Saving Souls in the time of Apostasy
The Statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, at the top of the Castello San Angelo, Rome (click for image credits).
by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Today I want to confront and address the most urgent and crucial problem for the lay Catholic: the problem of apostasy among the clergy of one’s own local area.
This problem is crucial because without the Church we cannot be saved. And thus without Catholic Clergy we cannot have the sacraments and guidance we need to be saved.
I know of this problem first hand, since I am not a priest, nor do I have any particular talent at convincing priests of anything.
What I say here is for those of you who do not know your local priest well, or who are going to attempt to speak to a priest whom you do not know. For those of you who have a close friendship with a priest or your pastor, you might be able to undertake the core argument (see below) immediately after mass, because he knows you and trusts you already. So do not take my advice as some sort of scrupulous book of rules to follow. It all depends on the priest and your relationship to him AND whether he sincerely and ardently believes the Holy Faith.
Spiritual Warfare: Preparation & Armor
We live in dark times. And the workers of darkness have achieved already notable successes in deluding nearly everyone on earth in one or more error. This is especially true of the Clergy whom we know, nearly all of whom were ordained after Vatican II. Since the Council there has been an organized effort to turn priestly formation into a mind control process whereby, whatever priest who does survive, serves the Club first and is willing to sacrifice God, Church, souls and you and your family for the club.
Therefore, above all the first weapon we must use is spiritual discernment. And to have this we need first of all to put ourselves in the grace of God by a good confession and firm resolution to take the side of God and to collaborate with Saint Michael the Archangel in everything he may direct us..
This does not mean that he will start talking to us, but if we have confessed ourselves sincerely and show ourselves to be walking on the path of virtue and not of sin and hypocrisy, he will assist our guardian angel to give us little inspirations which lead to greater ones..
I recommend as essential spiritual-military preparations for the prospective spiritual soldier in the legion of Saint Michael, that, in addition to Confession, you do the following:
- Consecrate yourself to Our Lady, especially under Her title as Corredemptrix, which She merits on account of her perfect collaboration with the Redeemer in meriting all the graces for us which He merited for us (cf. Fatima Prayer, “O Most Holy Trinity”), a title given to Her by Catholics for more than 800 years and which shows clearly that we have a way back to God when we spurn the graces of Christ; a way back, which He Himself established in His Infinite Mercy for sinners; a way back which was merited by Her surpassing humility and sorrow for sins, the two virtues which are key and essential to the personal conversion of every soul.
- Make a pact with Saint Michael to never look upon what is impure and to ask him to protect you from near occasions of sin.
- Ask forgiveness of your Guardian Angel for having ignored him throughout your entire life, for having disregarded so many of his good counsels, for having lived your life as if you were to live it on your own and not at God’s direction, for having claimed so many good ideas as your own, when it was he who inspired them, and for having disregarding so many good counsels to avoid sin and to practice virtue. As penance promise to obey his advice in every occasion from now on, and to mortify your mind of all idle thoughts by stop listening to music or the radio all day long, and by spending time each day in daily meditation in silence, keeping a spirit of prayer, by conversing with Jesus, Our Lady, the Saints and your guardian Angel throughout the day, in the silence and sanctuary of your mind.
- Say 5 decades of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily.
- Receive communion worthily when possible.
- Offer alms to the truly poor in reparation for your sins. Do works of mercy to which you are invited or see the need as you see the need, but without neglecting your duties first to your family (parents, children, siblings etc.) and work (as contractually required, avoid the excess of making your job your life, as Christ is your real boss).
- If your health can bear it, to fast on Fridays for your own sins, especially for following your emotions, passions and vices into sins. Fasting means eating less and less frequently in humble penance for sins. If you have had a bad habit of mortal sin, and are still tempted, make a clean break with your past life by a rigorous series of fasts, several days or every day of the week, for several weeks or months or years. This is especially needed for those who have given themselves up to gluttony, which is a very common vice in the developed countries of the world.
Spiritual Warfare: Ammunition
Now since the battle at hand requires that we achieve victories by delivering souls from the delusion of error, it is necessary that we prepare ourselves intellectually to explain how lies are lies and errors are errors.
The regular readers of my blog have a good head-start, because the whole purpose of my blog is to give this kind of information, which both orientates you, explains what is going on and gives some counsel on how to react to it.
