In The City of God, that great work of theology by the Doctor and Father of the Church, St. Augustine, Christianity is defended against the accusation that Rome was in decline because of Christians. I am ashamed, though, to admit that I have only read a little of it, and only an abridged version. Perhaps I shall make a study of it in depth someday, because I am convinced that we are quite literally reliving out today the fall of Rome.
I don’t think it is controversial to say that America is Rome. I went to school in Washington D.C., and one of the most striking features of that great city is its beautiful buildings. When you walk out through the streets of downtown D.C., and behold the monuments and mountainous facades in the neoclassical style, a feeling of national pride sweeps over your soul like a spring breeze. Indeed, the antiquity of the architecture demonstrates a kind of vital youthfulness. There are sculpted eagles and lions everywhere, like one is walking into a gigantic nursery room–or Church. Figurines as beautiful as Hercules and as strong as Venus populate archway after archway throughout the city, like so many toy dolls set up and still just for play.
Now, contrast the childlike sunshine and brightness of D.C. with your typical small-town drab bank or postoffice, and you get a glimpse into what I mean by the youthfulness of Washington, and the decrepitude of the rest of America. The oftentimes grotesque buildings formed in the modernist style as sleek as a kitchen knife that stabs your eyeballs with angular, jetting structures, usually with reflective surfaces to further bewilder the eyes, the rhythms and motion of which all urge toward a pointless point into an indifferent easterly or westerly sky, with no apparent intentionality at all, not unlike the political and social temperament at present.
The contrast made, we see that D.C. represents story, whereas the town represents science, or mere mathematical abstraction. The reason for this is simple enough—and there is a push to destroy the story-based architecture of D.C., which was already underway when I attended university there at The Catholic University of America, where beautiful buildings, Catholic buildings of refined American neoclassical, were being replaced by modernist glass and metal monstrosities—which is to replace the Christian and Westerner past with a new futuristic and faceless race. It is the attempt to rewrite history by defacement and replacement, by making the America feel remorse for her past (sound familiar?), that she may have no roots when planted in the desert to die. It is the same thing they (yes, they) did to the Roman Catholic Church. They are doing it today to America, because America is Rome.
It may come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I am not entirely convinced that we have a legitimate presidency or senate or house, that those who were “elected’ were not actually selected to be the representatives, that this nation of the people, by the people, for the people, has perished from the earth. We witnessed the treason before our eyes, the hours upon hours of eyewitness testimony to the effect that so many fraudulent votes had made a mockery of the election process and the sovereignty of the American people a farce at best and a tragedy at worst. My faith in the democratic process of this country is dead. Let me just say that to get out of the way any objections to what I may say next, which is, that we are obliged to love our country no matter how iniquitous it is—and America is very iniquitous—because of the fourth commandment. Just as we ought to love our father, even if he be an abusive drunkard, so we ought to love our fatherland, not on account of the abuses but because without our country we would not be at all.
The abuses, the totalitarianism and superstition of health, the economical oppression, and reconstructing of energy systems, all of it, are so many antics of the neo-Visigoths, be they Chinese or Russian, or some other nefarious nation of actors—like Israel, perhaps. They want us to hate America, because they hate America. They want us to be be ashamed of our past—which may, in many instances, be shameful. But they want us to live in perpetual mea culpa, using what little Christian virtue remains to the average American citizen to undermine citizenry itself. Divide and conquer has ever been the Enemy’s battle plan. It happened in the Church. It is happening now in America. And it is working, but not in my house. Just as we keep the Faith, so we keep the Flag in our home. We will celebrate the birthday of America by a barbecue of (ironically) German knockwurst sausages, French fries, good old fashioned cowboy baked beans, and a cheese cake (which actually originated in Rome), because, like the Catholic faith which unites all men in the bond of faith, America unites all men in the bond of nature and reason, insofar as she is able when not thwarted by her enemies.
I do not know when this all began. Perhaps it started with the ground-breaking of the first modernist postoffice. But just as I refuse to relinquish my inheritance of the Catholic Faith for some pottage of worldly comfort and conformity, so, too, I refuse to give up my American heritage on account of the usurpers and invaders. I am proud to be an American. I know there are those who are reading this who are not American. But I tell you, if I lived in another country, I’d be just as proud to be a Spaniard, or a German, or a Latvian. The point is not that America is great (or was great), and so I love her. Rather, she was great because she was loved. Nor should she be despised because she isn’t great anymore. Rather, we should love her more dearly, care for her more sweetly, hoist the flag higher, and salute Old Glory with tears in our eyes, not for what she is, but for what she might have been had she truly been a nation under God.
And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.
Today is the one year anniversary of launching CatholicEclipsed, a website dedicated to disseminating authentic Catholicism and exposing the agents of darkness eclipsing it. The days leading up to this milestone have put me into a mood of critical self-reflection and recollection of the purpose with which I started out on this mission. I do not claim an ecclesiastical mission. That would be foolish. But I do believe that my efforts are a direct result of a sending of sorts, insofar as we are all sent into the world as lambs among wolves by the Good Shepherd Himself:
“And after these things the Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and he sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself was to come. And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest,” (Luke 10:1-2).
And, in a very special way, being totally consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the St. Louis De Monfort True Devotion to Mary, which I encourage you to read and perhaps consider doing yourself, I am also sent by her into the a spiritual wilderness to help console my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ whom I have met here. That is the point of the cross in the desert with the eclipse on HOMEBASE . It represents in a visual way where we are now spiritually during the Apocalypse. It is often lonely here in the desert, where food and drink is scarce (worldly comfort), and friendship is even more so, to where sophisticated man with his civilization has not reached. Here in the desert there is only oneself and God.
The mission, then, of CatholicEclipsed is clear enough, but how one executes that mission is less clear. My attempt this past year at producing video content has been somewhat lackluster. No significant impact was achieved doing so. From the highly stylized “Sect Spect Report,” which (I confess) may have alienated many on account of its apparent flippancy, to awkward and fumbling interviews, my attempts at video productions has been less than stellar. So, I must reassess and adapt to my own abilities and talents to achieve the mission. I am convinced at this point that web articles, with the occasional image, is the way to go. It is a classic way to communicate, and people respond well to it.
That said, I have had in the back of my brain the notion of a CatholicEclipsed podcast. I don’t know how that would work or if visitors here would appreciate it at all, but it does have the advantage over print in that it is more personal and intimate, which would help in the consolation department of the mission. Let me know in the comments what you would think about that.
There have been other changes to CatholicEclipsed. Some of you will notice that I am no longer on Twitter. The reason for this is twofold: Twitter is a temptation and a distraction. Being on Twitter has tempted me in so many different ways, from its grave immodesty to its open blasphemy, I have been tempted to lust and anger so many times I cannot count. Surely, that is utterly fruitless spiritually. And Twitter has distracted me from my mission. I envisioned social media as a way to market CatholicEclipsed, but after a year doing so, my numbers were so woefully low as to be considered nil. No one, with the exception of a handful, actually ever engaged with my Tweeted content, for want of interest or because my material was lame, I don’t know. What I do know is that Twitter wasn’t helping but hurting, and distracting me from producing better and better content, and more of it, and distracting me from my family life. Finally, I had enough, and so I deactivated my account, something one gentlemanly and sagacious reader advised I do some time ago.
So, what to expect this coming year? Well, I intend to produce two kinds of content to achieve the duel aspects of my mission, to expose the agents of darkness (who ever they are) and to console my coreligionists with uplifting and spiritually enriching content. I will attempt a balance, because it is spiritually unhealthy always to be in the thick of things and doing battle. We need a breather every once in a while, a time to recoup and relax and rest in the Lord. To that end, I would really like to know what kind of articles you would like to see, what interests you spiritually, be it devotions, religious arts and music, biographical sketches of saints, prayer life and pious practices, etc. Let me know in the comments section.
CatholicEclipsed is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose feast day it is today. Some of you may have seen my bracelet I wear on my right wrist. I had enslaved myself to Jesus in Mary some years back. I wear this bracelet as a reminder to myself to live out the true devotion to Mary, to be faithful to Christ by keeping my baptismal promises, and to remind myself of the chains of sin which the devil forges around us (which we cannot see), as compared with the the chains of love which God forges around us. We are either slaves to the Devil or to God. But this holy slavery to God is true and perfect freedom, unlike its counterfeit the Devil advertises with a thousand temptations to do what we want. Like a natural slave who owns nothing but depends on everything from his master, I own nothing but give all to Mary to do with as she pleases. This website is just one more thing that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the Queen of my heart and soul. May CatholicEclipsed honor her evermore this year, and may she use it as she wills. Amen.
Robert Robbins has been gracious enough to allow me to submit a guest post answering the recent accusations of the individual posting on the Introibo ad altare Dei blogspot. I would like to remind all those praying-at-home who may be reading this that the decision to do so is one of conscience. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves today — and given the proofs on which we based our decision — no one has the right to challenge us save a certainly valid priest possessing jurisdiction in the confessional. Traditionalists scarcely can offer us any hope of this. Below is my reply and hopefully this will help others better understand the issues raised.
“These Home Aloners (hereinafter “HA”) twist Canon Law to declare everyone except themselves as heretics, schismatics, etc., and always find a way to further twist the law when it suits their needs (the fallacy in logic of “special pleading”– the law applies to everyone except me).”
False. If people would read my website, I counted myself a material heretic long ago when I first left Bawden, just not a vitandus as he claimed. I then go on to explain to readers how to remedy material heresy as best as we are able in these times according to Canon Law. If I consider everyone heretics and schismatics, I consider them such only because I myself once was the same, before leaving the Traditionalist sect and Bawden. No one need remain in this state; there are remedies.
[Benns quotes] Rev. Matthew Ramstein, S.T. Mag, J.U.D., OFM (A Manual of Canon Law, 1947): “In the absence of an authentic declaration concerning the meaning of the law, ANYONE may interpret the law for himself, provided he observe the rules set down by the lawgiver in Canons 18-21” … [But] the canonist Augustine says: “Private interpretation, viz., one given by juriconsultants not commissioned by the lawgiver, or by expert canonists (doctors), must be made in conformity with certain rules which are necessary for the right understanding of ecclesiastical—in fact of all—law.”
