Those popes who bear the name, "Pius," are the greatest guardians of the Church against heresy. This blog is a watchdog for modernism in the Church. In reality, outside this blog, the members of the board temper their criticisms and opinions with prudence and charity so as to help souls in their journey towards Christ. But sometimes, for the sake of their own sanity, the authors of this blog just need to blow off some steam. The result is Totus Pius.

15 October 2007

Shea's Article on Mass Misses the Mark

Fellow blogger, Mark Shea, wrote an article for the October 2007 issue of Chronicles Magazine (one of our favorites) entitled, “Some Thoughts on Motu Proprio Mania.” Mr. Shea begins the article by creating an analogy between the liturgy and shoes. He writes, “The point of shoes is not to notice them, but to walk in them. Shoes you constantly notice are Bad Shoes. Liturgy you focus on is liturgy that is not doing its job, which is to refer us to God, not to itself." Mr. Shea then proceeds to give two reasons people focus on the liturgy: liturgical abuse and oversensitivity. He argues that many attendees of the Tridentine Rite have a tendency to be oversensitive and that they often berate him for attending his reverently said Novus Ordo rite—a rite with which he is perfectly happy. He concludes by writing: “Nor it is my job to suggest that, if you like the Tridentine Rite instead, you are a second-class Catholic and a narcissist. It would be nice if many enthusiasts for the Tridentine liturgy could return the favor.”

Mr. Shea makes many good points in his article and We agree with some of his analysis. There are many Catholics who are oversensitive regarding liturgical matters and charity must be exercised in any criticism no matter how applicable. However, the article also has some serious errors that We feel are necessary to address. These errors are dangerous because they are held from within the Church—by those who are doctrinally orthodox. We want to make it clear that We appreciate Mark Shea’s work and desire not to anathematize him, only his ideas. There are premises at the very beginning that We take issue with such as the analogy with shoes and the use of the term “Tridentine Rite.” These are errors of a different sort and are for another article.

We already granted that some Catholics can be overly critical and lacking in charity at times. However, when We look at the specific examples used by Mr. Shea to illustrate this point, We are incredulous. Three of the five examples are: the way people dress at Mass, altar girls, and holding hands during the Our Father. These are serious issues. At Mass, we witness the sacrifical act of Jesus Christ to the Father for our salvation. At the same time, we get to witness mini-skirts, t-shirts with beer bellies, and cleavage. This is wholly inappropriate and shows a complete disregard for the event taking place. A distinction needs to be made between acting as a judge of an individual person and acting as a judge of a person’s actions. The former is sinful; the latter is necessary. Regarding the importance of the altar girl issue, see Our myth-anathematizers regarding the issue. Finally, hand-holding during the Our Father is an action which blurs the distinction between the City of God and the city of man. It emphasizes horizontal worship at the expense of vertical worship. People are poorly catechized as is, this needs to be stopped. Always remember, lex orandi, lex credendi.

Mr. Shea goes on to argue that the traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo are both legitimate Masses and that he finds the latter more spiritually nourishing. He laments that he is often blasted for those viewpoints. To those of you who do not think that the Novus Ordo is a legitimate form of the Mass: you are schismatics. At the same time, Mr. Shea, to state that the two rites are equal in all terms is also false. You write, “I am supposed to feel the superiority of the Tridentine Rite, and if I don’t feel it, it’s because I am selfishly putting my feelings ahead of the TRUTH, which is fully expressed by the feelings of Tridentine Rite fans.” For all We know, the people with whom you converse may simply assert feelings. If that is the case, We sympathize. However, you should KNOW the superiority of the Tridentine Rite and if you don’t then you should read more about the liturgy so that you can understand. Afterward, if you still FEEL that the Novus Ordo is more spiritually fulfilling, put your feelings in their place by subjecting them to the intellect and the will. The use of Latin during the canon and the ad orientem position are NECESSARY for the liturgy of the Roman Rite to accomplish all of its goals. These are not solely the possession of the traditional form, but are always required and are not an option. Furthermore, the use of canons other than the Roman Canon are unacceptable. These points have been made wonderfully by Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his book, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy. He goes as far to say that the Novus Ordo should not even be called the Roman Rite, but the modern rite. By the way, in the preface to the French addition, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger states that Gamber’s thought is at the heart of the Church.

