I recently finished reading The Great Façade . I took the time to highlight in detail this excellent work by Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods, Jr. for future reference in the fight for the heart and soul of our Church being waged by Catholics who know their faith, as opposed to those who are having it subtly stolen from them. This is not to decry the work of many good Catholics who, while not as yet feeling an affinity, born out of a realization of the necessity, for the Tridentine Mass as do Traditionalists, remain united with them in the culture wars on the "hard" teachings of the Church. I personally have much respect for this group, and I hope that they feel the same way about me in regard to our mutual endeavors in fighting the devil and his minions. I count them as friends. And in my neighborhood, I can use all the friends that I can get, being considered an outspoken "arch-conservative" representative of Catholicism in the local media. Funny, but I remember most Catholics fell into that category prior to Vatican II.
Moreover, I know many non-Catholics locally who give more evidence of being Catholic than their supposed Catholic counterparts who have been so dumbed-down with inadequate catechesis, that they don't know their faith. I see this locally in individuals identifying themselves as Catholic who publicly advocate dissent from Church teachings on homosexuality by telling our community that “homosexuality is perfectly normal”, which is what a psychological screener for our prospective seminarians told our school board – a man who has been repeatedly defended by our bishop.
This brings me to the following point. It is becoming increasingly evident that the main reason that Catholics no longer know their faith is that the prime catechetical tool for teaching it to them, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, has been watered down such that many of the immutable truths of the faith are no longer a part of that sacred liturgy.
I can relate to much of what is included in The Great Façade as I've seen it personally in my travels around the country, in particular, the Mass and other liturgical abuses which are reaching incredible levels thanks to their encouragement by the "spirit of Vatican II", a "spirit" very different from the Holy Ghost. At a "Catholic" Church in eastern Kentucky, for example, I witnessed a female Protestant minister in full robes sharing the altar with a Catholic priest during Good Friday Services. I also observed a priest adlibbing a canon that was unrecognizable as one of the options of the Novus Ordo. I continually observe the complete ignorance of the latest liturgical directives from Rome seeing a host of extra-ordinary ministers become ordinary ministers surrounding the priest on the altar prior to the priest taking Communion, which is forbidden. In my particular diocese the bells are no longer rung at the most important parts of the Mass to include especially the Consecration letting the faithful know that once again the Sacred Mysteries are occurring in their presence during the most important part of the Mass. This has been made another option per the whim of the local ordinary. And whatever happened to the directive saying that the words of the Nicene Creed were to be changed from "We believe..." to "I believe..."? Doesn't it occur to anyone that you can only speak for yourself when making a profession of faith, and not your neighbor? You don't see an oath in court administered by having you raise your right hand, saying, "We promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God."
These may seem like minor points but I respectfully submit that, taken in their totality with many other similar changes, they have contributed to a diminution of the faith. Please don’t tell me that being allowed to receive Holy Communion in the hand contributes to an appreciation of man’s utter insignificance in comparison to his God. The Great Façade documents horrendous abuse of this “novelty” by the accounts of people disrespectfully grabbing “consecrated hosts” from cardboard boxes at world youth days. A motorcycle gang was observed taking hosts en masse and washing them down with beer!
Whatever major problems are confronting Holy Mother Church at the present time, none of them have a prayer of being solved, and I mean none of them to include all of the dissenting intentional ignorance of the traditional, immutable, infallible Magisterial teachings on faith and morals until we restore that most beautiful of all Catholic prayers, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to what it was before the Vatican II innovators dismantled it piecemeal into something unrecognizable as Catholic. And if that takes a Trent II, as suggested by some, then let us pray for such a blessed event, a council where the teachings of the Church are affirmed by her theology, which is omnipresent in the Tridentine Mass in its entirety.
The Traditional Latin Mass is the most beautiful of liturgies with the priest and laity conveying the meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ and the commemoration of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in the most reverential of fashions befitting the Triune God of Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The sacred mystery of the Catholic Church is visibly present in the old Rite. You don’t have to go in search of it; it’s inherent because the Catholic Church is a Church of mystery. The rubrics, posture, architecture, music, those glorious Gregorian chants, told you that you were part of a transcendent event, God on earth in the Church that He founded, knowing that you came to adore God, your focus fixed on Him alone without Whom you cease to exist. In short, you are in a very special place, and the demeanor of all therein, needs to reflect that truth. Sadly, that is no longer the case because the focus has been changed from God to man, from the supernatural to the natural, which is a sin.
There is an atmosphere created in Churches where high altars and glorious golden tabernacles convey in unmistakable terms that God is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This is manifested by the distinction between the ministerial priesthood of the celebrant who, in the "person of Christ", is the High Priest and the laity representing the "priesthood of the faithful" - both priest celebrant and laity looking toward their God on the high altar with the clear symbolism of the priest being the mediator between the laity and God offering up our petitions with the Body and Blood of Christ as Jesus did on that first Holy Thursday. The priest stands facing God on the altar with his back to the laity underscoring the proper hierarchical symbolism of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass instead of God being between the priest and the laity, the present configuration with the priest facing the congregation, thereby making the faithful "equal" to the ministerial priest, a mistake condemned by God in regard to Core's rebellion (Jude 1:11, Numbers 16:1-35).
To somehow insinuate that the laity aren't fully participating in that liturgy is to convey a gross misunderstanding of it. Full participation doesn't demand constant verbalization, singing, swaying in the pews. Moments of sacred silence can be indicative of the most fervent participation imaginable in Church liturgies. This is particularly true of the old Latin Rite. There is a solemnity about it that tells all that something special is happening in the Church. God Almighty is present there and, as such, deserves our undivided attention and respect. There is no leaving Mass talking to one's friends aloud at great length as if you are in a mall before you get out the doors. There is no "Our Lady of Perpetual Dins." Rather, there is a feeling that you are humbly privileged to be in the real presence of God with the symbolism of the rite unmistakably conveying that to you. You kneel at the Holy Communion rails and wait for the principal celebrant to bring God to you, not Joe or Sally down the street. You stay after Mass and say the prayer to Saint Michael because you believe that the devil exists. You wouldn’t dream of touching the host with your hands because you are "unworthy" befitting the Centurion's prayer said before receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in the host, "Lord, I am not worthy for Thou to come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."
Latin is the universal language of the Church since Christianity was founded within the confines of the Roman Empire. It is one of those very unforgiving languages with no room for the natural ambiguities that arise with the vernacular usage of others, e.g., French. The instances of repetition that the faithful hear in regard to the Latin Mass prayers to include the Roman Canon are important, not something to be discarded. They reinforce the importance of what is occurring on the altar, God coming down again from Heaven to be with His Church on Earth, a transcendent event announced via a language proper to the Sacred Mysteries of the supernatural, not one used in every day conversation by any Tom, Dick, or Harry. This universal use of Latin means that the faithful can go anywhere in the world and understand what is happening during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at least at the most important parts. Missals are available with full translations. However, you don't need a course in Latin 101 to master the common prayers in Ecclesial Latin. You learn them in Church not only via the Mass but also through beautiful devotions taking the form of litanies, novenas, stations of the Cross, etc. as a function of the liturgical year. One of most beautiful prayers in the Church is the Litany of the Saints chanted in Latin. As an altar boy, I knew exactly what I was saying in response to the priest after just one year as a server at Mass. The common prayers in Ecclesial Latin are not that difficult to learn.
There is nothing "disjointed" about the "old" Mass. It is beautiful in its simplicity, in its regard for the most accurate translation of the Word of God, and in particular, in its sense of the supernatural which has been lost with the Novus Ordo. That is not only my humble opinion but also that of an increasing number of Catholics who have come to realize that the old Mass isn't broke but, somehow, that fact doesn't seem to enter into the minds of progressive liturgists who are bound and determined to "fix" it anyway.
Maybe one of the "experts" can explain that to a poor simple "Joe six-pack in-the-pew" who is minus degrees in Theology and Scripture Studies, but who has noticed that our Churches were filled before Vatican II and are practically empty now, along with our convents and seminaries. O, some Churches might be filled on Sunday with bodies. But how many of these people know why they are really there? How many of them can defend their faith when the chips are down? How many of them come out of those churches reinvigorated with a true sense of what they’ve just experienced. It's not a "spring time in the Church" when the main "fruits" of a Council show up daily in the police section of our newspapers.
Why are we so reticent to consider the beauty of the Tridentine Mass? Why do liturgical "experts" and clergy feel obliged to go out of their way and say that we most certainly must not go back to that beautiful liturgy? The question that The Great Façade and I have is, "When did we ever leave it?" Where is there an official prohibition of it in any Vatican document? There isn't.
Statements have been made that what was desired by Vatican II was an improvement on the Tridentine Mass, losing none of its reverential symbolism. More power to you if such a goal can be realized. But I find it difficult to see how an improvement could be made on what was considered for centuries as liturgical perfection. Conversely, what a good many Roman Catholics and I have seen it to date is a dilution of the faith because the Mass intended to convey it was intentionally diluted.
We lost much with the demise of the "old" Mass, which was the intention of the liberal periti of Vatican II. They made sure that the seeds for this inevitable demise were planted in many Vatican II documents that encouraged a myriad of special options, modifications, i.e., the "novelties" referred to in The Great Facade. They did this in the name of bowing to the customs of the culture, a false enculturation in tune with a corresponding false ecumenism that now tells us that Catholicism is equal with any other religion, and there is no dire need for conversion for eternity's sake. Lest we forget, many martyrs shed their blood by refusing to "bow to the customs of the culture" because many of those customs were pagan. Today we see that same paganism de facto being encouraged at meetings called by Catholics in the name of this false ecumenism, which is nothing more than indifferentism or syncretism. All of this is clearly documented in The Great Façade , quoting eyewitnesses.
Real ecumenism is standing in contradiction, not accommodation to the world, as a witness to Christ's Church and the need for conversion to it. And it's high time we started practicing it as reinforced by the beauty of the Tridentine Mass, which needs to be restored, instead of making statements to the effect that it is some kind of "pariah" which must never to be considered again.
How utterly distinctive a Roman Catholic Church used to be from all others. And why shouldn't it be because Catholicism is a faith of sacred mystery. We're talking, literally, about the House of God wherein He really dwells in the Blessed Sacrament. The Hebrews carried the tablets and the rod of Aaron around in a golden tabernacle guarded with angels. The God of the Hebrews who came to fulfill, not abolish the Old Law with the New Testament, is now disrespectfully relegated in many instances to a back room in what is His House. What ever happened to the Fourth Commandment? Did Vatican II abrogate it?
What we've witnessed since Vatican II is the piecemeal destruction of our Churches, our liturgy - in effect the Protestantization of our faith. This continues as we're allowing the trivialization of our God into the "pal" that sits with us at a "community meal" celebrated on card tables in "town halls" masquerading as Catholic Churches with the community in the "gathering space" calling God down with the priest at the Consecration. We're told in Sacred Scripture that "At the very name of God every knee shall bend on Earth, in Heaven, and under the Earth." Isn't it sad that even the demons must kneel at the name of God, yet some Roman Catholics find that impossible!
You mess with the liturgy, you're messing with the beliefs of the faithful. You change the language, you change the ideas. Lex credendi, lex orandi. I wouldn't want that on my soul when I meet my Maker.
Until we get that truth right, Holy Mother Church will remain in the "dead of winter" with any thoughts of a coming "spring" being the fantasies of those who are in denial. The Great Façade quite rightly asks, "How much longer do we have to wait for a spring that can never come because the "Son" has been darkened by those wanting a perpetual winter?" It's high time to let the "Son" shine once again in all His radiant glory as He once did via the most beautiful of Catholic prayers. Until that happens, we're kidding ourselves if we believe that we have any hope of mitigating the problem of dissent from Church teaching on faith and morals because the faith will have been inexorably altered, which only propagates, not stops, dissent.
