Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hocus Pocus, Novus Ordo...

Is that what some of the influential Catholic bloggers are telling us now?

Hocus pocus, as many Latin Mass people have heard, is alleged to be a pejorative term originating sometime during the Reformation, mocking the words of consecration at Mass.  Sounds right to me.  Today however, so it seems to me, many Traditionalists regard the Novus Ordo - Ordinary Form of Mass - the Mass of Paul VI - as just that, hocus pocus.  Derision of the OF also contributes to disrespect for the Eucharist.  Though there have been, and continue to be, horrible and stupid liturgical abuses added to the OF, it remains the Ordinary Form of Mass for the Roman Rite.

No doubt, the Extraordinary Form is enjoying its renaissance.

Although, reading conservative blogs and unofficial 'dispatches' from Rome, one is inclined to believe that the traditional Mass is overtaking the Ordinary Form/Novus Ordo Mass these days.  Nevertheless, the EF has yet to be celebrated by the Pope in a major setting - meaning a public celebration such as a Papal Mass, for a solemnity, such as Christmas or Easter.  Likewise, it remains the Ordinary Form, not the Extraordinary Form which is celebrated in all of the Catholic dioceses and most of the parishes throughout the world.  In the meantime, Traditionalists are waiting for the Vatican II generations to die off in hopes that the EF will be restored as the only form of Mass.  They also keep repeating to anyone who will listen or read, that the Ordinary Form lacks something, is not holy or as holy as the EF, and that it is blasphemous, and that it was an innovation even out of the pope's control, and Anna Catherine Emmerich was right...  Google her if you don't know what I'm talking about.  Despite all that is said, the Mass of Paul VI, though valid and licit, is nonetheless derided and disparaged by many.

The Vatican II generation(s) are idiots and cannot possibly understand culture...

Therefore they must die - die off, for culture and civilization to be restored.  They speak of the ordinary faithful, numerous daily OF Mass-goers - who unlike their traditionalist counterparts remain faithful in attending 'the daily sacrifice' despite changes and innovations they disagreed with, but had no power to do anything about - as if they are apostates.  Not a few traditionalists refuse to attend any Mass but an EF Mass - thus missing opportunities for frequent Communion.  I digress.  No doubt there is an arrogance, quite a smug arrogance on both sides of the liturgical divide.   What is missing?  Meekness and humility.  The Holy Father does not speak like the others who attempt to translate his words, or tell us what he really means.  I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the problem with cult, is that one tends to 'strain out the gnat' while 'swallowing the camel' - concentrating more upon 'the outside of the cup and dish,' while the interior remains distracted, even disconnected - so caught up in externals and theological debate.  Hard for me to express since I'm not a liturgist - but some of you know what I'm saying.  Some say elites - I say snobs.

However, if you've ever assisted at a monastic Mass, say at a Trappist monastery or Charterhouse, you come to understand that the Mass is prayed.  You recognize the holiness of the Mass - you participate in it - when it is celebrated with reverence and devotion!  No matter which form. How many good priests have been ordained for the Ordinary Form of Mass since the Council?  How many priests celebrate the OF with reverence and devotion?  Many, many do, led by their bishops and the Holy Father.  So - who are those who seed divisions amongst the faithful, always railing that something is wrong with the Ordinary Form of Mass?  Always pointing out flaws, stirring up doubt and confusion in ordinary souls?

"The Novus Ordo is NOT the Mass of the Council."

So says  Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a Church historian and scholar of the Second Vatican Council.  This week the pundits are posting on what the Cardinal said here:
I must emphasise that the form of the post-conciliar liturgy with all its distortions, is not attributable to the Council or to the Liturgy Constitution established during Vatican II which by the way has not really been implemented even to this day. The indiscriminate removal of Latin and Gregorian Chants from liturgical celebrations and the erection of numerous altars were absolutely not acts prescribed by the Council. - Vatican Insider
And they are running with it.  The Cardinal makes two points ordinary people need to consider, and good priests ought to emphasize and use to settle ordinary people's fears and concerns.  The Cardinal acknowledges that in the process of liturgical reform, some things went wrong, such as: "Excesses which catapulted numerous faithful into total chaos, leaving many fumbling around in the dark."  He points out that 50 years since the Council is a relatively short time to sort through the upheaval councils can create in their wake, cautioning, We need to allow ourselves a little more breathing space" implementing the reforms.

At least that is how I read it, uncultured and uncouth as I may be.  It is how I read the Pope, as well as Cardinal Burke, who celebrates Mass in both forms.  Obviously mistakes have been made, but the Novus Ordo, the Mass of Paul VI is the Ordinary Form of Mass in the Roman Rite.  Creating new 'dissent' may not be the right tactic to use in promoting the Faith. 

