The Mystical Catholic Pyramid and the Ages of Doctrinal Development
Catechetical Imagery and Analogy for Telling Children the Story of Salvation

By Scott Pauline

There is no need to inform the reader of the awful tragedy and sorrowful offense that stands before us in this current time of our Church—the terrible and despicable crimes committed against children, adolescents, and young persons as a result of an infusion of enemies into our Church beginning many decades ago. We are in pain, hurt, anguish, anger, and helplessness. To be sure, in part, it seems all that we can do for now is abandon ourselves and the tainted, wounded Church into God’s hands and pray that some sense of justice and healing can come to the poor and scarred victims, their loved ones, and all those who weep with and for them, saying, “Why?!”

Sadly, too, one the great tragedies that emanates from the horror of scandal is not merely the possible loss of salvation (or derivative ages in purgatory) of those giving scandal but also loss of faith in the scandalized. Indeed, scandal is one of the most potent and powerful weapons at the disposal of the apocalyptic dragon: make the legitimate shepherds look bad, or actually bad; that is, gravely disfigure and distort the image of authentic and loving mediated fatherhood in the clergy of the Church so as to cause a rejection of their authority.

This, in fact, can form the historical basis out of which a parallel epic challenge to the Church exists today. More specifically, for about the same time that this most diabolical activity of scandal in modern times has been taking place, the Church has had to face a world that largely regards her as dead, a world of the irrational and godless atheism, nihilism and relativism. It is a dark time indeed. And the root of this historical trajectory into the effectively minor apostasy that we now dwell in, once again, goes back to, in any serious inquiry, scandal.

Frankly, the analysis is not difficult. Firstly, in secularism, man is estranged from God, and so has not peace with Him. Yet, man has not peace with God to the degree that he does not accept the Gospel. But, how does man lose the Gospel? Alas, the answer comes forth per the mystical words of the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Our Lord, according to the loving witness of his beloved disciple, Saint John:

John 17:

And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. ...that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me,.

Behold, this mystical text reveals a central mystery of the Eucharist, of communion, of unity: the efficacy of the Gospel in the world is intrinsically bound up with Christian unity. That is, to the degree that Christian unity is ruptured, the world will have difficulty believing on the Son; and to the degree that the world has difficulty believing on the Son, humanity's peace with God will be ruptured; and to the degree that humanity’s peace with God is ruptured, secularism and spiritual darkness engulf the world.

And yet, now, we ask once again, what holds back the serious division of Christians? Alas, none other than the Apostolic College. The binding element that withholds the flood gates of Christian confounding of the message of Christ is the college of bishops, the legitimate successors of the Apostles, those men who succeed the perennial and original witnesses to the life and teachings of Our Divine and Loving Savior. For herein is Christian stability, the guidance of the Spirit into all truth, and the sure mode of interpretation of Scripture, Sacred Tradition, which those same Bishops preserve by the self-same Divine Spirit. Hence, the devil must tear through this great wall of solid veracity to let loose the flurry of locusts that will go out and torture innocent non-Catholic souls with countless and fiery competing doctrines and factions, somehow reminiscent of the fifth trumpet of Apocalypse (Apoc 9, beginning sections), which has been seen by some Catholic scholars as Protestantism. (The Book of Destiny, Fr Kramer, Tan Books, Commentary on Apocalypse 9). And from there, all else follows.

Hence, the great moral laxity and scandal of Catholic leadership in the late Middle Ages paved the way for the wholesale rejection of such college’s authority and burst forth into the incomprehensible Christian disunity that became the unfathomable catastrophe that was Protestantism. Subsequently, the aftermath of this avalanche corroborates our previous discussion above: the prima causa of the world’s descent away from Christendom and toward the modern age of near total godlessness in the former Christian lands has been, clearly, disillusionment with Christian division. For, when a message is unbelievably confused, as it was in Protestantism—myriads of competing factions in mass, mutually-conflicting interpretations, hating and betraying one another’s theologies and universally excommunicating one another to perdition—what can we say except that the message will be rejected, or at least the Messenger.

