“Never look directly at a solar eclipse without special protection; otherwise, you might impair your vision for life!”
As children, nearly all of us were so warned by our teachers and parents. Even so, every time a solar eclipse is about to take place, NASA and other government agencies are moved to repeat the warning in public service announcements aimed as much at adults as anyone else. Evidently, it is necessary…
The Visibility of the Church
It is an article of the faith that the one true Church shall remain visible until the end of time, but what does this visibility entail? The Catholic Encyclopedia explains it well:
In asserting that the Church of Christ is visible, we signify, first, that as a society it will at all times be conspicuous and public, and second, that it will ever be recognizable among other bodies as the Church of Christ.
Visibility thus means that the Catholic Church can be both seen and recognized for what she is. The Catholic Encyclopedia further explains:
These two aspects of visibility are termed respectively “material” and “formal” visibility by Catholic theologians. The material visibility of the Church involves no more than that it must ever be a public, not a private profession; a society manifest to the world, not a body whose members are bound by some secret tie.
Formal visibility is more than this. It implies that in all ages the true Church of Christ will be easily recognizable for that which it is, viz. as the Divine society of the Son of God, the means of salvation offered by God to men; that it possesses certain attributes which so evidently postulate a Divine origin that all who see it must know it comes from God.
So, where is this conspicuous, public, visible Ark of Salvation to be found in our day?
Ever since the modernist mutiny known as Vatican Council II gave birth to the “conciliar church,” aptly described by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as “a schismatic church, because it breaks with the Catholic Church of all time … [with] its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions, its new liturgy, already condemned by the Church in many official and definitive documents,” men far wiser and holier than I have pondered this very question in search of a satisfactory answer.
That quest continues to this day. Even the great Archbishop, whose thoughts on the matter were examined in a 2019 article HERE, never managed to articulate one that, with all due respect, doesn’t run afoul of Catholic common sense.
As such, I have no illusions concerning the value of my own feeble attempts to contribute to the conversation, but it occurs to me that a degree of clarity may be gained by considering where not to look for the visible Church of Christ. In fact, based on some of the feedback to the previous post, it seems that this too is truly necessary.
The Church in Eclipse
It is often said, and for very good reason, that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, she who “enjoys perfect and perpetual immunity from error and heresy” (cf Quas Primas 22) is somehow in eclipse.
As analogies go, this one has an impeccable pedigree. In the gospels, Our Lord says:
And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. (Matthew 24:29)
In his commentary on Sacred Scripture, the eminent biblical scholar Fr. George Haydock cites St. Austin (d. 604) who taught: “By the sun is meant Jesus Christ, by the moon, the Church, which will appear as involved in darkness.”
In this, the word appear is crucial. Needless to say, the Church of Christ cannot be involved in darkness in such a way as to be a source of darkness, or even conspiring with one; she is “the light of the world, a city seated on a mountain” (cf Mt 5:14). As such, she will never utterly fail to give her light as this would be tantamount to losing her visibility.
The warnings issued by Our Lady of La Salette may also come to mind:
Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist … The Church will be in eclipse, the world will be in dismay.
Consider very carefully what Our Lady said: First, we must be very clear that in her mention of “Rome” and “seat of the Antichrist,” Our Lady does not mean to say, as Archbishop Viganò recently suggested, that “the See of Most Blessed Peter” will be overtaken by the agents of Antichrist. This is not possible as “to One particular Church is indefectibility assured, viz. to the See of Rome” (ibid., Catholic Encyclopedia).
Note as well that Our Lady did not say that the Church will lose the faith. We know that this too cannot happen as the “gates of Hell will not prevail” against her.
Therefore, we must conclude that the Blessed Virgin is speaking of Rome in a more temporal sense, as the place where the primary authoritative structures of the Church have long since stood and where generations past had grown accustomed to finding the truth in all simplicity and clarity.
In other words, we are being warned that Rome will become the “seat of the Antichrist” in the same sense that one speaks of a “county seat,” an administrative center where the halls of power are located, in this case, for the Antichurch.
This reading is well supported by the vision of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich:
I saw the fatal consequences of this counterfeit church; I saw it increase; I saw heretics of all kinds flocking to the city.
It seems, therefore, that Our Lady of La Salette is telling us that a day will come when an occupying force that has not the faith will take up residence in Rome, such that when one looks to the Eternal City, the Pillar of Truth will be difficult to see; she will be in eclipse.
Naturally, when one considers the analogy of an eclipse, one necessarily thinks in terms of vision, illusions and things that are seen. This is one of the reasons it is so apropos for discussions concerning the visibility of the Church.
It occurs to me, however, that the visibility of the Church is not best apprehended if we confine our reflections to the sense of vision alone. As Fr. Ludwig Ott wrote:
Visibility is that quality of the Church on the ground of which she appears externally and perceptibly to the senses. (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma)
NB: To the senses, plural... At this, recall the words of Our Lord who said of His Church, “He who hears you, hears me” (Luke 10:16).
In his Encyclical on the Church, Mystici Corporis, Pope Pius XII spoke of the visibility of the Church, touching on its relationship with hearing, saying:
Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. [Emphasis added]
The members of the Church cannot profess the same faith in all ages, a necessary part of her enduring visibility, unless that faith is continually heard. As St. Paul asked: How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Answering his own questions, he declared: Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ (cf. Romans 10).
With this in mind, it seems to me that those of us who are looking for the Church ever visible in our day should be focused on listening as well; indeed, with respect to the Church’s visibility, the two go together.
So, when Our Lady warns that “the Church will be in eclipse,” we might consider this to say that in addition to being difficult to see, her voice will in some way be drowned out, that the faithless profession coming from Rome in those days will be all the louder, more prominent and more easily heard. We also have reason to believe that it will be more readily accepted.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Let us not imagine, however, that the voice of Holy Mother Church by which one hears the Lord Himself has, or ever could, fall totally silent, as this, practically speaking, would render her invisible.
So, how is she heard in our day?
– In the preaching of faithful prelates who eschew the conciliar false religion and all that goes with it.
– In the profession of the true faith as echoed by the members of the Church of every state, whether lay, clerical, or religious, who endure in communion with Eternal Rome and with one another, holding true to authentic Catholic tradition.
– In the offering of the unblemished Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, which, like the aforementioned social communion, also gives visual witness to the Church’s enduring visibility.
– I would also suggest that one of the ways in which the Truth still speaks in our day, thus giving evidence of the Church’s enduring visibility, is in the timeless decrees of the Holy Roman Pontiffs:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me.” (Pope Pius XII, Humanae Generis, 20)
Isn’t it wonderful that Our Lord would not allow the modernist revolutionaries – men who have been plotting to construct a church in their own image and likeness for many decades – to succeed in establishing the counterfeit church until such time as technological advances would provide ordinary persons with easy access to the truth as expounded in the papal decrees, venerable councils, approved theological manuals and catechisms, all predating Vatican II?
NB: In order to avail oneself of any of these things, each of which serve to reassure the faithful that the Church of Christ remains visible indeed, it is not necessary to cast one’s eyes toward occupied Rome – the locus of the Church in eclipse – at all.
I would even go so far as to suggest that just as one’s physical vision can be impaired by looking directly at a solar eclipse, so too does one risk doing harm to the eyes of faith when searching for the light of the Church by focusing too intently on the object that presently obscures her. If one wishes to safely examine this eclipse closely, it must be viewed through the lens of authentic Catholic tradition.
To be perfectly clear, by this I mean to say that he who searches for the Church ever visible looks in vain toward the Novus Ordo organization, the “county seat” of which is the Vatican of today, the corporate headquarters for a wicked institution merely posing as the Catholic Church.
