Just as I expected, the WARNING: Novus Ordo post has generated a good number of thoughtful responses both on the blog and elsewhere, and I’m grateful for all of them.
In this post, I’ll attempt to address some of the arguments offered by those who took exception to the points I raised.
First, however, I want to make it clear that my intent isn’t so much to advise individuals about what they should or should not do, but rather to shine a light on the factors at play so they can discern for themselves.
Below, I will for the most part (but not entirely) draw from recent correspondence with a priest whose opinion I value.
He is a faithful priest with a love for Catholic doctrine who has celebrated both the Novus Ordo and the traditional Mass for many years. I think it’s fair to say that his opinions are an articulate representation of the high-end of “mainstream” Catholic thought on the matter; i.e., he puts forth the best arguments one is likely to encounter in opposition to my post.
With this in mind, let’s begin:
– Calling a valid Mass, in whatever form or rite, “poison” is blasphemous.
This, incidentally, is an exact quote from my priest interlocutor.
In response, I would ask those who consider this argument compelling to take a look at the admittedly extreme example provided in the video below. (I suspect that many of you are familiar with it.)
What you will see is a Mass featuring numerous so-called “lay ministers” in Halloween costumes, some of whom are “actively participating” by handing out Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a cantor dressed as a witch, and a priest who puts on his Barney costume for the final blessing.
You will also hear the priest proudly announce in his sermon that the earlier Mass included an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion dressed as Satan:
Only at Corpus Christi [parish] does the Devil himself become a Eucharistic Minister. You knew we were twisted!
Now I ask you, does this Mass imbue those present with the Holy Catholic faith? Would you advise that one take their children or other impressionable loved ones to such a Mass? Are you willing to publicly affirm without qualification that this Mass is not a danger to souls? Is this Mass valid?
No well-formed Catholic can honestly answer anything but a resounding “no” to each one of these questions save for one; the last one.
In other words, one cannot deny that it most certainly is possible for a Mass to be both valid and poisonous.
Now, I can well imagine the rejoinder that this invites:
– Most Novus Ordo Masses are not Barney Masses, Clown Masses, Puppet Masses or anything of the sort!
This is true, but what we’ve established already is of paramount importance; namely, a valid Mass can also be poisonous. The question that is now coming into sharper focus is really this:
Can a valid Mass be poisonous apart from liturgical abuse?
To arrive at an answer, we need only use reason, logic and simple observation.
Let’s be honest; there’s a reason protestants are so much more comfortable at the Novus Ordo than the traditional Mass; the rite was crafted very specifically with this intent in mind, and it isn’t just the language.
Thus unceremoniously stripped from the new rite were those ancient elements that point to the Mass as true Sacrifice, its propitiatory nature, and the unique identity of the priest as he through whom the High Priest acts in persona Christi (e.g., the Offertory, the priest’s Confiteor, the Placeat tibi, just to name a few).
The “poison” associated with the rite that emerged (the Novus Ordo) is made entirely obvious simply by observing the results:
Not only are protestants rather comfortable at the new Mass; huge numbers of Catholics have found it very easy to replace it with the worship services of the heretics. (Again, observation alone is enough to confirm as much, but those interested in data might search the results of recent Pew Forum surveys.)
The reason this is the case is simple:
The sum total of those outward signs that make up the Novus Ordo are so deficient that they allow for a protestant understanding of the Mass itself (thus today’s shockingly low Mass attendance figures), of the nature of the priesthood (thus the current vocations crisis) and even the Eucharist (thus the staggering lack of faith in the Real Presence even among Mass-goers).
None of this has anything whatsoever to do with liturgical abuse.
– Is the Novus Ordo the only reason so many have lost the Catholic faith in substantial degree?
No, but when one considers that the post conciliar popes have repeatedly taught that the Mass is true Sacrifice, that the priest is ontologically and uniquely configured to Christ, and that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Our Lord, one must acknowledge that what we are witnessing is lex orandi statuat legem credendi in action.
In other words, so powerful is the liturgy in establishing the law of belief that vast numbers of Novus Ordo Catholics do not believe what the popes, and even the new Catechism, teaches!
– If you are able to attend a valid Mass, you are under obligation to do so.
Again, I quote my priest interlocutor verbatim, but having no other choice but to admit that a valid Mass can indeed be poisonous, we can rephrase this statement to say:
“If you are able to attend a valid Mass, you are under obligation to do so even if it represents a danger to souls.”
I would hope that no one really believes that Holy Mother Church requires this of her children, but just in case…
I remind you that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.
With this in mind, it should be obvious that viewing our Sunday obligation strictly in terms of “validity” is insufficient.
The mere suggestion that Holy Mother Church would require us to uphold a precept even if it means exposing ourselves to a real and observable danger to the faith is untenable.
Indeed, the precept itself exists for the salvation of souls; not for its own sake.
– You make a false distinction between the Eucharist and “the rite.”
Not so, the precepts of the Church make that distinction. (See original post.)
Furthermore, the Eucharist can be received in a Communion Service or as part of a “sick call” in one’s home or in the hospital.
Clearly a distinction can be made between the rite and the Eucharist.
– The Mass is the one true sacrifice of the Cross, presented again in a mystical manner on the altar. If it is a valid sacrifice, and it is, since the Church cannot promulgate something evil in this regard, then you are under an obligation to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The first part of this objection is simply a more passionate reiteration of previous arguments focusing on validity to the exclusion of the dangers that are also present.
To give it additional consideration just the same, I would point out that if we defer to the objective truth that “the Mass is the one true Sacrifice” to the exclusion of any concern over the degree to which the signs in the rite serve to communicate that truth, we might well ask why even have rubrics at all?
Either the outward sings that express the mystery matter, or they don’t.
The second part is the more noteworthy; namely, the idea that “the Church cannot promulgate something evil.”
Again, I refer back to the original post and ask once more, is it really the case that Holy Mother Church has given the Novus Ordo to us, or did it come from the hands of weak and sinful men who abused their exalted positions?
I will take my initial comments a step further to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the argument put forth by Fr. Gregory Hesse:
Pope Paul VI was bound by Quo Primum. As such, the Novus Ordo represents a schismatic rite with a valid Eucharist. It is not, therefore, properly considered the rite that is given to us by Holy Mother Church.
In conclusion, I invite you to consider very carefully what Fr. Hesse has to say in the lecture given below.
(NOTE: It is 2 hours in length, every minute worthy of your attention, however, the most operative part begins at the 18:30 mark.)