DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     February 22, 1999     vol. 10, no. 36


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          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe. Today, he begins a two part series on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the confusion surrounding the abuses and variations that were never intended by the Council Fathers at Vatican II. Rather, as he confirms with Vatican II documents, someone other than Church authorities are promulgating these changes and disapprobations that have created "Mass Confusion!"

Mass Confusion part one

          "Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses'" (Matthew 11:7-8).

          We can ask ourselves that very same question in a different manner. When we go to Mass, why do we go? What do we want to see? Are we going to Mass for a group hug? Are we worshiping the community? Or rather, is the Mass the 'communal' worship of God?

          I remember the old Latin Mass. The priest whispered some words, the altar boys responded. Every once and awhile the priest would say something for the congregation to respond to.
    "Dominus Vobiscum" (The Lord be with you)
    "Et cum spiritu tuo" (and also with you.)
    "Oremus" (Let us pray)
    And he'd return to the whispers, the altar boys to their responses, and many in the congregation, to their rosaries.

          Vatican II saw a real problem here. The Mass was the Christian community's prayer to God! Not just the priest and the altar boys! So, they encouraged a liturgy - the Novus Ordo [New Mass] - which brought the congregation to a fuller participation in the Mass. This 'New Mass' was no great change from the 'old' Mass. It changed nothing in the focus of the Mass, the worship and glory of God.

          What Vatican II called for was: "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Peter 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism." (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM; Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy; Ch. 1, pt. 2, #14)

          ".the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty." (Ibid, #33)

          Though the Church saw a benefit to the Mass being in the vernacular of the people; " Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters." (Ibid; #36)

          Now many will say that the Council of Trent condemned any use of the vernacular. This isn't true. It said: "Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has nevertheless not seemed expedient to the Fathers that it be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular." They even condemned "anyone who says that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only." (Fr. Hardon's commentaries on the Catechism; Part Three: Ritual and Worship - XII. The Liturgy; Trent and Second Vatican)

          Note, they condemned " anyone who says that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular ONLY" Fr. Hardon points out that this was a logical and prudent action. " Latin in the liturgy became the target of spirited opposition on the part of those who charged Rome with keeping the word of God closed within clerical circles and unavailable to the people." (Ibid) These are the same arguments many use today to oppose the use of 'any' Latin in the Liturgy, even though Vatican II directly opposes it.

          But this only shows how many misuse and misinterpret Vatican II to support their own agenda; whether opposing the New Mass or supporting what they 'call' the New Mass.

          At first, the New Mass did bring about a great participation. " This Sacred Congregation notes with great joy the many positive results of the liturgical reform: a more active and conscious participation by the faithful in the liturgical mysteries, doctrinal and catechetical enrichment through the use of the vernacular, and the wealth of readings from the Bible, a growth in the community sense of liturgical life, and successful efforts to close the gap between life and worship, between Liturgical piety and personal piety, and between Liturgy and popular piety." (INAESTIMABILE DONUM; Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery; Approved and Confirmed by Pope John Paul II)

          However, " these encouraging and positive aspects cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so); an increasing loss of the sense of the sacred (abandonment of liturgical vestments, the Eucharist celebrated outside church without real need, lack of reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament, etc.); misunderstanding of the ecclesial character of the Liturgy (the use of private texts, the proliferation of unapproved Eucharistic Prayers, the manipulation of the liturgical texts for social and political ends). In these cases we are face to face with a real falsification of the Catholic Liturgy: "One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification." (Ibid)

          Though the Mass is a celebration, a feast, it is first and foremost, a sacrifice. Not a 're-sacrifice' of Christ on the cross, but the 'same' sacrifice. 'For with God, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day'. (ref. 2 Peter 3:8) It is where the people of God, His Church, His 'community' comes together to worhip Him. And through that worship, strengthen, refresh and renew themselves to 'Go and serve the Lord.'

          " In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that Heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory." (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM)

          So, in the Mass, we come together as a community, with the priest (acting in the person of Christ) offers the prayers and devotion of His people to God. That worship and praise is returned to us in an abundance of graces which helps us to live for Him, act for Him, speak for Him, in a world grown cold and dark by rejecting or ignoring Him.

          Yet, we hear many speak of the Mass as something else. It has gone, for many, from a worship by the community to the worship OF the community.

          " A few years ago, Bishop Rudolf Graber asked, "Where do the conciliar texts speak of communion in the hand, for example, or where do they enjoin the so- called altar facing the people (which is scant testimony to that `giving perfect glory to God' which the Liturgy Constitution says [in Par. 5] is the goal and purpose of worship)? The answer is: Nowhere." This good bishop went on to mention a number of other things which fall into the same category: elimination of the subdiaconate and the four minor orders; the monotonous enumeration of "Sundays in ordinary time" _ while the Protestants of course have retained the pre-Lenten season and the Sundays "after Trinity"; abandonment of Latin as liturgical language of the Western Church; elimination of the second imposition of hands during priestly ordination, and many others. (Ideology and Liturgy: Worship as the Cult of Community by Rev. Robert A. Skeris)

          For many, the New Mass wasn't a continuance of the Latin Mass, an updating of the Sacred Liturgy, but a break with it. " there began here _ at first stealthily and with cunning "anticipatory obedience" via facti, and then quite openly _ a consciously revolutionary process: another Church using a new liturgy as means, vehicle and instrument of social pressure (meaning that whoever refuses to cooperate, is isolated)." (Ibid)

          Many of these changes weren't in and of themselves 'bad', but like drops in a bucket, soon began what is essentially a 'new' New Mass.

          In my column on Thursday I will delve into these abuses and the six factors that have contributed the most to this "Mass Confusion."

    Pax Christi, Pat.

February 22, 1999       volume 10, no. 36


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