Archive for the ‘*Liturgy’ Category

Twelve Reasons Not to Prefer the Novus Ordo: A Reply to Fr. Longenecker

This post originally appeared at OnePeterFive. Permission to post here graciously provided by the author.

Fr. Longenecker has written some fine books and articles. Years ago, I enjoyed and benefited from his book on St. Benedict and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and his recent book on the historical veracity of the Magi is interesting.

It would appear that in matters liturgical, however, Fr. Longenecker is out of his depth. Each claim he puts forward in his article “Twelve Things I Like about the Novus Ordo Mass” can be and has been refuted in the ample literature written on the subject, of which he appears to be ignorant. Indeed, the article betrays minimal knowledge of the history, process, and content of the liturgical reform (as, for instance, well documented in this biography of Annibale Bugnini) and of the contrasting richness of the traditional Mass.

Let us walk through Fr. Longenecker’s Twelve Things (printed in boldface).

  1. It’s accessible. Having the liturgy in the vernacular helps it to be understood by the people. How can that be a bad thing?

It is characteristic of the rationalism of the liturgical movement (based on its Enlightenment precursors) to prioritize verbal comprehension over a more synthetic and holistic understanding of the mystery of faith, which draws on all the senses and appeals to the heart as well as the intellect. The use of Latin, in addition to being simply what the Western Church did for over 1,500 years, creates for worshipers a numinous and sacral atmosphere that invites meditation and adoration.

Moreover, seeking the goal of easy intelligibility led the reformers to dumb down much of the content of the Mass so that it might not be “too hard.” What is the heavy price we pay for the all too obvious “accessibility” of the Novus Ordo? Superficiality and boredom. It’s so accessible that it “fails to grip,” as P.G. Wodehouse would say. This is why we have a new self-help genre on getting over one’s boredom with Mass and various faddish movements like LifeTeen for pumping up the Novus Ordo. In contrast, the traditional Latin Mass is steep, craggy, and sublime, offering the worshiper the kind of challenge that befits his rational dignity and supernatural destiny, and opening up an endless vista of new discoveries in the age-old prayers and gestures.

Finally, no literate person is incapable of using a daily missal, where all the antiphons, prayers, and readings may be found in vernacular translations – but without any attempt at an “official” translation of the impossible-to-translate ancient Latin texts, thus avoiding the intractable battles over what “style” and “register” of vernacular should be used in the liturgy. The major prayers of the Mass are fixed and repeated from week to week, so it is not difficult to follow them, as one can see from wee lads and lasses who do this at the traditional Latin Mass.

  1. It’s flexible. We’re supposed to honor Latin as the language of our church and it is easy enough to integrate a little or a lot of Latin into the Novus Ordo Mass. It is also flexible musically. You don’t have to use Haagan Daz, hootenany and soft rock music. Learn Gregorian chant and polyphony. It fits.

The idea that a liturgy should be a matter of “picking and choosing” among options is foreign to the historical development of Christian liturgy in East and West, which has always been toward greater definition, consistency, and stability of liturgical texts, chants, and ceremonies. A liturgy is a ritual action in which the actors lose their idiosyncratic individuality and adopt a persona that befits the mysteries enacted. The clergy should come across not as the ones steering and coloring the enterprise, but as stewards of a treasure they receive and place humbly before the people; the people, for their part, find it easier to pray when the liturgy is not a moving target, but one can enter again and again into the same sacred routine. This intrinsic quality of good liturgy is absent from the Novus Ordo by design.

Concretely, what does this flexibility end up looking like? We can choose the Roman Canon, that which defines the Roman Rite, or a Eucharistic Prayer patterned after a pseudo-anaphora written by pseudo-Hippolytus and finished on a napkin in Trastevere. We can have the chant that grew up for a thousand years with the rite, or some sentimental piano tune by an ex-Jesuit. We can have Mass facing East in accord with apostolic tradition (as St. Basil and others testify), or we can try our luck with the novel “closed circle” approach of versus populum. We can have people line up for communion in the hand like customers queuing for bus tickets, scattering fragments of the Body of Christ hither and yon, or place the Lord on the tongue of believers kneeling in a posture of adoration. All this great flexibility! The devil delights in it, since it usually plays in his favor.

Such flexibility has also destroyed, for all intents and purposes, the distinctions among a Low Mass, a Missa cantata or High Mass, and a Solemn High Mass. In practice, one usually gets a bizarre mixture of high and low elements with no discernible order or hierarchy.

I address the spiritual dangers of this flexibility in a talk called “Liturgical Obedience, the Imitation of Christ, and the Seductions of Autonomy” (full recording here; some excerpts here).

  1. It travels well. As much as we love beautiful architecture, music, vestments and pipe organs, there are times when the Mass is celebrated at camp, in prison, on the battlefield, in a tin hut or on a mission field, a mountaintop or a beach. The simplicity of the Novus Ordo means it can be celebrated more easily in such situations.

This is probably the flimsiest of the twelve reasons, given that thousands of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever known, as well as military chaplains in many wars (including both World Wars, as plenty of vintage photos online give testimony), offered exclusively the traditional Mass and carried on their backs what they needed for it.

Indeed, one of the objections raised by missionary bishops at the Second Vatican Council is that the proposed liturgical reform would greatly multiply the number of books necessary for liturgy. All a priest needs to celebrate the old Latin Mass in its integrity is a single altar missal. To celebrate the new liturgy in anything approaching completeness, on the other hand, one needs the altar missal, the lectionary, and a gradual or book of antiphons. A “sung Mass” requires a veritable library of books, as I know from firsthand experience as a choir director for many years at the Novus Ordo.

Here is a gallery of photos of priests celebrating the traditional Latin Mass outdoors, showing how well it can be done, including on backpacking trips many weeks long. Besides, as Martin Mosebach says, it’s not ultimately the architecture that makes the difference, but the Mass. The great Catholic Mass of tradition takes possession of the place where it is offered and dominates it; the Novus Ordo brings even a lofty cathedral down to its own impoverished simplism. This is why it usually feels so out of place in the great churches of the past.

It should also give us pause that prisoners would respond so positively to the Latin Mass coming into their lives. I received a letter from a prisoner in Louisiana who prays the old breviary and is requesting a weekly Latin Mass. Don’t prisoners also deserve and respond to that which is beautiful, rich, and profound? The modern world is already too much awash in abridgements, shortcuts, diet drinks, and lite snacks; we would benefit from the original version, the scenic route, the robust nourishment.

  1. There is more Scripture read, and it is read in the language people can understand. How can it be a bad thing for there to be a wider range of Sacred Scripture being made available to the people?

All things being equal, familiarity with more of Scripture is better for the Christian people. But all things are not, in fact, equal.

First, the new lectionary is so cram-jammed with Scripture that it works against familiarity, whereas the old (indeed, ancient) lectionary features a more limited number of readings of optimal length and liturgical appropriateness, which encourages a deep familiarity with them. Since the Mass is not meant to be a Bible study, and no Catholic can be expected to acquire a well rounded understanding of the Bible from the liturgy (even the new lectionary features only 13.5% of the Old Testament and 54.9% of the New Testament outside of the Gospels), the claim that it is better to read more Scripture at the Mass is simply begging the question.

Second, the old lectionary, as limited as it deliberately is, demonstrably features more of the “tough sayings” of Scripture. It is not afraid to present the wrath of God, the evil of sin, or the danger of sacrilegious communions – the kind of passages that are frequently left out of the new lectionary, in spite of its much greater size. In other words, the new lectionary suppresses parts of Scripture that are “difficult” to “modern man.” Thus, it presents less of the total message of Scripture, even as the Liturgy of the Hours presents a reduced Psalter, expurgated of politically incorrect material.

Six major arguments against the appropriateness of the new lectionary may be found here; an explanation of the nature of the omissions and distortions in it may be found here; and a case study on the exclusion of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 may be found here.

  1. The gospel procession is restored. Moving the book from one side of the altar to the other? That’s not really a procession is it? In the Sarum rite – the ancient English rite–there were a good number of processions–the gospel procession being one. Nice to have that ancient custom restored.

The old rite in its normative form, the Solemn High Mass, has a magnificent Gospel procession that starts at the high altar and comes over to the front of the sanctuary, where the deacon chants the Gospel to the north, to symbolize confronting the world of unbelief and evangelizing it. Even in a Missa cantata, the transition from epistle side to Gospel side is accompanied with candles, incense, and a striking change in chant tone, making it an impressive moment in the liturgy. The ceremonial of the Novus Ordo is pathetic in comparison.

Fr. Longenecker speaks as if the daily Low Mass is the epitome or measure of the ancient Roman Rite, whereas it is a monastic devotional version of it. Nevertheless, even in a Low Mass the transition from the epistle to the Gospel by way of the Gradual and Alleluia, the profound bow at the center and the prayer invoking the prophet Isaias – all conducted upon the altar of sacrifice, where the Word rises up as a sweet fragrance to the Father, showing in a striking way the inherent unity of the “liturgy of the word” and the “liturgy of the Eucharist,” as well as the ordering of the one to the other – is still far more impressive than a priest strolling over to the ambo to read out the Gospel in Nabbish. 

  1. The prayers of the faithful. These are often abused, but when they are well composed and fitting they are a great assistance in leading the people in prayer.

