We Must Suffer Well If We Want To Go To Heaven
Thomas A. Droleskey
Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather that the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted (Lk. 18: 10-14)
The human tendency to think oneself superior to others is not unique in this period of salvation history, which sees, most sadly, one believing Catholic pitted against another in pitched battles that too frequently descend into personal, ad hominem attacks. These personal attacks usually thrive--and the word is thrive--on the fuel provided by caricaturing anyone and everyone whose positions about the state of the Church differ from one's own. While there will be strong disagreements and spirited debates during this time of apostasy and betrayal in which there is so much ecclesiastical confusion and chaos, there is never any excuse to caricature those with whom we disagree as being any more particularly "angry" or "mean-spirited" or "hateful" or "uncharitable" than we are from time to time. It is truly amazing to find otherwise sensible people jumping at any and every opportunity to caricature whole categories of Catholics with a broad stroke, mindless of the dictates of simple justice, no less charity itself.
Human nature is wounded by the ravages of Original Sin and by our own Actual Sins. Our intellects are darkened and our wills are weakened by our sins, both Mortal, if any, and Venial. This is why we must, as a prayer contained in the Miraculous Medal Novena reminds us, recover by penance what we have lost by sin:
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.
Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.
None of us is any better than anyone else. Each of us struggles in our own lives on a daily basis between sin and grace. It is all too frequently the case that we give into temptation and sin venially, especially against our fellow Catholics by forgetting the precepts of Charity and Justice, all too ready to universalize from the particular, all too slow to make excuses for the people with whom we disagree or who have done us some injustice, real or imagined, all too unwilling to extend to our caricatured "adversaries" the very forgiveness that was won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every single drop of the Most Precious Blood of the Divine Redeemer and extended to us in the Sacrament of Penance by the words and actions of an alter Christus acting in persona Christi. Fallen human nature takes refuge in the false belief that we are exempt from the binding precepts of Justice and Charity, that there is always some "special reason" to paint with the broad stroke as we consider ourselves better than others.
One can believe quite firmly in the rightness of a particular position without attempting to belittle and caricaturing others with accusations of all manner of sins against the virtues, both natural and supernatural. As noted above, one can defend a particular position with vigor, denouncing a particular argument as unfounded or sophistic or illogical, without casting aspersions on the good intentions of the person or persons we deem to be, objectively speaking, in error.
True, good intentions do not redeem false assertions. Nevertheless, the average believing Catholic across the ecclesiastical divide has no intention of adhering to error or heresy. Having been subjected to an unprecedented assault upon the sensus Catholicus by the conciliar revolutionaries, most Catholics today either believe that conciliarism is entirely compatible with the Faith or that the conciliar revolutionaries have not gone far enough to "promote" the "enlightenment" offered by the doctrinal or liturgical revolutions. It does no one any good at all to expect someone we know to respond immediately to some lecture or some piece of literature we have given to them for their consideration. We must pray and fast and make sacrifice to water whatever efforts we make in behalf of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church to bear fruit in the souls of those who believe themselves to be acting in accord with what the "church" wants of them in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and the Protestant and Masonic Novus Ordo service.
Taught by the conciliarists of the correctness of conciliarism, which is promoted with relentless fervor by such organs as the Eternal Word Television Network and Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ, most Catholics in the conciliar structures are inclined to view all traditionalists, without any distinction whatsoever, as "schismatic" or "disloyal" or purveyors of "un-charity" or "unkindness." Traditionalists across the board are dismissed by many conservative and liberal conciliar Catholics are "angry" and "bitter." Let me illustrate this point.
A man was walking out of the old Saint Agnes Church in Manhattan in the early 1990s after the completion of a Novus Ordo service. He looked with absolute disdain on the group of us who were filing into Saint Agnes for the indult offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. Shouting at the top of his voice, the man denounced everyone by saying, "Bunch of (expletive deleted) Lefebvrists." Ah, yes, Charity. Isn't it grand? He was better than the terrible traditionalists.
Not to be outdone by such an exercise in uncharity, the various categories of traditional Catholics outdo each other in efforts to denounce those outside of their own "camps."
Thus, many Catholics who go to "indult" Masses believe themselves superior to "radical" traditionalists who criticize Benedict XVI while recognizing him as the pope. that he is not. Some of the Catholics who go to "indult" Masses consider themselves superior to anyone associated with the Society of Saint Pius X or independent chapels. Sedevacantists? Fuhhhhhget about it? They're just "bleeps," to use a term employed by one individual, people who are unworthy of being treated as human beings who bear within their immortal souls the image of Christ Himself.
