The Mystical Passion of the Church

+St. Pius I+

 

We modern-day Magdalenes and St. Johns, who witnessed the Church in Her death throes in our youth, now watch helplessly as Our Lord’s Mystical Body, entrusted to His Mother, fights for its very existence. For are we not held in the crossing of her arms, just as His physical Body was held, as she promised Juan Diego at Tepeyac Hill? And like the Magdalene, have we not followed Our Lord to his tomb, there to discover the sleeping Roman soldiers set to guard it, soldiers who can only represent the useless attempts of earthly principalities and powers to interfere with the designs of God, the fulfillment of prophecy? And the angel who told us He was risen, was it not perhaps St. Michael, guardian of the Church and the papacy, who in the end shall stand and fight for the people of God?

How significant that when Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb she immediately said, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” Who else is “they” but the Jews and their Sanhedrin, who the Holy Women and the Apostles suspected would steal Our Lord’s Body to prevent its veneration? Did they indeed steal it? No, and Catholics today should not blame them either for the passion and death of the Church. Christ Himself vacated the tomb, and left his burial cloth draped across His would-be final resting place. That winding sheet is the symbol not only of his Divinity and Infinity but is proof as well of the fact that His Church, like its Divine Founder, cannot perish or be contained for long in any earthly tomb. Members of Christ’s Mystical Body yet exist and will exist until the end of time. We exist in those three symbolic days that the early Christians believed Jesus to be gone forever, not realizing He had promised to rise again. But is it Christ Himself who shall be the one to come and restore the Church in Heaven, or will the Church be revived for a time on earth?

Where was Christ at the time the tomb was found empty? He was right there with the Holy Women, and they did not even know it. He was disguised as a gardener, hidden from them, and had undergone that spiritual transformation that prompted Him to gently warn Mary Magdalene not to touch Him, because He had not yet ascended to His Father in Heaven. Was this a prefigure of the fact that the Church in Her passion and death, following Her resurrection and subsequent triumph over that death, would exist, but not as She had formerly? Would exist in a miraculous way, just as the Resurrection was miraculous, guided by the Holy Ghost and comforted by Our Lady? Christ established the papacy before his death, but he did not give St. Peter the power of Divine jurisdiction until after His Resurrection. Christ was the Head of His Church while on earth, and that Church could not have two heads. He designated Peter as the head meant to succeed Him, but he did not grant Him the keys until shortly before the Ascension. The doctrine of the papacy and its two keys is alive and will always exist; but those keys will not be given to another pope unless and until the Church is restored.

In the meantime, Christ is Head of the Church, just as He was even after His death but before the Resurrection. He had made the apostles priests and bishops and had instituted the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; He had made Peter his designated successor. But did St. Peter have the power to act, did the Apostles say Mass and distribute the Sacraments during those three days? No; they could not have done so, at least for the faithful publicly, because they had not yet received jurisdiction; their commission from Christ. This they received from Our Lord shortly before his Ascension, just as Peter received the power to exercise his commission. If Christ’s passion and death was the template for the passion of His Mystical Body, as certain spiritual writers claim, then why aren’t those who are insisting they must attend Mass and receive the Sacraments today drawing out this analogy?

There is no doubt that we are indeed enduring this mystical passion, but why is there no appreciation of the mystical significance of our current situation? One explanation, surely, is that the interior life is absent in so many today. No one “considers in the heart.” All of Holy Scripture carries a meaning deeper than many realize; St. Jerome tells us that every word of the Scriptures is rich in symbolic application. If we all are to fill up what is wanting to Christ’s Passion in our own lives, won’t that filling up follow the pattern of the Master in every particular? We are speaking of actual Church doctrine in referring to the exercise of jurisdiction and the establishment of the papacy. Certainly in this, especially, the plight of the faithful would comply in every detail.

So until the Ascension, there was no Mass and no Sacraments. At the Ascension Christ rises to rejoin His Father, but remains the invisible Head of the Church. In Apocalypse 12 we discover that the woman in labor to give birth is Our Lady, who delivered Our Lord to the world, to be pursued by the evil dragon as her children are pursued today.  But the particular child in Apoc. 12, “taken up to God and His throne” cannot be Christ, since he is “taken up.” It must be a human being then, not a Divine being, for Christ ascended to the Father by His own power and was not “taken up.” Some interpret this as a suspension of the functionality of the juridic Church on earth with Christ only heading the Church for a time. We are ripe for punishment, not favors, but none can believe God would ever be so “cruel.” They entirely dismiss the true idea of the very Sacrifice He offered for us in opening the gates of Heaven: it is suffering and deprivation that satisfies the Divine vengeance and opens the sluice gates of Divine mercy, not consolations and rewards.

If Christ’s death on the Cross is fraught with signs in the sun, moon and stars, as it was, then the climax of the death of His Mystical Body also will be fraught with the same. Could the three days in the tomb signify the oft-predicted three days of darkness? Some believe that it could. And then Christ’s Resurrection could only prefigure the resurrection of His Church on earth. And when she emerges from the tomb, She will be transformed in some appreciable way, purified by Her sufferings and sanctified by Her Divine founder. Christ will once again commission Her Popes and bishops, if not personally then by other means. When He departs, the Holy Ghost will arrive to assist in the re-evangelization of the world.

At least that is what many so ardently believe, and as mentioned in our last blog, it is a possibility. But as time rolls inexorably onward, it appears to be a seemingly remote one. Christ’s presence on earth for only 40 days following the Resurrection should tell us something: the Church, if indeed She is to be restored before the Second Coming, will remain on earth only briefly, mirroring the life of Our Lord. Those longing for this triumph and glorious restoration must understand that nowhere is it promised to us save by private revelations. In the opinion of some it is at least suggested in Scripture. But there is no guarantee that it will occur and indeed, given the way those pretending to represent Our Lord and His true Church have betrayed Him, drawing to themselves those who should be his most loyal subjects, there is no basis for supposing that we have merited such a grace from the hands of God.  We find the following words in the book of Daniel regarding the workings of Antichrist: “And strength was given to him against the continual sacrifice because of sins, and truth shall be cast down on the ground… (Dan. 8:12).” And again, we read in Dan. 9:5: “We have done wickedly and revolted.”

Do those calling themselves true Catholics have any real conception of what has happened here? Do they have the slightest idea of the enormity of their sins and the offense God has taken because of them? Sacrilege was punished in the early Church with the severest form of public penance. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Real sacrilege is the irreverent treatment of sacred things as distinguished from places and persons. This can happen first of all by the administration or reception of the sacraments (or in the case of the Holy Eucharist by celebration) in the state of mortal sin, as also by advertently doing any of those things invalidly… Sometimes the guilt of sacrilege may be incurred by omitting what is required for the proper administration of the sacraments or celebration of the sacrifice, as for example, if one were to say Mass without the sacred vestments.” Origen tells us our lot in the Latter Days will be worse than that of the Jews, and Bossuet says that seeing how severely God punished the Jews for so many centuries, we should tremble when St. Paul warns us on the part of God that our ingratitude will bring down a similar punishment.

But all believe they shall receive a reward on earth, a time of peace, without any suffering or effort, minus any sacrifice of their own will in obedience to God’s law. They do not stop to think that the Final Judgment, as terrifying for sinners as it is, would bring us to Heaven where we could worship Christ forever around His eternal altar or to Purgatory where at least we would have hope of attaining eventually to this worship. Is not this infinitely better than any earthly peace? The triumph of the Church on earth is a most wonderful and worthy event to hope for, and we must hope for it, but we must not let the representations of this event so blind us that we lose sight of God’s ultimate plan for His creation, which may be nothing like what we imagine. Because if we expect the triumph must occur in a certain way before the Last Judgment and in His infinite wisdom Our Lord determines that it will occur in some other way, or perhaps not at all, then certainly what He warned us against — that He will come as a thief in the night — will be our fate. We must expect nothing and be ready for anything.

Remember the Jews who believed the Messiah would come as a mighty earthly king and vindicate them? It reminds a person of the belief that a grand restoration of the Church and confounding of her enemies in the eyes of all will take place — a visible vindication. St. Augustine wrote, Fr. P. Huchede tells us in his History of Antichrist, that “The events pertaining to the end of the world will happen in the manner they have been foretold, but as to their accidental circumstances, God alone knows the order in which they will take place. He has revealed nothing explicitly on this point and consequently our knowledge of them is confined to mere conjecture. Experience alone will put us in possession of the desired information.” Our experience tells us that many have been greatly mistaken about the length of Antichrist’s reign, the coming of the two witnesses, the identity of he who withholdeth, the state of the Church during this time period and many other details.  Predictions about Antichrist and his exploits were all taken literally and were blown up entirely out of any reasonable proportion. This is what has led so many to believe that Antichrist has not yet come, and the Mass has not ceased.

Traditionalist ideas of entitlement to spiritual goods against God’s Holy will and their followers’ desensitization to all things sacred and truly holy amounts to presumption and resisting the known truth, the sin against the Holy Ghost which will not be forgiven if it persists until death. If only they would do penance as those inhabitants of Nineveh and Tyre did, they could hope for a stay of execution, but this this seems entirely foreign to them. Therefore, it is not inappropriate for anyone to say, seeing the world as it is today: “But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand… Watch ye therefore, praying at all times that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that are to come and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21: 28,36).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. The Doctrine of the Mystical Body, Pt. II

The Doctrine of the Mystical Body, Pt. II

How catacomb Catholics can cooperate as members of Christ’s Body

© Copyright 2013, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)

Preface

Because Traditionalists and others entertain false ideas concerning the Church’s teaching on Christ’s Mystical Body, they have carried these false ideas into their peculiar theories of Christ’s constitution of the Church, resulting in a perverted idea of the Church’s true teaching concerning both her visible and mystical nature. The juridic, external nature of the Church has been overstressed to the injury of interior religion; its (invisible) mystical  nature has been assigned to those who do not believe such a thing exists and grace has been attributed primarily as conveyed by Traditionalist versions of the Sacraments. Church membership in the Mystical Body has been restricted in these times to those practicing only external religion, the true efficacy of private prayer has been denied and the role of Catholics in practicing Catholic Action has been erroneously limited to its direction under the false authority of Traditionalist “priests” and “bishops,” (that is the few who even advocate that their followers engage in this papal directive). Worse yet, the heresy of quietism condemned by the Church has been rampant among Traditionalists for decades, for it is the anesthetic used by Traditional clergy and lay leaders to lull their followers into spiritual lethargy, a state akin to the addiction states, in many cases, experienced by alcohol and drug abusers and their relatives. But sadder still, the true nature of mysticism and the interior life have been so effectively obscured and demeaned that Catholics scarcely think of their faith in any but external terms. These errors, as found in Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, will be outlined below.  And the true nature of the Mystical Body as taught by this pope will be examined in full.

Introduction

 

As noted in Part I, Traditionalists have falsely accused catacomb Catholics of denying the doctrine of indefectibility when this has never been the case, as proven in the article on this site, /articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/the-church/what-catacomb-catholics-believe-on-indefectibility/  Yet they refuse to recognize that the doctrines they teach concerning the papacy and the constitution of the Church are in direct contradiction to Mystici Corporis, which in its day was generally recognized by  theologians as an infallible encyclical. Of course this is only one of many sets of papal teachings they ignore or dismiss as non-binding, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in different articles here. But to save their souls — and Traditionalists do everything they do, according to them, to make sure they have they graces necessary to save their souls — they must be members of this Body and they must at least accept and obey the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. For when a canonically elected pontiff rules the Church, he constitutes one head of the Church with Christ, with Christ as the invisible Head and the pope as its visible, juridical head. In our case that would be the last true pontiff, Pope Pius XII, according to his own Vacantis Apostolica Sedis. For Pius XII taught in this constitution that during an interregnum, until a true pope is elected, all the laws and teachings of the Church must be strictly obeyed and that not even the cardinals could dispense from them. It is mystifying, indeed, to understand how Traditionalists believe their Church exists despite the clear teaching of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, St. Thomas Aquinas and others, that the Church cannot exist without Her visible head.

St. Thomas wrote: “In order that the Church exist, there must be one person at the head of the whole Christian people. “ (Summa Contra Gentiles, Vol. IV, pg. 76). And from the Council of Trent Catechism: “It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head [the pope] is necessary to establish peace and unity in the Church…’A visible Church requires a visible head,’ (St. Ambrose; see section under “The Creed,” unity in spirit, etc,). We also read from Pope Leo: “For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ – ‘Now you are the body of Christ,’ (I Cor. xii., 27) – and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible…And to set forth more clearly the unity of the Church, [St. Cyprian] makes use of the illustration of a living body, the members of which cannot possibly live unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. Separated from the head they must of necessity die,” (Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum). But this, of course refers to voluntary, not involuntary separation, such as we have today.

Likewise in his definition of the three attributes, Rev. Thomas Kinkaid teaches in his Baltimore Catechism # 3 that the four marks can exist only if the three attributes — authority, infallibility and indefectibility — first exist, i.e., the papacy. “We know 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 the teaching of the Church from its beginning. 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,” (Q. & A # 519-520). But visible canonically elected/appointed hierarchy  (authority and infallibility) are no longer available to guide the Church although we presume that somewhere they exist, and that Christ will re-establish them at some point. In this regard we are no different than those living during the time of the Great Schism. They did not reject or doubt the papacy or hierarchy; they simply did not know which man, commanding which set of cardinals and bishops, was truly pope. Indefectibility will always exist in the sense that the Mystical Body will never cease to exist and the juridic Church can never reach a point at which She could no longer be restored. Dormant for now, She will rise again, even if it requires a miracle; either that or we will experience the consummation. For we know without a shadow of a doubt that Christ will always be true to His promises.

In the meantime, Holy Scripture itself tells us what Our Lord will do when the shepherd is struck. “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand to the little ones,” (Zach. 13:7). The first part of this prophecy is repeated again in Matt. 26:31, but in this passage Christ says, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed.” Rev. Leo Haydock comments that this passage in Zacharias means that, “Christ takes care of his little flock, and always is one with the Father.” In the Matt. 26:31 version, he notes that “I will strike” means that Christ’s death (and the vacancy of the Holy See) are trials and sufferings “directed by God.” He quotes from Luke 12:32 which reads: “Fear not little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.” Citing St. Bede, Haydock writes on this verse: “In order to console us in our labors, he commands us to seek only the kingdom of Heaven, and promises that the Father will bestow it as a reward upon us.”

How did the faithful Jews survive their 70-year captivity during the Babylonian exile without the Temple and the Ark? How did they keep their faith? Was their priesthood destroyed? As we read from Scripture: “You are in error because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God,” (Matt. 22:29). The Old Testament prefigured our own time. The historian Rev. Henri Daniel-Rops ably demonstrates this, relating in his “Israel and the Ancient World,” (1964 translation, Image Books, p. 285-86): “The Chosen People accomplished, during their exile, a remarkable effort of fidelity. The rites proper to Jahweh’s worship were strictly observed: Circumcision, rest on the Sabbath, commemoration of the Passover. The priests, who had no longer a Temple, as their cult could only be practiced on holy ground, were held in high respect. The faithful grouped themselves about them and their places of meeting became synagogues, (a principle not in opposition to the Temple. There was, however, no cult in the synagogues; they merely read the Law and the Prophets, p. 365). A veritable caste of jurists and scribes was constituted, for the purpose of tending the law — arduous upholders of the more rigorous observance…In their exile the Chosen People had recognized the punishment of their faults and resolved to expiate them. The ‘return’ so greatly desired was in the first place a return to God.”

It was under Cyrus, the Great King, that the Babylonians finally returned to Palestine from their exile and it was Cyrus whom God told to rebuild the Temple, (Isaias 44:28 and 45:1). Daniel-Rops writes: “To rebuild the Temple — what did that mean? In the religious conception that the Prophets had introduced, the real Temple of God is interior; its sanctuary is situated in the hearts of the saints…’This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word,’ (Isaias 66: 1-2).” Could Daniel-Rops say of us today what he said of the Jews — that we “Accomplished…a remarkable effort of fidelity”? That we are “arduous upholders” of the Law? That we have “recognized our faults” and expiated them? Yes, the Jews had their priests; no analogy or prefiguration is perfect. But notice what they did: They taught the people in the synagogues; they did not dare offer sacrifices. They observed the Law. And it is certain that these priests were descended from the Levitic line, so carefully documented and preserved. Those validly ordained priests who never celebrated the Novus Ordo could have done the very same — they could have offered Mass alone privately and taught and prayed with the people publicly. Instead they chose to contravene the Law; they failed to recognize the “signs of the times,” — the advent of Antichrist — and neglected to implore the faithful to expiate their sins and make reparation. While it may gall Catholics to hear it, the Israelites were more faithful to God by far in their day of trial than Traditionalists are today.

The same Christ who gave us the popes as supreme rulers on earth and the bishops as their delegates can certainly take them away from us for a time, for “the good Lord giveth and the good Lord taketh away.” It happened to His Chosen People and we are guilty of worse crimes than they were. It is for the faithful to now determine precisely how, as little ones — lambs without shepherds, captives in the desert — they reside in the Temple of the Mystical Body during the remainder of this terrible and protracted interregnum.

Excerpts from Mystici Corporis Christi

 (All numbered paragraphs below are quotes from this encyclical unless noted otherwise.)

Inaccurate and false ideas about the Mystical Body

“8….“We must confess that grave errors with regard to this doctrine are being spread among those outside the true Church, and that among the faithful, also, inaccurate or thoroughly false ideas are being disseminated which turn minds aside from the straight path of truth.

“9. For while there still survives a false rationalism, which ridicules anything that transcends and defies the power of human genius, and which is accompanied by a cognate error, the so-called popular naturalism, which sees and wills to see in the Church nothing but a juridical and social union, there is on the other hand a false mysticism creeping in, which, in its attempt to eliminate the immovable frontier that separates creatures from their Creator, falsifies the Sacred Scriptures.

“10. As a result of these conflicting and mutually antagonistic schools of thought, some through vain fear, look upon so profound a doctrine as something dangerous, and so they shrink from it as from the beautiful but forbidden fruit of paradise. But this is not so. Mysteries revealed by God cannot be harmful to men, nor should they remain as treasures hidden in a field, useless. They have been given from on high precisely to help the spiritual progress of those who study them in a spirit of piety. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, “reason illumined by faith, if it seeks earnestly, piously and wisely, does attain under God, to a certain and most helpful knowledge of mysteries, by considering their analogy with what it knows naturally, and their mutual relations, and their common relations with man’s last end,” although, as the same holy Synod observes, reason, even thus illumined, “is never capable of understanding those mysteries as it does those truths which forms its proper object.”

“12….As He hung upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure.

“13. If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church  — we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Christ” — an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.

“14. That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. ‘Christ,’ says the Apostle, ‘is the Head of the Body of the Church…’ Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: ‘The Church is visible because she is a body.’ Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, something merely ‘pneumatological’ as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond.”

Traditionalists are not members of the juridic Church

We have Traditionalists claiming two separate things: 1) that Christ Himself heads the Church in these times and in an extraordinary manner has given their “priests” the jurisdiction necessary to provide them with the Sacraments, so the juridic Church yet exists and: 2) those who say that the Traditionalist “church” possesses the four marks. But this is impossible without possessing the attributes — true canonical mission authority and infallibility, i.e. the papacy. This claim is patently ridiculous when even their own clergy admit they have no sort of office or actual jurisdiction, necessary to complete the attribute of apostolicity. Yet they pretend to represent the juridical Church on earth, when without the pope, without ALL the attributes, they have no Church. For Pope Pius IX says that even if one of the marks is missing, especially apostolicity, the Church Herself teaches that She could not exist in Her juridic capacity. So this is a false idea of how the juridical Church was established by Christ, one unknown in Pope Pius XII’s time. Those holding the right conception of the Mystical Body, however, do what they must do and accept the Church’s teaching on Her own constitution.  They are aware of the fact that it is something they don’t fully understand, even though they are members of this Body, but to be members they must accept on faith all the teachings of the Church. However unsure they may be about how such a relationship works without the hierarchical components of the juridic Church, one thing is clear from Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and from Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis: those who reject even one article of faith lose their membership. One of those articles is clearly stated in the Vatican Council documents, quoted above by Pope Pius XII: Contrary to what Traditionalist leaders would have their followers believe, the mysteries can be understood by study and meditation; and the Mystical Body is one of these mysteries. From that understanding “the little flock” can better evaluate its present standing as dispossessed Catholics.

Catacomb Catholics do not claim membership in an “invisible” Church

Some have accused catacomb Catholics of holding to the “invisible” or “pneumatological” idea of the Mystical Body condemned above by both Pope Leo XIII and Pius XII. But we have never maintained that we as the catacomb Church are invisible, per se; rather we are visible and known to each other; we are hidden only in the sense that for the most part, Traditionalists pretend we are not members of “their” church and for that matter, act as though we don’t even exist. They condemn us for our beliefs, but we all worship the same at home and believe the same truths of faith; we observe the same Sacraments of private Baptism, the extraordinary form of Matrimony, (also Spiritual Communion and the Perfect Act of Contrition in lieu of Penance and reception of the Holy Eucharist). We all follow the same laws of the Church, as Pope Pius XII bids us to do in Mystici Corporis. And being excused from those Sacraments we cannot receive, owing to moral impossibility, we thus fulfill whatever we can of the marks of the Church, although admittedly it is not the juridic Church, because it cannot exist without all three attributes. If de facto and de jure is able to be applied to anything it is this concept, since in fact we still possess at least some of the qualifications to satisfy the marks, yet by law we have no hierarchy to guide us. But is it possible that catacomb Catholics could possess the attributes in a mystical manner? For if we long for the return of true authority, obeying all the laws and teachings of the Church in the meantime; if we firmly hold and believe all the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs in their continual magisterium, and if we wholeheartedly profess the belief that Christ will always be true to His promises, then we have fulfilled all we can of the requirements necessary for the juridic Church to exist by our desire to be ruled by a true pope in the future and our intention to submit to his authority.

Reverend Stanislaus Grabowski, in his examination of St. Augustine’s idea of the Church, gives the term Mystical Body in its fullest definition, according to the teachings of the Saint. He summarizes that definition as follows:

“1. In the widest sense, as encompassing all who attain salvation…The body of Christ embraces… the just of the Old Testament [as well as those of the New], since…they were already united to Him who was to come.

“2. In a narrower sense, the Church of the future or the celestial body of Christ may be identified with His body here on earth, since the Church upon earth has as its aim the attainment of the heavenly Church.

“3. In the strictest sense, the body of Christ in the works of St. Augustine is coincident with the visible Catholics or juridical Church. It is only in the latter that the body of Christ is fully realized, according to all of the constituent elements,” (“The Church,” pp. 69-70.)

We may not satisfy the strictest and fullest realization of the Mystical Body, but we fall somewhere between 2 and 3 in satisfying Grabowski’s requirements. This is why, as so many Traditionalists keep repeating, the Church today is “eclipsed.”

This “outward legal side” of the Church is presented in the well-known definition of St. Robert Bellarmine: “The Church is a union of men who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith and by participation in the same sacraments, under the direction of their lawful pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Pope of Rome,” (De eccl. mil. 2.) But the best definition of the Church, encompassing all aspects of Her existence is presented by Dr. Ludwig Ott from the pen of the theolo­gian, Reverend Johan Mohler. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. X, calls Mohler a “gifted youth,” an “ideal priest,” “deeply pious,” “…kindly intelligent,” and of a “childlike modesty.” The author of the article concerning him, Reverend Schlager, says of Mohler: “…he gave new life to the science of theology … he reawakened the religious spirit of the age,” (late 18th, early 19th century). On his tomb, Schlager reports that his epitaph reads: “Defender of the Faith, ornament of letters, consolation of the Church.”

Reverend Mohler, in his Symbolik, offers us this definition of the Church: “By the Church on earth, Catholics understand the visible community of all the faithful, founded by Christ, in which are continued the activities developed by Him, during His earthly life for the remission of sins and for the salvation of mankind, under the direction of His Spirit, until the end of the world, by means of a con­tinuous, uninterrupted apostolate ordained by Him, and by which, in the course of time, all peoples will be brought back to God.” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp. 271-72.) And here we must remind readers that this apostolate is not just assigned to the hierarchy; it is committed also to the laity, for Catholic Action has long been called by the Church, “the apostolate of the laity.” Pius XII reiterates the gist of Mohler’s definition in his Mystici Corporis with these words: “This social body of Christ has been de­signed by its founder to be visible; this cooperation of all its members must be externally manifest….” And these definitions do not exclude catacomb Catholics, except where the literal application of the attributes are concerned. Mystically, even if not in its fullest sense, stay-at-home Catholics possess all the requirements of membership in Christ’s Mystical Body. As Pius XII states above, the restriction of the Mystical Body to  “popular naturalism, which sees and wills to see in the Church nothing but a juridical and social union,” is as much an error in thinking as belief in an invisible, pneumatological Church. This is expressed more clearly below by Right Rev. Msgr. Can. Edward Myers, M.A., found in “The Teaching of the Catholic Church” by Can. George D. Smith, D.D., Ph.D., Vol. II; 1959, as presented in Part I of this work:

The negation of the visible character of the Church of Christ, and of its hierarchical constitution, has led to such stress being laid upon the visible, tangible aspects of the Church that those who are not Catholics have come to think of it in terms of its external organization and of its recent dogmatic definitions, and not a few Catholics, concentrating their attention upon the argumentative, apologetical, and controversial side of the doctrine concerning the Church, have been in danger of overlooking theoretically – though practically it is impossible for them to do so – the supernatural, the mysterious, the vital, the overwhelmingly important character of the Church as the divinely established and only means of grace in the world, as the Mystical Body of Christ.”  The Mystical Body of Christ is the “only means of grace in the world… The stress laid by St. Paul on the edification of the body of Christ, on the benefit the whole [which] derives from the perfection of the members, has tended to be passed over where the social value of the contemplative life is not appreciated.” And whether Christ heads it in conjunction with His Vicar or in our case, rules alone, this is nonetheless true. External religion, social religion is what ruined the Church, and the neglect of the interior life is the sin of omission that allowed the faithful to become lost in the errors of ecumenism and liturgical renewal. Christ closed the door, then, so to speak on the juridic Church and led those remaining into the desert to join Him and His Blessed Mother in praying, watching and contemplation.  This, as mentioned before, is what is suggested in Apocalypse, Chapter 12.

Graces and their origin: where Traditionalists err

Notice how Pope Pius XII states above that had He willed it, Christ could have imparted grace directly to us, bypassing the juridic Church. God tells us in Zach. 13:7 that when the shepherd is struck, this is exactly what He will do: turn His hand to us. He will personally be the font of all graces without the Mass and Sacraments available. Yet Traditionalists deny He could possibly act of His own accord — will such a thing — without the juridic Church, when Christ Himself is the Head of His own Church! He also is the One who has taken Mass and Sacraments away, just as Holy Scripture said He would do; and just as the ancient Fathers of the Church unanimously foretold. In Chapter 11 of Zacharias, God is portrayed as breaking His covenant with His people, for the prophet writes: “And I took my rod that was called beauty and cut it asunder to make void my covenant…And I cut off my second rod that was called a Cord, that I might break the brotherhood between Juda and Israel,” (11:10, 14.) Here then is proof positive that God can withdraw His guarantees and favors if He chooses. The footnote under “two rods” in the Douay-Rheims explains that the rods are broken “…by the obstinacy of sinners … and such sinners are given up to the reprobate sense, as the Jews were.” This same chapter of Zacharias refers to the “two shepherds,” one just and one foolish. St. Jerome tells us the foolish shepherd Zacharias describes as forsaking the flock is Antichrist, and that it is foretold by this prophet that only a remnant of the flock shall remain standing. Yet Christ remains with the remnant in His Mystical Body.

“For it was through His triumph on the Cross,’ according to the teaching of the Angelic and Common Doctor, ‘that He won power and dominion over the gentiles;’ by that same victory He increased the immense treasure of graces, which, as He reigns in glory in heaven, He lavishes continually on His mortal members; it was by His blood shed on the Cross that God’s anger was averted and that all the heavenly gifts, especially the spiritual graces of the New and Eternal Testament, could then flow from the fountains of our Savior for the salvation of men, of the faithful above all; it was on the tree of the Cross, finally, that He entered into possession of His Church, that is, of all the members of His Mystical Body; for they would not have been united to this Mystical Body through the waters of Baptism except by the salutary virtue of the Cross, by which they had been already brought under the complete sway of Christ,” (Mystici Corporis, para. 30). In the absence of the juridic Church, Christ will not fail to dispense the graces won for us by His death on the Cross. Traditionalists, who constantly preach that these graces cannot be obtained in any complete and significant manner unless received in sacraments from their hands dare to usurp the place of Christ. For these graces were meant to issue from Christ through the hands of lawful priests, validly and licitly ordained, descended from the line of bishops Christ began with His designation of the Apostles; NOT those consecrated at the hands of schismatics and worse, who have no claim to that descent.

“From Heaven Christ never ceases to look down with especial love on His spotless Spouse so sorely tried in her earthly exile; and when He sees her in danger, saves her from the tempestuous sea either Himself or through the ministry of His angels, or through her whom we invoke as Help of Christians, or through other heavenly advocates, and in calm and tranquil waters comforts her with the peace ‘which surpasseth all understanding,’” (Mystici Corporis, para. 40). Christ does carry us in these times, just as He carried the lambs in His arms as the Good Shepherd. He is as true to these promises to the faithful as He is to the promise that His Church will last as He established it “unto the consummation.”

Who belong to the unity and faith of the Body?

“22. Actually, only those are to be in included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed…As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord and One Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered — so the Lord commands — as a heathen and a publicanThose divided in faith and government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its Divine Spirit.

“23. [But] not every sin, how grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism, heresy or apostasy

“24. But if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not made him unworthy of the communion with the faithful, let him be received with great love…and eager charity…For as the Bishop of Hippo [St. Augustine] remarks. ‘As long as a member still forms part of the body there is no reason to despair of its cure; once it has been cut off, it can be neither cured nor healed.’”

Who is and is not a member of the Mystical Body was debated at length over the centuries. In his “The Church” (1957), Rev. Stanley Grabowski tells us: “With regard to heretics and schismatics, [St. Augustine] allows for cases in which individuals are outside the Church in good faith.” Mortal or “death-bringing” sins, “deprive the soul of its spiritual life…Through the commission of such sins, one is deprived of grace, of charity and the Holy Ghost…Venial sins, on the other hand, do not…kill the spiritual life of the soul, ” and this is in line with what Pope Pius XII says above. “Augustine views the habitation of the Holy Spirit in a two-fold way: first, as a personal inhabitation of each just individual; and, secondly, as a personal inhabitation of the corporate Church, composed of all individuals who form the Mystical Body of Christ…If this two-fold habitation of the Holy Ghost, viz., that of the individual and that of the mystical body is ignored, the sinful person who is without the individual indwelling of the Holy Ghost will be removed from the corporate indwelling of the Holy Ghost [and] detached from the mystical Body of Christ.”

However to lose either the individual OR the corporate indwelling singly results only in  retaining a nominal attachment to the Mystical Body, but an attachment nevertheless. As Grabowski observes, “It is more advantageous to be attached to the body of Christ as a distorted or dead member than to be severed completely as heretics and schismatic’s are.” Grabowski notes that while St. Augustine hold as inculpable those who are outside the Church in good faith, “they must be somehow associated with the Holy Ghost and the Church.” But he also states that, “There is no explicit statement of St. Augustine to the effect that individuals outside the Church possess the Holy Ghost as an inhabiting Divine Person.” Treating of the same subject, St. Robert Bellarmine stresses the juridic Church as the best expression of the Mystical Body, yet both Msgr. Myers and Grabowski agree that this strong reaction to the errors of the Reformation unfairly obscured the idea of the mystical inner life of the Church and Her intimate relationship with Christ, the Head. Concerning membership, St. Robert writes: “The body is the external profession of faith and the communion of Sacraments. From this it follows that some are of the soul and body of the Church, and consequently are united to Christ internally and externally; these belong most fully to the Church…Others are of the soul and not the body, as the catechumens or excommunicated, if they have faith and charity. Finally, some are of the body and not the soul, as he who has no internal virtue, and nevertheless they profess faith by hope or some temporal fear and communicate in Sacraments under the leader of [legitimate] pastors…”

But St. Bellarmine distinguishes between those merely excommunicated for other crimes and those excommunicated for heresy, apostasy and schism in De Romano Pontifice, Bk. II, Chap. 30: “There is no basis for that which some respond to this: that these Fathers based themselves on ancient law, while nowadays, by decree of the Council of Constance, they alone lose their jurisdiction who are excommunicated by name or who assault clerics. This argument, I say, has no value at all, for those Fathers, in affirming that heretics lose jurisdiction, did not cite any human law, which furthermore perhaps did not exist in relation to the matter, but argued on the basis of the very nature of heresy. The Council of Constance only deals with the excommunicated, that is, those who have lost jurisdiction by sentence of the Church, while heretics already before being excommunicated [receiving an official sentence] are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction. For they have already been condemned by their own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3:10-11), that is, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as St. Jerome affirms… All the ancient Fathers…teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction,” http://www.cmri.org/02-bellarmine-roman-pontiff.html . And he writes in his De Romano Pontifice, (Bk. II), Chapter 40: “The Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are ipso facto deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity …Saint Nicholas I (epist. Ad Michael) repeats and confirms the same. Finally, Saint Thomas also teaches (II-II, Q39, A3) that schismatics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null.”

Where are Traditionalists in all this? They are not of the soul because they are not just simple excommunicates. They are not of the Body because they receive sacrilegious sacraments from the hands of those who not only are not lawful pastors, but who are not certainly valid pastors at all. While St. Augustine in the 5th century seems to anticipate the argument for material heretics as actual members of the Church, hence Christ’s Mystical Body, later Church teaching does not confirm his opinion. But a distinction needs to be made. While in the external forum we are bound to regard pertinacious individuals as heretics and schismatic’s until the Church rules otherwise. While the Church does teach that such heretics and schismatics are outside Her pale, and Canon Law says we may regard them as such and treat them accordingly, this is not to say that some may not be innocent of heresy or schism in reality. Again, St. Bellarmine explains: “For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” It is up to the Church to make the final decision, and until then we are not wrong in condemning them as heretics. Still, some may be guiltless. Unknown to us, Christ still may secretly consider them as members of His Mystical Body.

More from Mystici Corporis on sources of grace

“41. “They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth.”

We know that at present this is an impossibility. But as we have noted time and time again in other articles on this site, Traditionalists do not follow the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs throughout history; they do not practice what these popes taught or believe what they command us to believe. They pay them lip service, while their hearts are far from any obedience to them whatsoever. This despite the fact that the sole distinguishing factor of the true Church on earth, as defined by the Vatican Council, is her infallible head — supreme in his magistracy and jurisdiction. Some Traditionalists even are so perverse as to question the authority of Popes Pius IX through Pope Pius XII, without citing any credible evidence for why they consider them suspect popes. Or they criticize the popes while accepting them as pope, something they are forbidden by the Church to do. But without such obedience, which is the least one owes the Church in the absence of Her true head, one cannot be a member of the Mystical Body. And if not a member, one is not a sharer in the many graces that Christ showers on the faithful.

“44. Because Christ the Head holds such an eminent position, one must not think that he does not require the help of the Body… Moreover as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work of redemption. Dying on the Cross He left to His Church the immense treasury of the Redemption, towards which she contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it be due to her action. This is a deep mystery, and an inexhaustible subject of meditation, that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His associates.

“49. These words of the disciple whom Jesus loved lead us to the last reason why Christ our Lord should be declared in a very particular way Head of His Mystical Body. As the nerves extend from the head to all parts of the human body and give them power to feel and to move, in like manner our Savior communicates strength and power to His Church so that the things of God are understood more clearly and are more eagerly desired by the faithful. From Him streams into the body of the Church all the light with which those who believe are divinely illumined, and all the grace by which they are made holy as He is holy.

“50. It is He who imparts the light of faith to believers; it is He who enriches pastors and teachers and above all His Vicar on earth with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of faith, defend it vigorously, and explain it and confirm it with reverence and devotion. Finally, it is He who, though unseen, presides at the Councils of the Church and guides them.

“51. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body, not merely because He, as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven, through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the Eternal Father, but because He selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person ‘according to the measure of the giving of Christ.’… It is He who through the Church baptizes, teaches, rules, looses, binds, offers, sacrifices.”

In the strict sense, Christ needs no one to effect the work of His salvation; He chose to establish His Church in such a way that the hierarchy acted as intermediaries to dispense His graces. They are the ones who to a man, following the death of Pope Pius XII, abandoned Him (or so it appears), just as his own Apostles slept at Gesthemane and hid when He was arrested. Somewhere true members of the hierarchy, more than likely, have been preserved; but He has shut up their hiding places. He has pulled the faithful to Himself, and though they are not an invisible Church — for there are those who yet profess Him publicly — neither are they meant to know the exact number, location, and identities of all those He counts as members of His Body, either by water Baptism or desire. By insisting that only their clergy can convey graces through their mass and sacraments, Traditionalists are denying that Christ can dispense His graces when and where — and to whom — He wishes without their “assistance.” They use this hook to reel in those who fear they will lose their souls if they cannot procure these graces. They pretend to represent the juridic Church without office, jurisdiction or obedience to a true pope, or even the popes of the past. Those following them ought to know better, but they have never studied their faith. And once they choose to follow some “priest” or “bishop,” they often are discouraged from studying it.

It is as Henry Cardinal Manning says: “Whensoever the light comes within the reach of our sight, or the voice within the reach of our ear, we are bound to follow it, to inquire and to learn; for we are answerable, not only for what we can do, by absolute power now, but for what we might do if we used all the means we have; and therefore, whensoever the Church of God comes into the midst of us, it lays all men under responsibility; and woe to that man who says, ‘ I will not read; I will not hear; I will not listen; I will not learn; ‘ and woe to those teachers who shall say, ‘ Don’t listen, don’t read, don’t hear; and therefore, don’t learn.’”

In discussing the teaching of St. Augustine on the subject of illicit Baptism, Rev. Grabowski notes: “Without the Holy Ghost are such as have been baptized in heretical and schismatic factions…Baptism so administered produces in the soul of the recipient an effect which Augustine calls a form or ‘forma,’ [the indelible mark?]. However, since it is produced outside the Church, it is irregular and illicit and consequently it does not convey a life of grace, it does not bring a rebirth of the soul, it does not effect a participation in the Holy Ghost.” Grabowski says such a sacrament from heretics and schismatics “is not worthless. Because it is valid it impinges a ‘form’ on the recipient…On account of the sacramental ‘form’ impressed on the baptized one, when such a person returns from heresy and schism…to the fold of the Church,” he becomes a member of the Mystical Body, returns to grace and receives the Holy Ghost. “The sinner administering it in the Church does not hinder the Sacrament from producing that life which he himself does not have, for it is Christ who is the principal minister. The sacrament is not affected by the sinfulness of the dispenser,” and this is the entire thrust of the Donatist heresy fought by St. Augustine and mistakenly applied by Traditionalists to the situation today. Sinfulness is one thing; lack of membership in the Church quite another. “…The sacrament, however, does not produce the supernatural life it is intended to convey…[when] administered or received outside the pale of the Church of Christ. This Church is the sole legitimate possessor of the sacraments. Just as they are said to be the sacraments of Christ they are the sacraments of the Church.”

This argument is very familiar because it explains why the Church will not recognize as licit the Holy Orders and episcopal consecrations administered by heretics and schismatics, particularly during an interregnum, and why She nullifies and voids their effects. The activating force of the mark works to good effect in Baptism, also Confirmation, for it means that those who received this Sacrament at the hands of valid but illicit bishops issuing from Pope Pius XII and later converted actually received the graces of the Sacrament. But regarding Holy Orders, which Rev. Jean-Marie Herve says is to be treated more stringently than all the other Sacraments, this is not the case. Some Traditionalist clergy claim that Christ Himself supplies jurisdiction for their acts, even as heretics and schismatics, and yet St. Augustine, Grabowski, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bellarmine and many others flatly deny this could ever be the case. The dogma at stake here is apostolicity and “forma” or no, nothing could provide them the necessary apostolicity, which must be coupled with jurisdiction to assure apostolic succession.

Canon Law and Church teaching clearly demonstrate that those who receive this sacrament from the hands of heretics and schismatics, whether or not they are ordained or consecrated by a bishop issuing from Pope Pius XII, receive no sacrament or mark whatsoever. If no mark was ever received, then it cannot be reactivated; and should they function as if they have so received it, Pope Pius VI and Pope Pius XII teach that they convey nothing, (Charitas; Vacantis Apostolica Sedis; Canons 108, 109, 118, 147, 154, 453). For they are not called by the proper bishop; do not possess dimissorial letters; were never properly examined or dispensed from impediments; were only doubtfully tonsured and were never properly trained or apprenticed following “ordination,” so could never possibly have received an office, far less jurisdiction. These “priests” and “bishops,” even as laymen, incur numerous censures and vindicative penalties that make it impossible for them to ever “reactivate” any so-called graces received to carry out their duties, because these are nullified by law and the censures incurred can be lifted only by a canonically elected Roman Pontiff.

They can return to the Mystical Body, however, through prayer, study, penance, renunciation of their errors and reparation. And as laymen, they could eventually function in some capacity such as simple catechesis. Pope Pius XII, in an address to Catholic women in 1957, told the laity that they MUST pick up the duties of the hierarchy whenever, owing to impossibility or persecution they cannot perform these duties. In his Feb. 20, 1946 address to Cardinals, Pope Pius XII reminded us that under our bishops, who are in communion with the Roman Pontiff, “[We] are the Church…” However in his 1957 work he taught that, “The initiative of a lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit ‘mission’ from the hierarchy…In countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible,…Christians…must, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities,” (Mission of the Catholic Woman, Sept. 29, 1957). He added, however, that, “Even so, nothing can be undertaken against the explicit and implicit will of the Church, or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals, or ecclesiastical discipline.” But we have his permission, even his command to take the place of the hierarchy in times of emergency. This could be delegated to us only by virtue of the shared nature of Christ’s Mystical Body, which joins all Catholics, lay or clerical into one united entity until the consummation. We may not know where the hierarchy is, but we must act on its behalf, as best we can, until that fact is known to us.

Christ hears our private prayers

“87. There are others who deny any impetratory power to our prayers, or who endeavor to insinuate into men’s minds the idea that prayers offered to God in private should be considered of little worth, whereas public prayers which are made in the Name of the Church are those which really matter, since they proceed from the Mystical Body of Christ… [for] no prayer, even the most private, is lacking in dignity or power, and all prayer is of the greatest help to the Mystical Body in which, through the Communion of Saints, no good can be done, no virtue practiced by the individual members, which does not redound also to the salvation of all.” (Mystici Corporis).

This is precisely what Traditionalists do by jeering at those who pray at home and rely on their Spiritual Communions and Perfect Acts of Contrition. Why would anyone condemn these practices, given to us by the Church Herself, when catacomb Catholics are only following their consciences? The answer to this question is that Traditionalists are engaging in bullying because they have no legitimate way to defend their defenseless position.  If they were truly solicitous of Christ’s Mystical Body and the salvation of souls as they repeatedly boast, then they would heed the following from Mystici Corporis:

“92. For as the Apostle with good reason admonishes us: ‘Those that seem the more feeble members of the Body are more necessary; and those that we think the less honorable members of the Body, we surround with more abundant honor.’”

Obligation of Catholics to engage in Catholic Action

“87. No less far from the truth is the dangerous error of those who endeavor to deduce from the mysterious union of us all with Christ a certain unhealthy quietism. They would attribute the whole spiritual life of Christians and their progress in virtue exclusively to the action of the Divine Spirit, setting aside and neglecting the collaboration which is due from us…’For divine favors are conferred not on those who sleep, but on those who watch,’ as St. Ambrose says. For if in our mortal body the members are strengthened and grow through continued exercise, much more truly can this be said of the social Body of Jesus Christ in which each individual member retains his own personal freedom, responsibility, and principles of conduct.

“96. And so We desire that all who claim the Church as their mother, should seriously consider that not only the clergy and those who have consecrated themselves to God in the religious life, but the other members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ as well have, each in his degree, the obligation of working hard and constantly for the building up and increase of this Body.”

“103. For although our Savior’s cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God’s inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God.”

And again from Right Rev. Msgr. Can. Edward Myers, M.A., quoted above: “All who are justified should think and act as members of the Body of Christ, having the closest possible relations as individuals with Christ their Redeemer, and through him and in him, with their fellow Christians.  Relations so close that the merits of Christ become theirs in proportion to the degree of their identification with him, and the merits of all avail unto all for the achieving of Christ’s purpose, the application of his merits to the salvation of mankind. This great Mystery of the identification of Christ and the faithful in the mystical body of which he is the head and they are members dominates the mind of St. Paul.  Christ is the head, the Source of its corporate unity; the indwelling of his Spirit is the source of its spiritual activity.” Pope Pius XII assigns us a task, in the absence of the hierarchy, that is truly daunting; for he says we must take upon ourselves “all their duties.” In a sense then we also become the juridic Church, although we can never possess any sort of jurisdiction. But still we must continue that which we can, the spreading of the faith, insofar as our talents and our resources allow.

And yet the Traditionalist clergy have not evangelized and catechized to create this Army for Christ; they have not encouraged and organized Catholic Action, or any other apostolate of any importance or significance that has championed the cause of Christ the King and His Church. Rather than gather they have scattered the faithful, with their constant wrangling with one another, their divergence in doctrine, scandals in their personal lives and their love of notoriety and money. Their greatest sin of omission was committed when they neglected to secure the rights and continuation of the juridic Church by not electing a pope in the early days of this crisis, when it still might have been accomplished; and this, we believe, was by design. They also have consistently refused to do the one thing most necessary to belong to Christ’s Mystical Body as members — participate in the upbuilding of His Body by study and meditation, abandoning their errors and doing penance and reparation for the scandal they have given to others and the injury done to their own souls.

Rev. Grabowski quotes St. Augustine as requiring such penance before these men can be rehabilitated and return to the Church. The sainted bishop describes these individuals as “’…ficti or simulati…’ They seem to have been those who because of the commission of certain grave sins incurred ecclesiastical penance, which they failed to do,” and Traditionalists have racked up a goodly number of these penances for heresy and other delicts they have committed. “Because of their special grievous sin they have severed themselves from the Church to the extent of losing membership in it which they have not regained…These members behave externally as all other members do…and appear to participate in the inner life of the Church. It is not so, however. The ‘ficti’ or simulati’ have not the Holy Ghost…They are in the Church but merely according to appearance. ‘They do not belong to the Church and to that society of the Spirit,’” St. Augustine says, (p. 174-75). Sadly what they have perpetrated is the degradation of Christ’s sacred Mystical Body, and this has prevented them from sharing in its many fruits and benefits.

Mystici Corporis and the true mystical nature of Christ’s Body

“62. Hence, this word [mystical], in its correct signification gives us to understand that the Church, a perfect society of its kind, is not made up of merely moral and juridical elements and principles. It is far superior to all other human societies;[117] it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all those that perish.[118] Such human societies, and in the first place civil Society, are by no means to be despised or belittled; but the Church in its entirety is not found within this natural order, any more than the whole man is encompassed within the organism of our mortal body.[119] Although the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end, nevertheless that which lifts the Society of Christians far above the whole natural order is the Spirit of our Redeemer who penetrates and fills every part of the Church’s being and is active within it until the end of time as the source of every grace and every gift and every miraculous power. Just as our composite mortal body, although it is a marvelous work of the Creator, falls far short of the eminent dignity of our soul, so the social structure of the Christian community, though it proclaims the wisdom of its divine Architect, still remains something inferior when compared to the spiritual gifts which give it beauty and life, and to the divine source whence they flow.

“68. Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, be visible to the eyes of all, since it is He who gives effective direction to the work which all do in common in a mutually helpful way towards the attainment of the proposed end. As the Divine Redeemer sent the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who in His name [138] should govern the Church in an invisible way, so, in the same manner, He commissioned Peter and his successors to be His personal representatives on earth and to assume the visible government of the Christian community.”

The Mystical Body is bound by Canon Law

In his “Our Greatest Treasure” (1942), Rev. John Kearney tells us how key our obedience to the laws of the Church truly is if we wish to retain our faith.

“A Catholic obeys all the laws of the Church because God has given Her the power to rule and govern her subjects. A Catholic honors God by believing His word, and he honors God by obeying His laws — the Ten Commandments. The laws of the Church are God’s laws also in the sense that He gave Her the power to make laws — to make laws in His name: ‘Whatsoever you (the Apostles) shall bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven,’ (Matt. 18:18)…The Church, then, has a twofold power regarding laws; She has the power to teach and explain the Divine law and to make laws Herself. A good Catholic…is obedient to a law laid down by the Church; he is not concerned whether it be an explanation of a divine law or a law laid down by Herself…The Church was founded by Christ…Her end is to glorify God by the salvation of souls…Hence every law the Church makes has as final object to facilitate the salvation of Her children. Her children may not see clearly how this or that law is a help to salvation, but once they believe the Church is God’s representative and speaks in His name they are conscious of their obligations and are thankful that they can honor God by obedience to the laws of His representatives…Obedience is not merely doing what you are told but being cheerfully willing to be told what to do…To obey the Church, therefore, is to obey God, for She commands in His name. And to obey God, to submit to God’s Will, is to offer Him the most perfect worship…It is important to emphasize and explain the authority of the Church in teaching and ruling [because]…this power should be associated with the doctrine that She is the Mystic Body of Christ

“The Catholic believes that the Church is a society and has power to teach and govern (including the power to make laws). This is part of the doctrine She teaches. For a Catholic to (a) refuse to believe what the Church teaches is a mortal sin which forfeits God’s friendship; (b) to refuse to submit to one of the laws of the Church in a serious matter is a mortal sin and means the loss of God’s friendship. Such a refusal is a resistance to God Himself; for the Church speaks in His name…The priceless gift of the true faith which God in His goodness has given to us can be lost, and if lost, it may perhaps never be regained. One of the first steps in this loss of the gift of faith is the imprudence (arising from pride) of questioning the wisdom of the laws of the Church.”

And we hear the following from Cardinal Manning: “The sacred Canon Law against which the rebellious wills and shallow intellects of men have ever clamoured is the noblest, highest, purest legislation that mankind has ever known. The jurisprudence of the Church is the perfection of wisdom and justice. And here the difference between the Church and the world comes out into light. The doctors and legislators of the world may be unsanctified men. The doctors and law-givers of the Church are created by the Holy Ghost,” (“The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost,” 1875).

If we listen to Traditionalists we would believe that the only way of saving ours souls is to partake of the sacraments they offer and attend their masses.  Never does anyone hear of the necessity under pain of mortal sin, even excommunication, of obeying Her laws, especially in a matter as serious as the lack of necessary jurisdiction and participation in communicatio in sacris. According to Rev. Kearney, those who obey God’s laws (in order to abstain from such sacrilege), offer Him a sacrifice more noble and pleasing than any Traditionalists could imagine. But this they would never concede, even though it is contained in Holy Writ: “And Samuel said: Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams. Because it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey,” (1 Kings 15: 22-23). And, “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up,” (Psalm 50: 19-20). Here we have in a nutshell the reason why the crisis in the Church continues, and the remedy God desires in order that the Church be restored.

Filling up what is wanting to Christ’s Passion

“77…Thus the Church becomes, as it were, the filling out and the complement of the Redeemer, while Christ in a sense attains through the Church a fullness in all things

“78. …”This profound truth  — of our union with the Divine Redeemer and in particular of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our souls — is shrouded in darkness by many a veil that impedes our power to understand and explain it, both because of the hidden nature of the doctrine itself, and of the limitations of our human intellect. But We know, too, that from well-directed and earnest study of this doctrine, and from the clash of diverse opinions and the discussion thereof, provided that these are regulated by the love of truth and by due submission to the Church, much light will be gained, which, in its turn will help to progress in kindred sacred sciences. Hence, We do not censure those who in various ways, and with diverse reasonings make every effort to understand and to clarify the mystery of this our wonderful union with Christ. But let all agree uncompromisingly on this, if they would not err from truth and from the orthodox teaching of the Church: to reject every kind of mystic union by which the faithful of Christ should in any way pass beyond the sphere of creatures and wrongly enter the divine…”

“107…She, truly the Queen of Martyrs, more than all the faithful ‘filled up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ…for His Body, which is the Church;’ and she continues to have for the Mystical Body of Christ, born of the pierced Heart of the Savior, the same motherly care and ardent love with which she cherished and fed the Infant Jesus in the crib.

“108. May she, then, the most holy Mother of all the members of Christ, to whose Immaculate Heart We have trustfully consecrated all mankind, and who now reigns in heaven with her Son, her body and soul refulgent with heavenly glory — may she never cease to beg from Him that copious streams of grace may flow from its exalted Head into all the members of the Mystical Body. May she throw about the Church today, as in times gone by, the mantle of her protection and obtain from God that now at least the Church and all mankind may enjoy more peaceful days.”

Probably one of the most beautiful accounts of Our Lady’s interaction with the Mystical Body is found in Mother Mary Potter’s “Path of Mary.” There Mother Potter writes:

“If Jesus Christ, the Head of men is born in her, the predestinate, who are members of that Head, ought also to be born in her by a necessary consequence. One and the same mother does not bring forth into the world the head without the necessary members, nor the members without the head: for this would be a monster of nature; so in like manner, in the order of grace, the Head and the members are born of one and the same Mother; and if a member of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is to say, one of the predestinate, was born of any other Mother than Mary, who has produced the Head, he simply would be a monster in the order of grace.

“St. Augustine confirms that all the predestinate, in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, are in the world hidden in the womb of the most holy Virgin, where they are guarded, nourished, brought up and made to grow by that great Mother until she has brought them forth to glory after death. God the Son wishes to form Himself, and, so to speak, to incarnate Himself every day, by His dear Mother, in His members.” Here we are reminded of two sets of imagery. First, St. John’s portrayal of Our Lady and also the Church in Apoc. 12 where she is in labor to give birth, first to her Son, then, some commentators say, to His Vicar (Rev. E. Sylvester Berry), and finally to the faithful. In his commentary on this chapter Rev. Leo Haydock writes: “By this woman [clothed with the sun] interpreters commonly understand the Church of Christ, shining with the light of faith…It may also, by allusion, be applied to Our Lady…in labor and pain whilst she brings forth her children [the faithful] and Christ in them, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions…[For] the Church, even in the time of persecution, brought forth children to Christ…” In verse 5 Haydock sees “the man child” as “a masculine race of Christians, willing to confess the name of the Lord and to fight His battles…guarded by the special favor of God.” On verse 6, describing the Church’s flight into the desert, Haydock comments: “The Church, in the times of persecutions, must be content to serve God in a private manner.” The two wings of the eagle Haydock sees as a “special protection and assistance…from the Almighty.”

Secondly, we are reminded here of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in labor to give birth to the millions of Mexico’s people converted to the faith in the 1500s. At La Salette Our Lady announced that a “little flock” of the faithful would be hidden and unknown in the latter days, and Guadalupe means hidden. Did she not tell Juan Diego that her children were in the folds of her garments, and that she would carry them in her arms? This last phrase was repeated at La Salette. Considering the other particulars revealed to the children there, it seems that Our Lady was trying to point out that the Church would be hidden from view in those days; eclipsed. This is the teaching of some of the Church Fathers and St. Francis de Sales on the Church in the desert during the time of Antichrist. Other commentators on the Apocalypse also allude to the Church’s nourishment in the desert or wilderness at this time, (Apoc. 12:6,14). Certainly it cannot be denied today that the papacy and Christ’s juridic Church on earth have been almost entirely blotted out. Yet the Mystical Body lives on.

If we wish to suffer with Our Lady and her Beloved Son, that we too may fill up some of what is “wanting” to Christ’s Passion, Mother Potter has this advice to offer:

“The Church appears to have entered upon the time when she mystically represents the Passion of Our Lord, and her members are unusually afflicted and tried; therefore the thought cannot be too often in your mind of the priceless value of suffering, of the short time the severest suffering can last, if it lasted without intermission through your whole life which it does not. Meditate again and again, in union with the Mother of Sorrows, upon the value (we might almost say infinite value) of suffering, since it will procure an infinite reward. It will be well to remember, likewise, that suffering not only procures a closer union with God, and therefore greater happiness in Heaven, but it likewise begets a greater happiness even on earth. You will taste a joy — you who suffer till your soul seems sorrowful even unto death — not conceived by those who pass through life with but its ordinary cares. Suffering is the one thing we may glory in. Suffering borne patiently, borne as God wills, is a present we may offer in some way back to God, and be sure it will be a gift most pleasing to Him. All that we suffer we of course, in our fallen state, deserve; but if God sees that in our hearts we are willing to suffer even undeserved suffering to please Him, to save our souls, He accepts that will, and our suffering is beautified to some resemblance to Our Lady’s.”

And on this note, we conclude the comments on Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis.

Conclusion

“If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church — we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression, ‘the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ’ — an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers,” Mystici Corporis teaches. And how is this to be fulfilled by the members of Christ’s Body? The cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws.” Both catacomb Catholics and Traditionalists alike agree that the Church, as Christ constituted it shall last unto the consummation, as the Vatican Council infallibly teaches. It is HOW it shall last, however, on which they disagree. But let us dissect the teachings of the Church on this matter to discover how Traditionalists err in believing that the Church exists primarily in its exterior or juridic capacity, while paradoxically maintaining that a) either the juridic Church can exist without a true pope, which St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius XII above emphatically deny; or b) it exists with a (potentially) true pope because materially the Roman usurpers hold the See. The heresies inherent in both these contentions have been demonstrated numerous times on this site, most recently in the article /articles/bombshell-basis-for-the-material-pope-theory-why-traditionalists-never-left-the-novus-ordo-church/

By way of contrast, catacomb Catholics maintain that the juridic Church for a time has been taken out of the way by the will of God Himself, in fulfillment of Scripture prophecy. They believe the juridic Church will be restored eventually, and that the “3 ½ years” of its absence can be interpreted as merely symbolic, an opinion held by various commentators, that this verse refers to an indefinite period of time. During this time period they believe that the Mystical Body of Christ — defined by Pope Pius XII as the Church on earth — is very much alive and exists in the mystical manner described in Apoc. 12. In so maintaining, and in assuming in the meantime the duties incumbent on Catholics to preserve the faith insofar as they are able, catacomb Catholics follow the laws and teachings of the Church by:

• proclaiming a firm and irrevocable assent to all the teachings of the Church and observance of Canon Law;

• refusing to receive doubtful sacraments;

• administering Baptism and Matrimony to each other and utilizing the Perfect Act of Contrition and Spiritual Communion in lieu of Penance and Holy Communion;

• reading either the entire Mass or the Mass of St. John from their missals, the appropriate Gospels and Epistles for the season and the sermons and instructions found in Goffines and elsewhere, keeping Sundays and holydays of obligation with prayers at home;

• in following only lawful pastors (including the avoidance of any so-called and falsely styled “material” popes, also the conclavist imposters);

• in catechizing both children and adults;

• in professing their faith by defending it and

• by performing acts of reparation and penance as required by any censures they have incurred, according to Canon Law.

Traditionalists, sadly,

• deny many points of infallible Church teaching and attenuate, ignore, dispense from and misinterpret the laws of the Church to their own advantage, contrary to the teachings of Pope Pius XII;

• sacrilegiously assist at “mass” and receive the “sacraments” from the hands of men whose ordinations are doubtfully valid at best, who possess no jurisdiction, supplied or otherwise and who, in reality, are probably only laymen;

• commit communicatio in sacris by attending Traditionalist services held by ”clerics” who admit they are not lawful pastors and are not in communion with a true pope;

• refuse to acknowledge Canon Law, so deny the effects of excommunication for heresy and schism and any need for doing penance or making reparation for their delicts.

Traditionalists claim God would never be so cruel as to deprive them of their clergy, even though these men reign only in violation of infallible decrees and Canon Law, as demonstrated repeatedly on this site. They have no canonical and infallible proofs of their own to offer that show they are justified in what they are doing, and they routinely decline to offer such proofs. Their primary proof exists in pointing out that Christ’s Church, as He constituted it, must last until the consummation, and they are the hierarchy of that Church. They have no direct-line descent from Pius XII, no proofs they possess jurisdiction, no appointed office — in short they lack all the elements required by law for validity, (Canons 147, 153, 453). They flout the law but yet call themselves members of the Church, while catacomb Catholics do their best to observe the law. When reminded that it is the unanimous opinion of the Fathers that the Holy Sacrifice will cease and that all the other signs predicted for the time of Antichrist’s coming are apparent, they assign his advent to the distant future, while maintaining Montini (Paul 6) abrogated the celebration of the Latin Mass by introducing the Novus Ordo Missae. As long as this denial of the true state of affairs exists, the same faith is not professed, the valid sacramental rites are not shared, the Holy Sacrifice is yet profaned in the Novus Ordo and on Traditionalist altars and the laws and teachings of the Church are ignored, Christ will not restore His Church.

For some at least, the resolution of the entire disconnect may hinge on the interpretation of St. Paul’s prophecy concerning “he who withholdeth.” If this verse is understood to mean the papacy, than many difficulties can be resolved. First of all, it would resolve the problem of the “material papacy,” for if the pope be taken out of the way and can no longer impede the reign of Antichrist, and Antichrist indeed arrives, then the papacy could scarcely be said to exist even materially. Secondly it would apply specifically to our own times, since never in the history of the Church has a series of usurpers ruled for decades (Antichrist and his system) unopposed by a true pope. Finally, it would be understood by all that without a canonically elected pope, the juridic Church cannot exist at all, for once the shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter, (Zach. 13:7; Matt. 26: 31).  In determining what is meant by St. Paul in his withholding comment, we turn to the Latin Vulgate and the comments made in the original by its translators, as described in the Catholic Encyclopedia under the topic, “Douay Bible.”

“The original Douay Version, which is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based, owed its existence to the religious controversies of the sixteenth century. Many Protestant versions of the Scriptures had been issued and were used largely by the Reformers for polemical purposes. The renderings of some of the texts showed evident signs of controversial bias, and it became of the first importance for the English Catholics of the day to be furnished with a translation of their own, on the accuracy of which they could depend and to which they could appeal in the course of argument. The work of preparing such a version was undertaken by the members of the English College at Douai, in Flanders, founded by William Allen (afterwards cardinal) in 1568. The chief share of the translating was borne by Dr. Gregory Martin, formerly of St. John’s College, Oxford. His text was revised by Thomas Worthington, Richard Bristowe, John Reynolds, and Allen himself — all of them Oxford men. A series of notes was added, designed to answer the theological arguments of the Reformers; these were prepared by Allen, assisted by Bristowe and Worthington.

The editor of this article also comments: “Although the Bibles in use at the present day by the Catholics of England and Ireland are popularly styled the Douay Version, they are most improperly so called; they are founded, with more or less alteration, on a series of revisions undertaken by Bishop Challoner in 1749-52…The changes introduced by him were so considerable that, according to Cardinal Newman, they almost amounted to a new translation. So, also, Cardinal Wiseman wrote, ‘To call it any longer the Douay or Rheimish Version is an abuse of terms. It has been altered and modified until scarcely any verse remains as it was originally published.’ In nearly every case Challoner’s changes took the form of approximating to the Authorized Version [King James]…” Overall, the editor notes, the translation made in Rheims is “scholarly and accurate.” It is the comments of these men on the Vulgate, which seem to be more reliable than certain other authorities and commentaries, (at least according to the Encyclopedia editor), to which we will refer below.

In the Rheims commentary on St. Paul’s “withholding” power, the commentators only state that St. Augustine does not know what St. Paul is referring to by his allusion. But in their commentary on 2 Thess. 2: vs. 3, they say concerning the time of Antichrist’s reign: “The external state of the Roman Church and public intercourse with the same may cease, yet the due honor and obedience of the Christians toward it and communion in heart with it, and practice in secret, and open confessing of it if occasion require, shall not cease, no more than it doth now…” No scandal or any other endeavor “could yet prevail against the See of Rome, nor is it ever like to prevail until the end of the world draws near… Heretics feign to make the Pope Antichrist…[and] a member of the Church…the great Antichrist himself…of the Church and in the Church, and should continue in the same…[But] Antichrist, if he ever were of or in the Church shall be an apostate and a renegade out of the Church. And he shall usurp upon it by tyranny, and by challenging worship, religion and government thereof, so that himself shall be adored in all the churches of the world [which he leaves standing]…And this is to sit in the Temple of God [2 Thess. 2: 4], as some interpret. If any Pope ever did this, or shall do, then let the Adversaries call him Antichrist…Heretics of these days do more properly prepare the way to Antichrist and to extreme desolation than ever before, their special heresy being against the spiritual primacy of Popes and Bishops and against the Sacrifice of the Altar, in which two the sovereignty of Christ on earth exists.”  In 1582, when the Rheims New Testament was published, it had been only 23 years since the promulgation of Pope Paul IV’s Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. It was clear even then that if Antichrist ever sat in the Chair of Peter, he would sit only as a usurper, and never as a member of the Church. These commentators clearly separate out that time when Antichrist reigns as an exception to the gates of Hell prevailing against the Church. Then and only then will it prevail and not before, as they explain against the Protestants at length in their commentary.

It was Henry Cardinal Manning who would devote an entire discourse to the question of “He who witholdeth” in his work, “The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” After assaying the teachings of the ancient fathers on this question and distilling their thoughts, then adapting them to historical developments in the Church over the centuries, Manning arrives at the conclusion that “he who withholdeth and [that] which withholdeth” is “both a system and a person”; that in its broadest sense it includes the entire Church and those temporal governments professing Catholicism. Already the demise of that system was well underway in the 19th century, Manning noted. In the narrower sense, the system is the papacy and the faithful and in the narrowest sense, the hierarchy, including the papacy. Manning points out that this withholding is according to the “will of the Incarnate Son of God Himself.” In summary: “The dethronement of the Vicar of Christ is the dethronement of the hierarchy of the universal Church and the public rejection of the Presence and reign of Jesus…The Divine Power [is] first in Providence, and then in His Church and then both fused together, continuing until the time shall come…to remove the barrier in order to let in a new dispensation of his wisdom on earth…” And Manning says there is an analogy to this: “the history of the Church, and the history of Our Lord on earth, run as it were in parallel.” In other words, the Church will endure Christ’s own Passion in Her Mystical Body.

“The event may come to pass that as our Divine Lord, after His three years of public ministry were ended, delivered Himself of His own free will into the hands of men, and thereby permitted them to do that which before was impossible, so in His inscrutable wisdom He may deliver over His Vicar upon earth, as He delivered Himself, and that the providential support of the temporal power of the Holy See may be withdrawn when its work is done…when the whole number of those whom He hath chosen to eternal life is filled up. It may be that when that is done, and when the times of Antichrist are come, that He will give over His Vicar upon earth, and His Mystical Body at large, [for a time, but]…the imperishable Church will live on still through the fires of the times of Antichrist…All this will be a persecution which I will not attempt to describe…a persecution in which no man shall spare his neighbor. But there is One Person…who will break down and smite all the enemies of he Church…who will consume [them] ‘with the  Spirit of His mouth’ and [finally] destroy them ‘with the brightness of His coming.’…But there is in store for the Church of God a resurrection and an ascension, a royalty and a dominion, a recompense of glory for all it has endured.”

This we hear not from the mouth of a mystic, or some obscure seer, but from a theologian of the most irreproachable reputation; that champion of the papacy who almost singlehandedly engineered the Vatican Council as Pope Pius IX’s right-hand man and saw it through to its conclusion. This also is the opinion of “The pious and learned author,” [Fr.] Edward Healy Thompson, who wrote also in the 19th century: “In respect to the great calamities which [Bd]. Anna Maria Taigi announced as impending over mankind, as well as the splendid triumph which will follow for the Pope and the Church, together with the renovation of the entire world, one may say that such is the general object and the common end of all the prophecies, whether ancient or modern, which bear upon these latter times. Each seer, it is true, has added or dwelt more at large on some special circumstances, but they all agree in two leading features: ‘First, they all point to some terrible convulsion, to a revolution springing from most deep-rooted impiety, consisting in a formal opposition to God and His truth, and resulting in the most formidable persecution to which the Church has ever been subject. ‘Secondly, they all promise for the same Church a victory more splendid and complete than she has ever achieved here below. (“The Christian Trumpet,” compiled by Pellegrino [Gaudentius Rossi], 1800s).

And Mother Mary Potter, quoted above, wrote in her little book as well that: “It is the general opinion of saintly people that after the Church has passed a time of trial and persecutions, there will be a glorious time when infidelity, schism, errors, etc., will have passed away, when ‘all will be good.’ As, unknown to one another, so many holy people concur in this prophetic view of the future, it is useful to think about it and likewise to ask ourselves, is it not probable that this happy time will be in ‘that great age of the Church which is to be the age of Mary’?…Since Mary was the instrument God used to begin His regeneration of the world, it is by the same means He will complete it.”

But are Catholics bound to accept these opinions, or may they believe as they choose, even if they believe that the end of the world proper is at our doors? Now Catholics are bound to be prudent. Rev. Dominic Prummer, in his “Handbbook of Moral Theology,” (1957) tells us: “St. Thomas and Aristotle define prudence as correct knowledge concerning things to be done. Others define prudence as the knowledge of things which ought to be desired and of those things which ought to be avoided…Acts of the virtue of prudence are three in number: to take counsel carefully, to judge correctly, to direct.” St. Thomas lists eight prerequisites which must exist in order for an act of prudence to be perfect. They can be summarized as follows: a clear knowledge of past and present, readiness to learn, quickness in comprehending the means to be used, ability to infer one thing from another, careful consideration of circumstances and future events and care in avoiding evil and obstacles.

So where does the need for prudence come in concerning the present situation? When it comes to the common opinions of saints, theologians and holy people, Catholics should take their opinions and conclusions more seriously and adjust their thinking accordingly if they wish to exercise prudence. In J. S. Daly’s translation of Fr. Sixtus Cartechini S.J.’s “On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them,” Fr. Cartechini gives as example of a “very common” opinions, that “Antichrist will be of the tribe of Dan.” Because the above opinion on the Church’s restoration seems to be a general one, we feel this is the closest comparison to it. Cartechini notes that “[These] opinions can be mistaken and there is no obligation to follow them, though prudence inclines us to favor them as a general policy.” Why?  Because our Lord instructed us to pay attention to the fig tree, to pray and watch, to gauge the signs of the times. These are just the prerequisites of prudence and if we cultivate them, then we are able to see how the past relates inevitably to the present, and to better evaluate our circumstances and future events. Only in this way can we hope to avoid evil and overcome obstacles in the path to our salvation.

It is true; the end could be just around the corner. A common opinion on a disputed subject is just that and opinions are like noses; everyone has one. As Cartechini states, it is not completely impossible for all the theological schools to err on a matter touching things proximate to faith. But unless we have serious reasons, it seems that the opinions of a vast number of saintly individuals throughout the centuries, including Fathers and Doctors of the Church, religious, clergy, theologians and pious lay people, are far more reliable than our own. And in these times, when nothing whatsoever seems certain, such opinions make a certain sort of sense. It seems unlikely that Christ would bring His Church to this pass and allow these circumstances it to continue even to the end, knowing that so many would see this as confirmation that the gates of Hell prevailed against the Church when it appears that many biblical prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Could it happen? Of course; Gods thoughts and ways are not ours and His mind is a great deep.

But regardless of the outcome, catacomb Catholics have every reason to believe that the Church cannot and has not truly perished. They are intent on being part of the solution, not part of the problem. If they are scourged by the pens of Traditionalists, all the better. They have been deserted by their fellows as is it is the wont of those in schism to do. They live in the desert place prepared for them by Our Lady and Her spouse the Holy Ghost and offer up sacrifices, “better than are offered now, just as truth is better than the shadow of truth.” As Fr. Kearney wrote above, “to obey God, to submit to God’s Will, is to offer Him the most perfect worship,and this we believe with all our heart, mind and soul. Our sheltering abode is Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church as defined by Pope Pius XII above. And this Church shall never be taken away. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ’s promises — His Words — shall never pass. He has “turned His hand” to us in this His very own “secret garden”: He has “not left [us] orphans.” He will do the same for any who renounce their errors and do penance, make reparation for their sins. Many spiritual writers state that He will not punish His enemies until all the elect are gathered safely into His barn. Is He waiting for you?

C. The Doctrine of the Mystical Body, Pt. I

The Doctrine of the Mystical Body, Pt. I

Understanding why the Mystical Body IS Christ’s Church

Introduction

The following explanation of the Mystical Body is lengthy and will take readers days, perhaps weeks to read. For this reason some will neglect to read it or will complain that it is unreasonable to expect anyone to try and understand this doctrine sufficiently to inform their consciences. As works go it is less by far than the average dime-store novel, which many read every week. It also is less technical and far more necessary on a need-to-know basis than your average insurance policy, personnel manual, Social Security handbook, retirement plan or many other every day documents we must deal with as a matter of course. And it is light years above these in content, for basically it describes the relations of Christ with His Church on earth and explains how and why the Church yet exists, where it exists, and how we must cooperate with Christ to maximize our participation as members of His Body. If this is not something vitally important to Catholics, then they are shirking the obligation to do all in their power to save their souls.

What is presented below was written many years ago but is still as vibrant today as it was the day it was penned. It was written by a monsignor of the Catholic Church and was duly approved by the proper Church authorities. Although it was compiled before the issuance of Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis, which teaching all Catholics are bound to learn in these times and accept irrevocably as an infallible document, it appears to be consistent in every way with the pope’s teaching on this subject. Nevertheless, portions of this encyclical will be presented in part two to better illustrate the points made here by Monsignor Myers and to help explain the difficulties we encounter today.

THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST

(Taken from the Teaching of the Catholic Church, by Can. George D. Smith, D.D., Ph.D., Vol. II; 1959, first printing 1927. Commentary is provided in blue by T. Stanfill Benns.)

By Right Rev. Msgr. Can. Edward Myers, M.A.

§ I: THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH

Our purpose in these few pages is to emphasize the truth that when we profess our belief in the Holy Catholic Church we make an act of faith in a great mystery of the Christian Revelation.

The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ

The Church is more than a religious society whose purpose is the worship of God, more than a society different from all others because it was founded by God, more than a depository of grace and revealed truth.  The Church herself is supernatural in her nature and essence, since she is the Body of Christ, living with the life of Christ Himself, with a supernatural life.  From the “fullness of Christ” all His members are filled, so that the Church herself is “the fullness of Him who is wholly fulfilled in all.”  Hence the mystery of the Church is the very mystery of Christ Himself.

Our act of faith in the great mystery of Christ’s Church means far more than belief in a wonderful worldwide organization of millions of men, united as no other group of men has ever been in belief, in practice, and in central government; it means that there circulates throughout the Church the life of grace which Christ came to bring into the world, linking together the members of the Church under Christ their Head with such a closeness of union that Head and members form a unique reality: the Mystical Body of Christ.  Our act of faith in the Church is an act of faith in Christ ever active in our midst, ever speaking, ever teaching, ever guiding, ever sanctifying those who are one with Him, through the organism He has willed should exist in the world.

Visible and invisible elements in the Church

The negation of the visible character of the Church of Christ, and of its hierarchical constitution, has led to such stress being laid upon the visible, tangible aspects of the Church that those who are not Catholics have come to think of it in terms of its external organization and of its recent dogmatic definitions, and not a few Catholics, concentrating their attention upon the argumentative, apologetical, and controversial side of the doctrine concerning the Church, have been in danger of overlooking theoretically – though practically it is impossible for them to do so – the supernatural, the mysterious, the vital, the overwhelmingly important character of the Church as the divinely established and only means of grace in the world, as the Mystical Body of Christ. 

Comment: The external, visible organization of the Church is necessary to Her very existence, and yet we are told by the Early Fathers and many Catholic saints and holy people that there would be a time when it would seem as though this organization no longer existed. It could not die — so how then would it continue to exist? Rev. Patrick Madgett S. J. tells us in his “Christian Origins,” Vol. II, that “During the time intervening during the death of one pontiff and the election of his successor, jurisdiction…whether papal or episcopal…is not lost, nor does it revert to the electors. It remains in abeyance until the successor is elected.” As noted in many places on this site, Pope Pius XII, in his papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis infallibly decrees that such jurisdiction, if it is pretended to be accessed by the electors or anyone else, is null and void. The Mystical Body cannot be spilt in two as though it was a monster, separating the mystical side of the Church ruled by our Lord from its visible element.

During an extended interregnum such as we have experienced since the death of Pope Pius XII, Christ Himself upholds His Church sans its full visible manifestation since it is He who ordained that for a time and that time only She should be taken away on the wings of a great eagle into the desert. Some interpret the “wings” in this verse from Apoc. 12 as “prayer and contemplation.” If we believe in Christ’s promises, we know that this time will end and that we have good reason to believe, according to the opnions of saints and holy people, that the Church will be restored. And we also know that during this time so similar to the Babylonian Captivity experienced by the Israelites in the Old Testament, God will mystically preserve His Church, whether it be visibly and externally seen to be unified or not. For exterior union is not all that keeps Christ’s Church in existence.

Practically the doctrine of the supernatural life, of sanctifying grace, of the development of the spiritual life, has safeguarded these deep truths; though even there individualism has asserted itself to the detriment of the collectivism of Christian activity.  The stress laid by St. Paul on the edification of the body of Christ, on the benefit the whole [which] derives from the perfection of the members, has tended to be passed over where the social value of the contemplative life is not appreciated. 

Comment: Precisely what was said above; the Mystical Body must be taken AS A WHOLE. Pope Pius XII has infallibly taught that, “If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church — we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression, ‘the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ’ — an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.” The entire reason that the Novus Ordo and the Traditionalist movement have been so successful in attracting and holding members is because they stressed the exterior organization of the Church and its social elements by minimizing or ignoring the necessity of the intimate interior life we must enjoy with our Lord. Even the Jews believed in this interior devotion prior to the coming of Christ.

It is in and through the Church that Jesus Christ has willed to effect the salvation of mankind.  From the beginning that Church has been a complex entity, and its history is filled with incidents in which men have concentrated upon some one essential element of its constitution to the exclusion of another equally essential element, and have drifted into heresy.  The Church has its visible and its invisible elements, its individual and its social claims, its natural and its supernatural activities, its adaptability to the needs of the times, while it is uncompromising in vindicating, even unto blood, that which it holds from Christ and for Christ.

Comment: The heresy of exterior religion to the exclusion or diminution of the interior life was condemned as Modernism by Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis. The Church of today must adapt to the reality of the times in which it exists. In our case we are expected to “pray and watch,” to keep Our Lady company at the Foot of the Cross as described by St John the beloved Apostle, who joined her there.

The development of the doctrine of the visible Church and of the authority of its visible head upon earth has been very marked.  The persistent rejection of these revealed truths demanded their reiterated assertion and their vigorous defense.  No thinking man can overlook the fact of Catholicism: there stands in the midst of the world a body of men with a worldwide organization, and a carefully graded hierarchy, with a well-defined far-reaching process of teaching, law-making, and jurisdiction.  The Vatican Council (1869-70) teaches us that “God has instituted the Church through His only-begotten Son, and has bestowed on it manifest marks of that institution, that it may be recognized by all men as the guardian and teacher of the revealed Word; for to the Catholic Church alone belong all those many and admirable tokens which have been divinely established for the evident credibility of the Christian faith.  Nay, more, the Church itself, by reason of its marvelous extension, its eminent holiness, and its inexhaustible fruitfulness in every good thing, its Catholic unity and its invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility, and an irrefutable witness of its own divine mission.  And thus, like a standard set up amidst the nations, it both invites to itself those who do not yet believe, and assures its children that the faith which they profess rests on the most firm foundation.”(Dogm. Const. De Fide, iii)

In that teaching the interplay of the visible element and the invisible element is set forth most clearly; and so it has been from the days of Our Lord himself.

His parables and his teaching on his Kingdom make it clear that it is an organic and social entity, with an external hierarchical organization, aiming at bringing all men into such an attitude of mind and heart that the just claims of God his Father are recognized and honored on earth, and hereafter in the heavenly kingdom in which alone Christ’s ideal will be perfectly achieved.  On earth the seed is sown, the grain of mustard seed becomes the mighty-branched tree; the leaven works in the paste and raises it; even now we must need to enter in if our lot is to be with the elect; this, then, is the Kingdom preached by Christ and his followers.

On earth the kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field, but while men were asleep his enemy came and over-sowed cockle among the wheat (Matt. xiii 24); again it is “like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together all kinds of fishes”(Matt. xiii 47); again it is likened to ten virgins – the wise and the foolish.  Members of the Kingdom may give scandal and be rejected, they may be persecuted and falter before the deceptions of Antichrist.  No doubt the Kingdom is life and spirit, and “the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth” (John iv 23).  But it is also clear that Christ’s Kingdom is seen and known and persecuted, and subject to the vicissitudes of human movements.

Comment: There are those who are reluctant to believe that the true Church could ever exist among men largely sinners, who err, rise and fall, yet keep going forward. Truly we are “all kind of fishes;” many of us have faltered before the deceptions of Antichrist and are subject to repeated moral failures.  But nevertheless, we have kept the faith and would never deny it. It is said that persecution is the fifth mark of the Church, and certainly those who protest the violation of papal teaching and champion the rights of the Church and Canon Law in the face of belligerent Traditionalist pseudo-clerics, desperate to preserve the source of their livelihood, have been persecuted. We are men, not angels; and earth is earth — not heaven.

Now it was precisely the visible organized body of men that Saul the persecutor knew, when he was “consenting to the death” of Stephen, a deacon of the organized Church, and when he “made havoc of the Church,” imprisoning its members; when he set forth from Damascus, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against them.  In later years he recalls that he was “according to zeal, persecuting the Church of God” (Phil. iii 6); “that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God and wasted it” (Gal. i 13).  “For I am the least of the Apostles . . . because I persecuted the Church of God” (I Cor. xv 9).

The relation between them

Our Lord has willed that his Church should be what it is, and that it should be the instrument of salvation for all.  He might have willed otherwise: he might have dealt with individual souls as though no other individual souls existed, by direct and immediate action, without taking into account the actions, the reactions, and the interactions of souls upon one another; without the realities underlying the Mystical Body; he might have ensured the preservation of his doctrine by direct revelation to individual souls; he might have willed that his followers should have been unknown in this world and known only to him, linked without knowing it in the invisible, mysterious life of grace – with no external sign of communion.

But that was not his will.  He has taken into account the normal workings of our nature and he has supernaturalized them.  Our individuality is respected, our social nature is respected too.  Man is essentially a dependent being: dependent upon others for his life and his preservation, yearning for the company and the help of others.  And so too in the supernatural life: the personal love of Our Lord for each one of us does not deprive us of the supernatural help, support, and sympathy of those with whom we are united in Christ, in his Church.  Under the headship of the successor of Peter, the Christ-founded Church teaches, safeguards and sanctifies its members, and their coordinated, directed prayers and efforts combine to achieve the purpose for which Christ founded his Church – by mutual help and intercession and example.

Man is a sense-bound creature and the appeal of sense is continuous.  Our Lord has taken our nature into consideration.  The merely invisible we can accept on his authority.  But he has given us a visible Church, with recognizable rules and laws and doctrines and means of sanctification, in which man is at home.  We accept Our Lord’s gift to us with gratitude and strive to avail ourselves of the visible and invisible character.  He has willed that as individuals we should be united with him by sanctifying grace, and that at the same time we should be united to one another with a unique collectivity, an unparalleled solidarity, which is the reality designated as the Mystical Body of Christ.  And he has further willed that all the members of that Mystical Body should be members of the visible, organized hierarchical society to which he has given the power of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying.  That visible Church is to be the unique indefectible Church which is to last until the end of time, and in its unity to extend all over the world.

Comment: God never requires us to do the impossible. He absolutely forbids us to cooperate in sin, or do anything that would place us outside the Church. The Church is yet visible in the sense that WE are visible, and our actions as Catholics are visible. The persecution we endure is visible. The Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony necessary to salvation we can yet receive, and they are visible. Her Canon Laws and papal teachings are ready available and understandable to any who choose to study and obey them. We belong to this visible Church by desire if nothing else and believe that there is yet hierarchy in hiding, and that the Church will be restored. So while this visibility is temporarily impaired it is not entirely lacking, either. And those of us who long for the visible Church’s return will be relieved and overjoyed when finally a true pope reigns, the churches reopen, and Mass and Sacraments return.

The analogy of Body and Soul is used of the Church of God, and may be useful in emphasizing that relative importance of the two essential elements of the Church.  Our Lord wills that all should have life and should have it more abundantly: we have that life when we form part of the Mystical Body of Christ by supernatural Charity.  All the merely external elements of Church membership will be insufficient unless the purpose of that external organization is achieved: life-giving union with Christ.  It is for that purpose alone that the visible Church exists.

§ II:  THE DOCTRINE REVEALED

The teaching of Christ

Our Lord’s prayer for the unity of his Church stands out very vividly.  “Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we also are.  While I was with them I kept them in thy name.  Those whom thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition” (John xvii 11-12).

That last prayer of Our Lord, embodying his last wish, embodies also his abiding, effective will.  He had told his apostles that “I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman.  Abide in me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing” (John xv 1-5).  When he sent his Apostles on their mission, he told them: “He that receiveth you receiveth me” (Matt. x 40).  “He that heareth you heareth me.  He that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me” (Luke x 16).  And in the picture Our Lord gives us of the last judgment (Matthew xxv 31 to 40) he identifies himself with his followers, and declares that “as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”

The teaching of St. Paul

When St. Paul was struck down on the way to Damascus he heard a voice saying to him “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts ix 4).  Who said “Who are thou, Lord” and he, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.”  Saul was persecuting the Church of God; Our Lord identifies himself with that persecuted Church: in persecuting the Church Saul was persecuting Christ himself.  Thus at the very outset of his Christian career, St. Paul learned that truth which was to affect the whole of his teaching, the truth of the union of Christ with his Church, a union so close, so unique, so unparalleled, that he uses one imaged expression after another to try to bring home to his hearers a fuller realization of the supernatural reality which had been revealed to him.  He uses the analogy of the human body, of the building, of grafting, to render more vivid the truth he wants Christians to understand.  Christ is the Head of his Church, and “he hath subjected all things beneath his feet and hath given him for supreme Head to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who is wholly fulfilled in all” (Eph. i 22-23).  And again, “the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ too is Head of the Church, himself being the savior of the body” (Eph. v 23).  And speaking of the visionaries of Colossa, he emphasized their “not holding fast by the head, for from this (which is Christ) the whole body, nourished and knit together by means of the joints and ligaments, doth grow with the growth that is of God” (Col. ii 19).  And again in the Epistle to the Ephesians (iv 15), “Rather shall we hold the truth in charity and grow in all things unto him who is the Head, Christ.”

Christ, then, is the Head of the Church, which is his body; the Church is the fullness of Christ, made up of head and members.  “You are (together) the body of Christ, and severally his members.”  The body of Christ, like the human body, presents a variety of structure, but “now there are many members yet one body” (I Cor. xii 20).  And there is a variety of functions which cannot be exercised in isolation.  “The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I have no need of thee’; nor again the head to the feet ‘I have no need of you.’  Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are (still) necessary. . . . (Yea) God hath (so) compounded the body (as) to give special honor where it was lacking, that there may be no schism in the body, but that the members may have a common care for each other.  And if one member suffereth, all the members suffer therewith.  If a member be honored, all the members rejoice therewith.  Now you are (together) the body of Christ, and severally his members” (I Cor. xii 20-27).  Those varied gifts have their place in the Church, “and himself ‘gave’ some as Apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as shepherds and teachers for the perfecting of the saints in the work of the ministry unto the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. iv 11-12).  Again, “to one through the Spirit is granted utterance of wisdom, to another utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith in the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing (still) in the same Spirit; and to another, workings of miracles; to another, prophecy, (diverse) kinds of tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues” (I Cor. xii 8-11).

Yet in spite of this variety of gifts and endowments, all must tend to perfect unity.  “For all you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  In him is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for ye are all one person in Christ Jesus” (Gal. iii 27).  “For the perfecting of the saints in the work of ministry unto the building up of the body of Christ till we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to the perfect man, to the full measure of the stature of Christ . . . thus . . . rather we shall hold the truth in charity, and grow in all things in him who is the Head, Christ.  From him the whole body, welded and compacted together by means of every joint of the system, part working in harmony with part – (from him) the body, deriveth its increase unto the building up of itself in charity” (Eph. iv 12-16).

Without going into exegetical detail, the truth that St. Paul is trying to express is clear: that there is the very closest possible relation between the members of the Church and the Head of the Church, so close that together they may be looked upon as one person, and that there is an ever-growing, intimate compenetration of members and head; the working of the members together with their Head constitutes the fullness of Christ; and in order that this universal fullness of grace should be diffused, our effort and our collaboration is called for: Christ is only his whole self by the unceasing working of his members.  The gifts they severally receive have no other purpose than to foster this increase, and in the working out of Christ’s scheme, the head is not the whole body, though it may be the focus of the whole vital influence.  Merely to say that Christ is the Head is not fully to define Christ.  “God hath given him for the supreme head to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him, who is wholly fulfilled in all” (Eph. i 22).

In these many passages we are faced by a reality which goes beyond any mere moral influence, any relation of the merely moral order.  The influence of Christ upon his members is a real, a vital influence, the nature of which we have to bring out more clearly.  St. Paul, in speaking of Christ as Head of the Church, is speaking of Christ as he now actually is.  No longer the suffering Son of God making his way in the midst of men, but Christ triumphant, inseparable from the fruits of his victory, from those whom he has redeemed, whose redemption is realized by their incorporation with him; so that in virtue of their union with Christ they share in his merits and in his glory.

A twofold solidarity

To the solidarity of human nature in Adam, with its Original Sin and consequent evils, God has willed to contrast a more glorious restoration, a triumphant solidarity of supernaturalized creation transcending the limits of time and place and uniting all “in Christ,” whether Jew or Gentile, so that “through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. ii 18).  That is the great “Mystery of Christ” (Eph. iii 4), bringing together mankind in one city, one family, one temple, one body under the headship of Christ, “recapitulating” all in Christ, so that all who are justified should think and act as members of the Body of Christ, having the closest possible relations as individuals with Christ their Redeemer, and through him and in him, with their fellow Christians.  Relations so close that the merits of Christ become theirs in proportion to the degree of their identification with him, and the merits of all avail unto all for the achieving of Christ’s purpose, the application of his merits to the salvation of mankind.

This great Mystery of the identification of Christ and the faithful in the mystical body of which he is the head and they are members dominates the mind of St. Paul.  Christ is the head, the Source of its corporate unity; the indwelling of his Spirit is the source of its spiritual activity.

“It seems to be true, speaking quite broadly, that where the Apostle refers to Christ’s Mystical Body, whether a propos of the whole Church or of the individual, he is thinking primarily of external organization, and when he refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, primarily of inward sanctification.  The doctrine of the Mystical Body, like that of the Kingdom in the Gospels, has its internal and external aspect” (Lattey, Westm. New Test., Vol. iii, p. 247).

St. Paul teaches us that it is by Baptism that we enter upon our ‘new life’ “in Christ Jesus,” when we die to sin, and are crucified with Christ and, “putting on the Lord Jesus” (Rom. xiii 14), become one with him, identified with him, incorporated in him, members of his body and members of one another.

The Fathers

The doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ is one which has stood out quite clearly from the very beginning.  It has not undergone development.  The sacred writers have simply made known to us the reality revealed to them.  This being so, it will be unnecessary to quote at any length the teaching of the Fathers on this most important point.  A few indications will suffice.

St. Irenaeus is familiar with the idea that the Churches scattered throughout the world form a unique community; and that social reality corresponds to a mystical reality, for the Church is the grouping of the adopted sons of God, the body of which Christ is the Head of, is simply “the great and glorious body of Christ,” which Gnostics divide and seek to slay (Contra Haer., iv 33, 7).  For Tertullian all the faithful are members of one same body, the Church is in all those members, and the Church is Jesus Christ (De Paenitentia, X).  St. Ambrose, explaining the teaching of the Epistle to the Ephesians, gives as the motive of the charity we must have for one another, our close union with Christ, as we form only one body, of which he is the Head (Letter 76, No. 12).

The teaching of St. Augustine is so full that it might well fill a volume.  The Church is the body of Christ and the Holy Ghost is the soul of that body; for the Holy Ghost does in the Church all that the soul does in all the members of one body; hence the Holy Ghost is for the body of Jesus, which is the Church, what the soul is for the human body.

Comment: The indwelling of the Holy Ghost is very little appreciated today and Traditionalists who believe that Mass and Sacraments are their only source of “graces” might be surprised to learn that that very Paraclete sent to us by Christ Himself is the font of grace, and will teach us “all things” if we but listen and learn. This is made very clear in Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi. Many would do well to read the works on the Holy Ghost written by Henry Cardinal Manning, available as free e-books at http://catholicebooks.wordpress.com/subject/grace-and-salvation/

From Manning’s “Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost” we read: “The Holy Catholic Church, the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, is called by the name of charity. It is the uncreated charity of God visibly incorporated. You say it in your baptismal creed: ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost, in the Holy Catholic Church.’ ‘There is one body and one spirit.’ It is one, because where there is charity there are no divisions. It is He Who made men to be of one mind in one house, when it was shaken by the mighty wind coming and illuminated by the tongues of fire. There is a divine unanimity throughout the Universal Church binding it together, because the love of God is its light. The world, with its multitudinous contentions, wars against the charity of God.” Now we know that in the house of Traditionalists there are many dilapidated mansions, many sects, which tells us that they cannot be the one, true Church of Jesus Christ in His Mystical Body. While they claim to be the juridic Church on earth, they obey no pope, and this Pope Pius XII teaches in Mystici Corporis, is a sure sign that they are not the true visible Church on earth, for “It is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is the Vicar of Christ on earth, be visible to all.” Because we are experiencing a prolonged interregnum, as Vacantis Apostolic Sedis teaches (see above), we must adhere to all the papal teachings that went before and nothing may be decided concerning the laws or teachings of the Church until a new pope is elected. The Mystical Body does not cease to exist during an interregnum, but neither, without true bishops or a canonically elected pope, can it be considered a functional juridic entity.

Therefore if we wish to live of the Holy Ghost, if we wish to remain united to him, we must preserve charity, love truth, will, unity, and persevere in the Catholic faith; for just as a member amputated from the body is no longer vivified by the soul, so he who has ceased to belong to the Church receives no more the life of the Holy Spirit (Sermons 267, 268) “The Catholic Church alone is the body of Christ . . . outside that body the Holy Spirit gives life to no man . . . consequently those who are outside the Church have not the Holy Spirit” (St. Augustine, Letter 185, section 50).  “His body is the Church, not this Church or that Church, but the Church throughout the whole world; . . . for the whole Church, consisting of all the faithful, since all the faithful are members of Christ, has in Heaven that Head which rules his body” (Enarrationes in Psalmos lvi 1).

Comment: There is no real way to return to the Church at the present time save by penance and reparation if we have been so unfortunate as to have unintentionally left Her. That is why it was so important for Catholics not to proceed on their own outside the laws and teachings of the Church once they realized that the popes after Pius XII were imposters. But Jesus knows the hearts of his strayed sheep and will not abandon them, as is explained below.

In his De Unitate Ecclesiae (2), he tells us that “the Church is the body of Christ, as the Apostle teaches (Col. i 24).  Whence it is manifest that he who is not a member of Christ cannot share in the salvation of Christ.  The members of Christ are bound together by the union of charity, and by that self-same charity they are united to their Head, who is Christ Jesus.”  In the De Civitate Dei,” he emphasizes the union of the souls of the departed with the Church which is the Kingdom of Christ.  The members of the Church alive on earth are one with the departed; hence the commemoration of the departed at the Eucharist, and hence again the practice of reconciling sinners on their death-bed and baptizing the dying.  Hence again the commemoration of the martyrs who bore witness to the truth unto death, and who now reign in Christ’s kingdom.  To that Church of God belong also the just of all ages, and also the angels of God, for the angels persisted in their love of God and in their service of God (Enchiridion lvi; Sermon, 341, 9).  St. Augustine thus explains the binding force of the Church of God: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered for us and rose again, is the Head of the Church, and the Church is his body, and in his body it is the unity of the members and the union of charity that constitute its health, so that whenever a person grows cold in charity he becomes a sick member of the body of Christ.  But he who exalted our Head is also able to heal our infirm members, provided only they have not been cut off by undue weakness, but have adhered to the body until they were healed.

Comment: How great a body of believers it is that we belong to, if we but keep the faith as they kept it! And we also are honored by the company of angels, without whose assistance surely we would have lost our way long ago.

For whatever still adheres to the body is not without hope of healing; but if he should be cut off from the body his cure is impossible” (Sermon 137,1).  “It is the Holy Spirit that is the vivifying force in the body of Christ” (Sermon 267,4).

Comment: While some have cut themselves off from that glorious Body externally, they yet cling to it by desire, as survivors of shipwreck cling to the sides of the vessel that arrives to rescue them. Membership by desire is the only thing that will save such souls in these times, and penance and public reparation, as well as reform of their lives and an increased demonstration of their love for God, is the only way to express that desire.

§ III:  THE DOCTRINE Explained

The term

In view of the confusion that exists today in the use of the term “mystical” it may be well to give some account of its various meanings in ancient and modern literature.  Etymologically it is akin to “mystery”; both words spring from the Greek: to close the lips or the eyes, lest words should reveal or eyes see what is hidden.  Thus is pre-Christian literature it is used of pagan cults, indicating a religious secret bound up with the “mysteries,” which were closed to all but the initiated.  Nevertheless it is sometimes used colloquially of non-religious secrets.

The Christian uses of the term are manifold.  We find the word commonly connected with the celebration of the Christian mysteries, especially of Baptism and the Eucharist.  Whatever was concerned with the administration of the Sacraments, or their explanation, was “mystical.”  Even today we speak of the “mystical oblation,” the “mystical sacrifice,” the “mystical cleansing.”  It is easy to see, therefore, how the word “mystical” was used so frequently to designate the sacrament, or the outward sign of inward grace.  It is also used in the sense of “symbolical” or “allegorical.”  Hence the “mystical meaning of Scripture” is the spiritual, figurative, or typical meaning, as distinct from the literal or obvious meaning.  The mystical sense of the Scripture is that hidden meaning which underlies the simple statement of events.  Again the word “mystical” is applied to the hidden reality itself.  The sacred writer often sets forth the truth in allegories, comparisons, and figures of speech; thus St. Paul teaches us that the faithful are members of the organism of which Christ is the Head, and of which the faithful form the body.  This is what we have come to speak of as the “mystical body of Christ.”

Comment: We are living in the age of mystical Mass and Sacraments, deep in the center of the Mystical Body. “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” St. Paul teaches. We must die to ourselves and our own will — our longing to have the Church as She has always been, complete with true priests who offer Mass and Sacraments — in order to accept God’s will for us today. We must learn to work with our fellow members to live in the Body of Christ. We cannot remain alone and expect to accomplish His will without such cooperation. This Pope Pius XII explains eloquently in Mystici Corporis Christi, which will be examined at greater length in Part II.

A further development of those earlier meanings in the application of the term to the hidden and mysterious realities of the supernatural order.  In this sense the secrets of grace in the souls of men, supernatural communications with God, are “mystical.”  In a more restricted sense it is used of the spiritual life of faith and sanctifying grace with its striving after perfection through prayer and mortification: the “mystical life.”  But in the strictest and technical sense it is applied to the state of infused contemplation.

Comment: What is infused contemplation? Contemplation itself is defined By Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey as “a prolonged and loving regard of God under the influence of a special grace,” (“The Spiritual Life”).  Infused contemplation, called by Rev. Tanquerey passive contemplation, “enables us…to harmonize some opinions which at first sight appear to contradict one another,” (such as the visible and invisible aspects of the Church). “[It] may be accounted for by the habitual use of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; in other cases God intervenes in order to provoke ideas and to aid us in drawing to the most striking conclusions. Finally there are some cases that can be hardly explained by anything save infused knowledge.” Our Lady and Her Son have led us to the desert to engage in this sort of contemplation in order to preserve us from the contamination of worldliness and the many errors of this age. One who abides continually with them will obtain the graces necessary to arm themselves against all the wiles of the devil, who is now set loose on earth by Christ’s express permission.

What may be designated as the post-Christian or non-Christian senses of the term are not easy to analyze.  But in a philosophical religious sense the term is used of any teaching which admits the possibility of reaching “the fundamental principle of things” otherwise than by the normal use of the human faculties.  A linked meaning takes us away even from that vague religious sphere into the realm of thought inaccessible to ordinary minds dependent on intuition, instinct, or feeling.  A still more vague use of the term is fashionable craze for designating anything that is secret, or in any way connected with worship, with sentiment, with dreams, with the indefinable, the invisible, as “mystical.”

It may not be without interest to note that the term “mystical body” which is used by commentators on the scriptures and by theologians to designate the body of Christ, put before us so vividly by St. Paul and by the early Fathers, does not actually occur in the New Testament, nor yet in the patristic writings.  The two words “mystical body” are actually combined by St. John Chrysostom, when he is speaking of the Blessed Eucharist (Homily on the resurrection of the dead, n. 8, Gaume edition, Paris 1834, p. 56 C).  And that patristic use of “mystical body” for the Eucharist persisted in Rabanus Maurus (died 856) and in Paschasius Radbertus (died 951).  The latter’s book on the Body and Blood of the Lord has a chapter (7) on the uses of the term “body of Christ.,” where “mystical body” is still confined to the Blessed Eucharist.  Alexander of Hales, who died in 1245, in his Universae Theologiae Summa (Edition 1622, Vol. 2, p. 73), treating of the grace of Christ and his Headship of the Church, uses the words “mystical body” of the Church.  The same use is found in William of Auvergne (died 1249) in his De Ordine (Opera, vol. 1, p. 545), and in Albert the Great (1206-80).  All three authors use the term quite as a matter of course, and it would seem to have been in common use in the early thirteenth century.

Albert the Great explains the term “Mystical Body,” applied to the Church, as the result of the assimilation of the whole Church to Christ consequent upon the communion of the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist; so that the true Body of Christ under the appearance of bread became the symbol of the hidden divine reality.

Meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ

What, precisely, then, is meant by the Mystical Body of Christ? (The principles of St. Thomas utilized in this section will be found: Summa Theol., III, Q. viii; Sent. Dist., 13;  Questiones  Disput: de Veritate, Q. xxiv, art. 4 and 5; Compendium Theologicae, Cap. 215; and also St. Thomas’ Commentary on 1 Cor. Chap. xii, lect. 3; Commentary on Eph. chap. i, lect. 7 and 8; chap. iv, lect. 4 and 5; Commentary on Col. chapt. i, lect. 5.)  It is obvious that the Church is not the natural Body of Christ.  On the other hand it is more than merely morally the Body of Christ, i.e., the union between its members and Christ is not merely the union of ideas and ideals – there is a much closer connection between Christ the Head and his members, constituting a unique entity, which, because of its close connection with the Word Incarnate, is designated by a unique name: the Mystical Body of Christ – a body in which the members, living indeed their natural life individually, are supernaturally vivified and brought into harmony with the whole by the influence, the wondrous power and efficacious intervention of the Divine Head.  That Invisible Head ever abides, the members of the Mystical Body come and go, but the Body continues to exercise its influence in virtue of the vivifying power from on high animating its members, and that with such persistence and consistency, with such characteristic independence of action transcending the powers of the individual members, that we may speak of it as a Person, as Christ ever living in his Church, which is his Body, inasmuch as we are the members of which he is the Head.

What makes Christ’s Mystical Body so very different from any mere moral body of men is the character of the union existing between Christ and the members.  It is not a mere external union, it is not a mere moral union; it is a union which, as realized in Christ’s Church, is at once external and moral, but also, and that primarily, internal and supernatural.  It is the supernatural union of the sanctified soul with Christ, and with all other sanctified souls in Christ. Now, given the nature of the human soul, its individuality, its immortality, it is clear that the union of our soul with Christ in his Mystical Body excludes the conversion of our soul into the Divine Substance, excludes any identification of man with God, any confusion or a co-mingling of the Divine and human natures.  In that union there is not and cannot be equality or identity, but there is a likeness, a supernatural likeness between our soul and Christ the Head of the Mystical Body.

Comment: It is the forgetfulness of this primary supernatural union that most likely brought about the temporary withholding of the manifestation of the visible, juridical Church. Nothing serves more efficaciously than such a withdrawal to bring into sharp focus the neglected aspects of true union with Christ and His longing that all might share in such union. We may not know who all our fellow members in the Mystical Body are, since many are members only by desire. But this does not prevent us from working together with them for God’s greater honor and glory, since their mission in this life serves God’s purpose in a way only He Himself understands.

Vital influence of Christ

With Christ we form one Mystical Body, whereof he is the Head and we are the members:  A unique Body indeed, not a physical body, not a merely moral body, but a Mystical Body without parallel in the physical or moral order.  As our Head, Christ exercises a continuous, active, vitalizing, interior, and hidden influence, governing, ruling, and raising his incorporated members.  So that from Christ as Head comes the Unity of that Body, its growth, the vitality transmitted throughout its members.  The life and increase of that Body is obtained by the operations of each of the members according to the measure of the vitalizing influence which each one receives from the Head (Cf. the scriptural texts quoted above, pp. 663-664: Col. ii 18-19; Eph. i 22-23; iv 15-16; v 23).

That is the internal influence he exercises through his grace in our souls.  There is, moreover, the external influence he exercises through his visible Church.

Comment: Who are we to question the will of Christ that today we do not have a fully visible Church? Who are we to dictate to Him how He is to fulfill His promise that the Church shall last “unto the consummation” when revered theologians and even great saints, among then the early Fathers, have predicted this very occurrence during the reign of Antichrist?

It is by the grace of Christ that we are united to Christ our Head, and Christ is the source of all our grace in the present dispensation.  Not, indeed, that we are to conceive that the very grace which existed in his human soul is transferred to ours–that would be absurd; but he is the source of our grace inasmuch as the Divine Plan of Redemption he merited grace for us, and is the efficient instrumental Cause of grace, since as Man he taught the truth to men, he founded his Church and therein established the power of jurisdiction, teaching authority, and Holy Orders, and in particular because he instituted the sacraments, whereby grace is produced, and he gives to those sacraments all the efficacy they possess.  This causality of Christ, this active influence exercised by Christ, the Church never loses sight of, ever directing her petitions to God: Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Comment: The assumption by Traditionalists that the Act of Perfect Contrition and Spiritual Communion are devoid of these same graces, when to receive the Sacraments from the hands of their “priests” would constitute sacrilege and dishonor our Lord is ludicrous. Baptism of desire, membership in the Church through love and desire, is sufficient to save souls; why not Sacraments in desire? When the Church teaches that this is indeed the case when it is not possible to receive them actually, then why do they doubt it?! “A conscience that is in invincible error must be followed when it forbids or commands,” (Revs. McHugh and Callan), so even if those not attending Traditional services were wrong about this, which they certainly are not, they would still be obedient to Catholic teaching. Does it work the other way? Do those attending sacrilegious services get a pass because they believe they are doing the right thing? To a point, but only if those attending have not been warned, or have understood that warning, about the dangers involved. Staying at home to avoid those dangers is not sinful; no one is obliged to follow those who cannot prove their possession of jurisdiction or canonical mission and therefore are not lawful pastors. If Traditionalist groups were authentic and their leaders truly Catholic, they would publicly acknowledge this fact rather than castigate “homealoners” for not attending their chapels. It is because they see them as a threat to their own self-importance and financial security that they accuse them of denying Church doctrine and spurning the means of grace. For more on this topic, see Part II.

Our chief concern at present is, however, not so much with the active influence exercised by Christ, as with the effect which is thereby produced in men by Christ, produced by the Head upon the members of the Mystical Body.

Likeness of members to Head

In virtue of our incorporation in Christ, we are united to Christ, and that union consists in the supernatural likeness established between our soul and Christ: for unity of souls is as we have seen obtained by likeness.  Now that likeness is manifold.  There is, first of all, a real and physical (not material) likeness, attained by the justified soul, inasmuch as the sanctifying grace, the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are bestowed upon it, are of the same species as those which inhered in and were infused into the human soul of Christ: they differ, of course, in degree, inasmuch as in Christ they exist in the supreme degree.  In the faithful soul this sanctifying grace, with its retinue of virtues and gifts, may, of course, be increased by meritorious good works, and thus the likeness to Christ increases.  From that physical likeness there follows moral likeness also.  For being informed, being vitalized by the same supernatural life, we are disposed to the same supernatural activity as Christ himself: that is to say, the infused supernatural habits dispose the soul to the same operations, freely performed, as those elicited by Christ: the Christian by acting in accordance with those virtues, imitates or follows Christ.  We are thus united to Christ in thought and word and deed, striving to look at all things as Christ himself would have looked at them, to speak of all as Christ would have spoken, to behave to all as Christ would have behaved – thus becoming “other Christs.”  Christ became the living standard of holiness, the divine example which we strive to reproduce in ourselves.

Union with Christ by charity

Besides that union of our soul with Christ through supernatural likeness, we must recall the union consequent upon supernatural cognition and love, a most intimate union.  Christ is known to his followers by Faith, he is loved by Charity: how deep may be that knowledge, how intense, how ardent that love, how efficacious and vivifying may be the influence thus exercised by Christ is to be seen in the lives of the Saints.  It is clear that here exists true friendship, the mutual love of benevolence of Christ for the Faithful, of the Faithful for Christ.  But this friendship not only exists between Christ and each of the faithful, but also mutually amongst the faithful themselves.  The love whereby the Christian loves Christ is supernatural charity, the primary object of which is God himself, as he is himself Infinite Goodness itself.  But the secondary object of that theological charity is every single one of our neighbors, inasmuch as he is actually or potentially a sharer in the Divine Goodness.  And so by loving Christ, we wish happiness to ourselves and to our neighbors; by the virtue of hope we hope it for ourselves and for others; and finally, by performing works of mercy, we co-operate in procuring for one another sanctification in this life and eternal happiness in the next.  And all this meets in due subjection and obedience to the Vicar of Christ, who in this world rules and governs the Mystical Body of Christ.  Hence arises the Communion of Saints, which is the communication of good things amongst all the members of the whole Church: militant, suffering, and triumphant.

Comment: Many forget that the object of this supernatural charity is always God Himself, primarily, and then our neighbor. Henry Cardinal Manning explains this best in his (“The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost,” (1861), as follows: “This gift of science, then, is a certain love of truth… It is precisely this discernment in moral and spiritual things which results from the gift of science. By it we discern between commandments and counsels, and between the way of obedience and the way of perfection. It is science that teaches us our relation to God and our relation to our neighbour. It is this that explains to us the meaning of the words: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Have you ever reflected upon these words? How are you to love your neighbour as yourselves? You are to love yourselves, then? But self-love is the root of all sin; and yet there is a rational self-love which is a duty towards God. The suicide does not know the value of his own soul. He does not love himself; and he casts his life back in the face of his Maker, because he does not believe either in his Maker, or in his own eternity, or in his own responsibility. Therefore a rational love of self is our first duty next after the love of God; and the rational love of our neighbour springs from it. Now perhaps, if you will ponder on this, you will have to acknowledge that you have not as yet ascertained what is that rational love of yourselves. No man that neglects the Holy Sacraments can really know the value of his own soul. He therefore cannot have a rational love of himself. No man who treats the subject of religion with levity can have a rational love of himself. If he had he would not so lightly offend God.”

And these “holy Sacraments” cannot be found in Traditionalist chapels! Who among our neighbors is an actual or potential sharer in this goodness today? Some Traditionalists who at least are willing to consider objective truth can be found here with other Novus Ordo members and Traditionalists who are (truly) invincibly ignorant. Some Protestants, who even themselves are dissatisfied with their sects and long for something more satisfying spiritually and intellectually, may be numbered here. But certainly not your average Joe wearing Christianity as a sort of necessary social mantle, who considers religion only a communal activity necessary to appear respectable, and tends to this duty much as he would water his lawn or take out the garbage.

And thus, the life which animates the Mystical Body of Christ consists in (1) the unity of souls by likeness to Christ, and (2) the unity of souls by knowledge and love and consequent co-operation.

Comment: How can we cooperate with Traditionalists and Novus Ordo adherents, some of whom are members of this Body by desire, if they believe we are heretics as their leaders tell them? The only way we can do so is to pray for them and to hope that those who are Catholics by desire pray for us, even if it be only as enemies.

Christ lives in the Church

What confronts the world and the powers of evil at every moment of the world’s history is not merely the resolute will of strenuous and righteous men banded together in the most wonderful organization the world has ever known: behind that will, behind that organization, is the will and power of Christ working through his grace, reproducing in every age supernatural effects of virtue, arousing in every age similar opposition from all, of whatever type or character, who are not in the fullest harmony with Christ our Lord.  Of the undying character of that hatred, that virulent, active hostility, there can be no doubt, and in the world there is one Body alone upon which all anti-Christians, and not a few professing Christians, can agree to concentrate their destructive energies: surely the very abnormal character and persistency of that attack, reproducing in its varying phases every phase of opposition to Jesus Christ himself, is a strong corroboration of the well-founded character of the claims of the Catholic Church, that she and she alone is the Mystical Body of Christ, that in and through her alone Christ still lives and speaks to the world.

It is this silent, supernatural influence radiating from Christ indwelling in his Church which is the real explanation of that wonderful unity of faith which characterizes the genuine Catholic Church: which, as the priest speaks to the people, brings forth acts of faith from the hearts of his hearers, which, when Catholics are gathered together at a Eucharistic Congress, causes every heart and mind to be in complete, entire, and helpful harmony with every Catholic mind and heart throughout the entire universe.  It is that same silent influence which accounts for the self-sacrifice and generosity of Christ’s servants, manifesting itself in identical ways in cloister and home, in modern and ancient times, although no external communication has taken place between Christ’s faithful ones.

Holy Ghost the soul of the Mystical Body

The soul of the Mystical Body is the Holy Spirit: he is the inspiring, the animating principle.  He indwells in the Church and in each one of the faithful, he is the internal force giving life and movement and cohesion.  He is the source of the multiplicity of charismata manifesting the vitality of the Body (Rom. xii 4-11).  From him proceeds even the smallest supernatural act, for “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ save in the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Christ, in him he is and through him he is given to us.  His work is to achieve unity, unity among men, and with God” (St. Cyril of Alex. , Com. on John xvii 20-21).

Jesus in his mortal days was “full of the Holy Ghost” (Luke iv 1), “and of his fullness we all have received” (John i 16).  “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Creator will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you” (John xiv 26).

“But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, that man is not of Christ” (Rom. viii 9).  “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father!” (Gal. iv 6).

Baptism, which incorporates us into the Mystical Body, gives us too the principle of our unity and activity: “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of the body, many as they are, form one body, so also (it is with) Christ.  For in one Spirit all we, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, were baptized into one body; and were all given to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. xii 12-13).

Comment: Even though many have unintentionally left the Church, they were at least baptized before the death of Pope Pius XII. Once they have repented and made reparation for their adherence to a non-Catholic sect and have publicly professed their faith and renounced their errors, they are considered once again as Catholics in the internal forum. But in the external, juridic forum, they must be absolved in the confessional then abjured for heresy/schism and formally received back into the Church. Others who are not certainly baptized Catholics or who are not baptized at all can belong to the Mystical Body by desire. But Mystici Corporis says it is their duty to embrace the Church and seek water Baptism.

This common teaching was set forth by Leo XIII in 1897 in his Encyclical Divinum illud munus on the Holy Ghost: “Let it suffice to state that as Christ is the Head of the Church, the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church.”

§ IV:  THE MYSTICAL BODY AND REDEMPTION

The Fall and Redemption

The record of God’s dealings with man makes clear a two-fold contrast between grace and unity on the one hand and sin and discord on the other.  God’s grace has ever been the great unifying factor, uniting God with man and man with his fellow-men.  Sin separates man from God and from his fellow-men.  The purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was to rid it of discord and unite it with God in the grace-union once more.  His supreme prayer for his followers was “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us . . . that they may be one as we also are one.  I in them and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one.”

In the mystery of the Redemption by the Word Incarnate we see the relation of fallen man to God changed to man’s advantage; he has been redeemed, saved, reconciled, delivered, justified, regenerated; he has become a new creature.  The significance of the Redemption from the point of view of our subject lies in this, that the Redemption of man is analogous to his Fall.  All men, deriving their human nature from Adam, had inherited from him the stain of original sin, and thus the whole human race in one man had been set at enmity with God.  Just as man’s Fall had been corporate, so his reconciliation was to be corporate too.  For the fatal solidarity with Adam which had resulted in death and sin was to be substituted by a new and salutary solidarity whereby all men, born in sin of the first Adam, might be regenerated to the life of grace in the new Adam, Jesus Christ.  Our lost rights to supernatural development in this world, and to a vision of God after the time of probation, have been restored to us through the supernatural action of Christ’s human nature, hypostatically united to the Word of God.  Christ is the Spokesman of mankind, the Representative Man, the Second Adam, carrying out for our sakes what we could not carry out for ourselves, giving to God that glory and adoration, that worship, thanksgiving, and reparation, which the Man-God alone could give.  In virtue of our solidarity with him we share in the results of his activity, and our share will be the greater in the measure in which we more and more completely identify ourselves with Christ, “put on Christ,” become “other Christs.”

St. Thomas on redemption and the Mystical Body

It is in terms of this solidarity of man with Christ, in terms of the Mystical Body formed by mankind united with its Head, that St. Thomas, as follows, sets forth the doctrine of the Redemption, and of the application of its fruits:

“Since he is our Head, then, by the Passion which he endured from love and obedience, he delivered us as his members from our sins, as by the price of his passion: in the same way as if a man by the good industry of his hands were to redeem himself from a sin committed by his feet.  For just as the natural body is one, though made up of diverse members, so the whole Church, Christ’s Mystical Body, is reckoned as one person with its Head, which is Christ” (III, Q. xlix, art. 1).

“Grace was in Christ not merely as in an individual, but also as in the Head of the whole Church, to whom all are united as members to a head, who constitute one mystical person, and hence it is that Christ’s merit extends to others inasmuch as they are his members; even as in a man the action of the head reaches in a manner to all his members, since it perceives not merely for itself alone, but for all the members” (III, Q. xix, art. 4).

“The sin of an individual harms himself alone; but the sins of Adam, who was appointed by God to be the principle of the whole nature, is transmitted to others by carnal propagation.  So, too, the merit of Christ, who has been appointed by God to be the head of all men in regard to grace, extends to all his members” (III, Q. xix, art. 4, ad 1).

“As the sin of Adam reaches others only by carnal generation, so, too, the merit of Christ reaches otherss only by spiritual regeneration, which takes place in baptism; wherein we are incorporated with Christ, according to Gal. iii 27: as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ; and it is by grace that it is granted to man to be incorporated with Christ.  And thus man’s salvation is from Grace” (III, Q. xix, art. 4, ad 3).

“Christ’s satisfaction works its effect in us inasmuch as we are incorporated with him as the members with their head, as stated above.  Now the members must be conformed with their head.  Consequently as Christ first had grace in his soul with bodily passibility, and through the Passion attained to the glory of immortality: so we likewise, who are his members, are freed by his Passion from all debt of punishment, yet so that we first receive in our souls the spirit of adoption of sons whereby our names are written down for the inheritance of immortal glory, while we yet have a passable and mortal body: but afterwards, being made conformable to the sufferings and death of Christ, we are brought into immortal glory, according to the saying of the Apostle (Rom. viii 17), and if sons, heirs also: heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ; yet so if we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him” (III, Q. xlix, art. 3, ad 3).

“Christ’s voluntary suffering was such a good act, that because of its being found in human nature, God was appeased for every offense of the human race with regard to those who are made one with the crucified Christ in the aforesaid manner” (III, Q, xlix, art. 4).

“The head and members are as one mystic person; and therefore Christ’s satisfaction belongs to all the faithful as being his members.  Also in so far as any two men are one in charity, the one can satisfy for the other, as shall be shown later” (Supplement, Q. xiii, art. 2).  “But the same reason does not hold good of confession and contrition, because the satisfaction consists of an outward action for which helps may be used, among which friends are to be computed” (Q. xlviii, art. 2, ad 1).

“As stated above (Q. vii, art. 1, ad 9; Q. viii, art. 1, ad 5), grace was bestowed upon Christ, not only as an individual, but inasmuch as he is the Head of the Church, so that it might overflow into his members; and therefore Christ’s works are referred to himself and to his members in the same way as the works of any other man in a state of grace are referred to himself.  But it is evident that whosoever suffers for justice’ sake, provided that he be in a state of grace, merits his salvation thereby, according to Matt. vs. 10.  Consequently Christ by his Passion merited salvation, not only for himself, but likewise for all his members” (Q. xlviii, art. 1).

Comment: What is meant here is that such a man must already be a member of the Mystical Body by desire, and be living according to the light that has been given him.

On Baptism and incorporation

The fruits of the Redemption, therefore, are applied to individuals inasmuch as they are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ.  Now the means which Christ has instituted for this incorporation are the sacraments, and in particular Baptism, the sacrament of regeneration.  Hence in the teaching of St. Thomas concerning this sacrament we are able to see again the far-reaching importance of the doctrine of the Mystical Body.

“Since Christ’s Passion,” he writes (III, Q. xlix, art. 1, ad 4), “preceded as a kind of universal cause of the forgiveness of sins, it needs to be applied to each individual for the cleansing of personal sins.  Now this is done by Baptism and Penance and the other sacraments, which derive their power from Christ’s Passion.”

Even those who lived before the coming of Christ, and therefore before the institution of the sacrament of Baptism, needed, if they were to be saved, to become members of Christ’s Mystical Body. “At no time could men be saved, even before the coming of Christ, unless they became members of Christ: ‘for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts iv 12).  Before Christ’s coming men were incorporated into Christ by faith in his future coming, and the seal of that faith was circumcision” (Rom. iv 11, III, Q. lxviii, art. 1, ad 1).

Comment: This can be compared to those who in obeying the laws and teachings of the Church, receive and administer lay Baptism, and believe in the future restoration of the visible Church, or some hold, the Second Coming and its exultation in Heaven.

Treating the question whether a man can be saved without Baptism, St. Thomas allows that where actual Baptism is absent owing to accidental circumstances, the desire proceeding from “faith working through charity” will in God’s providence inwardly sanctify him.  But where you have absence of actual Baptism and a culpable absence of the desire of Baptism, “those who are not baptized under such conditions cannot be saved, because neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through whom alone comes salvation” (Rom. iv 11, III, Q. lxviii, art 2).  He emphasizes the same truth when speaking of men who are sinners in the sense that they will to sin and propose to remain in sin.  These, he says, are not properly disposed to receive Baptism: “’For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ’: now as long as a man has the will to sin, he cannot be united to Christ: ‘for what hath justness in common with lawlessness’” (2 Cor. vi 14).

Comments: When Christ established the New Law, which fulfilled the Old Law, He allowed that the new form of incorporation into His Body, Baptism, could accidentally be missing yet that person be joined to His Body (given certain circumstances). But where the desire of such union is lacking, and it is probably lacking in many Traditionalists who believe that they represent the juridic Church and have no need to be joined with all true Catholics in Christ’s Mystical Body, then their faith cannot “work through charity,” or love of God AND neighbor. It is true, however, that we cannot always know who such Catholics are, and therefore must leave their designation to Christ.

The reason why the effects of the Passion of Christ are applied to us in Baptism is that we are a part of Christ, we form one with him.  “That is why the very pains of Christ were satisfactory for the sins of the baptized, even as the pains of one member may be satisfactory for the sins of another member” (III, Q. lxviii, art. 5, ad 1).  Indeed, the effects of the Passion of Christ are as truly ours as if we had ourselves undergone the Passion: “Baptism incorporates us into the Passion and death of Christ: ‘If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ’ (Rom. vi 8); whence it follows that the Passion of Christ in which each baptized person shares is for each a remedy as effective as if each one had himself suffered and died.  Now it has been seen that Christ’s Passion is sufficient to make satisfaction for all the sins of all men.  He therefore who is baptized is set free from all liability to punishment which he had deserved, as if he himself had made satisfaction for them” (Q. lxix, art. 2).  Again, “the baptized person shares in the penal value of Christ’s Passion as he is a member of Christ, as though he had himself endured the penalty” (Ibid., ad 1).  “According to St. Augustine,” he writes in article 4 of the same question, “’Baptism has this effect, that those who receive it are incorporated in Christ as his members.’  Now from the Head which is Christ there flows down upon all his members the fullness of grace and of truth: ‘Of his fullness we have all received’ (John i 16).  Whence it is evident that Baptism gives a man grace and the virtues.”

Body and Soul of the Church

From this explicit teaching it is clear that there is only one Body of Christ, and it is by Baptism that we are incorporated in it.  Consequently we must be very careful in using the well-known distinction of the “body” and “soul” of the Church.

Every man validly baptized is a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, is a member of the Church.  Now it may well happen that adverse external circumstances may prevent a man’s character as an incorporated member of the Church being recognized, and the absence of such recognition may involve the juridical denial of all that it involves.  In the eyes of men he may appear to have broken the bond uniting him to the Church, and yet, because of the supernatural faith, and the persistent loving life of grace, whereby he seeks in all things to do the will of God, his union with the Church really continues: spiritually he remains a member of the Church, he belongs to the body of the Church.  He may, all the time, through error, be giving his external adhesion to a religious society which cannot be part of the Church.  But at heart, by internal and implicit allegiance, he may be a faithful member of the Church.

Comment: And this is what has happened to many former Traditionalists who discovered too late that they had attended Traditional services that were never Catholic. And we believe that certain Traditionalists, NO believers and Protestants are likewise in the same dilemma we were in, and correspond to this definition as well. That does not mean that we can know who they are, for God alone can know this. But we are united with them in Christ’s Mystical Body and that is all we need to know. If they have admitted their errors, however, they are obliged to perform works of penance and reparation for their sins, according to Canon Law.

Evidently, if the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, then to be outside the Mystical Body is to be outside the Church, and since there is no salvation outside the Mystical Body, there is no salvation outside the Church.  But, as we have seen, a man’s juridical situation is not necessarily his situation before God.

Comment: This will be used to defend Traditional “priests” who many say are “in good faith” but yet they cannot be in good faith when they continue to violate Church teaching and Canon Law despite repeated warnings. By simulating Sacraments, pretending to absolve without jurisdiction and pretending to be lawful priests, they act only as the thieves and hirelings Christ castigated in the Gospel. Those presuming to lead others and presenting as clerics are held to a higher standard, whether they have received the proper training or not. We learn this from Cardinal Manning, who wrote the following in his above-mentioned work: “Woe to the shepherd who does not go out before his flock, who is not ahead of his sheep in all perfection, who does not bear the light of a life bright with the reflection of his Divine Master…Woe to us, dear brethren, if we do not go before our flock. We shall all be judged at the last day; but our judgment will be tenfold more searching than yours.”

These men refuse to examine their position and to cease their operations despite repeated admonitions; they have ignored all pleas to cease and desist. Not only are those who attend Traditional services committing mortal sin themselves, they are cooperating in the sins of those who pose as clerics.

The use of the term “the Soul” of the Church as distinct from “the Body,” in the sense that Catholics belong to the Body and the Soul, and non-Catholics to the Soul only, and therefore may be saved because of their good faith, does indeed convey an element of truth, but not the whole of it.  The continual stressing of the “good faith” of those who are unfortunately out of visible communion with us, does seem to undermine the traditional horror of heresy and of heretics, replacing it by a horror of “heresiarchs”; it seems to a premium on muddle-headedness, and to reserve the stigma of heresy for the clear-headed ones.  After all, the malice of heresy lies in the rending of the Body of Christ: what our Lord meant to be one, heretics, even material heretics, divide.  They may be in good faith–and that good faith will at some moment lead them to see what they had not seen before–but the fact remains that their error or ignorance, however inculpable, retards the edification of the Body of Christ.  Even the claims of Charity should not blind us to the importance of growth in the knowledge of objective truth, as contrasted with the limitations of error, however well-meaning it may be.

Comment: Sadly, even as material heretics, Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey teaches that we are excluded from the external, juridic Body of the Church until readmitted by true hierarchy, as explained above. And yet those who make reparation and amend their lives — who strive to obey the laws of the Church and repair any damage done — may be counted by Christ as being actual members of the Church, having reactivated their baptismal graces. This is something we cannot know for certain, or at least we cannot be certain concerning when it happens. But we do know that Canon Law states that once the offender amends and after giving satisfaction (making reparation) he is to be released from the penalty, (Canons 2215, 2242, 2248). We assume that most of those who recanted their positions and left Traditional groups were material heretics suffering from invincible ignorance, since as Bp. George Hay teaches in defining this state: once they learned they were in error, they desisted from it.  The question here is, did these material heretics also incur infamy of law?

Infamy of law is an additional penalty that automatically is attached to those who fall under the censure of Can. 2314 for the crimes of heresy, apostasy or schism. But to do this, a person must first jump through all the hoops described in Canons 2316 and 2315, and it does not appear that those who leave Traditional groups and avoid its false clerics and their services would qualify as formal heretics or schismatics under these canons, since only those who are guilty of violating the law precisely as described in the law itself incur the penalty, (Can. 2228). Because no proper authorities exist to give the rebukes or admonitions, the process to presume suspicion of heresy with its deadline is interrupted.  Revs. Woywod-Smith write that “formal heresy only” is punished under Can. 2314, although material heresy is sufficient to require one to observe the penalty until the proper authorities can be consulted to resolve the matter, as stated in Can. 2200. The phrase “knowingly” in Can. 2316 excuses those from liability once they recognize their error and repent, meaning that they then would not incur suspicion of heresy since what they did they did not do deliberately (Can. 2229). Hence, if they are not formally guilty of heresy, neither are they guilty of infamy of law. However, only a true priest with delegated faculties or a true bishop is allowed to judge what constitutes knowingly, or to assume that the actual delict did not take place, or to presume that in making reparation, the offender is sincere. So this being the case, Can. 2200 and Can. 2232 must be observed until the proper authorities can decide the matter, because externally the act did take place. The laity cannot enforce penalties, although they have the right to declare that they believe they are in effect (especially in the case of heresy, apostasy or schism) and to demand that those acting in the capacity of clergy be ejected from Divine services. The faithful have the duty to renounce those who profess heresy publicly and can even see they are ejected from their offices.

It must be noted, however, that such is not the case with those who, when repeatedly confronted with Canon Laws and Church teachings by various individuals, refuse to cease and desist from their errors, for these do not exhibit the good will Bp. Hay refers to that would constitute invincible ignorance. They would incur the suspicion of heresy and eventually the actual censure for heresy, if they persisted for more than a year. And unfortunately, none of this applies to those posing as clerics and simulating the Sacraments; for this they incur an excommunication and an irregularity that can be lifted only by the pope. They cannot be promoted to orders or render any valid ecclesiastical acts even as laymen, so they are in a class by themselves as long as they do not desist from their errors and make amends. Their pertinacity and length of time spent in these groups as “clerics” cannot excuse them from the censures of heresy and schism; all is left to the determination of a canonically elected pope. This also applies to lay leaders who have taken it upon themselves to promote these pseudo-clerics and others who pose as legitimate authority because they are aiding and abetting those who invalidly and unlawfully impose authority over others. An exception to this rule might be those who operate under the auspices of so-called “popes,” since Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio states that they may depart from such false popes at any time without fear of incurring censures.

As stated above, a false ecumenical charity will not suffice to positively include in the Mystical Body those who have rent It asunder, however unintentionally, which is why all must be predicated as possible or probable until it is decided by a true pope.

In this matter the advice of St. Paul to the Ephesians is relevant: “With all humility and mildness, with patience supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  One body and one Spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling.  One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism” (Eph. iv 2 ff).

The notions of Redemption, Baptism, and the Mystical Body are combined by the Apostle in the following magnificent passage: “Christ also loved the Church and delivered himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, purifying her in the bath of water by means of the word, and that he might present her to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish. . . . Surely no man ever hated his own flesh, nay he doth nourish and cherish it, even as Christ the Church, because we are members of his body” (Eph. v 25-27, 29).

§ V: THE SACRIFICE OF THE MYSTICAL BODY

Redemption and sacrifice

The Catholic doctrine of Redemption is inseparable from that of Sacrifice, for it was by his sacrifice on Calvary that Christ achieved our Redemption.  “Christ, being come an high-priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation: neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and of oxen . . . sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleaning of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?  And therefore he is the Mediator of the New Testament: that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. ix 11).

Such being the intimate connection between Redemption and Sacrifice in the economy of our salvation (See Essay xiv: Christ, Priest and Redeemer, passim.), it is not to be wondered at if the doctrine of the Mystical Body finds its clearest illustration and most practical application in the Catholic teaching concerning the sacrifice of the Mass.

The Mass the sacrifice of the Mystical Body

The central fact of human history is the Redemption, wrought, in accordance with the divine plan, by the life-work of Christ, and culminating in the supreme act of self-oblation made by his human will in manifestation of his love of his Father.  The sacrifice which Christ offered to his Father on the Cross is the one perfect act of worship ever offered by man to God.  But Christians have never regarded that sacrifice simply as an event of the past.  They have been ever mindful of the command he gave his followers to do as he did in commemoration of him, “showing the death of the Lord until he come” (1 Cor. xi 26), “knowing that Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall have no more dominion over him” (Rom. vi 9).  Christ as he is today is Christ triumphant with the fruits of his victory, with the faithful in whom his Spirit dwells and works.  The same sacrifice which Christ offered on Calvary is unendingly renewed in the sacrifice of the Mass.  The sacrifice is Christ’s; the victim is Christ; the priest is Christ.  The only difference lies in the absence of actual blood-shedding on the Calvary of the Altar.  The Mass is the sacrifice of the Mystical Body of Christ (See Essay xxv in this volume: The Eucharistic Sacrifice).

That the whole Church has a sacerdotal character is clear from several passages of the New Testament.  Baptism, which made us sons of God, members of the Mystical Body, gave us an indelible character: “But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter ii 9).  “Jesus Christ . . . who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us a kingdom and priests to God and his Father” (Apoc. i 5).  “Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter ii 5).  Together with our Head, through the ministry of the priests who have the power of consecrating, we co-operate effectively in the offering of the sacrifice in the measure of our supernatural importance in the Mystical Body (Cf. The Eucharistic Sacrifice).

Christ, Head and Members, offers the sacrifice

It would be a pitiable mistake to think of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass as a dead offering.  It is a living offering and is offered by the living Christ.  Christ is the priest of the Mass.  It is Christ who celebrates the Mass, and he celebrates it with a warm and living Heart, the same Heart with which he worshipped his Father on Mount Calvary.  He prays for us, asks pardon for us, gives thanks for us, adores for us.  As he is perfect man, he expresses every human feeling; as he is God, his utterances have a complete perfection, an infinite acceptableness.  Thus when we offer Mass we worship the Father with Christ’s worship.  Our prayers being united with his obtain not only a higher acceptance, but a higher significance.  Our obscure aspirations he interprets; what we do not know how to ask for, or even to think of, he remembers; for what we ask in broken accents, he pleads in perfect words; what we ask in error and ignorance he deciphers in wisdom and love.  Thus our prayers, as they are caught up by his Heart, become transfigured, indeed, divine.

Hence by God’s mercy we do not stand alone.  In God’s providence the weakness of the creature is never overwhelmed, unaided, by the omnipotence of God.  In particular the Catholic is never isolated in his prayers, in his pleadings with God.  He is a member of the divinely instituted Church, his prayers are reinforced by the prayers of the whole Church, he shares, in life and in death, in that amazing combination of grace-aided effort and accumulated energy known as the Communion of Saints.  But especially is the Catholic strong when he pleads before God the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  Simply as a member of the Church, as a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, every Catholic has a share in the sacrifice offered by Christ as Head of his Church, a share in the supreme act of adoration thereby offered to God.  And that partaking in the offering of the Sacrifice is as real and as far-reaching as the Mystical Body itself.

Christ, Head and Member, the victim

Christ, head and members, offers the sacrifice, but Christ, head and members, offers himself, and we, in union with our Head, are victims too.  St. Paul has told us that we are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if, that is, we suffer with him, that with him we may also be glorified” (Rom. viii 17).  We must share in his sufferings if we would share in his salvation.  And in his epistle to the Colossians (i 24), St. Paul stresses the importance of our privilege: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf, and make up in my flesh what is lacking to the sufferings of Christ, on behalf of his body, which is the Church, whereof I am become a minister.”  So that as we are members of the one body, our sufferings, our prayers, our sacrifices, “may further the application to others of what Christ alone has secured for all” (Lattey in loc).  “The Church,” says St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, x 20), which is the body of which he is the head, learns to offer herself through him.”  “The whole redeemed city, that is, the congregation and society of the saints, is the universal sacrifice which is offered to God by the High Priest” (Ibid., 6).

“I exhort you therefore, brethren,” writes St. Paul (Rom. xii 1), “by the compassion of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice, living, holy, well-pleasing to God, your spiritual service.”  Since we are members of Christ our sufferings, united with the offering of Christ, acquire a value in the carrying out of Christ’s purpose in the world which they could never have of themselves.  Our mortifications, our fastings, our almsdeeds are seen to have a range of effective influence in the Mystical Body, however trifling they may appear in themselves.  The Lenten Fast is no mere personal obligation: the Church calls upon her children to do their share in furthering the interests of Christ in the world, insists that they should not be merely passengers in the barque of Peter, but should “pull their weight”; for they too have benefited and are benefiting from the fastings and prayers of God’s holy servants throughout the world.  The call to reparation on behalf of others is bound up with the privileges we enjoy through our solidarity with our fellow-members of the Mystical Body.

Comment: “By voluntary submission to His Passion and Death on the Cross, Jesus Christ atoned for our disobedience and sin. He thus made reparation to the offended majesty of God for the outrages which the Creator so constantly suffers at the hands of His creatures. We are restored to grace through the merits of Christ’s Death, and that grace enables us to add our prayers, labours, and trials to those of Our Lord ‘and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ’ (Colossians 1:24). We can thus make some sort of reparation to the justice of God for our own offences against Him, and by virtue of the Communion of the Saints, the oneness and solidarity of the mystical Body of Christ, we can also make satisfaction and reparation for the sins of others,” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Reparation). So many believe that in order to offer our sufferings and ourselves as sacrifices, we need an earthly altar, but this is not the case. Christ is our all; He is everything that we will ever need. Scripture commentators tell us He is the only Priest and the only Altar with which to unite our own humble offerings in union with His Passion.

Rev. Maurice De la Taille S.J. writes: “Christ was and is His own altar, because in the victim which He offers there is no inherent sanctity save that which arises from the Incarnation…Of this altar Andrew of Caesara, commenting on Apoc. 8 says: ‘The golden altar is Christ in whom resides all sacrificial and sanctifying virtue, and in whom the sacrifices of the martyrs are offered…’ The Glossa Ordinaria on Apoc. 6 [reads]: ‘Christ is the altar who offered Himself…the golden altar…according to humanity, according to which He is the altar of the Trinity.’…From the many testimonies of Hesychius…on Levitcus: “The altar of the holocaust is the Body of Christ; for as He is Himself Priest and Victim, so too He is the Altar.’ St. Augustine calls Christ an altar…Christ is the one priest of the celestial altar, yet not Christ alone. It is as the whole Christ, Head and members, that he stands there…You have the tabernacle of the present Church, the altar common to good and the bad…There is another altar, sublime, invisible, accessible to the good alone, unto which…the just man alone enters once only.’

“St. Thomas does certainly speak of God as an altar: ‘We must admit that in Christ who is our altar, there is according to His humanity the true nature of flesh: which is to make an altar of earth….’[From Hesychius]: ‘Moses said, you shall make an altar of earth unto me, for the Body of the Lord is made from our earth, that is, from the earthly dough or mass of humanity,’ (commentary on Leviticus). Seeing that the titles altar and temple are attributed to the Body of Christ, they also extend to the Church, which is united to Christ as Body to Head, and is one flesh with Him. Hence the Church is called a temple in Ephesians 2: 2; the faithful are spoken of as a temple in I Cor. 316-17 and II Cor. 6: 16.” St. Gregory of Nazianzen asks: “ ‘Will they forbid us their altars? Even so, I know of another altar, and the altars which we now see are but a figure of it…All the activities round about that altar are spiritual, one ascends to it by contemplation. At this altar I will stand, upon it I shall make immolations pleasing to God, sacrifices, oblations, and holocausts better than are offered now, just as truth is better than the shadow of truth. Let us immolate ourselves in every action of ours, every day of our lives…let us imitate His Passion by our sufferings,’” (“The Mystery of Faith,” Vol. I, 1940).

The sacrificial attitude of mind

Every sacrifice is the external expression of an internal sacrificial attitude of mind, whereby we submit all that we have and all that we are to the divine will, that in all things it may be accomplished.  In every sacrifice the victim is offered in place of him who offers it, as a means of expressing as adequately as possible the perfection of his submission to God.  Now we have seen that our union as members of Christ’s Mystical Body with the Victim offered to God in the Mass, unites us with our High Priest both as offerers and as offered.  Hence, from our solidarity with the priesthood and the victimhood of Christ there follows as a necessary corollary the duty in Catholics of cultivating the sacrificial attitude of mind.

When the pursuivants were thundering at the door of the house of Mr. Swithun Wells in Gray’s Inn Lane on the morning of All Saints’ Day, 1591, as the priest, Edmund Genings, stood at the improvised altar and offered the Sacrifice of the Mass, there could be no mistake about the sacrificial attitude of mind of the small group of faithful present on that occasion.  All had suffered for the privilege of worshipping God as he would be worshipped in his Church, and had refused to conform to the observances of the Established Church.  With calm deliberation they took their lives and fortunes in their hands, and offered them up to God in union with the redeeming sacrifice of Christ himself.  The working out of God’s will was to them as mysterious as it is to us.  But their duty to God was clear, and the danger they ran was clear; but they commended themselves into the hands of God, and prayed that his will might be done.  The spirit inspiring them shines out in Mr. Swithun Wells’ reply when in prison he answered, “That he was not indeed privy to the Mass being said in his house, but wished that he had been present, thinking his house highly honored by having so divine a sacrifice offered therein,” and the Justice told him that though he was not at the feast, he should taste of the sauce.  On 10 December, 1591, he won the crown of martyrdom.

If we compare the attitude of mind of the small group of devoted Catholics who were gathered round the martyr’s altar with the attitude of those indifferent Catholics who under the most favorable conditions content themselves with deliberately conforming to the very minimum of the Church’s requirements, we can see that there is room for many gradations in the intensity of the worship of God in the Holy Mass.  Better perhaps than any technical definitions the example of our Catholic forefathers can teach the lesson so many of us have to learn.

Our lives are spent in the midst of men who, however religious-minded they may be, have lost all idea of sacrificial worship: the Great Christian Act of Sacrifice is no longer the center of their religious observance.  At times one may wonder whether the influence of atmosphere does not affect the less-instructed of the faithful.  Our people have a firm and deep belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but it often happens that they have a less clear perception of what the Sacrifice means.  At times one hears the question, “Why is it that when Our Lord is already present in the Tabernacle, such a great manifestation of reverence should surround the Consecration?” a question which shows how little it is realized that at the Consecration Our Lord comes offering himself as our Victim, bearing our sins, offering himself to his Eternal Father for us.  Such a though makes the Sacrifice real and living to us, and moves us to offer ourselves up with him, to be ready to suffer what we can for him who suffered and died for us.

§ VI.  THE MYSTICAL BODY AND HOLY COMMUNION

Union with Christ consummated by Holy Communion

The end of all sacrifice is union with God; and the end of the Sacrifice of the New Law is union with God through and in Jesus Christ; a union which is consummated by Holy Communion, wherein those who have offered the sacrifice partake of the sacred Victim.  It is evident, therefore, that the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as well as the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Mass, is intimately bound up with the doctrine of the Mystical Body.  In fact, the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Comment: And yet we may receive it only spiritually. Without a true pope granting jurisdiction to true bishops in communion with him; and the

J. Protestants and Catholics alike have a serious problem

Protestants and Catholics alike have a serious problem

By the Morris Family (reprinted with permission)

Protestants have a serious problem, and so do we as Catholics.  We have had many discussions about the Protestant concept of Christianity.  We have difficulty understanding the logic of Protestantism. During years of formal Catholic education, we were taught a straightforward educational method involving logic and historical perspective and not to base religious decisions on emotions.  Protestants seem to have a generic view of Christianity.  Historical perspective seems to have not been taught to most Protestants as it was in our education background.  Their view is most solely based on reading the Protestant Bible.  Many religious decisions seem to be based on emotions.  Even the most conservative Protestants don’t seem to realize that Protestantism is a form of liberalism that was instituted by liberals.  Since achieving salvation is the most important objective of our lives, we feel it most important to discuss this issue.  Therefore, we want to review some history and apply some logical conclusions.

Our Lord and Savior preached the Gospel and established His Church on earth between 30 A.D. and 33 A.D.  During His Public Life He established Christianity nurturing it in the hands of His Apostles.  He appointed Saint Peter as the head of His Church when He pronounced, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”      (St. Matthew 16:17-19)  The Apostles were given the responsibility to teach what He had taught them to the entire world. (St. Matthew 28:18)

In 1350 A.D., nearly 200 years before Martin Luther, John Wyclif, a Catholic priest, advanced one of the currently fashionable non-Catholic/anti-Catholic ideas.  Father John Wyclif taught that the Bible alone is the sufficient rule of Faith.  Supporting belief in an inward and practical religion, he denied the divinely established authority of the pope and bishops of the Church; he also denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and wrote against the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) and the Doctrine of Indulgences.  Eighteen of his propositions were condemned by Pope Gregory XI.  Father John Hus, a Catholic priest from Bohemia, (now Czechoslovakia) preached the teachings of Wyclif, circa 1400 A.D.  Both Wyclif and Hus were convicted of heresy and their teachings were condemned at the Council of Constance in 1415 A.D.  Hus, still living at that time, was formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church.  In effect, these two priests gave impetus to the formation of a new religion which would operate in opposition to the Catholic Church.  So, the question has to be asked.  Does this new man-made religion receive approval in Heaven when it acts in opposition to the Catholic Church?  If not, then it is totally illegitimate, spiritually worthless, devoid of grace, and entirely displeasing to Almighty God. (And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”)

Martin Luther, a Catholic Augustinian monk and Doctor of Divinity, well known for his lectures on the Bible, became upset about what he considered abuses or unfairness in the distribution of indulgences.  In 1517, he posted his ninety-five theses on the front door of All Saints Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany, which was a Catholic Country then.  Posting notices on the door of a church or other public buildings was the common practice of announcing one’s views at that time.  These theses, written in Latin, listed what he considered to be abuses.  These were eventually translated into German and then into other languages and distributed throughout Europe with the help of the new invention, the printing press.  Following two years of lengthy discourses with the pope, and his refusal to obey the papal bull, which he publicly burned, he was formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church.  He then published articles denying the supremacy of the pope and monastic vows and, in 1522, with that, he formally started his own religion, the Lutheran Church. In 1525, he attempted marriage with a former nun, Katherine Von Bora, by whom he fathered six children.  He completed the writing of his own bible by 1534.  He had several politically influential friends, many of whom were German princes, who sided with him and supported him in his religious errors.  With this political base support, the new religion of Lutheranism spread throughout Germany.  His new religion with its new customized bible, now majorly different from the Catholic Religion, has taken many of its tenets from the excommunicated Father Wyclif’s and Father Hus’s religion and becomes the basis for most future denominations of Protestantism.  So, the question has to be asked.  Does this new man-made religion receive approval in Heaven when it acts in opposition to the Catholic Church?  If not, then it is totally illegitimate, spiritually worthless, devoid of grace, and entirely displeasing to Almighty God. (And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”)

In 1527, Henry VIII, the Catholic king of Catholic England, grew tired of his wife, Catherine of Aragon, because she did not bear him a son, and because he was attracted to her personal maid, Anne Boleyn.  He petitioned Pope Clement VII to grant an annulment of his marriage.  The pope refused, because this is against the law of God and His Church.  In 1529, he dismissed his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, who, as a cardinal, was the representative of the pope in England.  He appointed Sir Thomas More, educated at Oxford University, as his new Lord Chancellor.  Thomas More resigned in 1532, because of the king’s argument with the pope.  In 1533, Henry secretly “married” Anne and then appointed Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury.  Cranmer formulated new church laws which permitted the formal “marriage” of Henry to Anne.  In 1534, the Parliament, under the direction of the king, passed laws which enacted the formal break with the Roman Catholic Church and declared Henry VIII the supreme head of The Church of England.  Thomas More was asked to sign the document and to recognize the “marriage” between Henry and Anne.  He would not do so, and was beheaded in the same year. We now know him as Saint Thomas More, patron of attorneys.  By 1539, the government completed the seizure of all church property. Thousands of Catholic priests, bishops and laymen were murdered. Cranmer proceeded to formulate the new religion of England.  He wrote the Book of Common Prayer replacing the Roman Missal used in the Mass, and wrote his own version of the bible, replacing the Catholic Bible.  Under the reign of King James I, the bible was rewritten into English verse, following Archbishop Cranmer’s interpretation, between 1603-1611 by scholars at Oxford and Cambridge, all of whom were now solidly non-Catholic.  This new version is called The King James Version.  To illustrate the incorrectness of the original King James Version, centuries later, the English Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a convert from Judaism to the Church of England, said, with regard to these non-Catholic translations: “We find abundant errors reducing the text to nonsense or blasphemy, making the scriptures contemptible to the multitude who come to pray and not to scoff.”  Modern non-Catholic translators have sided with Disraeli.  Thirty-six thousand changes in the revised King James Version have been made.  Many of these changes corrected obvious distortions.  Unbiased scholars of the sixteenth century detected these distortions without any hesitation.  Ordinary people, however, lacking the ability to read the Hebrew and Greek texts, easily fell into the mistaken opinions aimed at them by dishonest and incompetent translators. These actions in England created the establishment of another new religion that would be known as Anglicanism, the Anglican Church in England and the Episcopalian Church in the United States.  So, the question has to be asked.  Does this new man-made religion, its new laws and decrees, receive approval in Heaven when it acts in opposition to the Catholic Church?  If not, then it is totally illegitimate, spiritually worthless, devoid of grace, and entirely displeasing to Almighty God. (And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”)

These examples above represent only two of the first denominations of Protestantism.  They lead the way for the many future denominations to follow.  John Wesley, 1703-1791, following his ordination in the Church of England, headed for the Georgia Colony in America. His mission was to minister to the settlers and Indians. He also hoped a stint in the wilderness would help him sort out his own confused religious beliefs. He preached a personal form of religion based on individual Faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Georgia was a disaster for Wesley. He alienated the Indians with his starchy high churchmanship.  He lost credibility with the settlers by getting into an awkward romantic entanglement with the niece of the chief magistrate of Savannah. Later, he formed what is known today as the Methodist Church.  These are just a few examples of men who decided that they had a reason to start their own church.  Real reforms had taken place in the Catholic Church, but they took place within the Church.  Saint Francis of Assisi was one of those many reformers. Reforms were definitely needed in the Church at times.  There were abuses involving indulgences.  These and other abuses were settled within the Church at various Church Councils.  The Council of Trent settled abuses, including those concerning indulgences, at the time of the Protestant “Reformation” in the 16th century.  The Council of Trent spent 25 sessions deliberating between 1545 and 1563.

Protestant reformers, who were originally in the Catholic Church,  however left the Catholic Church and worked outside of it, forming their own new religions, writing their own versions of the bible, selecting some tenets of Christianity while rejecting others, selecting some sacraments, while rejecting others, most eliminating the priesthood and any form of religious sacrifice.  The protestant emphasis on a personal relationship with God based on personal faith led to the same relationship with the Bible.  Each individual has his or her own relationship with God and in turn would interpret the Bible based on his or her own personal individual viewpoint.  This all leads to personal rationalization and self-justification.  By engaging in this practice, each individual, in effect, creates a new god unto themselves.  God created us in His own image and likeness.  Protestants, and the various Protestant sects, create unto themselves new gods unto their own image and likeness.  The differences between Protestantism and Catholicism are substantial.  They are different religions.  They embrace opposing doctrines and teachings regarding the form of religious adoration or worship, the Sacrifice of the Mass versus a prayer service, the sacraments, the priesthood, who is authorized to go forth to preach the gospel, female ministers (1 Tim 2:11-14)(1 Cor., 14:34) penance involving confession, mortification, the indissolubility of marriage, marriage after divorce, how one receives Grace, how one receives forgiveness, how one achieves salvation, the virginity of Mary or her perpetual virginity, whether Jesus had brothers and sisters and so on.  There are no gray areas in Catholicism.  There is no doubt.

Everything is clear-cut and straightforward.  Protestantism offers only gray areas and a massive amount of disunity and doubt.  “He that is not with me is against me:  He that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”  (Saint Matthew, 12:30) One of the favorite biblical verses for Protestants is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, as to give his only-begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”  A great deal of misinterpretation is applied to this verse.  The problem basically gets down to the definition of the word “believe”.  Saying, ”Yea, yea, Lord, I believe.” does not lead to instant salvation, but many Protestants say, “I believe, so I am now saved.”  Belief involves more than words. What sense is there is saying that one believes, but then insists on not belonging to the Church that Christ founded, by belonging to a man-made religion that opposes the Church that Christ founded?  What kind of belief is that?  It is belief in a mere mortal man, not in Christ.  “Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew, 7;21)

In Catholic teaching we are forbidden to attend a Protestant service for the purpose of worshiping God.  This would be considered a mortal sin against the First Commandment.  This was ingrained into our Catholic education. When we grew up and our parents handed down the teachings of our religion, we were taught that going to a Protestant service would be a sacrilege, a grievous sin against the Holy Ghost, against the First Commandment, which is, “I am the Lord, Thy God, Thou shalt not have strange gods before thee.” We studied the Baltimore Catechism.  This and the majority of Catholic teaching is contained there (www.baltimore-cathechism.com).

Q. 1148. How do we offer God false worship? A. We offer God false worship by rejecting the religion He has instituted and following one pleasing to ourselves, with a form of worship He has never authorized, approved or sanctioned.

Q. 1149. Why must we serve God in the form of religion He has instituted and in no other?  A. We must serve God in the form of religion He has instituted and in no other, because heaven is not a right, but a promised reward, a free gift of God, which we must merit in the manner He directs and pleases.

So, therefore, worshiping in a Protestant church would be worshiping another god, or offering incense to a false idol, or at the very least, offering false worship, all of which, or any of which are serious offenses against the First Commandment.   And, now we are advised to go worship with Protestants as a form of ecumenism?  Recently, we sent out a question about a recent form of “ecumenism” being practiced in local “Catholic” churches.  We asked former Catholic associates why it is that they invite Protestant ministers, including female ones, and Protestant bishops to stand in their sanctuaries to pray in public in front of their congregations.  We asked that since these people are not legitimate ministers of Christianity, is that not quite misleading and an erroneous action. We mentioned a senior family member’s letter about that subject and about worshiping in Protestant buildings..  We received some responses explaining that since Protestants have been baptized, they are fellow Christians and are our brothers in the Church.    We were taught this about Protestant children as that pertained to their reception of Baptism, but we were taught that that all ended when they reached the age of discretion at 14.  The most detailed response was from a “Senior Priest” in the Diocese.  He writes, ”… with due respect to your late and beloved mother, she is wrong in criticizing two popes, several cardinal archbishops and the rest of the teaching Magisterium of the Church for their departing at Vatican II from the post-Reformation ban of worshipping with other Christians.  The word “ecumenism” means gathering in one ‘oikos’ – Greek for house – as brother and sister Christians.  It does not mean converting them.  In fact it would be an unchristian insult to them if we were to attempt to convert them under the guise of worshipping with them.  Popes have so worshipped with Protestants and Orthodox often since Vatican II.”  This individual lists his credentials: 1. Ordained priest in Rome,  December, 1968; 2.  Doctorate in sacred theology (Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome); 3. Forty years in pastoral ministry; 4.Thirteen years theology professor in three…. Catholic universities; 5 Twenty-nine years social justice columnist in the…. (The Diocesan newspaper); 6. Seven years director of diocesan Institute for Religious Studies.”

This is one of the popular heresies of this new religion.  It is called False Ecumenism.  In our Catholic education, we were taught that Catholic Ecumenism is to invite those outside the Catholic Church to come to Mass to pray and observe.  They were invited to our house (“oikos”).  We were never taught, nor did we ever dream of going to a Protestant or Jewish building of worship for the sake of participation. That would be sacrilege.  This heresy of False Ecumenism, in addition to many other reversals in this church, such as the new Protestant service which has removed all reference to the Holy Ghost, Saturday/Sunday Sabbath, thousands of annulments per year; in effect, the elimination of the indissolubility of marriage, changes in matter and form of the sacraments, the changing of the words of consecration, communion in the hand, instant canonization of the departed in the new “Christian Burial Rite”, an implicit denial of the existence of Purgatory, and so on and so on, lead us to believe that this, too, is yet another religion, a new Protestant denomination, definitely totally different from the Catholic Faith in which we were reared.  It became a new religion formed by men in opposition to the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church with the formal signing of the Vatican II Documents on December 8, 1965.  “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.”  (St. Paul to the Galations, 1:8)

A subject such as this is very difficult and challenging to propose.  Most are born into their given current religious affiliation and because of family loyalty are faithful to it as if it were solid truth.  Actually, Protestants are born into or convert into a religion founded 1500 years after the founding of Christianity by Christ.  Their Protestant religion is merely 500 years old, one that is based on religions founded by men in the sixteenth century.  Those founders, Luther, Cranmer, Calvin, Wesley and many others, represent the real heritage of their religion, even if their particular church was founded just a few years ago.  They believe that they are followers of Christianity because the world says they are and because some of the principles they follow are Christian.  In fact, they are only partial Christians, part time Christians, imitation Christians, or pretend Christians, since their religions accept only certain tenets of Christianity, but reject many others.  They do not realize that their religions are not approved in heaven, or that their ministers have no authority to preach; that they have no Apostolicity.

They do not realize that their worship is not approved in Heaven, but is actually displeasing to Almighty God. “We offer God false worship by rejecting the religion He has instituted and following one pleasing to ourselves, with a form of worship He has never authorized, approved or sanctioned.” (Baltimore Catechism, Answer to Question 1148.) They think that they belong to a religion founded by Christ, but it was founded by scoundrels and murderers, heretics all, who rebelled from the real Christian religion to start their own religion and their own new church.  What a heritage!  Because of misleading information, they carry with them many misconceptions based on information received through erroneous indoctrination.  This advice that we offer is often met with personal umbrage and resistance.  Personal pride is wounded and family honor is at stake. Many have belonged to their particular church for many years.  It is the center of their social life.  This social entanglement becomes a prevailing trap.  Too often emotionalism guides their decisions.  Few have the spiritual disposition to listen, study and pray upon this advice. They are spiritually blinded.  We have talked with many in these situations.

I, too, was in this situation myself.  My parents spent two years trying to educate me about the religious error into which I had fallen.  I was a leader in my parish, the Liturgy Committee Chairman, a commentator, a lay distributor, the trainer of the commentators and a diocesan fund raiser.  They sent me materials weekly in order to point out the errors and the Protestant, non-Catholic leaning of this new religion.  Once it finally dawned on me that they were right, I left immediately.

Our recommendation is to stay away from any religious organization that was not actually founded by Christ Himself.  They all lead to trouble and confusion.  None have the approval of Heaven. This includes the many so-called Traditional Catholic groups such as The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), The Society of Saint Pius V (SSPV), ORMC, and so on.  None of these operate with legitimate jurisdiction.  Any organization that is outside of the traditional ecclesiastical hierarchical structure will lead to trouble.  One’s nostalgic euphoria may be soothed there, but spiritual benefit is absent.  Stay home, listen to Gregorian Chant, and pray to the Holy Ghost that you may receive the strength to remain faithful and receive the gift of eternal salvation.  If you pray for and seek Truth, He will lead you to it by making you part of the Catholic Church through your desire to do so. Study the Baltimore Catechism (www.baltimore-cathechism.com). Do not knock on any rectory door of what is known by the world as a Catholic Church.  They are no longer Catholic, but have descended into a new protestant denomination.  Seek out a faithful Traditional Catholic for guidance.  Be very careful!   Protestantism is one of the most devious traps the Devil has ever set.  He has many other traps prepared for those seeking Truth.  Pray and be strong.  If you do this, you will finally have a real, holy, spiritually peaceful Christmas season pleasing to Almighty God and a very bright future.

Sincerely,

The family of Dolores Rose Morris, A Traditional Catholic Family, seeking to save souls http://www.patrickpollock.com/101heresiesofbenedictxvitract2.html

The Catholic Religion Proved by the Protestant Bible: http://www.whoistheantichrist.org/catholic-reg.html

Traditional Catholic Adoration employing the Sacrifice of the Mass: Traditional Catholic Latin Mass, Easter Sunday, 1941

I have the video.  Fulton J. Sheen commentating http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6AOvStZS64

Traditional Roman Catholic Mass, Feast of the Sacred Heart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enWiFcsBqIE