Dear Lost Sheep
Thank you for writing and telling me of your struggles to remain in the Church and of your temptations to return to the Sedevacantist chapel that has brought you so much consolation and stability in the past.
I would like you to read the following. When you do, remember how Our Lord rebuked the Jews because even with miracles they would not accept Him: Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep (John X, 25) Our Lord does not permit miracles to lead us to false conclusions.
Some miracles almost force us to believe. I think of the Shroud of Turin in which, from modern science, we discover miracles that were unseen by previous generations and left for us to discover; it is the same with the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The following does not compare with these two great miracles but it is an amazing miracle nonetheless, and meant for our time:
In 1962 a young novice, Sister Caterina started having problems with her health several months after having been clothed in the habit. She was 18 years of age. She began to feel a constant intercostal pain between her stomach and heart. Until that time her health had been very good, so she ignored the pain. She thought perhaps she had knocked against a piece of furniture or something. The pain continued for a couple of months, and one night she had a hemorrage that frightened her. She was in her room. She felt like vomiting, ran to the sink and found her mouth full of very red blood. Since they had taught her during nursing school that very red blood came from the chest area, she thought she had contracted consumption; with a sickness like that, her life in the convent was finished.
"The rule of our Congregation," she said, "is for all aspiring religious to be healthy in order to face the sacrifices and work that a hospital requires. If a nun is ill, she is sent home before pronouncing her vows. I had passed the stage of aspirant, the postulant, and a few months prior to this incident I had been clothed in the religious habit, but I still had yet to pronounce my vows. So if my superiors had discovered I was ill with phthisis, they would have been obliged to send me home."
She decided not to say anything to anyone. For several nights she could not sleep, but then, seeing that the hemorrage failed to return and the persistent intercostal pain had disappeared, she thought the danger had passed and took up her normal life again.
Sister Caterina as a young sister.
Nothing happened for seven months. Then suddenly, with no warning symptoms, there was another terrible hemorrage. This was followed, after a few hours, by another, even more abundant hemorrage, which left her drained of all energy. This time the situation could not be hidden.
Her Superiors did not send her away. They tried to help her. There were doctors’ visits, clinical examinations, check-ups. The most celebrated specialists in Naples were consulted on the case: Professors Piroli, Capozzi, Ruggero, Grassi, Doctors Caracciolo, Cannata, Maisano. There were x-rays of the chest and stomach and stratigraphs. No one succeeded in finding the reason for her hemorrages.
In 1964, since the doctors at the Ospedali Riuniti had declared there was no explanation for her illness, the young Sister was transferred to Ascalesi Hospital, under the care of Professor Alfonso D’Avino, director of the otorhinolaryngology department. An esophogascope revealed a hemorralgic area in the chest area. It seemed that all of the sister’s troubles came from there. She was therefore taken to the Pellegrini Hospital, to Professor Giovanni Bile, a famous hematologist, but he, too, was unable to improve the situation.
Sister Caterina said: "They told me that there was another person I could consult: Professor Giuseppe Zannini, director of the Surgical Semeiotics Institute of the University of Naples and a specialist in the surgery of blood vessels: an important international personality in the field of medicine. To obtain a visit with him was not easy, but when he found out what the case was about, he wanted to see me. He immediately took my case to heart..."
Our Lady of Pompei.
After a long examination and minute analysis of all the medical reports of his colleagues, Professor Zannini began a new cure that lasted five months. But the situation never changed, so the Professor decided to operate.
She was hospitalized and underwent an operation which lasted for five hours. The inside of her stomach was completely covered with a strange and rare form of ulcerous tumours, caused, perhaps, by the improper functioning of the pancreas and spleen. The Professor was obliged to remove her stomach, except for a small piece the size of a prune. He also removed the pancreas and spleen. The esophagus was connected directly to the intestine. It was also necessary to cut the aorta making a deviation of the blood circulation. It was a delicate operation and the probabilities for the patient to come out of the operating room alive were quite slim.Before the operation, Sister Caterina tells us, I had prayed to the Holy Virgin of Pompei, to whom I am very devout. The day after the operation, while I was thanking the Virgin for having come through the operation safely, a Sister from our Congregation told me: "It was Pope John XXIII who saved you. I had placed his image on the bed of the operating room and had continued to pray throughout the operation." She gave me the Pope’s image and told me to place myself under his protection. I admired John XXIII very much, but had never thought of praying to him. I answered: "Thank you for what you have done for me, but I am convinced that it was the Holy Virgin of Pompei who protected me, and I will continue to pray to her. " I placed the image of Pope John on the nightstand, as if it served no purpose for me.In the days following the surgery, Sister Caterina’s health, instead of improving, continued to worsen. During the first night, the nun had a collapse; after several days, she had an intestinal block. Professor Zannini was very worried, and thought that another operation was necessary. The sisters continued to pray to Pope John and Sister Caterina to the Holy Virgin of Pompei. Nine days after the operation, the nun’s condition suddenly improved.
"Three days later, while I was sipping some liquid, I became cyanotic and lost consciousness." The doctors hurried to provide her with oxygen. "They examined me and found I had pleurisy. I was depressed. You have to pray to Pope John my sisters repeated to me. I was convinced and began to pray to the good Pope. Ten days later I was able to leave the clinic."
The improvement was once again short-lived. Two weeks later, Sister Caterina started to vomit great quantities of gastric fluids. They were so acid that they burnt her skin and the lower part of her face was completely sore. Since she couldn’t hold anything down in her stomach, she was nourished through phleboclysis. Professor Zannini was still very worried. He decided to send her home, to Potenza. Perhaps the air of her home town would help her. But two months later Sister Caterina returned to Naples, in worse condition than when she had left. She looked as if she were already dead.
"On 14 May 1966, following a serious crisis of vomiting, I felt my abdomen and it was completely wet," recounts the religious. "I called a sister to have her look at it: gastric fluids, blood and that little amount of orange juice I had just drunk were flowing out of a hole that had opened on my abdomen. A doctor was called. He said there was a perforation, which had caused an external fistula. There was diffused peritonitis. My fever was very high. The situation was desperate. Professor Zannini was informed, and he had me hospitalized immediately. He ordered some medicines and decided to wait to see how the crisis would devolop, because surgical intervention under those conditions was unthinkable".
"We Daughters of Charity pronounce our vows five years after having donned the habit. The rule provides for exceptions, however, when a young sister is about to die. This was my case. So on the 19th of May, 1966, I pronounced my vows, and I was immediately administered the Extreme Unction.
"On the 22nd of May a sister brought me a relic of Pope John’s from Rome: a piece of the sheet upon which the Pope had died. I placed it on the perforation which had opened on my stomach, and since I was suffering quite a bit, I prayed to the Pope to take me to Heaven. I was slowly dying. I felt that my strength was leaving me. The temperature was very high. A sister guarded the room day and night.
"On 25 May, at around 2.30 in the afternoon, I asked a sister who was guarding the room to close the window a little because the light bothered me. She did so, and then left the room for a few minutes."I drifted off to sleep. At a certain point I felt a hand pressing the wound on my stomach and the voice of a man saying: "Sister Caterina, Sister Caterina!" I thought it was Professor Zannini, who came to check on me occasionally. I turned towards the voice, and saw Pope John standing beside my bed: he had the same smile as the image that had been given me. He was the one who was holding his hand on my wound. "You prayed to me very much," he said with a calm voice. "Many people have prayed to me, but especially one. You have really taken this miracle from my heart. But don’t be afraid now, you are healed. Ring the bell, call the sisters who are in the chapel, have them take your temperature and you will see that you will not have even the slightest temperature. Eat whatever you want, as you did before the sickness: I will hold my hand on your wound, and you will be healed. Go to the Professor, have him examine you, have some x-rays done and have it all written down, because these things will be needed someday."
