What are Catholics to think of the New Mass?
The Catholic Church has always first and foremost spoken of the Mass as a "sacrifice." In fact, it is infallible teaching that Christ left a visible Sacrifice to His Church "in which that bloody sacrifice which was once offered on the Cross should be made present." (Council of Trent)
This doctrine is wonderfully and precisely expressed in the traditional Latin Mass. And down through the centuries the Church closely guarded the text of the Mass to make sure that nothing would find its way into the Missal which compromised this doctrine. She knew that the way you pray shows what you believe. Pope Pius XII expressed this principle in hid Encyclical on the Liturgy:
"The worship she [the Church] offers to God, All Good and Great, is a continuous profession of the Catholic FaithÖ. In the Sacred Liturgy, we profess the Catholic Faith explicitly and openly."
The Protestants also knew that the Mass clearly expressed the Churchís doctrine. When they wanted to spread their new and false doctrines, they changed the liturgy. In the 16th century, Luther made Catholics into Protestants by getting Catholics to worship like Protestants. In Roland Baintonís book on Luther entitled "Here I Stand," we read:
"Next came the reform of the Liturgy, which touched the common man more intimately because it altered his daily devotions. He was being invited to drink the wine [sic] at the Sacrament, to take the elements into his own hands, to commune without previous confession, to hear the words of institution [consecration] in his own tongue, and to participate extensively in sacred song."
"Luther laid the theoretical groundwork for the most significant changes. His principle was that the Mass is not a sacrificeÖ" (p. 156, Mentor ed.)
Since the early 1960s, Catholics began to notice more and more changes being made in the Mass. Those changes resemble, to a remarkable degree, the changes made by Martin Luther in the 16th century. His motive was to destroy the belief that the Mass is a sacrifice. Is it any wonder, then, that many Catholics - priests and lay people - have lost their faith? Since worship and belief go hand in hand, it is important to find out what the beliefs were which brought about all these changes in worship. To do this we have to speak about the Second Vatican Council.
The Second Vatican Council (October 11, 1962 to December 8, 1965) was called by Pope John XXIII. He said he wanted to "open the windows" of the Church to the modern world. He said he hoped to "update" the Church, make it more relevant to the times, and thus draw more people to the Church. He called the Catholic bishops together so that they could discuss sweeping changes in Catholic worship and discipline. After the death of John XXIII, the work of this Council continued under Paul VI and resulted in many radical changes. Catholics soon found themselves faced with "reforms" in every phase of their religious life.
Millions of words have been written about these "reforms". Catholics were told time and time again, "the essentials of the faith have not been changed" and that Vatican II brought about a true "renewal" in the Church.
However, Our Lord said that we can know a tree by its fruit - that a good tree brings forth good fruits and a bad tree brings forth bad fruits. What then have been the fruits of Vatican II? Priests and sisters abandoned their sacred calling by the tens of thousands, once-full seminaries and convents now stand empty or closed, attendance at Mass has dropped dramatically, theologians have called into question or denied nearly every doctrine of the Catholic Faith, and the Churchís teachings on morality are openly denied or carefully ignored by clergy and laity alike.
Can these fruits be called good fruits? Most Catholics would say no. And, since the fruits are bad, this leads many people to conclude that the tree that produced such fruits, in this case Vatican II, is bad as well.
The reason the "renewal" of Vatican II produced such disastrous effects is that its spirit was founded on the wrong principles, particularly that of ecumenism. When you get right down to it, ecumenism has come to mean "union at any price". It meant that the hierarchy was ready to compromise and water down the Churchís doctrine and worship in order to achieve unity with non-Catholics and to attract the world to her. It was ecumenism that led to the creation of the "New Mass."
The Catholic Church, as we said earlier, always taught that the Mass is, first and foremost, a sacrifice, one which is offered to God to make satisfaction for sin. This teaching, however, has always been rejected by Protestants. Luther, and countless heretics before and after him, taught that it is blasphemous to say that the Mass is a sacrifice offered up for the living and the dead, or that the bread and wine are really and substantially changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. They also taught that the Mass is a simple meal where Christians gather together to commemorate what Christ did at the Last Supper.
