November 2008 Print

Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, Pt. 18

Fr. Matthias Gaudron

Question 60 continued from last month

How might we summarize the spirit that inspired the redaction of the New Mass?

The spirit that inspired the redaction of the new rite of Mass is clearly visible in the General Introduction to the new Missal. It is especially manifest in its Article 7, which states:

The Lord’s Supper or Mass is the sacred assembly or meeting of the People of God, met together with a priest presiding, to celebrate the Memorial of the Lord. For this reason the promise of Christ is particularly true of a local congregation of the Church: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst” (Mt. 18:20).
What stands out in Article 7?

The description Article 7 gives of the Mass has nothing specifically Catholic and could just as easily apply to the Protestant Supper. If Article 7 is taken as a definition, it must even be considered heretical.

How does Article 7 contradict Church teaching?

Article 7 contradicts Church teaching on the three essential points that distinguish the Catholic Mass from the Protestant Supper:

1) The Mass is essentially a (propitiatory) sacrifice, not an assembly of the faithful met together to celebrate a “memorial.”

2) The priest is essentially a (free and voluntary) instrument by which Christ renews His sacrifice, and not a mere president of an assembly.

3) Our Lord is present in the Eucharist with his body and blood, and not only in a spiritual manner (as when two or three persons are gathered in His name).

Yet is it not true that the Mass is an assembly of the faithful?

The presence of the faithful is not necessary for the celebration of holy Mass (even if it is desirable). The third Eucharistic prayer favors error on this point by affirming: “From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that...a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.”

Is this bad presentation of the Mass proper to Article 7, or is it to be found throughout the General Introduction of the new missal?

This bad presentation of the Mass is to be found throughout the General Introduction of the 1969 missal, of which Article 7 is the perfect summary:

1) The word sacrifice appears a few times in the 341 articles of this Introduction with a vague meaning, but propitiatory sacrifice is never spoken of (the Mass is presented, rather, as a banquet, a feast, etc.).

2) The fact that the priest–and he alone–is the instrument by which our Lord, renews His sacrifice during the consecration is never mentioned either.1

3) The expression “real presence” is equally absent. The “presence” of Christ in the Eucharist is mentioned, but in the same way as one speaks of His “presence” in sacred Scripture. And the term “transubstantiation,” which is the only word that unequivocally expresses the Catholic faith, is also omitted.2

Surely the mere fact that the word transubstantiation does not appear in the General Introduction to the 1969 missal is not enough to support the conclusion that its authors do not believe it.

It is not a matter of judging the personal faith of the new missal’s authors, but of knowing whether, objectively, the Catholic Faith is expressed in it. In 1794, Pius VI condemned a proposition of the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, which did express the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist correctly, for the sole reason that if failed to employ the word transubstantiation. This single omission was reason enough for Pius VI to declare that the proposition was favorable to heretics.3 Now, the General Introduction of the 1969 missal is much less clear on this subject than the Synod of Pistoia; and at the same time, the new missal suppresses many marks of respect towards the Blessed Sacrament. It is obviously dangerous to the faith.

Was not the General Introduction of the new missal subsequently corrected?

The General Introduction of the Missal, and especially its Article 7, raised such an outcry that it was modified as early as 1970. The words transubstantiation and propitiatory were notably added (once, so that it could no longer be said that they were absent) in the “typical” (that is to say, official) edition of the new Missal, promulgated March 26, 1970, by the Roman Congregation on Divine Worship. But the new rite itself, of which Article 7 perfectly expressed the spirit, was not changed! It continues to impart to the faithful who participate in it the same idea of the Mass: an assembly of the People of God celebrating a memorial under the presidency of the priest. This is nearly the Protestant conception.

61) Was the protestantization of the new rite of Mass intentional?

The French Academy member Jean Guitton, a great friend and confidant of Paul VI, declared that the Pope had intended to remove from the Mass anything that might trouble the Protestants. In fact, Paul VI asked six Protestant pastors to collaborate in the drafting of the New Mass. A famous photograph shows him in the company of these Protestant ministers. One of them, Max Thurian, a member of the Protestant monastic community of Taizé, later explained: “There is nothing in this renewed Mass that can really bother evangelical Protestants.”4 Later, in 1988, he was ordained priest without having previously abjured Protestantism.

When did Jean Guitton reveal this intention of Paul VI?

During a radio program devoted to Paul VI (December 19, 1993, on Radio Courtoisie), Jean Guitton described in the following terms the intention Paul VI had in devising the new rite:

First of all, Paul VI’s Mass is presented as a banquet, and emphasizes much more the participatory aspect of a banquet and much less the notion of sacrifice, of a ritual sacrifice before God with the priest showing only his back. So, I do not think I’m mistaken in saying that the intention of Paul VI and the new liturgy that bears his name is to ask of the faithful a greater participation at Mass; it is to make more room for Sacred Scripture and less room for everything...–some would say for magic, others for transubstantiation, which is of Catholic faith. In other words, Paul VI evinced an ecumenical intention to efface, or at least to correct, or at least to relax what is too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass, and to converge the Mass, I repeat, with the Calvinist Supper.
Are there other testimonies of the ecumenical orientation of the new liturgy?

The principal author of the liturgical reform, Fr. Annibale Bugnini (1912-82) never made a secret of his ecumenical intentions. He made a rather significant admission of as much in 1965, in a striking sentence worth reading twice:

The Church was guided by the love of souls and the desire to do everything in order to smooth the way to union, to remove every stone which could represent even the shadow of a risk of a stumbling block or some displeasure for our separated brethren.5
Let’s reread it: remove every stone (1) that might represent (conditional tense) (2) even the shadow(3) of a risk(4) of displeasure.
How did the Protestants understand Paul VI’s New Mass?

Many Protestants, who obviously refused the traditional Mass, stated that they saw no difficulty henceforth in using the new rite to celebrate their Protestant Supper. In addition to Max Thurian (La Croix, May 30, 1969), one can quote G. Siegvalt (Le Monde, November 22, 1969); Roger Mehl (Le Monde, September 10, 1970); Ottfried Jordahn (conference of June 15, 1975, at Maria Laach); and lastly, the official declaration of the Supreme Consistory of the Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine on December 8, 1973.

Were the Protestants the only non-Catholics to influence the preparation of the new liturgy?

Besides the influence of Protestants, the liturgical reform of 1969 was influenced by Freemasonry.

How did Freemasonry exert its influence on the liturgical reform of 1969?

Freemasonry influenced the liturgical reform indirectly at first, thanks to the opening to the world preached by Vatican II at the very moment that civil society began to be dominated by Masonic slogans: progress, the cult of man, freedom, secularization, tolerance, equality, etc. Everything that manifested divine transcendence, the sense of the sacred, respect for authority, contempt for the world, the acknowledgment of our status as sinners, the importance of the spiritual combat, the need for sacrifice and reparation, or simply the clear acknowledgment of a supernatural order, seemed ill-adapted to “modern man,” and was eliminated or watered down.

Can you give some examples of these changes?

The new liturgy modified or expurgated texts speaking too clearly of hell or the devil (the Dies Irae in the Mass for the Dead; the Collects of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost and the feasts of St. Nicholas, St. Camillus de Lellis, etc.); of original sin (Collect of Christ the King); of penance (Collects of St. Raymond of Peñafort, St. John-Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars; of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday); the contempt of the things of the earth (Collect of St. Francis of Assisi, the Postcommunion of the second Sunday of Advent, the Secret of the third Sunday after Easter); the need to make satisfaction for sins (Collect of the Sacred Heart); the enemies of the Church (Communion of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and the Collects of St. Pius V, St. John Capistrano, etc.); the dangers of error (the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of heretics and schismatics, and the Collects of St. Peter Canisius, St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. Augustine of Canterbury); the miracles of saints (Collects of St. Nicholas, St. Francis Xavier, St. Raymond of Peñafort, St. John of God, St. Frances Roman, etc.).6

Were these suppressions really the expression of a new spirit?

That same year of 1969, Paul VI declared:

After the Council a wave of peace and optimism has swelled in the Church, a stimulating and positive Christianity, the friend of life, of worldly values....[result of] an intention to render Christianity acceptable and lovable, indulgent and open, rid of every trace of medieval rigorism or pessimistic outlook on men and morals.7

62) Is the promulgation of a rite covered by the Church’s infallibility?

Sometimes it is asserted that the promulgation of a new rite or the publication of a universal law (for example, a liturgical law) would automatically come under the Church’s infallibility, such that there could be nothing in it false or harmful to the Church. But this is not true. The same rule applies to the liturgy as applies to papal teaching. Just as not every word of the pope is infallible, but rather he is only infallible under certain conditions, so also not every liturgical rule is infallible per se. It will only be infallible in the event that the ecclesiastical authority promulgates it with the full weight of his authority and invokes his infallibility.

Has it happened that in the past the Holy See published liturgical books that might favor error?

Yes, it has happened (though exceptionally) that the Holy See published liturgical books favoring error.

Can you give an example?

For a long time the Roman Pontifical contained a rubric recommending that, during an ordination to the priesthood, the bishop assure that the ordinand touch the chalice and the paten, since it was by his so doing that the sacerdotal character was conferred. This rubric was suppressed after the declaration of Pope Pius XII (Sacramentum Ordinis, 1947) clarifying that only the imposition of hands constitutes the essential matter of priestly ordination.

Can you provide another example?

The Roman Pontifical of the 13th century contained an even more surprising error: it affirmed that the consecration of wine into the blood of Christ could be effected even without the words of consecration by mere contact of the wine with a consecrated host.

How can the presence of such errors in liturgical books approved by the Holy See be explained?

These errors are possible because in approving these rubrics, the Holy See did not intend to give them the value of dogmatic definitions. That was clear to all. (Theologians were discussing the question of the matter of the sacrament of holy orders until the time of Pius XII; they did not consider the rubrics as sufficient to decide the question.)

What can we conclude from these examples?

These examples clearly show that the Holy See does not always engage its infallibility in liturgical matters; in order to ascertain to what extent infallibility is engaged, one must carefully consider the nature, the essential content, the circumstances, and the degree of authority of official decisions.

Isn’t it surprising that the Church does not always engage its infallibility in the liturgy?

Even the Ecumenical Councils and pontifical documents are far from engaging infallibility in each of their parts, even when they have as a direct and primary end to teach doctrine. It is therefore logical that liturgical rites, which only teach indirectly, do not always engage it either.

If the liturgy does not always engage infallibility, may one then freely criticize the Church’s established liturgy?

Even though it does not always engage infallibility (and thus it can exceptionally contain errors), the liturgy established by the Church must be venerated and respected. It would be rash, scandalous, and offensive to pious ears to pretend to submit it in principle to one’s particular judgment.8

Must the discipline and liturgy established by the Holy See always be accepted, even when they do not engage infallibility?

As a general rule, yes, the discipline and liturgy established by the Holy See must always be accepted integrally (just as one must adhere to the whole of its teaching without limiting oneself to believing infallible dogmas). In case of an exceptional crisis, however, should one possess evidence that a non-infallible decision endangers one’s faith, one may, and even must, resist it.

It is then possible that a pope might require the promulgation of a liturgy dangerous to the faith?

The present situation unfortunately shows that, in a time of exceptional crisis, a pope might promulgate a liturgy which, without being properly heretical, is dangerous to the faith. Such a catastrophe is facilitated by the liberal mentality of the post-conciliar popes, who visible shrink from exercising their infallibility. However, it is impossible for such a liturgy to be peacefully accepted by the whole Church (which would mean that the gates of hell had prevailed9). In fact, the harmful character of the new liturgy was solemnly denounced at Rome itself by cardinals (among whom, Cardinal Ottaviani, who had been the pro-prefect of the Holy Office, hence second in command in the Vatican, under three popes in succession); throughout the world, bishops, priests, and faithful publicly refused to celebrate it or associate with it.

Can one be sure that Paul VI’s new liturgy does not engage papal infallibility?

As regards the New Mass, Pope Paul VI himself declared that its rites can receive differing theological evaluations: particular rite or rubric amounts in itself to a dogmatic definition. Such things are all subject to a theological evaluation, differing according to their context in the liturgy. They are all gestures and words related to a religious activity that is lived and living by reason of an inexpressible mystery, a divine presence, and that is carried out in diverse ways. Such religious activity is of a kind that only a theological critique can analyze and articulate in doctrinal formulas that satisfy logic.10

Translated exclusively for Angelus Press from Katholischer Katechismus zur kirchlichen Kriese by Fr. Matthias Gaudron, professor at the Herz Jesu Seminary of the Society of St. Pius X in Zaitzkofen, Germany. The original was published in 1997 by Rex Regum Press, with a preface by the District Superior of Germany, Fr. Franz Schmidberger. This translation is based on the second edition published in 1999 by Rex Regum Verlag, Schloß Jaidhof, Austria. Subdivisions and slight revisions made by the Dominican Fathers of Avrillé have been incorporated into the translation.

1 Pius XII taught very clearly: “The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful” (Mediator Dei, §92). The General Introduction, however, asserts that in the Mass the priest speaks sometimes in the name of the people and sometimes in his own name (Art. 13), but fails to say that at the essential moment, at the consecration, he is the representative of Christ alone.

2 If absolutely necessary, some Protestants will accept the term “real presence,” but not “transubstantiation,” which very precisely designates the change of the entire substance of the bread into the substance of the glorious body of our Lord, the outward appearances alone remaining.

3 DS 2629 [Dz. 1529].

4 Quoted in La Croix, May 30, 1969.

5 L’Osservatore Romano, March 17, 1965.

6 Here we are summarizing the study of Dom Edouard Guillou, O.S.B., “Les oraisons de la nouvelle messe et l’esprit de la réforme liturgique,” Fideliter, No. 86, March-April 1992, 58ff. It provides the complete text of these prayers and some complementary examples.

7 Pope Paul VI, Documentation Catholique, 1538 (October 20, 1969), col. 1372.

8 In the Bull Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI condemned the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia (1786) which had declared that, in the discipline established and approved by the Church, it is necessary to distinguish “what is necessary or useful...from that which is useless or too burdensome..., but more so, from that which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism.” Pius VI declared this proposition “false, rash, scandalous...” (DS 2678, Dz. 1578).

9 Pius VI, in the Constitution Auctorem Fidei (August 28, 1794), condemned the Jansenists, who spoke “as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome, but which is even dangerous and harmful...” (Dz. 1578). This text, which has neither the authority nor the precision of a dogmatic definition, shows very well that the ecclesiastical authorities enjoy a certain infallibility in disciplinary and liturgical matters, but does not indicate the conditions of its exercise nor its exact limits. While waiting for the Church to decide the matter, theologians are reduced to hypotheses on the matter.

10 Paul VI, Address to a general audience on the new Order of Mass about to be introduced, 19 November 1969: AAS 61 (1969), 777-780; English version: Documents on the Liturgy, 1963-1979: Conciliar, Papal, and Curial Texts (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1982), p. 539.