Novus Ordo "Suffering" |
To all who think they need to attend the Novus Ordo: Why be a glutton for punishment? If you are within striking distance of the Vatican II venom, their fangs will reach you. For the sake of your soul hie thee out of the viper's pit of the conciliar church as fast as you can! Your eternal life depends on it!
"No, in my own case it most certainly is not a matter of taste or preference. My exclusive attendance at the traditional Catholic Mass is rather a matter of obedience to the Will of God. Giving up the Novus Ordo is like giving up arsenic-laden chocolate. What do I care if it tastes good? It will kill me if I keep eating it. For me, the issue is unity with the Church. By its very nature, the Novus Ordo, as such, absolutely cannot be offered in union with the Church. It doesn't matter if the priest offering it is validly ordained, does it reverently, even attains sacramental validity, or is a priest "in good standing" with his bishop and so forth. A priest who is doing a Novus Ordo is as much 'doing his own thing,' as opposed to what the Church does, as a priest who is 'doing' his altar boys (if you get my drift)."
Griff L. Ruby
Sometimes we Catholics are confronted with the claim, almost invariably given by conservative Novus Ordo believers (neither by fellow traditionalists nor by liberals) to the effect that we should continue (or resume or beginů) attending their Novus Ordo services and take places alongside them in their "suffering" for the Church. The way they see it, having made the mistake of thinking that attendance at the Novus Ordo is mandatory unless one has the good fortune of an Indult, they hate the Novus Ordo but attend it "in holy obedience, accepting the suffering that attendance at such an irreverent service entails."
It does sound so noble; obey an unpleasant order with beautiful humility, and thus meriting significant graces for oneself. It IS the Catholic way to show such obedience and humility, and of course the more unpleasant obedience is, the more meritorious. Ought Catholics to therefore attend the Novus Ordo under such a pretext? The whole claim itself suffers from a significant false assumption, which is planted in the minds of some unsuspecting Catholics at the very suggestion of nobly or obediently "suffering" through Novus Ordo ceremonies. The imagery such a suggestion conjures up in the mind is of one obediently eating a distasteful vegetable, foul-tasting and yet still nutritious food, instead of something more to one's liking
The false assumption thus planted is that our stand for the traditional Catholic Mass ("Tridentine") is merely a preference rather than an expression of the religion we believe: "Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi" - - let the rule for prayer determine the rule of belief. We believe as we pray; we pray as we believe, and so the manner and content of our prayers is not merely a matter of taste or preference nor can it ever be so.
For years now I have exclusively attended the traditional Mass and no other, utterly avoiding the Novus Ordo. Is this simply what I like or prefer? Even simpler, is it what I like in the first place? If it were merely a matter of taste, the Novus Ordo would be fine by me. Call it a spiritual defect of mine if you will, but I actually like the music of the likes of Marty Haugen and John Michael Talbot. Put a keyboard at my fingertips and I can certainly play some rip-roaring renditions of "One Bread, One Body," "Glory and Praise to Our Lord," "The Cry of the Poor," and even such pieces fit to cause the face to avert and the rump to shift restlessly in the pew as "On Eagle's Wings." But of course such songs belong in the roadhouse, not in the Church, and it has been ages since I have had any occasion to play any of them.
No, in my own case it most certainly is not a matter of taste or preference. My exclusive attendance at the traditional Catholic Mass is rather a matter of obedience to the Will of God. Giving up the Novus Ordo is like giving up arsenic-laden chocolate. What do I care if it tastes good? It will kill me if I keep eating it. For me, the issue is unity with the Church. By its very nature, the Novus Ordo, as such, absolutely cannot be offered in union with the Church. It doesn't matter if the priest offering it is validly ordained, does it reverently, even attains sacramental validity, or is a priest "in good standing" with his bishop and so forth. A priest who is doing a Novus Ordo is as much "doing his own thing," as opposed to what the Church does, as a priest who is "doing" his altar boys (if you get my drift).
