Home Alone Hobbits: A Refutation of Steve Speray’s Problems with being a Catholic during the Apocalypse

An Analogy and Apology

I begin this refutation of  “Where the Shepherds and Teachers Are—The Problem with the ‘Home-Alone’ Position—Part III” with an apology to Steve Speray. I am sorry that, in attempting to explain the circumstances at present affecting the Body of Christ, and the problems facing the Kingdom our Lord has established here on Earth, it is necessary to make an analogical appeal to the most popular literary achievement and subsequently most popular cinematic achievement ever, or one might just say generally, the most popular artistic achievement ever. I am speaking, of course, of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), and the film adaptations of Peter Jackson. As an aside, it might also be of interest that Amazon has just started to air what may turn out to be the greatest achievement in series-based cinema, called Rings of Power, the first two episodes of which blew my hair back, and made me ponder the mysteries and beauties of Middle-Earth and Tolkien lore for the rest of the evening, bathed as it was (fittingly) in hues of golden sunset signaling the coming ember days of autumn. Very Elvin. Very Catholic. 

And that is perhaps the beginning point of the analogy I wish to draw, between the LOTR and the crisis facing earth today. The parallels are so very near the case, that analogy almost breaks down, because there is no analogy between two things essentially the same. The only difference between the fictional epic and the story it tells and what is going on now in the world is that the one is fictional and the other is not. 

The LOTR is not a novel because nothing like it has ever been achieved. It is more like a novel-novel epic. But even the epics of old, The Aeneid, The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, etc. do not compare with it, either in literary scope, or world-creation and fandom. It is entirely different. The only thing that is comparable in literary achievement to the LOTR is the Bible, which comparison isn’t even fair, because the Bible was written by God and LOTR by man. 

But let me develop the analogy, with all apologies to Steve Speray. You see, Steve’s position is so very much on the wrong side of the story, that it really is embarrassing to have to point out the fact to him. The main LOTR story line is that there exists a Ring of Power which must be destroyed and cannot be wielded by anyone, be he wizard, elf, dwarf, or man—the only one who really can “wield” it is Tom Bombadil, but that is only because he is a prelapsarian Adam figure preserved from temptation to evil. As Jospeh Pearce, a renowned Tolkien scholar, puts it in a lecture series he has on the LOTR:

“Tolkien also describes his work as an allegory of “power usurped for domination” – a theme which is all the more important to examine in our modern world. Characters throughout The Lord of the Rings are tempted by power and the urge to seize it and wield it for personal gain and unlawful control. Throughout the journey of the Fellowship, various characters face the temptation of the One Ring – the wizard Gandalf, through whom the Ring would wield a terrible power; human man Boromir, who would use it to save his people; elf queen Galadriel, weary from fighting the “long defeat” against evil. Among the characters who do usurp power for domination are Saruman, the white wizard who succumbs to evil, whose machinations at Isengard only bring more evil into Middle-earth.”

As I have argued before on the CE Log, the powers of Holy Orders are real powers. If I could liken a priest to any Middle-Earth character, I would say a priest is most like a wizard—the most powerful characters in bodily form in Middle-Earth. Granted, then, that the sacramental and jurisdictional powers of Holy Orders are in fact powers, then it is evident that the Sedevacantist clergy go against the whole moral of the myth of LOTR

In this argument from analogy I must pause and answer an objection which some may be entertaining at this point. Is it even reasonable to make an analogy from fictional literature (however seemingly inspired it is, if not by God Almighty, then surely by the Muses), to answer what seems to be a question in theology? How can such this argument be taken seriously?

The answer to the objection is simple enough. This isn’t about theology. If it were, the Home Alone position would win every time, because the arguments for it in theology are so strong and self-evident as to be dogmatic. Canonical mission is so much required to exercise the powers one receives in Holy Orders that to deny this truth is heresy. Steve recognizes this as fact. He just makes a distinction between the dogma in ordinary times versus those in which we are find ourselves now, which, everyone agrees, are extraordinary times. As Steve writes:

“In ordinary times, the clergy are sent out by being placed in offices. This is how bishops attain full apostolic succession. The sedevacantist clergy are sent, but not in ordinary fashion, because of the extraordinary circumstances of the Church’s existence. All the normal rules and teachings from the theological manuals only address the Church within the framework of pre-apostasy times.”

So we agree on the theology. The only difference is, whereas Home Alone Catholics dare not disturb the law and usurp the powers which are not proper to them, Sedevacantists—going against the clear warnings of the LOTR—do not think twice to usurp those powers and try to use them to fight the evil in this world. You cannot fight evil with evil. You cannot create order and law by disorder and lawlessness. You cannot sanctify through profanation.

Refutation Proper

It is not my intent only to level Tolkien against Sedevacantists, as if that would satisfy any intellectually rigorous mind on the question of whether one should attend their chapels and missions for sacraments. As convincing as the analogy is in itself, it only goes so far, since it is an argument, not so much for the head as it is for the heart. Now I must descend into the realm of the intellect, and, if not point by point, at least head by head, demolish the absurd claims Steve Speray makes in defense of his indefensible position of usurpation of holy orders.  

THE NECESSITY OF HAVING SHEPHERDS AND TEACHERS

In this section, Steve claims that the Vatican Council (there is only one council of the Vatican, since the other council was illegitimately convoked by a false pope), teaches there must be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. Steve quotes:

“‘So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world [39], even as he had been sent by the Father [40], in like manner it was his will that in his Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.’”

This quote does not teach that there must be (necessary mode) pastors until the end of time. Rather, it teaches that God willed (volitive mode) that there should be pastors until the end of time. Steve argues from the volitive mode to a necessary mode, which is fallacious. The argument fails, because it assumes a quality in the conclusion (necessity) that is not in the premises. 

The arguments on the absolute necessity of the sacraments has already been disproved elsewhere on this website. But suffice it to say that the sacraments are not in themselves absolutely necessary for salvation, and to insist otherwise is actually a form of Feeneyism, which insists that at least one sacrament, baptism, is absolutely necessary as such for salvation, which the Church has taught time and again to be false and ridiculous. 

So Steve’s argument of the necessity of pastors in the Church does not stand from the words taken from the Vatican Council, because it was not written in the necessary mode, nor an argument for the necessity of the sacraments, because the sacraments are not absolutely necessary.   

WHERE THE SHEPHERDS AND TEACHERS MUST BE FOUND

In this section, Steve attempts to get around the necessity of canonical mission by broadening the definition of pastors (shepherds and teachers) claiming insofar as Sedevacantists administer sacraments, they are shepherds and teachers, or pastors. Steve concludes:

“Imagine if Christ sent out the Apostles only to be immediately imprisoned so the Church could never take off. What would be the point of sending them out? How would it benefit the Church? Vatican I is saying that shepherds and teachers will exist till the end of time precisely for the same reason Christ sent out the Apostles, to actually be effective and benefit the Church. Again, the gates of hell have prevailed if the Church is totally incapacitated.” 

The problem with this is that it rests on the refuted interpretation of the Vatican Council, and the absolute necessity of the sacraments. Further, it is ironic that Steve talks of the Apostles being sent out. That is precisely what Home Alone Catholics deny about the Sedevacantists. If they had been sent by God, then of course we must submit to them. Since they have come in their own name, we must refuse them submission, as they are anathema, as the Council of Trent teaches and commands: 

CANON VI.–If any one saith…that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema. 

Those who insist that we should go to ministers who have not been sent by the Church but are nevertheless lawful, run afoul of this canon, and are the true heretics. Which brings me to the next section in Speray’s tediously argued refutation. 

THE LAWFULNESS OF SEDEVACANTIST CLERGY

Steve opines:

“Because Christ wills that there shall be shepherds and teachers till the end of time, they must exist by divine right. No human ecclesiastical law can prevent this right. It is absolutely necessary that shepherds and teachers exist for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, which is why Jesus wills their existence.” 

Now, not only must pastors exist until the end of time, but they exist by divine right, which, Steve argues, no “ecclesiastical law” can prevent. Well, as it happens, canonical mission is a matter of divine law, not human, so that’s strike one. The second strike already happened when it was disproved that there must be pastors until the end of time. And Steve strikes out with the third error in asserting that Sedevacantists are pastors, because a pastor is one with holy orders who has been sent by canonical power, not any Joe off the street who happens to have stolen holy orders. 

Then Steve proposes the asinine argument that Sedevacantists, though they do not have ordinary mission, have extraordinary mission, because the Church supposedly needs them to. Steve opines:

“Our sedevacantist bishops and priests are not working in an extraordinary mission that works outside the framework of the Church where there exists a pope, his ordinary succession, and bishops with ordinary jurisdiction who are ready and willing to transmit valid orders. Rather, our clergy work in an extraordinary mission that continues the ordinary mission of the Church insofar as possible precisely because these things are wanting.”

But this runs counter, not only to the above canon, but also to what extraordinary mission is. As St. Francis de Sales teaches:

“THESE reasons are so strong that the most solid of your party have taken ground elsewhere than in the ordinary mission, and have said that they were sent extraordinarily by God because the ordinary mission had been ruined and abolished, with the true Church itself, under the tyranny of Antichrist. This is their most safe refuge, which, since it is common to all sorts of heretics, is worth attacking in good earnest and overthrowing completely. Let us then place our argument in order, to see if we can force this their last barricade. 

First, I say then that no one should allege an extraordinary mission unless he prove it by miracles: for, I pray you, where should we be if this pretext of extraordinary mission was to be accepted without proof? Would it not be a cloak for all sorts of reveries?” 

I encourage those who have not read the book of St. Francis de Sales to do so, especially the first part which deals directly with actual necessity of canonical mission. Here Steve, along with the Sedevacantists, is no different than any other heretic or sect trying to reform the Church. “Would it not be a cloak for all sorts of reveries?” St. Francis asks. Of course it is, and has been for decades now, from private conclaves, to a stupendous theory asserting the heresiarch of the Novus Ordo sect is in a sense pope, to the innumerable independent mass centers and missions out there dotting the landscape, which have no mission at all, either ordinary or extraordinary. They are simply so many usurpers feigning to be Catholic clergy.      

OTHER PROBLEMS WITH THE HOME-ALONE POSITION

In this section, Steve has positively lost, if not his mind altogether, at least his commonsense and Sensus Catholicus. He makes this preposterous statement right out of the gate:

“Staying at home is the antithesis of Catholicism. The Church is sent out. We are sent out after Mass, Ite Missa Est. We don’t stay at home, we go out. If every Catholic stays home, there are no Sacraments except baptism and marriage FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. That’s the foundation of Protestantism,” (emphasis original).

I could argue and write probably ten thousand words, and proffer authority after authority to dismantle this claim, but for the fact that it already dismantles itself by its own interior contradictions. Steve says that we are sent out of Church. We don’t stay at home. When I first read that sentence, I really did laugh out loud. I was thinking to myself, where exactly does Steve go after mass on a Sunday anyway, if he doesn’t go home? I don’t know where Steve goes, but when I was attending mass, I would go home. 

But this objection—if it can be construed as an objection and not the unhappy effect of a brain aneurysm—that “Staying at home is the antithesis of Catholics” needs further word. The reverse is so obviously the case, I do not know where to begin to set it aright, because I would need to talk about almost everything our Catholic faith touches on. There was a book written on the subject, The Christian Home: A Guide to Happiness in the Home,” by Celestinew Strub, which you can read in full here. Let me at least quote the concluding words of that holy instructional work on the Christian home by the author:

“Home, sweet home! What a multitude of tender thoughts and feelings are associated with the utterance of that sweet word! What a host of happy memories it conjures up of the innocent days of childhood, of the carefree days of youth, of the toilsome days of maturer age. The home is, indeed, the center of the sweetest and purest of all earthly joys, the starting point of all that is best and greatest in human history. Our Divine Savior Himself gave the home a special consecration by gracing the humble home of Nazareth with His presence during thirty long years; and He thereby gave us also the first and the supreme model of the truly Christian home. Yes, so sacred is the word home that it is commonly used to designate even that eternal dwelling place that God has prepared for those that love Him. 

Love your home, then, dear reader, and try to make it worthy of that sacred name. You can adopt no surer means than to establish religion in your home by enthroning the Sacred Heart as its King and by conforming it as closely as possible to the home of the Holy Family. If the father seeks to imitate St. Joseph; if the mother emulates the loving care of Mary; if the children are docile and diligent after the example of the Child Jesus; and if all seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice,–be it ever so humble, yours will be a happy home. What, then, if those foes of your salvation, the devil and the wicked world, storm and rage without,–you and yours will be safe within the walls of your Christian home. For, built as it is on the rock of Faith, we may truly say of it what Our Blessed Savior said of those who hear His words and do them: “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew; and they beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded on a rock” (Mt. 7, 25).”

One who would claim “Staying at home is the antithesis of Catholicism” either doesn’t have a brain in his skull or has a devil in his heart. I am sorry if I am coming down on Steve hard here, but the defense of the home today is so vastly more important than anything in existence, that I am inclined to say that the assault on the home is the one fight, the only fight, that ever there was, or will be. It is just as important as religion, even more so, because it is the necessary cause, the material cause of our religion, both in its origin and practice. In origin, God became Man, and dwelled, not among us, but among his mother and father, the Holy Family of the Holy Home. And Christ did so for thirty years, then went out according to Providence, and was treated as an enemy and murdered. That is what happens outside the home. And in practice, our religion is carried out on a daily basis in the home in earnest, and only superficially witnessed to in the world. We are not wholly ourselves at work or play. But at home, we relax into our personal habits and hobbies, and live out on a fundamental level who we are, and how we are with others, our children and spouse, and relatives. It is in the home that our Catholic faith is tested, because that is where we live for the greater majority, in childhood and then adulthood. 

I could write a whole post on just this idea alone, but since a greater man than I has already written the book on it, I recommend you read that instead. 

Steve goes on in this section of the problems with Home Alone to say that there is an implicit heretical denial of perpetual succession of the papacy, because the solution would require a Divine intervention. As I have argued before, that this idea of perpetuity denotes the essence of the papacy as it relates to the quality of continuity of time of the papacy itself, and does not imply the quality of extension of any given pope. Let me explain: I could say that there shall be a father as the head of a home in perpetuity. All this means is that, insofar as there is a home, there shall be a father which is its head, in order properly to be called a home. But the definition of the thing does not prove the existence of the thing, but only the essence of the thing. Steve thinks that because the Church teaches that the papacy will be perpetual, this means that there will always be popes. But this is utterly false even on the facts. There hasn’t been a pope in over a half a century! The principle of perpetual succession of the papacy simply means that there will always be the potential for there to be a pope, because the Church as such is a family with a Holy Father as its head.

The next so-called problem with Home Alone is, if not the stupidest objection is at least the most funny:

“Also, home-aloners admit that we are in the great apostasy. However, Holy Writ tells us that the great apostasy is part of the reign of Antichrist. The reign of Antichrist is short-lived due to Christ’s return. If we are indeed in the great apostasy, then we are not coming out of it. There’s not going to be anyone to fix the Church save Christ at His Return. Therefore, we can’t stay at home hoping that someone somewhere on earth can rectify this terrible crisis. We must do the best we can and the sedevacantist clergy did just that. They fulfilled having shepherds and teachers for the faithful for the whole Church as Christ willed.” 

So, let me get this straight, Steve, you admit that we may be in the Great Apostasy and the reign of the Antichrist, and that the Second Coming may in fact be nigh upon us, but (and this is where it gets really funny) “we can’t stay at home hoping that someone somewhere on earth can rectify this terrible crisis”? So, does that count Jesus Christ, coming to judge the living and the dead? He’s not one we can rely on? Or do you mean, because—technically—Christ is coming on clouds in glory, he is not actually on the earth or from the earth? You bet on your usurping Sede clergy to fix things up. My chips are on the one like the son of man who comes with the clouds of heaven

SURVIVAL MODE

In this section Steve makes the argument that one is able to break the law when required to do so for survival. If ever there was a time to break the law, say, of the First Commandment, then surely the martyrs should have been dispensed from following the law to save their own lives. But let’s set that aside, because Steve seems to be arguing from spiritual survival of the Church and members of the Church. So the Church (or those who claim to be members of it) is allowed to break God’s law and ignore canonical mission for the sake of survival. But this argument relies upon an assumption, namely, that without the sacraments, the Church has defected. But that is not how the Church has defined indefectibility:

BC 544:…when we say the Church is indefectible, we mean that it will last forever and be infallible forever; that it will always remain as Our Lord founded it and never change the doctrines He taught.

Indefectibility is tied up with doctrinal soundness, not the availability of the sacraments. And the only Church which has the mark of indefectibility, by which the Church as a whole is indefectible, is the Holy See of Rome. No other see was granted the promise of indefectibility. The indefectible teachings of the Roman Pontiffs is preserved and we are living testament to its efficacy, because we adhere to the BC, and to other approved pre-1958 catechisms and works of religious instruction which teach us what to believe and what to do to save our souls, or, how to spiritually survive. Nowhere in any pre-1958 Catholic book is it taught that we should seek sacraments from those without canonical appointment, as even Steve admits:

“The books don’t cover the extraordinary mission of sedevacantism, but only condemn, and rightly so, those who assume authority apart from the authority of the pope and the ordinary transmission of the faith.” 

Laura couldn’t stop laughing after she read this out loud while we were editing the article together, so I guess this quote takes the cake for the funniest thing Steve wrote, which we’ll let be an end-cap to this section.  

THE PRINCIPLES OF THE HOME-ALONE POSITION CONDEMNED 

In this section, Steve brings out what I suppose he thinks are the big guns against Home Alone, papal teachings against Old Catholics. But the quotations are actually very much applicable to Sedevacantists rather than Home Alone Catholics. Steve quotes Pius IX:

“’They assert the necessity of restoring a legitimate episcopacy in the person of their pseudo-bishop, who has entered not by the gate but from elsewhere like a thief or robber and calls the damnation of Christ upon his head.’”

That pretty much sums up Sedevacantists.  

The other papal quotes Steve uses speaks of the Church as carrying on the mission and mandate Christ received from the Father, to teach all nations the ways of God and to baptize them. This mission, Steve believes, is only carried out by the Sedevacantists. The only problem with this is that the Sedevacantists have no mission, as is evidenced by their lack of miracles. But the other objection is that, insofar as we who keep the faith at home, baptizing and educating our children by our approved catechism, and other books of instruction, and praying the mass, offering up spiritual acts of communion, and abiding by all the laws of the Church, not just those we think are convenient to keep, we who hold the Home Alone position, not Sedevacantists, are the ones who are carrying on the mission of the Savior.

The problem is, Steve has a problem with what it means to be a Catholic during the Apocalypse. He would rather bend and break Divine law, stretch and tear divine teaching of ecumenical councils, than live according to the standards that Catholics have always lived by and always will, no matter how tough it gets under the Antichrist. I really do pity Steve in his ignorance, for his lack of Catholic sense, and for his being too immersed in the false sect to see the forest for the trees. Perhaps he really should just stay home, and meditate and pray and be still, instead of running out his door in search of an adventure or whatever he is seeking outside his home.  

Hobbits as the Heroes of the Story

I began with an analogy taken from LOTR characters, and reasoned that the Sedevacantists are those who are tempted to usurp the power of holy orders just as characters in the book and movies were so tempted by the Ring of Power. The fictional characters who were so tempted either perished or were doomed to walk the roads of the world in utter destitution–Sharky as Saruman. So much for the antagonistic characters of the Sedevacantists in this epic we are living out. What about the heroes of this story? I would humbly submit to your judgment, that the heroes of this story are the Hobbits who only want to live in peace at home, who do not grasp for power beyond a good walking stick:

Roads go ever ever on

Under cloud and under star,

Yet feet that wandering have gone

Turn at last to home afar.

Eyes that fire and sword have seen

And horror in the halls of stone

Look at last on meadows green

And trees and hills they long have known.   

For most of us Home Alone Hobbits, we have journeyed far from home for long enough, thank you. We have seen the “horrors in the halls of stone” of the Novus Ordo, and have dwelt with the dragon long enough. Perhaps Steve and his fellow Sedevacantists find the home a cramped vision and space for the Church, that evangelization and carrying on the mission of Christ is better served on the roads of the world which go ever on and on, instead of at rest at a happy hearth and home. But that is not what I have found. I have been on journeys halfway across this wide world, and had my adventures on land and sea, and tried to evangelize those I met on the way, but to no avail. So now I focus on evangelizing my children, teaching them the ways of God from what I have received from Church teachings in the catechism. In this story, I am not the large-scale hero who goes out and conquers with power and might and skill, like Gandalf or Aragorn, nor yet even like Frodo, who bore the burden of the temptation to power unto the cracks of Mt. Doom, where the evil of the Ring finally destroyed itself through the temptation of Gollum. Of all the characters of Tolkien’s imagination, I’d say Home Alone Catholics are most like Hobbits, Samwise Gamgee in particular, who was simple, humble and home-loving, and who was, according to author himself, the true hero of the story.

Whether Heretics and Those Who Are Cut Off from the Church Can Confer Orders

By St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Question 38. Article 2:

Whether heretics and those who are cut off from the Church can confer Orders?

Objection 1: It would seem that heretics and those who are cut off from the Church cannot confer Orders. For to confer Orders is a greater thing than to loose or bind anyone. But a heretic cannot loose or bind. Neither therefore can he ordain.

Objection 2: Further, a priest that is separated from the Church can consecrate, because the character whence he derives this power remains in him indelibly. But a bishop receives no character when he is raised to the episcopate. Therefore he does not necessarily retain the episcopal power after his separation from the Church.

Objection 3: Further, in no community can one who is expelled therefrom dispose of the offices of the community. Now Orders are offices of the Church. Therefore one who is outside the Church cannot confer Orders.

Objection 4: Further, the sacraments derive their efficacy from Christ’s passion. Now a heretic is not united to Christ’s passion; neither by his own faith, since he is an unbeliever, nor by the faith of the Church, since he is severed from the Church. Therefore he cannot confer the sacrament of Orders.

Objection 5: Further, a blessing is necessary in the conferring of Orders. But a heretic cannot bless; in fact his blessing is turned into a curse, as appears from the authorities quoted in the text (Sent. iv, D, 25). Therefore he cannot ordain.

On the contrary, When a bishop who has fallen into heresy is reconciled he is not reconsecrated. Therefore he did not lose the power which he had of conferring Orders.

Further, the power to ordain is greater than the power of Orders. But the power of Orders is not forfeited on account of heresy and the like. Neither therefore is the power to ordain.

Further, as the one who baptizes exercises a merely outward ministry, so does one who ordains, while God works inwardly. But one who is cut off from the Church by no means loses the power to baptize. Neither therefore does he lose the power to ordain.

I answer that, on this question four opinions are mentioned in the text (Sent. iv, D, 25). For some said that heretics, so long as they are tolerated by the Church, retain the power to ordain, but not after they have been cut off from the Church; as neither do those who have been degraded and the like. This is the first opinion. Yet this is IMPOSSIBLE, because, happen what may, no power that is given with a consecration can be taken away so long as the thing itself remains, any more than the consecration itself can be annulled, for even an altar or chrism once consecrated remains consecrated for ever. Wherefore, since the episcopal power is conferred by consecration, it must needs endure for ever, however much a man may sin or be cut off from the Church. For this reason others said that those who are cut off from the Church after having episcopal power in the Church, retain the power to ordain and raise others, but that those who are raised by them have not this power. This is the fourth opinion. But this again is IMPOSSIBLE, for if those who were ordained in the Church retain the power they received, it is clear that by exercising their power they consecrate validly, and therefore they validly confer whatever power is given with that consecration, and thus those who receive ordination or promotion from them have the same power as they. Wherefore others said that even those who are cut off from the Church can confer Orders and the other sacraments, provided they observe the due form and intention, both as to the first effect, which is the conferring of the sacrament, and as to the ultimate effect which is the conferring of grace. This is the second opinion. But this again is inadmissible, since by the very fact that a person communicates in the sacraments with a heretic who is cut off from the Church, he sins, and thus approaches the sacrament insincerely and cannot obtain grace, except perhaps in Baptism in a case of necessity. Hence others say that they confer the sacraments validly, but do not confer grace with them, not that the sacraments are lacking in efficacy, but on account of the sins of those who receive the sacraments from such persons despite the prohibition of the Church. This is the third and the true opinion.

Reply to Objection 1: The effect of absolution is nothing else but the forgiveness of sins which results from grace, and consequently a heretic cannot absolve, as neither can he confer grace in the sacraments. Moreover in order to give absolution it is necessary to have jurisdiction, which one who is cut off from the Church has not.

Reply to Objection 2: When a man is raised to the episcopate he receives a power which he retains for ever. This, however, cannot be called a character, because a man is not thereby placed in direct relation to God, but to Christ’s mystical body. Nevertheless it remains indelibly even as the character, because it is given by consecration.

Reply to Objection 3: Those who are ordained by heretics, although they receive an Order, do not receive the exercise thereof, so as to minister lawfully in their Orders, for the very reason indicated in the Objection.

Reply to Objection 4: They are united to the passion of Christ by the faith of the Church, for although in themselves they are severed from it, they are united to it as regards the form of the Church which they observe.

Reply to Objection 5: This refers to the ultimate effect of the sacraments, as the third opinion maintains.

Comment

It is not my custom to post entire articles from other people–however eternally eminent in learning and holiness–for the reason that I think it is kind of cheap. If you wanted to know St. Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts on heretics and holy orders, then you would have consulted the Summa to find out what they were. Nevertheless, after Laura read to me some pertinent parts of Teresa Benns’s most recent article, “A summary of epikeia and intention in Traditionalist orders,” I thought that a complete quotation of an applicable article from Aquinas might settle some doubts and confusion on the point of heretics and holy orders.

This is not a new idea with Benns. She has promoted this invalidity theory for seemingly as long as BetrayedCatholics has been on the web. Old opinions die hard, and the potency of the evergreen opinion of Teresa resides in her complete incomprehension of the two-fold power of orders, the sacramental and jurisdictional powers. As the BC explains:

984. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.

If, as simple children of the faith, we read and understand our catechism, and assent to the teachings found in it, we will not be daunted or confused by the wild world around us which insists upon confusion as burglars insist upon the cover of night. And, if St. Thomas is a little difficult for you to read, no matter. The BC is here to help:

1004. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.

Thus, when the two-fold distinction of sacramental and jurisdictional power in holy orders is maintained, confusion is diffused, and we begin to see and think and believe as commonsensical Catholics again. Are the Thuc consecrations doubtful? Probably. Are they unlawful? Absolutely. Are all Sedevacantist sacraments invalid because a papal legislative act seemingly nullifies them in their sacramental and not just their jurisdictional power? Well, St. Thomas Aquinas, who was about as good with a pen as Luke Skywalker was with a lightsaber, said: “That’s IMPOSSIBLE!”

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On the Dangers of Home Alone

It has not been an infrequent occurrence to correspond with those who remain at home on Sunday instead of going to mass who are not altogether right in the head. I do not mean to draw a causal connection between the two, as conjunction is not proof of causation, but I do believe there must be an underlying cause or condition which must account for the higher frequency of having to converse with fools.

There are assumptions made in any thought, either known or not, which stand, as it were, at the back of the room of the thought. I am conscious of at least one assumption that my assertion above makes, and that is that the claim, ceteris paribus, any correspondence with people outside the home alone cohort would yield the same frequency of foolishness, is false. Be that as it may, I assume that the claim is false, though I cannot strictly prove it unless I try to verify the assumption by emailing fellow bloggers in my genre, which I’m not entirely inclined to do, at the risk of myself coming off as a correspondent equally foolish.

Moving on, then, with the thrust of my argument, I would say this: the reason, perhaps, for the higher frequency of bizarre beliefs and manners among home alone Catholics is that they are, well, alone. Not absolutely, of course, but compared with their counterpart religionists, with their parish hall, community outreach programs, school, congregation of smiling faces ready to greet you at the door, and, above all, priests and confessors to instruct you in spiritual and life matters, home alone Catholics are emphatically alone. And this being alone is dangerous.

Man is a social animal, which means that he is fitted by God to live in society. It takes a great deal of actual grace and practice living out the virtues to live in a society peacefully with others—and it takes enormously more grace to live peacefully outside society. Home Alone Catholics are just abiding by the commandments of God and the laws of the Church. I do not say Home Alone is wrong, so please do not misunderstand me. But I do so that the position is fraught with danger, both spiritual and mental, and even physical. Being in the desert is dangerous.

The physical dangers of living home alone are quite obvious. Your dependence on your physical welfare becomes almost completely dependent on those services your taxes afford, which is not exactly a consolation. If you are estranged from your relatives (perhaps most of us are) and your friends were all from Church you no longer attend, you are going to have a difficult time if a life issue happens, say, you are hospitalized with kidney disease, and there are no family or friends to help you make the life transitions that inevitably follow such a health crisis.

Let’s take the mental next. There are any number of issues, or problems, both practical and theoretical which a man is called upon to solve. If he has a community of persons, friends or associations with whom he can communicate, he is alleviated of the burden of bearing all the intellectual labor involved which is demanded by the problem. He asks a fellow parishioner, let’s say, who happens to be also an investment banker, whether he thinks it a good idea to sell short this month on a particular stock, since rumors are in the air of a merger. The fellow parishioner obliges him with free financial advice, and says the merger is a myth concocted by lunatic communist conspiracy theorist podcasters and mustn’t be heeded by any rational entity worthy the name. This man, being a rational entity himself, heeds the friend’s financial advice, cancels his subscription to the podcast “Red Scare” and saves himself the indignity and destitution which would have surely been his unhappy lot had he not a friend from Church with whom to consult.

Then there’s the spiritual. Let’s say you struggle with a vice of the flesh, perhaps it is gluttony in the form of the abuse of alcohol—not an entirely inconceivable probability in a country which had to pass a constitutional law forbidding hard drink. You belong to a parish-supported AA meeting group, which helps those like yourself overcome the sinful overconsumption of intoxicating liquor. You meet every Wednesday night, which is good, because otherwise you would be drinking yourself to hell-knows-where, down at the sports bar watching the seasonal game (it matters little which). Now you have a band of supporters you can work out your sinful addiction with and rely upon for moral encouragement.

But let’s remove you from those societies, from the parish hall where you were want to talk financial investment strategy over a donut and styrofoam cup of coffee, or the AA meeting which was the last thread keeping you sown to sanity and out of Satan’s jaws, and see how you fair home alone. Without a great deal of natural and supernatural virtue, I think you will agree, you won’t fair very well at all.

We who remain at home instead of soliciting sacraments from doubtfully valid and illicit priests whom the Church has not sent, do not do so because it is easier or because it is fun. On the contrary, the physical, mental and spiritual labor and suffering is arduous, and a great sacrifice. I truly believe that we who are home alone and who, by God’s almighty mercy, make it to Heaven, will wear shimmering crowns of golden glory for our spiritual martyrdom. Home alone calls us to live according to a higher demand on our natural intelligence and spiritual vigilance, just as one would need to in the desert, the path through which we trod is not primrose but penitential purple, mortifying our flesh, our minds, and our souls on our natural dependency on society in favor of a supernatural dependency on God and His Mother—have you prayed the Rosary today?For those who can endure it, and not long for the garlic and onions of Egypt, we must pray everyday for the unseen Manna from heaven, which is sanctifying and actual grace, to give strength to our bodies, clarity to our minds, and holiness to our souls.

Home alone is dangerous, but so is following Christ, for He is leading us to our death: God is leading us to Golgotha.

Sedevacantists are Legion

by Robert Robbins

This is Just a Dream

It is perhaps one of the greatest glories as well one of the ugliest blights on Catholic culture that the man of the faith is ever engaged in controversy and argument. The battle of the argument is as glorious as any battle of war, though also as ugly as war. A good argument is bloodless as in the case of the Sacrifice of the Mass, yet it nevertheless is very much a duel to the death–the death of the old man.

First, I make a distinction between argument as such and mere quarrel. What almost always happens, either in debates online in the comments, or at one’s family reunion dinner table, is not argument in the strict sense at all. It is fighting, which is usually why the women of the table, or the women of the combox, don’t stick around to watch and listen. The fight arises out of a misunderstanding of what argument actually is, which is not trying to disprove an opponent’s position, but rather trying to get an opponent to agree with one’s own. But in either event, whether one is merely trying to disprove another or get another to approve of one’s own, here is the most important point about argument: unless both agree on the principles of the subject, there is no point arguing, because there can be no argument.

The object of argument, as the object of war, is peace or agreement. When an argument must devolve to the status of disarmament, it is probable that the reason for doing so was because there was no agreement struck in the intellect. The most likely reason for doing so was because either of the two combatants were too tired or fed up with fighting in futility. This invariably happens, not because the subject matter cannot be resolved or reduced to primary truths all may agree on, but because such truths are almost never arrived at because of human frailty, as in the case of sin, which is weakness in the will, or in the case of ignorance, which is weakness in the intellect.

If the former frailty, that of a defective will, is the issue, then I would urge anyone who suspects this to be the case to withdraw from the argument. The reason is that, no matter how strong a case one makes for one’s own position, the one whose will is sinful, or which is not moved by the good, is not to be engaged with, because that one’s will will never be convinced of the truth, because its motive principle is something other than the good (truth as it is in the mode of willing, as opposed to thinking). St. Augustine, quoting Isaias, says, “Unless you believe, you will never understand.” If I may be so bold, I would add, “And unless you love, you will never believe.”

But, if the one with whom you argue–as opposed to merely quarrel–is of sound will but who lacks understanding, then there is hope that peace is on the horizon. The question becomes, how do you know when one is merely ignorant and not haughty? The answer is easy enough. When you present that one with a proposition to which any reasonable man would assent, and your interlocutor does so assent, then you’ve found yourself one of good will, and it is time to proceed to the next stage in the argument.

But, in my experience–I’ve had such terrible experiences–it so seldom happens this way, because there are so few good men out there with whom to argue. I think that in this age of the Great Apostasy, what is perhaps so striking, is that man falls out of favor with God, not so much because he doesn’t love God or his neighbor, but because he doesn’t love the truth:

“…And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity,” (2Thess. 2:10-11).  

So, the next point to make is, what is the truth and how does one love the truth? The truth is, according to Aquinas, and commonsense, a thought which is equal to what is. Truth is an intellectual mode of being, which is to say it is found in an intellect. But, unless we are God, truth is not caused in the intellect but in the world of what is. Perhaps this is a little dense for some, so I will give an example. If I have the thought that the grass in my yard is green, but, in fact, the grass is my yard is brown (as it presently is because I think a sorcerer cursed it), then my thought is false and not true. However much I would will my grass to be green–and however much I pay the weed company to make it so–doesn’t change the fact that it is brown. If I insist otherwise, even against my senses, that my grass is green and not brown, then I do not have a love of the truth, but rather a love of a dream which does not exist, in other words, a love of lying.

Now let’s up the ante shall we? Aquinas teaches that theological conclusions are more certain on account of their source being Divine revelation, which cannot err, as compared with merely human science, whose source is the senses, which can err. The Baltimore Catechism is a compendium of conclusions of the science of theology, and as such, commands our assent for its truthfulness absolutely more than the authority of our senses command us to believe our grass is green, or in my case brown. In a word, the BC is truth, and we must love it, believe it, even before we understand it. Because without loving, there’s no believing, and without believing, there’s no understanding.

So, as an example of something we should love, believe, and (with grace) come to understand, let’s look at a few teachings found in the lesson On the Attributes and Marks of the Church:

517. An attribute is any characteristic or quality that a person or thing may be said to have. All perfections or imperfections are attributes.

518. A mark is a given and known sign by which a thing can be distinguished from all others of its kind. Thus a trademark is used to distinguish the article bearing it from all imitations of the same article.

There are any number of sects out there claiming to be the Catholic Church. The BC teaches us certain truths by which we may distinguish what is and is not the Church. We must be guided by these certain truths to have certitude that we belong to the true Church of Christ. Now I call these truths of the BC those principles all must agree on before any argument may be had. So, for instance, if you find yourself arguing (or trying to argue anyway) with, say, a Sedevacantist who believes that the CMRI, SGG, SSPV, MHTS, etc. are clergy making up the remnant Church, then all you need do is ask your interlocutor whether he accepts and assents to all that the BC teaches. If he says yes, then game on! Ask him if he agrees with the following:

519. We know that the Church must have the four marks and three attributes usually ascribed or given to it from the words of Christ given in the Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church from its beginning.

520. The Church cannot have the four marks without the three attributes, because the three attributes necessarily come with the marks and without them the marks could not exist.

521. Both marks and attributes are necessary in the Church, for the marks teach us its external or visible qualities, while the attributes teach us its internal or invisible qualities. It is easier to discover the marks than the attributes; for it is easier to see that the Church is one than that it is infallible.

522. The attributes of the Church are three: authority, infallibility, and indefectibility.

548. The Church has four marks by which it may be known: it is One; it is Holy; it is Catholic; it is Apostolic.

I am sure at this point, your interlocutor is getting a little hot under the collar, because he knows what questions are coming next, which need hardly be asked, but I will just for the sake of thoroughness: I ask, do the Sedevacantist groups have the three attributes of authority, infallibility, and indefectibility, by which the four marks of one, holy, catholic, and apostolic exist, and by which you or I am to know that that Church is the Church of Christ? Perhaps your interlocutor couldn’t say if the groups he thinks are Catholic have the attributes, because they are not easily known. You might ask, as it seems the BC encourages you to ask, whether the groups your interlocutor thinks are Catholic are one in the sense the BC defines:

549. The Church is One because all its members agree in one faith, are all in one communion, and are all under one head.

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

At this point, I am sure your heated interlocutor will now starting blathering about epikeia and cessation of law and the common good, etc., but to no purpose, since, as important as the care of souls and the sacraments are, these considerations are secondary or irrelevant altogether as to how we know what and where the Catholic Church is. There are any number of good-doer groups out there calling themselves Christian, or even Catholic. The good Lord knows their multiplicity. But the Catholic Church is one, and no matter how much we may want the grass to be green, or our favored little sect to be one, the truth is, the lawn is brown and the Sedevacantists are legion.

I could go on and show how the Sedes are not holy, catholic, and apostolic either, but perhaps we’ll save that for another post. I leave you–and your interlocutor who has probably blocked you by now, or stormed out of the combox or dining room, with this slightly modified lesson from the BC:

Q. 571. How do you show that [Sedevacantist] Churches have not the marks of the true Church?

A. [Sedevacantist] Churches have not the marks of the true Church, because:
   1. They are not one either in government or faith; for they have no chief head, and they profess different beliefs;
   2. They are not holy, because their doctrines are founded on error and lead to evil consequences;
   3. They are not catholic or universal in time, place or doctrine. They have not existed in all ages nor in all places, and their doctrines do not suit all classes;
   4. They are not apostolic, for they were not established for hundreds of years after the Apostles, and they do not teach the doctrines of the Apostles.

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Tithing Today Without Churches

By Ezekiel

I am happy to introduce the newest contributor to the CE Log. Insightful, full of ideas and a fervent desire to see the Church more visible, Ezekiel comes to CatholicEclipsed with practical spiritual helps to build up the visible Body of Christ. I hope you enjoy–Robert Robbins.

So today for Catholics, it seems there are no churches available. Normally for tithes it would be encouraged to voluntarily contribute to parishes and different fundraising efforts in order to support the cost of keeping churches up, the needs of clergy, and various charitable or Church operations.

Still it would seem that Catholics could keep up a charitable spirit, and continue to give “time, talents, or treasure” to worthy causes. This can build up treasure here, as God desires to give to those who give to others, as well as more importantly to build up treasure in heaven. 

“Give, and it shall be given to you,” (Luke 6:38).

I have wondered at times if Catholics might put in to greater practice the various corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and if God might respond to bring an end to the confusion of today if people had a greater love of God and neighbor.

I might ask you for example, are there homeless you’ve seen in your community? Could you personally reach out to them, or could we organize a group to reach out to them who are trained to handle their needs professionally? Why do some of these persistent problems exist? Are we our brothers’ keepers?

I believe traditionalists today are capable of doing more and that God desires more of these activities and will help people to do some of these things. We could pray and listen to what God inspires in our hearts, as each person has a unique calling from God. 

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another,” (John 3:35).

I think there may be many people who want to help others more, to show what a Christian’s love is, but they may not know how. But they don’t need to know how, but simply to pray to allow God to show them how.

“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13).

Jesus made the ultimate gesture of expressing love for one’s neighbor, by undergoing suffering and death on the Cross. 

What do you think Catholics should do to “tithe” today when no churches are available to give to?

What is God asking us to do out of love for the good of others?

List of Works of Mercy

Seven corporal works

To feed the hungry.
To give drink to the thirsty.
To clothe the naked.
To harbor the harborless.
To visit the sick.
To ransom the captive.
To bury the dead.

Seven spiritual works

To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To admonish sinners.
To bear wrongs patiently.
To forgive offences willingly.
To comfort the afflicted.
To pray for the living and the dead.

About the Author

Ezekiel has been taking time studying the confusion affecting the Church today, having adopted multiple viewpoints in the process of trying to understand things, and has been a “parishless sedevacantist” for a few years now. Much time has been spent studying and having conversations with people from as many sides as could be found, in order to get a more comprehensive view of the problems that exist today and of all the different issues and proposed positions that people have taken in response to them as well as the reasons given for their views. Vatican 2 and its consequences have created tangible problems which have made the issues personal as they have upended lives. But it is important to remember the most important commandment of Christianity in times of such uncertainty, as there are still many certain principles that are already established: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind,” (Matthew 22:37). Much room for improvement of the state of the Church exists and there is hope for a definitive end to the present confusion. “And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26).  

Steve Speray’s Futile Attempt to Defeat the Home Alone Position

by Robert Robbins

Dams were Built for a Reason

In a recent post, Steve Speray wrote a response to me, entitled, “Robert Robbins’ Futile Attempt to Defend the Home Alone Position,” in which he states the following:

1. There is a thing known as cessation of law and epieikeia. Robbins has not made a case that the law of consecrating bishops by papal mandate is absolute where cessation of the law or epieikeia is impossible.

My article to which Speray refers dealt with the idea of necessity, in particular, how the sacraments themselves were not absolutely necessary, and so cessation of law need not be invoked to consecrate bishops, ordain priests, open seminaries, monasteries, and mass centers all over America. The whole presumption is that the sacraments were absolutely necessary for our salvation, and so priests were absolutely necessary for the sacraments, and so bishops were absolutely necessary for priests. All I did was gently point out the fact that the first presumption is false, and so the last assertion is false. But that wasn’t conclusive for Speray. I hope it at least gets readers of this blog thinking more critically about the claims made by Sedevacantists concerning necessity. From where I’m standing, there’s a gigantic whole in their logic.

Anyway, this post is more about the other principle often invoked, but which is essentially the same as the cessation of law. That is, epikeia. I am currently reading History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, by Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley, A.B., S.T.L., a dissertation written in 1948 Riley produced while attending The Catholic University of America, back when it was Catholic. On p. 20, Riley writes:

This, then, is the nature of epikeia — “a correction of law where it is defective owing to its universality.” 6 For it is reasonable that there exist some means of emending a law in a particular case where it errs because its terminology is universal, even though in general the law may be ordained to the common good.

I do not pretend to have a full understanding of epikeia and the ways in which it may be applied validly and lawfully to any given situation. I would like to study this question more in-depth by reading Riley’s work. What I propose below is but a preliminary musing of mine. It is definitely opinion, but it sounds reasonable to me. I encourage thoughtful discussion on it in the comments if readers feel inclined. It is only through discussing these issues that a better understanding of them may be attained, and we may have peace of mind and spirit.

To that end, a thoughtful reader of this blog brought up a good point just before I was going to write this article, which I hope he doesn’t mind I share:

“…I believe there is sufficient doubt concerning the use of epieikeia in the Thuc consecrations, that staying home as a Catholic is the safest option. Plus, from the examples they provide in the book concerning epieikeia, it seems to be something an individual would use regarding some law as it affects him in an extraordinary way, not something that would be applied to the whole Church. Who decided for all Catholics that the Thuc consecrations had to happen and that epieikeia could be applied? Was it Thuc? Was it the priests who were to be consecrated?…”

The whole notion of epikeia is that it applies to universal law in its application to a particular case. But that is not what Sedevacantist do. They apply epikeia, not to a particular case, but to the universal state of affairs in the world. This is tantamount to saying that the universal law as such was defective as conceived and applied universally, and so the lawgiver–in this case the Church, if we are confining ourselves to speaking on the necessity of papal mandates for episcopal consecrations–was defective in legislating the law, because, alas, it is universally in need of correction. Obviously this conclusion is intolerable and absurd. The Church is infallible and unerring in her ecclesiastical law, otherwise we would be led astray by evil laws. The Sedevacantists, at the rockbottom of this debate about epikeia, are really saying that the laws of the Church are defective if universally applied. Let that sink in.

Some may object and say I go too far, because, after all, though it is true that the application of the law in the current situation is universal in space, it is not so in time. The current state of affairs have only been so since the death of Pius XII, after the death of whom the universal law of a papal mandate became defective, not on account of its universal application in space, but because of its universal application in time.

The objection sounds solid, but for the fact that the lawgiver undoubtedly foresaw the possibility of an interregnum, as there is always an interregnum after the death of a pope. The only difference is that there has been several decades since the Church has had a pope, whereas usually the Church does not have to wait this long.

The papal mandate is a law for the common good. Anyone who thinks about it for a moment, knows that to be true. We cannot have any man be a successor to the Apostles for Heaven’s sake–not that Sedevacantists actually claim to be successors to the Apostles, but that’s for another post. To say that the papal mandate is not required because it is a detriment to the common good when it was established for the common good, is absurd. It is like saying that a dam which was established for the common good of not flooding a village downstream should be removed because it is a detriment to the common good of the village. The idea is unintelligible. The net result has been a flood of doubtfully valid, unformed priests throughout America–and elsewhere in the world, but predominately here–offering doubtfully valid and licit sacraments in moonlight missions.

But there is another argument against the use of epikeia. If epikeia is only applicable to human law, which errs in its universal form when applied to a particular case, but epikeia is never applied to the natural law, but rather is used to make just and equitable what is lacking in the human law, thereby bringing the human law up to the natural law, it stands to reason that epikeia could never be invoked to correct Divine law. But canonical mission, whereby apostolic succession is transmitted from a lawful bishop consecrating a priest with the approval of the bishop’s lawful superior (the pope), is what the papal mandate secures. So, at least in its object, though not in its essence, the papal mandate is a matter of Divine law, not merely human law, and so cannot be corrected by epikeia.

Like I said, these are just some preliminary points and thoughts I have after reading a little of Riley’s book on epikeia, which I encourage those who can to read as well–it is scholarly, which means very dense and somewhat dry. I do not think that Steve has made a case at all for necessity or the use of epikeia, which he must do. The burden of proof is on the one who claims a right to act, not on the one who is trying to act within the law and claims no right to act without it. But I have shown, in albeit a sketchy and preliminarily way, a couple arguments against the use of epikeia, which may help to kickstart a deeper discussion and research into the question of its valid use in the current crisis.

So much for Speray’s first point. Let me jump to his third:

3. Robbins accuses our bishops and priests of “ignoring the law.” However, there’s also the law on publishing Catholic material. Can. 1384 § 1 tells us we don’t have a right to publish books without approval. § 2: “extends the meaning of the term books so as to include newspapers and other periodical publications as well as all other published writings, unless the contrary is manifest.”

Steve is right here. I do not have the right to publish anything, but I believe that justice and a reasonable cause compel me to do so, without the ordinary’s approval–which is physically impossible. As always, I turn to the BC for guidance, which teaches the following:

1180. We are obliged to make open profession of our faith as often as God’s honor, our neighbor’s spiritual good or our own requires it. “Whosoever,” says Christ, “shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.”

Here we have a positive precept to profess the faith when our neighbor’s spiritual good requires it or when God’s honor demands it. Unlike the reception of the sacraments which have substitutes for them, such as perfect contrition for penance, spiritual communion for the Holy Eucharist, and even Baptism of Desire for Water Baptism, there is no substitute for the profession of the faith. You either do it or you do not, and it is impossible to please God without faith. There are millions upon millions of would-be faithful Catholics who are in ignorance of the true faith because of the reign of the Antichrist. CatholicEclipsed is just a dim light to help those in the darkness. And since I try only to assert that which may be known through right reason or the catechism, I do not think any evil but only good is coming from this website. I hope Speray would not think otherwise. I have only defended the safer course, which is, well, safer. How can anyone find issue with that?

The BC actually makes the profession of faith a necessity for salvation:

1179. They who fail to profess their faith in the true Church in which they believe cannot expect to be saved while in that state, for Christ has said: “Whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”

Those who have the ability to communicate and use the technologies available of the day, have a positive duty to profess their faith in Christ and His Church. I do so here on the internet, because that is where most people are to be found who have a care about their souls. There is a lot of people who couldn’t be bothered to care about their eternal destination. The internet consolidates those who have an interest in religious matters into one place. It is like a public square wherein we can discuss the faith. It is the enemy of religion who would want to silence the faithful’s voice in the public square.

But Speray goes on:

Using Robbins’ argument, the law does not say, in case of necessity, one may ignore the law (because it is no longer binding) and go publish whatever Catholic material without lawful authority. Perhaps Robbins was unaware of this law, but to be consistent with his argument, he must now shut down his website and stop publishing.

There is a distinction between claiming the right to consecrate bishops without a papal mandate and claiming the right to publish one’s profession of faith on the internet. The two cases are not equal, and so cannot be judged the same. The Sedevacantist acts according to a perceived necessity where there is none, whereas I act were there is a necessity, the necessity to profess the faith. The Sedevacantist grasps for a power which he does not currently have (Holy Orders), whereas I already have the power of my voice, which I simply exercise without the approval of my superior, because I don’t have one. The Sedevacantist acts against Divine law, insofar as canonical mission to preach, govern, and sanctify require mission from the Church, whereas I act in accordance with Divine law, insofar as I profess the faith and do not deny Christ before men. You see, the two cases are about as dissimilar as milk is to beer.

Speray continues:

The power of a bishop to consecrate and ordain is an indelible mark of the priesthood that cannot be deprived. Even the Eastern Orthodox have valid priests and bishops this very day. The Code of Canon Law permits Catholics in danger of death to receive absolution from non-Catholic priests and bishops. Therefore, we have sacraments to help us no matter how much Robert Robbins denies Catholic theology and says no priests exist to administer the sacraments. There are literally tens of thousands of valid priests and bishops around the world.

When I said there were no priests I knew of in the world, was it not painfully obvious that I meant Catholic priests? The principle of charity in academics is that one assumes in his opponent’s argument the stronger position. Instead of doing so, Speray assumes not just the weaker position in my argument, but the asinine and absurd position in my argument. That only shows that Speray’s arguments for his position are so very weak, that he must contrive to make mine seem weaker than they are, even against a commonsense and charitable reading of them, in order to make his own seem stronger.

I wish to tie up this discussion with Speray with this. He said:

…if you will not consider the possibility that we are right, nothing will convince you. It’s like this with everything…

This is ironic, since I did consider the possibility that Sedevacantists were right when I was one. I received the sacraments from Fr. McGuire (now Bishop) at a Holiday Inn mission for about a year or so. My two oldest received their First Penance and First Holy Communion from him, and we were in communication with the then Bp. Dolan to receive Confirmation for my wife, elder children and myself. We were enrolled in the Brown Scapular, and Saint Gertrude the Great actually had a picture of the event on their website. We tithed regularly to SGG, and tuned in to the live-feed when we couldn’t go to the mission, which is a two-hour drive oneway. But Steve makes it seem like I’ve never entertained Sedevacantism in any serious sense, which is just flat-out false. My wife and I were very serious about being Sedevacantists, and we thought we found the Church, but, through the power of the daily rosary (which I confess I have slothfully neglected!) and through study, we came to the peaceful conclusion that the Church is in eclipse, and that, to be good and faithful Catholics today, we must profess the faith, pray the rosary, St. John’s mass, and perform spiritual communions and acts of perfect contrition. The sacraments of Sedevacantists are doubtfully valid and, by reason of Church law and Divine law, illicit. They are eclipsing Catholicism in their own way, though not as egregiously as the Novus Ordo. And so I must profess the faith against them, as well.

I don’t think that what I have come to understand and write about Sedevacantists is a fairytale. But this is.

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I am but one man among so many who are more educated, eloquent, and enthusiastic about the Catholic Faith. I would like to open up CatholicEclipsed to contributors, readers like you who have something say, who would like to air out a topic of interest facing us Catholics today. The mission of CatholicEclipsed is “to expose the agents of darkness who now operate to obscure the Catholic Church by shedding light on what the Church actually is and teaches, and to provide an online haven for those who find themselves feeling alone and isolated just for being faithful.” The comments section was envisioned as way to fulfill the second part of this mission, to be a place where pray-at-home Catholics could discuss the article’s themes or propose side-topics. And, though this is still a possibility, and I welcome such discourse in the combox of the articles, I think it is time to expand CatholicEclipsed’s appeal and readership by increasing the number of contributors.

I have already done so with my wife, who is by far more intelligent and knowledgeable in the faith than I am, and who writes far more clearly–she is actually my editor-in-chief! So look forward to more articles from Laura Robbins, when she can fit them in to her very busy 24-hour career as a stay-at-home Catholic mother and wife. But I am excited to have new contributors, new voices, personalities, people who love the faith and have a knack for writing out their thoughts and a desire to share them with fellow Catholics around the world. Imagine 1Peter5, but only actually Catholic. That is what I was thinking with this expansion project for CatholicEclipsed.

As a contributor, you will retain author attribution, but the content would be subject to editing, both grammatical and content-wise if needed, and formatting style. This is standard practice for publications and contributing authors. Of course, clear communication of any content correction would be made prior to publication, and the contributor would have the right to reject the correction and retract the submission. All these details would be worked out on a one-on-one basis, with myself working with the contributor, but the bottom line is that I want the contributor’s best, and this takes a collaboration between the writer and the editorial team to make that happen.

A word more on content corrections: About those things which Catholics may have considerable disagreement, I am liberal. About those things which we must adhere to with a firm and unshaken faith, I must be firm. To help in the editorial task of ensuring doctrinal soundness, I will simply use the Baltimore Catechism, not my private opinion as to what is or is not Catholic. So prospective contributors need not worry that their hard work will be censured on account of the arbitrary whims of the editor. All that is to say, there will be considerable leeway as to what will be entertained on CatholicEclipsed, while holding ourselves always to the standard of the BC, which I don’t foresee anyone objecting to.

Topics which I would love to have submitted for review and possible publishing are as varied as spiritual meditations while gardening to doctrinal disputations on the Summa Theologica, to anything else you may think important to talk about, which touches upon our holy religion. There could be an art criticism column from a Catholic perspective, which addresses contemporary artworks and movements in light of traditional art forms. There could be a cooking columnist whose recipes are inspired by Catholic cuisine in Indonesia. There could be a contemporary science beat, which covers the latest scientific interests that may intersect with the faith, like evolution or life on Mars. The possibilities are endless, really, because our Faith touches all matters of living.

As to the first part of the mission of CatholicEclipsed, that of exposing the agents of darkness eclipsing Catholicism, contributors are very much welcome, but I kind of see myself as covering that beat. I was thinking about revamping the Sect Spect Report, not just video, but perhaps a podcast and a written form, which would retain the sardonic humor while being a bit longer than the five minute video productions of the past.

So, if you think that fellow Catholics would benefit from your personality, thoughts, reflections, and insights into living the Catholic faith today, or comments on the culture in light of that faith, please, I want to hear from you! There are so many of you out there with special knowledge, whether in science, or culinary art, politics, crafts and gardening, in all the varied spheres of human knowledge and action, and who, above all, have a profound zeal and love of the faith, such that you are not willing to compromise one iota of the law for convenience sake, or worldly gain, social respect, or anything less than God’s grace. You are strong in the faith, and you make those around you stronger by your presence and persistence and witness. In a word, you are Perpetuo Pia, the forever faithful followers of Jesus Christ and the devoted sons and daughters of Mary, and so your contribution to CatholicEclipsed is very much wanted and needed!

Submit your article through COMMS for review and possible publication! Upon acceptance, I will contact you. If accepted, you may be asked to write a short BIO for our readers to get to know you a little more. I look forward to hearing from you!

Three Blind Mice: Freud, Jung, and Newman (Not That One)

I smell desperation in the world of R&R Catholicism, which is really a false flag operation conducted by Freemasons.

I wanted to know what OnePeterFive was up to these days, and take a respite from writing articles strictly covering controversies with Sedevacantists and Home-Aloners. I clicked on the article, “A Psychological Approach to Understanding Sedevacantism”, and was pleasantly amused at the attempt of the author to be a sophisticate and erudite essayist, able to take on, not directly (who does that anymore?) but indirectly the movement of the sinister sedevacantism.

The author, Robert V. Newman, tells us that he is a professional writer, who has studied science, history, and Spanish as an undergraduate, earned a Masters of Arts in literature and linguistics, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in English and literary theory. And all that comes through in his article.

Newman begins by setting the tone for the entire piece, which is one clad in esoteric psychological terminology with the veneer of understanding and knowledge, but which is little more than the child’s game of imagination. We are told that, in the “First Vertex: Transference,” we, being meek and unhealthy mice of the earth, look upon the pope as our savior, refuge, and sure guide in this tempest-in-a-teapot existence without whom and through which we blunder so blindly. Newman writes:

“Our vulnerability and perceived impuissance dissolve in the aura of this “godlike man,” to whom we transfer our fears and doubts, subconsciously hoping to thereby understand, escape, or control them and the cosmic forces that seem to impose them so ruthlessly upon us.”

All of us, from the little old lady drinking her tea and watching Jeopardy, to the young buck strutting through the university laden with postgraduate books on the medieval metaphysical poets, are in the throes of an existential crisis, if we recognize that the See of Peter is vacant on account that the man who claims to be the pope is a heretic. Well, actually, Newman doesn’t quite say it so succinctly. He says this:

“Is not the pope’s exalted centrality the very principle of his Luciferian fall from glory and supremacy to ignominy and illegitimacy? Despite the apparent paradox, ultramontane Catholicism is a singularly conducive environment for the growth of Sedevacantism, and this environment is vitalized by psychological transference.”

Hence, given the existential crisis we made for ourselves believing that the pope was some lionized figure upon whom we should put all our earthly cares and woes, we naturally desired to make him infallible, inerrant, and incapable of letting us down, or, to coin a phrase, to make him the Rock upon which we would build our faith. How psychotic of us.

Next, Newman turns to the the “Second Vertex: The Mana Personality,” whereby we are to understand that the man with the mana is looked upon as a heroic figure with gifts of healing, saving, and royal leadership. This next stage in most simple terms is where a Catholic who recognizes that the Chair is Vacant (because he is delusional, if you recall), looks to another for the assurances his quivering mind needs to get on with existence. He turns to the Sedevacantist priest or charismatic layman who proposes the idea that Sede vacante is a fact, to find a safe harbor for his dilapidated mind, collapsed by the “khaos” of meaning all around him–yes, Newman used the Anglicized Greek form of “chaos,” just to show that he knows how to read a dictionary’s etymological entry. It is on account of this second stage that the Sedevacantist turns to and relies upon the Mana-Man. One of Newman’s associates who themselves has personal associations with Sedevacantists has this to say about the Mana-Man:

“It’s important to note that even if the sedevacantist denies it, the theory of sedevacantism … would not in itself be all that convincing if it weren’t backed and personified by a charismatic sedevacantist clergyman or layman confidently putting it forward.”

I suppose that the Mana-Men who are commanding so much charism as to convince whole swaths of Novus Ordo Catholics to abandon ship and seek safe harbor somewhere else from the existential meltdown of the Second Vatican Council sect are to blame. Mario Derksen of NovusOrdoWatch, the late Anthony Cekada, and Donald Sanborn come to mind. The irony perhaps of this assertion is that, apart from Cekada, who is dead but who did command some considerable charisma while alive, neither Derksen nor Sanborn (in my humble opinion) are at all charismatic or fit to be described as an “old wise man…a protean figure, assuming such roles as king, hero, healer, and savior.” One is liable to fall asleep listening to Sanborn talk, and Derksen goes out of his way–far way out of his way–to suppress any personality of his at all, only recently having shown his rounded, boyish face in front of his mesmerized fans on CatholicFamilyPodcast.

All that is to say is that, in this second stage of the Sedevacantist delusion, it is practically untenable to say that anyone looks upon anyone in the movement as a sage. The individuals involved who would even make good candidates for the mana-man role are quite boring, humdrum characters, without charm, personality, or sophistication. It is rather what these men say that influences minds to give their assent, but that is a topic too near the truth that it is best we move on to the third and final stage in this psychological approach to understanding Sedevacantism.

The “Third Vertex: The Allure of Gnosis,” is the secret knowledge of the Mana-Man, the crystal-ball-like knowledge only he posses, which drives the unwitting (and delusional, don’t forget that) Novus Ordo Catholic turned Sedevacantist into a follower of the gnostic guru. As Newman explains, Sedevacantism is Gnostic as such:

“At this point I must be forthright and suggest that Sedevacantism is an intensely gnostic movement, insofar as its doctrine and praxis reflect a colossal ecclesial meltdown that is largely unknown and, in the final analysis, unknowable. Gnosis, of the Sedevacantist variety or any other, is a wily enemy whose psychological effects may become cumulative or cyclical. For Catholics engaged in the spiritual life, the consequences could be grave indeed.”

Yes, the “colossal ecclesial meltdown” is “unknown” and actually “unknowable,” because, don’t you know, no one has a subscription to OnePeterFive in which the colossal ecclesial meltdown is chronicled on a daily basis. This is a classical example of how a man may have a hundred thousand words in his head and yet not a single thought. Such is the product of University English programs. Anyway, it is simply bizarre to say that the crisis in the Church, or the knowledge requisite to begin to understand it and combat it, is gnostic, in the sense that only a few have access to it. Anyone who is willing to crack open a book–perhaps this book–will begin to see and conclude that what the Second Vatican Council taught, what the post-conciliar popes taught, what Francis did last week, is not Catholic.

We arrive at the near end of the article, and Newman is feeling pretty good about himself, such that he is willing to make an argument now, at least he thinks he is making an argument:

“I will now offer my only direct argument against Sedevacantism. I make no attempt to augment the voluminous collection of theological, philosophical, historical, and juridical discourse on this topic. I will simply propose that ecclesiastical defects of such apocalyptic magnitude—decades without a pope, an entire hierarchy in via exstinctionis, countless laymen who think they’re priests, a world full of invalid sacraments—cannot be established through intricate, indeterminate arguments based on theology, philosophy, history, or canon law. Such knowledge must be widely disseminated, manifestly imbued with divine authority, and so compelling as to convince any Catholic who is sincerely awake to the life of the Church. Otherwise, it’s gnosis, and there is no place for gnosis in the mystical body of Him who said, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.”

Just a second ago, Newman said that the crisis and its anatomy was “unknown and unknowable,” but now we learn that there is a “voluminous collection of theological, philosophical, historical, and juridical discourse on this topic.” That is a very curious admission, Newman, don’t you think? But for all that, I actually think Newman says something true, when he says, “ecclesiastical defects of such apocalyptic magnitude…cannot be established through intricate, indeterminate arguments based on theology, philosophy, history, or canon law.” No, Newman, the Great Apostasy can be elucidated by knowing one’s catechism. When Newman says that “such knowledge must be widely disseminated, manifestly imbued with divine authority, and so compelling as to convince any Catholic who is sincerely awake to the life of the Church,” he is beautifully and wonderfully taking the words out of my mouth. But Newman, being an erudite sophisticate naturally has no pretensions to having been properly catechized, so the idea that the catechism would satisfy the requirements he puts forth simply doesn’t occur to him. The catechism is, 1. widely disseminated, as like no other document, 2. manifestly imbued with divine authority, being a magisterial text, 3. compelling for any Catholic who has faith, because it was designed to form the faith of any Catholic, sophisticated or simple. The catechism is whatever the reverse of gnosis is, I guess Divine Mysteries for Dummies.

With the triangularity of delusion complete, the three vertices of psychosis Newman the English-Lit PhD student has just propounded–without any credentials in psychology, or psychoanalysis, or any social science to speak of–we are left with this gem of thoughtlessness:

Nevertheless, the durability of Sedevacantism, both as a movement and as a personal belief system, surprises me, because it so viscerally and traumatically expresses what psychology and medicine call thanatos, the death drive. Adherents of Sedevacantism are professing and pronouncing the progressive organ failure of their own Church; theirs is a vision of senescence and demise, of cellular dissolution—a dismal prognosis for the mystical body of which they themselves are members. The Church is suffering grievously, besieged and abused and poisoned by enemies within and without, and yet she is gloriously and passionately alive. In her surfeit of sorrow she is beautiful, and I love her.

Not only are Sedevacantists–simply those who believe that the Chair of Peter is vacant–delusional as to the the actual importance of the Chair of Peter (transference), the reliance upon an authority figure or sage (Mana Personality), and the secret knowledge that personality possesses (Allure of Gnosis), but they also have some kind of death wish called (again with the Greek!) a “thanatos.” So, not only are Sedevacantists nuts, they’re also spiritually suicidal.

The Sedevacantist sees that the Church is without her visible head on earth, the pope, without whom she cannot have the three attributes ascribed to that See the pope occupies, namely, authority, indefectibility, and infallibility, without which the four marks of one, holy, catholic, and apostolic could not exist, by which the Catholic Church is identified and known, all because the thing calling itself the Catholic Church, the church Newman says is beautiful and which he loves, is actually and quite literally the spiritual whore of Babylon with whom all the kings of the earth have fornicated. But I am not surprised that Newman does not see her for what she really is, since he is more interested in seeing the world through the blind eyes of the intellectual mice among men, Freud, the atheist and Jung, the pantheist.

Newman concludes his “essay” by admitting the following:

“Proponents of Sedevacantism are not merely imagining things when they discern an abomination of desolation in the holy place. Their claims are not baseless but rather are built upon grave doubts about the state of the Church, and these doubts are not unreasonable.”

Here we witness the devolvement of an uneducated intellect attempting an essay in a discipline beyond his comprehension. We have been told throughout that the Sedevacantist is delusional in three different ways, which form a triangularity of despair and wish for spiritual death, but now, after all, don’t you know (our author forgot Sedevacantists are delusional), those who propose Sede vacante as a theory are not imagining things (not delusional) when they see that there is, in fact “an abomination of desolation in the holy place.” Further, we are assured, the claims made by Sedevacantists are not even “not baseless but rather are built upon grave doubts about the state of the Church,” and these doubts (Newman has lost his own marbles now) are “not unreasonable”! We have been led along this pseudo-psychoanalysis in believing that the Sedevancantists are nuts and have a death wish, but now, at the end, we are assured that their doubts are not unreasonable, their eyes are opened and they do in fact see that their Church is desolate. What boiled brains does it take to string along so many contradictory notions in a single, short “essay” is beyond my ability to fathom. But, it is just par for the course for the English Literature student trying his hand at thought. Moving on, Newman ends with this earth-shattering, mind-altering conclusion:

“Unfortunately, the psychological dynamics of the Sedevacantist experience do not favor constructive resolution of the ecclesiological doubts that all post-Conciliar Catholics must confront.”

So now the Sedevacantists’ doubts which arose, as you will recall, from thinking too highly of the man called the Vicar of Christ, and, once that bubble was popped by the Post-Conciliar popes, which made the said Sedevacantist seek out answers from the guru or yogi-type who had gnostic knowledge and charismatic charm, are considered as something normal which “all post-Conciliar Catholics must confront.” Wait, what? I thought that the “psychological dynamics of the Sedevacantist experience” were peculiar to, well, Sedevacantists, who themselves thought way too much of the Papacy? Now we are told that the Sedevacantist way of thinking (now we are not sure how that is any different from any other Catholic’s way of thinking), do not simply “favor constructive resolution” of said doubts–which are themselves normal and not in anyway delusional, and which we all must confront.

Having hit a wall with using his intellect, Newman now concludes his masterful demonstration of the inanity of R&R ideology by coming home to where he feels most at ease and comfortable, that is, in the imagination. Quoting the religious poetry of Dante, Newman writes:

“The predicament of Sedevacantists is comparable to that of Dante in Paradiso, canto VII:

But I now see your understanding tangled
by thought on thought into a knot, from which,
with much desire, your mind awaits release.

The poet reminds us, however, that doubt, though challenging, is not a purely negative phenomenon; quite the contrary:

Therefore, our doubting blossoms like a shoot
out from the root of truth; this natural
urge spurs us toward the peak, from height to height.

…Let us pray for clarity in these dark times, and I will rejoice if this essay helps even one person of Sedevacantist persuasion to say with Dante,

And though the doubt I felt there was as plain
as any colored surface cloaked by glass,
it could not wait to voice itself, but with

the thrust and weight of urgency it forced
“Can such things be?” out from my lips, at which
I saw lights flash—a vast festivity.”

Doubt, so far from being delusional, is rather positive and productive, apparently even capable of attaining to a mystical vision of Heaven, wherein we see lights flashing in the festal pageantry of the Celestial banquet hall. No, Newman, in your blindness you do not see Heaven but Hell on Earth, and the flickering light is but the unholy candles of the altar to the Abomination of Desolation–the Novus Ordo Missae–lit by the girl in shorts and flip-flops, awaiting the real Mana-Man who is all to ready to quote, not teachings of Jesus, but gnosticism of Ghandi from the pulpit.

But, since Newman is so found of quoting poetry to explain a spiritual crisis, let me end this article (I dare not call it an essay) by quoting a familiar poem perhaps he’s heard before:

Three blind mice.

Three blind mice.

See how they run.

See how they run.

They all ran after the farmer’s wife,

Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,

Did you ever see such a sight in your life,

As three blind mice?

The explanation of the enigmatic poem is about as apropos as a pot holder to a boiling pot:

Attempts to read historical significance into the words have led to the speculation that this musical round was written earlier and refers to Queen Mary I of England blinding and executing three Protestant bishops. However, the Oxford Martyrs, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer, were burned at the stake, not blinded; although if the rhyme was made by crypto-Catholics, the mice’s “blindness” could refer to their Protestantism, (“Three Blind Mice,” Wikipedia).

Freud, the atheist, Jung, the pantheist, and Newman, the Post Conciliarist, did you ever see such a sight in your life as these three blind mice?

The Fairytale of Independent Catholicism

Steve Speray Trying to Convince Me to be Sedevacantist

In a back and forth on Steve Speray’s website, I asked: “Under what condition do you think sacraments would be “impossible” if not now, when there are no known canonically sent priests?” to which Steve responded: 

“There’s this thing called death, which makes it impossible. That’s why we have Baptism of desire in case of dying without baptism. The same would apply to Confession. Death would make it impossible. There are, of course, other circumstances such as the Japanese living without priests at all for hundreds of years. The reason why they have the desire clause under the necessity of receiving baptism and confession is to stress the importance of the sacrament but also that it’s possible to be saved without them both. It answers the question, what if?” (Emphasis added).

Did you catch that? Steve admits that, when there are no priests, the sacraments would be impossible. This may sound like a small admission, but it actually completely destroys any argument for necessity to lift the laws regarding the requirement for canonical mission and appointment to lawfully exercise holy orders. In simple terms, men do not need to break the laws of the Church, or, as Steve would have us say, let the law cease on account of necessity, to receive the sacraments, because the law itself already provides for the kind of necessity we find ourselves in. The law does not say that, in the case of necessity, one may ignore the law (because it is no longer binding), and go and get oneself some holy orders and exercise the sacerdotal ministry without being sent by any lawful superior. The law does say that, in the time of necessity when it is impossible to receive the sacraments, one’s desire for them satisfies as a substitute for the sacraments themselves, as even Steve’s own article mentions, albeit in a footnote:

“As Christ instituted the Sacraments and bound them up with the communication of grace they are necessary to us for the achievement of salvation (necessitate medii), even if not all are necessary for each individual. The efficacious reception of a Sacrament can, in case of necessity, be replaced by the desire for the Sacrament (votum sacramenti) (hypothetical necessity),” (Emphasis added).

But I would like to turn my attention to these mysterious Japanese Catholics Steve refers to. That there were hundreds of years without priests in Japan–the lifting of the ban of Christianity in Japan was in 1873 and in 1644 was recorded the last missionary martyr, the number of years the Japanese Catholics were without priests is over two-hundred thirty–is not important. The time has nothing to do with the possibility or impossibility of receiving the sacraments. That there were no priests who were available to receive sacraments from is all that matters. But if time had anything to do with it, it would show that, even after a grave number of decades without priests, the Japanese still refused to do what Sedevacantists think they had every reason to do without the excuse of so long a lapse of time, something like two decades instead of twenty.

So what did the Japanese do without priests? Whatever they did besides what a quick search on the internet reveals, they didn’t make themselves priests. The most unorthodox among them turned the ancient practice of veneration of the saints into pagan ancestor worship, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. They transmitted the faith orally through biblical stories and prayers, and the Hidden Christian communities actually appointed lay leaders for religious services, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. These Kakure Kirishitan had Mizukata, or “secret posts,” to which were assigned Catholics who would baptize the children of the underground community, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. The reason being, of course, is that the many missionaries who had planted Catholicism there in the fertile soul-soil of the Japanese, though during a hostile weather of civil war, must have inculcated the notion that, even when things got tough, you let the laws of the Church guide you, instead of thinking you know better.

And that is perhaps the point of this whole thing, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t it that the Sedevacantists think they know better than the Church? They are not guided by the Church by their own admission, for if they have determined that the law has ceased to bind them, then their only authority becomes, not the law, since it has ceased, but their own human prudence, what they have determined to be expedient in this time of necessity. Thus, we see that not only are holy orders expedient for the remnant Church, but also seminaries, because, logically, one must have seminaries to have priests, right? Further, it becomes expedient to have convents as well, because we need our nuns to teach our children via the latest and greatest telecommunication technologies, don’t we? And so many other ways in which the law, having ceased, as caused religious anarchy, or the exact contradiction of holy orders.

At the end of the day, after all the arguments have been heard, a picture emerges as to what this is all really about, and it is perhaps not what you may think: This is about power. I do not mean the poor laity who believe in the clergy want power, or are motivated by a desire for power, because they are the subjects. I mean that the clergy, for all their denial of authority, actually hunger and thirst, not after righteousness but after spiritual, and, let’s face it, physical dominion. As the BC teaches:

984. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.

The idea of power is inextricably linked to holy orders, because that is precisely what it confers, the power to do and to arrange spiritual and temporal things according to one’s own will–since the laws of the Church, you will remember, no longer cease to bind. The office of priest is both an office of power and also dignity, the very highest dignity of all offices, because it was instituted by the most dignified, the Most High:

996. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers of God and the dispensers of His mysteries.

999. We should show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church: 
   1. Because they are the representatives of Christ upon earth, and
   2. Because they administer the Sacraments without which we cannot be saved. Therefore, we should be most careful in what we do, say or think concerning God’s ministers. To show our respect in proportion to their dignity, we address the priest as Reverend, the bishop as Right Reverend, the archbishop as Most Reverend, and the Pope as Holy Father.

The Sedevacantist priest is looked upon as a messenger from God, and one who holds within his own venerable and consecrated hands the power to save you. He is also to be looked on as a dignitary of God, and ambassador from Heaven. For the spiritual man, the faithful Catholic in the pew, the priest is more important than the president of the United States. How is that not an ego boost? How does that for even the most pure of hearts, not tempt one to think more highly of oneself than what is perhaps just? And how, and perhaps this is the point, is it not utterly necessary for the good of souls to ensure such power of holy orders is not conferred on an unworthy man by the safeguards established by the Church, written into the Code of Canon Law, promulgated in Ecumenical Councils, and time and again repeated both in Holy Scripture and by Roman Pontiffs down through the ages, that, unless a man be sent, he should not presume to act in God’s name.

I am sure I will get a lot of backlash from this assertion that what is really at the back of all this is a quest for power. People will accuse me of rash judgment, of being uncharitable toward Sedevacantist priests, who are good-willed and pure intentioned and only want to help their fellow Catholics out by assuming the role of priest in their lives, and provide them with the sacraments. I am sure there are those who do so, but the majority, probably not the minority, do not. And as for those men who went and got themselves consecrated bishop, you really have to wonder if not every single one was after power. With the exception of McGuire of Saint Gertrude the Great who was named by the late Daniel Dolan as his own successor, have not all the Sedevacantist bishops sought out their own episcopal consecration? How un-Catholic does it get? Instead of the Bishop of Rome sifting through candidates for the episcopate and approving proven and holy men for the bishopric office in the Church, these supposedly Catholic men with supposed vocations from God rush half-demented men like Thuc or more than half-heretical men like Lefebvre for consecrations, and perpetuate the cycle from generation to generation, and we are naively to believe that they have the care of souls in mind? Pardon me, but I’m not so credulous to believe men are so good as all that, whenever outward appearance proves that they are only after power and the privilege of office.

I wonder now, coming to my conclusion of this post, whether there isn’t something more to this power thing than I even realized at first. I wonder if it’s not at all a mere coincidence that there seems to be a disproportionally large number of American Sedevacantist bishops to any other nation in the world. The word is Independent Catholicism and Independent Priests. Funny how I never saw it before: Japan, which has never been truly free from dictatorial rule, never had a mind to think they could do anything without Rome, even baptize, whereas America, which had its origins in a handful of men who desired above all power and who declared independence of the lawful authority of the Crown for too much tea tax, is also the very same nation today which has a handful of men saying that they are independent priests and bishops. The question is, independent of what? The answer is this crown.

Independent Catholicism is a fairytale, a story of make-believe and make-yourself-priests, which has been told to children in the faith for far too long. It is time to stop telling stories, and get back to telling the truth: We are in the Apocalypse. The Great Apostasy has already happened, and we are living through its aftermath. There are no known priests in the world, because God has preordained it to be so, and no matter how much we might want there to be sacraments to help us, these, with the priests, have been taken away as a punishment for our sins. Those who say that they are priests and bishops of the Catholic Church are liars and thieves who have not entered by the gate but have climbed over the wall. They did not come to us in the name of God; they came to us in their own name: I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. 

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Journey to the Center of Gravity

It was at about the same time that I started to question the status quo of the Novus Ordo that I happened upon the theory of geocentrism. Now, I am sure many of you are quite familiar with the writings and video productions of Robert Sungenis, the leader of the resurgent theory of old that the earth is still and stationary. What I would like to say in this post, is a kind of airing out the linen of my own mind. What I have to say here is not a defense or denial of geocentrism, but a psychological meditation on a broader phenomenon. 

Like I said, when I first starting realizing that there was something up with the Novus Ordo, because I started to pay attention to what the “Pope” was saying, and was reading articles from LifeSiteNews, The Remnant, etc., I was also becoming acquainted with geocentrism. Now, I am not sure that the accidental conjunction of the two theories being present to my mind had any influence on the cause of the effect, but I distinctly recall thinking about how everything revolves around the earth, not in a dry and scientific way, since I lacked the basic scientific training to even conceive of things in such a way, but in a spiritual sense, if not (I dare say) mystical sense. I understood—so I thought—that the heavens indeed revolve around the earth, because this is where Christ was incarnate, where He died, and where He rose from the dead, and from where He ascended into Heaven. The picture was complete in my mind, and geocentrism as a theory was taking on all the hallmarks of a decided dogma. 

Was I wrong to allow the religious awakening in me to inform and colorize the scientific awakening—if one can call waking up in a dream an awakening at all. I believe the problem came from not understanding how the Church understands science and faith, first of all, and secondly, that I did not understand how the Church related to the issue of geocentrism as a scientific theory, neither of which issues I will deal with directly here, for that is not entirely my point at present. That there is a distinction between truths of the faith and truths of science, everyone believes. That there must be overlap between these two categories is quite obvious.

But how the Church determines where that overlap is, and, if there be a conflict, how to resolve such, is most briefly answered by St. Augustine, quoted by Pope Leo XIII, in Providentissimus Deus:

Whatever they can really demonstrate to be true of physical nature, we must show to be capable of reconciliation with our Scriptures; and whatever they assert in their treatises which is contrary to these Scriptures of ours, that is to Catholic faith, we must either prove it as well as we can to be entirely false, or at all events we must, without the smallest hesitation, believe it to be so.”   

Whether or not the theory of geocentrism is and has been proven false, is not in my personal competence to say. I am interested in the topic for sure, and I have heretofore promoted the belief in a still and stationary globe on the assumption that the new geocentrism represented what the Church teaches. I was woefully wrong on that point. A friend of mine sent me a link to several articles in the Dublin Review written in the 1800s. I have started to read them, and the interesting thing to note on my initial look-over, is that this idea is recurrent: Galileo was not condemned for his Copernican theory, because there were several top scientists and Churchmen of the day appointed to top posts who held the view, as well. What I also learned of interest was that Kepler himself was offered, if my memory serves, the top astronomy post in Rome, who himself openly taught and advocated the heliocentric model. I encourage those who are interested to take a deeper dive into those Dublin Review articles. But the point I really want to stress which I learned from them is this: the heliocentric view was never denounced as heresy by the Church, according to the historical record presented in the Dublin Review.

Those who are interested in diving into the topic of geocentrism from Robert Sungenis’s work would do well to also check out the website GeocentrismDebunked.org, which has many articles about the science involved.  I am not sure if Sungenis believes that the heliocentric model is heretical or not, or teaches that or not. I would have to watch his presentations again to know. Nor am I saying that geocentrism is false and the heliocentric model is true, but there are historical facts which support the view that the heliocentric model is both the established model in science but also the accepted view of the Catholic Church, as a quick look into the subject on Wikipedia would prove:

“In 1822, the Congregation of the Holy Office removed the prohibition on the publication of books treating of the Earth’s motion in accordance with modern astronomy and Pope Pius VII ratified the decision:

‘The most excellent [cardinals] have decreed that there must be no denial, by the present or by future Masters of the Sacred Apostolic Palace, of permission to print and to publish works which treat of the mobility of the Earth and of the immobility of the sun, according to the common opinion of modern astronomers, as long as there are no other contrary indications, on the basis of the decrees of the Sacred Congregation of the Index of 1757 and of this Supreme [Holy Office] of 1820; and that those who would show themselves to be reluctant or would disobey, should be forced under punishments at the choice of [this] Sacred Congregation, with derogation of [their] claimed privileges, where necessary,” (“Geocentric Model,” Wikipedia). 

Thus we see that the Catholic Church is not opposed to the heliocentric model. On reading the Dublin Review articles, one is struck by the conduct of the Churchmen during the Galileo affair being positively enthusiastic about the theory. There is a lot going on with all that surrounds this issue of geocentrism, and I am not interested in embarking on that sea voyage just yet, and certainly not in a short post like this. But I do want to use it as an occasion to address a broader and more profound issue facing us Catholics today, and that is on the question of reality and reason, and where faith plays into it—if and when, or ever. 

At present there is a vacuum of meaning in our lives. For those of us who pray at home and who do not belong to a religious community as such, though we belong in faith to the Body of Christ and His Church, we are perhaps more susceptible to succumb to false teachers and false prophets, both in the spiritual order but also in the secular. You see, when we belonged to the Novus Ordo, like it or not, there was security of mind. We knew what the truth was, because our priest taught us when we asked. We knew in a roundabout way what the “Church” taught, because we had read our Catechism of the Catholic Church, and we believed it—for all its blundering and modernist speech, there are truths in it after all. We did not worry about whether the earth was flat or round, hollow or solid, moving or immoveable, young or old, because we ourselves were sure of where we stood on it. It is only when the proverbial rug was yanked out from under us that we did not know where we stood anymore on so many issues. It was only when we realized that a heretic could not be pope, or an ecumenical council could not promulgate heresy, that we started to get shaky under our feet on other issues as well. It is to that psychological-spiritual phenomenon that I would like to offer a word on. 

You see, we mustn’t lose our heads because we almost lost our souls living in a sect from hell. Coming out of Babylon was hard enough, being scattered to the four winds like so many war refugees and exiles. We must keep our reason in the common things of experience, and in commonsense and trust that, though we may very well be living during the reign of the Antichrist, we don’t have to believe that everything is lies and deception. This is hard, like I said before, because we who are out in the wild with our Lady are deprived of that social structure and habitation for a healthy mind. The temptation is to believe that there is a connection between the certain truths of the faith which we have reasoned from to arrive here in the desert, and those half-truths or speculations of either religion or science which we come to find were not so, and which then casts shadows of doubt on the certain truths of the faith we relied upon but which we mistakenly connected with opinions in religion or science. That is my fear for us, that when we discover that the earth is round and rotates and revolves around the sun, we will call into question certain truths which had nothing to do with cosmology or the Church, for the reason that we mistakenly connected them.  

So that is what I am warning against here. It may be that the earth is very old, very round, and that it moves around the sun and around its own axis, and that these views of the natural order are completely compatible with the dogmas of the Catholic Church. I have not investigated the question in any seriousness whether they are in fact compatible, but if it is proven that these are facts of our experience, St. Augustine tells us we should unhesitatingly believe them.

We mustn’t make the mistake of fideism, the false (and heretical) belief that reason and faith are separate entities, that faith is independent of reason, or that reason is subservient to faith. There are mysteries in our religion, no doubt, which reason cannot in principle explain, because they depend for their effect on the will of God as cause, which is in principle incomprehensible, just as being itself is incomprehensible, because the principle of existence is God Himself. That is not what I am talking about. I mean that there is a new fideism in the air in light of both a distrust of the world under the current spiritual crisis and reign of the Antichrist, and in light of all the competing theories of everything, geocentrism being just one subject out of a hundred. Science is in crisis just as much as the faith is in crisis, but there is sure ground in science just as much as there is sure ground in faith. The difficulty–and thrill and adventure–is discovering both again as if they were new. I am proposing that we make a journey to the center of gravity, to where all things are held in balance and harmony, in equilibrium, that the fact we have no pope or lawful pastors to teach, govern and sanctify us, does not mean that a thousand other things we once believed true are false.