The Germs of GIRM |
Part Fifty: "New Order = Disorder"
"There are good members of the laity who dearly love God and are very devoted to Eucharistic Adoration. Granted. Imagine what our ecclesiastical situation would be, however, if these good priests and members of the lay faithful were exposed on a regular basis to the fixed, permanent, immutable nature of the Traditional Latin Mass. If good priests and members of the laity are fighting the good fight of faith in the midst of the confusion wrought by the Novus Ordo, imagine what they would be capable of doing if immersed into the reverence and order and stability and Christocentricity which are at the heart of the Traditional Latin Mass."
Several thoughtful readers have taken issue with the assertion made in my more recent analysis of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal concerning the harmful effects of the Novus Ordo. One very thoughtful and erudite young reader asked, in essence, how could a valid Mass be harmful, especially if every effort is made to incorporate Latin and Gregorian Chant into the Novus Ordo. Although I have addressed this issue several times in the past, a brief summary of the harmful effects of the Novus Ordo is apposite at this juncture prior to my continuing exegesis of G.I.R.M.
The best explanation as to the spiritual sloth produced by the Novus Ordo can be found in Father Chad Ripperger's two part treatise in Latin Mass Magazine. Let me reprise a quote from his second article, which I used two month's ago as a sidebar.
"Now all the options [in the Novus Ordo] have eroded the sense that the priest must render to the people their due; the flow of the Mass is at his discretion. This leads the priest to think that he can do whatever he likes. While Church documents are clear that he cannot do so, the fact is that all these options contain the implicit principle of 'do what you want.' This is why, when the ritual is out of the hands of the priest, it naturally begets a sense of the requirement of justice in all of us. For when the priest does something that is contrary to the rubrics, or even in the rubrics but included as optional, it gives people a sense that the priest is concerned not so much about what God wants as about what he wants, especially if one attending the Mass does not like the particular option. Ultimately, the ritual of the Mass is about God, and ought to seek the best way of rendering to God His due. This comes through a deep sense of justice. . . . Therefore, the Mass must be about God and not ourselves."
Here is a brief listing of the ways in which the Novus Ordo is harmful to the integrity of the Holy Faith:
1. A less full expression of the Faith. As has been pointed out by any number of good, dispassionate scholars over the course of the past thirty-five years, even the Latin editio typica of the Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI expresses the Faith in different terms than contained in the Missale Romanum of Pope Saint Pius V. Even Pope John Paul II, eager to demonstrate to the Orthodox, who understand the beauty of the Traditional Mass of the Latin Rite, his own appreciation of the organic beauty and fullness of the Mass of our fathers, noted publicly in September of last year that the Missale Romanum of Pope Saint Pius V contains a rich expression of the Faith. The Novus Ordo has gutted the Confiteor and the Offertory, replaced the Collects and Secrets and Communions and Postcommunions with prayers which are meant quite deliberately to de-emphasize man's need for exterior penance and interior mortification (as well as references to a God who judges sinful men at the moment of their deaths). There are theological problems with what omitted in the prayers in contained in the Novus Ordo even if we had a faithful translation of the Latin into any of the vernacular languages. This is truly harmful to the formation and sanctification of souls.
2. The Novus Ordo is impermanent of its nature. As is noted in the quote from Father Ripperger's incisive article (and as the late Monsignor Klaus Gamber pointed out in the work I often quote in these pages, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy), the legitimate options provided in the Novus Ordo make the Mass the ready plaything of a priest or a liturgy committee. Pope John Paul II implicitly makes this point in Dominicae Cenae in 1980, warning priests that the liturgy is the possession of the whole Church and that they should not improvise so as to place their idiosyncratic stamp on the Mass. However, the Novus Ordo of its nature is fungible, as I have been demonstrating in my continuing analysis of G.I.R.M. Father Fasano in Virginia can have all of the bells and whistles of the Latin and Gregorian Chant. Some other priest, however, is equally within his rights to have the "folk" Mass or the "rock" Mass or the "charismatic" Mass, each replete with variations which can be justified by invoking the shopworn phrase "inculturation." This bewilders the faithful and causes them to lose sight of the permanence and stability which ought to be reinforced in the Mass, not undermined.
3. Congregationalism and Anthropocentricity. Impermanence leads to instability. Both of these lead to congregationalism. Each Catholic parish now has its own way of celebrating Mass. The Mass varies widely from priest to priest, from time to time, from place to place, which is the exact opposite of what a liturgical rite is supposed to produce. As many have noted over the last forty years, the Traditional Latin Masses produces stability, unity, and universality-Catholicity, if you will - of its very nature. The new Mass, though valid, produces a sense of division, confusion and competition because of its utter dependence on the decisions made by human beings to choose from the panoply of options made available to them. And because this is the case, you see, improvisations not explicitly prohibited are frequently adopted as a means of "enriching" the liturgy. Again, this is idiosyncratic and congregational, not at all Catholic.
4. A de-emphasis on the Sacerdotal Nature of the Mass. The distinction between the sacerdotal priesthood and the laity is blurred in the new Mass. In the name of "active" participation, the sanctuary is now flooded with lay people, as I noted in my latest analysis of G.I.R.M. The priest is reduced the role of a functionary, a mere "presider" of the community meal rather than the alter Christus who offers the Son in an unbloody manner to the Father in Spirit and in Truth. The removal of the altar rail and the building of a free standing altar with the priest looking at us (rather than in conversation with God) lead to an emphasis on the person of the priest rather than his acting in persona Christi. While a particular man's priesthood is important for the offering of the Sacrifice at a given time, his personality and "celebratory style" are utterly unimportant. G.I.R.M. has now institutionalized the celebration of Mass facing the people, something which has done more harm to the Faith than almost anything else contained in the Novus Ordo. And all of this has led to the emasculation of the priest himself.
5. Loss of Reverence and the Canonization of the Profane. The spiritual sloth and self-centeredness of the Novus Ordo lead to a loss of reverence, to immodest dress, talking in Church, banal music, irreverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, the wreckovation of church buildings and, ultimately, to the loss of our sense of sin (which leads sometimes to the glorification of sin). Noise, confusion, instability, uncertainty, and a sense of our own innate goodness are destruction of the good ordering of souls. The Mass of our fathers forces the faithful to pay attention interiorly and to conduct themselves as befits supplicants who are mindful of the fact they are standing at the foot of the Cross.
This is only a very partial and incomplete summary of things many of us have written about in the past. As I have noted so many times in the past, there are good priests who are doing the best they can with the Novus Ordo. There are good members of the laity who dearly love God and are very devoted to Eucharistic Adoration. Granted. Imagine what our ecclesiastical situation would be, however, if these good priests and members of the lay faithful were exposed on a regular basis to the fixed, permanent, immutable nature of the Traditional Latin Mass. If good priests and members of the laity are fighting the good fight of faith in the midst of the confusion wrought by the Novus Ordo, imagine what they would be capable of doing if immersed into the reverence and order and stability and Christocentricity which are at the heart of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives
Oct 1, 2002
volume 13, no. 106
The Germs of G.I.R.M. series