution; specific steps will vary according to the abilities and needs of a given individual or family. For some, this may mean downgrading to a ‘dumb’ phone; for others, sharply curtailing smartphone use. It could mean a commitment to never buy online what could be purchased in person. It could mean dumping Amazon altogether, along with all its works and pomps. More positively, resistance could mean engaging in activities that are natural but arduous: writing a poem, planting a garden, raising a family.”

We are to give up our smartphones in exchange for dumb phones, because technology is bad. Online shopping, which is convenient for the average healthy person, and absolutely critical for the cripple who can’t make it out his house without breaking something, is to be accounted a social blight, presumedly because, Amazon, along with any store you please, provides the service. This is simply unthinking and reactionary and contradictory. First, that dumb phone, it might surprise Dr. Reinhard, was an invention directly borne out of the minds of a thousand technologically inclined men who did not see it altogether evil to make communication evermore efficient and lucid. If Reinhard had it his way, we should stick to feather quill and rolled parchment and carrier pigeons, but that only betrays the point even further, for these things were just as much technology as smartphones are today. The only difference is, whereas ink pens and pigeons do not require a guild-like culture to make them, smartphones do.

I contend that one is able to write a poem, plant a garden, and raise a family with technology. Actually, I would argue that one is not able to write a poem, plant a garden or raise a family without technology. The problem with the reactionary distributism of Reinhard is that it is wholly based upon sentimentalism of degree and not on the cold distinctions of the essentials of things. Obviously one is not going to get far digging a garden without a plow, which is just a piece of ironmongery of the Iron Age. Obviously written language was just a technology devised by men to make man forget how to remember. If, taken to its ultimate conclusion, this brand of distributism which is purely reactionary instead of thoughtful and productive contradicts itself and blows up. Man is, as has ever been the case, an inventor, because he is made in the image of God, Who is the Creator. Invention is nothing other than creation from something. God creates out of nothing. Man creates out of something, which means he uses what already exists to create something new.

Now, if Reinhard’s criticism of Amazon and the American Technocracy were strictly confined to criticizing those things which perhaps never should have been invented, then I am all for such. But that is not upon which his criticism is based. Rather, it is because Amazon is big:

“For all its heat, however, The Rings of Power controversy has generated surprisingly little light, as neither the show’s critics nor its defenders have shown that they possess any clear sense of what Tolkien’s work is actually about. Or perhaps not so surprising. The simple truth is this: never has a society been so ill disposed to receive Tolkien’s vision as twenty-first-century America, and never has a company been so poorly qualified to safeguard Tolkien’s legacy as Amazon Studios. Quite the opposite is true: our modern technocratic society (and the trillion-dollar company that serves as its avatar) are very nearly the picture of Tolkienian evil.”

Now we come to the beginning which is also the end of the discussion–and the debate. The claim that Amazon Studios is not qualified to safeguard Tolkien’s legacy is very intellectually and historically clumsy. Reinhard says this, because Amazon represents, in his mind, everything that is bad about big business and our modern technocratic society. The only problem with his analysis is that the reverse and exact opposite is true. Because Amazon Studios is the exemplar of the avant-garde of cinematic arts, which itself requires and is indeed built upon the latest technologies of the technocratic society we happily live in, and because Amazon is an amazing (sorry for the pun) billion-dollar business of Bezos, who is a genius businessman, it is most, not least, qualified to put into mind-boggling high definition live-streaming cinema the fantastical world of Tolkien’s vision in every home across the world.

Let me just pause here for a moment and add an artistic critical review of what I believe is already the greatest achievement in the cinematic arts to-date, and there have only been three episodes aired. The Rings of Power is in vision, sound, and story development, a visual arts production by far surpassing anything I’ve ever experienced before. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was probably the greatest before our age, but that is just the thing about living in a technocratic society. Things keep getting better. The Rings of Power makes The Lord of the Rings look almost amateurish if you can believe it. Of course, the new show has nothing on the acting of the movies, and that is a big blot, but technologically speaking, e.g., the sets, the special effects, the costumes, the sound, these qualities of the new series blow the old out of the water. But, back to my argument against this reactionary distributism threatening to throw us back into technology-free barbarism.

Should we have entrusted the great artistic task of communicating Tolkien’s literary legacy in the visual arts to the local Ma and Pop Shop, perhaps in the form of a church pageant play, with handmade costumes and that really down-to-earth feel of festivity and amateurism so often displayed at such open-air enterprises? By no means, nor would that be very medieval at all! Were the construction of the cathedrals entrusted to such Ma and Pop Shops? Were the construction of the cathedral organs? To whom were given the commissions of stone or paint of the Renaissance, and who funded them? The most skilled and the rich, that’s who, just as it is today. Reinhard is not reacting to modernism but to medievalism, where the rich and the most skilled ruled.

The problem with Reinhard’s form of distributism is that it is a democratic reaction to a non sequitur, because, if taken to its logical conclusion, Reinhard’s position ends in self-contradiction. The problem with democracy is that it elevates the fool over the wise and the mediocre over the marvelous. Democracy is inimical to invention and discovery, both in the practical arts as well as the theoretical sciences, because it exalts the Ma and Pop Shops who have neither the leisure or inclination to improve or progress in technology or science. For progress in technology as well as in knowledge a guild-like approach must be used, not a local, private, do-it-yourself enterprise. Every civilization which is worthy of the name had its great ages and inventions and was, at its heart, technocratic in industry, from the Roman aqueducts and roads, the technology of which was not surpassed for a thousand years, to the Medieval cathedral and printing press, to the Edisonian era in which artificial lighting literally changed the face of the earth, to the present Computer Age, against which Dr. Reinhard writes. But to be against technocracy is to be against man in his most noble attribute. It is to try to efface his image in the likeness of the Divine Creator.

Whether Anyone May Licitly Receive Holy Orders Without Canonical Mission?

In his latest, Steve Speray says, 

“Probably against my better judgment, I’m going to reply to it even though it’s so bad. However, it gives me an opportunity to demonstrate how the home-alone position attracts real know-nothings.” 

And further on, Speray asserts:

“I demonstrated clearly how our clergy are rightly ordained and sent using Bishop Carmona’s explanation. Apparently, Robbins doesn’t understand what he reads.” 

And then, he says: 

“On my survival mode point, Robbins states, ‘Steve makes the argument that one is able to break the law when required to do so for survival.’ This is an outrageous lie. I’ve made it clear that our clergy are not breaking the law but are following the spirit of the law and not sinning against it.”

Finally, Steve concludes: 

“I expect Robbins to reply again with more buffoonery, more lies, and more hypocrisy. After all, he believes he can ignore, twist, or break ecclesiastical laws and publish without permission since he has made himself the final authority in his churchless world. This is to be expected from home-aloners because they’ve lost the Church. It only exists in their imaginary dream world where they pretend to be hobbits cuddled together in their little cottages.”

Well, happily (from my Hobbit hole in which I am fated until my doom to remain a know-nothing on account of my pleasure I receive herein, smoking my Longbottom Leaf, feet up, and not violating Divine precepts) I did manage to write a reply, but whether it is full of buffoonery, lies and hypocrisy, the world and God may judge. I have attempted to demonstrate—actually demonstrate as opposed to what Steve does which is merely assert without logical proof from authority and reason—what the Church teaches concerning this business of holy orders and canonical mission, based upon my reading and understanding of Carmona and what the Church teaches. Whether I understood what I read, I will, again, leave to the world and God to be judge.  

It is my sincerest desire that it be read with the same spirit of care and attention with which it was written and that if there be any falsehood found therein, Mr. Speray may have the goodness to point out wherein it errs. But that if there be no falsehood found, then perhaps a civil and truly Catholic discourse on the problems facing us Catholics may be broached, so that we do not become:  

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,

Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;

So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,

Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”

Whether anyone may licitly receive holy orders without canonical mission?

Objection 1: It would seem that those who do not have a mission in the Church are able to act as ministers of the sacraments. For, as Pope Gregory IX declares in the fourth rule of his decretal, “What is not lawful by law, necessity makes lawful.” But holy orders are necessary for salvation, insofar as the sacraments are necessary for salvation, and holy orders are necessary for the sacraments. Thus, holy orders are licitly received in a time of necessity without canonical mission. 

Objection 2: Further, according to Rule eighty-eight of Boniface VIII, “It is certain that one sins against the rule who adheres to the letter and leaves aside the spirit,” hence, it is unjust to impute to the legislator a desire to greatly harm the Church during a vacancy of the Holy See by forbidding the ordination of bishops and priests. Therefore, it is not only lawful to receive holy orders but a sin not to receive holy orders without canonical mission through a strict adherence to the letter of the law.    

Objection 3: Further, the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. But the necessity of canonical mission seems to be a matter of ecclesial law, which is itself directed by a higher law, namely the Divine law, of which the salvation of souls is a precept, indeed the highest precept. Therefore, holy orders are not illicitly received without canonical mission when the Divine precept would be violated if the ecclesiastical precept were followed.

On the contrary, the Ecumenical Council of Trent teaches, “If any one shall say…that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema, (Session XXIII. Canon vii.). 

Further, the necessity of canonical mission for holy orders is a rule of faith and not discipline. But a rule of faith must be believed and followed. Therefore canonical mission for holy orders must be believed and followed as  a rule of faith.    

Further, canonical mission is a matter of divine law and not human law. But divine law is not subject to change as human law is, because the Divine lawgiver being infinite and perfect in understanding foresees all contingencies, whereas human law being finite and imperfect cannot. Neither therefore is canonical mission subject to change. 

I answer that, ecclesiastical canons are of two kinds, those of discipline and those of faith: 

“As to the authority of ecclesiastical canons, it is evident a distinction must be made when speaking of canons of faith and canons of discipline, for the former are irreversible, the latter are not. Similarly, it is plain that canons containing a precept already binding by reason of Divine or natural law, cannot be on the same footing as those that are of mere ecclesiastical origin,” (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Ecclesiastical Canons”).

Now it is evident the necessity of canonical mission cannot be set aside because it pertains to the rules or canons of the faith, none which may be set aside without becoming by that very act a heretic, as the Theologian teaches: 

“Accordingly there are two ways in which a man may deviate from the rectitude of the Christian faith. First, because he is unwilling to assent to Christ: and such a man has an evil will, so to say, in respect of the very end. This belongs to the species of unbelief in pagans and Jews. Secondly, because, though he intends to assent to Christ, yet he fails in his choice of those things wherein he assents to Christ, because he chooses not what Christ really taught, but the suggestions of his own mind,” (ST. II.II:11.1).

Rectitude of the Christian faith is determined by the rule of faith. Hence, the denial of a rule of faith is a deviation of the rectitude of the Christian faith, which is heresy. That canonical mission is a rule of faith, the Council Fathers of Trent made clear:   

“…yea rather it doth decree, that all those who, being only called and instituted by the people, or by the secular power and magistrate, ascend to the exercise of these ministrations, and those who of their own rashness assume them to themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be accounted as thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door.These are the things which it hath seemed good to the sacred synod to teach the faithful of Christ, in funereal terms, touching the sacrament of Orders. But it hath resolved to condemn things contrary thereunto, in express and specific canons, in the manner which follows; to the end that all men, with the assistance of Christ, using the rule of faith, may, amidst the darkness of so many errors, more easily be able to recognize and to hold Catholic truth,” (Trent, XXIII, Sacramental Orders, emphasis added).

Hence, the denial of the rule of faith of the necessity of canonical mission is heresy. But an act cannot be both heretical and licit. Therefore neither can holy orders be received without canonical mission, because to do so is an act of heresy, not in word but deed, insofar as the act implies the denial of the divine precept which should bind the conscience, as all rules of faith so bind. 

Reply to Objection 1: There are different kinds of necessity: “…the sacraments are necessary, not absolutely but only hypothetically, i.e., in the supposition that if we wish to obtain a certain supernatural end we must use the supernatural means appointed for obtaining that end…It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and of Christians in general that, whilst God was nowise bound to make use of external ceremonies as symbols of things spiritual and sacred, it has pleased Him to do so, and this is the ordinary and most suitable manner of dealing with men. Writers on the sacraments refer to this as the necessitas convenientiae, the necessity of suitableness. It is not really a necessity, but the most appropriate manner of dealing with creatures that are at the same time spiritual and corporeal.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sacraments”). 

The objection rests on the assertion that holy orders are necessary for the sacraments, which are necessary for salvation, which is true, if necessity is understood in the right sense, which the above shows to be hypothetical necessity or necessity of suitableness, and not absolute necessity. But believing and following a rule of faith is absolutely necessary, as was demonstrated in the body of the article. Therefore, we should follow what is absolutely necessary and not what is only hypothetically so. 

And, since what is not lawful by law, necessity makes lawful, and since it is absolutely necessary to follow a rule of faith, though it be ordinarily unlawful not to receive sacraments, the necessity of impossibility of receiving sacraments from those who have not received their holy orders from canonical mission would make it lawful not to receive the sacraments. Thus, the decretal of Gregory IX applies to the hypothetical necessity of the reception of the sacraments more fittingly than to the absolute necessity of the rule of faith, which cannot be dispensed with without committing the act of heresy.     

Reply to Objection 2: Since canonical mission is a matter of Divine law, as is evident by the words, “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you,” (John 20:21), and as the Theologian teaches, “Our Lord said (Matthew 7:24): ‘Every one . . . that heareth these My words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock.’ But a wise builder leaves out nothing that is necessary to the building. Therefore Christ’s words contain all things necessary for man’s salvation,” (ST. II.II.11.2), it is evident that one who adheres to the strict meaning and interpretation of Christ’s words does not sin but, on the contrary, is a wise and holy man, and acts in accordance with the necessary means of securing his personal salvation.   

Reply to Objection 3: Canonical mission is a matter of Divine and not human law, as was proven above. Further, as a rule of faith, the necessity of canonical mission for holy orders is a part of the supreme law of the Church, insofar as the belief of all articles of faith are required for salvation. Hence, because the denial of a rule of faith amounts to a violation of the precept of the supreme law of the Church, the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is not only illicit but a violation of the Divine law, which is itself an act of sacrilege, as the Theologian teaches: “Isidore says (Etym. x) that ‘a man is said to be sacrilegious because he selects,’ i.e. steals, ‘sacred things,’” (ST. II.II.99.1). Now the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is an act of stealing, which is evident by the words above, “…thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door.” Therefore, the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is both illicit and sacrilegious.