Detection and Overthrow of
the ‘Traditionalist Catholics’
Falsely So-Called,
Part 3, Section 2
by Dr. Art Sippo

The comments in dark blue are from Shawn's original treatise. The comments of our opponents are in red.

We apologize to the reader for, yet again, having to provide a lengthy citation from Michael Davies’ book "Pope Paul’s New Mass," but we believe that Shawn’s absurd claims have made it necessary.

This book by Mr. Davies is an advocacy piece for extreme Integrist opinions about the history of Catholic liturgy. It is not a scholarly treatise but a hatchet job highlighting Mr. Davies’ prejudices about the Mass. As we will show, most of the glib and over simplistic comments in this book are not supported by the literature of competent scholars trained in the area of ancient liturgical study.

Hippolytus was a skillful controversialist of the third century (c. 170-c. 236). His orthodoxy was suspect on a number of points but in others he was a truly fierce proponent of orthodoxy.

St. Hippolytus was entirely orthodox when it came to the liturgy. His primary argument with the Church authorities in his day was over the leniency with which repentant apostates were being reconciled to the Roman Church. He wanted stricter standards of discipline, which he thought were more traditional and appropriate. Pursuant to this end, he set himself up as a rival anti-Pope to the reigning Popes in Rome. In essence, he was very much like Archbishop Lefebvre. The main difference between them is that St. Hippolytus was eventually reconciled to the Church before he died as a martyr.

The so- called Canon of Hippolytus forms part of his Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition. It represented his personal theory of the apostolic tradition and was never recognized as an official Church book.

Again, a parallel could be drawn here between St. Hippolytus and Archbishop Lefebvre. Both of them wrote books in which they gave their opinions of Church tradition. Unfortunately, the claim by Davies that the Apostolic Tradition were never recognized as "an official Church book" is not true. The Apostolic Tradition were known rather ubiquitously in the Catholic world and translated in to many languages which even Davies himself admits:

Several editions are currently available. The original Greek text has been lost and the version now available is based on Coptic, Arabic, Ethiopian, Syriac, and Latin versions.
The Apostolic Traditions were quite influential in Egypt and Syria. It is considered to be one of the literary bases for the later work The Apostolic Constitutions. What is most important from our perspective is that the Eucharistic Canon it contains is the earliest liturgical text we have depicting the practices in the Roman Church. St. Justin Martyr previously documented a simple schematic of Christian worship in Rome in the 2nd Century, but the Canon of St. Hippolytus was the earliest example of the sacramental prayers themselves. It gives us the earliest known use of the sursum corda in the liturgy. The words of institution clearly do not contain the phrase "mysterium fidei" belying the claim of some Integrists that they were used by Sts. Peter and Paul. It does contain a reference to the Eucharistic elements as an oblatio showing that the early Eucharistic liturgy was seen as sacrificial. This Canon also became one of the traditional Eucharistic Canons used in the Ethiopian Church and to this very day is known there as "The Anaphora of the Apostles". The large number of different editions and translations has helped modern scholars to establish what they think is a reasonable reconstruction of the original document because they have so many separate sources to compare to each other.

Debate has arisen as to whether or not the Hippolytan Canon really was a fixed liturgical prayer in Rome. Most scholars are not sure how rigidly the Eucharistic Liturgy was structured in those days. Extemporaneous prayers on the part of the celebrant were probably common with the words of institution being the most highly conserved text in the rite. Nevertheless, the Hippolytan Canon seems to be in line with early Roman liturgical practice. St. Hippolytus was himself a rigorous traditionalist and was hardly likely to invent innovative liturgical forms.

Gregory Dix, the renowned Anglican liturgical scholar, says this about the Canon of St. Hippolytus:

Hippolytus, as we have noted, grudgingly admits that the "Callistians" (Those Roman Christians loyal to Pope St. Callistus) faithfully preserved "the customs and the tradition" (i.e., as he himself practiced them). We may safely take it that in outline and essentials the rites and customs to which the Apostolic Tradition bears witness were those practiced in the Roman Church in his own day, and in his own youth @ AD 180. And it is also safe to say that this Roman tradition was, mutis mutandis typical of the practice of the Great Church everywhere in the second century. (The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Edited by the Rev. Gregory Dix, pages xxxix-xl)
With this information, let us see how grossly Mr. Davies distorted the information about the Canon of St. Hippolytus in his book:

