Friday, September 28, 2018

Traditional Latin Mass vs. Novus Ordo, Part 7: Conclusion

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: A brief history
Part 2: First half of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 3: The rest of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 4: The key differences
Part 5: Liturgical abuse
Part 6: The new Divine Office and sacraments

The Novus Ordo Mass, Divine Office, and sacraments are therefore inferior in form to the traditional liturgies. Sacred tradition is one of the fundamental pillars on which the Church is built. The traditional Latin Mass was constructed over more than a thousand years of sacred tradition, the devotion of the faithful, and the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Novus Ordo completely disregards all of this. It represents a striking break with tradition. The fact that Church leaders have the authority to make these changes does not mean that the changes are prudent, pleasing to God, or beneficial for the faithful. I argue that they are none of these things. In addition to the break with tradition, there are several other key traits of the Novus Ordo that make it inferior to the traditional Latin Mass, Divine Office, and sacraments:

  • The Novus Ordo has a horizontal focus instead of a vertical focus. The people have a more prominent and central role than God. The priest even turns his back to the crucifix and tabernacle to face the people during the Mass.
  • The infallible truth of the Catholic faith has been marginalized. The Novus Ordo no longer reflects certain key parts of the faith, for example:
    • The Novus Ordo Mass does not feel like a sacrifice. Nearly all mention of a sacrifice has been removed. There is no longer an Offertory, but rather a Preparation of the Gifts.
    • The Blessed Sacrament is no longer treated as divine. Much of the reverence given to the Blessed Sacrament, such as the priest keeping his forefingers and thumbs joined, has been abolished.
    • A lot of veneration of saints is abolished. Most of the saints were removed from the Confiteor and the new Eucharistic Prayers. In addition, we did not mention this previously, but many feasts of saints were either removed from the calendar or made optional.
  • Many of these compromises on matters of faith represent Protestant sentiments creeping into the liturgy.
  • The dignity of the priesthood is diminished by delegating the priestly roles to the laity. In particular, lay people are now allowed to distribute Communion, a role traditionally reserved to the ordained.
  • Instead of the Church's sacred and universal language of Latin, the liturgies are now usually conducted in the vernacular, which makes the liturgy more casual and introduces the problem of translation.
  • The Divine Office is much shorter and does away with ancient traditions, such as the hours of Matins and Prime and singing all 150 psalms in a week.
  • The Novus Ordo censors the Word of God in the Divine Office and the nuptial Mass by removing whatever does not appeal to Modernist sentiments.
  • The rubrics of the Novus Ordo are extremely vague and poorly written. This has led to the false idea that the rubrics are optional, and it has opened the door to all sorts of liturgical abuse. It has also made it very difficult and frustrating to describe the Novus Ordo liturgy accurately in this series of articles.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. However, given these facts, one cannot reasonably deny that the Novus Ordo is inferior and damaging to the faithful.

One of the core principles of Catholic liturgy is lex orandi, lex credendithe law of prayer is the law of belief. This means that the liturgy must reflect the Catholic faith. This is perhaps the most basic standard of quality for a liturgy—whether or not it actually represents the religion it purports to profess. The traditional Latin Mass, Divine Office, and sacraments all beautifully represent the Catholic faith in a way that could only be constructed by divine guidance. This is part of why the Mass is so essential to the Catholic religion. When Catholicism was persecuted in England under Queen Elizabeth I, the authorities targeted the Mass. Many holy martyrs willingly died to defend the traditional Latin Mass.

The Novus Ordo, on the other hand, does a very poor job of reflecting the Catholic faith. It fails the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi. As we have seen, the Novus Ordo Mass better reflects Protestant and Modernist sentiments than the Catholic faith. In fact, the Novus Ordo Mass is almost indistinguishable from Anglican and Lutheran liturgies. If one of the English martyrs who died to defend the traditional Latin Mass saw the Novus Ordo Mass, he would not recognize it as the Mass that he died to defend. He might recognize it as the Anglican worship that he died to defend against.

A Mass that does not reflect the true Catholic faith cannot possibly be the best choice to foster the true Catholic faith in the hearts of people. In the years since the Novus Ordo was introduced, there has been a gradually worsening crisis in the human element of the Church. The Catholic population has been steeply declining throughout North America and Europe. According to a study by Georgetown University, in 1965, 65% of Catholics attended Mass most Sundays. In 2013, only 24% of Catholics attended Mass most Sundays. In addition, many Catholics are either uneducated in the faith or willfully reject the faith. Nearly half of Catholics do not believe in transubstantiation.

Vocations to the priesthood and religious life have also been seriously hurt. In 1965, there were 58,000 priests in the United States. In 2013, there were 38,800. In 1965, there were 994 ordinations to the priesthood in the U.S. In 2013, there were only 511. In the Archdiocese of Seattle, there are currently 115 priests and 144 parishes. Many priests have to serve multiple parishes, because there are simply not enough priests.

Meanwhile, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), a society of priests who exclusively offer the traditional Latin Mass, has been flourishing. The FSSP around the world is about the size of a large diocese. In 2017, it had 287 priests and 150 seminarians. This past May, twenty-one new priests were ordained for the FSSP. This fall, twenty-eight men are beginning their studies at the FSSP's two seminaries. While the average age of priests in the United States is 63, the average age of FSSP priests is 38. The typical FSSP parish on a Sunday morning is packed with lots of families, children, and adults of all ages. Other traditionalist societies have similar results.