Picture if you will, a priest, Fr. Etienne Guibourg, back in the year 1666 (ironic?), who was regular and in good standing with his diocesan bishop, but privately willing to be bought. For a generous stipend, paid by Madam La Voisin, he says a funeral Mass for a person who is not dead. It was reverently done. He even wore the appropriate black vestments as befits a funerary or Requiem Mass, hence the expression "black Mass," of which this was the first such offered for explicitly sacrilegious purposes. The whole thing was a grave blasphemy since it was a "prayer," if you will, for the repose (in death) of a soul of one who was still very much alive, in order that he would just please die.
Could such a Mass have fulfilled any lawful obligation of any poor innocent soul in attendance merely seeking his Mass for the day? Obviously not, and this is so despite the fact that it was reverently done, that it was sacramentally valid, or even that the priest was an "approved" priest of Holy Mother Church. The very act itself was by its nature "not in union" with the Church, and as such no heaven-seeking Catholic would have had a right to attend it.
Is the Novus Ordo any less serious however? Granted it might typically not be offered for the exact sacrilegious reason as the black Mass described above, but why was it offered at all where a traditional Catholic Mass would most certainly been called for? People, who think of themselves as Catholics, all pile into a church building that has a sign in front that seems to imply that it is a Catholic church, and they come to fulfill an obligation in justice to worship God in the Mass, but instead of the Mass there is this substitute ceremony invented for no reason other than to displace the Mass. Their dedication has been in vain and they are truly ill-used. The original intention of the Novus Ordo's inventors was to use it everywhere so as to displace and replace all Catholic Masses, thus abolishing all means of Grace in the world. Never mind a prayer for one person to die, what about a simulated "prayer" invented so as to stop the Church from ever really praying anymore, and provide no more Grace to a world that needs it more than ever before?
Obviously, I could no more attend one than the other, as a Catholic in good standing and committed to remaining so. Attending the traditional Catholic Mass is hard work, entailing long driving trips, a serious strain on my stamina, for a ceremony that lacks the fun and sensuous pleasure of a Novus Ordo. But it does have one thing, the one thing I come all that way for on a Sunday: It has the full participation in the Mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation present on the humble altar, in continuous and lawful union with that holy sacrifice established and founded by none other than our Lord Jesus.
So, what kind of "suffering" could a Novus Ordo lawfully entail? Would attending such a thing be capable of constituting a lawful penance? How about a "penance" that one would refrain from all prayer for a month? What about the "penance" of deliberately committing a mortal sin so as to be able to suffer much in hell? Obviously no spiritual director (at least no competent one) would ever direct or even permit such a penance.
True penance, or mortification, is always about specifically advancing the cause of the spirit to the utter exclusion of any other of a person's desires or interests. True penance is to be a time of turning away from the world and its empty pleasures, never one of turning away from God and His blessings. Even if one does suffer through it all, there is no merit in any "penance" that focuses one on the world and away from God. I would be miserable if I had to watch a sports game all the way through. But who would dare to consider that a legitimate penance? I could be similarly discomfited were I to be obliged to wear a hair shirt, kneel on rocks, use what some discreetly call "the discipline," and singing entire 15-decade rosaries in Latin before being allowed off my poor aching knees, but the difference is that there in the rosary would be the meditation on the Divine Mysteries. While one's body and senses are so squeezed, their spirit could be squirted right out of this mundane world and soar to the Heavenly heights like a watermelon pip.
Of course, even here one must always proceed under obedience to one's spiritual direction, which may ask more, or even less, than something anyone would have chosen for themselves, and almost certainly other. Not many are called to be a Blessed Henry Suso whose penances far exceeded anything I could dare to name, but all of it was to seek the Divine to the total exclusion of the temporal. Even were one to suffer as much as he, were he to do it in a manner that excluded Heaven it would be worthless. Closed off from heaven, it would be like a watermelon pip with nowhere to go but to be crushed. For thus is the difference between the pains of Purgatory and the pains of Hell. The one has joyful contact with God amidst suffering, and in due course of time one escapes fully into that joyful contact, where the other is mere suffering for its own sake, with nowhere to go.
True and authorized penance, however mild or severe, is always with and in prayer, never a deprivation of prayer, never a false or demonic prayer. True penance always favors the spirit at the expense of the flesh, never the flesh at the expense of the spirit. Some years ago I once wrote a humorous piece about this in which I portrayed a father and his sons engaging in "a most unusual penance" together, and of course this fake "penance" is no different than making attendance at the Novus Ordo anything of a "penance." I offer that piece here with the warning proviso that, while some found it educationally humorous, others were offended by it. For those who are able to appreciate that humorous aspect of it (at least in the context of what I have written of this topic above), read on, and for anyone who finds it offensive, feel free skip down to the end of the interview:
I was chatting with a man the other day, and I cannot recall how the conversation turned this particular direction, but somehow he had happened to mention that he was practicing a most unusual penance, and I decided to ask him about it:
Me: So tell me about this penance. What it is exactly?
Man: Well, first, let me explain the basic principle of it. You know how most penances involve a little bit of physical suffering, some fasting, abstinence from meats and sweets, hair shirts, kneeling on rocks, etc. with all that suffering offered up in reparation for the sins of people and for the poor souls in Purgatory.
Me: Oh yes, I know these, and have variously done several of them myself, especially during Lent. So?
Man: Well, we are not really, quite, just our bodies, but really our spirit, are we not?
Me: All right. So?
Man: So, if we really want to have some real suffering to offer our Lord in reparation and for the poor souls, should we not, rather, impose some suffering on our spirit instead? Is that not a far nobler and deeper penance?
Me: (diplomatically trying to avoid an argument) Well, I don't know about that. But anyway, tell me, what exactly do you do?
Man: Every night, after dinner, from 7 o'clock until 8 o'clock, for a solid hour I turn on the TV and watch rented porno flicks. Now don't get that look in your face; I only do it for penitential reasons. I tell you, my spirit really suffers watching that night after night.
Me: (Somewhat sarcastically) Oh, I guess I can imagine. So you do this every night?
Man: Oh, very religiously; I never miss a night, not once since I started this penance several years ago. And every Lent, and especially for especially for every Good Friday, well you wouldn't believe what I've got! I've got some gay...
Me: (cutting him off) Don't tell me. I'd rather not know; I think I'm getting the picture.
Man: Anyway, when I watch my Lenten films, my spirit really, really suffers a lot, let me tell you, and on Good Friday, when I watch my...
Me: (again cutting him off and also subtly trying to find a way to bring some sanity into the interview by changing the subject) So, how has your family reacted to all this?
Man: For some unknown reason, it doesn't seem to have inspired my wife very much.
Me: (sarcastically, but he doesn't pick up on that) No! You don't say!
Man: Oh, but I do. Usually, it seems that at about that time of day she often seems to have a way of disappearing into our bedroom for an hour or so. I think she prays the Rosary or something, I don't know why. I do rather resent it when she takes our 5-year-old daughter and our baby boy to the bedroom with her when she does this, but marriage is always something of give and take, and anyway, it's probably just as well the little ones are not underfoot during that most sacred hour, distracting me and my older boys with their childish noises and needs.
Me: How have your older two sons taken to it?
Man: My 15-year-old has been devoutly doing this with me every day since the day I started. Only a couple weeks ago, my 12-year-old has demanded permission from his mom to join us in this penance. So now I have both my older boys with me doing this penance every day. I am so proud of them, especially my oldest. He suffers through this penance not only for the one hour a day I do, but then he even goes above and beyond the call of duty in this at many other times. He bought a computer so he could go on the internet and download all the internet porn he can find during his afternoons after school. He is so spiritual; he even gave up his school football team, and his budding skills in that and other sports, to devote more of his time to this mortification... - OK, that's enough.
The parallel between this man and his sons and those who choose to "suffer" in their spirit by attending and participating in all the grotesque irreverence that goes on as a matter of course at a Novus Ordo is inescapable and all too real. But sometimes I wonder if perhaps those who suggest "obediently" attending the Novus Ordo as a "penance" merely do so as an excuse to remain where they have become far more comfortable than they would care to admit.
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.