Because of this Protestant teaching, those who promoted ecumenism and unity with non-Catholics at any price set about to purge the Mass of any specific references to the Mass as a sacrifice offered up for the living and the dead, and to blur other Catholic doctrines which Protestants found offensive. A Vatican commission was formed to change the Mass, and among the participants were six Protestants: Dr. George, Canon Jaspar, Dr. Shepherd, Dr. Konneth, Rev. Eugene Brand and Max Thurian. They represented the World Council of Churches, the Anglicans, the Presbyterian Community of Taize, and other Protestant bodies. On June 27, 1967, Bishop (later Cardinal) William Baum told The Detroit News that "they [were] not simply there as observers, but as consultants as well, and they participated fully in the discussions on Catholic liturgical renewal. It wouldnít mean much if they just listened, but they contributed." The result of the work of this Vatican commission was the introduction of the New Mass in 1969.
In the document which originally introduced the official text of the New Mass, its authors presented a definition of the Mass which clearly shows that the New Mass is founded on Protestant and ecumenical principles. They call the Mass "the Lordís Supper" - a term favored by Protestants - and define it as "The sacred assembly, or gathering together of the people of God, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord."
A member of the Vatican commission, Father Luca Brandolini, said of this passage: "It defines it [the New Mass] exactly, beginning with the assembly."
Martin Luther could have accepted this new definition of the Mass. There is no reference to the Mass as a sacrifice offered unto the remission of sins for the living and the dead, but only to a "memorial of the Lord," nor is there any mention of the Real Presence in this definition. The priest is only called someone who "presides" over an assembly of people, in the same way that a Protestant minister "presides" over a communion service.
The prayers and ceremonies of the New Mass were brought into line with these ideas. Old prayers and ceremonies were deleted or changed, and new ones were added which represent the Mass as just a "community meal" shared among the faithful. This, of course, led to the introduction of Communion in the hand, another Protestant practice.
The Protestant nature of this new definition of the Mass was so obvious to many that it was later deleted and replaced with another definition. But the rites and prayers which were based on that definition were used and continue to be used to this day in churches throughout the world. They clearly reflect the ecumenical and Protestant nature of the New Mass.
To see how these Protestant principles in the New Mass differ from the Catholic principles of the traditional Latin Mass, it is useful to contrast how they are celebrated.
In a typical modern parish on a Sunday, the man in the pew notices a number of things: The entire service is conducted in English; the priest sits or stands facing the people, and often makes spontaneous remarks to them during the course of the service; sometimes a number of lay people are in the sanctuary, adding their comments and doing readings; part of the service takes place on a table with the priest facing the people; the tabernacle is almost never on the table, but at the priestís back, or off in a corner; there are handshakes and smiles all around at the "Sign of Peace"; the priest usually distributes Communion in the hand many times, assisted by lay men and women; the priest makes few genuflections (if any); and the prayers hardly mention the idea of the Mass as a sacrifice. The emphasis is often on vague ideas such as "brotherhood" and "sharing," etc.
Such is the typical celebration of the New Mass. Remember, though, that no two celebrations are ever necessarily exactly alike. They vary from priest to priest and from parish to parish. In many places some very surprising things have been incorporated into the New Mass: There are "Clown Masses," "Puppet Masses," "Balloon Masses," Masses which feature movies, slide shows, skits, and popular music of every sort.
When a Catholic who has assisted at the New Mass for a while begins to assist at the traditional Mass, he finds the differences striking: The Mass is celebrated in Latin, the ancient and venerable language of the Catholic Church; the priest faces Our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle on the altar; he makes no spontaneous comments on his own, but recites exactly the same prayers which have been used by priests for centuries; only the priest is permitted to touch the Sacred Host with his consecrated hands; the people kneel for Holy Communion before their Lord and Savior, and receive Him on the tongue alone; there is no handshaking and socializing before the Blessed Sacrament, but rather the people follow the Mass silently and reverently with their Sunday or Daily Missals which translate the words of the priest; the gestures of the priest are reverent and restrained, and include numerous genuflections out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament; the texts of the Mass speak of the Real Presence of Christ on the altar and of the awesome sacrifice that is offered for the living and the dead.
The traditional Latin Mass is offered the same manner everywhere. It does not vary from priest to priest and from church to church. This is so because the Catholic faith is the same everywhere, and that true unity of faith must be reflected in a true unity of worship as well. It should be clear from this description that the traditional Mass is absolutely faithful to Catholic teaching and the New Mass is not.
But, you might say, give me some more specifics - where and how does the New Mass "give in" to Protestantism or "distort" Catholic doctrine?
When you place the prayers and ceremonies of the traditional Latin Mass side by side with those of the New Mass, it is easy to see how much of the Churchís traditional doctrine has been "edited out" - and the "editing" always seems to have been done on those parts of the Mass expressing some Catholic doctrine which Protestants find "offensive." Here are some examples:
1. Common Penitential Rite: The traditional Mass begins with the priest reciting personal prayers of reparation to God called "The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar." The New Mass begins instead with a "Penitential Rite" which the priest and people recite together. Who were the first to introduce a common penitential rite? The 16th-century Protestants, who wanted to promote their teaching that the priest is no different from the layman.
2. The Offertory: The Offertory prayers of the traditional Mass clearly express a number of Catholic teachings: That the Mass is offered to God to satisfy sin, that the saints are to be honored, and so on. The Protestants rejected these teachings and abolished the Offertory prayers. "That abomination called the Offertory," said Luther, "and from this point almost everything stinks of oblation!" In the New Mass, the Offertory is gone - it has been replaced with a ceremony called "The Preparation of the Gifts." The prayers "offensive" to Protestants have also been removed. In their place is the prayer "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation," based on a Jewish grace before meals.
3. The "Eucharistic Prayer": The traditional Mass has only one "Eucharistic Prayer," the ancient Roman Canon. The Canon was always a favorite target of Lutheran and other Protestant diatribes. Instead of just one Canon, the New Mass now has a number of "Eucharistic Prayers," only one of which we will mention here. Eucharistic Prayer No. 1 is an "edited" version of the Roman Canon. The lists of Catholic saints, so despised by Protestants, are now optional, hence rarely used. The translators did some further "editing": among other things, the idea that Christ the Victim is offered at Mass (a notion Luther condemned) has disappeared. All the Eucharistic Prayers now incorporate some typical Protestant practice: They are recited in a loud voice instead of silently, and they have an "Institution Narrative" instead of a Consecration. (According to Protestant beliefs, their ministers do not consecrate the Eucharist like Catholic priests do; they just narrate the story of the Last Supper.) The various signs of respect toward Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament (genuflections, signs of the cross, bells, incense, etc.) have been reduced, made optional, or eliminated.
4. Communion in the Hand: The 16th-century Protestant Martin Bucer condemned the Churchís practice of placing the Host on the tongue of the communicant as something introduced out of "a double superstition; first, the false honor they wish to show to this sacrament, and secondly, the wicked arrogance of priests claiming greater holiness than that of the people of Christ, by virtue of the oil of consecration." The practice in Protestant churches of "communion in the hand," thus, is based upon their rejection of Christís Real Presence and the priesthood. At the New Mass, just as at a Protestant service, there is Communion in the hand. But the men who created the New Mass went the Protestants one better: A layman may not only receive Communion in the hand - he is actually permitted to distribute it as well, even on a momentís notice.
5. Veneration of the Saints: The prayers of the traditional Mass frequently invoke the saints by name and beg their intercession. The Churchís veneration of the saints in her worship was another practice which Protestants dismissed as "superstition." The New Order of the Mass dropped most invocations of the saints by name, or made them optional. In the new Missal, moreover, the weekday prayers for saintsí feastdays (most of which are also optional) have been rewritten for the benefit of Protestants - allusions to miracles, the defense of the Catholic Faith, or to the Catholic Church as the one, true Church have disappeared.
6. The Faithful Departed: As a Catholic, you know that when someone dies, you pray for the repose of his soul. This Catholic belief is reflected in the Prayers for the Dead in the traditional Mass - "Be merciful, O Lord, to the soul of Ö" etc. Again, the Protestants rejected the teaching that we can pray for the soul of someone who has died. Now, the New Mass provides 114 prayers for the Dead. In all of the prayers but two the word "soul" has been removed. An oversight? Father Henry Ashworth, who helped compose the New Mass, stated in 1970 that the omissions were intentional.
7. False Translations: Then there is the matter of the false official English translations of the New Mass. A whole book could be written on the errors and distortions they contain. Here we will mention briefly only the official translations of the prayers for the 34 "Sundays in Ordinary Time." The following are some of the ideas which the English translation suppresses: Godís wrath, our unworthiness, error, sins which "burden our consciences," Godís majesty, obedience to His commandments, supplication, humility, eternity, heaven - the list could go on and on. Perhaps the most serious omission is the word "grace." It appears 11 times in the Latin original. Not once does it appear in the official English "translation." Grace has disappeared without a trace!
Clearly, then, the prayers and ceremonies of the New Mass represent a change of doctrine. The new worship is Protestant, ecumenical - hence, a danger to the Catholic Faith and to the salvation of souls.
What has been said above ought to make it clear why Catholics should not assist at the New Mass. However, there is more to the issue than just what a Catholic "should" do; there is also the question of obligation, under pain of sin, not to assist at a service which is Protestant and ecumenical.
Now, at first, this might sound surprising and even radical. But when you apply Catholic principles to the concrete case of the New Mass, this is the practical conclusion which follows.
But perhaps you are yet not convinced. If not, consider then three more reasons why it is sinful to assist at the New Mass.
1. The New Mass is False Worship: Father Heribert Jone, an eminent Catholic moral theologian, in his famous Handbook of Moral Theology, discussed the sin of "False Worship," which is one of the offenses against the First Commandment. He said that "God is worshipped in a false manner if one mingles religious errors and deception with the worship of the true God" (Newman Press: Westminster MD, 1961, p. 97)
Is this a description of the New Mass? We have already shown that the rites and prayers of the New Mass are based on a Protestant and ecumenical understanding of the Eucharist. We have also shown how the erroneous official translations distort Catholic doctrine. So in this respect the element of religious error is present. As well, those who created the New Mass insisted there was nothing wrong with it, in spite of its Protestant nature. In so doing, the element of deception was added; an essentially Protestant service was presented as something Catholic.
2. The Validity of the New Mass is at least Doubtful: Every sacrament has a form, that is, certain essential words which must be pronounced to make the sacrament "happen." For the Eucharist, the form is: "This is My Body" and "This is the chalice of My Blood of the New and Eternal Testament, the Mystery of Faith, which will be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins."
In the New Mass, however, the form for the consecration of the Precious Blood is different: The phrase "the Mystery of Faith" is omitted, and "for you and for many" was changed to "for you and for ALL." When this point is brought up, a common answer is that Christ died for all men. Therefore, it should be "all." Well, Christ died for all men, but all men are not saved. And when Our Lord instituted the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, He said "many" not "all" because He was speaking not about His desire to save all men, but rather of the fruits of His Passion - that is, the "elect," those who would be saved.
How do we know this? We know it because this is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. You can find this teaching in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Here is what it says about why Our Lord did not use "for all".
"With reason, therefore, were the words Ďfor allí not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion were alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation." (p. 227)
The New Massís use of "for all" is then a new meaning; it contradicts the Catholic teaching that the Mass is for the "many," or the "elect." The consecration form in the New Mass implies that all men are the elect, that all men are going to be saved, that all will go to heaven. You can see how this fits in with ecumenism. (The use of "for all," by the way, was first suggested in our day by Joachim Jeremias - a German Protestant.)
