Chapter Seven |
"And Elias said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the
Lord; but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. Let two
bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves,
and cut it in pieces and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under; and I
will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it.
call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my
Lord; and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the
people answering said: A very good proposal."
3 Kings. 18: 22-24
It seems that my present situation is very similar to that of the thaumaturgic prophet Elias (c. 850 B.C.) when the Lord God sent him to challenge King Achaz and to humble and rout the numerous prophets of Baal. During those days, as in these, the people, in obedience to the commands of their divinely-chosen king, had allowed themselves to be seduced into idolatry. The wonderful account of the episode in the third book of Kings makes it very clear that Elias found the false priests of Baal very easy to deal with, despite their great numbers. The reason was, of course, their god was no god at all. My case is the very same. Though literally thousands of priests have gone over to the worship of Baal ("The people is Baal"), standing against them is the merest child's play. This is not because the modern Baal is no god either, and his "mass" is no more than idol-worship. And since, as the reader can easily see, Baal's well-bleached clerics have no defense for their craven treachery, it takes no courage to challenge them, one and all.
Statements made in this acrid little tract are of sufficient importance to create a great controversy and one of such moral relevance as to rasp the conscience of every man who glories in his priesthood. The whole Catholic world is visibly and painfully torn asunder by the question of the so-called "New Mass." The sooner those who truly love God acknowledge the burning immediacy of this question, the sooner will we find a solution to it, and begin anew to worship Him worthily.
I propose that this controversy be carried on differently from the way the conspirators have proceeded in their ruthless "re-making" of the Church. Instead of pushing out of the way everyone who may disagree with my thesis, that the "New Mass" is nothing but a wicked Hoax, I offer to debate any of Baal's ministers. I challenge any priest to defend his new "faith," his fancy new "mass," and his abandonment of the Faith of the Apostles. Christian chivalry requires that I offer the thousands of ecclesiastical parasites, who now prey on the helpless Catholic faithful, an opportunity to respond to my admittedly harsh accusations and stern demands. Surely, many of them will feel duty-bound to rush to the defense of their spiritual Father and mine, Pope Paul VI, and I should surely hope that every one of them is able to make more sense out of the "Comedy of Errors" known as the "Novus Ordo" than I have been able to do here. Besides this, every priest is going to have to be able to refute my dangerous contention that attendance at the "New Mass" is grievously sinful, for, hopefully, this book will no sooner be on the market than people everywhere will be knocking on the doors of their parish rectories demanding a clear and unequivocal proof that such is not the case. Anyone can figure out that if people stop coming to the local Meal-service, those poaching "presbyters" will be in immediate danger of having to find some kind of honest employment.
These erstwhile priests claim to be the exponents of the glorious, freshly refurbished Catholic Faith, the stalwart defenders of the divinely-ordained Papacy, and the shepherds of God's people. I say that any priest who has accepted the new-fangled "mass" is an idolater, a fraud, and a coward, and I challenge him to meet me in verbal combat and to try to prove me wrong.
What I wish to do now is to name the conditions of our confrontation, determine exactly the subject of our discussion, and (also in the tradition of Christian chivalry) offer as much assistance as I can to any prospective combatant, in consideration of his being the decided underdog.
It seems only proper that you have to face me with people in attendance, Father. The people have been treated as such ignoramuses since the very beginning of your "renewal" of Catholicism. You and your comrades have been insisting that all your Revolutionizing was "for the people," that all these "changes" were an effort to "accommodate" the Mass to the "needs" of the people. Well, now let us just see if you can prove your thesis, with me as your antagonist. Let us submit our arguments to the people and allow them to say which faith they recognize as their own, yours or mine?
We shall hold our debate, Father, after the fashion of the Scholastic disputations of old, in which matters were discussed and decided on the basis of cold logic and carefully-framed syllogisms. Therefore, you must leave all your trite slogans, catch-phrases, and empty rhetoric at home. You may bring all the documents you want, and so may I. You may have one adviser only. Bring all the friends you wish, provided that they are able to act like Christian ladies and gentlemen; the issues to be treated are too serious to be decided by hecklers and rooters.
Let me caution you, Father, that you should look before you leap. You must not accept my challenge too hastily, lest you "bite off more than you can chew." I must warn you ahead of time that you will have a most difficult task, not because I am such a fearsome dialectician (Heavens no!), but because, whether you know it or not, you are already not only weaponless, but also naked to my sword. Remember, at our meeting, you will not have your bishop to lay the blame to, nor your parish council to give you the votes you will need.
Let it be understood, Father, that in our debate, you will have the role of the defender, I the challenger. Please note well the implied distinction. This means, first of all, that it will not be my place to defend the Catholic Faith against you. Neither should I have to prove to you the holiness of the Catholic Mass. Nor will we need to go into a discussion as to whether the Mass can be changed licitly in some of its rubrics; or whether there is presently a need for such a reform. We will not be talking at all about the True Mass, but about that "mass" which you now claim for your own.
Nor will we begin to argue the fundamentals of the Faith, such as the doctrine of the Primacy of the Pope, or that of Papal Infallibility. If you do not accept these notions as basic, you and I can never debate any question which pertains to Catholic theology. One more thing: should you and I engage in a verbal face-off, I beg you not to plan to divert me with protestations of loyalty to the Holy Father - we preach no schism here! It seems necessary to remind everyone that the Pope does not own either you or me, or the Church. There are limits even to his authority.
The general subject of our debate will be the contents of this book, specifically the question, "Why the 'New Mass'?" As the defender, you must be able to refute the main contentions made in this writing. They are as follows:
1. The "new Mass" is no Mass at all. It is rather a deceitful and perverse Mimicry of the True Mass. It is therefore a most horrible Sacrilege, the malicious Hoax of the anti-Christian Revolution.
These are my contentions, Father, asserted in bold and unmistakable terms for your easy annihilation. You see the advantages I offer you; my words would suggest that I am altogether mad. One thing is most clear: we have something to argue about.
2. Pope Paul VI deserves the lion's share of the blame for introducing this obscene Exhibition.
3. Despite all that Pope Paul and the bishops of the Church have done to suggest the opposite, all the laws of the Church which were established to support and perpetuate the True Mass are still in effect. Pope Paul's decree Missale Romanum which purports to invalidate these laws is in itself null and void.
4. Regardless of the question of the legality of the "New Mass" or of its validity, every priest who has abandoned the True Mass and accepted it, and the anti-religion to which it gives witness, has violated his priestly Oath; he is therefore in the state of sin, whether he admits it or not. Each time he goes to the Table to perform his new "rites" he commits two more sins, one of sacrilege and another of perjury.
5. Attendance at the "New Mass" on the part of lay people is a mortal sin; it is participation in an act of idolatry.
But the question remains: wild as my words are, can you prove them wrong? Would it not be a frightful thing if you could not, you who "say" this Mock-mass? With a few simple sentences, chosen perhaps from the writings of the Fathers of the Church, or St. Thomas Aquinas, or the decrees of one of the Ecumenical Councils, you should be able to make a perfect fool of me, and expose me to well-deserved ignominy. One would think that all you priests of Baal would jump at the chance to give me a good verbal drubbing for making such outrageous statements. I said above that I wish to offer assistance to any of you so inclined. Here I will add a comment or so about each of these propositions, except the last (it being implicitly included in the first), hoping to warn you of certain dialectical obstacles you will encounter.
1. Now, Father, if you deny anything I am saying, you will have a chance to give the straight of it. Of course, if you cannot, it is a natural question to ask why you continue in your present mode of life? Do you have a reason for your priestly existence? You act as if your "New Religion" is the Old Religion, true Catholicism. Can you prove it? You say your "New Mass" is essentially the same as the Old Mass; an easy thing to say - Protestant ministers, car salesmen, and Black Panthers say all kinds of things. The question is, can you prove the things you claim against someone whom you cannot command to keep silent, against someone who is not afraid of your angry voice and your fierce threats, against someone who knows something of what the official documents of the Church say?
In all fairness to you, Father, I have to warn you that, before you come to our joust, be sure to study the "New Mass" very carefully. There are many aspects of it which I have found it necessary in the interest of brevity to omit in this writing. But you would be at an even greater disadvantage if you were not very familiar with the subject. Let me give you a further warning while on this point: you will have to do all your reference work on the "New Mass" from the Novus Ordo Missae itself, since, to my knowledge, there are no theological treatises on the vacuous Thing - which in itself is an interesting point. One would think that at the appearance of a brand new "mass" in the Church, there would be a veritable avalanche of exciting, scholarly treatises on it, which expound its profound spirituality, its mystical insights, its doctrinal subtleties. After all, is not the "Novus Ordo" the glorious modern master-work of the Spirit of God? Logically, you should not lack books to do your research in, Father, but, just between you and me, can you give me the title of just one such book? The only thing to be done, of course, is for you to write a book yourself. Call it, "The Holiness of the 'New Mass'." You should find a ready market for it. To date, the only books to be found on this subject busy themselves with explaining the relationship of the "New Mass" to the people, and the wonderful advantages they now enjoy from it, (but which they have yet to discover). Not surprisingly, these books have had a rather thin readership.
Surely you, Father, would not be "saying" the so-called "New Mass," if you could not defeat me on every point. Other priests may have accepted the order to abandon the True Mass out of blind and slavish obedience and may have never seriously considered the gravity of their action, but you are not so careless as that. It was only after long and assiduous investigation that you made your decision. And when you did, it was on the basis of the easily proved fact that, by golly, this "New Mass" is definitely superior in every respect to the Old One! Neither did you begin to "say" it in fear, but out of a sense of devotion to Christ, Our Blessed Savior, for Whom you would gladly die, were He to ask it. Had you not been certain that it was the Divine Will commanding you to accept these strange new forms, and not merely conniving, fallible men, you would never have taken such a momentous and undreamed-of step. Surely there is not the faintest possibility of any truth in my assertions against this atrocious Concoction, and you can prove this without the least difficulty.
It is obvious that I do not know what the "New Mass" is all about, and that you do, because after all you "say" it every day. No doubt, Father, you can explain perfectly well why and how you came to take up the "New Religion" with its mocking Prayer-Game. You had a holy purpose in forcing the people in our charge to accept it, despite their misgivings. You told them that they could trust you and the bishops and the Pope; you would take full responsibility for any mistakes involved. When we have our encounter, Father, we shall be speaking about why you have done what you have; it will be unavoidable. You were and are a free man. No doubt you can give a good reason why, all of a sudden, you changed your religion, even while you kept protesting you were not doing so, and no doubt you would be proud to stand before anyone and bear witness to the fact. Surely you began to change your way of saying Mass, not because you had to, but because a new light had dawned in your life. Your thinking had become so thoroughly altered that you were glad to be done with the detestable Mass of the Apostles and to take up the marvelous "Novus Ordo." But, more to the point, Father, were we to meet head-on, you would have to know what the "theology" of the "New Mass" is, to say it better, you would have to be able to prove that it has such. Now this will challenge your ingenuity.
For the rest of this chapter, see part two in this issue.
For installments to date, see Archives of The Great Sacrilege
See INTRODUCTION for an explanation of this work.
THE GREAT SACRILEGE
by Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.