Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Those who know me well know I do not like the New Order (Novus Ordo) of Mass. I have no difficulty saying the Novus Ordo is legitimate (it is, after all, built from the elements of the Traditional Mass) and valid (it has been promulgated by the Church’s Supreme Authority). But whereas Vatican Council II asked for noble simplicity in the Mass, what we have in the Novus Ordo is banal and skeletal.
I hold however, that the Norvus Ordo Rites cannot be invalid, since if the New Rites (for Mass, Ordinations, Anointing of the Sick etc) are indeed invalid,  God has been failing to feed His flock for the last fifty years, and  Christ has failed to keep His promise that His Church will not fail. I believe we cannot accept that the new Rites are invalid unless we also hold that that God has failed to feed His flock and Christ has failed to protect His Church.
That does not mean the New Rites are good, however. To be good a Rite should express clearly the reality is holds, and the New Rites do not always do this. In that sense the New Rites can be said to be entirely ‘fit for purpose’. Still, when compared to the Traditional Rite, the Novus Ordo Missae does not come off too badly in that:
1. Both contain an entrance antiphon (Introit)
2. Both contain a Confiteor which actively seeks the intercession of the angels and saints
3. Both contain the misareatur
4. Both contain the Kyrie
5. Both contain an Epistle
6. Both contain the Gospel
7. Both contain the Credo
8. Both contain the ancient Roman Canon
9. Both contain the Our Father
10. Both contain the prayer for peace (Libera nos)
11. Both contain the Agnus Dei
12. Both contain the Domine non sum Dignus before distribution of Holy Communion
13. Both contain a final antiphon
14. Both contain a blessing and dismissal.
Sadly however, we have to recognise that though much as has been retained, it is the significant elements that the Novus Ordo omits that disturbs, for it omits:
1. The seeking of God’s grace before we dare to enter His sanctuary (Judica me),
2. The Indulgentiam (minor absolution)
3. The genuflection during the Creed by which were honour the Incarnation
4. The genuflections given to the Blessed Sacrament before and after every time the priest touches the Sacred Host
5. The Offertory (the prayers preparing for a Holy Sacrifice having been replaced with a prayer based on the Jewish Grace before Meals, thus giving lie to the central reality of the Mass as His Body given up and His Blood being shed: “every time you eat this bread and rink this cup you are proclaiming the lord’s death” 1.Cor.11v26).
6. The prayer to the Holy Trinity (Placeat tibi) asking that the Sacrifice offered may bring forgiveness for all for whom it is offered, yet forgiveness (mercy) is at the core of the Gospel.
Indeed, even in what has been retained there was an unnecessary meddling with the texts. For example:
1. The Kyrie has been reduced from nine invocations to three, and re-ordered so that it now sounds like a plea to the Trinity rather than to Christ alone, who in the Traditional form was named in each of the three stanzas, thus making clear that the whole of the Kyrie is addressed to Christ and not to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. There has been a interpolation into the Roman Canon of an acclamation said by the people, using the words ‘ Mysterium fidei’ as its introduction. This is an unwarranted (and ill-mannered) interruption of the prayer of the Son to His Father, and for no other reason than to give the people something to say. It is also a sneaky way of undermining the priest’s unique, irreplaceable and singular role in the recitation of the Canon and the confecting of the Consecration.
3. The very words of the consecration have been changed, despite the injunction of Vatican II that “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them” (SC #23). There was no ‘genuine and certain need’ for the words of the consecration to be changed. This can only have arisen from a political ideology (such as diminishing the role of the priest by introducing a people’s acclamation of the Mysterium Fidei).
The Novus Ordo also fails in its concrete celebrations, in that it
(a) most usually ignores Vatican II’s injunction that Latin be retained:
“In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and the common prayer, but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution. (cf. 36. 1: Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.)
(thus)…steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
And wherever a more extended use of the mother tongue within the Mass appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this Constitution is to be observed (that is, that the permission of Rome is sought and obtained -GD).
