Monday, November 28, 2022

Offspring of Arius in the Holy of Holies: Recent False Claims about the Roman Rite

Detail of French MS, ca. 1360–1370 (Master of Jean de Mandeville; full image here)

Imagine my surprise when I read, in the second installment of the (now finished) five-part series at Church Life Journal by Drs. Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy [CHW], the following claim:

Significantly, while the faithful [before The Council] knew and believed that the one God is a Trinity of persons, their liturgical and personal prayer often primarily consisted of praying to the one (generic) God. Only after Vatican II, with the revision of the rite and the use of the vernacular, did the faithful become more cognizant of the trinitarian nature of the liturgy and of their own ability to pray in a trinitarian manner.

Apart from the authors’ remarkable ability to know intimately how millions of Catholics prayed and engaged with the liturgy prior to the 1960s — and in particular, their ability to know that widely-available and popular devotional materials, explicitly Trinitarian in content, in fact must not have been used by anyone who bought them — together with their crystal-ball glimpse into the Trinitarian literacy of modern Catholics (which I am sure a Pew Research survey could quickly establish, together with their literacy in Eucharistic doctrine) and their intimate Trinitarian prayer lives, we should, with discipline, zero in on the central claim: that it was specifically “the revision of the rite and the use of the vernacular” that brought about this renaissance in Trinitarian knowledge and prayer.

Archbishop Lefebvre in one of many flourishing preconciliar missions run by the Holy Ghost Fathers in Africa; sadly, their liturgy did not help them much in their conquest of the continent for Christ.

In my book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, published in 2014 — a book frequently reviewed, and easily available, for those with a taste for liturgical studies — I devote one of the chapters to documenting the systematic removal of Trinitarian and Christological confessions from the reformed liturgy, demonstrating that the vernacular rite Catholics were given after 1969 was far less centered on the mystery of the Trinity than the Tridentine liturgy to which the faithful were accustomed (especially from the unofficial vernacular versions they would have encountered in widely-used hand missals — unless CHW somehow know, once again, that the millions of copies of such missals that were sold over many decades were never actually used by anyone).

Given the magnitude of this claim — that, essentially, the Church had allowed her faithful for centuries to be deficient in their knowledge and devotion to the Trinity (!) — it seems opportune to share this chapter online, in the interests of making the truth better known.

Offspring of Arius in the Holy of Holies

(Chapter 6 of Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, Angelico, 2014)

In the New Testament two basic “orientations” of prayer are displayed and inculcated: first and foremost, in keeping with Jewish tradition, prayer addressed to “God” or “Lord” (into this category may also be placed the altogether novel way in which our blessed Savior intimately addresses his “Father,” as we see, for example, in the farewell discourses in the Gospel of John), [1] and occupying a secondary but still important place, prayer addressed to Jesus Christ himself.

To the former and more familiar Jewish practice, Jesus adds a new and crucial element that concerns the very essence of the revelation he embodies: God is to be invoked in Jesus’ name, for the Son of God is now the Son of Man, the one and only Mediator between God and man, through whom all our prayers ascend to the Father and all his graces are given to us in the Mystical Body. Hence the Lord teaches his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (Jn 15:16), and again: Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn 16:23–24). Such teachings are the revealed foundation of the Church’s custom of concluding her prayers per Christum Dominum nostrum, a formula we already see frequently in St. Paul, whose letters are full of liturgical language: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” [2]

Nevertheless, our Lord also taught his disciples to address him, the Son and Savior, in prayer: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:13–14). [3] When Jesus says: “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am” (Jn 13:13), he affirms that his followers are right to turn to him as the ultimate authority, the Holy One of Israel. Events, especially miracles of healing, confirmed the truth of these words. “The centurion answered him, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed’” (Mt. 8:8). [4] “The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (Mt. 20:31). There are the words of the thief: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42), and the words of the doubter: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

Pietro da CORTONA, The Stoning of St Stephen (c. 1660)
Again, the spontaneous exclamations of the early Christians are a precious witness that Christ, as true God, was the addressee of many prayers, not only a mediator through whom one had access to the Father. “As they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” (Acts 7:59). “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:2–3). More important than any one verse, however, is the general tenor of a number of texts, for example chapter 10 of the Epistle to the Romans, where St. Paul writes:
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. . . . The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (vv. 9, 11–13)

Here, in typical rabbinic fashion, the Apostle to the Gentiles weaves together citations from the Old Testament that are manifestly speaking about the one true God, the God of Israel, and applies them to Jesus Christ. In this way he is not only clearly asserting Christ’s divinity, but also urging the Christians who receive his letter to confess this mystery with their lips (a reference to liturgical worship) and to invoke Jesus as God in their prayers.

In the end, both ways of praying are given a succinct endorsement in the solemn words of Jesus that have echoed down the centuries: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me . . . He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:6, 9). By saying that he is the way, he self-effacingly presents himself as Mediator, the Word made flesh, the only way to reach the Father; by saying that he is truth and life, consubstantial with the Father, he presents himself as he truly is in the Father’s glory — namely, as the Son who, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Hence, there can never be any tension, much less contradiction, between praying to the Father and praying to Jesus. For Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us, and whoever sees or speaks to him has seen or spoken to the Father.

Icon of the angelic visitors to Abraham, representing the persons of the Trinity

In regard to ways of praying, it comes as no surprise that traditional liturgies of all rites, Eastern and Western, closely adhere to the witness of the New Testament and the practice of the ancient Church. The classical Roman liturgy — viewed in terms of ethos, ceremonial, spirituality, and the dogmatic theology expressed in the texts — shares much more in common with the Byzantine liturgy than it does with the Novus Ordo Missae. [5] Perhaps nowhere is this fact more obvious than in regard to the presence, in liturgical texts and ceremonies, of solemn Trinitarian affirmations and their counterpart, a thoroughgoing Christocentrism.

Indeed, there could hardly be a more insistently Christ-confessing liturgy than the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. In this liturgy there is a constant hymning both of Christ as the one true God and of the indissoluble unity of the Trinity: “Let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God”; “For You, O God, are gracious and You love mankind, and to You we render glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.” Right before the Nicene Creed is recited, the priest sings: “Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may profess” — and the people finish his sentence: “The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in substance and undivided.” Immediately after the consecration the priest sings: “We offer to You Yours of Your own, on behalf of all and for all,” to which the people respond: “We praise You, we bless You, we thank You, O Lord, and we pray to You, our God.” One of the most beautiful texts in the Divine Liturgy is an ancient hymn that perfectly illustrates the point we are making:

O only-begotten Son and Word of God, Who, being immortal, deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and became man, without change. You were also crucified, O Christ our God, and by death have trampled death, being One of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.

The Byzantine liturgy is overflowing with such texts, boldly confessing the divinity of Christ and the perfect unity of Father, Son, and Spirit.

Now, even if the classical Roman liturgy, with its comparative sobriety and simplicity, is not “overflowing” in the same way as Eastern liturgies tend to be, it too conveys the same theological message, and with many of the same expressions and gestures. It clearly belongs to and derives from the same ancient Christian heritage, where chanting the praises of the divine Word-made-flesh and falling in adoration before the Most Holy Trinity were the pith and purpose of liturgical life.

In marked contrast, the Novus Ordo Missae displays an insistent “Patricentrism” or generic Theocentrism that is characteristic of no historically well-established liturgical rite. In its official texts and ceremonial the Novus Ordo exhibits what can only be called a certain Arianizing appearance or tendency. [6] The presbyter Arius of Alexandria (ca. 256–336), after whom the heresy of Arianism is named, taught that Jesus Christ is not truly and properly divine, but rather, a highly exalted creature and specially favored servant of God — a “son” or “god” by grace, not by nature.

St Athanasius Triumphs over Arius, by Jacob de Wit (after Peter Paul Rubens); public domain image from the website of the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD).
Before discussing this issue, let us lay down some principles:

  1. Properly speaking, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered by Jesus Christ to the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is not offered by Christ to the Father “apart from” or in contradistinction to the Son and the Spirit, for the Three are always One in their divinity and never separated, although it is the Son of God who offers his human life on the cross, as the Byzantine hymn quoted above so clearly confesses. 
  1. Our Lord offers the sacrifice of himself in his human nature, which is immolated on the Cross (since the divine nature as such cannot suffer); the sacrifice is infinitely pleasing because the human nature is hypostatically united to the Son of God, so that, as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom expresses it: “It is You who offer and are offered, You who receive and are Yourself received, O Christ our God.” 
  1. It is also true to say that the sacrifice is offered to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit; and other formulae express other true aspects of the mystery. As Bertrand de Margerie explains: “In conformity to the two equally legitimate patterns of Christian prayer, the pre-Arian and post-Arian, the Mass can be seen as a sacrifice offered to the Father by the Son in the Holy Spirit or as a sacrifice offered to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit.”[7] The Roman Canon — so ancient that it antedates the Arian controversy itself — is addressed to the Father through the Son (“Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum Filium tuum, supplices rogamus, ac petimus”); the oblation is offered to the Father on behalf of the salvation of the world, with Christ as the Mediator between God and man. Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis §90 says that this is a reasonable way of praying, given the mystery of the redemption and the role in it of Christ as Mediator and High Priest. 
  1. Jesus Christ is, however, true God, the natural (not adopted) Son of God; the Catholic faith is unwavering in its confession of his eternal divinity, against every form of Arianism that has seduced the minds of men. This means that in all his actions and sufferings — no matter how human or creaturely, even those that are incompatible with the divine nature — it is always the second divine Person who is the subject of the acts and sufferings. This is what gives them their infinite worth and power for man’s salvation. 
  1. Given the above points, it is clear that if an Arian were in charge of liturgy, he would wish to get rid of, or decentralize, or at least obscure, the confession of Trinitarian equality and majesty (cf. the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity, “Qui cum Unigenito Filio tuo”), and by the same token demote Christ to a sub-divine place — as the one, namely, through whom the sacrifice of praise is offered to the Father-God. The Arian would understand “per Christum” as an implicit denial of the divinity of Christ. While he would be quite mistaken to think that this is the only meaning the formula can have, or even its proper first-level meaning, he would certainly have lent an Arian coloring to the liturgy if he had simultaneously stripped away unambiguous prayers to the Trinity of Persons as well as prayers directed to Jesus Christ as God.

The priest praying to the Holy Trinity at the end of the Offertory ("Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas..."). Abolished in the Novus Ordo.
Consider then the classical Roman liturgy.

In regard to the Blessed Trinity: 

  1. A solemn prayer is addressed to the Blessed Trinity both at the conclusion of the offertory and after the postcommunion — to give, as it were, the proper theological setting, the first beginning and last end, of the Eucharistic sacrifice: “Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas” and “Placeat tibi, Sancta Trinitas.” These prayers use the per Christum conclusion, emphasizing that the sacrifice is offered by Christ in his human nature to the one divine nature, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
  1. The Preface of the Most Holy Trinity, appointed for all the Sundays after Epiphany and after Pentecost, of which there can be as many as 28, is essentially a summary of the Athanasian Creed, “Quicumque vult,” which is itself one of the greatest Trinitarian confessions in the entire Latin tradition.[8] 
  1. The Gloria expresses, with magnificent beauty, the Catholic confession of the Trinity of Persons in one divine essence. Used in the celebration of every third-class feast (or higher) of a saint or mystery in the life of Christ, the Gloria provides the Church militant a way to participate in the heavenly joy of the communion of saints. In practice, given the large number of third-class feasts (and higher), a daily communicant will often hear the Gloria, even several times a week. 
  1. The “Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto” is used three times — after Psalm 42, after the Introit verse, and after Psalm 25 [at the Lavabo] — counterbalancing the dominant “per Christum.” At the principal Sunday Mass, an additional Gloria Patri would be sung after the verse at the Asperges. 
  1. The sign of the cross — “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti,” which mirrors the Gloria Patri — is made by priest and congregation at many significant moments: at the very beginning, before Psalm 42; at “Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini”; at “Indulgentiam”; at “Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris”; at “Et vitam venturi saeculi”; at “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini”; and at the final blessing. 
  1. The act of the priest’s blessing this or that item with the sign of the cross is frequent throughout the liturgy, occurring dozens of times. For one who is awake and attentive to symbolism, each act of blessing is a visible witness to the power of the cross and a silent invocation of the Trinity.

The Preface of the Holy Trinity, sung at least a couple of dozen times each year in the usus antiquior. In the Novus Ordo, reduced to once a year.
At the conclusion of nearly every Mass: genuflecting at the words "Et Verbum caro factum est..." Abolished in 1964.

In regard to the divinity of Christ:

  1. Confessing the true divinity of Jesus, the Church in her ancient liturgy also prays to him, most explicitly in:

    • the threefold “Christe eleison” of the Kyrie;
    • the Gloria (“Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris”; “Tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe”);
    • the Agnus Dei;
    • the three prayers immediately following the Agnus Dei (“Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis”; “Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi”; “Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe”). [It is worthy of note that, while the conclusion “per Jesus Christum” is used throughout the liturgy, in these three prayers before communion, a shift occurs, as the priest directly addresses the Lord present upon the altar: “Domine Jesu Christe . . . qui vivis et regnas Deus” for the first; “Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi . . . qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus” for the second; “Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus” for the third];
    • the second prayer of ablution (“Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi”). 

  1. Moreover, there are times when the Church prays expressly to Christ in the collects and other orationes of the traditional Roman rite. Some examples, just from the month of October alone:

    • Collect for St. Thérèse (Oct. 3): “O Lord, who hast said: Unless ye become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven: grant us, we beseech Thee . . .”
    • Postcommunion for St. John Leonardi (Oct. 9): “Comforted by the sacred mysteries of Thy precious Body and Blood, we pray Thee, O Lord . . . ”
    • Collect for St. Francis Borgia (Oct. 10): “O Lord Jesus Christ, who art both the pattern and the reward of true humility. . .”
    • Collect for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (Oct. 17): “O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst in a wondrous manner reveal to the blessed virgin Margaret the unsearchable riches of Thy Heart . . .”
    • Postcommunion for St. John Cantius (Oct. 20): “We who have been fed with the delights of Thy precious Body and Blood humbly beg Thy mercy, O Lord. . .”
9. Finally, nearly every Mass concludes with the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John: “In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. . . .”

One of many moments in the usus antiquior when the clergy remove their birettas and all bow toward the tabernacle.

In addition, one should attend to the dimension of the ceremonial, because, however justifiably we place an emphasis on liturgical texts in order to assess their orthodoxy or their tendencies (as I am doing here), we must not become rationalists who think that texts are the only relevant thing to look at. We are men, people of flesh and blood, who perceive and respond not only to words, but also to symbolic gestures, which constitute an even more basic human language that cuts across times and cultures. Thus, in the classical Roman liturgy, the stipulated bowing of the head at the mention of the Holy Name of Jesus, the genuflections before the tabernacle (assumed to be in the center, at the high altar, facing eastwards [9]), the bowing at the “Gloria Patri” and the “Suscipe, sancta Trinitas,” the many other bows and genuflections, and so forth — all of these gestures are profoundly theological, conveying in sacred silence a deep Trinitarian and Christocentric meaning; all of them constitute small but true acts of worship and praise.

When such gestures were radically stripped away in the name of simplification and greater “transparency,” the moving musicality of the Mass as an ascending hymn of praise to the Trinity was gravely damaged. It became flattened out and socialized, taken over by a wearisome wordiness that has to explain everything from start to finish, usually with a goodly dose of ad libbing. As Pope Benedict XVI has excellently said:
In our form of the liturgy [i.e., the Novus Ordo] there is a tendency that, in my opinion, is false, namely, the complete “inculturation” of the liturgy into the contemporary world. The liturgy is thus supposed to be shortened; and everything that is supposedly unintelligible should be removed from it; it should, basically, be transposed down to an even “flatter” language. But this is a thoroughgoing misunderstanding of the essence of the liturgy and of liturgical celebration. For in the liturgy one doesn’t grasp what’s going on in a simply rational way, as I understand a lecture, for example, but in a manifold way, with all the senses, and by being drawn into a celebration that isn’t invented by some commission but that, as it were, comes to me from the depths of the millennia and, ultimately, of eternity.[10]

Now, while it is impossible a priori for a Catholic to maintain that the new Missal as promulgated by Paul VI or John Paul II is actually (that is, formally) Arian or semi-Arian, one may legitimately ask about the private motives and opinions which led to the following changes.

In regard to the Blessed Trinity:

  1. Both the prayer of offering to the Trinity (“Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas”) and the prayer of homage to the Trinity (“Placeat tibi, Sancta Trinitas”) were abolished.
  1. The Preface of the Most Holy Trinity is heard extremely rarely in Novus Ordo liturgies; according to the rubrics it is required only for Trinity Sunday itself. As a result, most Catholics will not be formed in any sustained way by the rich dogmatic teaching of this Preface, which demands to be heard many times before one can begin to grasp what it is saying. 
  1. The recitation of the Gloria has been severely curtailed to Sundays and major feast days. 
  1. All iterations of the “Gloria Patri” have been abolished from the Mass. [11] 
  1. The use of the sign of the cross has been reduced to the start of the liturgy and its conclusion. 
  1. In like manner, the use of the sign of the cross in priestly blessings of objects involved in the liturgy has dwindled to almost nothing.

In regard to the divinity of Christ: 

  1. The prayers addressed to Christ have been lessened:

    • The “Christe eleison” remains, but reduced to a twofold instead of threefold petition [12] (thus destroying its eloquent 3 x 3 Trinitarian structure).
    • The Gloria, as pointed out, is no longer frequent.
    • The “Agnus Dei” remains,
    • but the prayers following it have been severely deformed. The missal now instructs the priest to choose between the second and third preparatory prayers — he is not to say both. Moreover, the Trinitarian conclusions of these latter prayers have been stripped away.
    • The prayers of ablution are abolished, and the rubrics for cleansing the vessels are less detailed and exacting. [13] In many parishes, the sacred vessels are not even cleansed until after Mass; they are left on a tray that is carried out after Mass into the sacristy. Scenarios like this (or worse) are quite common, and show a massive decline in reverence toward the “divine, holy, most pure, immortal, heavenly and life-creating, awesome mysteries of Christ,” as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom describes the Eucharist. 

  1. The Novus Ordo missal systematically abolished prayers addressed to Jesus Christ. Virtually none of these old collects, secrets, or postcommunions remain. In their place are prayers that address “God,” “Lord,” or “Father” and end with the per Christum formula. A notable and welcome exception comes on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, where the collect and postcommunion directly address the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. In this instance, the redactors of the new missal simply carried over the prayers of the old missal. 
  1. Last but not least, the customary Last Gospel was dismissed as a medieval accretion, a private pious exercise. As a consequence, the only time a Catholic will hear the sublime Prologue of St. John’s Gospel is if he attends the Mass of Christmas Day or the Feast of St. John on December 27th

More could be said, but the above is sufficient for the purpose of documenting the tendency or appearance I have in mind. [14]

Pius XII offering Holy Mass in the classical Roman Rite

Now, what was it that Pope Pius XII had taught in his great encyclical Mystici Corporis of 1943? In §90 we read:

Finally there are those [partisans of the liturgical movement] who assert that our prayers should be directed not to the person of Jesus Christ but rather to God, or to the Eternal Father through Christ, since our Savior as Head of his Mystical Body is only “Mediator of God and men” (1 Tim 2:5). But this certainly is opposed not only to the mind of the Church and to Christian usage but to truth. For, to speak exactly, Christ is Head of the universal Church as he exists at once in both his natures (cf. St. Thomas, De Veritate, q. 29, a. 4); moreover he himself has solemnly declared: “If you shall ask me anything in my name, that I will do” (Jn 14:14). For although prayers are very often directed to the Eternal Father through the only-begotten Son, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice — in which Christ, at once Priest and Victim, exercises in a special manner the office of Mediator — nevertheless not infrequently even in this Sacrifice prayers are addressed to the Divine Redeemer also; for all Christians must clearly know and understand that the man Jesus Christ is also the Son of God and God himself. And thus when the Church militant offers her adoration and prayers to the Immaculate Lamb, the Sacred Victim, her voice seems to re-echo the never-ending chorus of the Church triumphant: “To him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb benediction and honor and glory and power for ever and ever.” (Rev 5:13) 

As happened also with the same Pope’s unambiguous directives in Mediator Dei (1947) about many other aspects of the liturgy, the teaching contained in the above section seems to have been not only forgotten, but actively opposed, in the actual execution of the “reforms” that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council demanded — surely, for the most part having Pius XII’s understanding in their minds.

Traditionalist authors have, of course, documented the many different ways in which the Roman Rite was deliberately and systematically watered down, as regards, for example, devotion to the Virgin Mary and to the angels and saints, to the Passion of our Lord, to the Real Presence, and so on. [15] My argument here adds one more confirmation that we are looking at not simply a downplaying of this or that incidental aspect, but more disturbingly, a dechristianization of the liturgy as such, removing from it what is theologically most distinctive of the Christian faith and most central to our corporate worship.

A popular preconciliar book, Devotions for Holy Communion (this edition, 1959) shows prayers to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit, and frequent mentions of all three Divine Persons. Perhaps CHW should pick up a copy as part of their future research.

What was intended to replace this substance? Man himself, modern man, communal man, the worker, the actor, the self-discovering and self-exulting ego — not the Christian humanism of Gaudium et Spes but the Enlightenment humanism of an endless catalogue of unbelievers from Descartes and Newton (who professed himself an Arian [16]) to Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Derrida, and so on. The anthropological correlative to Arianism is Pelagianism. Just as Jesus, for the Arian, is elevated to divinity through his heroic acts, so we, by our heroic acts, elevate ourselves to a position of divinity. So false a view is this that it has led not to Christian victory in a renewed evangelization, but to the banality and sterility of what Robert Barron aptly calls “beige Catholicism.”

I would go further and point out that the two heresies most “natural” to fallen man are precisely Arianism and Pelagianism. Leave a Christian community to its own devices and you are likely to end up with some kind of Pelagian and Arian understanding of the faith. And one can see the close link between these two: Pelagius teaches that man (the son of Adam) is really a god, whereas Arius teaches that god (the Son of God) is really a man. In a certain way, if you combine these heresies you end up with Feuerbach. Fallen man is Pelagian man — Promethean, Cartesian, Baconian man. Fallen man is Arian man: the mystery of Christ is too much for us, we try to downplay it, qualify it, let it slip away into a vague spiritualism, or revert to a more primitive Jewish monotheism. The spiritual life of the Church, as expressed supremely in her liturgy, has always fought against these tendencies. The missal of Paul VI removes huge segments of anti-Arian and anti-Pelagian content. [17] Is this not a cause for the deepest concern — indeed, for the deepest doubts about the “reform” and the new missal it launched against unsuspecting believers?

Moreover, is it not true that the more reverence one has toward Christ, true God and true man, Judge of the living and of the dead, the less one will want to tamper with the Mass in which he is not only worshiped but over which he himself presides as High Priest, in which he himself is offered up as victim, and received as our spiritual food? And is it not true that only a person of Pelagian tendencies would think he could or should be “pro-active” with regard to the liturgy — changing it, reworking it, simplifying here, adding there, as if the responsibility for making it or making it better lay principally with us, and not with Christ, the Apostles, and the slow process of time in which the centuries add jewels to a common inheritance jealously guarded? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings” (Heb 13:8–9a). [End of chapter]

*     *     *

That, as they say, is that. And it is worth noting that a response of the same kind of thoroughness can be made to nearly every paragraph in CHW’s five-part series.

Faced with the breathtaking balderdash that CHW have served up, one almost feels it would be better to draw a curtain of modesty over their naked corpus, or perhaps a sanitary cover over the corpse; but the amor veritatis requires, to some extent at least, the exposure of errors, fallacies, and offenses, however distasteful it may be. May the Holy Trinity have mercy on rebels against Catholic tradition; may Christ our God deliver us from the hands of His persecutors; and may the Holy Spirit forgive the blasphemies against the pattern of divine worship He has inspired across the centuries of faith.
Another popular preconciliar book on devotion to the Holy Spirit, first published in 1939. Unfortunately, since lay Catholics did not know who the “Holy Spirit” was, the book remained largely unread, in spite of going through many editions, apparently because paper was so plentiful around the time of World War II.


[1] Another example would be Matthew 11:25: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…”

[2] See, e.g., Romans 5, vv. 1, 11, 15, 17, 21, etc. — the Epistle to the Romans is full of the “through Jesus Christ” formula (as well as the related “in Christ Jesus”). Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei, nn. 144–46.

[3] The Greek of Jn 14:14 says: ean ti aitēsēte me en tōi onomati mou egō poiēsō, which the Vulgate accurately renders si quid petieritis me in nomine meo hoc faciam. Part of the manuscript tradition of the NT lacks the me of 14:14, but it is the preferred reading, faithfully reflected both in the Vulgate tradition and in patristic writings. In any event, the phrase “in my name” establishes the point, too, because the thrust of the statement is that the Father will glorify the Son by showing the Son’s divinity, i.e., his power to save the one praying; it is the Son (“I”) who will respond to the prayer. Of course, the Son never responds apart from the Father and the Spirit, but it is important for us that we address all three Persons of the Trinity.

[4] There are, of course, countless texts in the Gospels in which Jesus is addressed as Lord, kyrie in the vocative (kyrios in the nominative), which means master, lord, owner, sir — but which can also mean Lord in the proper theological sense, for this usage had already been solidly established in the Septuagint, where the God of Israel is referred to as kyrios. In certain passages of the Gospels it is clear that people who address Jesus as kyrios are not confessing his divinity but using an honorific title, much as the German title Herr means both “Mister” and “Lord.” But there are other places where a confession is implied, and one of them is this famous statement of the centurion, whom Jesus praises for his faith in the Master’s power to heal, which is a divine attribute.

[5] See chapter 11, “The Liturgical Reform’s Long-Term Effects on Ecumenism.”

[6] There is an abundance of material on the questionable theological tendencies of the members of the Consilium; see, for instance, Roberto de Mattei, “Reflections on the Liturgical Reform” and Dom Charbel Pazat de Lys, O.S.B., “Towards a New Liturgical Movement,” both in Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger.

[7] La Trinité chrétienne dans l’histoire (Paris: Éditions Beauchesne, 1975), 451. The pre-Arian form is referred to as a “subordinating doxology” while the post-Arian (and anti-Arian) form is referred to as a “coordinating doxology.” Both forms were defended by the Church Fathers such as St. Basil the Great, but it was the former in particular whose orthodoxy had to be proved and guarded against subordinationism.

[8] The practice of using this Preface for the Sunday Masses after Epiphany and Pentecost was introduced by Pope Clement XIII in 1759; prior to this, the Common Preface was used. Thus, we are looking at a rather “late” development in the history of the Roman liturgy — an excellent example of the rite’s organic development, which witnesses gradual enhancements and occasionally prunings (as when many Sequences were no longer included in the 1570 missal), but not sudden and radical alterations in fundamental structure, content, or ethos.

[9] I am aware that the placement of the tabernacle at the high altar is a relatively late development in the history of church architecture, but unlike the liturgical revolutionaries, I concur with Pope Pius XII’s teaching in Mediator Dei that the Holy Spirit guides the Church into the fullness of liturgical truth, and that later developments, provided they are in continuity with (one might say, extrapolated from) the Tradition that has come before, are therefore not to be scorned or disapproved of. To remove the tabernacle from the center once it has become normal, in contrast, is a theological demotion or deprivation that is quite unlike the mere lack of this norm in earlier times.

[10] Salt of the Earth, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 175.

[11] The Gloria Patri managed to survive in the Liturgy of the Hours.

[12] If one is lucky, one might hear a schola sing a threefold Kyrie, since the Ordinaries that require, for musical reasons, a threefold Kyrie remain in the Solesmes books; but singing at that level is rather rarely heard in Novus Ordo parish settings.

[13] This lends strongly, of course, to the Protestant view that Christ comes to be present in the symbolic action of “breaking and sharing the bread and cup”; once the distribution is over, the bread and wine may be treated as ordinary food, since they are no longer serving a sacramental function. So, the priest can leave the vessels on the side table and cleanse them afterwards. This happens to be the Byzantine custom, but in that case it is accompanied by many prayers and much reverence, and is never done by laymen.

[14] There is some consolation to be found in the fact that the new Liturgy of Hours, especially in its official Latin text, contains numerous invocations of Jesus and a fair number of prayers addressed to him. One could more successfully exhibit the Church’s faith from these books than from the Missal. This in itself shows the magnitude of the problem: however important the Liturgy of the Hours is (and surely it is important in the lives of thousands of religious, not to mention a fair number of lay people), the Mass is the central act of worship of the Mystical Body of Christ, and perhaps not even 1% of the Christian faithful today will be shaped by the Liturgy of the Hours.

[15] The prominent place of angels in the old rite of Mass and the diminishment of their presence in the new rite is discussed in my article “A Brief Introduction to Angels,” The Latin Mass vol. 16, n. 2 (Spring 2007): 34–39.

[16] See Maurice F. Wiles, Archetypal Heresy: Arianism through the Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), especially ch. 4, “The Rise and Fall of British Arianism.”

[17] See Cekada, Work of Human Hands, esp. 219–45.

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