Critique of the Novus Ordo Missae
By Father John Brucciani SSPX
In this part of our study on the recent liturgical changes in the Catholic Church, we will proceed according to the following plan:
We will first take a close look at certain assertions contained in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani of 1969. The Institutio Generalis is the text of promulgation given in the missal. It explains what the missal contains.
We will then proceed to a detailed analyse of the actual text of the New Mass itself, along with its new rubrics, after which we will be able to pinpoint the modifications contained in the New Mass when compared to the Tridentine Mass.
Finally we will compare the New Mass to the Protestant Communion Service.
A glance at the Institutio Generalis will give us an idea of what the New Mass intends to be in itself and what beliefs it wishes to promote. In other words, a glance at the Institutio Generalis will help us evaluated this reformed manner of Catholic worship.
The Institutio Generalis is the text of promulgation given at the beginning of the missal. It explains what the missal contains. In it is a detailed definition of what the Mass is supposed to represent. The liturgy of the Mass is a sum of actions, words and symbols. All these receive their meaning or signification from the definition of the Mass given in the text of promulgation. Now the explanation of the New Mass given in the General Instruction is very different to any explanation that could be attributed to the Tridentine Mass. Therefore, we may conclude that the New Mass is very different form the Old Mass.
The dogma of Transubstantiation is essential to the theology of the Mass. The explicit denial of Transubstantiation by the Reformers is proof enough of its importance. In his condemnation of the errors of Synod of Pistoia, Pius VI counts among them the synod’s errors its negligence of explicitly mentioning the word transubstantiation.
Throughout the whole General Instruction of the Novus Ordo Missae the word transubstantiation is not mentioned once. Not only has this essential notion been omitted, but also any specific mention of the Real Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharistic Species.
Such an omission is astounding, inexplicable and, according to the teaching of Pius VI, “dangerous, derogatory to the exposition of Catholic truth and the dogma of transubstantiation, favourable to heretics.”
The universal lessening of Eucharistic fervour and devotion today is sufficient to prove the veracity of Pius VI’s wise and solemn words.
The Instruction does make mention of the presence of Christ under various, symbolic representations. He is present in the Divine Word of the Gospel, among His people gathered together, etc. Though Christ is present in various ways, spiritually in particular, the manner of His sacramental presence in the Eucharistic species is a presence in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, whole, entire and unique, and therefore must be mentioned as such, for fear of denying such a real and true presence at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Some may object that the Instruction does allude to the fact that the faithful receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the reception of Holy Communion, for example. This is indeed true, but in what manner do they receive the Body and Blood of Christ, truly, verily, substantially, or merely symbolically?
Let us note that The Synod of Pistoia was condemned for omitting explicit reference to the dogma of transubstantiation, although it did profess the Real Presence of Christ under the Eucharistic Species. The Instructio Generalis does not even do this.
In Article 7 of the General Instruction, which precedes the New Order of Mass, we discover the following definition:
“The Lord's Supper or Mass is the sacred assembly or congregation of the people of God gathering together, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to a local gathering together of the Church: "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt. 18:20)”
The definition of the Mass is thus reduced to a "supper," a term which the General Instruction repeats constantly. The Instruction further characterises this "supper" as an assembly, presided over by a priest and held as a memorial of the Lord to recall what He did on Holy Thursday. None of this in the very least implies any recognition of:
“In a word, the Instruction's definition implies none of the dogmatic values which are essential to the Mass and which, taken together, provide its true definition. Here, deliberately omitting these dogmatic values by "going beyond them" amounts, at least in practice, to denying them.” (Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, A Critical Study of the New Order of Mass)
The second part of Article 7 makes this already serious equivocation even worse. It states that Christ's promise, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst" applies to this assembly supremely. Thus, the Instruction puts Christ's promise (which refers only to His spiritual presence through grace) on the same qualitative level as the substantial and physical reality of the sacramental Eucharistic sacrifice. This amounts to implicitly denying the dogma of transubstantiation, explained above.
We may conclude, therefore, that the idea of the Mass as a renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary, a notion abhorrent by Protestants, has been dropped in favour of the idea of the Mass as a mere “memorial of the Lord.” This is in stark contradiction to Catholic Theology as explained early in this study on the Mass.
The definition of the New Mass, as given in article 7 of the General Instruction, makes no mention of the notion of the Mass being a propitiatory sacrifice. This notion of propitiatory sacrifice is absent throughout all the texts of the New Mass. It is as if the very idea has been ignored and forgotten.
We have seen that the Sacrifice of the Mass, like all sacrifices, has the quadruple purpose of adoration, thanksgiving, impetration and propitiation. Now the Reformers, Luther and Cranmer in particular, refused the propitiatory end of the Sacrifice of the Mass by reason of their new doctrines on Justification. They however accepted the three other ends of sacrifice.
It is clear therefore that the Mass, Old or New, when referring to any notion of the Mass as a sacrifice, must make explicit mention of a propitiatory sacrifice, both in its General Instruction and the very texts that make it up. This note of propitiation was considered essential by the Council of Trent: “If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.” (Session XXII, Canon 3)
One cannot overlook the fact that innumerable commentators on the New Mass have, in their writings, presented the new liturgy in a manner devoid of any reference to the Mass being a propitiatory sacrifice. This is why the Protestants are so keen to con-celebrate with Catholics. The new form of Mass presents no theological difficulty for them.
In the Institutio Generalis, concerning the consecration, which is the central part and essential act of the Mass, we read the following:
“The narrative of the institution: in this part, with the words and the acts of Christ, this last meal becomes once again present (repraesentatur), during which the Lord Jesus Christ himself instituted the sacrament of the Passion and the Resurrection, giving to the apostles his Body and Blood to eat and drink under the species of bread and wine, and commanding them to perpetuate the same mystery.”
The whole gist of this explanation of the consecration is far from any clear and concise Catholic interpretation. Firstly, the words of consecration cannot be called a narrative. This word conveys the idea that the priest at Mass merely repeats the words of Christ at the Last Supper, an idea acceptable to Protestants, whereas Catholic theology teaches that the words of consecration are not narrative but sacramental, i.e. they effect a substantial change in those elements over which they are recited. Consequently, the priest does not simply repeat in commemoration what Our Lord did at the Last Supper, rather he acts “in persona Christi” according to the consecrated formula. The priest’s action is not passive, but affirmative and imperative. By the power of his words and actions, transubstantiation is effected and the Sacrifice of the Cross is renewed. All this is completely ignored and the very word transubstantiation is left out.
Let us note finally the use of the Latin word repraesentatur to describe the presence of Our Lord in the consecrated species of bread and wine. It is wholly insufficient to assert the true and substantial presence of Christ after the consecration.
We have seen that in the New Mass, the priest is defined as the president of the assembly. (Article 7) The joint action of the people assembled with the priest presiding brings about the presence of Christ among his people. This is the sense of article 7 of the General Institution.
Though the General Institution does attribute certain wordings to the role of the priest, which could be interpreted in a traditional sense, they could also be interpreted in a non-Catholic sense.
In article 10 of the Institutio, the Eucharistic Prayer, a new name for the Canon, is called a “presidential prayer”, inferring thereby that it and the consecration within it are recited in the name of the people. It would seem therefore that the people play their part in the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Such an insinuation is nothing less than heretical.
This conclusion is corroborated by further reference as to the nature of presidential prayers explained in the Institutio. Article 12 states: “The nature of presidential parts (of the Mass) require that they be pronounced in a loud and intelligible voice, and attentively listened to by all...” The consecration, recited aloud, is therefore but a presidential prayer and not a specific act of the priest acting alone by virtue of his sacramental ordination, which he alone possesses, and not the people.
It is useful to recall the following canon of the Council of Trent: “If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema.”(Session XXII, canon IX)
Finally, this notion of the priest as mere president of the assembly is confirmed in article 271: “The seat of the president must signify his function of president of the assembly and guide of the prayer. For this reason, his position the best adapted is facing the people, in the middle or at the end of the sanctuary...”
The Tridentine Mass requires the priest to stand alone, or with other sacred ministers, at the altar, facing the same altar and the sacrifice he offers thereon. The Tridentine Mass and the New Mass would seem to profess differing views on the priesthood. More will be said on this topic elsewhere.
According to the Council of Trent, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Jesus Christ “immolates himself for the Church by the hands of the priest.” For this reason Christ is called the principal priest who offers the sacrifice. The ordained priest is but the “secondary” priest of the sacrifice, in the sense that he is the minister and instrument of the principal priest, Christ, who acts through and by him. Note that for the priest to become an instrument of the Christ, he must be ordained as such, empowered to act of the action and power of Christ. Hence the priesthood of the priest is essentially different to the priesthood of the people who have received no priestly ordination.
Once again, the gist of the General Instruction is to minimise the specific role and action of Christ immolating Himself by the hand of the priest, and to create the concept of the Mass as a prayerful gathering in commemoration of Christ’s Last Supper in which Christ mysteriously becomes present to the hearts of those in attendance through and by the actions and words of the people together, and the priest speaking on behalf of the people. The specific priestly action of Christ immolating and immolated upon the altar is completely ignored, a doctrine which is of the essence of any teaching on the sacrifice of the Mass.
The General Instruction divides the Mass into the liturgy of the word and liturgy of the Eucharist. In many places these are talked of as if they were of equal importance. More alarmingly, the presence of “Christ among his people” as advocated by the reading of the Word of God is ambiguously presented to be equal to the presence of Christ that comes of the Eucharistic action, i.e. the consecration. Such a comparison is common in Protestant theology.
