POSTED BY Benedict Carter
Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci (‘The Ottaviani Intervention’, 1969) to Pope Paul:
“The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules… is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.”
“We have limited ourselves to a summary evaluation of the Novus Ordo where it deviates most seriously from the theology of the Catholic Mass and our observations touch only those deviations that are typical. A complete evaluation of all the pitfalls, the dangers, the spiritually and psychologically destructive elements contained in the document—whether in text, rubrics or instructions – would be a vast undertaking.”
Cardinal Alfons Stickler, November 27, 2004:
“The analysis of the Novus Ordo made by these two cardinals has lost none of its value nor, unfortunately, of its relevance …. the results of the reform are considered by many today to be devastating. It was to the credit of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci that they discovered very quickly that the change of the rites led to a fundamental change of doctrine.”
Pope Paul VI, October 13, 1977:
“The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.”
“I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times, and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging”
Pope John Paul II, visit to the USA in 1979:
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. … We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church … must take up.”
What has happened to our Catholic Church since the mid-1960’s? A healthy Church (at the level of the laity and much of the clergy) has collapsed. Indeed, the collapse was achieved by the mid-1970’s: all since then has been a series of stases before the next lurch downwards.
We have seen everything change, but nothing has affected us so much as the changes in the Mass. What follows are my own thoughts and observations on this matter since my return to the Church in 2005. I will not enter into a discussion of whether the Novus Ordo is a valid Sacrament per se or not: this essay assumes that it is (although many hundreds of thousands of individual Novus Ordo Masses have undoubtedly been invalid for want of valid matter or form over the last decades). But valid is the very, very least it should be. There should be so much more.
I am certainly of the opinion that the Novus Ordo is ONLY *relatively* safe in the hands of an orthodox priest. In the hands of a free-thinker, a weak priest or an out-and-out heterodox priest it is a lethal weapon against the Catholic Faith.
The Mass, as the centre of our Holy Faith, should:
1. Reinforce the entire Catholic Faith in every aspect – the way we worship contains within itself all that we believe;
2. It should raise up the individual reverently to the majesty and glory of God;
3. It should present to the individual (sic) soul the starkness and finality of the moral choices we have to make as Catholics in order to inherit Eternal Life;
4. It should keep us in safe continuity with the two thousand years of organic (and in fact miniscule) development of the Church’s main western liturgy, so that we can be Catholics hearing the same words and seeing the same gestures as a Catholic in Italy in the 4th century, as a Portuguese Catholic in the 9th century, as a Swedish Catholic in the 14th century, as an Englishman hearing a recusant Mass in the 17th century; as any Catholic at all until 1968. Communion in worship is communion in belief, not only with one’s fellow Catholics throughout the world, but with all Catholics throughout the centuries back to the time of Christ Himself.
The Novus Ordo does NOT fulfill any of these functions of worship. When an SSPX Bishop says that it represents a new religion, he speaks as a Bishop (yes I know, illicitly consecrated and suspended a divinis) and not as the holder of unusual historical opinions. This view should be thought about most carefully by any serious Catholic. It is a terrible charge to lay on the Novus Ordo and I believe that fundamentally it is correct.
That there has been a gigantic rupture in the Church these past fifty years cannot be denied. Those who do deny it are either very stupid, have a vested interest in the rupture or (even worse) are quite happy that it occurred, whatever the damage done; or have been formed by it and don’t know anything else.
I was born in 1963 so came to self-consciousness with the changes already made. I count myself extremely lucky to be the child of parents whose whole lives and characters were formed by and steeped in the Catholic Faith of their parents, people of the First World War generation. So prayers were said, our home was full of religious pictures, statues, music, books and conversation, going to Mass was a very serious matter and the whole world of Catholicism was in our home constantly.
The rupture has caused conflict within families, civil war in the Church, and apostasy on a scale not seen since the 16th century and before that, in the time of Arius; and has lost countless souls. I am sure of this latter point: the changes have cost many, many souls. At the heart of the rupture is the Novus Ordo: quite understandable, as the Mass is the centre and summit of the Catholic Faith. So what is the nature of the rupture, seen most vividly in the New Mass?
I believe with all my heart that at its bottom-most level, it is a loss of faith in the existence of God and the invisible world, which for any authentic Catholic should be the world that has most pull on his mentality, thoughts, conduct, and whole life. This has in turn led directly to the loss of the sense of sin and of its seriousness. And so of course the Confessionals are mostly empty.
It also represents – as anyone understands who knows from whom the New Mass came into existence, and how – the fruit of a significant number of people in the Church Herself who were seeking ways of robbing the Mass of its Catholic nature in order to (a) appeal to German and English protestants, to whom they felt closer than to their fellow Catholics; (b) actively do the Church harm.
