FROM LUTHER'S EVANGELICAL MASS TO THE NEW ORDO MISSAE
Lecture given in Florence on 15th February, 1975.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This evening I shall speak of Luther's evangelical Mass and the amazing resemblances between the new Ordo Missae and Luther's ritual innovations.
Why these considerations? Because the idea of ecumenism which, according to the Chairman of the Commission himself, governed liturgical Reform, invites me to make them, because if it were ever proved that this relationship with the new rite really exists, the theological problem, that is to say the problem of the Faith, cannot but be set on the lines of the well known maxim " Lex orandi, lex credendi."
Now the historical documents concerning Luther's liturgical Reform are very instructive in the light they throw on the Reform of today.
Fully to understand Luther's aims in his liturgical Reforms we must briefly recall the Church's teaching on the priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In its XXIInd Session the Council of Trent teaches us that Our Lord Jesus Christ, as being unwilling to put an end to His priesthood at his death, instituted at the Last Supper a visible sacrifice designed to apply the salutary power of His Redemption to bear on the sins we daily commit. To this end He created his apostles, them and their successors priests of the New Testament, instituting the sacrament of Order which marks with a sacred and indelible character these priests of the New Alliance.
This visible sacrifice is carried out on our altars through a sacrificial act by which Our Lord, really present under the species of bread and wine, offers Himself as a victim to His Father. It is by eating this victim that we have communion of the Body and Blood of Or Lord, thus offering ourselves in union with Him.
Thus then the Church teaches us that:
The priesthood of ordained priests is essentially different from that of the faithful who have not priesthood but form part of a Church for which priesthood is an absolute requisite. It is most fitting to their priesthood that it be celibate and that it be distinguished outwardly from the faithful, as by sacerdotal dress.
The essential act of worship performed by this priesthood is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, differing from the sacrifice on the Cross only by the fact that in the one there was the shedding of blood while in the other blood is not shed. It is accomplished by a sacrificial act carried out by means of the words of the Consecration, not by a recital only, a memorial of the Passion or the Last Supper.
It is through this sublime and mysterious act that the benefits of the Redemption are applied to each of our souls and to the souls in Purgatory. That is wonderfully expressed in the Offertory.
The Real Presence of the Victim is therefore essential and it is brought about by the changing of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. We should therefore adore the Eucharist and feel for it an immense reverence: thence comes the tradition of reserving to priests the care of the Eucharist.
The Mass which a priest says alone, and at which he alone communicates, is thus a public act, a sacrifice of equal value with every sacrifice of the Mass and of sovereign use to the priest and to all souls. The private Mass is thus encouraged and approved by the Church.
It is from these principles that have sprung the prayers, the chants and the rites which have made the Latin Mass a true jewel of which the most precious stone is the Canon. It is impossible to read without emotion what the Council of Trent has to say of it: " As it is meet that holy things should be given holy treatment and as this Sacrifice is the most holy of all, the Catholic Church, so that it may be offered and received with due dignity and reverence, instituted centuries ago, the holy Canon, so free from all error that it holds nothing save what breathes holiness and outward devotion and whatsoever lifts to God the minds of those who offer it. It is, indeed, made up of Our Lord's own words, the traditions of the Apostles and the pious teachings of Sovereign Pontiffs. (Session XXII Chapter 4).
Let us now look at the way in which Luther carried out his Reform, that is to say his evangelical Mass, as he himself called it, and in what spirit. To do so, we shall refer to a work by Leon Cristiani dated 1910, and therefore not under suspicion of being influenced by present reforms. The work is entitled " From Lutheranism to Protestantism." It is to our purpose, because of the quotations it brings us from Luther or from his disciples on the subject of the liturgical Reform.
This study is most instructive, for Luther does not hesitate to show the liberal spirit which animates him. " Above all," he writes, " I amicably beg all those who want to examine or follow the present rules for divine service not to see in them a compulsory law or by them to constrain any conscience. Each one should adopt them when, where and as he pleases. That is required by Christian liberty." (p.314).
" Worship used to be addressed to God in homage; in future it will be addressed to man to console and enlighten him. Sacrifice used to occupy the first place; the sermon now supplants it." (p.312).
What does Luther think of the priesthood?—In his work on private Masses, he tries to show that the Catholic priesthood is an invention of the devil. To do that he invokes this principle which henceforward is fundamental: " What is not in Scripture is an addition by Satan." Well, Scripture knows nothing of a visible priesthood. It knows only one priest, one Pontiff, one alone, Christ. With Christ we are all priests. Priesthood is at one and the same time unique and universal. What madness to want to corner it for a few ... All hierarchical distinctions among Christians are worthy of Antichrist ... A curse, then, on pretended priests." (p.269). In 1520, he wrote his " Manifesto to the Christian Nobility of Germany," in which he attacks Romanists and demands a free Council.
" The first barrier erected by the Romanists " is the distinction drawn between clergy and laity. " They have made the discovery " says he " that the Pope, bishops, priests and monks make up the ecclesiastical estate while princes, lords, artisans and peasants compose the secular estate. It is a pure invention and a lie. In reality all Christians form part of the ecclesiastical estate and the only difference among them is that of function. When the Pope or a bishop anoints, gives the tonsure, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, he may create deceivers or annointed idols, but he can make neither a Christian nor a cleric ... all that has been baptised may boast of being consecrated priest, bishop and pope, even though it may not be fitting for all to exercise that function." (pp. 148, 149).
From this doctrine Luther draws conclusions opposed to clerical dress and celibacy. He and his disciples set the example by abandoning celibacy and marrying.
How many of the effects flowing from the Reforms of Vatican II resemble Luther's conclusions—the abandonment of monastic and clerical dress, the many marriages of priests sanctioned by the Holy See, that is the absence of any distinctive character between priest and layman. This egalitariansim will become evident in the granting of liturgical functions formerly reserved to priests.
The abolition of minor Orders and of the sub-diaconate, and a married diaconate, contribute to the purely administrative conception of the priest and to the denial of his sacerdotal character; ordination is directed to the service of the community, no longer to sacrifice which alone justifies the Catholic conception of the priesthood.
Worker priests and trade unionists, or those seeking State employment, also contribute to the disappearance of all distinctions. They go further than Luther.
Luther's second grave doctrinal error follows from the first and is based on his first principle: it is faith or trust which saves, and not works. This is the negation of the sacrificial act which is the essence of the Catholic Mass.
For Luther the Mass may be a sacrifice of praise, that is an act of praise and thanksgiving, but certainly not an expiating sacrifice renewing and applying the sacrifice of the Cross,
Speaking of the perversions of worship in the monasteries he said: " The chief element in their worship, the Mass, passes all impiety and all abomination, they make of it a sacrifice and a good work. Were there no other reason for abandoning the habit, leaving the convent and breaking their vows, that in itself is amply sufficient, (p. 258).
Mass is a " synaxis," a communion. The Eucharist has been subjected to a triple and lamentable captivity—the laity have been denied the Chalice, the notion of transubstantiation, invented by the Thomists, has been imposed as a dogma, and the Mass has been made a sacrifice."
Luther here touches on a point of capital importance. He does not hesitate however, " It is then a manifest and impious error," he writes, " to offer or apply the Mass for sins, for reparation, or for the dead. Mass is offered by God to man, not by man to God."
Since, above all, the Eucharist should foment faith, it should be celebrated in the vulgar tongue so that all may fully understand the greatness of the promise it recalls, (p. 176).
Luther will follow this heresy to its conclusion by abolishing the offertory which is the clear expression of the propitiatory and expiatory purpose of the sacrifice. He will do away with the greater part of the Canon keeping the essential texts, but only as a recital of the Last Supper. To be closer to what happened at the Supper, he will add to the formula for the consecration of the bread " quod pro vobis tradetur." He will do away with the words " mysterium fidei" and the words " pro multis." He will regard as words essential to the narration those which precede the consecration of the bread and wine and the phrases which follow.
He believes that the Mass is first and foremost the liturgy of the Word, and secondly a communion.
It is difficult to avoid stupefaction in realising that the new Reform has brought about the same changes and that in very truth the modern texts given to the faithful no longer speak of sacrifice but of " the liturgy of the Word," of the story of the Last Supper and of the sharing of bread or of the Eucharist.
Article VII of the instruction which introduces the new rite was significant of an already protestant mentality. The later correction is by no means satisfactory.
The doing away with the altar stone, the introduction of a table covered with a single cloth, the turning of the priest towards the people, the host left on the paten and not on the corporal, the authorisation of the use of ordinary bread, vessels made from diverse materials, even the humblest, all these and many other details help to inculcate those present with protest-ant notions essentially and gravely opposed to Catholic teaching.
Nothing is more essential to the survival of the Catholic Church than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To hide it away is to shake the very foundations of the Church. All Christian, all religious and all sacerdotal life is founded on the Cross, on the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross renewed on the altar.
Luther concludes with the denial of transubstantiation and the Real Presence as taught by the Catholic Church. For him the bread remains. Hence his disciple Melanchthon, who strongly attacks the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, says: " Christ instituted the Eucharist as a remembrance of the Passion. To adore it is idolatry." (p.262).
From that follows communion in the hand and under both species, in effect denying of the presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord under each of the two species ; logically the Eucharist must be regarded as incomplete under one species.
There again one may measure the extraordinary similarity between today's Reform and that of Luther. All the new authorisations touching the rite of the Eucharist tend to a diminished reverence and to neglect in worship: Communion in the hand, its distribution by the laity, even by women, the reduced number of genuflections which, in the case of many priests, has led to their disappearance, the use of ordinary bread and ordinary vessels, all such reforms are contributing to the denial of the real presence as taught by the Catholic Church.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, principles and practice being intimately linked, as the adage " lex orandi lex credendi" has it, the fact of imitating Luther's reform in the liturgy of the Mass must infallibly lead to the gradual adoption of the very ideas of Luther. The last six years since the publication of the new Ordo afford ample proof of the fact. The consequences of this so-called ecumenical practice are catastrophic, firstly in the domain of faith, and above all in the corruption of the priesthood and the lack of vocations in the unity of Catholics who, at every level, are divided on this question which concerns them so nearly, and in the relations with Protestants and members of the Orthodox Church.
The Protestant conception of this vital and essential question of the Church—priesthood—Sacrifice—Eucharist is wholly contrary to that of the Catholic Church. The Council of Trent did not take place in vain; for four centuries all the documents of the Magisterium have referred to it.
Psychologically, pastorally and theologically it is impossible for Catholics to give up a liturgy which is the true expression and stay of their faith and adopt new rites conceived by heretics, without exposing their faith to the greatest danger. It is not possible to imitate Protestants indefinitely without becoming one.
How many of the faithful, how many young priests, how many bishops have lost their faith since these reforms were adopted? One cannot flout nature and the faith and escape their vengeance.
You would do well to re-read the accounts of the first evangelical masses and of their consequences when first introduced to realise the strange kinship uniting the two Reforms.
" During night of the 24th-25th December 1521 the mob invades the parish church . . . The ' evangelical Mass' is about to begin. Karlstadt goes into the pulpit. He preaches on the Eucharist presenting communion under the two kinds as obligatory, preliminary confession as useless. Faith alone is enough. Karlstadt goes up to the altar in secular dress, recites the Confiteor as usual, begins the customary Mass as far as the Gospel. The offertory, the elevation, in short all that conveys the idea of sacrifice is omitted. After the consecration comes communion. Many of those present have not made their confession, many have been eating and drinking—even brandy. They go up to the altar with the others. Karlstadt distributes the hosts and offers the chalice. The communicants take the consecrated bread in then4 hands and drink their fill. One of the hosts is dropped and falls on someone's coat. A priest picks it up. Another falls on the floor, Karlstadt tells the laity to pick it up and when, moved either by reverence or superstition they refuse, he says merely: ' Leave it where it is, but don't step on it."
On that same day a neighbouring priest was giving communion under two kinds to about fifty people only five of whom had made their confession. All the others had been given general absolution and for their penance were simply told to avoid falling into sin again.
Next day Karlstadt celebrated his engagement to Anna dem Mouchau. Many priests followed his example and married. Meanwhile, Zwilling, having run away from his monastery, was preaching in Eilenburg. He had given up monastic dress and wore a beard. Dressed as a layman, he thundered against private masses. On New Year's Day he distributed communion under both kinds. The hosts were passed from hand to hand. Many looked at them, put them in their pockets and carried them away. As she took the host, a woman dropped some fragments on the floor. No-one took any notice. The faithful helped themselves to the cup and took a good swig. On February 29th, 1522, he married Catherine Falki. There followed a very epidemic of priests' and monks' marriages. Monasteries were beginning to empty. Those monks who stayed in their monasteries razed the altars, leaving only one, burned the statues of saints and even the holy oils.
Complete anarchy reigned among the priests. Everyone said his Mass as he pleased. An overwhelmed council decided to draw up a new liturgy with intent to re-establish order by sanctioning reforms.
The way of saying Mass was laid down. The Introit, the Gloria, the Epistle, the Gospel and the Sanctus were kept. A sermon followed, the Offertory and the Canon were abolished. The priest would simply narrate the institution of the Last Supper, he would speak aloud in German the Words of the Consecration and would give communion under both kinds. The service would end with the singing of the Agnus Dei at the communion and the Benedicamus Dominum. (pp. 281, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Luther is anxious to make new canticles. He looks for poets and, with some difficulty, finds them. Saints' feastdays disappear. Luther is sparing with changes. So fas as possible he keeps old ceremonies, confining himself to changing their meaning. Outwardly, the Mass keeps much of its appurtenances. The people find in the Churches the same setting, the same rites with slight changes designed to please them, since, for the future, the ceremony is aimed at them more than in the past. They grow aware of counting for something in the service. Through song and prayers spoken aloud they take a more active part. Little by little Latin ultimately gives place to German.
The consecration is to be sung in German. It is in these words: "Our Lord, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread and brake it and said, Take and eat—This is my Body which is given for you: Each time you do this, do it in remembrance of Me. In like manner also He took the cup after supper saying: Take all of you and drink. This cup is the New Testament in my Blood which is shed for you and for the remission of sins. This do, as often as ye drink this chalice, in Remembrance of Me." (p.317).
Thus the words " quod pro vobis tradetur " ' which is given for you ' are added, and " Mysterium fidei" and " pro multis " are cut out in the consecration of the wine.
Do not these accounts of the evangelical Mass express the feeling we have about the reformed liturgy which followed the Council?
All these changes embodied in the new rite are really dangerous since, little by little, young priests especially, who no longer have the idea of Sacrifice, of the real presence and of transubstantiation, and for whom all that is meaningless are losing the intention of doing what the Church intends and so are no longer celebrating valid Masses.
True, elderly priests when saying Mass according to the new rite still keep their lifelong faith. They have said the old rite of Mass for so many years that they have kept the same intentions. We may believe their Mass to be valid. But in the same measure that those intentions are going and disappear, the Mass becomes no longer valid.
There has been a wish for a closer understanding with Protestants, but it is the Catholics who have become Protestants, not the Protestants who have become Catholics. That is evident.
Since five cardinals and fifteen bishops went to the " Youth Council" at Taize, how are these young people to know what Catholicism is and what Protestantism is? Some took Communion with, the Protestants, others with the Catholics.
When Cardinal Willebrands went to the Ecumenical Council of Churches at Geneva he declared: " We must rehabilitate Luther." He said that as the delegate of the Holy See!
Look at Confession. With collective absolution what has become of the Sacrament of Penance. Is it pastoral behaviour to say to the faithful: " We have given you collective absolution you may take communion, and, when you have an opportunity, if you have mortal sins you will go to confession within six months or a year." Who can describe such behaviour as pastoral. What kind of idea of mortal sin can one conceive?
The sacrament of Confirmation is in like case. This is now the current formula: " I sign you with the Cross and receive the Holy Spirit." They should specify the nature of the special grace of the Sacrament by which the Holy Spirit gives Himself. Unless the words " Ego te confirmo in nomine Patris " are spoken there is no Sacrament! I said that to the cardinals as well when they said to me: " You are giving Confirmation when you have no right to do so!" "I am doing so because the faithful are afraid that their children have not received the grace of Confirmation because they doubt the validity of the Sacrament now given in the churches. So, in order that they may at least be sure of having truly received that grace, they ask me to give Confirmation. I do so because it seems to me I may not refuse to give Confirmation to those who ask it, even if it is not licit. For we live in an age when God's natural and supernatural laws take precedence over positive ecclesiastical law when that clashes with them, instead of being their channel.
