Polemics & Exchanges

On Reverence and the Mass

Mark Shea’s “Some Thoughts on Motu Proprio Mania” (Vital Signs, October) misses the point.  The Holy Father did not issue this as a counterfoil to the abuses of the Novus Ordo Mass.  He issued this decree because he wished to restore that which was summarily taken away: the unbroken tradition (up to Vatican II) of the immemorial Mass—a Mass which traces its roots back to the earliest centuries of the Church and whose organic development, divinely inspired, was codified over 1,600 years ago.

Mr. Shea makes it seem as though it is a matter of tweedledum or tweedledee, as long as the Mass is “devoutly” offered.  He could not be more wrong.  The Mass is an outward manifestation of the Faith of the Church, and, as such, should be the most sublime liturgy possible.  The prayers at the foot of the altar (eliminated in the Novus Ordo), the complete Offertory (also eliminated), the Confiteor (truncated in the New Mass), and, most of all, the Canon of the Mass are clear expressions of the penitential and sacrificial nature of the Mass.  Everyone who attends a Traditional Mass has no doubt that he is witnessing an unbloody sacrifice, and that he is being turned humbly and reverentially toward God on the altar.  There is just as much participation on the part of the laity...

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