A Micro Look at the Pauline Mass (Part I)

[W]hat the Council had in mind was enabling us to engage in an interior conversion, so that we could approach worship with minds and hearts renewed; only then would incidentals make any sense. Instead, especially in the United States, we have been made to think that the heart and soul of the liturgical movement was adding and deleting prayers or moving furniture and persons around the sanctuary. That idea is both superficial and wrong, and no justification for it can be found in Sacrosanctum concilium; if anything, the document condemns such a view. [Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas]

Having dealt in the last url with the contrast of the two Missals from a "macro" standpoint, the following two urls will examine the Pauline liturgy in a more "micro" manner. What will be principally addressed are the charges made by self-styled 'traditionalists' as to what they claim are "crucial defects" of the Pauline Rite Mass (incorrectly referred to as "Novus Ordo"). Now this writer is unaware of movement patrons such as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre actually claiming that the Pauline Rite was not a valid rite per se (at least not explicitly). However, many if not most  'traditionalists' have made these claims as to what they claim are crucial defects in the rite (albeit in less dignified ways). The following four charges are not uncommonly levelled by self-styled 'traditionalists' against the claiming that either (i) the Pauline Rite is illicit or (ii) it is invalid and thus sacrilegeous or (iii) it is not a valid Mass or (iv) if valid, that it is still somehow sacrilegeous. These claims are supported by the following arguments:

  • The Mass being said in the vernacular*
  • The New Mass does not teach or uphold Traditional Catholic doctrines
  • Vatican II had no authority to change the Mass*
  • The "Protestantization" of the Mass*
  • Changes to the Words of Institution*

  • We are going to examine in the following two urls if these major charges (along with numerous ancillary ones which flow directly from them) have any merit to them as contributing to an invalidation of or denigration of the Pauline Rite of Mass. The first place to start is with the Mass being celebrated in the vernacular tongue.

    I - Council of Trent on the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Vernacular:

    Since the celebration in the vernacular has been attacked by many self-styled 'traditionalists' who cite the Council of Trent, we will start by looking at what the Council of Trent actually said on the matter of vernacular Mass celebrations:

    Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass:
    On not celebrating the Mass every where in the vulgar tongue; the mysteries of the Mass to be explained to the people.
    Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be everywhere celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord's days and festivals. [1]
    This is clearly a disciplinary provision of a pastoral nature being set forth here and not a doctrine of the faith being declared. (Yes you 'traditionalists' who hang that "pastoral council" schtick on Vatican II: there were parts of Trent---and virtually every other Ecumenical council---that were "pastoral" also.) Note that this does not prohibit absolutely the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular in some places even in the sixteenth century. And the Council of Trent in judging that it was not "expedient" to allow the use "everywhere in the vernacular" did not preclude the Magisterium in the future deciding that the use of the vernacular was expedient or profitable. What the Fathers were saying here is that, given the conditions in Europe following the Protestant Revolt, the circumstances of that age did not in their view warrant the allowance of the vernacular into the liturgical celebration. There is no definitive ban on vernacular masses in the canons or decrees of Trent. Moving on to other related subjects, we come to the subject of the audible anaphora, a subject that the Council of Trent dealt with in the following canon:
    CANON IX.--If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema. [2]
    The key elements of the condemnation are in bolded print above. In short, there is nothing forbidding the celebration of Mass in the vulgar tongue from the Council of Trent. (The point of the canon was to condemn those who condemned the pronunciation of the words of consecration in a low tone of voice or those who claimed it was necessary to celebrate the mass in the vernacular.) One can claim that it is preferable to pronounce the consecration words louder or that it is more fitting to use the vernacular tongue to celebrate the mass and not be condemned by the Council of Trent. There are also other factors to take into consideration here.

    As a language Latin was in the process of becoming the universal language in the West (or the "vulgar tongue" if you will) from around the late second century (and by the mid third century was the universal or "vulgar tongue" in the West) and this held sway until approximately the eighth century. (As the foundation of the Romance Languages, Latin remained the secondary language like English is today in various nations until the late seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries.) Therefore, if Masses said in the vulgar tongue are not valid than there were very few Masses that were legitimate in the first eight centuries of Church history.

    Prior to the third century, most Masses were said in Greek (as the Divine Liturgies of the Eastern Rites are) so the so-called 'traditionalist' needs to ask themselves if these liturgies were defective also since prior to the third century Greek was the "vulgar tongue" in both the West and the East. Would a Mass said in Greek be valid to one not speaking Greek but invalid to one for whom Greek is their "vulgar tongue"??? This assertion is illogical. It is not at all inaccurate to say that "in those days [of the sixteenth century], the liturgy of the Mass appeared to be (and was regarded as) an exclusively clerical activity, a holy ritual to be performed by priests and their trained assistants" and that "both theology and history show clearly that in truth the Mass is a celebration of the whole Christian community, even though one member of it, the ordained priest, has a unique role to play" (The Study of Liturgy: excerpts from the section on the liturgy from Trent to Vatican II pg. 242). There was a difference in other words between the liturgy as it had been regarded in the early days as "'something we all do together' because that was the way it had come into being, and that was the way it was done" and the situation of the ninth and subsequent centuries when plural prayer forms gave way to the singular and the Mass was seen as "something done by clerics and watched by the people because that was the way it had come to be done" (ibid. pgs. 242-3). So by the time of Trent, there were problems in all areas of the Church and the circumstances of the age along with its presuppositions need to take into account:

    The liturgy that was inherited by the Church of the sixteenth century...was indeed given a reform which tidied up the chaos of its texts and rites, and gave them order and uniformity. But this reform did nothing to eliminate the most fundamental of its defects - intelligibility and exclusion of the laity. Given the circumstances of those evil times, this is not surprising.

    As regards intelligibility, the Reformers were clamouring for the use of the vernacular for the perfectly sound reasons by which, indeed, it could be justified, the concession would have been misinterpreted at that time as pandering to heresy. Thus, even though some Council Fathers favoured the vernacular for orthodox reasons, the majority decided that the time for granting it had not yet come. Surely they were wise in the circumstances then prevailing.

    As regards exclusion of the laity from active participation, it was again the prevalence of heresy which prevented the Fathers from rectifying that defect. Indeed because of the concept of the liturgy then generally held, they did not even see it as a defect. The theological basis for active participation by the people in the liturgy is the doctrine of the general priesthood of the laity. But the Reformers were maintaining that this was the only priesthood given by Christ to his Church; the ministerial priesthood, according to them, was a mere invention of power-seeking men. The Council, of course, had to defend the ministerial priesthood, and did so with such an emphasis (quite necessary at that time) that any understanding of the general priesthood - if any indeed had remained after centuries of an exclusively clerical liturgy - faded out from the popular consciousness. [3]

    This is the real problem with the so-called 'traditional' understanding of a lot of issues: it is notoriously one-sided, historically myopic, and its espousers have at times a terminal inability to see the forest for the trees. This is adequate to address the issue of the vernacular - a subject by the way which Pope Pius XII recognized in his encyclical letter Mediator Dei could be "of great advantage to the people" provided of course that Apostolic see "grant[ed] this permission" (Mediator Dei §60). Also, the self-styled 'traditionalist' needs to ask themselves what is so hallowed about a practice that developed later in Church history (the low tone of the Canon as spoken in the Tridentine Mass) that it is ipso facto superior to an earlier practice. (After all, if later usage is more esteemed then they shoot themselves in the foot by opposing the Revised Missal.) As the Rt. Rev. Dom Fernand Cabrol noted in The Mass of the Western Rites, this procedure of a silent canon is predated by a more traditional one of reciting the canon in an audible manner:
    It is clear that primitively...the Eucharistic prayer properly so called (from the dialogue of the Preface to the final doxology to which the faithful responded Amen) was said in an audible voice, and very probably was declaimed on a melopoeia doubtless resembling that of the Preface or the Pater. That at least is what the terms of this prayer would appear to indicate, based as they are on a lyric tone which seems to call for a chant. Ancient texts which corroborate this hypothesis are not wanting. In any case there is nothing mysterious in the words; nothing that calls for concealment. The author of De Sacramentis quotes them in a work not specially addressed to the initiated; another example is that of Melanie of Jerusalem, who was able to hear every word of this prayer; and there are many others of the same sort. But it is none the less true that this was otherwise at another period, and that the Secret of the Mysteries, of the Eucharistic Mysteries, is not an empty word. Pope Innocent I (in 416) speaks of this part of the Mass as falling under the law of the Arcana, Arcana agenda, something which must not be written about. St. Augustine when he speaks of the Eucharist uses great reticence in his language, and speaks of those things only known to the initiated, the baptized. The discipline of the Arcana is no myth; it was observed for centuries, though not everywhere, nor always in the same way. [4]
    So it was a discipline and not a doctrine of Faith to follow an arcana of not pronouncing these words aloud which developed after a later date. Since this practice was never uniform throughout the world, it is obviously not a part of unchanging Tradition and in fact previously in primitive periods the canon was recited aloud. So restoring the fully audible Eucharistic Prayer can be strongly asserted to be more in line with the ancient rite protocols then the Tridentine method of the inaudible prayers. Neither is wrong of course and if audible Anaphoras are wrong then obviously there was widespread error for the first four hundred years of Church history in the Roman Rite (and even longer after that in other rites). The first argument of the self-styled 'traditionalists' with regards to both the Mass in the Vernacular (as well as the accusation) is clearly without any merit whatsoever as any attempts to defend it would inevitably result in blasphemy at this point. Thus, we can safely move onto the second criticism: the alleged discontinuity of the Revised Missal to teach and uphold Traditional Catholic doctrines.

    II - The 'New Mass' Does Not Teach or Uphold Traditional Catholic Doctrines:

    This section will begin with a canon from the Council of Trent on the sacrifice of the Mass: one that is at times brought up by self-styled 'traditionalists' to assert that Trent anathematized the liturgical reforms approved of by Pope Paul VI.

    Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass:
    CANON VI.--If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema. [5]
    As dogmatic canons are always applicable while mass rites historically can (and have been) modified to varying degrees - something that the Fathers of Trent were not unaware of - this canon to some extent must always be applicable. After all, "every country, every dioceses, almost every church throughout the West had its own way of celebrating Mass, for there was no close control from any central authority" (The Study of Liturgy, section on the liturgy from Trent to Vatican II pg. 241). Further still, "[e]verywhere the Mass did indeed retain its traditional 'shape' - opening rite, scripture readings, preparation, consecration, and distribution of the sacrificial gifts, and a concluding rite. But the details within each section varied enormously" (ibid pg. 241). It was also not deniable that in some areas there were prayers utilized which were of doubtful orthodoxy. But the subject here is the mass itself and whether Trent was referring to specifically one liturgical rite or instead to all extant rites. Unless specified otherwise, the definitions and declarations of an Ecumenical Council apply to the universal church. Here is one example of note about the concern of the Fathers of Trent for the universal church:
    The Council was thinking of defining the indissolubility of marriage even after adultery. But the Venetian ambassadors pointed out that such a definition would make heretics of the Byzantine schismatics who had long practiced the contrary. Wanting to avoid that, and at the same time wanting to hit the Protestants with an anathema, the Council abstained from defining the indissolubility of marriage; it limited itself to anathematizing anyone who would deny the infallibility of the Church which "has taught and teaches" this indissolubility. [6]
    This took place at the twenty-fourth session of Trent convoked on November 11, 1563. Yet we are supposed to believe that a year earlier at the twenty-second session that the Fathers did not take the universal church into account when defining the inerrancy of the canon of the Mass. This is supposed to have been only applicable to the liturgy of the city of Rome or the liturgy later mandated on the universal church in 1570 by the apostolic authority of Pope Pius V. (In the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum.) The Council of Trent specifically noted at the start of the twenty-second session that "[t]he sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent...to the end that the ancient, complete, and in every part perfect faith and doctrine touching the great mystery of the Eucharist may be retained in the holy Catholic Church" (Trent Session XXII: Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass). The Council itself specifies that this doctrine is to be taught "in the holy Catholic Church". Therefore, the application of this decree and the definitions outlined in the canons would apply to the entire Church. And since the decree and canons of session twenty-two were promulgated at a time when there was still a wide diversity of liturgical expression in the Church (i.e. before Quo Primum), this canon cannot logically be applied selectively. If the definition anathematizes anyone who imputes errors to the canon of the Mass, perhaps a consideration of some of the contemporary accusations are in order here to properly understand exactly what the Fathers were asserting.

    Among the claims made by the "reformers" is that the Mass was not a true sacrifice. The canon or anaphora prayer is the point of the mass that the sacrifice is made to God; therefore the claim that the mass was not a sacrifice would impute error to the canon of the Mass which (by its words and actions) signified that it was. Not only was the notion of sacrifice denied, but so too was the offering of mass for the living and the dead. The latter implied that the dead could benefit from prayers and that emphasized the doctrine of purgatory which the "reformers"  also denied as a superstition. Since the canon specified that the mass was (among other things) being offered for the dead, denial of an afterlife state would impute another error to the canon because it would assert by default that the canon was affirming something that was false. The "reformers"  also denied that there was a ministerial priesthood or one who functions at Mass in the place of Christ in offering sacrifice. Denial of the ministerial priesthood would impute yet another error to the canon because the priest by his very actions and words signifies that he is offering sacrifice and is thus performing an action that the people present were unable to do. Finally, while not all of the "reformers"  denied the Real Presence, they all did deny that the elements offered in sacrifice became the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ completely in their substance. (This is the teaching of "transubstantiation".) And finally, most of the "reformers"  denied the intercessory power of the saints and the canon specifically invoked the intercession of the saints; therefore this denial constituted another error being imputed to the canon.

    Now since these were the teachings of the canon of the Mass which were being denied by the Protestants, it stands to reason that any canon historically that affirmed these teachings either explicitly or by implication would be covered in this definition. And if one looks at the comparison in url 3 of Eucharistic Anaphora Three of the Revised Missal, the prayer affirms explicitly every teaching noted above. If they look at Anaphora Four of the Revised Missal, the prayer explicitly affirms every teaching noted above. If they look at Anaphora Two they will see that every teaching noted above is explicitly affirmed except the teaching of the mass as a sacrifice. But as we already noted, the actions of the priest and the epiklesis calling down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts implies transubstantiation. (And that anaphora explicitly affirms the Real Presence.) And Anaphora 1 of course is practically identical to the old Roman Canon and therefore it would of course be covered by this teaching. (As would any anaphora used by any Church with apostolic succession: they all affirm either explicitly or tacitly these same teachings.)