Here Introibo points to canonists who restrict such interpretation to those who have studied it in the “seminary.” While this statement itself is still open to interpretation regarding the word “anyone,” laypersons can certainly cite Canon Law and challenge Traditionalist interpretation of the laws, pointing out that the laws are not being followed. This, however, cannot be confused with actual interpretation. Interpretation means an explanation or opinion of what something means (Cambridge Dictionary). Or it can be defined as the act of reframing, or otherwise showing your own understanding of something. If I explain some issue based on my own understanding and opinion, that is my explanation. If instead I present documents that offer these explanations from approved sources, that is not MY interpretation, but the interpretation of those I am quoting.
If I try to followthe rules of Canon Law under Can. 17 in providing these sources, (an act of obedience, not interpretation) I only point to documents from the magisterium or the ecumenical councils or Sacred Congregations to demonstrate the origins of the law and the mind of the lawgiver. And if I mention parallel passages of the Code, I am not interpreting them, I am only referencing them. What they state and what the pre-1959 commentators say they state stands for itself. Merely citing canons and pointing out that they apparently have not been followed according to their previousunderstanding by approved theologians does not constitute private interpretation. Traditionalists make no attempt whatsoever to follow these rules, and this speaks volumes regarding their supposed superiority in being able to interpret the law. In their Canon Law Digest commentary on Can. 17, Vol. 5 (1963), the canonists Bouscaren and O’Connor write the following:
“His eminence, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Canons of the Code, Maximus Cardinal Massimi, declared shortly before his death… that it was his personal opinion he no longer preferred to give authentic replies since all the canons were already sufficiently clear in their obvious meaning. It is interesting to observe that no officially promulgated replies have since been given for the Code of the Latin church since his death [in 1954].” So this very experienced cardinal, the last of his kind, believed that the Code should be taken exactly as it stood, supplemented by the authentic interpretations already given for over 35 years. And pointing to them exactly as they stand is all I have ever tried to do.
As one online commenter put it: “The real Church is a visible institution [headed by the pope] and governed by laws; the sedevacantist ‘church’ is an invisible idea governed by circular arguments.” What Traditionalists object to is not the fact that these canons have been privately interpreted by others, but that those approved authors writing prior to the death of Pope Pius XII do not agree with THEIR misinterpretation of the canons. They condemn those objecting to their violation of these laws for demanding they FOLLOW the law as it was understood pre-1959. They are the ones interpreting it, not those citing the law and demanding that they proceed according to the approved interpretations.
I will match my 40 years of intensive private study from approved sources to theirs any day. Challenge that and you are going to have to tear down the entire concept of self-study, homeschooling and explain why there are so many Nobel Prize winners and other award-winning individuals on the long list of famous autodidacts. Until you prove from irrefutable papal and conciliar sourcesthat these clerical wannabes are unquestionably validly and licitly ordained and consecrated, the playing field is leveled.
“Benns, using her phenomenal research ability, decided that she could “call a conclave” to elect a pope. All true Catholics from around the world were allegedly contacted in a world without computers, and there were only six “electors” that came to the Kansas farmhouse of one David Bawden, a former seminarian of the SSPX who had been expelled. The “electors” consisted of Bawden, his mommy and daddy, two nice neighbors, and Benns… She has since renounced Bawden, and was “excommunicated” by him, leaving those poor souls following him in peril for their salvation. Nice going, Teresa Benns.” (But Introibo claims this is not an ad hominem or personal attack…)
Well try getting your facts straight and maybe you would have better luck documenting your non-existent case. In several articles for Traditional Catholic publications and in the book written prior to the election, I begged Catholics for input for three years before proceeding, and received only rude and vague, non-committal replies. So where were you and all those wonderful traddie “clerics” busy operating outside the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff? At least we were championing the rights of the papacy.
Bawden was not elected at his residence, but a store owned by his parents. Two neighbors did not help elect him, but two longtime friends, former SSPX members, who attended from out of state. Others also were present at various times. Every individual originally involved with Bawden from 1990-2007 left him and remained pray-at-home Catholics. I spent two years on the Internet debunking every error that led to the “election” in order to warn off those who might follow him after I left. I engaged in email correspondence with them. What else would you have suggested??? And how about all the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS Traditionalists have helped to commit sacrilege, idolatry and other sins?!!
As far as this not being an ad hominem attack goes, I don’t think you fully understand the meaning of ad hominem. Catholic manuals on logic describe it as, “Confusion of the person with the issue “(Oesterle); “ridicule of an adversary” (Walsh). Avoidance of the real issues of validity and lack of jurisdiction, also ridicule have always been Traditionalists’ stock-in-trade. If we really want to talk about someone along the lines you mention, regarding false authority and bad acts, lets talk Bp. Thuc. There is eyewitness and handwritten testimony that should prove to any rational human being the man was at the very least non compos mentis and even as an allegedly full-blown “sede” presented as a member of the Novus Ordo church. But of course that could never be interpreted as the “external manifestation” of a contrary intention to consecrate.
[In reference to T. Benns writings in light of the Bawden affair]: “If a surgeon operated on a person with a diseased lung, and removed the normal lung, leaving the diseased lung inside and causing the death of the patient afterwards, would you want him operating on you (if he kept his license by some miracle)?”
As an attorney you should be able to easily spot a false analogy, but obviously not. You just portrayed me as ignorant and incompetent and now you’re comparing me to someone with credentials; not the same at all. A misinformed but well-intentioned laywoman might make an honest mistake, right? Canon Law factors in all circumstances regarding censures.
“It has never been defined by the Church that the Mass shall completely cease. Some theologians, such as Huchede, leave open the possibility of the Mass offered in private to small groups of the faithful. In either case, the reign of the Antichrist is not here yet.”
Well if the Church has never defined this then what we have left amounts to only a probable opinion that the Mass will continue privately. You cannot use a probable opinion to justify the reception of the Sacraments. And Huchede only postulates this on the predicate that such Masses will be celebrated validly and licitly. So where is your learned treatise proving, from papal and conciliar decrees, that these masses are valid and licit and explaining why it is that Antichrist has not yet appeared?
“To forego the True Mass and Sacraments (when available) for substitutes at home, is to deprive yourself of countless graces… Fr. DePauw would always say, “If you don’t like it here (Ave Maria Chapel), the doors are never locked; feel free to leave and I wish you well.” Benns calumniates Fr. DePauw as “Masonic”– once more not knowing all the facts and getting it all wrong.”
If I have even the slightest doubt a man calling himself a Catholic priest or bishop was ever a Freemason, and I have provided solid reasons for that doubt, I am obligated to avoid him. And don’t shine me on about the cult-like atmosphere of these Trad groups; I’ve seen them at work. Coercive persuasion comes in many forms, and one of them parades as the whisper into the devotee’s ear, “If you don’t have the Sacraments, you can’t earn the graces you need to get to Heaven.” Pretty heavy stuff, gut-wrenching stuff. And it is not true. If you avoid the Sacraments out of love and reverence for God, even though longing for them and believing in them, God will grant you all the necessary graces. A certain conscience is to be followed even if it is in error, according to the theologians. But this presumes a rightly formed conscience based on the teaching of pre-1959 theologians, NOT the propaganda pumped out by Traditionalists.
“From St. Alphonsus Liguori: ‘Is any priest able to absolve from any sins and censures, not only at the point of death, but also in danger of death? This is denied by [various names] but more truly and more commonly affirmed by…. Now such a danger is considered to be present in a battle, in a long sea voyage, in a difficult delivery, in a dangerous disease, and similar cases…The same is true of one who is in probable danger of falling into insanity (amentia)…and the same of those who are captives among infidels with small hope of liberty. For it is believed that they will have no other priests in the future.’(See Theologia Moralis, Bk.6, no. 561, Q.2) …Jurisdiction, HAs will admit, is supplied to ALL priests when the penitent is in danger of death. The death knell of the HA position is provided by St. Alphonsus Liguori, whom the Holy See has pronounced all his opinions safe to follow in practice.”
I do not admit and have not advanced the teaching above because only a canonically elected Roman Pontiff can supply the necessary jurisdiction in danger of death. Some pre-1959 theologians teach it would be better to resort to a perfect Act of Contrition, and I follow them, not you and your pseudo-clerics. St. Alphonsus is safe to follow, but different rules apply during an interregnum. As usual, Trads always try to trump the popes with a theologian. There certainly is no “death knell” here unless it is for Traditionalists who fail to inform their followers they have no faculties to forgive sins.
Here two crucial facts are omitted. First prove to me that the priest is valid; I have an inherent RIGHT as a Catholic to be certain of this and without a decision from the Holy See on validity I am not obligated to believe it exists. Didn’t Kelly himself admit this? Not to be certain is to commit mortal sin. If I have solid reasons to doubt he is valid, I must avoid him or risk dishonoring the Sacraments. Secondly, St. Alphonsus is writing under the impression that there will be a reigning Pope to supply such jurisdiction. Please forgive me if I prefer the opinion of learned and approved theologians, provided below, to yours and Daly’s on St. Alphonsus and supplied jurisdiction.
Once again, you are resorting to a logical fallacy on two counts to support your case; an attorney should know better. This one is called “begging the question,” which is defined in Catholic terms as “Assuming as true that which is yet to be proved.” First you assume the man claiming to be a priest actually is one and can unquestionably prove his claim, something Traditionalists have never been able to do. Secondly, you utterly fail to explain how any such man, if he truly is a priest, could be supplied jurisdiction in the absence of the Roman Pontiff, who alone can supply. For jurisdiction does not come down magically and descend upon these men nor does it come from God in the Pontiff’s absence, it comes to these bishops from Christ’s Vicar as stated below by Rev. Bancroft, also Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz and Rev. Ignatius Szal. As Pope Pius XII defined in Mystici Corporis, all episcopal jurisdiction comes through the Roman Pontiff. It is a Protestant heresy to believe otherwise. According to Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, all papal — hence supplied — jurisdiction ceases on the pope’s death, something the Church has always taught.
