So—as Pontius Pilate once asked—what is truth?
Setting aside Relativism for a moment, you are left with two main views on where truth comes from. According to the first view, it comes from science. According to the second, it comes from a Higher Power. But science says nothing substantial about morals or values. It degenerates into relativism when faced with the most important questions in life. That leaves the religious view. And among religions Christianity has the best claim to being from God. Its manifold fulfilled prophecies are evidence enough. There are many ways to see the primacy of Christ’s teaching—if you are in doubt you should certainly pray and study.
Among self-labeled Christians, Protestants will tell you that pure, unadulterated, original Truth is to be found in the Bible, and the Bible alone. However, the books that were in the Bible in early Christianity are only still included in the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Bibles. The Catholic Church compiled the Bible in the late 300s, while the schism between Catholic and Orthodox occurred several centuries later, starting in the 700s and becoming total in 1054. So if the Bible is unchangeable truth, Catholic and Orthodox are the only two candidates for original Christianity, with Catholicism the only church showing continuity from beginning to end.
The other thing missing from Protestantism is Tradition – the prayers and rituals and sacraments passed down alongside scripture from the time of Jesus until today. These have remained unchanged in essence for 2000 years. Only the Traditional Catholic Church has held them inviolable.
And here we come to an uncomfortable truth; in order for you to understand what I mean by “Traditional Catholic Church” it is necessary to enter upon a sensitive topic: the current state of Christ’s Church on earth, and the extraordinary crisis it has been undergoing. This is what’s known as the sedevacantist controversy, and if you haven’t you heard of this, you are only a little more likely to have heard of Vatican II and the questionable changes it has introduced into liturgies worldwide.
It might be argued that I am now entering into controversies too sensitive, too internal to the Catholic Church to bear mentioning to those on the outside. But I write this in the conviction that it is the hardest truths that do most to lead people to conversion. To sugar coat, to skirt, to mince words, to compromise in any way the expression of truth harms the truth. It is a result, in the end, of a fear of truth and lack of faith to shy away from hard topics.
For example, I know someone who’s interest in Catholicism, whose daily prayer life and veneration of saints was rekindled by reading articles by Catholics arguing that the Church is currently popeless. In a slightly different vein, but proving the same point: I myself got back into Christianity while studying arguments for and against Creationism, which is supposed by some to be the “weakest” point of the Christian worldview. Rest assured it is one of the strongest. In reality the Truth has no weak points. You will learn more about someone’s toughness by hitting them in the nose than on their shoulder, more if the blow is hard than if it is soft.
On the contrary, a “sect,” based as it is on a lie, has to do everything it can to reinforce the armor around that lie. Cults follow their leader’s every whim. Sects define themselves by whatever is new in them—they spend all their time trumpeting this one thing. But those who follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life—their leader is God and they trumpet every truth under heaven. They preach saintliness itself.
There are many who call themselves traditional Catholics, but the ones with the strongest claim to having hold of the truth is those who hold the sedevacantist position. Keep in mind that sedevacantism is not itself a religion or even a sect, and it is often left in lowercase to remind us of this. It is, rather, an intellectual position: the recognition that the chair (sede-) of St. Peter, the papal seat, is now empty (-vacante). That this is so is reasoned from the fact that the last several “Popes” have taught heresy. As a result of the changes they’ve introduced to doctrine, ritual, and teaching, the sedevacantist position is that most of what is called the Catholic church isn’t really Catholic at all. It is a giant sect, much bigger than what remains of the true faith, but a sect nonetheless. There is, of course, a huge debate over this, and many books have been written, but at base the issue is really very simple. I asked one traditional Catholic priest what the most serious heresy was that led to this mass apostasy from the faith. He said that the most significant and destructive heresy taught by modern “Popes,” starting back in the 1960s, is that there is no such thing as heresy anymore. This is, at base, a relativistic doctrine.
