March 3, 2004
vol 15, no. 63

    Some Initial Objections

    by Kevin M. Tierney

Editor's Note: We are proud to introduce yet another series in The Daily Catholic today with the debut of Kevin M. Tierney's collaboration with Jacob Michael in a series simply called "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" which, of course, translated means roughly how one prays is how one believes. As you can see the differences between the two are as clear as black and white. One, the Latin Mass is full and reverent, the Novus Ordo sterile and bland. It needs innovation and novelty to spice things up. The Latin Mass merely depends on the Divine. This series will compare the Propers of the synthetic Novus Ordo with the absolute Propers of the Traditional Latin Mass to show all that the NOM comes up far, far inferior, if not worse. Many might place the blame on the venom of the vernacular, but we all know what vipers injected this poison. It must be sucked out and spit out forever. Hopefully this series will give readers motivation to expedite that process in the counter-revolution dedicated to taking back the Mystical Body of Christ for Christ!

   Your humble journalist has received some mixed reactions to his latest foray in apologetics for Traditional Catholicism. While many people have written thankful that one is willing to go to the heart of the manner, and show that the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass are indeed far superior in their Propers (my colleague Jacob Michael will also show how the Ordinary of the Mass is also superior) than that of the Novus Ordo. Others have responded with some objections, some very typical, and others that need to carefully be examined.

   First, it is entirely just for one ask just exactly why I am doing this. In the end, what I do I do for the concern of souls, of faithful Catholics everywhere. Furthermore, in promoting the Traditional Latin Mass, I intend to show that I am promoting the desires and will of Holy Mother Church. In today's Latin Rite, the Church has given us a choice. While many debate endlessly if the SSPX forced the Vatican to offer this choice or not, in the end, we still have a choice. Therefore, informed, faithful Catholics, in their wishes to take advantage of what Holy Mother Church has given, should study this issue, as it is of grave importance.

   Let's give this some further thought. Why do we go to Mass? Whether it be those known as Traditionalists, Neo-Catholics, or your average faithful in the pews that don't follow these debates, we all go for to Holy Mass for two reasons. We Catholics attend Mass first and foremost for the Worship of God, and secondly for the instruction and edification of the faithful. Some may emphasize one over the other, but in the end, these are the big reasons. Therefore, we should seek out such a liturgy that enhances one's worship of God, and their instruction and edification. If it comes to the point where one Mass is proven to be gravely deficient (it's validity at this point being utterly irrelevant), one must make a decision in conscience not to attend this liturgy. The Church has provided for such, as the Traditional Latin Mass is a valid option, and attending Masses at Society Chapels do indeed fulfill a Sunday Obligation, if people are concerned about that. It is now established that there are two options, therefore, a choice should be made.

   Another reason I have set out to write this series is to counter much misinformation set out by partisans and polemicists in the wake of Vatican II, as they moved to demonize much of what the faithful knew about the Traditional Mass, to usher in the Novus Ordo. They will claim that the Traditional Mass was too "depressing", not focusing on the happiness that the Christian should have. We must first consider the fact that we are sinners in need of salvation as something we should realize as not being in an advantageous position. Indeed, a position of advantage would be saving ourselves, something we cannot do. After this consideration, it will be my intention to show the true flexibility, and the diversity of the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass in her Propers, compared to the one-sided banality of the Propers of the Novus Ordo. I intend to demonstrate that if we wish to Worship as Catholics, reinforced in our doctrines, then the Traditional Latin Mass, after all examination, becomes the clear option.

   There are those who will admit Holy Mother Church gives us this choice, yet further object to any honest criticism/analysis of the Novus Ordo as sheltering "disobedience to the Second Vatican Council and the Holy Father", and that it is an exercise in futility, since "The Eucharist is there in both cases, and that is what matters." We have already considered that indeed, it is those who make these comparisons exhibiting true obedience to the Church. Now, we shall touch on the issue of validity, or as I at times refer to it, "C.S. Lewis Catholicism."

   This moniker is not meant as a slander to one of the most influential authors of modern history, I must stress that. One of his most famous books was mere Christianity, a concept of Christian unity that focused on the essentials. We have the essential, which is all that matters. Everything else is just window dressing, and not problematic. Those who make the argument that since "The Eucharist is there" this comparison and criticism is an exercise in futility are not being consistent I would argue.

