Despite all that has been said, however, the problem of the validity or invalidity of vernacular "English-Canon Masses"- or any of the new "masses," for that matter - cannot be decided by you or me. Only the Church, in a saner day, will be able to make a definitive judgment. It should be obvious that individuals are in no position to do so, and it does not help the cause for them to attempt to make that decision.
At the risk of seeming slow-witted, I must say that, from what I have been able to observe, the usual approaches to this question seem to have been anachronistic, and overly belabored for that reason. By this I mean to say they are at least five hundred years late. All seem to have overlooked the preeminent fact that the Church has already made an official pronouncement on the matter; the Form of Consecration was expressly determined by the Council of Florence in the year 1442. Its pronouncement was as follows:
Since the decree of the Armenians given above does not set forth the form of words which the most holy Roman Church has been always wont to use for the consecration of the Body and Blood of the Lord, it having been confirmed by the teaching and by the authority of the Apostles Peter and Paul, we judged it should be inserted herewith. In the consecration of the Body of the Lord this form of words is used: "Hoc est enim corpus meum;" and in that of the Blood: "His est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti, mysterium fidei, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in Remissionem peccatorum." (For this is the Chalice of my Blood, of the new and eternal testament: the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.) 57. Enchiridion Symbolorum. Cc. Florentinum: Decr. Pro Jacobitis. P. 341, No. 1352.
It is on the basis of this decree that the Missale Romanum of Pope St. Pius V commands priests to adhere to this Form most strictly. In the chapter entitled "De Defectibus" ("Concerning Defects"), after having given the exact same words as the decree quoted above, the "Missale" continues:
Wherefore the words of Consecration, which are the Form of this Sacrament, are these, etc:
According to this pronouncement, there is no valid consecration of the wine (and possibly of the bread) in these "masses," because clearly, such a change has been made by mistranslation in the English formula. The Pope, the bishops, the theologians, the priests, the people are either going to accept this pronouncement as a certain statement, or they are not It becomes a question, therefore, of whether Catholics (of whatever station) are willing or concerned enough to accept the authority of the Church in this matter, one over which the Church alone has the authority to make a decision. Those who contradict this position must explain (to themselves first of all) how they can do so, and that, not by quoting the opinions of theologians, reputable, numerous, saintly or otherwise, but by explaining why the authoritative and definitive statement of the Church as of the year 1442 is no longer in effect, and what right they have to differ from it. If they do choose to differ from it, let them then hold their tongues concerning us who dare to differ with them about the right of Pope Paul VI to create a Fraud and call it "The Mass."
If anyone removes or changes anything in the Form of Consecration of the Body and Blood, and by this change of words does not signify the same thing as these words do, he does not confect the Sacrament. 58. Missale Romanum. Desclee. De Defectibus. Ch. V. Par. 1.)
The bishops and other prelates of the Church feign great wonderment and even scandal to hear people say they have serious doubts about whether the wine is consecrated at these "masses." "But you know," they say, "that there could be no error of this sort; you know that the Pope could not let such a thing happen! And you know that all the bishops could not make such an error. The translation was after all, approved by the bishops in plenary session!" (When you hear that phrase, "in plenary session," you are to find all your apprehensions whisked away as if they had been touched by the wand of the Fairy Godmother.) I, for one, do not know anything of the kind. But what I know does not prove anything anyhow. It is what the documents say that settles such questions, not the total silence of the Supreme Pontiff on the matter, and most certainly not the unanimous vote of certain groups of bishops. The evidence is that neither the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself nor the official teachings of the Church which have stood for centuries have any meaning whatsoever to these "priests of Baal." They seem to imagine that because they have the votes and because they have the control, they can therefore decide anything which suits their fancy, and those who say otherwise can be damned, for all they care. God will have His Sacrifice the way they prepare it for Him, or He will have none at all!
As mentioned above, discussion concerning the validity of the Consecration has seemed belabored. I was suggesting that many on that account may have allowed themselves to become too greatly entangled in this controversy. Many have thought that the problem would be solved if this single issue could be circumvented. And so they have agitated for "Latin Masses," meaning the "Novus Ordo" "said" in Latin. Thus have they shown their naiveté concerning the cause and purposes of the whole "renewal" hoax, in which the question of validity is really only a single, thought, to be sure, not unimportant aspect.
Another group has made a similar mistake: They are satisfied if, at the "Novus Ordo" when it is "said" in the vernacular, the priest pronounces the words "for many" at the Consecration. Would that it were so simple!
These two groups are to be classified with yet another one, those who have made so much of this question of validity, that they have disregarded the more comprehensive and more basic consideration, that of the morality of the "New Mass." As I said in the beginning, this is because of their too "legalistic" approach to the entire question.
