The words of warning contained in the little book, The Path of Mary, even though written back in the late 1800’s, seem quite prophetic of our time:
“The Church appears to be reaching the time when she will be mystically crucified with her Lord. The powers of darkness are evidently allowed a strange power of temptation: ‘It is their hour.’ Even many of Our Lord’s own have fallen away... We see that the Church is visibly afflicted, that the powers of hell are leagued more strongly than ever against her... The Church has already commenced that season of persecution, trial and temptation, in which she will, in herself, represent again the Passion of Our Lord.”
Indeed these words ring true, for the Second Vatican Council has become the avenue whereby Christ is being recrucified. His Church has been taken in chains and is now being led to Calvary. Just as when our Redeemer was crucified and all seemed lost, so too, it might appear today. As His enemies of old rejoiced in the death of Jesus Christ, so also do the liberals and Modernists of today rejoice at the apparent destruction of the Catholic Church and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In 1851 Fr. Faber foretold that in the last age of the Church “there will be hardly any Masses and the majority of Christians will apostatize” (Notes on Doctrinal Subjects, vol. 2, pp. 16-17). This prophecy has been fulfilled, for the Postconciliar Church has created a sacrilegious “New Mass” which closely resembles a Protestant service. It can never, however, destroy the true Mass as established by Christ. It has been preserved in the liturgical tradition of old by the clergy’s loyal few who daily continue to offer the true Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to Almighty God. Although greatly reduced in number, the true Church remains preserved under the promised care and protection of Our Lord Himself, until the end of time.
Just as the faithful remnant stood by Jesus Christ as He hung upon the Cross, so too the faithful few stand by the Church in her darkest hour. This small group remains to console Christ with their fervor, devotion and gratitude, while the majority of mankind shows only contempt, outrage and coldness towards His very being.
The Church, as Christ founded it, is indefectible and will last until the end of time. It will faithfully pass on the Deposit of Faith, the Mass, the Sacraments and divine law throughout all ages. Our Lord declared, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). People, however, can fall away from the Church because they have free will, and unless they exercise due diligence and willingly cooperate with God’s grace, they are apt to be easily led astray. Our Lord Himself warned us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:15-16). Commenting on this passage, Abbot Gueranger has written:
“When the shepherd becomes a wolf, the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. It is usual and regular, no doubt, for doctrine to descend from the bishops to the faithful, and those who are subject in the faith are not to judge their superiors. But in the treasure of [divine] revelation, there are essential doctrines which all Christians... are bound to know and defend. The principle is the same whether it be a question of belief or conduct, dogma or morals” (The Liturgical Year, Septuagesima, pp. 379-380).
In his book entitled The Faith of the Early Fathers, Fr. William A. Jurgens stated that during the 4th century, from 97-99% of the bishops of the Church embraced heresy.
“At one point in the Church’s history... the number of Catholic bishops in possession of sees, as opposed to Arian bishops in possession of sees, was no greater than something between 1 and 3% of the total (vol. 2, p. 39). In the time of the Emperor Valens, [the 4th century St.] Basil was the only orthodox bishop in the entire East who succeeded in retaining charge of his see... This was a period when, throughout the world, the orthodox bishops who remained in charge of churches could be counted on one’s fingers, and probably on the fingers of one hand... [Fortunately,] the Catholic Church, [guided by Christ,] takes no account of popularity and numbers in shaping and maintaining doctrine” (ibid., p. 3).
It would be well for us to remember that the apostasy of the entire hierarchy of a country has happened before. In 1534 King Henry VIII declared himself to be the sole head of the Church in England. Sadly, with the exception of St. John Fisher, all the bishops in that country defected from the Catholic Church.
After the martyrdom of St. John Fisher, the English hierarchy and the infrastructure remained intact in appearance but were no longer Catholic. They were only a facade. From the moment these bishops embraced the new religion, they incurred ipso facto excommunication and were deposed from their offices. Their legal and governmental acts in the Church were null and void because, as heretics, they automatically lost their jurisdiction.
For hundreds of years there was not a single Catholic bishop or parish church in the entire realm. Those who refused to attend their local parishes and participate in the new religion were ridiculed, persecuted, fined and martyred for the Faith. Since it was required by law to attend the new services, all others became Protestants.
Sacred Scripture says that before the Second Coming of Christ, Catholics will apostatize from the Faith in unprecedented numbers. St. Paul wrote, “The day of the Lord [the Second Coming] will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” Scripture scholars state that during the advent of the Antichrist there will be a universal apostasy, as great numbers defect from the Catholic Church, even in those nations where the Faith was professed before.
