Sunday, April 14, 2013
THE NOVUS ORDO MISSAE AND SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION
Pictured above the Novus Ordo Missae at the Carmel of Cristo Rey in San Francisco, CA
Many of us who call ourselves traditionalists have found ourselves in less than ideal circumstances with regard to fulfilling our Sunday Mass obligation in the past 40+ years. I being born in 1966, did not have the luxury of a traditional Catholic childhood. This is something I still lament... I knew only the Novus Ordo Missae as a boy. We were mercifully spared (for the most part) some of excesses of the post 1970 liturgical aberrations. Though it was obvious to me as a boy that something had gone terribly wrong. I like many others have spent most of my life grasping at straws in hope of making sense of the chaos and malaise afflicting the Church in the past 50 years. I have had limited success in doing so. I needn't remind anyone reading this blog that we live in perilous times. The spiritual darkness in which we have found ourselves in the past 40+ years is all enveloping. Sister Lucy of Fatima's description of our situation as being "diabolical disorientation" come as close as any to realistically grasping the seriousness of the situation in which we live. Sister Lucy warned us that “People must recite the Rosary every day. Our Lady repeated this in all Her apparitions, as if to arm us in advance against these times of diabolical disorientation, so that we would not let ourselves be fooled by false doctrines, and that through prayers, the elevation of our soul to God would not be diminished.” I can attest that the rosary has been my own light in times of darkness and confusion. It continues to be my own solace and hope in the spiritual confusion in which we find ourselves.
There are many of us who Summorum Pontificum aside do not have the luxury and grace of having a traditional Catholic parish life. There are many isolated traditional Catholics who do not have access to the traditional Mass and sacraments daily (or even weekly and monthly). Some of us go for long periods (perhaps years) without the refreshing Oasis of the traditional Mass. Often we truly find ourselves quite literally in a desert. It is precisely in these times (and places) where God has placed us that we must become like desert flowers blossoming in our dedication to the most Holy Rosary. We must cling to Our Lady's Holy Rosary as to a lifeline lest we too become lost in the "diabolical disorientation" in which we live.
Because my present circumstances do not permit me to assist daily (or even weekly) at the traditional Latin Mass, I fulfill my Sunday obligation by assisting at the Novus Ordo locally. I have done this now on and off for a few years. I am the first to say that this situation is less than ideal. It is however a personal decision that I have made in order to make the best of a very difficult situation. I am working toward the goal of living once more near a traditional chapel or parish. I have in my 47 years gone through different stages in regard to the Novus Ordo. This ran the gamut over the years from sometimes questioning the validity of the Novus Ordo to accepting it's validity. I find the Novus Ordo problematic insofar that it is not an organic liturgical development of the Roman Rite. I personally believe that the 1965 Ordo Missae was sufficiently an embodiment of the liturgical reform called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium. I therefore believe that the Novus Ordo was an unnecessary step beyond what Vatican II envisioned. Mgr Lefebvre (who I greatly admire and who I believe we have to thank indirectly for the rehabilitation if you will of the traditional Mass) warned that regular attendance at the Novus Ordo leads to a "Protestant Spirit". All of us can vouch for this among family and friends. We have seen how people who were reared in devoutly Catholic homes have through the years become heterodox or worse lost their faith entirely. I have come to believe that Mgr Lefebvre was most correct in 99% of celebrations of the Novus Ordo. The great majority of Novus Ordo Masses are offered in a spirit of liturgical rupture with the liturgical tradition of the Church. I have however come to the conclusion that however deficient the Novus Ordo is, all celebrations of the Novus Ordo are not equal. My experience has been that where the Novus Ordo is offered in as close a a fashion with the Vetus Ordo (Traditional Rite), ie versus Deum, Latin, Gregorian Chant, incense, communion railing, solidly orthodox sermons etc, the more intact and imbued with a sensus catholicus are the piety, devotion and faith of the those assisting at such a Mass. Now, to be sure such liturgies have been offered in only a handful of places since 1970. Nevertheless, they have existed and served as Oases (alongside Byzantine parishes) for liturgical refugees for the past 40+ years. The great majority of Catholics assist at liturgies as I stated that are celebrated in rupture with the tradition of the Church ie versus populum, vernacular, banal music, hand communion, proliferation of lay ministers, heterodox feel good preaching and normally lack of piety, reverence, decorum and recollection. Added to the fact that the great majority of generations of Catholics lack even basic catechesis this spells disaster. Therefore it is no wonder that the great majority of Catholics are imbued with a "Protestant spirit".
The great majority of Catholics assist at celebrations of the Novus Ordo of this second kind. Short of a Pope abrogating the 1970 Missal of Paul VI and/or a miracle, this situation shall continue unabated. Therefore, I believe that the solution for an authentic restoration of the Catholic liturgy lies in a proliferation of the celebrations of the Novus Ordo in continuity with tradition alongside a much wider use of the traditional Mass.
I would agree with what the Abbe de Nantes said regarding the Novus Ordo Missae:
"The entire Church could never have accepted, even out of obedience to the Pope, a mere simulacrum of the sacrifice. It is because this new liturgy, however ambiguous, was still capable of expressing the true faith and bringing about the authentic holy sacrifice that the churches have all accepted it. This argument is categorical: if today, all over the world the mass of Catholic priests were celebrating an invalid liturgy, giving the faithful nothing but bread and wine to adore and consume in place of the adorable Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and if the whole Catholic community were taking part in the deception in a mistaken faith, then the promises of Christ to His Church would be void, the gates of hell would have prevailed against her and there would no longer exist a Church of God!"
Time Out of Joint: Excerpt: The Abbe de Nantes on the Novus Ordo Miss...: Excerpt: The Abbe de Nantes on the Novus Ordo Missae and "Schism" Note: I think the Abbe de Nantes judgments on the SSPX are ...
No traditional Catholic worthy of the name could excuse himself or herself lightly from assisting at Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. The question is whether one is bound to assist at a valid Mass which under certain circumstances might present a danger to one's Catholic faith? Obviously, it would be prudent to avoid those celebrations of the Novus Ordo imbued with a "Protestant spirit". The key point is when to do so would be to endanger one's Catholic faith. I think it all too easy for many of us to develop a rather "schismatic" way thinking that says that the true Catholic faith is only to be found in traditional Mass chapels or when one cares little about jurisdiction matters in regards to confession and matrimony or when one decides for himself or herself to simply stay home, pray the missal and the rosary together. I believe there is a very real danger when we excuse ourselves from assisting at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days simply because the Novus Ordo offends our sensibilities. We needn't "participate" in or condone those things which our sensus Catholicus tell is contrary to our Catholic faith or be partisan to sacrilege. We aren't even obliged to receive Holy Communion. It is a very, very great trial for me to assist at Novus Ordo liturgies celebrated in rupture with Catholic tradition. I have often very great difficulty with it. I do so currently because I have no other choice.