Abbreviations: S.T. refers to the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas
Aquinas; S.C.G. to the Summa Contra Gentiles of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Acknowledgements: The author thanks several persons of the SSPX for doing much work on the essential parts of the arguments below, as well as for providing key insights for many of the details.
Rather than just "follow along with the crowd", more and more Catholics today are questioning the New Mass. They're comparing the New Mass with the Traditional Latin Mass that has been said by holy priests in the Church for centuries. They're looking critically at all "the changes," which go beyond a mere question of language. The question of the Mass is important, because:
What is validity?
At a valid Mass, the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Consecration, and at an invalid Mass they don't. The question of validity is an important one, since we can never knowingly participate in the worship of an invalid Mass. To do so is to worship mere bread and wine rather than the Body and Blood of Christ, and this is idolatry, contrary to the 1st Commandment. And furthermore, participation in an invalid Mass can never fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation.
Unfortunately, when most Catholics today answer the very important questions
posed above, the answer they give tends towards one of two extremes:
|NO, the New Mass in English is never
SO a Catholic may never attend it at any time,
HENCE, the New Mass can never fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation.
||YES, the New Mass in English is sometimes
SO a Catholic may always attend it whenever it is valid,
HENCE, the New Mass will sometimes fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation.
We will show below that the true Catholic position, based on the theological teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, is that the New Mass in English can indeed be valid, but that even when it is valid, it is so displeasing to God that such a Mass can never fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation, and that a Catholic should never feel obliged to attend it. Furthermore, inasmuch as the New Mass would cause a Catholic to adopt beliefs about the Mass which are not Catholic, and at the same time lose their Catholic beliefs, a Catholic should not attend the New Mass.
Is the New Mass Ever Valid?
Unfortunately there is unquestionable evidence that many Masses being celebrated today are invalid. But is every New Mass said in English invalid? And how could we know an invalid Mass from a valid one?
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that there are four causes which directly affect that validity of the Mass, and that a defect in any one of these four causes will make the Mass invalid. These four causes are:
If we can show that in some cases all four of these causes are properly effected, we can be certain that in those cases the New Mass is valid.
1. Is the New Mass invalid by defect of matter?
This question concerns the bread and wine used at Mass. The simple answer to this question is:
No, if the priest "follows the book."
The reason for this is that for a valid Mass the bread must be of pure wheaten flour mixed with natural water. The use of any grain other that wheat makes the Mass invalid, as does the addition of ingredients such as oil, milk, eggs, butter or honey or anything which would make the mixture into cake or cookies rather than bread. The addition of things such as salt or yeast (in the Latin Church) is gravely illicit (against Church Law), as is the use of whole wheat flour rather than white flour, but these do not make the Mass invalid. The shape of the hosts in the Latin Church is traditionally round, but this isn't necessary for validity.
For a valid Mass the wine must be made strictly from grapes (red or white) which have been allowed natural fermentation with no artificial additives.
In the case of older or conservative priests, the use of proper matter usually isn't a problem. Only where the priest doesn't "follow the book" in using the proper bread and wine should we doubt the validity of the Mass by defect of matter.
2. Is the New Mass invalid by defect of minister?
This question concerns the priest (or bishop) who says the Mass. The simple answer to this question is:
No, if the priest's ordination was done "by the book" and the ordaining Bishop's intention was to ordain priests with the power to offer the sacrifice of the Mass.
The reason for this is that he who celebrates the Mass must be a validly ordained priest [S.T. III.82.1], and the new Rite of ordination is so ambiguous that its validity depends on the intention of the ordaining bishop. If such a bishop clearly does not intend to ordain priests with the power to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, the men he ordains do not receive this power and then we should doubt the validity of their ordination.
Some would argue that an ambiguous Rite of ordination is automatically invalid, because in the Rite there is an intention opposed to the ordination taking place. To this objection we answer that wording that is ambiguous is not really contrary to anything, simply because it is ambiguous. This seems so obvious to us that we really can't explain it more simply.
Concerning the bishop's intention when he ordains priests: we do have a problem whenever we try to determine someone's intention for doing something, because intentions are interior, and we can only form judgements based on what is exterior. To solve this problem, what the wisdom of the Church has always sought is a moral certitude, which favours the bishop's intention (especially that of a more conservative bishop) in the absence of any positive doubt. This means that we should doubt the bishop's intention only if he has shown positively, by words or action, that he does not intend to do what the Church does in conferring on a man the power to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass.
There is never a question of whether the bishop actually believes in the power of the Priesthood, but only that he intends to do what the Church does, and has not given external evidence that he does not intend to do this. Otherwise, as long as the ordination is done "by the book," we may have a moral certitude of the validity of the priestly ordinations, and in these cases the New Mass is not invalid by defect of minister.
3. Is the New Mass invalid by defect of form?
This question concerns the words of Consecration used in the Mass. There is no simple answer to this question.
The reason is that the words of Consecration in the New Mass are different from those used in the Traditional Mass. We know that the words of Consecration in the Traditional Mass are valid. We have to study the words used in the New Mass in some detail before we can know whether they are valid or not.
The words of Consecration are referred to as the form of the sacrament of the Eucharist [S.T. III.60.7]. For a Mass to be valid, the words of Consecration must fulfil certain criteria. We'll begin our discussion by comparing the words of Consecration of both the Traditional Mass and of the New Mass in chart form:
of the words of Consecration used in the Traditional Mass and in the New
(notes explained below the chart)
(showing the "changes")
|Consecration of the bread||"This is My Body."||"This is My Body,
which will be given up for youa."
|Consecration of the wine||"This is the chalice of my Blood,
of the new and eternal testament,
the mystery of faith,
which will be shed
for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins."
|"This is the cupe of My Blood,
the Bloode of the new and everlasting covenante.