The root of this admittedly honest mistake is that these people have made nothing, or at least too little, of the incontrovertible fact that the "New Mass" is illicit. Its creation was sinful and sacrilegious for no other reason than that it was against the Law of the Church - and therefore contrary to the will of God. And its "celebration" is sinful for the very same reason. Consequently it is also sinful to attend the "New Mass," to participate in it in any way, to receive Communion during it, to receive hosts which may or may not have been validly consecrated during it, or even to attend the True Mass where the "New Mass": customarily takes place. (Cf. Canon 1172, Par. 1.3).
The spirit is among us which discounts the laws of the Church, as if they were less holy and less binding than the commandments of God. Such a spirit is Protestant, or worse, as if the Church did not rule in God's Name and in His stead, as if she were not possessed of the authority to bind and to loose, to forgive and to retain, to open and to shut even the very gates of Heaven itself.
The so-called "Liberal Movement," which is but a part of the Revolution, is greatly responsible for this most serious and corruptive aberration in our thinking. We are all the witnesses of some of the ravages which this spirit has brought on the Church. The so-called "renewal" which was spawned at the Second Vatican Council is one of them. Were we to attempt to list them all, we would need to write a book instead of a paragraph. The abrogation of numberless laws, the relaxation of all discipline, the granting of every kind of dispensation, regardless of whether it will prove beneficial or disastrous for souls, the failure to proclaim, legislate, or enforce Catholic moral principles are all the works of this decadence. The Church is afflicted with what might be described as the spirit of self-contempt, which never fails to show itself wherever the Revolution is able to sow its seeds. There seems to be a studied effort on the part of the Pope and many other ranking ecclesiastics (bishops included) to parade the lovely Bride of Christ in rags of shame for all the world to jeer and befoul. They call it charity and "ecumenism" to tolerate, nay, even to encourage every manner of attack upon her. Both her own disloyal children and her mean-mouthed, jealous enemies may hurl at her an insult, accusation, or blasphemy with never so much as word of defense being spoken in her behalf. Protestants, Jews, atheists, Communists, infidels, anyone and everyone may ridicule her doctrine, calumniate her traditions, falsify her history, trample her honor, scorn her saints. And in return, they are all invited to sit at a table and carry on a "dialogue" with the hope of finding a solution to the annoyance the Church continues to be to them.
But this is not the limit of it. In the last few years the Pope has proceeded to a more astounding form of treachery than has ever been known in the Church. This activity alone in the Age of Faith would easily have brought his deposition, if not have condemned him to the stake. This is his fraternization with the bestial ministers of Communist governments, whose official policy, as an essential part of their world imperialism, is now and always has been to rid the Church from the face of the earth. These white-collared savages, whose hands drip with the blood of literally millions of Catholic and Christian martyrs, and whose every move and every word is admittedly inspired by a hatred of Christ, now receive the hospitality of the Vatican. These ruthless war-mongers and usurpers of governments now come and go thee in order to negotiate what the Church will concede them in return for their not proceeding to stamp it out altogether. During these negotiations it would be exceedingly undiplomatic and provocative were it suggested that the Catholics in the prisons and concentration camps have done no crimes.
Such policies as these and innumerable other forms of ignoble and dishonorable forbearance and abnegation have served well to diminish and undermine the Church's authority and the love and respect due to it. Another book could be written on this subject. We will not begin it here. Suffice it to say that the intolerable Sacrilege which is the "New Mass" was and is possible only because there has become prevalent inside and out of the Church the idea and spirit that the Church is a purely human institution, a kind of international moral association, whose laws are all revocable, dispensable, and purely human.
The very opposite is the case. The Church is our beloved Mother; it is the Mystical Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God on earth, endowed with all divine power and authority, the font of all grace, the repository of revealed truth, the spiritual sovereignty of the whole earth and of all created things, and the only source of salvation for men. It was by virtue of this unquestionable preeminence and authority that the Holy Mass of the Roman Rite was legislated as the liturgy for the Patriarchate of the West (the "Latin Rite"). And because of our obedience to this holy law we shall be granted its indescribably good and wholesome fruits. Such was the mind of Pope St. Pius V when he gave this Mass to us (or imposed it upon us-say it either way you wish; it was both a gift and a law); such is the truly Catholic view of this law, and our generation's tragic folly does not make the matter different.
To resume our principle discussion, when we speak of the establishment of the Mass of the Missale Romanum, we are making reference to its liceity, its legality. And when we speak of its liceity, we must necessarily mean that which is according to the divine will. As essential as is validity of consecration for the consummation of the Holy Sacrifice, of itself validity does not make the Mass worthy. You will recall the proverb, "The victims of the wicked are abominable to the Lord." (Prov. 1:18). And again, the Psalmist says,
"But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices, and take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hast hated discipline: and hast cast my words behind thee."
Psalm 49: 16-17
Next Issue: Chapter Four - part eleven
E. Validity and Liceity second part