Communion with Heretics or Communion with Hermengild?
Some Facts for the "Sacraments-At-Any-Cost" Crowd to Consider
[Note: I have held off publishing my previously announced "Open Letter & Challenge to the SSPX" because my announcement that it was forthcoming has generated so much angry mail that I felt myself obliged to incorporate into said "Open Letter" my responses to these hostile criticisms, lest I seem to be evading the force of folks' objections. I've also been waiting to see what the official SSPX response to the Vatican's recent ultimatum would be. I will post my open letter to the SSPX, whether they've "cut a deal" with Rome by then or not, early next month. In the meantime, what appears below is excerpted, slightly modified, from that "Open Letter."]
Most professing Catholics today have never heard of St. Hermengild. It's not surprising, given how and why he died. Although the traditional Catholic calendar commemorated him on April 13 (a week ago today), his feast day was unceremoniously dumped during the Vatican II revolution -- due, no doubt, to to the "political incorrectness" of what he stood for, making him one of the most suppressed saints of our time.
(What other excuse could the Novus Ordo church give for demoting, dishonoring, and dropping him down the memory hole -- when his life and death are amply attested by numerous unimpeachable first-hand sources, from which I quote at length in the CD described below, among them the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks?)
The truth of the matter is that St. Hermengild stands as a "sign of contradiction" to our age of (even among "traditional Catholics") spiritual compromise for the sake of (supposedly) the salvation of souls.
For Hermengild dramatically embodies, as perhaps no other saint ever has, the fundamental yet unpopular and inconvenient principle that a Catholic can't be in communion with one who publicly denies even one single doctrine of the Catholic Faith.
I don't just mean "can't" in the ethical sense that a Catholic OUGHT not to attempt communion with heretics. I also mean "can't" in the metaphysical sense that a Catholic is INCAPABLE of being in communion with a public heretic, because the public heretic has automatically excommunicated himself from the Church. (I cite numerous authorities for this assertion in the CD described below.)
This automatic excommunication holds true, not just for those who are judicially convicted of the crime of heresy, but also of those "merely" guilty of the sin of heresy -- even if they are never officially admonished, tried, or sentenced. Why? Because Christ's Church is by its very nature (among other things) a supernatural society composed of all those possessing the same supernatural gift of faith and thus professing the same Faith, as St. Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:3-6. That's why a heretic is, ipso facto, no longer a member of the Church.
Flip through Fr. Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma -- a crucial compendium of magisterial pronouncements that should be on every Catholic's bookshelf (if you don't own a copy, you can purchase one from our online store) -- and see how many times this very point is made by countless popes and councils. Read Pope Leo XIII's encyclical "On the Unity of the Church" (Satis Cognitum), or Pius XII's encyclical "On the Mystical Body of Christ" (Mystici Corporis Christi), or consult the entries on "Heresy" or "Church" in any standard pre-Vatican II Catholic encyclopedia or dictionary or any relevant reference work.
And that's why any Catholic entering into communion with a public heretic, by that very act, also falls out of communion with the Church, tragically joining the heretic in his excommunicated (and damned, unless he repents) state.
Please note the operative words "public heretic." Since God hasn't made us mind readers, there's no penalty for being in communion with "occult heretics," i.e., those who keep their heretical beliefs to themselves. By contrast, the Vatican II hierarchy (for example), publicly and routinely manifest their rejection of classic Catholic doctrine by their official statements and their official actions.
I bring all this up because I care about you -- about everyone who reads these words (and about countless others who I wish would read these words). There are folks I love dearly who attend the "New Mass" of pseudo-pope Paul VI. Others go to liturgies at Uniate churches (Eastern rite churches in union with Rome). Still others go to diocesan-approved "Tridentine Masses," whether said by the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, or similar Rome-approved traditional outfits, or by various other clergy, regular or diocesan). And others go to the SSPX and similar "renegade" traditionalist clergy.
ALL such attendees formally place themselves in ecclesial communion with modernist pseudo-pope Benedict XVI and his modernist local ordinary, the pseudo-bishop of that diocese. (Yes, even the Masses of the currently illicit but likely to be regularized SSPX do this, as do the Masses of similar traditionalist but non-sedevacantist clergy.)
And there are even sedevacantists whom I love who go to sedevacantist clergy whom they know to hold heretical views on, for example, the dogma "no salvation outside the Church." But they go to them anyway, "holding their nose" at the priest's or bishop's heterodoxy for the sake of receiving a sacrament.
The consequences of such a policy, in all the above cases, are catastrophic -- in fact spiritually FATAL if not repented of and abandoned. This is true objectively, but it is even worse in the case of those pseudo-traditionalists who are subjectively aware of their compromise, who AGREE that their local bishop is a heretic (and some even see that Ratzinger is one as well), and yet say, "But we can't denounce the bishop, or he'll take away our indult Mass!"
Contrast such compromising behavior with that of Hermengild. When threatened with death by his father (King Leovigild of Visigoth Spain) unless he made his Easter Communion by receiving the sacrament from the hand of a heretical bishop, he was willing to be gruesomely martyred rather than to thereby stain his faith and lose his soul.
His thrilling story is told in inspiring detail, drawn from the aforementioned contemporary sources, and its lessons are applied in an uncompromisingly clear fashion to our current situation, in a new CD I've just recorded. It has the same title as this mini-essay: "Communion with Heretics or Communion with Hermengild? Some Facts for the 'Sacraments-At-Any-Cost' Crowd to Consider." Like the CD we released last month, "What Does A Recusant Catholic Do on Sunday?", it belongs to the new line of CDs we began producing in 2012 entitled 21st Century Recusant Recordings.
This new, 75-minute CD, in a sturdy vinyl "DVD case" with full-color artwork (the famous 1654 painting of "The Triumph of Hermengild" by Francisco de Herrera the Younger which hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid), is only $9.95, and can be purchased from our fully-secure online store using your Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or PayPal.
If any of you still prefer not to purchase things online, you can send a $12.95 check or money order ($9.95 for the CD plus $3 for First Class shipping), payable to "Biblical Foundations International," to: BFI, PO Box 569, Dunmore PA 18512.
Would you like this new CD for free? Just order (either from our online store, or by phone or mail) a copy of Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma, a work I cite on the CD and which I recommend every Catholic family use to familiarize themselves with the Church's dogmatic teaching (as we have for years at the Matatics household), and I'll include a FREE copy of the new CD.
This important, 750-page hardcover book (one of a half-dozen essential reference works EVERY Catholic family should own) sells for only $34.95. If you order the book from our online store, there's no need to select the St. Hermengild CD as well; I'll include a free copy of the CD automatically with each copy of Denzinger that you order. If you order the book by phone or mail, again, no need to mention the St. Hermengild CD: you'll get it automatically.
Make sure you get your copy of this new CD, "Communion with Heretics or Communion with Hermengild? Some Facts for the 'Sacraments-At-Any-Cost' Crowd to Consider" (and a copy of Denzinger, if you don't already have one) right away -- before another Sunday goes by!
(NOTE: If you are one of those who donated $100 last year specifically to help fund development of my next 7 CDs in order to receive those CDs as they are produced, you need do nothing to obtain this new CD; it will be shipped to you automatically during the next few days.)
May God grant you and your properly-disposed loved ones a grace-filled Eastertide.
Yours in Christ our Risen King and Mary our majestic Queen,
Updated On: April 21st, 2012