Drawn into Madness: BetrayedCatholics Concocts More Error

Seems, madam? Nay, it is; I know not seems.

Dishonesty Compounded by Error

I do not like having to write article after contentious article against one who I thought was a fellow Catholic. After this series of controversial articles written against Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics, I have had considerable doubts as to the Catholicity of the woman. It just defies comprehension how one could a priori seek to invalidate the sacrament of Holy Matrimony based upon specious and disproven arguments in canon law by actual canonists. I am sorry, but either Benns is a non-Catholic sectarian heretic or else she is a megalomaniac who can’t help it.

In her most recent tirade against Holy Matrimony, Benns has blithely back-peddled to the effect that she actually says, of course, she was going to explain everything in due time and that we her critics (read here simply faithful and reasonable Catholics) were hasty in publishing criticisms of her position. She writes:

Marriage is a very complex subject requiring careful study and the clarification of many fine distinctions. Those critiquing this difficult canonical work would do well to let the author complete the explanation of the current situation before arriving prematurely at any conclusions. Those involved in serious research, especially, should know that one proceeds from the general to the particular. What is presented below will not answer all questions but should serve to help readers better understand points mentioned in the previous two blog posts. Because of the confusion created by our critics, we must make certain the following is understood.

First off, it is not this man, nor Laura Wood of ThinkingHousewife who has created the confusion. On the contrary, it is I, not Benns who have attempted to open a window to let in the breeze and sunshine of authentic Catholic thought on marriage, to air out and illuminate the stuffy nonsense which Benns is addicted to publishing. The canonical work that Benns is trying to do is neither necessary nor is she competent to do it, as has been demonstrated by the series of articles published last week. Nor am I trained in canon law to reason against her specious argumentation, not because she is right and I am wrong, but because neither of us have any business doing so. The whole difficulty and danger of BetrayedCatholics is that Benns relies on canon law to show that one should not go to Traditionalists, when what she should have been doing was resting her claims on what is certain and demonstrable from the scope of her competency to know, which is a catechism. She has no business fabricating arguments (and, reader, that is what she has been doing, fabricating) to advise people to stay away from the Traditionalists sacraments. The reasons why are are follows:

Teresa Benns is not a trained canonist. Indeed she is not even a college graduate. It is simply incorrigible presumption and arrogance to think one can pick up the tools and materials of a science one has no training in. Imagine if I were to presume upon my abilities and knowledge to conduct experiments in the lab with the tools and materials of microbiology, perhaps in an attempt to replicate the Bubonic plague in a Petri dish. The effects would be astoundingly tragic, since I wouldn’t know the first thing about lab protocol, biological ethics, or any number of things about biology or microbes. Likewise, the consequences of Benns meddling in a science she has no training has been astoundingly tragic, even more so than were she to attempt to replicate the Black Death, because at least then it would only be the body that comes to an agonizing end. Now it is marriage, family life, childhoods, the domestic church, and above all individual souls which are coming to an agonizing end. That is on Teresa’s conscience–if she has one.

Marriage is not complex, contrary to what Benns claims. The conditions for its valid reception can be summed up in a sentence: If you are baptized, exchange vows before two witnesses, you are sacramentally married. As I published last week the scholarly statement on the topic found in the Catholic Encyclopedia: “Hence not only the marriage between Catholics, but also that contracted by members of the different sects which have retained baptism and validly baptize, is undoubtedly a sacrament.”

Benns lists those things we should keep in mind that she believes:

  • We speak here only of marriage between two certainly baptized Catholics.
  • In cases of marriage, doubtful baptisms are presumed to be valid until proven otherwise.
  • The Church teaches that the marriages of those not Catholic are valid, but not fruitful regarding grace and not recognized by the Church as valid Catholic marriages. This would include Traditionalist and Novus Ordo marriages since these sects are schismatic.
  • The marriage of two Catholics acting in a time period when no Catholic priest is available appear to be invalid if held as a religious ceremony before a non-Catholic minister in a non-Catholic church.
  • It cannot be admitted that an after-the-fact invocation of Can. 1098 as a kind of “supplied jurisdiction” or application of epikeia can be said to validate Novus Ordo or Traditionalist marriages given the implications of Can. 2319.
  • The only situation anticipated in these discussions is that of a Traditionalist or Novus Ordo person who decides to become a pray-at-home Catholic, renounces his/her previous errors, makes a Profession of Faith, arrives at moral certainty that the marriage was not valid and now wishes to rectify matters.

To the first bullet: no, Teresa, you have spoken and passed judgment on non-Catholic as well as Catholic marriages. Indeed your whole argument has been predicated upon saying that marriages before non-Catholic ministers are not sacramental.

To the second: you presume that marriages conducted before Traditionalists are not valid.

Third: You have changed your tune. You wrote:

Here you are presuming that the marriage was validly contracted and that the spouses can possibly reconcile their differences in the future. Of course the Church has always allowed separation; this should go without saying. But we are not just talking about tensions here, but very real moral and spiritual calamities — including possible loss of faith — that afflict many of those believing themselves to be validly married. As another reader has also pointed out, the very fact that such calamities occur, that there are “irreparable divisions,” is only backhanded proof that the graces that should have been received in a sacramental unionwere never received; the marriage was not valid, hence not sacramental. The Church’s “mercy and realism” extends to the sacramental reality of things, don’t you think?

Here you call into question, not just the Catholic nature (what is this exactly?) of marriages before non-Catholics, but you even chide Laura Wood for presuming upon the validity of the contract of marriage. Further, you argue that the apparent absence of grace in a union is proof that the marriage was not valid, and “hence, not sacramental.” But this is a direct contradiction, not only to the bullet point under discussion, but to the Catholic Encyclopedia article which expressly states in no uncertain terms that even a marriage contracted in a sect is to be regarded as “undoubtably a sacrament,” and so able to give grace.

Next, as to the appearance of invalidity of those who marry outside the Catholic Church, this, too, is flatly contradicted by the Catholic Encyclopedia article oft quoted:

“As we have several times emphasized, not every marriage is a true sacrament, but only marriages between Christians. One becomes and remains a Christian in the sense recognized here through valid baptism. Hence only one who has been validly baptized can contract a marriage which is a sacrament; but every one can contract it who has been validly baptized, whether he has remained true to the Christian faith, or become a heretic, or even an infidel. Such has always been the teaching and practice of the Church.

Did you read that? It doesn’t matter if you are a heretic or schismatic or infidel, if you are baptized and marry, you are sacramentally married. This has been the constant teaching of the Church, the denial of which is at least theological error, if not heresy, since it touches upon the nature of the sacraments.

Next bullet point: It can be admitted that invocation of c.1098 is not necessary, because that is commonsense and simply a positive application of the legal maxim, Ignoratia legis non excusat. Nor is Benns ignorant as to what the Church teaches regarding the conditions of matrimony, since these articles should not have left her in any doubt.