(b) has opened the Rite of the Holy Eucharist –the Most precious Gift Christ gave us- to novelties:
(i) Communion in the hand (a Protestant invention long abandoned by Rome) despite the ruling by Paul VI that this may not be introduced after 1969 –cf. Memoriale Domini, 1969) and can be permitted only in those countries which prior to 1969 had illicitly begun the practice: Holland, then Belgium, France and Germany).
(ii) Lay Extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion (which destroys the priest’s role as he who stands in the place of Christ who ‘took, blest, broke and gave’).
(iii) Ladies acting as Extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion (Christ established only males as ministers of His Body and Blood)
(iv) A people-facing orientation of the celebrant (making the Mass a dialogue between priest and people rather than a pilgrimage of priest and people toward the heavenly Jerusalem of the spiritual East).
None of the above novelties are found in the documents of Vatican II, and indeed, and this is very important, they are not found in the N.O.M promulgated by Paul VI as the faithful implementation of Vatican II’s liturgical decree.
All in all, while there is indeed a significant similarity between the 1570 and 1970 editions of the Missale Romanum, there are also striking divergence, and it is this divergence that leaves one’s soul seeking more. What is truly sad is that those who refuse to welcome the Traditional Rites demonstrate an antagonism to their own roots, and cut off from their roots they die, as is seen in the massive lapsation, the dearth of vocations and the closure of schools, parishes and convents that has followed this rejection of Traditional Liturgy and the Tradition of the Catechism.
Sunday, 21 August 2016
In briefly reflecting upon the Novus Ordo Missae in my last post (and I shall reflect on it in more depth in a later post), and recalling the experience of a gentleman at a Novus Ordo Mass where Holy Communion on the tongue was refused by a Bishop who lifted the man from his knees to a standing position, I am brought to consider the moment of contention in the Mass: that moment wherein a celebrant is faced with a communicant who absolutely refuses to receive on the tongue, or becomes a priest who refuses to distribute on the tongue. It has happened to me only once that reception on the tongue was refused, and the lady in question had the charity and humility to telephone me later that day to say she was wrong and shouldn’t have refused to receive the Lord or put me in a such bad position publicly for simply following the liturgical law of the Church.
From Universae Ecclesiae:
24. The liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria are to be used as they are. All those who wish to celebrate according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite must know the pertinent rubrics and are obliged to follow them correctly…
28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.(emphasis added)
Thus the priest has no choice about this. The people however, do: they can choose to receive on the tongue or not to receive at all. Obviously the former is to be preferred! Why refuse to receive Our Lord because we feel humbled (not humiliated) by the method? Why as priests would we refuse to distribute on the tongue? Are we more committed to affirming the laity in their dignity than affirming the Lord in His? Why would we demand that Our Lord be received in the hand as a common bus ticket or biscuit when before Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess?
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SSPX AND OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE
Those who know me know I am grateful to God for the presence of the SSPX in the world in that I believe they have promoted Tradition and thus been a thorn in the side of Rome for several decades. It is my personal belief that Archbishop Lefebvre was an instrument of God in the forming of the Society, and I do not underestimate the courage this great man needed to stand against the might of the Church of Rome, Mother and Mistress of Truth, when she veered from her true course.
Bishop Fellay, the current Superior General of the SSPX, is one of the few courageous, sound, balanced Episcopal voices of today, and I am delighted he holds the office he does in the Society, since I think he continues very much in the mould of the great Archbishop.
The priests of the SSPX whom I have met have been, on the whole, very balanced men very much in the mould of Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Lefebvre, with one or two slips that have disturbed me (such as a homily in which a priest said, “N, whom Rome today would have us believe is a saint…” –which suggests a rejection of the legitimacy and authority of the post-Vatican II Papacy and is thus a contradiction to the said priest offering Holy Mass and praying for ‘Francis our Pope, and N., our Bishop’ (that bishop being the Ordinary of the Diocese in which their Mass centre is situated).
CONCERNS ABOUT THE SSPX AND ITS LAY ADHERANTS
I do however, have serious concerns about a number of SSPX lay adherents whose positions seem to me to be more reminiscent of Bishop Williamson than of the Society per se. these concerns arise from the fact that from a number of the SSPX laity I hear convictions that 'the Novus Ordo Missae is evil', and that 'the priestly ordinations and epsicopal consecrations according to the post-Vatican II Pontificale are invalid' (sadly, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has all but aligned himself with this latter position, if reports of his sermon during the ordinations on June 29th 2016 are correct).
My concerns is that there is a growing attitude among SSPX laity that the Catholic Church no longer exists except in the SSPX, since the Church of Rome and all those in Communion with her have lost valid Orders over the last 50 years by use of a invalid Rituals. If the Rituals are in fact invalid, there can be no valid Bishops and priests in the Roman Church, but that leaves the SSPX laity heading toward a sedevacantist position since only a validly consecrated bishop can in fact hold the See of Peter and there are, they say, few if any valid bishops left in the Catholic Church. Thus, very soon there can be no Pope. This begs two questions: first, if the Papacy has been lost, why are the SSPX seeking union with Rome at all? Second, if Rome is the Rock of the Church and it has been destroyed, in what way can they claim to have faith in Christ who declared that His Church would NOT be overcome? They follow a Christ who is either too weak to protect His Church, or a Christ who has not bothered to keep His promise.
THE CRISIS OF THE FAITH
Yes indeed there is a deep and profound crisis in the Church of today that we cannot deny: there is little or no Catechesis worthy of the name in Catholic schools today; we celebrate a liturgy that focuses on affirming man and are part of a dying post-Vatican II Church, as indicated by a precipitous fall-off in baptisms, marriages, Mass attendance, religious vocations and ordinations -all of which has Bishops the world over establishing projects focused on the ‘renewal of structures’ that are really about managing decline rather than promoting the Faith, no matter how they dress it up (and it is usually dressed as ‘the Holy Spirit providing us with the opportunity to utilise the gifts of the laity in ecclesial ministry’, yet Vatican II -the Council on which they purport to base their changes- clearly stated that the laity were to be engaged as the leaven in the world. Vatican II never once used the term ‘lay ministry’ (a term which is an elephant in the room that the contemporary Church never acknowledges), the Council only spoke of lay mission.
Of great concern to me is how a number of people I have spoken with, and this includes young people, are losing their faith. One reason why their faith is being lost is that they see the Church is in a woeful situation and that the bishops appear to refuse to acknowledge this, either because they have not the humility to admit they were wrong; are too blinded by error to see that they are wrong, or are wilfully following their own designs rather than the direction of Vatican II (which stands in direct contrast to today’s man-centred liturgy, religious indifferentism and use of the laity as ministers). We are certainly in a time of crisis; a crisis that is pushing people to opposing extremes: a large portion of the official Church pushing its distorted application of Vatican II further and further while the SSPX appears to harden in one limited understanding of the pre-Vatican II Church. A second reason that faith is lost is that many are fighting a political corner in the Church, be it liberal or Traditional, when they should be fighting to overcome their personal vices; to acquire personal virtues and to promote social virtues.
Many folk seem to have forgotten that there have been times huge crisis before in the Church before. One thinks of the Arian Crisis, of Augustine’s battle against the Donatists, of the split between East and West, and of the Protestant Revolt. Today’s crisis is not something that has no precedent -and just as Rome has always triumphed by the hand of God in the past (since He is indeed faithful to His promise that the Church will not fail) we can believe that Rome will triumph again today (it may not be in our lifetime –and I doubt it will be during the Pontificate of Francis- but it will come).