    Now then, since (i) there were many different liturgies in use at the time this canon was ratified and (ii) all masses in
    the West and the East used anaphora prayers that affirmed these same teachings denied by Protestants and (iii) all anaphora prayers historically - either explicitly or tacitly - affirmed these same teachings, then  (iv) the other extant liturgies with different anaphora prayers would have to by logical extension have been covered by this canon also. Therefore (v) the same principle applies to any subsequent anaphora prayers approved by the Church for use which also affirmed these same teachings upheld by Trent: which all the anaphoras of the Revised Missal do.

    As far as dogmatic application today goes, since (i) the pope in the action of promulgating a liturgy to the universal church acts as a Doctor of the Faith by implication and (ii) both the Tridentine and Pauline Missals were thus promulgated by Popes Pius V and Paul VI acting in their supreme capacities then (iii) there is no way that the canons of said Missals could contain any errors whatsoever. This principle was explained in the following manner by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a Declaration against doctrinal errors issued with the approbation of the Supreme Pontiff:

    According to Catholic doctrine, the infallibility of the Church's Magisterium extends not only to the deposit of faith but also to those matters without which that deposit cannot be rightly preserved and expounded. [7]
    Anyone familiar with the kinds of abuses of the liturgy that were not uncommon in the centuries leading up to the Council of Trent would be aware of the context for this pronouncement. Human psychology being what it is this writer is certain that then as now there were people who attributed error to the liturgy because of the way it was abused by some. (Much the same way self-styled 'traditionalists' blame the liturgical problems of today on the Pauline Missal being supposedly faulty.) Much as right-thinking Catholics today oppose this kind of illogical presumption with the Revised Missal, the Fathers of Trent did so with predominantly - but by no means exclusively - the Roman Canon in mind. (Because it is the canon or anaphora prayer which contains the consecratory prayers and thus safeguards the sacrament of the Eucharist which is central to the Catholic Faith.) But the principle with all approved liturgical canons is the same as they contain no errors whatsoever. And the Church says "anathema" to anyone who would claim otherwise!!!

    Nonetheless, to avoid the appearance of supplying a mere rhetorical flourish to this section of the url, the author will address the subject utilizing some of what can rightfully be called "general norms of interpretation". There are after all certain principles that a theologian is supposed to follow when reading documents of the magisterium. One of these is to never read a pronouncement with the presumption of discontinuity. (For all magisterial statements form a seamless cloak if you will.) Another is that different statements have different degrees of theological qualification. The CDF explained it in the following manner in a Declaration issued in defense of Catholic doctrine:

    [B]y divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; so that the faithful, who may not simply listen to them as experts in Catholic doctrine, must accept their teaching given in Christ's name, with an assent that is proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise.  [8]
    The key part here is the intention of the legislator in other words. One of the "general norms" in dogmatic theology is that of presumed continuity. Thus practices intimately joined to dogmas - if the former is modified - it does not alter the latter. The canons of Trent are applicable today and the Pauline Rite of Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI has the principle of continuity in its favour. (Much as the Catholic Church did during the "reformation", much as marriage enjoys the favour of law, etc.) This is an often overlooked but very important principle in both law and in theology it is a necessary norm to follow.

    The only way one can honestly conclude that there is any attempt at discontinuity with the Revised Missal would be if the pope who promulgated the Missal manifested the intention to change the teachings of Trent on the nature of the Mass. If the latter can be cogently demonstrated, the argument for discontinuity can be said to have some merit to it. Since Pope Paul VI released an Encyclical on the Mystery of the Eucharist shortly before the opening of the last session of the Council, it may help to look at these matters from the point of view of the very Roman Pontiff who promulgated the liturgy to the Universal Church. We have already pointed out that all the teachings affirmed by the Council of Trent which are present in the canon of the mass are present in all mass anaphoras. Nonetheless, if it could be manifestly demonstrated that the Pope specifically and explicitly sought to set these teachings aside, then the presumption of continuity could likewise be set aside in this example.

    To set the stage, it is important to remember that part of context is looking at the circumstances that prompt an exercise of the magisterium. The teachings of the Council of Trent on the Sacrifice of the Mass were reaffirmed at least nine times in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (LG) in the Third Session of the Council. However, the word "transubstantiation" was not used in the process of doing this. (The sacrifice of the mass was one of many teachings pertaining to the mystery of the Church which were either developed or which were previously defined and reaffirmed in LG.) As the Council had already made it clear in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium that the liturgy would be restored, there was talk in some quarters about changes to the ceremony implying that there was changes in the doctrines previously defined or declared which pertained to the mass. Lumen Gentium in not dealing explicitly with transubstantiation caused some to question the teaching on transubstantiation. With the Fourth Session of the Second Vatican Council about to start, Pope Paul broke with precedent and promulgated an encyclical letter. In probably the most detailed exposition on the nature of the Mass of any magisterial document since the Council of Trent, Pope Paul made his intention and the intentions of the Council Fathers eminently clear. (And to refute this notion of discontinuity once and for all this writer will quote the relevant sections of the encyclical liberally):

    To make evident the indissoluble bond which exists between faith and devotion, the Fathers of the council, confirming the doctrine which the Church has always held and taught and which was solemnly defined by the Council of Trent, determine to introduce their treatise on the Most Holy Mystery of the Eucharist with the following summary of truths:

    "At the Last Supper, on the night He was handed over, Our Lord instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come, and thus entrust to the Church, His beloved spouse, the memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of devotion, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is received, the soul is filled with grace and there is given to us the pledge of future glory." (Constit. "De Sacra Liturgia," c. 2. n. 47 A.A.S. LVI, 1964 p. 113.)

    In these words are highlighted both the sacrifice, which pertains to the essence of the Mass which is celebrated daily, and the sacrament in which the faithful participate in Holy Communion by eating the Flesh of Christ and drinking His Blood, receiving both grace, the beginning of eternal life, and the medicine of immortality. According to the words of Our Lord: "The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood enjoys eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6, 55.)

    Therefore we earnestly hope that the restored sacred liturgy will bring forth abundant fruits of eucharistic devotion, so that the Holy Church, under this saving sign of piety, may make daily progress toward perfect unity (cf. John 17, 23) and may invite all Christians to a unity of faith and of love, drawing them gently, thanks to the action of divine grace… [9]

    On the subject of the mystery of transubstantiation, the encyclical's teaching was both clear and uncompromising. (A few of the many defenses of this teaching will now be referenced.):
    However, venerable brothers, in this very matter which we are discussing, there are not lacking reasons for serious pastoral concern and anxiety. The awareness of our apostolic duty does not allow us to be silent in the face of these problems. Indeed, we are aware of the fact that, among those who deal with this Most Holy Mystery in written or spoken word, there are some who with reference either to Masses which are celebrated in private, or to the dogma of transubstantiation, or to devotion to the Eucharist, spread abroad opinions which disturb the faithful and fill their minds with no little confusion about matters of faith. It is as if everyone were permitted to consign to oblivion doctrine already defined by the Church, or else to interpret it in such a way as to weaken the genuine meaning of the words or the recognized force of the concepts involved.

    Nor is it allowable to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent stated about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, speaking rather only of what is called "transignification" and "transfiguration," or finally to propose and act upon the opinion according to which, in the Consecrated Hosts which remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ Our Lord is no longer present...

    To avoid misunderstanding this sacramental presence which surpasses the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind we must listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church. This voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way Christ is made present in this Sacrament is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into His Blood, and that this unique and truly wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls transubstantiation. As a result of transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new meaning and a new finality, for they no longer remain ordinary bread and ordinary wine...[10]

    A lot of time has been spent on refuting this noxious error because it is at the core of the most hard-line self-styled 'traditionalist' errors. The teachings affirmed dogmatically by Trent are present in the Revised Missal's anaphora prayers. Further, the theological and legal principle of continuity would be on their side even if they were not explicitly mentioned. Finally, the Pope specifically noted that the Pauline Mass contained the same doctrines within it that were so objected to by Protestants and which were defined in anathemas by the Council of Trent. Since anathemas in all ages in terms of personal application apply formally to Catholics (which all of the "reformers" were), any professing Catholic today who claims that the Pauline Rite canons are not valid canons is anathematized at least in spirit by the Council of Trent. This does not bode well for the self-styled 'traditionalists' who claim that the Pauline Mass canons contain errors both in light of Trent and the statement by the Pope and Council Fathers of Vatican II on the restored rite and its continuity with Tradition. (See the first five paragraphs of the Revised Missal's General Instruction - which was ratified by Pope Paul VI - where the same teachings enunciated above are explicitly outlined.) No more should be needed to convince anyone of good faith that the intention of both missals are the same. Therefore, we can safely move onto the third criticism: the authority of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council to authorize a rather significant revision of the accidents of the Roman Missal.

    III - Vatican II Had No Authority to Change the Mass:

    To recapitulate a key point made earlier in the url 2 section Tradition and the Living Magisterium, the Church has two basic components to her teaching: dogma/doctrine and practice/devotions. The liturgy of the Church is not a doctrine/dogma in and of itself but is instead an ecclesiastical directive or practice which is subject to change by the Magisterium of the Church if the latter deems it either necessary or desirable. It is on these grounds that Vatican II instituted a reform similar to that of Trent. Contrary to myth, Pope Paul VI was not the first Pope to alter the Tridentine Mass, such revisions had been done previously by Pope Urban VIII, Pope Clement XII, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII, and Pope John XXIII. And as we noted earlier, there had been long periods of relative liturgical stability historically and also periods where there was a noticeable recasting of liturgical forms in a relatively short period of time. The issue is controvertible one way or the other as to the best approach to take - as the four centuries prior to Vatican II saw relatively no liturgical alterations at all of any significance. In that light maybe the current reform executed poor judgment in seeking to do so much so quickly; however it can be equally argued that the four centuries after the Council of Trent and the unwillingness to make any significant alterations to liturgical practice was also a policy that manifested equally poor judgment. Neither of these positions is objectively superior to the other and either one can within certain boundaries be held in good faith. This brings us to the subjective preferences different people have for one rite over the other.

