TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
Edited by Pius of Sutica. Written by the Tractarian Movement.
TRACT II: The Church as the Sword of Owyn.
“Owyn...called to the Prophetic vocation...I admonish.”-Spirit 1:2, 20. 2:2, 19, 3:2, 16, etc.
“Owyn obeyed the command of God and anointed the brothers Everistus and Clement, who jostled in the same womb, as joint bearers of the Laurel of Horen. He entrusted to them the word of God...and charged them to instruct their brothers in the path of holiness.”-Gospel 3:3-4.
“The priesthood of Owyn”-Gospel 5:24.
“Successor of the High Priesthood of the Church.”-An ancient title of the High Pontiff.
Friends. We should like to remind Holy Church of her duty to admonish error both in the world, and among her members. Such a duty is often-times forgotten, or seen as uncharitable, overzealous and authoritarian. Yet it is, as will be demonstrated, a duty given us by God, and therefore one which cannot be neglected, and furthermore, it is a duty vested chiefly in the Pontiff, for whom all our prayers and sacrifices are consecrated.
Point I: That the Church is the Inheritor of the Prophetic Vocation.
At his baptism, Horen is crowned with a laurel by the Angel Tesion and declared the Prophet of God. (Gospel 2:34-38.) So we too, the members of the Church, are baptised, and so too we are crowned by the same Angel and with the selfsame laurel. “ As Equal-to-the-Exalted Julia is the spiritual Mother of the latter Prophets (Gospel 2:71-2), so too have the Pontiffs, especially the current holder of that high office, lauded her as the spiritual Mother of the Church: “She is, in a very real sense, the mother of the Church.” (St. Julia’s Day Sermon.)
Hence it is that the Church is the dispenser of and sharer in those spiritual benefits given unto the Prophets and vouchsafed unto mankind in the Revelation of the Holy Scrolls. And that the Church is the sole keeper and dispenser of these gifts is evident from the Scrolls themselves: the priests of the Church are of the “priesthood of Owyn” (Gospel 5:24) annointed with the holy oil of Exalted Owyn and entrusted to instruct the world in the ways of Faith. (Gospel 3:4)
Hence it is that through the preaching of the Scriptures, through the Motherhood of Saint Julia, and through the Holy Sacraments, not only in shares but perpetuates the Prophetic vocation. “We confirm the jurisdiction of the High Pontiff, the Vicar of God, to speak authoritatively on all matters of faith and the church, within the confines of the dogma and canon.” (Fundamentum Ecclesiae, IV.) The same document also makes it clear that the High Pontiff is the successor of the Prophet in matters of Faith and Morals. (Section V.)
Now we do not mean to say by this that the Church, or the person of the High Pontiff, receive any new Revelation, as this was complete with the Prophets, but that she is the sole interpreter and indisputable authority on this Revelation, which she perpetuates. So that if there is any new controversy in the Faith, or if new problems emerge as due to the changing nature of the times, it is her lot to apply the old principles to new times.
Point II: This Vocation Includes the Power and Duty of Admonishment and Anathema.
What is the nature of this Prophetic vocation of which we have written? “It is the mission of the Church and all those entities bound by its grace and infallibility to preach the Scroll of Gospels to all creation in an effort to bring all back to the God of gods.” (Saint Sixtus IV, Thesis on Virtue.) It is many things. But pertinent to us today is the one duty that rings out at us the most: admonishment.
Owyn begins every Epistle in the Scroll of Spirit with the invocation of the Prophetic vocation, and ends them with the admonishment of some error. (See Spirit 1:2; 1:20, etc.) His words ring out to us in comfort, yes, teaching of the mercy of God, but just as strongly they admonish us when we stray from that mercy through doctrinal error. Now since the Church has inherited the Prophetic vocation and the dispensation of the Scrolls, it is evident that this same duty lies to us.
And nor do the Doctors hesitate in giving us plenteous examples. Blessed Everard IV was by no means afraid of exercising this holy office against the warmongers of this own time, rebuking them with the strong words of ANATHEMA (Pax Dei et Treuga Dei), and in like manner did Saint Daniel the Reader not waver, whilst offering the chance for repentance (Second Golden Bull of Dibley) in his harsh anathema of the heretics of his time. The Constitution of Fundamentum Ecclesiae, whose acts were approved with the unanimous weight of the Holy Synod (Golden Bull of Holofernes, X), reminds us also of this duty: “Similarly, it is his right alone to declare anathema, or the excommunication of an unrepentant individual from the body of the faithful.” (Section IV.)
Hence it is that the High Pontiff and his ministers must be scrupulous in the observance of the holy Dogmas, and must not be afraid to excommunicate wrongdoers and anathematise heretics, whilst offering them, at all times, the chance for sweet repentance. This is the teaching of the Holy Doctors. Indeed, God help us if we fail in this duty, for we will be held responsible for the ruin of souls if we fail to carry out our duty.
Point III: The Question of Infallibility.