If you’ve never heard of any of this, it’s going to sound very strange. But it is not only important, being relevant to the ongoing spiritual war for the salvation of the world by Christ, it is also relevant, pertaining to the domination of Relativism in all modern intellectual life, having even penetrated into the heart of the One True Church, leading to what many have called the Great Apostasy.
Traditional Catholicism, the original faith, is not dead, however. It lives on, and it is growing again, and very fast, doubling in some places in less than a year.
If you are skeptical of all this, it is understandable. Christianity might seem to you a poor candidate for the One Absolute Truth in the first place. It did to me, too, for many years. This was a fault in me, a kind of pride that scoffed at what the simple might love as wisdom. There isn’t much excuse for such pride, but it can be partly explained if you look around at the messages we are bombarded with in the media, constantly telling us that the supernatural is old-fashioned, and that tradition is bad and backward. That belief in anything beyond our world is the last refuge of the uneducated and bigoted.
But this barrage of anti-spiritual and anti-Christian propaganda, relentless as it has been in our culture now for decades, can only go so far in explaining our reluctance to surrender our materialistic, empty, sinful lives to the grace of God. The other side of this equation is how much hypocrisy we see in the Vatican II Church, which daily seems to be betraying more and more traditional principles (as you see with many of the recent pronouncements of Francis).
Hypocrisy can be present even among those of the true faith. Pharisees, popes who have sinned in their personal life, and sinners who lost the faith—this sort has always been around, those who pretend to have the faith but in reality do not. Much of our society, however, especially mainstream media and entertainment, does not even pretend to faith—it does not even reach the level of hypocrisy. It has degraded itself with something still worse: a denial and disdain of all higher truth.
Whence this faithlessness? It is the worst that has been for a long time. Religion is seen by many today as maybe a sort of glue to help people cooperate, and nothing more. It is no longer seen as the ultimate truth to be accepted out of heartfelt love of God and a desire to be with Him, but rather, as at best a sort of strong medicine for reforming one’s life, or at worse a kind of feel-good opiate to be selected as a matter of relative taste.
When Jesus taught before the Jewish priests, reception was mixed. One group of priests, called the Sadducees, had been taken with Greek philosophy, and were skeptical of all things supernatural, seeing the Jewish religion in what we might consider a “modern” way, as a mere system of morals for keeping society together. Almost universally the Sadducees hated Our Lord Jesus, who taught faith in a supernatural resurrection, though their numerous attempts to trap him in logical contradiction failed, often to their bitter embarrassment.
The other school of Jewish priests at the time, the Pharisees, believed in a resurrection of the dead, and believed in the coming of a Messiah. When Jesus preached before them, they often approved of what he said. But when they detected even the slightest hint that Jesus thought he was the Messiah, they murmured against him, and over time their rage grew.
Isn’t it understandable, though? Aren’t we naturally suspicious of those who seem to put themselves on a pedestal as some kind of savior? As the one who is right and knows the truth? And isn’t this just prudent, to avoid those who might be con artists, swindlers, and secret tyrants, trying to seduce us into their power and control?
Jesus was the opposite of a swindler. Everything that he did in his lifetime was an act of selfless love. He blessed the children, healed the sick, preached comfort to the poor, preached love of one’s enemy. He preached total humility and a renunciation of the things of this world. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he taught, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But most importantly, the prophesies that Christ fulfilled—which is all the prophecies of a Savior contained in the Old Testament—prove that he’s the Messiah and not a swindler. Anyone willing to rationally examine the evidence (then or now) can see that he is the Christ that had been prophesied.
It was this one command, “believe in Me, for I am the Truth,” that the Pharisees could least accept. And eventually, it was the Pharisees that led the movement to crucify him as a blasphemer, for claiming to be the Son of God.
