Tw weeks ago we attended the funeral service of a friend of ours: she was Episcopalian. St. Matthew Episcopal Church was not unfamiliar to us, as we had been there previously for some concerts. The church has a rather spacious lobby, almost as large as the worship space proper, which also includes a balcony, much like a theater.
Although we had never been there for any religious ceremony, we felt, as the service began, as if we had seen it all before: the hall-like unadorned walls, save for the imposing but generally hollow banners; the demeanor and attire of the people; the multiple concelebrants; the number of women in clerical garb moving around on the platform. All of this reminded us of the Novus Ordo church we left twelve years ago, never to return again. As the service progressed, our uncomfortable sense of déjà vu was further deepened: the ritual, the mannerism, the prayers, the songs, the very words used were practically identical to those used in our former church. Only two things differed from that of the Novus Ordo mass we used to attend.
First, the presider (it took us a while, but eventually we figured out who he was) used the words “…shed for you and for many” in his prayer over the chalice, instead of the devious mistranslation which had been used in our old Novus Ordo “ …shed for you and for all” (we understand that this has been changed, at last, almost 50 years after the institution of the new rite and five years after the papal injunction to do so).
Second, in the Episcopalian service everyone in the assembly was invited to partake of communion under both species, without distinction of faiths. This did not happen in our former church, but our seeing many people whom we knew were Catholics going to the Episcopalian communion during the funeral service made us wonder what may be going on today in the Novus Ordo.
Perhaps the Protestant lady who was in the RCIA class we used to give in our church (nostra culpa, nostra culpa, nostra maxima culpa) was right, after all, when she said: “Why should I convert? Your service is very much like the one in my church!” In fact, she eventually left. Today, the similarity of the Novus Ordo Missae and the Episcopalian rite is indeed striking. On our way home we asked ourselves who actually copied from whom. In any case, the end result is the same: religious syncretism. May the Lord have mercy on us all!
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Angelo and Marianna Gattozzi