The SSPX, The Novus Ordo And Us
An interesting discussion has erupted concerning the way a conservative, or traditionalist Catholic, should behave concerning attendance to the Novus Ordo Mass. Catocon was so nice as to prepare a mini-research of sources in the comment box of this post.
There is no doubt that whilst some SSPX priest arrives at times to say not worse than that the NO “provides a deficient spiritual diet to the faithful” (something on which, I hope, we all agree), the general stance is in the end harder, oscillating between attending only in case of “social emergency” (and even then only if the Mass is very reverent) and at the other extreme the softer, original position of Archbishop Lefebvre, who said:
However, “it is an exaggeration to say that most of these Masses are invalid.” One should not hesitate to go a little further to have Mass according to the Roman Ordo; but “if one does not have the choice and if the priest celebrating Mass according to the Novus Ordo is faithful and worthy, one should not abstain from going to Mass.”
Also, there seem to be no doubt even among versed priests somewhat less friendly to the SSPX than I am that for the SSPX priests a properly celebrated NO Mass is valid.
In all cases, it appears most priests of the SSPX would demand from yours truly that he exclusively attends a Traditional Mass; actually, their own Traditional Mass, as the doubts or misgivings concerning the indult/SP masses are also clearly there.
This blog was always, as every reader knows who read it even occasionally, on a different position.
Firstly, allow me to copy and paste – out of sheer laziness – a comment I have written in answer to a description of the NO as “abomination”. The SSPX certainly do not go as far as that, but you get the drift.
I refuse to see the Novus Ordo as an abomination. I positively and squarely refuse to do so. If the NO is an abomination, the Church is a fraud. It cannot be that the Church of Christ has decided to offer an abomination worldwide, and it still is the Church of Christ. If I believed that, then I would be forced to believe that there is no Peter, that the Pope is an impostor and a masquerade. Again, I refuse to do so. In fact, as I have explained the only reason why I continue to attend the NO is that I do not want, one day, to think that the NO is an abomination. If a particular NO Mass is more than I can stomach, I can find another NO, or three. On no account would I ever think I am the one to decide that the Rite in itself is an abomination, and I am too good for what the Church offers me.
It’s good to eat hard bread in a while. It still is the bread of life, and it keeps one honest. Works for me, at least.
2. I never said I am afraid that the Society might become Sedevacantist. My point is rather that if I pamper myself with the TLM every Sunday, I might end up thinking the NO is … an abomination. Should life, then, keep me away from a TLM I would then, coherently, not attend anymore. The one at risk is myself, not them. Now, either the NO (I mean, as a Mass; in abstract; and properly celebrated) is valid or it isn’t. I truly do not think it is for me to say. I am a Catholic for a reason. Now, if I had serious reason to think some local NO is not sacramentally valid, I wouldn’t attend there. If one has a TLM, I will encourage him to go there; if one hasn’t there, I would encourage him to travel further to find one in reasonable distance. But if I heard him talking like you do, I would suggest that he attends a NO Mass every now and then, too.
3. Yes, the NO might bring less graces. It probably does. Particularly if one gets angry. But hey, I can’t have my cake and eat it. To people like me, there are dangers on both sides. Been there, done that. Let me say very frankly that I do not want to die thinking that the Mass the Church of Christ offers me is an abomination, and offends Christ. Probably 99% of the Masses offered in the Roman Rite are NO. Many of them are reverently celebrated – even in Germany I can find decent ones without trouble -. If we throw the NO qua NO out of the window, we are saying the Church is a fraud to 99%. Thanks, but no, thanks.
4. You vastly overstate my influence as a blogger; but yes, I could influence the one or the other. On no account, then, would I ever suggest to them that they stay away from a NO Mass if they cannot have the TLM; because truly, the very thought is scary. The TLM is better, but the NO is still good, because it still is the Mass.
Second choice, I agree. But whoa, pay attention what you say.
One day I might well decide to only attend the TLM. Actually, it would be the more pleasant option by far. To do so, I would have to feel very safe that no antics of our clergy will drive me to distraction. I wish I could give you this security, but unfortunately I can’t, or a part of me is afraid one day I could make such a mistake… You see, I could end up – and I say this without animosity, but with a certain apprehension – thinking like you, and I really do not want to.
I will cling to the acceptability of the NO as I cling to the Church. I do not live in Hippyland. Plenty of reverent masses around here. Actually, my “Mass tourism” also has the aim of seeing how things are, examining the lay of the land. Honestly, it could be much worse.