And, finally, as to the statement: “The only situation anticipated in these discussions is that of a Traditionalist or Novus Ordo person who decides to become a pray-at-home Catholic, renounces his/her previous errors, makes a Profession of Faith, arrives at moral certainty that the marriage was not valid and now wishes to rectify matters,” I say this: How can one arrive at the moral certainty that a marriage was not valid? What are the conditions of invalidity, because the only conditions which were listed thus far have been proven specious and theologically erroneous and not found in the law at all.

Now, as to the rest of the article which Benns pens in order to obfuscate and confuse her readers and avoid stating the obvious, that she was dead wrong about all this travesty, she relies upon a funny little word in order to make her case that those who are unhappy in their marriage may have a Get-Out-of-Jail Free card in their hand it they should so happen to require one. That word is seems. Here are the instances:

“Woywod-Smith seem to be explaining above that because no latae sententiae sentence is prescribed for two Catholics marrying in a religious ceremony before a non-Catholic minister, this is only an attempted marriage…”

“This seems to indicate that both those contracting mixed marriage AND those attempting marriage do incur the excommunication.” 

“This seems to be in harmony with the decree.”

“The truth here seems to be that two baptized Catholics presenting before a non-Catholic minister and engaging in a religious ceremony only attempt marriage…”

As has been shown above, a marriage officiated even before non-Catholic ministers is considered to be undoubtedly sacramental. No amount of canon lawing can change that, and those who would attempt it, who are not themselves canon lawyers, are simply playing the part of pharisees, trying to put asunder what God hath joined. What I have quoted from does not use such Gertrudian language. And I would add that the character Queen Gertrude in the Shakespearean play of Hamlet is incapable anymore of determining in reason certainties, such that she cannot even understand the sorrow of her own son! This is because she herself is guilty of not having enough sorrow for her late husband, and so she tries to dowse the reality and darkness of sorrow with sunlight, but Hamlet has within the truth he knows so well, which will not yield. That is why, Hamlet, above all the other characters of the play, is, quite contrary to what everyone believes, the only sane man in a kingdom of lunatics. Claudius is a murderous madman; Gertrude a sorrow-less widow; Polonius a moral relativist; Ophelia a relativist and tool. With Laertes, Hamlet’s murderer, being perhaps the only other sane man of the play, but even he is ravaged by the thirst for vengeance, whereas Hamlet has been disposed to control his desire for vengeance like a saint.

The whole point of Hamlet is that he does not act or decide or think based upon what seems but rather acts according to what is. He tries everything to see what spirit it is of, because he knows the feebleness of man’s nature, not because he despairs of that feebleness. He trusts rather to what is, what can be known for sure, than to what seems to be, for it is sanity and sanctity that certainty resides in what is, whereas madness dwells in what seems. You are perfectly at liberty to follow BetrayedCatholics, but if you do, think of the consequences:

What if it tempt you to the flood, my lord, 
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff 
That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form, 
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it.  

An Essay, Poem, and Very Short Story on Halloween

An Essay

Whether the pagan festival of Samain preceded or followed the Christian festival of Halloween is a question I shall leave to scholars and other such pedants. What concerns me at present is a memory of childhood which touches upon the deepest reality behind either festival, that of the life of the spirit.

Before I was a man, before I was a new man or neophyte, I was a child, which means I was closer to God and spiritual realities were unmixed with reason, since, being a boy, I had only fancy. But I was, as I imagine most were, a purely passive entity, allowing the world to permeate me just as an open window lets in fresh autumn air. Though I did not know what such things meant, I knew they meant something. Thus, when I was a boy, my older brother would torture me with making a cackling voice of a witch, and would tease me that he was going to call the witch. But I recall looking up at the window with utter horror at the thought of seeing that witch ascend to my windowsill and grin in at me. The point is, though I had no idea what invocation was, which is the principle of all prayer–and all devil worship–I was as conscious of its reality as I was of my own beating heart, which was considerable when my brother scared me.

The same reality for which I had no name, which was as real to me as a great big orange pumpkin on a porch, always materialized and made itself felt during the holidays which, in those days of my heathen youth, I simply knew as days off from school, holiness being a concept I had no words for, though, all the same, felt. Thus, there was something holy about graveyards, which I dared not enter without express business; there was something holy about the names of the deceased; there was something holy about a Christmas tree, an Easter egg, though I had no idea what, nor had any inkling as to the origins of those items which appeared intermittent during winter and spring break. Though I did not know it, my soul was magnetized by God to feel attracted to these things, not because they promised a break from school work, or candy and presents. On the contrary, the feeling to which I refer had nothing to do with any substantial thing at all, at least not the sense that it was satisfied or rested in those things themselves. Rather, I they always seemed to point me beyond them. Pumpkins, candles, skeletons, black cats, eerie houses, ghosts cut out of sheets, these were not the folly of a pagan culture gone mad. These were the artifacts of a people who were celebrating death but they forgot why. The ornaments of Halloween were, and are, to my youthful soul, sacramentals, which, when pondered upon are able to transport one to a realm beyond the veil of death to life everlasting.

Of course, I had no notion of sacrament at the time. But, funny enough, as school let out, and the interminable bus ride home concluded, as late afternoon closed in and evening approached, I felt a sense of dimensional shift, as if time became hallowed, set apart, made special and infused with meaning. What that meaning was was not reducible to the anticipation of candy. It was more. If I could give it expression as a man, which is a big if, I would say it was the excited anticipation of taking on the night, taking on death as it were, walking the streets in my homemade ninja costume and pillow case candy bag, and walking up to the homes of complete strangers to ask for candy where five-hundred years before I would have returned a prayer. Trick-or-Treat was to me as a young heathen boy a deeply ritualistic and religious ceremony, with the free candy an added bonus.

Now, as an adult converted to the Catholic faith, I strive to feel and to understand with a passive soul the meaning of this thing called Halloween. It is difficult, because I am hampered by my intellect being active and always wanting to jump in and fill the gaps, instead of letting skeletons be skeletons, the form of body deprived of life; or eerie houses one might call haunted, not with the dead so much as the living of what might of been, the happy home with light and laughter and little children running around playing in the leaves; or pumpkins, especially carved with candlelit grimacing, menacing faces, which are just gargoyles cut not from stone but living rind. Between me and the spirit world, the world of sense in itself, there falls the veil of adulthood. During my boyhood that veil did not exist, because I was not yet a man. Since my conversion, I have endeavored to see the world as I did as a child, to feel the Spirit of time and place, the Sanctifier move in and around and through me, making my very waking day a wonderful dream, tinted with that hue of meaning no intellect can touch, being a thing too holy, too precious, like the Blessed Sacrament itself which nothing but what is hallowed may hold.

Perhaps when I am older, I will have learned to let go and stop grasping for meaning. Perhaps, at the end of all my searching and trying to understand the truth of things, I will remember when I was a boy dressed up as a ninja with the plastic glow-in-the-dark sword, knocking at a stranger’s door with the hope and goodwill and faith in my fellow man. Then, remembering how to be a child, the door shall be opened, and I shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Poem

To My Brother Who Was My Keeper
  
Though appearing unreal to some, never to me: 
I thought your fantasy reality.
  