These were Modernists who had kept a low profile since the time of Pope St. Pius X but who were still very much around. Their world-view was shaped by the seeming triumph of “historicity”, by the (coming, they thought) triumph of Marxism and its “truths”, and by the onward march of science and technology. The Council experts, or periti, were mostly made up of these people.
A new Mass was needed for the Modern Man formed by all these things they thought, a New Mass giving Man greater “dignity” (= “involvement” = Eucharistic Ministers, laity tramping about the Sanctuary, the destruction of the priesthood). A Mass for the (Marxist Collective) “community” where the individual soul is no longer called to say in his heart “I believe” but, along with the Collective, say “We believe”. The mindset produced by this emphasis is one of “community”: thus the Mass as a “meal”. In fact, it is the Collective at prayer (more properly it is the Collective praying to itself).
It is not a meal for me in any sense: I prefer bangers and mash.
And the New Mass, by eliminating specifically Catholic doctrine about Sacrifice, would appease all those Lutherans and Anglicans to whom we had been so nasty for so long, eh?
And for this New Mass, with its centre of gravity NOT Christ above the individual soul (a vertical relationship) but the Collective (a horizontal relationship), there was needed a new physical orientation: priest and people face each other; the Tabernacle to which I knelt and prayed as a small boy thrust out of sight into some alcove chapel. All barriers (altar rails) that “denied” the Collective its rightful dignity were removed so that the Sanctuary is now the whole Church; new churches built to more represent an ancient Greek theatre where the Collective could gather round itself than the churches of all our forefathers that were built in one dimension – vertically, a line from the faithful to the priest and deacons to God in His Tabernacle.
Culturally, the Novus Ordo has been a catastrophe of world historical proportions. That the Catholic Church, repository of the greatest fruits of human endeavour in history, should have effectively turned its back on Her cultural greatness is like the Irish monks of the 5th to 9th centuries saying, “What the hell, the transmission of all that Greek and Roman knowledge and greatness is boring, let’s chuck all that copying into the Atlantic and have a rest”.
The Novus Ordo goes along with one of its many nefarious bedfellows, iconoclasm (of an order not seen since the Iconoclastic Heresy of the Eastern Church or the so-called “Reformation”); it is culturally utterly impoverished, and all of us are as a result greatly impoverished – a catastrophe.
To sum up (and for what I say about the Novus Ordo, the opposite is the case for the true Roman Rite, the Old Mass, which I refuse to call the “Extraordinary Form”):
• it is a Mass specifically created (the first time this has been done in history) to meet an imagined sociological need of a supposed “Modern Man”.
• as the creation of a committee, it cannot possibly have any organic link with the venerable rite of at least 1,600 years which it replaced;
• it was, without question, designed to deliberately protestantise the Catholic Church;
• it has led to Christ and the Sacrifice of His own life for us sinners being thrust out from the centre to the periphery – both literally and figuratively;
• it is so often proud, oh so proud, trumpeting in its nature a “dignity” of Mankind that we sinners do NOT deserve;
• it is a cultural non-entity; a disaster;
• it banishes the soul’s private communion with God and through noise and distraction makes such communion well-nigh impossible;
• it cries out on every side its sheer infantility;
• it is the deliberate collectivisation of the Church’s worship in Marxist form;
• practically, there are as many forms as there are Masses. I exaggerate only a little to illustrate the fact that there are really many versions of the Novus Ordo, legitimate, semi-legitimate, illegitimate, and even scandalous. This has been admitted by the liturgical experts who, together with then Cardinal Ratzinger, participated at the Fongombault Liturgical Conference 2001 (Proceedings edited by A.Reid OSB in ‘Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy’ with Cardinal Ratzinger, 2003).
I have found it so difficult to assist at Novus Ordo Masses here in Qatar where I live that in the end I decided to try not to anymore. If I do, I feel I will lose my faith or have a faith so hollowed out by the New Church’s secularism that my conscience would be gravely offended, rather than just my senses or love of beauty. Certainly I will be bored to death by the sheer banality of it all: the laymen and women traipsing about the Sanctuary as if they owned it (as an altar boy, the Sanctuary for me was HOLY, not to be defiled. It was a great HONOUR for me to be anywhere on the Sanctuary).
We have to get the Old Mass back if we ever want the Church to triumph in this world. You can’t abuse it – indeed, it is impossible to assist at the Old Mass and NOT be a Catholic.
One might ask, “if the [poorly formed] priests were [removed], could I be reconciled to the New Mass? Well, I thought I was reconciled to it for some time. But even when I attended it, I wasn’t reconciled in my heart.
The bottom-line problem with the Novus Ordo is that it is fundamentally un-Catholic. It is only because the sad figure of Pope Paul VI couldn’t stomach what Bugnini really wanted to do that we have a valid Mass now at all. And even so he had to be shamed into some kind of stand by the “Ottaviani Intervention” of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.
A bad priest can turn the New Mass into straight-forward sacrilege (clown Masses etc.) whilst a good priest has one arm permanently tied behind his back by it. Which is why I believe that it cannot be reformed. By its very nature it is no good.
And in what does the difference fundamentally lie? In a wholly different theology – about the Church, about Our Lord Jesus Christ, about sin and Redemption. The Old Mass places me where the Faith says I should be – on my knees before God, knowing that only through God can I be saved. The New Mass puts me in the centre, in the place of God Himself, or at the very least, alongside Him. It ASSUMES my deification has already been achieved. But the whole thrust of the Church these last decades is one of PRESUMPTION about our Salvation, no?
So here are a few quotations:
Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, main author of the New Mass, L’Osservatore Romano, March 19, 1965: “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants.” (ie, we must stop being Catholics and change our religion!).
And again, in 1974, he said, “ … the reform of the liturgy has been a major conquest of the Catholic Church”.(These words of Bugnini should be pondered on in silence). Now would follow “The adaptation or ‘incarnation’ of the Roman form of the liturgy into the usages and mentality of each individual Church.”
Father Kenneth Baker, SJ, editorial February 1979 “Homiletic and Pastoral Review”: “We have been overwhelmed with changes in the Church at all levels, but it is the liturgical revolution which touches all of us intimately and immediately.”
Professor Peter L. Berger, a Lutheran sociologist: If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic community as much as possible had been an adviser to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job.”
Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand: “Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better.”
Cardinal Heenan of Westminster, autobiography “A Crown of Thorns”: “Subsequent changes were more radical than those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the Liturgy. His sermon at the end of the first session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts.”
Cardinal Heenan warned the Council Fathers of the manner in which the periti could draft texts capable “of both an orthodox and modernistic interpretation.” He told them that he feared the periti, and dreaded the possibility of their obtaining the power to interpret the Council to the world. On 26 June 1966 The Tablet reported the creation of five commissions to interpret and implement the Council’s decrees. The members of these commissions were, the report stated, chosen “for the most part from the ranks the Council periti”.
Father Joseph Gelineau SJ, Council peritus, enthusiastic proponent of the post-conciliar revolution, wrote in “Demain la liturgie”: “To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.”
I am truly sorry to draw the conclusion that, in calling the Novus Ordo and the Old Mass “two versions of the same Rite”, the previous Holy Father was engaged in naive hopefulness at the least. His “reform of the reform” was always doomed: you can’t call a Trabant a Bentley and expect someone wanting to buy a Bentley to believe otherwise. In comparison with the Old Mass, the Novus Ordo is a child’s scribble alongside a Caravaggio. They are different and mutually antagonistic things. The one is Catholic to the last syllable. The other is a cuckoo planted deliberately in the Catholic nest, to the latter’s very grave injury.
The Second Vatican Council said this regarding the reform of the Liturgy (from the constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”):
“…no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” (22.3)
“…care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” (23)
“…the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” (36.1)
“The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as especially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (116)
“The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from Holy Scripture and from liturgical sources.” (121)
From which it can be seen that the present liturgical life of the vast majority of parishes in the Catholic world as well as, arguably, the Mass of Paul VI itself, is in blatant defiance, betrayal even, of the Second Vatican Council.
Who amongst the laity was asking for the Novus Ordo in the first place, before in was introduced? No-one. It was simply imposed; and millions were squandered for printing endless paperwork, vandalization of churches, for brainwashing young seminarians, for subversive work of confidentially organized pressure groups, for organization of refreshment courses. Are not the new church buildings the monuments of uncharity, “as ugly as sins” as one architect called them in his book. Where are the works of art which our ancestors left us as a precious heritage and our liturgical gurus took liberty to demolish in order to satisfy their monstrous appetites? Many books have been written and many more could be written about the scandal to which we were and still are exposed.
The bishops and the priests have forgotten Latin if they ever knew what it was, people are used to the street vernacular “translations”, to the lazy, mechanical “active” repetition of phrases with their minds elsewhere, to sit comfortably most of the time, “feel well”; and the priests are “pleased” for being so “pastorally relevant”. The Old Mass requires an active involvement, whether in a silent prayer of one’s own choice or in following the priest’s prayers from their Missals – all that requires a substantial effort, whether one can read Latin or chooses to follow the text in a vernacular. It will obviously require much time, resources, active involvement of the clergy, instructions by the Hierarchy, to rebuild what was easy to vandalize in such a short period of time by those who had no sense of duty, no filling of responsibility, no charity, no faith – only their own barbaric instincts.
Isn’t it tragi-comic that the patient, polite, persistent, fifty years’ work of true Catholics who love the Church have eventually won the day and put our hierarchy to such a shame that they now do not know how to get out of the swamp they jumped into on their own initiative ? Let them all go to the Greek Church and learn there what is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and realize what a mess they have made or allowed to be made of it in our churches. And, paradoxically, the Greeks are supposed to be “schismatics” and our bishops “Catholics”.
I do not dispute that the Mass in any valid form is the “the perfect re-presentation of Calvary.” But you don’t need a degree in theology to understand that the effect the Mass has on those present does not depend on its validity alone. The ritual itself (in which what is essential for the validity is found), can make the Mass’s impact on an individual the opposite of what the Sacrifice of Calvary upon the altar offers us: it can, and regrettably with the Novus Ordo does, empties Christ’s Sacrifice of all meaning, as we all know from youtube, endless reports from around the world, and all the tragic experience of the last fifty years.
We have even had a public apology of the Pope John Paul, unprecedented in the entire history of the Church: “I would like to ask forgiveness – in my name and in the name of all of you…in the episcopate – for everything which…may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament. And I pray.. that… we may avoid in our manner of dealing with this Sacred Mystery anything which could weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people” (Dominicae Cenae 1980).
Nothing has changed since. He complained again in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 2003 (9/6, 52/1), the CDW issued Redemptionis Sacramentum 2004, listing the pages of abuses – all in vain. It is now 40 years that we have been enjoying the “benefits” of these abuses; there is no improvement in sight, and we must accept the fact that these so called “abuses” are what the New Mass is all about, and that the Mass of the kind celebrated in the London Oratory is – abuse. It should be now clear that the term Inferior Form reflects the reality of the OF.
“…no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
- this is done all the time by many priests.
“…care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”
- the new liturgy did not grow organically from the old, but arose from a wholesale revision of the liturgy by a commission of a few Bishops who were not representative of either the College of Bishops or the laity. Even Paul VI argued much with this commission, whom he frequently chastised for going too far.
“…the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”
- obviously the Council, though wanting to provide limited space for the vernacular, did NOT mandate that the WHOLE liturgy should be celebrated in it.
“The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as especially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”
- though Gregorian chant is prescribed in the new missal, it is in reality invariably replaced by vernacular songs (the word “hymn” seems to have disappeared).
“The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from Holy Scripture and from liturgical sources.”
- aforesaid songs are most frequently NOT drawn from either Scripture or liturgical sources, at least not primarily.
“To conclude, innovation should not be made unless when real and definite advantage will accrue to the Church” (SC 23).
What are these advantages which were the condition for an allowance for innovations? The numerous documents complaining against abuses confirm that there are no advantages. Admittedly, the complaints are usually preceded by a glorification of “benefits”, but we are never told what these benefits are all about.
The body of “experts” chosen to tailor the liturgy did not seem to have been competent in matters of sociology and psychology (Fr. A. Nichols, OP, Looking at the Liturgy 1996). They seem to have had some DIY idea as to what is … “better for the people”, and chose to carry the matter through without any preliminary sociological or psychological studies. Can one imagine such a reconstruction, without preliminary studies of its possible impact, in any serious business? But obviously, our “experts” did not have to put at risk their own pockets: their experiment has to be paid by their experimental rabbits – “the people of God.”
In summary, let us always keep to the front of our minds the fact that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is crucial ; it’s paramount ; it’s intrinsic to everything. Like all Sacraments which are portals to eternity, as sacramentals are whispers and ‘brushings’ with it.
So let us never forget what the Mass IS:
The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Church’s heartbeat; it’s the Church’s breath. All of reality returns to Calvary to the source of our Redemption to be nourished, re-invigorated, revitalised. We cannot live without Our Lord’s Body and Blood. Let us worship Him in the most beautiful and gravest manner possible, using the Rite of Mass developed since the earliest days by so many generations of our ancestors, who loved and revered it.
Why do the Revolutionaries who gave us the Novus Ordo hate Catholics so much?”
M Donnelly: Benedict – thank you for the hard work you have obviously put into this. It took a while before I could find the time to read it properly so apologies for the delay.
I can only remember the new form so that I am not aware of what I missed previously. I know that even in its present form I find the Mass is essential to strengthen my relationship with God.