This revolution is said to occur from what seems to be the heart of the Church, directed by the “man of sin... sit[ting] in the temple of God” (2 Thess. 2: 4), professing to be the Vicar of Christ. Gradually, by degrees, just as in the Protestant Reformation, the members of the Vatican II Church have been led by false shepherds to accept erroneous doctrines. It is a disguised apostasy brought about by the establishment of a counterfeit church, with counterfeit popes, counterfeit hierarchy, and counterfeit Mass and sacraments.
In 1948 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen declared that this great apostasy would take place during the 20th century:
“[Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape [or imitator] of the [true] Church, because he, the devil, is the ape [or mimicker] of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ [the Catholic Church]” (Communism and the Conscience of the West, pp. 24-25, The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN).
The Catholic Church approved the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette, France, in 1846. Several noteworthy events took place while the two visionaries, Maximin and Melanie, wrote out Our Lady’s secret which was to be delivered to Pope Pius IX. Maximin asked how the word Pontiff was spelled. Melanie asked the meaning of the words infallibility and Antichrist. Our Heavenly Queen also said, “The Church will be in eclipse.” We know that during an eclipse, a heavenly body such as the sun or the moon is partially obscured. In like manner, although it can never be destroyed, the true Catholic Church will be difficult to find because of the universal loss of faith.
On October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a vision concerning the terrible attacks that the evil spirits would mount against the Church. As he was about to leave the altar after offering Mass, he heard the voice of Satan boasting that, with enough time and power, he could destroy the Church. Then came Our Lord’s voice in response, asking how much time and power. Satan said that he would need a century and greater influence over men who would give themselves to him. Jesus granted him the 20th century in which to do his best to destroy the Church. The Pope then saw a horrible vision of the attacks that would be waged against the Church, but was also consoled by a vision of St. Michael casting the demons back into hell. Immediately afterwards, he penned a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, instructing that it be recited by priests throughout the world.
It is a fact of history that there have been 41 antipopes, men who have sat on the throne of St. Peter who were not validly elected, who were not true popes. They are listed in the Annuario Pontificio, published in Rome. Therefore, it can happen again. “According to many Catholic prophecies the Church will be without a pope for some time” (Catholic Prophecy, p. 30).
In the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, under the title Antichrist, we read that St. Bernard identifies the Beast of the Apocalypse as an antipope. The Abbot Joachim believes that Antichrist will overthrow the pope and usurp his See. “Since Antichrist simulates Christ, and the pope is the image of Christ, Antichrist must have some similarity to the pope” (vol. 1, p. 561).
One cannot reconcile the obvious doctrinal errors of today with the infallible teaching authority of the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II. A true pope cannot promulgate invalid, sacrilegious ceremonies, rites or disciplines for the universal Church. It is impossible for a true pope to promulgate error by means of the ordinary universal Magisterium. One who has placed himself outside the Catholic Church by profession of public heresy cannot be a valid pope.
St. Robert Bellarmine, in his work entitled De Romano Pontifice, declared, “A pope who is a manifest heretic by that fact ceases to be pope and head [of the Church], just as he by that fact ceases to be a Christian. This is the judgment of all the early Fathers [of the Church] who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.” This is confirmed by Canon Law which states that all clerics who publicly fall away from the Catholic faith lose their office (c. 188, 4).
Although vastly reduced in numbers, the Catholic Church will always profess the true faith that Christ and the Apostles taught. It will teach without distortion, diminution or contamination. This divinely revealed faith will always be preserved inviolate in its integrity until the end of time.
Just as heroism is so often enkindled amidst the most violent and horrific situations, so too, our love for Jesus becomes heroic in the confusion and desecration left by Vatican II. We, as did St. John, must stand close to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our spiritual Mother, at the foot of the Cross and remain faithful to her Divine Son to the end, so that we can rejoice with Christ at the Resurrection of His Church.
God, in His Divine Providence, has permitted the current global apostasy in order to bring about the purification and perfection of the faithful. Let me close with the words of St. Nicholas of Flue, who, in the 15th century, foretold this crisis in the Church. His words end with hope and encouragement, for he foresaw the Church’s final triumph:
“The Church will be punished because the majority of her members, high and low, will become so perverted. The Church will sink deeper and deeper until she will at last seem to be extinguished and the succession of Peter and the other Apostles to have expired [an apparent defection of the hierarchy]. But after this she will be gloriously exalted in the sight of all doubters...” (Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy, p. 30, TAN Books and Publishers Inc., Rockville, IL., 1973).