What Catacomb Catholics believe on indefectibility (Part I)
© Copyright 2012, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
It is a no brainer to conclude that at this place and time what remains of the true Catholic Church in way of a remnant is without any identifiable head, i.e. authority. And certainly those trying to pass themselves off as such authorities cannot claim infallibility. But what of indefectibility, the final of the three attributes? Homealoners have been accused of denying that this particular attribute exists, because they hold another pope cannot be elected at this time. But it is one thing to state unequivocally that that the Church as Christ constituted it will last until the end of time and quite another to say that it is suffering a temporary interruption, long ago woven into the fabric of the Church by Christ Himself. In his Baltimore Catechism #3, Rev. Thomas Kinkead asks: “Q. In whom are these attributes found in their fullness? A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.” Not bishops consecrated in the NO/Anglican rite, not stray bishops allegedly consecrated in the true rite by schismatics or the itinerant priests they ordain, but primarily the pope. Because as Kinkead says in Q. 115: “What is the Church? A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head.” So without lawful pastors and the pope, where exactly IS the Church?
We know where she is not; she is not the rite-less Novus Ordo church in Rome and she cannot be found among Traditionalists, whose bishops and priests are at best doubtfully valid and illicitly (unlawfully) ordained; nor do they have a pope issuing from Pope Pius XII’s line. This eliminates the possibility that they could be considered true authority, far less apostolic. As Rev. Kinkead notes, only “those in the Church who have been appointed by lawful authority…have therefore a right to rule us.” When Christ chose the 12 Apostle-bishops for His Church, they came complete with a traitor in their midst. Christ knew full well, of course, that Judas would betray Him from the beginning. He knew what Judas was doing behind His back. He understood that because of Judas, He would be put to death. Still, he did not ask him to leave. Left to his own devices he later hung himself, but not before delivering over the Son of Man to His enemies for 30 pieces of silver. Because the Mystical Body of Christ is destined to follow the pattern of Her Master in re-enacting His passion, it can no more escape the ravages of traitors and infiltrators than Christ did. Because Christ was betrayed and put to death, His Church had to endure the same fate, that She fill up what is wanting to His Passion. But Christ arose from the dead; His body was restored to Him by His Father. Likewise will Christ restore life to His Mystical Body, even if it requires a miracle as stupendous as His own Resurrection, for He is ever true to His promises.
As Rev. Thomas Kinkaid writes in his Baltimore Catechism #3: “When we say the Church is indefectible we mean that the Church will last forever and be infallible forever; that it will always remain as our Lord founded it and [will] never change the doctrines He taught.” Some Catechisms say that Christ willed His Church to endure unto the consummation; this is stated in one translation of the Vatican Council documents. And those insisting that there can be no interruptions in the order He established, of any kind, are adamant that what Christ wills must always transpire because otherwise He would not be true to His promises. Other catechisms and official works presenting Catholic dogma and other Church teachings say that Christ wished, desired, meant or intended His Church to endure to the end of time, and they are not just a few. We can believe irrevocably that Christ intended His Church to exist to the end of time, as He constituted it, without understanding HOW he intended it to exist. That appears to be a mystery to which Christ alone holds the key — an issue on which the Church has not yet decided — since not all catechisms or theological manuals state that the Church will last to the end without any sort of interruption. Even Pope Pius XII said that, “History gives clear evidence of one thing: the gates of Hell will not prevail,” (Matt. 16: 18). But there is some evidence on the other side too; the gates of hell have had partial successes,” (“Preaching the Word of God,” address given during the Sixth National Week on New Pastoral Methods, Sept. 14, 1956, The Pope Speaks).
This is the same pope who, as a cardinal, predicted that one day: “In our churches Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Magdalene weeping before the tomb they will ask: Where have they taken Him?” (Msgr. Roche, “Pie XII la devant l’histoire,” quoted by Fr. Paul Trinchard). The sanctuary lamp, Rev. James L. Meagher tells us in his work, How Christ said the First Mass, was originally an ever-burning lamp that hung in the sanctuary of the Jewish temple before the ark of the covenant containing the holy scrolls of the law or Torah (Old Testament). This lamp, he says, “is now seen in our Sanctuary lamp before the Blessed Sacrament,” (p. 247). Wikipedia relates that, “[This] eternal light is central to one of many stories behind the celebration of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. When the ancient Maccabees rebelled and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem, they rekindled the eternal light.” What Pope Pius XII said indicates the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament will cease to exist in Catholic Churches. How is it then that there is no interruption of how Christ constituted His Church? And since the prophetic books of the Old Testament and particularly the book of Maccabees prefigures our own time, how is it that the Jews had to “rekindle” their “never-failing” lamps, which symbolized the presence of the Holy Ghost, their Shekinah?
So the exact meaning of the actual word in the Vatican Council documents is uncertain, and we cannot know precisely what Christ meant without a decision from the Roman Pontiff, which at this time is impossible. However, the more common Latin word for “will” is voluntas–voluntatis (Your Catholic Language, M. Perkins, 1940), as used in that sense in the Pater Noster. The Latin word used in the Vatican Council documents however is “voluit,” (willed — The Vatican Council, Vol. II, Cuthbert Butler, 1930). The other word for “will” listed by Perkins is volui, (voluit representing the change in tense). Perkins, however, gives the meaning of both words as: “to will, wish or desire.” And yet wishing or desiring does not convey the force of willing, since a wish or desire can easily remain unfulfilled, where Christ’s will is basically His command. Willing in this sense seems to be intended as willing more in the human sense, meaning that it is not a certainty that the Church would continue throughout minus any (preordained) interruption; only that She would last without any interruption that would interfere with the eventual restoration of all that had gone before without violating its generating principle. Regardless of the intended use of the word here, it is obvious that Christ did intend His Church to have an uninterrupted line of successors until the consummation, with one exception: the time of Antichrist, as explained by St. Francis de Sales in his The Catholic Controversy. We believe that exception is indicated in the use of wish, desire, intent which are definitely words which leave open the door to the possibility such a wish or desire will not be fulfilled, at least in the manner intended. But then we have Christ’s own life and teachings to draw upon in order to determine His will in this matter, and much can be gleaned there. Next we will examine the meaning of the word “perpetuos.”
As one Traditionalist writer rightly observes, the Vatican Council in 1870 stated that St. Peter has (not will have) perpetual successors. The Church can oblige us only to Scriptural prophecy (such as St. Paul’s revolt). The pertinent quotation is found in Denzinger #1825: Si quis ergo dixerit, non esse ex ipsius Christi domini institutione seu iure divino, ut beatus Petrus in primatu super universam ecclesiam habeat perpetuos successores; … anathema sit.”
Habeat = he has (present tense—subjunctive because it follows dixerit according to sequence of tenses). Future tense (he will have) = habebit. He must have = debeat habere. Habeat then equals has, not must have or will have.
Perpetuus, a, um:
• Cassell’s Latin-English and English-Latin Dictionary: (peto) continuous, uninterrupted, continual. I. a, of space, munitiones, Caes.; oratio, Cic; carmen, Hor.; b. of time, unbroken, continuing, lasting, perpetual; ignis Vestae perpetuus ac sempiternus, Cic; questiones, composed of a standing body of judges, Cic; interpetuum, for ever, Cic. II. universal, general; jus, Cic.
• (Under continual, a synonym): Perpetuous = continual = “After an interruption, to go on with,” (Cassells Latin Dictionary).
• Fourth Year Latin, edited by Lois Carlisle, Texas State College, Denton, and David Richardson, Classen High School, Okla., 1942; Adjective, whole, entire; constant, perpetual, lasting; in perpetuum, for all time or forever.
• Second Latin, Scanlon and Scanlon: perpetual, everlasting, unfailing; in perpetuum, forever.
• From A Latin Dictionary, by Dr. William Freund and Iggy Andrews, 1869 ed: perpetuous; 1. continuing throughout; continuous. From A Latin-English Dictionary of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Roy Deferrari, Ph.D.; perpetuous; 1. lasting or destined to last forever.
