The Novus Ordo:The Reasons Why We Resist
After my return to the Church in 2005 (I was living and working in Moscow at the time), I attended the Novus Ordo regularly. I was edified by the friendship shown to me by the parish priest and by what I could see of the lives of my fellow regular Mass-goers and despite my misgivings about certain elements of the Mass at which I assisted, I was able to quash the memories of my parents’ struggles as two of the early English Traditionalists and the grief and pain they suffered every day of their lives at the Revolution which toppled everything they held dear.
My view was “Well, it must be Sacramentally valid, the people are good-hearted, the priest is an excellent man, try not to worry”. But as time went on, a new thought came to me. “Hang on, Sacramental validity is the very least a Catholic Mass should be. Why are you measuring it with a minimalist expectation?” And so I bought all the books my father had once read and devoured and quoted to us as small children, and I began to think about it for myself. Michael Davies’ great trilogy on the Mass was crucial. So was a first reading of Archbishop Lefebvre’s “Open Letter to Confused Catholics”. There were many other books, but these were key.
After leaving Russia in 2009, I lived in Portugal just 30 miles from Fatima. I began to attend the SSPX Chapel there and continued to read. In the end I came to the conclusion that the Novus Ordo is inherently dangerous to the Catholic Faith. In the hands of a free-thinker, a weak priest or an out-and-out heterodox priest it is a lethal weapon against the Catholic religion.
The Mass, as the centre of our Holy Faith, should:
· reinforce the entire Catholic Faith in every aspect – the way we worship contains within itself all that we believe;
· raise up the individual soul to the majesty and glory of God;
· present to the individual soul the starkness and finality of the moral choices we have to make as Catholics in order to inherit Eternal Life;
· encourage us to strive for personal holiness.
Further, it should keep us in safe continuity with the two thousand years of organic (and in reality, minuscule) development of the Church’s main western liturgy, so that we can be Catholics hearing the same words and seeing the same gestures as a Catholic in Italy in the 4th century, as a Portuguese Catholic in the 9th century, as a Swedish Catholic in the 14th century, as an Englishman hearing a recusant Mass in the 17th century; as any Catholic at all until 1968. Communion in worship is communion in belief, not only with one’s fellow Catholics throughout the world, but with all Catholics throughout the centuries back to the time of Christ Himself.
The Novus Ordo does not fulfill any of these functions of worship. When a former SSPX Bishop says that it represents a new religion, he speaks as a bishop and not as the holder of unusual historical opinions. His view should be thought about most carefully by any serious Catholic. It is a terrible charge to lay on the Novus Ordo and I believe that it is correct.
That there has been a gigantic rupture, a Revolution in the Church these past forty years cannot be denied. Those who do deny it are either stupid, have a vested interest in it or (even worse) are quite happy that it occurred, whatever the damage done; or have been formed by it and don’t know anything else.
I was born in 1963 so came to self-consciousness with the changes already made. I was therefore extremely lucky to be the child of parents whose whole lives and characters were formed by and steeped in the Catholic Faith of their parents, people of the First World War generation. So prayers were said before and after every meal, our home was full of religious pictures, statues, music, books and conversation, going to Mass was an event (a serious event) and the whole world of Catholicism was in our home constantly.
The Revolution has caused conflict within families, civil war in the Church, and apostasy on a scale not seen since the 16th century and before that, in the time of Arius, and has lost countless souls. I am sure of this latter point: the changes have cost many, many souls. If millions voted with their feet and left the Church, went years without receiving the Sacraments or never again received the Sacraments before their deaths, how could they avoid falling into mortal sin? And if they died in that condition … ? The Revolution has been in truth a great harvesting of souls by the devil. This surely is the worst charge that those who gave us the Revolution will face at their particular judgement.
At the heart of the Revolution is the Novus Ordo, quite understandable, as the Mass is the centre and summit of the Catholic Faith. And what is the Revolution’s essential nature, seen most vividly in the Novus Ordo? I believe with all my heart that its core was the victory within the Church – still current and swiftly moving towards its natural conclusion at next month’s Synod Against the Family, an attack on the Divine Law itself – of the great errors of anthropological naturalism and materialism, and the parent of both of these – effective atheism.
To my mind the Revolution is the way in which those at the top of the Church dealt with a religion and with a Church in whose claims they no longer believed.
