True and False Obedience
Come Holy Ghost…
Of late those of us who adhere to the orthodox Catholic Faith through the auspices of the SSPX have been barraged by the refrain of …Obedience! …Obedience! …Obedience! …and also, trust in your superiors from the pulpits of our chapels and in various house publications of the Society. Such chants echo the mantra of the reformers of Vatican Council II and, as they say…, the rest is history. While obedience is a most important virtue it was certainly used in the wake of VCII to foist innovations and deviations from the correct practice of the Catholic Faith; novelties, I might add, that have not fully run their course. However, obedience without reason subject to Faith is a false premise. Through the ages the Church has always taught that intellect subject to Faith is the basis of the Catholic religion. Never, has Holy Mother Church called for blind obedience!
Additionally, we must remember that our prime directive is to save our soul (and those in our charge) and obtain the eternal bliss of the Beatific Vision of God, i.e. Salvation. In point of fact, we cannot stand before the Judgment Seat of God and point the finger and say, “I was obedient to this priest or that bishop”. Ultimately, the determination of our Eternal Salvation lies with us through a rightly formed Catholic conscience and no amount of rationalization to the contrary will stand before that Awesome Judge, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Even in ordinary human discourse we cannot be relieved of this responsibility. I was only following orders did not stand up for the commanding officers of the German and Japanese military after their defeat in World War II; so how much more will this defense wither before an All-knowing God?
To be sure, we, none of us, from our bishops and priests, to the laity knows even the least of the final details of any rapprochement with Rome, we do know, however, some pertinent facts, which taken at face value should give us pause. These were discussed in my last posting. Reason, of course, would dictate that we must reserve complete judgment pending a complete revelation of what terms and conditions Rome would offer and restrictions it might impose. However, with the history of the past treatment of the Novus Ordo Church not only in regard to the SSPX, but also the subsequent final disposal of other traditional orthodox Catholic orders who trusted in their hierarchies, and subsequently in Rome we have an overwhelming basis for some apprehension.
So in order to keep the concept of obedience in perspective, I would offer the following quotes of our good Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X, from his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, which is eminently applicable to the situation that orthodox Catholicism finds itself in today: (all emphasis mine, RFMcC)
…Obedience is a serious matter; to remain united to the Church’s Magisterium and particularly to the Supreme Pontiff is one of the conditions of salvation. We are deeply aware of this and nobody is more attached to the present reigning successor of Peter, or has been more attached to his predecessors, than we are. I am speaking here of myself and of the many faithful driven out of the churches, and also of the priests who are obliged to celebrate Mass in barns as in the French Revolution, and to organize alternative catechism classes in town and country.
We are attached to the Pope for as long as he echoes the apostolic traditions and the teachings of all his predecessors. It is the very definition of the successor of Peter that he is the keeper of this deposit. Pius IX teaches us in Pastor Aeternus: “The Holy Ghost has not in fact been promised to the successors of Peter to permit them to proclaim new doctrine according to His revelations, but to keep strictly and to expound faithfully, with His help, the revelations transmitted by the Apostles, in other words the Deposit of Faith.”
The authority delegated by Our Lord to the Pope, the Bishops and the priesthood in general is for the service of faith. To make use of law, institutions and authority to annihilate the Catholic Faith and no longer to transmit life, is to practice spiritual abortion or contraception.
This is why we are submissive and ready to accept everything that is in conformity with our Catholic Faith, as it has been taught for two thousand years, but we reject everything that is opposed to it. Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XVIII; pp. 129-130
…In the Church there is no law or jurisdiction which can impose on a Christian a diminution of his faith. All the faithful can and should resist whatever interferes with their faith, supported by the catechism of their childhood. If they are faced with an order putting their faith in danger of corruption, there is an overriding duty to disobey.
It is because we judge that our faith is endangered by the post-conciliar reforms and tendencies that we have the duty to disobey and keep the Tradition. Let us add this, which the greatest service we can render to the Church and to the successor of Peter is to reject the reformed and liberal Church. Jesus Christ, Son of God made man, is neither liberal nor reformable. On two occasions I have heard emissaries of the Holy See say to me: “The social Kingdom of Our Lord is no longer possible in our times and we must ultimately accept the plurality of religions.” This is exactly what they have said to me. Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XVIII; p. 131
…When I was a child, the Church had the same faith everywhere, the same sacraments and the same Sacrifice of the Mass. If anyone had told me then that it would be changed, I would not have believed him. Throughout the breadth of Christendom we prayed to God in the same way. The new liberal and modernist religion has sown division.
Christians are divided within the same family because of this confusion which has established itself; they no longer go to the same Mass and they no longer read the same books. Priests no longer know what to do; either they obey blindly what their superiors impose on them, and lose to some degree the faith of their childhood and youth, renouncing the promises they made when they took the Anti-Modernist Oath at the moment of their ordination; or on the other hand they resist, but with the feeling of separating themselves from the Pope, who is our father and the Vicar of Christ. In both cases, what a heartbreak! Many priests have died of sorrow before their time. Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XVIII; pp. 131-132
…What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.
We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years. The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the master mind is not a man but Satan himself. For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience. A typical example is furnished by the “aggiornamento” of the religious societies. By obedience, monks and nuns are made to disobey the laws and constitutions of their founders, which they swore to observe when they made their profession. Obedience in this case should have been a categorical refusal. Even legitimate authority cannot command a reprehensible and evil act. Nobody can oblige anyone to change his monastic vows into simple promises, just as nobody can make us become Protestants or modernists. St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”
If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the English underwent an experience of the kind we are living through, but with the difference that it began with a schism. In all other respects the similarities are astonishing and should give us cause to ponder. The new religion which was to take the name “Anglicanism” started with an attack on the Mass, personal confession and priestly celibacy. Henry VIII, although he had taken the enormous responsibility of separating his people from Rome, rejected the suggestions that were put to him, but a year after his death a statute authorized the use of English for the celebration of the Mass. Processions were forbidden and a new order of service was imposed, the “Communion Service” in which there was no longer an Offertory. To reassure Christians another statute forbade all sorts of changes, whereas a third allowed priests to get rid of the statues of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin in the churches. Venerable works of art were sold to traders, just as today they go to antique dealers and flea markets. Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XVIII; pp. 133-134
…What will tomorrow’s religion be if we do not resist?
You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”
That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way. St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”
Such is the secret of true obedience. Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XVIII; pp. 136
I urge the readership of Catholic Rural Solutions (https://richardofdanbury.wordpress.com/) to read not only the above excerpted book but also: They Have Uncrowned Him. These two books will form a basis from which to judge any further talks of rapprochement that might be of consideration both now and in the future.
In my next posting I will have excerpts from: Open Letter to Confused Catholics; Chapter XXII; What Families Can Do.
Continue the Rosary for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as more and more this would seem to be the only recourse we have to avert disaster. Meantime, don’t rely exclusively on prayer alone. We, by our Confirmation, are called to be soldiers of Christ. This is a proactive mission imposed on ALL Catholics who have received this Sacrament. At the very least, should we feel inadequate to do any more, distribute this email far and wide as your Faith would move you to do.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.