Arguing about religion neither helps religion nor those involved in it. It may be useful to dissect and analyze the constituent parts of faith; but it does nothing for one's soul unless the implications and conclusions of this knowledge are implemented. Then we have men of virtue. Instead, we have `men of information.'
Information in itself is good _ assuming that it is correct and true. It is useless if it is not used.
This seems to be the problem with most people in most situations.
There is a glut of information. If the word `gluttony' were ever more precisely applied, it most certainly would be applied not to eating but to the dissemination of information: real facts and manufactured facts _ oozing out of every electronic byte, out of every page of the omnipresent daily, weekly, monthly; every pulp and slick; every importunate newsletter; every crack-pot website.
One may even wonder if God is prepared to help us out of this deluge of information. Perhaps He has sent it upon us like the first one in order to punish us? Pray that it may not be so! We can expect a fiery deluge one day to chastise us one of these days. It should not surprise anyone if this fiery deluge comes to us from Tel Aviv.
One thing you can be sure of: You can't argue with sophomores! It's like trying to reason with a Second Lieutenant. Forget it! Go on to the next question.
Among the many peculiar phenomena that have come into being since the Great Apostasy, the most critical one is that of an almost absolute crisis of obedience among those Catholics who have rejected the Modernist protestantizing of the Church via "Vatican II."
By `protestantizing' is meant the proliferation of errors against the faith and the consequent vulgarization of all that is sacred, from the priesthood to the people.
Some will argue that such a thing has never happened in the Catholic Church before. Those who hold this view might get a broader perspective by spending a little more time reading history.
There is nothing new under the sun. We have the words of Scripture to confirm this. What is new, however, is the extent of the problems we face today.
Information can be disseminated with astounding speed. Each day brings greater speed and finer perfection in the means of communication.
Sad to say, this excellent modern technology is more often and more quickly used to spread error and falsehood than truth.
Truth is certainly Eternal; but it takes time before it filters down to us. There are so many obstacles and barriers thrown up against it. Some live and die in error, seemingly believing falsehood all their lives. Could these be the ones suffering from `invincible ignorance'?
Can there be such a mental attitude as `invincible ignorance'? That we are all ignorant of many things is a common experience. Many have lived and died without knowing the slightest thing about atoms and sub-atomic particles. As far as this knowledge goes, we might say they were `invincibly ignorant.' But, strictly speaking, is this true? `Invincible ignorance' is only a relative thing. That it can be applied to matters of utmost importance must be seriously questioned.
The human will can force the intellect to remain `invincibly ignorant' for a very long time. But, whether this can be done in an absolute way is a question yet to be answered.
Because, as the Scriptures assure us with the words of our Lord Himself, even hell must have order, there should be no surprise that every group (large or small) of heretics and schismatics have a certain order among its members. Hell is well-organized just as its visible extension in the world is well-organized. It is in the nature of things that there should be order.
The Conciliar Church, officially expressing the years of undermining the doctrines of the Church, maintains many of the necessary forms of right order that must exist in the true Roman Catholic Church.
It maintains a "pope" on the Chair of Peter; it has its "Cardinals." It has its "Bishops." It has its "priests." It has, in a word, almost everything that the Roman Catholic Church in Her visible structure must have. Without these visible props, the illusion would not succeed.
This is the Church of the Great Apostasy. This is the Church which the Antichrist will rule together with the Beast that comes from the Land. Much like the tribal Chief with his advisor, the Witch Doctor, or shaman.
The true Church, we are told by Scripture, will `flee into the desert.' It will be eclipsed and persecuted; its membership will be small (little flock); it will be that Church in which the shepherds will be reduced to the most insignificant number; it will be the Church from which the two preachers shall condemn the world for its sins and will be persecuted and finally killed by those who would stuff their ears in order not to hear _ just like the Pharisees who stoned the first martyr, St. Stephen. These two will preach with the fiery eloquence of Elias and Enoch. Like John the Baptist of whom our Lord Himself said: If you will believe it, Elias is come back in John.
Has the world reached this point of finalization? There are arguments for and against the idea. Both extremes should be rejected, and a saner middle course adopted. We do not know when the Lord will return. Nevertheless, He has given us positive signs whereby we may judge the times.
Is it God Who is confusing the minds of clergymen and laymen, or is it the devil? We know that God confounded the pride of the people when they wanted to build the tower of Babel. Is it, therefore, God again confounded the proud priest and the equally proud layman to be blinded to the obvious need to subject themselves to a higher authority than theirs?
Have you ever met any one who admitted being proud? Have you ever met a proud man? You will most probably answer in the negative to the first question. And you will answer in the affirmative to the second.
Pride blinds the mind from seeing what is clearly seen by the humble. The reason is simple to understand. Pride is a lie and the proud man is a liar; humility is truth, and the humble man is truthful. The proud man is a victim of his own disordered delusions; the humble man has no delusions about himself and is therefore blessed by God.
Errors are not yet reprehensible until they are obstinately embraced and given the quality of truth. We all make mistakes because we are all limited in our possession of necessary information to make secure judgments, or our understanding of facts is limited.
Many erroneous opinions have resulted from erroneous premises. To illustrate: If you set out on a journey to Boston by going west, you will eventually will reach Los Angeles. You may reach Boston if you traverse the Pacific Ocean and circle the glove until you are now going east instead of west. But that will take a long time.
It is essential, then, for any honest search for truth that the examination of facts be done correctly. False conclusions easily result from a question that has not been properly posed.
False conclusions follow from false premises. The first premises must be correctly established in order to proceed with certitude to a final conclusion. Not too many people (even intelligent people) are willing to do this. Why? Most probably, because they already have an idea of what the conclusion will be, and they do not wish to accept that conclusion.
There is truth to the saying of prejudiced minds: "Give me some facts, I have some conclusions." Or, another insightful truth: "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up."
Yes, as simple as it appears, that is the truth. Those who spend time concocting arguments to defend their secret agendas or goals will never accept the simple truth.
This is the reason why the Church is sometimes forced to say to those who persist in their twisted views: Look, either you get your ideas in line with the clear teaching of the Church, or get out. If you don't leave of your own accord, we will put you out. This is called `anathema.'
The Church has made every reasonable and charitable effort to bring the erring individual (s) in line to accept the one faith. Failing this, the Church excommunicates such individuals That is to say, She publicly declares them no longer members of the Church.
Anyone who has gone so far as to incur excommunication has already reached a point where excommunication is of little avail to bring the erring soul back to the right path. The threat of excommunication is the last resort of the Church to exercise practical charity.
Clearly, someone who would fall under ecclesiastical penalties must deny the authority of the Church, or, more precisely, the individual empowered to administer such a censure. The other alternative would be to contrive a self-justification which would make the excommunication inapplicable.
To use the example provided by the individual himself, we might consider the case of Nicholas Grunner. Apart from the fact that this man's validity as a priest is highly doubtful, there is the fact of his scandalous disobedience to an authority which he recognizes in theory, but clearly rejects in practice.
He has recruited the support of several Third-World bishops to lend the perceived prestige of the episcopal office to his continuous acts of disobedience to his admitted superiors.
This contemptuous conduct on the part of a man appearing to the public as a Catholic priest militates against any sign of divine origin for his alleged-apostolate promoting the message of Fatima. If he recognizes the present occupant of the Chair of Peter as his pope, then he must also recognize the bishop under which he (Grunner) must obediently work.
The same is true of those clergymen who have separated themselves from the Conciliar Church, following the imperative of a properly formed conscience. Such clergymen and laity are bound by the very fact of their claim to being Catholic to obedience to a visible representative of the Church.
Those who reject this idea must be ready to accept the consequences of their position. That position places them outside the Catholic Church which is essentially hierarchic.
`Hierarchic' means that the Church is built upon the `sacred authority' of the invisible Head, Jesus Christ, Who gave this authority to His Apostles _ not only to St. Peter as the Prince of the Apostles.
This is a truth which is passionately denied by `Traditionalist' clergy. Disastrously, they reject any authority over them and have understandably invented `dogmas' to make right what is wrong. Others have taken questionable opinions and proffer them as if such is the dogmatic doctrine of the Church. Their ears and eyes are shut to the manifest absurdity of their position.
We are all aware how `common opinions' are formed these days. It is enough for a number of like-minded individuals to repeat their ideas, knowing that the majority of people will accept them without question. Thus, before any serious steps can be taken to dismiss the error, it has already been repeated a sufficient number of times to make it appear as the actual teaching of the Church.
Add to this the unscrupulous tactic of inserting their own mind into the mind of the Church by making their opinion to take on the semblance of Catholic doctrine, the goal is achieved: Their opinion takes on the appearance of irrefutable doctrine. Whereas, the truth is otherwise.
There are times when an opinion _ even a widely accepted or unchallenged opinion _ may well run its course because the circumstances warranting a closer examination do not exist.
We have a classic example of this today. Many good Catholics, following their informed conscience, have concluded that the present occupant of the papal throne is an illegitimate Pope. In fact, that would make him an "antipope."
Others wildly denounce these individuals without taking any time or making an effort to examine the grounds for such a painful conclusion.
What is fundamental to an unbiased view is the fact that no one among these people rejects the papacy as such.
To reject the office of the papacy would be a heresy. But to reject the individual who occupies the office is not a heresy, nor is it schism from the Roman Catholic Church.
Thanks to Mr. Bill Clinton, we have even a more concrete example still fresh in the minds of the American people _ and bound to stay fresh for a long time like the manure from the barn that keeps piling up day after day.
There is not a single American (practically speaking) who cannot see the difference between the Presidency as an office and Mr. B.Clinton as the present occupant of that office.
The fact that many Americans seek to impeach President Bill Clinton does not mean that they seek to destroy the office of President. Nor does this mean that these Americans who wish to impeach President Clinton are thereby traitors to their country. Still less are they `un-American.'
Well, the same holds true for the office of Pope _ the Papacy _ and the present occupant of that office.
Those who have been stigmatized with the appellation "Sede Vacantist" which seems to imply something evil (implying the stigma of heresy and schism), are not denying either the Papacy as an office nor are they denying the past legitimate Popes all the way from St. Peter to Pope Pius XII.
They are merely stating that, based on the accumulated objective evidence, the last occupants of the Papal Throne were not legitimate Successors of St. Peter. This includes the present occupant also: "Pope John Paul II."
Not touching this heated question, there is a need to touch some of the consequences nevertheless.
What are some of the consequences? Plainly for everyone to see is the fact of a primary division. There are now two camps: One is that of people who recognize the present occupant of the Papal Chair as a valid and legitimate Pope, and another camp that holds that he is not.
We have, then, two obediences.
The first `obedience' recognizing the occupants of the papacy as legitimate owe their loyalty and obedience to him. Not only to him, but also to those in a descending order: bishops and priests.
What does this mean in practice? It is very simple: If you recognize the man in the Vatican today as the Pope, then you have an obligation to obey him; you have an obligation to obey the bishop where you live, and you have an obligation to obey the pastor of the parish where you attend. There is, as you can see, a logical, orderly chain of command. The faithful obey their pastor, their pastor obeys his bishop and the bishop obeys the Pope.
That is not so difficult to understand, is it? That is the right order of things. How far this obedience is respected is another question. The purpose here is only to establish the objective right order.
This is the first camp, or `obedience.'
Now, what about all those Catholic priests and laity who have supposedly `followed their conscience' and have separated themselves from the obedience stated above?
Are they permitted, in the order established by God, to set themselves up as independent little groups or cliques headed by a priest or laymen or laywoman? What constitutes there `obedience' _ that is, how do they represent the true Roman Catholic Church? This `obedience' must be visible because the Church is a visible society. To which obedience do they belong?
It is already a heresy to hold that a priest is equal to or higher than a bishop. This is heresy #1. Heresy #2 would be the idea or its implementation in practice that the priest does not need a bishop. The heretical aspect of this statement is that it is a denial of the hierarchical structure of the Church as established by God.
Heresy #3: Rejecting episcopal authority by appealing to a mythical "extraordinary times" ploy denies our Lord's promise to be with HIS Church until the end of time.
Heresy # 4: That a priest can reject a bishop and employ what is known as `epikeia' in moral theology to give himself the necessary authorization to administer the Sacraments to people.
`Epikeia' is similar to a `presumed permission.' But, when there is a superior to whom one may go, there is no ground for `presumed permission.'
Such an attitude, unfortunately very common among the clergy, is tantamount to the fellow who killed his parents then threw himself upon the mercy of the court, pleading that he was an orphan.
This is what these clergy and laity do. They have rejected the authority of the Conciliar Church. Therefore, they are outside the obedience of that Church.
They have rejected the bishops which God's providence has provided and having done so, they now explain their absurdities to those foolish enough to follow them saying: See, there are no bishops (we have rejected them all!) so, what is left, dear people? Clearly WE ALONE have been left to care for your spiritual needs (provided you maintain us in the manner of living to which we are accustomed).
Where, then, is the true Church _ the Church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic? It cannot be found among those "Traditionalists" who have as many heads as they have opinions.
The Church has been destroyed, or, it has not been destroyed. Which is it to be?
The true Church of Jesus Christ is not to be found in the post-Vatican II Modernist-Protestanized Church. The history of the Church and the doctrines of previous legitimate Popes prove this.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is not to be found among the many independent clergymen and laity who gather together and delude each other with the external signs of Catholicism.
Where can the true Church of Jesus Christ be found? It must exist somewhere because as long as you can touch your nose and know it's there _ you are still alive. This means the end of time has not yet come. The world has not been destroyed by fire. Jesus has not yet come to judge the living and the dead. So, all things being equal, where are the remains of the true Church to be found?
There must be a Catholic obedience (hierarchy) that represents the entire power of the Church: the threefold powers of Jesus Christ given to His Apostles: the power to teach, to sanctify and to govern.
Where this three-fold power is lacking, there you do not find the true Church.
(To be continued)
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