This point gives us the opportunity to state Fr. Longenecker’s central weakness, which he shares with all the tinkering liturgists of the mid-twentieth century – namely, if there’s a “good idea,” we should insert it in the liturgy. It doesn’t matter how it’s been done since time immemorial; our “good ideas” deserve their day in the sun – pontifically legislated, no less! The “Prayer of the Faithful” was added to the Mass on the basis of scholarly theories that maintained that the early Mass always featured such intercessions, as one finds them in full flower in the Good Friday liturgy. However, better scholarship has argued that the Good Friday Mass is not a model for the rest, but a unique day, which is what common sense would have suggested.

In any case, there is no evidence that the Roman liturgy featured lengthy litanies or intercessions along the lines of the Byzantine rite. Almost all of the things we usually pray for are already prayed for in the Roman Canon and in various other parts of the Mass. The “Prayer of the Faithful” is just another novelty inserted into the Mass because the experts thought it was a grand idea. As Joseph Ratzinger noted more than once, it is a dangerous business to yoke one’s public liturgy to the theories of scholars, which are proposed and overturned every quarter-century or so.

  1. The offertory procession is restored. The offertory procession is an ancient part of the liturgy in which the people of God bring forward the gifts of the altar. That’s a beautiful restoration of an ancient tradition.

The “offertory procession” as it was fashioned by the Consilium bears little resemblance to any historical precedent in the West; it is a fanciful creation loosely based on the custom of people handing in bread and wine before the service began. (See Paul Bradshaw’s article “Gregory Dix and the Offertory Procession.”) Its current form seems to be another method for giving jobs to lay people, like the Works Progress Administration for the unemployed in the Depression.

Besides, Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei (1947) warned liturgists against the “exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism” of those “who, in matters liturgical, would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by the disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.” In other words, the simple fact that something seems to have been done a thousand years ago or more is no compelling reason to reintroduce it today, when it would certainly take on a different meaning based on the very different context in which it is performed. As the same pope explained:

Ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. … It is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts.

Curious, isn’t it, how every example given by Pius XII as a case of “straying from the straight path” turned out to be characteristic of the liturgical reform as it was implemented everywhere – replacing the ad orientem altar with a versus populum table, excluding black for Requiems, destroying images, installing weird crosses, and repudiating polyphonic music?

Fr. Longenecker decries the loss of these meaningful customs, since he is on the side of the “reform of the reform.” But the presupposition of many of his points is precisely the false antiquarianism that led to the loss of so much that was distinctive of Catholicism, in favor of supposedly “more ancient” practices. Taking away what we gained from the Middle Ages and the Baroque period and replacing it with questionable and always selective reconstructions of antiquity is the hallmark of liturgical eggheadedness. It always looks better on paper than it does in reality.

  1. The offertory prayers. That’s a connection with the Jewish prayers Jesus would have said at the Last Supper. So that’s a bad thing?

This point had me scratching my head. The Novus Ordo faux Jewish offertory is a fabrication that bears no relation to the liturgical offertories found in all Eastern and Western rites from the Middle Ages until 1969. Nor should we be surprised that Christian rites as they developed over time did not reach back to unaltered Jewish material for inspiration, much less for specific texts.

In reality, the Consilium wanted to abolish all offertory prayers and have the “offertory” consist simply in the gesture of a symbolic raising up of the bread and wine. Pope Paul VI objected to the lack of a text and requested the “drawing up” of one (since there was apparently complete agreement among the architects of the new rite that the way the Church had prayed for about 1,000 years was obviously mistaken). The Jewish table blessing was conveniently laid hold of. Shabbat shalom!

Is it really possible that someone of Fr. Longenecker’s intelligence is unaware that it is a serious problem to go about constructing liturgy in this manner, when liturgy is and has always been seen as the corporate prayer of the Church handed down from one age to the next, augmented by the devotion of each generation? The idea of canceling out a significant part of the rite and replacing it with something never in currency among Christians was inconceivable, and so it should remain.

  1. It’s adaptable. The adaptability means the abuses have come in, but it also means all sorts of traditional customs can be retained. Pope Benedict wished for the Extraordinary Form to inform the celebration of the Ordinary Form. So it can be celebrated ad orientem, with altar rails, communion administered to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue, well-trained altar servers, good music, vestments, architecture and art. Yes, bland and banal is possible, but so is grand and glorious.

This is a bit like saying, “The great thing about our political system is that it allows the March for Life to flourish alongside funding for Planned Parenthood.” No, this shows the catastrophic failure of our political system to adhere to the natural law and promote the common good.

In like manner, the fact that the Novus Ordo is a matrix of possibilities that can be realized by each community according to its own ideas of what is right and fitting is not a perfection of it, but a sign of its internal incoherence, anarchy, and relativism. The traditional rites of the Church follow time-honored rules that require (even if they do not always guarantee) serious, reverent, orderly, and theocentric worship. The result is that anywhere I go in the world, I can walk into a traditional Latin Mass and know what I am going to see and hear. The same texts, the same gestures, the same ethos, the same Catholic religion. As long as the priest follows the rubrics, the Mass will be prayerful, focused, and edifying. Tragically, this cannot be said for the Novus Ordo.

  1. Hymns. Yes, I know hymns are supposedly a modern “Protestant” innovation…it’s debatable, but simply taking them for what they are, there are some excellent hymns which really do help the people lift their hearts in worship, express their faith and help to catechize. Used to complement the liturgy they can be a good thing.

This point is faint praise. Hymns are not an exclusive preserve of the Novus Ordo world: communities that worship with the traditional Latin Mass often include a processional hymn on Sundays, prior to the Asperges, and a recessional hymn after the Last Gospel. Be that as it may, the over-use of hymns long predates the Novus Ordo. The “four-hymn sandwich” comes from a sick phase of the Liturgical Movement where the ideal of some clergy (especially American) was a Low Mass into which an Entrance Hymn, an Offertory Hymn, a Communion Hymn, and a Closing Hymn had been inserted for the “people’s participation.” Sound familiar?

The real story is that hymns began in the Divine Office, which is their proper home. Every hour, from Matins and Lauds through Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, to Vespers and Compline, has a hymn. This body of poetry and music is among the richest that Catholics possess, yet almost no one encounters it “in the wild.” It seems that shepherds of souls have still not taken to heart Vatican II’s recommendation that the faithful be introduced to the public chanted celebration of the Divine Office.

On the other hand, the idea of paraphrasing Scripture or writing devotional poetry and having a congregation sing it during the “Lord’s Supper” is unquestionably a Protestant invention, one that tends to give a Protestant feel to the Eucharistic liturgy – as its ecumenical proponents intended. I’m sorry, Fr. Longenecker: it really doesn’t matter how nice the hymns are. The Catholic Mass has its own hymns, the Gloria and the Sanctus, as well as its own native music: the Gregorian antiphons and Mass parts, or their great polyphonic settings down through the ages.

The point of the Mass is not to give catechesis, nor to foster “praise” (in the sense in which charismatics use the term), but to offer worship to the Triune God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No one has explained this point better than Fr. Christopher Smith in this article and this follow-up. The liturgy does not need “complementing”; it needs to be celebrated with integrity and purity, for that is how it will be most effective in doing its proper work. Without a doubt, there are other occasions when hymns may be used to better effect.

  1. Its accessibility makes it better for evangelization. I know the Mass is not primarily for evangelization, but when potential converts start attending Mass, to be able to understand and follow the words and actions eases their entrance into the church and enables the process to be more welcoming.

I am disappointed to see Fr. Longenecker parroting the usual rhetoric of the liturgists, who always assume that what potential converts are seeking is rational content, verbally delivered. We have already touched on this point above. Here it may suffice to note that traditionalism is above all a youth movement (see here, here, and here, for starters). As anyone can see from paying a visit to them, traditional Latin Mass parishes attract a disproportionate number of young adults and young families. Conversions and reversions are numerous, which is striking when one considers the ghetto-like marginalization under which traditional communities still suffer in dioceses where the bishops have chosen to ignore Summorum Pontificum.

All of this suggests that what “modern man” is looking for may not be this now old-fashioned notion of “accessibility” or “being welcomed,” but an encounter with mystery, a confrontation with the divine, a brush against the ineffable, an immersion in the sacred. The Novus Ordo is singularly poorly equipped to accomplish any of that, nor does its sleek Bauhaus design naturally prompt it or encourage it. By 2019, the new liturgy looks and feels dated; many adhere to it from custom or lack of awareness that there is any alternative. The old liturgy has a perpetual freshness that beckons world-weary pilgrims who stumble across it into the haven of the Church.

  1. It’s simple. The plain words and actions of the Novus Ordo provide for a celebration with noble simplicity. Just saying the black and doing the red has a down-to-earth dignity – not overly ornate and fancy nor banal and vulgar.

Should the mystical representation of the supreme sacrifice of Christ, which collapses the 2,000 years that separate us from Calvary and brings us right to His Cross, into His holy wounds, His precious Blood, His pierced Heart; the awesome crossing of the abyss that separates man from God and Earth from Heaven; the revival in our midst of the mysteries of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord; the commingling of His acts of love, adoration, sorrow, supplication, thanksgiving, with our own, so that we, the members of His Mystical Body, may glorify God in union with our Head – should this be “simple”? Could it ever be? Only at the price of falsifying it utterly. Liturgical rites, Greek or Latin, Eastern or Western, developed under the beneficent hand of Providence toward ever greater fullness of expression of these glorious realities, ever greater amplitude, exuberance, and detail. The contrary motion appears in history as iconoclasm: the will to destroy the inexhaustible beauty of God that has found expression in material things.