(Communication in Religious Worship With Non-Catholics, Rev. John R. Bancroft, C.S.S.R., J.C.B, S.T.L., Catholic University of America Canon Law dissertation, 1943)
As Traditionalist John Daly notes, we are in “the same position as those who are captives among infidels with small hope of liberty and with excellent reason to believe [we] will never have access to any priest possessing jurisdiction in the future. Thus we can be sure that any truly Catholic priest to whom we do have access, even if he be bereft of jurisdiction and laboring under excommunication, can lawfully and validly absolve us.”
Several points here:
You are quoting John Daly and don’t ding him for his questionable past? An Oxford educated man who should have known better? Obviously you have no idea what Daly was really involved in. But you are not prejudiced against women of course.
As Robert Robbins points out, we are not in the same position as captives; we are still able to exercise a majority of our rights and certainly were able to fully exercise them decades ago when Trads first came on the scene. Again, false analogy here.
Once again, even if these men WEREvalidly ordained, which only a true pope could decide, they could never claim to possess supplied jurisdiction. Such jurisdiction can be supplied only by a canonically elected pope, as stated above.
And even if they could be proven to be validly ordained, what about the following:
In hisAn Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, #4, Fr. Kinkead writes in Q. 115: “What is the Church? A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head.” (That certainly doesn’t describe Traditionalists!) The Baltimore Council’s approved catechism (#3) for adults, also written by Rev. Kinkead, tells us in the answer to question # 494 that lawful pastors are “those in the Church who have been appointed by lawful authorityand who have therefore a right to rule us.” Note that this says nothing of the supposedly “validly” consecrated bishops who have created these priests; it mentions only lawfulauthority. Only those consecrated with the papal mandate following their appointment by the pope can be considered Lawful bishops, able to function validly, as will be seen below.
“Even if valid orders exist, where jurisdiction is lacking there is no real apostolicity. Schism, as well as heresy, destroys apostolic succession,” (Rev. Thomas Cox, Pillar and Ground of Truth, 1900).
In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, written for religious congregations and Catholic institutions of higher learning, seminary professor Rev. John Joseph McVey wrote in 1926:
Q. 60: Who after the pope are lawful pastors of the Church?
A. The bishops who have been canonically instituted, i.e., who have received from the Sovereign Pontiff a diocese to govern.
Q. 73: Why is it not sufficient to be a bishop or priest in order to be a lawful pastor?
A.Because a bishop must also be sent into a diocese by the Pope, and a priest must be sent into a parish by the bishop. In other words, a pastor must have not only the power of order, but also THE POWER OF JURISDICTION, (emph. McVey’s).
Q. 77: How is the power of jurisdiction communicated?
A.Priests receive their jurisdiction from the bishop of the diocese; bishops receive theirs from the pope; and the Pope holds jurisdiction from Jesus Christ. A bishop who did not have his spiritual powers from the Pope, a pastor who did not have his from the lawful bishop, would be AN INTRUDER OR SCHISMATIC,” (emph. McVey’s). So not only are Traditionalist “priests” and “bishops” questionably ordained and consecrated, without a true pope they possess NO jurisdiction whatsoever. And this is from the approved catechisms of the Church. (See also the Catholic Encyclopedia articles on Apostolicity and Apostolic Succession.)
“8 Q. Will the Catholic Priesthood therefore never cease on this earth?
“A. In spite of the war that hell wages against it, the Catholic Priesthood will last until the end of time, because Jesus Christ has promised that the powers of hell shall never prevail against His Church.”
Robert Robbins wrote: Don’t you agree that there is a distinction between “priesthood” and “priest”? This is a distinction that I have made elsewhere: it is between essence and existence, between definition and instantiation. The priesthood still exists. I have never doubted that. I only doubt that there are any lawful–and so Catholic–priests to administer the Sacraments.
T. Benns: And I would add to that, how about the priesthood of the laity? Addis and Arnold relate in their A Catholic Dictionary that “In a wide and loose sense, when the whole Catholic Church is considered as existing in the midst of heretics, schismatics and the heathen even the laity may be considered as forming a portion of the hierarchy.” Chew on that one for a bit. Then add in Pope Pius XII’s AAS address that tells us when the laity is without the hierarchy, we MUST take on all their responsibilities in accordance with ecclesiastical discipline. So how are we supposed to determine that if we don’t delve into Canon Law?
The Traditional merry-go-round continues to spin, and no one to date has produced papal or conciliar documents affirming the likelihood of their priestly and episcopal validity or possession of jurisdiction. Until a decision by the Roman Pontiff on their situation, Canon Law forbids them to function and warns the laity to avoid them. Of course we never hear of them mentioning THOSE laws, now do we. At a time when it is so crucial to pay attention not to the roar of the world around us but to the things necessary to our personal salvation, it seems unproductive and unnecessary to devote time to people who for decades have refused to justify their existence. May we all retreat now to our prayer lives and there include the author of this attack, also all true Catholics everywhere who keep the faith.
Editor’s Note: My wife, Laura Robbins, wrote an open letter to the author of the Introibo Ad Altare Deiblog, in response to the post “Get The Correct Interpretation And You’re Home Free.”I thought it was very well written, and I think you will agree. The points made are salient to the controversies affecting us Catholics who are just trying to make heads or tails of the chaos. I present the letter in full below. Be sure to leave a comment if you feel inclined! She’d love to get your feedback.
I will try to make this as short as possible. I was reading your article today about CE and I further clicked on and started reading your article “Betrayed by Benns”. I hope you understand this has nothing to do with my husband or Benns and everything to do with truth so please be objective when you read this, as I assume I am being objective in my argument:
First, I don’t believe Thuc to have been an invalid priest or bishop, but he certainly defected from the faith and never truly came back to the Church even dying in communion with the Novus Ordo.
Next, with Lefebvre: you say you will assume Lienart was a mason. Good, because there is plenty of evidence of it including Lefebvre’s own admission—why should we assume a public statement from Lefebvre was a lie or the result of confusion?
I will set you some examples that don’t refute any of the Church teachings you have brought forth.
One, say there was a man who committed theft. The authorities charge the man, but he is PRESUMED innocent, until proven guilty by a trial. The trial doesn’t come up with enough evidence to charge the man (and there are no witnesses who even saw it happen), so he’s found “not guilty” by the law. Does that mean the man did not commit the theft? No, it means that the law presumed something and couldn’t prove its contrary. It doesn’t say anything about the fact of the theft by the man.
Two, back to the Church, using your true example. The Church presumed that those native priests had sacraments. But the people were being absolved the whole time by laymen. The Church cannot supply holy orders and jurisdiction to laymen. All those absolutions were null and void and some people may have gone to hell over it, if they only had imperfect contrition for their sins!
Masons and Communists are declared enemies of the Church. Why should we (laymen) presume that the declared enemies of the Church want to perpetuate that same Church with truly ordained and consecrated clergy?! Has the Church told us specifically that masonic orders are valid? Did She so declare? Did She even declare that we are to “presume” masonic/communist orders are valid?
Here’s what She did say regarding something similar:
“THE MINISTER OF A SACRAMENT IS PRESUMED TO INTEND WHAT THE RITE MEANS: NEVERTHELESS, IF IN FACT HE RESOLVES NOT TO DO WHAT THE CHURCH DOES, HE HAS NOT SUFFICIENT INTENTION AND THE SACRAMENT IS INVALID.”
This is even emphasized as such in the original! That is a portion that I’m sure you have read since you decided to ellipsis it within your article.
“Lehmkuhl gives an interesting case of conscience on the point. A certain priest had lost his faith and had joined a forbidden society, after which time he began to perform his priestly duties in an external manner only. He religiously observed the correct and exact performance of the matter and the form in the sacraments he administered, but inwardly he intended not to do what the Church does and what Christ instituted. The solution of the case declares that the sacraments conferred by the priest were null and to be repeated absolutely,” (The Dogmatic Theology on the Intention of the Minister in the Confection of the Sacraments by Rev. Raphael De Salvo, O.S.B., S.T.L. 1949, referencing Casus Conscientiae, Vol. II, p. 14, Casus 7, Augustin Lehmkuhl, 1903).
He says “repeated absolutely”, not conditionally. I assume I do not need to educate you on what that means. Note that there’s not even a death bed confession here in this example.
So back to Lefebvre, his ordination to the priesthood was performed by a Mason, not just any mason with supposedly good will, but a high ranking mason. Why should we assume that his ordination is valid? Because the Church was silent on the issue?!
An episcopal consecration cannot be made valid on a layman. The man must have holy orders according to the Church teachings cited by “Bishop” Joseph Marie, which I know you’ve read. So any ordinations that Lefebvre tried to perform were invalid. Not because of VAS, not because he was a heretic who defected from the Church either before or at Vatican II, but because you can’t give what you don’t have.
Should we assume that his orders were valid just so that we can have possibly dubious sacraments? Because as the Church stated above, Her (and our) presumption does not a sacrament make. We can presume all day, but if they were invalid, then all these sede clergy are performing invalid and sacrilegious sacraments, because pretty much ALL of them come from Lefebvre and his unapproved seminary opened and ran with approval of and under a false pope!!
Are you willing to risk your eternal damnation on that presumption? Because you already stated today,
“Being home is the “safe way” to Heaven. We have the Act of Perfect Contrition, Spiritual Communion, and the Rosary. Ans. All these things are beautiful and Catholic. If this is all you have (like the Japanese Catholics during the Great Persecution) that’s the way to go.”
This is all the HAs (as you call us) are doing. Ensuring that we are on the safe road. There are NO graces conferred with invalid sacraments. Why should we risk it? That, to me, is quite a presumption! We do not have a pope to rectify the issue and the Church teaches us to always follow the safer course with respect to the sacraments. (I will cite it for you if necessary. I don’t have the reference off hand.) How are you doing that?
Just because you don’t like what the outcome is, doesn’t mean you have a good argument against it. You may be a good lawyer (you certainly argue like one), but that doesn’t give credence to your arguments just because they are delivered with rhetoric. It may very well be that there were few valid clergy left by Vatican II because of worldwide infiltration of the Church from masons and communists. That may help to better explain the complete and “sudden” apostasy.
“But whatever you finally think about the possibility or impossibility of the aforementioned hypothesis, at least one point must be maintained as completely unshaken and firmly placed beyond all doubt: the adherence alone of the universal Church will always be of itself an infallible sign of the legitimacy of the person of the Pontiff, and, what is more, even of the existence of all the conditions requisite for legitimacy itself. One need not fetch from afar proof of this claim. The reason is that it is taken immediately from the infallible promise of Christ and from providence. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and Behold I am with you all days. To be sure, for the Church to adhere to a false pontiff would be the same thing as if she were to adhere to a false rule of faith, since the Pope is the living rule which the Church must follow in belief and always follows in fact, as will be still more clearly apparent in what is to be said later. By all means God can permit that at some time or other the vacancy of the see be extended for a considerable time. He can also allow a doubt to arise about the legitimacy of one or another man elected. But He cannot permit the entire Church to receive someone as pontiff who is not a true and legitimate [pope]. Therefore, from the time he has been accepted and joined to the Church as the head to the body, we cannot further consider the question of a possible mistake in the election or of a [possible] deficiency of any condition whatsoever necessary for legitimacy, because the aforementioned adherence of the Church radically heals the mistake in the election and infallibly indicates the existence of all requisite conditions.”
All the supposedly valid and reigning bishops adhered to both Roncalli (through his whole pontificate) and Montini (at his election and some time after). Billot emphatically says this cannot be. He says “universal adherence” is an “infallible” sign! He says this point must be firmly placed beyond all doubt! Therefore, as said above, they may not have been true clergy from having defective orders because of infiltration. You can try to argue this point, please do!, but don’t use rhetoric and ill-placed or deceptive ellipses to do so. It’s unbecoming of a man who calls himself Catholic.
We live during the time of the Great Apostasy foretold in Holy Scripture. That is a fact as plain as the color of the sky, and equally as visible. And yet, there are those, many in fact, who do not know it. How do we unravel this paradox? How can it be that a thing as big and blue as the color of the sky could not be seen? The answer is simple enough, if you give it some thought. The answer is, because the vast majority of those who do not see that we live in the Great Apostasy, have already apostatized from the Faith.
Apostasy is, by definition, a turning away from the revealed truths of God. But apostasy is more than that. It is also turning away from God as such, in the sense that one does not believe that God is God, that an almighty being created the world and the people in it for a purpose. What so often happens is that people either are born into a family that has already apostatized or the individual child who becomes an adult, apostatizes in adulthood. In my case, it is both.
I was born into a heathen household. My father didn’t believe in anything so far as I was made aware. I was estranged from my mother, on account of her mental illness, so what she believed or why, I do not really know. She was born Catholic, raised in a Catholic school (Novus Ordo), but by the time she became an adult, she had longed since forgotten what it meant to be Catholic. I think she dabbled in Native American mysticism—in other words, paganism. She has since come around to reading the Baltimore Catechism with me, which I am very excited about. My father died when I was sixteen, and died presumably without baptism or the desire thereof, and outside the Catholic Church. I pray that Our Lady of the Holy Rosary intercede on his behalf at the time leading up to his death, that he in fact experienced a conversion. That is my hope and prayer.
Such were my non-religious parents. Coming into my teens, I was curious about God, and the world, and about myself. I had the grace already then of a philosophical and I dare say theological or at least a religious notion of existence. That is what ultimately compelled me to conversion and to be baptized. I believe it was a grace from the Mother of God who interceded for me, and has brought me to where I am now, in the wilderness with her during the Apocalypse.
I was baptized, converted to what I believed was the Catholic Church, and entered into life with my wife (a cradle “Catholic”), joining the Navy, and eventually going to university to study philosophy at the Catholic University of America, a once-prestigious and Catholic research institution, but now a den of thieves and robbers and “Saint” John Paul II the Great enthusiasts. (You are probably wondering what on Earth any of this has to do with Apostasy. Just hold your horses and be patient. It is about to all click.)
While at University, I had the pleasure of talking philosophy with the seminarians there, who lived just up the hill very close if not on campus in a seminary dedicated to John Paul II. I guess their spirituality and theological and philosophical identity was modeled around him. Now, without wanting either to lose you or bore you, I will only briefly explain what made John Paul II philosophically menacing as well as dreadful theologically. You see, Wojtyla was a personalist, which means simply, he referred all philosophical investigations back to the person, to the experience of the person as such. Hence, objective truth became possible to discuss only in light of the person. In times of old, that is, during the Apostolic age of the Church Fathers and down through to the Medieval period with St. Thomas Aquinas and scholasticism, which is really just Aristotelianism applied to the revealed truths of the Catholic Faith, objective truth was not referred to the person at all. Why would it be? The sky is blue, whether there is a person to see it or not, no?
Anyway, John Paul II was the superstar at The Catholic University of America, even though the School of Philosophy was housed in a building called Aquinas Hall. And his philosophical method had been the standard pretty much since the Second Vatican Council. That is because even Wojtyla had a teacher, or rather teachers: the phenomenologists, who changed the philosophical (and consequently, theological) landscape of the 1900s. There was a faction afoot, or as Cardinal Manning put it, a crisis, in his book, Present Crisis of the Holy See, which actually preceded phenomenology. That was the Pantheists of the post-reformational era, that is, during the Enlightenment period. It wasn’t enough to be heretic anymore. One had to be free, not just from the Church and the Pope, but from the crushing reality that God was God, and man was merely man. Hence, the so-called enlightenment period, in which God was confounded with His creation, and made one with matter.
We may scoff at such ridiculous notions now, but the fact is, that pretty much everyone believes this, that God is in creation, indeed that creation is God. Catholics don’t, obviously, but those who have revolted against God, those who have apostatized do. Remember how I said that, with the Medieval Church and world, the truth was objective? Well, after Descartes and other Enlightenment philosophers, the world and truth became subjective. The sky wasn’t blue anymore. Rather, it was blue because we saw it as such. We weren’t subject to God or the Church, rather we were subject because we merely thought so. Thus, Pandora’s Box let out the evil of Pantheism, the belief that all was God, including ourselves, and our own little thoughts, which were but the expression of the Great Deity evolving itself like a great big origami frog.
Who can deny this is what we see today? Blue-hair, baby-murderer, and Novus Ordo Missae attendee have far more in common than is typically thought. Each in their way believe that their own preference for how things ought to be is the true one. The blue-haired (or green or purple haired person) is in revolt against nature. The would-be beautiful brunette or blonde is saturated with the delusional notion that coloring her hair will objectively make her beautiful—as if beauty had nothing to do with truth in the objective order of things. The woman who seeks an abortion destroys the life she helps to create, thereby revolting against nature at the most fundamental level, that of life. She thwarts her very act, because the act of procreation has no meaning now apart from what her desire is. Thus, her desire and the meaning of her acts become one. Her actions only have meaning if she means them, and in the manner she means them. Thus, abortion isn’t murderer, it isn’t taking of another human life, because human life is meaningless to her. The only life that matters or means anything is her own. She has become God, whose will is truth. (I do not blame the poor women who think such and do such evil against their own children. Not that they are not culpable for their sins, but that I blame the men more, both those who help procreate the life they murder, and also the philosophers who made such madness even possible.)
Now, as to the Novus Ordo Missae attendees; how in the world are they Pantheists? They are Pantheists because they worship Man as such, not God. All the Antipopes of the past seventy years denied the Incarnation. But John Paul II, in a special and snake-like way, denied the Incarnation by really just making it into Pantheism.
The heretical Second Vatican Council taught: “Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him [Christ], has been raised in us also [eo ipso etiam in nobis] to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22, as quoted from TraditionalMass).
In his pseudo-encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, John Paul II offers an authoritative interpretation of the passage:
“…the mystery [of the Redemption] in which each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of his mother,” (as quoted and emphasized by TraditionalMass).
In the article quoted from above, the author continues:
“It is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and of the impeccability of man! This is why Paul VI on December 7, 1965 in his closing speech of the Council said, ‘We more than anyone else have the cult of man.’ The cult of man is precisely, according to Saint Pius X, the distinctive sign of the Antichrist! (E Supremi Apostolatu) And Montini continued in this famous discourse: ‘The Religion of God made man has met the religion of man who has become God. What happened? A shock, a fight, an anathema: all this could have happened, but in fact did not happen…’”
“This is an explicit profession of pantheism. For pantheism, the world and God make a single thing. Acosmic pantheism (mystico-religious pantheism) is the reduction of the world to God. The world is absorbed in God, and is nothing more than an ensemble of manifestations of God which have no permanent substance distinct from God. Thus God is the substance of ‘Soul of the world.’” (from TraditionalMass).
Those who attend the New Mass believe this, even if they do not understand that that is what they believe. Lex orandi, lex credendi, the law of what is prayed is the law of what is believed. The New Mass is a worship service of man. Work of Human Hands, a historical and theological analysis of Paul VI’s worship service would be a good read to understand just how messed up the New Mass is. Though written by Anthony Cekada, a pretender Catholic priest (recently passed, requiescat in pace) who received his priestly formation from the schismatic and heretical seminary of Lefebvre, and who I doubt was even really a priest at all, let alone Catholic, nevertheless was a strong scholar of the liturgy. Thus, I recommend his book but not the man. But suffice it here to say that the New Mass is demonstrably a worship service of man as God. The happy-clappy music, which is about as sacred as a U2 song, is one bit of evidence. If the music were actually in service to God, it would sound like it, instead of music which sounds like it is contrived to make people feel happy and glad to be wasting their time at a Sunday meet and greet service. The versuspopulum of the celebrant is another datum, which orients the priest to the people and not to God. Anybody with eyes can see the difference between a priest who faces the altar and tabernacle alone, addressing his prayers thereat, and a man dressed up in ugly green vestments (why are they so ugly?) who prays at the people, who is actually talking to the people, though he feigns talking to God, just as the people think they are praying to God, but they are really just talking to themselves.
Thus we see how those who cannot see the sky is blue cannot see that they think they are God. The worship of man has made man as worthless as man. We may never get back out of this pit of pantheism into which humanity has fallen, out into the bright sunshine of Medieval Scholasticism, back into the daylight of things being what they are, not because we believe or think them so, but because God does. But since we find ourselves down here anyway, we might as well tell people that what they see and hear are but shadows and echos of reality. Truth is not here. They have taken Him. In the words of Eugene Cardinal Pacelli, who would be our last Holy Father, Pope Pius XII:
“I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a Divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul…I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the true Faith of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past…A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’”
I am coming to the conclusion that there may yet be almost no Catholics left in the world.
Through correspondence, social media, and, of course, conversations with people in person, it has become more and more evident that there is some one thing that prevents me from saying, ‘Yea, he’s a fellow Catholic.” I say this with the utmost caution and reluctance, but it is something I must say, because it weighs heavily on my heart and conscience. That one thing is pride.
Usually, personal, actual sin does not cut us off from the Body of Christ, unless that sin destroys the bond of faith or of charity, that is, if one is a heretic or schismatic. Those who belong to the Novus Ordo sect are not in the Catholic Church because they are heretics. Anyone who has a ninth-grade reading ability and who has read what the “popes” of the past sixty years have taught, would be able to see that. I am not overly concerned with them. The author over at NovusOrdoWatch.com has been doing a fine job for the past decade showcasing the absurdity of the pretender popes and the Novus Ordo clown show. Those who are of good will who are attached to that sect simply do not know their faith, just as I did not know my faith when I converted to that sect from being a heathen.
I am not now so much even concerned with Sedevacantists. The mission of CatholicEclipsed is to expose the agents of darkness eclipsing Catholicism. Through the work done by Sedevacantist apologists (like Mario Derksen, for instance, author of NovusOrdoWatch), a lot of the dark agency that has been eclipsing the Catholic Faith has been exposed by sound Church teachings. But there is still darkness which covers up what it really means to be Catholic. I have written time and again about this proclivity of Sedevacantists to override papal law, divine law, and usurp the powers and prerogatives of the Church in the name of necessity. They invoke legal principles in canon law to construct a basis for their sacramental operation, which is really nothing more than a chain of retail businesses selling sacraments. The CMRI, SSPV, SGG, MHT are the main merchants in the Sedevacantist enterprise. I leave those out of my consideration at present.
So, who do I have in mind? I am speaking of Pray-at-Home “Catholics” who, time and again have demonstrated a marked disregard for the Roman Pontiffs. There are those who do not believe Pius XII was even the pope. I will not discuss those people. But there is a fringe of Pray-at-Homers I am discovering who have so little regard for the regency and primacy of the See of Peter, that they actually publicly call into question the faith of the Roman Pontiffs!
In a Twitter battle, I found myself having to defend the use of nude figurative art in Churches. The issue revolved around the so-called decadence of the Church around the time of the Council of Trent. This criticism was not unfounded, insofar as even the Council Fathers thought it prudent to say a word about keeping artwork lust-free, and so forth. I do not contend against the notion that there may have been some slippage here and there in the freedom artists had with the depiction of the human body in sacred places. Perhaps there were some instances where more modesty was demanded. I concede that point. But I emphatically do not concede what my interlocutor said next:
“The pagan and nude artwork was never removed or whitewashed by any pope, as they remain to this day. Is that indicative of fervent faith? By their fruits you shall know them. Ezekiel 8 shows the anger and judgement of God when His temple is desecrated.”
Mind you, this was uttered in the public square (digital anyway), in front of potentially thousands of souls, and by someone who is a Pray-at-Homer. So, let’s get this straight, here is a “Catholic” who is saying out loud that the Roman Pontiffs who oversaw the artworks of the Renaissance, indeed personally commissioned said artworks, have “desecrated” the Temple of God, and that the faith of these same Roman Pontiffs is subsequently questionable.
We already saw how earlier this week I had to contend against those Pray-at-Homers who had so little love of the papacy and of the Holy Father, Pius XII, as to believe that he could crown a demon as Queen of the world. Today I have to do the same, and for the same reason, because ultimately there is a fringe who do not really believe in the papacy.
I will not reproduce the quotes of Church teaching which state our utter subjection of will and intellect to papal teaching and law. A Catholic simply knows that his Holy Father knows best. A Catholic prays for the pope, pays him homage and reverence, salutes him, kneels down at his feet and kisses his ring, assents to his teachings, and is joyfully directed by his laws. A Catholic is a sheep, and the pope his shepherd. A Catholic follows him wherever he goes—where else shall the sheep go, the shepherd hath words of eternal life. And if a pope commissions artwork for a holy place with nudes in it, and approves it after completion, the sheep bleat their enthusiasm (even if a little prudish in their own way, and wouldn’t prefer such artwork), and accept that Rome has decided it should be so, which is a sufficient and necessary condition for sheep approval and assent.
I say that is what a Catholic would do, but, as is evident in the case above, that is not what some Pray-at-Homers do. Rather, they take it upon themselves to pass judgment on the Roman Pontiffs, to call into question the aesthetic and religious decisions of past popes, as if theirs could be a detriment to the faith—or worse, as was actually stated above, a “desecration”! These people assent to the teachings and laws of the Roman Pontiffs, but they hold something back, a portion of their mind and wills they think is their own, as if the popes did not exercise their authority over all of a Catholic’s person. Some take issue with a popes financial dealings; another takes issue with a particular devotion; and yet others disparage the reputation of the Roman Pontiffs on account of aesthetics and propriety in art. But the principle which creates schism between these people and real Catholics is what unites each of them in their own groups, that is pride, which St. Thomas defines as the desire to be greater than what one is, which ultimately results in either heresy or schism, and in this case, the latter:
“Accordingly schismatics properly so called are those who, willfully and intentionally separate themselves from the unity of the Church; for this is the chief unity, and the particular unity of several individuals among themselves is subordinate to the unity of the Church, even as the mutual adaptation of each member of a natural body is subordinate to the unity of the whole body. Now the unity of the Church consists in two things; namely, in the mutual connection or communion of the members of the Church, and again in the subordination of all the members of the Church to the one head, according to Colossians 2:18-19: “Puffed up by the sense of his flesh, and not holding the Head, from which the whole body, by joints and bands, being supplied with nourishment and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God.” Now this Head is Christ Himself, Whose vicegerent in the Church is the Sovereign Pontiff. Wherefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy,” (ST 2:2. 39.1).
In my previous post, and in this one, I only wish to stress that the supremacy of the Vicegerent (awesome title) over us is valid and real and a necessary condition to be called Catholic. This subordination of mind to the will of the Roman Pontiffs is not a trifling thing, one which may be undone or set aside in cases where one has conducted amateurish research online or read some books of history. What I have witnessed recently, and it saddens me deeply, is that would-be fellow Catholics who pray at home refuse to submit to the Roman Pontiffs, because of an inflated (“puffed up by the sense of the flesh”) sense of self-dependency in formulating their own notions as to how things ought to be, be it in devotion or art, which allows them to say such things as:
“The pagan classics, nude artwork in Catholic churches, pagan carvings on the doors of St Peters, the Renaissance itself, are not the cause but the visible symptom of the loss of faith, the seeds of which were sown hundreds of years prior to the Renaissance.”
I guess for some, St. Bernard’s words fall on deaf ears and before blind eyes: “It is fitting that every danger and scandal of the kingdom of God be referred to your Apostolate and especially these which touch upon the faith. For I regard it worthy that there, above all, dangers to the faith are mended, where one cannot think the faith is lacking. For to what other See was it ever said: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith not fail?’” (Epist. 190 Ad Innocentium, Emphasis added).
I do not let my own moral or aesthetic preferences determine my judgments about our holy religion. As Chesterton put it, speaking of the two greatest poets in English:
“A correspondent has written to me asking me what I meant by saying that Shakespeare was a Catholic and Milton a Protestant. That Milton was a Protestant, I suppose, he will not dispute…..But the point about the religion of Shakespeare is certainly less obvious, though I think not less true….These impressions are hard to explain….But here, at least, is one way of putting the differences between the religions of Shakespeare and Milton. Milton is possessed with what is, I suppose, the first and finest ideas of Protestantism—the idea of the individual soul actually testing and tasting all the truth there is, and calling that truth which it has not tested and tasted truth of a less valuable and vivid kind. But Shakespeare is possessed through and through with the feeling which is the first and finest idea of Catholicism that the truth exists whether we like it or not, and that it is for us to accommodate ourselves to it….But I really do not know how this indescribable matter can be better described than by simply saying this; that Milton’s religion was Milton’s religion, and that Shakespeare’s religion was not Shakespeare’s,” (as quoted from The Quest for Shakespeare, Joseph Pearce).
I find myself in the ironic position of defending Roman Pontiffs against prudish persons who think nudes a desecration of holy places. You see, this controversy is very personal to me, but not in the way you might think. I defend the Renaissance popes, not because I like figurative art. I don’t. I have struggled with art depicting the beautiful form of the female body, and so I have always kept a safe distance from viewing such artwork, classical or modern, lest it be a near occasion for sin. As returning readers of CatholicEclipsed may know, I am also a painter—I won’t say an artist, I haven’t earned that title yet. I paint landscapes, and you can view my work here, if you’d like. What you all do not know is that, I paint landscapes almost entirely because I am too much a Puritan like Milton. I couldn’t bear the temptation of staring at a naked beautiful woman modeling for a painting. I don’t know how Michelangelo or Titian did it. But, like Shakespeare, I do not let my own private opinions about such things determine how I am to accommodate myself to what the Church has determined as good. Through grace and a filial devotion to the Roman Pontiffs of the Renaissance (as in all periods) you would see me hung, drawn and quartered before I spoke out against the Vicegerent of God. If we are to call ourselves Catholic, it is high time we stop disagreeing with the Popes of the past: otherwise, we might just as well call ourselves Protestants.
Guam is a dot of an island in the Pacific Ocean, about a mile across and thirty miles long, and over a thousand miles from any other landmass. I was flown off the aircraft carrier during deployment, just as we were passing by Guam on our way over to the Gulf. (I say passing by, but in reality I had to take a flight in a mail plane for two hours to reach the island.) When I landed, I distinctly remember the smell. It was not unpleasant, but the air was saturated with moisture. It wasn’t so much humid as wet. I felt like a voyager in a distant land, because that is exactly what I was. And what would have been perhaps a crushing reality for many was nothing more than a merry adventure for me, not because I was some ascetic saintly soul detached from life and longing for death and the unification with the Divine. On the contrary, I was rather carnal and worldly, though pious in my own Novus Ordo way. My wife had just given birth to our first born. We were just beginning our life together. But, Providence saw fit that I be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.
Between hospital visits, the hours past by on the island very slowly. I did not feel very adventurous, though I knew I was on an adventure—as we all are, whether we’re on a pinprick island in the infinite blue, or we are an invalid in an apartment building in a podunk town. I did manage to venture out on Sunday, however, because I was not going to miss mass. I remember walking along the road, taking in the tropical morning of the island, the heat and moisture and traffic. As I made my way into the church, I recall a very ugly Novus Ordo sanctuary, in the modernist all-wooden style and architecture but dramatical contrasted by brilliant bouquets of flowers and ribbons and such things over in the corner, where a handful of Guam native women were rolling up little strips of paper and placing them at the feet of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fátima.
A brief snapshot into the history books shows us the following: “On May 13, 1951, the statue arrived at Fatima at the close of the Holy Year designated by Pope Pius XII. Over a million people were there for this solemn occasion. During his radio address, His Holiness remarked: ‘In 1946, I crowned Our Lady of Fatima as Queen of the World and the following year, through the Pilgrim Virgin, She set forth as though to claim Her dominion, and the favors She performs along the way are such that we can hardly believe what we are seeing with our eyes,’” (as quoted on CorpusChristiPhx.org, emphasis added).
Could this have been a coincidence? Sure it could have been. I am inclined to believe that it was much more than that, not because Guam is so small, the world so large, and the statue of my Lady and I happened to be in the same dinky little church at precisely the same time (the statue would be removed by a handful of men in suits and white gloves just following the church service (I won’t call it a mass!). I believe it so because, after the encounter with the statue, my cares and worries for what would become of my life dissolved like a Sweet ’N Low packet in ice tea. The Pilgrim Virgin was claiming her dominion even over that little island in the ocean, even over that little, young man in the wooden pew with kidney disease. That is where my devotion to Our Lady of Fátima really began.
There has been so much controversy as of late about Our Lady of Fátimaon the internet. There is a growing faction among those who are Catholic enough not to solicit sacraments from schismatics, but who insist that the apparitions and private revelations and even the Miracle of the Sun are all a hoax and totally fabricated. And you know what? I am okay with that, because the Church is okay with that, if there is sufficient reason to believe so, and if the belief is consequently prudent to hold. I confess I have not studied the questions raised against the historical record and discrepancies found therein. It is a labyrinthine labor I at present would rather not dive into. There is most probably something to be said for irregular documentation, even fabrication of evidence and such nefarious happenings surrounding the apparition of Our Lady of Fátima, the so-called secrets of the children seers, and other questionable events, and persons. Such was the case at Lourdes and La Salette, as well, and most probably by the same actors, the Freemasons—you know, the ones who infiltrated the Church to the highest offices, from the cardinalate even to the papacy? If Freemasons could pollute the wells of doctrine at the Second Vatican Council, of course they would try to pollute the most popular private devotion of the twentieth century—if not in the history of the Church!
But take or leave Our Lady of Fátima, I don’t care. What I do care about, and this is the point of the article, is that, when the Church lends credibility to an apparition, then, yes, one is permitted even then to dismiss it; but one is never permitted to despise it. And that is precisely what is going on now on the internet, and that is the controversy I wish to end here and now.
As Teresa Benns wrote recently: “Where the Church has thus given Her approval to any particular private revelation, it is no longer permitted to ridicule or to despise it. Fas non est, says Card. Franzelin, tales revelationes contemnere (de div. trad. 22). To do so were to fail in the respect due to the Church. But not to believe the revelation is no sin against the obedience we owe the Church. For the Church, by her approval or quasi-approval of these revelations, has no intention of obliging the faithful to believe them,” (The Casuist, as quoted on BetrayedCatholics).
It is simply unlawful and impious to contemn or despise so great a revelation as Our Lady of Fátima. To do so marks a perversion to Christian unity and of charity toward those who hold such pious beliefs. I am not saying one is not able to investigate the historical record and try it. That is a holy practice, because the object is truth, and seeking the truth in the highest things is always meritorious. But there must be a place from which we launch such an investigation, and there must be boundary lines which we are in principle unable to cross without committing sin and public scandal.
I believe that the pope is safe to follow, not only in matters of faith and morals, but in devotions, prayers, and in all things that touch upon our holy religion, which belief I learned from the Church:
“You will firmly abide by the true decision of the Holy Roman Church and to this Holy See, which does not permit errors,” (Bull Cum Postquam;Denz. 740b, as quoted from NovusOrdoWatch, emphasis added).
Did you catch that? In the Holy See, error is not permitted. Keep that in mind.
“Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, andaccept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees,” (Encyclical Inter Multiplices, nn. 1,7, quoted from NovusOrdoWatch, emphasis added).
So, in addition to the fact that the Holy See does not permit errors, we are obliged by obedience to submit to “whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.” That is another very important point to keep in mind. Next,
“Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church,” (Encyclical Quanta Cura, n. 5, quoted from NovusOrdoWatch, emphasis added).
So, the Holy See does not permit errors, and the teachings, determinations, and decrees from the Holy See should be submitted to in holy obedience, and not just in matters of dogmata, but also in the Church’s general good, her rights, and discipline, and not to do so is a sin.
Now I make a point which perhaps some may disagree with, but which may be argued for further in the comment box. I personally believe it is demonstrable, but I know that I am liable to err and am not infallible—like the Holy See I am trying to defend! That is, that Our Lady of Fátima has indeed received papal approval at the highest level, that of the Holy See, and so the devotion as such could never contain anything harmful to the faith. Teresa Benns made a similar point when she said, “Regarding the apparition itself, it seems clear that the Church found it worthy of belief and treated it as such. Several mentions of Fatima can be found in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis and this alone indicates the Church at least implicitly acknowledged the validity of the apparitions,” (from the article “Final conclusions regarding the Fatima apparitions controversy,” which I encourage you to read!)
The Acta Apostolicae Sedis is simply a gazette of the Holy See, which periodically would come out (it is only a shell today, though it looks the same as in the days when the Catholic Church existed in its hierarchical structures). I reproduce below the two entries into the AAS to which Benns refers.
“This holy and most urgent intention should have the principal place in the prayers of each priest. Those who have been called to the sacred orders of the contemplative life are to pray for this special intention, and the faithful, when reciting the rosary so highly commended by the Blessed Virgin at Fatima, should entreat this same Virgin to intercede in favor of this divine vocation in order that the missions will flourish,” (Saeculo Exeunte Octavo, Encyclical of Pius XII emphasis added).
“Without doubt God will shower upon the noble nation of Portugal the liberality of His blessings as he did at its birth. And the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary, who is venerated at Fatima and is the same great Mother of God who obtained a great victory at Lepanto…It is well known that we have taken advantage of every opportunity – through personal audiences and radio broadcasts – to exhort Our children in Christ to a strong and tender love, as becomes children, for Our most gracious and exalted Mother. On this point it is particularly fitting to call to mind the radio message which We addressed to the people of Portugal, when the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary which is venerated at Fatima was being crowned with a golden diadem.We Ourselves called this the heralding of the ‘sovereignty’ of Mary,” (Ad Caeli Reginam, Encyclical of Pius XII, emphasis added.)
These are the endorsements of the Holy See of Our Lady of Fátima. According to what has been stated, the Holy See does not permit error. Therefore, there is no error in a devotion to Our Lady of Fátima. That is simple Catholic logic I hope everyone can follow.
It is true I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Fátima. I love her, because she has loved me first, and called my family and me out of the darkness of the false church and into her domain of heavenly grace which she spreads as like a mantle of maternal care over the entire earth—even over the oceans. But, do you know what? As much love and filial devotion as I have toward the Mother of God as she has made herself known in the apparitions at Fátima, I have a greater love and veneration for the Holy See, by which I even know that such an apparition is worthy of belief. Claims made of Marian apparitions are as numerous as the uncharted islands in the Pacific, and without the Holy See, one is liable to get marooned on one. But what is perhaps more perilous to the soul, is the insolent opposition to those apparitions the Holy See has approved; because, …if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God.
A very well-informed and good-willed Catholic just trying to get to the grave with his soul intact no doubt, emailed me with some arguably well-founded criticisms regarding the things I have published here on CatholicEclipsed; the most important perhaps being an accusation of hypocrisy. I reproduce his remarks in pertinent part now:
“You and others publish material regarding religion. Such publications require jurisdiction and are also in violation of Church law (C. 1385). Nevertheless, you seem to hold yourselves dispensed from these requirements while at the same time you hold others strictly to them, e.g., the papal mandate. It comes across as being duplicitous and a classic case of “laws are for thee, not for me.” This strikes me as a contradiction, which if you could clarify, I would appreciate.”
The cited law here runs:
Canon 1385: On the Previous Censorship of Books
§ 1. Unless ecclesiastical censorship has preceded, there shall not be published, even by laity:
1.° Books of sacred Scripture or annotations on them or commentaries;
2.° Books that look to divine Scriptures, sacred theology, ecclesiastical history, canon law, natural theology, and ethics and other religious and moral disciplines of this sort; books and booklets of prayers, devotions, and teaching or religious instruction on morals, ascetics, mysticism and other [topics] of this sort, even though they seem conducive to fostering piety; and generally those writings in which there is something of special import to religion and right living;
3.° Sacred images no matter how printed, whether they are published with prayers added or without them.
§ 2. Permission for publishing books and images mentioned in § 1 can be given by the Ordinary of the place of their author, or by the Ordinary of the place in which the books or images are going to be published, or by the Ordinary of the place in which they are printed, although if one of the Ordinaries denied permission, the author cannot petition another unless he makes him aware of the denial of permission from the other.
In a nutshell, the law forbids the publication of religious books or even images without the express permission of the local bishop. It would seem, therefore that I, the author of CatholicEclipsed, would stand guilty of violating this canon, because I have not received any such permission to publish articles and images and videos on my blog. I say would seem, because the word bookis mentioned in this canon alone five times! Could it be that this particular canon is confining itself to the printing of books, and not to any publication?
