My continuing analysis of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (G.I.R.M.) is tedious, nasty business. As I have demonstrated in the previous installments, wherein I have analyzed almost all of paragraphs one through forty-four, G.I.R.M. is founded on the self-serving, gratuitous contention that the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI is simply a continuation of the Church's liturgical tradition in the Latin rite. It is not.
Indeed, even G.I.R.M. itself admits this, although intermittently and inconsistently (see, for example, Paragraph 15 of the revised G.I.R.M.) The new Mass admits of so many exceptions and qualifications and adaptations that it is almost impossible to speak of a "rite," as a rite consists of that which is fixed and permanent. There is nothing fixed and permanent in the Novus Ordo.
Think of how far we have fallen in the past fifty years. It would have been unthinkable in the 1950s for a Catholic to enter a church dressed in an immodest, indecent manner. Such is the rule today in most places. Indeed, my wife Sharon and I were making our thanksgiving after Mass in Immaculate Conception Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, July 7, 2001. A procession of indecently dressed women made their way into the church shortly after the 12:10 p.m. Mass had been completed. They were about to participate in a wedding. Another indecently dressed woman was singing secular songs into a microphone (amplified by a boom box) to entertain the people who had come to participate in the hootenanny which was about to take place. The celebrant (or presider, I suppose) was dressed in a white shirt and black pants. He would be wearing a festively decorated stole over his chausable by the time we left just prior to the start of the wedding Mass. All of this would have been absolutely unthinkable in the 1950s. Sadly, this kind of profanity has been commonplace in the era of the Novus Ordo. After all, isn't the "liturgy" our personal plaything in which we can express ourselves?
As Sharon and I were discussing with subscribers in Manassas, Virginia, on June 23, 2001 (after my presentation at the creationism conference organized by the Kolbe Center for Creationism), the fact that there are priests who do take pains to celebrate the Novus Ordo in a spirit of reverence and solemnity actually proves its inherently defective nature. Reverence and solemnity in the Mass should not be contingent on the identity of the celebrant or on the place where it is offered. One of the enduring features of the Traditional Latin Mass was that its fixed nature meant that its celebration was not dependent upon the personality or the idiosyncracies of a celebrant. A person attending the Traditional Latin Mass in New York experienced the same celebration in Paris or Rome or New Delhi, India. The Mass must express a worship of the Triune God which reflects His permanence and transcendent glory, not convey the impression that everything in the world, including God and His revelation, is ephemeral and subject to redefinition over and over again.
One of the ironies of the Novus Ordo is that its creators and apologists contended in the late 1960s that the simplification of the Mass would result in the conversion of massive numbers of Protestants into the Church. Instead, as was thoroughly predictable, Catholics were driven out in massive numbers, bewildered by all of the changes. Taught that the Church was their mother who would provide them with surety and stability in a world of uncertainty and change, many Catholics simply believed that the changes wrought by the Novus Ordo meant that everything was negotiable, including their duties to worship the Blessed Trinity through His true Church. As I will elaborate in an article in future installments, a group of Protestants based in San Clemente, California, have, after much study and reflection, come to understand that the Catholic Church is the true Church. They have also come to the conclusion that the most fitting way to worship God is through the Traditional Latin Mass! It is evidently the case that there are a number of these Protestants across the nation. Rome does not know what to do with their appeal to be received into the Church and given permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal. How ironic is this? It turns out that it is the very glory of our living liturgical tradition which attracts people into the true Church, not the Protestantized version of the Mass which actually incorporates the profane into the liturgy.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Monday, October 8: Part Twenty-seven: Distraction and Disorientation
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives