The Bishop Speaks

Bishop Louis Vezelis O.F.M.

The world loves its own. By `world' is understood all those who pattern their lives not according to God, but according to fallen nature. Another term for the `world' is Naturalism.

Naturalism, is an ideology that eliminates God even though it uses the word `God' or `Supreme Being.' Naturalism is atheistic in its essence because it denies the works of God. It is necessarily antichristian for that very reason. For, to exclude Jesus Christ from one's thinking and life is to exclude God.

The reason for this is that Naturalism rejects divine revelation. There are many who profess the name "Christian" or "Catholic" who actually live according to the slogans of Naturalism. Yes, even while using the Holy Name of Jesus, these false Christians and Catholics deny by their lives the Supernatural order established by God.

It is this naturalistic reduction of the supernatural order that has made the Great Apostasy a reality. Of course, the victims of this Great Apostasy are blind to the fact that they are no longer living on a supernatural level.

Cardinal Pie of Poitier stated: Naturalism strives with all its might to exclude Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our One Master and Savior, from the minds of men as well as from the daily lives and habits of peoples, in order to set up the reign of reason or of nature. Now, wherever the breath of Naturalism has passed, the very source of Christian life is dried up. Naturalism means complete sterility in regard to salvation and eternal life."

Just as the easiest way to `brain soil' someone is with that person's active cooperation, so too, the best and easiest way to destroy true religion is to disguise irreligion as if it were religion. This is what the Antichrist will be: He will make himself to appear as God.

The supernatural order established by God centers around Jesus Christ. No one comes to a knowledge of God except through Jesus Christ. Consequently, no one who rejects Jesus Christ can come to a knowledge of God and be saved.

Just as there was no salvation prior to the Incarnation without belief in the coming Messias, there can be no salvation without belief in the Messias after He has come.

The forces of Antichrist are organized. Hell is organized against Heaven. The demons with Satan (Lucifer) at their head are organized and united in their common goal to fight against Christ and His mission to bring back to God, the Father, all those erring human beings who have wandered from the path of truth and goodness.

The invisible organized force does not operate in a vacuum. This organized force, Satan and his subservient devils, recruits the energies of visible human beings.

In the same way that God recruits human beings to spread His truth and goodness, Satan who refused to obey God, spreads his lies and hatred by enlisting human beings to be his agents.

Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (One God in Three Divine Persons), is the Light of the World. Jesus brings spiritual light to the world (mankind); Satan and his followers bring spiritual darkness.

Noteworthy and of great importance in order to understand the world we live in today is the fact that `darkness' is not a positive entity. `Darkness is the absence of light. Whenever the Scriptures speak of `darkness,' we should not think of something positive, but of something that is not there. `Darkness' is like your wallet when it is empty. Naturalism, then, is a spiritual darkness wherein reign all that lessens and finally destroys the contents of our existence. We do not cease to exist, but we exist less. To illustrate the point: Consider the difference between someone completely ignorant of the truth and goodness and beauty of genuine art and music. Certainly, the person ignorant of these refined expressions of good order do not stop existing. But, there is a great difference between them and the people who have been disciplined to appreciate the refinement of spiritual values. The homo carnalis and the homo spiritualis are worlds apart.

Because there is always an element of truth in every error, it is correct to say that even false religions have some truth in them. However, the truth that these false religions contain comes to them not from their religion, but in spite of it. The ten commandments are written in the heart of every human being. Therefore, every human being is able to come to a knowledge of some basic moral values.

Even the thief will decry thievery when it is his goods that are stolen; even the liar will denounce lying when he is the victim of lies; yes, even the murderer will rant against murder when he sees himself as the target. While all these various crimes are committed against other human beings, those who commit them will quickly admit that to steal from them is wrong, to destroy their reputation is wrong, and, finally, to kill them is extremely bad.

Yes, they will be strongly persuaded of these moral values, but only insofar as they apply to themselves. They will steal, lie and kill _ as long as it serves their interests. But, when their victims refuse to be victimized, the cry comes out "Discrimination!" "Hatred!" "Oppressed minority!" "Racism!" "anti-Semitism" etc, etc.

Roman Catholics today have a very difficult road to travel. They are pressured on the left by the vast and deep sea of Modernist heresy; and, they are attacked on the right by the devil of Traditionalist heretics.

There are some who inquire: "What are `Traditionalist heresies?" Traditionalist heresies are the errors against Catholic doctrine and discipline which are embraced by those who delude themselves into thinking that they are resisting Modernism by attaching themselves to the traditional external observances familiar to all Roman Catholics. Their `tradition' is only in the external use of familiar Catholic terminology and ritual. In essence, Traditionalists are nothing more than thinly disguised Neo-Protestants.

Traditionalists differ from Modernists only in that the Modernist openly declares his liberal Protestantism, while the Traditionalist hides his rabid Protestantism behind such things as the Latin Mass, novenas, etc.

