Why The New Mass Must Die
Let me say beforehand – though those who have been reading me for some time, if any, know it already – that I do not have any problem with the sacramental validity of the Novus Ordo mass. None whatsoever.
I believe that there is only One Church and that Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia. It follows that I cannot believe that the consecration of this only Church has become a fraud.
This doesn’t mean, however, that I consider everything happening within this Only Church to be right. If we look at the past, we see various ages in which the Church has gravely failed to properly instruct the faithful and, in general, do a halfway decent job of things. The extreme corruption of pretty much everything regarding the Church in the IX and X Century is an example; the decadent, irreverent splendour of the Church of the XVI century is another; the rather laissez-faire style of the XVIII century another still. In spite of all that, we know that Communion, Confession & co were as valid during these dark times as they always were, and that the consecration effected by a priest remains valid even should the priest be in mortal sin.
Similarly, periods in which the Mass was ill-treated are clearly recognisable: the notorious fast masses – or the “bespoke” masses – of the XVI century (some of them done with in 15 minutes, it seems), with the priests deciding what is “in” and what is “out” of the traditional liturgy are a clear example, and one with many parallels to what happens today. The Tridentine Council adjusted things then, and we are waiting for a similar repair work today.
What has been happening in the last half century is, therefore, not new in itself. What is different today is that in the present situation the liturgical and theological corruption has reached the very heart of the Church, in a measure and with a virulence that we cannot find in the past.
Some Popes of the past knew how to be assassins, gluttons, womanizers or, in general, first-class greedy bastards. But they never even conceived of tampering with the liturgy. The private lusts of an Alexander VI didn’t impinge the daily spiritual life of millions of Catholics anywhere near as the experiments of a John XXIII, or the stupefying weakness of a Paul VI, did.
What we have today is, therefore, nothing new on one hand, but alarmingly novel on the other. The Smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God not through the private vices and weaknesses of his leaders, but through a direct attack to the very centre of Her life, the Liturgy.
This is why the New Mass must die.
When the “fast-food” masses of the XVI century were critically examined their sacramental validity was (apart from very extreme cases) not put into question, but it was nevertheless decided that such way of celebrating Mass had to be stopped. When a vast series of regional or local “usages” was deemed to be detrimental to Church life, the thus celebrated masses were not declared invalid, only it was wisely considered that only traditional usages should be allowed to survive. Every cleaning carries with himself the necessity of eliminating poor practice, irrespective of its sacramental validity.
A strong, universally applied “best practice” policy is what is needed, as it was – very wisely! – done in the past by similar cleaning-up operations. There can be no doubt that the best practice is the Mass of the Ages. There can be no doubt that the recovery of integrity in the Liturgy goes through the recovery of the Liturgy in its most traditional, purest form. This is what has been – very wisely – done in the past. It stands to reason that it is what must be done today.
Whilst this is – intellectually speaking – clear enough, it never fails to slap me in the face every time that I – as I do every now and then – go around assisting to some Novus Ordo Mass around London and its immediate vicinity. The return to the proper Mass is always – and I repeat this – like a slap in the face; every single time, it is impossible not to notice the sheer inadequacy of the Novus Ordo to convey the sacredness of the Mass.
It’s like going to a concert of some cretinous rapper and then go back to a Schubert piano recital. “What was they thinking” is the thought that always comes to my mind; a bit the same as when you look at those iron and concrete monsters of the Sixties and wonder what everyone (architects; city planners; citizens) were doing with their brains in those fateful years.
The Novus Ordo must die. It must end up in the same dustbin where the old fast masses, and the vast number of regional and local uses of the past, have ended up.
Not because it is invalid, but because once you have known the Tridentine Mass, the Novus ordo is so woefully inadequate that it is a sheer embarrassment to attend to.
Posted on April 25, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Conservative Catholic, conservative catholicism, Liturgy, mass, Mass of Paul VI, Novus ordo, Religion and Spirituality, Tridentine Council, Tridentine Mass. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
Great post. I feel, I think, the same as you, but perhaps even less sanguine.
Two things: 1. Read about what the state of the clergy was like at the start of the counterreformation in Saint Peter Canisius by James Broderick, S. J. (Chicago: Loyola UP, 1962), particularly in Germany. As bad as that was (drunk, lecherous etc., as you note) it’s worse today because externally, by liberal standards, the NO cadres are nice, upstanding people. To point to their faults, you need an audience of Thomists. Transcendence! What’s that? (The Canisius book is inspiring, in any event.)
2. You mention ugly, modernist architecture (unfortunately not of the past [get an image of our wonderful new “Cathedral” in Los Angeles–built for a mere hundred million bucks]): it is to be inferred therefrom that the malaise of the NO Mass is deeply rooted in the culture, a dying beast intent on destroying its spiritual progenitor. Miracles can happen (google Kateri, Finkbonner for a joyful, current one) and we must believe that hell won’t prevail against the Church, but it certainly is not ours to see now.
I agree with you that the “nice” facade the Church puts up today helps a lot in disguising the profoundness of the problems. Only a minority of people – people like me, who remebers priests of the other kind and was blessed with older relative of pre- Vatican II mould – can clearly see that they are all wrong. Most of the others must have a confused feeling that things are not right, but then reflect that everyone is so nice and Father Liberal never denies a smile….
Add to this that most of the flock is actually kept in ignorance as to how the priest should behave and you have the full picture…..
I am of the opinion that the Tridentine Mass is so authentically Catholic than once the priests has started to celebrate it, fake catholicism in name only will not be possible anymore.
This is why liberal priests resist it, of course.
Excellent post Mundabor. I can’t easily attend an EF mass where I live, but my experience of when I could has forever spoiled me, and I get easily distracted by all the million little abuses and banalities that have been allowed to creep into the OF. And it has had a noticeable effect on the parishioners too. When I went to Easter mass on Sunday, there was a whole family coming out of the previous service dressed in nothing but t-shirts and jeans. This is in a parish where the pastor is otherwise very orthodox in his faith, and the liturgy isn’t even abused (much).
On a related note, the inner rebel in me has a perverse love of the worldliness of the 16th century Church, just to annoy Protestants. I love to say to them “St. Peter’s Basilica: well worth the Reformation!”
Yes NSS, but the decadent splendour was certainly not in the churches (that is holy splendour, not decadent one!), but in the extravagant and very corrupt lifestyle of the higher echelons of the church. It is, for example, rumoured that Alexander VI used to have all the (very expensive) plates and cutlery thrown away after each banquet, as a special gesture of regard (and of power, and of wealth) to his guests. Be it as it may, it is clear that the lifestyle was extravagant, and the sins committed under the sun.
I feel with you about the Tridentine. I do think that to most people it would take some time to let the Tridentine sink in; in the same way as one who has never heard anything than hip hop would possibly (or possibly not) need some time to get to appreciate Schubert. But this only shows how woefully inadequate the Novus ordo is.
I agree with you also on the clothes (I have witnessed very strange things here in London too; rather warm days), which also go to explain what happens when the sacredness of the Mass goes lost; cue the crying children with the mothers obviously confusing the Mass for a crib or a kindergarten, but not willingly to alternate Mass attendance with their husbands in order not to miss Harrod’s. They are often the same people going to mass in flip flop and shorts. As I said, they just can’t see the sacredness of the entire exercise; still, the very same people consider it normal to have arrangement for the baby and dress halfway decently when they go to a restaurant, or a concert. Mad world.