The process continues as this excerpt from a previous article explains [Armageddon and the Kings from the East]:

Moving on, if it was true that there were practically as many forms of Protestantism as there were Protestants, it is equally safe to say that there were practically as many forms of supernaturally dead infidelity as there were supernaturally dead infidels (deists and rationalists) [Tan Books, Church History]. Hence, merely natural religion according to reason, confounded ad infinitum like Protestantism, gave rise to a rejection of even religion itself, and a descent into merely worldly reason, an attempt to find the meaning and solution to human problems purely with reason apart from religious considerations. This eventually paved the way for ideologies and systems of thought that, especially in politics, utterly betrayed even reason and became dark, particularly the diabolical left and right.

More specifically, communism, based on atheism, denied God’s very existence itself, contrary to Vatican I that asserted that reason testifies to God’s existence, and, in addition, proposed a hyper-corporal-works-of-mercy solution to poverty, except one that forcefully and viciously used the state as the instrument of “mercy,” like Judas, who complains that the expensive jar could have been sold for much and given to the poor, yet himself ultimately planning to betray all that is of God, yes, the God-man, in exchange for mere money.

Secondly, Fascism and Nazism seemed to swing to the contrasting scene of the woman with the alabaster jar, the Pharisaical episode, where instead of Judas, a Pharisee complains—judges persons: what kind of persons they are, who they are, and that they are sinners, unworthy of mercy. This implies bigotry, superiority complexes, and judgmentalism. All the more did Nazism exhibit supreme bigotry, where it regarded its own Arian race as supreme over others (Pharisees considered themselves superior to Gentiles, the downtrodden, and the “immoral”), and exploded vile hatred of a “kind” of people, the Jewish People [the Holocaust!]. Nazism was very much a twisted, secular perversion of Pharisaicalism.

Certainly, too, out of these depraved systems of secularism of the early twentieth century, which a pope at the time was lamenting and warning against as a rising threat, two world wars ascended, which were minimally minor Armageddons: in the introductory portion of the film The 13th Day, the narrator, taking on the voice of a young Sister Lucia (eldest Fatima visionary), says mystically of World War I, “the innocence of the world was spent.”

Aimless History?

Now, this is indeed history, and part of the thesis of this article is to look deeper into this trajectory for a more profound probing of meaning and structure. Indeed, liberals tend to believe that history is aimless and without form or structure, for whatever reasons. Is it possible, nonetheless, that the historical path of the Church’s doctrinal development has, in fact, a form or structure according to a theological model and an analysis of the very sources of Catholic truth themselves? I certainly believe so and would like to present the evidence forthcoming. Where would we start? Well, allow me to introduce the primary mystical imagery that will form our backdrop, the Catholic “pyramid”!

The Pyramid of the Catholic Sources of Truth

In antiquity, the pyramid was an ominous sign. It shewed forth the continuation of Babel, that blasphemous materialistic grandeur pursued in the place of God and ascending to God that the Lord had vanquished temporarily by confounding the human tongue. More specifically, Egypt, a beast as it were, simply picked up where Babel had left off, only in the form of a single nation and a single tongue, rather than the whole of humanity under one universal language. The great worldly wonder and spectacle symbolized the tyranny of pagan man—selfish, polytheistic, and self-deifying—then using God’s only Chosen Ones to build their magnificent edifices, and oppressing them in slavery, much like the renewed Babel of Pagan Rome, who persecuted God’s Chosen Ones in the Incarnate One’s Covenant.

