Co-Incidence Or Destruction?

Cranmer's Protestant Reformation

In 1547, the Epistle and Gospel were read at Mass in English, as the first stage of the reform. In 1549, the entire Mass was translated into English in a new "Prayer Book" which was now defined as " The Mass or Lord's Supper." In 1551, a new ceremonial of religion was imposed. This included replacing the altar with a table. The altars were torn down, and movable tables substituted.

The switch between the priest facing east and now "facing the people" is another reform. They switched the orientation of the priest to reflect their new 'Mass', or Communion Service: The only sacrifice in their worship was a sacrifice of praise and self-giving by the "people of God". The priest switched from offering a divine Victim to God the Father, to a presider representing the people.

In speaking on this point long before the New Mass came into effect Rev. Fr.  R. C. Laing stated that:

“There were three stages of change before the Canon of the Roman Missal completely disappeared, and the Book of Common Prayer with it’s Order of the Adminisation of the Lords’s Supper or Holy Communion took its place. These were:  

  1. The communion Book,
  2. The prayer Book of 1549
  3. The prayer Book of 1552.

Before speaking of these changes in detail, it is necessary to observe that, though in England at the death of Henry VIII, there were three rites for the Holy Sacrifice, or “use” as they were called, those of Sarum, Yor,, and Hereford, the Canon of the Mass was in all of them identical with the Roman except in a few points, the variants being of the most trifling character. Father Gasquet gives an interesting list of these, from which it may be seen that they consist now of a slight change in the order of the words, now of the omission or addition of the conjunctions, et, ac, or que, or the substitution for them of the preposition cum, and in three cases of the addition of a word or two, viz., “pro Rege Nostro N. “ at the beginning of the Canon, and the italicized words in the following: Et omnium circumstantiusm atque ominium fidelium Christianorum” (York), and “Memento etaim Domine animarum famulorum” (Sarum). Such was the care taken to preserve the Canon in the original form sanctioned by a venerable antiquity, and going back, as there are good reasons for believing, even to Apostolic times. It was upon this sacred rite that Cranmer dared to lay his sacrilegious hands.” – Rev. Fr. R. C. Laing (1898) ; Historical Papers, Volume III, The book of common Prayers and the Mass. (Pg. 96)  London: Catholic Truth Society,  69  Southwark Bridge Road, S.E,

Unfortunately the Novus Ordo (New Mass) has adopted most of Cranmer's innovations.

First, there were little introductions of the vernacular into the Mass. Then, the entire Mass was in the vernacular. Finally, the whole Mass was 're-written' in consultation with 6 Protestants. This process, after Vat-II took six years, Cranmer's reformation took five years.

Why does the Mass keep changing?

Cardinal Heenan states : “Why does the Mass keep changing? Here is the answer. It would have been foolhardy to introduce all the changes at once. It was obviously wiser to change gradually and gently. If all the changes had been introduced together you would have been shocked.”  - Pastoral Letter of Octorber 12, 1969

This is the same technique used by the Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury to introduce the Protestant “prayer service” in place of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Hilaire Belloc comments: “It is the year in which the main issue was joined and the decisive act was done, the suppression of the Mass. . . to get rid of the Mass was the soul of the whole affair. Archbishop Cranmer would get rid of the Mass, because he hated it, especially its central doctrine . . . the Real presence of God upon the altar . . . But it would be impossible to effect so complete a revolution at one blow .. . it had to be done in two stages. The first new service in the place of the Mass must be of a kind that men might mistake for something like the continuance of the Mass in another form. When that pretense had done its work and the measure of popular resistance taken, they could proceed to the second step and produce a final Service Book in which no trace of the old sanctities should remain. The third necessary requisite .. . was the fixing of a Creed and with this  . . . new code of Church laws for repressing rebellion in the matter of doctrine and liturgy.” – Hilaire Belloc, Cranmer, Chapter XIII.

And so you can now see why it would have been foolhardy to introduce all the changes at once. It was obviously wiser to change gradually and gently. If all the changes had been introduced together the laity would have been shocked. St Alphonsus explains that "The devil has always attempted, by means of the heretics, to deprive the world of the Mass, making them precursors of the Anti-Christ, who, before anything else, will try to abolish and will actually abolish the Holy Sacrament of the altar, as a punishment for the sins of men, according to the prediction of Daniel "And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice" Daniel 8:12 . (Verita della Fede, Pt. iii, Ch. viii.9-10)

The Mass before the innovation of the Vatican II

The Canon, with the exception of one short clause inserted by St. Gregory the Great, has remained unchanged to the present day. This alone is a sufficient testimony to the veneration in which this prayer was regarded. It is a sacred heritage, coming to the Catholic church from Jesus Himself, and it is substantially the same in every Western Liturgy.... This fact, that it [the Canon] has so remained unaltered during thirteen centuries, is the most eloquent witness of the veneration with which it has always been regarded and of the scruple which has ever been felt at touching so sacred a heritage, coming to us from unknown antiquity" (Cardinal Gasquet).

Pope Paul VI went even farther in 1967 with the sacrilege of adding three new "canons" and daring even to change the very words of Consecration themselves, handed down to us from the Apostles. If only the Romans of our time had expressed their outrage at Paul VI as vigorously they had at Pope Gregory!

Those who still have some residual attachment to the Novus Ordo might be instructed by this vignette from an earlier point in the Church's history.

A bit of History again ?

The 1549 Anglican Prayer Book removed from the Mass the psalm Give Judgment for me, O God, because of its reference to the altar of God. This psalm was also suppressed in the New Mass.

The 1549 Anglican Prayer Book removed from the Mass the prayer which begins Take away from us our sins, because it evokes sacrifice. This was also suppressed in the New Mass.

The prayer which begins We beseech Thee, O Lord, refers to relics in the altar stone. This prayer has been suppressed in the New Mass.

In the 1549 Anglican Prayer Book the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, Epistle, Gospel and Creed were all retained. They have all been retained in the New Mass.

The equivalent to the Offertory Prayers: Accept, O holy Father…O God, Who has established the nature of man…We offer unto Thee, O Lord…In a humble spirit…Come, Thou Sanctifier, almighty… and Accept, most holy Trinity, were all suppressed in the 1549 Anglican Prayer Book. They have all been suppressed in the New Mass, except for two excerpts.

In the 1549 Anglican Prayer Book, the Lift up your hearts dialogue, Preface and Sanctus were all retained. They have been retained in the New Mass.

The 1549 Anglican Prayer Book abandoned the discipline of the Roman Rite in distributing Communion under one kind and gave Communion under both kinds. At the New Mass Communion under both kinds is distributed in many places in the world.

The 1552 version of the Anglican Prayer Book instructed that Communion was to be given in the hand to signify that the bread was ordinary bread and that the priest did not differ in essence from a layman (See: Michael Davies, Cranmer’s Godly Order, p. 210). In the New Mass this is common practice today. 

The Catholic historical response:

When England began to go Protestant, many Englishmen who would have liked to remain Catholic were confused. Indeed some were so muddled that they asked the fathers at the Council of Trent in 1562 whether they could attend the Anglican common prayer and sermons.

The answer was an unequivocal: "No!"

This decision was reaffirmed in 1566, yet some Catholics still tried to serve two masters, the old and the new religion. The desire of social status, fear, and ignorance led many to abandon the Faith while retaining the name of "Catholic."

It seems that history may be repeating itself four hundred years later.

It is interesting to note that the new Anglican liturgy in the 1560s was far closer to the Traditional Latin Mass than is the Novus Ordo liturgy of 1969!