"The vision disappeared, and only then did I begin to realize what had happened. I wondered whether it had been a dream. I was trembling from the emotion and fear. I felt well. I felt no pain, but I didn’t dare call the sisters: they would have thought I was crazy. After several minutes, I had to decide. I did what the Pope had told me to: I rang the bell.
"The sisters hurried to my bedside. They found me sitting up on the bed. They looked at me as if they were dreaming. I could no longer stifle my joy, and I almost shouted: ‘I have been healed. It was Pope John. Measure my fever, you’ll see that I have none’. Mother Superior thought I was delirious, as sometimes happens before death.
"They took my temperature: 36.8 C°. ‘Do you see?’, I said, challenging them. ‘Now give me something to eat because I’m hungry’. I hadn’t been able to hold anything down in my stomach for many months. Mother Superior, who was almost hypnotized by my state of excitement, ordered the sisters to do as I asked. A sister brought me some semolina, which I ate voraciously, to the astonishment of my sisters. Then they brought me an ice cream, and I ate that too. ‘I’m still hungry’, I said. The sister brought me some meatballs, and I ate those, followed by some soup, and I devoured that as well.
At this point, the Mother Superior, who was still not convinced of what was happening, said: ‘Now we have to change you’, thinking that everything I had eaten had gone out of the fistula that had opened on my stomach, which is what always happened. They lay me down on the bed. A nurse brought gauze and a clean nightgown. They uncovered me. The nurse shouted: ‘But there’s nothing here’. The sisters fell on their knees, crying from emotion. Until a few minutes earlier the skin on my stomach had been one big wound: the gastric fluids that continually flowed out of the fistula had corroded the skin. The wound had completely disappeared. There was no sign of the fistula, not a trace: the skin was smooth, clean and white. So I told them what had happened.
"From that day on," concludes Sister Caterina, "I haven’t been ill at all. The doctors examined me, did scores of x-rays. There wasn’t a trace of my illness. The day after the miracle I went back to a normal life. My first lunch was french fries, roast kid, tomatoes and ice cream. I went back to eating anything I wanted. That was 34 years ago: I’m well, I have no problems of digestion, and I work with enthusiasm."
Sister Caterina with the relics of Bl. John XXIII
Sister Caterina was cured on 25 May 1966.
I tried to find out who was the first Sedevacantist. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, it seems to have been Francis Schuckardt of unhappy memory; but even so, Pope John XXIII had visited Sister Caterina five years before this Sedevacantist was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop in 1971. Others who were better qualified to hold Sedevacantist beliefs came on the scene later.
God's miracle confirming the holiness and pontificate of Pope John XXIII was five to ten years before the Sedevacantist and Sedeprivationist movements began.
The miracle of Sister Caterina is a continuous miracle: she still has no spleen and no pancreas; her stomach is the size of a prune. Since 26 May, 1966, Sister Caterina Capitani lives a "super human" life of hospital work.
Sometimes even the finest arguments are wrong. They are wrong when God contradicts them by miracle.
The Sedevacantist arguments have been contradicted by a continuous miracle since 25 May, 1966.
In the matter of the papacy the onmiscient God provided a living affirmation that the true Church continues through the Popes that followed Pope Pius XII. The Church may not be the way we may think it should be; but it is the Church. The Popes may not be the way we think that they should be either; but they are the Popes. And after Pope Pius XII there came Blessed John XXIII. If we doubt this we should meditate on the miracle of Sister Caterina Capitani. But if we deny the miracle we would be like those of old, of whom Our Lord said: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. (John X, 25)
Dear Lost Sheep, look at Sister Caterina Capitani in this Italian video:
It may help to look at a walking miracle that contradicts the sedevacantist view.
