The Ottaviani Interventions |
A Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae
Part Three: Chapter Two
Let us begin with the definition of the Mass. In Article 7 of the General Instruction which precedes the New Order of Mass, we discover the following definition:
The Lord's Supper or Mass is the sacred assembly or congregation of the people of God gathering together, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. 
Note: Bold added by editor for emphasis
3. A footnote in the Instruction refers us to two texts of Vatican II. But nothing in the texts justifies the new definition, as it is evident from the following: "Through the ministry of the bishop, God consecrates priests...In exercising sacred functions they therefore act as the ministers of him who in the liturgy continually fulfill his priestly office on our behalf....By the celebration of Mass people sacramentally offer the sacrifice of Christ." Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests "Presbyterum Ordinis," 7 December 1965, Section 5, DOL 260. "For in the liturgy God is speaking to his people and Christ is still proclaiming his Gospel. And the people are responding to God both by song and prayer. Moreover, the prayers addressed to God *by the priest,* who presides over the assembly *in the person of Christ,* are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present." SC 33, DOL 33. One is at a loss to explain how the Instruction's definition could have been drawn from these texts. We note too how the new definition of the Mass alters what Vatican II laid down in Presbyterum Ordinis Section 5: "The Eucharistic assembly is the center of the congregation of the faithful." Since the center in the New Order of the Mass has been fraudulently spirited away, the congregation has now usurped its place.
For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to a local gathering together of the Church: "Where two or three come together in My name, there am I in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). 
4. General Instruction on the Roman Missal [henceforth to be referred to as GIRM] 7, "Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani." 1st edition, 6 April 1969. In Paul VI, "Missale Romanum...Pauli VI Promulgatum: Ordo Missae," 12-76. 2nd edition. March 1970. Translated in Documents of the Liturgy 1937 fn.[henceforth to be referred to as DOL] 1391-1731, with variants between 1975 "editio typica altera" and 1st edition provided in footnotes.
The definition of the Mass is thus reduced to a "supper," a term which the General Instruction constantly repeats. 
5. GI 8, DOL 1398; GI 48, DOL 1438 fn. GI 55.d, DOL 1445 fin; GI 56, DOL 1446.
The Instruction further characterizes this "supper" as an assembly, presided over by a priest and held as a memorial of the Lord to recall what He did on Holy Thursday. None of this in the very least implies:
- The Real Presence - The reality of the Sacrifice - The sacramental function of the priest who consecrates - The intrinsic value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice independent of - the presence of the "assembly." 
6. The Council of Trent reaffirms the Real Presence in the following words: "To begin with, the holy council teaches and openly and straightforwardly professes that in the blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really and substantially contained under the perceptible species of bread and wine." DB 874. Session 22 which interests us directly in nine canons (DB 937a-956): 1) The Mass is not a mere symbolic representation, but rather a true, visible sacrifice, instituted "to re-present the bloody sacrifice which [Christ] accomplished on the cross once and for all. It was to perpetuate his memory until the end of the world. Its salutary strength was to be applied for the remission of the sins that we daily commit." DB 938. 2) "Declaring himself constituted a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech, [Our Lord] offered his body and blood under the species of bread and wine to God the Father and he gave his body and blood under the same species to the apostles to receive, making them priests of the New Testament at that time...He ordered the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to offer this sacrifice when he said, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught." DB 938. The celebrant, offerer and sacrificer is the ordained priest, and not the people of God or the assembly: "If anyone says that by the words, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' Christ did not make the apostles priests, or that he did not decree that they and other priests should offer his body and blood: let him be anathema." Canon 2, DB 949. The Sacrifice of the Mass is a true propitiatory sacrifice, and not a simple memorial of the sacrifice offered on the cross: "If anyone says that the Sacrifice of the Mass is merely an offering of praise and of thanksgiving, or that it is a simple memorial of the sacrifice offered on the cross, and not propitiatory, or that it benefits only those who communicate; and that it should not be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfaction, and other necessities: let him be anathema." Canon 3, DB 950. Canon 6 should likewise be kept in mind: "If anyone says that there are errors in the Canon of the Mass and that it should therefore be done away with: let him be anathema." DB 953. Likewise Canon 8: "If anyone says that Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally are illicit and should be done away with: let him be anathema." DB 955.
In a word, the Instruction's definition implies none of the dogmatic values which are essential to the Mass and which, taken together, provide its true definition. Here, deliberately omitting these dogmatic values by "going beyond them" amounts, at least in practice, to denying them. 
7. It is perhaps superfluous to recall that, if a single defined dogma were denied, all dogma would fall ipso facto, insofar as the principle of the infallibility of the supreme hierarchical magisterium, whether conciliar or papal, would thereby be destroyed.
The second part of Article 7 makes this already serious equivocation even worse. It states that Christ's promise, ( "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst") applies to this assembly supremely. Thus, the Instruction puts Christ's promise (which refers only to His spiritual presence through grace) on the same qualitative level (save for greater intensity) as the substantial and physical reality of the sacramental Eucharistic sacrifice.
The next Article of the Instruction divides the Mass into a "Liturgy of the Word" and a "Liturgy of the Eucharist," and adds that the "table of God's Word" and the "table of Christ's Body" are prepared at Mass so that the faithful may receive "instruction and food." As we will see later, this statement improperly joins the two parts of the Mass, as thought they possessed equal symbolic value.
The Instruction uses many different names for the Mass, such as:
- Action of Christ and the People of God. - Lord's Supper or Mass - Paschal Banquet - Common participation in the Table of the Lord - Eucharistic Prayer - Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharistic
All these expressions are acceptable when used relatively--but when used separately and absolutely, as they are here, they must be completely rejected. It is obvious that the Novus Ordo obsessively emphasizes "supper" and "memorial," instead of the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Even the phrase in the Instruction describing the Mass as a "memorial of the Passion and Resurrection" is inexact. The Mass is the memorial of the unique Sacrifice, redemptive in itself; whereas the Resurrection is the fruit which follows from that sacrifice. 
8. In light of the first prayer after the Consecration in the Roman Canon (Unde et memores), the Ascension could also be added. The Unde et memores, however, does not lump different realities together. It makes a clear and fine distinction: "calling to mind...the blessed passion, and also His rising from the dead and His glorious Ascension into Heaven."
We shall see later how such equivocations are repeated and reiterated both in the formula for the Consecration and throughout the Novus Ordo as a whole.
Next issue: Chapter Three
For the introduction and Cardinal Ottaviani's letter to Pope Paul VI on September 29, 1969, see Part One Introduction
August 16-19, 2001
volume 12, no. 143
OTTAVIANI INTERVENTION - CAMPAIGN FOR THE FirstCRUSADE of the 21st Century