OVERCOMING THE CRISIS
It is my firm conviction that the Church must  restore the Penny Catechism (the English equivalent of the Baltimore Catechism) to schools (since unless the faith has been changed this cannot be objectionable to the Bishops), and  order that the Novus Ordo be celebrated according to the directives of Vatican II (Latin for the Ordinary with Gregorian Chant as its proper music) and according to the rubrics approved by Pope Paul VI (which favour ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and presuppose Holy communion received on the tongue); rubrics he saw as embodying the reforms required by Vatican II. Until these are restored we must pray for grace for the Church, and challenge respectfully wherever we see Rome and the Bishops making pastoral, liturgical or teaching errors. As an encouragement to readers who are dismayed by the state of the Church and consider leaving the Faith I want to conclude with part of today’s second reading from the Novos Ordo Divine Office. It is a reading from St Augustine:
Our Holy Scriptures do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the Gospel is not silent about scandals, but ‘he who preservers to the end will be saved’…
You find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the time of their parents, and should complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now…
have we forgotten those burdensome times of famine and war [of the Arian Crisis, of Donatism, of the Protestant Revolt? –Fr GD]. What times those were!
Thursday, 4 August 2016
Francis has made remarks that the recent spate of violent acts by Muslims are ‘not a religious war’; that the Muslim religion is ‘one of peace’, and that Catholics too can be violent. According to Francis “the world is at war…it’s not a religious war…It’s a war of interests, a war for money. A war for natural resources and for the dominion of the peoples…Every religion wants peace”
In saying such things Francis can be said to be showing that his opinions are based more on secular PC (politically correct) values, than on Gospel values (thus his aversion to Traditional Catholics and his desire to accommodate cohabitation, civilly ‘re-married’ divorcees and active homosexuality etc. While orthodox Catholics have long decried his statements and leanings toward cohabitation, civilly ‘re-married’ divorcees and homosexual activity, an Isis Magazine has now corrected his statements on Islam and Muslim violence. According to Brietpart.com the Isis article apparently states that:
“This is a divinely-warranted war between the Muslim nation and the nations of disbelief,”
“Indeed, waging jihad – spreading the rule of Allah by the sword – is an obligation found in the Quran, the word of our Lord,”
“The blood of the disbelievers is obligatory to spill by default. The command is clear. Kill the disbelievers, as Allah said, ‘Then kill the polytheists wherever you find them.
“The gist of the matter is that there is indeed a rhyme to our terrorism, warfare, ruthlessness, and brutality…
The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay [tax for infidels] and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you.”
CathNews notes that Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syriac Church has noted that by saying Islam is non-violent Francis is not in tune with the experience of Christians in Syria. Has the Patriarch got it wrong? Have ISIS got themselves all wrong, or is Francis wrong and we are being attacked for religious purposes? I would like to think Francis is right; but he appears to be either incredibly naïve or too PC for the good of his souls and ours.
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Few are likely to deny that getting doctrine and liturgy right is of vital importance; there can be no good pastoral care if souls are not directed in the Truth (Christ) and worship Him appropriately. But fighting doctrinal error and liturgical anarchy can cause us to lose our inner peace -and risk us losing our faith when we are presented with erroneous teaching and illicit liturgies from pillar to post. We begin not only to wonder if God cares, but if He is there at all.
This risk of losing one’s faith in those who fight for correct Doctrine and authentic liturgy is what the young people I mentioned in a previous post were expressing: they asked how they can trust a Church that does not stay faithful to Divine Revelation or believe in a God who cannot protect what He has revealed. Those young people -and many other folk- are suffering from battle-fatigue. The danger for those of us engaged in the battle for orthodox teaching and authentic liturgy is not simply this fatigue, but that of our energy being directed at ecclesial problems rather than our relationship with Christ.
To be sure, those who applaud fluidity of doctrine and liturgical innovation have their own danger to avoid: they are wandering from the Truth which is Christ and from worship appropriate to His Divine Revelation; their personal relationship with Christ who is Truth is being damaged and hindered by their loss of True doctrine.