“What Is Canon Law?,” by Rene Metz, and Charles Augustine’s commentary on the Code of Canon Law afford further insights. Metz tells us: “…perpetual does not mean the same as eternal…every ecclesiastical law which is not based on the divine law, positive or natural, must be adapted to the varying circumstances of each successive period…” (p. 50.) Reverend Augustine writes: “Human laws are those passed by councils [and] popes …unless…they are implicitly contained in revelation, or are merely declarations, specifications or modifications of divine or natural law,” (Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, Vol. 1.) That St. Peter HAS perpetual successors is Divine law; that these successors necessarily are APOSTOLIC — that they are validly and licitly ordained and consecrated either when elected or immediately following election — is divine law. That if the one elected pope is a layman he be determined fit for ordination by the cardinals or in their absence by the bishops electing before he may validly accept election is contained in the apostolic traditions of the Church, which also are part of Revelation. All that is left to be adapted under ecclesiastical law is the electoral body, its convocation and the mode of election in the absence of the cardinals.
At least one definition of perpetuous, then, indicates there may be an interruption that would not negate the meaning of the word; the Church is destined to last forever, which does not exclude a built-in interruption. We are not dealing here with civil or even ecclesiastical law; we are dealing here with Divine Revelation and positive law based on that Revelation. We are not allowed to “tweak” the law to work around this problem, as Pope Pius XII states in his 1945 election law, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. Any act postulated by anyone that would somehow circumvent or end-run those laws, especially acts usurping papal jurisdiction, if even attempted, are declared null and void. Consecrating bishops without papal mandate is a usurpation of papal jurisdiction forbidden by positive law. Establishing parishes and hiring or appointing “priests” to function in a specific area is a usurpation of that same jurisdiction, since it is granted only to bishops by the pope, in the jurisdiction they receive from him. Authority resides primarily in the visible head of the Church and the lawful bishops in communion with Him, and nowhere else. Any other arrangement is an imposture and whatever issues from it is already declared null and void. But how do we solve the problem of an absent pope and hierarchy and still hold that the Church is perpetual and visible?
Indefectibility and Visibility
“Among the prerogatives conferred on His Church by Christ is the gift of indefectibility. By this term is signified, not merely that the Church will persist to the end of time, but further, that it will preserve unimpaired its essential characteristics. The Church can never undergo any constitutional change which will make it, as a social organism, something different from what it was originally. It can never become corrupt in faith or in morals; nor can it ever lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men. The gift of indefectibility is expressly promised to the Church by Christ, in the words in which He declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It is manifest that, could the storms which the Church encounters so shake it as to alter its essential characteristics and make it other than Christ intended it to be, the gates of hell, i.e. the powers of evil, would have prevailed. It is clear, too, that could the Church suffer substantial change, it would no longer be an instrument capable of accomplishing the work for which God called it in to being. He established it that it might be to all men the school of holiness. This it would cease to be if ever it could set up a false and corrupt moral standard,” (1911 Catholic Encyclopedia under Church).
Isn’t the setting up of a false and corrupt (doctrinal and) moral standard what we have been fighting in the NO and in Traditionalism? Have not both sects — the NO and Traditionalists — substantially changed the Church and altered its essential characteristics? The changes and alterations are most notable and all-pervasive in the Novus Ordo; there is not one part of Catholic faith and practice they did not pervert and corrupt. But it is most significant juridically (lack of papacy and true hierarchy) among Traditionalists. It is obvious that in the Novus Ordo, the Tridentine Mass has ceased. Reinstating the proper words in their canon is useless since they became like the Anglicans long ago; their changed ordination rites no longer convey valid ordination so they cannot effect valid Consecration of the Eucharist. Even if they also changed the rites of ordination and consecration back to what they were before, they long ago lost their apostolicity of orders and of doctrine, and it cannot be recovered. With Traditionalists it is basically the same; they are unable to confect the Sacrament at all because they have incurred infamy of law as the result of having committed communicatio in sacris. Either way, the Sacrifice has effectively ceased, calling to mind Pope Pius XII’s prediction about the sanctuary lamp.
If everything is to remain exactly as Christ constituted it, without any interruption whatsoever, how can anyone explain the Cessation of the Sacrifice foretold by Daniel? By implication this would mean that no priests will exist to offer it, or at least none who are truly able to do so but only appear to do so. Either all the true hierarchy would need to necessarily apostatize, be imprisoned or be murdered for this to occur. No mass imprisonment or murder was necessary during the Arian heresy, when only two true bishops and the pope were left, so why would it be necessary today? Robert Bergin, in his 1970 work These Apocalyptic Times tells us in Chapter Five, entitled “Persecution”: “Some interpret the reference in 2 Thessalonians — Antichrist showing himself in the temple of God as though he were God — to mean Antichrist will seize St. Peter’s and usurp the papal see.” He then quotes Cardinal Manning’s The Present Crisis of the Holy See: “The Holy Fathers who have written upon the subject of Antichrist and the prophecies of Daniel — all of them unanimously — say that in the latter end of the world, during the reign of Antichrist, the Holy Sacrifice of the altar will cease.” Bergin fails to mention, however, that the Council of Trent has determined that when the Fathers unanimously agree on a point of Holy Scripture, as explained above, they cannot be mistaken, (DZ 1788). And he is not the only one who taught this.
Manning undoubtedly was aware of St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus’ teaching that the Sacrifice would cease in the latter days. St. Francis writes: “The revolt and separation must come…the Sacrifice shall cease and…the Son of Man shall hardly find faith on earth…All these passages are understood of the affliction which Antichrist shall cause in the Church…But the Church… shall not fail, and shall be fed and preserved amidst the deserts and solitudes to which She shall retire, as the Scripture says, (Apoc. Ch. 12),” (The Catholic Controversy). In his The Holy Eucharist, St. Alphonsus stated that: “It is true [the Mass] will cease on earth at the time of Antichrist: the Sacrifice of the Mass is to be suspended…according to the prophecy of Daniel, (Dan. 12:11).” St. Alphonsus goes on to explain, however, that in reality the Sacrifice and priesthood never will cease since “the Son of God, Eternal Priest, will always continue to offer Himself to God, the Father, in Heaven as an Eternal Sacrifice.” And it is only at this altar, in the privacy of their homes, that those who strive to keep the faith without recourse to unlawful pastors choose to honor Him. But those wishing to follow their own sinful wills call Manning a heretic, the early Fathers liars and the Vatican Council’s Rule of Faith concerning the unanimous agreement of the Fathers false; they also dismiss the teachings of these two great doctors of the Church. And so they reveal their evil intentions for what they are, proving they could not be true Catholics.
Rev. Hugh Pope declares that the Book of Daniel must be considered prophetic from a doctrinal point of view. It also is the unanimous opinion of theologians that the Book of Daniel is the basis for the Apocalypse. Here we speak of Holy Scripture that has been rightly interpreted by those who, before the death of Pope Pius XII, wrote under the supervision of scriptural scholars and ecclesiastical superiors. The necessary interconnection between the cessation of the Holy Sacrifice, the appearance of Antichrist and the fulfillment of St. Paul’s prophecies, that “he who withholdeth shall be taken out of the way,” and that Antichrist will “show himself in the temple of God as if he were God,” were not revealed until the late 19th century. The reason for this was that the Protestants had long taught that the popes collectively were Antichrist persecuting, and the Church was already hard-pressed to stem the virulent anti-clericalism spawned by the secret societies. Nevertheless, La Salette and other prophecies then emerging — as well as a good number of these already known from long before — predicted the defection of the clergy and the rise of a usurper in Rome. It only remained for Cardinal Manning to point to the approved theological sources supporting what was stated in these prophecies, believing it was time the faithful knew the truth. This he did, as shown below.