We are going through an extraordinary crisis. We cannot fall in with these reforms. Where are the good fruits of these reforms? I often wonder! Liturgical reform, the reform of seminaries, the reform of the religious orders. All these general chapters! Where have they got these unhappy orders now? Everything is going! There are no more novices, there are no more vocations!
The Cardinal Archbishop of Cincinnati moreover admitted as much at the Episcopal Synod in Rome. " In our countries " —he represented all the English-speaking countries—" there are no longer any vocations because people no longer know what a priest is." We must therefore remain in tradition. Tradition alone really gives us grace, really gives us continuity in the Church. If we give up Tradition we are helping the destruction of the Church.
That also I said to the Cardinals: " In the Council can you not see that the schema on religious liberty is a contradictory schema? In its first part the schema states: " Nothing has changed in Tradition." Yet in the content of the schema everything is contrary to tradition. It is contrary to the pronouncements of Gregory XVI, Pius IX and Leo XIII."
A choice must be made. Either we agree with the Council's religious freedom, in which case we are opposed to what those Popes have said, or we are in agreement with those Popes and so we are not in agreement with what the schema has to say on religious freedom. It is not possible to agree with both. I added: " I opt for Tradition. I am for Tradition not for all these novelties which are liberalism, that very liberalism which was condemned by all the Popes during one and a half centuries. That liberalism has made its way into the Church through the Council—liberty, equality, fraternity."
Liberty—religious liberty; fraternity; ecumenism; equality; collegiality. Those are the three principles of liberalism which have come down to us from the philosophers of the XVIIth century, principles which led to the French Revolution.
It was those ideas which came into the Council through equivocal terminology. Now we are going to ruin—the ruin of the Church, since such ideas are wholly contrary to nature and to the faith. There is no equality among us—no real equality. Pope Leo XIII said that so well, and very clearly, in his encyclical on liberty.
Then fraternity! Lacking a father, where shall we find fraternity? If there is no Father, there is no God. How then are we brothers? Without a Father common to all how can we be brothers? It is impossible. Must we embrace all the Church's enemies—Communists, Buddhists and all who are against the Church? Freemasons?
What about last week's decree stating that a Catholic who becomes a Freemason is no longer excommunicate? Freemasonry which destroyed Portugal? Which was in Chile with Allende? And now in South Vietnam. The Catholic States must be destroyed. Austria during the course of the First World War, Hungary, Poland. Freemasons are bent on the destruction of Catholic countries! What will become of Spain, of Italy and others within a year? Why is the Church opening her arms to all these people who are the enemies of the Church?
Ah! How we must pray and pray. We are witnessing an assault on the Church by the Devil, an attack such as the world has never yet seen. We must pray to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to come to our aid, for we cannot indeed know what tomorrow may hold. It is not possible that God should suffer all these blasphemies, these sacrileges offered to His glory, to His majesty. Think of the abortion laws to be seen in so many countries, or divorce in Italy, all the ruin of the moral law, the ruin of truth. It is hard to imagine that all this can happen and that God will not one day speak and bring dire punishments upon the world!
That is why we must ask God to have mercy on us and our brothers, but we must strive, we must fight. Fight for the maintenance of Tradition and fight fearlessly. Above all, we must strive to preserve the rite of our holy Mass because it is the foundation of the Church and of Christian civilisation. If there were no longer a true Mass in the Church, the Church would disappear.
We must therefore preserve this rite, this Sacrifice. All our churches were built for this Mass and no other; for the Sacrifice of the Mass, not for a Last Supper, a Meal, a Memorial, for a Communion. No, for the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ which continues on our altars! It was for this that our fathers built these beautiful churches, not for a Last Supper, not for a memorial, no!
I count on your prayers for my seminarists, to make of my seminarists true priests who have the faith and can therefore give true sacraments and the true Sacrifice of the Mass. Thank you.