Another Anniversary We’d Like to Forget (but shouldn’t)

[UPDATE: 3/17/2023 – Based on reader feedback, moving forward I will occasionally create posts that have both video as well as a rough transcript in order to accommodate those who prefer one or the other. Tech issues kept the following from being posted until today.]

Three years ago today, March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump launched the infamous “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, setting in motion the single greatest assault on basic human rights, liberty and justice that has ever been inflicted upon the citizens of the United States at the hands of their own civil authorities.

From the White House podium that day, Trump announced, in so many words, that his administration was going to adopt its own version of the Chinese Communist Party’s unethical, unproven, and inhumane lockdown strategy:  

My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts. 

Guidelines were made available in writing stating, “Indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.” 

In short order, state and local authorities ran with the guidance. Various nations around the globe did likewise. The damage inflicted upon humanity as a result continues to multiply even today. While some are laboring to assess it, others are scrambling to deny it.

Looking back, for those who are willing to learn – or better stated, for those who are in pursuit of truth – there are many lessons, insights, and answers to be had. As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good.”

Here, we will discuss just one such good that came out of the dreadful 2020 lockdown experience: It provides great insight relative to the question that has been plaguing so many over the last five decades, namely:

Where is the true Church of Christ to be found in our day?

On the very same day that Trump ushered in the lockdowns, I posted an article here on akaCatholic under the title, Can the State order Holy Mass to be canceled? [Please consider reading (or rereading) that post as I will not rehash its contents here.]

Cutting right to the chase, the answer to the question concerning the State’s ability to cancel public Masses, is a resounding no. 

Insofar as things of a sacred character are concerned, whether pertaining to the salvation of souls or the worship of God, the State has no authority whatsoever over the Holy Roman Catholic Church. 

In the face of a civil order to cease offering Holy Mass and the sacraments to the faithful – whether in a group of ten or ten thousand – is exactly how the Catholic Church via her hierarchs should have responded to those in civil authority. 

So, where was this Church to be found in 2020?

As much as it dismays me to say so, during the lockdowns, where the Church is not was far more obvious, and this is where I primarily wish to call your attention today. 

Before we begin, please consider that knowing where not to look for treasure of any sort is nearly as valuable as knowing where to look. This is especially so with respect to the present exercise given the prevalence of so many counterfeit groups that differ only in the degree to which they appear to possess the fullness of Catholic truth, some more convincingly than others.

At this, let’s take a look at some specific examples (not all, mind you) of where the Church is not, beginning with the biggest imposter of them all, Occupied Rome:

On March 7, 2020, Vatican News reported:

– So the Church around the world – from Pope Francis on down the hierarchy – is proclaiming the same message to halt the spread of the coronavirus: nourish your spiritual life with Mass and prayer, but do it from home.    

Let’s be perfectly clear: This “Stay at Home” proclamation was offered in obedience to the civil authorities, i.e., it was not a matter of “Pope Francis on down the hierarchy” saying, “We will decide what is best for the faithful in our care, and here is our decision.” No, it was an act of subservience to the State.

Even before this, most readers of this space needed little convincing that the conciliar sect is anything but Catholic. As such, few were surprised when dioceses around the world dutifully obeyed the lockdown edicts issued by their local authorities.

The Ecclesia Dei groups (e.g., FSSP, ICK, etc.), being of the “full communion” sort, fell in line as well, of course.

The response given by the clerical leaders of the SSPX in the face of a government shut downs, despite their “less-than full communion status” and self-proclaimed attachment to tradition, was no better:

– If there are government rulings regarding canceling or reducing the size of gatherings, we will follow the lawful government orders. – Fr. Jurgen Wegner, SSSPX, District Superior of the United States

The SSPX District Superior of Great Britain likewise sold out entirely to the government following an edict from Boris Johnson:

– An announcement this evening by the British PM has left us with no choice but to cancel all public religious ceremonies and close our chapels in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for at least three weeks starting from this moment … We are able to tend the sick and the dying within the government restrictions. – Fr. Robert Brucciani, SSPX

We could go on, but let’s stop here.

As I wrote exactly three years ago today, the audacious government edicts proposing to shut down Holy Mass offered a magnificent opportunity for so-called “traditionalist” clergymen to stand up for the Sovereign Rights of Christ the King. Before them at that time was a perfect opportunity to declare the Kingship of Our Lord.

Alas, however, I am unaware of any who boldly made use of that teachable moment by insisting upon the eminent freedom of the Church in a manner equally as public as the pronouncements given by those in civil authority attempting to curtail it. 

Yes, it was laudable for certain pastors to invite the faithful to Mass, quietly ignoring local directives, but tiptoeing through the tulips like a teenager sneaking into the house after curfew is hardly a heroic act of Christian militancy. Surely our King deserved better all the way around.

As the faithful were deprived of Holy Mass, week after week, including on Easter Sunday, one could hardly have been blamed for wondering if the Church of Christ the King still existed, and yet, we know that it does, and we know that it will until the end of time.

Speaking of the end times and the inevitable persecution of the Church, Cardinal Manning states:

Then, the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking-places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were, from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early centuries…. 

And so it seems that this is where we find ourselves today, even if not in that period immediately preceding the end of days. 

We live in a time when the true Church of Christ is to be found and seen only with great effort, tucked away in this place or that, the community of faithful, united in faith and charity under guidance of their sacred pastors, celebrating and receiving the true sacraments, all in hopeful anticipation of Christ’s coming.

Yes, hope.

Be that as it may, let us not forget the valuable lessons of 2020, not the least of which is knowing where the true Church of Christ is not.