The Similarity of the Present Great Apostasy to Arian Times

We are in a state of war in the human element of the Catholic Church.  Although the Gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church,[1] the current crisis is an all-out combat between the faithful members of the Church Militant and the modernist enemies of Christ.

Our fight is similar to the war in the Fourth Century, between Catholics and the Arian heretics.  The great historian, Cardinal Newman, tells us that during this Arian crisis, the pope, the bishops, and General Councils of the Church hid the truth and compromised the Catholic Faith.  Here is how Cardinal Newman recounted these events:

[I]n that time of immense confusion the divine dogma of our Lord’s divinity was proclaimed, enforced, maintained, and (humanly speaking) preserved, far more by the ‘Ecclesia docta’ [i.e., the laity] than by the ‘Ecclesia docens;’ [i.e., the hierarchy]; that the body of the Episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the pope, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan,[2] or other great see, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ….[3]

The same is true now, in the present Great Apostasy.  Pope Francis and the rest of the Church’s hierarchy as well as the Second Vatican Council, have hidden, compromised, and falsified the truths of the Catholic Faith.

St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, recounts how only heresy was loudly professed during Arian times and how true Catholics avoided the church buildings because those buildings were places of evil.  Here are St. Basil’s words:

Religious people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose. Sacred things are profaned; those of the laity who are sound in faith avoid the places of worship as schools of impiety, and raise their hands in solitudes, with groans and tears to the Lord in heaven.[4] 

What was true during Arian times, is also true during the current Great Apostasy.  Faithful and informed Catholics are marginalized and ignored, while the so-called Catholic leaders in the civil and ecclesiastical spheres let loose their “blaspheming tongues” (as St. Basil called them). 

Moreover, as was true during Arian times, so it is also true now.  Faithful and informed Catholics would never go into a conciliar church (or other compromise church) to pray because those churches are “schools of impiety” (as St. Basil called them).[5]

St. Basil the Great recounts how, because they were driven out of the churches (which were occupied by a false religion), faithful Catholics sanctified the Sunday wherever they could worship in solitude, despite their sufferings.  Here are St. Basil’s words:

Matters have come to this pass: the people have left their houses of prayer, and assemble in deserts, — a pitiable sight; women and children, old men, and men otherwise infirm, wretchedly faring in the open air, amid the most profuse rains and snow-storms and winds and frosts of winter; and again in summer under a scorching sun.  To this they submit, because they will have no part in the wicked Arian leaven.[6] 

Again, what was true during Arian times, is also true during the current Great Apostasy.  Faithful and informed Catholics sanctify the Sunday in their homes or wherever else they can pray in peace and solitude, wishing to have no part of the wicked conciliar leaven.

St. Basil the Great recounts how Catholic Tradition was banned but anything else was accepted.  Those Catholics who were faithful to Tradition were deprived of the churches and altars for Mass.  Here are St. Basil’s words:

Only one offence is now vigorously punished — an accurate observance of our fathers’ traditions. For this cause the pious are driven from their countries, and transported into deserts. The people are in lamentation, in continual tears at home and abroad. There is a cry in the city, a cry in the country, in the roads, in the deserts.  Joy and spiritual cheerfulness are no more; our feasts are turned into mourning; our houses of prayer are shut up, our altars deprived of the spiritual worship.[7]

As was true during Arian times, the same is true during the current Great Apostasy.  Anything is permitted except Catholic Tradition, and it alone is “vigorously punished” (to use St. Basil’s description).  Faithful and informed Catholics are deprived of their churches and altars for Mass.  We are also, in effect, “driven out” of the churches of liberal groups because it would be a compromise to enter there.

Just as in Arian times, so also now in the present Great Apostasy, the conciliar Catholics have the churches but we have the Catholic Faith.  Here are the words of St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, consoling his flock during the Arian crisis:

May God console you! … What saddens you … is the fact that others have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside.  It is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the apostolic Faith.  They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith.  You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you.  Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith?  The true Faith, obviously.  Who has lost and who has won in this struggle – the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith?

True, the premises are good when the apostolic Faith is preached there; they are holy if everything takes place there in a holy way …  You are the ones who are happy: you who remain within the church by your faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from apostolic Tradition.  And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded.  They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis.

No one, ever, will prevail against your faith, beloved brothers. And we believe that God will give us our churches back some day.

Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, the more they separate themselves from the Church.  They claim that they represent the Church; but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray.

Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.[8]

To quote St. Athanasius, who consoled his flock during the Arian crisis, we should also be consoled in the present Great Apostasy:

  We remain Catholic, whereas the conciliar revolutionaries “claim that they represent the Church, but in reality … are the ones who have broken away … in the present crisis”;

  Although small in number, “even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ”.

 

  As in Arian times, so now in our time, “we believe that God will give us our churches back some day.”

Why are/were Faithful Catholics willing to suffer greatly, both in Arian times and during the present Great Apostasy?

The spiritual life is inherently aimed at espousal of our souls as brides of Christ.[9]  For those Traditional Catholics who love Our Lord more, their sufferings during this present Great Apostasy are a joy because they suffer for the Bridegroom of their souls, Who is Christ.  This joy in suffering is explained in the Traditional Catholic Exhortation before Marriage, in these words:

Only love can make suffering easy; and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love.

However, even for the rest of us, we see that this suffering and ostracism from (the human element of) the Church is much better than committing a sin – even a venial sin – not to mention the grave sin of joining with the Masses or sacraments of the compromise groups.  Here is how Cardinal Newman states this truth:

 

The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.[10]

Conclusion

Let us Traditional Catholics bear our tribulations with joy – if our love for Christ makes us joyful in our sufferings, through the extra graces He gives during this present Great Apostasy.

Otherwise, let us at least firmly bear our sufferings with a strong heart and with peace of soul, “knowing that the same affliction befalls [our] brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter, 5:9.



[1]           St. Matthew’s Gospel, 16:18.

[2]           Patriarchs and metropolitans are positions of leadership in the Catholic Church.

[3]           The Arians of the Fourth Century, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Seventh Edition, Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1890, pp. 466-67 (bracketed words added for clarity; emphasis added).

 

[4]           The Arians of the Fourth Century, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Third Edition, E. Lumley, London, 1871 (Epistle 92) pp. 467-8 (emphasis added).

 

[5]           For a more in-depth explanation why we should not go into conciliar churches, read this article: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/evil-praying-conciliar-church.html

 

[6]           The Arians of the Fourth Century, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Third Edition, E. Lumley, London, 1871, p.468, quoting St. Basil’s epistle 242 (emphasis added).

 

 

[7]           The Arians of the Fourth Century, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Third Edition, E. Lumley, London, 1871, p.468, quoting St. Basil’s epistle 243 (emphasis added).

 

[8]           Letter of St. Athanasius to his flock (emphasis added), available here: https://onepeterfive.com/the-church-is-like-the-light-of-a-dying-star/

[9]           To read more about the goal of the spiritual life, read this article: http://www.catholiccandle.org/2019/06/20/our-souls-should-be-docile-brides-of-christ/

 

 

[10]         Apologia Vita Sua, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Image Books, Doubleday, Garden City, New York, © 1956, p.324.