In summary, the entire theology of Catholicism is contained in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At least, it used to be. When you dilute and diminish the Mass, you do the same to the faith, making it unrecognizable as Catholic. We don't need "child Masses", "teen Masses", "rock Masses", "polka Masses", “folk Masses” ad nauseum. We need to reinforce the aforementioned theology by letting the faithful know that we're dealing with a "sense of the sacred" that cannot be trivialized via manipulation to accommodate the latest fads.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a toy to be played with, something those who encourage dissent could care less about. They want to ensure that generations of perpetual children populate our future parishes, demanding to be entertained at a Mass with "Johnny Carson impersonators for priests", a Mass that is being continually denuded of anything Catholic through multiple options, watered down prayers, and music totally devoid of a sense of the sublimely sacred that is the primary characteristic of those beautiful Latin chants that told you that you were in a very special mysterious place, God's House, a Catholic Church wherein God uniquely resides via His real presence, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, a place where very special forms of adoration from the architecture to the organ are required, proper to Him, without Whom, we cease to exist.
Consider the following striking major change to the Offertory prayer from the Old Mass to the New.
"Accept, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this unspotted host, which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my innumerable sins, offenses, and negligences, and for all here present: as also for all faithful Christians, both living and dead, that it may avail both me and them for salvation unto life everlasting. Amen."
This magnificent Catholic prayer has been replaced with:
"Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life."
The current difficulties in the Church are not hard to understand because when you mess with a Mass that wasn't broke, a Mass that didn't need fixing, you mess with a person's faith. This is what happened after Vatican II.
What kind of an example is this for Catholics? It tells them that our
beautiful Liturgy can be changed at whim. And if that is the case, what
other things in the Church can be changed at whim to include the Church teachings on faith and morals? They're all up for grabs. What other message can there be? And that is the crux of the problem. Until this fact is recognized and rectified by Rome, the problem will not go away.
What do the "liturgical Nazis" have in common? Their dissent knows no bounds as reported in a recent article from Adoremus Bulletin, which reports that clerical "liturgical innovators" turn out to be child abusers.
"Liturgical innovators" invariably dissent on practically every Church teaching, in particular, the moral teachings from contraception to abortion to euthanasia to homosexuality, et al., because lex credendi, lex orandi, "What we believe is shown by how we pray." And the innovators' primary interest, given their all too frequent woeful example as reported in the aforementioned Adoremus reference, appears to be the discouragement, not the encouragement of belief.
Finally, yesterday the pope announced the establishment of a "new" set of mysteries for the Holy Rosary.
Most Catholic News sources are reporting the modification of the Rosary to
include the "luminous mysteries" to be a spectacular event considering that
the Rosary has been unchanged for nine centuries.
I respectfully submit that a "really" luminous event, which would have been
more spectacular in the course of JPII's pontificate, would have been the
formal excommunication of heretical prelates such as Roger Mahony of Los
Angeles whose modus operandi is to foster and propagate dissent from
Magisterial Teaching on the widest scale possible via catechetical
conferences and the intentional ignorance of Church documents dealing with
faith and morals - such dissent invariably leading to the current scandals
in the Church as reported on a daily basis.
I submit that such an event would have had a far greater impact for the sake of the souls of the faithful than modifying a prayer that no previous pope for 900 years deemed necessary to include a considerable number of saints.
Of course when you start fixing prayers that don't require fixing such as
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and now the Rosary, an inescapable message
is that everything is up for grabs in the Catholic world - a message that
the dissenters will immediately pick up on they continue their efforts to
reinvent the Church in their image to accommodate their vices.
Truly Tradition trampled, and yet so many Catholics go on blithely and blindly obedient to whatever comes down the pike without realizing what has been lost and why. No wonder in just 40 years the Faith of our fathers has been totally transformed to something that would not even be recognizable to those who held the Faith and Traditions so sacrosanct for 2000 years.
October 17, 2002