As all of us in Tradition widely know and acknowledge, one simply cannot be an informed and doctrinaire Catholic, applying due diligence in the study of his Faith, without seeing at once that today's Vatican apparatus, as an organization (taken as a whole), is simply not to be identified with that grand and glorious Church. That organization, like such nations as England or China which have set up their own schismatic "churches" and parallel "hierarchies," is merely itself just one more of the same.
Any real Catholic remaining therein does not and cannot draw his spiritual strength and guidance from these organizations (London, Peking, Vatican City) nor from the schismatic clergy they have set up, altar against altar, with the specific intent of rivaling no one except we traditional Catholics who visibly and palpably are Christ's Own Church and clergy and faithful. As the anonymous writer "Gregorius" featured on Novus Ordo Watch put it, "Sedevacantism does not just assert that certain individual claimants to the papacy are charlatans, but that the entire Novus Ordo Church as an institution is a false church and not the Mystical Body of Christ [emphasis his]."
We also know that we traditional Catholics, still comparatively few in number, are the faithful remnant. Implicit in that latter realization however is the fact that we faithful remnant are in fact the remnant Catholic Church. Many of us readily enough admit that as well, and good for us whenever we do, for it is true, and each time we affirm that dogmatic fact we strike directly at the heart of an error that nevertheless has somehow managed to become somewhat widespread, and which I will get to, shortly.
We traditional Catholics are the faithful remnant Catholic Church. As such, we comprise a visible institution which is one and the same directly continuous with that one visible institution set up by Jesus Christ Himself. We are not merely some scattered assemblage of "church-minded" individuals, for that would not be any real "church" at all. To paraphrase St. Athanasius for our day, "they have the numbers, the pomp and circumstance, and even a clownish and tragic figure-head by which they deceive themselves into thinking they have a 'Pope' among them, but we have the Chair of Peter with us, the papacy, and all the popes the Church has ever given us, for though it is presently empty we alone stand in union with it."
And as stated by Msgr. G. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology: Christ's Church, page 7:
"Christ personally founded a Church which is a true society. This proposition contains a twofold assertion. a. Christ Himself directly founded a Church. This rules out any indirect founding through the agency of others to whom Christ would have entrusted or left the whole affair. b. This Church is, as Christ Himself founded it, a society in the strict sense, not merely a religious academy.
A society is a permanent assembly of many people united for the attainment of a common goal. Not any and every group of people is a society, but only one which pursues a common goal in a permanent manner. Now this stable unification of many people is effected by means of certain bonds which unite the minds and the active efforts of the group. The chief of these bonds is authority. And so the matter of a society is the group itself; its form is the unifying bonds, authority in particular; its founder or author is he who unites the group by applying the bonds.
This proposition is a dogma of the faith in both its part..."
There are those who claim that these are the final end times, and that what we are confronted with is the Final Apostasy. Well, maybe yes, maybe no. But be that as it may, many, in referring to such a serious possibility see in it some sort of "proof" that the Mass and all Sacraments will be done away with (and presumably all hierarchy as well, which would indeed reduce the Church to some mere rag-tag loose assemblage of individual lay "believers" (but believers in what? If Christ cannot be bothered to keep His own Church in operation, why look to Him for anything?). In this manner they deceive themselves into thinking that the Church would be bereft of all authority some time even before the actual return of Christ.
But that runs directly counter to any standard theological handbook. Again, I quote Msgr. G. Van Noort, who writes:
"Both the apostles and the earliest fathers considered the Church indestructible, and so they must have been aware of the divine promises on this score. The apostles call the Church "an unshakable kingdom" (Heb. 12:28); they predict that the Eucharist will be celebrated until Christ comes to judge the world (I Cor. 11:26 [which reads, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes"])."
Important to note, both the Roman theologian and the cited Scripture state that the Eucharist (Mass, implying valid and lawful priests to say the Masses) shall continue right up until He comes again to judge the living and the dead, not "right up until some presumably small but unknown number of years before He comes again." Therefore, whatever efforts the prophesied Antichrist makes towards abolishing the approved Sacrifice will not prove entirely successful. It may become rare, and difficult to find, but never non-existent, nor impossible to find to those who earnestly seek it.
So regardless of whether this should be that time, or only some extraordinary Providential precedent by which those who really do come to live in such a time can look back and come to know how to react and how the Church can conduct Herself in such a time as this, the Church MUST carry on. For it is promised that She shall carry on, not only in some few lay faithful, but as a fully complete and perfect society (of whatever size), implying the presence of both lay faithful and duly authorized clergy as well. Again I say, all of this is dogmatically established, so when those who get overly caught up in prophetic speculation begin to suggest otherwise, they are positing scenarios which the infallible Magisterium has already anticipated and ruled out.
But of late, a most pernicious and grave error has somehow managed to crop up within the Church, that is to say, among the traditional Catholic community. It is an illusion of lawlessness, by which too many faithful Catholics begin to be deceived into thinking that we somehow inhabit a totally lawless condition. This comes in a variety of statements that have been cropping up more and more frequently in the writings, blogs, and verbal comments of many of my distinguished peers. Little by little they are gradually coming to buy into this pernicious error, as evidenced when one or another of them says such things as "our bishops have no authority," or "Bishop [So-and-so, an authorized traditional bishop of Holy Mother Church] has no more authority than a mouse," or even the description of any traditional cleric, even sometimes most tragically of all by the cleric in reference to himself in some unconsidered, thoughtless off-the-cuff remark, as being a mere "sacrament machine."
Would any traditional cleric be willing to attempt even the pretense of a defense of such a thing? None have, and that is a very important fact, for at least two reasons that I can think of. For one, there is no valid chain of reasoning by which the claim could ever be made that the Church's bishops and priests possess no authority to act, guide, rule, teach, and sanctify in the name of Holy Mother Church as Her designated ministers of the Gospel of Christ. One would have to invent quite some clever lie or sophistry, to come up with any, and as I said in a previous article, the very attempt would at once expose its utter foolishness.
But the other reason is this. Since no traditional cleric has ever, as yet, actually and formally so "defined" his "non-ministry" in terms of any such denial of his authority (and also neither have they as yet failed to conduct themselves as jurisdiction-holding officers of Holy Mother Church), they do therefore one and all still possess whatever manner of authority the Church designates to clerics of whatever rank they possess. But if ever one should attempt this, he not only makes a most abject fool of himself (per point one, previous paragraph), but also in that resigns his ministry, and from that point onward has absolutely no more authority or right to function as anything more than a layman in any capacity whatsoever. By so doing he relieves himself of the Holy Ghost and becomes fully as subject to error as any in the Novus Ordo or any other Protestant group, and as many as take such a position can be counted on to vanish into heresies of all sorts over time.
Given the almost incomparably small number of hierarchical members the Church has today, the loss of any one of them, frightfully tragic at any time, is only all the more so now in view of how much the loss of even one would cost to the total number of workers in the Lord's harvest. We are already far less than a skeleton crew.
Perhaps some of my colleagues will assert their inanity on this point only all the louder. For the sake of their souls, and those who respect them (quite mistakenly on this point), I pray not. I name no names, with the hope that those who say such things will one and all repent, or at the very least stop talking about what they have proven their incompetence on. For indeed they ought to hold their heads down in shame for the things they have written against the anointed leaders of Holy Mother Church today, our traditional Catholic priests and bishops. Some have even said to me, "you need to read standard manuals of theology."
Really? Well, I have decided to take that advice and read them. Needless to say, the only surprise I have had in reading them is just how much stronger my case is than I expected. It is only those who would deny our traditional clergy authority and jurisdiction who are clearly deficient in their "study" of the standard theological and canonical manuals. To paraphrase the character Paul Atreides of the novel and film Dune, "Look into these theological manuals if you dare; you will find what I have been saying here staring back at you!"
As the remnant Church, we traditional Catholics possess all the charisms and holy prerogatives our Lord gave to us His Church. One cannot deny the authority of our bishops and priests without in that very breath denying the authority of all bishops and priests of Holy Mother Church from the very beginning.
Nor is this something new that I am saying. It is funny how many persons can read the entire New Testament without noticing that our Lord set up a visible and identifiable Church, with a specific structure and specific persons appointed to its initial offices. Every Protestant reading the Bible has done this, else he could not remain a Protestant. But the same has happened with my own book. The central theme running throughout the warp and woof of my Resurrection book is the authoritative and valid and lawful apostolic continuity that extends from the Church's bishops of that golden age that preceded Vatican II clear to our bishops today, documenting in full exactly who, what, and how. I say this, because among my critics on this point have already come to count some few of those who have loved and supported and agreed with my book. I do not know whether in reading my book they somehow failed to notice this point that so defines my book, or if they once saw the truth of it back when they first read it, and then only later got seduced or tricked by false reasonings. (If negative reviews of my book from some claiming to be traditionalists begin to appear, then they in so doing will have done what I have respectfully refrained from doing, namely providing their own names, so then all would be able to know who the real culprits actually are.)
As I have shown in the previous segment, there are reasonable psychological explanations to account for the initial cognitive failure of Catholic churchmen to realize and understand the full extent of the regular and habitual jurisdiction they do indeed possess, and correspondingly, solid theological reasons by which we can know that yea verily they must and do indeed possess such authority appointed to them by Jesus Christ through the means of His Church in a direct and lawful and visible succession.
Furthermore, this is not some rare and obscure doctrine about the Church but one that anyone who opens up any standard theological manual to just about any page is bound to find reiterated again and again.
The wonder is that with such profuse witness to our Church's authority so many seem genuinely unaware of it. Sometimes it seems that so many of us Catholics get so focused on proving that the current Vatican apparatus is not the Church (itself a quite trivial thing to prove authoritatively) that somehow the far more important corollary proof that we traditional Catholics ARE the Church goes unaddressed or else, where addressed, it goes ignored (as it is done in many of my own works, almost as profusely as in the standard theological works).
Of course, another part of the problem is that most people don't actually crack open any theological textbooks, and most especially those on ecclesiology. So in the people's widespread ignorance, it is easy for villains to spread wicked rumors of our clerics lacking any authority to act beyond bare supplied jurisdiction. And as I indicated at the very close of the previous segment, there is an enemy in the camp. Yes, it is easy to spread these wicked rumors, especially in dark corners and from under any number of various obscure rocks, but who is spreading them and why?
The time has now come for me to do something I have never done before and desperately hope and pray that I may never be obliged to do again. But I would be most criminally remiss before my Creator should I now neglect so important an action as this. So much of all that I have written from the very first time I ever put pen to paper has been to allay the many suspicions that ill-intended individuals have spread against various Catholic clerics and orders and communities and so forth. After all, even if some particular one or another seeming shepherd were to turn out to be a wolf and not a true shepherd, so long as no ill-effects or anti-Catholic results follow, those who worship at his Mass and so forth in good faith are morally doing as they ought.
Even in the good old days, it has always been possible for some priest, out of some horrid malice, to deliberately withhold the proper intention for all sacraments he performs, thus depriving his congregation of certain graces ordinarily to be derived from the sacraments. But until such a thing becomes known, no one has sinned in attending his fake Mass or receiving his fake sacraments in good faith, and in this one case one most certainly can presume upon God's mercy to cover and provide forgiveness to the souls unhappily caught in such a situation. To continue to attend once the aberration becomes known however is quite a different thing.
But now for the first (and hopefully only) time, I am going to spread suspicion! If this should cause yet another division, then so be it. For this is the division between that which truly IS the Church and that which pretends to it but is in fact schismatic and utterly without merit.
Where do these false reasonings (whatever they are, as yet altogether undocumented) come from? From the Devil, of course. But more immediately they come from false brothers. I believe these false brothers are in fact paid Novus Ordo plants, craftily inserted among us to spread their confusion and division and overall "rubber-room-ism" that has become far more rampant in exactly the period of time that such problems should all have been winding down. They are the ones who spread the wicked rumors about our clerics being limited to mere supplied jurisdiction or epikeia or what not, most typically in various seemingly offhand remarks interwoven in and amongst their conversation and discourse, which might in all other respects be perfectly fine and reasonable, or at least impressive or important seeming.
How else can one account for the odd fact that, despite the obvious and profuse blessing of the Holy Ghost laboring so dramatically to bring us together, we remain as scattered and divided as ever? We traditional Catholics alone are visibly united to the one true Shepherd. This shows itself most generally and obviously in the fact that we all share the same rites and doctrine, no matter what else has transpired between us in the way of human failings that in any other circumstance would have resulted in a multitude of conflicting rites and doctrines. In these days, the real Church, gaining more and more of a vision of itself (and the world gradually coming to be aware of its existence as well) should have been coming closer together and working together and treating each other with respect, even where disagreements persist. But it has instead been three steps forward and three steps back. Clearly, "an enemy has done this."
The real object of this denial-of-authority approach taken by the Enemy and his willing agents is to spread an illusion of lawlessness. See, if a cleric is not thought of, or does not think of himself as, having authority over some particular order or flock or parish community by Divine right, then he is effectively seen as being, as it were, an outlaw. With every known identified and identifiable cleric as having both valid orders and orthodox doctrine being thus defined as an outlaw, the entire Church hierarchical is thereby reduced to a seeming outlaw status. What devilish object does this achieve, and how does it do so? Remember, the enemy seeks to sow division and discord. Among such strategies as whispering in the ears of each a lot of "bad things" someone else supposedly said of them (which were usually never actually said but made up), and hiring various individuals to feed one side or another in some useless debate, there is this one other strategy.
When persons find themselves (even if only they so think) in a lawless condition, then it is as if all law is gone save that most brutish law, namely that "Law," as it were, of the jungle. It becomes dog eat dog, and get the other guy first before he gets you, and if you can't find something against the other guy then invent it. As secular laws against cannibalism (so far as yet) prevent us from devouring one another (cf. Galatians 5:15), and geographical distance makes putting one's fist through someone's face overly inconvenient, in nearly all cases our only remaining recourse is destruction of their good name, since negative gossip against someone can often "go viral" with very little effort on our part.
This is therefore the real most basic and central reason why the Church has atomized while God the Holy Spirit is ever laboring with all intensity to bring us all together. So long as so many of us think we are lawless we end up acting lawless. Even those of us who know we are within the Law from above and act in accordance with it are forced to deal with the lawless ones in a manner that in itself could be seen by some as being no better, as if we are forced to sink to their level. However, it is not really the same level. If the Law convicts a man of murder rightly and by due process, and sentences him to death and the murderer is executed, does that make the Law, or the State that enforces it and carries it out, a murderer? Some may see it that way, but Catholic theology most certainly does not. This is a matter of justice.
Remember what was infallibly demonstrated above, namely that the Church is a society and therefore by its very nature bound together with bonds of authority. To deny that authority is to deny the very existence of the Church itself as a society so defined. And one ought not ever be recognized as a member of a society which he denies the very existence of. So by virtue of being hoisted with their own petard these deniers are properly declared and known to be outside the Church. Even if baptized, if warned against this on both the private and public level and they remain obstinate, then Sacred Scripture is quite clear that they are to be regarded as a heathen or a tax collector (Matthew 18:17). Many have been privately warned; now this is the public warning.
So, who sent these plants? I believe it is the Novus Ordo Vatican apparatus. See, they have no problem attempting to allocate jurisdiction to their own leadership since they share in that leadership's different and non-Catholic religion. So of course from their standpoint they have a "law" on their side and we have nothing. They won't talk of it directly as such, but while ridiculing our clerics as being of no lawful authority, other comments they make indicate or reflect a belief that such authority nevertheless does exist, just somewhere else. They don't want to admit where exactly they think that is (for that most directly exposes their true source with the enemy), but things they will say will imply it. For example they might say to a particularly praiseworthy priest (or at least some priest they feel most particularly worth seducing for whatever reason) "You are such a wonderful priest; it's too bad you are not recognized by lawful authority."
From such a one, flee! Or better still, put a fist through his face (as Pope Saint Pius X is believed to have once recommended we do with heretics). First of all, what "lawful authority"? I think it is obvious what such a twisted creep would have in mind, and that is something that has nothing to do with the real Catholic Church and a great deal to do with a vastly numerous but schismatic sect of heretics. If that priest as he is doesn't already have "lawful recognition" then it doesn't exist at all and Christ never set up any such thing. But if that priest is valid and orthodox and working humbly and simply as any Catholic priest should, and in union with the remainder of all traditional Catholics, then he already has, intrinsically, all the "recognition" any Roman Catholic priest has ever had throughout the entire history of the Church.
So, if someone in your company or associates or conversations speaks in such a manner, you may wish to know, is this person a plant, or merely a dupe? One would have to expect that the actual number of plants is actually quite small, but the number of dupes is quite large. So if someone says such foolishness, they should be corrected at once, and if they refuse the correction then challenge them to produce any reason things would be so (which we know they cannot). Once they realize there is no reason it then becomes time to explain to them how they have been duped. By all means give a person time to reason things out and discover the truth, as directly observable as well as strongly admonished by the Holy Ghost. But those who refuse correction even after that, in so doing, mark themselves as Novus Ordo plants
But now, let us leave off the dogmatic question. Is it practical to recognize the authority of our traditional clerics? Is it opportune? Why do we fear to recognize this, despite its self-evident dogmatic truth? The fear, as it turns out, is somewhat understandable, for that finds much of its root in a couple of things.
On occasion, one or another of our traditional clerics has scandalized us by attempting to "rule" in some asinine and boorish manner. Do I mean to imply by what I have been saying that such asininity and boorishness is therefore backed up by the whole weight of the authority of Heaven? Is it really wise to augment a particular cleric's cloddishness with more authority than his training and temperament warrant?
Well first of all, this is not a matter of me augmenting anything. Regardless of whether I choose to call attention to it or not, and regardless of whether persons choose to recognize it or not, the authority exists, and has eternal consequences towards those who either abuse or wrongly disobey it. But this brings in a whole slew of checks and balances which I will get to in the next part.