This loss of faith at the top in the existence of God and in the invisible world (which for any authentic Catholic should be the world that has most pull on his mentality, thoughts, conduct, and whole life) was of course the essential element noted by the early Traditionalists and was what caused them such disquiet and later outright grief. Those early Traditionalists were merely authentic Catholics who refused to be made into Protestants. They were right then as Traditionalist Catholics are right now.
The Revolution was also the fruit of a significant number of people who were seeking ways of robbing the Mass of its Catholic nature in order to appeal to German, English and other Protestants, to whom they perhaps felt closer than they did to their fellow Catholics. These were the neo-Modernists who had kept a low profile since the time of Pope St. Pius X but who were still very much around. Their world-view was shaped by the seeming triumph of “historicity”, by the (coming, they thought) triumph of Marxism and its “truths”, and by the onward march of science and technology. The Council experts, or periti, were to a large extent people like this, many of them full of the so-called ‘New Theology’ of Congar, von Balthazar, Schillebeeckx and others. It has to be said that the then Father Ratzinger was one of them, dressed in his business suit.
For all of these men, a new Mass was needed for the Modern Man formed by all these historical processes, a New Mass giving Man greater “dignity” (meaning “involvement” – ‘Eucharistic Ministers’, civilians tramping about the Sanctuary, the destruction of the priesthood). A Mass for the (Marxist Collective) “community” where the individual soul was no longer called to say in his heart “I believe” but, along with the Collective, say “We believe”. The mind-set produced by this emphasis is one of “community”: thus the Mass was now primarily a “meal”. In fact, it is the Collective at prayer (and quickly became the Collective worshipping itself).It is not a meal for me in any sense: I prefer Shepherd’s Pie.
And the Novus Ordo, by eliminating specifically Catholic doctrine about a propitiatory Sacrifice, would appease all those Lutherans and Anglicans to whom we had been so nasty for so long, eh?
And for this New Mass, with its centre of gravity not Christ above the individual soul (a vertical relationship) but the Collective (a horizontal relationship), there was needed a new physical orientation: priest and people would face each other; the Tabernacle to which I knelt and prayed as a small boy thrust out of sight into some alcove chapel. All barriers (such as altar rails) that “denied” the Collective its rightful dignity were removed so that the Sanctuary became the whole Church (and in the process rendered the entire space profane instead of holy); new churches were built to like ancient Greek theaters where the Collective could gather around itself rather than the vertical dimension in which all the churches of our forefathers were constructed. They were built in a line from the faithful to the priest and deacons to God in His Tabernacle. Not so the new churches, which had to serve the community rather than God.
Culturally, the Novus Ordo has been a catastrophe of world historical proportions. That the Catholic Church, repository of the greatest fruits of human endeavor in history, should have effectively turned its back on her cultural greatness is like the Irish monks of the 5th to 9th centuries saying, “What the hell, copying all this Greek and Roman knowledge, art, poetry, prose and greatness is boring, let’s chuck all of these parchments and codices into the Atlantic and get down to the pub”.
The Novus Ordo has many nefarious bedfellows, including an iconoclasm (of an order not seen since the Iconoclastic Heresy of the Eastern Church or the so-called “Reformation”); it is culturally utterly impoverished, and all of us are as a result greatly impoverished. Really, a catastrophe in all ways – religious, theological, architecturally, musically. It is nothing less than the mutilation of history by men who had more in common with the ‘Year Zero’ of Pol Pot than with all the Fathers and Saints and Popes of the past.
The Novus Ordo:
· Is a Mass specifically created (the first time this has been done in history) to meet an imagined sociological need of a supposed “Modern Man”. As the creation of a committee, it cannot possibly have any organic link with the venerable rite of at least 1,500 years it replaced;
· was, without question, designed to effectively protestantise the Catholic Church (the motivations for which range from naivety to outright demonic hostility to the Church;
· has led to Christ’s self-sacrifice for us sinners being thrust out from the centre to the periphery – both literally and figuratively;
· is proud, oh so proud – trumpeting in its nature a “dignity” of Mankind that we sinners do not deserve;
· is a cultural non-entity; a disaster;
· banishes the soul’s private communion with God and through noise and distraction makes such communion well-nigh impossible;
· cries out on every side its sheer infantility;
· is the deliberate collectivization of the Church’s worship in Marxist form;
· is effeminate and consequently I believe attracts the homosexual clergy to an effeminate Church.
I have found it so difficult to attend that in the end I have decided not to do so anymore. I think that if I do, I would lose my faith or have a faith so hollowed out by the Man-centred naturalism it represents that my conscience would be gravely offended rather than just my senses. I will not subject my soul any longer to the Spectacle of Inanities that is the Novus Ordo.