I belong to the Church. I love the Church even when she slaps me in the face. Already once I stopped attending because I thought I knew better, and was better. Already once I thought I do not need to go and listen to a stupid priest talking stupid waffle (obviously, no clue about the real reason why I went to Mass). Never again. If the Lord gives me less graces for that, so be it. I will accept the slap from him as I accept the love, and I will accept whatever slap I take for taking part to the Mass the Church of Christ gave me. Because, you see, the NO is still the standard Mass of the Only Church, and I can’t throw the one from the window without throwing the other.
5. Then let us think to the end. if the NO is an abomination, the priest who celebrates the NO mass is an accomplice in this abomination. Not only the Mass might well be invalid – you probably think it is – but the other sacraments are, probably, too. What then? Do 99% of Catholic priest not impart a valid absolution? How many babies are validly baptised? How many adults validly married? How many of them, actually, validly priests?
It’s a slippery slope.
P.S. To all my twelve readers. I believe the NO is okay. I truly do. Vastly inferior to the TLM, for sure; but seriously, it’s fine.
I hope it will die one day, of course; but as long as it doesn’t, it will deliver all right. It’s the Mass of the Church after all.
You would be better served and more inspired by the TLM; but probably not, if this leads you to think a properly celebrated NO stinks.
Secondly, I would like to make the further consideration that if the SSPX are right, the likes of the London Oratorians are utterly wrong in continuing to celebrate the Novus Ordo ad populum, and we should consider participating at their NO Mass only in case of, say, a marriage in the family. Their NO is clearly, if you listen to some of the voices, not reverent enough for daily attendance.
Even worse it becomes if we take literally the reservations of the SSPX about priests who celebrate exclusively the TLM, but of whom it can be assumed they would not refuse to celebrate the NO if so ordered. In this perspective, not even the FSSP is good enough that their (TL) Mass can be attended to without reservations and moral distinguos.
What is the ultimate consequence of this? As I have already stated, it is that according to this thinking the Church of Christ serves poison and evil fare, day in and day out, to more than 99% of the Roman Rite faithful; who are, once again, not exactly a fringe group, but rather around 90% of worldwide Catholics. In a word, the Church would be the most efficient tool of Satan on earth, bar none.
I don’t like Pope Francis. Actually, I do not even esteem him. I do not think he should have been allowed to become a priest, much less a Pope – the same as Pope Liberius, Pope Benedict IX, Pope Alexander VI or Pope Leo X by the way -. But, come on…
I refuse to espouse such an extreme position. I see a substantial difference between considering the NO like a hamburger compared to the TLM’s porterhouse steak, or Coca-Cola compared to the TLM’s Barolo, and considering it instead stale meat, or a poisonous drink. The difference is substantial in that the hamburger is still nourishment, and the Coca-cola still quenches the thirst.
I refuse to espouse a vision of the world that sees in the Church an almost complete evil-producing wasteland, as the only fully acceptable parts of it would then be the SSPX and their affiliates. I refuse to consider the London Oratorians not good enough for my lofty standards, and a Traditional Latin Mass with the FSSP something I should avoid if I can. With such a mentality, of course talking to the Vatican does not make sense. With such a mentality, of course it is infinitely better to have no agreement at all with the Vatican, not even if one is offered for free and without have to make any concession in return. If Rome is so evil, then they must be fought against, not dialogued with! When, and only when, one has this forma mentis, Williamson’s behaviour becomes not only understandable, but actually coherent.
Frankly, I don’t see it. I want the end of the NO mass as much as the next Traditionalist, but I refuse to consider poisonous or evil – much less “an abomination” – the spiritual nourishment the Church of Christ offers me and the other 99% of Roman Rite Catholics.
Some might say “but Mundabor, they say that the NO is evil, but they qualify by saying it that it is evil in the sense that it does not have a necessary good ” (or suck like). I answer to this that either the NO is evil in the sense that you and I understand when we hear the word evil, or the argument fails to persuade. If “evil” isn’t really “evil”, then the argument isn’t there in the first place.
I wonder how many within the SSPX truly share this view. They have supported Bishop Fellay like a man, and Bishop Williamson’s exclusion has caused not more than a dozen or so defection (less, if memory serves). It is clear they look at Rome in a way well different from the creator and distributor of millions of poisonous masses daily.
I have left the words of the Archbishop up as a quotation, so that at the end of this long post one may want to read it again. Of course the Archbishop might have expressed himself differently in different contexts, and one must take his words in the frame of his beautiful love for the Church. But exactly for this reason, it seems to me that his softer stance is more reasoned and more coherent, as he clearly gives every NO mass celebrated by a “faithful and worthy priest” dignity of – to remain by the culinary metaphor – nourishing, healthy, un-poisonous hamburger.