After reversing 1000+ years of Catholic liturgy…
Francis and the “Irreversible” Novus Ordo Liturgy: A Commentary
This past Thursday, Aug. 24, “Pope” Francis raised not a few eyebrows when during a special audience for some Italian liturgical congress he suddenly invoked his supposed “magisterial authority” to declare “that the [Novus Ordo] liturgical reform is irreversible.”
We reported on this and included some initial reactions from the blogosphere in the following post:
It is now time to publish our own commentary on Francis’ musings about the Novus Ordo liturgical revolution. We will do this by going through the entire text of Francis’ address to the Italian Liturgical Week and intersperse our own comments as needed:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
I welcome you all and I thank the President, His Excellency Monsignor Claudio Maniago, for the words with which he presented this National Liturgical Week, at 70 years from the birth of the Center of Liturgical Action.
This span of time is a period in which, in the history of the Church and, in particular, in the history of the liturgy, essential and not superficial events have happened. As Vatican Council II will not be able to be forgotten, so will the liturgical reform be remembered from which it issued.
The Council and the reform are two directly linked events, which did not flower suddenly but were prepared for long. It is attested by what was called the liturgical movement, and the answers given by the Supreme Pontiffs to the hardships perceived in ecclesial prayer. When a need is noticed, even if the solution isn’t immediate, there is the need to start to move.
…Unless, of course, that “need” is for the traditional Roman rite of Mass, which many in the Vatican II Sect are drawn toward and would like to see universally restored. In that case, those who make known their liturgical fondness are ostracized, ridiculed, and denounced as basically having a few screws loose.
I think of Pius X, who ordered a reordering of sacred music and the celebratory restoration of Sunday, and instituted a Commission for the general reform of the liturgy, knowing that it would entail a work both great and short-lived; and therefore – as he himself recognized – it was necessary for many years to pass, before this, so to speak, liturgical edifice [. . .] reappeared shining in its dignity and harmony, once it had been cleansed from the squalor of ageing.”
Hear ye, hear ye! Francis “think[s] of [Pope] Pius X”, whom he does not, of course, honor by his just title “Saint”. This must have been the first time that Francis referred to the holy Pope of the early 20th century since comically claiming two years ago that he has a strong devotion to him!
Pius XII took up the reforming project with the Encyclical Mediator Dei and the institution of a Study Commission; he also took concrete decisions regarding the version of the Psalter, the attenuation of Eucharistic fasting, the use of a living language in the Ritual, the important reform of the Easter Vigil and of Holy Week. From this impulse, on the example of other Nations, the Center of Liturgical Action arose in Italy, led by Bishops solicitous of the people entrusted to them and animated by scholars that loved the Church as well as the liturgical pastoral.
Vatican Council II then matured, as good fruit of the tree of the Church, the Constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacosantum Concilium (SC), whose lines of general reform responded to the real needs and the concrete hope of a renewal: a living liturgy was desired for a Church altogether vivified by the mysteries celebrated.
Ah yes, that “living liturgy” — because, you know, for 1,900 years the Church had had a “dead” liturgy, unable to offer worthy adoration, praise, thanksgiving, and petition to God, incapable of sanctifying souls and educating minds. That’s why the Church had no saints until the glorious 1960s came around, right?
It is a good thing that Francis here cites Pope Pius XII’s 1947 landmark encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei, because this document condemns the very liturgical revolution brought about by “Pope” Paul VI twenty years later. For example, Pius XII condemns the following ideas now found throughout the world in the Novus Ordo liturgy:
…The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.
Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.
Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mediator Dei, nn. 61-63; underlining added.)
Here we see that if anything is irreversible, it’s the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy, which cannot be rejected under the pretext of reverting back to antiquity! Sound familiar?
We return to Francis:
It was about expressing in a renewed way, the perennial vitality of the Church at prayer, being eager “so that the faithful do not assist as strangers and silent spectators to this mystery of faith, but, understanding well through rites and prayers, participate in the sacred action knowingly, piously, actively” (SC , 48). This was recalled by Blessed Paul VI in explaining the first steps of the announced reform: “It’s good to warn how it is proper for the authority of the Church to desire, to promote, to arouse this new way of praying, thus giving greater increment to her spiritual mission [. . .]; and we must not hesitate to make ourselves first of all disciples and then supporters of the school of prayer, which is about to begin.”
It hardly needs mention that Vatican II’s idea of the faithful participating in the Holy Mass “knowingly, piously, and actively” hasn’t exactly worked out in the “New Mass” of Paul VI (the Novus Ordo Missae in use since 1969). This is evident not only from the liturgical Absurdistan to which most Novus Ordo parishes have descended, but also from the overall fruits: Those few people who even bother to attend the “New Mass” are, for the most part, clueless about Catholic doctrine, especially about the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and about the Mass as a propitiatory Sacrifice, and their idea of participation in the liturgy is reduced to that of external bodily and especially vocal involvement.
The direction traced by the Council found form, according to the principle of respect of the healthy tradition and of legitimate progress (Cf. SC, 23), in the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI, well received by the Bishops themselves who were present at the Council, and by now for almost 50 years universally in use in the Roman Rite. The practical application, guided by the Episcopal Conferences, for the respective countries, still prevail, because it’s not enough to reform the liturgical books to renew the mentality. The reformed books, following the norm of the decrees of Vatican II, have implanted a process that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise celebratory implementation on the part, first of all, of ordained ministers, but also of the other ministers, the cantors, and all those that take part in the liturgy. In truth, we know it, the liturgical education of Pastors and faithful is a challenge to address always again. Paul VI himself, a year before his death, said to the Cardinals gathered in Consistory: “The moment has now come, to let the tendencies to division fall, equally pernicious in one way and another, and to implement integrally in their just inspiring criteria, the reform approved by Us, in the implementation of the Council’s votes.”
Now this is interesting.
A few moments ago, Francis had told his hearers that the Novus Ordo liturgical revolution is the fruit of people’s “need” that got “noticed” because of “hardships perceived in ecclesial prayer.” But now he tells them that “it’s not enough to reform the liturgical books to renew the mentality” — and that this change in mentality, far from driving the liturgical reform in the first place, is actually the desired end goal of a “process that requires time”!
So which is it? Is the liturgical “reform” the cause or the effect of people’s change in “mentality”? Was it supposed to address a genuine need that was already present — or was it supposed to force a change in mentality that was not present to begin with? It seems that cause and effect are being used transposably here, depending on what point the Jesuit apostate wishes to make at the moment.
And there is still work to do today in this direction, in particular, rediscovering the reasons for the decisions taken with the liturgical reform, surmounting unfounded and superficial readings, partial reception and practices that disfigure it. It’s not about rethinking the reform by looking again at the choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons, also through historical documentation, as well as to internalize the inspirational principles and observing the discipline that regulate it. After this magisterium, after this long journey we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.
This is the heart of Francis’ message: After crying obligatory crocodile tears about liturgical problems — just like his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI did time and again without lifting a finger to do anything about them — Francis declares that the Modernist liturgical revolution is “irreversible”.
Presumably, countless Novus Ordo liberals, conservatives, and semi-traditionalists will spend the next few days debating and discussing what constitutes an “irreversible” liturgical change, and whether the “Pope” has the authority to do such a thing.
For the purposes of this post, we will content ourselves with pointing out the sheer absurdity of the claim: Here we have a man who purports to be the Vicar of Christ, announcing that a liturgy that has not yet been in use even 50 years, is “irreversible” — when that very liturgy replaced, that is, reversed, roughly 1,300 years of Roman liturgical tradition! (Not to mention the fact that this man has no problem reversing the Ten Commandments as needed, and transforming the notion of sin from a voluntary transgression against the divine law into an imperfect realization of virtue.)
It is a common misconception to think that the traditional Roman rite in use before Vatican II only dates back to the time of Pope St. Pius V and the Council of Trent (16th century). In its essentials, the Roman rite universally in use until roughly 1962 actually goes back to the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. 604). But be that as it may, it is ludicrous for Francis to claim that a liturgical rite that is only about 50 years old is “irreversible” when it itself just overthrew hundreds of years of liturgical tradition on the pretext of returning to antiquity.
In his 1570 bull Quo Primum on the Sacred Liturgy, Pope St. Pius V declared:
Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us.
(Pope Pius V, Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum)
If an Apostolic Constitution that grants a right “in perpetuity” is not irreversible — and indeed it’s not, because what one Pope can establish, another can revoke — then neither is the Novus Ordo liturgical circus immune to being overturned. That much is obvious.
The task to promote and guard the liturgy is entrusted by law to the Apostolic See and to the diocesan Bishops, whose responsibility and authority count much at the present moment; also involved are the national and diocesan organisms of the liturgical pastoral, the Institutes of formation and the Seminaries. Distinguished in this formative realm in Italy is the Center of Liturgical Action with its initiatives, among which is the annual Liturgical Week.
After having reviewed this journey with the memory, I would now like to touch upon some aspects in the light of the theme on which you have reflected these days, namely: “A Living Liturgy for a Living Church”
The liturgy is “living” because of the living presence of Him who “dying has destroyed death and rising has restored life to us again” (Easter Preface I), Without the real presence of the mystery of Christ, there is no liturgical vitality. As without a beating heart there is no human life, so without the beating heart of Christ there is no liturgical action. What defines the liturgy is in fact the implementation, in the holy signs, of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, that is, the offering of His life to the point of extending His arms on the cross, priesthood rendered present constantly through the rites and the prayers, maximally in His Body and Blood, but also in the person of the priest, in the proclamation of the Word of God, in the assembly gathered in prayer in His name (Cf. SC , 7). Among the visible signs of the invisible Mystery is the altar, sign of Christ living stone, discarded by men but becoming the corner stone of the spiritual edifice in which worship is offered to the living God in spirit and in truth (Cf. 1 Pt 2:4; Eph 2:20). Therefore the altar, center toward which our attention converges in our churches, is dedicated, anointed with chrism, incensed, kissed, venerated: the gaze of the praying people, priest and faithful, is oriented to the altar, convoked for the holy assembly around it; placed on the altar is the offering of the Church that the Spirit consecrates Sacrament of Christ’s sacrifice; given from the altar are the bread of life and the chalice of salvation “so that we become in Christ one body and one spirit” (Eucharistic Prayer III).
We notice the striking absence of the word “Tabernacle”, which indeed is difficult to find in Novus Ordo churches, because it is either hidden from view outside the
sanctuary worship space altogether, or else is reduced to the most hideous-looking box they could get, pushed off to the side somewhere, in accordance with the adage, “out of sight, out of mind.”
We recall that the Council of Trent warned: “If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God, or that the act of offering is nothing else than Christ being given to us to eat: let him be anathema” (Denz. 948). Today you can count yourself lucky if you find a Novus Ordo adherent who believes even that much!
The liturgy is life for the entire people of the Church.
Ah, such lofty words! Too bad that you wouldn’t know it from the liturgical chaos actually perpetrated in the Novus Ordo on a daily basis.
By its nature the liturgy is in fact “popular” and not clerical, being – as the etymology shows – an action for the people, but also of the people.
It seems that Francis forgot that the clergy, too, are people, but this thesis allows him to subtly introduce the idea that the clergy are not essential for Catholic liturgy, which in Austria some have already put into practice.
As so many liturgical prayers recall, it is the action that God Himself carries out in favor of His people, but also the action of the people that listen to God who speaks, and they react praising Him, invoking Him, receiving the inexhaustible source of life and of mercy that flows from the holy signs. The Church at prayer gathers all those who have a heart listening to the Gospel, without discarding any one: convoked are the little and the great, the rich and the poor, children and elderly, the healthy and the sick, the righteous and sinners. In the image of the “immense multitude” that celebrates the liturgy in the shrine of Heaven (Cf. Revelation 7:9), the liturgical assembly surpasses, in Christ, every limit of age, race, language and nation. The “popular” scope of the liturgy reminds us that it is inclusive and not exclusive, advocate of communion with all without, however, homologizing, because it calls each one, with his vocation and originality, to contribute in building the Body of Christ: “The Eucharist is not a Sacrament “for me,” it is the Sacrament of many that form one body, the holy faithful people of God.” We must not forget, therefore, that it is first of all the liturgy that expresses the pietas of all the people of God, prolonged then by pious exercises and devotions that we know with the name of popular piety, to be appreciated and encouraged in harmony with the liturgy. The liturgy is life and not an idea to understand. In fact it leads to living an initiating experience, which is transformative in the way of thinking and behaving, and not to enrich one’s baggage of ideas on God. Liturgical worship “is not first of all a doctrine to understand or a rite to carry out; it is, of course, also this but in another way, it is essentially different: it is a source of life and of light for our journey of faith.”
There is no need to create a dichotomy between “an idea to understand” and “life”. The Sacred Liturgy — the real one, that is — is both; and in fact, by saying that liturgy is life (an expression conveniently vague), Francis is defining it and thereby confirming that it is indeed an idea to understand, else he could not and would not give a definition of it.
What we see here is Francis’ penchant for existentalism, the error condemned by Pope Pius XII, which “concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences” (Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 6). Existentialists frown on ideas and care only about the concrete, lived, individual experience. Hence Francis scornfully disses non-existentialist concepts of liturgy as a way of “enrich[ing] one’s baggage of ideas on God”! What a despicable way to speak!
Spiritual reflections are something different from the liturgy, which “is in fact to enter in the mystery of God; to let oneself be led to the mystery and to be in the mystery.” There is a good difference between saying that God exists and feeling that God loves us, as we are, now and here. In liturgical prayer we experience communion signified not by an abstract thought but by an action that has for agents God and us, Christ and the Church.
Notice the constant emphasis on feeling and experience. This is essential for Modernists, for “everything in their system is explained by inner impulses or necessities” (Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, n. 21).
The rites and the prayers (cf. SC , 48) for what they are and not for the explanations we give them, become therefore a school of Christian life, open to all who have open ears, eyes and heart to learn the vocation and the mission of Jesus’ disciples. That is in line with the mystagogic catechesis practiced by the Fathers, taken up also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which treats of the liturgy, of the Eucharist and of the other Sacraments in the light of the texts and rites of today’s liturgical books.
The Church is truly alive if, forming one living being with Christ, she is bearer of life, is maternal, is missionary, goes out to encounter the neighbor, solicitous of serving without chasing after worldly powers that render her sterile. Therefore, celebrating the holy mysteries recalls Mary, the Virgin of the Magnificat, contemplating in her “as in a most pure image, what the whole of her desires and hopes to be” (SC, 103).
Finally, we canot forget that the richness of the Church at prayer in as much as “catholic” goes beyond the Roman Rite that, although being the most extensive, is not the only one. The harmony of the ritual traditions of the East and West, by the breath of the same Spirit gives voice to the one praying Church for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, to the glory of the Father and for the salvation of the world.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your visit and I encourage those in charge of the Center of Liturgical Action to continue having faith in the original inspiration, that of serving the prayer of the holy people of God. In fact, the Center of Liturgical Action has always been distinguished for the care it gives to the liturgical pastoral, in fidelity to the indications of the Apostolic See as well as of the Bishops and enjoying their support. The long experience of the Liturgical Weeks, held in numerous dioceses of Italy, together with the “Liturgy” review, has helped to promote the liturgical renewal in the life of the parishes, of seminaries and of religious communities. Toil has not been lacking, nor has joy! It is again this commitment that I ask of you today: to help the ordained minsters, as well as the other ministers, the cantors, the artists, the musicians to cooperate so that the liturgy is “source and summit of the vitality of the Church” (Cf. SC, 10). I ask you, please, to pray for me and I impart to you from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.