Excessive tendency to exaggerate the Mass as a memorial of Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension inevitably shadows the truth that the Mass is first and foremost the memorial of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice on Calvary.
In the symbolic elements that make it up, the Mass is first and foremost the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross. For this reason we recall therein primarily the Passion and death of Our Lord. But, since the mystery of Christ’s redemption includes also the mysteries of the Resurrection and Ascension, it cannot be denied that the Mass also recalls these mysteries.
The General Instruction of 1969 seems to ignore these distinctions and repeatedly insists that “the Mass is the memorial of the Passion and the Resurrection.” (article 2) Throughout all its articles it places the memorial of the Passion on the same footing as that of the Resurrection and Ascension. This can only weaken the understanding of the Mass as the renewal of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice of Calvary. It may even destroy such an understanding when such ambiguous notions are part of whole sum of affirmations and insinuations very different from the traditional theology of the Mass and the priesthood.
This chapter will be divided into four parts:
We shall look at those prayers of the Tridentine Mass that have been suppressed or altered.
We shall study the new concept of the Offertory which has come with the New Mass and see if this concept is conform to Catholic teaching on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We shall speak about the Roman Canon of the Mass, the three new Eucharistic Prayers and the general diminution of any proper recognition and respect of the Real Presence.
We will discuss the new rite of Communion.
This part may become tedious to some, because of the extent of analyse and the constant necessity to recall Church doctrine with regards to old and new formulas of prayer. It must nevertheless be treated as part of this global study of the New Mass.
In the introduction to the present work, we wrote: “Its aim is to present a concise study of the history and theology of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to demonstrate how the Novus Ordo Missae is in stark opposition to the Church’s perennial teachings on this point of doctrine.” It is in this chapter that the stark opposition will become most noticeable.
The Tridentine Mass begins with the beautiful psalm Judica me. The psalm announces the priest’s intention of going to the altar of God, which infers the sacrifice about to be accomplished thereon. It has been suppressed in the New Mass. Cranmer also suppressed it in his new Communion Service. 
In the Tridentine Mass, the initial Confiteor is recited separately by priest then altar server, in the name of the people. This distinction clearly marked the difference between priest and people, one consecrated (by priestly ordination) to perform the sacrifice, the other consecrated (by baptism) to participate and receive of the fruit of the sacrifice.
In the New Mass, both priest and people recited a single, altered version of the Confiteor together. This can only insinuate an essential “sameness” or identity between the priest and people. Such a notion destroys the belief in the Catholic, sacramental priesthood.
The old Confiteor contained repeated references to Our Lady, St Michael and the communion of Saints. The New Mass offers a version of the Confiteor devoid of these references, and acceptable to Protestants.
This prayer evokes the Old Testament sacrifice with its reference to the Holy of Holies which the High Priest entered to offer the blood of the sacrificial victim. It has been suppressed both in the New Mass and Cranmer’s Communion Service, in conformity to the definition of the New Mass which is devoid of all notion of sacrifice.
This prayer makes reference to the merits of the saints and the relics of the saints contained in the altar stone. It has been suppressed, along with the rubric ordering the presence of martyrs’ relics wherever the sacrifice is performed. Such a rubric dates from antiquity and is consequent to the equally ancient belief that an eminently sacred act is accomplished when the Mass is celebrated.
The entire Tridentine offertory has been suppressed and replaced by one of a new design and concept. This particular point will be discussed more fully in a later part of this chapter. It is indeed the most alarming and revealing change in the Mass.
Suppressed by Cranmer, this has been retained in the New Mass though it has become optional! Again this point will be the matter of another part of this chapter.
This prayer invokes Our Lady and the Communion of the saints, thereby declaring the value and necessity of such practise. In the New Mass this prayer has been altered: references to Our Lady and the Saints and the power of their intercession have been removed. Luther and Cranmer abolished this prayer in their services, because they did not believe in the intercession of the saints.
Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come: and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever a virgin, Mother of God, and of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, of Andrew, and of all the saints, graciously grant peace in our days, that through the help of Thy bountiful mercy we may always be free from sin and secure from all disturbance
Novus Ordo Text
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Recited by the priest as he drops a fragment of the consecrated host into the chalice, this prayer has been altered in the New Mass. The word consecration has been removed.
The priest alone before his own communion says this prayer. It expresses his belief in the propitiatory and not merely penal sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and at the altar and belief in his own sins, which can be absolved by virtue of the sacrament. This prayer has disappeared in the New Mass.
The New Mass uses a truncated form of this prayer.
This point will be treated in detail in a later chapter. Suffice to note here that the New Mass now allows the possibly of communion under both kinds, a point very popular with Protestants. One cannot fail to recall the council of Trent on this matter: “If anyone says that the Holy Catholic Church has not been influenced by just causes and reasons to give communion under the form of bread only to layman and even cleric when not consecrating, or that she has erred in this: let him be anathema.” (Session XXI, Canon 2)
It is also useful to read the following article from the General Institution: "Bread used for the Eucharist even though unleavened and of the traditional shape, ought to be made in such a way that the priest, when celebrating with a congregation, can break it into pieces and distribute these to at least some of the faithful." (Article 283) Whatever the reason for this new rubric, the similarity with Cranmer’s ordinal for his Communion Service is striking: It states that altar breads should be: "unleavened, and round, as it was before, but without all manner of print, and something more larger and thicker than it was, so that it may be aptly divided in two pieces, at the least, or more by the discretion of the minister." Such notions enhance the idea that the Mass is more a communal meal rather then a sacrifice essentially accomplished by the priest alone and at which the faithful assist.
The New Mass likewise allows reception of Holy Communion standing, in the hand and from a lay minister. Even Cranmer did not go this far. Such practises eventually destroy belief in the Real Presence. That the faithful were formerly bade to receive their Maker and Redeemer kneeling is obvious. That the priest alone was formerly permitted to distribute communion was a consequence of the belief that he alone had consecrated the Sacred Species, he alone had performed the sacrifice and now he alone must needs distribute the fruit of the sacrifice, i.e. the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ under the form of bread.
This prayer was initially suppressed in the first edition of the New Mass. It implies belief in the Real Presence and Its purifying and saving virtues.
This prayer makes explicit reference to the Real Presence and the forgiveness of sins as the effect of the Eucharist. It has been suppressed in the New Mass.
This final prayer, recited after the Ite, missa est and before the blessing, is an exquisite summery of the traditional doctrine of the Mass. It declares that a propitiatory sacrifice has just been offered for the honour and glory of God and the redemption of the quick and the dead. This prayer has been excluded from the New Mass. Cranmer and Luther did likewise in their new liturgies.
Again, in union with Cranmer and Luther, this has been removed form the New Mass. A reason may be forwarded. The last Gospel recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, foundation of the Catholic Faith and, in particular of the Real Presence. We say that by virtue of the miracle of transubstantiation, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is made present under the form of bread and wine. But Christ only possesses a Body and Soul through his being made true man, i.e. through the mystery of the Incarnation. Here the explicit recalling of this tremendous mystery has been removed as well as many references to the Real Presence. A weakening of the whole of the Catholic Faith can be the only result of such omissions.
One cannot deny that the Mass, as previously known and formulated in the Tridentine Ordinal, has undergone a substantial change in its new expression know as the Novus Ordo Missae. Indeed, one may go so far as to assert that the main and most important prayers of the Tridentine Rite, those most pregnant with doctrine and truth concerning the theology of the Mass have been suppressed and replaced in most cases by nothing whatsoever, or in some rare instances, by prayers devoid of any compelling theological content.
The majority of prayers and actions (bows, genuflections) expressing the virtues of humility, contrition, compunction, or the truth of sacrifice, propitiation, the Real Presence, the sacramental priesthood, all these have disappeared for no valid reason at all. Furthermore, the alarming fact of their exclusion from the new rite of Mass is enhanced by those declarations, definitions and affirmations of the Institutio Generalis, incompatible or at least dubious when compared with true Catholic Doctrine.
These suppressions, and reality is proof to this, serve only to diminish in the liturgy and in daily life, the expressions of contrition and compunction for sins committed, so essential to a stable religious life. They reduce the belief in the existence of grace, of true justification in the Catholic sense. They sap thereby at the ever necessary virtue of hope, for, without grace, what hope have we of being restored to a state agreeable to God?
In short, the New Mass does not, cannot nourish the essential theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. The lack or ambiguity of its theological content weakens faith. Its similarity to Protestant liturgy and its Protestant outlook destroys our hope in real and true redemption from sin. Its excess of words and actions devoid of any true knowledge and apprehension of the majesty of God and the mysterious re-enactment of Calvary eventually quench the flames of Divine Love burning in the heart of man.
In the Tridentine Mass, the Offertory plays a major role in ceremony and constitutes, with the Canon, the most important part of the Mass. Catholic Theology has always seen the Offertory as an essential element in the constitution and celebration of Mass.
One can wonder: if it is at the moment of the consecration, i.e. when the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, that the sacrifice is accomplished and the Immaculate Host which is Christ is offered to the Father, why need there be an Offertory at all? Indeed, whilst the priest recites the Offertory prayers “Suscipe Sancte Pater hanc immaculatam hostiam,…” - “Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris,…” he is really handling a piece of bread and a cup of wine, yet speaks and acts as though it is already the Sacred Species themselves. Is this not a little strange and unnecessary?
The answer is as follows. At the consecration Our Lord is indeed offered to the Father and the sacrifice accomplished, but it is in a hidden and mysterious manner. No one can perceive by any outward, sensible sign that the whispering of some words over the bread and wine accomplish the great mystery of Calvary once more. Therefore we must be told. It is this telling, this manifestation of the mystery accomplished at Holy Mass that takes place at the Offertory.
The Mass is full of sensitive, palpable signs that explain to us what goes on. For example, the sending up of incense is the sign of the prayers the Church is at present addressing to God. At the Offertory, it is explained what is about to happen a few moments later, in the middle of the Canon. In fact, one may go so far as to say that the Offertory is a “dry run” of the great sacrificial prayer that is the Canon. The meaning and understanding of the Canon comes from the words and actions of the Offertory.
Hence it is evident that from the Offertory onwards, the priest treats the bread and wine as though they are already transformed into the Sacred Species. They are the Sacred Species, in anticipation.
In the Tridentine Offertory, the nature of the Mass as a sacrifice is most clearly set out and explained. Also the ends of the Mass, namely praise, thanksgiving, impetration, and propitiation are clearly affirmed in the different prayers recited by the priest. These prayers are as follows:
Offering of the host:
Accept, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Your unworthy servant, offer to You, my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offences and negligences; on behalf of all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may profit me and them as a means of salvation to life everlasting. Amen
Blessing of the water, before a drop is placed in the chalice:
O God, Who established the nature of man in wondrous dignity, and still more admirably restored it, grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may be partakers of His Divinity, who has condescended to become partaker of our humanity, Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord: Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
Offering of the chalice:
We offer You, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, humbly begging of Your mercy that it may arise before Your divine Majesty, with a pleasing fragrance, for our salvation and for that of the whole world. Amen
Prayers over the host and chalice:
In a humble spirit and with a contrite heart, may we be accepted by You, O Lord, and may our sacrifice so be offered in Your sight this day as to please You, O Lord God.
Come, O Sanctifier, Almighty and Eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared for the glory of Your holy Name.
Washing of hands:
I wash my hands in innocence, and I go around Your altar, O Lord, Giving voice to my thanks, and recounting all Your wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the house in which You dwell, the tenting-place of Your glory. Gather not my soul with those of sinners, nor my life with men of blood. On their hands are crimes, and their right hands are full of bribes. But I walk in integrity; redeem me, and have pity on me. My foot stands on level ground; in the assemblies I will bless You, O Lord.
Prayer to the Trinity:
Accept, Most Holy Trinity, this offering which we are making to You in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, Our Lord; and in honour of Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of these (Saints whose relics are on the Altar) and of all the Saints; that it may add to their honour and aid our salvation; and may they deign to intercede in heaven for us who honour their memory here on earth. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
These prayers could not be more explicit as to the intention of offering a propitiatory sacrifice so abhorred by the Protestants, and of affirming several essential dogmas of the Catholic Faith denied by the same adversaries of the Church: transubstantiation, communion of the saints, intercession for the dead, sanctifying grace, justification, etc. all consequences of the one great truth of the sacrifice of the Mass.
In the new rite of the Mass, the Offertory has been completely changed. In the same way that the Tridentine Offertory provides a clear explanation of the Church’s beliefs concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the new Offertory brings with it a new explanation of what is supposed to take place during the New Mass.
The following prayers figure in the new missal.
The prayer that has replaced the Suscipe, Sancte Pater is a modified Jewish table grace:
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all Creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
In place of the Offerimus Tibi, the New Mass offers the chalice with the following prayer:
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Though your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
In no manner comprehensible to the ordinary intellect can these prayers wish or intend to offer the Divine Victim to God the Father under the Species of bread and wine. If we are to understand the Offertory as a dry run of the Canon, it would seem that during the Canon, at the time of the consecration, bread and wine is offered to God for the sins of mankind, rather than Christ present under the newly transformed species of bread and wine.
These new Offertory prayers omit any mention of the Divine Victim offered, of transubstantiation, of the communion of saints, of the Mass being offered for the living and the dead, of its propitiatory effect, of the transformation and purification of the soul by sanctifying grace (as a direct consequence of the propitiatory effect of the Mass). In fact, through the new Offertory prayers, a new definition of the Mass has been drawn up.
Of the new Offertory, Cardinal Ottaviani wrote in his Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae:
The immanent purpose of the Mass is fundamentally that of sacrifice. It is essential that the Sacrifice, whatever its nature, be pleasing to God and accepted by Him. Because of original sin, however, no sacrifice other than the Christ's Sacrifice can claim to be acceptable and pleasing to God in its own right. The Novus Ordo alters the nature of the sacrificial offering by turning it into a type of exchange of gifts between God and man. Man brings the bread, and God turns it into "the bread of life"; man brings the wine, and God turns it into "spiritual drink":
“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have this bread (or wine) to offer, fruit of the earth (vine) and work of human hands, It will become for us the bread of life (spiritual drink).”
The expressions "bread of life" and "spiritual drink," of course, are utterly vague and could mean anything. Once again, we come up against the same basic equivocation: According to the new definition of the Mass, Christ is only spiritually present among His own; here, bread and wine are only spiritually---and not substantially---changed. In the Preparation of the Gifts, a similar equivocal game was played. The old Offertory contained two magnificent prayers, the "Deus qui humanae" and the "Offerimus tibi":
- The first prayer, recited at the preparation of the chalice, begins: "O God, by whom the dignity of human nature was wondrously established and yet more wondrously restored." It recalled man's innocence before the Fall of Adam and his ransom by the blood of Christ, and it summed up the whole economy of the Sacrifice from Adam to the present day. - The second prayer, which accompanies the offering of the chalice, embodies the idea of propitiation for sin: it implores God for His mercy as it asks that the offering may ascend with a sweet fragrance in the presence of Thy divine majesty. Like the first prayer, it admirably stresses the economy of the Sacrifice.
In the Novus Ordo, both these prayers have been eliminated. In the Eucharistic Prayers, moreover, the repeated petitions to God that He accept the Sacrifice have also been suppressed; thus, there is no longer any clear distinction between divine and human sacrifice. Having removed the keystone, the reformers had to put up scaffolding. Having suppressed the real purposes of the Mass, they had to substitute fictitious purposes of their own. This forced them to introduce actions stressing the union between priest and faithful, or among the faithful themselves--and led to the ridiculous attempt to superimpose offerings for the poor and for the Church on the offering of the host to be immolated. The fundamental uniqueness of the Victim to be sacrificed will thus be completely obliterated. Participation in the immolation of Christ the Victim will turn into a philanthropists' meeting or a charity banquet.
Finally, the concluding prayer of the Offertory, the “Accept O Holy Trinity,” was a perfect summery of the Catholic teaching and the ultimate purpose of all legal forms of worship, from personal prayer to Church liturgy: the honour and glory of the Blessed Trinity. Yet, now the Mass is reduced to a mere commemorative meal, or a philanthropists’ meeting or a charity banquet, reference to the Holy Trinity becomes incongruous. This prayer referring to this purpose of the Mass has been removed.
Some may advocate that the belief in the Mass as a real sacrifice is maintained by the prayer that links the Offertory to the rest of the Mass, the “Orate Fratres.”
Pray brethren, that my Sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty.
May the Lord accept this Sacrifice from your hands to the praise and glory of His Name, for our advantage, and that of all His holy Church. Amen
It must be noted however that this prayer speaks of the Mass as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, something acceptable to Protestants, but not as a propitiatory sacrifice. Cranmer retained this prayer in his new Communion Service.
Before we start, let us first recall the Council of Trent’s teaching on the Canon of the Mass:
And whereas it beseemeth, that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all holy things this sacrifice is the most holy; to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago, the sacred Canon, so pure from every error, that nothing is contained therein which does not in the highest degree savour of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up unto God the minds of those that offer. For it is composed, out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the apostles, and the pious institutions also of holy pontiffs. (Session XXII, chapter IV.)
If any one saith, that the Canon of the Mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema. (Session XXII, canon IV)
The New Rite of Mass contains a selection of four Eucharistic Prayers, three of which have been inspiringly name Eucharistic Prayers II, III, IV.
The Canon of the Mass is the central part of the Mass, during which takes place the consecration and the sacramental though real sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary. The Canon is the oldest and most venerable and sacred part of the Mass.
The General Instruction of the New Rite gives a new name to that
of the Canon, referring to it as “Eucharistic Prayer”. The meaning
the Novus Ordo assigns to the so-called "Eucharistic Prayer" is as
follows: "The entire congregation joins itself to Christ in
acknowledging the great things God has done and in offering the
Which sacrifice does this refer to? Who offers the sacrifice? No answer is given to these questions.
The General Instruction reduces the definition of “Eucharistic Prayer” to the following: "The centre and summit of the entire celebration begins: the Eucharistic Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification."
The effects of the prayer (sanctification) thus replace the causes (sacrifice of atonement.) Of the causes, not a single word is said.
We have also seen that the explicit mention of the purpose of the sacrificial offering, made in the old rite with the prayer "Accept, Most Holy Trinity, this Oblation," has been suppressed. The change in the formula reveals the change in doctrine.
A reason why the Sacrifice is no longer explicitly mentioned either in the General Instruction or in the prayers of the New Mass may be forward: it is because the central role in the Mass of the Real Presence has been suppressed. It has been removed from the place it so resplendently occupied in the old liturgy.
In the General Instruction, the Real Presence is mentioned just
once--and that in a footnote which is the only reference to the
Council of Trent. Here again, the context is that of nourishment.
The real and permanent presence of Christ in the transubstantiated
Species--Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity--is never alluded to. The
very word transubstantiation is completely ignored.
The invocation of the Holy Ghost in the Offertory--the prayer "Come, Thou Sanctifier" as likewise been suppressed, with its petition that He descend upon the offering to accomplish the miracle of the Divine Presence again, just as he once descended into the Virgin's womb. This suppression is one more in a series of denials and degradations of the Real Presence, both tacit and systematic.
Finally, it is impossible to ignore how many ritual gestures and usage expressing faith in the Real Presence have been abolished or changed. The Novus Ordo eliminates:
The Novus Ordo prescribes:
All these suppressions only emphasise how faith in the dogma of the Real Presence has been implicitly repudiated.
The altar is nearly always called the table: "...the altar or the Lord's table, which is the centre of the whole eucharistic liturgy..."
The altar must now be detached from the back wall so that the priest can walk around it and celebrate Mass facing the people. The Instruction states that the altar should be at the centre of the assembled faithful, so that their attention is spontaneously (!) drawn to it.
The Instruction recommends that the Blessed Sacrament now be kept in a place apart for private devotion, as though It were some sort of relic. Thus, on entering a church, one's attention will be drawn not to a tabernacle, but to a table stripped bare.
This separation of the tabernacle and the altar signals an irreparable dichotomy between the presence of Christ the High Priest in the priest celebrating the Mass and Christ's sacramental Presence. Before, they were one and the same Presence. The priest, when saying Mass, acts in the person of Christ. At the consecration he becomes Christ, when he says: “This is My Body, this is My Blood.” The priest/Christ at the altar and Christ in the tabernacle are one and the same and being identical, it is fitting they be together. Therefore the tabernacle’s rightful place is at the altar, not separated from it.
The Instruction urges that hosts distributed for Communion be ones consecrated at the same Mass. It also recommends consecrating a large wafer, so that the priest can share a part of it with the faithful. It is always the same disparaging attitude towards both the tabernacle and every form of Eucharistic piety outside of Mass. This constitutes a new and violent blow to faith that the Real Presence continues as long as the consecrated Species remain.
The old formula for the Consecration was a sacramental formula, (something sacred happens when it was pronounced) properly speaking, and not merely a narrative. This is shown above by three things:
The Scripture text was not used word-for-word as the formula for the Consecration in the old Missal. St. Paul's expression, the "Mystery of Faith," was inserted into the text as an immediate expression of the priest's faith in the mystery which the Church makes real through the hierarchical priesthood.
In the old Missal, a period and a new paragraph separated the
words "Take ye all of this and eat" from the words of the
sacramental form, "This is My Body.” The period and the new
paragraph marked the passage from a merely narrative mode to a
sacramental and affirmative mode, which is proper to a true
The words of Consecration in the Roman Missal, moreover, were printed in larger type in the centre of the page. Often different coloured ink was used. All these things clearly detached the words from a merely historical context, and combined to give the formula of Consecration a proper and autonomous value.
The Roman Missal added the words: "As often as ye shall do these things, ye shall do them in memory of Me" after the formula of Consecration. This formula referred not merely to remembering Christ or a past event, but to Christ acting in the here and now. It was an invitation to recall not merely His Person or the Last Supper, but to do what He did in the way that He did it.
In the Novus Ordo, the words of St. Paul, "Do this in memory of Me," will now replace the old formula and be daily proclaimed in the vernacular everywhere. This will inevitably cause hearers to concentrate on the remembrance of Christ as the end of the Eucharistic action, rather than as its beginning. The idea of commemoration will thus soon replace the idea of the Mass as a sacramental action.
The General Instruction emphasizes the narrative mode further when it describes the Consecration as the "Institution Narrative" and when it adds that, "in fulfilment of the command received from Christ...the Church keeps his memorial."
All this, in short, changes the modus significandi of the words of Consecration, i.e. how they show forth the sacramental action taking place. The priest now pronounces the formulas for Consecration as part of an historical narrative, rather than as Christ's representative issuing the affirmative judgement: Hoc est enim Corpus meum…
The people's Memorial Acclamation, which immediately follows the Consecration: "Your holy death, we proclaim, O Lord...until you come", introduces the same ambiguity about the Real Presence under the guise of an allusion to the Last Judgment. Without so much as a pause, the people proclaim their expectation of Christ at the end of time, just at the moment when He is substantially present on the altar, as if Christ's real coming will occur only at the end of time, rather than there on the altar itself.
The second optional Memorial Acclamation brings this out even more strongly: "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory." The juxtaposition of entirely different realities: immolation and eating, the Real Presence and Christ's Second Coming, brings ambiguity to a new height.
This General Instruction gives to the celebrant the possibility to choose between the modified Roman Canon and the three other Eucharistic Prayers. This means that sooner or later, with the ever increasing spread of erroneous doctrine, the orthodox Canon of the Mass, which has withstood the test of time and raised an impregnable defence of the Catholic doctrine of the Mass, will gradually fall into disuse and subsequent oblivion. Indeed, this is already the case.
Allocution of Pius XII to the International congress on Pastoral Liturgy, 22nd Sept. 1956:
“What is the main action of the Eucharistic Sacrifice? We cite first the teaching of the Council of Trent:
“In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different.” (Session XXII, chapter II)
The central element of the Eucharistic Sacrafice is that in which Christ intervenes as “se ipsum offerens” to adopt the words of the Council of Trent. That happens at the consecration when, in the very act of transubstantion worked by the Lord, the priest-celebrant is “personam Christi gerens.”
One has noticed that throughout the New Mass, excessive emphasis is placed on the action and activity of the priest in union with the people as though these were the essential “components” in the sacramental action that is the Mass. In only one instance, in its treatment of the form of the Mass without a Congregation, does the General Instruction admit that the Mass is "the action of Christ and the Church."
In the case of Mass with a Congregation, however, the only object the Instruction hints at is "remembering Christ" and sanctifying those present. "The priest celebrant," it says, "...joins the people to himself in offering the sacrifice through Christ in the Spirit to the Father", instead of saying that the people join themselves to the priest acting in the person of Christ who offers Himself through the Holy Ghost to the Father.
Another of Pius XII’s instructions becomes relevant here: his allocution to Cardinals and Bishops, 2nd November 1954:
The particular and chief duty of the priest has ever been to sacrifice; where there is no true power to sacrifice, there is no true priesthood.
This is perfectly true of the priest of the New Law. His chief power and duty is to offer the unique and divine sacrifice of the Sovereign Eternal Priest, Jesus Christ Our Lord, that sacrifice which our divine redeemer offered in a bloody manner upon the cross, which He anticipated in an unbloody manner at the Last Supper, and which He wished to be constantly repeated when He commanded His apostles: Do this in memory of me. The Apostles therefore and not all the faithful, were by Christ ordained and appointed priests; it was to them that he gave the power to sacrifice. (…)Thus the priest celebrant, putting on the person of Christ, alone sacrifices, and not the people, nor clerics, nor even priests who reverently assist the celebrant. All however can take and should take an active part in the sacrifice. The Christian people, though participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, do not possess thereby a priestly power. (Mediator Dei)
We realise, Venerable Brethren, that what We have just said is quite familiar to you; yet we wished to recall it, since it is the basis of and the motive for what we are about to say.
There are some who have not ceased claiming a certain power to sacrifice on the part of all, even laymen, who piously assist at the Sacrifice of the Mass. Opposing them, We must distinguish truth from error, and do away with all confusion. Seven years ago, in the Encyclical just quoted, We reproved the error of those who did not hesitate to state that Christ’s command: “Do this in memory of Me”, refers directly to the whole assembly of the faithful, and that only afterwards did a hierarchical priesthood follow.
Hence they say the people possess a true sacerdotal power; the priest acts only on an authority delegated by the community.
Wherefore they think that concelebration is the true Eucharistic sacrifice, and that it is more fitting for priests and people to concelebrate than to offer the Sacrifice in private, with no congregation present.
In this context, the many grave omissions of the phrase "through Christ Our Lord," a formula which expresses Christ’s constant intercession for us, in addition to the offering of Himself at the altar, and which guarantees that God will hear the Church's prayers in every age, should be noted.
The Mass is a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, propitiation and impetration offered to the Blessed Trinity. The Church has always taught that the fruits of the sacrifice of the Mass, namely atonement and satisfaction for sins and an increase in sanctifying grace, are merited by the members of the Church as a whole, alive and dead, and in particular by those for whom the Mass is specifically offered. Note that it is only the members of the Church that can benefit from the Sacrifice of the Mass. This is clearly stated in the opening prayer of the Roman Canon “Te igitur,”:
Therefore, we humbly pray and beseech Thee, most, merciful Father, through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord, to receive and to bless these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices, which we offer up to Thee, in the first place, for Thy holy Catholic Church, that it may please Thee to grant her peace, to guard, unite, and guide her, throughout the world: as also for Thy servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop, and for all who are orthodox in belief and who profess the Catholic and apostolic faith.
Yet Eucharistic Prayer IV would have that Mass is now offered simply for “all who seek You (God) with a sincere heart”, as though membership of the Catholic Church and adherence to the one, true Faith is no longer as requirement to the salvation offered by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
The Memento of the Dead in the Eucharistic Prayer III, moreover, is offered not as before for those “who are gone before us with the sign of faith,” (Roman Canon) but merely for those who have died in the “friendship of Christ,” an expression utterly vague and empty of doctrinal meaning.
Eucharistic Prayer IV prays for "all the dead whose faith is known to You alone." What faith are we talking about? Is it the Catholic Faith? If so, such faith should not be known to God alone, but also to the world, since all Catholics are call to profess openly their adherence to the Catholic Church and Her teachings.
None of the three new Eucharistic Prayers, moreover, alludes to a suffering state for those who have died; none allows the priest to make special Mementos for the dead. All this necessarily undermines faith in the propitiatory and redemptive nature of the sacrifice applicable to the souls departed.
Everywhere desacralizing omissions debase the mystery of the Church and the faithful’s participation in the fruits of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Throughout the prayers of the Old Rite of Mass, numerous references were made in recognition and honour of the angels and saints, in particular to the apostles, the foundation pillars of the one, true Church of Christ. This showed the Catholic Church as the identical continuation of the Church of the Apostles. It also manifested the unity that exists between the saints in heaven (Church triumphant), the suffering souls in Purgatory (Church suffering) and the orthodox believers here below. (Church Militant)
In the New Mass, the Church's nature as a sacred hierarchy is disregarded. The second part of the new collective Confiteor reduces the Angels and the Saints to anonymity in the first part, in the person of St. Michael the Archangel, they have disappeared as witnesses and judges.
In the Preface for Eucharistic Prayer II, and this is unprecedented, the various angelic hierarchies have disappeared. Also suppressed, in the third prayer of the old Canon, is the memory of the holy Pontiffs and Martyrs on whom the Church in Rome was founded; without a doubt, these were the saints who handed down the apostolic tradition finally completed under Pope St. Gregory as the Roman Mass.
We have already mentioned that the prayer after the Our Father, the "Libera Nos," now omits the mention of the Blessed Virgin, the holy apostles and all the Saints; their intercession is thus no longer sought, even in times of danger. Everywhere except in the Roman Canon, the Novus Ordo eliminates not only the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul, founders of the Church in Rome, but also the names of the other Apostles, the foundation and mark of the one and universal Church. This intolerable omission, extending even to the three new Eucharistic Prayers, compromises the unity of the Church.
The Communion Rite in an essential part of the Sacrifice of the Mass. The consummation of the victim marks the completion of the sacrifice.
The priest plays a unique part in the offering of the sacrifice. It is he who offers directly, and the people only participate in the sacrifice in as much as they are joined to the priest. Hence, during the carrying out of the sacrifice, and in its completion, the priest remains distinguished from the people.
One of the main points of the Old Rite of Mass, which expressed this fundamental difference between priest and congregation, was the separation of his communion from that of the general communion of the faithful. In the same way that he offered in a unique manner, so too the priest completes the sacrifice in a unique manner, alone.
In keeping with the principles laid out in the General Instruction, the New Rite of Mass has removed everything in the priest’s role that used to distinguish him from the congregation. Not only does he now stand among them (rather then apart, at the altar), but also he recites prayers in common with them, and now communicates in common with the congregation, as if nothing in his previous actions has distinguished him from the rest of the faithful.
The Communion Rite has suffered further change with the reduction of preparatory prayers, as explained earlier, and with the astounding introduction of communion under both kinds, reminiscent to the reforms of the Protestants.
The “Giving of the sign of peace,” has also been altered. In the Old Rite of the Mass, the gift of peace would originate from the altar where Christ was present, and be passed down from the priest to the lower ranks of the clergy with the words “Pax tecum…Et cum spiritu tuo,”. In the New Rite, the people wish each other the sign of peace of their own accord, spontaneously, by a kiss, an embrace or a vulgar shake of the hand. Thus the “peace of the Lord” no longer originates from the propitiatory and redemptive sacrifice offered upon the altar and is no longer communicated to the people by the priest.
It may be useful here to speak of the now universal error of the “common priesthood,” of the liturgical celebrant and the laity. The error, we have seen, is strongly advocated in the principles of General Instruction of the New Mass. The multiple reduction of the priest’s role to that of the president of the assembly would indicate that his priesthood does not differentiate him in anyway from the common faithful.
We will now consider the question of who performs the Sacrifice. In the old rite, these were, in order: Christ, the priest, and the faithful.
Pius XII clearly explains the role of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest and the ordained priest who celebrates Mass, in his Encyclical Mediator Dei:
The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross. "It is one and the same victim; the same person now offers it by the ministry of His priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner of offering alone being different."(Council of Trent, Session XXII)
The priest is the same, Jesus Christ, whose sacred Person His minister represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration, which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ's very person. Wherefore in his priestly activity he in a certain manner "lends his tongue, and gives his hand" to Christ.
We see therefore that the offering of the sacrifice pertains essentially to the priest celebrating Mass. No priest, no Mass. The priest performs the sacrifice by becoming Christ, by taking on the person of Christ. This he can do by virtue of the priestly ordination he has received. Therefore the participation of the faithful, though praiseworthy and desired, is not necessary to the valid accomplishment of the Sacrifice.
The Church however desires the participation of the faithful at Holy Mass. How the faithful are to participate, and the nature of their participation, is clearly detailed in the same Encyclical of Pius XII, Mediator Dei:
It is, therefore, desirable, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful should be aware that to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest, according to the Apostle, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." And together with Him and through Him let them make their oblation, and in union with Him let them offer up themselves. (…)
The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks.
For there are today, Venerable Brethren, those who, approximating to errors long since condemned teach that in the New Testament by the word "priesthood" is meant only that priesthood which applies to all who have been baptized; and hold that the command by which Christ gave power to His apostles at the Last Supper to do what He Himself had done, applies directly to the entire Christian Church, and that thence, and thence only, arises the hierarchical priesthood. Hence they assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. Wherefore, they look on the Eucharistic Sacrifice as a "concelebration," in the literal meaning of that term, and consider it more fitting that priests should "concelebrate" with the people present than that they should offer the sacrifice privately when the people are absent.
It is superfluous to explain how captious errors of this sort completely contradict the truths which we have just stated above, when treating of the place of the priest in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. But we deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, he goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power.
All this has the certitude of faith. However, it must also be said that the faithful do offer the divine Victim, though in a different sense.
In this most important subject it is necessary, in order to avoid giving rise to a dangerous error, that we define the exact meaning of the word "offer." The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful. But it is because the priest places the divine victim upon the altar that he offers it to God the Father as an oblation for the glory of the Blessed Trinity and for the good of the whole Church.
Now the faithful participate in the oblation, understood in this limited sense, after their own fashion and in a twofold manner, namely, because they not only offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest, but also, to a certain extent, in union with him. It is by reason of this participation that the offering made by the people is also included in liturgical worship.
Now it is clear that the faithful offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest from the fact that the minister at the altar, in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, represents Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body. Hence the whole Church can rightly be said to offer up the victim through Christ. But the conclusion that the people offer the sacrifice with the priest himself is not based on the fact that, being members of the Church no less than the priest himself, they perform a visible liturgical rite; for this is the privilege only of the minister who has been divinely appointed to this office: rather it is based on the fact that the people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. It is obviously necessary that the external sacrificial rite should, of its very nature, signify the internal worship of the heart. Now the sacrifice of the New Law signifies that supreme worship by which the principal Offerer himself, who is Christ, and, in union with Him and through Him, all the members of the Mystical Body pay God the honour and reverence that are due to Him.
In the New Mass attributes an autonomous, absolute, and hence completely false role to the faithful.
This erroneous attribution is obvious not only from the new definition of the Mass, now called "...the sacred assembly or congregation of the people gathering together...” but also from the General Instruction's observation that the priest's opening greeting is meant to convey to the assembled community the presence of the Lord: “Then through his greeting the priest declares to the assembled community that the Lord is present. This greeting and response express the mystery of the gathered Church.”(Article 28) Is this the true presence of Christ? Certainly not in the sense of Christ present in the sacramental species after the consecration.
Throughout the New Mass, a real emphasis is laid on the communal act of priest and people joined together, as though the priest were a mere delegate of the people acting as a mouth piece and minister to an otherwise common action: that of offering the sacrifice. There are obsessive references to the communal character of the Mass, as though the priest were not alone in fulfilling his role of sacramentally offering the divine Victim.
The General Instruction also contains the unheard of distinction between "Mass with a Congregation" and "Mass without a Congregation."  Now, whether the Mass is with or without a congregation makes no difference, since it is the priest alone who offers the sacrifice in the strict sense. The participation of an assembly makes no difference to the sacrifice offered and therefore no distinction between Masses with and without a congregation is necessary, unless one believe that the presence of a congregation adds a specific character to the Mass. Again, it is useful to read Pius XII:
Some in fact disapprove altogether of those Masses which are offered privately and without any congregation, on the ground that they are a departure from the ancient way of offering the sacrifice; moreover, there are some who assert that priests cannot offer Mass at different altars at the same time, because, by doing so, they separate the community of the faithful and imperil its unity; while some go so far as to hold that the people must confirm and ratify the sacrifice if it is to have its proper force and value.
They are mistaken in appealing in this matter to the social character of the Eucharistic sacrifice, for as often as a priest repeats what the divine Redeemer did at the Last Supper, the sacrifice is really completed. Moreover, this sacrifice, necessarily and of its very nature, has always and everywhere the character of a public and social act, inasmuch as he who offers it acts in the name of Christ and of the faithful, whose Head is the divine Redeemer, and he offers it to God for the holy Catholic Church, and for the living and the dead. This is undoubtedly so, whether the faithful are present--as we desire and commend them to be in great numbers and with devotion--or are not present, since it is in no wise required that the people ratify what the sacred minister has done.
Still, though it is clear from what We have said that the Mass is offered in the name of Christ and of the Church and that it is not robbed of its social effects though it be celebrated by a priest without a server, nonetheless, on account of the dignity of such an august mystery, it is our earnest desire--as Mother Church has always commanded--that no priest should say Mass unless a server is at hand to answer the prayers, as canon 813 prescribes. (Mediator Dei)
Now let us compare these words of Pius XII with the following quotations from the General Instruction:
“A Mass celebrated with any community is of great value…” (Article 75)
“Any priests who are not required for pastoral reasons to celebrate on their own would laudably concelebrate if this be possible.” (Article 76)
“Mass should not be celebrated without a server, except for serious reasons. If it has to be done, the greetings and final blessing are to be omitted. (Article 211)
The General Instruction describes the Prayer of the
Faithful (prayers recited just before the Offertory) as a
part of the Mass where "the people exercising their
priestly office, intercede for all humanity."
The faithful's "priestly office” is presented equivocally, as if it were autonomous, by omitting to mention that it is subordinated to the priest, who, as consecrated mediator, presents the people's petitions to God during the Canon of the Mass. The Novus Ordo's Eucharistic Prayer III addresses the following prayers to the Lord:
“From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from East to West a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.”
The "so that" in the passage makes it appear that
the people, rather than the priest, are the indispensable
element in the celebration. Since it is never made clear,
even here, who offers the sacrifice, the people themselves
appear as possessing autonomous priestly powers.
From this step, it would not be surprising if, before long, the people were permitted to join with the priest if pronouncing the words of Consecration. Indeed, in many places this has already happened.
Having studied the great confusion contained in the NOM concerning the assistance and role of the faithful at Mass, it might good to recall one last time Pius XII’s teaching on these very topics.
On the other hand, it should not be denied or called into question that the faithful have a kind of “priesthood”, and one may not depreciate or minimise it. For the prince of the Apostles, in his first letter, addressing the faithful, uses these words: “But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people.” (I Peter II, 9) Just before this he asserts that the faithful possess: “a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter II, 5) But whatever be the true and full meaning of this honourable title and claim, it must be firmly held that the “priesthood” common to all the faithful, high and reserved as it is, differs not only in degree, but in essence also, from the priesthood fully and properly so-called, which lies in the power of offering the sacrifice of Christ Himself, since the priest bears the person of Christ, the Supreme High Priest. (Allocution to Cardinals and Bishops, 2nd November 1954.)
As they appear in the context of the Novus Ordo, the words of Consecration do not guarantee the priest the Church’s intention of renewing the sacrifice of the Cross and bringing down God to reside in the Sacred Species. In other words, the NOM does not guarantee the consecration of the host and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, since the way the prayers and actions of the ritual are laid out, a priest not believing in the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary and in the Real Presence can still perform the rite. The rite no longer gives a specified and fixed intention. It is open to contradictory interpretation. This means that the words of the consecration could be valid in virtue of the priest's intention. But since their validity no longer comes from the force of the sacramental words themselves (ex vi verborum)--or more precisely, from the meaning (modus significandi) the old rite of the Mass gave to the formula--the words of Consecration in the New Order of Mass could also not be valid. Will priests in the near future, who receive no traditional formation on the theology of the Mass and who rely on the Novus Ordo for the intention of "doing what the Church does," validly consecrate at Mass? One may be allowed to doubt it.
In the New Mass, the role of the priest is minimised and falsified. In relation to the people, he is now a mere president or brother, rather than the consecrated minister who celebrates Mass "in the person of Christ."
In speaking of the “Eucharistic Prayer” (the part of the Mass from the Preface to the Communion excluded), the General Instruction runs thus:
The Eucharistic Prayer is the climax and very heart of the entire celebration, a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to raise their hearts to God in praise and thanks, and associates them with himself in the prayer, which he addresses to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the name of the whole community. The meaning of the prayer is that all the faithful now gathered together unite themselves with Christ in praising the wonderful works of God and in offering the sacrifice. (Article 54)
Nothing is said of the priest’s specific role of immolating Christ anew at the altar. Everything specific to this part of the Mass, which is its “climax and very heart”, seems to include and require the participation of the faithful.
In the new Penitential Rite, which begins the mass, the Confiteor has now become collective. Formerly the priest recited the Confiteor separately from the people. Now he does it together with them. Hence the priest is no longer judge, witness and intercessor before God. It is logical therefore that he no longer recites the prayer of absolution, which followed it and has now been suppressed. The priest is now "integrated" with his brothers.
Formerly, the priest's Communion was ritually distinct from the people's Communion. The Novus Ordo suppresses this important distinction. This was the moment when Christ the Eternal High Priest and the priest who acts in the person of Christ came together in closest union and completed the Sacrifice.
Not a word is said, moreover, about the priest's power as "sacrificer," his consecratory action or how as intermediary he brings about the Eucharistic presence. He now appears to be nothing more than a Protestant minister.
By abolishing or rendering optional many of the priestly vestments, in some cases only an alb and stole are now required, the new rite obliterates the priest's conformity to Christ even more. The priest is no longer clothed with Christ's virtues. He is now a mere "graduate" with one or two tokens that barely separate him from the crowd.
In this brief study on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the Catholic theology behind it, we have endeavoured to show how new rite of the Mass is manifestly in contradiction to many of the traditional teachings of the Church on the ceremonies of the Mass and the doctrine behind them. We have limited ourselves to an outline exposition. Many books more learned and more detailed exist in which, with greater clarity and precision, the dangers of the Novus Ordo Missae are pointed out and explained.
There can be no doubt that the now long use of the New Rite Mass has had a disastrous effect on the Catholic Church. Vocations to the priesthood have reduced dramatically, and Mass attendance has never been lower. The decline is ever continuing.
The enduring fruits of the Old, Tridentine Mass are equally manifest. They have lasted well nigh 2000 years, since we have seen that though the Tridentine Mass is the rite that was codified at the Council of Trent, it dates back in its essence to the apostolic times.
The aim of this booklet has been to draw attention to the fundamental difference between the New Mass and the Old Mass. If we concede that the Old Mass was the most perfect expression of Catholic dogma and worship, we cannot but conclude to the deficiency and danger of the New Mass. Indeed, a brief study of the text of the new rite and its guiding principles force us to recognise an uncanny resemblance to the Protestant form of worship.
We do not intend to discuss here the lawfulness of the Old Rite of the Mass, and the freedom to use it for all priests in aeternum. This would make the object of an entirely new study.
Finally, one will notice that we have commented on the Instructio Generalis of 1969. Following heavy criticism, a new General Instruction was published in 1970, in which, in particular, the infamous article 7 was reworded.
We have nevertheless followed to the first Instruction, for the simple reason that it was compiled to present and explain the New Rite of the Mass. Though the certain parts of the Instruction were reformulated, because of doctrinal error contained therein, the actual Rite of Mass was not reformulated, hence the errors contained in the New Rite, and their initial explanations as laid out in the General Instruction of 1969 remain.
Make for us this oblation approved, ratified, reasonable, acceptable, seeing that it is the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who the day before he suffered, took bread into his holy hands, looking up to heaven to thee, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, giving thanks to thee, he blessed, brake and gave it to his apostles and disciples, saying, take and eat ye all of this, for this is my body which was broken for many. In like manner after he had supped, the day before he suffered, he took the chalice, looking up to heaven to thee, holy Father, almighty, eternal God, giving thanks to thee, he blessed and gave it to his apostles and disciples saying, take and drink ye all of this, for this is my blood. As oft as ye shall do this, ye do them in commemoration of me until I come again.
Therefore calling to mind his most glorious passion and resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, we offer to thee this spotless offering, reasonable offering, unbloody offering, this holy cup and bread of eternal life:
And we ask and pray that thou wouldst receive this oblation at thine altar on high by the hands of thine angels, as thou didst vouchsafe to receive the offerings of thy righteous servant Abel, and the sacrifice of our patriarch Abraham, and that which thine high priest Melchisedech offered unto thee.
Mgr. Hughes has provided an excellent picture of the religious life of the British people on the eve of the Reformation and what he writes, with regard to the Mass, is applicable until the accession of the young King Edward VI in 1547. Henry VII had shown himself very conservative as regards changing the established forms of worship.
Each Sunday, Mgr. Hughes explains, all went to their parish church for Mass, “a Sacrifice really offered by the Priest, offered in the name of the Church and also offered by him as the human agent of the great real offerer, the Divine Priest, Jesus Christ Himself; a Sacrifice in which the Victim was Jesus Christ. The Mass was Christ once again offering Himself to the Father as a propitiation for the sins of the world, not in order to merit forgiveness for them, as at Calvary, on the Cross but in order to provide particular men with a means of making that forgiveness their own, in order that the merit won by the Cross should be applied. Sunday, from the earliest times, had been with Catholics what the Sabbath was - is - to the Jews; the day of the Lord, consecrated by the testimony of the whole community present at a ritual worship and by their abstinence from ordinarily toil. The neglect to assist at Mass on Sundays and on these special feast days was held a serious sin, as also was the neglect to observe the law forbidding ordinary work on these days.
“Around the church, there were placed statues of the Saints and painted on the walls, pictures that told the story of the great events narrated in the Scriptures or in the lives of the Saints. One very favourite subject was the Last Judgment, Christ at the last day of all, judging mankind. Very notable among the Saints were the special patron of the particular church or village, the Saints traditionally associated with that countryside, above all others, a Saint in a class apart, Mary, the Mother of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
“These churches generally, were the great pride of the village for their statues and pictures and silken hangings, for some specialty in a vestment or in the chalice and other sacred vessels.”
A number of means were employed to prepare the people for the replacement of this traditional Latin Mass by a vernacular Protestant Communion service.
In order to overthrow the Mass and with it all that remained of the Catholic Faith, the Reformers adopted a cautious approach. They realized that an open frontal attack could rebound on themselves. The way was first prepared with the help of the press. In 1547, a campaign against the Mass was initiated alleging, among other things, “such as honour the bread there for God do no less idolatry than they that made the sun their god or stars.”
Gardiner complained that “certain printers, players and preachers make a wonderment, as though we knew not yet how to be justified, nor what sacraments we should have.” The authorities expressed disapproval in public but their failure to take any active steps to suppress these books made it obvious where their sympathies lay. By the end of the year, the floodgates were opened and books began to appear filled with abuse of everything Catholic - and even dedicated to the King himself and the Lord Protector. The Blessed Sacrament is described as “a vile cake to be made God and Man” and the Mass as “the worshipping of God made of fine flour.” Many of these books were written by continental reformers, among them Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Melancthon, Bullinger, Urbanus Regius, Osiander, Hegendorp and Bodius. While these books shocked and outraged most of the ordinary faithful and parish clergy, they made a great impression on those who liked to consider themselves an educated and enlightened élite - almost invariably men of influence in some sphere or other.
Those wishing to defend the Mass found it very difficult to do so as the Reformers had total control of the means of communication. “Here and there, possibly a book might be published bearing the name of an author and printer which was distasteful to Cranmer and the Council but there can be no doubt that this would be done at the peril of those concerned. And as a fact, on examining the bibliography of these years, it is remarkable that hardly a single book or pamphlet written in support of the ancient doctrines appears to have been issued from the English press. Such treatises as those of Gardiner and Tunstall on the Sacrament had to be printed abroad and in secret.
“On the other hand, the country was flooded with works, either translations of the labours of foreign reformers, or original compositions, inveighing against Catholic observances and specially against the Mass. These bore the name of author or printer and were mostly of the booklet class, which could be sold for a few pence and were evidently designed for wide circulation among the people. In the circumstances, there can be no doubt whatever that this style of literature, which is so abundant, could not have had currency without the connivance or good will of the government and that it really represented beyond question their wishes and intentions. Nor merely was the circulation of such literature, which is chiefly of a profane and scurrilous character, not prohibited or even moderated by any of the numerous proclamations of the time but express license was given to printers of such works.”
Another effective means of propagating the revolutionary ideas was through sermons - preachers with a license from Cranmer could go from town to town, attacking beliefs which, in theory, he still held himself and was upholding. Under Henry, for example, while “men and women were dying for beliefs which the Archbishop privately shared, he subscribed to the ruling orthodoxy and imposed it upon others.” While the Reformer-dominated King’s Council issued proclamations forbidding irreverent attacks upon the Sacrament and listing punishments for those who did so, in practice it could be called a “round robin” or “Jack in the box” with impunity. One preacher with Cranmer’s license - Thomas Hancock - was arrested after saying, among other things, “that which the Priest holdeth over his head you do see and kneel before it, you honour it and make an idol of it and you yourselves are most horrible idolators.” He was completely discharged at the instigation of the Protector Somerset himself. Cranmer alone had the power of granting a license to preach and his attitude can best be seen by quoting from an instruction issued by the Privy Council to licensed preachers in June, 1548, forbidding them to bring “that into contempt and hatred which the prince doth either allow or is content to suffer,” but at the same time permitting “the lively teaching of the word of God by sermons made after such sort as for the time the Holy Ghost shall put into the preacher’s mind.”
In his famous sermon “of the plough” preached at St. Paul’s on 18th January, 1548, Latimer openly attacked Catholic practices before the whole court, declaring them and the Mass itself to be the work of the devil whose “office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition, to set up idolatry, to teach all kinds of popery . . . where the devil is resident and hath his plough going, there away with books, and up with candles; away with bibles, and up with beads, away with the light of the Gospel, and with the light of candles yea at noon-day . . . Where the devil is resident, that he may prevail, up with all superstition and idolatry; censing, painting of images, candles, palms, ashes, holy water and new services of men’s inventing . . . Let all things be done in Latin; there must be nothing but Latin . . .”
This policy of upholding the traditional faith in theory while allowing it to be undermined in practice extended to liturgical innovations. “. . . On the one hand the Council was issuing orders to restrain innovations in the liturgy and on the other was allowing it to be understood that such innovations were not displeasing to them . . .” Cranmer’s programme for overthrowing the established liturgy described at the beginning of this chapter was divided into four stages. It has already been explained in Chapter VIII why he deemed it imprudent to do too much too soon. Stage one was to have certain portions of the unchanged traditional Mass in the vernacular. Stage two was to introduce new material into the old Mass, none of which would be specifically heretical. Stage three was to replace the old Mass with an English Communion service, which, once more, was not specifically heretical. Stage four was to replace this service with a specifically Protestant one. As will be explained in Chapter XVI, the psychology of this process was very sound. Very few men have the courage to be martyrs and even those with strong convictions are liable to seek a compromise where one is possible. Such a compromise was possible with each of Cranmer’s first three stages - and once the process of compromising has been entered into, it tends to be self-perpetuating. A man who has been making continual concessions is liable to lack the will to make a stand and to feel that, “in any case it is too late now.” Prominent among the liturgical innovations which prepared the way for or accompanied the 1549 Prayer Book were the principles that the liturgy must be in the vernacular and audible throughout; Communion under both kinds; a new order of Communion to be used with the old Mass; the replacement of altars with tables.
Although a number of the Reformers began by using a modified traditional or newly composed Latin liturgy, it soon became a sine qua non of Protestantism (but for some Lutherans) that worship must be exclusively in the vernacular. Statements such as the following, taken from the writings of the Reformers and condemned by Trent, provide an accurate summary of the Protestant standpoint: “The rite of the Church of Rome by which the words of consecration are said secretly and in a low voice is to be condemned and the Mass ought to be celebrated only in the vernacular language which all understand.” The use of the vernacular even before the introduction of the new services was, in itself, “indeed a revolution.” It was also an effective instrument for revolutionary change as it accustomed the people to the idea of drastic change in their manner of worship. Where the ordinary Catholic was concerned, Cranmer’s revision of the Latin Mass in his new rite of 1549 did not appear as startling as the transition from Latin to English while still using the old rite. Even an Anglican author can see clearly that by introducing English into the traditional services “Cranmer clearly was preparing for the day when liturgical revision would become possible.”
As early as 11th April, 1547, Compline was being sung in English in the royal chapel. The opening of the first Parliament of Edward’s reign was made the occasion for a far more significant novelty as it touched the ritual of the Mass itself. The King rode from his palace of Westminster to the Church of St. Peter with all the lords spiritual and temporal for a Mass during which the Gloria, Credo, and Agnus Dei were all sung in English. Even the more conservative Bishops were now prepared to concede that while Latin should still be the general rule during Mass, especially “in the mysteries thereof, nevertheless certain prayers might be in the mother tongue for the instruction and stirring of the devotion of the people as shall be thought convenient.” By the 12th May, 1548, it was possible to have a totally English Mass at Westminster, including the consecration.
“It is difficult,” writes A. L. Rowse, “for anyone without a knowledge of anthropology to appreciate fully the astonishing audacity, the profound disturbance to the unconscious levels upon which society lives its life, of such an action as the substitution of an English liturgy for the age-long Latin rite of Western Christendom in which Englishmen had been swaddled time out of mind . . . nothing can detract from the revolutionary audacity of such an interference with the customary, the subconscious, the ritual element in life.”
As well as insisting upon the vernacular, the Reformers demanded that the whole service should be audible to the congregation. A rubric in the 1549 Prayer Book requires that the Priest “shall saye, or syng, plainly and distinctly, this prayer following,” namely the Canon.
The Council of Trent pronounced anathemas upon anyone holding the propositions either that “the rite of the Roman Church whereby a part of the Canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone is to be condemned; or that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only.” These anathemas do not, of course, preclude the possibility of these practices being permitted within the Roman rite.
One of Cranmer’s first important innovations was to impose the practice of communion under both kinds for the laity at the end of 1547. Many Catholics both in England and abroad, made the mistake of conceding this change without opposition for the sake of peace. “It was, after all, only a matter of ecclesiastical discipline, although some innovators, in urging the incompleteness of the Sacrament when administered under one kind only, gave a doctrinal turn to the question which issued in heresy. The great advantage secured to the innovators by the adoption of communion under both kinds in England was the opportunity it afforded them of effecting a break with the ancient missal.” Every such break with tradition lessened the impact of those to follow so that when changes that were not simply matters of discipline were introduced, the possibility of effective resistance was considerably lessened.
