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First Invalid Masses in United States

Unhappy Anniversary:
50 Years since “Black Sunday”

The year of our Lord 2017 has proven to be a year of significant anniversaries, both positive and negative. Another such is today: Sunday, October 22, 1967, was the first time that the Vatican II Sect in the United States mandated the use of a New Canon (“Eucharistic Prayer”) at Mass — a “canon” which included modified words of consecration and was recited entirely in the vernacular.

On Mar. 12, 1968, Fr. Lawrence S. Brey (1927-2006), a priest in the archdiocese of Milwaukee, summed up the problem with Black Sunday as follows:

Was October 22, 1967 the most ominous and frightening day in the two-thousand-year history of the Catholic Church, and certainly in the history of the Church in the United States of America?  Did that day see a legalized contradiction of hitherto inviolate decrees and norms guarding the Canon of the Mass?  Did it possibly even bring a new era of darkness into the world, the extinguishing of the true sacrificial and sacramental Eucharistic Christ from the majority of our churches?

During the early days of agitation for the introduction of the Vernacular into the Mass, and even during the climax of the movement, when the matter was debated at the First Session of Vatican Council II (1962), Catholics were always assured that even if the vernacular should be introduced, the Canon would remain untouched, in its centuries-old, inviolate Latin form.  And rightly so, for the Canon is the heart and center and essence of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  But since the 1963 Liturgy Constitution’s granting of permission to employ the vernacular in some parts of the Mass, a literal cascade of subsequent changes and increased vernacularization has now culminated in the introduction of the new, “English Canon,” yielding what is, in effect, an all-vernacular Mass, (notwithstanding Article 36 of that same Constitution and the decrees of the Council of Trent).  Thus, that which was heretofore and for thirteen centuries considered inviolate has now been touched and disturbingly altered.  Something ominously different from the Canon we have always known now occupies the heart and center of our Catholic Worship.

Not since the introduction of the vernacular in parts of the Mass in 1964, has so much protest, with so many intense misgivings, been engendered, as has been by the introduction of this new, English Canon.  How, infinitely more thundering this protest would be were it not for the fact that the clergy and the faithful have been gradually “conditioned” by change after change in recent years, – perhaps to the point of expecting change as the order of the day and the “mind of the Church”!

There are three main classes of objections to the new, English Canon: (1) That it contains many omissions, mistranslations and distortions, which offend against Catholic reverence, piety, and the integrity of the Faith.  (2) That it is illicit, i.e., in violation of enduring and unrescinded decrees and teachings of previous Councils and Popes.  (3) That it is invalid, i.e., that because of some radical mutilation it no longer confects or produces the true Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist.  Such an alleged invalidity is by far the gravest and most crucial of all the objections, though this view is not shared by many or most of the Canon’s critics.  It is to the question of the validity of the “new Canon” – in the light of a mutilation of the Form of Consecration – that Patrick Henry Omlor devotes this treatise, “Questioning the Validity.”

(Source; italics given.)

Fr. Brey wrote these words in his foreword to a study written by the erudite layman Patrick Henry Omlor (1931-2013), which argued very convincingly that the new, all-English words of consecration rendered such “Masses” invalid. The study can be read here:

This work was the first but by no means the last of Omlor’s contributions to an ever more turbulent theological landscape. A number of his monographs specifically dealing with the Mass controversy can still be found online here, including rejoinders to Mgr. John F. McCarthy, who was challenging Omlor’s case on the invalidity of the form of consecration contained in the New Canon.

Keep in mind that Black Sunday took place approximately one-and-a-half years before the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated by Antipope Paul VI (Apr. 3, 1969). The rite in use at the time was the interim missal of 1965, sometimes called the “Hybrid Mass” because it was truly a hybrid between the traditional Latin Mass and what would eventually be known as the “New Mass”.

The 1965 missal at first had retained the traditional Roman Canon in Latin, but on Apr. 13, 1967, Paul VI authorized the national bishops’ conferences to decide on the use of the vernacular:

The competent territorial authority observing those matters contained in the Constitution on the Liturgy art. 36, § 3 and § 4 may authorize use of the vernacular in liturgies celebrated with a congregation for:

a. The canon of the Mass;

b. all the rites of holy orders;

c. the reading of the divine office, even in choral recitation.

In the audience granted 13 April 1967 to the undersigned Cardinal Arcadio Maria Larrona, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, Pope Paul VI approved and confirmed by his authority the present instruction as a whole and in all its parts, ordering its publication and its faithful observance by all concerned, beginning 29 June 1967.

(Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Tres Abhinc Annos, n. 28)

In 1997, Omlor published a collection of all of his theological writings in one volume, entitled The Robber Church (available for purchase here or read online here). Fr. Brey once again wrote the foreword:

THIRTY YEARS have passed since Black Sunday, and soon it will be thirty years since the “Emerald Sunday” of March 17, 1968, when QTV [=Omlor’s Questioning the Validity of the Masses using the New, All-English Canon] was first released. In precision, logic, brevity and freedom from encumbering frills Patrick Henry Omlor’s writings stand out among most others on the subject. These are qualities that characterized the writings and method of St. Thomas Aquinas, the role model for theologians and thinkers, and the nemesis of the obfuscators.

The theological documentation and reasoning in QTV led to a strong probability of invalidity, and that is all that the author contended at the time. But in retrospect, by re-studying and continually researching the matter, applying new insights and considering the FRUITS of this mutilated mass, one realizes that the conclusion becomes not just probable but all the more certain.

(Source; italics given.)

It has now been as many as 50 years, and the fruits of the “New Mass” have become ever more obvious.

It was truly a black Sunday, the darkness of which continues to this day. However, we have the infallible certitude that this darkness will once again be dispelled, at the precise moment God has decreed from all eternity: “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (Jn 1:5).