The title of this article seems obvious enough, does it not? What Catholic could be found who would not agree that the Church is not above Christ? Yet the belief that the Catholic Church has more authority than Jesus Christ Himself is actually the very core of the error of those who attend the Novus Ordo Missae or "New Order Mass" (NOM).
It is a sacred duty of charity for those whom the Sacred Heart of Jesus has mercifully called to attend exclusively the Traditional Latin Mass to desire the same grace for others. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required" (Lk. 12:48). While prayer and sacrifice are most important, we must also examine why so many souls attend the NOM so that, when the occasion arises, a few well-chosen words of admonition may prove fruitful.
How sad it is that we so often desire to "call down fire from Heaven" (Lk. 9:54) upon those attending the NOM. Our Lord would certainly reply to us as to the Apostles: "You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save" (Lk. 9:55-56). Indeed, if ever the adage "there but for the grace of God go I" was true it is in this case; I myself attended the NOM until 1986, having been raised with it and not knowing any better.
We must determine why souls attend the NOM if we are to help them. In all charity, it seems clear most souls attend it because they believe it is Catholic (as I did) and want to be obedient. They attend not because of the changes, but in spite of them. Such souls desire to do what Jesus Christ and His Church desire them to do, and they believe the NOM is from Christ and His Church; therefore they attend it. One may truthfully speak of the sacrilegious and irreverent nature of the NOM and all that surrounds it, but this usually draws a response such as "the Church commands it, so I must attend." You are back to square one.
Therefore the task is to prove to them as simply as possible that the NOM is neither from Christ nor His Church. To accomplish this it is imperative to first establish that the Catholic Church is not above her Founder, Jesus Christ; upon this foundation can be built the edifice of true obedience to Christ and His Church sought by sincere souls so deluded by the perpetrators of the NOM.
The Church is Not Above Christ
By Divine Revelation we know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, founded the Holy Roman Catholic Church. He vested her with His Divine authority precisely in order to preserve and administer what He had given her, chiefly the doctrines, morals and sacraments of the Catholic Faith. Right reason dictates that the Church could never place herself above Christ. How could the Church have more authority than her Divine Master? In very truth, such a notion is abominably sacrilegious, for it places man above God. While this is certainly the chief element of NOM symbolism (priest faces people, chairs placed in front of the tabernacle or the removal of the tabernacle, semicircular churches, etc.), yet it is one which few who attend the NOM realize. Perhaps in another article we will examine the profound implications of this monstrous error.
Our Beloved Savior emphatically warned His Twelve Apostles, the Pillars of His Church, that they were not above Him; knowing what was to come, He was at the same time preparing us. In fact, this point forms a major theme of the last discourse of the Sacred Heart to His Apostles at the Last Supper. We read in the Gospel of St. John [all emphasis mine]:
"Amen, amen I say to you: the servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than He that sent him."
"If you know these things you shall be blessed if you do them" (13:16-17).
"If you love Me, keep My commandments" (14:15).
"But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (14:26).
"You are My friends, if you do the things that I command you" (15:14).
When one meditates upon this, it is somewhat astonishing that Our Blessed Lord, amid the fiery love of His Sacred Heart which He had just manifested in giving Himself entirely to them in the Holy Eucharist, would make this a major theme of this discourse of Divine Love. What a mysterious and blessed lesson for the Popes and bishops of all time that the Son of God went so far as to say that the Apostles themselves could retain His friendship only if they obeyed Him! 1 If such obedience was so necessary for the first Pope and bishops, who received the Faith and Sacraments from their Author, how much more so for their successors who are charged with preserving them for all generations!
Our Lord demanded this obedience from the first Pope, St. Peter, explicitly warning him, and his successors in him, that the result of disobedience would be a complete separation from Himself and, therefore, His Church. "If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with Me" (John 13:8).
St. Paul, who fell to the ground in astonishment by the power of this truth (Acts 9:1-6), spoke in the name of all the Apostles when he said:
"...we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith..." (Rom. 1:5).
"But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:8).
The great Apostle of the Gentiles clearly sums it all up by declaring flatly that "the church is subject to Christ" (Eph. 5:24).
Emphasizing the Church is not above Christ also emphasizes the Church is a teaching Church, not a learning Church. The Church preserves and teaches, at the express command of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20), the objective, fixed and unchangeable truths given to her by Our Lord in the deposit of Divine Revelation, doing this infallibly by the protection and power of the Holy Ghost (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13). The Church does not form the truth, but teaches it. The truth is Christ (John 14:6), and Christ changes not (Heb. 13:7-9); therefore the truth changes not. That the Church forms the truth by declaring how it is "evolving" is the essence of the heretical Modernist system 2 which triumphed at Vatican II; 3 it is the core of the false authority wielded by false shepherds (John 10:1-16).
At this point you will have laid the foundation, using the "bond of perfection" which is charity (Col. 3:14), to draw these captive souls back to their true Shepherd Whose voice alone they recognize and desire to follow (John 10:27, 18:37).
Ceremony vs. Sacrament
You have established that the Church is not above Christ. You may then hear: "This is obvious, but the changes in the Mass are from the Church, and the Church has authority to make them; we are only being obedient; etc." This desire to obey the Catholic Church, coming from a true desire to obey the Son of God, is the fertile soil found in all the elect. How there must be a multitude of such sincere souls held captive by false shepherds who claim the NOM is Catholic! Love for these souls must inspire us not to condemn them but to root out the monstrous error by proving the NOM is neither from Christ nor His Church.
You may think this is difficult, but it is really quite simple. It is crucial not to resort to any hint of personal opinion, the basis of Novus Ordo morality and practice. No; prove by objective, infallible Magisterial documents that the NOM is not Catholic.
Beware; if you have not established the supremacy of Jesus Christ over His Church, quoting anything before Vatican II is fruitless because of the Modernist insanity of the "evolution" of truth according to which there is no objective truth. The Modernists say, "Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead" (John 8:53); that is, Christ is dead, and the Popes you quote are dead; we must believe what is taught to us today. The Modernists make void the commands of Christ by fabricating a false religion in the name of the true one, just as the Pharisees did (Mark 7:5-13).
Begin by distinguishing between Sacrament and ceremony. The Sacrament involves that which is necessary for validity (to be discussed later), while the ceremony involves the prayers, rubrics, etc., with which the Church has surrounded the Sacrament but are not in themselves necessary for a valid Sacrament. The Catholic Church can change the ceremonies surrounding the administration of a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist in this case, in order to foster reverence and worthiness in its administration and reception, but the Church cannot change the Sacrament itself.
It seems the majority of those attending the NOM are unaware of this distinction between the ceremony and the Sacrament, and probably do not know enough rudimentary sacramental theology to make the distinction themselves. The perpetrators of the NOM have used this ignorance to deceive them into thinking the Church can change the Sacraments.
Pope Pius XI clearly noted this distinction [my emphasis]:
"Since the Church has received from her founder, Christ, the duty of guarding the holiness of divine worship, surely it is part of the same, of course, after preserving the substance of the Sacrifice and the Sacraments, to prescribe the following: ceremonies, rites, formulas, prayers, chant - by which that august and public ministry is best controlled, whose special name is Liturgy, as if an exceedingly sacred action. And the liturgy is an undoubtedly sacred thing..." 4
Thus the Church can change the ceremonial aspect of a Sacrament, but the Church certainly cannot change the Sacrament itself. The ceremonial aspect of the Traditional Latin Mass is the result of long centuries of slow formulation under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, reaching its definitive form about the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great (ca. 600), from which time it changed very little until codified, i.e. made the law of the Church, by Pope St. Pius V in 1570, from which time it has not changed at all.
But the substance of the Mass, the re-offering of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, with Christ as both High Priest and Victim, to the Eternal Father via the consecration of bread and wine into His Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, has not changed since its institution by Christ at the Last Supper and could never change. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the eternally perfect and pleasing act of worship of Almighty God and expiation of sins offered by His Son for us, does not change because God Himself does not change (Mal. 3:6; Is. 46:4; James 1:17).
The Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary; the substance, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, is the Sacrifice; the Sacrament is Jesus Christ Himself, thus the Mass is as unchangeable as Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Heb. 1:12), and without the Sacrament and Sacrifice, there simply is no Mass.
Note Pope Pius XI stated the Church formulates the ceremonial aspect of the Mass in order to secure greater control, stability and reverence in the Rite. Compare this to the allowance of "legitimate variations and adaptations" 5 made inherent in the NOM. Of course this has caused the NOM to be out of control since its inception. Since, in truly Modernist fashion, no one has defined what "legitimate" is, individuals or "liturgy committees" have seemingly assumed the task heretofore accomplished by the Holy Ghost.
Why the Church Cannot Change the Sacraments
While the Church can change the ceremonial aspect of a Sacrament, the Church cannot change the Sacrament itself. This is true for a very simple reason - the Church did not institute the Sacraments, Our Lord Jesus Christ did! He instituted all seven Sacraments with the "substance " of each, i.e., that which is necessary for a valid Sacrament.
No less than three Popes this century alone have explicitly stated what is implicitly obvious - that the Church cannot change the Sacraments. This fact seems quite prophetic. Along with Pope Pius XI (quoted above), Popes St. Pius X and Pius XII have taught [my emphasis]:
"...it is well known that to the Church there belongs no right whatsoever to innovate anything touching on the substance of the Sacraments..." 6
"And for these Sacraments instituted by Christ the Lord... the Church has not, and could not substitute other Sacraments, since, as the Council of Trent teaches, the seven Sacraments of the New Law have all been instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the Church has no power over the 'substance of the Sacraments,' that is, over those things which, with the sources of Divine revelation as witnesses, Christ the Lord Himself decreed to be preserved in a sacramental sign..." 7
Hence by infallible, objective Catholic Magisterial documents we know, with as great a certainty as we know the dogmas of God in Three Divine Persons and the Divinity of Jesus Christ, that the Roman Catholic Church has no power and no right to change the Sacraments Jesus Christ has given her. It is not a question of "should not" but "cannot." There is no authority for the Catholic Church to change the substance of a Sacrament.
Therefore, any attempt to do so cannot be from Catholic authority, and would actually constitute an attempt to make people believe the Church is above Christ Himself, since the Church tries to do something which Christ did not give her the power to do. This is precisely what Our Lord warned the Apostles not to do: "You are My friends, if you do the things I command you" (John 15:14).
An excellent example of this doctrine in practice is the reply of Pope Clement VII to Henry VIII who had petitioned His Holiness to declare invalid the King's marriage with Queen Catherine [my emphasis]:
"What I can do lawfully for the king, that I will do. This, however, is not a question of human law, but of a Christian marriage; and as that is a sacrament instituted by Christ, it is not in my power to change the law..." 8
There is another simple reason the Church cannot change the Sacraments. All sin is rooted in disobedience to God's Will - an abuse of the free will He gave us. As God is perfectly just, He demands exact reparation for sin consisting in good use of free will. As St. Augustine put it: "He Who made us without us will not save us without us." We must cooperate with grace to be saved. As He is perfectly merciful, He gave us the seven Sacraments by which He applies the sanctifying grace, merited by His Son Jesus Christ on Calvary and necessary for justification and salvation, to our souls. God instituted the Sacraments and demands obedience to what He instituted. This obedience repairs the disobedience of sin. For men to turn around and try to change the Sacraments would be trying to repair disobedience with more disobedience!
Hence, if someone tells you, "The Church can change the Mass," you could in a few simple words clarify matters by stating the Church can change the ceremonial aspect of the Mass, but not the Mass itself, perhaps quoting from the statements of the Pope given above, especially that of Pope Pius XI as it is especially clear on this crucial point.
Once a Catholic fully understands that (1) the Church is not above Christ, and (2) the Church has no authority to change a Sacrament, then it is easy to see that any attempt to change a Sacrament cannot emanate from Catholic authority and is a direct attempt to place the Church above Christ.
It remains, then, to prove quite simply that the NOM contains just such an attempt.
The NOM is Not Catholic
The easiest, most objective, and in fact, altogether undeniable evidence of an attempt to alter the substance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the NOM is the altered form of consecration. The form, or words used, is absolutely part of the substance of the Sacrament, and hence is clearly indispensable for a valid consecration. The four parts of the substance of a Sacrament, each of which is necessary for each Sacrament, are as follows [my emphasis]:
"Since the ministers of the Sacraments represent in the discharge of their sacred functions, not their own, but the person of Christ, be they good or bad, they validly perform and confer the Sacraments, provided they make use of the matter and form always observed in the Catholic Church according to the institution of Christ, and provided they intend to do what the Church does in their administration." 9
How important is the form?
In this the Sacraments of the New Law excel those of the Old that, as far as we know, there was no definite form of administering the latter, and hence they were very uncertain and obscure. In our Sacraments, on the contrary, the form is so definite that any, even a casual deviation from it renders the Sacraments null [i.e. invalid]. 10
Moreover, we know the words of consecration are from Christ Himself:
"Therefore, we believe that the form of words, as is found in the Canon, the Apostles received from Christ, and their successors from them." 11
An attempt to change the form of consecration is therefore an attempt to change the words of Christ Himself.
The actual words in the form of consecration of the traditional Latin Mass were infallibly declared by the Council of Florence 12 and Pope St. Pius V to have always been used by the Church, the latter also declaring the penalties for tampering with them:
"Wherefore the words of consecration, which are the form of this Sacrament, are these: 'Hoc est enim Corpus meum.' And: 'Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti: mysterium fidei; qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.' If anyone removes or changes anything in the form of consecration of the Body and Blood, and by this change of words does not signify the same thing as these words do, he does not confect the Sacrament. If anyone adds or takes away anything even if he does not change the meaning of the form, he does confect but he sins grievously." 13
Pope St. Pius V states any change in the form of consecration would be grievously sinful. This is true because it would be changing the words of Jesus Christ Himself, a most heinous sin of sacrilege. But if such a change alters the meaning of the words, then the Sacrament is invalid - that is, there is no Sacrament and in this case, no Mass.
This leads us to the main point.
In the NOM, the form of consecration has indeed been altered. The two main alterations are:
(1) the omission of the words "mysterium fidei," "the mystery of faith," from the original Latin of the NOM (thus this alteration is in every NOM); 14
(2) the rendering of the word "multis," which means "many," as all in the English translation (and many others). 15
Some have argued that the words after "Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei" are not part of the essential form. These words are not only most definitely part of the form according to the infallible Magisterial documents quoted above, but St. Alphonsus Liguori reiterates the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that the word "many" signifies who will be saved by the Precious Blood of Christ - "it saves only those who cooperate with grace." 16 Hence to change "many" to "all" signifies that "all will be saved." This heresy, perhaps the most appealing, and therefore damaging, in history, is explicitly taught by the same false authority which changed the form of consecration. 17 But since the Blood of Christ saves only many, this change almost certainly invalidates the form according to the clear teaching of St. Pius V given above. Hence on this point alone practically every NOM in the U.S., and any other country in which this change is used, is almost certainly invalid.
According to Popes Pius V, X, XI and XII, this alteration of the form of consecration of the Latin Rite could not be from the Catholic Church, is at least grievously sinful (rendering every NOM objectively sacrilegious), and may invalidate the NOM altogether. To knowingly deny this is tantamount to:
(1) lunacy, if one denies the changes have been made (our senses state otherwise);
(2) heresy, if one believes Christ, the Eternal Word, used ambiguous terminology (i.e. "multis" can mean both many and all) - on the contrary, ambiguous terminology is the greatest weapon of the Modernists; or
(3) blasphemy, if one believes the Catholic Church is above Jesus Christ and can change the Sacraments. 18
This alteration of the form of consecration involves a direct attack on the substance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This may not be the most obvious attack, but using the infallible Magisterial documents cited above provides the easiest, most objective way for the "average" layperson to prove the NOM has not emanated from Catholic authority.
