25 Reasons why I do not attend (when I can help it) the Novus Ordo Mass:

(the following is a criticism of a normal Catholic Mass, not a loony liberal one)

Note: I believe the new rite of Mass and the old rite of Mass are substantially and supernaturally equally Catholic and are both valid when celebrated with the correct form, matter and intention. However, I also believe that the new rite of Mass is a pale reflection of its traditional counterpart, not poisonous, but severely deficient in its presentation of the eternal sacrifice of Calvary, thus lessening the ability of the faithful to absorb the graces that flow from it. We are human beings, a union of soul and body. Therefore, the way something is presented has a profound effect upon our reception of it. So without questioning the validity of the new rite of Mass, I provide the following reasons for not attending it, based firmly on the subjective way in which the objective reality of the Mass is enveloped by the liturgy and the actions of the priest and laity.

1. The mere fact that the new liturgy was created through a committee of "experts", drawn up by them in a specific time and place, reflecting a specific need in the Church. This is totally anti-traditional, and is unprecedented in the history of liturgical development. Liturgy has always been the product of centuries of development, overseen by the patient and eternal presence of the Holy Spirit. A liturgy that is "created" is inevitably fixed to a specific point in time, and also fixed to the personalities that devised it, and thus can be soon outdated and even irrelevant to people with a different world-view. The traditional liturgy transcends the mind of any man or group of men, becoming both timeless and universal in its application.

2. Much of the Sacrificial language has been removed from the liturgy. These prayers were also removed by such notorious heretics such as Luther and Cranmer. Where is the mention of the Holy unspotted Victim? The Offertory prayers have been simplified to such an extent that their Catholic expression has almost been completely purged.

3. The celebration of the new Mass depends heavily on the personality and preferences of the priest celebrating it. The priest can choose the Greeting, the Penitential Rite, the bidding prayers (or they could be composed by a member of the congregation) and even the Canon of the Mass itself. Priests often ad lib during Mass, even expanding the Entrance Rite into a mini-homily further concentrating on the people present, rather than God. Moreover, the priest often alters the wording of the liturgy in places, not rendering it invalid (changing the words of the consecration would, though), but adding his own "personal touch" to the proceedings, especially in respect to the "Ecce Agnus Dei". In this respect, the rubrics for the new Mass are very loose lacking the precision of the traditional liturgy.

4. Explicit teaching of the Trinity is reduced, thrown out with much of the rest of the Offertory prayers with nothing replacing it. The sign of the cross, in particular, has been radically suppressed.

5. The invocation of the saints has also been reduced, especially by name, in the Confiteor, the Offertory and the Canon of the Mass. This further enhances the feel that the new Mass is an action of our earthly existence, rather than an eternal action of God Himself in the presence of all the saints and angels. It also reduces belief in the Communion of Saints and even purgatory, that we are part of a greater Church - not only the Church militant, but also the Church triumphant and expectant.

6. The lack of preparatory prayers for the priest and servers before they approach the altar of God. The start of the new Mass appears extremely casual, with the priest looking and talking to the people present and paying attention to them, rather than preparing himself for the most awesome and incredible action that any human can do: the sacrifice of God Himself.

The roles of priest and laity have been confused by :

7. the use of a single Confiteor. The priest is no longer set apart from the servers and the people in confessing his sins to God and the court of heaven as the chosen priest to offer the divine victim to God, acting in persona Christi. The faithful do join him in offering Christ and themselves to God the Father, but it is through the ministry of the priest that it is accomplished. The priest has seemingly become a "representative of the people" or a presider, rather than a person set apart to bring the Sacraments - channels of grace - to God's people.

8. the priest no longer separately receives Holy Communion. In the traditional liturgy, the priest has his own "Domine non sum dignus..." ("Lord I am not worthy..."), and only after he had received Communion did he present the sacred Host to the faithful with the "Ecce Agnus Dei" with a "Domine non sum dignus" for the laity. They then made their way forwards to the altar rail for their turn, fed by Christ with His own Body and Blood through the ministry of the priest. In the new liturgy, the priest first receives Communion, then usually followed by the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and the faithful, all using a common "Domine non sum dignus" to affirm their unworthiness.

9. the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (usually referred to as Eucharistic Ministers) to distribute Communion to the faithful. Having the laity touch the sacred Host at all diminishes the uniqueness of the priesthood, and inevitably reduces belief in the Real Presence. When any old Joe Bloggs can handle the Blessed Sacrament, surely it can't be the very Body and Blood of Almighty God, can it?

Following on :

10. Emphasis has been heavily weighted from the Eucharistic sacrifice towards Scripture. Readings from Scripture are of infinite value, but the notion of having three Scripture readings, a psalm with responses by the laity, and a homily together with the wholesale destruction of the sacrificial language has tipped the balance to a ridiculous extent. Moreover, with the use of Eucharistic Prayer II, the time taken to prepare and offer the sacrifice is reduced to a bare minimum.