Indeed, the last place one should look for signs of the living, visible, undefiled Church of Christ is anywhere even remotely within the conciliar church milieu!
The Analogy Taken Too Far
Even so, it seems that far too many well-meaning persons have taken the eclipse analogy a bit too far, imagining that if one but looks closely enough at the conciliar enterprise, flashes of light emanating from the one true Church can still be seen, even if only in a manner similar to the sun’s corona peeking out from behind the moon, as if this somehow serves as evidence of the Church’s enduring visibility.
In reality, gazing upon the Novus Ordo enterprise no more reveals the one true Church of Christ than does contemplating the Orthodox, the Anglicans, or the Southern Baptist Convention, etc., in spite of any doctrines or traditions held in common.
The conciliar institution, although unique among non-Catholic “Christian” sects, is best numbered among the “various communities of Christians [that] adhere to different doctrines” of which Pius XI spoke in Mortalium Animos.
This conciliar church must be understood as a truly separate society, “because,” as Archbishop Lefebvre said, “it breaks with the Catholic Church of all time.” It is home to an undeniably false religion that calls no one to conversion, wherein Christ the King is given no quarter, the non-negotiable price of admission to which is acceptance of the putrid decrees of Vatican Council II and the non-Catholic liturgical rite it inspired.
On some level, however, one can imagine why so many are fooled. Indeed, in looking intently at the conciliar church, one will recognize many artifacts of the one true Faith, but make no mistake about it: These were stolen from the Catholic Church, only to be misappropriated and mocked as part of a diabolical effort (albeit unbeknownst to many who support it) to lure souls into accepting the conciliar imposter, over and against the religion of Christ.
The Catholic contraband to which I refer can be likened to what the Second Vatican Council, in its ungodly ecumenical fervor, anointed as “elements of sanctification and truth found outside of the Church’s visible structure” (cf LG 8); specifically, in the communities of the heretics and schismatics.
This manner of thinking is precisely what gave birth to the Council’s reprehensible proposition stating that “the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church,” as if the Church of Christ, though one, somehow admits of fragments. (ibid.)
Ironically, when so-called “traditionalists” imagine that one can find evidence of the “Church in eclipse” still visible by contemplating the conciliar church, they are inadvertently lending credence to this most poisonous of conciliar errors.
Let us conclude by returning to La Salette.
All Signs Point to the Papacy
Elaborating on Our Lady’s warnings, Melanie, one of the seers, said:
The Church will be eclipsed. At first, we will not know which is the true pope. Then secondly, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will cease to be offered in churches and houses; it will be such that, for a time, there will not be public services anymore. But I see that the Holy Sacrifice has not really ceased: it will be offered in barns, in alcoves, in caves, and underground. (Abbot Paul Combe, The Secret of Melanie and the Actual Crisis, 1906)
Yes, I know, some readers will be triggered by the mere mention of a false pope (or popes), but as those with sensus Catholicus and a basic understanding of the Petrine Office surely realize, it only stands to reason that any talk of a “Church in eclipse” and a Rome without faith must necessarily coincide with a crisis involving the papacy, a false pope misleading souls in particular.
Because Our Blessed Lord has conferred upon Peter and his Successors in the See of Rome the gift of truth and never-failing faith, so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. (cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4)
At this, I will leave you with some questions to prayerfully ponder:
– Has present day Rome, meaning, the current Vatican apparatus, lost the Faith?
– Is the “profession of faith” coming from present day Rome of the sort more easily heard and accepted by fallen men prone to sin?
– When looking to present day Rome, can the light of Christ be seen brightly shining, or does it appear that the Church is in eclipse, involved in darkness?
– Does present day Rome appear more as the indefectible See of a Church that enjoys perfect and perpetual immunity from error and heresy, or does it look more like the “county seat” of a false religion?
– Who occupies the top position in present day Rome? Does he appear as a man endowed with the gift of truth and never-failing faith?