There are some in the Society of Saint Pius X who consider themselves to superior to all others, frowning especially on Catholics who go to independent chapels or who are sedevacantists. "Don't talk to him," one man in the bookstore at Queen of Angels Church in Dickinson, Texas, said to another when he was attempting to make conversation with me on Sunday, October 12, 2003. "He's not a member of the Society of Pius X," the man said knowingly.
Yes, sure, there are sedevacantists who consider themselves to be superior to others as human beings. There are indeed some sedevacantists who are angry and uncharitable, suspicious and distrusting of all others. This is without question.
What does all of this prove?. Nothing, that's what. Nothing. Well, yes, it does prove one thing. It proves that human nature is fallen and that people are prone to build themselves up by tearing others down, by believing the worst about those with whom they disagree strenuously in this time of ecclesiastical crisis and confusion.
Are all conciliar Catholics intolerant of traditional Catholics? No.
All all members of the Society of Saint Pius X angry and intolerant of other traditional Catholics? No.
All all sedevacantists angry and intolerant of other traditional Catholics? No.
Are there Catholics across the ecclesiastical divide in these troubling times who give bad examples? Yes.
Does truth reside in one place? Yes. The Catholic Church cannot give us defective liturgies or errors of any kind. Those who defect from the Faith in one thing defect from It in Its entirety. (See the appendix below for several brief reminders of these truths.)
This does not mean, however, that one has license to caricature those who have not been given the grace to accept the fact that the Catholic Church cannot be the author of the errors of the past forty to fifty years. Nor do those who are convinced of the errors of sedevacantism have the license to attempt to paint all sedevacantists as surly, angry people who have not an ounce of charity in their immortal souls.
Anger and bad example is not a province of any particular "camp" in the Church at present. Battle after battle has been fought in various "indult" chapels. Indeed, two women in a chapel on the East Coast went at each other in a meeting back in 2003, one accusing the other of having been on the "wrong side" of an earlier battle when the chapel was run by an independent priest back in 1985! The battle of 1985 had not gone away. Neither one of these ladies was a sedevacantist. Each was simply a weak vessel of clay who had given into temptation and had failed to forgive each other for past offenses, real and imagined.
There have been great battles in conciliar parishes, it should be noted. The conservative pastor of a parish on the East Coast in 1983 was calumniated endlessly by two priests who had been put in his parish to try to make the case for his ouster. These two liberal priests stirred up the embers of dissent and fanned the flames of anger against the pastor, dividing the parish for years even after the pastor was saved by the direct intervention of the late Silvio Cardinal Oddi, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy. I was an eyewitness to all of this. Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, when I tell you that level of bitterness in that parish was intense. Some of the pastor's defenders gave as good as they got, inflaming matters even further.
Battles aplenty have also been fought within the Society of Saint Pius X, especially as the founding priests of independent, non-sedevacantist chapels have died, making those properties the subject of protracted battles within those chapels or in courts-of-law.
And, of course, some of the battles in sedevacantist chapels, both those that have taken place in the past and those that have occurred more recently, have served as incentive to some to seek to caricature their critics while deflecting attention from facts, some going so far as to claim that those who have left one chapel have "fallen away" from the Catholic Church, a thoroughly preposterous claim that has nothing to do with Catholic truth as no sedevacantist bishop or priest.
Want to talk about anger and division? Just look at the state of the "pro-life" movement. Incrementalists and pragmatists have railed for years against those of us who have insisted that we can never make any exceptions to the inviolability of innocent human life and that no one is legitimately pro-life who supports a single exception to that inviolability or who believes that children may be killed chemically by means of abortifacient contraceptives. The decibel levels of the righteous indignation of the incrementalists and pragmatists against the hated "hard liners" were deafening.
Need it be pointed out how much Catholics who opposed this country's invasion of Iraq back in early 2003 were excoriated by neoconservatives and Americanists as "unpatriotic," if not actually supportive of the goals of "international terrorism?"
Obviously, un-charity and anger is not confined to believing Catholics. Fallen human nature is to be found everywhere. A colleague of mine from Illinois State University told me the legend of two feuding political scientists at the University of Chicago, the late Hans Morgenthau, the apostle of "power politics," and Morton Kaplan, a proponent of "systems analysis," who would not even look at each other when their paths crossed in a hallway. Oh, let me tell you, folks. Un-charity prevails in the halls of academe. Feminists at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, wanted my signed contract canceled after I had been hired in June of 1992, furious after they had discovered that I had run for lieutenant governor of New York six years before. I was a veritable "non-person" in the eyes of many of my fellow faculty members during the 1992-1993 year that I taught at Morningside College. Liberals are not exactly known to be very tolerant except of their own. They tend to give you the complete freedom to agree with them.
