In his They Have Uncrowned Him, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre commented on these words from Pope Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer against Satan and the fallen angels:
“How is this possible? you will say. I do not know at all, I admit it; but there it is, more and more, day after day. It causes us a keen anxiety, poses a painful question: which Popes therefore are the ones who allow the auto-demolition?” (p. 152)
Archbishop Lefebvre wrote these words in 1987, a year after John Paul II’s Prayer Meeting at Assisi. That impious ecumenical gathering prompted Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer to write a “joint-declaration against Assisi,” in which those two faithful shepherds described the signs of an unfathomable catastrophe, such as that envisioned in Pope Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer:
“Everything that had been put into place by the Church in past centuries to defend the Faith, and everything that was done by the missionaries to spread it, even to the point of martyrdom, henceforth is considered to be a fault which the Church must confess and ask pardon for. The attitude of the eleven popes who, from 1789 up until 1958, condemned the liberal Revolution in official documents, is considered as ‘a lack of understanding of the Christian spirit that inspired the Revolution.’ Hence the complete about-face of Rome, since the Second Vatican Council, which makes us repeat the words of Our Lord to those who came to arrest Him: ‘This is your hour and the power of darkness’ (Luke XXII, 52-53).”
Archbishop Lefebvre would not have thought such a situation was possible, and yet he saw clearly that Paul VI and John Paul II promoted the anti-Catholic ideas that the pre-Vatican II popes had condemned since the French Revolution. In a real sense, Archbishop Lefebvre’s theological formation and depth of spiritual perception allowed him to grasp the tragedy in its early stages — while Satan was “raising the throne of abominable impiety” decades ago — whereas we today only reach the same conclusions now that Satan and Francis are ostentatiously revealing that throne of abomination to the entire world. Thirty-five years ago, very few people could see it; now, relatively few rational people can miss it.
When we have the reputed pope (a) partnering with the anti-Catholic globalists, (b) promoting a Synodal Church that embraces all Christian beliefs other than the unadulterated Catholic Faith, and (c) persecuting Catholics for simply practicing the Faith of the saints, then we can see why Pope Leo XIII composed his exorcism prayer to St. Michael.
If we recognize the demonic reality in Rome, though, how can we possibly reconcile that with our understanding about the Church’s indefectibility and perpetual visibility? Certainly Archbishop Lefebvre was able to reconcile these seemingly incompatible realities, which is why he could keep the Faith even while being persecuted for his orthodoxy by the ostensible Vicars of Christ. But we can find an even more important model in Pope Leo XIII because he composed not only the prayer to St. Michael, but also an encyclical on the unity of the Church, Satis Cognitum, which sets forth the Church’s teachings on its indefectibility and perpetual visibility.
In his Satis Cognitum, Pope Leo XIII did not explicitly resolve the apparent contradictions for us — and, indeed, part of this chastisement is the fact that we do not have perfect clarity — but the manner in which he explained the relevant principles can help us avoid the spiritual shipwreck that Satan and Francis want us to suffer. If we consider Leo XIII’s development of three topics in Satis Cognitum — the Church’s perpetual visibility, the unity in faith, and the union with the successor of St. Peter — coupled with his exorcism prayer against Satan, we can better appreciate the nature of today’s crisis and the appropriate responses to it.
The Church’s Perpetual Visibility. Pope Leo XIII explained why the Church must be visible:
“If we consider the chief end of His Church and the proximate efficient causes of salvation, it is undoubtedly spiritual; but in regard to those who constitute it, and to the things which lead to these spiritual gifts, it is external and necessarily visible. The Apostles received a mission to teach by visible and audible signs, and they discharged their mission only by words and acts which certainly appealed to the senses. . . Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles and their successors to the end of time to teach and rule the nations. He ordered the nations to accept their teaching and obey their authority. But his correlation of rights and duties in the Christian commonwealth not only could not have been made permanent, but could not even have been initiated except through the senses, which are of all things the messengers and interpreters.”
The Church’s visibility flows from its mission to teach the nations. And because that mission extends until the end of time, the Church’s visibility must be perpetual:
“[S]ince the Church is such by divine will and constitution, such it must uniformly remain to the end of time. If it did not, then it would not have been founded as perpetual, and the end set before it would have been limited to some certain place and to some certain period of time; both of which are contrary to the truth.”
It is evident from all of this that the Church’s perpetual visibility is not an end of itself but is necessary to lead souls to God’s truth so that they may be incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and be saved. As such, Pope Leo XIII’s discussion of the unity of Faith, which follows, provides considerations that are essential for the proper understanding of the Church’s visibility.
How can Catholics accept the false ecumenism — which places truth and error on the same footing — that has thrived since Vatican II? In His infinite mercy, God may save those who are invincibly ignorant about Catholicism; but it is a grave scandal for supposedly Catholic shepherds to be the cause of that invincible ignorance!
The Unity of Faith. Leo XIII’s discussion of the unity of the Faith is one of the most authoritative and persuasive condemnations of the novelties that have proliferated since Vatican II. Ever since John XXIII announced his Council, Catholics have heard about the great need to unify all Christians, but any such unity must be built upon a foundation of a unified set of religious beliefs:
“Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful - ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. iv., 5). That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith.”
From these considerations, Leo XIII expounds on the need for all Catholics to assent to every single truth of the Faith:
“Whatsoever [Jesus] commands, He commands by the same authority. He requires the assent of the mind to all truths without exception. It was thus the duty of all who heard Jesus Christ, if they wished for eternal salvation, not merely to accept His doctrine as a whole, but to assent with their entire mind to all and every point of it, since it is unlawful to withhold faith from God even in regard to one single point.”
It is not merely “unlawful” to withhold faith from God in a single point of doctrine, it is absurd and offensive to God:
“For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others. Faith, as the Church teaches, is ‘that supernatural virtue by which, through the help of God and through the assistance of His grace, we believe what he has revealed to be true, not on account of the intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived’ (Conc. Vat., Sess. iii., cap. 3). If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith . . . [H]e who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith.”
Given this, how can Catholics accept the false ecumenism — which places truth and error on the same footing — that has thrived since Vatican II? In His infinite mercy, God may save those who are invincibly ignorant about Catholicism; but it is a grave scandal for supposedly Catholic shepherds to be the cause of that invincible ignorance! Indeed, the Church must always safeguard and propagate the unadulterated Faith:
“It is then undoubtedly the office of the church to guard Christian doctrine and to propagate it in its integrity and purity.”
The true Church must be visible so that it can fulfill this mission of safeguarding the Catholic Faith in its integrity and purity. It is therefore blasphemous to assert that the unholy Synodal Church led by Francis — which is dedicated to undermining the integrity and purity of the Catholic Faith— is the visible Holy Catholic Church.
Pope Leo XIII composed his exorcism prayer after he had a vision of the conflict between God and Satan. He knew that God and Satan each had their own designs with the crisis we see today. Satan wanted the time to destroy the Church to lead souls to hell; and God permitted Satan to do his best because He knew that it would lead souls closer to Him and make saints.
The Union with the Successor of St. Peter. Leo XIII also developed the idea that Our Lord appointed St. Peter and his successors as head of the Church in perpetuity for the salvation of souls:
“Jesus Christ, therefore, appointed Peter to be that head of the Church; and He also determined that the authority instituted in perpetuity for the salvation of all should be inherited by His successors, in whom the same permanent authority of Peter himself should continue.”
The reference to the purpose of Peter’s authority — “for the salvation of all” — is essential. This does not mean that every single successor of Peter needs to have contributed positively to the salvation of souls during his particular reign, but it does mean that the existence of the papacy is ultimately for the salvation of souls and honor of God. Indeed, Pope Leo XIII extends this purpose to all shepherds:
“These, then, are the duties of a shepherd: to place himself as leader at the head of his flock, to provide proper food for it, to ward off dangers, to guard against insidious foes, to defend it against violence: in a word to rule and govern it. Since therefore Peter has been placed as shepherd of the Christian flock he has received the power of governing all men for whose salvation Jesus Christ shed His blood. ‘Why has He shed His blood? To buy the sheep which He handed over to Peter and his successors’ (S. Joannes Chrysostomus, De Sacerdotio, lib. ii).”
Thus, we must remain in union with the successor of Peter because Our Lord has placed Peter as the shepherd of the Christian flock for this purpose of saving souls and honoring God. Hence, it seems like a theological impossibility to have a Vicar of Christ who dedicates himself to a program of openly and persistently undermining the true Catholic Faith. Such a situation would suggest that our salvation could depend upon following a man determined to lead us to hell.
These considerations from Satis Cognitum leave us with a great mystery when we think about the state of the Church today, which leads us to consider the exorcism prayer Pope Leo XIII had written several years before the encyclical.
Pope Leo XIII’s Exorcism Prayer to St. Michael. As quoted above, Pope Leo XIII composed the exorcism prayer against Satan and the fallen angels, which describes Satan’s throne set up in the “Holy Place itself”:
“In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.”
It is nonsensical to imagine that Leo XIII would have composed this if he believed that God would never allow Satan to exert this type of influence over the See of Peter. And if Satan were to have that power, what would he seek to do with it? As we can see from the words of Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum, the ultimate coup — and greatest offense against God and threat to souls — would be if Satan could make it appear as though the visible Church was attacking the immutable Catholic Faith it had a duty to protect.
The actual Catholic Church is visible today because it is striving to adhere to the truths of Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum as it withstands the unprecedented assaults of Satan foreseen by Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer. As Satan, Francis, and their allies spread darkness throughout the world, the brilliant truth of the Traditional Catholic Faith shines forth ever more brightly.
This indeed is what Archbishop Lefebvre saw decades ago, as we can read from his 1987 declaration above. As we know from salvation history and our own spiritual lives, evil seldom grows weaker through the indifference of those who have a duty to try to overcome it — it is, in fact, often the case that God permits evil consequences to increase until we wake up and resolve to fight. Today, the evil has become so palpable under Francis that many souls who were comfortable with John Paul II’s Prayer Meeting at Assisi have decided to resist, Deo Gratias!
If, as many of us have heard or read, Pope Leo XIII composed his exorcism prayer after he had a vision of the conflict between God and Satan, then he knew that God and Satan each had their own designs with the crisis we see today. Satan wanted the time to destroy the Church to lead souls to hell; and God permitted Satan to do his best because He knew that it would lead souls closer to Him and make saints.
What, though, has happened to the visibility of the Church? As the crisis in the world worsens, we can see that Satan has concentrated and intensified his assaults on the immutable and unadulterated Catholic Faith. When we have the reputed pope (a) partnering with the anti-Catholic globalists, (b) promoting a Synodal Church that embraces all Christian beliefs other than the unadulterated Catholic Faith, and (c) persecuting Catholics for simply practicing the Faith of the saints, then we can see why Pope Leo XIII composed his exorcism prayer to St. Michael. The actual Catholic Church is visible today because it is striving to adhere to the truths of Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum as it withstands the unprecedented assaults of Satan foreseen by Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer. As Satan, Francis, and their allies spread darkness throughout the world, the brilliant truth of the Traditional Catholic Faith shines forth ever more brightly.
By all means, we can hope and pray that our remaining faithful bishops will take steps to address the Francis crisis, but we should take note: Pope Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer does not hint, in the least, that the resolution to Satan’s infiltration would consist of Catholics declaring that the Seat of Peter was vacant. Whether it is vacant or not, we must absolutely insist on the unity of the true Faith and resist every bit of evil from Francis and his collaborators. And, as Pope Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer continued, St. Michael will lead us in that battle:
“Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory. The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Highest, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.”
May St. Michael the Archangel and the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for us the graces necessary for us to fight like saints, trusting that God will bless and protect those who give all to Him. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio!
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