This duty can manifest itself in the much-disputed force of Infallibility. That Infallibility subsists in the Pontiff in some form was the opinion of many Doctors and great Pontiffs, not least Saint Sixtus IV (Apostolic Constitution on the Process of Beatification and Canonisation; Ecclesiastical Declaration on Infallibility) and Blessed Daniel VI (Pontifical Decree of 1720.) It is not, then, solely the domain of heretical and tyrannical Pontiffs, but of great Saints. And the aforementioned Holy Synod also very strongly affirmed Pontifical Infallibility. (Fundamentum Ecclesiae, IV.)
It is not surprising. Since the Church is the inheritor of the Prophetic Vocation and the High Pontiff is the head of the Church charged with the keeping of the word of God and the instruction of all as the Scriptures affirm, when a Pontiff invokes infallibility, he in some way taps into that Prophetic ministry. This does not mean the Pontiff is perfect, or that he cannot err when speaking outside of the conditions that we will lay out. Owyn sinned and erred, but the hand of God wrote the Scroll of Spirit through his Epistles. And in like manner, the Pontiff can be the most immoral lecher, and can get the Ponceball scores wrong, but this does not invalidate his office. “And thou remainest my Prophet,” says the Lord. (Gospel 4:56.) He might well say to the Schismatic: “And thou remainest my Pontiff.” Blessed Daniel VI wrote: “It is within the safekeeping of dogma, the Church rightly teaches, that the High Pontiff practices infallibility, and his word may not be contested. For sacred dogma is eternal, it is outside of time.” (Pontifical Decree of 1720.)
But it is true, as a certain Dr. Stephen, an historian, pointed out to us, that Infallibility has been argued for and even invoked by heretics. How are we to reconcile this? That Infallibility exists is clear in our teaching. The answer is that to the true invocation of Infallibility has to meet certain conditions, which these heretics failed to meet.
The Church, our dear Mother, our true Mother, our only Mother, gives us the answer.
Point IV: Conditions for Infallibility.
I)It must be on a matter of Faith. God, through Exalted Owyn, charged the High Priests to instruct their brothers in the path of holiness. We cannot expect Infallibility to protect us outside of instructing in holiness, that is, matters of Faith and Morals.
II)It must be a statement intended for all times. Matters like clerical celibacy should be considered changeable matters of discipline. Simply switching them around cannot be considered infallible. But if it some error of modernity were to arise, viz. The abolition of private property or of hierarchy, the Church would be infallible in saying: “If any man saith that at any time it is wrong for men to hold private property on grounds of Faith and Morals, let him be anathema.”
III)It must be in the Office of the Pontiff. EX CATHEDRA. The Pontiff is just a man, and even Horen and Owyn sinned gravely. Therefore, if he is speaking in his capacity as a private citizen and not invoking the Office of Pontiff, it cannot be assented to as infallible.
IV)It must be in union with the Holy Synod. The Synod cannot be infallible or pronounce authoritatively on Faith without approval of the Pontiff, for this would be a usurpation, (Fundamentum Ecclesiae, V.) However, in a similar way, the High Pontiff must have at least two thirds approval of the Holy Synod and be speaking in explicit union with them.
The chief example that fits all these conditions is Canonisation. When we read Saint Sixtus IV’s Constitution on Beatification and Canonisation, we know that it covers Faith and Morals (A man being in the Sky), is issued for all times (For the Church has no right to strip men from the Skies, rather it is God who judges and we who merely acknowledge His choice), is done explicitly from Pontifical Infallibility (See the Constitution) and requires at least two thirds approval of the Holy Synod. Since here we have a solid and indisputable example that fits all these conditions, the Church, in the future, must meet and use them if she hopes to use Infallibility as a mechanism of holy admonishment.
Point V: Conclusion.
The Church is the purifying Sword of Owyn. She loves her children, but she loves them in the Truth. She exercises his admonishing office, and perpetuates the Prophetic Office through the Scrolls and Sacraments, but also through the active teaching authority she possesses, chiefly vested in the Pontiff but in union with the Holy Synod. The Church has the power to define dogma and to admonish and anathematise those who refuse to submit to her judgement.
We close this Tract with a warning. A failure to admonish is a dereliction of duty and a true failure. Let us admonish out of love and tenderness, offering the chance for repentance but being unafraid to simply do the charge given us by the only Living God. Therefore, let us hear the sweet words of God when we die to the effect that we have done His duty and now may enjoy His presence, and let us not hear those terrible words of judgement that we have failed as priests in our exalted office.
We humbly submit these words for our Mother Church's approval, and accept any correction she may be wont to give.
God love you.
P.S. It should be considered by the reader that in the Proverbs, it is also implied that Godfrey attained to the Prophet-hood not only in spite of, but because of his weaknesses. See Proverbs 1:3-4: “Am I not a man? Did I not suckle at the breasts of my mother? Have I not had lusts, fears and tribulations? Have I not suffered thereof? Verily, I am, and I have. My fellow man I have injured: thereby to God have I sinned, for to injure the innocent is an injury an hundredfold in the sight of the awesome and living God. (3) But to God I sought penance, and repentance, to make Him my sole crutch, by which He hath vested in me Prophethood.”
And as St. Julia said, “he hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.” (Proverbs 2:16) It should not surprise us when God chooses feeble instruments to achieve his ends, for by it, He is glorified all the more. If God can keep the Church as a functioning and flourishing people in spite of the malice and incompetence of her own members, the world is all the more confounded at His marvellous expense. Praise God!