Monday, April 30, 2012

The White Pope

Today is the feast of Pope St Pius V, one of the great reforming popes of the Council of Trent.  St Pius was a Dominican and it is due to him, I believe, popes wear white: Pius continued to wear his habit after his election.  Funny though, in the debate between the Dominicans and the Jesuits (I'm sure you know all the jokes), I never heard the Dominicans boast that every pope is a Dominican since he wears the habit.  I'm sure they would say they are too humble to remind us!  Indeed.

St Pius was a remarkable man - first of all he became a Saint when many of the popes of that era saw themselves more as temporal lords than priests and had a few mistresses in their past.  Fr Michele Ghislieri, OP, later Pius V, was a holy and learned man.  He was a renowned theologian who was brought to Rome to work in the Inquisition.  For those still labouring under the Enlightenment/Secularist charge that the Roman Inquisition was the same as the Spanish, note that it wasn't.  It was far more merciful and actually run by the Church and not by the state as the Spanish one was. 

St Pius is, perhaps, most famous for two things: first the victory at the battle of Lepanto.  A good Dominican to the last, when Christian Europe was under threat from Muslim invasion, he told the Christians to pray the rosary, and it was this great programme of prayer which led the meagre Christian navy to victory over the much larger Muslim armada.  So Pius's lesson for us in Ireland in these difficult times is simple: "Get out the beads and start praying!" Yes, Saintly Holy Father, we will.

St Pius is also famous for his excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England, an act which infuriated the queen and led to a greater persecution of Catholics in her realms.  There are few things here.  Was he correct to do so?  A number of historians say he was not - he should have refrained in order not to provoke an already narky queen.  Interesting view - one which Pius XII may have agreed with as he was faced with the same problem (anti-Pius critics and historians please note - be consistent now!). 

One could say that Pius V was only confirming what was already a fact: that Elizabeth I was no longer in full communion with the Catholic Church - and that also is correct: in establishing her "settlement" and confirming herself as the head of the Church in England she did break communion with Rome - she was excommunicate.  One has to wonder why she was so offended?  She sounds like a modern liberal: they attack and reject "Rome" and "The Vatican", and distance themselves from it, and then when Rome confirms this they are upset, angry and sharing the pain of their rejected, broken hearts.  "It's all a mystery", as a friend of mine would say.  "They need a good slap", as another would say: I couldn't possibly comment.

In other news, I see an interesting article on Catholic Culture, concerning a bishop in Wisconsin, USA.  He appointed a number of priests of the Society of Jesus the Priest to various parishes, and it seems they offer the Extraordinary Form as part of the Mass schedule in the parishes.  Some are not happy in the parish of Platteville, however, and have said that the priests are "pre-Vatican II" and it seems they are voting with their wallets, withholding donations, so much so that a Catholic school had to be closed.  The bishop is not happy, and he must be hearing rumours that are doing the rounds in the parish because he has reminded the people of the canonical penalty for calumny and told them to refresh their memories as to what those penalties are. 

Wow!  As every priest in a parish knows there are parishioners who have nothing better to do but make up stories about their priests and spread them around as if they were true: all of us have fallen victim to such gossip.  It does not matter how small the parish is, rural or urban, there are people out there who just want to talk and gossip.   I know of cases where parishioners calumnied their parish priests for years, and then, when the priests died they were considered the best in the world and their successors are rogues etc etc, and it all starts again.  It's nice to see a bishop reminding parishioners that not only are they supposed to be Christians, and therefore charitable and supportive of their priests, but if they do make up and spread malicious gossip there are canonical penalties to deal with them in order to protect the good name of innocent priests.

St Pius V, pray for us all!  Happy feast day, dear Dominican brothers and sisters: keep up the good work!


  1. lol a good slap sounds about right. Maybe with a mackerel or a haddock.

  2. Thanks -- I actually wasn't aware that St Pius V was a Dominican. Great to hear! :-)


  3. I don't think the excommunication was the problem - it was his attempt to depose her and the instruction that Catholics were not to regard her as their lawful queen, which automatically made them suspect of treason. It was a foolish move.

    1. Excommunication at the time implied all of that, Brendan: a monarch who was excommunicated was no longer considered to be due the loyalty of their subjects and the possessions of the monarch and his/her country could be requisitioned lawfully. Elizabeth reacted to that.