From my windowsill I’d see your fairies,
Dancing upon the golden-grassland prairies; 
Through that windowpane I’d hear your cackling witch,
Who’d curdle my blood and make my body twitch.

You sent me out to gaze at the canvas of glass, 
And kneel and listen to a Lady Mass,
That I might mend my adulterated sight,
And hear of how the Painter painted the night.

Now the sun shines through the stained glass today,
Bringing to life a fairytale display
Of spire-alighted, splendid seraphim, 
Suppressing the howling Dragon’s heinous hymn.      

Since these appear as real as ever to me,
Why do you think my reality fantasy?

A Very Short Story

While rising above the maple hills, a faithful but waning sun began to warm the sleepy town of Witnesston. With what seemed like automatic obedience to an unknown authority, the townspeople had bedecked the town with festive ornamentation the day before, in preparation for Halloween.  

Living alone in a hut of a house, the middle-aged Harold Ernest had taken leave of his unwelcoming dwellings by making his way down the dark main street to the edge of town and was now returning thence. On this morning, as on every morning before dawn, Harold patronized the town’s only coffeehouse, Witnesston’s Best, before returning home to write. The habit of doing so, along with his leisurely way of life, was afforded him by a small but sufficient inheritance, which subsidized his other than lucrative profession as a freelance writer.  

“What will it be, Harry?” asked Fred Barnes, the coffeehouse’s owner and tender. “But why ask you questions I know the answers to? One dark-roast coming up,” and smartly arose from his work to fetch some freshly brewed coffee.

“Thank you, Fred,” Harold sighed, after closing the door behind him, taking himself to the only table he ever knew in the place. “Am I your first?” he asked in a rehearsed manner, as the question was almost answered before he asked.   

“No one rises before you, Harry,” Fred said, pouring coffee into a cup. “You make the birds look bad.”

Harold, unconsciously cringing at the alliterative phrase, looked out on the morning street, wondering whether today would be the day the little town of Witnesston would wake up. He saw from where he sat a motley assortment of decorations, which had, he thought, been thrown up at once in the night, by common adherence to an unwritten ordinance. With the increasing brilliance of the morning light, he began to see from the coffeehouse window pale skeletons dangling from lampposts here and there, carved pumpkins loitering upon stoops, and messy spiderwebs adorning doors, from threshold to lintel, amidst the falling maple leaves. No one was yet awake.   

“Isn’t it spooky out there?” Barnes giddily inquired, handing Harold his cup of coffee.

“As compared with where I just came, it is a senseless parody,” Harold replied in a somber calm, while accepting the cup halfheartedly.  

“Harold, you are above us all,” returned Fred. “Yet, I can’t help pitying you,” and went back behind the counter to continue wrapping the chocolate candies he had been working on when his patron entered. 

While drinking his coffee at table, Harold observed Barnes from a distance. Thin and white, Barnes’ hair was neatly combed back. The aged man wore a red and white candy-striped apron around his pleasantly fat frame. The comedic contrast between the frivolous garment and stately styled hair gave Harold a moment for mirth; but, recollecting himself, he instead peered back out the window at the grotesque street.

“This town is going to hell in a handbag!” shot forth Harold out of the quiet coffeehouse. “Rather, a trick-or-treat bag!” he added. “Look at the pomp and pleasure. Look at the hanged figures, wasted gourds, and cobwebbing! Childish frenzy, I say. Death has them all by the throat; yet they throw a party in mockery of the fact.” Harold had let his coffee go to his head, for he was not used to speaking thus, at least not when their was an audience. Barnes remained behind the counter during the outburst, but soon made his way to Harold, an ice-water in hand.

“Drink this,” Barnes insisted, handing Harold the glass. “It will dilute the boldness. The first pot I make is always the boldest.” Harold took the glass of water and placed it down beside the drained coffee cup without a word.

“Am I alone here?” Harold asked, disarmed by the polite gesture of his host.

“Am I not here?” asked Barnes in like tone, sitting down across the table from Harold.

“Am I alone in thinking that all of Witnesston is asleep, that the town displays death, celebrates death, because it does not think about what it means to die?” clarified Harold.

“I suppose you know what it means to die?” Barnes retorted somewhat flippantly.

“I know the cold of a gravestone. I know the irreconcilability of pumpkins and skeletons.”

“The street is enchanting,” replied Barnes, gazing out the window. “We really outdid ourselves this year.” Vexed by the simplicity of his host, Harold began to rise to leave, but stopped.

“Do you not fear death, Mr. Barnes?” asked Harold solemnly, himself in between two worlds, sitting and standing.  

“I fear you,” said Barnes with greater solemnity, his blue eyes trained now on his motionless guest. For a long moment, the men remained in perfect silence, Barnes seated, Harold suspended. 

“May I have a candy?” Harold asked with a smile, and began to sit.  

The Fox and the Hound and the Red Herring

“The figurative sense of “red herring” was thought to originate from a supposed technique of training young scent hounds. There are variations of the story, but according to one version, the pungent red herring would be dragged along a trail until a puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odour of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (whose strong scent confuses the animal) perpendicular to the animal’s trail to confuse the dog. The dog eventually learned to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent,” (Wikipedia, “Red Herring”).

What follows is an attempt to follow that original scent through the confusing odor of a red herring left in our path.

Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics has posted a lengthy addendum to her latest article in which she attempts to cover her tracks of faulty understanding of canon law but in the process only succeeds in further showing, if not her canon law incompetency, then her capacity for seemingly willful deception.

Benns began by a defensive attack on Laura Wood, ThinkingHouseWife, a sincere and thoughtful commenter, with a refreshingly balanced mind and, yes, a thinking housewife, launching this invective:

“Your article is a grave attack on Catholic marriages!”

So wails the anti-Canon Law crowd that just “liked” the article on the need to obey Canon Law (?) They cite nary one canon in their favor, no papal or conciliar documents, not even theological opinions. But they believe they have the right to disagree, to snipe, even to condemn. Canon Law and scholastic theology require proofs to establish a credible argument, but this is apparently not something they feel obligated to do. Let them prove Traditionalists and some Novus Ordoites were never baptized; that they are not at least material heretics and schismatics and that therefore Can. 1094 does not apply to them. Maybe then their objections would make more sense. Ah, but they have no answer to this either, no proofs. They apparently love to argue, so perhaps they would like to take on the pope, or the Roman Rota below.

These are not the words of a steady Catholic woman who believes she has a duty to defend the Catholic faith against her enemies. This is the acrid response of a venomous woman backed in a corner of an argument she cannot escape. The only option she has is to either admit that she is wrong, and humbly submit to truth, or, as she rather does, throw us off the scent by leaving us to read irrelevant laws and commentaries while she retreats to her foxhole.

The fact is it has been demonstrated to anyone of goodwill and commonsense that if you were married by a non-Catholic at least before two witnesses, your marriage is valid.

Now, Benns wants us to focus on the baptized and unbaptized Traditionalists since, according to her, this is relevant to whether one comes under the law of c. 1094. But we have already seen that, whenever there is no Catholic priest available, one may validly and licitly exchange vows before two witnesses and this, whether they are baptized or not, as even Benns’s source states:

Non-Catholics baptized and unbaptized are exempt from the Catholic form of marriage whenever they marry persons similarly not bound by it.

So, I ask, why are we being told to prove the invalidity of baptism of Traditionalists, when, according to Benns, Traditionalists are non-Catholics? I thought the whole Get-Out-of-Marriage Free Card argument of BetrayedCatholics was that marriage before a non-Catholic minister was no marriage at all under c.1094? The answer is that Benns believes Traditionalists and Novus Ordos are not non-Catholics but schismatics, and this, apparently, makes them fall under the law of c.1094:

Anyone who reads this site knows that we have long considered Traditional pseudo-clerics and their followers schismatic. Schismatics are those certainly baptized in the Catholic faith who publicly joined a non-Catholic sect; they are no longer members of the Church according to Canons 2200 and 2314. They are not only schismatics but are at least material heretics for their denial of the necessity of the papacy. Material heretics are considered as outside the Church until their cases can be decided by the proper authorities (Can. 2200; Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, others). So according to Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII’s reinstatement of his Ne Temere decree, the marriages of lapsed Catholics and schismatics must be conducted according to the canonical form, which in the past was by a lawful pastor delegated to act as an authoritative witness in such marriages, (but in his absence today, the canonical form can only be Can. 1098). Novus Ordo sectarians and Traditionalists are married under neither.

If you are getting confused, that is the point. It is the point of Benns to make this whole affair much more complicated than it really is. Thankfully for you, that is what I am here for, to do the unravelling and untangling of the knot of confusion Benns has worked so hard to make, all in the service, ironically, of trying to untie the matrimonial knot of Catholics.

It is true that lapsed Catholics, those who where baptized in the Church but fell away from the faith in adulthood, are obliged to follow the marriage laws of the Church. This would demand that they be married before a Catholic priest with jurisdiction. Of course, we have seen that there is an exception to this requirement if there are no Catholic priests available. But now the question Benns puts before us is whether those who were fallen away Catholics actually married or not. Benns writes:

So if as pray-at home Catholics we believe validly baptized Traditionalists are schismatic, (and Canon Law teaches that they are), they also are bound by the proper canonical form to marry. Therefore, we can only say that their marriages before one who was not a lawful pastor were invalid and Can.1098 was never invoked; this is precisely what the Church teaches.

It may be that there were individuals who had been baptized in the actual Catholic Church and not the Novus Ordo sect or Sedevacantist sect, but who later in adulthood fell away from the Church and got married before a non-Catholic minister, like an Sede priest, and who, subsequently fell under the law of Ne Temere. Thus, they would be obliged to have been married by a Catholic priest for validity according to c.1094. The problem, though, is c.1098, which makes this whole discussion about schismatics fluff and stuff and irrelevant, because, quite contrary to what Benns claims, no invocation or even knowledge of law is required for it to come into effect. All that is required for the law to be effective are the conditions which come under the law. The law does not depend on one’s knowledge or will, unless, of course, they are God.

But why is Benns talking about baptism of schismatics now, instead of addressing The Jurist quotation? The answer is simple enough: obfuscation. Benns is hoping that, with the introduction of the idea of valid baptism, we are going to run after that trail instead of following the scent of the wounded animal and track it down into its lair. This is an informal fallacy known as a red herring, an irrelevant point or argument used wittingly or no but with the ultimate effect of confusing and misleading the reader.

In closing out this controversy, I would like to make a final point, not scientific but nevertheless persuasive. If you find yourself struggling to understand what Benns is writing, or, conversely, if you do not have much difficultly reading what I write here, it is not because Benns treats subjects which are more difficult to comprehend, whereas I skim the surface of things, as it were, and never do a deep dive.

The cause of confusion is rather to be found in the mind of the writer. We cannot give what we do not have. If we have no clarity of thought, we surely cannot give it. I pride myself on being simple, it is true. I try to present things in an easy to understand and casual way, to help my readers understand what I am saying. I do not overburden you with needless information, redundant or irrelevant argument, because my intention is that you understand what I am trying to say. Now, ask yourself, what is Teresa Benns’s intention based upon her not addressing The Jurist quotation and evidence I presented, indeed not even mentioning it at all, but rather taking jabs at a deeply concerned and well-intentioned fellow Catholic blogger, Laura Wood.

What is Teresa Benn’s intention in writing up an addendum at least half as long as the origin post which says precisely nothing to the purpose? I would argue, as I think I have convincingly suggested above, that Teresa Benns’s intention is to confuse and deceive There could be any number of deeply personal reasons for why she has published such scandalous and destructive articles to the detriment of Holy Matrimony. But one thing is certainly clear in this writer’s mind: Teresa Benns has not a love of the truth.

I shall leave you with this intolerably but necessarily long quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Sacrament of Marriage which puts it beyond doubt that those who are schismatics are nevertheless married:

“As we have several times emphasized, not every marriage is a true sacrament, but only marriages between Christians. One becomes and remains a Christian in the sense recognized here through valid baptism. Hence only one who has been validly baptized can contract a marriage which is a sacrament; but every one can contract it who has been validly baptized, whether he has remained true to the Christian faith, or become a heretic, or even an infidel. Such has always been the teaching and practice of the Church. Through baptism one “becomes a member of Christ and is incorporated in the body of the Church“, as declared in the Florentine Decree for the Armenians; so far as law is concerned, he remains irrevocably subject to the Church, and is therefore, in legal questions, always to be considered a Christian. Hence it is a general principle that all baptized persons are subject to universal ecclesiastical laws, especially marriage laws unless the Church makes an exception for individual cases or classes. Hence not only the marriage between Catholics, but also that contracted by members of the different sects which have retained baptism and validly baptize, is undoubtedly a sacrament. It matters not whether the non-Catholic considers marriage a sacrament or not, or whether he intends to effect a sacrament or not. Provided only he intends to contract a true marriage, and expresses the requisite consent, this intention and this expression are sufficient to constitute a sacrament. But if he is absolutely determined not to effect a sacrament, then, of course, the production of a sacrament would be excluded, but the marriage contract also would be null and void. By Divine ordinance it is essential to Christian marriage that it should be a sacrament; it is not in the power of the contracting parties to eliminate anything from its nature, and a person who has the intention of doing this invalidates the whole ceremony. It is certain, therefore, that marriage contracted between baptized persons is a sacrament, even the so-called mixed marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, provided the non-Catholic has been validly baptized. It is equally certain that marriage between unbaptized persons is not a sacrament in the strict sense of the word,” (Emphasis added).  

Do not be confused. Do not be deceived. If you and your partner were baptized and exchanged vows before two witnesses, no matter what your religious standing was, fallen away Catholic, schismatic, or heretic, you were validly and sacramentally married.

The Rotten Fruits of a Cult Leader: Lawless License and Eternal Death

I have said it before on this website, that I believe Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics to be a cult leader. At the time, and afterward, I thought it somewhat hasty even for myself to assert such, since there really was scant evidence to claim it. Now, without a shred of doubt on my conscience, I am quite certain that Benns is a cult leader of a non-Catholic sect.

Benns has doubled down on her claim that marriages performed before Traditionalists are invalid according to c.1094. I have already shown that c.1098 is the exception to it, providing that, if, after a month has transpired, an authorized priest is not available, a couple may validly and legally exchange vows before two witnesses.

Now, Benns has claimed in her most recent the following:

“…Who alone were able to administer or witness the Sacraments? Those who can be rightly identified, of course, as lawful pastors, rightly commissioned by the Church as such. Does the Church consider marriages between Catholics, (or where one party is Catholic at least), by one not delegated by the Church sacramental? Not according to Can. 1094. Therefore even if consummated, it is still not considered valid. And this same Canon offers the exception of Canon 1098. But how could Can. 1098 be invoked unless one first realized there are no lawful pastors left and they must invoke it?”

The quick and concise answer to this blathering nonsense is that, yes, the Church does consider marriages between Catholics sacramental and valid and licit, even before a non-Catholic minister, provided the conditions of law of c.1098 are fulfilled. And, no! Knowledge of the law need not be invoked like a spell book charm in order to come into effect. Law doesn’t work like magic spells. Law is the universal regulatory principle of order in a community which is effective quite apart from our knowledge. The legal maxim everyone and their brother knows–except, it would seem, Teresa Benns–is that ignorance of the law does not excuse.

Thus it is quite impossible for a marriage to be invalid which took place even before a non-Catholic minister but before at least two witnesses, when during the past several decades no authorized priests have been available.

But don’t take my word for all this. I know about as much canon law as astrophysics, which goes for the vast majority of people today. The law, and especially the body of ecclesial law, is a science which demands training and years of study under the direction of masters of the law. Teresa Benns is a hoax and a fake. She has no legal training whatever, and is so outrageously wrong on this point of c.1098 as to be sinfully wrong, because she is quite literally leading souls to Hell by her ignorance, which, if she doesn’t correct after having read what follows–which I hope you, gentle and just reader, shall share with her and blow up her email with–all may reasonably conclude is not ignorance but malice toward truth and intentionally deceiving.

These are the rotten fruits of a cult leader. If, after what I present below does not convince you of this, you might as well throw your head back and down the cyanid Kool-Aid, because, imbibing Benns one is liable to imperil their very soul to eternal death and hellfire, as one reader commented some have already done, trying to dissolve their own valid and Catholic marriages based upon the raving idiocies of BetrayedCatholics.

So, here is the evidence. It comes from an excerpt of The Jurist, a pre-1958 Catholic canon law review journal, a scholarly publication which demanded the highest legal research and expertise in the world on ecclesiastical law and jurisprudence. It was the source by which legal professionals understood more fully the laws and commentaries written on canon law. Here is what one entry said on c.1098:

“It is not necessary that those going to marry should know about c. 1098, or think of it when they marry without a priest, or know that an exception of this occurs in law. The law takes effect as soon as all the prescribed conditions have been fulfilled, independent therefore from the parties knowing it or a priest declaring it. For in these circumstances nothing more is done than applying the general principle which says: In order that someone may be said to obey a positive ecclesiastical law, it suffices that he posits and action such as is prescribed by the law. Moreover, if it is a question of a ‘lex irritans‘, the ignorance of the law has no effect on the action. Just as ignorance does not prevent an action in opposition to a ‘lex irritans‘ from being null and void (c. 36, par. 1) so there is nothing to prevent an action which complies with the demands of the law, from being valid. It suffices for the validity that the parties wish to contract a valid marriage and that the conditions of c. 1098 are fulfilled, even though the couple and others ‘ex conscientious erronea‘ imagine that they are committing a sin, or even blamed for living in concubinage. For according to c. 1085 ‘Scientia aut opinion nullitatis matrimonii consensum matrimonialiem necessario non excludit.’ It need scarcely be remarked that in these circumstances the parties are justified in going to a justice of the peace, or any other official of the government who is entitled to witness marriage, so that marriage may have the recognition of the civil law. They can also marry before a non-Catholic minister, not as a minister of religion but as official entitled by civil law to witness marriages; they must not allow him to use any religious ceremony, as may be seen from Canon 1063.”

The Jurist. “The History and Application of Canon 1098.” John De Reeper, M.H.F. (1954), p. 168-169).

Anyone of good will can see the glaring contradiction between what the legal scholar De Reeper says in the The Jurist concerning c.1098 and what Teresa Benns says, a mere high school graduate without a shred of university education to her name, let alone post doctoral research expertise in ecclesial law like De Reeper.

It is high time people start heeding the warnings I have made on this website about BetrayedCatholics and Teresa Stanfill Benns. She is a false prophet, a false teacher, and a false Catholic, since she promotes what one friend and reader of this blog has called a pharisaical approach to canon law. I do not claim knowledge of canon law or even theology for that matter. I do, however, have extensive training in philosophy at the graduate level, which makes me capable of identifying error and of making proper distinctions. Armed with a catechism, I am simply applying what I am expected to know and defend against those who dilute or distort the teachings of the Church.

Benns is distorting the law, adjudicating cases she has utterly no business adjudicating, and cunningly like a Pharisee trying to use law in the service of lawlessness–and divorce is lawlessness, because it denies the bonds of law, both civil and Divine. Just as much as a thief denies the rights of property, just as a murderer denies the rights of person to live, so a divorcee denies the marital rights of his or her spouse. The fruits of BetrayedCatholics is self-evident to anyone who has eyes to see: lawless license and eternal death.

May Heaven have mercy on the Cult Leader Teresa Stanfill Benns.

Post Script

For those who are struggling with their marriages, and are in need of some advice or counsel, or just an ear to talk into, I am more than willing to be there for you. I speak with some authority, as my wife and I have sustained a happily marriage for almost fifteen years, are raising six children, have endured chronic illnesses, and a host of battles both spiritual and temporal which try any family of faith, and have emerged thus far happier than ever and are solid in our Matrimonial life together. If you are a woman needing to talk to a woman, my wife Laura would be willing just as I to be a shoulder to lean or cry on.

The answer to marriage difficulty is not to escape, not to run away to start a new, happy life with someone else, but to stand firm, to hold the line and fight for your family. The war Satan wages is not only against the hierarchical Church, but also against the domestic Church. Don’t let him win. The battle is hard, and talking to a fellow Catholic for moral encouragement is very helpful. Please reach out if you need help. God bless you and keep you in your marriage!

Requested Clarification of BetrayedCatholics Application of Canon 1094 in Light of Its Exception of Canon 1098

I was quite enjoying my respite from publishing on CatholicEclipsed, but I am afraid something has happened that has forced me from my cryogenically induced coma to write to you today.

You see, Teresa Benns of BetrayedCatholics has written an article, “What does the Church really teach about: woes today,” which seems to be so unthinkingly wrong and scandalous as to cause my wife to quite literally gasp and exclaim, “Oh my goodness!”

The remarks in question are as follows:

“Those already praying at home who now are seeking release from marital situations or suffering from anxiety about the validity of their marriages will be surprised to learn that they are not considered validly married under Canon Law if they were married by a Traditional or Novus Ordo minister whom they believed to be true priests, but who in fact had no jurisdiction over them and could not validly witness the marriage. This is stated in Can. 1094: “Those marriages only are valid which are contracted either before a pastor or the local ordinary or a priest delegated by either and at least two witnesses…” 

Further on, she writes: 

“Those truly unable to remain in marriages apparently invalid under Can. 1094 may today consider themselves free to leave or divorce civilly, if married in the Novus Ordo or by a Traditionalist cleric.”

This is so bizarre a conclusion based upon Canon. 1094 that I am hard pressed to conceive of a motivation founded in anything reasonable or Catholic. For a Catholic blogger to say that a man and woman who exchange vows in good faith before a non-Catholic minister do not actually marry validly and are thus free to divorce civilly is as unconscionable as it is un-Catholic.

And it must be kept in mind that, just as any Novus Ordo wedding requires at least two witnesses, the requirement of Canon 1094 is always met, but more on that in a moment.

Perhaps in my simplicity (I am no canon lawyer), I am misunderstanding what Teresa Benns is claiming here. I ask her to clarify publicly what she means by the above statements, and the justification for these in law and religion on her website or in the comments here–Teresa Benns, you are always welcome.

On which point of welcome and good will, this post has nothing to do with launching a vendetta against Teresa. I am argumentative by temperament, but I am never quarrelsome. I love Teresa, and I would have enjoyed a long and friendly and cooperative relationship in the spirit and fight for authentic Catholicism with her for many years; but, alas, differences of understanding of Church teaching and law have made that impossible. But what is at stake at present is beyond any dispute between CatholicEclipsed or BetrayedCatholics. What is at stake is the destruction of families and the commission of sacrilege:

BC. 1027. The evils that follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority are very many; but chiefly: 
   1. A disregard for the sacred character of the Sacrament and for the spiritual welfare of the children;
   2. The loss of the true idea of home and family followed by bad morals and sinful living.

BC. 1024. Divorce granted by courts of justice or by any human power does not break the bond of marriage, and one who makes use of such a divorce to marry again while the former husband or wife lives commits a sacrilege and lives in the sin of adultery. A civil divorce may give a sufficient reason for the persons to live apart and it may determine their rights with regard to support, the control of the children and other temporal things, but it has no effect whatever upon the bond and spiritual nature of the Sacrament.

Let me offer an alternative interpretation of Canon 1094, not based upon my own reading, but rather in light of the exception which just follows the ellipsis Benns ends her citation with, which is so helpful and illuminating during this time of Apostasy and necessarily remaining home. It goes like this:

Canon 1094: Only those marriages are valid that are contracted in the presence of the pastor, or the local Ordinary, or a priest delegated by either, and two witnesses, according to the rules expressed in the canons that follow, with due regard for the exceptions mentioned in Canons 1098…, (emphasis added). 

Canon 1098: If the pastor or Ordinary or delegated priest who assists at marriage according to the norm of Canons 1095 and 1096 cannot be had or cannot be present without grave inconvenience:

1.°: In danger of death marriage is contracted validly and licitly in the presence only of witnesses; and outside of danger of death provided it is prudently foreseen that this condition will perdure for one month…

The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Moral and Canonical Aspect of Marriage” says the same thing as Canon 1098:

“The marriage law, known by its initial words, “Ne temere”, went into force on Easter Sunday, 18 April, 1908. The principal changes it made in the Church’s matrimonial legislation relate to clandestine marriages (which it makes null and void for all Catholics of the Latin Rite) and to questions incidental thereto. The law enacts that a marriage of Catholics of the Latin Rite is licit and valid only if contracted in the presence of the ordinary, or the parish priest, or a priest delegated by either, and at least two witnesses. Any priest may revalidate a sinful or an invalid marriage of those who, through sickness, are in serious danger of death, unless their case is such as admits of no revalidation — as for instance, if they are in holy orders. Again, in the case of those who live in districts where no priest resides, and who cannot without serious hardship go to one, the new law provides that, if such condition has lasted a month, they may marry without a priest, but in the presence of two witnesses, the record of their marriage being properly made as prescribed,” (Emphasis added). 

As Home Alone Catholics, this should be very consoling for those would like to marry or have married without a Catholic priest–unless you are the few likely among us who exchanged vows before an actual Catholic priest. We have certitude that the Church teaches that vows exchanged before two witnesses, where there are no impediments to the Sacrament of Matrimony, is lawfully and validly done.

I understand that there are difficult unions out there, that married people today are very much tried by fire, from infidelity, impurity, poverty, and so many numerous and nameless vices. The demonic forces converge and conspire against the family such that, next to the Hierarchical Church, the Divine institution of the Family is on the verge of near extinction. So few marriages actually exist as holy unions of husband and wife and children, not so much through impediments to Matrimony, but through divorce and remarriage. Man and woman marry, then divorce, then remarry, sometimes multiple times, and in the wake of which there are countless children who will never know normal, happy home life. It is, next to the death of God, the saddest thing in the world, because it is the death of childhood, which is the most beautiful and purest thing in the world, and the whole point and purpose of Matrimony.

And BetrayedCatholics is only making it worse by promoting divorce.

I cannot understand why Benns would say marriages officiated by non-Catholic ministers are invalid. I ask Teresa again to support this seemingly outlandish claim with sources in authentic Catholic teaching. For the love of God, for the love of men and women validly and licitly held fast in matrimonial bonds, do not armchair-theologian this one. Please. Don’t. For the love of the children.  

SV Date 710.28.3: CE Now Entering Cold Cryogenic Sleep

CE in Cryogenic Sleep

After much prayerful consideration, I have decided that CatholicEclipsed should go into cryogenic sleep mode.

It has become obvious to me these last several weeks that, no matter what kind of content I produce, or how much, the traffic here never seems to pick up, and the interaction via comments or email has been few. This is not to be unexpected, since I am targeting a very niche group: those who keep the Commandments of God and believe everything that the Church teaches, or, in other words, I am targeting Catholics.

Unless you have produced media, written articles, done podcasts, produced videos, or run a website of your own, you cannot appreciate the amount of stress this puts on one or the amount of work involved–especially when that one is myself, who tends toward laziness and the easy way out always. I did not work as hard at being a photojournalist on an aircraft carrier or a philosophy student at a university, as I do at running CatholicEclipsed.

Because of the desperately low traffic–literally less than twenty visits a day–I have decided to put CatholicEclipsed on autopilot, while I get some much needed rest from the hustle and bustle of producing content every week which is hardly seen by anyone. I leave the orbit of CE in the hands of the Almighty, to do with it what He will. I have produced solid, Catholic content here, which anyone of goodwill may use to their advantage to understand the crisis.