A little over 1500 years later the Protestant movement against the Church founded by Christ began. Dozens of new churches sprang up, some more Christian, some less, and since then they’ve proliferated into thousands of denominations. The majority of Christians still call themselves Catholic, but for a century or two at least, the Protestant movement grew quickly, dividing Europe into warring factions – Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, and others. Aside from rejecting the authority of a Pope as Vicar of Christ, they had little in common. Lutherans believed in grace, not works. Calvinists believed in predestination, Anabaptists believed in a radical separation of church and state. But there was one other thing they all had in common that is worth considering—all of them rejected the idea that the Mass is a supernatural sacrifice.
But what is the Mass? If you aren’t Catholic, you might have no idea, like myself a couple of years ago. When Jesus was crucified, he willingly offered up his life for fallen humanity. Being God, His sacrifice was of infinite merit. The Mass, a sacrament also called the Eucharist, is a ritual performed by a priest, whose prayers, through the power of God, change bread and wine into the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Consuming this Flesh or Blood, by the faithful, is called Communion, and is the holiest of all sacraments bestowed on humans by God.
If my incomplete description of the Holy Sacrifice sounds mysterious ... it should. It is the greatest of mysteries. Those without grace have seen it as bizarre, and have rejected it over and over again since Christ first taught it to His followers. As written down by St. John, who was with Jesus at the time it happened:
“The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then saith he, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered, and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves. ... Amen, amen [truly, truly] I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life ... that if any man eat of it, he may not die. ... The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? ... After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.
“Then Jesus said to the twelve [John was among them]: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
The night before he was crucified, Jesus ate what is known as the Last Supper with his disciples. He broke the bread and poured the wine, blessed it, and told them to eat it, that it was his Flesh and Blood. He told them to do this always in commemoration of him. His manifest Flesh and Blood he would offer up on the cross; mystically he would again offer his Flesh and Blood in the apparent form of bread and wine each time his followers celebrated the Last Supper after his death. This practice came to be known as the Mass, and as far as anyone can tell it has remained unchanged in its essence for almost two thousands years, still practiced today in the same basic form by the faithful. No other rite has caused such contention among humanity as this one, and no other rite claims such supremacy over all other rites, instituted as it was by God Himself in person, prefigured in Jewish rites and the still more ancient rites of Melchizedek, and resulting in the literal presence of God when faithfully performed. Back when England was still mostly Catholic, as related by one author (A.H. Baverstock, quoted in Lasance’s Catholic Missal, p. 28):
“[At the] sight of the host [consecrated bread] at the Elevation ... a man would jostle his neighbor in his eagerness to look on the Holy Sacrament, exclaiming that he ‘could not be blithe [happy] until he had seen his Lord God that day,’ or words to that effect.”
This is by all accounts an accurate description of a truly devout Catholic’s attitude toward the Mass. The bread really does literally become the Flesh of Christ. To this day they will even put the consecrated bread on display for hours at a time, and you can go and quietly adore it and pray.
Does this sound unnatural to you? That’s the point. It’s not natural but supernatural. The point is that God is quite literally real. If he is real, then, as God, he is also omnipotent and utterly transcendent. He can do such things as transubstantiate bread and wine, and give great blessings, even eternal life, to those who eat it. Do you doubt? Then you are only human. Only God’s grace can give people faith in such things unseen. For only on very rare occasions (though these have been well-documented throughout history) does the bread and wine take on the observable characteristics of flesh and blood. They’ve analyzed some of these samples of blood, including those from the Shroud of Turin (stained with the Blood of Christ), and without exception they’ve come out as type AB.
You think I’m joking? Of course not—that would be blasphemous. What’s a joke is to think that a random collision of organic molecules in space somehow resulted in a world where plays out the whole drama of human history, down the last detail of your life and mine, and that it doesn’t, at the next second, simply fly apart again since all notion of order in our brains is more likely by itself than the spontaneous generation of order out there in reality. In other words, God is a far more sensible explanation, and being infinitely wise is thus also infinitely good, and being infinitely good he cares for us infinitely much, and seeks holy Communion with his poor creatures below, bemired as we are in our own sins, and in the suffering that comes with them.
But if there is a God, why does He allow so much suffering?