    2. In hindsight we see that Pope St Pius's action may not have been the best for Catholics in England. Should he have been more prudent? Well that is an interesting question and one which is very similiar to that of Pope Pius XII. Should he have spoken out and endangered millions? Perhaps Pius XII learned from Pius V.

  4. Saint Pius V was most famour for two things, Father?

    Any selection of two of his legacies has to include Quo Primum, his Apostolic Constitution of 1570 which promulgated the "Tridentine" Mass, the Mass that has sustained and sanctified many generations of saints and martyrs, the Mass that offers the only chance of restoration of the Catholic Faith in this country and elsewhere.

    In promulgating the Tridentine Mass, the great Pope reflected the Church's belief that this Mass would offer fitting praise and glory to God, be a Holy and propitiatory Sacrifice, gain graces for the Church and the faithful,prove a bastion against heresy,and continue to build up the Church to the end of time.

    The following passage shows what a prophetic and invaluable document it was. It also vindicates the clergy and laity who maintained for four decades that the Tridentine or Latin Mass was never abrogated and could never be forbidden. The pearl of great price has been given papal protection to the end of time.

    "We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription – except, however, if more than two hundred years’ standing."

    1. Given that the Mass of Pius V has passed away and been replaced by another Ordinary Form, just as his Mass replaced another Ordinary Form before it, two things stand out in Pius's pontificate: Lepanto and the excommunication of Elizabeth I. Of course these do not negate his other works, but they are the most historically noteworthy.

  5. Anonymous suggests that “the Mass of Pius V has passed away”. Pope Benedict for one would not agree. He has told us that it “was never juridically abrogated” and “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains great and sacred for us too” ( Summorum Pontificum). The Church “is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession (the traditional Latin Mass) is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Salt of the Earth, p. 176).

    The Vatican now admits that the traditional Latin Mass was never legally forbidden, for Pope Paul’s promulgation of his Novus Ordo Missae in 1970 did not equate with a prohibition of the traditional Missal.

    Cardinal Alfons Stickler revealed in 1995 that a commission of nine Cardinals, including Cardinal Ratzinger, convened by Pope John Paul II in 1986, had voted 8 to 1 that Pope Paul VI never legally suppressed the traditional Mass. By a vote of 9 to 0, the commission agreed that every priest remained free to use the old Missal. That Pope John Paul required such a commission to clarify the intentions of Pope Paul VI rather underlines the confused times the Church has lived through in the last four decades.

    Let’s be very clear about this; Pope Pius V canonized the traditional Latin Mass “in perpetuity” through Quo Primum, as shown in my previous post. It is now conceded that Pope Paul VI never revoked Quo Primum. The Traditonal Latin Mass has most certainly not passed away,any more than Christianity passed away in pre-Constantine Rome. In fact, slowly but surely the priests who offer it and the laity who benefit from its great graces, are coming out of the catacombs.

    To be continued...

  6. The suggestion that Pope Pius V’s Missal “replaced another Ordinary Form before it” is a very commonly held fallacy. The Missal of Saint Pius V was compiled and published in obedience to the Fathers of the Council of Trent with the objective of bringing uniformity, certainly not change.

    The idea of composing a new order of Mass was completely unheard of and alien to the whole ethos of Catholic tradition, which was to hold fast to what has been handed down. Respect for tradition was the essence of the work of Saint Pius V.

    Father David Knowles, Britain’s most distinguished Catholic scholar until his death in 1974, wrote the following in a letter to the Tablet of July 24, 1971:

    “The Missal of 1570 was indeed the result of instructions given at Trent, but it was, in fact, as regards the Ordinary, Canon, Proper of the time and much else a replica of the Roman Missal of 1474, which in its turn repeated in all essentials the practice of the Roman Church of the epoch of Innocent III (1198-1216), which itself derived from the usage of Gregory the Great (590-604) and his successors in the seventh century. In short the Missal of 1570 was, in all essentials, the usage of the mainstream of medieval European liturgy, which included England and all its rites.”

    The words of Father Adrian Fortescue in The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1912) offer eloquent testimony:

    “The Protestant Reformers naturally played havoc with the old liturgy. It was throughout the expression of the very ideas (the Real Presence, Eucharistic Sacrifice and so on) they rejected…The Council of Trent (1545- 1563), in opposition to the anarchy of these services, wished the Roman Rite to be uniformly celebrated everywhere.” (p. 205-206)

    “Our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours.“(p. 213)

    “From roughly the time of Saint Gregory (d. 604) we have the text of the Mass, its order and arrangement, as a sacred tradition that no one has ventured to touch except in unimportant details.” (p. 173)

    I might finish with the words of Monsignor Klaus Gamber, whose book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy contains written endorsements from three cardinals, and who was considered by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to be “the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the centre of the Church.”

    “In the final analysis, this means that in the future the traditional rite of Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic Church…as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change”.( Reform of the Roman Liturgy, p.114).

    1. Why do the Traddies think that they can beat you into submission with long-winded comments, drawing on endless tracts and pretending they are the only real Catholics in the Church? No one disputes what Pope Benedict XVI has said, but neither should they dispute what Blessed John Paul II said and his actions taken against Traddies who refused to accept a legitimate Council of the Church. What will they do if a Pope Leo XIV doesn't hold to what Benedict believes, will they become quasi sedes vacantes again? What Brendan said below is correct. Although, Brendan, as you mention new saints and new feast days, many of the Traddies do not accept these saints or feast days, as seen in their balking at the idea of an updated calendar for the Extraordinary Form. The root of this problem is not liturgy, it is the disobedience of a sect consisting of people who want to live in the past where everything is comfortable and those not full members of the Catholic Church all on their way to hell.

  7. I think you are right, Fr Director, about prudence and the lessons learned. Silence doesn't always have to mean consent, particularly when it is accompanied by actions, as in the case of Pope Pius XII. On the other hand I hesitate to blame the bishops of Netherlands for speaking out in the face of a clear evil. I think their statement was providential - it united Jewish and Catholic suffering under the Nazis and gave us St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

    Leo, the Mass is the Mass, irrespective of its form or age or missal. Liturgy changes and develops - or we'd never have new feast days for saints, or Corpus Christi in Aquinas's day. Trying to "fix" the Mass of Pius V as some sort of constant is foolish, and not in keeping with the liturgical traditions of the Catholic Church. And of course the extraordinary form used now isn't the Mass of Pius V, it's the Mass of John XXIII.

  8. Thank you for your comments, Brendan.

    I’d like to establish some final clarification here, and hopefully some agreement, also.

    With respect, I think you have misunderstood my previous comments if you are suggesting that anybody is “trying to fix the Mass of Pius as some sort of constant”, subject to no change whatsoever. I am sure you don’t think that the words of Pope Benedict or Monsignor Gamber which I included were “foolish”.

    On the subject of the Latin Mass, various titles are used as I’m sure you know, including Tridentine Mass, Traditional Latin Mass, Extraordinary Form. The missal I have in front of me is the Roman Missal (1962) i.e. published under Pope John XXIII as you mentioned. I think getting caught up on names is of secondary importance. I will note however that Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, in their letter to Paul VI on 25 September 1969, which accompanied their famous critique of the proposed new missal, asked for “the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the integral and fruitful Missal of St. Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness, and so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world.”

    The Mass codified by Saint Pius V in Quo Primum “in perpetuity” (the Pope’s words, not mine) had developed from antiquity and indeed continued to do so after 1570. I had hoped that the citations from Fathers Knowles and Father Fortescue in my previous comments demonstrated this.

    Between 1570 and 1970, any changes made to the Mass were insignificant. The “reforms” of Pope Clement VIII (Cum sanctissimum of 7 July 1604) and Urban VIII ( Si quid est of 2 September 1634) were largely to rectify errors due to the carelessness of printers. St. Pius X made a revision of the plainchant notation. On 16 November 1955 Pope Pius XII authorized the decree reforming Holy Week ceremonies. Pope John XXIII also made an extensive rubrical reform, which was promulgated on 25 July 1960 and took effect on 1 January 1961. He didn’t codify a new Mass in the year that the Vatican Council started. Of course there were new feasts introduced for saints canonized since 1570, including that of St. Pius V himself. None of this a secret. Nobody denies that from the days of antiquity there have been gradual, natural, almost imperceptible changes to the Mass. My point is that the substance of the Mass remained stable and undisturbed until 1970.

    In recent decades, many have tried to present the Tridentine Mass as being different to the Mass that went before it, or a precedent for the wholesale, I would say revolutionary, changes brought about under the 1970 Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI. A little bit of research shows that this is completely mistaken, misleading, and flies in the face of liturgical scholarship.

  9. Also,

    I’m interested, Brendan in your mention of the “liturgical traditions of the Catholic Church”. I don’t think there can be any dispute that the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI is anything but a radical break with tradition. Archbishop Annibale Bugnini the man in charge of the committee that fabricated the new Mass would have been very disappointed with anything less. In L’Osservatore Romano of 19 March 1965, he wrote: “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.”

    Don’t let anyone take my word about the outcome. Father Joseph Gelineau S. J., one of Bugnini’s most trusted helpers wrote in his book, The Liturgy Tomorrow: “This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.” (p 9-10)

    Examine the prayers that the sixteenth-century Protestants removed from the traditional missals in their own countries and you will find that the very same prayers have been removed from the Tridentine Mass. Only 17% of the orations from the old missal made it untouched into the new one.

    In their critique of the proposed new missal, Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci made the following observation: “The Novus Ordo Missae - considering the new elements susceptible of widely differing evaluations, which appear to be implied or taken for granted- represents, as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass which was formulated by Session XXII of the Council of Trent, which by fixing definitively the “canons” of the rite, erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery”.

    If anyone is still asking themselves about the lack of belief of Catholics in the Church as the indispensable mediator of the sacraments, the lack of belief in the Real Presence, the lack of belief in the Mass as a Holy Sacrifice, the lack understanding of the unique and irreplaceable role of the ordained priesthood, the lack of belief in the need for sacramental Confession, the lack of belief in purgatory and the need to pray for the dead, the lack of belief in the need for the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints, I suggest they start by looking at the changes made to the Mass.

    I’m sorry Brendan, I can’t agree that “the Mass is the Mass, irrespective of its form or age or missal”. There is, of course, a lot more that can be said on that subject.

  10. Anonymous

    I’ll take it that your use of the word “Traddies” is meant pejoratively. Well it’s your prerogative.

    Fifty years ago there were only Catholics. Catholics and Tradition were synonymous. That Catholics who want to worship, pray and believe as all Catholics did fifty years ago are regarded as outcasts just underlines the depths of the unprecedented crisis the Church is in.

    You make some rather exuberant claims, I must say. Such as the ability to conduct long range psycho analysis. Are you saying that all those who worship and believe as every Catholic did fifty years ago are “pretending they are the only real Catholics in the Church”? Have you any empirical evidence on that?

    If you are saying that most Catholics nowadays hold a radically different faith to previous generations, I completely agree. Heresy is a pretty serious matter, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    You made a remark about “long-winded comments, drawing on endless tracts”. I prefer to think of it as trying to put forward a reasoned view using reliable evidence. I posted my previous comments in the belief that readers of a blog such as this one would be open-minded, fair-minded, interested in a rational discussion of important Catholic topics, and possessed of a reasonable attention span.

    You said “the root of this problem is not liturgy”. Well, Pope Benedict doesn’t agree. He said at Fontgombault Abbey in 2001 that he was “convinced that the crisis in the Church we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy”.

    You blame it on the “disobedience of a sect consisting of people who want to live in the past where everything is comfortable”. What/who do you mean by sect? Are you referring to a past when Catholics actually believed and worshiped as Catholics, when Catholics knew their faith, and frequented the sacraments, and often lived lives of quiet but heroic sanctity? If not this, what exactly is the much heard of New Evangelisation trying to achieve?

  11. Well trying to impose a liturgical text "in perpetuity" is an attempt to "fix" a Mass and, no doubt you'll be horrified by this, but Pope Pius V had no right to prevent developments of liturgy by future Popes. Clearly you don't think the Mass is the Mass irrespective of the form used, and clearly you think the Ordinary Form is a lesser form in some way and break with tradition. That's not the mind of the Church. And when people start talking about Tradition with a capital T I reach for my gun. Traddies talk about Tradition the way Protestants talk about sola scriptura - and that is, separate from the Church.

  12. Brendan

    There’s no question of Pope Pius V preventing developments of the liturgy by future Popes. What he was safeguarding was the substance, the heart of the Mass. I made abundantly clear in previous comments that there have been developments in the liturgy from antiquity up to the time of Second Vatican Council. A priest who said the Mass in 1570 could have been transported in time to 1962 and have no problem saying the Mass of that time. By the way, the Missal of Pope John XXIII was actually prefaced by Quo Primum. For many priests and laity, the Mass was barely recognisable eight years later.

