permission to reprint this
defining work was granted by
Father James F. Wathen, O.S.J.
Chapter Three

Part Six


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

F. The "Authentic Tradition"

    By now you should be getting a clear idea of the strategy with which the Catholic faithful were connived into accepting the legality of the "New Mass". We have seen how infallible the dogmatic content and how sacrosanct the rituals of the True Mass were seen to be in the days of the Council of Trent, (and ever since, save for the past decade or so). The "reformers," under the (at least visible) leadership of Paul VI, have tried to throw the cloak of Tradition and of the Council of Trent over what they attempt to describe as a "new arrangement of the Mass." (Appendix II). While we "dumb sheep" have been thinking they meant only to make minor changes in the Mass, they have been replacing it, parts at a time, numbing our reactions with their incessant blathering about the divine urgency and auspiciousness of it all! Over a period of time, they have introduced something altogether different from the True Mass. And, even while they were making a mockery of the traditions and the laws of the Church with regard to the Sacred Liturgy, they have been vesting themselves with the legitimate authority to do so through constant, mendacious references to those traditions and laws. Therefore, now that they have installed their irreverent Imitation, they are able to claim immunity for themselves and their Imposture which adhered to what they have (they hope) gotten rid of. They now claim for their Mass that infallibility of doctrine, that venerability, that historicity of origin, and that holiness of essence, which two thousand years of Catholicism could not preserve for the True Mass against the likes of them.

    Their most consistent argument has been that "one Pope can countermand the decrees of a former one." They who began their insidious maneuver against every tradition, and particularly the traditions canonized by the Council of Trent, with their complaint of the "legalism" of these traditions, are now the most "legalistic" of all, to the point of sheerest despotism. They thought that, if they could justify what they meant to do, if they could make it look legal, they would be clear so no one could accuse them. What is this but more phariseism-using the law contrary to everything the law means and is meant to do? And, the most incredible aspect of it all-almost nobody seems to have perceived it, even now: IT IS SINFUL! IT IS A SACRILEGE!

    In his Apostolic Constitution, Missale Romanum, Paul VI speaks in the same vein as in the allocution I have quoted, laboring as always to wreathe with the aura of authenticity and of Tradition his "Novus Ordo" and his Act of imposing it. We find therein the following passage:

       One ought not to think, however, that this revision of the Roman Missal has been improvident. The progress that the liturgical sciences have accomplished in the last four centuries has, without a doubt, prepared the way. After the Council of Trent, the study "of ancient manuscripts of the Vatican library and of others gathered elsewhere," as our predecessor St. Pius V indicated in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum, has greatly helped for the revision of the Roman Missal. Since then, however, more ancient liturgical sources have been discovered and published and at the same time liturgical formulas of the Oriental Church have become better known. Many wish that the riches, both Doctrinal and spiritual, might not be hidden in the darkness of the libraries, but on the Contrary might be brought into the light to illumine and nourish the spirits and souls of Christians. (Appendix II. Par. 4).
    I hate to be such a "spoil-sport," but you might as well know now as later, there are not any "more ancient liturgical sources" which will justify the "New Mass," as the arguments which follow will show. As you known, the evolutionists solve all their problems by losing their hypnotized little proselytes in the foggy, distant eons. Here we are being taken into the "darkness of the libraries," where only our guides can see. Such talk is only more of the same hyper-intellectualist eyewash of which we simpletons must stand in awe. You will just have to face the fact that there is no tradition whatsoever for the Thing known as the "new Mass," any fledgling student of the Liturgy can tell you as much. For example:

 1. There is no tradition allowing those not in Orders to perform special liturgical roles. In the ancient Church, even he who locked and unlocked the church building and rang the bell had to have received the Order of Porter. The Lector was allowed to chant the "Lessons;" later on, the Subdeacon of the Mass was allowed to sing the Epistle, while the Deacon sang the Gospel. There is absolutely no tradition permitting women to speak in church; they could make only those responses assigned to the congregation. This practice was specifically noted by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 14:34). Those who say the contrary are ready to contend even with him!

 2. There is no tradition of complete optionalism in liturgical matters. From the very first, under the general supervision of the Apostles, custom governed everything in each church. (1 Corinthians 11; 14: 34-35). The constant tradition moved in the direction of ever greater uniformity, of ever more detailed rubrics; of taking the power to decide even the smallest things out of the hands, first of the local presbyter, then of the local ordinary (bishop or abbot), then of concentrating it in the hands of the Pope personally. 29

    29. Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei of Pope Pius XII November 20, 1947. Par. 58.
Those who say that every celebrant should be free to devise the liturgy of the day seem woefully ignorant of the fact that ours is called the "Roman Rite" because the people took pride that it derived from the practices of the Community in Rome, where the Pope himself legislated and celebrated "the Mysteries." Practically the only optionalism there ever was had to do with the selection of readings. In the early days, the lessons were consecutive readings from the Old Testament and the Gospels and Epistles. The bishop would often have the ministers read particular passages as the subject of his homily.

 3. With regard to preaching, the tradition moved from the simple explanation of the Scriptures (homilies) and catechetical instruction (catechesis) to the sermon, the panegyric, and the elaborate discourse. Some of the greatest orators of history have been Catholic bishops and priests. The idea of a mere unprepared "talk," much less a "dialogue" or a little chit-chat, is so foreign to Catholic (or any religious) tradition as to be ludicrous. I might add, throughout the history of sacred oratory even Orthodoxy was insufficient; that was taken for granted. Not only did the preacher have to be able to speak well, but he was expected to expound ably, persuasively, and with edification. (One shudders to think what might have happened to a priest who babbled in the presence of St. Paul the way some of ours do today!).

 4. There is no tradition which allows those of other "faiths," those who may or may not believe in Christ as the Eternal High Priest and the Divine Victim of the Holy Sacrifice, to participate in the Liturgy. The further back you go in history, the stricter you find the rules to have been. The ancient practice was to require all who did not have the Faith, all who were not baptized into the True Faith, to leave before the reed. Only catechumens were allowed to stay till then; unbelievers wee not allowed at all. Nor were those who had committed grave public sins, or who had incurred censures, nor those obliged to do pubic penance. (This is one practice which might very well be restored.)

 5. There is no tradition for presuming "good will" on the part of unbelievers. There is a very constant tradition for praying for them that they might be delivered from their spiritual blindness. There is also a very constant tradition for trying to convert them. There is also a very constant tradition recognizing that Judaism is Talmudism, and that Talmudism is essentially anti-Christian.

 6. There is no tradition for permitting any kind of sound which some quasi-educated artiste might find "music to his ears." In this respect, the tradition definitely moved toward the development of Gregorian Chant, which became the recognized perfect accompaniment for sun Latin. If we wanted to be "purist" about it, we would remember that, due to an ingrained sobriety, the Roman Rite would prefer no accompanying instrument at all; the organ would be permitted only because many cannot sing on key.

 7. There is no tradition of casualness in the Liturgy of any Catholic Rite. In fact there is no tradition of casualness in the religious ritual of any group in the world, no matter how pagan, how primitive, or how polytheistic. Reverential fear is the most elemental attitude of anything which purports to be worship. That attitude which dares to treat with God familiarly, as an equal, as Someone Who is even approachable, derives from the tradition of anti-religious Rationalism. Its origins are and always have been anti-Christian, anti-religious. To the very contrary, the most constant tradition of the Church has always moved in the direction of ever greater formality, born of tremulous awe. Indeed, the essential meaning of ritual includes sobriety, reverence, carefulness, fidelity to prescribed procedures and laws (which are nothing but hallowed customs made obligatory), a sense of unworthiness in the presence of the Almighty, a sense of wonder at being allowed to come into His Sanctuary, to speak to Him, to touch Him. One of the unique contributions of Christianity to worship in general is the addition of a most restrained "gaiety" to this reverential fear, plus a serene confidence of divine benevolence.

   The reason why contemporary heretics presume to abandon these modes is that they have lost all awareness of and respect for Tradition, as they have lost all fear of God, and they think it a sign of maturity, progress, and freedom to have done so. The truth is, they don't even know what ritual is! They are possessed with the spirit of Revolution, which has proved to be more than they can handle.

 8. There is no tradition in the Church for adaptation of the divine rites to the times. Those who argue this do not know what they are talking about. Besides, what has been called "adaptation" in the "modern Church" is addle-brained. What is being attempted is the of a religion out of the so-called modern spirit, which, in the first place, is not modern, and in the second, is not at all Christian. It is rationalistic, naturalistic, and Revolutionary. The "modern" spirit cannot possibly be adopted by Catholicism nor interpreted into its Liturgy, any more than could Judaism or Greek mythology or Hindu polytheism. Bad enough that we must listen to such drivel; we must even endure the clumsy, abortive effort-and call it "mass"!

   You can see from these very few examples that there is neither consistency nor Tradition in the so-called reform. One could go on and on in this vein, but the above should be sufficient.

      The Great Sacrilege by Father James F. Wathen