It will be shed
for you and for all menc
so that sins may be forgivend."
Each change made to the words of Consecration presents its own problem. The changes are:
a) at the Consecration of the bread
Before considering each of the specific changes noted above to see whether they make the New Mass invalid, we will first consider the general case of how making changes to the words of Consecration affects validity.
According to St. Thomas, a Mass is rendered invalid:
i) if words are added or taken away so that the essential sense of what is being said at the Consecration is destroyed, and this includes removing words from what St. Thomas calls the "substance of the form" [S.T. III.60.8]
ii) if the words are changed so that the intention of what is being effected by the sacrament is changed, thus affecting the intention of the minister [S.T. III.64.8]On the other hand, a Mass is not rendered invalid:
iii) if words are added or taken away that do not add to or take away from the essential sense of what is being done [S.T. III.60.8 ad 2]We will also look at the words of Consecration as they are in use by the various Eastern Rites of the Church. These sacraments are most certainly valid; but the words they use for Consecration are different from those used by the Latin Church. The differences will help us know what words the Church considers to be essential to the words of Consecration, and what words may be removed or added without affecting validity.
The changes made to the words of Consecration used in the New Mass.
We will now consider the specific changes made in the New Mass to see if they make the New Mass invalid.
a) at the Consecration of the bread
-the words "which will be given up for you" ("quod pro vobis tradetur") have been added.
Although there has been a change to the words of Consecration of the bread, this change does not affect validity. This is because, as St. Thomas says, words can be added to the form of Consecration as long as the words added do not alter the essential sense of the form [S.T. III.60.8 ad 2]. In this case, the words "which will be given up for you" serve only to further specify whose body is referred to by "My Body" in the words: "This is My Body." And furthermore, we can look at the words of Consecration of other Rites in the Church, (for the Consecration of the Bread) and compare them to the New Mass. The Consecrations of the other rites are certainly valid, and since the New Mass uses words that are very similar, the Consecration of the New Mass must be valid too.
Words of the Consecration of the bread in various Rites of the Church
|This is My Body
which is distributed for you and for many for the expiation and remission of sins
|This is My Body
which will be broken for you for the forgiveness of sins
|This is My Body
which will be given up for you
|This consecration is valid||This consecration is valid||This consecration must also be valid|
b) at the Consecration of the wine
-the words "mystery of faith" ("mysterium fidei") have been removed from the Consecration and placed somewhere else in the Rite.
Those who have doubts about the validity of the New Mass due to this change made to the words of the Consecration of the wine, use the following argument:
i) St. Thomas says that a sacrament is rendered invalid if the essential sense of the words of the form is changed [S.T. III.60.8], and he says further that this includes suppressing any part of the "substance of the form" of the sacrament.
ii) Elsewhere St. Thomas says that the words "the mystery of faith" belong to the "substance of the form" of the Consecration of the wine [S.T. III.78.3].
iii) Thus by removing the words "the mystery of faith" from the words of Consecration of the wine, the New Mass is invalid.
iv) And furthermore the Roman Missal says that the whole form of the Consecration of the wine includes the words "the mystery of faith" and that any words belonging to the integrity of the form cannot be lacking without affecting validity [De defectibus, V.1]. It is also stated that if any of the words of the form are omitted, then the entire form of that Consecration must be repeated by the priest before resuming the rest of the Mass [De defectibus, V.2]. Thus, because the priest does not say the words "the mystery of faith" in the words of Consecration of the wine, the New Mass is invalid.But on the other hand:
The liturgies of the various Eastern Rites: the Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Abyssinian, Byzantine, and Armenian Rites do not include the words "the mystery of faith" in the words of Consecration of the wine, yet their Consecrations are certainly valid.We respond to those who argue against the validity of the New Mass in this case by saying that it is evident that St. Thomas is using the expression "substance of the form" in two senses: a wider sense [in S.T. III.78.3] in which he says that all the words of the Consecration of the wine belong to the "substance of the form" of the Eucharist, and a stricter sense [in S.T. III.60.8] in which he says that a change in meaning made to the "substance of the form" renders the sacrament invalid.
If we don't admit that St. Thomas is using the expression "substance of the form" in two senses, then we must conclude that St. Thomas disagrees with the judgement of the Church: on the one hand he says that the words "mystery of faith" are part of the "substance of the form" and hence to omit them renders the sacrament invalid, whereas on the other hand these words are omitted by the liturgies of the various Eastern Rites and the Church certainly does consider these sacraments valid. We illustrate the resolution of this dilemma in chart form as we consider the 3-fold division of the words of Consecration of the wine given by St. Thomas [in S.T. III.78.3] and at the same time we show how St. Thomas uses both senses of the term "substance of the form".
Substance of the Form chart with the traditional words for the Consecration of the wine
|1. Words by which the change of wine into blood
is signified = the shorter form of Consecration.
"This is the chalice of My Blood"
|Yes, always, by definition, since these words clearly signify the change of wine into blood [S.T. III.78.3] which is the sacrament itself (res sacramenti) [S.T. III.78.1], and the words of the form must signify what they bring about [S.T. III.78.2].|
|2. Words that show the power of the blood shed
in the Passion = the latter words of Consecration.
"of the new and eternal testament"
"the mystery of faith"
"which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins."
|Yes, insofar as they are considered collectively
as a determination of the shorter form (determination of the predicate).
In this way, together with the shorter form they comprise the "integrity
of the expression." And hence, in practice, the change of wine into blood
occurs only when the last of these words has been said, and not before.
