Next time you hear someone complaining that in the Tridentine Mass the priests gives his back to the faithful, you may want to ask him the following questions:
1) Is he offended that the people sitting in front of them in the pews turn their back to him?
2) Shouldn’t the Mass, then, be held with the faithful in a nice half circle of one row only?
3) Does he know what a Tabernacle really is? You might have to explain this I’m afraid. When you have explained, you may ask:
4) Has he noticed how the priest is placed relative to the Tabernacle during the New Mass?
5) So who should the priest face: God or the faithful?
Of course you always run the chance of someone answering “the faithful, as God is not offended but the faithful are”.
But at least you’ll know whom you are talking to.
From the German site Summorum Pontificum, a communique’ of the German SSPX about Universae Ecclesiae:
Two points are particularly noteworthy:
1. Zur Frage des Papstamtes
Die Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X. anerkennt Papst Benedikt XVI. als rechtmäßigen Papst und als Oberhaupt der katholischen Kirche. […]
1. On the question of the Papal Office:
The Society of St. Pius X acknowledges Pope Benedict XVI as legitimately reigning Pope and as the Head of the Catholic Church. […]
It follows a clear distinction between them and the Sedevacantists. We knew that already, but I think there is a lot of confusion around.
2. Zur Frage der neuen Messe
Die Bruderschaft bestreitet nicht die Gültigkeit der neuen Messform. Wenn sie korrekt gefeiert wird – was an vielen Orten allerdings nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist – ist sie eine gültige Messfeier. […]
Again, my translation:
2. On the question of the New Mass
The Society doesn’t question the validity of the new form of Mass. When it is celebrated correctly – which in several places is not an automatic occurrence anymore – it is a valid Mass celebration […].
It follows, again, a rather convoluted explanation that the Novus Ordo be valid, but the SSPX has doubt about its “legality” or “legitimacy” or “lawfulness” (Rechtsmaessigkeit), an expression that I can’t explain to you – in my simple world, if you recognise its validity it means that you recognise the right of the Church to celebrate it – and would make a clarification of the SSPX very welcome.
Still, I find it positive that the SSPX in Germany has explicitly intervened making clear that they recognise both the Pope’s legitimacy and authority, and the validity of the New Mass. It is sad to hear incorrect or outright mendacious information about the Society and this kind of intervention is just what is required to deal with it. I wish the SSPX would intervene more often on these points, as otherwise they offer the flank to misinformation or outright calumniation.
You would have imagined that the bishops would have been not slow in reacting to Universae Ecclesiae, but I’m sure the speed with which Archbishop Nichols has started to fire his Big Bertha against the Tridentine post is nothing less than remarkable.
Mere hours after the publication of the Instruction, Archbishop Vincent “Quisling” Nichols was already intent at the first trial shots. His analysis of Universae Ecclesiae doesn’t stress the huge importance of the work in terms of the obligations it puts on bishops, or the renewed statement of the importance given to the Tridentine Mass, or its being every bit the equal in rank to the Novus Ordo.
Instead, his analysis focuses on the (now reduced, though he doesn’t say) powers of the bishops and, most importantly, on the stressing of the only weak point of the Instruction: the absence of compulsory instruction in the celebration of the Tridentine in Seminaries.
It is really telling of the Archbishop’s forma mentis that he would immediately point out to the only point that is not overtly in favour of the mounting tide of Catholic conservatism. It is, at the same time, very telling about the spirit and attitude with which at least the bishops of England and Wales will react (react is here truly the right word) to Universae Ecclesiae.
Just a few hours after the release of the instruction, ++ Nichols’ trumpet has gathered his own around him and made clear to them that they may start preparing to battle. As so often in life, the why something is said tells you much more about an issue than what is, in the specific case, being said. This is clearly the case here, with the first distinguos clearly giving the start for the slow, silent, relentless work of sabotage now approaching. The Italians call this seemingly innocuous, but in fact very dangerous sabotage muro di gomma, or “rubber wall”. It is clear here that Archbishop Nichols’ message to his troops is “we may not be able to stop this, but we will certainly try”.
We will see whether he has any success. In my opinion, a prompt enforcement from the part of Ecclesia Dei will cause things to run smoothly from the start, whereas uncertainties in the enforcement will condemn this instruction to certain, if perhaps rather slow, death.
Let us hope the first will be the case.
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.
In a Father Z’s post, a very perceptive Bishop (outside of Europe, of course) makes a lot of intelligent observations about why the Novus Ordo is woefully inadequate and how the return to the Vetus Ordo will be the “saving grace” of the Church.
Of his many points, one struck me light a lightning: what if EWTN would start transmitting its daily mass ad orientem.
Think of it: the biggest Catholic sender on earth broadcasts its daily Mass with the Tridentine use. Very rapidly (after some weeks of feeble protest, perhaps; perhaps with a keen curiosity from the start) the Tridentine would become familiar to millions who never had the opportunity to assist to one before; nay, who didn’t even know that there was the possibility of attending to such a Mass!
