September 2017-The Pope Speaks
The Pope Speaks: What Caused the Great Apostasy?
We have just finished reading The Benedict Option. This work traces the rise of false ideas, going back a step further than We did in Our own work: Passion of the Mystical Body of Christ. However, this is not the problem, because if we as Catholics had not also bought into some of these false ideas, the Great Apostasy would not have happened.
A lot of time is wasted searching for and identifying the enemies of the Church. This time could be better spent in prayer, especially meditation, in reading Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.
Having said this, you may be asking, why even consider the cause of the Great Apostasy at all? The world and even the Church has a serious disease, and as a physician of souls, it is Our duty to diagnose the patient and prescribe the cure. Jesus did this two thousand years ago and sent his own Apostles into the world as physicians of souls to go and teach all nations the truth. We could learn a lot by studying the Scriptures and learning how the Apostles.
Once we have diagnosed the disease, then the treatment can be prescribed. And so what is the disease?
Archbishop Lefebvre wrote a letter to confused Catholics in which he stated: “For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience.”
And this is what caused the Great Apostasy, the disobedience of Catholics, especially pastors and bishops to the Pope. In this case, Pope Saint Pius X.
Although Pope Saint Pius X provided many things to root out Modernism from among the ranks of the clergy, these were ignored, especially after his death. However, this is not the main case of disobedience. Recently a Traditionalist priest praised Saint Pius X for his work against Modernism, he missed what we are about to consider. In fact, We have seen only one Traditional priest, who ever addressed this matter.
In 1905, Saint Pius X wrote an Encyclical on Catechetical instruction. In paragraph 24 we read: “Since it is a fact that in these days adults need instruction no less than the young, all pastors and those having the care of souls shall explain the Catechism to the people in a plain and simple style adapted to the intelligence of their hearers. This shall be carried out on all holy days of obligation, at such time as is most convenient for the people, but not during the same hour when the children are instructed, and this instruction must be in addition to the usual homily on the Gospel which is delivered at the parochial Mass on Sundays and holy days. The catechetical instruction shall be based on the Catechism of the Council of Trent; and the matter is to be divided in such a way that in the space of four or five years, treatment will be given to the Apostles’ Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Precepts of the Church.”
This is a direct order from the Vicar of Jesus Christ to all pastors, and an order, which was almost completely ignored. If Catholics had known their Faith, as they should, then they would have not fallen into apostasy after Vatican II. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Saint John Vianney, the holy Cure of Ars said: “We shall find out at the day of judgment that the greater number of Christians who are lost were damned because they did not know their own religion.”
The health of the Mystical Body of Christ rests squarely on the virtue of obedience. Without obedience, any organization will fall apart.
In light of what we just learned, what should we, as Catholics do? For pastors the course is clear, obey the clear command of Pope Saint Pius X, a command which is repeated in the Code of Canon Law and by Pope Pius XI. Indeed instructing the faithful in the faith is a solemn duty of all who have the pastoral office. Pope Saint Pius X in Acrebo Nimis, only provided specific instructions on how this should be carried out. All pastors of souls should study the whole Encyclical, as it gives other instructions on their duties.
For the rest of Catholics, the course is also clear. Do not wait on your pastor to instruct you, but begin studying yourself. We believe that every Catholic should know the faith at the level of the Roman Catechism, which is also called the Catechism of the Council of Trent or also Catechism of the Catholic Church: Trent Edition. This catechism was prepared after the Council of Trent in the Spirit of Trent for the use of pastors in instructing the faithful.
Catholics should especially learn their duties to the Mystical Body of Christ, especially that of obedience to the hierarchy, which is appointed by God over His holy Church.
Let us look at part of the instruction on the Fourth Commandment in the Roman Catechism: “Of Bishops and other pastors it is written: 'Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double honour especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.' (I Timothy 5:17)
“What wondrous proofs of love for the Apostle must the Galatians have shown! For he bears this splendid testimony of their benevolence: 'I bear you witness that if it could be done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and would have given them to me.' (Galatians 4:15)
“The priest is also entitled to receive whatever is necessary for his support. 'Who,' says the Apostle, 'serveth as a soldier at his own charges?' (I Corinthians 9:7) 'Give honour to the priests;, it is written in Ecclesiasticus (7:33-4), 'and purify thyself with thy arms; give them their portion, as it is commanded thee, of the first fruits and of purifications.'
“The Apostle also teaches that they are entitled to obedience: 'Obey your prelates, and be subject to them; for they watch as being to render an account of your souls.' (Hebrews 13:17) Nay, more. Christ the Lord commands obedience even to wicked pastors: 'Upon the chair of Moses have sitten the scribes and Pharisees: all things, therefore, whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works do ye not, for they say and do not.' (Matthew 23:2-3)”
The Great Apostasy was caused by two things. The first was disobedience, which led directly to the second, ignorance of the Faith.
The Power of Obedience
Dom Gueranger in his The Liturgical Year tells us of the fast of the September Ember Days: “The exercise of selfrestraint which an individual Christian practises by his own will is for the advantage of that single member; but a fast undertaken by the Church at large includes everyone in a purification. God's people never is so powerful as when the hearts of all the faithful join together in the unity of holy obedience, and when, in the Christian camp, one and the same preparation is made by all, and one and the same bulwark protects all.”
Fasting on our own is a good thing, but fasting in obedience to the Church has a double virtue. There is first the mortification of the fast itself. Add to this is the virtue of obedience. September 20, 22 and 23 are the Embers Days in 2017. Let us zealously observe this fast and all of the fasts of the Church throughout the year in holy obedience. God will bless this fast under obedience and we pray that He will soon end the Great Apostasy, beginning in our own hearts.