October 29-November 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 154

The Germs of GIRM

Part Thirty: Watering down the Faith

    Paragraph 54 of GIRM reads as follows:
    "Next the priest invites the people to pray. Then he says the opening prayer, which custom has named 'the collect' and through which the character of the celebration is expressed. According to the ancient tradition of the Church, this prayer customarily is addressed to God the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, and is concluded with a trinitarian or longer ending, in the following manner:-if the prayer is directed to the Father: We ask this (We make our prayer/Grant this) through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever;-if it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever;-if is directed to the Son: You live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. The people, associating themselves with the praying, make the prayer their own with the acclamation, Amen, There is always one collect used at any given Mass."

Comment and Analysis:

    There are two hidden agenda items in this paragraph. The first deals with the Collect as being the instrument "through which the character of the celebration is expressed." Indeed. As noted in my brief synopsis and reiteration of the flawed Paragraph 15 of GIRM, the Novus Ordo has changed the very tenor of most of the Collects of the Mass, even for ancient feasts. The very dating of the liturgical calendar has been changed to reflect the insights of "modern theology" as they are expressed in the Collects and other parts of the Mass.

    Even if there was a faithful translation of the Latin editio typica of the Novus Ordo in a vernacular language, including English, it is nevertheless true that the truths of the Faith are less clearly, more ambiguously expressed in the prayers of the Novus Ordo than in those found in the Traditional Latin Mass. Thus, the Collect becomes an instrument of expressing a theology which is alien to the living tradition of the Church.

    The second hidden agenda item in Paragraph 54 is found at the very end: the continued rejection of second and third Collects, used as commemorations of various feast days which are subordinate in rank to the principal feast of the day, in the Novus Ordo as opposed to the tradition of the Church in the Latin rite. This robs the faithful of an appreciation of the richness of the liturgical calendar, a calendar that was, pardon me, gutted by the liturgical revolutionaries in express opposition to the wise counsel offered by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei in 1947. This does much to water down the Faith.

Paragraph 55 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "Readings from Sacred Scripture and the chants between the readings form the main part of the liturgy of the word. The homily, profession of faith, and general intercessions or prayer of the faithful expand and complete this part of the Mass. In the readings, explained by the homily, God is speaking to His people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and nourishing their spirit; Christ is present in the midst of the faithful through His own word. By their silence and song the people make God's word their own and they also affirm their adherence to it by the profession of faith. Finally, having been fed by this word, they make their petitions in the general intercessions for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world."

Comment and Analysis:

    As the late Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani noted, (A HREF="">Ottaviani Intervention) the division of the Mass into the "liturgy of the word" and the "liturgy of the Eucharist" was unprecedented in the history of the Church. He noted that such a division would lead people into believing that the consecration of the elements of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was a secondary aspect of the Mass, which revolved principally around the proclamation of the readings from Sacred Scripture and on the explications offered about those readings by the priest or deacon. Cardinal Ottaviani was indeed correct. Prophetically so as it turns out.

    Additionally, the rejection of the centuries-long tradition pertaining to the order of readings contained in the Missale Romanum has thrown the faith-life of those Catholics who even bother to attend Mass on Sunday into absolute confusion. You see, the Church in her infinite wisdom used to hold fast to a very astute understanding of human nature. People need to be reminded of things over and over and over again, which is why the same readings were read year in and year out on Sundays and on feast days. And it was the case in the Traditional Latin Mass that the readings of the previous Sunday were repeated during the week in the celebration of ferial Masses. Once again, people had the opportunity of learning the lessons from the readings as a result of their repetition. The Church knew that it might take people most of a lifetime to get it right, that is, to interiorize the lessons that were read during Holy Mass. However, she knew that there is only so much that the human mind can absorb at once. And while the entirety of Sacred Scripture is indeed the Word of God, there are parts of Sacred Scripture which are not suited to easy explanation from the pulpit.

    The radical change in the order of readings wrought by the Novus Ordo has resulted in Scriptural exegesis by priests and deacons that borders on amateur hour at its most benign and the actual de-mythologizing of Holy Writ at its most malignant, with a whole lot of confusion and personal speculation thrown in for good measure. For the repetition of the order of readings year in and year old was designed also to help the priest understand the Faith better and to better explain it to the faithful with each passing year.

    Finally, the banality of the "general intercessions" is apparent to anyone with a modicum of reason and common sense. The Roman Canon expressed all of the needs of the Church and the world. However, omit the Roman Canon as mandatory, then you have "Eucharistic prayers" which need amplification elsewhere in the Mass, including the general intercessions."

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Monday: Part Thirty-two:

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October 29-November 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 154
CHRIST or chaos
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