For nineteen centuries the things connected with the Church’s Liturgy were held more sacred than any other human possession. The Mass was the renewal of the one Sacrifice of the Cross, accomplished by His ordained priest acting “in the Person of Christ.” From that Mass might be communicated or reserved in a golden vessel the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus Christ; given to those fasting, and in the state of grace, and wearing their “Sunday best.” The Psalms chanted or recited for several hours a week; said without fail by cloistered religious in monasteries and convents, by busy priests in their churches or even on subway trains, were the “work of God.” There was a sense of the sacred about Catholic churches and establishments — perhaps a sense, and a smell, and a taste, and a touch, and a sight — all unmistakably pointing to something holy. Today, that pointer is missing, and perhaps the something holy is gone as well.
At the time of Vatican II there was a well developed “liturgical movement” comprised of people wanting to return to a greater degree of participation by the congregation in the Mass. The Vatican II declaration on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, appeared to be a reasonable step in that direction. Attention was paid to participation in the Mass, the Office, and the Gregorian Chant. The less frequently heard parts of the Mass could be read in the vernacular. Even such ideas as adapting the liturgy to the cultures of mission countries did not seem particularly dangerous at that time since no one could even conceive of a priest offering Mass in anything but a holy way. Laymen were enlisted to read the epistle, but that was actually less significant than using laymen as Mass servers, which had been done for centuries. Offertory processions were a novelty to most, as well as some altars that faced the congregation, but not all that traumatic. The abominable translations of the Epistles and Gospels caused some stir, but everyone assumed that they would be corrected. In 1965 various parts of the Mass were removed, and the “bidding prayers” inserted.1
To my recollection, the first undeniable damage was done to the Mass around 1967, when the Canon of the Mass was translated into English and other vernacular languages. In sacred Scripture and in every Catholic (and non-Catholic) rite, the words of consecration indicate that the Precious Blood of Christ is “shed for [you and for] many unto the forgiveness of sins.”2
In every language that I know anything about, except Greek, the words of consecration were mis-translated with the identical, heretical phrase! Instead of saying “for many,” the phrase was rendered “for all men,” “por todos,” “fur alle,” “per tutti,” etc. The Catechism of the Council of Trent,3
some 400 years ago, specifically stated that we do not use such words in the Consecration, for while Christ did shed His Blood to redeem all mankind, not everyone’s sins are forgiven, and it is to forgiveness that our Lord referred at the Last Supper. The idea that all men are forgiven of their sins, or are otherwise saved is the heresy of “Universalism.”4
It is reasonable to suppose that someone who knowingly falsifies the meaning of our Lord’s words does not do what He does, and thus at least fails to consecrate the wine and perhaps does not celebrate Mass at all.
1969 brought the complete revision of the Mass known as the Novus Ordo Missae, or New Order of Mass. Composed with the help of six Protestant ministers, the Novus Ordo, and particularly its vernacular versions, minimizes the concept of sin and forgiveness, or that Mass is a sacrifice, or that there is a difference between the priest and the people. There is a great body of literature about its shortcomings, the best, in my opinion, being The Great Sacrilege by Father Wathen.5
A more “official” critique of the Novus Ordo was issued by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, the former head of the Holy Office (today known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).6
The Ottaviani Intervention points out that the New Mass may be invalidly celebrated for another reason, beyond the mis-translations of the essential parts. The new missal refers to the “Narrative of the Institution” instead of the Consecration. Together with St. Thomas, Ottaviani holds that the intention to narrate is not the intention to consecrate.7
The term “narrative” appears to be intentional as the error is reiterated in the New Catechism.8
Gradual developments further reduced belief in the sacrificial nature of the Mass and in the Real Presence. Communion in the hand, lay distributors, altar girls, liturgical dancing, and so forth have combined to strip Catholics of their belief in the Sacred Mysteries. There are few vocations to the Sacred Priesthood because there is nothing Sacred anymore. Man now worships existentialist man, and not the Father of Heaven. Please note that I have cited only those abuses actually sanctioned by the Pope — there are a myriad of yet crazier practices that go on with at least the tacit approval of those in authority. And there are many more to come.
I have merely “scratched the surface” with my brief analysis of what has gone wrong in the New Mass and in the New Church. You may have noticed that the word “Latin” appears nowhere in these pages apart from this single occurrence. While much could be said about the loss of the traditional and universal language of the Church, I will refrain from doing so in order to put the lie to the Modernist contention that Traditionalists are upset about nothing more significant than the nostalgia associated with the use of an ancient tongue.
1. Instruction, Sacred Congregation of Rites, 26 September 1964.
2. Matthew 26, Mark 14. Luke 22 says only “for you.” John gives no account. 1 Corinthians 11 does not say.
3. Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests (1563) Part II, Chapter IV, Section 24.
4. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a proponent of Universalism was named Cardinal by Pope John Paul II but was struck dead the night before receiving the Red Hat. There are overtones of it in the CCC, #1058 for example; and in CTTOH, 186-7, where it is suggested that Hell is real but maybe Purgatory is adequate and nobody actually goes to Hell.
5.. James F. Wathen, OSJ, The Great Sacrilege (Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, 1971).
6. Alfredo Card. Ottaviani, Antonio Card. Bacci, and a Group of Roman Theologians, The Ottaviani Intervention (Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, 1971).
7. Ottaviani, ibid., page 44 and note 29 in the TAN edition; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, Q. 78, A. 5.
8. CCC #1353.