    The Mass of 1970 most emphatically was not development. If anyone wishes to pertinaciously maintain that it was, it’s not unreasonable to ask for evidence to substantiate that assertion. Pointing to a precedent for the changes in the late 1960’s would be start. Except, there was no such precedent in the history of the Church.

    Consider the words of Pope Benedict in Milestones: Memoirs: 1927-1977, where he remarked that the imposition of Pope Paul’s new Missal in place of the traditional Missal was “a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic” (p. 148). On the following page he posed the following question: “When the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence?"

    I have quoted Monsignor Klaus Gamber before. I do not hesitate to quote him again given Pope Benedict’s high regard for him, as indicated by quotations in a previous comment. The Pope wrote an approving preface to the 1993 book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, in which the Monsignor described the new Mass as an unprecedented break with the Church’s entire liturgical tradition: “there has never actually been an actual break with Church tradition, as has happened now, and in such a frightening way, where almost everything the Church represents is being questioned.” (p. 109)

    He also wrote that “the real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman Rite with a history of more than one thousand years, is the wholesale destruction of the faith on which it was based, a faith that had been the source of our piety and our courage to bear witness to Christ and His Church, the inspiration of countless Catholics over many centuries. Will someone, some day, be able to say the same thing about the new Mass? Many Catholics agonize over the question: what can be done about the loss of our faith and of our liturgy?” (p. 102)

    I have no problem with your statement that Saint Pius V “had no right whatsoever to prevent development of liturgies by future Popes”. It’s a none-issue. What is very relevant is the question as to whether any Pope had or has the right to effectively suppress a Mass canonized by one of his predecessors. Development is not the same as making wholesale changes to the substance of the Mass.

    What does “horrify” me is the liturgical abuses that had become so widespread by 1980 that Blessed Pope John Paul II felt obliged to apologise to the faithful in his Apostolic Letter, Dominicae Cenae. What does horrify me is the liturgical anarchy, banality, profanity and even sacrilege unleashed after 1970.

  13. Brendan

    I find your remarks about Tradition somewhat perplexing. As you probably know, the word “tradition” comes from the Latin verb tradere, meaning to hand over, deliver, entrust. Tradition can be described as the Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Magisterium down through the centuries. It embraces the totality of the perennial doctrine, dogma, liturgy, spirituality and practice of the Catholic Faith as handed down from century to century. The Church Father St. John Chrysostom expressed the principle most succinctly: “Is it tradition? Ask no more!”

    The Church teaches that Divine Revelation is transmitted by both Tradition and Scripture. Tradition came before, and gave us, Scripture.

    Tradition is particularly important in the area of liturgy. “The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1124).

    As another of the great early Church Fathers, St. Vincent of Lerins explained, Tradition is our only refuge at a time of confusion in the Church, as it was during the Arian heresy, which in St. Vincent’s day was an event of the rather recent past. As St. Vincent declared:
    “And if some new contagion should seek to poison, not only a little part of the Church, but the whole Church at once then his (the Catholic’s) greatest care should once again be to adhere to antiquity, which obviously cannot be seduced by any deceitful novelty”. – Commonitorium, Chapter 3, Section 7.

  14. Thanks for the exposition, Leo.

  15. Pope Paul VI reformed the liturgy. He was Pope. He was entitled to do so. It was still the Mass. If he wanted to forbid all existing rites (as Pius V did in some cases) then he was perfectly entitled to do so - he's the Pope and so long as the form of the liturgy still mediates the sacrament then he can do it.

    I know what Tradition is - and you can't have it separate from the Church, as some Traddies, including the SPXX, seem to think.

  16. Brendan

    It would be completely and utterly misleading for anyone to try and maintain that the actions and decrees of Saint Pius V are any sort of precedent for those of Pope Paul VI.

    I’d like to see evidence of Saint Pius V forbidding rites that had been previously promulgated by one of his predecessors, since he was the first Pope to actually legislate on the subject of the liturgy. He did respect the law of custom, by permitting the retention of any rite that could be shown to have a usage of two centuries, as well as those of religious orders such as Dominicans, Carmelites and Carthusians. He did not fabricate a new Mass, but codified and consolidated the immemorial Roman Rite in line with the wishes of the Council of Trent.

    What makes you so sure that a Pope, “if he wanted to forbid all existing rites then he was perfectly entitled to do so”? Canon lawyers have certainly advanced arguments to the contrary. Anyway, it is a hypothetical question for the purposes of this discussion. I have pointed out in a previous post the traditional Latin Mass was never legally abolished or forbidding. It was “never abrogated” (Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum) or obrogated. That was one of the great fraudulent myths of the post Vatican II era. There is not one word in Pope Paul’s Missale Romanum forbidding the use of the traditional Missal. The infamous Archbishop Bugnini was the man who later issued an instruction trying to illegally forbid it.

    Your opinion appears at odds with that expressed by Pope Benedict before becoming Pope, as the following quotations show:

    “The Pope cannot impose commandments on faithful Catholics because he wants to, or finds it expedient.”(On Conscience, p.34)

    “The Pope does not impose from without. Rather he elucidates the Christian memory and defends it.” (On Conscience, p.36).

    A “Pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law, but is the guardian of the authentic Tradition”. – Preface to the Organic Development of the Liturgy, by Alcuin Reid

    He also refers to the following paragraph 1125 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as “golden words”: “Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy”. - (On the Way to Jesus Christ, p.155).

    You might be interested in a letter that the Catholic bishops of England published in 1897 in which they wrote:
    “That in earlier times local Churches were permitted to add new prayers and ceremonies is acknowledged…But that they were also permitted to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in the most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us absolutely incredible”.

    Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, described by the Venerable Pope Pius XII, as the Doctor of the twentieth century, wrote as follows in the Devastated Vineyard:
    “In the case of practical, as distinguished from theoretical authority, which refers, of course, to the ordinances of the Pope, the protection of the Holy Spirit is not promised in the same way” (as in the case of infallible pronouncements). “Ordinances can be unfortunate, ill conceived, even disastrous, and there have been many such in the history of the Church. Here Roma locuta (est), causa finita (est) does not hold. The faithful are not obliged to regard all ordinances as good and desirable. They can regret and pray that they be taken back; indeed, they can work, with all due respect for the Pope, for their elimination.” (p. 199)

  17. I don’t know anybody who denies that the Novus Ordo Missae is valid as long it is celebrated according to the rubrics. Archbishop Lefebvre did not deny its validity. The Society of Saint Pius X does not, once there is proper matter, form, and intention. However, many Catholics around the world have been faced with grave doubts concerning one or more of these three essentials over the last four decades. If a priest does not believe in Transubstantiation what exactly is his intention? If he uses incorrect words at the Consecration, surely there is doubt, at the very least, about validity. Is going to Mass now to be a matter of ticking a list of items required for validity?

    I invite anyone reading this to enumerate the good fruits (see Matthew 7:16-18) brought about by the 1970 Mass. It’s worth reading section 1124 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which I quoted in a previous post. The bad fruits that I can list off the top of my head include a loss of any sense of awe, mystery, transcendence or reverence surrounding the Church’s most sacred action. The cult of man has now replaced the cult of God. The banal, profane and ugly have replaced the wondrous, holy, and beautiful. Belief in the Real Presence has plummeted to alarming levels. The Mass is now considered to be more a group celebration than a Holy, Propitiatory Sacrifice. The priest is seen by many as no more than a designated presider rather than a unique, irreplaceable alter Christi. All this before we even consider the mass apostasy of the last four decades as well as plummeting vocations.

    What Luther and his fellow revolutionaries failed to do in the sixteenth century, the 1970 reforms succeeded in bringing about. Don’t take my word for it. Dr Smith, one of the Lutheran representatives on the commission which was responsible for fabricating the new liturgy publicly boasted that “we have finished the work that Martin Luther began”.

    How about another Lutheran, Peter L. Berger, a professor of Sociology who at the Harvard Club on May 11, 1978 spoke as follows: “If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic Church as much as possible, had been an advisor to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job.”

    Professor von Hildebrand, whom I quoted above, wrote that “truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better.”- The Devastated Vineyard, (p. 71)

    In 1931 the future Pope Pius XII made the following astonishingly prophetic statement:

    “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul…I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.”- Pie XII Devant L’Histoire, p.52

  18. Brendan

    Consider once again, the words of Monsignor Klaus Gamber in the Reform of the Roman Liturgy, written in 1993:

    “In the end, we will all have to recognize that the new liturgical forms, well intentioned as they may have been at the beginning, did not provide the people with bread, but with stones.”- p.109

    “Much more radical than any liturgical changes introduced by Luther, at least as far as the rite was concerned, was the reorganization of our own liturgy- above all, the fundamental changes that were made in the liturgy of the Mass. It also demonstrated much less understanding for the emotional ties the faithful had to the traditional rite.”( p.43)