    It is understandable if someone prefers the old rite to the new one and wishes to attend the Tridentine Mass (TM) instead of the Pauline Mass (PM) because it has long been accepted that Catholics should have the freedom to worship within whichever rite serves their needs best. The problem is when those who favour one rite over another make unwarranted presumptions that a given rite is "the only rite of the Mass acceptable to God" (or in the case of the TM that it is the "Mass of all time") while other rites promulgated by the Magisterium of the Church are not valid rites or are of "lessor worth." If you wish to say that changing the Mass was a mistake, then so long as in saying this you are not denying that the revised liturgy is in any way legitimate or that the Pope did not have a right to change the ceremonial elements of the Mass if he chooses to, this can be respected as a valid opinion. However, to say as some do that the PM is not licit or valid, that is it "intrinsically evil" or a product of "bastard fruits" or an "objectively inferior rite" even when said according to the rubrics, or that the Pope had no authority to alter the rite: these are the claims of people who are clearly not in communion with the Catholic Church.

    It is also a blasphemous notion since it makes a mockery of the promises made by Our Lord to His Apostles and by extension to the universal church. He promised that "the gates of hell" shall never prevail over His Church (Matt. 16:18). The idea of the very heart of the Spouse of Christ for 2 millennia (the Mass) would ever be allowed to be torn from the Mystical Body would be a clear indication that Our Lord lied to us and that the gates of hell had prevailed against the Church. This is not an acceptable option for a Catholic to hold and those who claim that the Pauline Rite Mass is in any way illicit or invalid when properly said should be given a very wide berth. If they are in a position of authority (such as a priest or a bishop) they are capable of misinforming those who come to them for advice on these matters and if done deliberately these are serious sins of scandal and also of bearing false witness. However, there is no shortages of excuses used by obdurate 'traditionalists' to "justify" their rebellion against Rome. There is also the claim that the Pauline Rite has been "Protestantized" which is what will be looked at next. But first a logical corollary needs to be pointed out here.

    If a Pope can change the liturgy himself  - and as we noted earlier in this treatise Pope Pius XII specifically taught that the Pope has full authority over the sacred liturgy, then logically so can a General Council which requires for validity the ratification of the same Bishop of Rome who alone enjoys the right "to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification" (cf. Mediator Dei 58). Therefore, the objections of the self-styled 'traditionalists' as to the authority of Pope Paul and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to make modifications to the liturgy - even significant ones - are without any merit whatsoever.

    IV - The "Protestantization" of the Mass — Proposed "Nullifying" Features:

    This assertion revolves around a series of external changes that taken together are proclaimed as a "Protestantizing" of the Mass when none of these elements by themselves could be called clearly "Protestant" (which is an ambiguous term to use anyway: 'traditionalists' are supposed to hate ambiguity). We will not get to all of them in this url for the sake of economy. However, those not addressed here will be dealt with in the next url of this treatise. With regards to the external changes which self-styled 'traditionalists' assert are a "Protestantization" of the Mass, they include the following ones*:

    The following are either ecclesiastical directives or church/liturgical disciplines of the Church which can be modified at the discretion of the Magisterium and do not fall under the guidelines of either infallibility or of unalterable Tradition; therefore they will only be touched on only briefly here:

    The Removal of the Tabernacle:

    Some churches never had a tabernacle on their main altar to begin with and the tabernacle on the altar was not a fixture until after the Council of Trent. Therefore, this charge is not one that has merit unless the objector wants to claim that this problem occurred not before Vatican II (VC II) but that the Mass was somehow defective for the first seventeen centuries.

    Elimination of Kneelers:

    Kneeling for the Consecration was not put into place until after the Protestant Revolt; therefore either the Church got it wrong for fifteen centuries or kneelers are not a necessary component to the validity of the Mass. Besides, pews and kneelers were invented by Protestants anyway!!! So the 'traditionalists' should be glad to see this "Protestant corruption" weeded out if they are at all consistent. Since this element preceded VC II, it is considered "acceptable". Once again, the consistency with 'traditionalists' is found to be "weighed in the scales and found lacking" (Dan. 5:27).

    Besides, kneeling during the Consecration is still in the rubrics so if there are any churches that removed the kneelers then they are in disobedience to the Church and are not doing anything mandated or sanctioned in any way. The disobedience of a few rebellious churches in no way diminishes the Pauline Rite itself.

    Married Deacons:

    Have there never been married deacons in the Church before??? Objections to married deacons betrays a serious knowledge lacuna when it comes to understanding church history. There have been married clergy before and in the Eastern Rites there still are some married clergy in ranks below bishop. (With an Apostolic exemption, married Protestant ministers who convert can pursue the priesthood in the Western Rites.) If married deacons constitute an invalid rite then the self-styled 'traditionalist' needs to ask themselves how they can justify the validity of the liturgies of the Apostles and early Church clergy in ranks above the Diaconite who were at times married. (Before the discipline of mandatory celibacy in the Western Rite was put into place.)

