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

Part Nine


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

    "For we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully." 1 Timothy 1-8

Validity and Liceity

    Despite all that has been said, however, the problem of the validity or invalidity of vernacular "English-Canon Masses"- or any of the new "masses," for that matter - cannot be decided by you or me. Only the Church, in a saner day, will be able to make a definitive judgment. It should be obvious that individuals are in no position to do so, and it does not help the cause for them to attempt to make that decision.

    At the risk of seeming slow-witted, I must say that, from what I have been able to observe, the usual approaches to this question seem to have been anachronistic, and overly belabored for that reason. By this I mean to say they are at least five hundred years late. All seem to have overlooked the preeminent fact that the Church has already made an official pronouncement on the matter; the Form of Consecration was expressly determined by the Council of Florence in the year 1442. Its pronouncement was as follows:

    Since the decree of the Armenians given above does not set forth the form of words which the most holy Roman Church has been always wont to use for the consecration of the Body and Blood of the Lord, it having been confirmed by the teaching and by the authority of the Apostles Peter and Paul, we judged it should be inserted herewith. In the consecration of the Body of the Lord this form of words is used: "Hoc est enim corpus meum;" and in that of the Blood: "His est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti, mysterium fidei, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in Remissionem peccatorum." (For this is the Chalice of my Blood, of the new and eternal testament: the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.) 57. Enchiridion Symbolorum. Cc. Florentinum: Decr. Pro Jacobitis. P. 341, No. 1352.
    It is on the basis of this decree that the Missale Romanum of Pope St. Pius V commands priests to adhere to this Form most strictly. In the chapter entitled "De Defectibus" ("Concerning Defects"), after having given the exact same words as the decree quoted above, the "Missale" continues:
    Wherefore the words of Consecration, which are the Form of this Sacrament, are these, etc:

       If anyone removes or changes anything in the Form of Consecration of the Body and Blood, and by this change of words does not signify the same thing as these words do, he does not confect the Sacrament. 58. Missale Romanum. Desclee. De Defectibus. Ch. V. Par. 1.)

    According to this pronouncement, there is no valid consecration of the wine (and possibly of the bread) in these "masses," because clearly, such a change has been made by mistranslation in the English formula. The Pope, the bishops, the theologians, the priests, the people are either going to accept this pronouncement as a certain statement, or they are not It becomes a question, therefore, of whether Catholics (of whatever station) are willing or concerned enough to accept the authority of the Church in this matter, one over which the Church alone has the authority to make a decision. Those who contradict this position must explain (to themselves first of all) how they can do so, and that, not by quoting the opinions of theologians, reputable, numerous, saintly or otherwise, but by explaining why the authoritative and definitive statement of the Church as of the year 1442 is no longer in effect, and what right they have to differ from it. If they do choose to differ from it, let them then hold their tongues concerning us who dare to differ with them about the right of Pope Paul VI to create a Fraud and call it "The Mass."

    The bishops and other prelates of the Church feign great wonderment and even scandal to hear people say they have serious doubts about whether the wine is consecrated at these "masses." "But you know," they say, "that there could be no error of this sort; you know that the Pope could not let such a thing happen! And you know that all the bishops could not make such an error. The translation was after all, approved by the bishops in plenary session!" (When you hear that phrase, "in plenary session," you are to find all your apprehensions whisked away as if they had been touched by the wand of the Fairy Godmother.) I, for one, do not know anything of the kind. But what I know does not prove anything anyhow. It is what the documents say that settles such questions, not the total silence of the Supreme Pontiff on the matter, and most certainly not the unanimous vote of certain groups of bishops. The evidence is that neither the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself nor the official teachings of the Church which have stood for centuries have any meaning whatsoever to these "priests of Baal." They seem to imagine that because they have the votes and because they have the control, they can therefore decide anything which suits their fancy, and those who say otherwise can be damned, for all they care. God will have His Sacrifice the way they prepare it for Him, or He will have none at all!

    As mentioned above, discussion concerning the validity of the Consecration has seemed belabored. I was suggesting that many on that account may have allowed themselves to become too greatly entangled in this controversy. Many have thought that the problem would be solved if this single issue could be circumvented. And so they have agitated for "Latin Masses," meaning the "Novus Ordo" "said" in Latin. Thus have they shown their naiveté concerning the cause and purposes of the whole "renewal" hoax, in which the question of validity is really only a single, thought, to be sure, not unimportant aspect.

    Another group has made a similar mistake: They are satisfied if, at the "Novus Ordo" when it is "said" in the vernacular, the priest pronounces the words "for many" at the Consecration. Would that it were so simple!

    These two groups are to be classified with yet another one, those who have made so much of this question of validity, that they have disregarded the more comprehensive and more basic consideration, that of the morality of the "New Mass." As I said in the beginning, this is because of their too "legalistic" approach to the entire question.

    The root of this admittedly honest mistake is that these people have made nothing, or at least too little, of the incontrovertible fact that the "New Mass" is illicit. Its creation was sinful and sacrilegious for no other reason than that it was against the Law of the Church - and therefore contrary to the will of God. And its "celebration" is sinful for the very same reason. Consequently it is also sinful to attend the "New Mass," to participate in it in any way, to receive Communion during it, to receive hosts which may or may not have been validly consecrated during it, or even to attend the True Mass where the "New Mass": customarily takes place. (Cf. Canon 1172, Par. 1.3).

    The spirit is among us which discounts the laws of the Church, as if they were less holy and less binding than the commandments of God. Such a spirit is Protestant, or worse, as if the Church did not rule in God's Name and in His stead, as if she were not possessed of the authority to bind and to loose, to forgive and to retain, to open and to shut even the very gates of Heaven itself.

    The so-called "Liberal Movement," which is but a part of the Revolution, is greatly responsible for this most serious and corruptive aberration in our thinking. We are all the witnesses of some of the ravages which this spirit has brought on the Church. The so-called "renewal" which was spawned at the Second Vatican Council is one of them. Were we to attempt to list them all, we would need to write a book instead of a paragraph. The abrogation of numberless laws, the relaxation of all discipline, the granting of every kind of dispensation, regardless of whether it will prove beneficial or disastrous for souls, the failure to proclaim, legislate, or enforce Catholic moral principles are all the works of this decadence. The Church is afflicted with what might be described as the spirit of self-contempt, which never fails to show itself wherever the Revolution is able to sow its seeds. There seems to be a studied effort on the part of the Pope and many other ranking ecclesiastics (bishops included) to parade the lovely Bride of Christ in rags of shame for all the world to jeer and befoul. They call it charity and "ecumenism" to tolerate, nay, even to encourage every manner of attack upon her. Both her own disloyal children and her mean-mouthed, jealous enemies may hurl at her an insult, accusation, or blasphemy with never so much as word of defense being spoken in her behalf. Protestants, Jews, atheists, Communists, infidels, anyone and everyone may ridicule her doctrine, calumniate her traditions, falsify her history, trample her honor, scorn her saints. And in return, they are all invited to sit at a table and carry on a "dialogue" with the hope of finding a solution to the annoyance the Church continues to be to them.

    But this is not the limit of it. In the last few years the Pope has proceeded to a more astounding form of treachery than has ever been known in the Church. This activity alone in the Age of Faith would easily have brought his deposition, if not have condemned him to the stake. This is his fraternization with the bestial ministers of Communist governments, whose official policy, as an essential part of their world imperialism, is now and always has been to rid the Church from the face of the earth. These white-collared savages, whose hands drip with the blood of literally millions of Catholic and Christian martyrs, and whose every move and every word is admittedly inspired by a hatred of Christ, now receive the hospitality of the Vatican. These ruthless war-mongers and usurpers of governments now come and go thee in order to negotiate what the Church will concede them in return for their not proceeding to stamp it out altogether. During these negotiations it would be exceedingly undiplomatic and provocative were it suggested that the Catholics in the prisons and concentration camps have done no crimes.

    Such policies as these and innumerable other forms of ignoble and dishonorable forbearance and abnegation have served well to diminish and undermine the Church's authority and the love and respect due to it. Another book could be written on this subject. We will not begin it here. Suffice it to say that the intolerable Sacrilege which is the "New Mass" was and is possible only because there has become prevalent inside and out of the Church the idea and spirit that the Church is a purely human institution, a kind of international moral association, whose laws are all revocable, dispensable, and purely human.

    The very opposite is the case. The Church is our beloved Mother; it is the Mystical Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God on earth, endowed with all divine power and authority, the font of all grace, the repository of revealed truth, the spiritual sovereignty of the whole earth and of all created things, and the only source of salvation for men. It was by virtue of this unquestionable preeminence and authority that the Holy Mass of the Roman Rite was legislated as the liturgy for the Patriarchate of the West (the "Latin Rite"). And because of our obedience to this holy law we shall be granted its indescribably good and wholesome fruits. Such was the mind of Pope St. Pius V when he gave this Mass to us (or imposed it upon us-say it either way you wish; it was both a gift and a law); such is the truly Catholic view of this law, and our generation's tragic folly does not make the matter different.

    To resume our principle discussion, when we speak of the establishment of the Mass of the Missale Romanum, we are making reference to its liceity, its legality. And when we speak of its liceity, we must necessarily mean that which is according to the divine will. As essential as is validity of consecration for the consummation of the Holy Sacrifice, of itself validity does not make the Mass worthy. You will recall the proverb, "The victims of the wicked are abominable to the Lord." (Prov. 1:18). And again, the Psalmist says,

    "But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices, and take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hast hated discipline: and hast cast my words behind thee."
    Psalm 49: 16-17

   An act of transubstantiation alone is not sufficient, therefore. It is necessary that the Sacrifice be a worthy act of worship to God the Father. It should be obvious to anyone that a person cannot evaluate the "Novus Ordo" on the basis of validity only. Because of the acceptance of the "New Mass" as legitimate the "Post-Conciliar Church" is too deaf and blind to consider seriously whether it is valid. Whereas, many so-called "conservative" Catholics, the "loyal opposition," would identify validity with legitimacy and therefore with worthiness. For our part, without knowing whether the "New Mass" is "valid," we say this, it is undeniably illicit, and hence most abominable and displeasing in the eyes of God. The children of the "New Religion" do not care what pleases God; the norm of their "liturgy" is what pleases themselves-"The people is Baal." Partaking somewhat of this very spirit, those who make too much of the validity question would be satisfied to know whether, "by hook or by crook," a sacrifice were being offered, and they were receiving the Body of Christ. The attitude of either group is that the Divinity must be satisfied with whatever He is given.

    Due in no small degree to this spirit of legalistic compromise so common among the vast majority of Catholics, the Revolutionary movement in the Church has achieved unimpeded and astounding headway. And no real unity among true Catholics will ever be possible until the principle I am here belaboring is accepted - that the "New Mass" is totally irredeemable. If enough good Catholics took their stand on this matter tomorrow, the tide would be turned the day after. Moreover, until this principle is adopted, "concerned Catholics" can have their indignant meetings, sign their petitions, wrangle for "concessions," agitate for catechetical reforms, start their own schools, stylize their "Latin 'masses'," multiply their rosaries, and campaign for any one of a hundred other worthy Catholic causes. At best they will achieve a holding or delaying action-an optimistic hope, but not a realistic one. More likely, they will continue disunited, ignored, pushed aside, and trampled underfoot.

    Validity of Consecration is required by the Church's law. And it is the obedience to this law which makes the offering acceptable to God. Such obedience, so unpalatable to the "modern" spirit, now all-pervasive in the Church, is in exact accord with the true spirit of the Roman Rite. According to the "modern" spirit, that which is voluntary, free, and enthusiastic is better than that which is done in obedience. The dichotomy of the Church's law on the one hand and this false spirit on the other is most deceptive and unreal. The true spirit of Catholicism teaches that obedience is part of justice and that justice is at the heart of charity. Those who truly love God most obey Him best. The essence of supernatural love is the renunciation of self for God's sake: "He that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it." (Mt. 10:39). And further, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (Jn. 14:15). The joy of loving is not the cause of love. The joy of loving comes not from the act of loving, but from pleasing him who is loved: "If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; as I also have kept My Father's commandments, and do abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and our joy may be filled." (Jn. 15: 10-11).

    Validity of Consecration, if I may say it again, is required by the Church's law. And it is the obedience to this law which makes the offering acceptable to God. You know well that the Sacrifice of Calvary of Christ, the most innocent Son of Mary, was a truly worthy Oblation, sufficient for the salvation of all men efficacious for the redemption of the Elect. It was so, not because of the certainty of the Son of Man's death, but because perfect obedience to the commands of God, His Father; it was the minutest fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning it, to which Jesus felt bound as to a law. "These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs e fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me." (Lk. 24:44).

    In the True Mass the fact of the validity of the consecration is taken for granted. The dominant concern and oft-repeated prayer is that the Act and those who are celebrating it may be found worthy by Him to Whom it is offered. If you page through the Ordinary of the Mass in your old missal, you will see many petitions to this effect. Let me cite a few:

    As he ascends to the altar, the priest prays: (Aufer a Nobis) "Take away from us our iniquities, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that with pure minds we may worthily enter into the holy of holies." During the Offertory, the celebrant asks that the chalice "ascend in the sight of Thy divine majesty with a sweet savor…" Then he bows low and begs: "In the spirit of humility and with a contrite heart receive us, O Lord, and grant that the sacrifice which we offer this day in Thy sight, may be pleasing unto Thee, O Lord God." (As noted before, all these prayers have been suppressed in the "Novus Ordo.")

    The Orate Fratres invites the people: "Brethren, pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty."

    A classic instance of the shameless meretriciousness of the so-called "reform" of the liturgy is its claim to be a restoration of primitive forms of the old Roman Church. Yet the "reform" makes optional the recitation of the ancient Canon, whose unvariable and unchangeable nature was completely characteristic of the Romanesque tradition. A more specific instance of the same thing is the leaving to the mood of the celebrant whether he will say the fifth prayer of the Canon, the Quam Oblationem, which perfectly expresses the relationship between liceity and validity of which we are speaking. The Quam Oblationem expresses this relationship by drawing its spirit and even its vocabulary from the days of the ancient Republic of Rome, where the dominant theme and necessity of life, both individual and civil, were reverence for and conformity to law as the source and staff of order, peace, and stability. This prayer has a repetitive, legal style about its formation. And to add further emphasis to its thought, the priest makes no less that five signs of the cross over the sacred species, soon to be transubstantiated.

    Quam Oblationem, tu, Deus, in omnibus quaesumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptablienque facere digneris: ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi. (Which oblation do Thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things to bless, approve, ratify, make worthy and acceptable: that it may become for us the Body and Blood of Thy most beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ.)
    No other language can do full justice to the thought, but here is something of the idea: The priest asks that the Oblation be given a blessing which will render it perfect in every respect, ("oblationem in omnibus benedictam"). That this might be so, the offerings must bear a certificate ("adscriptam"); the blessing being requested must impart this. The "ratam" means that it must have about it all those qualities which the law requires, in order that the law might be most rigidly, precisely and fully obeyed. In this word there is a resonance of the "Consummatum est" of the Crucifixion. The "rationabilem" means that it must be a living, enspirited, vibrant, even willing offering, a ready victim:
    For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me: Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God.
    Hebrews 10: 4-7
    Thus, while he repeatedly gestures toward the humble elements of bread and wine with signs of the cross, the celebrant beseeches God to make them into what His own law requires, so that He Himself might find them acceptable. He only can render them so. And the only Things which will perfectly satisfy these requirements are the Body and Blood of His very own Son, Corpus et Sanguis dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

    You see, therefore, that the law of God for His worship must be most carefully obeyed if he is to find this Rite worthy and acceptable. Liceity predominates over, includes, and necessitates the validity of Consecration. The Sacrifice will be worthy if the law is carefully followed, and it can only be licit if that which is sacrificed is the Lamb of God.

    This same theme is to be found in another prayer, which "progress" decreed was unfit for the Mass, the Placeat, which in the True Mass the priest recites just before the final blessing. There is not a more perfect, nor a more appropriate prayer in the entire Missal, even if it is a mere thousand years old or so.

    May the homage of my bounded duty be pleasing to Thee, O Holy Trinity; and grant that the sacrifice which I, though unworthy, have offered in the sight of Thy Majesty may be acceptable to Thee, and through Thy mercy be a propitiation for me and for all those for whom I have offered it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
    The priest has offered the Sacrifice in fulfillment of a divinely-imposed duty. And the manner of its offering has not been according to his own devising, but according to the long-hallowed law of the Church. It was for him to "make the Sign" of the Sacrifice, as the law required. He was assured that thereby the Divine Majesty would be suitably worshipped and the fruits and graces would be bestowed in return. It was by this obedience that the Act of the Mass was accomplished. We watched his meticulous observance and knew that our Oblation was being properly made and that the Divine King was sacramentally present. We read from his actions his intentions to do what the Church intends by this Rite.

    The "New Mass" is a violation of one of the strictest laws of the Church. There is no way to justify it. Those priests who attempt to salvage mere validity of consecration from it by certain kinds of "improvisations" do us no service at all. What law are they keeping? They are only slightly less blameworthy than their more honest brother-priests, who unhesitatingly "say" the "New Mass." Nor do the efforts of the former assure us of anything except perhaps their cowardice, insecurity, and the like. They are breaking the same law as their blindly confident confreres. What reward therefore shall they have? They, like the knowing pawns, are serving the cause of the Revolution satisfactorily enough because lawlessness and deviousness never fail to further its end. They are tacitly collaborating with the conspirators while breaking both the true laws and the invalid ones. They are creating their own liturgy! If they may do such a thing, how can they find fault with those who simply follow the rite of the "Novus Ordo?" What is more, they are doing no good by their circuities. The people are in no way benefited; they are being involved in the same rancid sacrilege, made no less grievous by their ignorance of the fact. God is not being honored by the imaginative inventions of these clerical expedientists.

      • Next: Chapter Four The "New Mass" Part Seven The Dishonoring of Mary

      • Previous: Chapter Four - The "New Mass" Part Five - The New Form of Consecration

      The Great Sacrilege by Father James F. Wathen