"Many," obviously, is not the same as "all" - they mean two different things. Whatís more, Our Lord didnít say "all" - He said "many." Thus, the meaning of the form of Consecration in the New Mass is different from the meaning of the form Our Lord Himself gave us. And when the meaning of a sacramental form is changed, the sacrament becomes invalid. If the Consecration is invalid, then Christís sacrifice is not renewed. There is no Mass.
But let us say for the sake of argument you are not absolutely convinced. Perhaps, you think, "many" means "all" and "all" means "many," or that only the words "this is My Blood" are necessary. Are there not theologians who say that those words alone are essential? If they are right, then maybe the meaning of "all" and "many" doesnít matter for the validity of the Consecration.
The first answer is that St. Thomas Aquinas says the words which follow "This is My Blood" "are of the substance of the form." (Summa Theologica, III, q. 78, art. 3) But just for the sake of argument, let us admit that there are two opinions on just which words are essential to the form. This being the case, we are left with a dispute and hence a doubt. Thus at the very least, all honest men must admit that the words for the consecration of the wine in the New Mass in English are "doubtful" - that is, there is a doubt as to whether or not the sacrament is valid or "happens." In the case of the New Mass, then, the changes in the form give a reason to doubt whether Our Lord is really present there under the appearances of bread and wine.
Father Jone tells us: "Matter and form must be certainly valid. Hence, one may not follow a probable opinion and use either doubtful matter or form. Acting otherwise, one commits a sacrilege" (ibid., p. 308). Because of this change in the sacramental form, then, one can consider the New Mass in English to be objectively a sacrilege.
3. The New Mass is Irreverent: Moreover, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that "Öwhatever pertains to irreverence for sacred things is an injury to God, and comes under the head of sacrilege" (Summa, II-II, q. 99, art. 1). There are, of course, other practices in the New Mass which show "irreverence for sacred things" (such as the practice of "communion in the hand" and lay distributors), but space here does not permit a full treatment.
So, it would seem clear that Catholics are obliged to stay away from the New Mass in English, not only because its nature is Protestant and ecumenical, but also because (1) it is false worship, (2) its validity is doubtful and (3) it is irreverent and sacrilegious.
It is for these, and many other reasons, that Catholics who "stand fast and hold the traditions" do not assist at the New Mass, but assist at the traditional Latin Mass exclusively. They want to be sure that their public worship is not offensive to God and that they are receiving real Catholic sacraments - and not doubtful or invalid ones. In fact, they will not go to church on a Sunday at all if the traditional Mass is not available, but will stay home, read their missals and unite themselves to the true Masses being said throughout the world.
This is a problem which troubles many Catholics who have just begun to assist at the traditional Latin Mass. Their parish priests or diocesan bishop will say that "they are not fulfilling their Sunday obligation." The solution to the problem is really quite simple.
The Third Commandment which obliges us to keep the Lordís Day holy is a divine law, that is, it comes from God Himself. The law which binds Catholics to assist at Mass every Sunday in a particular type of building is a Church law. Now, while it is true that the purpose of the Church law is the same as the purpose of the Third Commandment, nevertheless, it is still a Church law and subject to Godís law. Thus, the Church could not force her children to participate in the Mass of an heretical or schismatic priest. If that were the only Mass available, a Catholic would sin gravely by assisting at it. Hence, we are excused from the Churchís law in certain cases if there is a serious reason.
As Catholics, our first obligation and the highest law is the glory of God and the salvation of our souls - all other purely ecclesiastical laws are subordinate to this. The means through which we save our souls are the Catholic Faith and the Catholic sacraments. Since the New Mass celebrated in parish churches is both irreverent worship and a positive danger to the salvation of a personís soul, a Catholic is automatically released from his obligation to assist at it, even if he is directly ordered to do so - for no one has the authority to command you to do something which is sinful. Therefore, since it is a sin to assist at the New Mass, it is impossible to fulfill oneís Sunday obligation by going to it. Otherwise one would be in the impossible position of rendering homage to God by committing a sin.
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