But you need to also make a list of the biggest problems in the Church right now, because such a list is an excellent way to prepare talking points with priests. I will not suggest what you should put on the list, because it is best that you make up your own, because those issues you think most important are the ones you are apt to be able to speak about most sincerely and from the heart.
As for printed information, for priests I believe that not all information is needed or necessary or useful. But I do believe that the information at ppbxvi.org is the essential: The Canonical Argument, the Scholastic Question and the text of the Academic Conference. Having a copy printed out, with you, when you speak to priests is an easy way to leave something to continue the conversation, if he shows signs of openness to the truth.
This is because our Ammunition in this spiritual warfare is Truth about what really happened, what the Code of Canon Law really requires, and how the problem of the invalid resignation is not a complaint generated by faithful who dislike Bergoglio, but a real objective error of interpretation which puts those who accept the error in objective separation from the communion of the Church.
Spiritual Warfare: Strategy
In the science of War, there are two aspects which must be kept in mind and developed in a way that pertains to the realities on the ground: Strategy and Tactics. Strategy is the overall goal and plan for conquest. Tactics are the rules for conducing individual battles so that each can be won without dissipating or destroying allied forces, which are needed for other battles.
STRATEGY: The strategy in this battle is to save the local Church. This requires that we convert Catholics to the truth of what is going on. Now since every military force which is not adept at war is green and needs experience before tackling the most formidable opposition, the best way to start is to chose battles which are easy to win and which, if one fails, will not damage your own forces. Then having learned how to fight by trial and error in small and easy battles, the trained warrior can move on to the more difficult battles, assisted by experience gained and allies won in the first battles. Thus the most difficult battles, that of winning over your Bishop, for example, or getting your entire Diocese to reject the Apostasy, cannot be obtained initially without these preliminary battles. And the best way to practice this warfare, is not to start with priests, but with fellow laymen and laywomen.
INTELLIGENCE GATHERING: The local Church is a society. This society has a structure and way of operation. There are links between persons and persons, between institutions and institutions, of friends to friends and of work associates with work associates. This is the terrain of our warfare. Only Catholics who have lived their lives in the local Church can know of this. And to the extent that we do not know of it, we need to inform ourselves through our personal contacts with faithful Catholics who know better than ourselves. Essential to this initial battle preparation is intelligence gathering of such information. Try to find out who are the best and closest friends of the priest with whom you are going to speak, or which priests he admires most or were instrumental in his own vocation. There are some priests who on account of their learning, piety and sociability are respected by more priests than others are. Approaching a contact first, before approaching the priest, will help you understand whether he will be open to the truth, and will help you acquire, possibly, an ally in the approach, who might recommend to the priest that he speak with you, or recommend to you how to approach him.
The most influential priests in your diocese should be considered the most crucial and important battles to win. You do not want to start the spiritual battle with such a priest unless there is very sound grounds you are going to win it, because the results of a loss will be more devastating, as the enemy will be assisted greatly by recruiting such an ally.
Spiritual Warfare: Tactics
Tactics regards the rules of fighting individual battles of any kind. There are things to be done before initiating combat, things to be done at the start, middle and end of each battle and things to be done after the fight is won or lost.
Prepare yourself spiritually and bring along plenty of ammunition, either in printed form or in memorized information. Essential intelligence gathered should have already indicated that the priest with whom you are about to speak is able to understand what you are going to say and willing to accept hearing it from you, at the time you ask, and in the manner you present it. Your intelligence gathering should already have assured you that this priest will not be afraid of you, or have heard calumny about you, so as to be on the defensive as soon as you approach him.
Pray to his guardian angel and to your guardian angels, to Saint Michael, the patron saints of you and the priest, and to the patron saints of the Parish and Diocese and Church, and those famous saints of your land our country. Explain to these Saints and Angels your intention and how important this fight will be and how you cannot succeed without their intercession and participation.
It makes a big difference, too, whether the priest is a pastor, or merely an assistant pastor: whether he be a diocesan or member of an institute. Some dioceses or institutes are mind-control societies and no free thought is allowed. Some priests are more independent and courageous and are willing to stand for the truth or for their own personal opinions. Do not try to win on a battle field which is unwinnable. If the priest is merely a robot, pray for him. If the priest is manipulative, avoid him. If he does not have a reputation for being faithful to the Church, go on to another priest, because the conversation you need to undertake would be too much for a weak or errant or non-thinker.
