The final end of the Mass is Thanksgiving. As each of us knows, the word "Eucharist" mean Thanksgiving. It is in the Mass where the priest and the laity (if any are assembled)
give thanks to God for all He has given them, starting with the great gift of our Catholic Faith and all of the treasures contained therein. Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero. "What shall I render unto the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered unto me? I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. With high praises will I call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from all mine enemies." The rubrics and the prayers found in the Missale Romanum are found with expressions of gratitude. "Is there no one else to return thanks but this foreigner?" We, who are adopted sons and daughters of the living God by virtue of our Lord's Redemptive Act, are called to be ever thankful to God, understanding that it is in the context of Holy Mass that we are to give such thanks as we are given the privilege of transcending time at the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary.
We are to give God thanks for everything. We thank Him for his many blessings to us, especially having the privilege of being fed by Holy Communion. We thank Him for the crosses and humiliations He sends us to make us more dependent upon Him and detached from our pride and selfish desires. We thank Him for the unmerited gift of His Divine Mercy, extended to us so freely in the baptismal font and in the confessional. We thank Him for not treating us as our sins deserve. We thank Him for the Deposit of Faith entrusted to Holy Mother Church. We even thank Him for living in these difficult times. We are to thank Him for living in these difficult times as He has known from all eternity that we would be living in them and that the graces won for us on Calvary are more than sufficient for us to deal with the difficulties we face. We thank Him for the gift of our families and friends. We thank Him for keeping us close to Him. For, as Saint Paul notes in his Epistle to the Romans, it is only God Who can prompt us to love Him more fully an to keep close to Him at every moment of our lives. And we thank Him for giving us our Blessed Mother to be our intercessor and true Heavenly mother, as well as for giving us all of the angels and saints who desire to assist us as we walk the rocky road that leads to the narrow gate of Life Himself.
Part of the way we express our Thanksgiving to God in the Traditional Latin Mass is in the very beauty of the sacred rites. The beauty of the rites and the care taken to appoint a particular church demonstrate not only our desire to adore God but also our desire to thank Him for enlightening our intellects and strengthening our wills by means of the true Faith. God is due honor and glory. He is also due ceaseless acts of Thanksgiving. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. Dignum et justum est. "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is meet and just." Indeed, every single one of the sixteen prefaces found in the Traditional Latin Mass begins with an expression of thanks: Vere dignum et justum est, aequem et saltuare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. "It is truly meet and just, right and profitable, for us, at all times, and in all places to give thanks to Thee, O Lord, the holy One, the Father almighty, the everlasting God." (The Preface for Sundays, Missale Romanum).
As is the case with each of the ends of the Mass, the end of Thanksgiving is meant to flow out of the Mass. The beauty and solemnity of even a low Traditional Latin Mass convey a sense of security and stability conducive to urging the faithful to stay after the conclusion of the Prayers after Low Mas added by Pope Leo XIII. As the Mass is a foretaste of Heaven, which is our true home, it is right and fitting that we should desire to stay after Mass for more than a token period of time to express our thanks for the sublime privilege of having been kept alive for one more day to hear Holy Mass one more time and to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. None of us knows whether the Mass he has just attended will be his last. None of us knows when he is going to die. Each of us needs to pause in order to give thanks to the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth. And one of the fruits of the end of Thanksgiving found in the Mass is our desire to spend extended times in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. Although I have written about Eucharistic piety extensively in these pages, suffice it to say that our love of the Mass should impel us to offer our own adoration and thanks to God before the Prisoner of the Tabernacle. Eucharistic piety is the key to developing a more intimate love of God and a greater appreciation of the mysteries contained within Holy Mass.
As Pope Pius XII noted in Mediator Dei in 1947:
"The fact that the sacred function, liturgically considered, has come to an end does not dispense him who has communicated from making his thanksgiving. On the contrary it is most seemly that after he has received Holy Communion and after the Mass is over he should collect his thoughts and, in close union with his Divine Master, pass such time as circumstances allow in devout and salutary converse with Him. It is therefore an error, due to paying more heed to the sound of words than to their meaning, to say that such thanksgiving out not to be prolonged after the ending of Mass, on the ground that the Mass itself is a thanksgiving, and also that it comes under the category of private devotions and is not directed to the benefit of the community.
As the Traditional Latin Mass is Christocentric of its nature, its very sense of reverence and beauty and splendor and mystery impel the faithful to say a while longer after Mass in a prayerful thanksgiving. Can the same be said of the Novus Ordo, wherein the cacophonous noise and activity and "simplicity," which appeal so much to those who have a limited span of attention and whose faith has been attenuated by the banality found in the context of Mass? Are the faithful prone to make a good thanksgiving after Mass? And is their tendency to bolt right out of the pew not related to the inherent flaws and inadequacies contained within the Novus Ordo.
"On the contrary, the very nature of the Sacrament require that Christians should become holier by receiving it. The congregation has been dismissed, it is true, but the individual members of it, united with Christ, ought to continue to sing in their souls a hymn of praise, 'giving thanks always for all to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The liturgy of the Mass itself recommends this, when it bids us recite the following prayer: 'Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may remain for ever in thanksgiving . . . and never cease from praising Thee.' And so, if at all times we must thank God and never cease from praising Him, who shall dare to find fault with the Church for urging her priests and the faithful to remain for some time after Communion in converse with the Divine Redeemer, and for having inserted in the liturgical books special indulgenced prayers for priests to recite in preparation for Mss and Communion and in thanksgiving afterwards?
"Far from discouraging the interior sentiments of individual Christians, the liturgy fosters and stimulates them in order to increase their likeness to Christ and through Him to guide them to the heavenly Father. And this is why it requires those who have communicated at the altar to render due thanks to God. The Divine Redeemer loves to listen to our entreaties, to speak with us familiarly, and to give us a refuge in His Heart which burns with love for us.
"Indeed, these acts of private devotion are quite necessary, if we are to receive in abundance the supernatural treasures in which the Eucharist is so rich, and to pour them out upon others according to our powers, in order that Christ our Lord may reach the fullness of His power in the souls of all."
Those priests who contend while celebrating the Mass of our father that a commitment to the Traditional Latin Mass is simply a matter of personal preference are either fooling themselves or engaging in a dangerous, positivistic game in order to secure their own pastoral privileges. No right thinking priest who has to do all of the work involved in the celebration of the Missale Romanum can contend that the Novus Ordo communicates the ends of the Mass as beautifully, splendidly, permanently, reverently, solemnly, and universally as the Traditional Latin Mass. Indeed, no right thinking priest who has celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass cannot come to recognize over the course of time the inherent harm contained within the Novus Ordo precisely because of its being a synthetic product of revolutionaries bent on changing the expression of faith (which has resulted by and large in a destruction of the faith and a loss of belief in the Real Presence and of the sacerdotal and propitiatory nature of the Mass itself).
As I have explained on many other occasions, my own interior life has grown tremendously as a result of attending only the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. My travels have permitted me in recent years to attend the Traditional Latin Mass more regularly during the week, as my wife and I have done this past Fall when we were based in New York prior to returning to California. We had the great privilege of attending Mass during the week in Pequannock, New Jersey, at the chapel of Our Lady of Fatima run by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. God willing, it is in that area where Sharon and I want to settle to raise our family. We want our children immersed and brought in a liturgical atmosphere of reverence and order, not one of noise and confusion and irreverence and the blurring of the distinction between the two priesthoods. Is this a mere matter of preference. Not all. This is a cool, dispassionate conclusion reached as a direct result of seeing the differences first hand between what gives God greater honor and glory and what is more befitting the right ordering of individual souls. The Blessed Trinity is worshiped more perfectly, more beautifully in the Mass of our fathers than in the new Mass. The fruits of the Traditional Latin Mass are more efficacious for the salvation of souls, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has from time to time, admittedly inconsistently, admitted in the past sixteen years.
A mere matter of preference? All one needs to do is to look at the heritage of the preceding 1500 years prior to the unprecedented changes wrought by the Novus Ordo to see the fruit produced in souls by the Traditional Latin Mass. Indeed, it was the Traditional Latin Mass which served as the bulwark of the Faith when it was under siege by the Protestant Revolutionaries and, in due course, by the various ideological revolutionaries in Europe and here in the United States. Even though the life of the Faith was indeed being attacked violently in Europe and Latin America in the 19th Century and undermined more subtly in the United States in the 19th and 20th Centuries, those many Catholics who remained in the one sheepfold of Peter were true believers. It was the Mass which kept them from having their faith entirely eclipsed by the forces set loose in the world during the Renaissance and have been permutating ever since. Once the Mass was replaced with a synthetic concoction, however, the bulwark was gone. The Mass itself became a place to canonize the profane and to glorify the spirit of the day. Gone was the need for personal penance and mortification. In were endless efforts to sin against the supernatural virtue of Hope by presumption. Gone was reverence. In came showmanship and spectacles to tickle the ear and to delight the eye. A mere matter of preference? Not at all.
There is a final exhortation I need to make at this juncture: it is imperative for the average Catholic to protect his soul from the pernicious influence of the Novus Ordo, especially on Sundays. If one has to travel thirty-five or forty minutes or an hour to go to an indult Mass, so what? People take more time to drive to malls and/or sporting events or restaurants. We must do what we can to give God the honor and glory that are His due and to assure our souls of their being sanctified in the best manner possible. The Novus Ordo has shown itself to be harmful to the right ordering of souls. No document from the Vatican is going to correct its inherent flaws nor improve even Latin expressions of the Faith which are incomplete and defective. And it is time for priests themselves to step up to the plate and to take an honest look at our situation without attempting to declare something is so which is not.
Sure, there are many good priests in diocesan assignments who are doing the best they can with the Novus Ordo. These men love God and want to work hard for the salvation of the souls entrusted to their pastoral care. However, our Lord needs these good men to look at the objective state of things without deluding themselves about the present. No, the past was never perfect. However, the Mass of our fathers is the instrument in the Latin Rite which safeguarded the Faith and carried the faithful safely home to their eternal destination. We need good priests who find themselves in diocesan assignments to start asking permission ceaselessly for the celebration of the Mass of our fathers in their own parishes. The people will flock to the Traditional Latin Mass over the course of time.
Even Rome knows this. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos was asked by Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of Pope Saint Pius X why the two Masses cannot exist side by side in the Latin Rite. Cardinal Hoyos's answer, as provided by Bishop Fellay to Father James McLucas, the editor of Latin Mass Magazine, was quite revealing: the Novus Ordo would never be able to thrive if that happened. The people would choose the Traditional Latin Mass. Rome knows it. Rome knows that the Mass of tradition better expresses the Faith and gives more honor and glory to the Blessed Trinity. So many people in Rome have invested so much of themselves in the new order of things, however, that they have to keep insisting that things will get better over the years. They will not.
While the Traditional Latin Mass is not a guarantor of personal sanctity nor of social order, it is the necessary precondition for both. There is a direct connection between liturgical reverence and social order. May each of us prayerfully invoke the intercession of our Lady, the Mother of the Church, to help us to work more and more assiduously for that which seems impossible: the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Nothing is impossible with God, including the restoration of the Mass of tradition, which is a matter of objective beauty, not a mere matter of preference.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
COMING TOMORROW: Time for Plain Talk!
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives