A recent article written by Steve Skojek at 1 Peter 5, The “Novus Ordo Paradigm” — What It Is and Why It Matters, has been getting a good deal of positive attention in traditional circles; including among any number of my social media contacts.
When a friend stated that he planned to share it with “conservatives” who are hyper-sensitive to any critique of the Novus Ordo, I decided to read it.
For all of the good and valid points made in the article, and there are many, I feel compelled to caution readers not to share the article if they haven’t already; at least not without providing a major correction. [NOTE: If you have already shared the article on social media or elsewhere be sure to circle back offering the following rectification.]
The grave error in question concerns the following statement:
Technically, a priest has the power to consecrate the Eucharist anywhere. It’s legally forbidden, but he can do it. He can sit at a bar, drunk, and consecrate bread and wine if he says the right words with the right intention. He could even do the same thing at a satanic Mass for the purposes of desecration.
Frankly, I was positively stunned to read this; not because of the source, but mainly since so many people that I respect – people who should know better – had given the article a big thumbs up without making any mention of this horrendous falsehood.
Within the excerpt above, a link is provided to an article written by canon lawyer Cathy Caridi; presumably in support of Skojec’s stunning claim.
Oddly enough, however, Caridi’s article (which addresses a reader’s question that is quite unrelated) in no way lends credence to what Skojec stated; in fact, she pointed to Canon 927 in the new Code of Canon Law and her analysis of the normative Latin text makes it rather plain that he is incorrect.
The canon cited (in English) reads:
It is absolutely wrong, even in urgent and extreme necessity, to consecrate one element without the other, or even to consecrate both outside the eucharistic celebration. (CIC 917)
Even before dissecting the canon, Catholic commonsense alone suggests that the very notion of the Blessed Sacrament being confected by a drunken priest in a barroom, and worse, in the context of a Satanic rite, is as absurd as it is repugnant.
The words of consecration are not tantamount to a magical incantation that, strictly upon being pronounced by a priest, make Jesus appear as if ordered to do so; they are not hocus pocus, as the Protestants snidely allege.
At this, I’ll let Fr. Gregory Hesse explain (in the video HERE beginning at the 38-minute mark) in the measured, logical and eminently understandable way that only he can:
The intention of a Sacrament always has to be to do what the Church does; not to do what the Church wants, or to do what the Church did, or to do what the Church will do in the future, but to do what the Church does.
What is it what the Church does? Well, what the Church has always done is what the Church does. What the Church has always outlawed is what the Church does not. In the Code of Canon Law, be it the new Code of Canon Law or the old Code of Canon Law, or all the books before, it says to attempt to consecrate outside of Mass is “nefas” – sacrilege.
Nefas is a very strong Latin word derived from fas. Fas is Divine Law. Nefas, therefore, is not Divine Law; the contrary of Divine Law; therefore, something extremely evil. So, the canon in the old or the new Code of Canon Law should be translated, “to attempt to consecrate outside Mass is extremely evil.”
It is not the purpose of a law book to define if that is possible. It’s only the purpose of a law book to say if it’s allowed or not. Now, if the Church for 2,000 years has called the attempt to consecrate outside Mass a sacrilege, then you cannot say, you cannot say the Church does it.
That means if I was to play a terrible joke on our Lord, and if I attempted to consecrate the wine contained in this carafe, nothing would happen because it’s outside Mass; except that I will be in mortal sin, but otherwise nothing would happen.
Cathy Caridi echoed much of Fr. Hesse’s analysis, writing:
The Latin text of the canon (which is the only truly “official” version) is actually even stronger, although it’s difficult to find an equivalent phrase in English: the word nefas indicates that such an action is so horrible that it is utterly unthinkable! We’ve run into this term before in this space: in “Can a Priest Ever Reveal What is Said in Confession?” the word nefas was used with regard to a priest violating the seal of confession. This should give readers a pretty good idea of the seriousness with which the Church regards the notion of a priest consecrating either bread or wine outside of Mass. It is simply not to be done!
Clearly, that which is “unthinkable” and therefore “not to be done” is not “what the Church does.” It doesn’t get any simpler than that, folks.
At this, there can be no question whatsoever – at least in the minds of so-called “traditionalists” (aka Catholics) – that a drunken priest sitting at a bar (or in the context of a Satanic rite) cannot consecrate the Blessed Sacrament – even if he “says the right words” and genuinely intends for it to happen. In such cases, it would be outwardly manifest for all to see that the priest is not intending to do what the Church does; i.e., he is obviously intending to do what the Church most certainly does not do, and in fact never has done.
One of the dangers invited by Skojek’s claim to the contrary (in addition to being a grossly offensive misrepresentation of the Catholic faith that innocent readers, God forbid, may accept as dependable) is that it serves to confirm those countless “conservatives” who, while recognizing the deficiencies of the Novus Ordo, are hyper-focused on the idea that “Jesus is made present.”
Well, even though Mass at my parish is an LGBT hoedown designed to encourage wider acceptance of mortal sin, Jesus is still there on the altar!
There is a point at which the rite can cease to be the Mass (more Catholic commonsense) – this according to +Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:
Furthermore it can be said without any exaggeration whatsoever, that the majority of Masses celebrated without altar stones, with common vessels, leavened bread, with the introduction of profane words into the very body of the Canon, etc. are sacrilegious, and they prevent faith by diminishing it. The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, ‘the mystery of faith,’ and become no more than acts of natural religion …
The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith. (Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
Pay close attention to what the Archbishop stated: The Novus Ordo, even when carried out by the book, is subject to doubt as to whether it may be devoid of supernatural character having become nothing more than an act of natural religion.
When this takes place, there is no Mass, and when there is no Mass, there is no consecration of the Blessed Sacrament.
An uncomfortable proposition for many “conservative” Novus Ordo Catholics to consider?
It most certainly is, but our conservative friends deserve the truth no matter how hard it is to hear. In fact, the true Faith should make them uncomfortable; they are – many of them innocently so – wrapped up in a false religion, or as Hilary White is quoted as saying in the article under review, “Novusordoism and Catholicism are not the same religion.”
No argument here!
This being so, I would venture to say that celebrations of the Novus Ordo lack supernatural character far more often than most Catholics – whether of the traditional or conservative kind – would care to imagine.
This is one of those elephant-in-the-room topics that the overwhelming majority of self-identified “traditional” Catholic commentators wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. It is my conviction, however, that those blessed with a public voice in traditional Catholic media have an obligation to view ten-foot poles and elephant guns as basic tools of the trade!
Consider: If one day a future pope was to infallibly declare that every Novus Ordo ever offered was not the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament was never confected therein, who in their right Catholic mind could possibly be stunned?
At the very least, as things stand today there is considerable room for doubt regarding the Novus Ordo; in some cases more obviously so than others, and as Fr. Hesse also pointed out in the video linked above:
Blessed Innocent XI condemned the following sentence: “For pastoral reasons you may approach Sacraments according to the probability as to its validity.”
In other words, if there is reason to doubt, we may not approach.
But, then again, if we are to believe that a drunken priest in bar can conjure up Jesus…