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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

St. Catherine of Siena Does NOT Warn Traditionalist Catholics

This blog post is a reply to a blogger named Catholic in Brooklyn.  I've stopped by her blog a few times during the 2015 Synod, and her vitriolic stance against Traditional Catholicism has compelled me to answer her in at least two of her blog posts.

But this most recent reply is more of a general act for posterity, than a reply to her.  I refuse to allow someone to utilize The Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena to attack well-meaning faithful laity.  There is much more that can be said in reply to her February 2015 blog post, but I am one man with a limited amount of time.

I've taken my stance, I'm saying what I'm going to say, and that's it.  I've not the time to drag this out, and I've got to be careful how I choose my battles.  I have a lot on my plate in life, so hopefully this will suffice.  And if others want to pick up the torch and further scrutinize the errors of what Catholic in Brooklyn has said, then you are welcome to it.

Now, a more comprehensive outline of how this argument started will be stated later on.  Furthermore, the font, spacing, and indentations will be adjusted in a later update of this post.  So check back in later for the complete narrative.  For now, I merely intend to provide Catholic in Brooklyn with my spotlight, and the rebuttal I have prepared.  If she considers it TL;DR, I wouldn't be surprised.  But what must be said is being said right now.

St. Catherine of Siena

* * *

Dear Catholic in Brooklyn,

I would first like to thank you for setting me on a course of study of St. Catherine of Siena in the past handful of days.  Be assured that I have taken seriously your presentation of the miraculous revelations that God shared with that saint, so much so that I've delved deeply into reading up on the matter.  In fact, this experience has likely set me on a course to continue study of St. Catherine in the foreseeable future. 

First, I must agree that I enjoy the newer translation that you quoted from.  The translator, a Dominican nun named Suzanne Noffke, is the clearest one for the modern ear.  Also, she is well-studied, as her footnotes will attest.  (If anyone is interested in hearing more discussion about what Noffke's research has turned up, might I direct readers to an EWTN program about St. Catherine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvlA9FBAk24 )  I will admit, I was at first cautious about Noffke's work being feminist/modernist spun.  But I am moving away from that conclusion today.

Now, you provided a link to one of your posts which quotes a great deal from Noffke's translation of The Dialogues.  I take God's words to saints very seriously, so I was not going to be rash and cast a quick answer at what you said to me.  Instead, after setting your quotations aside for awhile, and after looking for quite a long time at the material itself (Noffke's translation, Thorold's translation, St. Catherine's letters, etc.), I have concluded that, as a blogger, you tend to take things out of context quite a bit, and your February blog post about Michael Voris is a perfect example of this. 

I will enumerate my different points, so that there is a clear distinction between them and to make reading easier.  I am certain this reply to you will exceed the limit of the permitted comment length.  By the way, the length of this reply—an in-depth rebuttal of only SOME of what you have stated—is precisely why I do not go into the nitty gritty details of every other erroneous statement you make.  I've not the time for it all, as I would then be devoting my life to repairing the errors of Catholic in Brooklyn.

1.  Let's return to the very beginning of your series of quotations of God through St. Catherine of Sienna in The Dialogues.  You state:
"God the Father tells us there is an even worse sin than homosexuality among the clergy.  Beginning on p. 215, St. Catherine quotes God the Father as saying:

'Christ on earth, then, has the keys to the blood. If you remember, I showed you this in an image when I wanted to teach you the respect laypeople ought to have for these ministers of mine, regardless of how good or evil they may be, and how displeased I am with disrespect. . . . These are my anointed ones, and therefore it has been said through Scripture, "Dare not touch my christs." Therefore, a person can do no worse violence than to assume the right to punish my ministers.'
However, if we include the missing part of this passage—the section you replaced with ellipses—we get a fuller picture of what God is telling St. Catherine:
" Christ on earth, then, has the keys to the blood. If you remember, I showed you this in an image when I wanted to teach you the respect laypeople ought to have for these ministers of mine, regardless of how good or evil they may be, and how displeased I am with disrespect. You know that I set before you the mystic body of holy Church under the image of a wine cellar. In this wine cellar was the blood of my only-begotten Son, and from this blood all the sacraments derive their life-giving power.

Christ on earth stood at the door of this wine cellar. He had been commissioned to administer the blood, and it was his duty to delegate ministers to help him in the service of the entire universal body of Christianity. Only those accepted and anointed by him were to thus minister. He was the head of the whole clerical order, and he appointed each one to his proper office to administer this glorious blood. 
Because he has sent them out as his helpers, it is his task to correct them for their faults, and it is my will that he do so.  For by the dignity and authority I have bestowed on them I have freed them from slavery, that is, from submission to the authority of temporal rulers.  Civil law has no power whatever to punish them; this right belongs solely to the one who has been appointed to rule and to serve according to divine law.  There are my annointed ones, and therefore it has been said through Scripture: "Dare not to touch my christs."  Therefore, a person can do no worse violence than to assume the right to punish my ministers."

The ellipses between your quotations betray crucial missing information.  Our God is talking to St. Catherine in the context of what was going on in 14th Century Italy.  This was a time when royalty and the Church were intertwined, and abuses between the two were occurring frequently.  Kings often felt they had the right to name bishops, the bishops and cardinals felt they had the right to make kings, and so on.  The Church tried meddling in state affairs, and vice versa.  At that point in time, the pope was not even based out of Rome.  There were many tensions occurring in those days, and St. Catherine was attempting to heal these wounds between the secular civil society and the Church as she stood beside Pope Gregory XI, whom she endearingly referred to as her sweet "Babbo." 

2. These words from God to St. Catherine are discussing how His ministers—his christs—are not to be subject to the secular authority.  God's ministers are not to be either punished or persecuted by them.  Now, what did these persecutions of priests by secular authorities resemble?  Well, we know that they lost an appreciation for the reality of the Eucharist.  God expresses great concern that His children have turned away from that sacrament:

"It is this ministry of theirs that dictates that you should reverence them, not for what they are in themselves, but for the power I have entrusted to them, if you would receive the holy sacraments of the Church.  For if you refuse these when it is in your power to have them, you would live and die condemned."

So, the civil authority is lessening the importance of the priests' ability to consecrate the Eucharist.  You know, many scholars of St. Catherine have expressed amazement of this formerly illiterate woman for having the sophisticated ability to separate 1. the priest's God-given authority and powers from 2. his prudential judgements as a fallible human being.  As I read your posts, I am uncertain that you have the ability to distinguish these two aspects of the men who make up the priesthood. 

3. In your February post, you make this out-of-context statement:
"Through St. Catherine of Siena, God the Father then gives three reasons why persecution of His christs is worse than any other sin: 'The first is that what they do to my ministers they do to me.'"

If you had simply quoted the leadup to this 3-part list of God's reasons, people would see that there is a bigger picture, as is evident here:

"There are many reasons that make this sin more serious than any other, but I will tell you of three principal ones.  The first is that what they do to my ministers they do to me."

So, when God says "reasons that make this sin more serious," we ask "what sin is God talking about?"  The answer: Irreverence towards the priest's ability to consecrate the Eucharist.  Again, there is a difference between a priest's priestly ability and his mortal, sinful inclinations.

4. If we look at Suzanne Noeffke's translation, and we read the sentence you quoted: " The first is that what they do to my ministers they do to me," we can see that Noffke provided a footnote.  In this footnote, if you check the "Classics of Western Spirituality" book you are quoting from, you will see that Noffke relates to events that transpired around an event in Florence, in which St. Catherine and Pope Gregory XI was being snubbed by the officials there.  Here is a copy of what transpired, in a book of her collected letters, titled, "St. Catherine of Siena as Seen in Her Letters": 

"All now depended upon the arrival of the Florentine ambassadors ; but these gentlemen failed to appear, while Florence continued to pursue a contumacious policy. The insult, alike to the Pope and to Catherine, was obvious. Avignon jested, shrugged shoulders, finally sneered. Gregory gently told Catherine the truth — that her friends had played her false. Few more mortifying situations than that in which she found herself could be conceived.

