Monday, July 25, 2022

The Chop-Chop Reform and the Mass of the Ages

An altar missal ca. mid-1960s, hand-edited to reflect mandated changes

About two years ago, I was paging through my Liber, and as I looked again at the Order of Mass at the front, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be interesting... eye-opening... to make a photocopy of this Ordo Missae, and then strike out, in different colors, the things that were removed or changed or made optional by the Novus Ordo.” So I made the copy, and got out the highlighters... and then promptly lost the pages in a big pile of paper (that’s the way it goes in my office).

Fast-forward to Mass of the Ages Episode 2 (which was yanked off of YouTube by YouTube’s overlords at close to 1.8 million views because of an unjust copyright-strike from Sony, but which may now be viewed via the Mass of the Ages website here). The moment I saw, a few months before its release, a prototype of the now-famous animation sequence, I realized: “They have done it: they have succeeded in showing how much was changed, and how radically.” Most of you know by now the one-minute segment of the episode that I’m talking about. Here it is as a video clip posted at my YouTube page (with permission of MotA):
I’m convinced that, as the number of total views now surpasses 2 million (with the number of individuals affected being actually higher than that, since the movie-watching often takes place with families or groups of friends), this episode and its unforgettable lessons will transform mentalities and pull down idols from their high places. Even tendentious critiques of MotA 2 will not be able to stop the momentum and the effects.

(It goes without saying that this animation sequence shows only the heart of the iceberg, focusing on the fixed Order of Mass; it does not show the equally great or greater deformations that were visited upon the changing parts of the Mass, that is, the orations, antiphons, and readings. When one realizes that the entire reform — that is, of the missal in all its parts, of every other sacramental rite, of the pontifical rites, of all sacramentals, and of the breviary — shared the same character and that such animation sequences could be produced for all of them, one is perhaps for the first time in a position not only to know cognitively but to feel viscerally the magnitude of the revolution.)

A friend was telling me that his parents for a long time wondered “what’s the big deal, why are so many young people going back to the Latin Mass.” He then asked them to watch episode 2 with him. They were deeply moved by it, not to say disturbed and troubled, and felt a new openness to the old liturgy. For some, watching it confirmed what they already suspected or dimly understood; for others, it opened up a whole new way of seeing the past sixty years. For everyone it has underlined the abject failure of the 1960s reform to obey explicit provisions of the Council and, most of all, to respect tradition as the Council Fathers pledged to do and as the pope is bound by office to do.

There is nothing, nothing, the Vatican can do that will overcome the effect of the truth finally getting out in the central information/entertainment medium of our time, namely, online video. (As a writer, I’m not terribly happy that this is our society’s main medium, but in this case we can see the copious benefits Divine Providence has arranged to draw from it.)

Sure, the opponents of the Western liturgical heritage can thunder and fulminate, call names and wag fingers, ghettoize and demonize, cancel and suppress—they can try all of that, as their forebears did decades ago after the Council, and often with the same tactics. Yet they will ultimately fail, because those of us who hold on to the traditional Roman liturgy (and with it, the traditional Catholic Faith in toto) do so as a matter of principle, not as a pragmatic “take it or leave it” affair, and there are more of us all the time — far, far more than there were in the dark days of the 1970s. Moreover, our human enemies are much less diplomatic and guarded about their intentions; they have made no attempt to hide their modernist agenda. They have made it easy for us to see through their specious reasons and disdain their illicit acts.

Just recently when organizing my office papers, I happened to stumble across the aforementioned pages photocopied from my Liber and decided to post them here. What you are seeing is the fixed or unchanging parts of Mass, not the Propers (which were also, for all intents and purposes, abolished in the reform). Black means the text was removed altogether. Blue means this text was rewritten. Orange means this text is optional but typically unused.

One benefit of seeing the Ordo Missae laid out like this over seven dense pages is that it shows just how simple and brief the traditional Roman Rite of Mass actually is, compared (say) with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which would cover at least twice, maybe three times the number of pages. Our authoritative and venerable Roman Rite is already concise and sparse compared with all other Eucharistic rites of tradition.

It is therefore impossible to believe — rationally and with good will — that it needed to be further simplified, abbreviated, or cleared of redundancies and accretions; and the experience of priests and laity today who become familiar with it by a humble and trustful disposition can bear out the ascetical-mystical value of every one of its existing elements, from the prayers at the foot of the altar all the way to the genuflection in the last Gospel. The brutal amputations of the Novus Ordo are born of rationalistic prejudice, impatience with cultic prayer, and a grossly utilitarian activism that thinks it has something better to do than the opus Dei and would, if it could get away with it, simply replace the Mass with a communion service — preferably one in which a female is distributing the host, wearing a rainbow-colored stole.

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