In case you’ve been ‘wondering’…

Signs and Wonders: Answering the ‘Sedevacantism Has No Miracles’ Objection

Occasionally, people who are looking for the true Catholic position in our times will say that they choose not to embrace Sedevacantism because there are no miracles associated with it that would testify to its truth.

This objection is somewhat odd because it apparently supposes that Sedevacantism is a new religion that must back up its claims with miracles in order to establish its own credibility. In reality, however, it is quite the reverse: the Vatican II religion is the new religion, whereas Sedevacantism is simply the result of applying the known perennial Catholic truth to the bizarre circumstances of our present time.

How truly novel and how diametrically opposed to the traditional Catholic religion the Vatican II religion really is, can perhaps best be seen with regard to the topic of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, where the rejection of the perennial past doctrine, and thus the defection from the Roman Catholic religion, is wholly undeniable:

The Catholic Church is indefectible. The Papacy is indefectible. The Church could never change her Faith, any more than she could cease to exist. She cannot now teach what in the not-too-distant past she condemned under the severest penalties as a grave danger subversive of the Faith (for example, as Pope St. Pius X did with regard to Modernist ideas and principles).

The only logically possible alternative to Sedevacantism would be to say that the Catholic Church, in particular the Papacy, has defected and been abandoned by the Holy Spirit, but this would constitute heretical blasphemy; or else to deny the obvious, which would be repugnant to reason. Thus Sedevacantism, with all its practical difficulties and unresolved questions, must be the true position: The ‘popes’ since the death of Pius XII are not true Popes of the Catholic Church but charlatans of a counterfeit-church masquerading as Catholic, the very “operation of error” warned against by St. Paul (see 2 Thess 2:10).

Exactly how this happened, how long this state will last, where the Teaching Church is today, etc. — these are legitimate and important questions, but we need not resolve them to be able to know that the Vatican II Church is false and its apparent popes cannot be true Popes.

Just as we can know about a car’s failure to start quite independently of whether we grasp its cause or know how to get it to work again, so we can know that the Vatican II religion did not come to us from the true Catholic hierarchy, even if we do not (yet) have a complete understanding of what has taken place, or how it will ultimately be resolved.

In the following brief video, released a few days ago, Fr. Nicolás Despósito, who teaches at Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Reading, Pennsylvania, addresses the objection of Sedevacantism having no miracles:

The rector of Most Holy Trinity Seminary, Bishop Donald J. Sanborn, recently addressed a related topic in his monthly newsletter, namely, that of ‘Eucharistic miracles’ supposedly occurring now and again in the ‘New Mass’ of the Vatican II Church (aka ‘Novus Ordo Mass’).

Here are His Excellency’s comments:

Eucharistic miracles in the Novus Ordo? There are some who allege that there are eucharistic miracles taking place in Novus Ordo services.

There is even a prominent traditionalist bishop who gives credence to these alleged events.

In “Theology 101,” however, we learn that it is absolutely impossible that God could perform a miracle in confirmation of falsehood. Indeed, that the miracle confirm the truth is the first criterion of its authenticity, no matter what other “evidence” there may be.

It should be pointed out that the devil can perform an appearance of a miracle quite easily. For example, in Exodus, Moses changes his staff into a snake before the Pharaoh and his court. Then the Pharaoh tells his priests to do the same. In the sight of all, the staff is changed into a snake by the pagan priest. How did this happen? It must be remembered that an angel can move at very high speed, faster than light itself, and so he can substitute, more quickly than our eyes can discern, one thing for something else. Consequently there was an appearance of a miracle done by the pagan priests, but not a true one.

This sort of thing would be especially easy for the devil in the case of eucharistic miracles.

I do not understand how a bishop who regards the New Mass as something evil and to be avoided, to the extent that he is ready to disobey the person whom he says is the pope, could possibly conclude that these “miracles,” if indeed anything happened, could be from God.

