"Make EVERYTHING You Do a Sacrifice"
by Michal Semin

In Part 1 of Michal Semin's address to our Rome Conference in May 2012, he explained that Hell is not empty and that we must all sacrifice and pray. He gave the inspiring example of the sacrificial spirit of the three children of Fatima. In Part II, Mr. Semin continues to explain the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In this second part of my address, I would like to compare the Traditional Roman Rite with the new Rite of Pope Paul VI.

Can we, in good conscience, say that they convey the same attitude towards the meaning of sacrifice?

Do they, in the identical way, express the Catholic teaching defined at the Council of Trent and reiterated by Pius XII in Mediator Dei?

Cardinal Ottaviani didn't think so when he stated in 1969:

"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 definitively fixed by the Council of Trent."

Why did he think so? What are the main differences between these two Rites that confirm the claim that the meaning of sacrifice and its role has shifted from a central position to the side?

Well, it 's already the very structure of the Mass. The new Rite of the Mass is divided into two parts - the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This division gives the impression that the part of the Mass before the Offertory is somehow independent and can exist without the second part, on its own; that these two parts are separable and of the same value.

In fact, there are many parishes in Europe and perhaps elsewhere too, where, due to the lack of priests, the faithful in the parishes are invited to take part in "Liturgies of the Word", presided by a deacon or a layman. The traditional Roman Missal has no such division, for all of its prayers and sacred gestures are oriented towards the propitiatory sacrifice, to the moment of Consecration.

In the Traditional Rite, the priest comes to the foot of the altar stairs and stands facing the altar - which represents Our Lord - and prays Introibo ad altare Dei, followed by the Penitential Psalm Judica me, arousing in his heart a spirit of repentance, awareness of his own unworthiness and need of atonement for his own sins and the sins of the present faithful. This Rite of the priest's cleansing comes from the Old Testament liturgy where the priest of the Temple - before he walked into the Holy of Holies - ritually cleansed himself.

The beginning of the Holy Mass at the foot of the altar steps - the priest doesn't come bowing to the congregation - symbolizes climbing up Mount Calvary, from which, after offering the Sacrifice, the graces flow into the whole Church. The penitential nature of the opening prayers is confirmed and crowned by a dual Confiteor - dual because the priest and the faithful are not equal in offering the Sacrifice - a fact that is not reflected in the New Mass having just a single Confiteor.

Also, the Kyrie Eleison is a penitential prayer so it is completely senseless to consider all these prayers as a preparation for the reading from the Bible or as an instruction of the faithful.

Traditional Holy Scripture Is Understood Differently In the New Rite

Even the reading from Holy Scriptures is, in the Traditional Rite, understood differently from the way it is approached in the modern liturgy - the Epistle is read facing the altar (Christ), the Gospel is read facing North, because North represents pagan lands and the dominion of demons. Reading the Gospel, in this sense, is a kind of an exorcism - which is at the end of the Gospel - reflected by the words of the priest: "By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out."

The shift from Sacrifice to meal is even more clear and transparent in the changes of prayers made in the Offertory, or, rather, the change in the very nature of the Offertory itself.

According to the Catholic Faith and related liturgical tradition of the Church, the offering subject and offered object is Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why the prayers contained in the traditional Offertory presuppose the presence of Our Lord as the true and only Victim, the Eucharistic presence. The Offertory prayers anticipate Consecration. They do not mention bread; they use the term Victim-Hostia, Spotless Host, although it is not consecrated yet.

Along with the actions of the priest, this prayer makes it clear that what is offered at the Holy Mass is the "Spotless Host" - that is, the Spotless Victim. The propitiatory (atoning) nature of the Mass is explicit - it is offered for our sins. It reminds us that the Mass is offered "for the living and the dead"; and the priest who offers the Sacrifice is a mediator between man and God.

Out of 12 Traditional Offertory Prayers 2 Remain in the New Mass

From the twelve Offertory prayers in the Traditional Rite, only two are retained in the New Rite of Mass. And of interest is the fact that the deleted prayers are the same ones that Luther and Cranmer eliminated. [Emphasis added.] And why did they eliminate them? Because, as Luther said, they "smacked of sacrifice - the abomination called the Offertory, and from this point on almost everything stinks of oblation."

The New Rite of Mass doesn't even use the term Offertory anymore; it calls this part of Mass "preparation of gifts". And within this part of the New Rite there is not a single Word which even hints that it is the Divine Victim which is offered. The bread and wine - "the work of human hands" - is all that is offered.

Michael Davies, who had a close relationship with Cardinal Ratzinger, points out that this concept is fully compatible with the Teilhardian theory that human effort, the work of human hands, becomes, in a certain way, the matter of the Sacrament.

Then we have the changes in the very heart of the Holy Mass - in the Canon. The second Eucharistic prayer is famous for the absence of preparation prayers for the Consecration and the words of Consecration, the Institution Narrative. The priest says these words as if he was merely retelling the story of the Last Supper some 2,000 years ago, instead of actually consecrating the bread and wine in the here and now.

Besides all these changes in the prayers of the Mass - the most profound change indicating the shift from Sacrifice towards a congregational meal is the change in the priest's orientation during the Mass.

His Position no longer symbolizes the fact that he is an intermediary between God and man, as in the Traditional Mass - where he faces the Tabernacle, but he is now the "president" of an assembly, presiding at the table around which the faithful are to gather and "refresh" themselves at the "memorial supper." (All these phrases are from the General Instruction.) We all can share plenty of stories about the destruction of the traditional altars in churches all over the world and their replacement by tables. Again - the nature of the Mass moves from Sacrifice to meal.

  I do not doubt the validity of the New Mass, but how can one not conclude from these changes that there is something seriously wrong about it? I do not doubt that there are many devout priests and laymen assisting at the New Mass, but their faith in the sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass and thus the Catholic religion as a whole is well and alive - no thanks to the liturgical so-called reform, but despite it.

From a historical perspective, we see that the post-Conciliar liturgical changes are similar, if not identical, to those which the founders of Protestantism were bringing to life — Mass as an assembly with presider, the shift from Sacrifice to meal, laymen taking over specifically priestly functions, narrative nature of consecration, priest facing the people, etc.

The Protestant inspiration in creating the New Rite of Mass was confirmed by a dose friend of Pope Paul VI, Jean Guitton:
"The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy — but what is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord's supper ... there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass, and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist service."

Sacrificial Mentality and Priestly Vocations

Not being a priest, I do not want to dwell excessively on the matters that are mostly related to the priestly life, but allow me to mention my concern, that the lack of sacrificial mentality in the New Liturgy might affect the very identity of the priesthood. I am not here to teach you, dear Fathers, because I am sure you not only know it, but live it, that the life of the priest is defined and also nurtured by sacrifice, both at the altar and in his ministry outside of liturgy.

Our Lord, Who is the Highest Priest, gives the example — He gave His Own life for our eternal salvation. The priests of His Church are to follow Him and lay down their lives for the entrusted flock.

Am I too daring to make a connection between the repression of the sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass and the lack of priestly vocations? Or the rise of the violation of the celibate life — as the vow of celibacy cannot be fulfilled without sacrificing the good of matrimony for a higher one?

A priest gives up the goods of marital life so that he can be an alter Christus, a second Christ, a mediator between God and men. The reason for celibacy is not only that the priest has more time for pastoral work (practical reasons), but because he is unifying himself with the celibate living Christ, the High-Priest, for offering the most Holy Sacrifice, for which he has to be ritually clean.

Everything the priest does as a priest is in some way oriented towards the altar and Our Lord's sacrifice, the font of all graces. It is from his service at the altar that he receives his priestly dignity, not from playing guitar or football with the youth. And when he is at the altar, he is not there to concoct some creative liturgies, expressing his own personality, but to conform to Christ and act in His person. How well this is
ST. THERESEreflected in the fixed rubrics of the Traditional Roman Rite!

Sacrificial Mentality and Lay People and Marriage

But, obviously, the life of sacrifice is not exclusively reserved for the priests. Also we, laymen, are obliged to follow the example of Our Savior. How does the calling to live a sacrificial life usually manifest itself in the life of a family? In the generous acceptance of children, the willingness to have a much larger family than is the norm in the contemporary contraceptive societies of the modern world.

Today the definition of a "good life" is based on one's self-realization and career building. Today the "good life" is the mere enjoyment of life without respect to the supernatural final goal of human life, or the needs of others. Unfortunately, even Catholics are not immune from succumbing to such a lifestyle.


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The Loss of the Sense of Sacrifice

Contraception, the symbol of modern hedonism and thus the loss of sense for sacrifice, is widespread in the post-Conciliar Church. But even among those who object to the use of artificial contraception and abortion and who promote natural family planning, we encounter an effort neutralizing the clear teaching of Pius XII on the conditioned lawfulness of this method of spacing children.

Knowing NFP literature and having taken part years ago in a NFP course, I do not recall any specific consideration for the explicit medical, social or economic conditions under which the married couple is allowed to enjoy the marital act with the expected sterility of that particular act.

Although many Catholics in general keep having more children than one or two, the unwillingness to have more children is leading the nominally Christian nations of Europe into extinction. Their demographic future is very bleak and, barring a miracle, they, in the course of a few decades, will be subjected to alien cultures and false religions.

Spain and Italy - the two most important countries of Christendom - along with France, have a total fertility rate of 1.29 children per woman. That is less than European Protestant, and thus contraception-friendly, countries of the North! As we know, 2.1 is the replacement level. I just don't see how it is possible to call these nominally Catholic countries Catholic at all!

Another bitter fruit of the lost sense for sacrifice is the omnipresent breakdown of marital fidelity. The divorce rates in most nominally Christian countries are increasing, as is the number of annulments in the case of Catholic couples.

"In the context of a divorce mentality, even canonical annulment cases can be easily misunderstood, as if they weren't anything more than ways to obtain a divorce with the blessing of the Church."

Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said this to the media two years ago when the Vatican issued a critical note about the sharp rise of annulments in USA. And he is perfectly right - I have met a good number of modern-minded Catholics who don't see any difference. They see it as a divorce for Catholics, which is similar to their view of non-restricted use of NFP - contraception for Catholics.

Along with the new and modern concepts of priesthood, the decline of the number of children in Catholic families is the chief cause of the lack of priestly and religious vocations. Large families are always - especially if they experience some hardship and discomfort - a school of selflessness and service to others. On the contrary, the modern model of one child per family - that exists for the pleasure of his parents - does not provide a sufficient environment for learning any positive social skills.
Large Catholic Families Provide Good Vocations

On January 20, 1958, at an audience for the Italian Association for Large Families, Pius XII stressed the importance of the ideal of large Catholic families for providing a good environment for vocations:

"All of these precious benefits will be more solid and permanent, more intense and more fruitful if the large family takes the supernatural spirit of the Gospel, which spiritualizes everything and makes it eternal, as its own particular guiding rule and basis. Experience shows that, in these cases, God often goes beyond the ordinary gifts of Providence, such as joy and peace, to bestow on it a special call - a vocation to the priesthood, to the religious life, to the highest sanctity."

"With good reason, it has often been pointed out that large families have been in the forefront as the cradles of Saints. We might cite, among others, the family of, St. Louis, the King of France, made up of ten children; that of St. Catherine of Siena, who came from a family of twenty-five; St. Robert Bellarmine from a family of twelve; and St. Pius X from a family of ten."

"Every vocation is a secret of Providence; but these cases prove that having a large number of children does not prevent parents from giving them an outstanding and perfect upbringing; and they show that the number does not work out to the disadvantage of their quality, with regard to either physical or spiritual values."

The gradual loss of the sense of Our Lord 's propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross and its re-presentation on the Catholic altars all around the world leads to another serious effect - a weakening of the awareness of our own sinfulness, the need of our conversion, penance and offering reparation for our sins. It is for these sins of ours that Our Lord suffered and died a brutal death; we are guilty of the pains He had to bear.

The Passion and the sacrificial action of Our Lord makes us aware of the venom, the darkness of sin; the infinite offense of the limitless holiness of God. It is for our sins that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is offered today so that we may benefit from Christ's merits and come to understand the great price Our Lord paid for our redemption.

Our Need for Conversion

The muffled, the inhibited aspect of propitiation in the New Rite leads to the total unawareness of our sinfulness and the nature of sin and also to the serious decrease in the number of confessions. Many priests stopped preaching about the nature of sin - saying that it insults God - about mortal sins that deprive men of the sanctifying grace, closing the gates of Heaven to them.

More than the necessity of our reconciliation with God, we hear about reconciling with ourselves, with accepting ourselves as we are, without any call for penance and conversion of our hearts.

  I do not know the situation in other countries, but in the German-speaking area the practice of individual confessions is pretty rare. A Czech traditional priest, stationed in Austria, told me recently that he knows parish priests in Austria and Germany who didn't 't have a single confessing parishioner in the course of the whole year!

The Old Mass Conveys Better the Sacrificial Nature of the Catholic Life

From what was said so far, I hope it is clear what I wanted to convey. The Traditional Liturgy expresses much more clearly than the New Rite - which even Pope Benedict XVI calls a "banal product of the moment" - our sinfulness and the need for our redemption. [Ibid.]

  I once met a lady, who told me that at the occasion of her first presence at the Traditional Latin Mass, she wasn't able to receive Holy Communion. When I asked her why, she replied: "I would have had to go to Confession first!" Something she had never thought about before.

The way we pray, the way we believe - the way we live. It's that very simple.

Fatima Gives Us a Better Understanding of Living a Life of Sacrifice

The Fatima Message leads us towards a more thorough understanding of the necessity of living a life of sacrifice. The Holy Mass, being the center and summit of our lives, regardless of being priests or laymen, must teach us the right lesson - that sacrifice is the means to our redemption and salvation. If it fails to convey this message, then there is something seriously wrong about it.

We, as faithful Catholics, must do as much as we can to build our lives upon healthy and firm foundations and avoid everything that weakens them. It's not a matter of choice, it 's our duty.

All of us present at this conference take the Fatima Message seriously and want to live according to it. Not because we somehow like it or that it fits our subjective preferences, but because it's a message from Heaven, recognized and promoted by the highest authorities in the Church; because it is, along with the Mass of Pius V the insurmountable
barrier raised up against all heresies.

The apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima stress the vital importance of living a life in a sacrificial manner. The Traditional Roman Rite, as opposed to the Liturgical Reform, embodies this spirit in the most profound and perfect way. What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

Taken from Winter 2013 Issue, The Fatima Crusader