Today, I want to cover how GIRM contradicts itself and goes out of its way to try to convince us everything is kosher. The problem is: it's not!
Paragraph 15 of GIRM reads:
"Thus the Church remains faithful in its responsibility as a teacher of truth to guard 'things old,' that is, the deposit of tradition; at the same time it fulfills another duty, that of examining and prudently bringing forth 'things new.'
Comment and Analysis:
"Accordingly, a part of the new Roman Missal directs the prayer of the Church expressly to the needs of our times. This is above all true of the ritual Masses and the Masses for various needs and occasions, which happily combine the traditional and the contemporary. Thus many expressions, drawn from the Church's most ancient tradition and familiar through the many editions of the Roman Missal, have remained unchanged. Other expressions, however, have been adapted to today's needs and circumstances and still others-for example, the prayers for the Church, the laity, the sanctification of human work, the community of all peoples, certain needs proper to our era-are completely new compositions, drawing on the thoughts and even the very language of the recent conciliar documents.
"The same awareness of the present state of the world also influenced the use of texts from very ancient tradition. It seemed that this cherished treasure would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church.
"In short, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have been completed and improved in many respects by those of the Second Vatican Council. The Council has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to move the faithful closer to the sacred liturgy, especially the efforts of recent times and above all the zeal for the liturgy promoted by Saint Pius X and his successors."
Holy Mass is supposed to be suited to the needs of all times, not just our times. Herein, therefore, lies the real nub of the problem with the General Instruction to the Roman Missal and thus the Novus Ordo itself: a reliance upon the spirit of one particular time in history results in the glorification of the human spirit and not that of the Blessed Trinity. It is really that simple. God exists outside of time and space. The worship of God must convey, as noted earlier, the timelessness of God and the immortality of our own souls, which will live forever either in Heaven or in Hell once the Last Judgment has taken place. Again, as noted earlier, the Mass is supposed to be a refuge from the world, not a glorification of it.
"It seemed that this cherished treasure [ancient tradition] would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline."
Well, our ancient tradition is not the only casualty wrought by the changing of phrases of the Mass texts (Introits, Collects, Secrets, Prayer after Communion, the very Offertory Prayers themselves, the addition of first three and then five more new "Eucharistic prayers"). The very faith life of many Catholics has been harmed.
One of the reasons that the Sacrament of Penance fell into disuse is that the faithful are no longer reminded of their sinfulness in the prayers of the Mass. The faithful thus believe there is no need to reconcile themselves to the Father through the Son in Spirit in and in Truth in the hospital of Divine Mercy which is the confessional. No, one cannot sin as long as one's "fundamental option" is for God.
Indeed, as will be noted in later evaluations of GIRM, a priest has many legitimate options by which to invite the people to express themselves in what is now called the Penitential Rite. A growing number of priests believe that "modern theology" requires them not to stress the sinfulness of the period and their need for God's forgiveness but to celebrate human goodness and to give thanks to God for all that He has given us. However, man's need to recognize himself as a sinner and to do penance for his sins is unchanging. The harm done to souls by the changing of the "style of language" in the new Mass is incalculable.
The concluding part of Paragraph 15 is a little bit akin to the old phrase, "The lady doth protest too much." All of the repeated attempts to state that the new Mass is a continuation of our liturgical tradition (which GIRM itself contradicts in the body of Paragraph 15, as noted in my discussion about the changes in the texts of the prayers of the Mass) are efforts to try to convince readers that the new Mass really, really, really, really, really is what GIRM says it is.
The trouble with gratuitous statements is that they are made without foundation, sinking into the quicksand upon which they are made. They are efforts to justify a revolution which has undermined the faith and profaned the honor and glory due God in the Sacrifice of the Mass. GIRM is revisionist history writ large.
As I noted in the late-August/mid-September issue of Christ or Chaos last year, our liturgical problems are not with the plumbing. They are with the very structure in which the plumbing is housed. May we never flag in our prayer and in our efforts to restore the Traditional Latin Mass.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Tomorrow: Part Ten: Devolution devoid of direction.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives