The Hour is Late: Time to face uncomfortable questions

In the previous post, we examined a Catholic Family News (CFN) article featuring a number of traditional Catholic teachings on the nature of the sacred liturgy and the Church’s role in safeguarding it.

[If you’ve not yet read it, please do so before continuing.]

Along the way, thanks to the willingness of CFN editors Brian McCall and Matt Gaspers to engage in a cordial exchange, we established that there is a substantial amount of agreement between us concerning the status of the Novus Ordo Missae. The common ground upon which we stand can be summed up as follows:

The Novus Ordo Missae is an illegitimate, intrinsically defective, Protestantized rite that departs from Catholic belief and tradition and, as such, it is a danger to the faith.

With this understanding in mind, I left likeminded readers to ponder three questions, the importance of which to our lives of faith cannot be overestimated. I also suggested that our search for answers should rely less on personal opinion than on the Magisterium of the Church.

Here, I will restate the questions and provide my own reflections.

Based on the understanding that the Novus Ordo Missae is not a Catholic rite (defective, dangerous, inconsistent with Catholic doctrine, etc.), what does this say about a church for which it is the predominate liturgy? 

In order to formulate a truly Catholic answer to this question, one needs to have a solid understanding of the Church’s view of the sacred liturgy, its purpose and its make-up. For this, let’s turn to one of the magisterial texts cited in the CFN article, Mediator Dei, wherein Pope Pius XII taught the following:

The worship she [the Church] offers to God, all good and great, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity … The entire liturgy, therefore, has the Catholic faith for its content, inasmuch as it bears public witness to the faith of the Church. (MD 47)

There is but one reasonable conclusion that can be drawn regarding a church, the predominant liturgy of which has not the Catholic faith for its content but rather departs from the same, thus endangering the faithful:

Such a church simply cannot be the Holy Roman Catholic Church. We know this because the entirety of her liturgy has the Catholic faith for its content. NB: This is not my opinion, it is the teaching of the sacred Magisterium.

So, if the church for which the Novus Ordo is the predominant liturgy is not the Holy Roman Catholic Church, what is it? 

Indeed it is something new, unusual, and until rather recently never before witnessed, but it certainly didn’t arrive on the scene unanticipated: 

“I saw the fatal consequences of this counterfeit church; I saw it increase; I saw heretics of all kinds flocking to the city.” (Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich

“The prophecies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind.” (Fr. Sylvester Berry)

“It is Satan who has been introduced into the bosom of the Church and within a very short time will come to rule a false Church.” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina as quoted by Fr. Gabriel Amorth) 

Let us be perfectly clear, into the bosom of the Church refers to the Church’s physical structures – her buildings, her chanceries, her universities, etc. – it does not mean that the Mystical Body of Christ will be possessed. St. Pio’s prophetic words concern a time when the servants of the Evil One will come to infiltrate, occupy, and take over these institutions, laying claim to the name “Catholic” when in truth they are but usurpers who practice and propagate a false religion.  

Speaking in 1948 (prior to becoming infected with the Council’s poisonous errors), Bishop Fulton J. Sheen described the “false Church” very well when he said:  

“He [Satan] will set up a counter-church, which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the devil, is the ape of God. It will be the mystical body of the anti-Christ that will, in all externals, resemble the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.” 

My friends, the false church that cloaks its true identity, hiding behind externals that properly belong to the one true Church of Christ, is here. It was birthed at Vatican Council II and is presently headquartered in Rome.  

Though many continue to be fooled by the counterfeit, God truly does work for good in all things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It seems to me that eyes are being opened to the truth at an accelerating rate in our day due in no small measure to Francis and his attempt to excise the Traditional Roman Rite from the conciliar church altogether.

Why is Francis doing this?

He told us plainly and we should be grateful for his candor: The Novus Ordo, he said, is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the church over which he reigns. (See Traditiones Cojones, Art. 1) On this note, one is hard pressed to disagree. 

You see, the Mass of Ages – the lex orandi of the one true Church – is incompatible with the conciliar church. Furthermore, it is far too powerful for Satan to tolerate any longer for the simple reason that it is a constant reminder of his demise, and more than that, it is the very act of his defeat made present. It, therefore, must be banished from the counter-church that he so cleverly set up in opposition to the Catholic Church.

This brings us to the second question posed at the conclusion to the previous post.

What does this assessment of the Novus Ordo (defective, dangerous, inconsistent with Catholic doctrine, etc.) say about a claimant to the Office of Peter who would approve of such a rite, inviting the faithful to participate in it, and anointing it as “the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite,” i.e., is this what a pope does? 

I realize that merely encountering this question is likely to cause so much discomfort for so many that only a relative few will make the effort to contemplate an answer drawn from the Magisterium of the Church. Even so, it is far too important of a question to avoid.  

For those willing to at least make an effort to address it head on, I can well imagine that some will claim that the Novus Ordo was never properly and lawfully promulgated as binding on the members of the religious society described above (i.e., the false church that claims to be Catholic). The purpose of such an argument, it seems, would be to find and exploit a legal loophole that might cast doubt on the intentions of the post-conciliar claimants to the papacy vis-à-vis the Novus Ordo, as if the bastard rite wasn’t really promulgated with authority but was merely presented as a sort of liturgical suggestion. 

As a matter of logic, this approach makes perfect sense for one who cannot bear to even consider the possibility that Paul VI and his successors were not true popes.

In other words, there is a thread of truth in this argument – not in the argument itself, but in the strategy – insofar as it represents a tacit acknowledgment that a true Roman Pontiff cannot, even in theory, authoritatively legislate a dangerous, non-Catholic rite for the entire western Church, since doing so would be tantamount to the gates of Hell prevailing. 

Arguments against the binding intention behind the Novus Ordo, however, are utterly untenable in light of Paul VI’s Apostolic [sic] Constitution, Missale Romanum:

We wish to give the force of law to all that we have set forth concerning the new Roman Missal … We order that the prescriptions of this Constitution go into effect November 30th of this year, the first Sunday of Advent … We wish that these Our decrees and prescriptions may be firm and effective now and in the future… 

For those interested in the Latin, the key words used in the text are as follows.

Cogere et efficere: Enforce and implement 

Praescripsimus: Prescribed 

Firma et efficacia: Firm and effective

Based on this, there seems little room for doubt as to Montini’s intention to bind Roman Rite Catholics to the Novus Ordo. Even so, Canon Law (both the 1917 and the 1983 conciliar versions) provides guidance concerning how one is to understand prescriptions of the law that are in some way unclear:

Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood according to the meaning of their own words considered in their text and context; as for those things that remain unclear or in doubt, reference should be made to parallel provisions in the Code, if there are any, to the purposes and circumstances of the law and to the mind of the legislator. (1917 CIC, Canon 18)  

The mind of Paul VI is made clear, not only in the text of Missale Romanum, but also in subsequent statements. For example:

The adoption of the new Ordo Missae is certainly not left to the free choice of priests or faithful … The new Ordo was promulgated to take the place of the old. (Allocution to the Consistory, May 24, 1976)

Even if one were to insist, despite Montini’s insistence to the contrary, that the Traditional Latin Mass unrevised still endures as a free choice for Roman Rite Catholics, there is no denying that the Novus Ordo is the predominant rite of the conciliar church, having been prescribed and implemented with firmness by this same Paul VI, and upheld as such by all of the men who succeeded him. Even Benedict XVI – a liturgical hero to some – anointed the Novus Ordo the “ordinary form” of the church over which he reigned.

Based on the fact – agreed upon by many so-called “traditionalists” – that the Novus Ordo Missae is poisonous, one is hard pressed to imagine that the First Vatican Council was describing Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis when it taught:

This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine.

Does the Novus Ordo Missae nourish the faithful with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine? No, it does not. As so many of us agree, it departs from Catholic belief and tradition. It is poisonous. And yet it comes from the hands of multiple popes who are divinely endowed with the very gifts that would prevent such a thing?

More could be said on this topic, but we will move on to the final question posed at the conclusion to the previous post:

Is it really possible for the Catholic Church as our Holy Mother to dispense such a poisonous rite to her children, thus endangering them, i.e., is this what the Church does?

Let’s first consider how a Protestant might answer this question? 

Well, he’d probably reject the very idea that the “popish” Catholic Church can be trusted at all. Rather, the Protestant would insist that any doctrine or rite dispensed from Rome, no matter how authoritatively, must necessarily be scrutinized according to one’s own understanding as to what it true and what is false, what is pleasing to God and what is detestable in His sight. To simply trust otherwise is to needlessly expose oneself to potential danger!

Oddly enough, apart from dogmatic infallible definitions, this is much the same approach taken by the overwhelming majority of traditionalists in our day, as if the Church is only the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15) on certain rare occasions. 

This attitude of mistrust is antithetical to a Catholic view of the Magisterium, which holds that even that which is not solemnly taught and infallibly defined provides the faithful with “an infallible security, insofar as they are safe for all to embrace.” (cf Cardinal Franzelin, De divina Traditione et Scriptura, Thes. XII, schol. 1).

With this in mind, how can one logically reconcile the grave mistrust that so many of us rightly share with respect to the dangers inherent to the Novus Ordo Missae with the notion that the church for which it serves as the predominant liturgy is actually the Catholic Church? 

It would seem to me impossible.     

The hour is late, my friends. This is no time to avoid inquiries that force us – all of us – to measure our beliefs against all that the Church so plainly taught in the centuries leading up to the present period of confusion. 

At this, I am pleased to inform you that Brian McCall, CFN’s Editor-in-Chief, has proposed the idea of us coming together to engage in a video conversation about the issues under discussion here, knowing full well that our views are likely to differ. This promises to be an edifying discussion for all concerned.  

Certainly, we will keep our readers posted.