“Saying the black and doing the red” is only as valuable as the black to be said and the red to be done. The theological inadequacy and spiritual narrowness of the texts of the Novus Ordo have been thoroughly documented and critiqued (e.g., in this book, this book, and this book), and as for the rubrics, they were a standing joke from the first printing of the missal to its latest edition. No wonder a private cleric on his own initiative had to supply a complete set of rubrics; the Vatican apparently felt that Catholic liturgy was better off without taking into account such fussy details as where ministers should be positioned or when and how they should bow. What we see with the Novus Ordo is a contradiction in terms: an unliturgical liturgy, an unceremonious ceremony, a relaxed ritual, a do-it-yourself template for collective devotion.

* * *

Comprising the usual bromides on behalf of the Novus Ordo, none of which stands up to critical scrutiny, Fr. Longenecker’s article is yet another restatement of the neoconservative party line that “the postconciliar Church is fundamentally sound, ladies and gentlemen, so keep moving along.” Those who are going to defend the monumental rupture that is the Novus Ordo are going to have to find much better arguments than the ones proffered to us by Fr. Longenecker.

It is a classic straw man to claim, as Fr. Longenecker does at the start of his article, that “there are some who seem to think every problem in the church and the world can be laid at the door of the dreaded Novus Ordo.” I have never read any traditionalist author who thinks this or says it. Yes, we all think the Novus Ordo is a rupture with Catholic tradition and a disaster in the life of the Church, but we are well aware that it does not exist in a vacuum. Other problems regularly pointed out include modernism, consequentialism, hyperpapalism, feminism, the homosexual clerical power caste, the liberal separation of Church and State – indeed, the list is lengthy. All of these problems are, sooner or later, connected with one another. The liturgical reform is the “poster child” of the revolution that has divorced today’s Catholic mainstream from the Catholicism of all ages, but behind every poster is a propaganda office and an ideology.

The traditional liturgy has taught me that my likes and dislikes do not and should not have any effect on the Mass. Rather, it is the Mass, pre-existing in its solidity and density, that shapes my loves and hatreds, in accord with what it shows me, impresses on me, leads me to understand after a long apprenticeship. It was the same way with the disciples and Jesus. He was not as they expected He would be, but He did not bend to the likes and dislikes of zealots, Pharisees, tax-collectors, or fishermen. He patiently but authoritatively made them conform to Him.

I can understand a priest wishing to believe that the liturgy he has been given by “the Church” could be simply accepted as it is, no worries, no bones about it. But the Lord is extending a special mercy to us during this seismic reign of Pope Francis: the opportunity to wake up to the dangers of an exaggerated ultramontanism that prompts Catholics to swallow whatsoever a reckless pope wants to shove down their throats, even when it runs against the papacy’s ministry of receiving, preserving, and defending tradition.

This new year of grace is an invitation to rediscover, or renew our appreciation for, the inheritance we have received as Catholics. One place to begin might be a different list from the one we have critiqued: “Ten Reasons to Attend the Traditional Latin Mass.”

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By Professor Peter

Today (November 20) on the traditional Roman calendar is the feast of St. Felix of Valois (†1212). Who is this obscure saint, you might ask, and why is he cluttering our calendar? Would it not be fitting to cancel him out? And so, indeed, it was done in the 1969 Novus Ordo calendar: Felix evaporated into thin air, or rather, retreated to his page in the Martyrology where few souls remember him.

But I would like to suggest that, as always, Holy Mother Church proceeded with a wisdom beyond her years, and that the removal of this saint and so many others is yet another instance of ecclesiastical Alzheimer’s.

St. Felix is said to have been a member of the royal court in France. He is known, in any case, to have renounced all his worldly possessions to live as a hermit. He was sought out by St. John of Matha, who had heard of the reputation of his holiness, and together they founded the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives, usually known as the Trinitarians. The members of this order would travel to the Holy Land and exchange themselves for the release of Christian captives held by the Moslems. A similar order was founded in 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Peñafort, and King James of Aragon, the Order of Our Lady of Ransom.

What lessons can St. Felix teach us? Unlike so many of today’s prelates in the Church, who cling to their power, prestige, and pleasures, and who refuse to reform themselves or the institutions over which they stand in charge, Felix was willing to abandon everything for the “pearl of great price” that is Jesus Christ. He gave up his opportunities of advancement, position, and influence, in order to do that which was inherently worthwhile for his immortal soul and for the health of the Church. In this respect, Felix is the antithesis to the worldly bishop or priest, whom we may call the “anti-Felix”: unhappy in his own sins, be they of commission or omission, and the cause of an unhappy flock.

What did the order co-founded by St. Felix do? It redeemed Christians from the hand of their heathen oppressors. Today, nothing, nothing is more necessary than that the Catholic Church rediscover her radical opposition to the world, the flesh, and the devil, three enemies over which she has spiritual authority, and from whose heavy yoke she can rescue the faithful. This she does by preaching sound doctrine and feeding a holy life with the sacraments and the liturgy reverently enacted. Again, St. Felix was truly felicitous in his uncompromising battle with the forces of darkness—the darkness of Islam in particular. Would that Europe’s bishops, clergy, faithful, would recover even a fraction of the courage and conviction of these saints of the Crusades!

One last point to make. Several times each year, the Church in the sanctoral cycle of her traditional liturgy begs the Lord to deliver us from bondage or captivity. Let me offer four examples. The Collect for today’s feast of St. Felix reads:

O God, who didst vouchsafe by a voice from heaven to call blessed Felix Thy confessor to the work of the ransoming of captives: grant, we beseech Thee, that his holy prayers may free us from the bondage of sin, and may safely lead us to our heavenly fatherland. Through our Lord…

On February 8, we pray to St. Felix’s companion:

O God, who didst vouchsafe to institute by heavenly direction, through St. John [of Matha], the order of the Holy Trinity for redeeming captives from the power of the Saracens, grant, we beseech Thee, that by the suffrage of his merits, we may be delivered by Thy grace from captivity of soul and body. Through our Lord.

On September 24:

O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son wast pleased to give new children to Thy Church for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee, that we who love and honor her as the foundress of so great a work, may by her merits and intercession be ourselves delivered from all sin and from the bondage of the evil one. Through the same our Lord…

On August 1:

O God, who didst loose the blessed apostle Peter from his bonds and didst send him forth unharmed: loose, we pray Thee, the chains of our sins, and in Thy great mercy keep us from all evil. Through our Lord.

These are prayers that we desperately need to make—for ourselves, for our loved ones, for the Church wherever she is hemmed in by the heathens, suffocated by the Saracens. The liturgy knows our needs, knows them intimately, and places these words on the lips of her priests and in the hearts of her children.

Where are these prayers in the Novus Ordo?

They are all gone. All of them. Along with the prayers that talk about “despising the things of earth and clinging to those of heaven.”

Bondage, captivity, chains? Too negative. Too difficult. Too medieval. Too otherworldly. The pathological optimists who staffed the Consilium took out their modern scissors and cut away whatever no longer conformed to the times, even if it meant discarding material that had sustained Catholic souls for centuries.* In doing so, they showed themselves to be ungrateful, self-absorbed, and short-sighted.

This is one among a thousand reasons why we must, patiently, say to our Novus Ordo friends, again and again: the problem is not “how the new liturgy is celebrated,” as if dressing it up like the fanciest Infant of Prague is all that needs to be done to make things better. No, for the problem goes much deeper: it goes to the very core of the texts and rubrics of the new liturgy, which are deformed, skewed, bowdlerized, inadequate, misleading, and corrosive of Catholicism. What is needed is not any “reform of the reform,” or any lavishment of smells and bells, fiddlebacks and candlesticks, as appropriate as these things certainly are. What is needed, ultimately, is the restoration of the true Roman liturgy in its plenitude, fully matured over centuries of faith and worship, and unambiguously Catholic in every gesture, word, and chant.

May the Lord deliver His Church from the bondage of a new liturgy simplified, abbreviated, redacted for political correctness, and give all her children access to the uninhibited rites of our salvation—which includes our deliverance from the evils that oppress us.

St. Felix of Valois, pray for us!

* St. Felix’s feast began to be celebrated in his own diocese in 1215, and was extended to the whole Church in 1679.

 

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TM St. Charles's Church Vienna, Austria

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post in which I made the following comments:

As I approach more closely the end of my life, I am becoming less tolerant of mediocre Masses, less willing to subject myself to the goings on within them and depriving myself of the “Heaven on Earth” experience of an excellently celebrated “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”.

Someday I may express my personal reasons for preferring the Traditional Roman Rite Mass.

 

A very brief bit of background:

Most Roman Catholics today attend Holy Mass under the newer form of the Roman Rite, referred to as the Novus Ordo (New Order (NO)). This Mass of modern times has more recently been labeled as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The older form of the Roman Rite is widely referred to as the Tridentine Mass, but more recently has been labeled as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (EF). Too often it is referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Although the older form of the Mass is always recited in Latin, I prefer it simply be called the Traditional Mass (TM). I say this because the NO was initially intended to be recited predominantly in Latin (and still should be). Therefore the TM should not be described as being a Latin (language) Mass simply because the NO may be recited in Latin or in the local area’s vernacular language. Both forms are Roman Rite Masses of the Latin Church (the Church of Rome). There are many resources available in book form and online which thoroughly describe both forms of the Mass and detail their histories. That not being the intent of this post, I won’t elaborate any further.

Why I have I asked “Is attending Holy Mass an ordeal for you?”

I expect there are many Catholics who find attending any form of the Mass to be an ordeal. If that isn’t so, why do most of them refuse to attend? It is said that eighty percent of Catholics no longer attend Mass. Perhaps attending Mass is an ordeal for them because its timing interferes with their other interests, or they are no longer believing Catholics, or they carry a burden of guilt for sins they either think haven’t been forgiven or are unforgivable, or for some reason they are angry with the Church. I’m sure that during none of the few Masses they do attend during the course of a year does the priest celebrant remind them that those who, for no legitimate reason as defined by the Church, neglect to attend Mass on every Sunday and other day of obligation commit serious sin and must suffer the consequences.

Another possible reason for their lack of attendance is that they find Mass to be boring or dissatisfying, or much worse. Of course that is as much an illegitimate reason as all of the aforementioned excuses. But I must say that I feel their pain! Mine for reasons noted below.

Why do I suggest that perhaps attending Mass should be an ordeal for you?

I say so because if you don’t find yourself suffering through at least some portions of the Mass, you probably are unaware of what you’ve been missing by only attending the typical NO Mass.

If you have been blessed to have Traditional Masses available in your area and have made an effort to attend those Masses, you are aware of what others less fortunate are missing. You have experienced its extraordinary beauty and reverence, the depth of the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sincerity of the priest celebrant along with his assistants and all those in attendance, and you have come to love the TM and suffer at least to some extent when you must attend a typical NO Mass. [You may cringe during the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, or when the choirmaster strikes up another mediocre, superficial or banal ditty, or due to many other provocations.] Being deprived of the fullness of what God intends to offer us in the sacred liturgy is a cause of suffering. Worse yet is his suffering when we deprive Him of the highest level of glory, honor, praise and gratitude due Him.

Just because a Mass we’ve attended was valid in that the Eucharistic Host had been transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, doesn’t mean that the manor in which the Mass was celebrated wasn’t deplorable. It is Jesus Who makes Himself present in the Eucharistic Host. He makes this magnanimous gesture despite the deplorable way in which priests, those who serve other functions during Mass and many in the congregation conduct themselves.

I don’t wish suffering upon anyone, but I do wish all Catholics knew what they are missing. I don’t think we’ll ever get out of this liturgical rut as long as the majority of the measly twenty percent of Catholics who actually attend Mass are as happy as Protestants who don’t know what they’ve been missing by not being Catholic. Of course, their foremost deprivation – the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – pales in comparison. However, it has also been said that the liberals or progressives in the Church “do not really believe that the Mass is a true and proper sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Trinity; they do not really believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence; they do not believe that one is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of God; they do not believe that one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking his own condemnation, just as those who eat worthily are seeding their souls and bodies for a glorious resurrection.”

The excerpts below are taken from an article written by Peter Kwasniewski, which is posted here. I recommend reading the entire article over there. Being aware that most visitors to my site do not click on links that will take them to other sites, I offer the following excerpts.

Our Progressive Desensitization to the Most Holy Eucharist

We did not wake up one fine day in 2017 to find ourselves suddenly confronted with Eucharistic sacrilege being promoted from on high. There was a long, slow process that led to this moment. It consisted in the gradual dilution of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Blessed Sacrament at its heart, with institutionally tolerated sacrilege along the way. Fifty years of desacralization has ended in the temerity of contradicting the entire Catholic tradition about the most holy of all the Church’s mysteries.

The first major step was the allowance of communion in the hand while standing—a sharp break from the deeply-ingrained practice of many centuries of kneeling in adoration at the altar rail and receiving on the tongue… This change had the obvious effect of making people think the Holy Eucharist wasn’t so mysterious and holy after all. If you can just take it in your hand like ordinary food, it might as well be a potato chip distributed at a party. The feeling of awe and reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament was systematically diminished and undermined through this modernist reintroduction of an ancient practice that had long since been discontinued by the Church in her pastoral wisdom. Nor, as has been well documented, did the faithful themselves request the abolition of the custom of receiving on the tongue while kneeling; it was imposed by the self-styled “experts.”

The second major step was the allowance of lay ministers of communion. This reinforced the perception that the Church had given up all that stuff about the priest being essentially different from the laity, about the Mass as a divine sacrifice and the Eucharist as the Bread of Angels that only anointed hands are fit to handle.

:::

The effect of these “reforms” and others like them (the replacement of majestic and mysterious Latin with everyday vernacular, the substitution of guitar and piano ditties for pipe organ and chant, the turning around of the priest to face the people like a talkshow host, the removal of altar rails, the decentering of tabernacles, the uglification of vestments and vessels, and more) was to weaken and corrupt the faith of the people in the Mass as a true and proper sacrifice and in the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Jesus. No wonder that after this, the idea of the Eucharistic fast, and of preparing oneself for communion by going to confession, went right out the window for the vast majority of people. The Church’s own pastors didn’t act as if they really believed these things anymore, so why should their flocks?

In short, we have lived through, and suffered under, half a century of ritual diminishment and symbolic contradiction of the Church’s faith in the sublime mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ. As John Paul II and Benedict XVI lamented, there is scant evidence in our communities of any awareness of the distinction between worthy and unworthy communions—one of the most basic lessons children used to be taught in their catechism class.

Children in those primitive “pre-Vatican II days” were taught to practice virtue and avoid mortal sin because they should desire to be able to receive the Lord and be ever more perfectly united to Him, until they reached the glory of heaven where they would possess Him forever. They were taught that if one received the Lord in a state of mortal sin, one committed a further and a worse sin. They were taught that making a good confession, with sorrow for sin and an intention to avoid it in future, was enough to put this bad situation right and restore them to God’s friendship. Who could seriously assert that most Catholics believe any of this today, or that they would even recognize, much less understand, the concepts?

Today, at least in certain Western countries, nearly everyone goes up for communion when the time comes. It’s just “what you do at Mass.” Hardly anyone goes to confession; hardly anyone refrains from receiving, out of a consciousness of sin; and rare is the priest who ever preaches about having the right dispositions for communion.

:::

Thus was the ground devilishly prepared for the final stage, in which any impediments to communion are theoretically and practically dissolved. In a general situation where the few Catholics who still attend Mass all receive, it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to single out a handful of so-called “divorced and remarried” people for special treatment: “You are not allowed to go to communion, but meanwhile, the self-abusing and fornicating teens, the contracepting couples, the families who sometimes skip Sunday Mass for sports events—all are welcome to come forward, as usual!”

… [the liberals or progressives in the Church] … do not really believe that the Mass is a true and proper sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Trinity; they do not really believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence; they do not believe that one is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of God; they do not believe that one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking his own condemnation, just as those who eat worthily are seeding their souls and bodies for a glorious resurrection.

:::

the Mass has been stripped of its transcendent, mysterious, fearful and challenging sacrificial realism and pushed continually in the direction of an ordinary meal with ordinary folks doing ordinary things for a this-worldly end, with a forced spontaneity and embarrassing banality that has failed to attract the overflow crowds predicted by Paul VI. At such a Mass, is there anything to do but receive communion? Who would ever think of going just for the sake of adoring God and contemplating His beauty? Opportunities and incentives for adoration are practically non-existent in the Novus Ordo, and beauty has fared no better, or rather much worse. In such circumstances, to place a barrier between a free meal and a guest who thinks well of himself for being there is unthinkable.

In truth, the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross, made present in our midst; it is simultaneously the heavenly life-giving wedding feast of the now-glorified Christ. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the one-flesh union of a bride adorned with grace and a Bridegroom who is her sole happiness.

I am not surprised to find that, at traditional Latin Masses around the world, including in the United States, one sees two related phenomena: a large number of the faithful availing themselves of confession, before and during Mass; and a fair number of the faithful who remain in the pews and do not go forward for communion. The interior triumphs of the one, the interior trials of the other, are known to God alone. But this much is obvious: they all came to worship Him. They came in response to His majesty. They came to fulfill a solemn obligation of the virtue of religion. Whether they are personally disposed to receive or not is a question at a different level. This is the sanity that prevails in the realm of tradition; it is the sanity that paves the way for sanctity.

RELATED POSTS: https://fjdalessio.wordpress.com/category/liturgy

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Turn room speaker off as necessary, such as during a Vatican II oriented homily, most or all songs and some Eucharistic Prayers.

Can also lower shade to eliminate view of choir.

During the consecration, close eyes and imagine an image below.

TM St. Charles's Church Vienna, Austria

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 Full video of Mass:

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Having relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to southern Florida 143 Sundays ago, I have been liturgically malnourished. For some background on what I mean by that see ‘Is attending Mass an ordeal for you? Perhaps it should be’.

There are very few churches in Florida that offer Mass in the traditional form (currently referred to as the ‘Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite’. It is indeed extraordinary as in remarkable, special, wonderful, outstanding, rare, amazing, fantastic, marvellous, exceptional, notable, serious, phenomenal, singular, wondrous, out of this world, but, sadly, that’s not the description intended by its new name. ‘Scarcely available’ would be more accurate.

The nearest traditional Mass to where I live is in Miami, over 100 miles and 2 to 2.5 hours away (one way). The other nearest opportunities range from 143 to 225 miles away. So prior to this past Sunday I had only attended the Traditional Mass about four times over these past 143 Sundays. This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to Sarasota, FL (313 miles away) as a 72nd birthday gift to myself. There I attended a traditional High Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church (I stayed in Ft. Myers the night before and continued my pilgrimage on Sunday morning).  I had a glorious day and I felt ready to die without being given any notice. Now that’s the best feeling anyone could possibly have and it doesn’t have any expectations of immediate entry into Heaven. That gift (being blessed to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the traditional form of that most august commemoration) has “lifted me higher and higher”. I wish the same for you and everyone.

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