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Are Traditional Catholics a cult ?

Traditional Catholics

Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D.

Are Traditional Catholics a cult ?

Cult (totalistic type): a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea or thing, and employing unethical, manipulative or coercive techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, and/or suspension of individuality and critical judgement) designed o advance the goals of the group's leaders to the possible or actual detriment of members, their families or the community."
Johnson Foundation International
Conference on Cultism at Racine, Wis., 1985.

Traditional Catholics are not infrequently accused of being members of a cult. It is important therefore that we make some attempt to come to terms with just what is meant by the term. In early Roman times - before the birth of Christ - the word was used to describe the worship offered God at the time of spring planting - hence the term agri-culture. Subsequently it was applied to all forms of worship and as such was adopted into Catholic theology to describe her liturgy. Currently the word has taken on a pejorative meaning and is used to describe a host of disparate groups some of which often reject all forms of worship - examples of the latter being Jonestown, the followers of Aurobindo and the New Age Religion.

Social Scientists tend to divide religious groups into three categories, churches which are established religious bodies, sects which are deviations from established churches, and cults which follow a different religious structure than that established and acceptable to the prevailing culture. Historians tend to define cults as any new religious group and would have no hesitation in describing Christianity as a cult that became a religion. Atheists use the term to describe any group that believes in a supreme being. Finally many denominations consider all those that disagree with them as cultists. You will notice that all these criteria are highly subjective in nature.

Implicit in the current use of the term cult is the idea that the religious beliefs of the group in question are erroneous, that the group is small and somehow different from the surrounding culture, and that there is an element of brainwashing or mind control that prevents the members of said group from seeing issues clearly. Some of these implicit criticisms can be applied to us. We are a small group - a remnant; those that disagree with us hold that our religious beliefs are erroneous; by the very nature of things we are at odds with the prevailing culture and we are often accused of controlling the thinking of our members. It is not surprising then to find Traditional Catholics accused of being members of a cult - Cardinal Lustiger in Paris has repeatedly designated the followers of Lefebvre as being such. Even sadder is the fact that some Traditional Catholics are labeling others of the same religious persuasion with this term of opprobrium. It is thus important then that we come to some understanding as to what is meant by a "cult" and that we find some objective criteria by which to evaluate the issues involved.

In order to do this I shall initiate this paper from the point of view, not of a Traditional Catholic , but rather of someone with no religious beliefs who is looking for the truth. How is this person to decide what is right and wrong, true and false, real and unreal. With our intellects wounded and our wills weakened by the fall of Adam, how can a person, without external help, ever be sure that he or she is avoiding self-delusion. Those whose intellects have been corrupted by the modern educational system usually deny that such is even possible, for they are prone to deny the very possibility of truth. Others will embrace the skeptics position because as Plato said, "skepticism is easy; unbelief is for the mob." But for those who are not yet intellectually apathetic or dead, the fundamental questions still persist. By what authority can we live and die? Are there authentic well-springs of truth, or is truth simply a matter of our own personal gut feelings, our psychological experiences, and what "works for us"? Is man only a higher animal or is he capable of surpassing his human nature and fulfilling some higher destiny? It is precisely to individuals that are seeking for something "more," that the various cults and religions offer their wares.

The first problem to be faced is whether truth is an objective or subjective entity. Is there such a thing as objective truth - truth which has always been and always will be the same - unchanging and constant - hence a truth which is absolute? Now, either words have meaning or they don't. If truth is only a matter of personal taste, if one is convinced that all reality is relative, there is hardly any point in continuing either discussion or search. One is caught in the vicious circle of proclaiming that the only truth there is that there is no truth. Unless we deny all logic and meaning we must conclude that Truth as such exists. Such a statement may seem puerile to a Catholic, but once an agnostic admits the possibility of truth, he is logically committed to seeking and adhering to this entity.

Once we accept the possibility of objective truth we can seek it out from only three possible sources. These are 1) the ancient and always constant Truths embodied in the Catholic Religion; 2) our own or someone else's gut feelings or psychological experiences as to what is true; and 3) some mixture of these two extremes. Either we accept objective criteria, or we accept subjective criteria, or we create a mixture of the two that for some reason or another we find personally satisfactory. We see here displayed the spectrum between Traditional Catholicism which offers us objectively defined truths, the beliefs of modern man which approach absolute subjectivity and Protestantism which is a mixture of some objective truths combined with subjective opinions. Vatican II, with its novel doctrine on religious liberty, places the post-Conciliar position on the nature of truth in the middle or modern category for it proclaims that man is free to believe anything he wants and that his very dignity lies in this freedom. How can man's dignity lie in his freedom to believe error?

Unfortunately we live in a very superstitious age. The so-called 'age of enlightenment' - a phrase well calculated to appeal to our pride - has been characterized by all the great religions as an age of darkness. Hindus call it the Kali Yuga or black age. Our own Scriptures tell us it is the age of the didaskolai - which literally translated means 'itchy ears,' and which as St. Augustine says in his Confessions, can only be soothed by innovations or new ideas. It is a time when, as Scripture tells us, 'men will grow tired of sound doctrine, and ravening wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock - speaking perverse things.' It is the time of the Great Apostasy.

Perhaps the two most powerful superstitions which hold sway upon us are the myths - or should I say "dogmas," of evolution and progress. These are, to steal a phrase from Karl Marx, the true "opiates" of the masses - no matter how bad things appear, given a little time science will solve everything and create the perfect utopia. The modern gestalt or outlook sees mankind as having evolved over the centuries from some primitive savage condition to our present enlightened state - this process is of course a continuing one and superman is on the way. We consider our ancestors - indeed, our very parents, as "backward" if not downright "primitive," and we look forward to that perfect world which we are supposedly building, a world in which illness, suffering, and poverty will be eliminated, a world so perfect that as T. S. Eliot said, we will no longer have to be good. As the Osservatore Romano stated in the not too distant past, "no one today any longer believes in tradition, but rather in rational progress. Tradition today appears as something that has been bypassed by history. progress, on the other hand presents itself as an authentic promise inborn in the very soul of man." This explains why Paul VI said "if the world changes, should not religion also change... the order to which Christianity tends is not static, but an order in continual evolution towards some higher form."

This belief in progress is a superstition. The problem with being superstitious is that it tends to blind us to the truth. If we are to look to the time of Christ as a source of authentic Truth, we must first abandon our modern superstitious belief in progress and evolution. As we shall see, there are a host of other superstitions "beliefs" that go to make up this modern gestalt. Among these I would include our modern ideas about the nature of man, our false egalitarian concepts, our socialist and utopian ideals, our familial attitudes, our moral, or rather unmoral codes, our belief in science and our attitudes towards religion in general. As someone once commented, this is the "whole ball of wax."

I well remember how my College friends - and later, how some of my professional colleagues - looked upon my being Catholic. I was accused of no longer thinking for myself. Now the idea that it is a good thing to think for oneself is another modern superstition. To put the matter in clearer focus, I would ask you to imagine a classroom of mathematical students telling the teacher that they wished to do mathematics 'for themselves.' No, thinking for oneself is not a healthy thing to do. What we must do is learn to do is to 'think correctly.' Now, it is the function of the Church, the Body of Christ, the presence of Christ in the world, to assist us in doing this; to teach us how to think correctly. But thinking correctly takes both work and discipline. We do of course have the 'freedom' to think for ourselves - we can think any way we want. But we do not have the right to do so, for error never has rights. Like murder, we are free to murder anyone we want, but we certainly do not have a right to do so.

We no longer accuse religious adherents of failing to think for themselves. The current allegation is that they have allowed themselves to be "brainwashed." Brainwashing implies that one's thoughts and attitudes can be influenced, if not controlled, by external forces. Both religions and cults - to say nothing of political systems - are accused of using various techniques to bring this about. Have those individuals who adhere to the constant teaching of the Church been brainwashed?

Before answering this question allow me to point out that we are all to some degree brainwashed. Every day our minds are bombarded by the news media, by television which the average American watches for over 60 hours a week, by popular novels and by those with whom we are in daily contact. There is no doubt in my mind but that most if not all of these entities embrace an anti-religious, liberal-humanistic, socialist and more or less skeptical-atheistic viewpoint. Moreover, the stresses of modern life are such that, in what little free time we have left, most of us expose ourselves to the media in a completely passive and non-critical manner. We in essence let the newscasters and politicians and writers of book of the month club novels tell us how to think and pride ourselves that we are thinking for ourselves. If we do not see this as brainwashing, it is because these sources pander to our egos and we find the offered pabulum both acceptable and pleasant. On the other hand, the mother who teaches her children her ancestral faith, or the priest who presumes to teach us about sin and penance, are accused of engaging in the unacceptable practice of brainwashing.

Let us pause for a moment to consider the educational background of most of our contemporaries - in many cases also our own. What formation did we bring with us from our homes? Most parents today have been so effectively brainwashed by the liberal and agnostic ethos of our time, that they no longer have and hence cannot convey any value system or set of fixed beliefs to their of spring. And even those who are not are so stressed out by an economic system which practically forces the wife to work, have little effective time left to spend with their offspring. And so it is that most children leave home with a sort of tabula rasa or empty mind - or with what is worse, a belief in the world of the television screen. According to published statistics, every Saturday 16 and 1/2 million children spend an hour and a half watching teenage mutant ninja turtles. Television is an excellent baby-sitter and it is not without good reason that sociologists call television a 'third parent.' Unfortunately, more often than not, it is the only parent.

And so it is with considerable relief that children are sent off to school. Mothers are finally free to 'do something significant with their lives,' as if the raising of children is but the lowest form of drudgery. With school formal brainwashing begins. The process starts in kindergarten where boys are made to play with dolls and girls with swords - this in order, to use the jargon of modern psychology - to prevent them from being stereotyped. Through a variety of techniques such as 'values clarification' they are taught to reject their parents values - assuming they were inculcated with any - under the guise of developing their own - usually that of the teacher or that being promoted by various governmental agencies. This process is called 'desatilization,' but would be better described as 'uprooting.' Throughout the next ten years they are taught to be good little evolutionists, socialists, and how to use the gift of sex without responsibility. And then they go on to college which is the sine qua non for entrance into a modicum of economic success. Once again, they pay a steep price - the price being paid is far more than tuition - it is the price paid for subjecting our minds to yet another process of indoctrination. As my father once said - and this in the forties - it is almost impossible for someone to graduate from college without a sever degree of intellectual impairment.

And so to the question: are Traditional Catholics brainwashed? I think the answer to this question must be phrased in terms of "thinking correctly" and of embracing "correct values." If the constant and ancient teachings of the Church are authentic sources of truth, and if we make them our own, then we are like the student of mathematics who learns to calculate correctly. Such a student is not brainwashed because he knows how to add and divide in a proper manner. The truth, our submission to the truth and our making it "our own," is in the last analysis, our only protection against both brainwashing and self-delusion. The next time someone suggests to you that you have been brain washed, ask him if St. Thomas Aquinas was brain washed?


