Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Lutheran convert asks: "What has happened to the Catholic Mass?"

One of the animating principles behind the changes in the New Mass masterminded by Msgr. Bugnini in his Concilium and promulgated by Pope Paul VI, was the laudible motive of making Catholic liturgy more accessible to Protestants. As a result, language portraying the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice was largely displaced by language suggestive of Mass as a "communal meal" of the gathered congregation. Next time you think about the goals of the New Evangelization and Ecumenical outreach to our Protestant "separated brethren," however, remember this article. Something to think about


Why Does This Lutheran Service Look More Catholic Than Our Novus Ordo Mass?

Nate Metzger, "What Has Happened to the Catholic Mass? A Letter from a Recent Lutheran Convert" (Remnant Online, November 5, 2013):
... I'm a recent convert to Catholicism from 'confessional' (read: traditionalist) Lutheranism, and it's been disillusioning being on this side of the Tiber. Being raised confessional Lutheran, I of course know my Lutheran catechism very well (I could probably recite most of it by memory even now), and for that reason, I find the Paul VI Rite bizarre. In the New Mass, there's nothing particularly Catholic-specific about the content of the orations. If anything, it seems rather 'neutral' and 'happy' in tone, in that not only is it purged of Catholic-specific dogma, but references to sin, death, hell, Satan's works, and the warring angels, have been omitted.

By comparison, my old Lutheran Mass's orations were chalk full of allusions to this 'hard' stuff.

Moreover, some of the words in the new Mass's Canon—including the 'Blessed are you Lord' prayer, strike my former Lutheran ears as doctrinally suspect. My Lutheran friends find that prayer especially weird, and they argue that it cheapens the Real Presence. I have a hard time disagreeing. At the very least, no confessional Lutheran pastor would ever say such a prayer before the consecration in a Lutheran Mass. No. Way.

Compare this with the Traditional Latin Mass—the Mass that Luther objected to and which was the foil for my own childhood catechesis. Most prayers in this older Mass contain doctrines and ideas that are highly offensive to my former Lutheran ears—propitiatory sacrifice, the merits of the saints, purgation, etc. All over the place in the changing orations of this Mass, you find ideas and doctrines that make me think, "Yeah, there's no way I could pray this as a Lutheran. Way too Catholic." I hardly ever think that when I read/hear the orations of the new mass.

Add to this the fact that the Old Mass has that great Eucharistic Prayer in the Canon ("Accept, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host...), which is totally offensive to Lutherans. That prayer, of course, was axed from the New Mass.

Bonkers, from my perspective. I just don't get it. So there's a weird irony for this former confessional Lutheran.

Certainly, a confessional Lutheran has to avoid the old Mass like the plague, in that it is chalk full of doctrines that are, for a Lutheran, Catholic-specific (read: heretical). Then again, the Paul VI rite is also unsuitable for Lutheran worship; but ironically, this isn't because it contains Catholic-specific dogma (because it doesn't), but because it it's too soft on sin, hell, the warring angels, and the evil work of Satan.

Then, of course, there's the way a new Mass is 'celebrated'. Some of my old Lutheran friends talk about how the Catholic church 'jumped the shark' at Vatican II, and it shows in the way the new Mass is offered.

Imagine a confessional Lutheran kid today, learning his catechism, visits a Novus Ordo Mass for the first time. In addition to hearing the 'neutral' and 'happy' prayers, this young Lutheran kid will see things he's never seen before in his own Lutheran church: people standing for communion receiving in the hand, chatty and irreverent priests and laity, ad-libbing, altar girls, lay readers (including women), disposable hymnals, lay administers of communion, priests walking around the sanctuary during the sermon, and loud and obnoxious cantors (singing a lame responsorial psalm from the pulpit, no less!).

He'll also notice that, as compared to his own Lutheran church that sees Zwingli as an enemy, the Catholic church he is visiting seems purged of icons and crucifixes. Moreover, here at the Catholic church, none of the men have suits and ties on, and everyone is talking before Mass begins. And yes: lots of bad, bad, idiotically bad, insultingly horrendously bad, dear-God-how-is-it-possible-for-it-to-be-this-bad? bad, music. Insanely bad. Our young Lutheran visitor finds it odd that he knows by heart more hymns by Thomas Aquinas than these Catholics do.

At any rate, our young Lutheran visitor is sorely confused after attending his first Catholic Mass. As it turns out, his little confessional Lutheran church is by far the most 'conservative' and 'traditional' church in town.

Most strangely, our young Lutheran visitor finds the Catholics to be heretics. Yet, these Catholics don't want to return the compliment. 'Oh, same difference!' they say to him.

Now, back to the fact that you guys are a source of sanity for me. As a convert (who gets the 'same difference' line constantly upon mentioning that I'm a convert), I'm always interested to get Catholic opinion on these changes. But on most major Catholic blogs and media outlets, the answer I get is that I'm a 'radical traditionalist' simply because I suggest that there are huge discrepancies between the two Masses, or because I don't understand why they would introduce such lame music, or because I think that the new Mass is doctrinally weak. Thing is, I don't usually attend a traditional Latin Mass. It's too far away. And anyway, I'm new to this Catholic thing. I don't really know what it means to be a traditionalist. I'm still learning.

Bonkers....


12 comments:








JM

said...

I second this, coming from Evangelical Anglicanism. One of the pulls towards Rome was the connection with tradition I first encountered in the Book of Common Prayer. Egads! I know the Traddies are saying along with Belloc: awful book that gutted the Mass! Irony is it is closer to orthodox themes, if carefully read, than most of what I hear preached in the contemporary Church. "Oh, just read the CCC!" I also know that is the rejoinder. But the nun at the church which received me is indicative of the attitude I typically find: "The CCC is wonderful, but way to technical for most people. Here, read *this*!" and then some gobbledygook like William Angor Anderson's faith-killing "In His Light: A Path Into Catholic Belief" is popped into your hands. Err, no thank you.





Anonymous

said...

-come to an Orthodox Christian Church...come and see.





J.K.

said...

The best thing about Eastern Orthodoxy is its relatively intact liturgy. I say "relatively," because I've heard English used in some chants, which, well, just doesn't work too well. But the liturgies are great.

The down side of Eastern Orthodoxy, despite valid orders and sacraments, is, well, a problem of unorthodoxy itself on several issues ranging from contraception to divorce and re-marriage, not to mention the problem of acephaly (lacking a head, meaning the universal pastor in the See of St. Peter).

For anyone attracted to the beautiful Divine Liturgy of the Eastern churches, it should be noted that these can also be found, of course, in Eastern rite Catholic churches in communion with Rome.





c matt

said...

At an Orthodox church you will see a more reverent liturgy. You will give up assured doctrine. Heck of a pickle.

But you can get both at a TLM. Whole heartedly agree with the sentiments, and this coming from a born in 1965 VII cradle who had not attended a TLM until this year. Until recently, I had always thought the new Mass just changed the wording from Latin and turned the priest around. Not until I read Ottaviani's intervention did I realize the wholesale destruction visited upon the Mass. Saying I feel ripped off and a bit pissed would be an understatement.





Gabe Martini

said...

I can't really say anything about the English translation comments, as anyone knows that going from ancient languages to English will never be a natural or flawless proposition!

However, I would like to note a few issues with your other comments on Orthodoxy in general.

You mention that we have a "problem of unorthodoxy" on issues like "contraception," "divorce and re-marriage," and "acephaly."

As far as contraception and re-marriage are concerned, I'm not sure how anyone can claim orthodoxy or unorthodoxy here, since the latter was an issue that has been worked out through the canonical history of the Church (and Orthodoxy is in no way uncanonical here), and the former is certainly dealt with on an appropriate, pastoral, case-by-case level. We simply just don't (over-)emphasize it as with Rome today, nor do we create blanket rules as if all human beings are robots. These are pastoral issues, and should be considered on a case-by-case basis, period. Rome likes their hard and fast rules alright, but that sure hasn't helped them preserve either apostolic tradition or the orthodox Liturgy/Mass of the formerly orthodox Roman tradition.

