Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth
“Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church” Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D
“We must admit it is a master blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language. If it should ever succeed in destroying it, it would be well on the way to victory. Exposed to profane gaze, like a virgin who has been violated, from that moment on the Liturgy has lost much of its sacred character, and very soon people find that it is not worthwhile putting aside one’s work or pleasure in order to go and listen to what is being said in the way one speaks on the marketplace. . . .” — Dom Prosper Gueranger, Liturgical Institutions, 1840
Latin Catholics generally have five options:
1) attend the vernacular Novus Ordo Mass published in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. This is the Mass offered in most parishes today.
2) attend the 1970 Novus Ordo Mass offered in the Latin language (note: this is not the same Mass that was offered before Vatican II)
3) attend Mass at a non-Latin ritual Catholic Church (Byzantine, Greek, Maronite, etc.)
4) attend the rare Masses offered by certain religious Orders who have their own Rites, e.g., the Dominican Rite, the Carmelite Rite (“The Rite of the Holy Sepulchre”), etc.
5) attend the traditional Latin Mass that sustained millions of Roman Catholics for centuries and centuries. The traditional Mass is also referred to as: the the Mass of Pope St. Peter, the Mass of Pope St. Gregory the Great; the Mass of Pope St. Pius V; the “Tridentine” Mass, the Pian Rite, etc.
The “Novus Ordo,” whether offered in English or Latin, is a violent break with Tradition, directly responsible, in part, for the great loss of faith which followed its publication. “Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi” — let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer” is the rule of liturgy — but the prayers of the Novus Ordo, designed to make Protestants comfortable with the Mass, express Protestant belief not by what it says, but by what it fails to say — that is, by its omissions — and serve to lead us to believe as Protestants in that it practically nullifies the experience of the realities of the Sacrifice and the priesthood. The Novus Ordo — not so much for what it is inherently, but for what it isn’t, for what it lacks — appears as the “Mass of Cain,” arrogantly bringing his own works to God; the ancient Mass is the “Mass of Abel,” who humbly offered God a sacrifice — a lamb that prefigured the Passover lamb which, in turn, prefigured the Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world, Whose offering of Himself to us is eternal. The stripping away of the signs and symbols of the Mystery, the eradication of the poetic, the intentional blurring of the line between the ordained and common priesthoods, music that ranges from the banal to the offensive, the total ignoring of Gregorian chant, the failure to retain our sacred language, the “busy-ness,” the dearth of silence, and, most of all, the almost total lack of emphasis on the Sacrifice — to not be offended by these things, especially after having studied the purpose of the Mass and our worship’s relationship to our belief, is to be either ignorant of or ill-willed toward the Catholic Faith. Even celebrated according to its rubrics (and God bless those few, well-intentioned priests who even try to do that), the New Mass is a Protestanized (not Protestant) “service” up to its core, with an abbreviated Kyrie thrown in. Even with the few words retained in the Consecration to keep it valid, its semblance to the ancient Mass is like that of a dry twig to a flowering tree. Each Catholic must study this issue prayerfully. And each must know that believing — knowing — that the 1970 Mass was an extremely bad idea, a break with Sacred Tradition, an unlovely thing that leads to heterodoxy and disbelief — is not “disobedient” and does not make you a “bad Catholic”; it makes you an informed one with eyes to see. Saying these things aloud does not make you “dissident” or “schismatic”; it makes you a warrior for the true Faith. Now, I can imagine a dialogue with some of you who are new to the concept of “liturgy” — and many who have been Catholic for years but “really like” the Novus Ordo Mass: The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is our greatest prayer to God and our most solemn act of worship; shouldn’t we give Him our very best? “What’s the big deal?” The ‘big deal’ is that Jesus Christ glorified becomes really and truly present at the Mass — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — under the appearances of bread and wine, in fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices and as predicted by the Prophet Malachias. He is then offered up to appease the Father ‘s wrath and for the remission of our sins; Calvary is made present before our eyes. You either believe this and are Catholic, or you do not believe this and are not Catholic. If you believe this and are Catholic, you will want everyone else to believe this, too. You should, therefore, want liturgy that points to the reality of this Mystery in every way possible, and should be extremely bothered by liturgy that is banal, ugly, sterile, offensive, and that may as well have been designed to lead to heterodoxy. Please read An Open Letter to the Church Renouncing my Service on I.C.E.L. by Father Stephen Somerville, STL., who worked with the “ICEL,” the Committee that translated the Novus Ordo Mass into English. So, what, are you saying the Mass can never change? Has never changed? Of course the Mass can change in some ways. But the words of consecration, its expressed theology and catechetical qualities, its sacred purposes, its holiness, its beauty and arrows toward the Transcendent — these things cannot be changed without danger. So, what, are you saying the Mass can never change? Has never changed? Of course the Mass can change in some ways. But the words of consecration, its expressed theology and catechetical qualities, its sacred purposes, its holiness, its beauty and arrows toward the Transcendent — these things cannot be changed without danger. So, what, are you saying the Mass can never change? Has never changed? Of course the Mass can change in some ways. But the words of consecration, its expressed theology and catechetical qualities, its sacred purposes, its holiness, its beauty and arrows toward the Transcendent — these things cannot be changed without danger if the Mass were a mere memorial of Calvary, would you commemorate the Sacrifice of anyone or anything else by bringing out the Rock and Roll and having a party? Have we lost all sense of majesty, awe, thanksgiving, gratitude, and duty? But He is risen! Amen and alleluia! But we are not; we have work to do. And Christ, the High Priest and Perfect Victim, “lamb as it had been slain,” pours out the graces of His once and for all time Sacrifice to us in the Mass so we might be sanctified — something we must become in order to have our own “little Easter.” We get to the Resurrection through the Cross. It must be always remembered that it isn’t Christ’s Resurrection that saves us in itself, by itself; it was the shedding of His Blood on the Cross that led to His Resurrection! His having shed His Blood is what remits our sins and is what will allow us to experience the fruits thereof: our own resurrection. Our awareness of the glorious fact of His Resurrection is ever-present (it is the very reason we worship on Sundays!); but that joy is tempered by the Sacrifice and by the knowledge that while He is risen, He pours Himself out to us yet — and we still have our own Calvary to go through. Well, who the heck are you? You like the traditional Mass, I like the New Mass. Why should your opinion matter more than mine? The Mass is not about me or you; one doesn’t need to understand every word of Latin to offer his own heart to Jesus, to pray, to understand the basic purpose of the Mass and kneel in awe and humility as the Sacrifice takes place. As to “understanding what’s going on,” consider that now, since the institution of Bugnini’s Mass, 70% of Catholics between the ages of 18 and 44 do not believe in the Real Presence — that is, they are material heretics. Can you honestly say that the Novus Ordo Mass increases understanding of what the Mass is? But that’s what they make Missals for — and after a while, one can recognize and easily understand those parts of the Mass that do not change. Besides, and this is the greater point, not all understanding comes from hearing language; it also comes from silence and prayer and beauty and sign and gesture, from the other things one hears (chant and bells), and from what one sees (stained glass, statues, beautiful vestments) and smells (incense) and experiences (majesty). All of these things teach us and impress themselves onto our minds in a way that words alone can’t. Recall how