Mass Confusion

He inquired of the group assembled before him, "What is the purpose of the Mass?" A hand shot up and an answer followed, "To give praise." And another, "To pray." And again. "To sing." And then another, "To worship." Someone also mentioned giving thanks.

He applauded each of the respondents, who were not entirely incorrect, of course, the last being closest to the mark. He expounded on each point adding that "To sing is to pray twice." And something about coming together, what the Protestants like to refer to as "fellowship".

What's wrong with this scenario?

The group was composed of Catholic school children some of whom were eighth graders. The man asking the question was the parish priest.

Going back to the opening paragraph, all the answers could have been provided by any Protestant answering to the question, "Why do you go to church?"

In fact, while all the answers are valid, some of them are the means, and not the purpose, such as  "to sing".

Not one word about the Sacrifice, the re-presenting of the Sacrifice of the Cross on Calvary in an unbloody manner. The Holy Mass is not called The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for
mere formality. The Mass is above all a Sacrifice. This is why the Protestant rebels hated it so and why it was deformed, essentially into what the Novus Ordo Mass has become ironically.  There is scarcely any mention of sacrifice in the canons and orations. The priest isn't even called one anymore. He is now just a "presider." Presiders cannot offer sacrifice, only a priest can. In fact the term priest primarily means one who offers sacrifice because he has been ordained with the power to do so. Anyone properly trained and so disposed, can preside if approved of by the assembly.

Almost everything that has followed from Vatican II has brought about mass confusion and never more so than about the Mass, for it is the Mass that most Catholics have regular familiarity with.  The modern habit of imprecision in all things by appealing to the emotion and not the intellect has de-Catholicized the people, whatever the intention of any Churchman was and or is.

The employment of the term "presider" is one case in point. It is meant to bring the priest down to our level, just one of us, only in the role of a temporary presider, or a chairman who has been granted limited authority by the people. No one of us asked for this, no one I know ever expressed to me, "Gee I am uncomfortable with the word "priest", can't they call him something else, instead?" Presiders were foisted on us and maintained so that we would all be little Cranmers---the apostate Bishop who engineered the Protestant "mass" to suit his own discomfort and disbelief, thus banishing the notion of sacrifice by wordsmithing. Now most Catholics have internalized the notion of "a presider" even though they know that Father is a priest, much like Episcopalians still call their Sunday service a "mass" and even refer to their minister as a priest [who has no power of an actual priest any longer]. With one word as a stake through the heart of the sanctuary, we have not only lost the solemn idea of the dignity of the priest, and he along with us, the solemnity and mystery, the sense of the sacred itself has been diminished to the point of practically being nonexistent. This is why school age children eat crackers during Mass, sit in the pews and color or draw and play with toy sticks even during Communion on occasion and why some adults and older children bring their blackberries to Mass and play games or text or whatever it is they do. This is why there is so much heedless talking and noise at Mass, why people have no compunction about getting up at any time to use the rest rooms as if at the local cinema. Before Vatican II we had the same facilities but we children and adults---unless overcome by a sudden illness, or under a doctor's specialized care were expected to have self-mastery or control over our bodily functions for an hour or so, not much to ask for one would think. No one would have dared to enter the church with so much commotion. No, sacrifice is not even something we expect of ourselves any longer, let alone the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It was almost a miracle that these poorly catechized children answered as well as they did.

In his eminent work, THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS, which is dedicated to the Most Sacred and Adorable Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament , Fr. Michael Müller, C.SS.R, speaks of sacrifice repeatedly: The Sacrifice before the coming of Christ; the sacrifice of the New Law; the Mass as a Sacrifice of adoration and infinite praise, a Sacrifice of propitiation, a Sacrifice of thanksgiving, and a Sacrifice of impretration [petition by prayer], devoting an entire chapter to each. He also has chapters dedicated to the renewal of Christ's Passion, an extension of the Sacrifice, and a special chapter on the Mass as the Hope of the dying---the value of the Mass, its dignity and sanctity, and why Catholics must be reverent at Holy Mass.  Reverence does not include snapping gum throughout Mass and taking Communion with a wad still in one's mouth, among other undignified comportment. This book ought to be mandatory in every seminary and a part of the library of every rectory.  One of the many blessed chapters is one titled, Why Mass is Celebrated in Latin. Let me cite, emphasis mine:

 "When a Protestant goes to church he generally seems to consider the principal acts of religion to consist in reading, praying or preaching, nay, he seems to attach most importance to the last office. He seems to look upon his clergyman merely as a teacher of morality, as one whose chief business is to read prayers in an audible tone for the people, so that all may join in. His character lacks that sacredness which arises from the sublime duty of offering sacrifice; preaching and praying are the two great acts of his ministry, the former of which any clever man without the help of ordination may perform as well as he; and for the latter any good reader is equally capable. For a religion like this, which acknowledges nothing more sublime in its ministry, a foreign language, or an unknown tongue, as it is commonly called, would certainly not be very appropriate in public service; hence proceeds the error of judgment so common to Protestants when they conclude it is equally unfit for Catholic worship.

"How different are such ideas from ours and from the truth. We venerate in our priests a character of a much higher order, and an office infinitely more exalted. We look upon them as the representatives and vicegerents of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest; as having power, by virtue of their ordination, to consecrate and offer sacrifice, and to administer sacraments; thus divinely commissioned, to become, as St. Paul expresses it in admirable terms, 'the ministers of Christ, and dispensers of the mysteries of God.'

"The Catholic looks upon his priest as a minister of Christ, whereas the Protestant considers his preacher more as a minister of the people. When the Catholic priest stands at the altar, he stands there as a mediator between God and the people; he has an office to perform in which they have nothing to do with him, or for him, as assistants or coadjutors, in a word, he has a sacrifice to offer, which is an act that passes between God and himself alone, to complete which, or to render it more acceptable, no assistance of the people is necessary. He offers it indeed for the people, and in company with them, but not that they have any part in offering it in the strict sense of the word. For the character of a priest is essentially distinct and separate from that of a layman, and nothing marks this distinction so absolutely as the power of offering sacrifice, which is his exclusive right.

"Taking, then, this view of the subject, can it in itself be a matter of any consequence at all what is the language in which the Almighty is addressed at the time? Cannot He Who is the Author of all, equally understand any language? And if the priest understands the language in which he is addressing the Almighty, what more is required? The words by which sacrifice is offered are addressed to God, not to the people, nor by the people, and if he who addresses them and He to whom they are addressed understand them, every useful object is attained, and nothing more can be wanting. This is the case in the Mass, and for this reason all the essential parts of the Mass---the Offertory, the Consecration, and the Communion---are performed in secret or in silence.

"It is true that both prayers and instructions accompany the essential parts of a sacrifice, and these are spoken aloud so that all may hear them; but the fruits and blessings of the Mass are not the consequence of these prayers, nor produced by them, but by the essential act of the Sacrifice alone. In like manner the administration of the Sacraments is properly performed in Latin, for though these also are sometimes accompanied by prayer and instruction, or ceremonies, which, when properly understood, may affect the minds and excite the devotion of the people, yet the effect is not produced by any of these means, but by the actions rightly performed and the words properly pronounced by the priest, as ordained by Jesus Christ. In both these instances of Sacrifice and Sacraments, the priest is performing the highest offices ever given to man to perform---offices totally and incommunicably peculiar to himself, to which an unchangeable and a dead language is expressly and justly assigned. If the Mass or the Sacraments were nothing but a common prayer, read for the people, then perhaps the common language of each country would be the most proper to use; but then, also, would religion lose its chief character of Divinity, and the priesthood be stripped of the only character which distinguishes its members from the laity. We do not, therefore, blame the Protestants for using the common language of the people in their public prayers, for as they have neither sacrifice nor priest, they were only consistent in laying aside the language when they rejected the sacrifice and the priesthood. But on the other hand let them not object to us; for as we have still retained the sacrifice and the priesthood, there is no reason for rejecting the use of a language which is most convenient for our purpose.

"Thus the complaints so common among Protestants about the use of the Latin language in the Mass are purely founded on a want of knowledge of our religion. Let them inform themselves upon this subject, and all difficulties will disappear at once. To Catholics it is a great consolation to reflect that, in this as in every other respect, the Church always adapts her discipline to the necessities of her flock, or to the dignity and order of her public service.

"It has been said that the use of any language in itself was immaterial, but in its consequences, or in view of the commands of the Church, it is by no means immaterial. The Church has wisely ordered the Latin tongue only to be used in the Mass and in the administration of the Sacraments, for several reasons.

1) Latin was the language used by St. Peter when he first said Mass at Rome. It was the language in which that Prince of the Apostles drew up the Liturgy which, together with the knowledge of the Gospel, he or his successors the Popes imparted to the different peoples of Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Hun- gary and Poland.

2) From the time of the Apostles down, Latin has invariably been used at the altar through the western parts of Christendom, though their inhabitants very frequently did not understand the language. The Catholic Church, through an aversion to innovations, carefully continues to celebrate her Liturgy in that same tongue which apostolic men and saints have used for a similar purpose during more than eighteen centuries.

3) Unchangeable dogmas require an unchangeable language. The Catholic Church cannot change, because it is the Church of God, Who is unchangeable; consequently the language of the Church must also be unchangeable.

4) Mass is said in Latin because a universal Church requires a universal language. The Catholic Church is the same in every clime, in every nation, and consequently its language must be always and everywhere the same, to secure uniformity in her service.

5) Variety of languages is a punishment, a consequence of sin; it was inflicted by God that the human race might be dispersed over the face of the earth. The holy Church, the immaculate Spouse of Jesus Christ, has been established for the express purpose of destroying sin and uniting all mankind; consequently she must everywhere speak the same language.

6) It is a fact well known that the meaning of words is changed in the course of time by everyday usage. Words which once had a good meaning are now used in a vulgar or ludicrous sense. The Church, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, has chosen a language which is not liable to such changes. The sermons and instructions, and in short everything that is addressed directly to the people, are all in the language of the country; even the prayers of the Mass are translated in almost every Catholic prayerbook, so that there can be no disadvantage to the Catholic worshipper in the fact that Mass is celebrated in the Latin tongue; especially as the pastors of the Church are very careful to comply with the injunctions of the Council of Trent, to instruct their flocks on the nature of that great Sacrifice, and to explain to them in what manner they should accompany the officiating priest with prayers and devotions best adapted to every portion of the Mass. In the second place, faithful Catholics know well that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the self-same sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered to His Father on the Cross, because both the Priest and the Victim are the same; their faith in the Real Presence is abundantly sufficient to enkindle devotion in their hearts, and to excite in their souls appropriate acts of adoration, thanksgiving and repentance, though they may not understand the prayers which the priest is uttering. For this reason it is that the faithful, pressed by different wants, go to the adorable mysteries of the Mass, never thinking of the language in which they are celebrated. Some, moved by the force of calamities, hasten thither to lay their sorrows at the feet of Jesus. Others go to ask some grace and special mercy, knowing that the heavenly Father can refuse nothing to His Son. Many feel constrained to fly thither to proclaim their gratitude, and to pour forth the love of a thankful heart, knowing that there is nothing so worthy of being offered to God as the sacred Body and Blood of the eternal Victim. More press forward to give glory to God and to honor His saints, for in the celebration of these mysteries of love alone can we pay worthy homage to His adorable Majesty, while we bear witness to our reverence for those who served Him. Lastly, men hasten to Mass on the wings of charity and , compassion, for it is there that they can hope to obtain salvation for the living and rest for the dead. Thus to the thirsty pilgrims through the rocks of the desert do the fountains of water appear. Thus do the generation of those who seek justice receive benediction from the Lord and mercy from God their Saviour.

"Pity for those who know not this heavenly Sacrifice! What a misfortune to see one driven from this Eden, and yet to do nothing to obtain the favor of readmittance! How unhappy too are those Catholics who, though knowing it, by their unpardonable indifference deprive themselves of this exhaustless mine of inestimable riches!' "

Pity, indeed, for we are all good little Protestants now, with our Quaker hymns and such like, with our presider among us; as one "Eucharistic Minister" put it to me, "Are we not just like Protestants now?" She was serious, not being flippant.

No,  and by no I mean yes! this book must be in every rectory and seminary. Of course, Father Müller wrote his treatise on the Mass in the 19th century before all Hell broke loose, when as Pope Paul VI observed, "somehow the smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary." Fr. Müller also has a chapter about Satan and his hatred of the Holy Mass. Well, that Pontiff surely knew what he was talking about, since his New Mass was and is the culprit. Surely it is God's chastisement visited upon us that Paul VI was so blind to the folly at hand.

Just as we set our clocks back every autumn season to avail ourselves of more daylight during the working hours, it is time the Church aright what has befallen Her and set back the liturgical clock to the time of reason, sanity and dignity, restore what we have thrown away so cavalierly, recapture the greatness of the sense of the sacred. We just might have an abundance of priests once again. Catholics just might have a sense of awe once again and take more pride in their attire and behavior. Oh, what wonders we might at long last behold!

The Müller book can be purchased from TAN BOOKS HERE.