Speaking of which, having a novel understanding of the role of the Pope of Rome hasn't helped in preserving traditional and holy worship, either—has it? Despite the papacy, Rome has been involved in a number of non-traditional, non-orthodox innovations for the past two centuries, and the train has certainly fallen off the rails. A quick look at videos from World Youth Day or the average, Bible belt, Novus Ordo Mass will make this more than plain. The liturgy is not some secondary, tangential area of doctrine and piety, either. If the papacy cannot preserve worship, of what good is he/the office?

Besides all of this, your claim is simply untrue. Orthodox churches are not head-less, and we even refer to our archdioceses or patriarchates as autocephalous. Just because we do not make the claim that a single Pope/Patriarch is the head of the entire church—a role we reserve for Christ himself—does not mean our churches are without heads. Each local church has an archbishop (whether he serves as a metropolitan, patriarch, or whatever), and we believe in the local jurisdiction of the church. Our unity is not in a single person (on a global scale) but in our doctrine and piety.

While there are Byzantine or Eastern Rite Catholics today, these are historical anomalies, the result of past sins and conflicts. To join with them out of novelty or fondness for eastern worship is a little like protestants trying to make up a new liturgical service today from scratch, or grafting a tradition that has passed away into the present. The people in these churches have real, historical, and complicated reasons for being where they are, and it has more to do with national history and conflict than beliefs regarding one rite over another.

Anyway, I enjoyed the article above, and it highlights why I could never really give Rome a serious consideration. For all that is said about the necessity and strength of the papacy, if they can't prevent their worship from being totally gutted, then all of their other claims being to ring hollow.

In peace,
Gabe





Michael Anthony Cornett

said...

English is a downside to the Liturgy? Outside of the Western-leg of the Roman Empire, you don't find a single head at any point in the East. Jerusalem, Antioch, New Rome/Constantinople, Alexandria, Cyprus, etc. The evidence is in the counsels and the writings of the Fathers. What issues of contraception do you speak of? As for divorce, it was a concession allowed in the time of the Prophet Moses...allowed by God. Not as an ideal, but as a pastoral necessity for the continued salvation of His people. The church canons, which the Roman church also signed off on, allow for this as well...It just happened to change for them at later counsels. Pastoral canons are not the same as doctrinal canons. The so-called 'Eastern-Rite' Catholic churches gained much thanks to the ever-so-popular Vatican II meetings. While digging into the history of the Church, particularly Rome, look for any such "Eastern-Rite" and see where their allegiance may have been. The Roman church's existence in much of the Eastern world is 'thanks' to the Crusades.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Dear Gabe. Self-congratulation over your various heresies bespeaks the truth that schism is proximate to heresy.

From rejection of Papal Primacy and universal jurisdiction to rejection of Original Sin and rejection of The Immaculate Conception to spiritual assent to divorce and remarriage makes one confess that it is tiresome keeping-up with all of the heresies in your communities.

As far as worship,The Mass of the West predates that of the East and owing to their pride and arrogance in rejecting the Divine Constitution of the Church with Peter as its head on Earth, the various communities of the schimatic heretics in the east have a stable liturgy mainly because they could not arrange for even one ecumenical council to consider possible changes in their worship.

Finally, claiming scores of heads is a confession of headlessness masquerading as doctrinal soundness when it is a rebarabative rejection of what Jesus Himself established.2460





I am not Spartacus

said...


Pope St Clement and his universal jurisdiction and authority - I mean, there are reasons those in the East appealed to this monarchial authority

http://tinyurl.com/mzp9vxr





Joe

said...

"... we even refer to our archdioceses or patriarchates as autocephalous."

And the only difference between this and Protestantism is that Protestants are individually "autocephalous," while you are so in groups. Either way, they are not subject to the Vicar of Christ on earth. This view stands condemned by the words of even those saints whom you would erroneously claim exclusively for the "Eastern Church."

God bless you.





Jordanes551

said...

"As far as contraception and re-marriage are concerned, I'm not sure how anyone can claim orthodoxy or unorthodoxy here, since the latter was an issue that has been worked out through the canonical history of the Church (and Orthodoxy is in no way uncanonical here), and the former is certainly dealt with on an appropriate, pastoral, case-by-case level."

The reason for the just charge that the Orthodox Churches are heterodox on matters of divorce and remarriage and contraception is because: 1) the Orthodox allow validly married people to remarry, which is adultery per the teaching of Christ; and 2) more recently in certain quarters the Orthodox Churches have begun to teach the acceptability of contraception, contrary to the Apostolic Tradition. Dressing that up as "pastoral" doesn't change the fact that it's a departure from the teaching of the Apostles.

"nor do we create blanket rules as if all human beings are robots."

No does the Catholic Church.

"Rome likes their hard and fast rules alright,"

Otherwise known as "Canons" . . . .

"but that sure hasn't helped them preserve either apostolic tradition or the orthodox Liturgy/Mass of the formerly orthodox Roman tradition."

On the contrary, the Church's canons have indeed helped with the preservation of Apostolic Tradition and the liturgy. The Roman Church, in contrast to the other patriarchal sees, has never departed from Apostolic Tradition, and is incapable of doing so.

"Speaking of which, having a novel understanding of the role of the Pope of Rome hasn't helped in preserving traditional and holy worship, either—has it?"

The understanding isn't novel -- all of the ancient patriarchal sees acknowledged the obligation to remain in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome. Read up on the history of the Acacian Schism if you doubt it.

Liturgical abuses are very harmful to the faithful and to Church's witness, but their presence does not mean the Catholic Church is fallible in teaching faith and morals.

"Despite the papacy, Rome has been involved in a number of non-traditional, non-orthodox innovations for the past two centuries,"

None of which have risen to the level of a formal defection from the Faith . . .

"and the train has certainly fallen off the rails."

Those would be the rails that the Church continues to roll along . . .

"The liturgy is not some secondary, tangential area of doctrine and piety, either."

No, it's not -- and yet bad liturgy or imprudent attempts at liturgical reform do not constitute formal defection from the Faith.

"If the papacy cannot preserve worship, of what good is he/the office?"

The papacy does preserve valid sacraments. Just because the Pope cannot guarantee that the sacraments are always celebrated reverently or with proper dignity doesn't mean the papacy is unnecessary to safeguard the Church's worship.





Jordanes551

said...

"Orthodox churches are not head-less, and we even refer to our archdioceses or patriarchates as autocephalous."

Your churches are not headless, but the Orthodox religion is headless -- it lacks a visible sign of unity, and is not in communion with the Successor of St. Peter, upon whom Christ built the Church.

"Our unity is not in a single person"

But in the past it was . . .

"While there are Byzantine or Eastern Rite Catholics today, these are historical anomalies,"

No, from the Christian standpoint it is disunity, schism, that is anomalous. Unity between the West and the East is the way it should be. It is the separation of the Orthodox Churches from the Catholic Church that is the historical anomaly, not the unity of the Eastern Churchs with the Catholic Church to which they and all Chritians properly belong.

"the result of past sins and conflicts."

Their rejoining the Church was the repairing of past sins and conflicts -- but there is much more work of reparation to do.

"The people in these churches have real, historical, and complicated reasons for being where they are, and it has more to do with national history and conflict than beliefs regarding one rite over another."

The same could be said, with even greater justification, of the members of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

"For all that is said about the necessity and strength of the papacy, if they can't prevent their worship from being totally gutted, then all of their other claims being to ring hollow."

Our worship has not been totally gutted. Things are bad, but they can never get *that* bad.





I am not Spartacus

said...

I anticipate the posting of the statement by Pope Blessed John Paul II to the effect that we need them (eastern schismatics) so we can breathe with two lungs by writing that to crave the transplantation of an infected lung is not wisdom and it also ignores the reality that the Body of Christ already contains all that is necessary to actualise its work of Salvation.

And the Body of Christ would be much healthier if the modern hierarchy would disconnect us from the Ecumenical I.V. for that is clearly debilitating us unto doctrinal febrility and the evil insanity of indifferentism.