All this is to say that God is taking care of his Church. The Novus Ordo Mass is declining, and the traditional Latin Mass is thriving. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). The fruits of the Novus Ordo Mass are lower Mass attendance, weakened faith, and far fewer priests. The fruits of the traditional Latin Mass are thriving parishes with strong faith and many vocations to the priesthood. It is clear, then, which form of the Mass is more pleasing to God and more beneficial for the faithful.

Fortunately, since the Novus Ordo was introduced, there have been large groups of people who realize its critical faults and adhere to the traditional Latin Mass. They form the traditionalist movement, which keeps the traditional Latin Mass alive. Unfortunately, the great variety of such groups can make it difficult to discern which parishes that offer the traditional Latin Mass licitly. The entire history of the traditionalist movement is a story for another time, but there are three main categories into which traditionalist groups fall.

The first category comprises those groups who are obedient to canon law and in good standing with the Pope. Most prominent among these groups is the FSSP. I personally attend an FSSP parish. Another such group is the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (variously abbreviated ICRSS, ICRSP, or ICKSP). In addition, some ordinary diocesan priests offer the traditional Latin Mass. Diocesan Latin Masses can sometimes have problems stemming from the priest's or the faithful's unfamiliarity with the traditional form of the Mass, but in general, they are fine to attend. If you live in the United States, you can find a directory of Latin Masses in good standing with the Pope here.

The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) comprises the second category. They are similar to the FSSP, and they accept the authority of the Pope. However, they have always had a rocky relationship with Church authorities. Most notoriously, in 1988, their founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops against the Pope's orders. Since then, the SSPX has existed in a sort of legal gray area. Their Masses are perfectly fine Catholic Masses that will fulfill one's Sunday obligation (a fact that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Vatican's commission for matters related to the traditional Mass, has explicitly affirmed), and since 2015, it is even okay to go to an SSPX priest for confession, but I would caution against making an SSPX parish your regular parish.

Comprising the third category are those groups who have taken it upon themselves to declare all of the Popes since Vatican II to be formal heretics and thus not true Popes. This position is known as sedevacantism. There are several problems with it, but the biggest is that the average Catholic does not have the authority to declare the Pope a heretic. In fact, declaring the Pope a heretic and starting a new sect that purports to be the true Church is not a new concept in history. It is Protestantism. One may disagree with the Pope's decisions, but fidelity and obedience to the Pope are not optional. For these reasons, I must advise against attending Masses offered by sedevacantist communities. Notable sedevacantist communities include the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI), the Society of Saint Pius V (SSPV), and many small, independent communities. Like Protestantism, sedevacantism is very divided and sectarian.

To summarize the various traditionalist groups (and note that this is not an exhaustive list):

Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP)
Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICRSS/ICRSP/ICKSP)
Traditional Latin Mass at a diocesan parish
Probably good
Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX)
Proceed with caution
Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI)
Society of Saint Pius V (SSPV)
Independent sedevacantist communities

As I mentioned in the first part of this series, the Novus Ordo is still a valid Mass. It is still a participation in Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross, and the bread and wine are still transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Novus Ordo Mass may even inspire faith and devotion in the faithful. Furthermore, the Popes and other Church officials who have promoted the Novus Ordo Mass always had and continue to have legitimate authority in the Church. Popes St. John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis are all valid Popes, with the full authority of the Successor of Saint Peter and the Vicar of Jesus Christ. I am not a sedevacantist in any way, shape, or form. The Novus Ordo happens to be an inferior form of the Mass, but it is still a valid Mass.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:14, St. Paul exhorts the Christian faithful to “hold the traditions you have learned.” The traditional Latin Mass is exemplary of the Church's sacred tradition. It is a beautiful display of the Catholic faith that has kindled the devotion of thousands of saints. I strongly urge all of my readers to find a parish that offers the traditional form of the Mass, because it is much more effective at uniting one's soul to God than the Novus Ordo. Our ultimate goal is to become saints, and the traditional Latin Mass is an indisputably better means toward sainthood than the Novus Ordo Mass.

New terms
  • lex orandi, lex credendi “The law of prayer is the law of belief,” meaning Catholic liturgy should reflect the Catholic faith.
  • Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) – A prominent society of priests who offer the traditional Latin Mass, Divine Office, and sacraments while maintaining a positive relationship with the Holy See.
  • Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) – A society of priests similar to the FSSP, except that they have a very difficult relationship with the Holy See.
  • sedevacantism – The false position that all Popes since Vatican II are heretics and not true Popes.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Traditional Latin Mass vs. Novus Ordo, Part 6: The new Divine Office and sacraments

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: A brief history
Part 2: First half of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 3: The rest of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 4: The key differences
Part 5: Liturgical abuse

In addition to the radical revisions to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office and all seven sacraments were also heavily revised. These revisions represent many of the same trends that the revisions to the Mass represent, such as a horizontal rather than vertical focus and de-emphasis on infallible Catholic doctrine.

Like the Novus Ordo Mass, the Novus Ordo Divine Office and sacraments attempt to revert to ancient practices, but in this regard they fail completely. The new forms of the Divine Office and sacraments are even more novel than the Mass, and at no point do they have even the slightest resemblance to any ancient practices.