Man does not live in a vacuum. Everyone - even the most convinced atheist - has what we can call a "belief system," which is to say, a series of convictions that determine how he lives his life. Now every belief system can be said to have a CREED - what it believes, a cult or manner of worship and a CODE or rules of behavior. Let us consider the belief system - the CREED, cult and CODE of the average college graduate. What does he believe? I think it fair to say that he is convinced there is no such thing as absolute truth. For him all truth is subjective and hence relative. Hence it is that in common parlance he no longer says "I know," but only that "I feel" something to be true. He believes that evolution is a law of nature applicable to all realms of experience. Everything evolves, not only man, but knowledge, society, and even God! I remember when my six year old son came home from public school one afternoon and announced with pride that he no longer believed in God! I asked what he believed in then and he answered E......oh, how do you say that word? Fortunately my scientific credentials as a thoracic surgeon were such I was easily able to convince him otherwise. But evolution is inculcated in our children's mind from the cradle. Have you ever watched a nature show on television? The pictures are marvelous, but the message is driven home repeatedly. Everything from the tiger's stripes to the Giraff's neck evolved. Every child of our time knows who Darwin is. How many of them have ever heard of St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas?

Evolution is of course quite absurd from both the scientific and philosophical viewpoint. From the scientific viewpoint: not only is there absolutely no proof in favor of evolution, but all the evidence is against it. Geology, biology, mathematics, genetics and all the other scientific disciplines speak to the fixity of the species, the impossibility of chance and the absurdity of transformism. No intermediary forms between species has ever been found. There is much talk of 'missing links.' The problem with missing links is that they are missing! To believe in evolution is to believe that the greater can come out of the less, it is to believe that energy and life can be created sue generis, it is to believe that things happen by 'chance' in the sense that chance is a random possibility. Probability theory tells us that the chance of one evolutionary step occurring is so remote as to be impossible. Yet evolutionists tell us many such chance events have occurred. The most amazing thing about evolution is that many scientists who admit all this continue to believe in it - they are truly men of a deep but blind faith - a credo quia incredibilis. It is not the African bushman, but rather modern man who believes in the blind forces of nature. It is he who should be labeled an animist!

Philosophically evolution is also absurd. If it were true, it would be as impossible for man to step outside the evolutionary stream to examine the process that 'developed' him as it would be for a computer to examine its creator. As the Oxford philosopher Sir Karl Popper pointed out: if Darwinism is right, then any theory is held because of a certain physical structure in the brain of the holder. Accordingly we are deceiving ourselves and are physically so determined as to deceive ourselves whenever we believe that there are any such things as arguments or reasons for anything. Purely physical conditions, including our psychical environment, make us say or accept whatever we say or accept. Let me give you one more quote - 'all the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings... presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.' Such is the official teaching of no less a person than John Paul II!

Philosophically evolution is based on chance - not one chance innumerable chances. Now it is a principle of both science and theology - and one might add, of Freud - that nothing happens by chance. We may not know the forces that create a situation, but, just as we know that flies do not come from spontaneous generation, so also we know that things just don’t “happen,” they are caused. But there are of course still other problems.

Implicit in evolutionary theory is the denial of free will. As Thomas Huxley, the great scientific propagator of evolutionary theory said, 'the fundamental proposition of evolution' is that 'the whole world, living and not living, is the result of the mutual interaction, according to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the world is composed.' After all, how can something - notice, I didn't say 'someone,' which is the product of rigid laws, laws which still control its future development and which has no freedom to step outside the evolutionary process - how can this 'something' act independently of these laws? How can this thing have a free will for which it is responsible? Evolutionist Jonas Salk admits as much. He openly admits that his Polio vaccine works against the evolutionary process of natural selection. The only way he can explain his drive to develop this vaccine is that he was genetically programmed to do so. Here one comes upon another conundrum, and one interestingly enough shared by Socialists for whom evolution takes the form of historical determinism. If man's life is determined by evolution or by history, how can he be 'free.' Yet both evolutionists and historical determinists proclaim man is free to help the process on its way towards perfection and an earthly utopia. Socialists go even further. They punish man for his failure to do so, and in the name of their socialist ideation have killed so many millions as to make the Jewish Holocaust appear as an insignificant drop in the bucket.

To think this way, as the psychiatrist Karl Stern has said, 'is crazy' in the sense that decompensated schizophrenics are crazy. I have called evolution a superstition - indeed, it is the 'grand-daddy' of all modern superstitions. Allow me to give you a definition of superstition taken from an older edition of Webster's Dictionary:

'An irrational abject state of mind... proceeding from ignorance, unreasoning fear of the unknown, or mysterious morbid scrupulosity, a belief in magic or chance, or the like, misdirected or unenlightened religion or interpretation of nature... a fixed irrational idea, a notion maintained in spite of evidence to the contrary.'

Who are some of the more dominant "gurus" of the modern world, and what do they believe? Freud, Adler, Fromm, Maslow Rogers and Jung - are or were all of them evolutionists and consequently atheists. They tell us that what is called "intelligence" consists of "reason, the ability to deal with abstractions, the capacity to learn and the ability to handle new situations. Now reason apart - and enormous amounts of energy are extended in an attempt to prove that animals reason - all these abilities are to be found in lower forms of life. Hence it is not surprising to find Darwin telling us that "animals have an intellect of different proportions," and that man's intellectual faculties have been mainly and gradually perfected through natural selection..." Similarly, we are told that man's motivations and beliefs have their origin in his "subconscious", a term for which there are innumerable definitions and which is best defined as a kind of "cesspool of evolutionary memory." Again, we are told that man's ultimate motives are a search for security, pleasure, or what they call "self activation" through the meeting of "meta-needs." Truth is what is true for the individual; beauty is what gives pleasure; love the fulfilling of "biological urges." At the cost of denying both logic and experience, all that is qualitative in man is declared to be genetically determined - that is, determined by evolution - and hence is reduced to the measurable and thus to matter. Everything falls under this aegis. Rousseau held that savage man progressed to "civilized" man. Huxley gave this progression his scientific blessing. "Nature's great progression is from the formless to the formed - from the inorganic to the organic - from blind force to conscious intellect and will." If one can accept these premises it is easy to be persuaded that man is but a higher form of matter and that Superman is on the way. Those who think otherwise are dismissed as "dreamers" - as if matter could dream - who for all their efforts produce nothing materially beneficial.

