On Attending the New Mass
We are often asked whether Catholics are obliged to attend the New Mass if there are Latin Mass Chapels nearby or not.
Our approach to this question will simply be to apply the principles of Catholic teaching to this issue, which unfortunately is a reality for a great number of Catholics.
Let us consider the following principles :
I. The Law of Praying is The Law of Believing (lex orandis, lex credendi) - Pope St Pius V
This teaches us that one's worship must conform to ones belief, and if ones worship is contrary to ones belief, it will ultimately result in a change of ones belief. We see this fact made clear to us by the protestant in England who tried to convince themselves that their destruction of the Roman Liturgy and replacement with a man centered vernacular liturgy was no different to that of the Roman liturgy. Yet in actual fact it (along with many other contributing factors) lead them to deny Catholic teaching by means of the many errors well imbued into their liturgy. However today's changes which are prevalent in the New Mass embody the same protestant doctrines, and thus after weekly subjected to this irreverent form of worship i.e. the use of laypersons to distribute Communion, Communion by hand, sermons which are often not in keeping with what the Church teaches, altar girls...etc One's attendance at such Masses will surely have an effect on his views. Exposed to this weekly, Catholics risk losing touch with the real Faith and run the risk of losing the faith altogether as a great number of Catholic have.
II. No one is held to the impossible
Catholics are not expected to attend the Mass, when it means participating in sacrilege. Moral Theology tells us that in such cases where we are faced with sacrilege or where our spiritual welfare is at risk, the normal obligations of the law cease to apply; this is known as the law of grave necessity.
III. In the Consecration of the Mass "one may not use either (a) doubtful matter or form"- Fr. Herbert Jone OFM, Moral Theology, Pg. 308.
It is clear that from numerous independent studies done on the New Mass (i.e. Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D. "The Problems with the New Mass" published by Tan Press) there are great reasons for Catholics to have serious concerns about the validity of the New Mass, especially when said in the vernacular. Quite often the words of the Consecration are ad-libbed and thus the Mass becomes invalid (even if the translations are valid). When there are serious doubts as to whether one has attended a valid Mass or not, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid the Novus Ordo altogether. Moral Theology And Canon Law provide for such situations:
-Canon 1248.2. states that those who through inconvenience or moral impossibility cannot fulfill the Mass obligation can pray at home ; "personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families."
-Canon 1323. States that one incurs no penalty for violating a precept when he acts from serious inconvenience or even perceived fear.
Moral impossibility, can in short, be defined as when you believe that it is wrong to act in a given situation. (i.e. attend the Novus Ordo)
Now, if you find the Novus Ordo to be a near occasion of sin, or sacrilege, or a danger to your spirituality-- you are in a situation where you cannot take action (i.e.-- you cannot attend the Novus Ordo )
* Qutoes From Moral Theologians :
Jone and Adelman (English translation 1961) :
"Any moderately grave reason suffices to excuse one from assistance at Holy Mass, such as considerable hardship or corporal or spiritual harm either to oneself or another." He gives various examples including "those that have a long way to church". Spiritual harm would include heretical sermons, even in a Mass which was otherwise fine, so there is certainly no obligation to attend the Novus Ordo.
Prummer (1955) quotes St Alphonsus as follows :
"Any cause which is moderately grave excuses from the precept- namely, any reason which involves some notable inconvenience or harm to mind or body either of oneself or of another."
Certain things should be clear from this. Firstly, the obligation is not absolute. Secondly, the obligation lapses when it would cause "inconvenience" or harm, which is considered moderately grave. Such circumstances include mental distress, monetary loss, even unnecessary disgrace. One example given by Jone-Adelman is that of a pregnant unmarried girl - she may absent herself from Sunday Mass so as to avoid suffering disgrace.
Furthermore, it should be mentioned that in the case of doubts about the validity of sacraments, Catholics are OBLIGED to stay away. That is, if one doubts the validity of the Novus Ordo, one cannot, under pain of sin, assist at it. All Moral Theologians teach this, as they do the above-quoted doctrine regarding the Sunday Obligation.
IIII. A Bad Law is NOT a law at all but a violation of the Law. - Pope Leo XIII, Libertas Praestantissimum
A Law is "an ordinance of reason that aims at the common good, in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law. In such a case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence" .
Ecclesiastical law is part of human law while the Divine law is immutable and of God Himself. Every binding rule which a superior or master gives to his subordinates is a command; the command, however, is only a law when it is imposed upon the community for the attainment of the common welfare.
While keeping in mind that the Power of the Church and her hierarchy can only be "unto edification and not unto destruction" (II Cor 13:10) of Christ's Church.
"For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth" (Vatican Council I).
If a case arises wherein the observance of a law would be hurtful to the general welfare, it should not be observed.
[ St. Thomas states that : When possible, we must have recourse to our superiors to dispense us from a law. However, in a situation of *necessity* one is automatically dispensed: Necessity knows no law - Summa Theologia, II Q.96,A6
Let us keep in mind that ecclesiastical laws cease to oblige:
* WHEN THERE IS DOUBT-
"When there is a doubt of law, laws do not bind even if they be nullifying and disqualifying ones..." (1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 15; 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 14)
* WHEN THEY CANNOT BE OBSERVED (physically or morally)-
"No positive law obliges where there is grave inconvenience" (1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2205; 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1323, 40).