No, insofar as they are considered individually as part of the determination of the shorter form. Individual phrases may thus be omitted entirely, as they are in the Eastern Rites, without affecting validity.
|3. Words that belong to the use of the sacrament.
"As often as you shall do these things, do them in memory of me."
|No, never, since these words belong to the use of the sacrament and not to the change of wine into blood.|
Thus only by agreeing that St. Thomas uses the term "substance of the form" in 2 senses, can we reconcile the 2 texts of the Summa Theologica as well as the long-approved practice of the Eastern Churches; and we can easily see that the words "mystery of faith" are not strictly necessary for the Consecration to occur. And if these words are not strictly necessary for Consecration, then the other words that determine the predicate, which we shall call the latter words of Consecration for convenience, must not be necessary either, since St. Thomas makes no distinction between the words "the mystery of faith" and the other latter words.
But if the latter words are not strictly necessary for Consecration, then what necessity do they have?
Integrity of the Expression
On the one hand as we see in the chart, St. Thomas divides the words of Consecration into words that signify the change of wine into blood (the shorter form) and words that show the power of the blood (the latter words). It is clear that the shorter form is sufficient for Consecration, since:
In considering the effect of changes to the words of the form, St. Thomas speaks of maintaining the "essential sense" of the words of Consecration [S.T. III.60.8]. Now the essence of a thing is what the thing is, its nature, and this makes it different in nature from other things. For example, the nature of man is to be a rational animal; the possession of reason making him different from other animals and the possession of a physical body making him different from the angels. But there are parts of a man that are called integral parts, and these are parts that according to his nature he ought to have, but at the same time if these parts are lost, an individual man does not cease to be a man. For example, men have arms and legs, but by the loss of an arm or a leg a man does not cease being a man. The arms and legs which we would normally expect to find in a man but which could be lost are then integral parts of a man.
In this light we can see what St. Thomas means when he says "integrity of the expression." The latter words ( like "the mystery of faith") are quite simply integral parts of the form. This means on the one hand that we would expect to find these words in the Mass, but if they were omitted, as some of them are by the Eastern Rites, the Mass would not cease being a Mass. And this is because the removal of some or all of the latter words doesn't change the essential sense of the words of Consecration: the change of wine into the Blood of Christ. On the other hand it also means that when the priest pronounces the words of Consecration over the wine, he adores the Precious Blood only after he says the latter words, and not before, so that all of the words of Consecration are thus necessarily pronounced as an integral unit.
That is why the latter words of Consecration are not all strictly necessary (absolutely speaking) for the validity of the Consecration, but it is nonetheless necessary that they be said by the priest together with the shorter form of Consecration, and if they are not, the priest is obliged to begin the words of Consecration again from the beginning. And so it is that the Roman Missal instructs the priest to do so as noted above. Thus we can conclude that in the case of the New Mass, a change to the latter words such as the removal of the words "the mystery of faith" doesn't automatically render every Mass invalid.
c) at the Consecration of the wine
-in the English and other vernacular translations, the words "pro multis" which mean "for many" have been mis-translated by "for all men."
First of all, no-one can say that the mere act of saying Mass in a vernacular language makes the Mass invalid, for as St. Thomas teaches, a sacrament may be valid regardless of the language spoken [S.T. III.60.7 ad 1], and furthermore the Mass is validly said in Greek and Ukrainian in the Eastern Rites, and Arabic in the Maronite Rite; and these are vernacular languages. And, as we have shown, a change made to the latter words of Consecration of the wine doesn't necessarily render the New Mass invalid.
However, we now need to consider a further objection made against the New Mass:
Granted that changing the latter words of Consecration doesn't automatically make all Masses invalid, nonetheless this particular change that has been made, mistranslating "for many" by "for all men," does change the meaning of the sense of the words of Consecration so as to create a contrary intention that would invalidate all Masses.Those who have doubts about the validity of the New Mass due to this change made to the words of the Consecration of the wine, use the following argument, following our analogy of the integral parts of a man:
Indeed it is true that if a man were to lose both his arms, he would still be a man. However a creature could be imagined with 2 legs and, in the place of the 2 arms a man should have, with 2 wings or even 2 more legs, and this mutation would indeed be "integral," but it would be so radically different that this creature could no longer be a man but would have to be some new kind of animal.Those making the above objection claim that the mistranslation in the words of Consecration:
i) at worst creates in the Rite itself an intention contrary to the essential sense of the words, and
ii) at best would so affect the minister's intention that the Mass would then be invalid.
And furthermore, it is argued that the minister's intention could also be changed by other texts in the Mass that are ambiguous and could have a heretical interpretation.We will answer these questions regarding intention, as well as a further objection: "Wouldn't the New Mass automatically be invalid if those who created it had bad intentions?" further below, when we consider whether the New Mass is invalid for reasons of intention.
In the meantime, we can look at how the words "for many" relate grammatically to the rest of the words of Consecration of the wine, and whether there is any grammatical evidence to suggest that this particular mistranslation makes the Mass invalid.
Grammatical Considerations of the words of Consecration of the wine.
Words of Consecration taken from the Traditional Latin Rite Mass
|Words of Consecration||"This is the chalice of My Blood"||"of the new and eternal testament"
"the mystery of faith"
|"which will be shed for you, and for many, for the forgiveness of sins"|
|Grammatical Purpose of the Words||To state what is on the altar; in this case it is Christ's Blood||To help remove all doubt whose Blood is on the altar||To show the power of the Blood
|What these words say about the Blood||What Blood is shed||What Blood is shed||Why the Blood is shed|
|Does a change in these words change the meaning of the words of the main clause?||Yes, but only if the change makes it plain that the Blood is not Christ's Blood||Yes, but only if the change makes it plain that the Blood is not Christ's Blood||No, because a change in something's purpose why doesn't necessarily change what the thing is|
|Example of a change in the words that changes the meaning of the words of the main clause||"This is not the chalice of my Blood"||Adding these words:
"the blood of Fr. Joe Smith"
"but not the Blood of Christ"
|Example of a change in the words that DOES NOT change the meaning of the words of the main clause||"This is the cup of my Blood"||Adding these words:
"also known as the Precious Blood"
"shed upon Calvary"
|"which will be shed for you, and for all men, for the forgiveness of sins"|
Grammatically, the words of the Consecration of the wine consist in a main clause "This is the chalice of My Blood," two appositive phrases "of the new and eternal testament" and "the mystery of faith," and finally a subordinate clause "which will be shed for you, and for many, for the forgiveness of sins." The two phrases and subordinate clause are determinations of the predicate of the main clause "This is the chalice of My Blood," and they thus help to remove all doubt of whose blood it is, and as St. Thomas says, to show the power of the blood [S.T. III.78.3]. As we have seen, the phrase "the mystery of faith" can be removed completely without affecting validity, and in fact in the New Mass it has been removed.
Let us compare the remaining phrase "of the new and eternal testament" and the subordinate clause. One striking difference becomes obvious immediately: the phrase "of the new and eternal testament" specifies what blood was shed in the Passion and hence is being consecrated in the Mass, whereas the subordinate clause "which will be shed..." specifies why the blood was shed. Now it is evident from the teaching of St. Thomas that both the what and the why of the Precious Blood of Christ are included in the determination of "the chalice of My Blood" because "the most important circumstances [of an act] are why it is done and what is done" [S.T. I-II.7.4].
However we know from Metaphysics (the study of the first principles of things that are) that the form of a thing such as a sacrament is strictly speaking what the thing is and not why it is. As St. Thomas says "the purpose [why] is not part of the substance of the act [what]" [S.T. I-II.7.4 ad 2]. Hence, although the subordinate clause "which will be shed for you and for many..." is included in the form of the sacrament to comprise the "integrity of the expression," it is by definition not truly part of the form, and furthermore it is metaphysically impossible that a change to the purpose of a thing (why the thing exists) will automatically change the form of the thing (what the thing is), unless a contrary intention is indicated by the change of the purpose, and we have already shown this not to be the case.
Thus the mis-translation of the words "pro multis" by "for all men" is very grave, but does not make the New Mass invalid.
d) at the Consecration of the wine
-the words of Consecration, which have always been said as one complete sentence, are now broken into two sentences
Those who have doubts about the validity of the New Mass due to this change made to the words of the Consecration of the wine, use the following argument:
i) St. Thomas says that the latter words of Consecration of the wine must be said together with the shorter form "This is the chalice of My Blood" in order to preserve the "integrity of the expression" [S.T. III.78.3].
ii) And when the priest does say the words of Consecration, the latter words which are found in the Rite must be said as one integral expression together with the shorter form for validity.
iii) But in the New Mass the latter words of Consecration have been divided into two sentences, and thus have lost their integrity of expression. Thus the New Mass is invalid.
iv) And furthermore, in the other Rites of the Church the words of the Consecration of the wine are said in one sentence, and this shows us that the Church disapproves of the words of Consecration being divided into two sentences. Thus, again, the New Mass is invalid.But on the other hand,
v) We have shown that not all the latter words are necessary for validity, and that changes made to any of the words of Consecration do not adversely affect validity unless the change introduces a contrary intention.We answer that this particular change made to the words of Consecration is very grave, and shows that the creators of the New Mass had a total disregard for all liturgical tradition in the Church. However, as we have stated above, changes made to the words "which will be shed..." do not affect validity, since these words comprise a subordinate clause which expresses the purpose why and not the what of the Blood of Christ, and for this reason these words are by the strictest definition not part of the form. Thus the fact that this subordinate clause is now a separate sentence does not affect validity either, since as we have said it is truly not part of the form necessary for Consecration anyway.
And so although there are some who say that 2 distinct sentences can together comprise a single integral expression, and that thus the division of the words of the Consecration of the wine does not destroy the "integrity of the expression;" we do not agree with this opinion, since for something to be integral it can't be divided. Besides this, these words have always existed as a single sentence in the other Rites of the Church.
Lastly, the fact that there are two sentences in the words of Consecration, actually makes it MORE likely that the Consecration is valid. This is because the words that determine the Precious Blood are in the first sentence, which is complete and on its own. The controversial words "for you and for many" are in a separate sentence, and grammatically speaking, are no longer part of the words of consecration, which are found in the first sentence. It could thus be argued that Transubstantiation takes place when the priest finishes saying the first sentence, (since Transubstantiation takes place after the priest finishes saying the sentence that expresses what change is taking place) and when the priest says the second sentence, it has no effect on the Transubstantiation that has already occurred. We have summarized this argument in the chart that follows:
Words of Consecration used in the New Mass
|Words of Consecration||"This is the cup of My Blood"||"the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant."||"It will be shed for you, and for all men, so that sins may be forgiven."|
|Grammatical Purpose of the Words||To state what is on the altar; in this case it is Christ's Blood||To help remove all doubt whose Blood is on the altar||To show the power of the Blood
|What these words say about the Blood||What Blood is shed||What Blood is shed||Why the Blood is shed|
|Does a change in these words change the meaning of the words of the main clause, or affect Transubstantiation?||Yes, but only if the change makes it plain that the Blood is not Christ's Blood||Yes, but only if the change makes it plain that the Blood is not Christ's Blood||No, because this is a separate sentence, and Transubstantiation will take place when the priest finishes saying the previous sentence.|
e) at the Consecration of the wine
-there are several other changes in the traditional way that the words of consecration have been translated, as well as the addition of the words "the Blood" for emphasis.
These changes made to the latter words of Consecration do not create
a contrary intention to the change of wine into the Blood of Christ, and
so in view of all that we have already said above, these changes do not
4. Is the New Mass invalid by defect of intention?
St. Thomas speaks 2 kinds of intention that affect the validity of a sacrament:
i) the intention expressed by the Rite [S.T. III.60.8]
ii) the intention of the minister using the Rite [S.T. III.64.8]Many who dispute the validity of the New Mass also call into question a third intention: the intention of those who created the New Mass, among whom were Protestants who don't believe in transubstantiation.
The intention of those who created the New Mass
We will consider this intention first. The answer is found in the discussion of intention by Pope Leo XIII in his letter Apostolicae Curae, (Sept. 13, 1896). In this letter, the Pope considered the validity of Anglican ordinations after the Protestant Reformation in England, since the words of the sacrament of Ordination were changed by those who didn't believe in the power of the Priesthood to effect transubstantiation. At that time the Pope agreed with the decision made by his predecessors and stated that concerning the internal heretical intentions of the creators of the new Rite of ordination, the Church could not judge, as this was interior; however what the Church could and did judge was their intention as it was externally manifested, and their interior intention was externally manifested in the Rite itself.
So it is that in the present case, the Church cannot judge the interior intentions of heresy and Ecumenism held by the creators of the New Mass, and indeed these intentions do not directly affect the validity of the New Mass anyway. But what we must examine is the external manifestation of their internal intention in the Rite of the New Mass itself.
Thus we turn our attention to examining the two types of intention spoken of by St. Thomas. As noted by Pope Leo XIII, St. Thomas divides intention in 2 ways [S.T. III.64.10]: the internal intention, or why something is intended to be done; and the external manifested intention or what is intended to be done. As an example of this, we can think of someone who intends to go to the store [what] to buy a loaf of bread [why]. As previously mentioned, the Church can judge only the external manifest intention, and St. Thomas taught that only this external intention affects the validity of a sacrament.
We can summarize the various kinds of intention and their effect on validity in the following chart:
Intention and Validity
|Expressed by the Rite itself||For validity the words of Consecration must
express the change of wine into Christ's Blood, which is the intention
of the Church in conferring this sacrament [S.T. III.78.1, III.64.8 ad
The words of Consecration have a direct, adverse effect on validity:
1. if they do not express the change of wine into Christ's Blood effectively [S.T. III.78.2],
2. if they express an intention contrary to the change [S.T. III.60.7 ad 2, III.60.8].
Ambiguous or heretical prayers or phrases in the Rite do not affect validity directly as long as they do not express an intention contrary to the essential sense of the form [S.T. III.60.8 ad 2] which in this case is the change of wine into Christ's Blood.
|The intention of the Rite = the purpose why
the sacrifice is to be offered and is expressed in the oblation (at the
The presence of ambiguous or heretical prayers or phrases in the Rite may affect validity indirectly, but only if they encourage a contrary intention in the minister. However we would not attend such a Mass, even if the Mass were valid, for fear that such a Mass were displeasing to God, due to:
1. the presence of the ambiguous or heretical prayers in the Rite, or
2. the absence of those traditional prayers which would express the necessary intention.
|Of the minister using the Rite||The intention of the minister = what
he intends to do in the Rite. This intention is presumed to be that of
the Church which is expressed by the sacrament [S.T. III.64.8], unless
the minister expresses a contrary intention [S.T. III.64.8 ad 2].
The minister's contrary intention directly affects validity if he does not intend to do what the Church does [S.T. III.60.8, III.64.10, III.83.4 ad 7].
But the minister's lack of belief in whatever change the Rite is effecting does not affect validity if he still intends to do what the Church does [S.T. III.64.9].
|The intention of the minister = the minister's
personal reason why he is performing the Rite:
1. the minister's bad intention can't invalidate a Rite which is otherwise valid [S.T. III.64.10].
2. the minister's good intention can't make valid an otherwise invalid Rite [S.T. I-II.20.2].
3. the minister's good intention can't compensate for the serious offenses done to God by ambiguous or heretical prayers or phrases in the Rite, valid or not [S.T. I-II.20.2].
As we see from the chart, the intention expressed by the words of Consecration can affect validity if the change of the wine into Christ's Blood is insufficiently expressed, or if the words of Consecration somehow express an intention contrary to the change. We have already shown that the change of the wine into Christ's Blood is sufficiently expressed by the shorter form in the New Mass ("This is the cup of My Blood"). We shall now examine whether the changes made to the latter words of Consecration in the New Mass are sufficient to constitute an intention contrary to the change signified by the shorter form.
How could changes made to the latter words produce an intention contrary to the Consecration? The words "This is the cup of My Blood" signify the change from wine into blood, and the latter words "of the new and everlasting covenant" merely confirm that "My Blood" is Christ's Blood. However if a priest were to change the latter words and say "This is the cup of My Blood, but not of the new and everlasting covenant," this change would create a contrary intention to transubstantiation and the Mass would be invalid. But what about changing the words "which will be shed for you and for many" to "which will be shed for you and for all men?"
In his discussion of the form of the Consecration of the wine, St. Thomas makes the distinction between the objective and subjective Redemption [S.T. III.78.3 ad 8]. Objectively, the Redemption won by Christ's blood suffices for all men, whereas subjectively the Redemption won by Christ's blood is efficacious only for many (the elect) who will actually benefit by it.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that the words of Consecration "for many" refer to the subjective Redemption, and the Tradition of the Church has always insisted that these words be used. The reason is that the words "for all men" when used in the context of the Consecration are ambiguous: they could refer to the objective Redemption, in which case the meaning would be that Christ's blood is sufficient to redeem all men (so that all men could go to heaven), and this is the true teaching; but they also could refer to the subjective redemption, in which case the meaning would be that Christ's blood efficaciously redeems all men (so that all men will go to heaven), and this is heretical.
The New Mass in the original Latin has "pro multis" which means "for many." Hence this ambiguity exists only in the words of Consecration in English and other vernacular translations, and is very grave, but is not sufficient to create a contrary intention for two reasons. The reason is that ambiguous words do not contradict a clear statement. Ambiguous words are simply ambiguous, and don't clearly state anything, for or against the Blood being Christ's Blood. So when the priest says "This is the chalice of My Blood...which will be shed for all men for the forgiveness of sins" the meaning of the words themselves doesn't deny that "My Blood" is Christ's Blood, so there is no contrary intention. Furthermore, St. Thomas teaches that it doesn't matter what the priest believes to be the effect of Christ's Blood, nor whether he even believes that the wine becomes Christ's Blood at all. As long as the priest:
i) intends to do what the Church intends, and
ii) the words that he says sufficiently signify Transubstantiation and don't contradict the Church's intention to consecrate the wine (and we have shown that this is the case in the New Mass),then his intention is sufficient for validity [S.T. III.64.9]. Hence the change made to the latter words doesn't create a contrary intention that affects validity. And furthermore, St. Thomas tells us that the minister's intention is presumed to be that of the Church which is expressed by the Rite [S.T. III.64.8], unless the minister expresses a contrary intention [S.T. III.64.8 ad 2].
Finally, there are those who doubt the validity of the New Mass because of the presence of ambiguous phrases apart from the words of Consecration, phrases which nonetheless form the intention of the minister. Among these phrases are the words "for us" which the priest says when he offers the bread in the Offertory (Preparation of the Gifts): "It will become for us the bread of life." This phrase is ambiguous, as the Catholic interpretation would be that it truly becomes the bread of life for those who are able to partake of it, whereas the Protestant interpretation is that Christ becomes present in the sacrament only because of the faith of those present at the Mass.
Again we must state that this ambiguity is very grave, and could create
doubts about the intention of the minister. Nonetheless, we must re-iterate
that as long as the priest intends to do what the Church intends, and namely
to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, it doesn't
matter whether he has heretical beliefs concerning the change or not [S.T.
Conclusion: The New Mass in English when done "by the book" is valid unless the minister does not intend to do what the Church does. However we do note that many parts of the New Mass are ambiguous, and although this ambiguity doesn't necessarily make the Mass invalid, it does make the Mass dangerous. This is because the ambiguity can affect the intention of the minister and this creates a doubt of validity. And even if there is the slightest doubt of validity, we should not attend the Mass, since we are not allowed to have doubts when it comes to the sacraments. On the other hand, as we shall see in the next section, being certain of the validity of a Mass is not a good enough reason to attend it.
Is the New Mass Displeasing to God when it is Valid?
(A consideration of whether we should attend the New Mass when we are certain that it is valid)
In the way of a reminder, we note that at a valid Mass, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ during the Consecration; this is called Transubstantiation. At a Mass which is invalid, the bread and wine remain mere bread and wine after the Consecration: Transubstantiation does not occur. Against those who say that the New Mass is never valid, we have already shown that in some cases at least, the New Mass is indeed valid.
Nonetheless, it is unfortunately true that there are many invalid Masses today. At the same time there is also a growing number of Catholics who refuse to participate in such invalid Masses. And rightfully so, because to knowingly participate in the worship of an invalid Mass would be idolatry, the giving of worship to a mere piece of bread as if it were God, and this is contrary to the 1st Commandment. Furthermore, an invalid Mass cannot fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation.
Today when many Catholics are asked the question: "Can we attend the New Mass?" or "Does this Mass fulfill my Sunday obligation?" the answer they give is "YES, if it is valid, and NO if it is not valid." For them, validity has become the sole measure of a "good" Mass or of a "bad" one.
St. Thomas Aquinas, theological Master and Doctor of the Church, would strongly disagree. (And so do we). He teaches quite clearly that what makes the offering of a sacrifice (like the Mass) pleasing to God is not what victim is being offered, but why the victim is being offered. As he says: "the offering of a sacrifice is not measured by the value of the victim, but by its signification" [S.T. II-II.85.2. ad 2]. Thus the value of the sacrifice of the Mass does not come from its being valid, but from the reason why it is being offered. St. Thomas confirms the above teaching when he says that sacrifices "are not deserving of praise except if they are done out of reverence for God" [S.T. II-II.85.3].
Two Examples of Valid Masses that are NOT pleasing to God
1. St. Thomas Aquinas gives an example of a valid Mass that is not pleasing to God:
A satanic black Mass, where the purpose the Consecration is to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, to desecrate the Body and Blood of Christ afterwards in a satanic ritual. Such a Mass is a true sacrifice and is a valid Mass as St. Thomas teaches [S.T. III.64.10], however it is most certainly displeasing to God, and by attending it we can never fulfill our Sunday obligation.
2. We can think of another example of a valid Mass that is not pleasing to God:
A Mass said by a schismatic priest or bishop, like the Eastern Orthodox. Like a satanic black Mass, such a Mass is a true sacrifice and is a valid Mass, however it is most certainly displeasing to God, and by attending it we can never fulfill our Sunday obligation.