The printing of “The Order of Communion” - a booklet of only three or four leaves - was finished on 8th March, 1548. This was to be used in conjunction with the traditional Mass and must not be confused with the wholly new Communion service contained in the 1549 Prayer Book. The 1548 rite contained exhortations addressed to those about to receive the Sacrament which, according to Mgr. Hughes, contained “ambiguities designed to make the rite one which could be conscientiously used by those who did not believe that he (Christ) was there present except to the communicant in the moment of receiving Holy Communion and who believed that the presence, even at that moment, was not in what was received but only in ‘the heart’ of the receiver. The book also included a ritual for the administration of Communion under both kinds and these prayers, with a few modifications, were incorporated into the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. Mgr. Hughes’ assessment of the ambiguous nature of the new rite is shared by the Protestant historian S. T. Bindoff. “The new service contained little or nothing clearly inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. At the crucial points its phraseology was ambiguous and the statute embodying it explicitly renounced any intention of condemning rites used elsewhere.”
Just how pleasing this new rite was to discerning Protestants was made clear by no less a person than Miles Coverdale who translated it into Latin and sent a copy to Calvin declaring it to be “the first fruits of godliness (according as the Lord now wills his religion to revive in England)...”
n his proclamation giving effect to the new service, the King admonishes such radical Protestants as Coverdale “to stay and quiet themselves with this our direction - and not enterprise to run afore and so by their rashness to become the greatest hinderers” of change. But at the same time he speaks of a “most earnest intent further to travail for the reformation and setting forth of such godly orders.” The radicals did not need to “quiet themselves” long and the further “godly orders” were to be imposed in the following year.
This was another step directly in line with the liturgical policies of the continental Reformers, the final product of which is well summarized by a description of the Communion service at Strasbourg after 1530 when Bucer’s influence became dominant. “So, Mass, Priest and altar are replaced by Lord’s Supper, minister and Holy Table and the westward replace the eastward position of the celebrant.” (It is worth repeating that Bucer influenced Cranmer and hence his new liturgy, more than any other continental reformer.) On the same theme, Calvin explains that God “has given us a table at which to feast, not an altar on which to offer sacrifice, He has not consecrated Priests but ministers to distribute the sacred banquet.”
The wholesale destruction of altars in England did not take place until after the imposition of the 1549 Prayer Book but a start had been made in 1548 with the altars of the chantry chapels which Cranmer has suppressed. After 1549, the stone altars upon which the Sacrifice of the Mass had been offered were replaced with wooden tables placed in the chancel. On 27th November, 1548, John ab Ulmis wrote to Bullinger as follows: “At this time those privileged altars are entirely overthrown in a great part of England and by the common consent of the higher classes, altogether abolished. Why should I say more? Those idolatrous altars are now become hog-ties (Arae factae sunt harae), that is the habitation of swine and beasts.”
During vacancy in the See of Norwich when it came under Cranmer’s jurisdiction (1549-1550), “The most part of all altars” in this diocese were taken down. In a series of Lenten sermons preached before the King and Council, Hooper urged the complete abolition of altars and the substitution of tables because there were only three forms of sacrifice which Christian men could offer and these did not require an altar. They were sacrifices of thanksgiving; benevolence and liberality to the poor; and mortifying of our own bodies and to die unto sin . . . “If we study not daily to offer these sacrifices to God, we be no Christian men. Seeing Christian men have none other sacrifice than these, which may and ought to be done without altars, there should among Christians be no altars.” While altars remained, he insisted, “both the ignorant people and the ignorant and evil-persuaded Priest, will dream always of sacrifice.”
On 27th March, 1550, after the appointment of Ridley to the See of London, Hooper wrote to Bullinger: “He will, I hope, destroy the altars of Baal, as he did heretofore in his church when he was Bishop of Rochester. I can scarcely express to you, my very dear friend, under what difficulties and dangers we are labouring and struggling, that the idol of the Mass may be thrown out.” He was able to add, “Many altars have been destroyed in this city (London) since I arrived here.” Hooper’s expectations of Ridley proved to be well founded. Within three months he had issued injunctions calling for the removal of the altars from the Churches in his diocese. Altars were “too enduring monuments” to the age-old belief in the sacrifice of the Mass. Altar-smashing was already a well recognized mark of the Reformation on the Continent, where the practice had been the normal accompaniment of the abolition of the Mass.” On 24th November, 1550, the King’s Council ordered the universal implementation of this policy in England, “that all the altars throughout the kingdom should be destroyed. For the future, whenever the rite of the Holy Eucharist was celebrated, a wooden table was to be used, covered, during the rite, with a cloth of linen. This was intended “to avoid all matters of further contention and strife” and in a set of reasons accompanying the instruction (signed by Cranmer among others), it was explained that: “First, the form of a table shall move the simple from the superstitious opinions of the Popish Mass unto the right use of the Lord’s Supper. For the use of an altar is to make sacrifice upon it: the use of a table is to serve for men to eat upon. Now when we come again unto the Lord’s board, what do we come for? To sacrifice Christ again and to crucify Him again; or to feed upon Him that was once only crucified and offered up for us? If we come to feed upon Him, spiritually to eat His Body and spiritually to drink His Blood, which is the true use of the Lord’s supper; then no man can deny but the form of a table is more meet for the Lord’s board than the form of an altar.”
“Then throughout the land the consecrated altars of the Christian sacrifice were cast out and in the account books of country parishes such items as this appeared: ‘Payd to tylers for breckynge downe forten awters in the cherche’ . . .”
A descendant of Bishop Ridley writes in a biography of his reforming ancestor that the destruction of the altars which the ordinary people considered sacrilege shocked them into a full realization of the extent of the revolution which had taken place: “. . . The removal of altars brought home to every subject in the kingdom that the central object which had stood in the churches for over a thousand years and which they had watched with awe every Sunday since their early childhood, was condemned as idolatrous and thrown contemptuously away by the adherents of the new religion which had been forced upon them.”
The fact that the word altar is used in certain of the rubrics of the 1549 Prayer Book might appear to involve some inconsistency with the teaching of the Reformers. This point is dealt with in the explanation, which accompanied the order of the King’s Council demanding the destruction of altars. It explains that “it calleth the table where the holy Communion is distributed, with lauds and thanksgiving unto the Lord, an altar; for that there is offered the same sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” Nevertheless, the word ‘altar’ was struck out of the 1552 Prayer Book and was not subsequently replaced. Archbishop Laud ordered the communion tables to be placed altar-wise, against the east wall, in about 1636.
There were a good number of other innovations, some of which might appear of minor importance but nonetheless played their part in contributing to the general atmosphere of change, disturbance and unrest. The most important of these was the widespread destruction of statues. The Reformer abolished such well-loved ceremonies as the carrying of candles on Candlemas day, the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday and of palms on Palm Sunday. “In these years 1547 and 1548 consequently, the popular mind was being stirred up by changes in old established ceremonial, by novel introductions into the services, by intemperate preaching and by profane tracts scattered broadcast over the country, attacking with scurrilous abuse what the people had hitherto been taught to regard as the Most Holy.”
The seeds of revolution had been sown. All that remained was for the revolutionaries to reap their harvest.
Critique of the Novus Ordo Missae_ 1
The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani of 1969: Global Commentary. 2
The General Instruction and the Dogma of Transubstantiation_ 2
Definition of the Novus Ordo Missae 3
Propitiatory Sacrifice. 4
The Narrative of the Institution_ 4
The President of the Assembly_ 5
Jesus Christ, the Principal Priest 5
Equivalence of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. 6
The Memorial of the Resurrection and the Ascension_ 6
Analyse of the Text of the New Mass, with reference to the new Rubrics. 7
Part I: Prayers of the Tridentine Mass suppressed or altered. 7
The psalm Judica me 7
The Confiteor 7
The Aufer a nobis 8
The Oremus te 8
The Offertory Prayers 8
Roman Canon 8
The Libera Nos 8
The Haec commixtio et consecratio 9
Domine Jesu Christi, Fili Dei 9
Perceptio Corporis tui 9
The Communion Rite 9
Quod ore sumpsimus 10
Corpus tuum_ 10
Placeat tibi 10
Last Gospel 11
Part II: The Offertory of the New Mass and its non-conformity to Catholic teaching on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 12
Part III: The Roman Canon of the Mass, the three new Eucharistic Prayers and the general diminution of any proper recognition and respect of the Real Presence. 16
The New Term and understanding of “Eucharistic Prayer” formally known as The Canon. 16
Implicit denial of the Real Presence. 17
The Role of the Main Altar 18
The Formulas of Consecration 18
The Text Employed. 18
Typography and Punctuation. 18
The Anamnesis. 19
The Meaning of the Words of Consecration. 19
New Acclamations of Christ’s Second Coming. 19
First Consequence of the new Eucharistic Prayers: A new understanding of the Role of the Priest and the Faithful. 20
Second Consequence of the new Eucharistic Prayers: Destruction of the Church’s Unity: a confusion as to the value and fruits of the Mass and on the definition of the Church. 21
Confusion as to the value and fruits of the Mass 21
Confusion concerning the definition of the Church 22
Part IV: The New Communion Rite. 23
The Role of the Priesthood in the Novus Ordo Missae. 24
The Traditional Understanding of the Role of the Priesthood and the Participation of the Faithful at holy Mass. 24
A New Understanding of the Role of the Priest and the participation of the Faithful in the New Rite of Mass. 25
The Role of the Faithful 25
The Role of the Priest in the New Rite 27
Conclusion to this Study on the Mass 29
DE SACRAMENTIS OF ST. AMBROSE (Rome and Milan, A.D. 370) 30
Is the New Mass really Protestant in its origin? 31
Preparatory Measures 31
The Press 31
The Pulpit 32
Liturgical innovations 33
The vernacular and audibility 33
Communion under both kinds 34
The New Order of Communion 34
Altars replaced by tables 35