Hold that thought for a moment, first, is it even lawful for a layman to interpret privately the law himself? Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics—which has been recently renovated (the website, not the woman) and looking spiffy—wrote me the other day with this insight:
Rev. Matthew Ramstein, S.T. Mag, J.U.D., OFM (“A Manual of Canon Law,” 1947, above) states: “In the absence of an authentic declaration concerning the meaning of the law, ANYONE may interpret the law for himself, provided he observe the rules set down by the lawgiver in Canons 18-21.” This is confirmed by the following canonists. Speaking of Pope Benedict XV’s Motu Proprio promulgating Canon Law, Monsignor Amleto Cicognani writes: “There is no prohibition in the Motu-proprio of private interpretation, which may be doctrinal or usual…It is said to be doctrinal when it is given by those skilled in canon law; customary (also called usual) when it is derived from unwritten practice, that is custom…General rules for the right interpretation of the Code are given in Canons 17 ff, besides those of Canons 5 and 6, (“Canon Law,” 1935, pgs. 434, 598-9). As Rev. Nicholas Neuberger explains in his dissertation, “Canon 6,” (Catholic University of America, 1927), “Of old the jurists distinguished between a mere declaration of and the interpretation of the law. The declaration today is called comprehensive interpretation. Its scope is not to change the law but determines the sense of the law comprehended therein from the beginning. Therefore, it adds or subtracts nothing from the original meaning…The comprehensive interpretation adds nothing anew but explains more and more the significance attached to the words …Ordinarily, every private individual may interpret laws according to the rules of jurisprudence, unless a special prohibition has been made…The code, in Canon 6 §2 bids us have recourse to the doctrine of the approved authors. The authentic, however, always remains the guide for the doctrinal.”
For those interested in reading the law in English, here is a link to an online version of the 1917 or Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law , which I find most convenient when I am too lazy to retrieve my hardcopy from the schoolroom.
Now we know that in the absence of an authoritative interpretation of the law, a private person—even a layman—may interpret the law himself, if the rules of interpretation are followed. One such rule we ought to have recourse to when interpreting the law is the following:
Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood according to the meaning of their own words considered in their text and context; as for those things that remain unclear or in doubt, reference should be made to parallel provisions in the Code, if there are any, to the purposes and circumstances of the law and to the mind of the legislator.
Here’s another law which is important for interpreting:
Laws that establish a penalty, or that restrict the free exercise of a right, or that contain an exception to the law, are subject to strict interpretation.
My critic interpreted Canon 1385 incorrectly, because CatholicEclipsed does not print books. Rather it is the equivalent to an online newspaper column. The wording is precise and emphatic: the canon concerns itself with the printing of books and not with the publication of newspaper articles. Canon 19 tells us, further, that, because Canon 1385 restricts the free exercise of a right (printing books), the canon is subject to strict interpretation.
And speaking of newspaper articles, it is interesting to note that the very next canon does concern itself with newspaper articles. What does it say?
§ 2. Neither shall laity, unless persuaded by just and reasonable cause approved by the local Ordinary, write for newspapers, pamphlets, or periodical literature that is accustomed to attacking the Catholic religion or good morals.
The wording of Canon 1386 is negative, and it would seem to be restrictive of the free exercise of a right, but the meaning contained in the canon, that is, that one may write for an anti-Catholic publication provided there is just and reasonable cause, is not restrictive but permissive, which suggests that it should be interpreted broadly instead of strictly.
So, here we have a canon which permits a Catholic to write for an anti-Catholic publication, provided it is done for a just and reasonable cause, but my critic believes that I cannot write for a Catholic publication at all, even if I do have a just and reasonable cause—the fact that I cannot solicit approval from my local ordinary being a moot point, because there is no local ordinary. So, do I have a just and reasonable cause to write about religion? What does the Church teach regarding this?
No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not, indeed, the office of the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. “All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Saviour, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith.” Let each one, therefore, bear in mind that he both can and should, so far as may be, preach the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and by open and constant profession of the obligations it imposes. In respect, consequently, to the duties that bind us to God and the Church, it should be borne earnestly in mind that in propagating Christian truth and warding off errors the zeal of the laity should, as far as possible, be brought actively into play, (Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, 16).
There was much more I wanted to include from Pope Leo XIII’s beautiful encyclical letter. I encourage you all to read more here. All I am is a small voice crying out in the wilderness, echoing my masters in the faith. Our Holy Father encourages those with gifts of mind to communicate the truths of the faith they have received. I don’t know what gifts of mind I may possess, being myself the poorest judge of myself, but I can say objectively that I have special training in the United States Navy as a Mass Communication Specialist. My skill sets are aptly fitted to communicating the Catholic Faith, which (I hope) is evidenced by my website design and delivery of content. As for the task of warding off errors, having received degrees in philosophy—the science, really, of identifying errors, I am again apparently aptly fitted to the task. As for zeal for the Catholic Faith, I was blessed from my baptism to be animated by an enthusiasm and passionate love of the Faith many may vouch for—just ask my former shipmates, who I would oftentimes entertain by preaching about morals during a Cleaning Stations session or sermonize on the Smoke Deck in the evenings.
But even before the university and the Navy, I became a Catholic, not because of any Novus Ordo pastor, but because of a 300 pound, dead journalist, G.K. Chesterton. Reading his books, many of which were compilations of the 13,000 articles he wrote for almost forty years for Illustrated London News and Daily News, in weekly newspaper columns, I became convinced and was gifted with understanding and faith that the Catholic religion was true, and nothing else was. Chesterton brought actively into play his powers for writing simply but profoundly, which spoke to the masses of men without a university education. He was for everyman, because he was a man of genius. I am rather a simpleton by comparison, but I aspire to be like Chesterton in what he was able to do for whole generations of Catholics, in his own day and afterward: to make the Faith real and vivid to the imagination as well as to the intellect, to infuse into people’s souls a Christian humor that giggles as well as laments, to break through the barriers of ignorance and fear with a bulldozer or baseball bat (whatever works), and to free my fellow sheep from the inevitable death that awaits them following a wolf in a sheep or shepherd’s cloth.
Hopefully this will silence my well-intentioned critic who says I ought not to be running a Catholic website and writing articles, so I can get back to my just and reasonable cause of defending the truth of the Faith against the heathen, heretic, schismatic and apostate. The Apocalypse sure does keep one busy, since it seems a Catholic does have–under certain conditions–freedom of the press!
Someone recently shared a video with me about flat earth, which I thought was entertaining and interesting and even convincing, at least when I watched it alone. But after discussing it over with my wife, who watched it herself alone, I came to realize a general truth now so evident and rampant among even those who are disposed to use their minds.
The film begins with a segment on what may be called the herd instinct. We as a species, as the film shows, tend toward conformity as a matter of nature. We are susceptible to conditioning by our neighbors and society as a whole and so, as the argument goes, we must be on our guard from such mindless conformity. The film does a grand job of establishing a new group into which we ourselves would like to belong: the undeceived.
After first establishing the principle of human nature to be avoided, the narrator takes us on a little journey through some deceptions that have been foisted upon us for years, like NASA’s circus that is the Apollo missions and space program in general, or the 911 atrocities committed against the American people by the government or other nefarious actors.
When we finally get to view the evidence, we are prepped to be—paradoxically—as credulous to believe almost anything the narrator says, because he has positioned himself to be like that philosopher who plunges down into the darkness of Plato’s allegorical cave to liberate us stupid and unsuspecting intellectual slaves from our delusions. The rhetorical power of such a move cannot be overstated. But the narrator, as he informs us, is a lawyer, and so rhetorical devices are simply the tools of his trade.
I do not challenge any evidence the video presents in favor of a flat earth. The science involved is very interesting, and I will need time to understand it before being able to comment. I will say, however, this much. Almost all the evidence the narrator presents is experiments with light, be it reflected or laser, by casting beams over the water or other flat surfaces, in order to observe any obstruction caused by the supposed curvature of the earth. I found these experiments very convincing, because it seemed to prove that the supposed horizon didn’t exist.
So, what’s my hesitation, then? For starters, I must trust that these scientific experiments conducted by a layman (a lawyer, not a scientist) were in keeping with the standard practices of empirical and experimental scientific method. Perhaps they were, perhaps not. The point I only wish to make is that we the audience must just accept and believe this guy on no grounds whatsoever. He’s just one guy among so many millions who has a camcorder and a laser pointer. But this seems to run counter to the habit of mind the narrator wishes us to have. From the first, the film insists that we be independent of mind, and then it presents us with a bunch of experiments we in principle should not believe: 1. Because they were conducted by a layman who has no specialized training in the sciences apart from an astronomy course taken in college; 2. Even granting their accuracy and strict adherence to scientific standards, the evidence is not peer-reviewed by other scientists, or even by amateur science enthusiasts; and 3. If, according to the argument presented at the beginning, we should not even believe the highly believable video and photographic evidence of NASA and man’s space exploration, why should we believe a private person’s home movies?
These thoughts and others were not the product of meditation but discussion with my wife and best friend. This past weekend, while shopping at Walmart (judge not lest ye be judged!), my wife mused: “It’s hard to have a socratic dialogue with yourself.” It is my opinion that this flat earth phenomenon has gained such traction because people no longer talk anymore. A socratic dialogue, more aptly called dialectic, or the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions, doesn’t really take place anymore. True, people chat on social media, but what is really required for a dialectic to happen is an in-person back and forth living conversation and investigation into truth claims—preferably over soda and pizza, like my wife and I did this weekend.
While dining together on our Saturday shopping date, we considered several aporia (internal contradictions to a theory) in the flat earth model which seemed impossible to our imaginations to solve. For instance, there’s the problem with the constellations being different in the northern hemisphere (forgive the assumption of “sphere” here) and the southern hemisphere—or southern quadrant if you prefer. The dome of the firmament should preclude such discrepancies, because the observational field of view would be available to all, if a plane were assumed. Then there’s the perplexing case of air travel. If, according to the flat earth model, there is no south pole, then travel between two points on the flat earth map would be a lot different than travel on a glob map. What is interesting to note, too, is that at least globe map travel can actually be verified through Google Earth imagery.
