It has been forty years—a biblically significant forty years—since Fr. James Wathen's earth-shattering analysis of the New Mass first went to print. During this time we Catholics have witnessed many things, both with regard to the rough and un- pastoral manner of the Novus Ordo Missae's implementation, and the outright persecution and “excommunication” of those who would remain faithful to it, the Faith, and their Oath Against Modernism.
Recently, however, we have seen certain apparent concessions granted by the hierarchy to those of us who are “attached” to the ancient Mass; these concessions include Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, as well as a newly translated vernacular version of the Novus Ordo. Many Catholics, undoubtedly, are overjoyed that someone in Rome appears to be “listening” to our voices, voices crying in this ecclesiastical wilderness these past four decades. While these “changes” and apparent victories serve to thrill many Catholics, and are perhaps even disarming to some, readers of this work (a work written at the very advent of the Novus Ordo) will not be so quick to celebrate.
The apparent concession of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio that the True Mass has never been abrogated, and that any priest can say it (under certain circumstances), has indeed been a cause of great joy among
many Catholics. However, so few seem to recognize (or perhaps refuse to discuss) the fact that in the Motu Proprio and the accompanying letter, the Pontiff states emphatically that the New Mass is just as much a proper profession of the Catholic Faith as the Old, and that they are to be held by Catholics as “equal”.
The second great “concession” which has many Catholics’ attention is the recent re-translation of the Novus Ordo into the vernacular. It appears that, after forty years of liturgical dreaming, someone suddenly woke up and realized that the English translation of the New Mass was so poorly executed (either by intention or incompetence—either one of which should have disqualified the translators), that a nearly ten year endeavor to “fix” these mistakes must be undertaken. It is ironic that “conservative” Catholics judge these changes to be good insofar as it causes the New Mass to more resemble the True Mass. In other words, whether they admit it or not, the True Catholic Mass is, by default, the benchmark of Orthodoxy and true, fitting Divine Worship.
Regardless of what appears to be good in these recent changes, faithful Catholics everywhere recognize that, until the Pope reissues Quo Primum, and affixes his hand and seal to it, nothing has really changed in the world of the Conciliar Church.
THE LOSS OF THE OLD MASS by Fr. Wathen
It is well known that I am one of the few priests alive who have raised the issue of the morality of the Novus Ordo Missae. It is rather curious that most Traditionalist priests avoid this issue as if it were an infectious virus. The issue, however, cannot be avoided because it is absolutely basic and essential to our unhappy situation as disenfranchised Catholics; basic, because the morality of any act is the first thing a human being, as a creature of God, must determine: is this act a sin or not? After this question has been answered, other questions can be addressed: is this act advisable, dangerous, ridiculous, etc.?
The question is essential because every Catholic of the Roman Rite must decide what he is going to do in the present crisis in the Church, and where he is going to Mass is the central question. That every Catholic must go to Holy Mass is a most serious obligation; those who exempt themselves will have to answer God for it, and He will not be bedazzled by anyone’s homegrown theology. I repeat for the sake of emphasis that everyone must assist at Mass on all Sundays and holydays, if he can reasonably do so.
The most often he cannot, the more urgent it is that he do so the following Sunday. A person may not exempt himself if Mass is available, that is if Mass is being offered with due reverence by a validly ordained priest. The priest’s faulty theology does not exempt the lay person, as priests cannot be expected to be infallible and, whatever their real or imagined learning, lay people, with proper humility, must put it aside, in order to offer due worship to almighty God.
The single exception is a case in which the priest requires that those in attendance formally assent to some theological aberration, such as “the three baptism,” or “Sedevacantism,” or the priest’s juridical authority over all present, or the authority and Catholicity of the Second Vatican Council, or the acceptableness of the New Mass, or something of this kind. Any theological reasoning which exempts a Catholic from attending Mass when he could and should be there is of the Devil.
In 1970, despite my theological limitations, I presumed to treat the morality of the New Mass in the book, The Great Sacrilege.** Since, then, I have made an effort to convince everyone I spoke to that, under pain of mortal sin, he must not go to the New Mass for any reason whatsoever, even for weddings, funerals, and such things. The number of traditionalist Catholics who accept this position is probably in exact proportion to the priests who maintain it, which is very few.
I bring the subject up here on the chance that some reading this have never come to grips with the issue, because their priests refuse to do so. I have simplified my argument over the years, because the question has been reduced to this: either saying the New Mass or attending is a mortal sin of sacrilege, or it is not. If it is a mortal sin, then it is a mortal sin always, like perjury and grand larceny. There are no situations nor conditions when attendance is not sinful. If saying the New Mass, or attending it, is not mortally sinful, then it is a good and obligatory act, and all are bound to be content with it, regardless of its innumerable faults.
If the New Mass is not intrinsically bad, it is intrinsically good – it is now in all its renderings and evolutionary mutations the Mass of the Roman Rite, and the Church has the right to command us to accept it as such. Interestingly, priests who refuse to pronounce the New Mass a sacrilege protest that they would not offer the New Mass under the threat of death, presumably because to do so would be a grave compromise of their faith. They must answer why offering the New Mass is a totally different moral species from attending it. Such priests advise against, even warn against, going to the New Mass, but they do not forbid it under pain of serious sin.
They classify the New Mass as “an occasion of sin,” by which they mean that at the New Mass, attendants hear things and see things which could be detrimental to their faith. Our arguments against the New Mass, the reasons we contend that it is a sacrilege, may be termed external and internal. The external argument is the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum of Pope St. Pius V. For the honest person, there is not the slightest chance that the rulings and anathemas of this pontifical bull do not apply to the Novus Ordo Missae; if the law can be broken, those who gave us the New Mass broke it!
Neither can the condemnations issued therein be construed as anything other or less than authoritative and mortal. The only counter argument that revolutionists in the Church ever brought against this conclusion is that “what Pope Pius V established, Pope Paul VI could legally put aside, override, abrogate, annul, etc.” This argument puts most people to silence, because they did not know how to say, or that they could and should say: this defense is entirely false! One pope cannot annul any and every law promulgated by any and all his predecessors back to St. Peter. As anyone with any sense would say: obviously, there are some things which a pope may change and some things he may not. The seriousness of the matter decides the case.
Pope St. Pius V indicates in the strongest language possible that this law could most certainly never be contravened or set aside by his successors. I give a couple of examples:
Furthermore, by these presents, in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, we grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the changing or reading of the Mass in any church [of the Roman Rite] 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 order or by whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is to be forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force. Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this letter or heedlessly to venture to go contrary to this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul [the special patrons of the Roman Rite]. – Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum of Pope St. Pius V; July 14, 1570
Anyone who says that these words do not mean what they say and have no perpetual binding force is saying that there are no words which have such force. He is saying, furthermore, that a sinister and revolutionary pope, such as Pope Paul VI was, can legally, though not morally, abrogate all the laws of the Church, except those relating to the natural law and the Ten Commandments, and every Catholic is bound in conscience to accept this. In a word, the Church has no way to establish anything in perpetuity, nor any way to defend itself against enemies within its bosom.
It should not be necessary, but I insert here that, with regard to the Mass, one should not introduce the subject of papal infallibility, as it is non-applicable in this case. Papal infallibility has to do with teaching, not deciding liturgical matters, even the Divine Liturgy itself. The internal argument against the New Mass is a consideration of what the New Mass is. It should be sufficient to say that the New Mass is not the Old Mass; it is not merely a translation of the Old Mass; it is not a revision or an update, or a modernization of the Old Mass. It is not even a corrupted form of the Old Mass. It is a new thing, a new form, a new creation.
Regardless of its resemblance to the Old Mass, it is not a “Mass” at all but a weapon! The reason we are able to say this is that the theology of the New Mass is completely different from the Old Mass. Its purpose – its reason for being – is completely different and positively antithetic to the Old Mass. Unless a person is able to grasp and accept this fact, he will continue to deny that it is a sacrilege, and maintain that he and everyone else may attend it as his whimsy directs him.
The purpose of the Old Mass is to offer the sacrifice of Calvary anew in a sacramental ritual. The central and supreme purpose of the New Mass is to destroy the Old Mass by muscling it out of existence. A second and ancillary purpose of the New Mass is to teach the people the anti-religion of the Conciliar Revolution: the humanism, modernism, liberalism, and anti-Catholicism of the Council. That it has accomplished its purposes is proved by the condition of the Church today.
That it is what those who instituted the New Mass intended is proved by the fact that, in the face of the destruction of the faith of the people, they continue to promote and protect the New Mass with their juridical power, and to persecute those who hold fast to the traditional Faith. And they continue adamantly to perpetuate the lie that the old and true Mass has been banned.
The great problem many people have is seeing things that they are looking at. There is little or no harm in such blindness or obscurantism in the case of lesser matters, such as not perceiving that “modern art” is anti-art, or not recognizing that America is a socialist police state. Not seeing the deliberate and determined drive to destroy the Mass, when the fact is so blatant and undeniable, is gravely culpable. The chief difficulty in not seeing the obvious in this case is that the perpetrators are the popes, bishops, and the priests of the last thirty-six years. One must put aside all consideration of the supposed eminence and honorableness of those who have brought such evils upon us and focus on the evils themselves, beginning with the Novus Ordo Missae. A much more serious problem is that many people, even at this late date, do not know of the existence of the World Conspiracy which is masterminded by Satan himself. Satan wants to destroy all things good, but especially the supernatural life of men who are one with Christ in the Church. The way to destroy this life of grace is to destroy their faith and the holy Mass, which is our primary source of grace. The Mass is that act by which the mystical Christ, the “Whole Christ,” to use St. Augustine’s expression, Christ, the eternal high priest, with all those who are one with Him by Baptism and the Eucharist, offers His incarnate divinity to the Father in adoration and love.
This ritual act, celebrated in countless places all over the world, was the source of all the grace which men received through the Holy Ghost for their conversion and salvation. Before the New Mass, this Mass was offered in hundreds of thousands of churches and chapels everywhere. “From the rising of the sun till the going down thereof,” Christ offered Himself for men, in atonement, in supplication, and in worship. Due to the New Mass, with the exception of those priests and people who dare to defy the True Mass-haters who have temporary control of things, the true Sacrifice has been swept from the earth.
What is called the New Mass is more offensive to God than all the Protestant services and pagan rites of the world, because it mimics and mocks the all-holy Sacrifice, and perfidiously deceives those in attendance at the same time. It is the superlative act of lawlessness and hypocrisy, pretending to be a prayer, when it is nothing but a burlesque and a charade.
That is what it is, regardless of the good intentions of the presiding clergyman and his trusting people. A great degree of the evil of the New Mass is in its deception of well-meaning people, although after so long a time very little excuse can be made for them. If all the light throughout the world were to be extinguished, so that there was only darkness both day and night, it would not be a greater tragedy than the suppression of the true Mass. This has been the Devil’s ambition and goal since the Last Supper: to rid the world of the hated Sacrifice, against which he is powerless.
Nothing could be more offensive to God or injurious to men than what our religious superiors have done. Consider all the sins of the world: all the blasphemies, the impurities, the cruelties, the incessant, needless wars, the murders, the divorces, the abortions, the lies, the betrayals, the abandonment of God, and on and on. All these things are nothing compared to the loss of the Holy Mass, because it is through the Mass that forgiveness and mercy is gained for the world; it is through the Mass that God is worthily honored despite all.
** Bishop Salvador Lazo said that it was after reading The Great Sacrilege when he finally decided he must abandon the Novus Ordo and become Traditional.