Persevere along the narrow, often painful road of life in the Church under Peter in 2011. The truth is often difficult to accept; there are many times when we would like to say: "Stop the world I want to get off;" - it is not an option; however bad, we must accept it. The spiritual world is as real as the material world; escaping the Church is not a real option; it would be leaving the spiritual, invisible reality, upon which our eternity depends, for a temporal deadly game of playing house.
Some traditional Catholics do not want to recognise that Pope John XXIII was a true Pope others dismiss his beatification and holiness of life.
I am struck by words often prayed in the Divine Office: Fratres: Non enim qui seipsum commendat, ille probatus est; sed quem Deus commendat. ~ Brethren: For he is not approved who commends himself, but whom God commends. (2 Cor. 10:17-18 ).
Blessed Pope John XXIII has been raised to heavenly glory in proof of which, through his intercession, Sister Caterina Capitani was instantly healed as we have related.
Some would not commend him but God commends him! Blessed John XXIII ~ quem Deus commendat.
Meanwhile the grave wherein is laid the body of the 'very wise doctor and priest', Father Joaquin Saenz y Arriaga, the Spiritual Father of the Sedevacantist movement is silent.
During his life many approved him, lauded his intelligence, attended his lectures, acknowledged his leadership above the Pope's, and saw his actions as vital for the survival of the Church: But his tomb is silent.
As of yet he has produced no miracle to prove that his more than 50 books were right. Brethren: He is not approved who commends himself, but whom God commends. (2 Cor. 10:17-18 ).
Fr. Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga, S.J. (Oct. 12, 1899 - April 28, 1976). (Mexican). Doctor of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law, international lecturer, author of over fifty books including: "The new Montinian Church", "Sede Vacante: Paul VI is not a legitimate Pope", and "Vacant See."
He believed and taught that the claimants to the papacy after Pope Pius XII were invalid claimants. As a result of this, in 1972, he was excommunicated by Cardinal Miranda and the Roman Catholic bishops' conference of Mexico.
Fr. Sáenz died of cancer on April 28, 1976. He lies in a silent grave.
Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam. (Mt. 16:18) Hic est lapis, qui reprobatus est a vobis ædificantibus... (Act 4:11). Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. (Mt. 16:18). This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders. (Act 4:11).
Blessed John XXIII ~quem Deus commendat~ in your stupendous miracle approved by God, pray for us!
The story of the "Thuc Consecrations" is, briefly, a tragic one. The prestigious Archbishop of Hue in Vietnam pictured above agreed in 1981 to consecrate three bishops who are the origin of the "Thuc Line Bishops" still operating.
Only two need to be considered since the third played only a minor role.
Their names are Bishop des Lauriers and Bishop Carmona.
Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục.
(October 6, 1897–December 13, 1984)
Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P. (1898 - 1988) Consecrated bishop 7 May, 1981.
I personally never knew the Vietnamese Archbishop before the time of my two visits to his residence at 22, rue Garibaldi, Toulon, in the district of Var, in France. The first time was in March 1981... The second in January, 1982. - Fr. Noel BARBARA.
22, rue Garibaldi in Toulon as it is today.
"The Archbishop lived in a very poor and dirty apartment on the first floor of an old tenement building. In appearance, it was a simple flat that was longer than wide, with a small side kitchen. On the right was a modest bed. In the corner was a table on which he celebrated the traditional rite as codified by Saint Pius V every morning. There were many pious images, a pile of "pocket books," two chairs and five cats that appeared to be everywhere." - Fr. Noel BARBARA.
As he only had two chairs, the Archbishop sat on his bed and Father Barbara sat opposite him. The room was so small that Father Barthe had to place his chair behind the Archbishop.
This is the setting for the consecration of the founder of the Thuc Line bishops. A cramped "dirty" bedroom, five cats, a corner table ...and a telephone.
In 1981 France was not under persecution. Why were the Episcopal Consecrations not performed even in a hotel room?
The Mass of the Consecration of a Bishop was twice celebrated up against the window.
There were not three altar cloths for there was not even one altar cloth.