Perhaps this is another reason the Church needs strong bishops to shepherd their flock, as well as those shepherds they appoint to guide them...

Be wary of those who 'traverse sea and land' seeking to enrich themselves.


  1. It was the OF that drew me to the Church. I'm not sure that the EF would have, especially not as celebrated and regarded among its modern fan club.

    The EF in its natural state was just "the Mass." No one was using it as political leverage.

  2. I'll have to respectfully disagree with you on this one Terry. One needn't be "cultured" to see that the Forma Ordinaria as it is celebrated in the great majority of parishes is not celebrated in an organic continuity with the Forma Extraordinaria. I mean read Sacrosanctum Concilium and it becomes rather obvious. Read the document itself and see what it says. Other than a few "islands" such as St Agnes, St John Cantius or other such places are the exception to the rule. The 1965 Ordo Missae more than adequately fulfilled the requests of the Council. If there is a "Mass of Vatican II" than I would have to say the Ordo Missae of 1965 is it. That said, the Forma Ordinaria of Paul VI was legally promulgated by Paul VI in 1970 and is the ordinary form of the Roman rite. I keep telling people to take the "EF challenge" for a year and see how it changes their piety, devotion and recollection....are people afraid to do this? Most of the saints in heaven were forged by the Extra ordinary form so quite honestly I fail to understand why Catholics would not do it. The Forma Ordinaria as it celebrated versus populum with priest's back to Our Lord in the tabernacle forming a closed circle and conversing with the faithful was not envisioned by the Council. The rubrics of the missal of Paul VI assume the priest turns toward the faithful a particular times. This assumes the traditional orientation of priest and people turned toward the Lord. People look east! I think it fair to say that the Forma Extraordinaria elucidates the theology of the Mass in a much clearer way than the Forma Ordinaria. There is a definate "rupture" with the past to use Benedict VXI's language in the way the new liturgy is celebrated. We had bishops, priests, cardinals telling us from 1970 that the Old Mass was abrogated and that the New had taken it's place. In 1986 Pope John Paul II appointed a commission of nine cardinals to examine the legal status of the Old Mass.The commission met in December 1986. Eight of nine cardinals answered that the New Mass had not abrogated the Old Mass. The nine cardinals unanimously determined that Pope Paul VI never gave the bishops the authority to forbid priests from celebrating Mass according to the Missal of St Pius V in 1986!! After years of saying otherwise.......

    I have never questioned the validity of the Missal of Paul VI. I have questioned many times the validity of liturgies around the world celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI.

    Again, I would ask anyone to be sincere enough to take the challenge even for 6 months of assisting on a regular basis at the Extraordinary Form it will like the rosary quite literally change your life.

    1. Obviously mistakes have been made, but the Novus Ordo, the Mass of Paul VI, is the Ordinary Form of Mass in the Roman Rite.

      That's all I have to say.

    2. It's interesting that Archbishop Lefebvre offered the reformed liturgy of Holy Mass according to the Ordo Missae of 1965 "The Mass of Vatican II" from 1965 until 1974 and NOT the 1962 commonly called "Extra ordinary form" The 1965 Ordo Missae was an organic development of the Roman Rite (unlike the Novus Ordo of 1970) formulated at the finish of Vatican II. What does Pope Benedict XVI have to say about the Ordinary form of the Mass?:

      .....What happened after the Council was totally different: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy.

      We left the living process of growth and development to enter the realm of fabrication. There was no longer a desire to continue developing and maturing, as the centuries passed and so this was replaced--as if it were a technical production--with a construction, a banal on-the-spot product........

      "a banal on-the-spot product"

      "fabricated liturgy"

      The Pope's words not mine. I couldn't have formulated it better. It is what it is. Whatever was good enough for most of the canonized saints in heaven is good enough for this Catholic.

  3. The novus ordo literally makes me sob after I attend one. I can't believe the Church let the EF go after so many centuries... After attending for several years now, I just can't go back. And there does seem to be a sort of disrespect towards the Eucharist there, at least compared to the EF.

    But still... I get it... just wish the EF would become the OF again.. and the OF would become the Western Rite, or something...

  4. The great English convert Jesuit priest now recently passed away Father Hugh Thwaites SJ put it thus:

    ..."There is nothing wrong with the new rite. Rome cannot feed her children with poison. But the new rite of Mass does not give us what we need. Michael Davies' analogy is helpful here. If a doctor tells a couple that their child need milk every day, and they give the child only water, the child may not live. There is nothing wrong with water. But if the child needs milk, water may not be enough.

    There is no heresy in the new rite. Rome cannot authorise heresy. But the new rite, it would seem, does not give us enough Catholic doctrine to prevent Catholics from unwittingly becoming Protestant in their thinking. As Fulton Sheen put it, "If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave." The new rite of Mass is capable of being carried out in a Protestant manner. Given the chronic tendency of our fallen human nature to go for what is easier, our liturgy, in the hands of the ill-instructed, will always tend to a Protestant interpretation. And Catholic liturgy carried out in a Protestant manner will lead the worshippers to Protestantism.

    "Where will it all end?" So far as I am concerned, it has ended by my being resolved to offer Mass, as much as possible, in the traditional rite of the Church. This rite exactly expresses my eucharistic faith. The new rite does not. Neither does it nourish my faith. The traditional rite of Mass has nourished the faith of countless Catholics in the years past. Please God it will do the same for me, and for many others, in the years to come.......

  5. The Council may have intended to give up a steak instead many of us got a sandwich. Some of us got a crap sandwich. It really doesn't matter what the documents say or what the Council Fathers meant. We live with what we got. Now, 50 years is a blink of an eye in Church time. 50 years from now we may have an Novus Novus Ordo and that may be what the Council Fathers intended. In the mean time go to Mass and do the best you can or if your parish is just too sickening go to another one.

  6. Hey, Terry. There is much you have written that I agree with and much that is wrong. Sacrosanctum Concilium 54 made it quite clear that Latin was to continue and I beleive 52 said that Gregorian Chant was to take `pride of place`. The Fathers did not envisage an end to Latin. So the totally Vernacula Mass was not the wishes of Vatican II. What happened? Modernists and Ecumenists seized the Committess after Vatican II and did what they wanted. The German Church had led the way and they sought a Mass which would be acceptable to Protestants. Yes, the NOvus Ordo is valid, and with the recent changes bringing back the true scriptural richness of the Mass, if celebrated well pours out `sanctifying grace`. (Now you have never heard that before in relation to the Mass

  7. Yes, there are extremists on both sides of the divide. Whatever the circumstances of its introduction the language does not make the Mass invalid. There are those who refuse to acknowledge this, just as the hatred of the EF by other extremists drove it almost underground. We should stand with Pope Benedict who when he `released the Latin Mass said he hoped the one would enrich the other.

    1. Thanks John - and everyone who commented. My main point in the post is summed up in my statement here:

      "Obviously mistakes have been made, but the Novus Ordo, the Mass of Paul VI, is the Ordinary Form of Mass in the Roman Rite."

      I'm currently re-reading Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy - I find it helpful to understand the Holy Father's continuum of thought regarding the liturgy. I'm just an ordinary Catholic who attends Mass - no expert, to be sure. I was an altar boy in the EF before the Council - I'm very comfortable with the EF - I've attended the EF locally as well.

    2. Dymphna said:

      "We live with what we got....50 years from now we may have an Novus Novus Ordo and that may be what the Council Fathers intended. In the mean time go to Mass and do the best you can or if your parish is just too sickening go to another one...."

      It is what it is.

      I pray every day for the realization of Sacrosanctum Cocilium.

      The late Monsignor Klaus Gamber was described by Cardinal Ratzinger as "the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church." [Msgr. Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy

      Read Monsignor Gamber's Book

  8. The late great Anglican convert priest Father Bryan Houghton said it best in his book, "Mitre and Crook". Father Houghton resigned from his parish in England in 1969 rather than be required to say the Novus Ordo. He went to France and lived out the remainder of his years offering the traditional Liturgy.

    ..."it is the Mass! I might be prepared to look at a new Mass form if it magnified God still more and exalted Him still higher; if it lowered man still further in the imagination of his heart; if the mysteries appeared more wondrous and the doctrines more luminous; if the language was more noble and the images grander. But look what we have been given: the exaltation of man and the humiliation of God; the evacuation of mystery, and ambiguity in doctrine; the flattest of images in pidgin vernacular."

    Father Bryan Houghton from his book "Mitre and Crook"

  9. Living in Sweden it is evident that there is a real problem with the use of the vernacular, what with immigrant priests who struggle to say it, other priests with unfamiliar dialects, and immigrant congregations who struggle to understand them and the readers, with all the variations of local dialects and bad sound systems to boot.

    The problem is compounded by the use of Lutheran hymns infused with a Lutheran spirituality.

    The use of Latin in the NO form creates a further problem with the long recitation of the Canon of the Mass. In the EF form, this is silent and it resolves the language problem as everyone can then follow the text in translations in their own language. The recitation of the Last Gospel is also beneficial as it reminds congregations of precisely what has just been done.

    One way and another there are sound practical and pastoral reasons for using the EF form of the Mass in this kind of situation.


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