The halls of academe have nothing on the professional sports world, where petty jealousies erupt into full-blown quarrels, making grown men out to be childish boors before millions of viewers.
To wit, George Herman "Babe" Ruth was estranged from his one-time close friend Lou Gehrig until just before the latter's death after Gehrig's wife remonstrated with Ruth's second wife, Claire, for treating her own daughter from a previous marriage better than Ruth's daughter from his first wife, who died after he had illicitly married her, Claire. The feud between Ruth and Gehrig was quite real. And it was very silly.
Need much be said about the estrangements that take place in partisan politics, even among members of the same political party. Real and perceived slights are dealt with severely. Grown men and women refuse to talk to each other for years on end. Schemes of revenge are plotted endlessly (sounds like some traditional Catholics I know).
Come on, folks, fallen human nature is not confined to the ranks of Catholics who accept the sedevacantist thesis as valid in these our days.
Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that the divisions that roil Catholic waters today do indeed strain, if not break, friendships. We can still pray for those who have distanced themselves from us or from whom we have taken a step or two back. No one is required to offer us their friendship. We are, though, required to pray for the good of all others, hoping that there will be a happy reunion in Heaven, where the intentions of all hearts and the circumstances of all lives will be laid bare. All of the souls of the just will be reconciled one unto another. The differences and disagreements and misunderstandings experienced in this mortal vale of tears will be no more.
There are people, both clergy and laity, who have distanced themselves from us in the past four and one-half years since we came to the conclusion that those who defect from the Faith cannot hold ecclesiastical office in the Catholic Church legitimately. This has been their free-will decision to make.
Some people remain furious with me for embracing sedevacantism, which is considered by them to be an untenable position canonically (even though a recently deceased Vatican cardinal, Mario Francesco Pompedda, admitted on February 8, 2005, that it is the canonical doctrine of the Catholic Church that the See of Peter would be vacant in the case of heresy) or something that is a possibility but needs to be declared by some future pope. No one is required to be friends with us. The estrangements experienced in recent years, however, do not deter us from praying every day for these good people. We must always recognize that those from whom we are estranged in this life can benefit from our prayers. The Communion of Saints connects in prayer to all Catholics in the Church Militant on earth, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven.
Indeed, it is perfectly understandable that people might want some distance from others in these times of pitched battles. No one wants to live his life in conflict at all times. Human souls crave for peace. Although there are times when we may have to distance ourselves from others in order to avoid what could be the near occasions of sin for us and for them, this does not mean that they are not praying for them. It might mean simply that we not want to fight all of the time, that they we do not want to be that occasion of sin for others and do not want to be provoked by others beyond our means to resist.
For example, a conciliar clergyman with whom I was friendly for nearly two decades withdrew his friendship a long time ago now, making it clear a few years later that there would no rapprochement in this life. What I am supposed to do? Tell him that he owes me his friendship? Nonsense. He does not. We should be grateful for whatever time of friendship we are given with another, respecting a decision made to withdrawn that friendship and pledging to pray most heartily for a happy reunion in Heaven. There are people who withdrew their friendship--and substantial financial support--after I praised the late Father Frederick Schell, S.J., following his death on September 28, 2002. What am I supposed to do? Plead with them to continue the friendship and support? Of course not. People choose to support the work of this site or they do not, and all but twelve or thirteen readers do not want to support this site with even a small non-non-tax-deductible gift. We must accept these things as coming from the hand of God without for one second casting any aspersions upon those who disagree with us or demanding that which can only be given freely, namely, friendship and respect and generosity.
Moreover, we should be grateful for the humiliations that are sent us in life. How many times have we withdrawn our friendship from Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by choosing to persist in our sins? None of us suffers as our sins deserve. We should consider it a singular privilege to suffer humiliation and misunderstanding at the hands of others, especially those who have been closest to us over the years. Look at the Cross, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing we suffer in this mortal vale of tears is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, our Co-Redemptrix, to suffer during His fearful Passion and Death. Who are we to complain about ill-treatment at the hands of others, worse yet to caricature entire categories of people in order to try to dismiss their particular position on the grounds of the bad example given by some?
Saints have suffered great humiliations, haven't they? We should be willing to do the same.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, whose feast we celebrate today, was cast out of the castle at Wartburg in Thuringia by her brother-in-law following the death of her beloved husband, the landgrave Louis. She had sold her jewels to feed the poor, given away her clothing, fed the poor with her own hands, cared for lepers personally, visited the sick and attended to the needs of poor children while she was the landgravine of Thuringia. The poor were not grateful for long. Consider this excerpt from Blanche Jennings Thompson's Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns:
It was the third hard winter in village and castle. The weather was bitter cold, food was scarce, and tempers short in the Wartburg. Henry and Conrad [Louis's brothers] meant very well, but they did not understand Elizabeth. Without Louis to protect her, they treated her with little respect. Henry scolded and Conrad sneered. To them she was just queer and unreasonable. She made everybody uncomfortable, they said. Nobody likes to have his conscience prodding him constantly, and that was the effect that Elizabeth seemed to have on other people.
Landgravine Sophie [Louis's mother] stayed at the castle and tried to defend Elizabeth. there was now a strong bond between them. They had both loved Louis deeply. But, in spite of Sophie's sympathy, Elizabeth was ill-treated in the castle. It is hard to say whether or not Henry and Conrad deliberately turned people against her, but they certainly did nothing to protect her. Guda and Ysentrud shuddered at the cruel talk they heard again, just as in the olden days when Elizabeth was the little strange princess from Hungary. Even then she disturbed the ladies of the court by being "too pious," "too religious," or by "trying to act holy."
Down in the village the people whispered what they had heard from the servants in the castle.
"She wasted all the landgrave's money--gave it to undeserving beggars."
"Yes, and remember how she gave away the precious grain right and left? She should never have been trusted with money."
"It is a good thing that Prince Henry knows how to be firm with her. He has put strong locks on the granaries and gives her no money at all. Louis was always too lenient."
The minds of the people were poisoned against Elizabeth. The very ones whom she had nursed and cared for turned against her now.
One dark, cold night she suddenly made up her mind. She walked down the icy path to the village, leaning on cane for safety's sake. She planned to find some place for herself and the children to live. There were lights in several houses, and she tried one after another.
"Who is there?"
"The landgravine, May I come in?"
Silence. No one would open. At last a tavern-keeper took pity on her and let her stay in an old tool shed.
"I will drive out the pigs, my lady," he said, so that you can sleep."
Some old work clothes hung on a hook. These he put on a bench and over her knees and left her. There she sat in the cold until dawn. Then she heard the Mass bell from the Franciscan church.
The friars were chanting their morning prayers when they saw in the half darkness the figure of the landgravine. She walked toward the altar, surrounded by the light of their candles as by a glory, and began in a clear voice to sing the Te Deum. After a startled moment the friars joined her. She was welcome in the House of God.
Elizabeth had always wanted to give up everything and be a beggar like Brother Francis [of Assisi]. This was her change Guda and Ysentrud [her loyal attendants] brought the children down to her, and she took them with her as she begged from house to house. But door after door was shut in her face. The royal princess, Elizabeth of Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, accompanied by the royal children, were turned away by her subjects. Guda and Ysentrud wept bitterly.
A poor priest gave them shelter and a bed of straw, but orders came from the castle that they must all move immediately to the home of a certain nobleman who was an especial enemy of Elizabeth. Unwilling to offend Henry, he did give them a small dark room, but refused food, heat, or any other comfort. The next day Elizabeth took her little family back to the friendly tavernkeeper's shed. Before she left, she touched the walls of the room as she used to as a child in the Wartburg Castle.
"Thank you, kind walls," she said, "for sheltering us against the weather as well as you could. I should like to thank you master, but I have nothing to thank him for."
Of course Elizabeth could not keep the children with her in the kind of life she was leading. She had to send them to trusted friends of their father--at least for a time. She herself continued to live in the shed, supporting herself by spinning and weaving. Something deep in her heart had made her turn from the medieval idea of servant and master. Long, long before the rest of the world would accept the doctrine of brotherhood, she, like St. Francis, believed in the equality of men. She preferred poverty to luxury made possible by the misery and labor of serfs and slaves. In spite of her sufferings, she was happy to be like Christ. [Blanche Jennings Thompson, Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns, Vision Books: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1958, pp. 150-153.]
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary suffered for a time before her brother-in-law repented of the evil he had done to her and her children, his own nephew and nieces. She was "happy to be like Christ" while she suffered so miserably." So was Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Living Rosary and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Despite personal endorsements of her by Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Pius IX recognizing her as the foundress of these movements, Pauline Jaricot was calumniated by those who had taken over the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and considered and a malingerer by countless numbers of others. A friend of hers said that she would be known one day as the "patron saint of failures." She accepted all as a Daughter of Mary. So must we. Our Lady suffered great sorrows because of our sins. Can't we recognize that we must suffer if we want to know the glories of Heaven for all eternity?
Until that time, therefore, we must pray for each other even as we engage in spirited debates, concentrating on issues and not on personalities or the personal foibles of the exponents of various positions. Saint Jerome was not exactly a "nice" fellow. However, he loved God dearly and sought only the truth. He prayed for his adversaries. So must we. We must pray not only for our friends and relatives and acquaintances from whom we might be estranged in this life. We must pray for the conciliar officials themselves who continue to foment revolutionary schemes that offend God and are harmful to souls. Our Lord really meant it when He said:
You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5: 43-48)
To love another means to will his good, the ultimate expression of which is the salvation of his immortal soul. We may not be able to restore one to friendship after some estrangement. We are, after all, flesh and blood human beings. We must, however, pray and forgive, forgive and pray. The words of the Pater Noster (Et dimmite nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimmitimus debitoribus nostris). We will not be forgiven our sins unless we forgive those who have sinned against us or against whom we harbor some grudge or misunderstanding.
Once again, Our Lord taught us this lesson in the Gospel according to Saint Luke:
Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt.
Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts (Mt. 18: 21-35)
As the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, may we pray fro the grace to suffer and to suffer well in this passing, mortal vale of tears. Our Lady will help us to be like unto her Divine Son for all others and to see Him in all others, especially those from whom we might be forever estranged in this mortal vale of tears. May we, by keeping each other in prayer as members of the Church Militant on earth, hope that we will be able to join them in the fervent and perfect praise the Blessed Trinity in the presence of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph and all of the angels and the saints in an unending of Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.
Caritas super omnia.
Vivat Christus Rex! Vivat Maria Regina Immaculata!
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us !
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
The Catholic Church Cannot Give Us Any Liturgy That Is An Incentive To Impiety
CANON VII.--If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema. (Session Twenty-Two, Chapter IX, Canon VII, Council of Trent, September 17, 1562, CT022.)
The Catholic Church Cannot Give Us Errors of Any Kind
As for the rest, We greatly deplore the fact that, where the ravings of human reason extend, there is somebody who studies new things and strives to know more than is necessary, against the advice of the apostle. There you will find someone who is overconfident in seeking the truth outside the Catholic Church, in which it can be found without even a light tarnish of error. Therefore, the Church is called, and is indeed, a pillar and foundation of truth. You correctly understand, venerable brothers, that We speak here also of that erroneous philosophical system which was recently brought in and is clearly to be condemned. This system, which comes from the contemptible and unrestrained desire for innovation, does not seek truth where it stands in the received and holy apostolic inheritance. Rather, other empty doctrines, futile and uncertain doctrines not approved by the Church, are adopted. Only the most conceited men wrongly think that these teachings can sustain and support that truth. (Pope Gregory XVI, Singulari Nos, May 25, 1834.)
Just as Christianity cannot penetrate into the soul without making it better, so it cannot enter into public life without establishing order. With the idea of a God Who governs all, Who is infinitely Wise, Good, and Just, the idea of duty seizes upon the consciences of men. It assuages sorrow, it calms hatred, it engenders heroes. If it has transformed pagan society--and that transformation was a veritable resurrection--for barbarism disappeared in proportion as Christianity extended its sway, so, after the terrible shocks which unbelief has given to the world in our days, it will be able to put that world again on the true road, and bring back to order the States and peoples of modern times. But the return of Christianity will not be efficacious and complete if it does not restore the world to a sincere love of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the Catholic Church Christianity is Incarnate. It identifies Itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and which has for Its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Savior, the daughter and the heiress of His Redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of Its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance and of that immortality which has been promised it, It makes no terms with error but remains faithful to the commands which it has received, to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time, and to protect it in its inviolable integrity. Legitimate dispenser of the teachings of the Gospel it does not reveal itself only as the consoler and Redeemer of souls, but It is still more the internal source of justice and charity, and the propagator as well as the guardian of true liberty, and of that equality which alone is possible here below. In applying the doctrine of its Divine Founder, It maintains a wise equilibrium and marks the true limits between the rights and privileges of society. The equality which it proclaims does not destroy the distinction between the different social classes. It keeps them intact, as nature itself demands, in order to oppose the anarchy of reason emancipated from Faith, and abandoned to its own devices. The liberty which it gives in no wise conflicts with the rights of truth, because those rights are superior to the demands of liberty. Not does it infringe upon the rights of justice, because those rights are superior to the claims of mere numbers or power. Nor does it assail the rights of God because they are superior to the rights of humanity. (Pope Leo XIII, A Review of His Pontificate, March 19, 1902.)
For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained. (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, January 6, 1928.)