Thus we do not know to what extent the text we have corresponds to what Hippolytus actually wrote. All the scholars who have studied it agree that during its history it has suffered additions and modifications with each successive edition. Such scholars as Ratcliff and Dix have taken a very critical attitude to its textual integrity. The most controversial section of the entire text is the Eucharistic Prayer, where considerable modification of the original has been suspected - there are important differences in the various editions. Finally, Hippolytus made no claim that his Eucharistic Prayer was one actually used in the third-century Rome. He makes it plain that the prayers in the Apostolic Tradition are no more than models of the kind of prayer he considers desirable. To sum up, the Canon of Hippolytus was written by a third-century anti-pope with views of dubious orthodoxy. It was simply a personal suggestion of the form a Eucharistic Prayer should take. It has never formed part of the official liturgy of the Church, its original version has been lost, and the text we have has certainly been modified.

Frankly, this paragraph is almost totally inaccurate. I would refer the reader to Gregory Dix’s translation and commentary on the Apostolic Tradition for a more balanced and honest interpretation.

Davies grudgingly admits:

The text of Canon II is stated to be "based on that most ancient eucharistic prayer that we possess, namely that of Hippolytus." There is no direct evidence that this anaphora was ever in liturgical use in the West. Its only certain liturgical use is in Ethiopia whither it arrived via the Egyptian and Ethiopic church orders, and after various transformations, became the present Ethiopic Anaphora of the Apostles.
To the contrary, St. Hippolytus said it was used in Rome. We have no reason to doubt him. He was so convincing that people in Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia believed him and the Ethiopians actually adopted his Canon as one of their own. As a traditionalist, you would think that Mr. Davies would appreciate the fact that several groups in the East over the centuries were trying to preserve the truly venerable practices of the Roman Church.

The composers of Canon II have retained the Roman Sanctus and inserted some of the Hippolytan material into a new Preface, but since it is stated that Canon II may be used with other Prefaces, attention will be confined to what follows the Sanctus… It is thus highly doubtful whether one can refer to a canon spliced of such diverse strands as having any stylistic unity, and the fact that two-thirds of it are derived from the Roman Canon makes it difficult to attach much weight to the assertion of its stylistic distinction from the latter.

Now Mr. Davies is upset because the PM Eucharistic Prayer II is not exactly like the Canon of St. Hippolytus! Those pesky liturgists have contaminated the purity of the Roman Rite by adapting the Hippolytan Canon to later Roman practices like the Sanctus! For some reason, he finds this offensive. I fail to understand why. It seems that the reformers were trying to create a new Eucharistic Prayer that did not abandon later Roman practices while making use of the traditional material from St. Hippolytus. This hardly seems like a definitive break with tradition. And if we consider the gradual accretion of numerous practices over the centuries in the TM, we may question the "stylistic unity" (whatever that is supposed to mean) of the traditional liturgy itself.

Let us provide both "Eucharistic Prayer Form Number II," and the "Canon of Hyppolytus" so the reader himself to compare, and see if "Eucharistic Prayer II" Novus Ordo Missae can be attributed to Hyppolytus:

What follows is the most egregious misrepresentation of textual comparison I have ever had the misfortune to witness. These Integrists compare a certain English translation of the Hippolytan Canon to ICEL’s translation of EPII! The only legitimate comparison they could have made would have been between the critical Latin versions of both texts. But is was not their intention to do an honest comparison. They selected the most dissimilar translation possible in order to deliberately make EPII seem like a false concoction. Furthermore, they did not even try to juxtapose parallel portions of the text in their corresponding order. I consider this tactic to have been less than honest on their part.

Lastly, it is of interest to note that not a few matters of early liturgical practice revealed by Hippolytus run contrary to the ideological predilections of liturgical modernists (such as Shawn), who therefore ignore them.

What follows is a list of disciplinary practices from the Apostolic Traditions which have no bearing whatsoever on the question at hand: namely, the appropriateness of adapting the oldest known Eucharistic prayer from Rome for modern use. This is "majoring in minors" with a vengeance.

Though, of course, Shawn neglects to inform the reader that Hyppolytus would probably have been flabbergasted if he attended a Novus Ordo Missae today.

Quite honestly, St. Hippolytus would have been equally flabbergasted at a TM Mass as well. So what? Customs change over time. The authors here decry such "horrors" as women not wearing veils in Church and men giving the "kiss" (actually it is usually a hand shake) of peace to these same "uncovered" women. Again, I fail to see what relevance this has to the question at hand. The PM was intended to be a new liturgy that adapted to modern use some old customs that had been lost over the centuries while trying to modernize the Mass in line with today’s social realities. The overtly sexist prejudices of these Integrists show how out of place they are in the modern world.

Transubstantiation is not a protestant doctrine. But as the Novus Ordo Missae is not explicit on the subject - altogether too many implicit statements -, various protestants - such as the Lutherans and the Anglicans - have no problem with using the Novus Ordo - even though they deny Transubstantiation.

This is a overt lie. Neither the Lutherans nor the Anglicans have officially adopted the PM because they recognize that it is "too Catholic." What few Anglicans may have used the PM were high church types who actually believed in transubstantiation and were acting in defiance of their own cult’s "canon" law.

The claim that the PM is not explicit about transubstantiation is another non-sequitor. The term "transubstantiation" is medieval in origin and was never included in the prayers of any of the Mass usages in the Latin rite, not even the venerable TM. In that sense, even the TM is deficient by extreme Integrist standards. Meanwhile, all the PM texts are quite clear that Christ is really present in the Eucharistic species in a way that is denied by Protestants. In actuality, when we look at the biblical texts of the Last Supper, we do not find them documenting Christ making any "explicit" statements or gestures on the subject of transubstantiation. Our Lord thought that the words of institution spoke for themselves and it seems that the Apostles agreed with Him. Whatever later customs grew up out of a reverence to the Real Presence were never necessary for the validity or propriety of the Mass.

As it is, we object to Shawn's comparison between Traditional Catholics and the fundamentalist protestants. We are Catholics, they are not. They reject the Catholic Faith, we are doing our best to protect and preserve this Faith

Well, those of us who stand with the Popes object to the Integrists comparing us to Protestants, too. Unfortunately, Integrists are very much like Fundamentalist Protestants. They set their own standards and absolutize their personal prejudices with no regard to Papal authority. Obedience to the Pope is the most conspicuous Catholic distinctive and on this point, our Integrists fall short. Judged on that standard, they are not Catholics. I am afraid that Shawn’s criticism is quite trenchant and our Integrist friends should take it seriously. They are taking themselves out of the Catholic Church and cutting themselves off from the communio intended by Our Lord.

I see a rite with the same basic structure, many of the same prayers similarly worded. While it is true that Eucharistic Prayer #2’s canon emphasizes more by its actions the sacrificial nature of the Mass then it does by verbal explicitness, Eucharistic Prayers 1, 3, and 4 make the same emphasis in actions and are just as explicitly "sacrificial" in tone as the Tridentine Canon.

Sounds very similar to a black mass, similarly structured, prayers emphasizing sacrifice and nuanced prayers.

This type of blasphemous Integrist slander is inexcusable. I rebuke the author of these words in the name of Christ and demand that he repent and apologize for them. This is a serious matter. To accuse the Popes and hierarchy of collusion in a satanic parody of the Mass is tantamount to schism and it shows me that the author is not a Catholic in any sense of the word. Shame on him!

As it is, the Anglicans and the Lutherans - and even various Catholic Priests - openly admit that the structure of the Novus Ordo Missae corresponds with that found in various protestant liturgies, such as those of the Lutherans and the Anglicans.

What is with these Integrists? Of course the vernacular translations of the PM are similar to the liturgical ceremonies of the Protestants. So are the vernacular translations of the TM. All rites - Protestant and Catholic - are derived from the same liturgical traditions in the West! Similarity, though, is not identity. The differences may be subtle but they are important. They are what makes the Mass different from a Protestant communion service. But in general form, mainline Protestant liturgies do resemble Catholic worship. I am sorry if this does not meet with the Integrist desire for dialectical contrariness.

Furthermore, this is really very interesting that Shawn would here state that "Eucharistic Prayer Form Number II" was not as explicit as the Traditional Mass. This in itself is proof of the fact that the Novus Ordo is not what Fathers of the Second Vatican Council had in mind when they promulgated their document Sacrosanctum Concilium. To cite the Second Vatican Council: "In this restoration both texts and rites should be drawn up so as to express more clearly the holy things which they signify." Sacrosanctum Concilium

Any vernacular Catholic liturgy will "express more clearly the holy things which they signify" than a ritual in a language which the congregation does not understand. But with reference to EPII, it was intended to be a brief version of the Mass for use at weekday liturgies. It should not be surprising that is does not contain as much explicatory material as the longer Eucharistic prayers that were intended for use on Sunday. This is just silly Integrist nitpicking.

Indeed, Shawn does not see anything illicit, invalid, or sacrilegious, about the Novus Ordo Missae because he is only looking at the surface.

This seems to me to the pot calling the kettle black. Why do Integrists always insist on absolutizing their own personal preferences? Quite frankly, I remain unimpressed with their grasp of the liturgy. I find them to the ones who are superficial in their analysis. They should read Jungmann.

Furthermore, it is perfectly legitimate to resist the changes made in the Church.

You bet! Arius was right to oppose the innovations of Nicea, right? How about St. Hippolytus defying the Popes on exomologesis for apostates and setting himself up as an anti-Pope? And the Eastern Orthodox had every right to excommunicate the Pope for accepting the filioque, didn’t they? Imagine him changing the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Creed! And of course, the Protestants were thoroughly correct in rejecting Quo Primum and Pope St. Pius V’s insistence that the whole Latin Rite adopt the Roman Missal. Who did he think he was? The Vicar of Christ? And weren’t he Old catholics and Ignaz von Dollinger completely justified in resisting the innovations of Vatican I about papal infallibility?

Gosh…I just noticed something. Lots of heretics considered it legitimate to resist changes in the Church. I wonder if there is a lesson here?

In the first place, Shawn wishes to condemn the Society of Saint Pius X - a Society of over 400 Priests, 200 Seminarians, and numerous other Religious -, based upon the alleged actions of one Priest, as being careless about tradition and hypocritical

And schismatic! Don’t forget schismatic! That is their real claim to fame.

But let us address the issue of SSPX and other schismatic groups whose priests - already acting in defiance of Rome - use or alter the 1962 rubrics (or even reject those as the product of the "anti-Pope Roncalli" and revert to the pre 1962 rules). Any priest who does not obey canon law and who consorts with a schismatic bishop as his "ordinary" has already decided for himself which rules he will choose to follow. Whether or not he tinkers with the old liturgical rubrics is immaterial. He is still disobedient and in schism if he is not acting in accordance with the current Code of Canon Law and the rubrics currently in force under Papal authorization.

Vatican II allowed "experimentation" with the Mass. This has resulted in abuses that are documented below.

Ho, hum. More documentation of disobedience. Whether there is disobedience on the right or the left it is still disobedience. As a Catholic in communion with Pope John Paul II, I condemn all of this as does he.

This is a very short listing of incidents where abuses took place in the Novus Ordo Missae … is sufficient to show that Shawn really shouldn’t be the one throwing stones here.

Quite the contrary. As Archbishop Sheen used to say: "Right is right if nobody is right. Wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong." Shawn is completely correct to point out the liberties that SSPX and other alleged "traditionalists" take with the rubrics. This is hypocritical considering their claim for the necessity of absolute adherence to tradition. Whatever disobedience there is among priests allegedly in communion with Rome is not Shawn’s concern. That is the concern of the local ordinary. If you have specific complaints about a priest, that is where you should address it.

Shawn seems to be under the delusion that there is nothing more to Traditional Catholicism than the Society of Saint Pius X, his entire article thus far - while claiming to be a "prescription against ‘traditionalism’" - has been nothing more than an attack on the Society. It’s almost enough to make one think that Shawn is under the delusion that there is nothing more to the Traditionalist Movement than the Society of Saint Pius X.

From all of our experiences there is a lot more to so-called "traditionalism" than SSPX. There is SSPV. There are the other various radically disobedient groups ranging from those in mere denial of their disobedience to papal authority to those who are frankly sedevacantist. All of them talk the talk and walk the walk on the matter of the PM and VCII. What we have is a spectrum going from mere disobedience to outright schism and apostasy all centered on private rejection of papal authority and the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Please forgive us for finding this spectacle disedifying and sacrilegious. As a Catholic, I place my faith in the promise of Our Lord and Savior for the continued divine assistance abiding with the Pope and the hierarchy in communion with him. Shawn, Matt and I trust Christ’s promises, not the pretensions of those who counsel and practice disobedience to and schism from his Vicar.

©2000, "Detection and Overthrow of the 'Traditionalist Catholics' Falsely So-Called" (Part 3, Section 2), written by Dr. Art Sippo. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

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