    “Was all this really done because of a pastoral concern about the souls of the faithful, or did it not rather represent a radical breach with the traditional rite, to prevent the further use of traditional liturgical texts and thus make the celebration of the “Tridentine Mass” impossible- because it no longer reflected the new spirit moving through the Church?” (p.100)

    “The liturgical reform, welcomed with so much idealism and hope by so many priests and lay people alike, has turned out to be a liturgical destruction of startling proportions- a debacle worsening with each passing year. Instead of the hoped-for renewal of the Church and of Catholic life, we are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our faith rests. Instead of the faithful renewal of the liturgy, what we see is a destruction of the forms of the Mass which had developed organically during the course of many centuries.” ( p.9)

    Brendan, I for one, do not know what your statement that “you can’t have it (Tradition) separate from the Church” is meant to say.

    I will just make two general points, addressed to nobody in particular. Firstly, Tradition will never be anywhere but at the heart of the Church.

    Secondly, those separated from the Church obviously reject Tradition, either partially or completely. Anyone trying to imply that traditionalist Catholics are somehow separate from the Church needs to do some explaining before they make themselves look very foolish. Which traditionalists? Those who attend diocesan Latin Masses? The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest? The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter? The bishops and priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, who are all Catholics, as well as the laity attending the Society's chapels? How are Catholics separate from the Church?

    As for the all the material heretics and dissenters at large throughout the Catholic world. That’s quite another matter.

  19. It's worth reading Bishop Fellay's letter to the three bishops in SSPX who seem to be intent of separating Tradition from the Church.

    Leo - you say you accept the validity of the Mass in Ordinary Form and then you attack it and say how awful it is, the dreadful fruits etc. As for the validity based on form and words - that applies equally to extraordinary form, which in the past was often celebrated very poorly, with no guarantee the words were said correctly.

  20. Thanks for that Brendan

    I read the letter yesterday, and yes the situation is very serious. No doubt many outside the Society are deriving much pleasure. The letter is well worth reading. I’m not sure if the letter from the three bishops is also in the public domain.

    The whole situation looks complicated to say the least. And yes, this is a priority issue for the Pope. As the letter say; “now, the pope has let us know that an abiding concern for the regularization of our situation for the good of the Church lies at the very heart of his pontificate.”

    The fact that the Pope’s representatives and those of the Society spent at least two years discussing Tradition and doctrinal matters indicates that matters are not simple and straightforward.

    Who knows what will happen in the coming weeks and months.

    On the subject to the validity of Mass, Brendan, the Church has determined what is required, whichever Mass is said. As you rightly say, if the traditional Latin Mass was said poorly, resulting in the words of Consecration not being said correctly, validity would be in doubt. That is the reason why the priest celebrating the Latin Mass, as a rule, says the words of Consecration very slowly. Of course rules can be broken. Of course it is not desirable that any part of the Mass be said in a garbled, disrespectful way, but if I’m not mistaken the words of Consecration are the absolutely essential ones for validity.

    Unfortunately, form, matter, and intention can never be guaranteed. I think it is fair to make the point that the rubrics of the Latin Mass are “tighter”, allow less improvisation and are more likely to ensure validity. Intention, of course, is a rather tricky area.

    On the question of fruits, I can only give my opinion based on the evidence as I see it, as well as personal experience. I think the crisis in the Church today is a tragedy beyond words and I definitely don’t get any sort of twisted pleasure out of any criticisms I’ve made. Hopefully, I don’t come across as though I think I have claims to some sort of superiority or greater sanctity. I’m just a very ordinary layman. That’s why I’ve tried to rely on the opinions of much greater minds that mine in previous posts.

    Thanks to blogs such as Ex Umbris et Imaginibus, Catholics are still able to express an opinion on things that matter. Long may that continue. I’m sure we both agree on what a truly great gift the Catholic Faith is and want future generations to have that Faith.

  21. I just wish Catholics who celebrate (I don't mean say Mass) the use of the Extraordinary Form would do so without feeling the need so often to putting the boot into the Ordinary Form. That's not the attitude of the Holy Father. It shouldn't be either/or but both/and.

    I think Bishop Fellay's letter offers much food for thought for all of us. He targets two points in attitudes to the Church - a lack of realism and a lack of supernaturalism.