...When are Catholics going to start connecting the dots as to the disaster that has befallen the Sacred Liturgy? |
by Gary Morella
"The Traditional Latin Mass is the most beautiful of liturgies with the priest and laity conveying the meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ and the commemoration of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in the most reverential of fashions befitting the Triune God of Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The sacred mystery of the Catholic Church is visibly present in the old Rite. You do not have to go in search of it; it is inherent because the Catholic Church is a Church of mystery. The rubrics, posture, architecture, music, those glorious Gregorian chants, told you that you were part of a transcendent event, God on earth in the Church that He founded, knowing that you came to adore God, your focus fixed on Him alone without Whom you cease to exist. In short, you are in a very special place, and the demeanor of all therein, needs to reflect that truth. Sadly, that is no longer the case because the focus has been changed from God to man, from the supernatural to the natural, which is a sin."
Editor's Note: The article below comes from Gary Morella commenting on various articles of late, specifically the article by Dr. Thomas Drolesky whose link to the article Worse than deja vu all over again was featured in Friday's issue of The Daily Catholic.
I am also one of those individuals who, like Dr. Drolesky, tried to find solace in documents such as Inaestimabile Donum. But I quickly discovered two things: 1) for every citation in such documents where one could argue for the importance of a traditional respect for Catholic devotion, in particular, the Mass, such as the prominence of tabernacles on the "high altars" of Catholic Churches wherein resides the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, there was always another place where such respect was de facto discouraged, and 2) no one in a position to do anything about it cared about such documents, as the dissenters had done their work well.
Consider the following observations.
Today in the Church God is being increasingly relegated to a side chapel using the concilior docs of Vatican II for justification. Typically, Eucharisticum Mysterium is quoted:
"It is therefore recommended that, as far as possible, the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the middle or center part of the church, above all in those churches where marriages and funerals take place frequently, and in places which are much visited for their artistic and historical treasures."
What is not quoted from Eucharisticum Mysterium is a subsequent paragraph which says that the tabernacle MAY be placed on the altar.
Inaestimabile Donum states that:
"The tabernacle in which the Eucharist is kept can be located on an altar, or away from it, in a spot in the church which is very prominent, truly noble, and duly decorated, or in a chapel suitable for private prayer and for adoration by the faithful."
The "away from" option pertains to historic cathedrals which are visited daily by tourists who may not keep silent or convey the necessary reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament. That needed to be formally spelled out in this document because those masquerading as Catholic, who do not care for such prominence of place for God, will use every avenue open to them to argue for his removal, "out of sight, out of mind". Since these cathedrals are also parishes, the parishioners have a right to private prayer and worship of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Blessed Sacrament has every right to be respected. So, there is a good reason to have a side chapel for private worship of the Blessed Sacrament in places like the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C. that are large enough to have a side chapel which is still part of the church building and still visible to all.
However, most churches do not have a tourist traffic problem. Consequently, there is no good reason to move the Blessed Sacrament from the sanctuary. The negative effects connected with moving the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary have been noted by Msgr. Peter J. Elliot as stated in his book, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite:
"Studying the development within these directives, we see first of all that Inaestimabile Donum modifies the favor for a eucharistic chapel in GIRM, no. 276. In the decade separating the two instructions, problems had arisen with a diminution of devotion to the Eucharist, not dissociated from inadequate attention to the place of reservation in new or renovated churches. This may explain why Canon 938.2 seems to reflect the mind of Inaestimabile Donum more than GIRM and the instructions on eucharistic worship. Canon 938.2 is not a mere synthesis of previous instructions. It corrects misinterpretations of those rules by saying only: 'The tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is reserved should be placed in a distinguished place in a church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitably adorned and conducive to prayer.' We also see that locating a tabernacle on an altar always remains a valid option and is nowhere ruled out."
The most "prominent" place in most churches and chapels is in the center of the sanctuary, which everyone faces when they come in to pray. When the tabernacle is removed from this most prominent place, the faithful are left with the impression that the Blessed Sacrament is not worthy of adoration which begs the question, "what or who is worthy of adoration?" The answer would seem to be our fellow parishioners whom we now face in many Churches instead of our God. The lack of kneelers in our Churches only reinforces this gross misconception.
This is the most likely message that will be conveyed to the people who see no other reason for removing the tabernacle, which has contributed the massive loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist among American Catholics over the last number of years. If the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is lost, the Faith is lost - an axiom. If the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is destroyed, Roman Catholicism is destroyed - another axiom.
Also, if the tabernacle is moved to a side chapel which is not prominent and in full view of the faithful, especially if it is not connected to the main body of the Church, only those people who visit the Blessed Sacrament regularly will be aware of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How can our children be catechized concerning the Church's faith in the Eucharist given this poor example?
Today, many of our Churches have turned into "Our Lady of Perpetual Dins" because people stand around and talk in church, even when the Blessed Sacrament is present. The removal of the tabernacle from the central position of so many churches has contributed to the general loss of reverence toward our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. So, another negative effect of moving the tabernacle out of the sanctuary into a separate eucharistic chapel is that the church building becomes Protestantized: a church of God becomes a church of the people and a church of prayer becomes a church of fellowship. But, our Lord said quite vehemently: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'" (Matthew 21:13).
It is true to say that Christ is present in the minister, in persona Christi, in the Word, in the congregation, and everywhere in creation. But the key is that He is SUBSTANTIALLY present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament, a Real Presence which transcends all others which are only spiritual. I will not fall down and adore a tree. But I will get on my knees and adore my God in the Holy Eucharist. This centerpiece of the Faith has been lost to a generation of Catholics who do not believe it because it has been removed from the center of our Churches.
Something is very wrong when the acclamation at the beginning of each station of the Cross is changed from "we adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world" to "we worship you O Christ, in ourselves, and in our neighbor" which is dangerously close to pantheism. I observed this at a RCIA service in the Johnstown PA Cathedral. There is not much of a difference between the latter and a secular world that worships "ourselves" and "neighbors" exclusively as evidenced by the 6 PM news.
We are told that God is too perfect to be in the center of our Churches. Rather, He must be placed in a chapel befitting His title as Supreme Being where He can be given our undivided attention. Now, I ask you if you had friends coming over to visit your house and you were particularly proud of your father, would you restrict your friends visitation to one room of your house with your father likewise restricted? Of course not. If you really loved your father, you would want him to meet your friends in the living room or the most prominent room of the house and you would not ask him to sit in a chair toward the back recognizing the fact that he wants to enjoy your company and that of your companions during the course of their visit. To do otherwise would be cruel and indicative of a lack of respect for one's flesh and blood.
Do we treat our God any less?
There was no need to address the need for sacred silence in the Mass of Pope Saint Pius V prior to Vatican II. It was intrinsic to it to allow the Faithful precious time to commune with God, which is unique to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in particular at the Consecration, the most important part of the Mass defining it as Catholic.
To somehow insinuate, as many liturgical nazis nowadays do, that the laity are not fully participating in the liturgy is to convey a gross misunderstanding of it. Full participation does not demand constant verbalization, singing, swaying in the pews, or listening to drumbeats ad nauseam where entertainment takes the place of sacrifice. Moments of sacred silence can be indicative of the most fervent participation imaginable in Church liturgies. This is particularly true of the old Latin Rite. There is a solemnity about it that tells all that something special is happening in the Church. God Almighty is present there and, as such, deserves our undivided attention and respect. There is no leaving Mass talking to one's friends aloud at great length as if you are in a mall before you get out the doors. There is no "Our Lady of Perpetual Dins." Rather, there is a feeling that you are humbly privileged to be in the real presence of God with the symbolism of the rite unmistakably conveying that to you. You kneel at the Holy Communion rails and wait for the principal celebrant with his consecrated hands to bring God to you, not Joe or Sally down the street. You stay after Mass and say the prayer to Saint Michael because you believe that the devil exists. You would not dream of touching the host with your hands because you are "unworthy" befitting the Centurion's prayer said before receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in the host, "Lord, I am not worthy for Thou to come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."
The Traditional Latin Mass is the most beautiful of liturgies with the priest and laity conveying the meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ and the commemoration of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in the most reverential of fashions befitting the Triune God of Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The sacred mystery of the Catholic Church is visibly present in the old Rite. You do not have to go in search of it; it is inherent because the Catholic Church is a Church of mystery. The rubrics, posture, architecture, music, those glorious Gregorian chants, told you that you were part of a transcendent event, God on earth in the Church that He founded, knowing that you came to adore God, your focus fixed on Him alone without Whom you cease to exist. In short, you are in a very special place, and the demeanor of all therein, needs to reflect that truth. Sadly, that is no longer the case because the focus has been changed from God to man, from the supernatural to the natural, which is a sin.
Whatever major problems are confronting Holy Mother Church at the present time, none of them have a prayer of being solved, and I mean none of them to include all of the dissenting intentional ignorance of the traditional, immutable, infallible Magisterial teachings on faith and morals until we restore that most beautiful of all Catholic prayers, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to what it was before the Vatican II innovators dismantled it piecemeal into something unrecognizable as Catholic. And if that takes a Trent II, as suggested by some, then let us pray for such a blessed event, a council where the teachings of the Church are affirmed by her theology, which is omnipresent in the Tridentine Mass in its entirety.
We lost much with the demise of the "old" Mass, which was the intention of the liberal periti of Vatican II. They made sure that the seeds for this inevitable demise were planted in many Vatican II documents that encouraged a myriad of special options. They did this in the name of bowing to the customs of the culture, a false enculturation in tune with a corresponding false ecumenism that now tells us that Catholicism is equal with any other religion, and there is no dire need for conversion for eternity's sake. Lest we forget, many martyrs shed their blood by refusing to "bow to the customs of the culture" because many of those customs were pagan. Today we see that same paganism de facto being encouraged at meetings called by Catholics in the name of this false ecumenism, which is nothing more than indifferentism or syncretism.
Real ecumenism is standing in contradiction, not accommodation to the world, as a witness to Christ's Church and the need for conversion to it. And it's high time we started practicing it as reinforced by the beauty of the Tridentine Mass, which needs to be restored, instead of making statements to the effect that it is some kind of "pariah" which must never to be considered again.
For past articles in FOCUS, see FOCUS ARCHIVES