The Novus Ordo Divine Office is entitled the Liturgy of the Hours. Like the traditional Divine Office, its purpose is to be our sacrifice of praise to God, to sanctify each part of the day through prayer and psalms, and to supplement the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. However, the new Liturgy of the Hours is drastically shorter than the traditional Divine Office. If you are not familiar with the traditional Divine Office, you can read our series about it from last July. The traditional Divine Office consists of the hours of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. The sequence of hours in the Liturgy of the Hours is as follows.
  • The Office of Readings, which roughly corresponds to the traditional Matins, but may be sung at any time of day.
  • Lauds, also called Morning Prayer.
  • Daytime Prayer, corresponding to three of the four little hours of the traditional Divine Office. Daytime Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours consists of Terce (“Mid-Morning Prayer”), Sext (“Mid-Day Prayer”), and None (“Mid-Afternoon Prayer”).
  • Vespers, also called Evening Prayer.
  • Compline, also called Night Prayer.

Except for the Office of Readings, each of the hours has a descriptive English name in addition to its traditional name. For example, the evening office is called both Vespers and Evening Prayer. The traditional hour of Prime, which has been part of the Divine Office since AD 382, is completely suppressed. This is yet another example of the reckless destruction of ancient traditions in the Novus Ordo. It also means that the martyrology is no longer part of the Church's liturgy, so many thousands of saints who have been canonized by the Church are now completely neglected. The rubrics of the Liturgy of the Hours are given in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH).

Like the traditional Divine Office, the most important part of the Liturgy of the Hours is the singing of psalms. However, as mentioned before, the Liturgy of the Hours is much, much shorter than the traditional Divine Office, and each hour has far fewer psalms. In the traditional Divine Office, there are nine psalms or portions of psalms at Matins, four at Lauds, three each at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, five at Vespers, and three at Compline, for a total of thirty-three psalms per day or 231 per week. Thus, in one week, all 150 psalms are sung. In the Liturgy of the Hours, there are three psalms at the Office of Readings, two at Lauds, three at Daytime Prayer, two at Vespers, and one or two at Compline. The ancient tradition of reciting all 150 psalms in a week is suppressed. Instead, the psalter is sung on a four-week cycle.

Even over the course of the four weeks, the entire Book of Psalms is not sung in the Liturgy of the Hours. Psalms 57, 82, and 108, along with various verses of many other psalms, are omitted, because they have the character of cursing one's enemies. This is among the most preposterous of the Novus Ordo revisions. The reformers took it upon themselves to censor the Word of God, removing whatever did not please them. This is pure, unbridled Modernism. Men have placed themselves above God and their own sentimentality above the divine truth. As Catholics, we have a solemn duty to curse and renounce all enemies of God, just as King David did in these psalms. It is tragic that the Church's own sacred liturgy fails in this duty.

In addition to the psalms, hymns composed by the Church have been used in the Divine Office for centuries. Many saints, such as St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas, wrote beautiful hymns for the Divine Office. Unfortunately, the hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours are a confusing mess. In saner times, the Vatican would publish an editio typica (“typical edition”) of every liturgical book, and all other editions published anywhere in the world had to conform to the editio typica. In the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours, the hymns in the English translated editions do not conform to the Vatican editio typica. They do not even conform to other English editions. Every publisher of an English edition of the Liturgy of the Hours chooses English hymns to include. These hymns often include religious songs that are not sacred music and not appropriate for the liturgy. Many editions even include hymns composed by Martin Luther! This is a manifestation of the Modernist idea of placing sentiment above truth. People like these songs, so why not include them in the sacred liturgy? It is wrong and dangerous to make liturgical decisions based on the people's will instead of God's will.

Office of Readings

The Office of Readings is a new invention in the Novus Ordo. It replaces the hour of Matins, which has been celebrated since time immemorial. Unlike Matins, the Office of Readings is not a night office, though the GILH suggests that it be observed as such in religious communities. It may be sung at any time of day. Likewise, the Office of Readings is not divided into nocturns like Matins.

The Invitatory begins the office if and only if it is sung as the first hour of the day. The Invitatory is usually Psalm 94, but there is an option to replace it with Psalm 23, 66, or 99. The Invitatory antiphon is proper to the day. If Lauds has already been sung that day, there is no Invitatory, so the office begins with the traditional opening verse and Gloria Patri. If the Invitatory is sung, then this verse is omitted.

Deus ☩ in adjutórium meum inténde.
Dómine, ad adjuvándum me festína.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen. Allelúia.
O God, ☩ come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

A hymn is sung, followed by three psalms, each with an antiphon. At the end of each psalm, after Gloria Patri but before the repetition of the antiphon, a short prayer specific to the psalm, known as a psalm prayer, may be said, perhaps accompanied by a period of sacred silence. The psalm prayers are composed to aid personal devotion to the psalms. I actually think they are quite lovely.

After the three psalms, there are always two readings. The first is from sacred scripture, and the second is chosen from a variety of texts, such as the writings of Church Fathers or the lives of saints. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are included among the writings of Church Fathers that may be read from. There are no absolutions or blessings before the readings. Each reading is followed by a responsory. The Te Deum, the great hymn of praise composed by Ss. Ambrose and Augustine, is then sung on Sundays outside of Lent and on major feasts. It is even sung on Sundays of Advent, when the Gloria is not sung at Mass, so there is no longer the traditional connection between the Gloria and the Te Deum.

The Office of Readings concludes with a prayer proper to the day. Two options are given for the concluding prayer for each hour of the Liturgy of the Hours except Compline. The first is a prayer proper to the day unique to the Liturgy of the Hours, and the second is the collect of the Mass, so there is the option of continuing the tradition of singing the collect of the Mass at each hour of the Divine Office.


Lauds, or “Morning Prayer,” begins with the Invitatory if the Office of Readings has not yet been sung that day, otherwise it begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium. A hymn proper to the day is then sung. The psalms follow. Unlike the traditional form of Lauds, Novus Ordo Lauds does not have separate schemes of psalms for penitential and non-penitential occasions. One psalm is sung, preceded and followed by an antiphon proper to the day. A psalm prayer may be said after the Gloria Patri. This psalm is followed by a canticle from the Old Testament, with an antiphon. The Old Testament canticle follows the same four-week cycle as the psalms. Like in the traditional Divine Office, the Canticle of the Three Children from Daniel 3:57-88 is sung on Sundays and major feasts. Also like the traditional Divine Office, the canticle is followed by a psalm of a joyful nature.

Next, there is a short reading from sacred scripture, analogous to the capitulum of each hour of the traditional Divine Office, followed by a responsory. The Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah is then sung. Taken from Luke 1:68-79, the Benedictus is Zechariah's hymn of praise at the circumcision of his son, St. John the Baptist. If Lauds is offered solemnly in choir, the altar is incensed during the singing of the Benedictus to demonstrate the connection between the Divine Office and the Mass.

The Benedictus is followed by the Intercessions, a short litany proper to the day offering prayer to God. They are analogous to the preces feriales of the traditional Divine Office. However, unlike the preces, the Intercessions are sung every day. Since Lauds traditionally has a character of giving praise to God, the Intercessions at Lauds give praise and thanksgiving to God and consecrate the day to him. They also take on some of the character of the prayers for the day's work traditionally sung at Prime. Since the Liturgy of the Hours does not have Prime, there is no office specifically for preparing for the day's work, so this intention must be incorporated into Lauds. At the end of the Intercessions, the Our Father is said, followed by the concluding prayer.

Daytime Prayer

Daytime Prayer consists of Terce (“Mid-Morning Prayer”), Sext (“Mid-Day Prayer”), and None (“Mid-Afternoon Prayer”). In religious communities, all three of these hours are offered. However, diocesan priests are only required to offer one of these three hours each day. This destroys the tradition, extending back to the apostles, of offering prayer to God at the third hour, sixth hour, and ninth hour. It weakens the sanctification of the hours of the day that has been entrusted to the clergy since time immemorial. Furthermore, it undermines the mystical connection between the daytime hours and the events of our Lord's Passion. It is unfortunate that the Church has lowered her standards for her clergy.

The hours of Terce, Sext, and None are identical in form. They each begin with the verse Deus in adjutorium and a hymn. Three psalms with one antiphon and, optionally, one psalm prayer are sung. Since each priest is required to offer only one daytime hour, there is only one set of psalms for Daytime Prayer. Additional psalms are given in an appendix in the event that more than one of the daytime hours are offered in a day. After the psalms, there is a short reading from scripture, a versicle and response, and the concluding prayer.


Vespers, or “Evening Prayer,” is the most solemn hour. It is similar in form to Lauds. It begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium and a hymn proper to the day. Two psalms are sung, each with an antiphon and a psalm prayer. Next, a canticle taken from the epistles of the New Testament or from the book of Apocalypse is sung with an antiphon. There are seven such canticles, one for each day of the week. These canticles are a new innovation and did not appear in the traditional Divine Office. After the canticle, there is a short reading from scripture and a responsory. The Magnificat or Canticle of Mary is then sung. The Magnificat is the Blessed Virgin Mary's song of praise when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, taken from Luke 1:46-55. It is followed by the Intercessions, which offer supplication to God for the Church. The final versicle of the Intercessions always prays for the souls in purgatory. Vespers concludes with the Our Father and the concluding prayer.


Compline, or “Night Prayer,” is the final hour of the day. It is sung before bed to prepare ourselves for our sleep that night and for the hour of our death. Compline begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium, followed by an examination of conscience and the same reduced form of the Confiteor used in the Novus Ordo Mass. This is opposed to the traditional Divine Office, in which the examination of conscience and Confiteor precede the opening verse. A hymn follows. One or two psalms are sung, with one antiphon and no psalm prayer. The psalms of Sunday (either Psalms 4 and 133 or Psalm 90 alone) may be used any day.

There is then a short reading from scripture proper to the day of the week. It is followed by the responsory In manus tuas, just like the traditional form of Compline, taken from our Lord's words on the Cross: “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). The Nunc dimittis or Canticle of Simeon, the priest Simeon's song of praise when he saw the child Jesus in Luke 2:29-32, is sung with the same invariable antiphon from the traditional form of Compline. The closing prayer is then sung, which is proper to the day of the week. The blessing, “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death,” traditionally sung at the beginning of Compline, is now sung at the end of Compline. The day's Liturgy of the Hours concludes with the final antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which there are several options.

As you can see, the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours is drastically different from the traditional Divine Office. It is much, much shorter and does away with ancient traditions, such as the hours of Matins and Prime and singing all 150 psalms in a week. It replaces beautiful and sacred hymns with inappropriate religious songs. It even censors the Word of God by leaving out psalms that did not appeal to the reformers' sentimentality.

The new liturgies for the sacraments

In addition to the Mass and Divine Office, the liturgies for all seven sacraments were heavily revised. Once again, the Novus Ordo forms for the sacraments take away a lot of liturgical beauty and tradition and represent Protestant and Modernist influences. The people and their sentiments are given higher importance than God and his divine truth. To be clear, all of the sacraments are still valid. God's grace is still given. It is merely the ceremonies that are inferior.


The Novus Ordo Baptism ceremony is shorter than the traditional ceremony and takes place entirely inside the church. The tradition of beginning outside the church and bringing the new Christians into the church is suppressed. The priest never addresses the child in the ceremony, instead speaking directly to the parents and godparents. Most significantly, the ancient ceremony of tasting salt and the exorcisms have been abolished, so there is no longer any reference to driving away the devil. The beautiful seven-part ceremony of Baptism of an adult, with its quasi-little hour of the Divine Office at the beginning and a threefold exorcism, has been completely abolished.


The Novus Ordo rite of Confirmation is completely different from the traditional rite. It takes place in the context of the Mass, after the sermon. There is an option for a “ritual Mass,” where the Mass propers relate to the sacrament of Confirmation. The ritual Mass even has a proper form of the Penitential Act, which is unusual. The prayer to bestow each of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is abolished. The second imposition of hands, in which the bishop lays his hands on each confirmand's head individually, is abolished. The first imposition of hands, in which the bishop extends his hands over all of the confirmandi together, remains. The imposition of hands is generally regarded by theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, as part of the essential matter of the sacrament, so retaining the general imposition of hands is necessary for validity of the sacrament (Summa Theologiae IIIa, Q. 72, A. 2 ad 1). That being said, removing the individual imposition of hands is a very serious change that suppresses a tradition mentioned in the Bible itself (Acts 8:17).

Instead of the traditional form, “I sign thee with the Sign of the Cross...” the bishop says, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This form is taken from the Eastern rites. It is far less beautiful than the traditional form. It is also ambiguousis the Holy Spirit itself the gift, or is it something the Holy Spirit gives? After this form and the accompanying anointing with Chrism, the bishop says, “Peace be with you,” but he does not slap the confirmand.


As I discussed in previous parts of this series, there is far less respect given to the Blessed Sacrament in the Novus Ordo than in the traditional Latin Mass. It comes as no surprise, then, that many Catholics today (some sources suggest as many as half of all Catholics) either do not know or do not believe that the bread and wine are completely transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In the traditional Latin Mass, only what is consecrated may touch the Sacred Hostthe chalice, paten, corporal, pall, purificator, and priest's hands. In the Novus Ordo, the Eucharist is regularly distributed by lay people and received in the hands.


The form of absolution has been changed. There is less emphasis on the priest himself absolving sin. Instead, we have a prayer that, although lovely, does not fit with the sacrament of Penance. The essential form of the sacrament, “I absolve you from your sins...” feels forced and out of place. In fact, it seems to pander to the Protestant idea that we must pray directly to God for forgiveness instead of being forgiven by a priest.

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The prayer for indulgence (“May the Passion...”) is preserved as an option, but it is not commonly used. I have only heard one priest say it in the Novus Ordo.

With the Novus Ordo's reduced emphasis on the infallible Catholic faith, the practice of regular confession seems to have fallen by the wayside for many Catholics. Far too many parishes offer confession only a half hour a week, and even that half hour is barely attended. Many Catholics only go to confession once or twice a year. Some never go at all, even though Catholics have a solemn obligation to go to confession a minimum of once a year. Some are unaware of or apathetic to the requirement of being in a state of grace to receive Communion, so they regularly receive Communion even if they have not been to confession in months or years.

I have seen many liturgical abuses with the sacrament of Penance. The most grievous is the practice in some parishes of offering a “community reconciliation service,” in which the people do not confess their sins individually, but the priest still gives a general absolution to the whole parish. This is almost always invalid, and priests who hold such a service are committing a grave sin. A general absolution may be valid only for grave reason (such as if a group of soldiers are going into battle and there is not time to hear each person's confession) and with permission of the bishop. Each person who receives such an absolution is bound to confess their sins to a priest as soon as possible.

Extreme Unction

The sacrament of Extreme Unction has been radically changed. It is now called “Anointing of the Sick.” It is no longer associated with the time of death, but rather it may be received by anyone who is seriously ill. This is contrary to the constant tradition of the Catholic Church and the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas, which dictate that the sacrament of Extreme Unction be given at the time of death (ST Suppl. IIIae, Q. 32, A. 2).

In addition, the focus of the new rite of Anointing of the Sick is not on forgiveness of sins and spiritual healing, but on physical healing. There are no exorcisms. The saints are not invoked. Instead of the six anointings on various body parts, there are only two anointings on the head and hands, using these prayers:

Per istam sanctam Unctiónem et suam piíssimam misericórdiam, ádiuvet te Dóminus grátia Spíritus Sancti. Amen.

Ut a peccátis liberátum te salvet atque propítius állevet. Amen.
Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen.

Notice how the priest says, “May the Lord who frees you from sin,” as if freeing the sick person from sin were an event that occurs at another time, not related to the sacrament. Finally, any vegetable oil may be used, which contradicts the constant tradition of the Church that olive oil be used. Thus, the new rite of Anointing of the Sick, although valid, represents a completely different theology than the sacred Catholic tradition.


In the Novus Ordo, the sacrament of Marriage is generally celebrated within the Mass, after the sermon. The nuptial blessing is given after the Our Father as usual. Strangely, the Penitential Act and the Libera nos (“Deliver us Lord...”) are both omitted at a nuptial Mass. Unlike the traditional nuptial Mass, the new nuptial Mass has many different options for prayers and readings. The bride and groom are free to choose whatever suits their sentiments. St. Paul's exhortation on Marriage from his Epistle to the Ephesians, which is the Epistle at the traditional nuptial Mass, is an option for a reading. However, the verse admonishing wives to submit to their husbands is left out. Once again, the reforms censor the Word of God to fit their Modernist sentiments.

Holy Orders

The new rite of ordination of a priest takes places after the sermon, which is a break from the tradition of celebrating ordinations between the readings. The ceremonial bestowing of the powers to bless, offer the Mass, and forgive sins are all omitted. There is no mention of the sacrificial nature of the priesthood. Yet again, the infallible Catholic truth is cast away in favor of Modernist and Protestant sentiments.

New terms
  • Liturgy of the Hours – The Novus Ordo Divine Office.
  • Office of Readings – A new hour of the Divine Office concocted to replace Matins. It consists of three psalms and two readings and may be sung at any time of day.
  • Daytime Prayer – The hours of Terce, Sext, and None, only one of which is required for each priest except in religious communities.
  • General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH)The rubrics of the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours.
  • psalm prayer – A short prayer specific to a psalm written to aid the faithful's devotion to that psalm.
  • Intercessions – Prayers sung at Lauds and Vespers, analogous to the preces of the traditional Divine Office.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Traditional Latin Mass vs. Novus Ordo, Part 5: Liturgical abuse

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: A brief history
Part 2: First half of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 3: The rest of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 4: The key differences

In the past few articles, I described the Novus Ordo Mass in accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Unfortunately, this is not representative of a typical Novus Ordo Mass. I shall define a liturgical abuse as a violation of rubrics that detracts from the dignity of the Mass. Although they do sometimes happen in the traditional Latin Mass, they are somewhat rare. On the other hand, liturgical abuse is so incredibly widespread in the Novus Ordo that it is rare to find a Novus Ordo without any liturgical abuse. In this article, I will describe the epidemic of liturgical abuse in the Novus Ordo and list some of the most common abuses.

Much of the liturgical abuse epidemic stems from the so-called “spirit of Vatican II. The “spirit of Vatican II” is really a veiled form of Modernism. It is based on very liberal and sometimes even heretical interpretations of the vague decrees of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. Many of the legitimate changes to the Mass described in our last article are representative of the “spirit of Vatican II.”

One of its key traits is an undue emphasis on community and people, detracting from the emphasis on Goda horizontal emphasis instead of a vertical emphasis. Examples of legal (and thus non-abusive) practices that reflect this horizontal emphasis are the priest facing versus populum and offering the liturgy in the vernacular.

Another trait of the “spirit of Vatican II” is the diminished importance of the clergy. In the traditional Latin Mass, a Solemn Mass is offered by a priest, deacon, and subdeacon, assisted by male altar servers. In the Novus Ordo, the subdiaconate has been abolished, and there is great flexibility for lay people, even women, to be involved as servers, lectors, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. This results in the ordained priesthood losing some of its prominence and dignity, and it blurs the distinction between the ordained, sacrificial priesthood and the royal priesthood of all baptized Catholics.

Finally, the “spirit of Vatican II” reduces the importance of the infallible Catholic faith. Unlike previous ecumenical councils, which made doctrinal declarations, the Second Vatican Council was intended to be merely a “pastoral” council. It did not make any pronouncements involving doctrine. In fact, doctrine seems to have been only a secondary concern. Although it never contradicted the Catholic faith, it did a poor job of affirming the Catholic faith. The Novus Ordo Mass does an even poorer job of affirming the Catholic faith, with most of the reverence given to the Blessed Sacrament in the traditional Mass having been removed. When the Catholic faith falls by the wayside in what is supposed to be the Church's most important act, the doors are opened for all sorts of abuse.

As I pointed out, many manifestations of the “spirit of Vatican II” in the Novus Ordo Mass are allowed by rubrics and thus cannot be considered liturgical abuses. However, the rubrics gave priests an inch, and they took a mile. In the traditional Latin Mass, the rubrics are very rigid and prescribe every part of the Mass. Thus, it was generally understood that the rubrics were to be obeyed. In the Novus Ordo Mass, the rubrics are very broad and vague, giving priests plenty of options and leeway. This has led to a pervasive attitude that the rubrics are optional. (I was once even told to “stop attending to divisive propaganda” when I insisted on obeying rubrics.) This is the attitude that has led to all sorts of liturgical abuses. It is completely wrong, damaging to the faith, and contrary to the established tradition of the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ gave the Catholic Church authority in heaven and earth. Her laws, especially the laws of liturgy, are therefore divinely ordained and must be obeyed. There has never been any authority to the idea that rubrics are optional and that the “spirit of Vatican II” can take precedence over Church laws. This idea is patently ridiculous. The fact that it is so widespread is a tragedy.

The standard counterargument against the strict adherence to rubrics is that we should not be rigid and legalistic, and that loving and serving God should take precedence over strict rules. Of course, this sounds wonderful, but there are two major problems with it. The first problem is that it creates a false dilemma. Liturgical laws and rubrics exist to make the liturgy more dignified and to assist, not hinder, our love and service to God. The second problem is that it suggests that laws as a whole are displeasing to God. The first five books of the Old Testament consist of laws that God gave to the Jews. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Thus, rubrics are necessary and divinely ordained, so they must be obeyed.