Once you have explained these things, you then might want to express the positive aspect. While the divine beauty, reverence and holiness of the Traditional Mass completely confound the sheer ugliness of the NOM, with its desecrated churches and ceremonies and desacrilized music, statuary, etc., the positive command of Pope St. Pius V could also be emphasized.
"Furthermore, by these presents, in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal [i.e. the Traditional Latin Mass] is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are... [any] priests... obliged to celebrate Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us..." 19
Could the Sovereign Pontiff have used stronger language?
However, the sad fact is that no matter how much of this is cited, Catholics who believe the NOM is from the Church will (often painfully) overlook the sacrileges in order to "obey the Church." They must first be undeceived if they are to be convinced to return to the True Mass. The irreverent and sacrilegious nature of the NOM, in which I was raised, caused me much pain and confusion. Despite this, it was not until I learned the NOM is not from the Catholic Church that I lost my prejudice and fear; after this barrier fell, Our Lord vouchsafed me the grace to worship Him in the Mass of our Fathers (and my parents). To find and possess this treasure, hidden now more than ever (Matt. 13:44), is a grace we must desire for all.
Without the slightest hint of personal opinion, with the full force of Catholic Magisterial infallibility, the following things are certain:
(1) The Catholic Church has no authority to change the form of consecration of the Mass.
(2) There is just such a change in the form of consecration in the NOM.
(3) This attempt to change the form of consecration could not have come from the Catholic Church which possesses no right, authority, power or possibility of doing so.
(4) The "New Order Mass" is not from the Catholic Church.
(5) There is absolutely no authority on earth which can bind a Catholic to attend the NOM since it is not Catholic and it would be commanding what is sacrilegious, sinful, and of extreme danger to eternal salvation. Since one can say "there is no salvation outside the Sacraments," it is not permitted to knowingly approach Sacraments of doubtful validity.
When "Catholic authority" is claimed to justify altering the truths and Sacraments left to the Church by Christ, no wonder multitudes have turned a deaf ear to impotent threats (John 10:5) and returned to the Traditional Latin Mass. This is most certainly what the Church demands of us in such a time as ours, and is precisely what St. Paul meant when, speaking of the time of Antichrist and the multitudes drawn away by the "operation of error" by which the Antichrist exalts himself and his church "above Christ," said [my emphasis]:
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle" (II Thes. 2:14).
Any Catholic who attends the NOM because he thinks it is Catholic is sadly deceived and must return to the Traditional Latin Mass "without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty" as St. Pius V commanded. 20 Moreover, Catholics must never attend the Traditional Mass if it implies consent to the NOM (for example, "Indult Masses"), since St. Paul said this entire chastisement is upon us because so many have "consented to iniquity" (II Thes. 2:11). One is never justified in obeying what one knows is an objectively sacrilegious and/or erroneous command, most especially when it endangers eternal salvation which the "command" to attend the sacrilegious and doubtfully-valid NOM certainly does.
In all charity, it must be assumed that the majority of Catholics who attend the NOM do so because they think it is Catholic. As our special duty in charity is to help them (I Tim. 5:8), not to condemn them, we must use their desire to obey the Catholic Church to benefit them, just as the common enemy, the perpe(traitors) of the NOM, use it to their detriment. To accomplish this, the "poor captives of Jacob" 21 must be reminded that the Catholic Church is not above Christ and the NOM is therefore not from the Church.
How many times blessed are the "little ones" (Matt. 11:25) the Sacred Heart of Jesus has drawn to the Traditional Latin Mass! If we would only gratefully plead with our Lord and Our Immaculate Queen, Mary, the Mother of Mercy, to deign to use us to help the poor captives of Jacob, then perhaps the cry of thanksgiving will soon be heard:
"Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land; Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob" (Ps. 84:2).