What we will now set out to prove is that the New Mass can be valid and yet still be displeasing to God. If for any reason at all the New Mass is displeasing to God, then we we should not attend it, nor could attending such a Mass fulfill the Sunday obligation, even though the Mass is valid. This is because no-one can expect to please God (fulfill the Sunday obligation) by participating in something that offends God (a displeasing Mass).
The four causes of goodness in a thing
St. Thomas teaches that there are four causes (or factors) that influence the goodness or badness of any act, such as the Mass, and that we can't say that the Mass is good "unless it is good in all these ways, since evil results from any single defect, but good from the complete cause" [S.T. I-II.18.4. ad 3]. These four causes of goodness are:
1. Is the New Mass displeasing to God because of circumstances?
Most of us are aware of so-called "abuses" such as liturgical dancers, clowns, balloons, rock music and Masses said in profane places with an atmosphere of casualness and even disrespect being shown for what is taking place. Surely all these circumstances make the New Mass displeasing to God. But what if the circumstances surrounding the saying of Mass are such that Mass is said reverently, in an atmosphere of respect for the sacred and otherwise "by the book"?
The general rule today is for Mass to be said "facing the people." While this seems to be "pastoral," in fact it is a circumstance of great theological significance. In the traditional Mass, both the priest and people face the altar, where the priest, on behalf of the people, offers the sacrifice. The fact that the priest stands between the people and the altar visibly shows the priest's role as a mediator between the people and God. We can call this the "face the altar" orientation.
When the priest stands on the other side of the altar, facing the people, his role as mediator is blurred. Both priest and people stand and sit around the same altar, which has had the tabernacle removed to look more like a table. This new "surround the table" orientation signifies the meal, and not the sacrifice. This orientation in what we do causes a slow shift in what we believe, from sacrifice to meal, and causes a loss of faith in the Mass as a sacrifice. The fact that this loss of faith is encouraged by the priest facing the people makes the New Mass a threat to our Faith and hence offensive to God. The threat to our Faith is very real, (you can't continue to do something and believe the opposite) and continued attendance at the New Mass can make us lose our Faith in the Mass as a sacrifice and even in the Real Presence just as faith in these things has already been lost by millions of Catholics.
We also see in the New Mass that the priest is now in the centre, in the place that God (Jesus in the tabernacle, on the altar) used to occupy. This is also offensive to God, since man has removed God from the central focus of our worship, and put himself in God's place. Concelebration is another circumstance that lends the New Mass to be interpreted as a meal rather than as a sacrifice. In view of all the above circumstances and their implied threat to our Faith, the New Mass is indeed displeasing to God.
2. Is New Mass displeasing to God because it is lacking something good which it should have?
St. Thomas teaches that every action which is lacking a due good (a good aspect that should be part of it, considering the kind of action it is) is an evil act [S.T. I-II.18.1], and every evil act can only be considered as displeasing to God.
Certainly a faithful translation is a due good. But the New Mass in English contains some 400 errors in translation. Therefore the New Mass in English is lacking a due good, considering that God is truth and deserves to be worshipped in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24), and therefore the New Mass in English is an evil act and displeasing to God as cited above.
But what about the New Mass if it is said in Latin?
Let us examine the notion of sacrifice. It is necessary that men offer sacrifice. St. Thomas teaches that "God instituted visible sacrifice, which man offers to Him, not because God has any need of it, but so that it may be made manifest to man that he must direct himself and all that he has to God" [S.C.G. III.119].
Furthermore, sacrifice is the offering of sensible things to God in an outward sign which shows the inward subjection and honour due to Him [S.T. II-II.85.1]. The outward sign is expressed in the Rite used. But even in the original Latin version of the New Mass, the outward signs of subjection and honour due to God, such as the many genuflections and signs of the cross, are missing, as they have been deliberately removed by those who created the Rite. Hence the New Mass, even when said in Latin, doesn't give due worship to God through outward signs and is therefore an evil act and is displeasing to God as cited above.
And in obedience to God's command to sacrifice which was noted above, the Church daily offers the Mass, which is the same sacrifice that Christ offered on the Cross [S.T. III.22.3 ad 2]. But for a Mass to truly be a sacrifice, there must be an offering (oblation) of the victim specified in the rite, for as St. Thomas says "every sacrifice is an offering" [S.T. II-II.85.3 ad 2] and the "outward worship of religion consists in signification by deed" [S.T. II-II.93.1]. But in the New Mass, the offering of Christ the Victim (oblation), as was found in the Traditional Mass, has been deliberately removed from the Offertory, and in its place is the offering of bread and wine only. Hence in the New Mass, the signification of the sacrifice of Christ as Victim is absent, having no oblation even in the original Latin text, and this oblation is a due good (necessary for a sacrifice). Hence the New Mass is lacking something good that it should have and it is an evil act and displeasing to God as cited above.
And as much as the New Mass leads to irreverence because of its omissions of subjection and honour due to God, it is a sacrilege of the worst kind, since sacrilege is irreverence toward holy things [S.T. II-II.99.1], and irreverence to the Blessed Sacrament is the worst kind of sacrilege [S.T. II-II.99.3]. Hence the New Mass is an evil act and displeasing to God
3. Is the New Mass objectively displeasing to God in itself?
Every time a priest says the New Mass in English, he is telling a lie
Let us consider the words spoken by Our Lord at the Last Supper. The Gospel according to St. Matthew (26:27-28) and that of St. Mark (14:23-24) both say that Jesus said that His Blood would be shed "for many," whereas the Consecration of the New Mass says that Jesus said that it would be shed "for all men." Now either the New Mass is right and the gospels are wrong, or the New Mass is wrong and the gospels are right. The Church teaches that Sacred Scripture is free from error and hence we know that Jesus really did say "for many" at the Last Supper, and thus the text of the Consecration of the New Mass is wrong, even telling us a lie that Jesus said something at the Last Supper that He didn't say. These words are summarized in the chart below.