No Mr. Shea, we cannot say that those who attend the modern rite are second-class Catholics. That would be uncharitable and out-of-line. The truth of the matter is however, that the Mass of Paul VI is a second-class Mass.


Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Well done, your Holiness. We agree with all of your commentary.

However, we would like to draw attention to the fact that you refer to several postively-acceptable additions in the missal of Paul VI as "unacceptable." Further, you refer to certain aspects of the previous missals that Paul's missal omits as not optional, "required," and "NECESSARY." However, these additions or omissions which go against the standard you rightly and accurately put forth are added or omitted in a way which conforms to the positive liturgical norms of the time.

All we have to say about this is that these sorts of additions and omissions would NEVER have been allowed by positive law under our reign, the longest in the history of Holy Church save the Holy Apostle St Peter.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

Thank you to Our predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX. Points well taken.

cordelia said...

i would say the N.O. mass is the "drive-thru" sacrifice...quick and to the point, no beauty, no time to think/pray...or to use mr. shea's analogy, the Reebok of masses as compared to the Ancient Use, the Chanel of masses.
nice to see things back up and running.

cordelia said...

ok, on second thought the Reebok/Chanel analogy might not be so implies reebok goes the distance and chanel is just pretty to look at...not what i me one is utilitarian the other is beautiful and classic.

the mind of a woman when someone mentions shoes...

Paul said...

You greet one error by committing another in the opposite direction. Your articulation of the principles blurs lines that require precision. Striking examples include "NECESSARY for the liturgy of the Roman Rite to accomplish all of its goals," the use of extra Eucharist prayers being "unacceptable," and the Missal of Paul VI being "second-rate." Within each of these criticisms lies an element of truth, but the manner in which you state them detracts from your stipulation that the Mass of Paul VI is valid. It creates a "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" effect.

The fundamental purpose of the Mass lies in the confection of the Blessed Sacrament and the resultant making of the Calvary sacrifice present and efficacious to the faithful. Saying that elements of the missae normativae are unacceptable, second-rate, or that elements it does not require are necessary seems to suggest that there is something missing from its presentation of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Do I get 15% less Jesus in the novus ordo? No, of course not.

Now, if you want to criticize the rubrics, translation, and implementation of the Missal of Paul VI as occasionally banal, inviting of abuse, predicated upon mandates not made by the Vatican Council, and less efficacious in promoting the myriad cultural goods contained within the Latin Rite, then you would have a completely valid point. But you should say that. Say "Versus populum drastically decreases the ability of the Mass to communicate to and keep inculcated within the faithful proper understandings of ecclesiological concepts that contribute to the health of the Church." Can a well-educated reader interpret your statement in this way? Yes, but the language does not require him to do so. Good writing, especially good polemical writing, and most especially good polemical writing directed within the Church, leaves no room for ambiguity. If one writes in a manner that permits ambiguity in this regard, one leaves himself open to charges of duplicity. So stamp out heresy, just do so with precision.

ND Polish said...

Well said, Paul. The Mass of Paul VI is not a "second rate" Mass. It is the ordinary form of the Holy Mass as promulgated by those in proper authority in the Church. Are the English translations bad? Yes. Have we seen every abuse under the sun? Yes. This is not the fault of the Mass. The Mass is not "second rate," nor is it "Novus Ordo."

This term suggests that there is some "new world order" conspiracy, and this Mass is part of it. It is developed out of ancient Liturgies in the Church, both of the Roman rite, as well as those of the Gallican and Mozarabic rites, and even the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. It speaks of the great unity of the Church.

Papa Pius X also commits a fallacy when he assumes that the Extraordinary Form woudl somehow cause those attending it to dress differently. Unfortunately, we live in a very casual culture and in times in which people hardly dress appropriately for anything. Why would a different form of the Mass magically make people dress differently. No, the problems with lack of catechesis and cultural issues would still be present in an extraordinary form.

I am disappointed you to make some good points in an imprecise and misleading manner. You have to be careful in the way you try to explain what you mean, since it can easily lead many astray and cause your legitimate and important concerns to be completely dismissed.

Papa Sanctus Pius X said...

ND Polish, the Novus Ordo Mass is second rate. It does not achieve the unity of the Roman Rite. Just because elements were taken from other rites doesn't make it "traditional." On the contrary, it makes it disunified and disrespects the other rites.
We never claimed that people will always dress properly for the Roman Rite. Our claim was that the issues Mark Shea raises as non-important are important.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Responding to Paul:

We would like to call to mind that our successor posited certain things that are missing from the ordinary form as "NECESSARY for the liturgy of the Roman Rite to accomplish all of its goals." From your perfectly clear and unambiguous writing, we see that you don't consider anything but the valid confection of the sacrament. Now, we think it's important to disambiguate your own claims, Paul. Yes, the ordinary form does indeed validly confect the sacrament, as the Church herself has power to make norms about. In fact, a response we ourselves receive when criticizing the abusive celebration of any mass is "well Jesus is there nonetheless."

This is a terrible attitude to take.

Taking from the Theology of the Body of our successor John Paul II and the perennial understanding of the sacrament of holy orders, the priest, when offering the sacrifice of the mass, is in a sense consummating his marriage with the Church. A priest who offers mass with the attitude of dryly following norms and ensuring validity is the same as a husband who dryly cares only about the consummation of the marital act with his wife. That is, the priest who doesn't care about any of the other goals of the mass EXCEPT the valid confection of the sacrament is similar to the man who doesn't care about any of the other goals of the marital act EXCEPT the valid deposition of a certain substance in a certain place. The former doesn't care about rousing his wife to any level of spiritual ecstasy, while the latter is negligent of rousing his wife to any level of physical ecstasy.

To posit one, and only one, goal of the mass is to be selfish and indifferent in the face of the real spiritual needs of the faithful. The missal itself is intrinsically less able to achieve these other goals, even though it, as you rightly say, validly confects the sacrament and allows us to receive 100% Jesus just the same.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Responding to NDPolish:

You're cutting our successor's argument off at the knees.

We must establish that the faithful have the freedom and ability to critique and evaluate disciplinary and devotional norms of the Church. As we wrote in an earlier comment, we completely admit that these current norms, including the Pauline Missal itself, are licitly and legitimately promulgated in current positive liturgical law. They are legitimate. However, just because something is legal does NOT mean that it is on par with every other comparable legal thing. Take any five missals from the history of the Church, any five that at one time were legal, and any intellectual will be able to find strengths and weaknesses; indeed, he will be able to rate them wholistically as to how well each achieves the goals of the liturgy taken as a whole.

You must agree with us, ND Polish, on this point. That said, the claim our successor was making is that the newer form of the mass is not inferior to the older form because of the many abuses it invites; it is intrinsically inferior when considered intellectually in comparison to other masses. An appropriate rebuttal to his claim would be to form a more detailed theological argument about the goals of the mass and about how each missal achieves those goals. Simply stating that the ordinary form is legal and legitimate according to current positive law fails to address his claim in an intelligent or thoughtful way.

And yes, it is a Novus Ordo, as Paul VI himself called it in a speech in 1976 "Novus Ordo promulgatus est, ut in locum veteris substitueretur post maturam deliberationem, atque ad exsequendas normas quae a Concilio Vaticano II impertitae sunt."

Yes, the Holy Father who promulgated the newer form of the mass himself called it the Novus Ordo. So there goes that claim.

Finally, I would be careful to be to careful if I were you, ND Polish. (Thankfully we aren't too careful.) One can be too careful about these sorts of things and, as a result, be completely unintellectual, accepting at the hands of Rome whatever it promulgates, even when objectively problematic (we mean intrinsically problematic, not inviting to problems that are mere accidents, such as the new mass' tendency to invite abuse). We must strive to say that which is perennially true, even if the current legal norms are criticized in the process. We must think critically. You may disagree with our successor on the theology of it, and if you do, argue the specifics. But you may not disregard his argument completely.