Whether is it the laity traipsing about the Sanctuary as if they were in their own living room, whether it is the inanity of the feel-good sermons preached by the “Presider”, whether it is the invention of non-existent “lay liturgical ministries”, everything is designed to offend. At a recent English language Mass in Ethiopia (I walked out after twenty minutes) the Mass had someone described on the Mass Sheet as “The Commentator”! Quite what his role was I couldn’t fathom, nor did I stay to find out. What I do know is that as an altar boy in the late 1960s the Sanctuary for me was holy ground, not to be defiled by the profane. It was a great honor for me to be on the Sanctuary at all. Imagine my grief when many years later in Portugal I came across one church in a small coastal town where the old parish priest refused to allow altar servers to wear any liturgical dress at all or even to have Holy Water in the Church.
The Novus Ordo was deliberately designed to destroy the Faith of our fathers. We have to bring the Old Mass back if we ever want the Church to triumph in this world. You can’t abuse it – indeed, it is impossible to assist at the Old Mass and not be a Catholic.
One might ask oneself whether one could be reconciled to the New Mass if the useless priests were replaced by better men? Well, for some time I thought I was reconciled to it. But even when I did so, I wasn’t reconciled in my heart. The bottom-line problem with the Novus Ordo is that it is fundamentally un-Catholic. It is only because the sad figure of Pope Paul VI couldn’t stomach what Bugnini really wanted to do that we have a valid Mass now at all.And even so he had to be shamed into some kind of stand by the “Ottaviani Intervention” of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. A bad priest can turn the New Mass into straight-forward sacrilege (clown Masses etc.) whilst a good priest has one arm permanently tied behind his back by it, which is why I believe that it cannot be reformed.By its very nature it does not reflect Catholic teaching on the liturgy.
And in what does the difference fundamentally lie? In a wholly different Christology. The Old Mass places me where the Faith says I should be, on my knees before God, knowing that only through repentance, penance and the mercy of God can I be saved. The New Mass puts me in the centre, in the place of God Himself, or at the very least, alongside Him. It assumes that my deification has already been achieved.But the whole thrust of the Church these last decades is one of presumption about our Salvation, no?
So here are a few quotations, to which could easily be added many others, including the damning words of Benedict XVI, Mgr. Gamber, Padre Pio.
Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, main author of the New Mass, L’Osservatore Romano, March 19, 1965: “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants.”(i.e., we must stop being Catholics and change our religion!).
and again, in 1974: “ … the reform of the liturgy has been a major conquest of the Catholic Church”.(These words of Bugnini should be pondered on in silence.) Now would follow “The adaptation or ‘incarnation’ of the Roman form of the liturgy into the usages and mentality of each individual Church.”
Father Kenneth Baker, SJ, editorial February 1979 “Homiletic and Pastoral Review”: “We have been overwhelmed with changes in the Church at all levels, but it is the liturgical revolution which touches all of us intimately and immediately.”
Professor Peter L. Berger, a Lutheran sociologist: If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic community as much as possible had been an adviser to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job.”
Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand: “Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better.”
Cardinal Heenan of Westminster, autobiography “A Crown of Thorns”:“Subsequent changes were more radical than those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the Liturgy. His sermon at the end of the first session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts.”
Cardinal Heenan warned the Council Fathers of the manner in which the periti could draft texts capable “of both an orthodox and modernistic interpretation.” He told them that he feared the periti, and dreaded the possibility of their obtaining the power to interpret the Council to the world. On 26 June 1966 The Tablet reported the creation of five commissions to interpret and implement the Council’s decrees. The members of these commissions were, the report stated, chosen “for the most part from the ranks the Council periti”.
Father Joseph Gelineau SJ, Council peritus, enthusiastic proponent of the post-conciliar revolution, wrote in “Demain la liturgie”: “To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.”
I am truly sorry to draw the conclusion that, in calling the Novus Ordo and the Old Mass “two versions of the same Rite”, Benedict XVI was engaged in a naive hopefulness at the least. His “reform of the reform” was doomed from its inception: you just can’t call a Trabant a Jaguar and expect people to buy it when it doesn’t look like a jaguar nor does it drive like one. In comparison with the Old Mass, the Novus Ordo is a child’s scribble alongside a Caravaggio. They are different and mutually antagonistic things. The one is Catholic to the last syllable. The other is a cuckoo planted deliberately in the Catholic Church, to the latter’s very grave injury. Catholics must avoid it at all costs.