Let us now consider some of the most common liturgical abuses. I have personally witnessed all of these. Except in the noted situations where the rubrics are ambiguous, they are all violations of rubrics. In all cases, they seriously detract from the dignity of the Holy Sacrifice.
  • The faithful are improperly dressed. It has always been required for the faithful to dress nicely and modestly to Mass. Sadly, t-shirts and shorts are common in many Novus Ordo parishes. Dressing up for Mass is a sign of respect to God, who is present in the tabernacle. Such casual and improper dress indicates a weakening of the faith and a lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament. Similarly, although it is no longer required by canon law for women to cover their heads, it is still part of the sacred tradition of the Church and commanded by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1‑7). Women rarely cover their heads at the Novus Ordo Mass.
  • There is loud talking in the church before Mass. Before Mass, the people should be praying quietly and preparing themselves to participate in the Holy Sacrifice. Replacing this prayer with conversation is irreverent, takes the focus away from God, and ignores the true nature of the Mass.
  • Various abuses abound with the prescribed vestments. It is unclear from the rubrics whether or not the amice and cincture are required, but in any case, they are both frequently omitted. It is definitely not allowed to wear only a chasuble with no stole, only a stole with no chasuble, or to wear the stole over the chasuble instead of under. The vestments are a symbol of the sacrificial office of the priesthood, and leaving them out or wearing them improperly is part of the Modernist trend of reducing the importance of the priesthood.
  • A lay person invites the congregation to “stand and greet one another in a spirit of fellowship” before the Mass. This is disruptive and inappropriate. Before Mass, we should be praying and preparing ourselves to assist in the Holy Sacrifice and be united with our Lord in Holy Communion. The focus should be entirely on God, not on each other.
  • The sacred music that rightfully adorns the sacred liturgy is often replaced with vulgar, modern, and secular music. This was never envisioned by the Second Vatican Council or by any of the decrees that came after it. Sacred music guides people's minds to heaven, whereas secular music obstructs any attempt to raise the mind to God. In some parishes, electronic and percussive instruments are used, which were explicitly forbidden by Pope Pius XII. Guitars can be a beautiful addition to a liturgy, but the style of music usually associated with guitars is inappropriate for the liturgy.
  • As people approach the altar at the beginning of Mass, even when the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there, they bow instead of genuflecting. This indicates a lower level of respect given to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
  • The Entrance Chant, Offertory Chant, and Communion Chant are left out. It is permissible in the United States to replace them with hymns, but there is no authority for leaving them out altogether. I even talked to a priest who left out the Entrance Chant, and he admitted that it was illicit.
  • After entering the sanctuary but before beginning the Mass, the priest says, “Good morning.” This may seem innocent and friendly, but anything that is not prescribed in the missal is forbidden. Tell the people “good morning” makes the Mass seem like a casual social event, which it absolutely is not. Also, the liturgy already prescribes a greeting at the beginning of the Mass, and it makes no sense to greet the people twice.
  • The Penitential Act is left out and replaced by the Kyrie. The prayer of absolution “May almighty God have mercy...” is then said after the Kyrie. Although one of the options for the Penitential Act is three petitions interspersed with the lines of the Kyrie, it is not permitted to sing only a simple Kyrie in place of the Penitential Act. One of the important characteristics of the beginning of the Mass is seeing ourselves as the sinners we are and asking for God's mercy in preparation for the Holy Sacrifice. Leaving out the Penitential Act in this manner indicates that we do not need to ask for mercy for our sins, which is heretical and severely damaging to the faith.
  • Lectors are improperly dressed. As discussed above, it is important for everyone to be properly dressed for Mass, but it is particularly abusive when someone is serving the Mass as a lector while dressed improperly.
  • The prescribed Responsorial Psalm or Alleluia verse is left out and replaced by a hymn. Fortunately, this is not quite as common as some of the other abuses, but it definitely still happens, and there is absolutely no authority for it. Holy Mother Church gives us liturgical texts for our devotion and for the glory of God, and it is wrong to modify them without permission.
  • Since the Prayer of the Faithful is left to the priest or the parish to compose, it can easily include heretical and abusive sentiments. I have seen many Prayers of the Faithful that included heretical notions regarding inclusiveness, diversity, religious liberty, and relations with other religions. Something has gone very wrong when it is this easy to introduce blatant heresy into the Mass!
  • Instead of “Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father,” the priest says, “Pray, my friends, that our sacrifice may be acceptable...” First of all, “my friends” is less intimate and more casual than the prescribed “brethren” or “brothers and sisters.” The latter implies a stronger unity within the Church. Second, “my sacrifice and yours” refers to two different sacrifices: one offered by the priest as part of his ordained, sacrificial priesthood, and one offered by the congregation as part of their royal, baptismal priesthood. Thus, this abuse diminishes the importance of the priesthood and removes the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the baptismal priesthood.
  • The words of consecration of the Chalice are corrupted. Until 2011, the official English translation of the Novus Ordo Mass incorrectly rendered “pro multis” as “for all” instead of “for many.” Ever after the translation was fixed, some priests still say “for all,” whether out of habit or on purpose. I can confirm that at least one priest in the Archdiocese of Seattle does so on purpose. There are good reasons to believe that changing it to “for all” brings into question the validity of the sacrament. St. Pius V's papal bull De Defectibus states, “If the priest were to shorten or change the form of the consecration of the Body and the Blood, so that in the changing of wording the words did not mean the same thing, he would not be achieving a valid sacrament.” The words “for all” and “for many” do not mean the same thing. The Precious Blood of Jesus does not effect salvation for all, only for the many who seek God's grace. Jesus did not come to save the Pharisees, because they had no interest in his saving grace. Thus, changing the words of consecration to “for all” is a blasphemous corruption of the words of our Lord.
    Our one bit of consolation can be that the consensus among theologians is that only the words, “This is my Blood,” are required for consecration of the Chalice, so “for all” does not invalidate the Mass. The Holy See also issued a decree to this effect. However, the fact that it causes any doubts about validity at all is an indication that there is something very wrong with the practice. Furthermore, changing the words spoken by our Lord and prescribed by the Church is a very serious abuse. The Congregation for Divine Worship's 2004 decree Redemptionis Sacramentum states:
      In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.
    This corruption of the words of our Lord in his Most Holy Sacrifice is the most severe abuse associated with the Novus Ordo Mass. The fact that it is even possible is a testament to how tragic and dangerous the Novus Ordo Mass is.
  • The faithful pray with hands extended, imitating the posture of the priest. This was done sometimes in the early Church, and it is still done sometimes in the Eastern Churches. In the Western Church, however, this posture is reserved for the priest. The Holy See issued a decree in 1997 affirming this fact. For the people to take up a posture reserved to the priest again undermines the distinction between the priest and the faithful.
  • The faithful hold hands with each other during the Our Father. Holding hands is a novelty that has never had any place in the Catholic liturgical tradition. The rubrics prescribe that the priest extend his hands and the deacon and servers have their hands folded during the Our Father. They are silent on the congregation's posture, but to interpret this silence as freedom to introduce such a novelty indicates, at best, a poor understanding of the liturgy. Holding hands takes the focus away from God and places it on each other, wrongly emphasizing the horizontal dimension instead of the vertical dimension. In addition, it is awkward and uncomfortable for people to be pressured into holding strangers' hands, especially if they are new to the parish or new to Catholicism. The Eucharist is what unites us. It is unnecessary and inappropriate to introduce such a distracting and awkward gimmick in order to display unity. Individual couples or families holding hands might be tolerable, but the whole congregation holding hands is not.
  • The sign of peace degenerates into an awkward handshake festival. The rubrics say that the sign of peace should be offered “in a sober manner” and “only to those nearest.” At some parishes, it is common for people to circulate widely about the room, offering handshakes and making smalltalk with everyone they come across. The priest might even leave the altar to shake hands with parishioners, which is explicitly forbidden. The sign of peace is treated like an intermission instead of a sacred act of preparation to receive the Most Blessed Sacrament. Yet again, the horizontal dimension is emphasized over the vertical dimension, and there is no respect for the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.
  • A massive swarm of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion gathers around the altar to distribute Communion. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are meant to be the exception rather than the rule, hence the term “extraordinary.” They are permitted only in case of necessity, and there should only be the minimum number necessary. Distributing the Holy Eucharist is properly the function of a priest. Having excessive extraordinary ministers diminishes the dignity of the priesthood.
    In addition, it is inappropriate for the extraordinary ministers to gather around the altar, because the altar is the place for Christ and for the priest who works on Christ's behalf. It is not a place for lay people. This also diminishes the dignity of the priesthood.
  • The ablutions are not performed correctly after Communion. Every vessel that has touched the Blessed Sacrament must be rinsed at least with water, which the priest then drinks. In some parishes, this step is skipped. The sacred vessels are not purified at all, but rather simply rinsed in the sacrarium (or even in the sink). This amounts to profanation of the Blessed Sacrament, which carries a penalty of automatic excommunication. Far too many people do not seem to realize that the Blessed Sacrament is our Lord Jesus Christ, whole and entire. If you rinse out a chalice in the sink without performing a proper ablution first, you just poured Jesus down the drain.
  • Generally, the priest improvises and alters the prescribed liturgical text. It is never allowed to change the text prescribed by the Roman Missal, unless the rubrics specifically say otherwise. Vatican II specifically forbade improvisation and creativity in the liturgy. Improvisation shows a lack of respect for the Mass and for Church authority.
Of course, not all of these happen in every parish. However, all of them happen in some parishes, and some of them happen in most parishes. I can count on one hand the number of Novus Ordo Masses I have seen that did not feature some sort of liturgical abuse. Most importantly, none of these are allowed, and all of them are disrespectful and displeasing to God.