I must consider how my energy is spent, and how my life and the hours of my days are used, especially because my natural life expectancy is somewhat diminished on account of my chronic kidney disease. Do I want to continue to produce content very few will ever see, or, which is just repetitions or variations on an apocalyptic theme? I have time and talents which may be better spent elsewhere, like writing books for my children, producing artwork, or, above all, helping my wife classically homeschool our six children.

Forever Faithful

That is not to say I am never going to produce content for CE. I will write an article here and there as the inspiration to do so comes, and perhaps produce a Chromocast as time and energy permit me. I will poke around Galaxy Forum as well, when and if visitors happen upon it and offer a word or two. And, of course, I shall make myself available via COMMS, for anyone who would like to reach out with a question or concern.

To those who have faithfully read my articles, watched my videos and listened to my podcasts, I am truly thankful for your support. It let me know that what I was doing was at least being appreciated by some, if only a few in the entire world.

Since the visible Church went into eclipse 710,283 days ago when our Holy Father Pope Pius XII passed into eternity, the light of truth and the faith has been all but extinguished. Remember you are all the light that is left in the world now. So let your light shine on those around you, in your home where you keep Catholicism and our holy religion and faith, at work or on the internet. Draw from whatever good you find here, and pass it on, by sharing links of your favorite content.

I hope that the work I have done on this website will help people see the light and return to God.

CE Signing Off

New Website for Classical Homeschooling Families

This is just a quick post to tell you about my wife’s new website, FundamentallyClassical, which is a great website to read articles on how to homeschool classically.

Since the plandemic, there has been a significant uptick in families deciding to homeschool their children. The advantages are numerous. Laura (my wife) does a great job of highlighting these advantages, not the least of which being that to homeschool is the very best way to live out the vocation of matrimony, which is the rearing and education of children primarily.

On FundamentallyClassical, you will find a friend to guide you through the oftentimes overwhelming first steps to classically educate your children. There are so many different ideas as to what classical education is, but Laura does a just and reasonable assessment of what that means, which is nothing other than the transmission of our Greek and Latin intellectual patrimony.

If you are contemplating classical education for your family, or know someone who is, you would do well to visit FundamentallyClassical to see what it is all about!

The Lord of the Earth

A Long-Anticipated Third and Final Part of the End Times Documentary

The third part of the “The Lord of the Earth: The Antichrist” is complete. This documentary attempts to cover the known signs about the “Man of Sin” whom we should be looking out for. It is no surprise, after watching the first and second parts of the series who is to be identified as the Antichrist. Watch and pray, and let yourself be strengthened by the truth to witness the final chapters of Revelation unfolding before your eyes.

Explosive Chromocast! Columbus Day or the Devil: You Decide

Chromocast 1.2: Columbus Day

In this new episode of the Chromocast, I discuss the real threat lurking behind replacing Columbus Day with the Indigenous Peoples of America. It is about light and darkness, as it always has been. Tune in. You won’t regret it.

Show Notes

Q&A

Every episode of the Chromocast I will take a moment to answer your questions or reply to your comments about the previous week’s podcast. If you have any, leave them in this week’s comment section.

Subscribe to the Chromocast, the Podcast of CatholicEclipsed!

Revolutionary Recognize and Resist as the Copernican Revolution in the Church

Copernicanism puts man center like the sun.

Recognize and Resist Theology 101

As I have shown through a silly little production of mine below, the Recognize and Resist position is inherently non-Catholic. Check it out if you like dogmatically dead-serious coupled with cheekily humorous.

The Recognize and Resist theology is simple: if you don’t like what the current pope is saying, resist him. If you do like what he is saying, then give him your lay-approbation. The position is so very strikingly not Catholic, that I could probably end my days in writing on nothing else, making videos and talking into a microphone about nothing else but how absurd Recognize and Resist is.

Oftentimes I find myself producing content on CatholicEclipsed which focuses too much on Sedevacantists, in part because it is so reasonable to be a Sedevacantist, and the arguments against it are oftentimes difficult to understand–but even more difficult to refute, which is why they haven’t been at the time of this writing.

But I perhaps act imprudently, for there is a great number of very good people, very good would-be Catholics, who are taken in by the traditionalist Recognize and Resist position. The reasons for which have little to do with theology, but a lot to do with religious aesthetics, social value, networking, art and culture, and the veneer of everything Catholic. People are lulled into a doctrinal stupor and spiritual slumber by all those glittery vestments and gilded vessels, sacred polyphony, and beautified everything, that the thought just doesn’t occur that they are praying in communion with a heretic, which makes them heretics, or else complicit in the sin of communicatio in sacris.

I know, because I was one such Recognize and Resister. I attended a church in St. Louis which was venerable and gorgeous and magnificent. I listened to Michael Matt’s “Remnant Underground,” back when he actual believed that he was in the catacombs–remember the skulls and torches? I have been there and done that, which is why I speak with some authority on the position. I held the Recognize and Resist position for about a year or so, but then I started to learn what the Church actually teaches about the Roman Pontiff, and then and there I realized that I was resisting Catholicism.

The Copernican Revolution in the Church

The Recognize and Resist position is a trap which at once makes an individual either a heretic or a schismatic, but in either case not a Catholic. The R&R position says that we must recognize the man claiming to be pope to be pope, because the Church hasn’t deposed him–which itself is a heresy called conciliarism, but that we must also resist him when he teaches error. Now, the curious thing about R&R is that it is the exact reversal of the truth.

The papacy is the beginning point, the principle or rule of faith, whereas Recognize and Resist makes one’s own understanding and conscience the rule of faith. This is nothing else than the Copernican Revolution in the Catholic Church. Whereas in times past (say, prior to 1958 with the death of Pius XII), it was understood that the Ecclesia Docens was the active principle in the transmission of the faith. After the takeover of the Church’s hierarchy, however, that all changed. The laity took on a new role because the hierarchy, for all intents and purposes, was not Catholic anymore.

This change should have signaled to the players involved that the Church was in eclipse, and it did to a certain degree. A general falling away occurred during this “springtime” of the Church post-Second Vatican Council, a mass immigration away from the Church and into the world. The only problem was that those who thought they stayed within the Church were actually staying within the false church of Satan and the Antichrist.

Naturally, the people who did remain in what they believed to be the Church, had to come up with solutions to the inherent contradictions they were facing. Enter stage left the Traditionalists. These characters, from the pseudo-Catholic Archbishop Lefebvre to the pseudo-catholic lay-theologian Michael Davies, to the latter generation of Michael Matt and Co., each sought to redefine and rethink the papacy, not from a doctrinal perspective, necessarily, but from their actions and insinuations which would eventually undermine the very meaning of the papacy.

The end result of this gradual process was that the Catholic conscience was no longer formed by the Church but was formed by the individual in the pew. He had it within himself to determine what was and was not Catholic, because the ones who were supposed to do that for him, no longer existed. That is the plain fact and brief history of the Recognize and Resist phenomenon. The Catholic Church was unknown and unknowable, just as the phenomenal world of Kant. Man, like the sun, revolved around the earth or the Church. Now, the earth revolved around the sun. The Church revolved and was defined by the layman in the pew with the high school diploma or journalism degree.