More dangerous is the hidden enemy of true Roman Catholicism than the open critic thereof. The reason is because the misinformed and uninformed often fail to see beyond the external appearances of things. Both, priests and people, deliberately obfuscate the truth.

Among these self-styled `Traditionalists' are to be found any number of self-appointed teachers who deny, basically, the supernatural sacred authority (hierarchy) in the Church.

Of course, they are no longer genuine members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ by virtue of their obstinate disobedience. Then, too, such heretics will invariably show themselves indignant at being reproached _ much like the Modernists.

The Traditionalist is a mongrel. He carries in his mental suitcase those elements which please him: He is a liberal when it suits him; he is a conservative when it pleases him. He picks and chooses what and for how long he will believe.

The Traditionalist is a sad and miserable soul because he cuts himself off from the sources of supernatural life (valid and fruitful Sacraments). To be sure, he pretends well. He is likely to embrace whatever current lie is popular and to promote it with great zeal. Like every heretic eager to corrupt others as he himself has been corrupted, the Traditionalist fights against right order and any authority that would guide him out of his error.

Blinded by his vanity and pride, the Traditionalist fails to see his ridiculous lack of consistency. He flails and rails at genuine authority while pleading his `orthodoxy.' Yet, with all his `knowledge' of religious matters, he pays lip-service to the heretics from whom he seeks some kind of recognition. He cannot see that this is tantamount to a Roman Catholic priest requesting faculties from an Anglican bishop to administer Sacraments to Roman Catholics.

The Traditionalist is a believer not in the supernatural order established by Jesus Christ, but believes in the natural order promoted by Satan and his followers. His true nature reveals itself sooner or later. The first sign of this false Christian is that he cannot endure authority. It is not doctrine that has made the Traditionalist what he is; it is his demonic refusal to obey the divine authority of God vested in the sacred authority of His ministers: the bishops.

Doctrine is the pretext, not the cause of the Traditionalist's rebellion against both, doctrine and authority. For, it is the authority that protects the doctrine and not the doctrine that protects the authority.

This should be obvious to every genuine Catholic. How do we know what we are to believe as Roman Catholics? We believe, as the Act of Faith declares, all that Catholic Church believes and teaches because Christ has said it and He is Truth itself. There is no debate, there is no dialogue. The doctrine is presented by the authority in the Church. That is, the shepherd conveys the doctrine of the Church to the faithful. It is the shepherd, the bishop, who has received a special grace of his state. Neither the priest nor the layman has received the grace to teach, sanctify and govern in the Roman Catholic Church.

The priest and faithful are called the `ecclesia discens' while the bishops are called the `ecclesia docens.'

The `learning Church' (Ecclesia discens) is that part of the Church whose members are the subjects. The Church is a society of unequals, in which by divine right some are superiors (the pope and bishops) and have the authority of teaching. Others are subjects and have the obligation of accepting the teaching of faith and morals imparted by the legitimate pastors.

When a priest or layman, of whatever presumed intellectual ability - real or imagined- places himself above a bishop, that individual becomes a schismatic and necessarily a heretic because schism implies a denial of the hierarchical authority. Such a priest or layman is a usurper of episcopal authority.

When such priests and laymen openly seek an audience for their voices, they are not `professing the faith' (as some hypocritically would claim), they are professing their own errors seeking to undermine the divine authority vested in the visible superiors of the Catholic society.

The bishop's authority is monarchical. That is to say, the bishop alone is the ruler in his territory. When there is a legitimate Pope, the bishop rightly subordinates himself to the Pope as the rightful successor of St. Peter.

What happens when there is no legitimate Pope reigning? Contrary to the widespread error of disobedient clergy and laymen, the Church does not cease to exist nor does the divine right and power to teach devolve upon the priests and laity. It remains in the episcopacy. For this reason, we can be absolutely certain that God's providence will always provide the Roman Catholic faithful with a successor of the Apostles. This is the true meaning of apostolicity in the Church as a fourth mark of the true Church.

There may be times when the Chair of Peter _ the papal throne _ is empty. This always occurs on the death of a legitimate Roman Pontiff. Yet, the Church does not end with the death of a Pope. Her supernatural life and visible existence is guaranteed by the visible presence of a successor of the Apostles, that is, a bishop.

A bishop does not usurp papal authority when he teaches sound doctrine, sees to the administration of the Sacraments and governs the Catholic community. In the event where there is no legitimate Pope, it is the bishop who assures the faithful, priests and laity, of sound teaching and good order.

Those who are not united with a true bishop, cannot be counted as members of the Roman Catholic Church which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Such individuals have separated themselves (or have been separated by the judgment of the bishop) from the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Having been separated from this Body, these people separate themselves from God.

What of those who are ignorant of all that has been said thus far? Are they guilty of heresy and/or schism? The Church employs the distinction between `formal' and `material' heretics and schismatics.

These are philosophical terms that have been adopted by theologians and serve to help in understanding many things. However, care must be taken in their use. They do not always apply. And, even in cases where they could apply, bad will deliberately applies them in a sense that is objectively false.

For example: There are those who would have us believe that Karl Wojtyla (John Paul II) is not a `formal' heretic, but only a `material' heretic. Others say that John Paul II is a `material' Pope, but not a `formal' Pope. The indiscriminate use of these terms leads to absurdities. Thus, a girl might be considered `formally' pregnant, but not `materially' pregnant. Or, she could be considered only `materially' pregnant. If this is the case, then most of us have been `materially' born, but not `formally.' Our existence, then, would only be a `material' existence but not a `formal' existence.

We must keep in mind that many terms are invented for the purpose of helping us clarify objective reality. To be sure, it is very important to know whether some one is a real Pope, or not. We must obey a real Pope because such a Pope would possess the divine authority given to St. Peter. On the other hand, a Pope who is not real is not a Pope. He is an imposter regardless of how he has been elevated to that visible position.

In this case _ the case of a Pope _ the terms `formal' and `material' cannot be used. The reason is this: An election of a Pope may be invalid for several reasons. Among these is heresy. A heretic cannot be validly elected to the office of Pope. Nor can someone who is a schismatic be validly elected.

Likewise, it would be important to know whether or not an individual who presents himself to the faithful is a valid priest, or not. Can a person be a `material' priest and not a `formal' priest? As far as reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is concerned, the answer would be in the negative. Because there are three things required for the valid reception of a Sacrament, i.e., internal intention, matter and form, if any one of these is absent, there is no valid reception of the Sacrament.

Among `Traditionalists' are to be found `priests' and `bishops' whose ordination or consecration are doubtful. Such alleged-priests or alleged-bishops are those whose ordination or consecration come from Marcel Lefebvre.

It is here that the Traditionalists show themselves to be even more liberal and heretical than the Modernists.

Concerned with the validity of the Mass and Sacraments (as they claim to be), Traditionalists have a gaping hole in their pantaloons: They have their flanks uncovered. They crassly ignore the importance of ascertaining the validity of the clergy from whom they receive guidance and Sacraments.

Without that supernatural element called `grace,' all that pertains to the supernatural life cannot be understood by the `carnal' man, that is, with the use of natural reason alone.

St. Paul refers to those who follow natural reason alone as `carnal':

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men but only as carnal, as to little ones in Christ"(I Cor.3,1). St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians because strife had arisen among them. He continues: "I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Nor are you now ready for it, for you are still carnal. For since there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not carnal, and walking as mere men?" (Ibid. 3, 2-4).

Later, St. Paul is forced to write again in order to bring to their supernatural senses those of the faithful who slipped back into judging things according to natural values:

"For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity _ not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God _ we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you" ( 2 Cor. 1,12).

Clearly, those who are not spiritual, that is, guided by supernatural grace, are carnal. Being carnal, they are unable to understand things that are spiritual. St. Paul instructs the Corinthians on this point: "Even so, the things of God no one knows but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we may know the things that have been given us by God. These things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in the learning of the Spirit, combining the spiritual with the spiritual. But the sensual man does not perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him and he cannot understand because it is examined spiritually. But the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged by no man. For `who has known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (I Cor. 2, 11 _16).

Note well what St. Paul says: The carnal man cannot judge spiritual things because he is carnal. Observe those who "profess" their faith: They neither profess the Catholic faith nor do they live by the power of the true faith. They are carnal men, given to the superficiality of the things of this world, dabblers in religion which they cannot comprehend because they have not the courage to live by the teachings which their "professed" religion obliges.

Beware of all those who present themselves to you, whether clergy or laity, with such unfounded claims for the justification of their rebellion against divine authority such as an appeal to "extraordinary times" or some such false argument.

The times will never be so "extraordinary" that God would dispense with the four marks of the true Church. The above-mentioned clergy or laity are forced by their words and deeds to deny the fourth mark of the true Church. Doing so, they are immediately placed outside the Body of the true Church.

Some will hypocritically claim that they are "following their conscience." Although it is true that the conscience is to be followed _ even if it is an erroneous conscience, this does not mean that the deliberate falsification of conscience excuses from heresy or schism _ both of which are mortal sins.

Because God will not be mocked, no one can circumvent with impunity the order established by God. God established a visible institution of salvation to which everyone must belong. Both, Modernists and Traditionalists must belong to the Roman Catholic Church, not only `materially,' but also `formally'……

(For those interested in a deeper treatment of the concepts "formal" and "material" might wish to subscribe to the Roman Catholic Quarterly.)

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