To reiterate, the liturgical abuses I just listed are merely the most common ones. Here are some other, less common abuses. None of these are common, but all of them have happened at least once. Some are downright absurd.
  • Water lilies and fish in the baptismal font.
  • Women perform “liturgical dance” in the sanctuary.
  • The sanctuary is decorated with balloons.
  • Bowls of incense are brought forward in procession and placed on the altar, in imitation of pagan rituals.
  • A “clown Mass,” in which the priest and servers dress as clowns and the congregation engages in “sacred laughter.”
  • An “ecumenical Mass,” in which Protestant clergy are invited to participate, as if their worship were somehow equal or even comparable to the Catholic Mass.
  • On at least one occasion, a priest wore a “pussy hat” from the 2017 pro-abortion Women's March during the sermon.
  • Our lovely and talented editor, Mary, once attended a daily Mass at a Catholic school at which a teacher preached to the kids before Mass about the evils of the traditional Latin Mass. Thank God they destroyed the Mass that brought thousands of saints to God!
  • When the Seattle Seahawks were playing in Super Bowl XLIX, one parish decorated the sanctuary with Seahawks apparel. The priest even wore a Seahawks blanket as a chasuble. To be clear, I am a Seattleite and a Seahawks fan, but this is ridiculous.
  • Continuing on the professional football theme, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, once offered a Mass in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wearing a Green Bay Packers cheese head instead of a mitre.
Even though none of these liturgical abuses are allowed, when they are so widespread at the Novus Ordo Mass and so rare in the traditional Latin Mass, they become an indictment of the Novus Ordo Mass. There is something seriously wrong with a form of the Mass that invites such varied and repugnant abuse.

New terms
  • liturgical abuse – A violation of rubrics that detracts from the dignity of the Mass.
  • spirit of Vatican II – Modernism.