(Source: “Pope’s Address to the 68th National Italian Liturgical Week”, Zenit, Aug. 24, 2017)
In addresses and documents like this, the Novus Ordo antipopes always like to use exalted language, such as the liturgy being “source and summit of the vitality of the Church”, as Francis said above, quoting Vatican II. If you want to know what Francis and his Modernist predecessors really believe(d) about liturgy, just look at how they act(ed):
- Monster-ance: Francis at Fatima
- Francis tells Altar Boy to treat Holy Mass as a Joke
- “Cardinal” Bergoglio’s Tango “Mass”
- “Cardinal” Bergoglio’s Children’s “Mass”
- “Pope” John Paul II and World Youth Day Liturgies
- John Paul II receives Offertory Gifts from Topless Woman at “Papal Mass” CAUTION! Nudity
- At “Papal Mass” for John Paul II, bare-breasted Woman reads Epistle CAUTION! Nudity
If that is the “highest act of worship” in the Novus Ordo Sect, we really don’t want to see what the lesser acts of worship look like.
This concludes our direct commentary on Francis’ address to the Italian Liturgical Week, but before we end this post, there are a few more general thoughts we would like to offer.
Aside from the usual disputations about what Francis “really meant” by what he said about the Novus Ordo liturgical revolution being “irreversible”, the much more significant question is what motivated him to say it in the first place. Why did Francis feel the need to emphasize that the Novus Ordo Liturgy would never go back to what it was before Vatican II?
In the context of recent events, this could be taken as a reinforcement of his sudden about-face with regard to the Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X, which was unexpectedly told in June that if they ever hoped to be in “full communion” with the Modernist Sect, then they would have to declare not only that the Novus Ordo Missae is valid (which they do, for the most part) but also that it is licit, that is, genuinely Catholic, a stance that would betray everything the Lefebvrists have said about the New Mass from the very beginning.
Francis’ words could also be taken as another step in the direction of abolishing Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum and granting to the Society of St. Pius X, once reconciled, the exclusive right to offer the “Traditional Latin Mass” (i.e. the Indult Mass according to the 1962 Missal) — something that had recently been rumored as being in the works.
This supposition is underscored by the fact that with all the documents and Popes (both real and fake ones) cited by Francis in his address, the Argentinian apostate conspicuously omitted “Pope” Benedict XVI and his famous motu proprio — a less-than-subtle hint that if he has his way, the Indult Mass as they know it is history.
With regard to Francis’ invocation of his supposed “magisterial authority” to declare that the Modernist liturgical changes are “irreversible”, this won’t faze the semi-traditionalists in the least. They have long given up on the idea that the Pope teaches and directs them — which, by the way, is the doctrine of the First Vatican Council –; they effectively believe that they teach and direct the Pope. All the stuff about “non-magisterial”, “not official”, “non-binding”, “unauthorized translation” and what not is just window dressing for the simple fact that they do not believe in the dogmatic teaching of Vatican I about the power of the Pope:
If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.
(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus; Denz. 1831)
This ought to make it clear that the only way to uphold the Catholic teaching of the Papacy is to dump Francis. He is not the Pope of the Catholic Church because he cannot possibly be. Realizing this easily-ascertainable truth is not a usurpation of authority, nor is it engaging in “private judgment”. It is simply applying a truth of the Catholic Faith to the known facts about Jorge Mario Bergoglio. To claim that this is impermissible is to render useless the rule of Faith: “Of what use would be the rule of faith and morals if in every particular case the faithful could not of themselves make the immediate application, or if they were constantly obliged to consult the Pope or the diocesan pastor?” asked Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany in his book Liberalism is a Sin (see Chapter 32), which received the endorsement of the Holy See under Pope Leo XIII.
It is possible that the Church should be without a Pope for a time. It is not possible that the Church should defect. By saying that we have not had a Pope since Pius XII (d. 1958), we are merely asserting what is possible, in order to keep from claiming what is impossible, namely, that the abominable Vatican II Sect should be the glorious, infallible, and indefectible Roman Catholic Church of our Blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promised to be with her until the end of time (cf. Mt 28:20).
Image source: Flickr
License: public domain