The dial up telephone was left where it was, its telephone wire came onto the table; also a box of matches. Episcopal Consecration of Bishop des Lauriers. (Click on the images to make them bigger.)
Ask yourself: Is this the Sacred Action that was necessary for the continuation of the Priesthood and of Apostolic Succession in the Church?
Episcopal Consecration of Bishops Carmona and Zamora. (Better view of the telephone.)
Tragic days ~ the story has not ended.
Blessed Pope John XXIII's miracle had taken place 13 years earlier than these lamentable acts.
By that glorious miracle of God's Right Hand Sedevacantism is judged wrong and deadly to souls.
Blessed John XXIII ~quem Deus commendat~ in your stupendous miracle approved by God, pray for us and for the return of all our brethren who seem lost to Sedevacantism!
The Sedevacantist/Sedeprivationist Episcopal Consecrationof Fr. Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P. by Archbishop Thuc.
A very notable characteristic of Sedevacantism is that it surrounds itself with cartloads of plausible arguments; pages and pages and pages of old Papal Bulls, Canon Law, Church History and quotes from Doctors of the Church. Whoever begins out along this road is soon to be caught in a swamp of arguments.
Correct interpretation in the matter of the Papacydoes not depend onthe theories of experts.
Correct interpretation in the matter of the Papacydepends entirely uponthe authority of God and His Church.
The three leading Sedevacantists were all highly qualified experts and brilliant men; none of them held a single doctorate alone, all three held three Doctorates each.
Archbishop Ngô Ðình Thuc. Doctorates in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law.
Fr. Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga, S.J. Doctorates in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law.
Fr. Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P. The most brilliant of the three: Doctorates in Mathematics, Philosophy and Theology;
Advisor to Pope Pius XII concerning the Dogma of the Assumption; Confessor to Pope Pius XII for a time; the mind behind the "Ottavani Intervention."
The ceremony that perhaps may have consecrated Fr. des Lauriers a bishop. 7 May, 1981.
I had never doubted the exceptional intelligence of the Reverend Father (Guérard des Lauriers), nor for that matter, the width and depth of his knowledge of the science of theology.
On the other hand, what I have always said about this great soul - those that knew him will not disagree with me - was that he suffered from an almost total absence of practical judgment. In an almost habitual fashion he would support and defend the worst side of any issue. It was this lack of judgment on his part that led me to break off all relations with him. [Fr. Noel Barbara, Fortes in Fide, 1993.]
This priest with a great mind was convinced that the Popes after Pius XII, if Popes they were at all, were only potentially popes, and each was deprived of his formal papacy in actual fact.
It was his theory. He could express the theory in its fullness. Some still agree with it. He sought out Archbishop Thuc and asked to be consecrated a bishop since, by his theory, the Sacraments had become invalid and he was called to continue Apostolic Succession in the Church; thus he sought to be consecrated a bishop.
Was his theory right? Thankfully, No. Heaven has not approved his theory. He died on 27 February, 1988. Since then, from eternity he works no miracles. He lies in a silent grave. Requiescat in pace.
His expert theory was proved 100% wrong.
Contradicting the swamp of intellectual arguments that can never be resolved by mere men, God Himself judged this matter authoritatively when He caused Pope John XXIII ~ dressed indeed as a true Pope and not as a mere bishop or cardinal ~ to appear to and to heal a dying nun in an astounding, physical, scientifically inexplicable, miracle for all sedevacantists and sedeprivationists to simply, humbly accept.
Replies to a set of questions regarding the posts on Sedevacantism/Sedeprivationism.
I have thought over your comments and make the following replies.
1 How do you know that Fr Arriaga and Fr de Lauriers work no miracles?
If these well known traditionalists worked stunning miracles (or even some small wonders) it is fair to believe that the whole of the traditional world would be alerted to the fact very quickly.
This is because any miracle that they worked would be a confirmation of the Sedevacantist or Sedeprivationist doctrines that they taught.