St Thomas Aquinas tells us in his Contra Gentiles that an error with regard to creation inevitably results in a false idea about God. One cannot logically believe in evolution and also believe in God. Every scientist and every theologian worthy of his hire will admit to this. You will hear much talk about theistic or mitigated evolution - the idea that God works through evolution. If such were the case, then God would be very upset with any one who interfered with natural selection. How dare we treat the sick child or feed the poor and hungry. These are but natures way of weeding out the weak. How dare we stop wars when they are so highly successful in controlling the population explosion. Lets face it. It would be stupid to pray to a God whose only answer to prayer would have to be 'let natural selection or the 'punctured equilibrium' solve your problem' No scientist ever came up with the idea that God worked through evolution. Theologians did so. And why? Because they wanted to appear to be up to date and scientific.

Evolution does one other thing for modern man. It not only allows him to reject all that proceeded him, it also allows him to justify his self centeredness. He is at the apex of the developmental process. Brighter individuals may be born in the future, but at this point in time he is the most intelligent of beings. Hence he has every right to decide himself about what is right and wrong, what is true and false. And since all men are in his eyes equal, his decisions in these areas are of at least equal value as anybody else's.

Now, I have spent a long time on the credal issue of evolution because such false ideas are basic to the modern belief in progress - indeed, these two words progress and evolution are like two sides of the same coin. Until we abandon our superstitious beliefs in progress and evolution we will never look to the Christian Revelation as a source of authentic truth. By definition, no evolutionary process can provide us with authenticity - and surely this is reasonable. After all, an evolutionary process is a changing process and anything that is spiritually authentic cannot change. It is not surprising then to find that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo was declared to be de fide by Vatican I.

Let us return to our college graduate who sees himself - in so far as he troubles to look at himself at all - as being made in the image of an amoeba. Having dealt with his fundamental credal premises, what can we say of his manner of worship? For modern man no cult - no form of worship - is possible unless it be the worship of materialism or of that lesser "self" which we refer to when we call someone "self-ish." What besides the "evolutionary process" or "man" which is its highest product is there left to worship? As Karl Marx said. "Humanism is the denial of God and the total affirmation of man." This then is the foundation of modern "humanism."

Finally, we come to code. Here the rule of thumb is expediency. Everything is allowed providing it doesn't hurt the other - but in point of fact, self interest usually takes precedence. Consider adultery - and certainly adultery is not a rare phenomena in our society. When we sleep with our neighbor's wife we loudly proclaim that such activities between consenting adults hurt no one. But what of the offended party. Or again, we claim that 'abortion' hurts no one - and rapidly proclaim that the fetus is 'no one.'

This then is the Uncreed, the Uncult and the Uncode of modern man. We can summarize it as being Anthropocentric, or "man centered," progressive, and Evolutionist, and Void of metaphysical principles.

What is of interest is that the post-Conciliar Church has adopted as its own, precisely these viewpoints. Consider Vatican II's proclamations about the birth of "a new humanism in which man is defined first of all by his responsibility towards his brothers and towards history... that man is the artisan of his own culture, and that man can come to an authentic and full humanity only through culture... that through reciprocal duties and fraternal dialogue he develops his gifts and is able to rise to his destiny." All this is supplemented by Paul VI's "confidence in man," and his declaration on behalf of the new Church that "we also, we more than anyone else, have the cult of man." He indeed waxes eloquent on this theme: "There is no true riches but Man. Honor to Man, honor to thought, honor to science, honor to technique, honor to work honor to man, king of the earth, and today Prince of heaven. Post-conciliar Catholics, whether they know it or not, are committed to this kind of anthropocentricism. Consider this council's teaching that "the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic evolutionary one," complimented by its statement that "the progress of the human person and the advance of society itself hinge on each other. From the beginning, the subject and goal of all social situations is and must be the human person." As I have already pointed out, both John Paul II and his "spiritual father" Paul VI were believers in this evolutionary and progressivist view. And finally, her hatred of metaphysical principles is constantly manifested by her abhorrence of clear doctrine disguised by her claim to be more concerned with what is pastoral than what is dogmatic.

Traditional Catholics who live in the modern world where these false ideas are accepted without thinking must be careful not to adopt them as their own. The true Church, the Church of all times, is and always has been diametrically opposed to such views. She is clearly theocentric or centered on God, for she knows what we all know in our hearts, that man has no meaning and no reality apart from God. It is impossible for a Catholic to be an evolutionist for the doctrine of creation ex nihilo was declared to be de fide by Vatican I. She further clearly denies that man is or can progress towards some higher state of being. Quite the opposite, man has fallen from his former high estate. Born to a Golden Age, a Garden of Eden, where he talked and walked with God, men living in "latter days" are increasingly degenerate which is to say that they have wandered farther and farther from the truth. The entire economy of the Incarnation is aimed at restoring man to his primordial state. Nor can there be any progressive revelation of truth for she teaches that the fullness of the truth was revealed by Christ and the Apostles. And finally her entire edifice is built upon the truth which is to say on metaphysical principles.

If you would understand the true meaning of aggiornamento, you will find it here. It is the bringing of these false ideas into the bosom of the Church. I think all this becomes particularly clear in the new teaching about religious liberty. What does Vatican II tell us about religious liberty. It tells us that it is a revealed doctrine that every man is the source of his own truth, and that his true dignity lies in precisely this.

Let us be clear about what this means. I have told you that man has the ability to think incorrectly, but not the right to do so. He has the ability to murder, but not the right to do so. In the same way, he has the ability to believe error - history bears more than adequate proof to this - but he has no right to do so. But Vatican II says he not only has the right to do so, but that his very dignity is tied to this right, and that this is the teaching of Christ. This is nothing else than to proclaim that Christ as he was dying on the cross proclaimed to those around him that it was alright for them to believe anything they wanted because His death gave them the dignity to decide for themselves what was true and false. John Paul II's repeated teaching that all men are saved is a direct result of this false principle. It fulfills Satan's great desire in that it allows men to damn their souls in serenity.


Now it is all very well to point to the Church as the source of authentic and objective truth - indeed, as to the only source of such truth. But what of man's ability to recognize it. Can man ever come to certitude and be assured that he is not deluding himself? Is man capable of recognizing objective truth? All this brings us back to nature of man. I would like you to consider the following slide.

Intellection Revelation

Premise...............REASON (logic)............Conclusion

Feelings Measurable Phenomena

Modern Psychologists tell us Reason is the highest product of the evolutionary process. Now, clearly truth does not depend on reason. We do not say something is true because it is logical, but rather that it is logical because it is true. This presupposes a still higher faculty of judging or, to use the term of St. Thomas Aquinas, 'discernment.' Modern philosophers attempt to get around this problem by speaking of 'rational principles,' but forget that principles can never be derived from discursive logic. Reason cannot prove its own validity, for principles must be grasped intuitively and suprarationally. As Aristotle said, 'one does not demonstrate principles, but one perceives directly the truth thereof...' To make use of scholastic terminology, it is the pure intellect which is the habitus principorum, while reason is only the habitus conclusionum. Man then possesses reason and with it language, only because, unlike animals, he has access in principle to supra-rational vision. It is this supra-rational vision, intellection or insight that gives man, not only discernment, but certitude: certitude in his own existence as a being, confidence in the functional capacity of reason, the ability to discriminate between what is real and what is unreal, what is true and what is false. Intellection is a kind of 'seeing,' - a seeing with the 'third' or 'inner eye,' - and not a conclusion, and it is this that opens to man the possibility of metaphysical certitude. Boethius tells us that a man who defines himself as an animal who reasons has forgotten who he is - that is to say, has forgotten his true nature.

Because some of you may not be familiar with the concept that man is capable of certainty I should like to tell you a brief story. I was talking to a friend recently and I told him I had never had a religious experience. He responded much to my surprise that he had one and explained: two plus two = four. Now what he was referring to was the miracle of certitude and intellection this demonstrated. There is no one here who can seriously deny that man is capable of this certitude and thus of certitude in general. I will gladly exchange money with any of you who would argue that two plus two = five.

It should be clear that intellection has nothing to do with mental agility. This is well evidenced by what psychiatrists call idiot savants - people who can function like a computer, but who are incapable of thinking, much less intellection. But if all men are endowed with an intellect, why is it that all men do not see clearly. The answer lies in the fact that as a result of the fall - one could perhaps speak of a series of falls - our intellects have become 'clouded' and our wills 'weakened.' This does not mean that man is deprived of them, but only that they don't work as well as they should. This is precisely why a Revelation is required. Adam, required no revelation as his intellect was clear and he 'walked and talked with God.' We however, especially as we approach the end of the Kali Yuga, are desperately in need of a guidance which is precisely why there is Revelation.

True religion clearly provides man with objective truths; it also hold that man is capable of objectivity. Man is capable of using his intellect to determine what is objectively real and of discriminating between this and what is illusory. This requires on his part a certain act of the will. Man's will is also capable of objectivity for he can and must choose to accept these objective criteria or reject them and must suffer the consequences which flow from this choice. With freedom comes responsibility. This ability to intellect and to choose, to know the good and to desire the good, are qualities man shares by participation with God and hence man is said to be made in the 'image of God.' By using our intellects and wills correctly we 'participate' in the divine life. Modern man, seeing himself as made 'in the image of an amoeba,' does not believe it is possible to know truth or God who is the essence of truth, much less desire Him. Hence he does not believe he is responsible to anything other than his fellow amoebas. And this brings us to another principle, namely that man is responsible and hence when he dies he will be rewarded or punished in accord with how he uses both his intellect and his free will.

Before going on to define the nature of a cult there are a few more characteristics of a true religion which we should consider. Implicit in the diagram which I showed is that there is a hierarchy in man in which what is higher must rule over what is lower - not only must our intellects and wills rule over our passions, but ultimately the Spirit of God that dwells in us by Grace must rule over our intellects and wills. Putting this in other terms, objective truth and objective response demands on the part of man a spiritual life the goal of which is the sanctification of his soul. This in turn not only demands a strict moral code which is predispositive to the spiritual life, but also the more "active" response of a life of prayer.

This 'objective' view of reality not only effects our spiritual lives; it also is reflected in the social order. Not only must we order our inner lives in accordance with the divine will, we must also do this with regard to our outer or social lives. If there is a hierarchy in man, there must also be a hierarchical structure in the family. The family is thus a 'mini-Church.' Just as God is our Father in heaven, so also is the priest our Father - God's representative in the community, and so also is the Father God's representative in the family. As with the priest, the purpose of this is not to make him a despot, but rather a saint and a conduit for sanctifying those under his authority - be it the community or the family. There is no privilege in the divine order without corresponding responsibility.

