Ever play the game “Risk?” It’s a board game in which you basically try to militarily take over the world. There’s a lot of strategy and planning that you must do. Sometimes you have to be sneaky. You may have to, when you’re trying to invade and take someone’s country away from them, give ‘em the old head fake: Make it look like you’re doing something different than what you’re doing. Trick them, in other words.
I really believe this has happened, in a way, in the Church. The analogy won’t be perfect, but you’ll see what I mean as we go.
There is a battle going on right now in the Church. It’s been going on for a while, but people are really talking about it a lot now. This battle is truly a battle for the soul of the Church. Most of you probably don’t even recognize that it’s going on, understand it or think it’s a big deal. If you don’t recognize it or think it’s a big deal, this is your call to wake up! If you don’t understand it, I’m going to try and explain a little bit in this post of what has been happening in the Church for the last 50-60 years. In fairness, there has always been a battle in the Church. This is nothing new to Christianity.
For example, in the 4th century, there was a bishop (started out as a deacon) named Athanasius. He was pretty much the only bishop in Christendom that stood up against Arianism. He paid dearly for standing up to the heretics in the Church. He was exiled five times during his ministry, mostly for standing up to heretics and his unwavering defense of the true Catholic faith. He is my hero and my confirmation saint.
Christianity has always had its controversies and problems. All those problems have come from the people who claim to be part of the Church. The Church, as founded by Christ, given to the Apostles and passed on to the faithful has never changed. Neither has the practice of the faith. Sure, there have been some things more clearly articulated over time and dogmas defined but the faith has not changed. Neither has the practice of the faith. Again, some things have been adjusted over time, but the practice of the faith and the worship of the Church has remained largely unchanged over the last two thousand years.
Until, of course, the 1950s-1970s.
I want to say this again. The Church (the actual Church) and her worship has remained largely intact and unchanged over the last two millennia.
Don’t believe me? Go to a traditional Latin Mass. What you will find there is the faith once for all delivered to the saints and the liturgical worship of the Church which has remained mostly unchanged since the Mass was translated into Latin from Greek in the 3rd century.
Go to a typical Novus Ordo parish and your experience will not be the same. In fact, I submit to you (I know I say this a lot, but some things need to be said until people pay attention) that they are actually two different religions. Now, as soon as I said that, some of you will be instantly triggered and push back on me. So, what I want to do is give you the words of those in the past who have said this. You can hear from the sources themselves instead of me.
The man most responsible for the liturgical “reform” post Vatican II was Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. He was the secretary of the commission that worked on the reform of the Catholic liturgy after Vatican II.
A quick note here. This is not an attack on Vatican II. While the council had its problems, the documents themselves, while in places a bit ambiguous, are not necessarily heterodox. In fact, one of the documents produced by the council talking about the liturgy said this,
“In faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, that she wishes to preserve them in the future and foster them in every way.”
Pope St John XXIII said repeatedly that Latin was to be retained and given pride of place. I will refer you to the website, https://www.prayinglatin.com/why-pray-in-latin, where you will find plenty of quotes on this.
Back to Bugnini. He was the primary architect of what is now called the Novus Ordo. What was he hoping to accomplish by the so-called “reform” of the liturgy? Well, according to him (March 19, 1965),
“We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren; that is, for the Protestants.”
On the surface you may read that and think, ‘Oh that’s nice, he wants to reach the Protestants.’
But let’s look a little deeper. Look at his language.
"Strip” from our prayers everything which can be a shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren. First and foremost, if Christ Himself founded the Church (and He did) and the Apostles passed on what He had given them (and they did), is there not then only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Therefore, if there is only One Church, the Protestants are not our brethren. They are truly outside the Church. They cannot be our brethren. It is not possible to be outside the Church and be the brethren of the Church. In fact, it was St. Cyprian who said in AD 251, “No one can have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”
Bugnini’s statement is false on its face. Either he was lying about what he was hoping to accomplish, or he was hopelessly lost in what he thinks the Church is. If the Church is One, there is no such thing as “separated brethren.” Either you are in the Church or you are not. Either way, his statement is ludicrous.
Let us consider the Council of Trent. Session VII, Canon XIII states,
“If any one saith, that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at pleasure by the ministers, or be changed, by every pastor of the churches, into other new ones; let him be anathema.” (emphasis mine)
Read that again. And again.
Or, Session XXII, Canon IX of the Council of Trent,
“If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema.” (emphasis mine)
Let them be anathema.
The so-called reform of the liturgy resulting in the Novus Ordo, according to the Council of Trent, the shining example of Catholic teaching, is anathema. It’s a colossal head fake. Rather than giving us a “new spring” of Catholicism, these revolutionaries spat in the face of the Church and of Her founder, Jesus Christ. They torpedoed the worship of the Church and it has all but destroyed the Catholic Church and Her faith. Whether or not they did it on purpose, you be the judge. The results of their revolution speak for itself. This cannot be said clearly enough.
Even Pope Paul VI, commenting on the new liturgy, said,
“The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries, we are becoming profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, Gregorian chant.” (emphasis mine)
“We are parting with the speech of Christian centuries, we are becoming profane intruders…” This is the Pope saying this! And yet he let it happen. It’s unconscionable.
Father Joseph Gelineau, an enthusiastic proponent of the postconciliar revolution was at least honest when he said,
“To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.” (emphasis mine)
Cardinal Ottaviani, speaking to Pope Paul VI, had this to say about the new liturgy,
“It is evident that the Novus Ordo has no intention of presenting the faith as taught by the Council of Trent, to which, nonetheless, the Catholic conscience is bound forever. With the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, the loyal Catholic is thus faced with a most tragic alternative.” (emphasis mine)
Tragic indeed. To actually be Catholic or to be something else. And what is that something else?
Archbishop Lefebvre tells us,
“The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rites…is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.” (emphasis mine)
That something else is poison harmful to the faith.
The tragic alternative faced by the Church is whether to be Catholic or not. I know that sounds “out there” or extreme for some of you reading this. Go back and read these words again, some of them from the Pope (or Popes) at the time and from the guy who actually wrote the Novus Ordo. Then, attend both Masses. Sit back and ask yourself this question: What is this Mass communicating to me? All that happens within the Mass is communicating something. Go to both and ask yourself that question and observe. Leave your prejudices and preferences behind. Pray that Christ would show you what He has for you in the Mass.
I know this has been long and you may have to read it in a couple of sittings. But, if you are Catholic, you cannot ignore this. We must reclaim our Church, brothers and sisters. We must turn back to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We must. If we do not, our Church will become even more unrecognizable than it already is.
May God grant us the grace to turn back!
We’re two weeks into Lent.
How’s it going for you? Anything hard yet? Have you already given up?
I have to admit that I’ve discovered something about myself that I don’t really like to admit. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know this, but it is really being shown to me so far in Lent.
I don’t like to be uncomfortable. In any way. In fact, I’d say I’m pretty selfish. I want to eat what I want to eat, sleep when I want to sleep, drink what I want to drink. What I want, when I want.
I dare say that, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we would all admit this on some level. We love our comforts. Our comfort…our desire for comfort can be really detrimental to our progress in our walk with Christ. It can be detrimental because it can make us not “go there” with Jesus.
But going there is exactly what we are called to do. Participation in the life of Christ is exactly what we are called to do.
Our readings this week show us this:
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
I’m also going to bring in our Tract and Gradual as we go.
You might think, after reading the Gospel text for today that I’ve lost my mind. How is this text talking about us “going there” with Jesus? This is a well-known text for those familiar with Holy Scripture. This text is called “The Transfiguration.” In this story, we see Jesus taking Peter, James and John to the top of a high mountain “apart.” In other words, there was no one else around. Jesus was “transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.”
The disciples see Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah (signifying the Law and the Prophets). And Peter, being Peter, shoots his mouth off and says they should build three tabernacles. Peter is understandably overwhelmed by what he is seeing and experiencing. But, he’s also kind of missing the point. Peter sees the glory of Jesus and rightly wants to worship. But now is not the time. Other things must happen first. We’ll come back to this. And then they hear the voice of God, in the cloud of the glory of God (see Exodus 40:34-35, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1:26-28, Revelation 1:13-16) and they are afraid. Then the vision is gone, and Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about that until “the Son of man be risen from the dead.”
For a brief moment, the disciples shared in the glory of the Son of God. For a brief moment, they saw what Moses saw and asked for. For a moment, they saw what Isaiah and Ezekiel saw. They saw the glory of God. And it was mind blowing for them. For a moment, they participated in a foretaste of the glory to come. Our hope, indeed, the promise for us as those who are in Christ, is that we will one day participate in His heavenly glory. What a day that will be!
But that day is not now. This is what Peter was missing. Other things must happen first. Those things that must happen first involve suffering. Specifically, they involve the suffering of Christ. He must suffer many things (Luke 9:22, Luke 17:25, Mark 8:31). If He is to accomplish salvation, He must suffer those things.
And so must we. We must suffer with Him. It is not for us to have the heavenly glory without the earthly suffering. If Christ Himself had to suffer, so must we. This is what St. Paul is getting at in the Epistle for today.
We are to walk in a manner that pleases God. We are to abstain from the lusts of the flesh. And why? Why can’t we have these things?
Because our loving Father desires our sanctification. This is why the Psalmist tells us,
“The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities. See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins.” (Psalm 24:17-18)
Our suffering in this life mirrors the suffering of Christ. This is for our good, our sanctification. We are to participate in the life of Christ, again as the Psalmist reminds us,
“Alleluia. Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord? Who shall set forth all his praises? Blessed are they that keep judgement, and do justice at all times. Remember us, O Lord, in the favour of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.” (Psalm 105:1-4)
It is God’s mercy that allows us to participate in the life of Christ by “keeping judgment,” by doing what is right no matter what it costs us. Let us not forget what it cost Christ,
“For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
Let us not mistake this, brothers and sisters. We are indeed called to participate in the life of Christ. We are to do penance and “suffer” during Lent by denying our flesh, for the joy set before us of sanctification, for the joy set before us of Christ Himself.
And when our earthly suffering is over, we shall see Him face to face!
Of His Kingdom there will be no end and we shall walk in the light of His face to share in His eternal glory forever and ever.
Hold fast, dear brothers and sisters.
Our suffering now is light and momentary compared to the eternity of bliss that awaits those who are faithful to the call of Christ!
Hold fast to Christ!