The words of the liturgy are ambiguous in respect to :

11. the response to the mystery of faith. Responses such as "When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death Lord Jesus until You come in glory" hardly states the Catholic belief that transubstantiation (that the substance of the bread and wine have literally been replaced by the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself) has just taken place! Take another one: "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" when Christ is fully present on the altar before us!

12. who the offering is being directed to during the Canon. The sacrifice is Christ offered by Christ to God the Father through the ministry of the priest in union with the faithful present. However, immediately afterwards in the mystery of faith, we then direct our words towards Christ Himself, not to God the Father.

13. the response of the mystery of faith turns away from the miracle of the consecration towards the belief in the second coming of our Lord. Although this is a very important belief, it is hardly appropriate at that time in the Mass.

14. the wrong translation of "pro multis" into "for all" when the literal translation has always been "for many" as scripture states most clearly (see St. Matthew's and St. Mark's account of the institution of the Eucharist). The full translation is that Christ saves "all who believe in His name" (cf. John 3:16), not simply "all" on its own.

Also :

15. the use of the vernacular. Contrary to the teachings of Vatican II, the whole canon of Mass is now said in the vernacular, suppressing the immense feeling of unity that existed before. With the overrunning of Latin as the language of the Church, much of the musical culture and heritage that existed has now vanished. The beauty and the unchanging nature of Latin (used as a liturgical language) has been discarded in favour of the ordinariness and ambiguities of the vernacular.

16. the audible canon. The power of the words of the consecration are simply too awesome to be heard, only silence can convey the power and instil a reverent atmosphere to reflect the events taking place. It is more important to know what is happening than what is simply being said: we are dipping our toes into the pool of eternality, not hearing some political speech. The words are a means an end, hearing them somewhat diminishes this concept.

17. physical participation seemingly placed over spiritual participation. The constant need to respond or listen drowns out the spiritual participation that only comes through silencing one's senses, enabling us to offer ourselves with Christ to God the Father.

The practice of :

18. receiving Communion whilst standing. This reduces the sense of humility before one's Creator, and the atmosphere of submission and obedience to the Lord of all. Receiving communion whilst standing turns the whole affair into an everyday event, walking up and picking up just a "symbol". In the traditional liturgy, the priest comes to us, helpless children, who lack the ability to speak, to feed ourselves, without the infinite mercy of God Himself.

19. receiving Communion in the hand. Anything valuable should not be touched, as it increases one's own familiarity with the subject making it become more ordinary and casual. The Eucharist is the most valuable substance the universe has ever seen, so don't touch it! It also blurs the line between priest and laity (see above), and introduces the problem of particles left on the hand, all of which are our Lord Jesus Christ whole and entire.

20. having the Blood of Christ practically always presented to the people further increases the confusion between the Mass and a commemorative meal. The language used makes the problem worse; "The Body of Christ" and "The Blood of Christ" when both are the Body and the Blood of Christ.

21. the priest facing the people. This reduces the sacrificial tone of the Mass, turns it into a meeting or a supper, and centres the Mass on the people present rather than towards the Person to whom it is being offered. The priest, our shepherd, is seemingly no longer leading us towards the next life, but is faced inwards on the congregation concentrating on this life.

In addition :

22. Awful music. With the dropping of Latin from the liturgy, modern secular music was the only way to turn.

23. The suppression of symbolic gestures. The abolition of gestures, such as genuflecting within the Credo, reduces the sense of what we really believe in and what is important within our faith (i.e. the Incarnation). The expression of our faith becomes "flat", lacking a dynamic flavour. Moreover, the important practice of the priest keeping his index and thumbs together after the consecration further diminishes the our belief in the miracle of the Blessed Sacrament, that each and every particle being substantially and supernaturally our Lord and our God.

24. Most "Novus Ordo churches" have been re-ordered to reflect their neo-Protestant beliefs, destroying altar-rails, replacing the high altar with a simple table, moving the tabernacle into a corner, building a nice big chair for the "presider", making it increasingly impossible to celebrate a Catholic Mass in a Catholic atmosphere. Moreover, vestments, chalices and other important features of the Mass have been cheapened.

25. The practice of altar girls and women readers confuses Catholic theology on the distinct roles of the sexes, though equal, are very different physically, socially and in their intended vocations. Moreover, having the laity enter the sanctuary during Mass inevitably reduces the sacredness of the sanctuary, the nature of the priesthood and questions the presence of the Almighty God Himself in the tabernacle. Again, our worship has become "flat", in that one part of the church is as holy as another. The loss of a sense of awe and the complete lack of holy fear is most worrying.

Back to Lex orandi, lex credendi page

Last modified 20th June, 1997, by David Joyce.