And by further extension, this should ideally apply to society around us. All authority comes from God, but it is mediated through various intermediaries who in exercising that authority must try to be as perfect conduits as possible. If we daily pray 'Thy Kingdom come on earth,' we must remember that heaven also is a hierarchical society. Objectively speaking all this translates into certain fundamental principles in the social order. For one, we know we cannot achieve a perfect utopia in this world, one in which all men are equal and in which God is excluded. We further know that we cannot change man by changing society - rather we must start with ourselves. All this is not to say that man should not, in conformity with his nature, and with simple good sense, attempt to overcome the evils he encounters in the course of life - for this he requires no injunctions either divine or human. But to seek to establish a certain state of well being with God in view is one thing, and to seek to institute a perfect state of happiness on earth apart from God is quite another. In any event, the latter aim is foredoomed to failure precisely because the lasting elimination of our miseries is dependent upon our conforming to the divine Equilibrium, and upon our establishing the Kingdom of God within our own souls.

These then are some of the objective responses required of man - responses of which he is always capable. The two fundamentals to be remembered is that truth is objective and man is capable of objectivity. But what has this to do with the nature of cults. The answer is simple. A cult is any deviation from this pattern of objectivity. And since this pattern of objectivity is enshrined in the true Catholic faith, it follows that a cult is any deviation from that faith. I would ask you consider the following slide. Here we see a a pseudo-scientific graph in which the vertical axis represents the fullness of the faith and the horizontal axis the progression of time. Now the descending curve drawn from the left to the right is what I shall call the "cultic curve." From the beginning we see a certain tendency of mankind to deviate. With the course of time this tendency to fall away increases exponentially or at an increasingly rapid rate. You will notice that the curve never reaches bottom. This is not only because we cannot know when the end will come - even the angels do not know this, but also because total inversion, like total error, is an impossibility. Error can only be conceived of as a departure from truth.

You will also notice a little figure about half way down the curve. I have introduced a break in the curve with this figure not because deviation from the norm is not a continuity, but because at this point the break becomes quite clear. This is the point at which man no longer prays. It is interesting that one of the mediaeval descriptions of Antichrist is as a person whose knee joints are formed backwards - that is a person incapable of kneeling down to pray. Now a cult may not forbid prayer - though some actually do - the usual technique is to say that prayer is "optional." Those familiar with the rubrics of the New Mass know what "optional" means. It means something left in so Traditional Catholics cannot say it was deleted - but at the same time something which is meant to be ignored. The question to be asked is whether or not a member of a cult prays. When man no longer turns towards God, his chances of reversing the fall become increasingly poor. From a certain point of view it matters not where one falls on the curve for any departure of truth not attributable to invincible ignorance places oneself outside the ark of salvation. But from another point of view one can say that the farther one finds oneself from the truth, the more difficult is any reversal of one's condition.

At the start of this talk I gave various definitions of the word cult when used in a pejorative sense. I then pointed out that implicit in the current use of the term was the idea the religious beliefs of such a group were erroneous, that the group in question was small and some how different from the surrounding culture, and that there was an element of brainwashing or mind control involved. Can any of these criticisms be leveled at Traditional Catholics . The answer is clearly yes. We are a small group and inevitably we are at odds with the surrounding culture. And it is clearly true that we try to influence the thinking and behavior of those for whom we are responsible. As such we are bound to appear to some as a cult . However, if the reason we are a small group and if the reason we are at odds with the prevailing culture and if the reason we try to influence the thinking and actions of those we are responsible for is that we have the fullness of the truth such criticisms become meaningless.

It is perhaps better not to claim that 'we' have the fullness of the truth, for in fact it is only ours by adoption. In so far as we adhere to the constant teaching of the Church, no one can accuse us of adhering to other than purely objective truth. Nor has anyone in two thousand years been able to destroy the objective and authentic nature of that truth. As to brainwashing, it is clear that it is precisely because we adhere to objective truth that we are incapable of being brainwashed. That we are few in number is precisely because we are not brainwashed, and that we are at odds with the prevailing culture around us is a result of our adherence to the truth.

This way of viewing things gives us an important insight into the surrounding culture. I have already pointed out that everyone is a believer in one thing or another. During my professional career I was often referred to as a "believer" by others who declared they were not believers. In point of fact, they were much more believers than I ever was. They just believed in vastly different things. However they did so with a blind faith and with a conviction which far surpassed my own. They were in fact members of a host of cults all holding to basically similar doctrines. I have already covered some of these - just to review them once again, they are that Man qua man is at the apex of the evolutionary stream. He has replaced God at the center of the universe. He is the self validating source of all truth and has a right to believe whatever he thinks is true. This is the basis of his faith. He is convinced that he is creating a better world, one in which suffering and perhaps even death will be eliminated. This is his hope. And he believes there is no better thing he can do than to help his fellow man. This is his charity. Given these criteria it becomes clear that one of the biggest cults around is none other than the post-Conciliar Church.

There is one last point I would like to cover and that deals with what I shall call cultic tendencies among Traditional Catholic groups. The essentials characteristics of any religion are, as I have said, Creed, cult and Code. Now sine qua non of traditional Catholicism is clearly adherence to the constant teaching and practice of the Church. There can be very little doubt about what the Church teaches. If two people disagree about a given teaching of the Church they can look it up in literally thousands of different places. Now when a priest who claims the title of traditional demands of us that we follow his or some other person's personal opinion on but one point that departs from the constant teaching of the Church, we must label him and those that follow him a cult . Let me give you two examples. Those that reject baptism of desire and baptism of blood are members of a cult . Those who teach that one can disobey a valid pope commanding within the proper realm of his authority are a cult . Pope Leo XIII was quite clear: to reject even one teaching of the Church is equivalent to rejecting them all. When we listen to a priest, we have absolutely no interest in his personal or subjective opinions. His authority and his function depend upon his being a conduit for the objective truth. In his function as priest, he speaks to others, not as Father Bob, but as an alter Christus. We do not confess to Father Bob, but to Christ. The priest on the altar does not say the Words of Consecration as a private individual, as we might say them when we read the Gospel Story, but as an alter Christus.