2. Miracles may be slow in coming; vide. Cardinal Newman.
Yes, we could have a long time to wait for a miracle from the founders of the Sedevacantist or Sedeprivationist movement.
However, Pope John XXIII worked his stupendous miracle less than three years after his death; in fact on what would be the first day of the Novena before his 3rd anniversary.
3. Not all true popes work miracles. Did Pius XI?
Yes, you are right of course. Not all true popes work miracles after their deaths. But that is not the point here.
The point is this: The Sedevacantists say that there has not been a true pope since Pius XII.
The fact that Pope John XXIII has worked his miracle proves: a) that he is in heaven, b) that he was a true Pope and c) that therefore the sedevacantist theory that there has been no Pope since Pius XII is wrong. That is all we set out to demonstrate.
4. Do you not think that there is something distasteful, not to say scandalous, about ad hominem attacks on traditionalists who have been in their graves for many years now (35 years in the case of Dr Arriaga).
Certainly we want the dead to rest in peace and we pray for their souls.
For over 35 years their sedevacantist or sedeprivationist theories have been a constant attack on the persons of the five Popes who have legitimately filled the Chair of Peter since Pius XII. Their distasteful scandal cannot be readily repaired without a comparison between the grave of John XXIII and the graves of the authors of these pernicious errors.
For over thirty years noisy Sedevacantist arguments have dominated this question –many of them ad hominem, like the supposed scandals of Pope John XXIII (claimed to be a Freemason, a Heretic, the Usurper of Siri, etc).
We take the case from the arena of human arguments to that of the supernatural level.
The miracle introduces the judgment of God and demonstrates that John XXIII, quem Deus commendat, is a Blessed Pope and was a true Pope.
On the contrary, those who have attacked John XXIII as an anti-pope or ‘material’ pope only, are left in their silent graves; their theories have not been supported by Heaven.
Since we want to help souls find their way to the true Shepherd, the Vicars of Christ, it is necessary to demonstrate that the maligned Vicar of Christ, Blessed John XXIII was indeed a true Pope as are his successors.
5. Do you not think that it is better to explain why a theory is incorrect, rather than attack the man?
Until now the Sedevacantist/Sedeprivationist theories have been argued with cartloads of paper and gallons of ink.
In this world the voice of truth is easily drowned out.
For those souls who have lost faith in the validity of the Popes, more arguments are not going to help. Even the voice of the Church will not help because they believe it to be the voice of a Newchurch. In the chaos of this darkness what can help us? Not more arguments! No.
Where can help come from? Emmite lucen tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.In our situation it is a mercy from Heaven that God directly sent forth His light and His truth that souls may be conducted and brought back to His holy hill and the tabernacles of the Church.
The theorists are dead, long buried; they lie in silent graves. But, then, from among the dead, the silenced voice of their opponent is heard; he has the last word on the matter. His voice is loud, clear, full of charity; it awakens a dying nun and heals her instantly and in such a way that she lives thereafter as a walking miracle...Emmite lucem tuam... John XXIII is a brilliant shaft of light on the validity of the “Post Conciliar” popes.
6. Should traditionalists be attacking one another, rather than the enemies of the church?
When sheep and lambs are lost to the Chief Shepherd because of erroneous doctrines it is charity to try to bring them home. If God has given a miracle to prove the Sedevacantist theories wrong it is a duty to speak up and publicise it.
Whoever holds the sheep away from the Chief Shepherd is not his ally even if he speaks from the Papal Bulls and recognises the Assumption of the Blessed Mother.
7. I don't believe you are doing yourself any long term credit by this line of argumentation.
Credit is not the goal.
We began this to help a soul called “Lost Sheep.” To help a soul is a great privilege. Our Lord gave His life for this soul.
For our part, we have tried through the blog posts to secure Lost Sheep along the road of returning to the Church. Since Lost Sheep cannot be the only one in this situation we have published the response for others to find.
It is like everything else, we have to do what we think is right and pay the price for it. The cost is never too much.