“Suffering scandalizes and repels the irreligious. They regard it as an unmitigated evil. ... If we are truly Christian we understand suffering. ... God permits suffering to open the eyes of the sinner, and show him his guilt in having abandoned God. He asked of the world happiness; it brought him suffering. Seeing his mistake the sinner at last returns to God. Suffering is the arsenal of love and the furnace in which it is purified.”
One of many insightful passages in Bishop de Gibergues’s The Mass and Christian Life. The context of this passage is how Christ’s sacrifice is renewed with every Mass and made present, in part to sanctify our own suffering. He goes on to quote many saints, including St. Gregory, who writes, “The Saviour suffers anew for us mystically at the Holy Sacrifice [the Mass].”
“The Prophets,” writes Gibergues, “the Fathers of the Church, the Doctors and the Saints speak with enthusiasm of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They exalt it above all else. They look upon it as the centre and keystone of religion, the sum of God’s wonders and gifts, the source of all grace, the life and salvation of the world.” The Mass is the essence of Catholic worship and life.
In other words, the meaning of good and evil, the very question of suffering in the world, the whole of the human relationship to God, the most trying aspects of faith, the nature of life and death, corruption and renewal – all of this is summed up in the Mass, just as the whole of human history is summed up in Christ’s loving sacrifice on the cross. To believe this, and to have faith that Christ came back from the dead and will bring us all back from the dead, and that all will be judged with perfect justice in the end: this is the essence of Christianity. Ponder this, grasp this in all its strangeness and glory, and you will grasp the meaning of life.
The very disciples of our Lord Jesus had difficulty grasping this, however. It takes grace from God to believe. There are admittedly many compelling proofs out there of the Truth, and one could spend a lifetime compiling them, thinking up new ones, and arguing them with everyone you meet. And such a lifetime would not be wasted, might even be saintly, providing it was all done for the glory of God and not for oneself. But even the simplest minds, the least intellectual, can grasp this, and in fact they will have an easier time of it. Unclouded by pride, unconfused by ceaseless vain arguments and facts, one of spotless heart and simple mind will see that this is immediately true: God is perfect, we are deeply imperfect, and God’s Son was sent to call us to to follow him, to lead us on the narrow path that deeply imperfect beings must take if they are to join God and His saints—in eternal glory, endless knowledge and wonders, and spotless beauty—in Heaven. A simple heart will imagine no guile behind any of these wonderful notions, but will see directly that they are beautiful, good, and true. A humble heart knows that it itself is nothing, and will meekly trust in God without question. And God will never neglect such a soul, but do everything for its salvation and glorification, even miracles. And this is what is usually meant when we speak of a Saint.
With all this in mind, it feels like a sin to even bring relativism—our original topic—back into the conversation again. What is the use? The logical contradiction in it was obvious from the start. People disagree, therefore not everyone can be right. Some are right, and some are wrong. Hence absolute truth exists. End of discussion. It is simple really, graspable by anyone without too much of an education.
But the machinations and convolutions of the hypocritical mind have never been greater than in our day. I guess they are greater now even than they were among the Sophists who killed Socrates for asking what the Good and True was. Greater even than among the Pharisees and Sadducees who crucified our Savior for bringing them the Good and the True directly from God.
That absolute Truth is summed up in the Eucharist. This Sacrament has remained the same in essence for almost 20 centuries, despite its many detractors, including most Protestants today. The Catholic Church has preserved it faithfully however, right up to this very moment. Be careful though, only at “traditional” or “Latin” Mass have they preserved this rite as a Sacrifice. Most priests, be warned, who call themselves “Catholic” use a new vernacular rite, which—not being simply a translation as most assume—omits necessary prayers for purification and sanctification. Does this sound like a radical claim? That’s because it is. But there is ample documentation that modernists have infiltrated the Catholic Church and replaced the most sacred rites with new, hollowed-out prayers, under the mask of a Latin to vernacular translation. The last true Pope, it is believed, was Pope Pius XII, whose reign ended in the late 1950’s. This is not the first time Peter’s Seat has been empty, but it is certainly the longest time. (For some links to first-hand accounts of this crisis and careful analysis of the situation, see the bottom of this post.)