Never do what is done in real warfare: never use surprise. This is because in spiritual warfare, truth enters the soul when the person is relaxed and in the mood to accept information and use his reason. It is important therefore that the time of conversation be one in which the passions and emotions of the priest are lulled, that he has time to speak with you, and that your presentation does not seem to be too burdensome to him. So never sneak up on a priest for such a weighty conversation as this. Ask to speak with him at a time comfortable to him.
I would, therefore, recommend, that if you know the priest, to approach him at such a time. But if you do not know the priest, to arrange a meeting by asking for an appointment. Be sincere and say that all the scandals in the Church are causing many Catholics to think of leaving the Church and you would like to speak about some of these things to get some priestly advice. If a priest does not accept such a request, then do not nag him. Another way to approach, is if he is hearing confessions, then you can do this during your visit, though make sure not to start an actual confession, because if you do, you will bind him by his priestly duty not to speak or act upon whatever you may say.
When to start speaking to a priest about these things is, thus, more an art of knowing the individual priest, than a fixed rule. Due to the diverse dispositions and work of each priest, when to do this might be in entirely different situations, times of the day, days of the weeks, or locations, whether on parish grounds, or perhaps over a dinner at your house or a restaurant. Most priests are overworked and appreciate an invitation and friendly conversation.
CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: Opening salvos
At all times remain calm, friendly and polite. The objective is to spread truth and this only happens in a climate of trust and respect. If what you say or the way you say it cause the priest to be offended, apologize for upsetting him and explain you are only a layman who is not familiar with how one speaks of such things with priests. Also, make it clear that you are discussing this with him in private. Do not imitate me in my conversations with the Curia, because what I am doing at Rome is for the good of the whole Church to inform everyone. Your battles remember have the strategy of winning over your own diocese, and your tactics have to target individuals and secure victories. Keep your victories a secret and do no publish them. The objective, remember, is that the clergy of your own diocese publicly take a stand on their own initiative and as they think best.
As I suggested, have prepared a list of the major or most serious scandals in the Church today, as you see them. Gently move the conversation to one of these, and point out how damaging it is for the faithful who have increasingly more and more reasons to stop going to Church and stop trusting priests. Ask in a spirit of desiring to understand better and engage the priest in doing something to bridge this confidence gap.
If the priest expresses himself as a believer and as someone who is concerned about the truth and about the imminent destruction of the Church, then begin to point out that as Catholics our faith requires us to be consistent. We cannot believe in private and act as pagans in public. This is particularly true in Church. If we continue to pretend that the Church is communion with those who reject Jesus’s authority, then the faithful will just leave and seek Jesus elsewhere. If we continue to treat Jesus in the Sacrament as a candy to be given to everyone regardless of whether they are His friends, by being in the state of grace, or not, we teach in practice that Jesus does not exist and the the Faith is a joke and a farce.
At this point a priest will make it absolutely clear whether he cares or not. If he does not care, move the conversation on to something else or end it, and express your disappointment gently and with respect. For such priest, ending by saying something like, “I believe in Jesus, I want Jesus, and I do not know where to find priests who love Him as I do.” But chose words the way you speak. You want to make the most of every lost battle by leaving in a way that allows another encounter in the future. For priests such as this, who care not so much about truth, but sentiments, you need to show that he has failed in his conversation with you.
If the priest does make it clear he wants to save souls, then point out to him how important it is for him publicly and in his actions and words to take a stand. Explain that the laity only respect priests when they speak the truth, take a stand for truth, and encourage them to do the same. Many priests have forgotten, by the hum drum daily work they do, repetitious, that the laity want leaders in the path of God.
If he responds positively to this line of conversation, point out how in the past clergy have been heroic leaders in times of crisis. They did not fear to speak and they did not fear to pray publicly and preach publicly in accord with the truth. Point out how in today’s world, it is not infrequent that the battle for souls depends on truth and that journalists and a lot of others are habitually inclined to misrepresent the truth. The very ones who daily decry the Nazis are often the very ones who use his tactic of the Big Lie to deceive the masses. That is why priests who defend the truth are so needed today.
If he does not want to be heroic, ask him about how he feels when he does and says one thing in public, and another in private. Does it not cause an interior conflict or depression at having to pretend to go along with lies against the Faith, but personally believe the truths of the Faith? You can talk about all the hot topics in your diocese, such as ecology, woman priests or deacons, support of persons who are enemies of the Church in their politics or personal life. You can ask him what the final result will be of a life of the priesthood spent saying one thing and believing another, publicly promoting or go along with falsehood but being personally opposed. Point out that the prudent thing is to be consistent and if he wants to save souls to be a leader and preach the truth, not just believe it. Act on it, not just say it.
Don’t sound preachy. Speak about your own life and how important God, Jesus, the Church, the Faith is to you and how it has saved you from so many troubles, how Eternal Life is the prize you are seeking and how you want to know which priests really want to save souls, so you can support them.
If the priest passes these thresholds of faith, continue, otherwise wind down the conversation, or move it to other topics. Leaving a conversation respectfully and politely is much much better than leaving it with open conflict. However if a priest begins to defend error, heresy, immorality or apostasy in your presence you need to respond with faith, truth and believe and point out that he is wrong.
For the priest who passes these thresholds, you might want to continue the conversation on another day, if you have already talked at length. Most priests cannot take too much in at a time, they have do many duties and you are just another faithful talking about problems in the Church which he has talked to in the last x years of his ministry.
But if he seems sincerely eager to speak, since many priests cannot speak about these things with priests, this is the time to open up the discussion of how controversial and scandalous the Renunciation of Pope Benedict was and how the Catholic Church seems to be transforming into another religion under the direction of “Pope Francis”. If the priest begins to defend or excuse Francis, move the conversation back to the resignation. If he does begin to criticize Francis, also move the conversation back to the resignation, and point out the discrepancies.
CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: The core fight
The chief things to speak about in the core fight are these, in regard to the Renunciation:
- It took everyone by surprise, so it is understandable that the shock put everyone in a state of mind in which they were not paying attention to the details of what happened.
- No pope had resigned in 7 centuries, so it is understandable if no one was prepared to react properly.
- Pope Benedict is a theological genius, and it is not surprising if his way of speaking was not precisely understood for what it really meant.
- Point out that the Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Bishop Arrieta recently affirmed that a Papal Resignation cannot be interpreted by anyone, since no one has the right to do that; that it must be clearly a renunciation of the office, otherwise it is invalid.
- Point out then that in this matter the opinion of no one binds the opinion of no one, that what is binding is the requirement of Canon Law, because when the man who is the pope resigns, it is the man who separates himself from the Papal office not the Office which separates him.
- Point out that even John Paul II admitted that a papal resignation can be invalid, and that the law refers to this in the Papal Law for Conclaves, and that Canon 332 §2 speaks of this explicitly.
- Explain that like every moral or legal act, there is that which is done and that which is the object of what is done: there is thus a verb and and object of the verb. Canon 332 says the verb is “to renounce” and the object of the verb is the Petrine “munus”, which is the canonical and theological term for the Papal Office.
- Affirm that common sense holds that you cannot declare something about anything unless you name the anything about which you are making the declaration.
- Thus, when Pope Benedict said he was renouncing the ministry which he had received rather than saying he was renouncing the petrine munus, there is a clear problem which many missed, namely, that no one in the Church has a right to interpret that renunciation as a renunciation of office. This is because, to interpret is to explain a verbal expression using OTHER words.
- Thus, the principles of law require us to hold that the Pope renounced His ministry, but do not signify that he renounced the Papal munus or Office.
- Our status in the Church, indeed the status of everyone in the Church, even of the man renouncing, does not grant us the right to impose upon what was said a meaning other than the plain meaning of the words. If it was the intention of Pope Benedict to do something else, he should have done that, he could have done that and the Church has the right to tell him so.
- In nearly 7 years, Pope Benedict has never said it was his intention to resign the petrine munus, even though in the Act of Renunciation he mentions this munus twice in the Latin text.
- The Vatican has known this problem for nearly 7 years, because they published translations of the Act of Renunciation which hide that Pope Benedict mentioned both munus and ministerium, but only renounced the ministerium.
- Canon 41 gives every priest the right to examine the Act of Renunciationto determine if it is an act of renunciaton of the munus, and to NOT act on it, if it is NOT. No one in the Church has the right to interfere or block a priest on this.
- There is no solution to this problem other than that Catholics recognize that the Act of Renunciation did not effect the loss of the office. Pope Benedict XVI cannot fix this unless he redoes the Renunciation properly.
- Since the Office of Saint Peter is not merely useful but necessary for the salvation of souls, and since who is pope is the touchstone or core of the Communion of the Church, those who are not in communion with the man who holds the petrine munus are in formal schism from the Pope and from Christ and From the Church.
- The sign of communion and the practice of communion reach their highest apex and summit at Mass when the priest names the man in communion with whom he is offering the Sacrifice. This is the greatest and most important duty of a priest.
- A priest cannot avoid this controversy without putting himself and his entire flock in risk of eternal damnation, because those who knowingly remain in schism are in mortal sin and cannot be saved, because by being separated from the Mystical Body of Jesus, they are separated from the Only one Who can save them!
- The sin of Schism does not consist in erroneously naming the wrong man as pope in the Canon of the Mass, because you were mislead, but it does consist in naming the wrong man as pope in the Canon of the Mass once you are informed who still holds the munus.
- No canonical penalty can be imposed upon a priest who names Benedict in the Canon of the Mass, precisely because anyone who would move to do such would thereby formally and publicly manifest that he is in schism from the Christ, from the Catholic Church and from the man who has never renounced the petrine munus according to Canon 332 §2.
- Salvation is not possible for anyone who rejects submission to the true pope (cf. Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam).
Be ready to answer all objections. And be ready to explain the practical consequences.
A faithful and courageous and prudent priest will not need advice on what to do next. And it would be impolite to offer any. A young priest might need some advice.
Basically, the best way a priest could react, would be to investigate everything you said, and study the facts and original documents and law. Then being convinced of the truth, preach about it one Sunday to everyone and explain how the Catholic thing to do in such a controversy is to keep naming Benedict as the Pope for now. Then the faithful will support him and he can name Benedict in the Canon without scandal.
But a priest who does not have the courage to preach the truth, might benefit from advising him merely to name the Pope, without a proper name, because no one will really notice. Especially if he says that part of the canon not directly in front of a microphone or in a subdued voice. If he asks what he will say to others about this, advise only one course, to say exactly what you said to him. The truth.
CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: Clean up operations in victory, retreat strategies in defeat
The best outcome is that a priest agree with all these points and agrees to stop naming Bergoglio as the Pope. But nearly all priests will consider these things in private and no immediately disclose their next course of action. Be thankful that the priest heard you out. And promise to pray for him and support him to do the right thing.
The worst outcome is that a priest will interrupt or allow you to arrive at n. 21 but then violently disagree, by pretending it is all meaningless or by revealing himself as an ally of darkness. How you respond here has more to do with your sense of honor and tact. I cannot advise you. As a hermit I am obliged to say certain things a layman is not obliged to say. And I am expected to say them bluntly, because that is my vocation. But for a layman you have the right to leave the conservation by making some polite excuses but always do so in away that does not make it appear that these 21 points were motivated out of politics or hatred. Make it clear that you believe that God exists, that Jesus is really God, that Canon Law is upheld by Jesus and that objective reality is the world in which we must live. Never concede that anything true is up for grabs or that logical conclusions draw from facts are only opinions.
If you win the priest over to Pope Benedict, know that you will merit your own eternal salvation, because this is the greatest act of charity for a priest as a priest. Offer up the merit of the victory or of the defeat born patiently to obtain the graces needed for the next battle.
The best possible outcome is that you convert the priest to join you in this spiritual warfare. The worst possible outcome is that you make of him an ardent enemy who will zealously oppose the truth and warn priests not to speak with you.
If you do not have the reputation to speak with priests on account of such an evil counter-attack, devote your battles to winning over laymen and laywomen with the objective of turning them into front line fighters in the next battles. Teach them to avoid doing the things that did not work for you, and to do the things that did work.
REMEMBER: If you have failed, do not write off the priest. Catholics tried for years to convince me, and only after 5 years did I pay enough attention to read the original texts in Latin, and thus I instantly saw the problem. If you have failed, try to employ another layman or priest whom you have recruited to the cause of Benedict to try again. Sometimes only in numbers does a priest realize that it is something he should pay attention to and think about. If a whole crowd of parishioners approached him at the same time, or over several days and weeks, that would obviously impress him more than someone he does not know asking for a one time appointment.
Finally, the GREATEST STRATEGY for victory is to devote yourself to forming a local group of warriors to do all of the above and meeting from time to time to improve moral, discipline, strategy and tactics.
May God grant you Victory in this His Cause, and may Saint Michael be with you!