In other words, if the New Mass is good, then why do we adhere to the traditional? If the New Mass is bad, then how could God approve it with a miracle? Either the New Mass is good or bad. The New Mass is either pleasing to God, or is displeasing to God. There is no gray area.

Catholics, therefore, relying not on extraordinary events, but the Church’s magisterium as well as her traditional disciplines and liturgy, should shun the New Mass and adhere exclusively to the traditional Mass.

They should discount as false any alleged supernatural event which does not confirm the truth of the Faith.

This excessive interest in apparitions and miracles is an attempt to have a “direct phone line to heaven” in the absence of the functioning of the Church’s magisterium. Such an attitude is very dangerous.

(Bp. Donald Sanborn, MHT Seminary Newsletter Nov. 2023, pp. 3-4; underlining added.)

One of the greatest spiritual authorities in the Catholic Church, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), warned: “Believe not those teachers that cry out against mortification of the flesh. Believe them not, even if they should corroborate those teachings by miracles” (qtd. by Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle, Guidance in Spiritual Direction [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1959], p. 81).

How could St. John, the Doctor of Mystical Theology, say such a thing? He could say it because denial of the necessity of mortification goes contrary to Catholic teaching, therefore the ‘miracles’ worked by such false teachers must be false.

It is understandable for the average Catholic layman to be getting frustrated on account of the terribly vexing situation in the Church today. It is thus also understandable that people would look for a practical way of resolving the issues for them that does not require them to dig through complex theological debates which they feel inadequate to properly assess. However, to use alleged miracles as a substitute for doctrine, as a shortcut to escape a weighing of the theological evidence, is a sure way to being misled.

The New Testament itself warns us in that regard, for example, in the book of the Apocalypse (Revelation):

The prophecies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind; he will set up a church of Satan in opposition to the Church of Christ. Antichrist will assume the role of Messias; his prophet will act the part of Pope; and there will be imitations of the Sacraments of the Church. There will also be lying wonders in imitation of the miracles wrought in the Church.

(Rev. E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise [Baltimore, MD: Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, 1955], pp. 65-66; underlining added; italics removed. #CommissionLink)

False miracles to deceive mankind were not just prophesied in the Apocalypse, however, but also in the Gospels by Our Lord Himself and by St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians:

And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you: For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand.

(Matthew 24:4-5,11-13,23-25)

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; lo, he is here: do not believe. For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets, and they shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce (if it were possible) even the elect. Take you heed therefore; behold I have foretold you all things.

(Mark 13:21-23)

Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.

(2 Thessalonians 2:3-11)

For an interpretation of these passages that is consonant with Sacred Tradition and the Church’s best authorities on the subject, we recommend Cardinal Henry Edward Manning’s outstanding treatment, which is beyond all possible bias since it was published in the 1860s:

Another argument often heard in our day is that the Catholic Church is currently suffering her own mystical Passion, her own Crucifixion, her own Calvary.

That this is so cannot seriously be denied, but we cannot use it as a pretext for throwing traditional Catholic doctrine overboard. Even the Church’s Passion cannot go contrary to God’s promised assistance for His Church:

The following excerpt from our podcast episode TRADCAST 030, originally released May 1, 2021, also addresses the question of miracles:

People who, for a recognition of true and authentic miracles, trust an institution that can canonize as ‘saints’ such clearly unholy characters as ‘Pope’ Paul VI — who wrecked the Catholic Mass, destroyed the Faith of millions, opened the Church to all kinds of heresies and errors, etc. — do so at their own peril.

Discerning the truth of Sedevacantism does not have to be insanely difficult. It does not have to involve complicated theological concepts, nor does it require one to ‘judge the Pope’ or determine if a Pope is guilty of formal heresy. Here are some links that will help anyone who is sincerely trying to figure things out:

Do not fall for the ‘miracle’ trap. As the New Testament prophesies, people will only be misled by lying wonders.

What, then, should you do? Simply be a Catholic!

Image source: composite with elements from Shutterstock (Roman Samborskyi/Andy Dean Photography)
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