The council that did most to mangle the original Christian rites was Vatican II, which was held in the 1960s. As I mentioned near the beginning of this post, I asked the priest who is catechizing my family (preparing us for baptism) what he believed to be the essence of the problem with Vatican II. He said its biggest evil was abolishing the very notion of heresy. After Vatican II, the official stance of the “Catholic” Church is that “The right to exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person” (Catechism of the Catholic [sic] Church, 1994, Section 1738, italics in original). To the modern ear this will in most cases sound unobjectionable. But in its essence this principle is relativistic, and therefore must be false. It denies the truths brought to us by Christ.
It may not convince you that there are many, many scripture passages that contradict the notion of a “right” to religious and moral freedom. But logic alone suffices to refute the existence of such a right.
The principle that murder is wrong is a moral principle. It is, moreover, a religious principle, the Fifth Commandment. If murdering innocent people is wrong, one does not have the freedom to choose a set of principles that allows the murder of innocent people.
Select any true moral or religious principle you like. Theft is wrong. Lying is wrong. Cheating is wrong. Genocide is wrong. Nobody can argue that one is allowed to select moral or religious principles that allow any of these things.
And to the point, what about the right to religious freedom itself? Can it be an “inalienable” right as the modern “Catholic” church contends? (This idea is found in no Catholic decrees, by the Pope or anyone else, prior to the 1960s.)
Because this supposed right is found in a the Catechism of the Vatican II church, it itself is part of a religion. Thus one has the right to set aside this religious principle in favor of the opposite one. But then this right is not inalienable. This right contradicts itself; it is relativistic.
Not all religions can be true! Satanism is not true. God either exists or he doesn’t. Jesus either saves or he doesn’t. If you believe religious fundamentalism to be bad, you can’t also believe that one has an inalienable right to select it as your religion. This principle is illogical, so it can and will lead to absurdities.
We are already seeing such absurdities play out. The sedevacantist Catholics, supposedly “schismatics” for holding to original Christianity in its purity, are in fact more united than the “Catholic” Church itself, though the latter has a “Pope” and the former does not. Every day the Vatican II “Catholic” Church thus becomes more and more fragmented. And Traditional Catholicism, Popeless at present, grows.
You can spend a lifetime studying what’s been happening to the Church, but here’s my point. Relativists and skeptics have infiltrated the modern religious hierarchy, polluting it with their ideas. As a result, the ancient rites are becoming corrupted, and there has been a lack of clear moral leadership in the world since the 1950s. (This was also about the time when the Catholic Church got rid of its list of forbidden books, and guess what happened next? The 60s.) Is it any wonder that morals have been decaying, that our children are educated essentially as nihilists, believing that everything/nothing is true, with a completely demolished notion of right and wrong?
“ All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets.  Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.  How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
 By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, ...
 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.  And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.
 And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were in admiration at his doctrine.  For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes and Pharisees.” (Matthew 7:16-29)
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. If someone knows the truth, I would have them prove it to me. This is the opposite of the attitude of the relativist, who is afraid to hear it, who wants to stay in the comfortable armor of his lies and not face the possibility of a reality outside the visible, of a Higher Reality contradicting what he wishes were true. And so the lies pile on, and the storm rages harder.
It’s time to pull ourselves together, and take shelter on the rock of Truth.
This a spiritual storm unlike any the world has ever seen.
What can we do? Pray.
Links for further investigation:
For a first hand account of what’s been going on recently in Catholicism, listen to this nun tell her story and this priest and this layperson. (If you’re interested you can find parts 2 and 3 of the last link here, along with other talks. In another good talk, Bishop Sanborn goes into the gritty logical details. And if you still need convincing, or would like to deepen your understanding, you can explore www.fathercekada.com and www.cmri.org.)