As the world knows our Pope “liberated” the Tradition Latin Mass, or Vetus Ordo (VO: old order) mass in July. This is a significant event for the Church; possibly the most significant event since Pope Paul VI ordered the creation of the Novus Ordo (NO: new order) mass on the heels of the Second Vatican Council. The NO mass was created in a liturgical think-tank in the span of a few years, was spearheaded by Archbishop Bugnini, who some accused of being a Mason, and was promulgated in 1970.
Conspiracy theories (or, maybe not) aside, the NO mass was a radical break from nearly 2,000 years of Catholic tradition. The VO mass is an organically developed liturgy from the time of the Apostles, and has highly developed forms and linguistically beautiful prayers to show its development through the centuries; the NO mass was a novelty created by a man known to hate, or at least disregard, tradition, and has since been the catalyst for novelties which would have horrified most Catholics prior to Vatican II (and still horrify many after).
Now comes word that the Vatican may lift the “excommunications” vs. the Bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Most canon lawyers and major thinkers in the Church do not think those excommunications are of the same degree or substance as most, since the SSPX has, in fact, not denied any dogma or doctrine of the Church. In fact, it was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s intention to uphold the tradition, dogmas and doctrines of the Church which led him to consecrate the four Bishops, now “excommunicated” (because they were done without papal mandate). Many believe the “excommunications” are void (or voidable), null, or otherwise invalid considering the extreme emergency the Church has been going through since Vatican II. That is a point I don’t intend to discuss here, but for a general outline of the very real emergency in the Church, a good book is “The Great Facade” by Thomas E. Woods Jr. (now a mainstream writer) and Christopher Ferrera (a lawyer by trade), both of whom are faithful to Pope Benedict XVI. Written some years ago, this book outlines the extreme, universal abuses going on in the Church, the world over, and the causes thereof. In fact, this book is a treatise that, indeed, our Church is in one of the greatest crisis in Her 2,000 year history (a crisis almost imperceptible in these modernistic times, since the modernist, by definition, thinks everything is peachy keen in the world).
Which leads me to the two booklets I would like to briefly discuss: “The Eternal Sacrifice” and “Saint Athanasius; Defender of the Faith,” both by the eminent liturgist and historian, Michael Davies (Requiescat in pace), who hailed from the United Kingdom.
It’s useful to know that Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, had great respect for Michael Davies, and spoke of losing a good son of the Church at his death; the Pope and Davies were known before Davies’ death to be on very friendly terms.
I’m not going to belabor that point, except to say it is quite percipient as to the current Pope’s mind on these things.
In his preface to “Saint Athanasius,” Davies directly implies that his reason for writing this book was to compare the situation of St. Athanasius (who was excommunicated by a Pope) with that of Lefebvre: “‘What happened over 1600 years ago is repeating itself today, but with two or three differences: Alexandria is today the whole Universal Church the stability of which is being shaken, and what was undertaken at that time by means of physical force and cruelty is now being transferred to a different level. Exile is replaced by banishment into the silence of being ignored, killing by assassination of character.’…The most evident parallel elicited in the book is that between the role played by St. Athanasius in the fourth century and that of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in the decades following the Second Vatican Council. It must be made clear that at no time did the Archbishop ever compare himself to St. Athanasius….” “Saint Athanasius” (Foreword, 21 March 1994, 1995, Angelus Press, citation omitted.) Indeed, St. Athanasius was banished multiple times, excommunicated by two councils (and the excommunication was ratified by Pope Liberius), and he is now one of the greatest Saints of the Church. Of that time, Athanasius writes, “The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arain [the heretical belief that the Son is not co-eternal with the Father.]” Id. pg. 30. St. Athanasius wrote, “Our churches are taken from us and given to the Arians; they have our places, but with have the faith. They cannot rob us of that.” Id. pg. 20.
Obviously the differences between the modernist of today and the Arian of the fourth century are different in form. But in inherent content, the comparisons are similar: In the fourth century almost every believer in the Christian world believed in a heresy because of Arianism. Today, almost the entire Christian world believes in the heresy of all heresies: modernism: The relativistic notion that all truths [sic] lead to, or are co-equal with, the one Truth. It is syncretism and relativism wrapped all into one. And it is the direct result of Vatican II (or the Spirit thereof) and it manifests itself in joint-prayer services, Assisi I and II, and in most (or all?) of the dioceses throughout the world, which welcome, hold-hands with, and otherwise placate other faith traditions as co-equal with Catholicism; whereas in the past, through charity, we respected other faiths, and other people, but, ultimately prayed for them, and asked them in to the Catholic Faith, which is the only, sure, way to heaven. Christ is the only door to heaven (adherents in other faiths may be saved, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, but only through the Baptism of desire, which is, arguably, a near impossibility in this day and age, where nearly everyone has heard of and knows of Christ, and few take advantage of the Sacraments, which were instituted by Christ for a reason, and not in a vacuum.)
The second book is “The Eternal Sacrifice,” which I would like to add as a contrast to the de facto heresy which exists throughout the world in denying the transubstantiation of the Eucharist: The Truth that Christ—God—is truly present in every particle of the Eucharist. It would take a thousand pages herein to outline all of the abuses to the Eucharist since Vatican II; suffice it to say, that since VII the Eucharist is passed-around by disinterested “Eucharistic ministers” to disinterested lay people who could care less about Christ truly present in the Eucharist. Today, only 25% of the 25% of Catholics who still go to mass believe in this central mystery of our Faith. This is significant, and is a direct result of the reforms during and after VII which watered-down our faith.
“‘When Christ on the Cross cried out His Consummatum est, few were the men who noticed it, fewer still the men who perceived that this phrase announced a turning point for mankind, that this death opened into everlasting life gates through which, from that moment on, all the people of the earth would pass. Now, to meet the expectant longing of mankind, this great event is arrested and, through Christ’s institution [of the mass] held fast for these coming generations so that they might be conscious witnesses of that event event in the last centuries and amongst the remotest nations, and might look up to it in holy rapture.’…[t]he Catholic Church has meaning and significance only in so far as it is directed towards God. It is equally true that it has meaning and significance only in so far as it is considered as an exercise of the priesty office of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s priestly office on earth did not come to an end when He ascended into heaven. He perpetuates it in His Mystical Body, the Church, which, in its innermost reality, is an extension of the Incarnation throughout the nations and the centuries. Our Lord is present among us today in His Church, teaching, ruling, and sanctifying us. Priests who have received their orders in direct succession from the Apostles offer the Mass in Christ’s name and in His person, in persona Christi. Our Lord Himself is the true High Priest of every Mass, the priest at the altar acts only as His instrument. In the traditional Mass of the Roman Rite, now commonly known as the Tridentine Mass, this sublime truth is symbolized fittingly by the manner in which the priest subordinates himself to the awe inspiring holiness and majesty of the rite which he is celebrating, the rite which Father Faber described as the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.’ A prayer in the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom evokes the profound truth that: ‘It is really Thou Who dost offer and art offered, Thou Who dost receive the offering and art given back to us, Christ our God.’ The Sacrifice of the Mass is truly the Sacrifice of Calvary made present among us, a sacrifice at which we should dare to be present only in a spirit of the utmost reverence and most abject humility, conscious of our unworthiness in the presence of the all holy God. ‘Quam terribilis est haec hora!’ cries out the deacon in the Syrian liturgy. ‘How awesome is this hour!’ Awesome it is indeed when our Savior and our God is present among us as preist and victim.” (Michael Davies, The Eternal Sacrifice, Newman Press, 1987, pages.13-14, citation omitted.)
“God is our Creator, we are His creatures. Without Him we would not exist, without Him we would not have that hope of everlasting happiness in heaven which alone enable us to endure the suffering and sorrow of our exile in this valley of tears. We owe God everything, and He owes us nothing. Those who are created have a duty to love and serve their Creator…’Who is like God?’ These are the words which should be at the forefront of the mind of every Catholic. The answer, of course, is that no one is like God. He is infinite, and we are finite. Between infinite and finite there can be no comparison. We must, therefore, as the Catechism teaches us, devote our lives to knowing, loving and serving God in this world so that we can be happy with Him forever in the next. This is our duty as His creatures.
The Commandments of God enjoin a solemn obligation of sanctifying the Sabbath by rendering Our Heavenly Father worthy and reverent public worship. The only adequate expression of our absolute submission to almighty God is the offering of the sacrifice. ….
The essence of sacrifice lies in the offering of a victim to God on behalf of the people by their publicly appointed representative…The most significant moment of Jewish sacrifice was the pouring of the blood of the victim upon the altar. The altar of sacrifice in the Jewish Temple represented God, just as the Christian altar represents Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The blood of the victim was said to contain its life, and when poured upon the altar it had been returned to God in Whom that life originated.
The Christian religion has only one sacrifice, the sacrifice that was once offered when Our Lord Jesus Christ, acting both as priest and victim, shed His Blood for us upon the Cross. Every type and every purpose of Old Testament sacrifice was fulfilled to perfection on Calvary. Holocaust, peace offering, sin offering were all merely types, shadows, figures of that one perfect sacrifice on the first Good Friday when God the Son made Man reconciled all tings unto Himself, ‘making peace through the Blood of His Cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven’ (Col. 1:20).”