   Suppose you had to undergo surgery in which it was a life or death manner. The surgery is very risky. There are only two known doctors who perform such a surgery. Both have credentials to perform this type of surgery, both have the essentials to do so. Doctor "A" has performed the operation with little difficulty, and has been very well respected in his field. Doctor "B" has had some successful surgeries, but currently has 3 medical malpractice suits pending against him, and has already been found guilty of previous aberrations in surgery! Is it not right for the former to point out the latter is vastly inferior in the quality, and success of the operation? Would you not also examine not only their credentials and essential material, but also numerous other factors, to come to an informed decision? The answer is plain, in that such comparison and criticism of two valid approaches is indeed warranted. Yet if it is valid on this level, it is also valid when it comes to comparison/criticism of the two liturgical forms we have in the Latin Rite of the Church today. We must not only look at validity, but quality, fruitfulness, and a host of other factors.

   The first few criticisms I believe deserve little warrant when one undertakes such an examination. Indeed, I have only repeated them to finally lay them to rest, so an honest, intelligent discussion and examination of the issues at hand can develop. The final objection I will consider at first seems like a very warranted charge, but upon close examination, not only backfires, but proves the case for the Traditional Latin Mass all the more.

   The criticism is that we are making faulty comparisons with the Propers. The Novus Ordo you see, the only way we can compare it is if we use the Latin Novus Ordo. Any English translations were most likely done by ICEL, an organization numerous Catholics (now finally) admit there are numerous problems with, and indeed, is essentially no more. Therefore, comparing an English translation of the Missal of 1962, and an English Translation of the Novus Ordo Missae is not fair. Let us consider this charge.

   First, we must realize that indeed, the Novus Ordo in Latin is a relic, and according to numerous Bishops, requires an indult just like an indult is required to say the Traditional Latin Mass. I would say it is even rarer than that of the Ecclesia Dei Indult. Since we are comparing those liturgies which people attend, the "American" Rite of the Novus Ordo becomes fair game. (My friend Jacob Michael uses the term "American Rite" to describe the English Novus Ordo, with its suspect translations.)

   Second, the Novus Ordo was put into the "language of the people" to foster better understanding. To say that we can only compare the Latin texts is to admit the vernacular cannot give an accurate understanding to the faithful, and we're back to the days of "Latinizing" everything, which many who make this charge decry. If one makes this concession, the Novus Ordo cannot be a valid option, even if it is a valid Mass. Unless they know Latin, they don't even know if they receive an accurate Mass! This criticism is of course baseless.

   Third, to admit the serious problems with the vernacular translations indeed is to seriously damage the credibility of attending the Novus Ordo over the Traditional Latin Mass. Those who study this debate, and indeed those who become interested in either liturgy strongly, do so because they are devout Catholics, looking to devoutly practice their faith. Devout Catholics therefore do not like to be surrounded by error. Yet to admit these problems is to admit that the majority of Masses American Catholics attend today are erroneous. They may be valid, but their suspect translations very well lead to errors. Why would any faithful Catholic want to attend such a Mass? The person who makes the claim "we can only compare the Latin" indeed must think long and hard if his question is going to open numerous questions for him to answer alone.

   Fourth, we note that numerous times in the Propers, even the Latin version is gravely deficient, when compared with the richness and precision of the Traditional Propers. What language it is in changes not a thing. Therefore, this becomes fair game.

   Finally, the argument against the vernacular, and its growing use in the liturgy was exactly what we now see today. Imprecise translations, highly dubious translations, or indeed (as is the case with much of the "American Rite"), translations so erroneous that a first semester Latin student would be able to easily spot them, to where one can only conclude an agenda was on the part of the translators. So in making this criticism against the traditionalist, you have indeed vindicated him. The Novus Ordo does not give, nor could it ever in its current form give the faithful the precision that the Traditional Latin Mass does. The very least this proves is that a serious discussion is warranted. From there, we shall let the evidence convince the reader as to which case indeed has more power. I would welcome any criticism to this series, and will indeed, if it has merit, interact with it in these pages.

NEXT: Comparing the Propers of Lent: Ash Wednesday

    March 3, 2004
    vol 15, no. 63
    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi