permission to reprint this
defining work was personally granted by
Father James F. Wathen, O.S.J. in 2001.
Chapter Four

Part Six


See EDITOR'S NOTE for an explanation of this work.

"Mysterium Fidei"

    Have you wondered why this phrase "Mysterium Fidei" was taken from the hitherto inviolable Consecration Form of the wine? In his Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, Pope Paul says, "The words mysterium fidei, taken from the context of the words of Christ the Lord, and said by the priest, serve as an introduction to the acclamation of the faithful." Appendix II, Par. 6). This is saying what had happened to these words, not why!

    If you ask the "play-wrights", they will tell you this phrase in the True Mass is an interruption in the narrative of the consecration of the wine by our Divine Savior. It is a break in the thought, they will say; it is not scriptural. All of a sudden, you see, they feign great scholarliness. After making a veritable shambles of the entire Liturgy of the Roman Rite through the most egregious mistranslations, silly interpolations, and needless omissions and dislocations, they have the temerity to claim that their itchy-fingered meddling is inspired by devotion to the Sacred Scriptures. Their fancied biblicism betrays them here, however, since as Fr. Jungmann points out, liturgical usage pre-dates the Scriptures, and even explains the divergencies among the various accounts of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament.

        In all the known liturgies the core of the eucharistia, and therefore of the Mass, is formed by the narrative of institution and the words of consecration. Our very first observation in this regard is the remarkable fact that the texts of the account of institution, among them in particular the most ancient (whether as handed down or as reconstructed by comparative studies), are never simply a Scripture text restated. They go back to pre-biblical tradition. Here we face an outgrowth of the fact that the Eucharist was celebrated long before the evangelists and St. Paul set out to record the Gospel story. Even the glaring discrepancies in the biblical texts themselves regarding this very point are explained by this fact. For in them we evidently find segments from the liturgical life of the first generation of Christians. 44. The Mass of the Roman Rite. Jungmann. Vol 2. pp. 194-195.
    Though there was during the years gone by no little discussion about both the exact meaning of the words "mysterium fidei" in the context of the Consecration formula, and the date of their introduction into it, that they are an essential part of the Form of Consecration is not in any way open to question. Consider the following Monitum from the Holy Office in 1958:
        This Supreme Sacred Congregation has learned that in a certain translation of the New Order of Holy Week into the vernacular, the words "mysterium fidei" in the form of the consecration of the chalice are omitted. It is also reported that some priests omit these words in the very celebration of Mass.

        Therefore this Supreme Congregation gives warning that it is impious (nefas) to introduce a change in so sacred a matter and to mutilate or alter editions of liturgical books. (cf. Can. 1399, 10).

        Bishops therefore, in accordance with the warning of the Holy Office of 14 February, 1958, should see to it that the prescriptions of the sacred canons on divine worship be strictly observed, and they should be closely watchful that no one dare to introduce even the slightest change in the matter and form of the Sacraments. 45. "Omission of the Words 'Mysterium Fidei' in the Consecration of the Chalice." A Monitum of the Holy Office dated July 24, 1958, Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Vol. 50, p. 536.

    Clearly the removal of this phrase is a very serious violation of the law of the Church - this, aside from the question of whether its removal in the present instance may contribute to rendering the "New Mass" invalid. Regardless, in this writing we are more concerned with the morality of the "New Mass," which, as we have said before, is a more basic issue. Now the reader should keep in mind that fulfilling the law of the Church is a moral obligation so that a serious violation of the law is mortally sinful and render the Mass sacrilegious. This sinfulness derives from the illegality, and the illegality derives from the intrinsic wrongfulness of the act itself (a violation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist), the Church having made the law to point out the sin. To violate the law, therefore, is to violate the Sacrament.
        If anyone adds or takes away anything (from the form of Consecration of the Body and the Blood,) even if he does not change the meaning of the form, he does confect (the Sacrament), but he sins grievously. 46. Missale Romanum. Desclee. De Defectibus, Ch. V.
    If this not edifying then? The highest authorities of the Church are found appealing to the Divine Scriptures, while committing a desecration against the Form of the most Holy Sacrament, and attempting to oblige priests to participate in the sin-and in most cases, succeeding. This is another choice example of the phariseism of the "reform."

    The Critique of the Roman Theologians on the "Novus Ordo" considers that there may well be a case of invalidity here. The removal of the words "mysterium fidei" may not have been as harmless as it appeared. And the argument hinges upon the fact that the forms of Consecration have been made part of the Last Supper narrative. To quote the Critique:

        The narrative mode is now underlined by the formula: "Narratio institutionis" (No. 55d), and backed up by the definition of the commeration, where it is said that "Ecclesia memoriam ipsius Christi agit." (No. 55c). (The Church acts in memory of Christ Himself.)

        In short, the theory proposed for the epiclesis, (i.e., the prayer, Qui Pridie) the modification of the words of the Consecration and of the commemoration have the effect of changing the true import of the words of Consecration. The consecration formulae are now pronounced by the priest as part of a historic narration, and no longer expresses a categorical affirmation on the part of Him in Whose Person the priest acts: "Hoc est Corpus meum" (This is my Body") (and not: "Hoc est Corpus Christi" (This is the Body of Christ.") 47. Critique. p. 13.

    In reference to these words, footnote number 15 of the Critique says:
        The words of the Consecration, as they appear in the context of the "Novus Ordo", may be valid according to the intention of the ministering priest. But they may not be, for they are so no longer ex vi verborum (by the force of the words used) or more precisely, in virtue of the modus significandi (way of signifying) which they have had till now in the Mass. Will priests who, in the near future, have not had the traditional training and who rely on the "Novus Ordo" in order to "do what the Church does" make a valid consecration? One may be permitted to doubt it. 48. Ibid.
    The Critique has been proved correct beyond all doubt. There are hundreds of priests who Certainly do not validly consecrate, due to their complete incapacity of forming the correct intention; and their number increases daily. Steeped as many are in the rationalistic faithlessness of Revolutionism, they have only the most distorted, confused, and even cynical view of traditional Catholic doctrine. Faith in the dogma of the Eucharist and even in the divinity of Christ is quite beyond many of them.

    Nor should that other body of erst-while celebrants be forgotten. I refer to those whose dull-witted indifference to such supernal matters as the absolute necessity of proper forms and intentions for the confection of the Sacraments (such as is manifested by their robot-like readiness to do anything, say anything, or preach anything which bears the signature of their hierarchical custodians), bespeaks a very questionable faith; or rather, suggests that they have so completely surrendered their minds and wills to their Masonic masters, that they are quite incapable of having any intention different from, or contrary to, what is programmed into them.

    In the "Novus Ordo" the intention of re-enacting the Sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner is not in clear evidence. It is deliberately not in evidence because it needs to be acceptable to the innumerable priests who do not share Holy Mother Church's intentions with respect to the Mass, who do not believe in their own power of transubstantiation, nor in the need for such a power. Also, the "New Mass" had to be made acceptable to Protestant ministers, which of course it is. Many of them participate in it with joyful gusto, under the impression that finally the Roman Catholic Church has been converted to true Christianity, or at least is showing remarkable promise.

      The Great Sacrilege by Father James F. Wathen