    Simplified Rites:

    This was covered earlier in url 3 and it is a most irrelevant criticism actually. The Pope has the right to make the rites as simplified or complex as he desires as long as the unchangeable elements of the Mass remain unchanged. Furthermore, 'traditionalists' exercising their own private judgments have no competence to decide in these matters whatsoever. It has already been shown in previous parts of this treatise that these elements remain the same as declared so by the only authority competent. Therefore, this charge is without foundation.

    Relaxation of Eucharistic Fast:

    Pope Pius XII also must have been in error for liberalized the communion fast by this "rationale". There is still a binding period of one hour before receiving Communion under Church law. The early Christians used to take the Eucharist with meals (see 1 Corinthians circa AD 52 and the Epistles of St. Ignatius circa AD 110 for examples of this early practice) and while this is not something done today, if it was erroneous in and of itself (to have little or no fast before Communion) then the Church erred from the very beginning. This is a discipline that is up to the Church to make and not individuals exercising Protestant private judgment. Besides, Pope St. Pius X lowered the age of Communion reception and encouraged frequent Communion; therefore reducing the fast would seemingly achieve this laudable goal to a greater degree.

    There is also the element of increased knowledge about nutritional matters today that previous generations did not possess. With the knowledge we now have about health issues (and how prolonged periods of time without any food at all can result in the body "eating itself" as well as lowered blood sugar, etc.) more is known today about health issues than in the past. The Church showed (in making these modifications) that she always recognizes advances in society's knowledge and makes adjustments accordingly without changing her core doctrines and beliefs in the process. This should be commended and not condemned.

    Elimination of the Final Gospel:

    This falls under liturgy and as Pope Pius XII noted, only the Church has the competence to decide these matters. Besides, a good argument can be made that the same Gospel at the end of every Mass leads to redundancy. Also since Latin had ceased to be as regularly taught after the late eighteenth century as it was previously (when all people who could read and write in the West read and wrote in Latin) this presented a problem for some Catholics as English and German became prominent languages on the world scene (especially English). Most Catholics before VC II in countries with languages not derived from Latin roots had little to no idea what was being said during the Last Gospel since they did not understand Latin. Finally (and most importantly) since the Last Gospel (according to Mr. Michael Davies) was not added until approximately the fourteenth century, removing it cannot possibly make the Mass in any way defective. Unless of course the so-called 'traditionalist' believes that the Masses of the first thirteen centuries of Church history were defective for not having the Last Gospel at the end of Mass.

    Communion in the Hand:

    Self-styled 'traditionalists' are almost superstitious in their notions about what does and does not constitute reverence and what is and is not sacrilegious. They even go as far as to circulate misleading pamphlets claiming that communion in the hand was not an apostolic custom. This is probably because many groups favouring communion in the hand circulate misleading pamphlets claiming that it was universal in the early church to receive by hand. The most important point in this area as far as Communion in the Hand goes is this (and 'traditionalists' will have problems grasping this especially at first):

    In the early days of the Church the faithful frequently carried the Blessed Eucharist with them to their homes (cf. Tertullian, "Ad uxor.", II, v; Cyprian, "De lapsis", xxvi) or upon long journeys (Ambrose, De excessu fratris, I, 43, 46), while the deacons were accustomed to take the Blessed Sacrament to those who did not attend Divine service (cf. Justin, Apol., I, n. 67), as well as to the martyrs, the incarcerated, and the infirm (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., VI, xliv). The deacons were also obliged to transfer the particles that remained to specially prepared repositories called Pastophoria (cf. Apostolic Constitutions, VIII, xiii). [11]
    And for those who would claim that this was only during persecutions, then what of the following citations from the Fathers and Councils specifically speaking of communion reception by hand??? The first is from St. Basil the Great from around 378 AD:
    It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy Body and Blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord's day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time. [12]
    And from the generally very reliable Catholic Encyclopedia article on communion patens (lest anyone think this practice was only Eastern in orientation):
    The word paten comes from a Latin form patina or patena, evidently imitated from the Greek patane. It seems from the beginning to have been used to denote a flat open vessel of the nature of a plate or dish. Such vessels in the first centuries were used in the service of the altar, and probably served to collect the offerings of bread made by the faithful and also to distribute the consecrated fragments which, after the loaf had been broken by the celebrant, were brought down to the communicants, who in their own hands received each a portion from the patina… When towards the ninth century the zeal of the faithful regarding the frequent reception of Holy Communion very much declined, the system of consecrating the bread offered by the faithful and of distributing Communion from the patinæ seems gradually to have changed, and the use of the large and proportionately deep patinæ ministeriales fell into abeyance. It was probably about the same time that the custom grew up for the priest himself to use a paten at the altar to contain the sacred Host, and obviate the danger of scattered particles after the Fraction. This paten, however, was of much smaller size and resembled those with which we are now familiar. [13]
    Therefore, unless our early Christian brethren were committing sacrilege or being disrespectful to God, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the faithful touching the Body and Blood of Our Lord with their hands. Disrespect for the Eucharist cannot logically come from holding Our Lord in one’s hands or the early Christians were profoundly disrespectful since they not only held Our Lord in their hands but they took Him home also. Will self-styled 'traditionalists' now call the early Christians "sacrilegious" for their actions??? Was St. Basil the Great and St. Cyril of Jerusalem promoting irreverence of the Blessed Sacrament??? Was St. John Damascus "sacrilegious" or promoting "irreverence" when he noted the following in his writing "The Orthodox Faith" in the early 700’s:
    The bread and the wine are not merely figures of the body and blood of Christ (God forbid!) but the deified body of the Lord itself: for the Lord has said, "This is My body," not, this is a figure of My body: and "My blood," not, a figure of My blood. And on a previous occasion He had said to the Jews, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. For My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed. And again, He that eateth Me, shall live.
    Wherefore with all fear and a pure conscience and certain faith let us draw near and it will assuredly be to us as we believe, doubting nothing. Let us pay homage to it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form of the cross let us receive the body of the Crucified One: and let us apply our eyes and lips and brows and partake of the divine coal, in order that the fire of the longing, that is in us, with the additional heat derived from the coal may utterly consume our sins and illumine our hearts, and that we may be inflamed and deified by the participation in the divine fire. Isaiah saw the coal. But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire: in like manner also the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity. But a body which is united with divinity is not one nature, but has one nature belonging to the body and another belonging to the divinity that is united to it, so that the compound is not one nature but two. [14]
    This is the problem that 'traditionalists' put themselves in when they make these kinds of ill-informed arguments. The problem that they have is a tendency towards the the sin of partiality (James 2:1, 2:9, 4:11-13) by elevating to the status of what is and is not "proper" their personal likes and dislikes. This attitude is wrong and another indication of the near caste system attitude taken by self-styled 'traditionalists' which is alien to the way the Church historically viewed not only herself but the relationship between clergy and laity.

