The path to a happy death is fraught with obstacles, mostly of our own making. As Our Blessed Lord and Savior told us in the Sermon the Mount, rocky is the road that leads to the narrow gate of eternal life. Our fallen human nature consigns us to working out our salvation in "fear and in trembling," as Saint Paul reminds us. The vestigial after-effects of our forgiven mortal sins and our venial sins keep us frequently from detaching ourselves from all trace of sin in our lives, thereby making it more difficult for us to make an act of the will to cooperate with the graces made available to us by the working of the Holy Ghost in Holy Mother Church to scale the heights of sanctity with every beat of our hearts. The salvation of our souls is a full-time job, one that requires us to avoid the sins of presumption and despair while we implore Our Lady at all times to be the recipients of her Divine Son's ineffable mercy at the moment of our Particular Judgments.
With all of the pitfalls inherent in our daily carrying of the crosses imposed by our states in life and of the vagaries of our own fallen natures, we should not expect there to be further roadblocks placed on the path to eternity by representatives of our means of salvation, that, is, Holy Mother Church herself. Indeed, our shepherds have the obligation to facilitate our path home to Heaven by providing us with the surety found in the Deposit of Faith Our Lord entrusted to His Mystical Bride and by succoring us in the stable environment of a liturgy that reflects the beauty and permanence and glory of the Blessed Trinity. It is thus a wicked thing when shepherds turn into wolves, sowing the seeds of uncertainty in matters of doctrine and treating with abject contempt the reverence due God in the Sacred Liturgy.
The liturgical revolution of the past forty years, which has been so instrumental in the inroads made by doctrinal revolutionaries, has caused many good people to spend endless amounts of time attempting to fight rear-guard efforts to defend what their sensus Catholicus tells them should be reflected in the celebration of the unbloody re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary that is Holy Mass. I know. I used to be in their ranks, gnashing my teeth and renting my garments over this or that novelty associated with the Novus Ordo, believing, quite foolishly, I might add, that all we needed was Papal enforcement of "liturgical norms" in order to hold the dam against the leaks caused by those engaged in unauthorized liturgical innovations and abuses. Thus, I waved copies of Dominicae Cenae (Pope John Paul II's 1980 Holy Thursday letter) and Inaestimabile Donum in the faces of priests who were doing as they pleased in the celebration of Holy Mass. They simply laughed in my face, knowing full well that most of their abuses would one day receive the sanction of the Holy See itself.
What I did not understand was that the Novus Ordo itself is the problem. It is an innovation without limits, as I have been demonstrating in my paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal. There is almost nothing that is not beyond the ability of national episcopal conferences to alter on the grounds of "local custom" or on the grounds of "inculturation of the Gospel." The litany of one-time abuses that later received the approval of the Holy See is staggering, indeed, too long to be recounted here. A sampling will suffice: Communion in the hand, Communion under both Species, the proliferation of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, altar girls, and now, the prohibition of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion.
Once again, those who continue to believe that the leaks in the dam can be plugged are gnashing their teeth and renting their garments, denouncing the American bishops for their crusade to end the tradition of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion in those relatively few parishes in the country that have either retained the practice for everyone or permitted those desiring to kneel to do so. (I think I know every diocesan parish in this nation in both of those categories.) These well-meaning people, who dearly love God and are served in many instances by priests who have a genuine zeal for the salvation of souls, are outraged that the American bishops seem so single-minded in their crusade to end all vestiges of our Catholic past insofar as reverence shown the Blessed Sacrament is concerned while looking the other way as the very tenets of the Deposit of Faith are undermined in our pulpits in almost all of our Catholic educational institutions. What these people do not realize is that the new Mass itself is what makes it far easier for the doctrinal revolutionaries to reduce the Deposit of Faith to the level of subjectivity. After all, if the Mass itself is so impermanent as to be subject to endless changes in both substance and style, then doctrine itself is subject to such "evolution," a reality that Pope Pius XII specifically understood in his prophetic Mediator Dei of 1947.
More to the point, however, a lot of the good people who have not come to the realization that the Novus Ordo itself is the problem have convinced themselves that the American bishops are acting as renegades, overlooking the simple fact that everything that has justifiably disturbed their peace has been approved by the Holy See. One intellectually dishonest circular making the e-mail rounds in recent days doesn't even point out the fact that the prohibition against kneeling now being enforced with such zeal by the American bishops was approved earlier this year by the Holy See. It is a dead issue just as much as Communion in the hand and Communion under both Species and altar girls are all dead issues. Those who insist, as a pioneering founder of a private Catholic academy did earlier this year, that "we have to stay and fight in the parishes to help our priests" are ignoring the truth that the fight is over. The Mahonyites have won. It's over, folks. If the Vatican has abandoned the sheep, why in the world do people think that they are going to win battles at the local level that the Vatican has ceded to the wolves in their entirety? Kneeling for Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo is a dead issue, the rare exception being those few bishops who will actually "permit" Catholics to do what their sensus Catholicus tells them is right, never mind what is truly due Our Lord in His Real Presence. It is a sad commentary that Catholics now need a bishop's permission to do that what which was the standard practice in the West for centuries.
A new religion with a new liturgy and a new set of "customs" has been foisted on Catholics worldwide in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. The lessons of the French and the Bolshevik Revolutions have not been lost on our own liturgical and doctrinal revolutionaries. A "memory of the past" has to be created that distorts and misrepresents the true history of the past in order to justify the novelties and innovations at the heart of all revolutions. One has to stand a little bit in awe of the relentless zeal of the revolutionaries who have sought to gut the entirety of our Catholic past in so short a time, imposing practices dear to the hearts of the likes of Martin Luther and John Calvin and Thomas Cranmer, none of whom could have dared to dream the extent to which the Catholic Church would adopt their liturgical practices in less than half a millennium.
The only antidote to this revolution is found in the Mass of Tradition. The Traditional Latin Mass provides Catholics with the permanence and stability that are essential to the worship of the Blessed Trinity and to the sanctification of their own immortal souls. Imagine what the Church (and the world) would look like if Catholics were able to focus their energies solely on the proper and reverent worship of God in the Mass and on the salvation and sanctification of their own souls rather than having to fight endless battles within their own parishes over matters that many Catholics gave up their lives for in the immediate aftermath of the Protestant Revolt. Admitting that the cross of the liturgical revolution provides Catholics who are still trying to retard its aftermath provides them with a means to sanctify their souls, there does come a time when people have to recognize the truth that God desires us to worship Him in peace so that we can indeed scale the heights of sanctity in order to do battle with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil in our own lives and in the world. That peace and security is found only in the Traditional Latin Mass, a rite that is so fixed in its very nature that not even the worst priest in the world can impose his own idiosyncratic stamp on it.
Pleading once more with the Holy Father to establish an Apostolic Administration for the Traditional Latin Mass, I once more plead with Catholics worldwide to discover the beauty and the glory of the Mass of our fathers. Without for one moment questioning the sincerity or the piety of those Catholics who have clung to the new order of things in the belief that the situation will stabilize over the course of time, it is time for these people to enter the world of peace and security offered by the Traditional Mass alone.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
The English Martyrs, pray for us.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives