A large part of so-called “conservative” Catholicism is committing a very serious error: in order to save what remains of the Catholic presence in the world, to render the mission of the Church stronger in secularized society, and faced with the moral weariness of many ecclesial sectors, it is making an effort to increase Catholic pride, by focusing totally on the Pope. Moreover, it is handling this attention on the Pope in exactly the same way as the newspapers, television and internet sites, who are extolling the humanity of the Pontiff, underlining with pride the popular interest in his person. They are behaving in the exact same way as the world devoid of faith or not concerned with faith, with their descriptions of oceanic gatherings around the Vicar of Christ, of his impressive gestures and the controversial choices that he seems to be making.Dear brothers and sisters, is this faith really experienced in the majority of our churches? Is the Mass still intended as the Divine Sacrifice of Calvary? Who speaks with this clarity of the Mass [anymore] besides the so-called “traditionalists?” Is there anyone still around who expresses himself in this way when speaking of the Eucharist?
No, it is not from the Pope that we need to start in order to save our Catholic life: in fact, not from the Pope at all, but from the Holy Mass, from the Holy Eucharist.
So that we can explain ourselves, we turn to one of the most important spiritual authors of the of the last century, Dom Chautard, Abbot of Sept-Fons.
In his text, Les cisterciens Trappistes, l’ame cistercienne, where he explains the Cistercian vocation, the Benedictine Abbott, at a certain point, describes the talk he had with the French Prime Minister, Clemenceau, the famous “Tiger”. It took place during the years of the suppression of religious orders and when Dom Chautard was charged with the delicate task of saving the monastic presence in France. Consequently, he found himself in a meeting with the radical and anti-clerical “Tiger:”
We think it is of great use to translate and transcribe what the Abbot reports of their conversation:
Don Chautard to Clemenceau:“I will set about answering your questions: What is a Trappist? Why did you become a Trappist? And in order not to overdo it, I will settle for this argument: a religion which has the Eucharist at its base, must have monks devoted to adoration and penitence.It is clear then, the central dogma of Christianity is the Holy Eucharist, everything starts from there, not elsewhere…and if faith diminishes in the central dogma, in the Holy Eucharist, everything in Christianity and in the Church will collapse.
"The Eucharist is the central dogma of our religion. It is called the generating dogma of Catholic piety. It is not the papacy, as you seem to think.
"The Papacy is nothing other than the word-bearer of Christ. Thanks to the Papacy, the faithful keep the dogma and morality taught by Jesus Christ intact. It is this protection that keeps us on the right road, precisely marked out by our Divine Founder. But it is only Christ that remains, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
"Now, Christ is not a Being who disappeared someplace we do not know of, nor even the far away Being that we think of. He is alive. He lives among us. He is present in the Eucharist. And this is why the Eucharist is the base, the centre, the heart of religion. From whence comes every life. Not from anywhere else.
"You do not believe it. But we believe it. We believe firmly, resolutely, from the depth of our being, that in the tabernacle of each of our churches, God truly resides under the appearance of the Host.”
Has it not been like this these past years?
Let us think of our churches, with Christ there “abandoned.” Everything has been done to hide the tabernacle from view; it is hidden in some other inferior places, with the excuse that the faithful would be able to adore better. And, when the tabernacle is left in the centre of the church it is all covered up by everything and anything: with tables for the New Mass and with a load of junk, which simply reveals, besides bad taste, the mental untidiness of Catholicism these days, that has certainly not made the Eucharist the central dogma of the faith.
Let us think of the of genuflections and contemplation which have practically vanished from the churches. Inside the church it is necessary to keep silence always, as God is present in the tabernacle. It is He who makes our prayer true, not our bustle and din.
Don Chauthard, though, in his long discourse with Clemenceau, speaks of the Mass, let us listen to him.“Mass is the Divine Sacrifice of Calvary, which is reproduced every day amidst us. Everyday, Christ offers His death to God, through the hands of the priest, exactly as in Heaven in the Mass of Glory, He presents, the glorious scars of His wounds to perpetuate the redeeming efficacy of the cross, to His Father. Everyday, at Mass, Christ renews His immense work of redemption for the world.
“And to this event, the greatest that can happen on earth, more important than the noise of armies, more beneficial than the most fecund of scientific discoveries, you think we could be present at [this] without the quivering of our very being. You cannot get used to the Mass. Or what would our faith amount to?
“[…] To Love Crucified, we try to respond with a crucified love. You are scandalized by our way of life; you think it goes against nature. Yes, it would be so if we did not have faith in the Eucharist. But we believe in the Divine Crucified and we love Him; and we want to live like Him and through Communion we participate in His life.”
A frightening transformation in the faith and life of Catholics has taken place and is called Protestantisation. As Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci wrote to Pope Paul VI in their Brief Critical Study:
‘ […] we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Magisterium.” *
Also here, what Dom Chautard said is repeated: the centre of Catholicism is the Eucharist, it is the Mass; The Council of Trent by fixing definitively these canons of the rite had erected a barrier to save the integrity of the Magisterium.
So, it has dramatically come about, that meddling with the canons of the rite everything went [down] together - nothing remains intact in this “new” Catholicism. Martin Luther had said it: do not waste time attacking the Papacy, combat the Catholic Mass and the Papacy will collapse with it.
It is for this, for love of the whole Church, of Her doctrine and discipline, for love of the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth, we are called simply to keep the rite of the Mass as it was fixed by Trent and Saint Pius V. There is nothing more urgent [to be done] so that the Church and the Pope may live.
[Translated and adapted by Rorate Contributor Francesca Romana]
*Translators note: in the Italian version of the Brief Critical Study (letter to Pope Paul XI) quote – “magistero” is the last word. In the English version the word “Mystery” was found. Magisterium was kept because the Fathers who wrote this article pick that same word up in the following paragraph.