    Much more remains to be covered on this subject but this is adequate if we are to keep this url reasonably short for the benefit of the reader. In the next url , we will continue with part II of this micro examination and look at some additional criticisms of a somewhat more significant nature will be dealt with - including such controversial subjects as changes to the words of institution of the Eucharist in the Revised Missal.


    [1] Council of Trent Session XXII: "Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass", Chapter VIII (September 17, 1562)

    [2] Council of Trent Session XXII: "Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass", Canon IX (September 17, 1562)

    [3] Fr. Clifford Howell SJ: From the essay "From Trent to Vatican II" from the compendium "Study of the Liturgy"  (c. 1978)

    [4] Rt. Rev. Dom Fernand Cabrol: "Mass of the Western Rites" excerpts (c. 1934)

    [5] Council of Trent Session XXII: "Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass", Canon VI (September 17, 1562)

    [6] Bro. Ansgar Santogrossi: From the essay "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: A Definition Ex Cathedra" (February 1999)

    [7] CDF: Declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae" §3 (June 24, 1973)

    [8] CDF: Declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae" §2 (June 24, 1973)

    [9] Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter "Mysterium Fidei" (September 3, 1965)

    [10] Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter "Mysterium Fidei" (September 3, 1965)

    [11] Catholic Encyclopedia: From the article "The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist" (c. 1913)

    [12] St. Basil the Great: Letter 93. Cæsaria, concerning Communion (circa 378 AD)

    [13] Catholic Encyclopedia: From the article "Communion Patens" (c. 1913)

    [14] St. John Damascus: "De Fide Orthodoxa" Book IV, ch. XIV (circa 730 AD)

    Additional Notes:

    Url 4 owes much in the area of structure to an article written by Deacon Ed Faulk. Parts indicated with a * were ideas from the article in subject matter discussed (although the arguments themselves in those sections are those of the author). Deacon Faulk's article can be found at the following link: http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/valmass.html

    The citations from the Council of Trent were obtained at the following link: http://history.hanover.edu/early/trent.htm

    The citations from Fr. Clifford Howell SJ's essay "From Trent to Vatican II" were obtained from the book "Study of the Liturgy", New York Oxford University Press, 1978

    The citations from "The Mass Of The Western Rites" by the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol were taken from the online version of his book which is located at the following link: http://www.ewtn.com/library/LITURGY/MASS.TXT

    The citation from Bro. Ansgar Santogrossi's essay "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: A Definition Ex Cathedra" was obtained at the following link: http://www.petersnet.net/browse/835.htm

    The citations from the CDF Declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae" can be located at the following link: http://www.saint-mike.org/Library/Curia/Congregations/Faith/Mysterium_Ecclesiae.html

    The citations from Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Letter "Mysterium Fidei" were obtained at the following link:

    The citation from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) article "The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist" was
    obtained at the following link: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

    The citation of St. Basil the Great's "Letter 93" was obtained at the following link:

    The citation from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) article "Communion Patens" was
    obtained at the following link: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11541b.htm

    The citation of St. John Damascus' "De Fide Orthodoxa" (Book IV) was obtained at the following link: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/33044.htm

    ©2002, 2000, "A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism'" (Part 4), written by I. Shawn McElhinney. 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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