There is a need for all of us to seek what Josemaria Escriva and Vatican II promoted: the universal call to holiness. If we can focus on developing our own personal holiness through grace, the world will see a different Church; not one torn apart by doctrinal difficulties or lacking a stable universal worship. The sign of a holy Church will be attractive. Certainly the holiness of the Church comes from its indwelling by the Holy Spirit, but that holiness cannot be displayed unless we seek to cooperate with His grace for holiness of life.
Does that mean we ignore doctrinal and liturgical irregularities? I do not think so; I think it means we find a peaceful way to deal with them, and not let them dominate our spiritual lives. We can, for example, still peaceably challenge to those who teach error and engage in liturgical anarchy: we state the Truth, knowing that God is in charge, not us. Saint Padre Pio said we ‘You must hate your defects but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless’; that we are not to ‘worry over things that generate preoccupation, derangement and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God’. Perhaps we can restate this in a way appropriate to our ecclesial struggles: ‘We must hate the defects but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless’; ‘only one thing is necessary: to lift up our heart and love God’. So let us seek holiness of life by prayer and charity, and retain our peace in a quiet heart by gentle, Truth-filled challenge of things and folk which have gone awry.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
It is being suggested that Cardinal Schonborn is to take over the CDF (see here). I cannot feel comfortable with that, for although Cardinal Schonborn took part in the drawing up of the Catechism, he appears to display more of a loyalty to the person of the Pope rather than the Papacy itself (and its duty to defend Doctrine). I say this because Cardinal Schonborn was loyal to the Catechism when St. John-Paul II and Benedict XVI occupied the See of Peter, but appears to have become pro-homosexual under Pope Francis. We do not want someone who blows with the wind of whoever occupies the See of Peter, but someone who recognises that the role of the CDF -and of the Pope- is to protect the Deposit of Faith committed to the Church by Our Lord, not alter it, and that Deposit is under threat from many today.
We need only look to see that even some of our Bishops and priests have supported the (actually impossible) civil ‘union’ of homosexual persons in recent years to detect the threats to the Faith. I do not so much fear the Popes, Bishops and priests who abandon their role of defending The Faith; rather, I fear for the souls of such Popes, Bishops and priests -and the souls of their sheep. The Church is being persecuted by secular society for holding to her Doctrinal Deposit (it is now very difficult to wear a crucifix at work without risking dismissal; difficult to refuse to register a civil union etc), and we need solid shepherds to guide us. Sadly, the Church is not replete with such shepherds.
Sadly, for many of today’s shepherds, pastoral care means ignoring the Truth and refusing to apply the Truth so that offence is not given and emotions are not hurt. In the process, however, they are not simply hurting souls, but killing souls -and if they cannot see that then they have lost the faith, swapping it for belief in a Triune God to whom Truth means nothing, and who came to earth to conquer social sin while ignoring personal (individual sin). In this they can be seen to have lost all belief in a personal God (who is not interested in individual persons but societies) and as such, they cannot lead the people into a personal relationship with God.
We need to pray for our shepherds; we need to pray that they will love Truth and have the courage to proclaim it in the face of a hostile world (Jn.15v18; 17v14). It is not enough that their hearts are good and in the right place; they also have to love and promote Truth -Who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13v8).
Saturday, 16 July 2016
During the past week I had the privilege of being at the Solemn High Mass of a newly ordained priest, Fr James Mawdsley. Speaking to him after Mass I advised him,
“You were not led blindfolded and handcuffed to the sanctuary as into a Burmese prison*, rather your hands have been tied together in prayer and in Christ. Never get used to being a priest; we can get so caught up with the busyness of parish life, and we celebrate Mass so frequently (daily) that it can become routine: never lose the wonder that fills the soul on the day of ordination and the celebration of your first Mass”. I hope Father never gets used to being a priest. I hope that what happens when we celebrate our First Mass is repeated at every Mass we celebrate: that we (hopefully) catch ourselves thinking, “This is God in my hands…who am I that the Lord should descend from heaven at my word to offer Himself to the Father on my/our behalf?”
