“Here Is My Body, Please Stay Away From It?”
I have already written a blog post about the Novus Ordo and us. As the work has already been made, I suggest that you follow the link and read there, if you are interested.
Today, I would like to expand (not a little) on one or two aspects of the matter. Please note I do not want to be polemical towards anyone, and respect the views of sincere Catholics in defence of Tradition. At the same time, I think I must speak on the matter.
If you think that the Novus Ordo is offensive to God, and therefore a well-instructed and devote Catholic has no obligation to attend such a Mass and actually should avoid it, I cannot avoid the following conclusions from the reasoning:
- That the Church that Christ founded failed to, was unable to, or refused to give the faithful a Mass to which a well-instructed Catholic should attend in pretty much 99.99% of the cases between the end of the Sixties, and the Indult.
- That the Church that Christ founded was, after the Indult and slowly more so since Summorum Pontificum, able to provide a very small percentage of Masses to which a well-instructed Catholic should attend. All the rest was and is good for the Catholic Helots at best, and only because they can’t see the evil in it.
We can, in both cases, add the SSPX masses to the percentage, because like many others I am unable to consider the SSPX in any way, shape or form less than 100% Catholic. Still, the conclusion remains the same: if you follow this reasoning, the Church has been unable to function as Church for those well-instructed Catholics, who have therefore been free from the obligation to attend to Mass – and consequently deprived of the Sacrament every time they would have received – in something similar to 100% of the cases for more than a decade, and something not very far away from that afterwards.
This is, if you ask me, a very dangerous reasoning. It says that the Church has failed in being the Church, on a global scale; that she was unable to work as such. If we follow this train of thought she has, during the last five decades or so, allowed the uneducated masses (a difficult concept, this: in the first times after the Council the masses were rather well educated; the decadence set up only in the following decades) to fulfill a mass obligation in a way that is offensive to God.
This dangerous reasoning must perforce lead us to create, as it were, two churches: the Church of all times, which produced Masses the faithful had to attend to; and this strange “other ” church, “the church of Paul VI”, which is so radically different from the other church that she can’t even manage to celebrate a Mass to which alert, properly instructed Catholics should attend. A church so bad that… the first precept of the Church does not apply to her.
We are, here, clearly sliding toward Sedevacantism, then this “poisoned church” – poisoned to the point of not being factually able to produce anything but a poisonous Mass – can and, at this point, probably should be questioned in her legitimacy as the Church of Christ, from the Pope down.
I allow myself to propose a different reading; a reading that has, in my eyes, the immense advantage of making my thinking coincide with the reality I see around me, that is: with the Catholic Masses celebrated – most of them, reverently – by the Church; in addition, this other reading coincides with the fact that this Church must, if she is to be considered the Church, still be able to produce Masses and Sacraments for the faithful which a good, well-informed Catholic should take part to; a Church, in other words, still able to bind us to her precepts instead of making of them a mockery for everyone who is smart and educated enough in catholic things to see how bad she is.
A Church dissolved in thin air – not in her existence as Church, but in her ability to work as such – for the work of one Pope does not really look like the Church to me. It seems as if this kind of church were if not defectible, at least extremely collapsible, able to almost disappear from the face of the earth as the provider of Masses for the real Catholics, and all this in a handful of years. It would become, at such lightning speed, the provider of Masses which: a) are perfectly valid, and 2) result in a true Consecration, but at which 3) I, a well-instructed Catholic, should not take part, deciding for myself that I am too well-instructed for the Sunday mass obligation to apply to me.
This seems utterly illogical to me. It seems to me that if a Mass were a grave offence to God, God would not – as it is the case in the case of grave offence – grace this Mass with a valid Consecration. But if the valid Consecration is there, it seems to me that the Mass – sub-optimal and second-class as it is – is good enough for Him. And if it is good enough for Him it is good enough for your humble correspondent, too.
A merciful God allows – following the image used in the other post – that wine be substituted for Coca-Cola, and still does not take distance from us. I for myself will then stay near to Him. But it’s coca-cola, not poison. It’s a valid Mass with a valid consecration. It’s still – theologically and sacramentally – the real thing, badly executed.
In saying so I do not think that I am being truly ignorant, much less deliberately evil. I give an answer to a terrible dilemma that seems to me the one most aligned with what the reality I see around me (that there are worldwide valid masses, and a worldwide mass obligation), and with what it seems to me very natural, and very Catholic, that the Church would want me, the poor layman, to do: obey and suffer. May the priest think differently – and I myself will even praise him for it – I cannot find any reason to say that I have the same choice, because if I do so I declare that the church has, to 99%, ceased to exist as we all know and see her.
I remember reading the words of Padre Pio, to the effect that the Church must be loved even when She kills us (as someone always asks I prevent the question, and answer that I think it was here; but no guarantee). It seems to me that the Sacrament should be adored, and the Body of Christ partaken in, and our duties complied with, even when this happens in a very sub-optimal, second-class manner. It seems to me that I will know when I die why Christ allowed that His own Church should fail to offer to Him the most reverent of Masses, but that at the same time it is not for me to refuse which Mass He, in His Providence, should decree that I, a wretched sinner, must suffer in expiation of my manifold sins. It seems to me that I have deserved this Mass, because in my wretched sinfulness I myself have put – through my Original Sin, of course – Christ on that very Cross, and if I am given the enormous privilege of receiving Him it is not for me – provided, of course, the consecration took place – to say that not only I will not approach the altar (I have no obligation to do so more than once a year, and might have many reasons not to do so anyway), but I will stay away from the Mass altogether. A Mass, mind, that I know valid, and resulting in the miracle of the Consecration every time, and to which I know I do have an obligation to attend.
I allow myself to say it once again: I do not see the NO as offensive to God, but I do not think that I am being ignorant. I do not think that I am being evil. I think that I am applying common sense, and I claim for myself the right to do what every generation of Catholics before me did: fulfill my obligation by going to a valid Mass, where I can at least witness – if I do not want to partake in it – the greatest miracle on earth, every time, and a gift that Christ still gives to us, still gives to us!
And no, it is not about my spiritual gifts. It is not about how how I feel. It is not about me in any way. It is about what I am told to do.
I want to die doing what the Church tells me to do whenever this is not in contrast with what the Church always told us to do. Mass obligation is a precept of the Church. The Mass is valid. The Consecration takes place. Case closed.
But what about love? Should there not be an overarching principle at work here?
The reasoning seems strange to me. Christ comes to me in the form of the Blessed Sacrament and I should, out of love, refuse to even witness this greatest of miracles of love? Which of God’s gifts should I ever refuse out of … love for Him? What does God say to the well-instructed Catholic: “Here is my body, please stay away from it?”
I allow myself to offer another example of love. Think of the old woman who came home from the new Mass at the end of the Sixties and cried tears of sorrow, but still went to Mass. She knew how to show her love.
We suffer and we obey. We give our suffering to the Lord. If we think the Mass is so horrible that Christ does not come in the form of a valid consecration, we avoid that Mass. If He is there, we want Him to find us! Crying if needs be, but there!
We find the most reverent mass we can. If we are lucky, we might have a TLM (Yes, SSPX too! What a blessing!). But if not, we think of the old woman above, and we love Christ exactly as she did.
I have the greatest respect – again, refer to the linked post – for those priests who consider it impossible for them to celebrate such a Mass as the Novus Ordo. But the reasoning cannot apply to the laity, because it would lead 99% of them to contravene to the obligation to attend Mass, and would lead to the absurd conclusion of a Church individually declared incapable to properly work as such, as described above.
I do not think this is a rational position. Rather, I consider this position a very dangerous one.