New Nature of the Liturgy
Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt
Not long ago I had a discussion with an apologist for the changes in the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. He told me that what was done by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) was a normal progression of human spirituality, that the ones who promoted the “reform” were good and holy men, and that they had nothing but the best interests of the Roman Catholic Church at heart. I could not agree. As I prepared to offer him proof of my concerns, he cut me off by saying that I was “judging” those who brought about the “reform” — judging them uncharitably and without cause. “Do you know them?,” he asked.
Interruptions and an appeal to “charity” are the usual tactics of the defenders of the Novus Ordo Missae, so I proceeded to take a book off the shelf in my office and asked him to review with me the writings of the chief architects of the new liturgy in their own words. I knew I could not make a subjective judgment about their state of holiness or goodness, nor about the concept that maybe they really believed that what they were doing was good for the Church. Since I didn’t know any of these men personally, a subjective argument such as the path my guest was attempting to take me down would lead our discussion awry. An objective study of the real issues, through the writings of these men, was, and always is, our best plan of attack. Interestingly enough, at the end of the review of the material I had, my guest had to admit he did not know of these writings before and that reading them put the spirit under which these neo-reformers labored in a new light. He promised to look into it further. That was all I could ask.
A basic part of the discussion that we had that afternoon is what I will share with you below. I will quote from the writings of several self-styled “leading liturgists” at the time of Vatican II as found in the two volume book, The Liturgy of Vatican II, (LVII) edited by William Baruna, O.F.M. and published by Franciscan Herald Press in 1966. Remember that this book was published at a time when the neo-reformers were emotioinally drunk with the new power they had to change, not only the liturgy, but the very spirit of the Church herself. Having a carte blanche approval after the Council to make a new liturgy, they couldn’t wait to put into practice the innovations that had been whispered for decades behind closed doors in seminaries and monasteries throughout Europe and in parts of America.They are rather bold in their opinions — opinions which became the exact pattern of the new teachings of the conciliar religion. What is of more concern is the spirit of contempt that permeates these writings: contempt for Tradition, for Rome and for the discipline imposed by the Church on liturgical worship. Verbalized often is the utter contempt for the prayers of the Roman (Tridentine Latin) Mass itself and how “that Mass” keeps Catholics separate from the Protestants and the schismatics. One cannot believe, after reading the anti-traditional, vehement writings of these liturgists, that their plan bore any resemblance to the legitimate Liturgical Movement given papal approval long before the Council.
The Nature Of The Liturgy
Before proceeding to review the evil spirit which possessed the liturgical reformers, let’s firmly grasp the beauty and holiness of the Catholic Church in her liturgical acts, most specifically the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Elsewhere in this issue we reprint an older text which lists numerous graces and benefits to be gained by one’s attendance at Holy Mass. To this I will add one more thought: Holy Mass, as defined by the Church, is a sacrifice. What this means, as Fr. Tanquery remarks, is that “Sacrifice is prayer in action . . . Whoever enters into this stream of liturgical prayer with the required dispositions is sure to obtain for himself and others the most abundant graces.” (The Spiritual Life, p. 140) Thus, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an important means of sanctification because it glorifies God in a perfect manner by offering to Him prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, petition and reparation for sin. Fr. Tanquery also remarks: “Let no one say that this (Holy Mass) has nothing to do with our sanctification. The truth is, that when we glorify God, He is moved with love toward us, and the more we attend to His glory, the more He attends to our spiritual concerns.” (S.L., p. 139)
Besides being a sacrifice and a means of our sanctification, Holy Mass is also an expression of our Faith. Here we enter into an important consideration, having often heard the quote from St. Augustine, “The law of praying is the law of believing”. Pope Pius XI says the same when he declared in his apostolic constitution Divini Cultus that by the Liturgy “we proclaim our Faith”. The same Pontiff taught in the Bull Inter multiplices: “The missals have always been considered of great importance as monuments of Christian piety and of remote antiquity, in which the Church affirms its living faith”. Pope Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei how the norm of liturgical discipline must conform to the consistent teaching of the Church: “The integrity of faith and morals should be the characteristic norm of this sacred discipline, which must conform absolutely to the most wise teachings of the Church.”
This sets the stage for the thrust of this article. Holy Mass is just what we have seen — it is holy in itself, and it gives a living expression of our apostolic Faith. Because of this, novelty and experimentation, as well as the notion that the liturgy should adapt to “local cultural expressions” are errors. Holy Mass is a universal means of sanctification, while expressing the Faith of the entire Catholic world. Novelty and experimentation do not lead to holiness, and cultural expressions of a certain locality have no place in the universal worship of the Church. The doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ speaks against this.
A New Spirit Which Emphasizes False Teaching
“A grandiose work, which nobody would have dared imagine a few years ago, has been happily completed. A springtime, which began to bud a half century ago, and which has come to full bloom everywhere, has found its fulfillment in a rich harvest. A great gift of God has been placed in our hands. It is a gift of God, but at the same time it is also a work shaped and created by human hands, an undertaking which has emerged from the hands of man . . .” (Josef A. Jungmann, S.J., LVII, Vol. I, p. 66).
I could find no better quote than this to begin our study. Jungmann is the darling of many today, not just among the novus ordo crowd, but also among the “conservative” novus ordinarians. His review of the Mass is the primary source of education in some “traditional” seminaries and adult courses on the Faith. Jungmann is the most subtle, yet most forceful of the promoters of the new spirit of the liturgy, for he is careful to frame his joy at the innovations as being “a gift from God” while repeating that it is also the work of “the hands of man”. Jungmann often chants the mantras of the innovators: the liturgy is changeable, there is a universal priesthood of the believers which calls for active participation, and we must renounce the idea “of a liturgy that is strictly uniform for all countries”. Jungmann’s works have lulled Catholics to sleep these past few decades and should have no place among the studies of traditional Catholics.
While Jungmann may be more subtle in his push for change, others are not. In fact, there is a spirit of anger which pervades the writings of the modern liturgists. They are angry with the Roman Catholic Church for not bending in her liturgical practices and being more free and expressive like the Protestants. Likewise, there is not enough of a variety in scriptural readings, leading people away from a liturgy which is “Word-based”, forcing on them prayers composed by the Church centuries ago. They are angry that the Roman Rite maintains a strict adherence to a form of the words of Consecration that is different from other rites, especially the schismatics. Their anger rises more when they tell us that their concept of unity has not been heard. The Church has erred, they say, in its teachings about not worshipping with other religions, and it has done this chiefly by the use of an antiquated centralized liturgy which came from that most despised of meetings, the Council of Trent. It was this Council that rejected the notion of a universal priesthood of the faithful, a teaching maintained by most Protestant sects. “How can there be active participation of the ‘People of God’ without this concept?”, they sneer. Lastly, they are angry at the constant reference to a sacrifice, which is such a “negative” thought in the spiritual lives of the People of God. Rather, the new liturgy should be known simply as the eucharist, the liturgy being now a paschal meal of thanksgiving and praise, not of petition and reparation for sin. The emphasis is not now on the saving death of Christ on the Cross, but rather on His Resurrection and His coming.The word Holy Eucharist should not be used, because that’s not what other churches do.
Have I made all this up? I wish I could say yes, but such is not the case. The modern liturgists tell us they had been “on trial” (Constantine Koser, O.F.M. LVII, Vol. I, p. 225) for nearly a century, and the “Roman” Church was standing in their way. Whenever local bishops would write to Rome for a decision regarding the novelties of the false liturgical movement, the Sacred Congregation of Rites (established by the Council of Trent to safeguard the purity of liturgical practice) or the popes would respond (Pius XI’s Divini Cultis, or Pius XII’s Mediator Dei) and the “movement” would have a set back. There was anger and a spirit of vengeance in the mind of the innovators; all that was sacred and traditional must feel their wrath.
Of particular concern to the innovators was the Roman Canon. It was too long, filled with “too many interruptions” (Adrien Nocent, OSB, LVII, Vol. II, p. 99). The addition of the Prayer of the Faithful would eliminate such “breaks” in liturgical actions as the Kyrie and other prayers of intercession. The private prayers of the people would be more efficacious and meaningful than the ancient formularies of the Church. Nocent also rejoices in the addition of the Sign of Peace for, among other things, by this sign “we underline the assent of the faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist” (op.cit., p. 98), an assent necessary to emphasize to the Protestants that Catholics accept the notion of the universal priesthood of the believers.
Speaking of the Protestants, the International Episcopal Committee in 1963 gave a mandate to the ICEL that “the collaboration with other Christians interested in the liturgical use of English should be developed after the first meeting of the Advisory Committee. At least the principal churches should be consulted. Mention was made of the Anglicans (Episcopalians), Lutherans and Prebyterians” (From Vatican Documents, LVII, Vol. I, p. 63). Ecumenism was underway.
A Major Concession To The Protestants
While there are numerous examples that should be cited, there is one total break with Roman Tradition in the words of the Canon of the Mass that I will emphasize here. It is the removal of the words mysterium fidei from the form of the wine-consecration and placing them after the modern form of consecration as an affirmation of the faithful saying, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
By taking the words mysterium fidei (which are a necessary part of the form) away, the sense of the words is also changed. While part of the wine-consecration form, the “mystery of faith” refers to the Blood of Jesus Christ, then being consecrated, and which was shed on Calvary for the redemption of mankind. The unbloody renewal of Calvary was fully accomplished by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Removed from there, and placed before an innovative “proclamation”, the “mystery of faith” now refers to Christ’s death in general, as well as His Resurrection and coming at the end of the world. The saving Blood of Christ, shed for the many (not “all”, as is found in the ICEL form of consecration) who would accept His teachings and that of His Church, is no longer singled out as being the mystery we worship. We are no longer humbled at the thought that God would come and give His life Blood for us sinners. Likewise, since the blood offered in sacrifice in the Old Testament dimly foreshadowed the mystery of the shedding of the Blood of Christ in the New, Christ’s Blood is in this Sacrament in a hidden manner as a “mystery”. Thus says St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica (Part III, Q. 78, art. 3)
Few modern liturgists dared to speak of their “problem” with mysterium fidei in the wine-consecration. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they wanted to speak about it, but what good would it have done before? How could they get it removed? You see, to them, the presence of these words formed a barrier to the schismatics because in most of their liturgies (which, in the innovators’ minds, were of equal, if not greater value than the Roman Rite because they were not influenced by Trent), the words mysterium fidei were not present. The Romans were also missing a reference to the Holy Ghost in those prayers, which became another defect the liturgist bewailed. So, on April 3,1969, convinced by the liturgists that an ecumenical gesture was appropriate, Paul VI promulgated an apostolic constitution, the “Revision of the Roman Missal”, which, among other things, took out the words mysterium fidei from the wine-consecration, with very little discussion on the matter as a means to justify it. Paul VI wrote: “The words Mysterium fidei, now taken out of the context of the words of Christ, are said by the priest as an introduction to the acclamation of the faithful.” Read nearly every piece of literature at that time which explained the “reforms”, and you will find very little, if any discussion about the reasoning behind this change or how the clergy were to explain it to the faithful. But, as Jungmann remarked, every aspect of the Mass was to be reformed, and the sacred words of Consecration were no exception. In fact, this action gave way to the next ecumencial concession, which occurred a few months later, the changing of another of Christ’s words: multis (many) into omnibus (all). After all, having gotten away with it once, and without complaint, shouldn’t they try it again?
Mysterium Fidei And The Words Of Christ
Some people have remarked: the removal of mysterium fidei from the Roman Canon did nothing more than equalize it with the Canons of the other rites, the schismatics as well as those united to Rome. It was something that needed to be done anyway. “Besides,” they say, “it didn’t affect the validity of the Consecration until the change of pro multis came along.” Such comments demonstrate an ignorance of Catholic teaching, an ignorance forced on the average Catholic for a long time.
One thing that caught the eye of the Holy Office in 1958 was how the innovators were already tampering with the removal of mysterium fidei during their experimental liturgies. In a Monitum (warning) dated July 24, 1958, the Protectors of the Faith put these modernists back on trial with these words:
“It has been made known to this Supreme Sacred Congregation that in a certain translation into the vernacular of the New Order of Holy Week the words ‘the Mystery of Faith’ have been omitted in the form for the consecration of the Chalice. Furthermore it has been reported that certain priests omit these same words in the actual celebration of Mass.
“Wherefore, on this account, this Supreme Congregation warns that it is nefarious (emphasis added) to introduce changes into so holy a thing and to mutilate or to falsify editions of liturgical books. (There then followed a reference to Canon 1399, 10 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.)
“Let the bishops, therefore, see to it, according to the intention of the Commonitio (reminder) of the Holy Office of February 14, 1958, that the prescripts of the Sacred Canons on divine worship be strictly observed and let them be diligently vigilant lest anyone dare to introduce even the minutest change into the matter and form of the Sacraments (emphasis added).
“Given at Rome, from the Palace of the Holy Office, on the 24th day of the month of July in the year 1958.” (A.A.S., Vol. 50, p. 536)
That this innovation attracted the attention of the Holy Office (and not the Congregation of Rites) is serious. The Holy Office (now removed and downgraded since Vatican II) is concerned with doctrinal matters, not points of liturgical discipline, like the Congregation of Rites. Thus, the removal of mysterium fidei was considered an attack against the Faith and not just a point of liturgical impropriety. Nearly 11 years later, this didn’t seem to matter to Paul VI.
But, how do we explain the presence of these words in the Roman Canon and not those of most other rites? Are we sure Christ said the words mysterium fidei? If He did, shouldn’t they also be present in all the rites of the Church? In 1202, the Archbishop of Lyons asked Pope Innocent III these same questions. In reply, the Pope wrote the doctrinal letter Cum Marthae Circa which settled this dispute once and for all. He said: “You have asked (indeed) who added to the form of words which Christ Himself expressed when He changed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, which are in the Canon of the Mass that the general (Roman – Ed.) Church uses, but which we find expressed by none of the Evangelists . . . In the Canon of the Mass that expression, the mystery of faith, is found interspersed among His words . . . Therefore we believe that the form of words, as is found in the Canon, the Apostles received from Christ, and their successors from them.” Thus, the entire form of the wine consecration, with mysterium fidei in it, binds the Roman Rite as coming from Christ through the Apostles. (For more on this subject, see De Defectibus and read Patrick Omlor’s work: No Mystery of Faith, No Mass.)
This brief study of the removal of mysterium fidei is but one example of the bad spirit which drove the innovators in changing the Sacred Liturgy to fit their designs. This is why a visible restoration of the Mass and the Catholic Faith cannot include a “reform of the reforms”, as some call for. The “reforms” which came from Vatican II were in error from the start and are not an expression of the Catholic Faith since apostolic time. No, a restoration must include nothing else but a full return to the Tridentine Latin Mass, abandoning all novelties. This is done in traditonal chapels already; we must work and pray that it will soon be practiced everywhere.>
The Catholic Voice, September 1998