"The reality is, of course, that the heterodox have been all too obedient to most of the liturgical dicta which have emanated from Holy See since the issuance of Sacrosanctum Concilium in 1963. There is ample evidence that many who crafted the liturgical 'reform' desired to undermine the whole notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a sacrifice, thus mitigating the need for a sacerdotal priesthood. Liturgical workshop after liturgical workshop in recent years has discussed the 'need' to emphasize the communal nature of the 'worship experience.' Altars of sacrifice have been replaced by 'banquet' tables. Tabernacles have been moved out of the naves of churches, thus facilitating the 'reverencing' of each other by 'learning how to talk in Church' (a theology advanced by one Reverend Lawrence E. Mick of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati).
"Although examples of outright disobedience to liturgical norms promulgated by the Holy See in the postconciliar era are notorious and commonplace, many of the most egregious and unsettling practices of the liturgical revolutionaries can be justified by some Vatican document or another replete with deliberately vague language. Most of the church buildings erected in the past twenty years have reflected the 'evolving theology of worship' which places an emphasis upon the horizontal rather than the vertical dimensions of the unbloody perpetuation of Our Lord's offering of Himself to the Father as the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass. Liturgical revolutionaries such as the aforementioned Father Mick do not have stretch postconciliar documents too much to justify a continuing 'renewal' of the reform.
"As for outright disobedience, we know only too well that that eventually gets rewarded. The Most Reverend Rembert G. Weakland, Archbishop of Milwaukee, boldly staked out the strategy of 'massive disobedience' (perhaps his version of Dwight Eisenhower's policy of 'massive retaliation'?) some years ago at a meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). He said that bishops should simply encourage priests to disobey liturgical norms; in time, he argued, the violations will become the accepted practice. Of course, this is exactly what happened with communion in the hand in 1977 and communion under both species in 1982. The bishops 'pushed the envelope' as far as they could - - and the Vatican caved in completely.
"The decision to permit 'female altar servers' as an option for individual bishops comes after years and years of demands made by some particularly petulant American bishops. The Synod of the Bishops on the Laity in 1987 became a forum for many modernists to call for women to serve at the altar, something that was rejected by the synod fathers. Never mind the fact that the unchanged tradition of the Church permitting only males to serve at the altar of sacrifice was reiterated in Liturgiae Instaurationes in 1970:
'The traditional liturgical norms of the Church prohibit women [young girls, married women, religious] from serving the priest at the altar, even in women's chapels, houses, convents, schools and institutes)' and Inaestimabile Donum in 1980. No, disobedience was fostered--and tolerated--as a means to foment a "democratic groundswell" of support for the decision reached by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, confirmed by Pope John Paul II.
"Cardinal Antonio Javierre Ortas's letter announcing the change in the Church's 2,000 year tradition was disingenuous. The letter cited Canon 230 as the 'legal grounds' for stating that there was no canonical prohibition to women serving at the altar. It has long been the tradition of the Church that liturgical law and canon law are separate bodies of law. And liturgical law is controlling if there is a conflict between the two. If one is concerned about law absent tradition, then the controlling document is not Canon 230 but Liturgiae Instaurationes! But no Vatican functionary bothered to make even a gratuitous reference to that document at all.
"Further disingenuousness was exhibited by Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Press Office of the Holy See. He was quoted by the Catholic News Service (CNS) as saying that the 'new policy' was the result of an interpretation of existing church law and not a major innovation by the church. He was further reported to say that the question has 'no connection with the church debate over ordained ministries. Service at the altar has a much different canonical and doctrinal nature.' Who is kidding whom?
"The liturgical revolutionaries want altar girls as a necessary 'next step' to continue the femininization of the Church--and the clericalizing of the laity. It will be the case in many parishes around this nation that the only male in the sanctuary is going to be the 'presider,' who is considered to be a 'nuisance' until such time as there are women priests or we come to recognize that the ordained priesthood itself is superfluous. After all, there will come a time when we realize that it is actually the "community" which confects the Eucharist (which, of course, is only a 'symbol' of the Body and Blood of Christ). Although the matter of altar girls is one of discipline and juridics, the Vatican is deluding itself into thinking that there is not a doctrinal revolution under way. This is a major victory for liturgical and doctrinal revolutionaries.
"There is obvious discomfort in the Holy See with the Canon 230 explanation. The Cardinal Ortas letter takes great pain to point out that women are permitted to serve as readers at Mass, that they can distribute communion as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. In one sense, therefore, there is an internal consistency to the Vatican action. The 'reformed' liturgy calls for participation. A multi-headed monster has been created. How can you deny women the opportunity to serve at the altar when they are given the privilege of handling the Sacred Species?
"The problem is not with altar girls. The problem is with the liturgical 'reform,' that is the liturgical revolution. It has been used, not unjustifiably, by those who do not believe in the sacerdotal nature of the Mass to literally reprogram Christ's sheep into accepting one outrage after another. The same people who will now stress 'obedience to the Holy Father' will continue to disobey postconcilar documents which reiterate the necessity of genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament. The same people who demand absolute obedience to one liturgical violation after another will continue to scoff at any Vatican document which does not confirm their chosen practices. As noted earlier, they reason that the abuses become law if they are widespread and supported by bishops.
"The Novus Ordo is valid many say. After many years of prayer and reflection and study, however, I have come to the conclusion that it is irredeemably flawed. It gives rise to specious notions of community participation which have nothing at all to do with the authentic worship of the Triune God. One does not need to be in physical or verbal contact with one's neighbor in church to be in spiritual communion with him! One does not need to have an 'official role' in the Mass to feel a sense of participation; we participate by our interior disposition, by our understanding that we are transcending time to be present at the foot of the Holy Cross. Yet all of the traditional understanding about the theology of the Mass has been supplanted by specious notions of "community" and 'participation' which have turned the "worship experience" into little more than communal self-congratulation and mutual affirmation having little to do with the Cross of Jesus Christ.
"What is particularly galling about the altar girl situation is that those bishops who do try to hold the line against it will be persecuted mercilessly by the revolutionaries. These are the very same bishops who are trying to make the best out of the reformed liturgy, who are trying to police the liturgical violators. Some of them, however, might be tempted to throw in the towel given the Vatican's total cave-in to the dissidents.
"It was only a few years ago, for example, that the Vatican backed down on the New Creation 'sexuality' series. Some courageous bishops had staked out a position banning the series completely from all of their educational programs. What happened? The Vatican gave in to the American bishops. This has happened over and over and over again.
"It is time, in my estimation, for the Holy See to erect a personal prelature of the Holy Father--or a separate rite--for the Traditional Mass. Is it not time for those Catholics who are not dissenters from the moral and doctrinal teaching of the Church to be afforded some sense of peace and security? We are constantly harangued by those who are brandishing every new twist on every old heresy imaginable. Parents who are attempting to raise their children in an atmosphere of purity and innocence find themselves having to fight parish and diocesan schools purveying the smarmiest of sexology books. Leftist political propaganda takes the place of the authentic social teaching of the Church. In the name of all that is right and just, how can the Holy See permit faithful Catholics to undergo this horrible persecution from within? Yes, Our Lord told us to expect persecution from the world. And Church history does teach us that we have been through periods of internal confusion before. But is it not within the realm of the Vatican to help good people who simply want to live holy lives as faithful Catholics--without being told that they are crazy for trying to be faithful Catholics?
"The situation we face is horrendous. Just last week I was informed by a student of mine that she had killed the little baby in her womb. She is a Catholic who has been living with her boyfriend for five years. She told me that her parents, church-going Catholics, convinced her that 'having an abortion was the right thing to do.' Another student of mine, from St. John's University in New York nine years ago, killed her child after a Vincentian priest told her that 'abortion is a matter of personal conscience.' As the late Dietrich von Hildebrand noted, we are living in a devastated vineyard--and many of the shepherds themselves have trampled on the vines. Does not the wreckage of souls matter? Can not Vatican officials, including the Holy Father himself, see the connection between the liturgical mess we face today and the doctrinal confusion which abounds?
