God's Eternal Enterprise|
"And He sent forth His arrows, and He scattered them: He multiplied lightnings, and troubled them" (Psalm 17: 15)
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8: 32
Considering all the evidence, and the obvious facts that the only free 'Enterprise' rests in Christ Who is The Source of Truth and Tradition of Eternal Rome, and the fact that such is sorely and blatantly missing in action in modern Rome in these times, why would one ever want to bite off more than he can chew or, for that matter, bite the hand that feeds him?
"The most comic aspect of this whole thing is the fact that the SSPX, the Indult, the various other 'independent' priests (ordained way back when, and now all getting up there in years), and even Mr. Ferrara himself, are also all part of this exact selfsame Enterprise. 'Oh, but we are not sedevacantists!' they might exclaim, but all in vain. Traditional Catholics are all sedevacantists, certainly in practice, if not in name. As we all know, every Vatican leader since Paul VI has attempted to foist on us a non-Catholic mode of mock-'worship.' And we have all, to a man, resisted that, or at least returned to resisting that (if some of us were deceived for a time), thus keeping to the authentic Catholic traditions, and keeping those traditions alive, exactly as God promised would happen. To what extent can we really be said to be looking to the Vatican leader as a spiritual father to guide us to Heaven if practically everything the men from Paul VI onward have ever said or taught has had to be resisted or ignored or rejected?"
Griff L. Ruby
I have long hesitated over writing this article. But a number of people all seem to feel that I truly "ought" to prepare a response to Christopher Ferrara's recent slag-piece about Sedevacantism. As to the utterly trivial and unimportant "theological challenges" he raised in the piece, the Rev. Anthony Cekada has far more than amply addressed these in his own response to it titled "Sedevacantism and Mr. Ferrara's Cardboard Pope." Of course, Fr.'s article in response to the slag-piece is a bit like cracking an egg with a nuclear bomb. But then again perhaps some people need that nuclear bomb. When such otherwise prestigious Catholic journals as the Catholic Family News and the Fatima Crusader can actually take the bother to devote space to such drivel, then perhaps something indeed has to be done.
Much as I try to deal compassionately with the people who have the misfortune to get mixed up in such nonsense, sometimes one can only go so far. It is quite apparent that when Mr. Ferrara went in and sat down to prepare his piece, he obviously checked in his Christian charity and integrity at the door, and perhaps his brains as well. It is difficult to say any fair and objective things about it without having to say a number of mighty unpleasant things I never thought I would hear myself having to say about the man who co-wrote The Great Fašade, who wrote many fine traditional Catholic articles, gave many fine traditional Catholic speeches, and fought in courts for the pro-life cause and the SSPX cause.
The man had attained a tremendous amount of respectability without, until this point, having to resort to aggrandizing himself at the expense of others. Before, he could say "Look at me; I've done all these wonderful things," and God Himself would have acknowledged it. But now all he can say is "Look at me; I'm better than those terrible people out there," and needless to say God would have an altogether different perspective on that. I feel sorry for him as this is the kind of hideous faux pas one may never really quite recover from, and because whatever further "respectability" he may have gained before corrupt men he has correspondingly lost before his Maker. I feel sorry for those who are na´ve, innocent, and foolish enough to be deceived by him. And most of all I feel sorry for the Immaculate Heart of our Mother which is breaking on account of his action.
When most Catholics look at Mr. Ferrara's slag-piece, what they see is a straw man to be easily knocked down. Even other non-sedevacantists would have to recoil from it in disgust, saying "My God, is this supposed to be the best case we can make?" What I see is the ramblings of one seriously befuddled soul who is in grave peril. Some years ago, when I started my subscription to a certain traditional periodical (which had already gone on for quite some years before my subscription began, and for which unfortunately no back issues were or are available), it did not take me long to see that one of their regular columnists was harboring a grave misunderstanding of the present situation and spouting his hideously mistaken assumption for all to read on the pages of this otherwise superb journal.
I actually began a draft of a letter to the editor of this publication recommending that they drop this particular writer as he poses a grave hazard to the spirituality of their readership. However, between being very busy and seeing future columns by this person go on to discuss other topics (and discuss those other topics adequately well) the draft of this letter was never finished, let alone sent. And so things coasted along for another few years. But then something happened; some circumstances, unknown and unknowable to the rest of us until the Great White Throne Judgment takes place when we will all know, occurred in the life of this unhappy individual to cause him to repudiate the entire Catholic cause, and throw in whole hog with the Novus Ordo.
While the exact circumstances of that frightful decision remain unknown, it is obvious to me that at the core of what had happened lay the fact of this person's gravely mistaken assumption which had now flowered into his full-fledged apostasy. If I were to say to Mr. Ferrara, "You, sir, are about this close (finger and thumb about a centimeter apart) to going the way of So-and-so," I don't doubt that he would immediately protest that "No way would I ever do what that scumbag So-and-so did." And he would mean that, to the fullest extent that a person can know their own mind and say what they believe about it. However, the same mistake that So-and-so made those years ago, Mr. Ferrara is making today. He equates today's modernist heretical Vatican with the authentic and historical Mystical Body of Christ, and does so with some kind of axiomatic, dogmatic refusal to even take a look at the actual situation. It's a kind of denial similar to that of some Titanic passengers who swore blind that "This ship can never sink!" and returned to their cabins and undressed for bed, even after the ship's Engineer had already informed Captain Smith that "This ship WILL founder; in two hours it will be at the bottom of the sea."
I see in his article someone who is so bent on functioning as the lawyer trying to prove a narrow case so much as to forget looking at the bigger question of what it is that is really going on. "My client is lilywhite pure as the driven snow innocent as a dove never did anything wrong," while the client's partner, being tried in another courtroom and defended by another lawyer, is "obviously as guilty as sin." Meanwhile, your counterpart in that next courtroom is making the same exact case, with the single difference that it is his client, not yours, who is "lilywhite pure." Maybe the crime just never happened. Ever consider that?
Since Fr. Cekada has already addressed the theological questions, I will rather address a number of smaller, more superficial points. Mr. Ferrara starts off his slag-piece with quite literally nothing more than mere insults, "It's perfectly reasonable, and patently absurd." Whenever a lawyer has to resort to insults, that in and of itself is proof positive that he has no case. It means that he has lost his cool, lost control of himself, and is now flailing away blindly at random.
In his efforts to even try to prove reason itself unreasonable he actually invokes G.K. Chesterton, an oddball quote (grossly out of context, I am sure) to the effect that the insane end up with nothing left but their reason. Bad, bad move, Counselor. The reasons that sedevacantists have reached their conclusion about the Vatican situation are so persuasive, so inescapable, and so utterly unassailable, that your only recourse is to reject reason itself. What else can judge and jury possibly make of your (ab)use of this quote?
If it is madness and insanity to possess and put to use our use of reason, then every saint was utterly mad. Even our Lord Jesus Christ - picture Him on the Cross, no more great sermons to deliver, no parables to relate, no more miracles to work, His disciples all deserting Him, even the clothes on His back ripped off and being gambled and bargained for by the Roman soldiers at His feet, and when the full brunt of our sins is dumped upon Him as the One to suffer and die in our place it was as though even the Father and the Spirit were turning their backs to Him, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" What did He have left at that most terrible pass, but His reason? "Father, it is finished; into Your hands I commend My Spirit." As I said, it was a bad, bad move, Counselor.
Next, we are introduced to what he suddenly decides to call "the Enterprise." His historical research is so poor he can only trace it as far back as 1976. In point of fact, the Enterprise began in 33 A.D. The Enterprise simply continues exactly what it has been doing since that time, "Go forth into all nations, teaching them, and baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost." Even suspicions within some few members of that Enterprise regarding the status of the current Vatican leadership can be traced at least as far back as 1965 when, after Paul VI declared that the United Nations was the world's last great hope for world peace, a number of Catholics began asking, "Can that really be a pope talking?"
The "Enterprise," as he puts it, runs numerous parishes, sees to the spiritual needs and guidance of millions of souls, provides them the sacraments, trains those young men from among them upon whom God has placed a special calling into the priesthood, ordains them, and from those who from long years of faithful and capable service have proven their loyalty and competence chooses some few to be consecrated as bishops to continue leading the flock until the end of time. Through their efforts, young boys and girls preserve their chastity, young married couples raise large families in the Faith, and the sick and elderly are given the necessary preparations and sacraments needed for when they go to meet their Maker. Shocking! Horrible! How dare they?
According to Mr. Ferrara, "the Enterprise" must be opposed, must be stopped, must be eliminated. How about a little genocide, Counselor? It's quick, simple, painless, really the best way to go. Where, oh where is the all-too-much-needed wisdom of Gamaliel, who said of this same exact Enterprise in his own day, and which Enterprise had even dared to claim that the Jewish leadership no longer sat in the Chair of Moses (since Pentecost, 33 A.D.), "If this be of men only, then you had best ignore it and it will go away. But if it be of God, then nothing you can do will ever overthrow it, and what's more, in fighting it you make yourselves fighters against God."
The most comic aspect of this whole thing is the fact that the SSPX, the Indult, the various other "independent" priests (ordained way back when, and now all getting up there in years), and even Mr. Ferrara himself, are also all part of this exact selfsame Enterprise. "Oh, but we are not sedevacantists!" they might exclaim, but all in vain. Traditional Catholics are all sedevacantists, certainly in practice, if not in name. As we all know, every Vatican leader since Paul VI has attempted to foist on us a non-Catholic mode of mock-"worship." And we have all, to a man, resisted that, or at least returned to resisting that (if some of us were deceived for a time), thus keeping to the authentic Catholic traditions, and keeping those traditions alive, exactly as God promised would happen. To what extent can we really be said to be looking to the Vatican leader as a spiritual father to guide us to Heaven if practically everything the men from Paul VI onward have ever said or taught has had to be resisted or ignored or rejected?
What's more, we all do all the exact same things, and for the same exact reasons. We (in the person of our clerical leaders, the priests and bishops and other religious) "run numerous parishes, see to the spiritual needs and guidance of millions of souls, provide them the sacraments, train those young men from among them upon whom God has placed a special calling into the priesthood, ordain them, and from those who from long years of faithful and capable service have proven their loyalty and competence choose some few to be consecrated as bishops to continue leading the flock until the end of time. All done in order so that, through our efforts, young boys and girls preserve their chastity, young married couples raise large families in the Faith, and the sick and elderly are given the necessary preparations and sacraments needed for when they go to meet their Maker." No difference!
In one place, sedevacantism is described as a "thesis." To be more precise, it is an "observation." For a simple illustration, let us go back to the time that Jesus still walked the earth, and Caiaphas the Corrupt still occupied the Chair of Moses for what would prove to be the last few days and weeks that he would. Jesus said of them that we must "do as they say, but don't do as they do." That is because "what they do" was hopelessly corrupt and no example to follow if one wants to please God. But interesting nevertheless that our Lord could direct His followers to "do as they say," that is, do what they tell you to do. What? No risk that they might say something wrong, that in following it we would displease God?
What if, for example, the High Priest of the Temple were to get it into his head to insist that the Jews all come to the Temple and sacrifice pigs and rodents and bugs instead of lambs and turtledoves and grain? Obviously, there was no way Jesus could have made such a teaching unless there were some sort of Divine guarantee that, to the effect that he who accepts to sit in the Chair of Moses thereby voluntarily surrenders a portion of his free will, such that he is physically incapable of ever saying such a thing. That even if the High Priest were to desire, with all his might and with every fiber of his being, to teach the Jews to sacrifice pigs instead of lambs, he cannot, for God Himself will stop him, one way or another.
What that does is set up a specific set of parameters within which the Jewish High Priest of the Temple must function, and necessarily always will (until the Chair of Moses is replaced with the Chair of Peter). He has the power to sacrifice a pig himself, but he does not have the power to tell you that YOU must do that. Likewise, the more one understands what doctrinal and dogmatic teachings the Church has to say about its own indefectibility, the infallibility of its leader, and of the four Marks of the Church, the more one realizes that a Catholic pope also has a somewhat similar set of parameters within which he necessarily functions, and outside of which he is incapable of functioning, or even venturing forth. Therefore, to see a man, one thinks of as a pope, plainly acting utterly outside those parameters, is to realize that either he was never pope or else that he lost his papacy at some point. It doesn't tell us when, where, or how he lost it or never gained it, or even whether it was gained and then lost or never attained in the first place, it only tells us the one simple fact that he cannot be presently sitting in Peter's Chair.
But let us put that observation into perspective. It really is not important that every Catholic make that observation. Think of the situation as being like that in New Orleans in recent weeks. First came the hurricane, then the flood, then (far, far too slowly and quite haphazardly and sporadically when it did come) the relief efforts to bring food and water, and then to evacuate the people, providing them some other place for shelter, clothing, more food and water, their children in various schools in other non-flooded areas, and finally even $2,000.00 Red Cross debit cards to help them get through the next month or so while they begin trying to get their life back together. As we know there were a lot of complaints about how slow and sporadic the rescue efforts were. Why was that so? And why did the Levies burst? And if some people knew that they would burst, why did no one listen to those who knew that?
Well, a lot of people have a lot of various opinions. Some blame it on President Bush, or Homeland Security, or the local Mayor or inefficient and poorly organized relief organizations, mayors and city councils who blew off the concerns raised about the aging, cracking levies, or even some racist thing or what not. Some opinions may well have more reality to them than others, but no matter what the cause of the delays, the result was the same. As to the cause, that certainly is something worth looking into, but the main recipients of that information once gathered, collated, assimilated, and summarized, will be the leaders and relief organizations who will all learn from it and hopefully be more organized come next disaster.
Likewise, the immediate concern the Church had after the hurricane and flood of Vatican II was the spiritual survival of Her children. For that, the various traditional clerics and societies all work together as separate but complementary relief agencies, bringing the teaching and guidance and sacraments to the Faithful who are still spiritually alive as to want and need them. That is still the immediate priority, as many parts of the world may not have a traditional cleric within 500 miles. Obviously the next immediate priority is the growth of the traditional orders, so that eventually faithful priests will no longer have to "trinate" in towns 600 miles away from each other every Sunday, and then the next priority can be given attention to, namely a formal investigation into precisely what it is that went wrong at Vatican II, and the restoration of the papacy and corporate unity.
Saying that we have no pope is like saying that relief efforts were too slow in New Orleans. Well, duh, of course! The interesting question that needs to be looked into is "why." While a person who waited four days for help might reasonably be put out by that, if he has no idea what to expect from a relief organization or when, then he has no standard to say "Well, that was quick!" or "Well, that was slow!" For him, it's "why can't my rescuers be here in ten minutes?" It just wasn't anywhere near as fast as he would have liked. He may be angry, but his anger is diffuse as he has no idea who (if anyone) to blame. But imagine a person who himself has been a volunteer in such a relief organization and who knows their ways and processes and who knows that a response "should" be within about 24 hours. He already knows that they won't be there in ten minutes, and by the same token he also knows that it is not supposed to take 4 days either. He is not merely inconvenienced but also knows that his organization has screwed up. This person is not only angry, he knows or at least has a pretty good idea just precisely who to be angry with, and for what, beyond the obvious fact that it was slow. But either way the rescue eventually comes all the same. What matters to his life and well being is THAT it happened, not WHY it took so long.
Similarly, an individual Catholic may or may not be sufficiently acquainted with those parameters within which a pope intrinsically must function as to recognize the Vatican situation for what it is. There is no moral obligation to be that familiar with those papal parameters, so as it is many layfolk commit no sin in failing to realize or understand what has happened. But there IS an obvious moral obligation to worship God as God directs and not as mocking man invents, to obtain real authentic and valid sacraments from the Church and not settle for pale imitations. Those who do so, staying in a state of sanctifying Grace, save their souls. As for the rest, it is probable that many might well still be united to the soul of the Church, and God can be merciful. But obviously the fact remains that they are not following the procedure laid out for them by God as to how to be saved.
Increasingly, as the Enterprise gathers size and momentum, it becomes easier for anyone truly and sincerely seeking to save their soul to find the lawful means with which to do it, and rarer and rarer for anyone to be excused. All this nonsense about "Oh, sedevacantists claim to be the only ones being saved" is just that, nonsense. No sedevacantist makes that claim.
Finally, a few miscellaneous thoughts here:
In denying these obvious facts, Mr. Ferrara demonstrates himself to be a man who has lost contact with reality, and willing to say anything no matter how patently false, in support of some questionable and secret agenda. Perhaps if the sedevacantists would put him on retainer he would as ardently defend them as he has attacked them. But with "friends" like that who needs enemies? In fact, on the strength of that one article, if I were the SSPX I would promptly take him off contract and off any retainer, totally unafraid of what terrible things he might subsequently say against the SSPX.
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.