"The spirited letter which follows was written ten days after her arrival. She speaks, as usual, without reserve, but it is noteworthy that the letter contains no word of personal reproof beyond the quiet statement : " You might bring great shame and reproach upon me. For nothing but shame and confusion could result if I told the Pope one thing and you another." When at last the ambassadors arrived, they brought small comfort, for they refused to confer with Catherine. In the second letter, written after they had come to a personal friend in Florence, she tells the situation frankly, and with dignity, but still with remarkable freedom from personal bitterness. In this time of test, no lower element than sorrow for the failure of her cause appears to have been present in her mind."

Okay, so, persecution?  Certainly.  The Florentine officials were quite rude and irreverent to the Holy Father and St. Catherine.  I have yet to see any Traditionalist Catholic publication encourage this kind of smug practice towards any prelate.  I would most definitely say that the Florentine officials on that day were "irreverent persecutors" of the Holy Father, Pope Gregory XI.

5. The third part of your quoted 3-part list of God's reasons has another footnote attached.  Noffke refers to another letter of St. Catherine, in which she is remembering the dreadful behavior she has been witnessing from the secular civil powers of her day.  While Noffke is quoting a different section from St. Catherine's letter, I think that the following passage from the same letter to Pope Gregory XI will demonstrate the point:

"Yours we are, father! I know and recognize that they all feel that they have done wrong; but although they have no excuse for their evil deeds, nevertheless it seemed to them that they could not do otherwise on account of the many sufferings and unjust and iniquitous things that they endured from bad shepherds and governors. For, breathing the stench of the life of many rulers whom you know yourself to be incarnate demons, they fell into the worst of fears, so that they did like Pilate, who, not to lose the government, killed Christ; so did they, for not to lose the state, they persecuted you."
St. Catherine is bemoaning the irreverence of "many rulers whom You know yourself to be incarnate demons" –irreverence towards the priests—and she is also mourning those people who are trapped in the perverse fear of losing their government jobs, should they defy the civil power.  Once again, if we consider the full context of what God was saying to St. Catherine in The Dialogues, an entirely new picture unfolds before us. 

6. Here is another quotation that you provided:

"Other sins have some pretext; they are committed with some excuse, with some middle ground--for I told you that every sin as well as every virtue is realized through your neighbors . . . If you sin against your neighbors, you sin against me through them."

Once more, your ellipses cut out an important sentence.  God states: "Sin is committed through lack of charity for God and your neighbors, and virtue is practiced out of the warmth of charity."

Traditional Catholics do their best to exercise charity towards both God as well as their neighbors by informing society of the constant Modernist heresies exercised by clergy in the various levels of the Church's hierarchy—since so many priests are modernists and do not warn their flock about such dangers.  In fact, it is a Spiritual Work of Mercy when Traditionalist Catholics attempt to right the wrongs of Modernist priests. 

In fact, I daresay, the Traditionalist Catholic is fulfilling several spiritual works of mercy when attempting this kind of duty.  Consider them: instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently (as I do from your posts), to forgive offences willingly, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead. 

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.  And if a Traditionalist Catholic were to refuse the latter spiritual works of mercy that I mentioned, then I would hazard to guess that such a person was either intentionally or inadvertently being indifferent towards their fellow laity, most of whom are confused in these Freemasonic times of ours.        

7.  Traditionalist Catholics are not guilty of the sin of detraction when publicly discussing the public errors of priests.  We have already discussed the circumstances that justify public criticism of bishops and even the pope.  St. Thomas Aquinas provides those justifications. (“It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.”) But furthermore, when a priest's public misdoing is already notorious, or their sentence has been passed by a competent legal tribunal, then we can refer to that priest's error unless, of course, the priest has reformed himself.
Traditionalist Catholic journalists are not committing detraction.  They are within their rights to inveigh against corruption.  Historians, also, have an even greater latitude to talk about the errors of past prelates.  Neither class is committing detraction—and this includes Michael Voris, by the way.  I would recommend a good hard look at the definition of detraction over at New Advent. 

8. Even if we want to apply God's standards for the civil authorities of St. Catherine's day to just regular laymen, we can still see that good Traditional Catholics do not violate God's commandments. 
Traditionalist Catholics do not disrespect priests.  They call them out for their public errors, most certainly.  But we all know that erroneous priests require respect—and if we don't know this, then other Traditionalist Catholic voices tend to police one another, when the occasion arises.  Traditionalist Catholics do not try to "touch God's christs," nor call out for any kind of mob violence whatsoever.
Nor do Traditionalist Catholics seek to personally punish God's ministers.  We all await the day for the Church authorities to get their act together so that they reign in the Freemasonic corruption that has been spawning in the hierarchy for well over a century.  In fact, this is why we pray for the Pope—even at SSPX Mass. 

Prayer for our troubled clergymen is often called for amongst Traditionalist Catholics.  Consider this recent public statement by Charles Coulombe:

"The tragedy of this Pontificate thus far is that the people His Holiness cozens up to are those who will happily betray him; the ones he abuses or neglects would gladly die for him. But this is far from the first time we have seen this in the history of the Papacy. Bl. Pius IX followed a similar path from the time of his election - until he saw his Prime Minister slaughtered in front of him, after which he became the stalwart Pontiff we know. It may be that this latest betrayal of the Pope by people in whom he reposed trust shall perform the same service for him. But in any case, we need to pray very hard for the Holy Father. It is not just that he is surrounded by wolves as his predecessor was (and for whom we did not apparently pray enough). It is also that he appears, thus far, unaware of who they are. May he suffer no further unpleasantries of this sort. "

Today's Traditionalist laity assume no right to authority whatsoever.  Traditionalists do not persecute the Holy Church; we only want to see it righted back onto Her course—and She will be righted, one day, we have no doubt.  But we will fight and carry the banner for the sake of God and His Truth.  We understand the reverence that a priest's authority requires—even if he is a pedophile.  A priest is a priest forever, even in Hell.  This is without doubt.    

I have yet to see a Traditional Catholic disgrace a clergyman in the manner that Pope Gregory XI was disgraced in Florence, Italy.  I have yet to hear of physical abuse of a priest by a Traditionalist Catholic.  Much of the derision and slander about clergy come from sedevacantists who do not believe His Holiness is even the pope, and that some of the cardinals and bishops are not even cardinals.  This group is considered schismatic, and they are a minority.  Within the bounds of clergy and laity who are in union with the Catholic Church—and I include the SSPX in this group—derision and slander are, again, policed.  People are often corrected on the forums; I can personally testify to this.  As for the mainstream Traditionalist Catholic media sources, while they are astounded by the levels of abuse they are witnessing, they maintain their respect for the holy offices—separating men's prudential opinions from their priestly authority to administer the sacraments.

Traditionalist Catholics do not seek out to persecute the clergy in whatever way they can.  When we see an abuse, we call it out, we counsel one another when we see despair arise, and we discuss what the Church authorities ought to do.  And we long for God's hand in this matter, for we often think that only He can clear up this mess—a mess that many non-Traditionalist Catholics either do not see or refuse to see.

Yet, even though it may be God who clears up this mess in the end, Traditionalist Catholics will not refuse to carry His standard. 

# # #

So, there you have it.  These are just some of the many points that could be raised about your out-of-context quotations. 

But about that last point I made—about the Catholics who refuse to see the crisis in the Church—I have a little more to add. 

You know, a couple of weeks ago, I was discussing with some colleagues the possibility that some people simply have too weak of a faith to be confronted with these monstrous problems in the Catholic Church right now.  I was beginning to conclude that, perhaps, some simply have weak faith and can't handle it.  After listening to a talk given by Fr. Ripperger, I began to conclude that "it is a gift from God to have this awareness of Magisterial problems, and it is up to an individual to figure out what to do with/how to handle such a gift."

Perhaps I was onto something.  I mean, with this state of emergency that the Church is in, the faithful are walking on a narrow path, to be sure.  And when confronted with the abuses stemming from Vatican II (let alone the Freemasonic infiltration that preceded it), people fall off of this narrow path on either one side or the other.  You have sedevacantists—who are so sensitive and outraged by the abuses they see, that they believe that the Church has collapsed.  And these are the people who tend to cast aspersions and bad nicknames to the pope and the hierarchy.  And on the other side of this narrow path, you have people such as yourself.  You fell off of the path, and close your eyes to the problems, and you mock and disparage those Catholics who keep up the good fight and carry God's banner.  The veracity with which you mock Traditional Catholics is equal to the measure of hostility sedevacantists cast towards the Conciliar clergy.  And this is something you have in common with sedevacantists. 

You know, Christ Himself said that the majority of people were going to go to Hell.  With that in mind, there is a precedent to conclude that the majority of people are either ignorant, or they delude themselves when it comes to reality.  They simply cannot handle it.  You mock—with a broad brush--the idea that Traditionalist Catholics consider a large portion of the clergy to be corrupt:

" But what I see on the Catholic blogosphere is the wholesale condemnation of the Magesterium of the Church. We are told over and over again that the vast majority of these men are evil and are trying to destroy the Church. Therefore, we must rise up in rebellion against them."

First of all, and though I know you won't hear or register this, again, Traditionalist Catholics are not calling for a rebelling against the Church.  We want the Church reformed.  Yes, we call for a counter-revolution.  That is because there has been a modernist Freemasonic revolution unraveling in the Church for generations.  The Church must be restored, not rebelled against.  Yet another out-of-context conclusion of yours.  Secondly, the old saying "The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops" is a statement coming from several Church fathers: St. John Chrysostom, St Athanasius, and St. John Eudes.  Of course the majority of our clergy is in serious trouble.  For you to bury your head in the sand when this possibility is presented is not a noble thing for you to do.

I've said all of this before.  I'll say it again.

 In the whole of human history, there have been people who simply could not be faithful to the Catholic Church unless they were living within a few miles of the local parish or Cathedral, they were able to attend Mass every day, there was a monastery or a cloister nearby, most of the community was Catholic, there'd be village festivals and community dinners, marriages arranged, and not too many evil outside sources.  Their priest knew the Faith, and his bishop knew more, confessions were consistent and meaningful, and the Church did not have such Freemasonic problems as She does today.

I believe that God had those people placed specifically in Medieval Europe.

Our time, is different however.  And yet, we still have people who are trapped in that notion that they require the Catholic community of old.  They do need it, actually.  We were made to be social creatures.  But to turn against that in any way seems like poison to them, even if it is necessary.  To be counterrevolutionary, to reject a community that is poisonous for the sake of finding Christ, that is beyond a lot of people.

It is difficult enough just to try to be Catholic.  But then, to split hairs and recognize that the Church is in a state of emergency, that there is a crisis, and that some priests are good while others are bad--clearly that is difficult for liberal Catholics.  Liberal Catholics love their self-congratulatory Masses where they talk about NPR topics.  But conservative Catholics, also, are too afraid to consider the possibility that Lefebvre could have been right.  I think that most conservative Catholics have been too afraid to consider: what if the Church is in a state of emergency?  What if there has been Freemasonic corruption within the Church, and it is trickling from the top down?  What if it is true that many prophecies have described our difficult times, and we are being called to stand against evil powers within the Church?  What if it is emotionally easy to slam the Society as schismatic, while it is intellectually difficult to accept the possibility that yes, technically and perhaps spiritually, the Society has been right since the beginning?

When I think of all of this, I begin to have some sympathy for Michael Voris' position to refuse criticizing the pope.  It is because people, such as yourself, cannot handle the reality that Pope Francis could be the source of many problems in the Church today.  Consider an old March 17th, 2014 video titled, The Pope is Different (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyH2hMdg73w ).  Voris states:
" [The pope's] case must be treated differently because to openly and publicly go after the pope is perceived as going after the Church Herself."

This is certainly true in your circumstance.  Here you are, lambasting all Traditional Catholics for scrutinizing corrupt clergy, and you think we are going after the Church Herself. Voris continues:

" Not everyone in the world has the intellectual heft to understand some of the nuances involved in these things – not necessarily because they are stupid or something, but because they don’t have their noses stuck in this 24 hours a day."

Nuance.  This is the opposite of generalization.  Nuance is the opposite of painting people with broad strokes, as you have.  An awareness of nuance would prevent a person from cherry-picking quotations out of The Dialogues to prove her point.  More from Voris:

"They aren’t historians or philosophers or authors or theologians. THEIR faith is more tender, or perhaps they are recent converts to the One True Faith and this kind of public non-stop attacking, where the Pope is even mocked and coarse terms are applied to him like 'Pope Humble the First' can damage their new found or tender faith."

Ask yourself: is your faith tender?  I may have been right that people have weak faith, and such folks just can't stand the immense pressure of the Church's emergency.  How would the majority of Catholics handle the Arian heresy?  I do not know.  Perhaps this current crisis is giving us a window to see that old heresy once again.  But it is clear you cannot stand either the non-stop attacking from modernists within the clergy, nor the fierce defense of the faithful Catholics who stand for the Church's doctrine.

And yet, Michael Voris and his people will continue to fight the good fight against corruption.  Because it is a spiritual work of mercy to do so.  Many ignorant people will not have their faith shaken in the face of this diabolical deception from corrupt clergy.  Those people are asking for something substantial.  They sense that something is wrong.  It would be indifference—the opposite of love—to leave people hanging when you could help them. 

Voris states in his most recent video, "New Territory" on Nov 2, 2015:

"Do nothing.  That seems to be the only response that is ever considered by churchmen.  But these days do nothing, don't draw attention, don't rock the boat, ignore the controversy, and so forth.  It is precisely this mindset so dominant in the church since at least the end of Vatican II that has contributed to the wreckage we see now."

Wreckage is right.  And now, the Traditional Catholic laity get to act as janitors and clean up a mess that other people made.  People who were more interested in "partying it up with modernism" than they were in keeping the Faith.  I would much rather be creating, inventing, and exploring—rather than fixing the screw-ups of previous generations. 

But so long as other people continue to practice indifference, there will have to be others who mop up the mess.  Thanks a lot for that.


  1. Fuck, them a lot of words for someone with no time....you piece of shit.

    1. "Fuck, them a lot of words for someone with no time....you piece of shit."

      "Me dumb. Yous use words, sentences, and stuff. Me no like. You stoopid."

      What a sorry specimen of a human being you are! I can think of three people who would say something like this. Sadly, you're from the online Traditional Catholic community--because they're the only ones aware of this place. Your fallen away nature is a perfect example of what happens when a fool refuses to stay on the narrow path.

      Sedevacantism is schismatic. Toodles.

  2. Hi Laramie. Like you, I needed more room than the comment box will allow. I have posted my reply to on my blog.


    Even though we are in disagreement, I do appreciate the debate, and think it is an important one.

  3. Laramie,
    I understand the owner of Te Deum Forum is going on a 6 month leave (Deo gratias). Their moderators are a weak crew. Te Deum is basically a run-off site of C.I. minus Matthew's constant invoking of Luther's: "sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas" (I wish so, I order so, let my will be sufficient reason for it.).

  4. I disagree with the Saint's motto "obey your priest's even if they are demons" (don't know exact quote don't have time to look it up)
    I respect her opinion but the Saint's aren't part of the Holy Trinity nor are they a valid Pope.
    If you agree with her fine no problem.
    We are not commanded to obey every quote of every saint.