In his The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy we find: “When…was the Church of God ever in a weaker condition? And from whence…is deliverance to come? Is there on earth any power to intervene? Not one; and it is foretold it should be so. Neither need we desire it; for the will of God seems to be otherwise…The apostasy of the city of Rome from the vicar of Christ and its destruction by Antichrist may be thoughts so new to many Catholics, that I think it well to recite the text of theologians of greatest repute. First Malvenda, who writes expressly on the subject, states as the opinion of Ribera, Gaspar Melus, Biegas, Suarez, Bellarmine and Bosius that Rome shall apostatise from the faith, drive away the Vicar of Christ and return to its ancient paganism. Malvenda’s words are: ‘But Rome itself in the last times of the world will return to its ancient idolatry, power and imperial greatness. It will cast out its Pontiff, altogether apostatise from the Christian faith, terribly persecute the Church, shed the blood of martyrs more cruelly than ever and will recover its former state of abundant wealth, or even greater than it had under its first rulers,” (Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, The Present Crisis of the Holy See, 1861. London: Burns and Lambert, pgs. 89-90). “Then the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early Church,” (Ibid., p. 88). Ven. Bartholomew. Holzhauser also taught what Manning refers to here.
“During this unhappy period, there will be laxity in divine and human precepts. Discipline will suffer. The Holy Canons will be completely disregarded, and the Clergy will not respect the laws of the Church. Everyone will be carried away and led to believe and to do what he fancies, according to the manner of the flesh…They will ridicule Christian simplicity; they will call it folly and nonsense, but they will have the highest regard for advanced knowledge, and for the skill by which the axioms of the law, the precepts of morality, the Holy Canons and religious dogmas are clouded by senseless questions and elaborate arguments. As a result, no principle at all, however holy, authentic, ancient, and certain it may be, will remain free of censure, criticism, false interpretation, modification, and delimitation by man…These are evil times, a century full of dangers and calamities.. Heresy is everywhere, and the followers of heresy are in power almost everywhere. Bishops, prelates, and priests say that they are doing their duty, that they are vigilant, and that they live as befits their state in life. In like manner, therefore, they all seek excuses. But God will permit a great evil against His Church: Heretics and tyrants will come suddenly and unexpectedly; they will break into the Church while bishops, prelates, and priests are asleep. They will enter Italy and lay Rome waste; they will burn down the churches and destroy everything,”(Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy,Tan Books and Publishers, 1973).
Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton confirms Manning’s statement as follows: “Although some theologians, like Suarez and, in our own time Mazzella and Manzoni, hold it as probable that the material city of Rome will be protected by God’s providence and will never be completely destroyed, most of the others hold that this destruction is a possibility. They maintain, however, that the destruction of the buildings and even the complete uninhabitability of the city itself would in no way necessitate the destruction of the Roman local Church. Older writers like St. Robert Bellarmine were convinced that at one time the actual city of Rome was entirely without inhabitants, while the local Church, with its clergy and its bishop, continued to live.” (The American Ecclesiastical Review pgs. 454-464, Catholic University of America Press, June 1950.) The following is an example of what one early Father wrote concerning what would happen to the Church in the end times:
Victorinus — (Source: Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.,1886) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm
Ch. 6:14. “And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.” For the heaven to be rolled away, that is, that the Church shall be taken away.
Ch. 15:1 “And I saw another great and wonderful sign, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is completed the indignation of God.” For the wrath of God always strikes the obstinate people with seven plagues, that is, perfectly, as it is said in Leviticus; and these shall be in the last time, when the Church shall have gone out of the midst.
The only thing that this could mean is that in some mysterious and unknown manner, God will preserve His Church in the wilderness until the danger has passed and She can, as St. Francis de Sales taught, finally emerge from Her hiding place. The key to understanding this passage from Apocalypse lies in the meanings of the terms used and their interpretation by the Scripture commentators. Cardinal Manning says that wilderness means a sea of unbelief, and that what the Church will suffer in those days will be God’s will. To find His will for us we will examine how God expresses it in His laws and the teachings of His Vicars.
Proofs from authoritative sources
So who is an authority and where does authority reside today? We can start with a list left to us long ago by a respected theologian, Melchior Cano.
i. Holy Scripture, contained in the canonical books;
ii. The oral Traditions of Christ and the Apostles, rightly called oracles of the living voice;
iii. The Catholic Church, (extraordinary and ordinary magisterium);
iv. The General Councils specifically, but also the regional councils;
v. The Roman Church, called by divine privilege Apostolic (the Holy See and the Sacred Congregations)
vi. The authority of the ancient Fathers, (the rule of faith);
vii. The authority of scholastic theologians, to whom the teachers of Canon Law are joined;
viii. Natural reason, contained in all the naturally acquired sciences;
ix. The authority of philosophers following the natural light of human reason and the masters of the civil law;
x. The authority of human history written by trustworthy authors or expressed in serious, national tradition.
The first five of these sources are the sources of Divine and positive law. The second five are human sources. All the first five are governed by the accepted commentaries of Scripture scholars, the normative decisions of the Acta Apostolica Sedis, the collections of the various council documents, Canon Law, theological texts and the catechisms. If we wish to know our faith, these are the sources given. If we wish to retain the continuity of the continual magisterium undiluted by modern opinions, which the Holy See says are less trustworthy, we go to those sources imprimatured prior to Pope Pius XII’s death, and even then we must proceed with caution. We do this ourselves, in person, or rely on what is provided by some individual who can be trusted to convey what is in these documents exactly as written. But once any papal document entered in the Acta Apostolic Sedis is cited as proof that some doctrine or teaching is either approved or prohibited, no other evidence is allowed and the discussion must end, (Canons 1812, 1813 §1, 1819). This is required for other reasons regarding the irrevocable assent owed the to teaching contained in documents of the ordinary magisterium, so is not an option.
Much of what has arisen in way of controversy among Traditionalists is treated in Canon Law. A great deal of Canon Law has been practically (and maliciously) disabled today by the illegal application of epikeia and the declaration by so-called Trad clerics that much of this law has ceased to exist. This has been “decided” by these Traditionalists without any proofs that their assumptions are legal (they are not) or that they were accepted in practice pre-1959. “In a doubt of fact, the law still binds (1) where there is question of the necessary means of salvation; (2) where there is question of the validity of the Sacraments and (3) where the certain right of a third person is involved. Rev. Dominic Prummer says this is the unanimous teaching of theologians, hence it is infallible, (DZ 1151, 1683). And as we learn from St. Alphonsus, “If no serious reasons can be found to prove or directly disprove that a certain law has ceased or been abrogated, the principle to be followed is: ‘In doubt, decide for that which has the presumption.’ In this case the presumption is for thecontinuance of the law, since it was certainly made, and there is no probabilityfor its non-continuance,” (St. Alphonsus Liguori as quoted by Revs. McHugh and Callan under the rules of conscience in their “Moral Theology: A Complete Course”). Traditionalists have continually criticized this author for focusing on the law and insisting on its observance and proper interpretation by approved authors. They claim no one is required to know Canon Law in order to save their souls, but here they contradict approved authors and even Holy Scripture itself.
Why do we insist on following the law? The answer to this question can be found at / under articles, Canon Law, (God’s Will and the Law). Basically when we follow the law we follow God’s signified will, and unless we follow God’s will we have no hope of saving our souls. More is required of us today because of the situation in the Church, but Traditionalists do not feel competent to conduct such study. They prefer to do as they have always done before, relying on the advice of their “priests” and those they consider more learned among the laity. Unfortunately, even those validly ordained under Pius XII cannot help them, since they resigned any office by adhering to a false pope and saying the Novus Ordo, publicly accepting/disseminating V2 teaching, however briefly. Ignorance will not excuse them because they were bound to know the faith. If ignorance does not excuse lay people, and the law definitely indicates it does not, then certainly it will not excuse priests. Such men lost any offices they held when they first committed an act of heresy or schism and were automatically reduced to the lay state, (Can. 188 §4). Nor can any lay leader promoting them or attending their services act as an advisor or “expert” of any kind, since they themselves are guilty of communicatio in sacris. As such they are not qualified to render such advice or instruct others until they at least have left their errors and amended their ways, but most importantly until they have studied enough to understand what the Church truly teaches concerning heresy, jurisdiction, visibility and apostolicity, to name only a few of the more important truths of faith among many others.
The very nature of Church membership itself and the Church’s own definition of that membership tells us that Traditionalists cannot be the visible Church and their followers are not really attending mass and receiving the sacraments. As such they are non-Catholics, and attendance at their services is communicatio in sacris. Trad “clerics” have known for years that they have a problem with jurisdiction and have refused to thoroughly address and resolve that problem; they are pertinacious in their heresy. They have a horse in the race, as do those lay people helping them operate, and they have no desire to deprive themselves or their protégés of an income, prestige and adulation. Calling these men “good and holy priests” won’t solve the problem, either. As Cardinal Pie once said, holiness is measured entirely by orthodoxy, and orthodox they are not. The Church long ago forbade priests to function without an assigned parish and without operating under the eye of the local bishop. Nearly all of these priests are guilty of infamy of law and their ministrations are not even valid, (Can. 2294). This is what the Catholic Church taught under Pius XII, the same Church all pretend to belong to. So instead of bread, these priests and bishops all these years have given the faithful stones and serpents, but they are supposed to regard them as “good and holy priests.” Well good and holy priests are required to obey the law just like anyone else; the popes hold them to a superior knowledge of faith. So how can their ignorance possibly be explained or justified in any way? Cutting them slack will not help them save their souls. The laity was required from the beginning to eject such men from divine services, but this never happened, (Canons 2259, 2294, other canons). Why? Because the laity did not know their duties as Catholics; they didn’t study the law!
We’re all in the same boat, literally
Over the past few decades, many Traditionalists have allowed their prejudices and assumptions to prevent them from investigating things as they should. They have listened to those who use their own opinions, not those of approved authors, of popes and councils, to guide Catholics in seeking eternal salvation. They have allowed such persons to unfairly demonize others and portray certain groups as superior and destined for salvation when all of us are pretty much in the same boat: we aren’t even members of the Church! Yes, you heard it right: Those who are guilty of communicatio in sacris are excluded from membership in the Church as schismatics and/or heretics. Who among us have not attended the Novus Ordo or Traditionalist services, for lengthy periods of time? We ALL incurred this censure the first or second time we participated publicly in these services. It doesn’t matter whether any of us understood or not that we committed heresy; Rev. Garrigou-LaGrange teaches that it is not even necessary that Catholics realize the teaching they have denied is part of divine Revelation, they still incur the censure. Nor does it matter if they are in good faith and commit only material heresy, for Rev. Tanquerey teaches that this still places them outside the Church. They are OUT, and without valid priests and bishops they cannot get back IN. Canon Law, God’s written will, says so.
Mean, unfair, heartless? No; the Church has always treated heresy and schism with a particular horror and actually has relaxed Her penalties in many regards. To the Church these grave disorders are the equivalent of a highly contagious disease such as AIDS; in fact it is worse. For heresy, apostasy and schism kill the soul, not the body and do not even have symptoms that warn those suffering from them that they are gravely ill. The Church in Her laws must protect Herself and the faithful; She cannot take the risk that any one person may remain unabsolved and not reconciled to Her and thereby might lose their eternal soul. This is the common opinion of the theologians, as Tanquerey, Can. Mahoney and others demonstrate. Tanquerey’s works were used throughout seminaries worldwide and it is not possible that he would be able to teach error in this regard; this according to the well-respected theologian Rev. J. C. Fenton. And Pope Pius XII, in his “Ad Apostolorum Principis,” but the kabosh on any specious pleas by Traditionalist “priests” that they must obey the “higher law” of providing Catholics with the Mass and Sacraments: “What then is to be the opinion concerning the excuse…that [these priests] had to act…because of the need to tend to the souls in those dioceses which were then without a bishop? It is obvious that no thought is being taken of the spiritual good of the faithful if the Church’s laws are being violated…”
If given the choice, would you rather risk losing your soul on your deathbed, not realizing your material heresy cost you membership in the Church, or would you prefer all doubt be removed by absolution and abjuration? Better safe than sorry for eternity! Canon 21 of the Code of Canon Law covers this situation, for it states: “Laws made for the purpose of safeguarding the public against a common danger bind, even when there is no danger.” For this reason the Church reserves the right, canonists Woywod-Smith relate, to refuse to perform mixed marriages even when it is relatively certain there is no danger to the Catholic party. How much more would this apply to the case of material heresy? But today we cannot be absolved or abjured by anyone, because we cannot be certain that their orders are valid, so we cannot consult them. A certain obligation is never satisfied by a doubtful fulfillment. We have good reasons for believing no harm is done to the doctrine of indefectibility by taking the stay-at home stance and that in fact we honor Christ and obey his signified will by avoiding unlawful pastors.
Traditionalists do not worry themselves about such things, however. They insist they are not guilty and can continue on their merry road to ruin. No one can make them study the law to determine what is really true. They have been assured by their leaders that homealoners have a “bitter spirit” and could not possibly be right. They have refused to conduct their own objective investigation and have allowed others to condemn these authors out of hand without even according them the benefit of the doubt. This is usually done by way of employing ad hominem attacks, and if anyone wishes to see real hatred and bitterness, these attacks serve as a sad example of that spirit. Basically Traditionalists are in denial. They are comfortable with their assumed petit eglise position, much as the Port Royal Jansenists were. Their high-school clique mentality allows them to look down on homealoners and dismiss them as losers. One critic says those actively advocating homealone teach that: 1) there is no longer any way that censures incurred by priests can be lifted; 2) hence, no Sacrament they would administer today would be worthy in the sight of Almighty God; 3) therefore, none of the faithful can now derive any benefit from the Sacraments instituted by Christ; 4) and that, for all practical purposes, the Catholic Church is dead…” And he adds that anyone who believes such things is, more or less, an imbecile.
Well unfortunately the first three statements are true according to the Canon Laws of the Church, laws that are negatively infallible as the Church Herself teaches. Besides, denying that such statements are true would violate not only Canon Law but the infallible decrees of the continual magisterium. Interestingly the person making the above statement seems totally unaware of one of the most commonly quoted Canons, Can. 188 §4: that even validly ordained and consecrated members of the hierarchy, who once possessed an office in the Church are deprived of that office by publicly lapsing from the faith. Furthermore, they suffer all the penalties for heresy and schism under Can. 2314 including infamy of law, which can be dispensed from only by a canonically elected pope. Approved pre-1959 canonists have said that Can. 2261 §2, which Trads invoke in common error does not cover heresy and schism. And besides, as Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz points out, common ignorance is what exists not common error, and it cannot be covered under that canon. Why would any rational, Catholic human being object to someone quoting commentary on canon laws from approved sources in the 1940s and 1950s? Or complain that persons were using Canon Law to try and determine what is best for them to do in these uncertain times? Where are THEIR research studies, their answers, the positive proofs necessary for them to inform their own consciences?! What can they produce that will possibly negate the teachings of these canons and the learned opinions of these canonists and theologians? And why, in Heaven’s name, would their followers consider the opinions of these self-appointed leaders the equivalent of priests and even bishops writing as approved theologians in a time when that approval was the seal of its reliability and authenticity? Where is THEIR seal?
Those citing these canons and commentaries have not been the ones making the statements; the canonists and the LAWS make these statements. You cannot accuse someone of “teaching” something when all they are doing is relaying what is taught, from sources nearly all Traditionalists at one time or another have cited and have admitted are legitimate. As one homealoner wrote when an irate Traditionalist intimated that it is stupid to believe what others write about Canon Law: “An example of stupidity would be to continue to follow a thesis which has no evidence to substantiate it when it has been clearly shown to be false. An example of stupidity would be to take it upon yourself — as a layman, not even a simple priest(!) — to operate a “Catholic” Church. An example of stupidity would be to “reject” the Novus Ordo on the one hand, swear you want nothing to do with it, [when] your “pope in hiding” went along lock, stock and barrel with the Novus Ordo right up to his death in 1989!” And then we have the final false accusation that homealoners teach, along with the Freemasons, that the Church is dead; that it is not indefectible. This one has become quite popular lately, with many all at once accusing stay-at-home Catholics of falling into heresy on this score. This seems to indicate that perhaps there is some collective effort to stop the inroads made by those advocating Catacomb Catholicism, for inroads among Traditionalists have been made. However, those stating that Catacomb Catholics believe the Church has failed betray their profound ignorance of what the Church is, how it exists and on what plane it functions in the spiritual realm.
What Catacomb Catholics believe on indefectibility (Part II)
Traditionalists know only one Church: the juridic Church or visible Church. They claim to be that Church with their “visible” clergy, mass and sacraments, but with no pope, when the pope alone is the embodiment of all three attributes, and without the attributes, Rev. Thomas Kinkead teaches in his Baltimore Catechism #3, the four marks cannot exist. The Church especially cannot exist juridically without apostolicity (Catholic Encyclopedia on that head) and lawful pastors, for this mark is the primary mark that contains all the others. Trads, then, are no more the juridic Church than those who stay at home. The juridic Church is defined by St. Robert Bellarmine as “the assemblage of all Christians, united by the profession of the same faith and the use of the same sacraments, under one common supreme head, the pope, who is the successor of St. Peter, and under the bishops in communion with him, who are the successors of the Apostles.” Notice how carefully this definition is worded. The same faith and the same sacraments must be professed, so that if faith teaches, (as it does in the Council of Trent), that the Sacraments of Penance cannot be received from those lacking true jurisdiction, nor can Holy Orders and/or appointment to office be conveyed by the people, then such “sacraments” must be rejected by the faithful. Then we may only adhere to a pope who is certainly the successor of St. Peter, not some doubtful pope. And only the bishops in communion with him who are truly successors of the apostles and who are in communion with the pope can comprise the Church.
The juridic Church, for both Trads and homealoners, exists only partly and materially. Some Catholics share the same profession of faith. Others do not. Whether Trads admit it or not, the only sacraments left to Catholics today are Marriage and Baptism; their priests, per the dictates of Canon Law, cannot validly convey the Sacraments. Even if they were administered validly but illicitly, they would be fruitless and sacrilegious, according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Catholics, most anyway, believe that the Church will someday be restored and a true pope will be elected, per Christ’s promises to His Church. St. Alphonsus appears to have believed this as well, saying that the Mass would only be suspended for a time. Those homealoners who don’t pretend to know whether/when the Church will be restored do not deny indefectibility but only admit that they do not know when God will act, only that He will act. Those who hold this belief are mainly Catacomb Catholics. They are convinced that Antichrist has come and the Sacrifice has ceased. And no; the fruitless masses of Traditional “clerics” do not qualify as holding back the hand of God in our case; another practice, as we shall see below, could be responsible for the fact that we have managed to hang on as long as we have. It is only a matter of time before Christ delivers His Church. And once a true pope is restored to the Church, THEN it will last “unto the consummation.”
The juridical or external Church that Trads pretend to belong to only reflects the external religion they have become dependent upon practicing all these years. Below is an explanation of why this is so detrimental to the spiritual life.
In the early years of the 20th century, an Italian Bishop, Bishop Bonomelli of Cremona, wrote an excellent treatise on the necessity of both interior and exterior devotion. Interior devotion is prayer said silently with meditation and spiritual reading. Exterior devotion is public or vocal prayer, Sunday devotions, and singing. He reminded us that they “must not be considered as separate or separable things, but only distinct from each other…Exterior worship is derived from interior devotion. Both are a necessity and a duty of man towards God…but interior worship comes first in order of time and intrinsic value, exterior worship comes second in both these respects.” Concerning exterior worship, Bp. Bonomelli tells his people and priests that they must learn well to distinguish “between the worship which they owe to God and that which they should pay to the Virgin, the angels and the saints.” He quotes the French Bishop of Rodez, who explains that the devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Holy Face, the Five Precious Wounds, etc… should not replace veneration of the crucifix and our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. “Let us make an end to this mania for new devotions,” the French bishop pleads. “Do not let us too much materialize or particularize our worship, for in doing so we diminish its value, its meaning and its efficacy…Let everything be in its right place…Before all, Jesus Christ only, by Himself.”
Concerning the often exaggerated legends and popular myths that surround stories of the saints, holy people and holy things, Bp. Bonomelli writes: “It is not by fables, perverted facts, miracles invented by the popular imagination, visions, apparitions, raptures, ecstasies, inventions, exaggerations and the misrepresentation of history that we shall edify the faithful or draw to us those who have separated themselves from the faith…” He goes on to warn Catholics that even in the use of those practices and devotions prescribed and approved by the Church, private or public, “It is…easy to sin through excess… Excess in exterior religious practices disperses the spiritual forces in too many directions, distracts, fatigues and oppresses the spirit and instead of elevating it and arousing all its energies, relaxes the fibers and suffocates it…Let medals, rosaries, images, sacred symbols…be used with moderation…Do not let us imagine real virtue to exist in them…What are all these devotions, rosaries and novenas, benedictions and visits to altars and famous sanctuaries, processions and pilgrimages, hymns and feastdays and functions worth unless we do our duty and live a real Christian life? What are they but a pretence of virtue?…Am I condemning the use of medals, rosaries, images, sacred symbols? God forbid! They are…means to excite the faith and sustain piety — but let them be used with moderation.” As the Bishop reminds his priests, these devotional practices are subject to Church law and should never be reduced to excessive, material, unworthy or superstitious acts.
For as the Bishop notes, many abuses arise around devotions that are fundamentally good. Today this can be seen in the chain letter novenas circulated on the Internet; the newspaper ads which must be published so many times to obtain favors or give thanks for favors obtained. Most disturbing among these are the Little Flower “rose” novenas that often have people scurrying hither and yon to find the required roses for those saying the novena, that their favor might be fulfilled. The good bishop especially renounces these types of novenas and devotions, particularly when the faithful are forever begging “some temporal favor,” while “…of spiritual there is hardly a trace. It would please me to have this list of temporal favors suppressed…The object of these persons’ devotions almost always appears to be a worldly, human one, and therein differs little from that of the heathen.” Especially offensive is the use of these devotions to “pander to the dishonest passion of avarice,” or love of money and material things, which Bp. Bonomelli orders his clerics to guard against. By this he meant those prayers directed to obtain some favor based solely on the desire to obtain money or benefits, even at the expense of an innocent party or parties. “Let us see to it that hearts and minds are fixed on the grand mysteries of the faith and not on their remote applications; on the substance of the dogmas rather than on their outgrowths.”
As Peter Michaels wrote in 1949: “It is not inspiration that the modern lay apostle needs so much as basic knowledge and deep spirituality. Novenas and non-theological sermons are mostly on the inspirational level…Today a lay apostle has to aim at the highest spirituality, such as was formerly thought suitable for a cloistered religious…If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand their faith at their level of secular education, few of us are going to be saved.” Inspiration without the tools and the discretion necessary to use it properly is not conducive to a productive spiritual life. I know many who call for prayer and some even demand it, and they assume that if others do not join them in what they are doing or accede to their demands that they do not lead prayerful and holy lives. But prayer is an offering of one’s entire life and being every minute of the day; it is not an isolated event. If it cannot and does not apply to every moment of one’s life, at least indirectly, then it is hard to see how one can lead a truly Catholic life. We are all functioning members of a living, breathing body — the Mystical Body — whose head is Christ, and we inhale and exhale every breath we take with Him and with our fellow Catholics. The external, juridic Church must co-exist ordinarily with the internal “soul” of the Church, just as the human body and soul function as one. But today, the state of the juridic Church can be compared only to that of a body in a coma. The body breathes on its own, the brain is not yet dead, but there is no movement in the body, only the basic functions necessary to keep it in existence. It is without a functioning head, but the life still remaining in the brain could cause the head to speak again, the body to function as before. Those standing watch by the comatose body must not only pray; they must do everything in their power to educate themselves about how they can make that essential connection to the brain, the intellect.
To date we have laid great emphasis on the juridic body in order to prove it can no longer function because it’s members are lifeless; they cannot interact with or call upon the powers of the Church’s soul to sustain them because they are not members of that Church. In fact they are so convinced that they are receiving valid and licit Sacraments and need nothing more to get to Heaven that they forget that the Church even has a soul, if they ever realized this in the first place. If there is any doubt among Catholics that their membership in the Mystical Body of Christ is more important than any membership they think they still retain in the visible, juridic Church, let them heed the words of Pope Pius XII in “Mystici Corporis”:
“17. One must not think, however, that this ordered or ‘organic’ structure of the body of the Church contains only hierarchical elements and with them is complete; or, as an opposite opinion holds, that it is composed only of those who enjoy charismatic gifts — though members gifted with miraculous powers will never be lacking in the Church. That those who exercise sacred power in this Body are its chief members must be maintained uncompromisingly. It is through them, by commission of the Divine Redeemer Himself, that Christ’s apostolate as Teacher, King and Priest is to endure. At the same time, when the Fathers of the Church sing the praises of this Mystical Body of Christ, with its ministries, its variety of ranks, its officers, it conditions, its orders, its duties, they are thinking not only of those who have received Holy Orders, but of all those too, who, following the evangelical counsels, pass their lives either actively among men, or hidden in the silence of the cloister, or who aim at combining the active and contemplative life according to their Institute; as also of those who, though living in the world, consecrate themselves wholeheartedly to spiritual or corporal works of mercy, and of those in the state of holy matrimony. Indeed, let this be clearly understood, especially in our days, fathers and mothers of families, those who are godparents through Baptism, and in particular those members of the laity who collaborate with the ecclesiastical hierarchy in spreading the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer occupy an honorable, if often a lowly, place in the Christian community, and even they under the impulse of God and with His help, can reach the heights of supreme holiness, which, Jesus Christ has promised, will never be wanting to the Church.
Comment: All of us then are members necessary to the functioning of the Mystical Body, even if we occupy only a lowly place in the community. In fact in para. 94 of this same encyclical, feeble members of the Body are actually described as its more important members, deserving of greater honor. St. Francis de Sales taught that, “Misery is the throne of God’s mercy…You have no reason to doubt God’s love for you. He looks with love on the worst sinners despite their lack of will to convert themselves. For His weak creatures He has a gentle, condescending and loving heart, provided they recognize their misery… The most miserable beggars and those whose wounds are the most terrible are considered the best and most suitable to receive charity,” (“How to Profit form One’s Faults,” by Rev. Joseph Tissot, Missionary of St. Francis, 1894).
“22. Actually only those are to be 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… (23) For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins…. (24) Let every one then abhor sin, which defiles the mystical members of our Redeemer; but if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not made him unworthy of communion with the faithful, let him be received with great love, and let eager charity see in him a weak member of Jesus Christ. For, as the Bishop of Hippo remarks, it is better ‘to be cured within the Church’s community than to be cut off from its body as incurable members. 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.’
Comment: Many now residing in the Mystical Body have received valid and licit Baptism, although they have since lost their membership in the Body through heresy and/or schism according to Canon Law. While they must observe this censure in the external forum since their acts were notorious and public (Can 2232) and cannot presume themselves exempt from such observance, neither are they members whose circumstances have been duly examined by competent ecclesiastical authority to determine the degree of liability. Canon 2218 takes into consideration the subject matter and gravity of the law; the age, knowledge, education, sex, state of life and mental condition of the delinquent; whether committed under duress or grave fear, etc. But the excuse must be proved in the external forum. If excused from grave guilt even latae sententiae censures are lifted, but only by determination of the proper superior. Revs. Woywod-Smith write: “If a competent superior has imposed a penalty and the subject doubts whether the penalty is justified, he is obliged to submit to it in both conscience and in the external forum, for the stability of ecclesiastical discipline and the maintenance of law and order demand that the action of the superior be not frustrated by doubts of his subject over the justice of the superior’s action.” In this case the censure for heresy and schism issues from the lawgiver (Popes and especially Pope Paul IV) and cannot be questioned in this way, being ipso facto.
However, as Can. 2218 states, in pleading one’s case (even to the Pope): “whether the delinquent repented of his misdeed and tried to prevent its evil effects” is one of the mitigating factors in determining liability and is required besides by Can. 2242: “A person is considered to have desisted from his obstinacy when he has truly repented of his offense, and has at the same time made proper satisfaction for the damages and scandal caused, or at least earnestly promised to do so…” Many Traditionalists will claim they were not actually bound by these censures, pointing to Can. 2232 as an excusing factor and insisting they were not “conscious” of the offense. But this same canon states that this is true only if the delict was not notorious. Notorious means that a thing is “so public and so manifest as to require no proof in law,” (Donald Attwater, “A Catholic Dictionary,” 1941). Nearly all Traditionalists publicly attended and supported the NO or some specific non-Catholic group, and were known to have done so; the exception does not apply to them. Those professing sorrow for their errors and departing Traditionalism or the NO are to be “received with great love,” as weak members. But this applies only conditionally to those who not only lost membership, but also have incurred infamy of law. Until a true pope dispenses them, if he chooses to do so, they can be members of the Church only by desire, not actual members.
It is not possible at this time, however, for us to know exactly who is incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body as members. Some Christ does not hold guilty for their crimes, others He does. We know some are true members because otherwise there could be no Mystical Body. Only the pope can decide this at some future time. But shouldn’t it behoove us, not knowing our true state, to do everything in our power to repent of our sins, make reparation and cooperate in the upbuilding of Christ’s Mystical Body? Because unless we do all in our power to do this, we will not demonstrate the true love required to qualify us even as members of the Church by desire. As Rev. J. C. Fenton explains: “The men and women who have a salutary votum or desiderium of entering the Church are ‘within’ it insofar as they are working and fighting within it for the attainment of the objectives of Jesus Christ. Yet they are definitely not parts or members of this society…Thus it is apparent that the man who is not a member or a part of the Church, but who has a salvific intention or desire to enter it and to remain within it, is actually praying and working along with the Church for the objectives of Jesus Christ. In this way he is truly ‘within’ the Church. And, since the work of the Church is accomplished in the face of serious and never-ending opposition, the non-member of the Church who has a salvific intention to join it is actually fighting for Our Lord ‘within’ His company. He is actually serving God with his whole mind and his whole heart, and thus he is joined to the Church even in his status as a non-member of this society,” (“Questions About Membership in the Church,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, The Catholic University of America Press, July 1961). So those who belong to the Church by desire, then, are members of Her Mystical Body even though they are excluded from juridic Church membership.
The only thing that would keep Traditionalists and others from returning to the Church by desire would be the condition mentioned in the last “Mystici Coproris” paragraph above: obstinacy. This condition is linked to pertinacity where heresy is concerned and is the hallmark of someone truly bent on retaining their heretical or schismatic position. Once a person has been warned that they are holding such a position and do not immediately pull back from it and renounce it, they are considered pertinacious, and pertinacity is the proof that heresy exists. Information on the teaching of the Council of Trent and other papal teachings, also Canon Laws that proved the position held by Traditionalists is heretical have been available since the mid-1980s, over 30 years ago. Homealone as a definite position began in earnest at that time because of this knowledge, although some had stayed at home all along. While those who knew about this and did not investigate it properly all those years may still return to the Church to be members by desire, they will have a much harder time proving any mitigating circumstances to a true pope when the papacy is restored and could run the risk of not being dispensed from infamy of law, which all those guilty of communicatio in sacris have incurred. While a true pope can dispense from this vindictive penalty, and, in this author’s opinion, probably would, in cases where he felt it was not in the best interests of the faithful to so dispense he may well refuse to do so. Hopefully this will be limited to a few rare cases.
“34. That this Mystical Body which is the Church should be called Christ’s is proved in the second place from the fact that He must be universally acknowledged as its actual Head. ‘He,’ as St. Paul says, ‘is the Head of the Body, the Church.’ He is the Head from whom the whole body perfectly organized, ‘groweth and maketh increase unto the edifying of itself.’…(37) Because Christ is so exalted, He alone by every right rules and governs the Church; and herein is yet another reason why He must be likened to a head. As the head is the ‘royal citadel’ of the body — to use the words of Ambrose — and all the members over whom it is placed for their good are naturally guided by it as being endowed with superior powers, so the Divine Redeemer holds the helm of the universal Christian community and directs its course. And as to govern human society signifies to lead men to the end proposed by means that are expedient, just and helpful, it is easy to see how our Savior, model and ideal of good Shepherds, performs all these functions in a most striking way….(38) Moreover He conferred a triple power on His Apostles and their successors, to teach, to govern, to lead men to holiness, making this power, defined by special ordinances, rights and obligations, the fundamental law of the whole Church….
Comment: In these unprecedented times, Christ Himself indeed heads the Church, but not as Traditionalists teach. He cannot and does not “supply” jurisdiction to their priests and bishops because this is entirely outside the order He established, and would mean that the Church, as He constituted it, has become something different; that strictly speaking it would no longer need a pope. This smacks of the Gallicanist heresy. He expects them, like everyone else, to obey Canon Law and to pray and watch (study) until He sees fit to resolve this situation. Nothing is to be done outside the confines of the juridical Church He established on earth, the one to whom He gave the powers of binding and loosing. That Church, by its own laws — God’s written and express will — infallibly decreed that during an interregnum no one could usurp papal jurisdiction or dispense themselves from Canon Law or papal teaching, and yet this is exactly what Traditionalists have done. They have placed their clerics above the pope; they have even placed them above Christ Himself, true head of the Mystical Body! And Yet Pope Pius XII infallibly decreed that any time they violate the law all their attempted actions, including Mass, sacraments, sacramentals, are null and void. Christ is upholding this law made by Pope Pius XII because it is His will. We cannot reach Heaven without doing God’s will, so when will those among Traditionalists begin to truly seek it, to obey Christ, their one and only Head?
“39. But our Divine Savior governs and guides the Society which He founded directly and personally also. For it is He who reigns within the minds and hearts of men, and bends and subjects their wills to His good pleasure, even when rebellious. ‘The heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord; whithersoever he will, he shall turn it.’ By this interior guidance He, the ‘Shepherd and Bishop of our souls,’ not only watches over individuals but exercises His providence over the universal Church, whether by enlightening and giving courage to the Church’s rulers for the loyal and effective performance of their respective duties, or by singling out from the body of the Church — especially when times are grave — men and women of conspicuous holiness, who may point the way for the rest of Christendom to the perfecting of His Mystical Body. Moreover 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.’”
Comment:Christ will enlighten and give courage only to those Church leaders lawfully reigning in His Church, because His will IS the law and He will not step outside the order He established. At the present, these men are not even members of His Church. They are not lawful pastors and Catholics are never obliged to obey them. While He still loves them and wishes for them to denounce their heresies and schism, He will not assist them in the way described above, because it would be to assist them in defying His will. Times today are very grave, and He Himself, Our Lady and the angels, especially St. Michael, assists the Church in ways we cannot even imagine.
“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.
Comment: Anything we are able to understand today is by virtue of those graces afforded us directly by Christ. He alone is our teacher, the dispenser of all the graces we need and the Divine Physician of our souls. Traditionalists excuse themselves to attend Mass, receiving sacraments by insisting they “need the graces.” Yet they fail to credit Christ alone in these times as the Divine source of every grace they could possibly want or desire.
“63. Hence, this word 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; it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all those that perish. 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. 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.
Comment:Those who believe that only a feigned resemblance to the juridical Church will save them undermine the importance of membership in the Mystical Body; they do not understand what manner of men they are. It is Christ in His Mystical Body who is active in our souls and remains with His Church “unto the consummation.” Pope Pius XII clearly states that by comparison the juridic Church is necessarily inferior to this Body. To emphasize the moral, juridic exterior of this Body as all-important and to neglect its very soul is odious to our Lord. The bonds of the law and all papal and conciliar teaching still bind us because it is God’s will and we must do His will in order to be saved. Therefore we must strive to believe in the same faith and receive the same sacraments (those which we still can receive) as well as to pray as one for an end to these times, lest no flesh at all is to be saved. In this way we will be members of the juridic Church insofar as we can, but primarily members of Christ’s Mystical Body.
“64. From what We have thus far written, and explained, Venerable Brethren, it is clear, We think, how grievously they err who arbitrarily claim that the Church is something hidden and invisible, as they also do who look upon her as a mere human institution possessing a certain disciplinary code and external ritual, but lacking power to communicate supernatural life. On the contrary, as Christ, Head and Exemplar of the Church “is not complete, if only His visible human nature is considered…, or if only His divine, invisible nature…, but He is one through the union of both and one in both … so is it with His Mystical Body’ since the Word of God took unto Himself a human nature liable to sufferings, so that He might consecrate in His blood the visible Society founded by Him and ‘lead man back to things invisible under a visible rule.’ 69. 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 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.
Comment: Not only may we make the same profession of faith and participate in the remaining sacraments, but we may say together the Spiritual Mass of St. John, which substitutes for the Mass in the same manner as Spiritual Communion substitutes for the reception of the Holy Eucharist. If all cooperate and are united in Christ, who supplies the grace for everything, how can this obedience to His law — which prevents us from attending sacrilegious masses and receiving fruitless sacraments in the first place — be anything but eminently pleasing to Him and constitute anything but a truly acceptable sacrifice? It is Christ’s sending of the Paraclete into our souls as He did at Pentecost that sustains us. The fact that at this time the fullness of the juridic Church is wanting does not rob us of the soul of the Church to which we ardently wish to be joined.
“67. Here, Venerable Brethren, We wish to speak in a very special way of our union with Christ in the Body of the Church, a thing which is, as Augustine justly remarks, sublime, mysterious and divine; but for that very reason it often happens that many misunderstand it and explain it incorrectly. It is at once evident that this union is very close. In the Sacred Scriptures it is compared to the chaste union of man and wife, to the vital union of branch and vine, and to the cohesion found in our body. Even more, it is represented as being so close that the Apostle says: ‘He (Christ) is the Head of the Body of the Church,’ and the unbroken tradition of the Fathers from the earliest times teaches that the Divine Redeemer and the Society which is His Body form but one mystical person, that is to say to quote Augustine, the whole Christ. Our Savior Himself in His sacerdotal prayer did not hesitate to liken this union to that wonderful unity by which the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son.
“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, were it only to the extent of appropriating to themselves as their own but one single attribute of the eternal Godhead. And, moreover, let all hold this as certain truth, that all these activities are common to the most Blessed Trinity, insofar as they have God as supreme efficient cause.
Comment: And so none who would try to discern the meaning of this mystery need worry that they are wrongly interfering with Christ’s designs or attempting to read God’s mind, as it were. Avoiding the error of secular humanism is all that Pope Pius XII requires of us.
“79. It must also be borne in mind that there is question here of a hidden mystery, which during this earthly exile can only be dimly seen through a veil, and which no human words can express. The Divine Persons are said to indwell inasmuch as they are present to beings endowed with intelligence in a way that lies beyond human comprehension, and in a unique and very intimate manner which transcends all created nature, these creatures enter into relationship with Them through knowledge and love. If we would attain, in some measure, to a clearer perception of this truth, let us not neglect the method strongly recommended by the Vatican Council in similar cases, by which these mysteries are compared one with another and with the end to which they are directed, so that in the light which this comparison throws upon them we are able to discern, at least partially, the hidden things of God.
Comment: Simply because it is difficult for the faithful to determine the meaning of these mysteries insofar as they are able, this does not excuse them from understanding them to whatever extent they can. Here Pius XII gives the method prescribed by the Vatican Council to assist us. To do otherwise would be to succumb to a species of quietism, which the pope condemns in para. 87 of his encyclical.
103. As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the ‘great and glorious Body of Christ’ and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger’s house, but to their own, their father’s home.
“104. Though We desire this unceasing prayer to rise to God from the whole Mystical Body in common, that all the straying sheep may hasten to enter the one fold of Jesus Christ, yet We recognize that this must be done of their own free will; for no one believes unless he wills to believe.
Comment:It is not possible for a pope to make this dedication now, as we have no pope. But clearly it is Christ’s desire, expressed by His Mother at Fatima, that all sinners may be converted and come to a love for the truth. Traditionalists, at the very least are in a situation where they cannot be certain of their salvation. According to the laws of the Church, they have no certainty concerning the validity of their “clerics,” the mass they say nor the sacraments they dispense. As such they must “seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.” While all members of the Mystical Body by desire pray for the conversion of those who are not within its pale (at least by desire), no words can convince them of this need unless they will to believe. And that means joining their will to Christ’s for the upbuilding of His Mystical Body, a subject, if truth be known, that they probably understand precious little about. Therefore stay-at-home Catholics will continue to pray for Traditionalists’ realization that what their unlawful, questionably valid “clerics” offer must be rejected, not only for their own sakes, but also that these false ministers themselves may be converted.
What else can be known about the Mystical Body?
Traditionalists desire to be united in the closest way to Christ — in the Mass, and in His Sacraments. Yet by dishonoring Him in unlawfully participating in these very things, they never are able to acquire that unity. This is because they see it through human eyes, not the eyes of the Mystical Christ. Sacrifice is only the expression of an interior sacrifice or devotion, Rev. M. Eugene Boylan notes in his “The Mystical Body,” (1947), paraphrasing St. Thomas of Aquinas. Because the Sacrifice has ceased, it is God’s expressed will that no longer will it be possible for us to offer ourselves though the Holy Mass to Christ in Heaven. But there is a more direct participation that is available to us: we can offer ourselves and our lives as that sacrifice, through the merits and in the name of Christ, who first offered Himself for us. There is no other more perfect way to “fill up what is wanting to the passion of Christ,” than by offering ourselves as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God,” (Rom. 12:`1). For as St. Cyprian wrote, “the sacrifice of Our Lord is not complete as far as our sanctification is concerned unless our offerings and sacrifices correspond to His Passion.”
Rev. Boylan tells readers: “There is then a continual need for activity on our part even as members of Christ. To act we must will; to will we must have knowledge…That knowledge which regulates our actions in that newness of life and the volition by which we cleave to the source of that new life, must be supernatural,” (not something one hears from a Traditional “priest” or lay leader). “We cannot see or perceive Christ or His Mystical Body, even though there is a sense in which the Church is visible. To live with Him and by Him and in Him, all our actions must be guided by faith…The beginning and foundation of our spiritual life is faith. We must believe, we must live by faith…[But] although faith is the foundation of our incorporation into Christ, yet without charity we cannot share in the life of the Mystical Body. If we remember that the soul of that Body is the Holy Ghost — Who is the Love of God for God, the Living Flame of Divine Love — and that for living membership of Christ it is essential that we be animated and moved in our actions by the soul of that Body, we can see the essential importance of charity…The other virtues of faith and hope are dead and without ‘form’ if they are not animated by love…”By doing the truth in charity, we may all grow up in Him who is the Head…Christ,” (Eph. 4:15).
“Our duty of fraternal charity must never be separated from our love of God — for there is but one virtue of charity,” Rev. Boylan continues. “But in addition to our obligations towards our fellow-members of the Mystical Body, there is something even more fundamental which is essential to our life in Christ. This is conformity to the Divine Will. It was the first sentiment that we know of in Our Lord’s human life: ‘I come to do Thy will, O God,’ (Heb.10: 9)…The need for this conformity is evident from a consideration of our membership of Christ. If we are to be His members in truth, we must live by the Soul of His Body, Who is the Holy Spirit, and we must be subject to the life of His Body, which is submission to the Head….We can only be true members of Christ when we are doing the Will of God. True love of God is impossible without submission to His Will. For love is the giving of oneself to God and disobedience is the removal of it from Him. Our Lord Himself made this submission the test and touchstone of our love.” Here Boylan cites, “If you love Me, keep my commandments,” and “Love one another, as I have loved you.” How did Christ love His Apostles and those who came to hear Him speak? He healed them of their sins and infirmities; He preached the truth to them and fed them physically. Boylan states: “These are the two fundamentals of the spiritual life: to live by the Will of God and to live in organic union with one’s neighbor.” He also mentions humility as an essential virtue, “without which there can be no Christian life.”
Rev. Boylan does not forget the role played by the Blessed Mother, who, he says, is the woman in Apocalypse, laboring to give birth to none other than ourselves. She is our Mediatrix, our Reparatrix and Co-Redemptrix, our Queen. Boylan writes of her: “Her consent to be the Mother of the Redeemer of Mankind, with the acceptance of the suffering that involved for her, was probably the greatest act of fraternal charity ever performed by a creature until she herself renewed it under the Cross…’Be it done to me according to Thy word,’ (Luke 1:38)…The will of God was the law of her life…We can share in her works by bringing forth Christ in our own souls by humble and loving obedience to the Will of God. We can ensure our complete union with Christ by true devotion to Mary, by a complete consecration of all that we are or have to her that she may form us in Christ, and Christ in us. She is the ‘Gate of Heaven’ by whom we enter into Christ. She is the Mother of the Whole Christ.” The primary fulfillment of God’s will for us on earth is obedience to His law and the acceptance of whatever he sends us in this life. Unless we obey and accept, we cannot enjoy membership in His Body.
While Catacomb Catholics cannot be full-fledged members of the juridic Church today because Christ has suspended Her hierarchical functions for the time being, as laity we yet are able to participate in a limited, material way in that body. We keep the same faith unchanged, minister to each other those Sacraments we have left and participate in the same spiritual sacrifice, offered in communion with those remaining bishops and priests who are still actual members of the Church. Our Head is Christ, who lives forever in uninterrupted cohesion with His Mystical Body. Our Mediatrix is Our Lady, who St. Bernard has described as the neck of the Mystical Body. Our consolation is the Holy Ghost and our protector St. Michael with his many legions of angels. While we have no pope at present, we are careful to adhere to all those former teachings of past pontiffs. We pledge a firm and irrevocable assent to the infallible teachings of popes and councils and all that has been taught in the ordinary magisterium of these popes throughout the ages. We abide by the Ten Commandments and obey Canon Law, since it is based largely on papal and conciliar teachings.
To supply for spiritual direction, we read the pre-1959 writings of those who directed others and follow their counsels. We pray for and with one another and bear one another’s burdens. We long for those who continue to attend Traditional chapels and the Novus Ordo to repent of their heresies and schism as we ourselves have done and join us in the wilderness, under the wings of the Holy Ghost and in the safety and the peace of Christ’s Mystical Body. Some we are sure are already there with us by desire and many others by invincible ignorance. This is not an invisible Church; our dealings with others, our writings and our pledge of faith are publicly known. May we all one day be one flock under one shepherd, and till then be assured of our love and our prayers.