The Rule of Faith as the Antithesis of the Copernican Revolution

To get back to sanity, to the ways of the world and how things actually work, we must first recognize that the man claiming to be pope is not. To fail in this first step will lead to the invariable loss of faith, because recognizing a man who is not the pope, who is not Catholic, but who must be our rule of faith, destroys the very principle or rule of our faith, and so our faith as well:

“If faith is necessary for all men at all times and in all places, and if a true saving faith demands a clear knowledge of what we have to believe, it is clear that an infallible teaching Church is an absolute necessity. Such a Church alone can speak to men of all classes and at all times; it alone can, by reason of its perpetuity and ageless character, meet every new difficulty by a declaration of the sound form of doctrine which is to be held. If the teaching of Christ and His Apostles is distorted, none but the Church can say ‘This is its true meaning, and not that; I know that it is as I say because the Spirit which assists me is One with the Spirit which rested on Him and on them’; the Church alone can say, ‘Christ truly rose from the tomb, and I know it, because I was there, and saw the stone rolled back’. The Church alone can tell us how we are to interpret the words ‘This is My Body’, for she alone can say, ‘He Who spoke those words speaks through me, He promised to be with me all days, He pledged Himself to safeguard me from error at all times,'” (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Rule of Faith”).

The Recognize and Resist position rejects the whole idea of the Church as a Rule of Faith, insofar as it rejects the notion of a proximate rule of faith, which is absolutely necessary as well:

“The word rule (Latin regula, Gr. kanon) means a standard by which something can be tested, and the rule of faith means something extrinsic to our faith, and serving as its norm or measure. Since faith is Divine and infallible, the rule of faith must be also Divine and infallible; and since faith is supernatural assent to Divine truths upon Divine authority, the ultimate or remote rule of faith must be the truthfulness of God in revealing Himself. But since Divine revelation is contained in the written books and unwritten traditions (Vatican Council, I, ii), the Bible and Divine tradition must be the rule of our faith; since, however, these are only silent witnesses and cannot interpret themselves, they are commonly termed “proximate but inanimate rules of faith”. Unless, then, the Bible and tradition are to be profitless, we must look for some proximate rule which shall be animate or living,” (Ibid).

Recognize and Resist adherents do not call themselves R&R but Traditionalists. They give their position away immediately, for as the the above teaches us, tradition is a silent or inanimate rule of faith and cannot be in itself the means by which our faith is formed. For that, we must rely on a living voice, a preaching and teaching voice. The traditionalists simply do not have this. What they have are teachers, yes, but such who claim that their spiritual superiors are at once heretics and yet hold offices in the Church–like Lefebvre, who denounced time and again the hierarchy of the Novus Ordo and yet recognized them as his superiors.

Does Home Alone Fall into the Same Fallacy as R&R?

Since, then, the faith requires a proximate and animate rule of faith by which it is to be regulated, how exactly does the Home Alone position not succumb to the same error as traditionalists in denying this absolute necessity? That is a very good question and counter-argument to the Home Alone position. The answer lies, however, in a distinction that I would like to borrow from our good friends, the adherents of the Cassiciacum thesis, or the Material-Formal Thesis–which I refute here.

The proximate and animate rule of faith is indeed necessary, but the question is in what sense is it necessary. The answer is that it is necessary according to the formal principle, that is, to the Magisterial Teaching Church, the hierarchy as such. In order for the hierarchy to be what it actually is, it must have a proximate and living rule of faith. The Teaching Church becomes for the Learning Church the efficient cause of the faith in the laity and this happens through the formal cause of the hierarchy, and principally through the Roman Pontiff:

“The term Church, in this connection, can only denote the teaching Church, as is clear from the passages already quoted from the New Testament and the Fathers. But the teaching Church may be regarded either as the whole body of the episcopate, whether scattered throughout the world or collected in an ecumenical council, or it may be synonymous with the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ. Now the teaching Church is the Apostolic body continuing to the end of time (Matthew 28:19-20); but only one of the bishops, viz., the Bishop of Rome, is the successor of St. Peter; he alone can be regarded as the living Apostle and Vicar of Christ, and it is only by union with him that the rest of the episcopate can be said to possess the Apostolic character (Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Prooemium). Hence, unless they be united with the Vicar of Christ, it is futile to appeal to the episcopate in general as the rule of faith,” (Ibid).

The hierarchy is formed by the Roman Pontiff, which also forms the faith of the laity as a rule of faith. Now the Home Alone position, like the Recognize and Resist position, does not believe that the hierarchy as such is a proximate and living rule of faith. The difference is, the R&R believe that Tradition is the means by which the faith of the individual is formed, whereas the Home Alone advocate must abandoned this idea altogether, because Tradition, being inanimate, cannot form the faith of the individual, because it is silent. Ultimately, for the R&R, it is not Tradition which is the rule of faith, but the individual’s own conscience, intellectual processing, and preference.

If Home Alone is to escape from this Copernican Revolution in the Church, whereby the rule of faith becomes something within the individual, instead of from the Church Herself, there must be an acknowledgment of the Home Alone position’s limitation. That limitation is that there is no longer a formal and efficient cause of the rule of faith left in the world. But hope is not lost, for there remains a material cause. Let me explain.

The material cause of a thing is that from which it comes to be what it is. The tired analogy of a potter’s clay is ready at hand, but let’s give a more applicable example. The Church is a Body, which exists as an amalgamation of believers in Christ, partaking of the same sacraments, and governed by their lawful pastors under one head the Roman Pontiff. As has been said, the Teaching Church is the formal cause of the rule of faith by which the faith of the laity is formed. Now the rule of faith, and the faith as such, is a discipline of belief and action, to which obedience is owed so as to be effective. Just so, is there the same relationship in a vessel, which analogy I bring out fully here.

The idea there was that the crew represent the laity. They are willing to serve, but they themselves are not commissioned officers (the hierarchy). They cannot issue orders or assign duties to carry out the mission of the vessel. Likewise, neither can the laity today. The commands of the officers are the formal and efficient causes of the crew’s obedience and discipline. But, insofar as the crew have shown up and are willing to subject themselves to an actually commissioned officer, it can be said that they have the material cause of obedience and discipline but not the formal or efficient. As a point in fact, the willing seaman also has the final cause within him which moves him to be on deck to await orders, whenever that may happen.

Conversely, the Recognize and Resist crowd have neither the formal and efficient causes of discipline and obedience (which is the rule of faith), nor do they have the material cause of obedience, because, as their name suggests, they disobey or resist the man they claim to be their captain. Were they on a real wartime vessel–which is what the Ark of the Church is–they would be given 33 lashings, and jettisoned overboard for the mutineers they are.

All that Home Alone Catholics–the only remaining real Catholics–must do is be willing to submit to the hierarchy when once it shows itself, or is reconstituted by a Divine act of God. Our standing orders are to be found in approved catechisms of our region, which we have no doubts as to their authenticity. We may not have officers to direct our actions or to explain our situation and guide us on the mission, but we have general directives by which we may know, in a general way, what we are to believe and do to arrive at a safe harbor.