Yet, the beauty of God is that He can take the things that pagans distort and use them for His own holy purposes. Toward that end, what we will now probe is that this frightening spectacle of arrogant materialism has a profound analogy for a great holy reality: a theology of the hierarchy of sources of Catholic truth; here, we will observe two key characteristics of a source: on the one hand, the degree of truth and reliability of the source and, on the other hand, the evidence for the source as legitimate. This mystical pyramid will involve a probe of the sources of Catholic truth that partially differs from the traditional way, yet retaining all truth intact. It will be necessary to establish this hierarchy first before forming the spiritual pyramid. For this, we must revisit the historical summary we have.

The Hierarchical Descent

Firstly, the history we have just discussed; the process went like this, in brief:

  • Bishops and Sacred Tradition:make them look bad, scandal
  • Bishops and Sacred Tradition:completely reject them, clinging only to Scripture, Protestantism
  • Sacred Scripture:reject it and all supernatural religion because they are confounded: age of solo-ratio, Enlightenment, Deism, Rationalism, French Revolution, Masonry, and so forth, clinging only to Reason
  • Reason:Reject reason and all religious truth, 20th century apostasies: atheism in East, relativism in West

Now, let us in fact back up in salvation history for the Church and look at the whole picture after pagan Rome, which is when primary doctrinal development commenced:

  • Trinity and Incarnation: attack the nature of God as Trinity and Incarnation in the first heresies from approximately 300 – 600 AD, and then supremely in Islam, 650~ AD
  • Supreme Bishop: attack Peter in the Great Schism
  • Bishops and Sacred Tradition:make them look bad, scandal
  • … [same as above]

Here, to begin our hierarchy of truth, five sources of veracity emerge, as seen above; they are:

  • Trinity and Incarnation
  • Supreme Bishop
  • General Bishops and Sacred Tradition
  • Sacred Scripture
  • Reason

How might we realize this five-fold list above as an alternative the extant three? As follows; when speaking of the sources of Catholic truth, we traditionally think of, again, three sources of truth:

  • Scripture
  • Tradition
  • Magisterium

However, God Himself as Trinity and Incarnation is a source, too, even if He is no longer here in direct, revelatory presence. In fact, this is the ultimate source, non-mediated, and we can recall that the Church states that the doctrines of the mystery of the Trinity and Incarnation are the foundational mysteries of the entire faith.  Hence, in a sense, because these doctrines concern the divine itself, they are not merely truths but a source of truth, the Three-fold Maker of us all.

Additionally, Reason is a source of truth, since even from natural wisdom, we can know monotheism and natural law in some sense, if even with difficulty in some cases.

Moreover, the Magisterium has two degrees to it: general Apostolic Succession, or the collection of regular Bishops, and then the supreme Apostolic Successor, Peter. Also, Tradition never exists apart from a valid Bishop. Where the valid Bishop is, there also is Tradition. And Tradition is the property of the Bishops, who are its custodian. Therefore, Bishops and Tradition go together always. Hence, a more accurate rendering of the sources of truth, is, as we conjectured,not merely three but five:

  1. Trinity and Incarnation
  2. Supreme Apostolic Successor
  3. General Apostolic Successors and Sacred Tradition
  4. Sacred Scripture
  5. Reason

This renewed list of five sources rather than merely three, the Traditional way, enables the major steps of doctrinal history to be placed in perspective, and, as well, provides the theological order to correlate to our pyramid.

Let us begin with the historical trajectory to provide backdrop substance for our model. The journey of doctrine in the Church bears this out completely!