There certainly is such a grave inconvenience when observance would be detrimental to souls, for "the salvation of souls must always be the supreme law of the Church" (1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1752).
V. The salvation of souls is the supreme law
The Novus Ordo places our souls in danger and thus is not binding, as the salvation of souls is the supreme law Can. 1752.
One need only look at any statistics showing us clearly how many have left the Church since the introduction of the New Mass, or how many Catholics no longer believe in Church teaching as a result of the false form of worship introduced into the Church.
The New Mass is harmful to the common good. This is clear to anyone who has observed the sad changes in the Church for the past 30 years. Thus, obedience in this case is -unlawful- (cf. Pope Leo XIII, Libertas).
Those who feel certain that the New Mass may be harmful to their spiritual welfare, are dispensed from the Mass obligation morally and canonically (Canons 1248 , 1323).
Therefore, in accordance with the teachings of the Church, Catholics are obligated to avoid the Novus Ordo.
VI. Catholics have a right to truly Catholic sacraments
Canon 214. Admits the "right" of Catholics to worship God according
to the prescriptions of their own rite approved by the
legitimate pastors of the Church. The rite of Catholics is the Traditional Roman Rite, which was certainly approved by "legitimate pastors of the Church," from the earliest times to the present, most especially by Pope St. Pius V in Quo Primum (1570).
Further it is an undeniable fact that the "new liturgy reflects a new ecclesiology, whereas the old reflects another ecclesiology" (Cardinal Benelli, Christian order, Oct. 1978) quite foreign to the Catholic Church.
It seems clear from the above that Novus Ordo places our souls in danger and is not binding as it assumes to itself harmful elements (protestant and heretical notions and practices) which have in every age sort to attack the Catholic faith and bring about a destruction to the Mass. St. Robert Bellarmine when referring to the churches of the heretical sects of his time stated that: "when we enter ornate and clean Basilicas, adorned with crosses, sacred images, altars, and burning lamps, we most easily conceive devotion. But, on the other hand, when we enter the temples of the heretics, where there is nothing except a chair for preaching and a wooden table for making a meal, we feel ourselves to be entering a profane hall and not the house of God" (Octava Controversia Generalis, liber II, Controversia Quinta, caput XXXI). Yet long before this the Kings council during the protestant reformation in England in order to destroy the belief of the faithful in the Catholic notion of the Mass declared, " All altars are to be destroyed. A wooden table is to be used. The form of a table shall move the simple from superstitious opinions of the popish Mass into the right use of the Popish Mass into the right use of the Lord's supper; for the use of an Altar is to make sacrifice; the use of a table is to serve for men to eat upon" (Works of Thomas Cranmer. Vol, 2. p 524).
In Hilaire Belloc's (one of the greatest Catholic historians of the 20th Century) view of the Protestant reformation the final difference between the reformed Church (the Anglican's) and that of the Catholic Church was simply the Mass. In his Book on Cranmer and the protestant reformation he wrote: "more and more as time went on did things turn into a battle between two opponents - those who would preserve intact the great structure of the old faith, its liturgy and morals and affirmation of doctrine - and those who would build up something quite new and different to act against it, to dethrone it, to take its place: and the Mass was the test" - Hilaire Belloc, Cranmer, USA, 1931, pgg 60 -1
Herbert E. Hall in his book (which has both an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat), Catholic and Roman, published in 1918 (Pg.83) wrote: "If there were no break with the past at the reformation, why were there the new liturgy and ordinal? And why the pulling down of altars, the desecration of shrines, the destruction of monasteries and the uprooting of religious life, and the general undoing of all those things and practices which advanced High Churchmen devote their lives so zealously to bring back?"
These same words without any hesitation can be applied to the post conciliar reform which resulted in the introduced of the New Mass.
Adrain Fortescue (the greatest Liturgist of the 20th Century) affirms that the Mass of the Latin rite "goes back without essential change, to the age when it developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world. The final result of our enquiry is that in spite of unresolved problems, in spite of later changes there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours" Fortescue, Adrian; The Mass, London, 1917, p213. Thus "no one has ventured to touch it except in unimportant details" (Ibid. p.213) the Roman rite.
In view of Catholic teaching and Church history "it is clear that the Novus ordo no longer intends to present the faith as taught by the Council of Trent. Yet the Catholic conscience is bound to that faith forever. Hence the true Catholic, by the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, is faced with the tragic necessity of a choice" (Cardian Ottaviani & Bacchi in the Ottaviani intervention). And as Catholics we fail to see how one could choose anything other than the Mass which we have received from the Apostles and the Apostles from Christ .
The New Mass is hardly a Catholic Mass and so it cannot oblige nor suffice for one's Sunday obligation. It must be view by Catholics as any other non-Catholic rites and so one may NOT attend it, just as they would not any other non-Catholic rite.