In a matter of a few months, perhaps a few weeks, a huge number of them would not only become accustomed to it, but start to cherish the sobriety, the atmosphere, the solemnity, the sense of sacredness that the Tridentine conveys so well to all those who take the time and make the effort to understand it. Soon, these very people would start asking their own priest what about that beautiful, spiritual Mass they see on EWTN. What will the priest answer then, “we don’t do this”? “You are 45, but not a stable community?”.
In a world more and more made global by mass communication media, a single decision could have a planetary impact.
I do hope they’ll think seriously about it.
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
I’d like to say a word about one of the consequences of the “Spirit of Vatican – II”-wave centering the Mass experience on the “feelings” rather than on the rather hard job of promoting Catholic orthodoxy, namely its emasculation expressed as both childishness and effeminacy. I’m afraid that the trend has been encouraged by the increased number of priests of dubious virility – or worse; or much worse – allowed to become priests after V II.
Those of you who have the privilege of being able to attend a Tridentine Mass will immediately understand what I am saying. At a Tridentine Mass you have sober, measured, dignified gestures, repeated in the same way again and again. A sense of serious business, of momentous proceedings. Solemnity, dignity, gravitas at all times.
The priest is a figure of authority. He clearly leads, the faithful follow. The entire matter is – I can’t find a better word – rather military in the precision of every gesture. Whatever emotions the priests has, he keeps to himself. It truly is not about emotions.
Compare this with the Novus Ordo as practiced in the friendly progressive parish church near you.
1) The priest is not a figure of authority. He doesn’t even want to. He makes the impression that, given the choice, he’d rather be an aunt distributing chocolate and biscuits.
2) The new hymns are of two types: the extremely childish and the worryingly effeminate ones. All of them seriously embarrassing stuff.
3) The readings are frequently read – particularly by women – in a highly emotionally charged, smug, patronising voice, as if little children had to be thought the importance of not telling lies to mommy.
4) The exercise is repeated during the prayer intentions. Politically charged “I can’t believe how good we are”-undertones will easily sneak in.
5) The sign of peace is an outburst of easy emotionalism at which, once again, mainly women excel. “Peaaace beee with youuuuuuu!”. Yes, ma’am.
6) At times, the altar “girls” (oh well…) literally surround the priest during consecration. The visual message couldn’t be clearer.
7) The “extraordinary ministers” are, in my impression, mainly women.
8 ) Don’t get me started on the bringing of the gifts to the altar. Might be interesting for children under Four. No, make it Three.
9) The homilies tend to focus on emotional aspects: “feel the love” instead of “obey the rules”. They have no admonishment to give, merely encouragements. They do not demand, but suggest.
10) At the end of Mass, the priest is at the door with his best smile for everyone. You think a Tupperware party might just have gone to an end. But he has such a nice smile. Aren’t we a jolly good parish.
All this makes of your typical Novus Ordo atmosphere something between the kindergarten and the self-awareness group. I still remember a church in Central London I entered to go to confession. There was a Mass still going on and a statue of Mary was being carried in procession within the church. The most sugary of hymns was being sung and the extremely effeminate priest was asking everyone to …….. wave white handkerchiefs at the statue of Mary whilst singing along at it.
You could have cut the embarrassment of the males with a knife. I mean, for a woman this might well seem a stupid exercise; but to ask a man for that is to go against everything he is. I didn’t wave, but I did remember. I’d love to be able to tell you that the priest might have been blissfully unaware of the childishness and effeminacy of all this. I doubt it.
In conclusion: on the one hand we have a clearly masculine and adult exercise, executed with sober and military precision by what were, in the absolutely vast majority, clearly heterosexual men.
On the other hand we have an emotional fest taking over and expressing itself in childish or effeminate, but always ridiculous ways; ways tolerated or positively encouraged by priests in serious need to man up, when we are lucky.
Then we complain that poorly instructed teenagers – grown up with “feel the love” platitudes and not even told that Sunday Mass obligation must be taken seriously – stop attending Mass.
“Rorate Coeli” re-published a brilliant contribution from a member of the American Catholic Lawyers association, Christopher Ferrara. The contribution is longish, but fascinating and even if it has been written some years ago, it still maintains a great deal of actuality.
Mr. Ferrara examines SC with a lawyer’s spectacles, with a view of seeing what SC mandates and what it allows. It seems to be that his detailed analysis has as main aims:
1) to ascertain to what extent the Novus Ordo we know and hate has been authorised by SC;
2) to understand how it could be approved by certainly conservative bishops, in primis by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre;
3) to see whether the Latin Mass can be restored based on SC, and
4) what is the way forward, if not.
To 1), Mr. Ferrara convincingly proves that every modification originated by the Novus Ordo (and which does not constitute an obvious, liturgical abuse) can easily be justified in the light of SC. He points out (as Romano Amerio before him had often done) to the utterly contradictory mixture of conservative and progressive norms, with solemn statements of the will to preserve tradition immediately followed by the authorisation to proceed to sweeping modification every time that unspecified local needs should be taken into account. This apparent hysteria is, as it is clear now, rather the fruit of the will of Bugnini & Co. to reassure conservative Bishops with solemn statements of continuity of tradition whilst at the same time opening vast portals to utterly unspecified, arbitrarily decided changes by local communities. The strategy obviously worked as the document was approved and the sweeping liturgical modifications introduced in the following years were never seen by both Paul VI and JP II as being against the letter or the spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Ferrara’s case is solidly made: the argument that the Novus Ordo itself (again: leaving aside liturgical abuses) is not in compliance with SC’s norms is untenable. The Novus Ordo we have today is very clearly what was wanted, the fragmentation of the rite into a myriad of different languages and regional variations explicitly desired.
To 2), Ferrara points out to an important psychological, if not legal, factor in the Bishop’s approval. Sacrosanctum Concilium is so structured, that no substantial changes are made mandatory. The picture coming out from the reading is one of a document saying “we want to leave pretty much everything as it is, unless we introduce changes“. The options about changes are, though, so many and so undetermined, that the door to an almost unrecognisable Roman Rite was open wide. We know the results.
As Ferrara brilliantly writes,
A lawyer knows that the dangers in a contract from his client’s perspective lie not so much in what the terms of the contract provide as in what they permit the other party to do. The danger is in the loopholes. Quite simply, SC permits all manner of drastic things to be done to the Roman liturgy. It is one long collection of loopholes. If a lawyer entrusted with the task of protecting the Roman liturgy from harmful innovation had drafted this document, he would be guilty of gross malpractice.
This makes also clear why conservative Bishops like Lefebvre did approve the document. It wouldn’t have been prudent to reject the document altogether in view of its stated conservative character, but it was wise to point out to the dangers to which a mediocre wording would expose the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre actually did both (approving and warning) and in retrospect I would say that his conduct appears – once more – wise.
To 3), the obvious conclusion from what has been said up to now is that the idea that the New Mass is a violation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is untenable. This point seems very important to the author, which leads me to think that years ago the theory must have enjoyed vast popularity. But really, to espouse such a thinking would not only contradict the clear wording of SC (of which Ferrara brings many examples) but would also imply that two Popes have been gravely erring for decades in the interpretation of such an important Conciliar document.
To 4), the author has an interesting perspective. In his eyes, SC should not be modified or specified or guidelines to its interpretations given. Sacrosanctum Concilium deals with the Novus Ordo; it is not a doctrinal statement about how the Mass should look like, but merely a document stating how the mass may be modified. As things stand now, SC has been already implemented or, as Ferrara says in legal terms, has “merged” with the new Mass. Therefore there is, in legal terms, no SC anymore, only the New Mass it generated. As a consequence, the setting aside of the Novus ordo Mass will be the setting aside of Sacrosanctum Concilium. No need for any backpedaling, or modifications, or new interpretations. Just put the NO in the coldest part of the freezer and no further action will be required. Conversely, as SC clearly authorised all the sweeping changes we have experienced, its twisting to let it mean that those changes were never authorised or its modification to let it say the contrary of what it always meant doesn’t really make sense.
Let us conclude with the author’s very reasonable words:
The only way to restrain that mentality and restore liturgical sanity in the Roman Rite is full restoration of our Latin liturgical tradition – taken from us overnight, only 30 years ago.
According to Anna Arco at the Catholic Herald, a poll conducted among Catholic churchgoers in several European countries reveals that 43% of them think they would attend the Latin Mass every week if it were available to them, and 66% once a month.
As those who attend to two masses every Sunday are rather rare and those who attend several times a week are also not terribly frequent, what emerges is that without even having access to the TLM, almost half of the interviewed say that if the Latin mass was available, they would ditch the Novus Ordo and proceed to excusively attend the Tridentine Mass.
This calls, I think, for the following considerations:
1) all those “trendy” bishops who do whatever they can to boycott the Tridentine in their diocese very well know why they do it. They may claim that there is no interest but they perfectly well know that the interest would be huge;
2) the survey was made among generic churchgoers; there’s no reason to assume a disproportionate amount of them has had any significant exposure to the Tridentine Mass. It is the tradition that moves them to say that they would attend the TLM, the clear conscience that this is what their forefathers did. This tells a lot about the attraction of the TLM even on those unaware of its intrinsic beauty and reverence.
3) If someone would inform a Coca-Cola drinker about a new type of Coca-Cola, would he say that if introduced he’d automatically switch to the new type? Though not. Why? Well, because he likes Coca-Cola as it is and would therefore not switch to something else just because it is different. What does this say to us about the popularity of the Novus Ordo?
I think that vast part of the churchgoers find the Novus Ordo rather childish, not reverent enough and, in general, superficial. They instinctively know, even without having assisted to a TLM, that the Church has much better to offer. Therefore when someone prospects to them a Mass they don’t know in a language they don’t know, almost half of those asked say they’d prefer the unknown product they wouldn’t be able to immediately understand to the known one whose shortcomings they understand all too well.
As things are, the TLM would sweep away the Novus ordo in no time, were it to be rolled in in every parish and celebrated reverently.
Unfortunately, it appear we’ll have to wait and do the Sixty-Eighters the favour of waiting that they die. A favour they didn’t grant to old people in the Sixties.