"Why is it that only those who support the Traditional Mass have been singled out for opprobrium, ostracism, discipline and scorn? Why is it that there has been a systematic effort to wipe out the memory of the past?
"While it is true that the seeds of our current problems were planted long before the Second Vatican Council (Pope Pius XII wrote Humani Generis to discuss many errors floating about in Church circles over forty-five years ago), it is time for order to be restored. Yes, we are people of faith. We know that the final victory belongs to Jesus Christ. However, it is possible to attenuate the self-made problems we are experiencing within the Mystical Body of Christ.
"The erection of a personal prelature for the Traditional Mass would help, not hinder, those bishops who desire to restore discipline and sanity within the Church. If permitted schools to educate their children, traditional Catholics would be in the vanguard of efforts by bishops to promote solid catechesis and authentic interpretation of the Church's social encyclical letters. It is not to abandon Holy Mother Church that such a proposition is advanced. Quite the contrary! It is to help Holy Mother Church to find her way out of the morass that engulfs so many well-meaning people at present that such a proposition is advanced.
"As noted earlier, it has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion. I used to have all types of arguments in the early 1980s who criticized the Novus Ordo. I was not unsympathetic to the desire for the traditional Mass. But I was not ready at that time to admit that the whole postconciliar liturgical experiment was doomed. I am at that point now. Catholicity has given way to congregationalism. Is that really what Our Lord and Savior wants?
"Unlike some, I do not harbor bitterness or resentment towards Pope John Paul II. I have become very disappointed in his papacy. But I am willing to admit now that my public defense of that papacy last year was ill-advised. It was wrong. I was wrong. His assent to the new practice of altar girls will have devastating consequences for the good order of Christ's Holy Church. This decision will make all of his efforts to insist on conformity to liturgical norms look absolutely ridiculous in the eyes of the liturgical revolutionaries.
"We are entitled to peace, not cacophony, when we hear Mass. I can report that having participated, truly participated, in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at the Fraternity of Saint Peter in Scranton, I can never again be totally satisfied with the mundane, this-world focus of most celebrations of the Novus Ordo. Yes, I receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. But I must also offer up all of the distractions, all of the irreverence, all of the phony participation. The Mass has become, for many lay Catholics and priests, their mortification.
"It is unlikely that the Holy Father will erect a personal prelature. The American bishops would lobby against that proposition with terrific ferocity. What is the harm of storming Heaven with our prayers?
"The worst that can happen is that God says no to us. That can't be any worse that what we are experiencing at present. And prayer always aids the entire Mystical Body of Christ.
"Turning our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may we help to make reparation for the state of affairs her Son's Church is in at this point in salvation history. We ask her to intercede for us that a personal prelature is erected to help save souls--and to help save the Church."
Well, that was eight years and eight months ago now. I unearthed this unpublished tome, that was rejected by The Wanderer at the time, while going through some old files. Although my commitment to the Traditional Latin Mass is even stronger now after more study and prayer (and more regular expose to the Mass of our fathers), there is great relevance to what I wrote in 1994 about altar girls to the efforts of well-meaning Catholics to get the Holy See to stop priests from killing them when they attempt to kneel for Holy Communion. How much more time has to be spent begging for "permission" to show true reverence to Our Lord when receiving Him in Holy Mass while we are browbeaten from the pulpit to conform to the new order of things insofar as standing is concerned? As I noted in "Roadblocks to Eternity," it's over, folks. And the fact that it's "over" is proved by the fact that Cardinal Medina Estevez treats the issue of kneeling an exception to the "indult" granted by the Holy See, not the norm for all Catholics everywhere.
As sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church, we beg the Holy Father once more for an Apostolic Administration for the Traditional Latin Mass (which has become the canonical structure most traditionally-minded priests believe provide the best protection for the Mass of our fathers). Such an entity will permit Catholics to attend Mass in peace without having to say, "Excuse me, Father, while I look for my letter from Rome."
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!