One of the marvels of the Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass is its ability to keep us closely connected to the reality of the Communion of Saints. At every Holy Mass we come face to face with various saints whose lives are of such importance that their names have been forever established as part of the Canon. Not only are we remembering them and asking for their intercession, we are acknowledging them by name as people who lived such exemplary lives that we wish to be granted the grace of joining their company in God's Kingdom!
They can talk all they want about the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for baseball or Canton, Ohio for football or the Walk of Fame in Hollywood or endless acknowledgments of earthly accomplishments, but they are all for naught in the long run. The true Hall of Fame is forever enshrined in the Canon of the Mass when we recognize the Saints the Church has always recognized as those worthy of such honors not only on earth but in Heaven as well.
While the church of the New Order has for the most part quietly relegated these saints to the dust bin of tradition, Catholics have the extraordinary privilege, through the true Mass, of participating in handing on the legacy of these remarkable saints.
Before I go further, let me explain that having spent most of my life within the Novus Ordo establishment, I am painfully aware that while "Eucharistic Prayer No. 1" retained the names of the saints as mentioned in the Canon during the Commemoration of the Saints and the Commemoration of the Dead, this same "Eucharistic Prayer" is completely avoided by the majority of priests. It is also worth mentioning that outside of the names of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph her husband, Peter, Paul and Andrew, the rest of the names of the saints and martyrs are within brackets, meaning they may be eliminated altogether if the priest so chooses. (St. Joseph Sunday Missal, copyright 1974-1977) How sad.
In the True Mass Our Lady is mentioned five times, in the Confiteor (said once by the priest, and twice by the server) in the Suscipe - the Offering to the Blessed Trinity at the end of the Offertory, and in the Communicantes - the Commemoration of the Saints in the Canon of the Mass before the Consecration. Likewise Saints Peter and Paul are in those same prayers. Also in the Canon of the True Mass in the Communication of Saints, besides Our Lady, all the Apostles are mentioned along with the early Popes.
No matter how slowly, it is with certainty that these saints are being forgotten; erased from the Canon of the Mass; erased from the memory of the faithful who plod along under the yoke of the New Order. In the unlikely event that a priest of the New Order does use "Eucharistic Prayer No. 1" and mentions the saints whose names are forever inscribed in the true Canon of the Mass, the reality is that the names of these magnificent saints are meaningless to the majority of modern Catholics.
I had mentioned that in the "Eucharistic Prayer No. 1" St. Joseph is included. That seems appropriate since he is the Patron of the Universal Church, and yet, he was not included in the Latin Mass. When attempts to include him were made, Pope Pius XII said that while it is laudatory that the faithful would like to acknowledge St. Joseph, he as Pope could do nothing to change anything within the Canon of the Mass for it was divinely given. Think about that when you see what Paul VI did to the beloved Mass of the Roman Rite.
I know there is, within the New Order, a push to try and recapture some of tradition, but for the most part it is to compromise what truly is uncompromisable. Too often, in order to avoid upsetting the Novus Ordo applecart, they incorporate aspects of the old into the new. This is still a hybrid Mass and not the True Mass. An example of this can be seen in the Mass as televised on EWTN. There, we see the Novus Ordo priests trying to return some dignity to the beleaguered New Mass by dragging "Eucharistic Prayer No. 1" from the garbage and attempting to breathe life back into what is left of the Canon of the Traditional Roman Rite. While I applaud the effort, there are two things wrong here. First, at some point Catholics must admit that the Mass on EWTN is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the Mass that is being experienced by Novus Ordo Catholics across this nation or in the rest of the world. Secondly, and more importantly, the words of Consecration are not the unchangeable holy words which Pope Saint Pius V decreed must NEVER be changed. [Ed. Note: See Quo Primum and De defectibus].
Unfortunately too many are mesmerized by whatever EWTN pushes and think that is what is truly Catholic today. The fact is that what they offer is still a LONG WAY from returning to the magnificence and Sacrifice of the true Mass. It is my belief that for an incredible number of Catholics EWTN is a bandaid, a painkiller, if you will, to help them survive the massacre of Catholicism in their own New Order parishes by living a life revolving around 'TV-Land Catholicism.' In reality, EWTN does not represent the real current or trend toward which the church of the New Order is swirling. On the other hand, they surely do not represent Tradition. This television network is simply masking the tragic reality from the eyes of Catholics who still retain a strand of hope that the Church will be restored to sanity, holiness and dignity. Sadly, many such Catholics live quiet lives of desperation while turning their backs on traditional Catholic communities that retain and keep alive the dignity and holy traditions of the Church as handed down for centuries, and for which such New Order Catholics long. Yet, instead of fighting for their Faith and returning their parishes to being truly Catholic in every way, they content themselves to escape by relying on EWTN. In this aspect, EWTN is doing a great disservice to Catholics everywhere.
Assuming there are many Catholics who, like myself, have been deprived of the knowledge about the saints named in the Canon of the Mass, it is my intention to spend the next several columns introducing these saints in a personal fashion. Hopefully, we can then understand something of the spiritual immensity of their lives which caused the remembrance of their names to be written in the Mass for all times. At the mention of their names during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it will be for us a moment of true encounter with names and faces of dear ones whom we hold close to our hearts and with whom we joyfully await the opportunity to join at that "ineffable banquet" where God is to His saints, "true light, fulfillment of desires, eternal joy, unalloyed gladness and perfect bliss" (Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas).
In my next column I will concentrate on the Apostles forever enshrined and remembered at every Holy Mass in the Canon of the true Mass. It is in the true Mass where we come closest on this earth to experiencing the 'true light, fulfillment of desires, eternal joy, unalloyed gladness and perfect bliss.'