  1. After Pagan Rome, the majority of the primary heresies afflicting the Church until the Schism were mainly attacking God in His special nature as Triune and Incarnate: Arianism, Monophysitism, Monothelytism, Nestorianism, Apollinarism, Pneumatomachianism, Tritheism, and so forth. Too, Islam culminated these: it totally denied the Trinity and Incarnation and, if that were not enough, went on to suggest a revelation beyond Jesus, the Quran, which Arianism, while also denying the Trinity and Incarnation, did not. Too, even the Iconoclastic heresy is an affront to the Incarnate God, since, it involves the interpretation of the First Commandment which is to have no other gods before Him; more specifically, because saints possess the presence of deifying sanctifying grace, saints are in fact divinized, so that sacred images, even images of the saints, are images of Christ, and hence of God, an Incarnational mystery.
  2. Then, the next great attack was clearly the Great Schism of the East, which assaulted Peter, the supreme Apostolic Successor, just underneath God.
  3. As for the next great attack, really, in the Middle Ages, Albigensianism or Catharism were minor compared to what was the clear continuing trajectory of the opposition to the Church, the moral fall of the clergy in the late Middle Ages, paving the way for the great assault, the Protestant Rebellion; and lo and behold, the ultimate thing that all Protestants have in common is in contesting the general Apostolic Successors and Sacred Tradition, which are just beneath Peter, the supreme Apostolic Successor.
  4. It just keeps going: the Protestants’ confounding of the Scriptures only served to make humanity doubt the veracity of the Bible itself and, in fact, all Divine Revelation, which gave rise to a general climate of solo-ratio, or faith in Reason alone, the natural digression from the Protestants’ counterpart rallying-cry, sola-scriptura (Enlightenment, French Revolution, Masonry, and so forth).
  5. Finally, in the 20thcentury, even Reason dies, and we have total apostasy, as in atheism in the East [which is irrational since it denies God, who can be known from Reason alone, Vatican I] and relativism in the West [which is irrational since it denies objective truth].

A Structural and Theological Nature

Finally, let us progress to the pyramid. So we have a source hierarchy and a historical analysis. How can it correlate? Well, look closer! A definitive decline subsists. In short, each of these steps is rejecting the associated source of Catholic truth, and the sources are decreasing in reliability of truth. That is, as we descend the list from top to bottom, the sources of truth in bold becomeless reliable in truth as a source when taken by themselves than the ones above. Yet, on the other hand, as we likewise descend, the sources become more evident as legitimate. This will mean that if these sources are arranged on a pyramid, height on the pyramid will represent degree of truth, and width will represent evidence that the source is legitimate. Hence, in lesser terms, as you ascend the pyramid, truth increases, but the evidence for the source of truth becomes narrower. The arguments are straightforward. We will startfrom the bottom and work upward:

  1. Reason: The weakest source in terms of truthis Reason, the bottom of our pyramid.  Unaided philosophy only gives foundational truth, as in basic monotheism and natural law; but it is the most evident source; all men have reason and can plainly see it. No man may excuse himself from seeking out truth with reason. "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." (Ps 14:1)
  2. ScriptureScripture is less evident than Reason in the world, since only Christians have it in full. For example, the New World Indians only had reason before Europe came to them. Before the Spaniards came to the Aztecs, they did not have Scripture. No savage can ever have Scripture unless it is brought to him. So, again, whereas all men have reason, not all men have Scripture. Scripture is less evident. Yet Scripture is much greater in truth than merely Reason. Immensely greater.  For from Scripture comes the story of salvation history, the innumerable characters, players, times, places, miracles, lessons, and so forth.  What other writings can compare to the Bible?  None!  In another dimension, however, mainly to confine ourselves to Divine Revelation, Scripture is now the most evident source of Revelation. All three forms of Christendom accept the Scriptures. Yet, the Scriptures are also the least reliable source of Revelation by themselves, since they are highly susceptible to misinterpretation without Tradition and Bishops. Protestants only have Scripture, but they are all over the board on truth.
  3. Tradition and Bishops:the evidence for general Apostolic Succession and Oral Tradition is less in the writings of the Fathers than for Scripture. The vast majority of early church father testimony is citing Scripture. Quotes that argue for valid Tradition and Succession from the Apostles are much less. So, again, Tradition and authoritative Apostolic Succession are less evident to humanity than Scripture. But Tradition is far more reliable than Scripture, since it gives the right interpretation. With only Tradition, the Orthodox would still have all their dogmas, even without Scripture. But again, the evidence for Tradition is less than Scripture, hence why only two of the three forms of Christendom accept Tradition, Orthodox and Catholic.
  4. PeterQuotes in antiquity that speak of Peter's special office of infallibility are far less than quotes about general Apostolic Succession. Therefore, Peter'sspecial role in Apostolic Succession is less evident than general Bishops, hence why the Orthodox do not accept him. But Peter is even stronger in truth than his other brothers combined, since with Peter, the fullness of truth on earth is known in Catholicism. Hence why the Orthodox are a little bit in error and debate a thousand years of what we know to be certain as dogma.
  5. Finally, the Trinity and Incarnationlies even above Peter, since God is the ultimate source of truth, but those mysteries are so elusive, so hidden!

What we have shown is that as you ascend the pyramid of sources, the truth increases but the evidence for reliability decreases, and down the pyramid, vice versa.

Finally, in light of this, since God’s sources of truth are ordered theologically, and since the devil must necessarily work with reality as it is, it is no surprise thatthe devil is taking pot shots at the lesser evident sources of Catholic truth and moving down to the most evident sources, and, derivatively, at the most reliable sources in terms of truth, down to the least reliable. In that way, truth peels off little by little, like knocking off layers of a pyramid.

A Scriptural Basis: Apocalypse 10

Admittedly, the pyramid is a historical entity in Scripture, and the analogy here holds well, but one can ask, is there something even more pronounced and appropriate? Absolutely! Consider Apocalypse 10, which surely gives us an insight into the mystery of truth:

“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was on his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.” (Rv 10:1–2)


Now, what does a scroll contain except writing, and what writing is there in the New Covenant except the truth, the Word of God in all its totality? The scroll, therefore, can image the totality of God’s truth and mystery. Moreover, by common Gospel symbolism, we are called to walk in the “Way” which is clearly the “Way [of] Truth”, as in “follow Me.” Hence, that our feet are called to walk the way of truth could be extrapolated to mean, at least on one layer of meaning, that our feet become images of the truth themselves.

Toward that end, the angel bearing in his hand the entire mystery of truth coupled with the vivid symbolism of his feet in alternate environments could appropriately suggest that our theology of Catholic truth extends into the feet of the angel. Toward this end, the analogy is immediate: first, the strong foot (the right foot, since right, in biblical theology, means the stronger, as in “and he is seated at the right hand of the Father”) rests on the sea, a weak foundation, and the weak foot, the left foot, rests on the earth, a strong foundation. Wondrous! With the feet imaging truth and the foundation thereupon imaging underpinning evidence for the truths, strong sources of truth rest upon weaker evidence, and weaker sources of truth rest upon stronger evidence, just like our pyramid analogy!

The Crucified Feet: a Visual Analogy on the Human Body

While we are at it, a wondrous secondary addendum can be noted in order that any person may see this mystery visually manifested in their feet, as follows: if the foot images the truth, as we suggested above, we note that the foot has five toes. How many sources of truth did we have in the pyramid above? Yes, five. Moreover, when Jesus is crucified, his one foot is placed on top of the other foot, and they are brutally fixated to one another by the nail in such a manner that, effectively, a one-to-one correspondence exists between the five toes of each foot. And lo and behold, if we use the common model of the human toes, which is where the toes descend in length from the big toe down to the little toe, we note that in this crucifixion the toes are in opposite pose for the two feet when the two feet are nailed together. That is, on the one foot, the toes fall going in one lateral direction, and on the other foot, in the same direction, the toes rise. Bingo! This perfectly images our theology: as we traverse the five sources of truth, truth falls, but evidence for legitimacy rises, just like the toes! [One can see these images]

Telling the Story of Salvation to Children and Young Persons

To reach toward the close of our discourse, one could understandably ask, what use can we possibly make of these analogies?  I have one word: catechetics!  What do we mean?  We mean that, firstly, knowing Church history in its essentials and the various religious dispositions that exist today and how they relate to the fullness of truth in our Catholic Christian faith is an indispensible necessity for our youth today.  More specifically, in order to do battle with the diabolical relativism that assaults our culture, it is all the more imperative for young persons to understand the various basic religious types [or lack thereof] and how to explain their strengths and weaknesses. Without these gravely vital tools, a young person will be lost in navigating through this world of lies and confusion, unable to harness the beautiful spiritual gifts of their confirmation to discern the truth and the right path to follow.