Now these may or may not be valid criticisms of the flat earth theory. There were others we discussed, but that is not the point of this post. What I do want to talk about is what my wife said, that it is hard to have a socratic dialogue with yourself. There are issues plaguing us today which far outweigh the theories of whether our world is flat or round, and which require a far weightier measure of dialectic. Such things as jurisdiction, epikeia, validity of holy orders, the history of the traditional movement and its actors, papal and canonical law, must be discussed and not merely read about and assented to or not. These issues have eternal consequences, and though God would not damn one who made a good faith error in judgment concerning them, that is no excuse not to investigate them. There’s a lot of special pleading going on today, mostly through feigned ignorance—which is not good faith.
I know there is no hope of having a good, old fashioned public debate with Sedevacantists. But there is hope yet that you could have a debate with your spouse, or children, or family relation, or close friend on the golf course. My wife and I argue like medieval monks sometimes, ready to cast kitchen utensils at each other over a dispute about etymology. But our marriage, and our minds, is better for it. Don’t agree to disagree. That is the death of the heart as well as the mind. It as soon makes the intellect atrophy as it does the affection we have for others, because it ultimately says that you don’t care what your neighbor thinks.
Flat earth theory is a fascinating scientific discussion to have, as is geocentrism, and I for one am excited to engage in the discussion. But let us not lose focus of other things of more grave importance to the destiny of our souls, and have discussion about those, too. Truth is not discovered in a vacuum. If you lived on a desert island from birth, you would literally be as dumb and imbecilic as a crocodile. You wouldn’t be able to formulate a single human thought, without having interacted with other thinking humans. This is the extreme case, but the principle is valid even if not as dramatic, in the case of the individual who doesn’t talk with anyone about what he learns or thinks or believes. Too many of us live on desert islands without anyone to talk to. But even more of us live in our own heads and choose not to talk to anyone. If we watch videos like the flat earth video I received, and just take it in without talking about it with someone else, we are very much liable to believe it. If we read a book about how bishops in the past were able to consecrate other bishops without a papal mandate, and we don’t talk with anyone about it, we are very much liable to believe it.
And he that spoke with me, had a measure of a reed of gold, to measure the city and the gates thereof, and the wall.
Oftentimes when I am busy on Twitter trying to disabuse people of the notion that Sedevacantist clergy are Catholic, I feel like St. Paul when he spoke to the people in the Areopagus, saying, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.” With super-credulity, ready to believe anything their clergy tell them, Sedevacantists try to contain and save the Church by merely human means in human constructions. I hear St. Paul’s admonition of this superstitious people:
God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.
It is no big surprise that Sedevacantists are superstitious, because where there is ignorance, superstition is not long to follow. We must all of us have something in our heads to live by. You can call it an operating system if you want, like a computer, which has its own internal checks, rules, or algorithms which inform and determine actions to be taken. Though everyone has an OS, not every OS is good.
Some operating systems have algorithms like:
If it feels good, do it.
Pain is bad. Pleasure is good. Avoid pain. Seek pleasure.
This is the OS of the typical heathen. Thank goodness Sedevacantists are not so depraved. But Sedevacantists do have their own OS, which is very incompatible with a Catholic OS. The problem lies, not in what things they call facts but in what teachings they accept, and what authorities they follow. If I may stretch the analogy a bit further, I would compare a Sedevacantist OS to a PC, whereas a Catholic OS is like a Mac.
PCs are made to be augmented, changed, upgraded, and in anyway modified. That is their charm. Their computer systems are very much democratic. Macs, on the other hand, are closed and not subject to user modification. Macs are monarchical. The programmers on their throne (somewhere in Silicon Valley) have decreed that Thou Shalt Not modify the computer operating system algorithms—under pain of self-destruction. That is their charm. Why? Because the very charm of the PC makes it very much susceptible to malfunction, being a kind of Frankenstein monster of computing, but the Mac, having an inviolate operating system, is not liable to such malfunction, because it has unity, or wholeness. The PC is a pack of parts, an amalgamation of oftentimes conflicting rules and checks, which ultimately lead to its breakdown. The Mac is simple and united in its rules, which harmonize with each other, because they are the product of a single intellect and will.
Typical Sedevacantist Bishop
Thus, it is no wonder that the CMRI doesn’t agree with the SSPV which doesn’t agree with MHT seminary which doesn’t agree with SGG which doesn’t agree with the CMRI, because each represents a different (and conflicting) set of algorithms which inform its groups’ actions. There is no unitas because there is no single entity of programmers writing the rules. And that is a telltale sign (or mark) that these Sedevacantist groups are not Catholic. So, playing around with this analogy further, how about we spell out what a Catholic OS would look like, what the algorithms would be?
There are certain rules we must accept if we are to have a working machine in our heads to direct our action; otherwise, we will be in conflict with ourselves and wonder why we are still awake at two in the morning scrolling and watching cat videos. So, if you hate watching cat videos in the middle of the night, keep reading.
The Church has already provided us with the means to build a Catholic OS, the catechism. True, there are other rules, like canon law, but these were not written for mere laymen—which I assume you are, my gentle reader. There are almost as many catechisms as there are cultures of Catholics, and this is only right and good. Down through the ages, bishops and councils have commissioned new catechisms to be written for their people, which present a body of essential Church teachings that are easily learned and remembered. I am American, and so I defer to the Baltimore Catechism—the original 1891 version—as my go-to for writing my Catholic OS. We are our own programmers, but we use software to build our Catholic OS. If we use non-Catholic software, our OS will be non-Catholic.
In addition to whatever approved catechism you use, there are some additional rules which may serve well to write your Catholic OS. Computer software follows an internal logic, and so must we.
(Forewarning: the following may be dry to some readers. I’d recommend you take a break and watch before proceeding to the next section.)
Axiom: An assumed and self-evidently true proposition.
Example: The whole is greater than its part.
Postulate: An assumed fact as a basis of a proof.
Example: There exists a rock. There exist rock fragments.
Proof: An inferential argument showing that the stated assumptions logically guarantee the conclusion, based upon axioms and postulates.
Example: A whole is greater than a part (axiom), and there exists a rock, which is a whole (postulate), and there also exist fragments of that same rock, which are parts (postulate). Therefore, the rock is greater than any of its fragments, because the whole is greater than any of its parts.
Theorem: a statement that has been proved using inference rules of a deductive system to establish that the theorem is a logical consequence of the axioms, and postulates.
Example: The rock is greater than its fragments.
What is exciting, if you allow the logic to penetrate your soul, is that the theorem is all postulate terms. Did you notice? The raison d’être of the statement has been infused into the factual terms by a kind of Angelic alchemy, whereby the mere fact now holds an intelligent, logical necessity. Dry, yes, but like Chardonnay, not sand.
So, if we understand that our Baltimore Catechism provides us with the requisite axioms, then thinking through the difficulties of the present Apocalypse will be much easier—and will actually be Catholic. But I must make a caveat. Though the teachings presented and numbered for our learning convenience and recall in the BC is easy enough to comprehend, and so our axioms are easily gathered, gathering postulates can be problematic and difficult. Oftentimes what we are dealing with in terms of gathering postulates is historical facts, not so much present facts. This is so because Apostolicity involves lineage, which is a historical fact. This perhaps accounts for most of the disagreements, because what often happens (in Twitter debates) is that there is a dispute of the fact. To solve this difficulty, what must happen is to show through a proof that a postulate of a historical fact is or is not according to an axiom. Put another way, if there is a disagreement about a postulate, then you must show how that postulate is impossible or necessary given a relevant axiom. I think an example is in order.
There is disagreement that Thuc fell from his office as archbishop the moment he signed the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Some say it was an act of public defection (which I do), but some say Thuc didn’t have the requisite knowledge to know that the documents were heretical, or that even the documents themselves were not overtly heretical but were interpreted as such by the antipopes that followed. So, there is a disagreement about a postulate of a historical fact.
The problems with this scenario are complex, and I do not wish to bore you with trying to spell out all the hidden assumptions to be found herein. But I will say that the fact of the V2 documents being heretical or not is not a historical fact, but an eternal fact which can be verified. These writings exist and can be plugged into our Catholic OS to determine our course of action regarding them. If we do that, then we can say whether Thuc was acting according to a Catholic OS, or something other than. That way we can prove a postulate of historical fact necessary or impossible based upon our catechetical axioms. Grab your wine glasses. Here we go!
Axiom (A1): The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible Head, (BC 489).
Axiom (A2): They who do not believe all that God has taught are the heretics and infidels, (BC 1169).
Postulate (PS1): There exists a document from the Second Vatican Council which states the following teaching about the Church: “This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure,” (Lumen Gentium, 76).
Proof (PR1): The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ (A1). But, according to (PS1), this Church only subsists in the Catholic Church. Parts of the the Church of Christ are outside the Catholic Church. But this is impossible according to (A1). Therefore, (PS1) is impossible, and is not the teaching of the Church but its contrary. That which is contrary to the teaching of the Church is heresy, according to (A2). Therefore, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy.
Theorem (T1): The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy.
Postulate (PS2): There existed a one, Ngô Đình Thục, who was a signatory to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, including Lumen Gentium.
Proof (PR2): Given that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are heresy (T1), and that Ngô Đình Thục was a signatory of the documents of the same (PS2), Ngô Đình Thục was a heretic, according to (A2), because he did not believe all that God has taught, but on the contrary believed the contrary.
Theorem (T2): Ngô Đình Thục was a heretic.
From here it is not difficult to see that anyone who traces his episcopal lineage back to Thuc is not Catholic, but derives his holy orders from a heretic. To maintain anything to the contrary is simply acting according to a non-Catholic OS. The Sedevacantists have their own OS, because they have tampered with the software, manipulating the axioms which inform the OS’s algorithms. Is it any wonder their systems crash so often? Is it any wonder Sedevacantists are often up late watching cat videos?
It will be noted that I have borrowed Euclidean concepts of geometry to help write our Catholic operating system. Geometry is a useful science. It helps with the building of architecture. The Church is an intelligible, spiritual architecture constructied out of living stones. Sedevacantists do not use the same measure as Catholics, which is why their church is so ugly and irregular. They do not even use the same measure among themselves. But God would have us know His Church by the rule and measure which He set and determined. Think of your catechism as that reed of gold the Angel used to measure the Church by, which St. John recorded in his Book of Revelation, his vision of the Apocalypse, his vision, that is, of our present day.