Similarly with the sacraments. We know the nature of the sacraments used by the Church throughout her history and in the practical order we adhere to this usage because we also know that to participate in or confect a doubtful sacrament is sacrilege. Priests who use strange and innovative sacraments are either setting up their own cult or following someone else's cult .

When we come to code we begin to have problems. Let me explain.

It is easy to agree on the usage of the 1917 Code for the 1983 code was created to establish the errors of Vatican II firmly on the basis of law. Now the problem doesn't lie in what the Code says, but in its application to present circumstances. All law - and the Code is a listing of laws - requires interpretation. This is why we have lawyers. And since lawyers disagree, this is why we have judges and supreme courts. Unfortunately, in the present state of the Church we have no universally recognized higher authority. Hence when different bishops, priests, and even layman insist that only their interpretation is acceptable and those who disagree are outside the Church, we have problems. It is this tendency more than anything else which has made it impossible for Traditional Catholics to present a united front in the face of the worldly cults that surround them.

One occasionally comes across traditional priests who insert their own personality between Christ and their congregations. They do this in a variety of ways such as teaching doctrines which are not strictly speaking Catholic, or making up Canon laws which have no foundation in fact. This can be fairly innocent in that it is almost impossible not to insert one’s personality into any teaching setting. But if in doing so, the priest or nun obscures the truth in any degree, he runs the risk of turning the traditional Church into a cult . The principle of “He must increase and I must decrease” should always be in the mind of any religious, as indeed, in the mind of any Catholic. Here of course, we are talking of degree rather than of promulgating committed error.

The importance of being able to objectively define the nature of cults is not so much to allow us to defend ourselves against false accusations - it goes without saying that if we are not accused of being a cult , we will be accused of something else - but rather to protect ourselves against falling unwittingly into the very attitudes that the cults promulgate. In what little time is left I should like to tell you a little about the New Age Religion. I would ask you to note that there is very little to choose between it and the post-Conciliar religion. But far more dangerous to us is the kind of world view it projects, a world view which we must be aware of if we would protect our children.


Most Traditional Catholics are rather unfamiliar with the fastest growing cult in the western world. I refer to the New Age Religion. Needless to say, like most forms of error, this new religion is not new. Sin and error may change their style, but never their nature. We have however to start somewhere so I shall start with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. She was born in 1875 and founded the Theosophical Society which was closely tied to Freemasonry. Strongly influenced by the evolutionary thinking of that era, the Theosophists also believed in the existence of "masters" who were either "spirit beings" or fortunate men who were more highly "evolved" than the common heard. Madam Blavatsky was in "telepathic communication" with these beings and served as a "fulcrum" for the masters starting in 1867 until her death in 1891.

Theosophists were from the start against all orthodox forms of religion, and above all against the Roman Catholic Church. They attacked it both from without and from within - the latter by forming various organizations such as Esoteric or Hermetic Christianity and later the so-called Liberal Catholic Church. Leaders of this society were instructed by their spirit masters to keep their teachings secret for 100 years, until about 1975.

In India Blavatsky was joined by an English Clergyman named Leadbetter, a homosexual who was under the direction of a Spirit Master named Koot Hoomi. He incidentally wrote the first modern revised order of the Mass - a somewhat mild affair when compared to Bugnini's masterpiece. They were joined by Colonel Olcott who was later to play the same role in Cinghalese Buddhism that Annie Bessant played in Hinduism. When Blavatsky died Annie Bessant became the leader and she along with her colleagues decided to train a young Hindu named Krishnamurti to fulfill the role of Anti-Christ. He and his father however objected and broke away from her influence which greatly angered the 'masters.' The torch was then passed to a certain Alice Ann Baily, a beautiful young woman born to position in England and who eventually married an Episcopalian clergyman in this country. She was a prolific writer and organized the Arcane School, the New Group of World Servers, Triangles, World Good Will, and a host of other early New Age groups. She also established the Lucifer Publishing House - still active under the title of Lucis Publishing. These groups spread theosophical ideas throughout the western world.

An interesting facet of the story is that Annie Bessant and Colonel Olcott were paid by British Intelligence to undermine the religious structure of the Indians and Singhalese. They did this by creating by adopting a hodge-poge of Hindu concepts and totally modernizing them. They were responsible for creating the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj, two new Hindu sects which followed Protestant principles and were very attractive to Indians trying to come to terms with the modern world. Orthodox Hinduism strongly rejected these movements and characterized the spirit masters as nothing other than demons. I mention this however because it explains the seeming connection between Hinduism and the New Age Regions movements in this country.

1962 was another landmark year, for this was when the Scottish community of Findhorn was established by Eileen Caddy who meticulously followed the Ann Baily's writings. They were soon joined by David Spangler who was said to have 'Christ energies,' and who became their spiritual adviser. He of course received frequent transmissions from his many spirit guides which including 'individuals' named Maitreya, Rakoczi. In 1973 Spangler came to north American and established the Lorian Association by means of which they have infiltrated almost every other organization and Church in the western world.