It was a glorious evening, and Father preached a superb homily. I hope I am faithful to the content and thrust of Father’s sermon when I say that he reminded us that the Church is currently embattled by storms from within and without; that we should never forget the Pope is Successor to Saint Peter, but that even Peter can lose faith and sink into the water rather than walk upon it. He reminded us that we must pray very much for the Pope, the Successor of Peter, and for the Church, amid the storms of today. He reminded us that secular forces are lined-up against the Church and the Gospel, and that these forces must be fought. He reminded us that Islam, which describes itself as a religion of peace, harbours fundamentalism which engages in terrorism, and that such forces must also be resisted. All of this is done only in the faith of Christ (who alone is the Way, the Truth, the Life -and our lasting peace, one might add). After Mass I observed a discussion between a lady and a young layman; they were debating Father having singled out the Muslim Faith for comment. Had the young man not been doing so well I might have interjected that there is a single religion wherein fundamentalists are beheading Christians on beaches, putting bombs on undergrounds and flying planes into buildings; the Muslim Faith, so it was right to single it out. It would have been unjust for Father to add Buddhists, Jews, Hindu's or any other faith to the list of forces to be resisted.
Today I attended Mass in thanksgiving for a priest’s 60 years of priesthood; this is the priest who instructed me in The Faith and handed on a great love for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy sacrifice of the Mass (though he did not at all approve of the Traditional Rite); this is the priest who vested me at my ordination, and whom I thus regard as my father in the faith. He is poorly these days, but his love for the Lord, the Eucharist and the people of God still shines out of him. I remember spending six months with him while completing a course of study, and going into a dark Church one winter morning at 5am to discover he was already there, prostrate before the tabernacle. He once told me he offered his recitation of the Divine Office every day for priests who do not pray.
I have no doubt that all our priests are sincere men with the good of the people at heart, but I do wonder if they have lost the sense of the priesthood: the Novus Ordo is so often offered in a perfunctory manner as though it were nothing more than a celebration and affirmation of the community (hence the recent anger at the suggestion we face the apse for the celebration of Mass, since it is not people-focused). Meanwhile, Confession has become counselling, while preaching has become an exhortation to social work. All of this makes today’s Catholics feel good about themselves in that  the Mass is now about affirming them, rather than a propitiation for their sins;  their rightful feelings of guilt are removed by their reconciliation therapy rather than the real guilt of sin removed by Confession with repentance and absolution;  they can forget about personal sin and focus instead upon social sin (social injustice). How far we have gone in the last 60 years from the worship of God and the salvation of souls.
Until we regain the wonder of the priesthood that I advised Father Mawdsley not to lose; until we again put God at the centre of the Mass, and until we once again guide people to personal holiness by confession, repentance, absolution and amendment of life, we will not save many souls. It all hangs on whether or not the priest comprehends the sacrality of his office and the beauty of the ministry he performs in the Person of Christ. This week’s celebrations have reminded me yet again of the wonder of the ministry to which God called me, and which is nicely captured in the following famous poem by an unknown author:
The Beautiful Hands of a Priest
We need them in life's early morning,
we need them again at its close;
we feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
we seek them when tasting life's woes.
At the altar each day we behold them,
and the hands of a king on his throne
are not equal to them in their greatness:
their dignity stands all alone.
And when we are tempted and wander
to pathways of shame and of sin,
it's the hand of a priest will absolve us
--not once, but again and again.
And when we are taking life's partner,
other hands may prepare us a feast,
but the hand that will bless and unite us
is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy
for the Host which their fingers caress;
what can a poor sinner do better
than to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us
may our courage and strength be increased
by seeing raised o’er us in pardon
the beautiful hands of a priest!
*Read Father's story in his Book, "The Heart must break".