Children, adolescents, and teenagers can seem overwhelmed in studying Church history with all its details and seemingly mundane progression from who knows where to who knows what.  Life today is so chaotic and fast, that we, too, like the precious youth, can be tempted to give in to that blasted liberal attitude we saw above: that our lives and our history are aimless.  But God is in control in our chaos, guiding a fallen and imperfect world toward its ultimate redemption, and these pictures—of the pyramid, angelic feet, and crucified feet—beautiful yet simple imagery, majestically image a deep theology of our doctrinal heritage and can portray, dare we say, even to children of age 10, a model for the phenomenon of these ages of dogmatic development with excellent appropriateness, giving them visual aid into, again, a very significant component of our faith, even as human persons, especially children, work well with visual forms. These pictures can help them encapsulate important concepts of our heritage. They show that God’s truths are not vague or random, but ordered and purposeful.

Addendum

One final point regarding this. We know that throughout all the drama of the Church boldly bringing the Gospel to a fallen, stubborn, and sinful world, the Church has had that magnificent apocalyptic blessing we are all familiar with, issued from Our Divine Lord as He was about to leave the earthly plain and delegate the salvation of the human race to His Bride, that same Ecclesial Woman who proclaims, like great trumpet blasts, [Apocalypse chapters 7-9, etc. ?] the truths and teachings of our Lord Jesus down through history: “And behold, I am with you always, unto the end of the age!” [Matt, close, 28:20]

Indeed, out of all the spiritual types described above, children must know and be taught to, with God’s grace and loving guidance, repeatedly assure and convince themselves that Catholicism stands alone:  Only Catholicism is protected from the stain of error in teaching and morals. Only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the understanding of the moral law and is able to provide the same fullness of the means of help to live it, the sacraments. Only the Catholic Church is able to fully protect her members from the wiles of the devil—to keep, by Divine decree of an infallible Deposit of faith, the dragon from tearing through the “forehead” of the soul with his diabolical claws and there infusing into the mind, the intellect of the same soul, lies, heresies, falsehoods, and the like. [Apocalypse 7:1-3?]

Indeed, when pagan Rome fell and the Gospel triumphed over that same vile godlessness, our glorious pyramid of truths stood before the dragon ominously to taunt him at the victory God had won over him and his angels, now having brought the greatest temporal civilization known to man into the Person of Christ. The dragon would have to tear it down if he wished to bring humanity full circle back to darkness. But darkness he did restore, even if it took many centuries. And now, in wicked and stark contrast to our pure Seal of God that started the process—the utterly immaculate fullness of the Gospel, Catholicism—the dragon has raised up, veritably per our dear St. John Paul II, “the full anti-Gospel,” the sinister “mark of the beast.”  Here, we speak most certainly NOT of micro-chips and any other such physical nonsense, but a transcendent quality, the antithesis of the Seal of God.  Hence, just as the Seal in the forehead can represent the protection of a mind in fully purity of doctrine and truth, so the mark of the beast can represent the full absence of truth, whether through implicit  or explicit rejection of it in full [as in atheism or nihilism] or indifference to it [as in relativism]. In this view, the mark in the “hand” is straightforward as well: that the person may make the “works of his hands” evil, rejecting the moral law of the Christ and living as he wishes.

This is the battle our youth face. Let us therefore arm them with our Faith to protect them from the evil one, that their minds may contemplate the heritage of our faith and so remain pure in the truth and keep their lives living in the love of God and neighbor!