And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And what- soever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Mt 16:18-19)
My dear brethren,
This passage of scripture relates the moment when Our Lord appointed St. Peter to be His vicar on earth and visible head of His Church to continue His mission to redeem men from sin and hell and to teach them the way to heaven. He was made the visible head of a hierarchy and in him alone was invested power over all the Church to teach, to sanctify and to govern. The world - those souls who have made their heaven here below - have always hated the Church because she is a sign of contradiction to them; not of the wagging finger sort, but of innocence shrinking in horror from the presence of evil. It cuts to the heart to be so contradicted, but when the heart is black, it is the innocence that must go; it is the Church that must break.
For all her history
For two thousand years, the world has either persecuted the Church or tried to bend her to its temporal power. Even in the golden age of Christendom in the Middle Ages, kings struggled in vain to gain mastery over her only to find that, when she was persecuted, she grew stronger still.
The hierarchy of the Church, even when populated with men of the world, held firm against the assaults of the world, because, as an institution, she never ceased to teach the truth, to administer the sacraments and to govern according to divine law. She never ceased to do these things because we have the guarantee of Our Lord Himself that the Church will not fail in her mission. She can never cease to do these things because she is the Bride of Christ.
But what would happen if the prelates of the Church declared the Church to be something other than herself? What would happen if they tried to change the Church in a way that did not conform to her divine constitution? Well, if would be like them declaring a woman to be a man! If such a calamity were ever to happen, then the Church would remain herself; the real Church would still be there no matter how she was adorned. The actions of the Church would still be the actions of her soul which is divine no matter what crimes were perpetrated by the men of the world within her. The form of the Church would always be comely no matter how they attempted to mutilate her. She would always be our Holy Mother the Church.
Second Vatican Council
Like declaring a woman to be a man: this is exactly what happened at the Second Vatican Council and has been happening ever since. The Council declared the Church to be something other than she was. It tried to dress her up as something natural rather than see that she was supernatural. They tried to make her worship mankind (and ultimately the Prince of the World) instead of worshipping her Divine Spouse. And they tried to change her form instead of jealously guarding - fondly preserving - that which was fashioned by her Creator and Lover.
This last act of barbarism is the main subject matter for this edition of Ite Missa Est. The attempt to mutilate the Church began with the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council; it was the beginning of a process to have the hierarchy of the Church flattened-out and turned upside down.
Lumen Gentium attempted to diminish the office of pope by declaring him head of a college of bishops rather than vicar of Christ with universal power over all the bishops and the entire Church.
The surgery continued with new powers given to episcopal conferences at the end of the Council by Pope Paul VI (Ecclesiae Sanctae) in 1966, by Pope John Paul II (Apostolos suos) in 1998 and by Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium) in 2013. The changes served to the remove decision-making from Rome, diminish uniformity across the Church and emasculate the local ordinary – the bishop - in his own diocese. Giving such power to episcopal conferences also made it easy for a small group within each conference to control all the dioceses associated with the conference. Finally, most important of all, the changes removed the governance of the Church from those who have the grace ex officio for that purpose.
The mutilation continues. In September 2018, Pope Francis published the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio which declared the pope to exist in a communion of other bishops and other baptised souls which “prevents any one subject from existing independently of the other” (§10). In effect, the Constitution is implying that the pope is the pope, the bishops are the bishops and the baptised are the baptised only because they are in relation to each other rather than by divine constitution, sacramental consecration and by baptism.
Inversion & subversion
The same document diminishes the pope and bishops further by implying that role the “Episcopal Communion” (a new concept introduced by Constitution) is that of listener, enunciator and ratifier of the consensus Ecclesiae of the People of God who participate in the prophetic function of Christ! No more teaching the deposit of the faith, no sanctifying by divinely instituted sacraments, no more government. The Episcopal Communion’s job is to reflect the way, truth and the life desired by the world.
In effect, they have tried to bring Holy Mother the Church into the servitude of the world – the New World Order to be precise - but try as they might, she is still free and still beautiful, and even more so by contrast with clothes they have made her wear; even more so by forcing us to see her with eyes of faith rather than with human eyes. Her teaching is more eloquent, her sacraments more precious and the yolk of her law sweeter when she is thus cruelly treated - for she resembles more closely her Spouse.
As the time of Septuagesima is upon us, dear faithful, it is time for us to strive to become comely members of our Church – giving witness to her beauty by configuring ourselves to her present passion. We are called to mortify ourselves of the world that we may participate in the life-giving love that the Bride of Christ has for her divine Spouse. We pray for this grace.
In Jesu et Maria,
Rev. Robert Brucciani