Another supposed link with Hinduism is provided by Dr. Murphy of the Eselin Institute who spent several years in India studying with Sri Aurobindo - a strange individual best characterized as the Teilhard de Chardin of Hinduism. He incidentally is or was also the spiritual director of Father Bede Griffiths, the Benedictine monk in South India deeply involved in the inculturation process. The Eselin Institute brings in a close tie with modern psychology and the use of a variety of techniques to alter people's states of consciousness - drugs, sports, music, yoga, etc., etc. An interesting tie in here is provided by Carl Jung who himself was taught by a spirit guide called Philomath. It was Philomath who introduced him to the idea of the collective subconscious when he broke away from Freud. Jung is one of the darlings of the post-Conciliar establishment.

New Agers cannot be dismissed as a batch of kooks. During the past 15 years they have spread throughout the western world to the point that today almost every city in this country has New Age fairs on an annual basis. Seemingly those involved have a wide variety of different religious attitudes which gives the movement a somewhat nebulous character. Not all of them advocate each and every principle that we have considered in outline. But all of them have certain characteristics in common.

Consider their ecumenical character. All religions are good as long as they make you feel good. According to the planned outline given in Ann Baily's books however, initially New Agers are to argue for religious liberty and ecumenism in their public releases. But once religious exclusivism is broken down, their books openly call for a new mandatory world religion, a religion completely breaking with the concept of Jesus Christ and God as Father. Those who do not go along with this are to be eliminated by means of violence - called by her 'a cleansing action.'

None of them advocate a life of prayer or discipline, but rather support the principle of doing your own thing. All of them have an open attitude towards sexual promiscuity and what is euphemistically called alternative live styles. They don't openly advocate these things - such is hardly necessary in our day. But underlying the attack on sexual morals is an attack on the family. We are all meant to be members of one world and loyalties are not to be to family or even nation, but ultimately to the one world structure. It follows that all of them are utopian in outlook and look forward to the creation of a new age, the age of Aquarius, which will be characterized by all the dreams of the new egalitarian socialist order. All of them see man as being at the center of creation, as being the self-validating source of truth and as needing no higher authority for guidance. All of them decry doctrine and orthodoxy and talk of love.

The logical conclusion for those who reject guidance from above is to subject themselves to guidance from below. And so it is not surprising to find New Agers addicted to what is called 'channeling.' Channeling could be a perfectly legitimate term. One could speak of the priest as being a channel for grace. But this is far from what the New Agers have in mind. Channeling is essentially a means or method of changing the person's state of consciousness in order for him or her to establish contact with spirit guides. Now the New Agers use a variety of techniques to achieve this - repetition of meaningless mantras, music, yogic practices - incidentally, any orthodox Hindu would be horrified at the idea of Americans practicing yoga - even sports. But techniques for doing this have improved with time and one of the best is using crystals. Bookstores abound with a variety of do it yourself manuals.

Recently I came across a most interesting text. It is a book written by a 'psychic counselor' named Dr. Cathryn Rydell who for years worked within the establishment as a counselor, social worker and administrator, but who for the past seven years has been helping people get in touch with their own spirit guides. She made a study of the teachings of some 200 spirit guides with the assistance of her colleagues and students and summarized them in the following manner.

1) Consciousness in the universe continually evolves, moving towards higher levels of compassion and unconditional love.

2) Many different kinds of life are conscious and involved in the process of evolution. Beings who have developed beyond us, and parts of ourselves that are more conscious than our personalities, can guide human beings in their evolution.

3) The earth is currently at a critical point in its development. Between now and the year 2011 we will witness a major shift in values, life-styles, and spiritual orientation as we move into greater spiritual maturity.

4) To reach this stage of maturity the earth will need to undergo a major purification of existing values and social organization. Major changes in the earth itself - such as earth quakes and volcanic activity - may accompany these activities

5) Many guides have now made themselves available to help us through these changes and enter a new age of harmony and world peace. New energies of a higher frequency are currently pouring into our world.

6) The human being is one part of a multi-dimensional soul or god-self. We are much, much more than we think we are. This is of course pantheism.

7) We create our own experience on all levels of reality. Matter follows thought. Our physical reality is created and shaped by our subjective beliefs.

8) Although our individual expression demonstrates much diversity, we are all ultimately one.

Now, what I would like to suggest to you is that this is pure Teilhardianism. But it goes much farther, for it advocates changing our states of awareness by a variety of techniques so as to admit or submit to the influence of spirit guides. Dr. Rydell's spirit guide is named Diya. She once asked him who he was. He answered by asking her if she believed in angels. He didn't say he was an angel - though as we know, demons are in fact fallen angels. Dr. Rydell concluded that it really didn't matter where the information came from as long as the experience was valuable to her. Diya expanded her view of conscious life, explaining, and I quote, that 'we are all part of an evolutionary chain; that love is the glue of the universe, the force which holds together all form, even molecules; and that the primary function of the spirit guides was to help us see the God in ourselves, to know our own multidimensional nature - to reflect our own inner nature to us and help us reach our own unique expression.'

Once again, allow me to point to the similarity between these ideas and what is taught by Vatican II, by the liberal protestant churches and indeed by the entire ethos of the modern world. The Age of Aquarius is coming. It will be an age of Centered on man as man, an age in which a new humanism will prevail, an age in which man is his own source of truth and creates his own reality. An age in which there will not only be a single political order, but one in which there will also be a single man made - or spirit master made - religion. It will be an age where the inversion is virtually complete and one in which the reign of Christ will be replaced by the reign of Antichrist. Then it is that the reality of our faith will shine forth.

Let me conclude with a caveat. We are indeed fortunate not to have wandered from the true faith. But with the gift which is ours - clearly not deserved - comes a great responsibility. We cannot turn the world around. God will do that in his own good time. But we can bear witness to the truth which is given us, and the only way we can do this is by sanctifying our lives through prayer and knowledge. We must know our faith. We must live our faith. And, we must be ready to die for our faith. If we don't we will ourselves end up in one of the innumerable cults that surround us. .

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