Chart showing the words of Jesus according to the Gospels and according to the New Mass
the Gospel of St. Matthew
the Gospel of St. Mark
the New Mass
|The Words of Jesus||And taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them,
saying: "Drink ye all of this. For this is My Blood of the new testament,
which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins."
|And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, He gave it
to them. And they all drank of it. And He said to them: "This is My Blood
of the new testament,
which shall be shed for many."
|He gave the cup to His Disciples and said:
"This is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins may be forgiven."
|Did Jesus really say these words?||Yes.||Yes.||No.|
It is always objectively bad to tell a lie, and thus the New Mass in English is always an objectively bad act in itself. And, as St. Thomas teaches, if anything false is signified by outward worship, this worship will be pernicious [S.T. II-II.93.1]. The telling of lies in sacred matters was also condemned by God, who spoke through the prophet "thou shalt not live, because thou hast spoken a lie in the name of the Lord" (Zach. 13:3), and it is also contrary to the command of Jesus who said that all must worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24). And further, as St. Thomas comments, a worship that contains falsehood is inconsistent with a salutary (and hence pleasing) calling upon God [S.T. II-II.93.2 ad 1].
The New Mass also contains much ambiguity. For example, the phrase "for all men" is ambiguous, as it could mean:
a) that Christ's Blood was shed intentionally for all men, so that all men may potentially benefit from it, but only many will actually go to heaven; this is the Catholic interpretation, orThe Traditional Mass carefully avoided any ambiguity. The ambiguity of the New Mass is also objectively bad since it has been condemned by God: "the double tongued is accursed" (Ecclus. 28:15); God hates "a mouth with a double tongue" (Prov. 8:13); and Jesus said "let your speech be yes, yes: no, no. And that which is over and above is of evil" (Mt. 5:37).
b) that Christ's blood was shed efficaciously for all men, so that all men will actually benefit from it and everyone will go to heaven; this is the false interpretation.
4. Is the New Mass displeasing to God because of the purpose expressed in it?
Consider the following chart of comparison of the Traditional Mass,
the New Mass, and the sacrifice offered by Cain.
|Traditional Mass||"unspotted host"
"chalice of salvation"
"for all faithful Christians, living and dead"
"for salvation unto life everlasting"
"for the glory of Thy holy name"
1. It has the approval of years of Church Tradition, and
2. It clearly expresses the true purpose of an act of worship, namely that man give glory to God [S.T. II-II.93.2]
|Sacrifice offered by Cain (Gen. 4:3,5)||"the fruits of the earth" (Gen. 4:3)||"gifts to the Lord"
|No, by God's declaration
|New Mass||"bread...which earth has given and human
hands have made"
"wine...fruit of the vine and work of human hands"
(Preparation of the Gifts)
|"to become the bread of life"
"to become our spiritual drink"
(Preparation of the Gifts)
1. The true purpose of being offered for God's glory, which was clearly expressed in the Traditional Mass, has been deliberately omitted, and
2. The New Mass bears a striking resemblance to the sacrifice of Cain, a sacrifice which God expressly condemned.
As can be seen by the above chart, the purpose of offering the sacrifice is clearly expressed in the Offertory of the Traditional Mass as "for the glory of Thy holy name." This intention has been deliberately removed from the New Mass. In its place the only purpose expressed is to "become the bread of life," and to "become our spiritual drink," and in addition the emphasis is now placed on the "fruit," the "earth," "the work of human hands" and the "Preparation of the Gifts." But St. Thomas teaches that the purpose of divine worship is that man may give glory to God and submit to Him in mind and body [S.T. II-II.93.2]. Yet the expression of this purpose is deliberately omitted in the New Mass. And so the New Mass claims to be divine worship, but omits as its expressed purpose the true purpose of divine worship.
Because of this grave omission of the purpose for the sacrifice, St. Thomas would teach that the New Mass is displeasing to God for 2 reasons:
We should also note that it is because the purpose of the sacrifice in the New Mass, as it is explicitly expressed in the text itself, is not "for the glory of God," that the New Mass lends itself so easily to clown Masses and other abuses. If this purpose were as clearly expressed as it is in the Traditional Mass, these abuses would more easily be seen to contradict what the sacrifice of the Mass should be. In other words: an ambiguously stated purpose leads to abuses.
Some might say that it doesn't matter what words you say, as long as you have the right intention in your heart. St. Thomas teaches that good intentions can't make a bad act good [S.T. I-II.20.2]. Consider the example of complimenting and insulting someone. Someone with a good intention could say "you are very kind" and this would be a compliment, since the meaning of the words themselves is complimentary. However if they were to say "you are very stupid," no matter how well intentioned they might be, this would be an insult, simply by the meaning of the words. The good intentions of the speaker can't give bad words a good meaning.
So it is with the New Mass. Those who participate in the New Mass might have all the best intentions of offering the Mass for glory of God, but if the words of the Mass themselves express an intention different from this, the good intentions of the participants are not sufficient to correct the clear meaning of the words being said.
What does the Council of Trent say about the New Mass?
The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was called to defend the Teaching and
Practice (which are both summed up in the one word "Tradition") of the
Catholic Church. The results of this Council, which are infallible,
were recorded in Decrees (which explain the Teachings) and Canons (which
summarize what must be believed, and which call down anathema, or automatic
excommunication, upon those who obstinately refuse to assent to the respective
Canons). The following Canons have particular significance for the New
|Lay Readers and Lay Ministers of Communion||"If anyone says that all Christians [lay people]
have the power to administer the word [read at Mass] and all the sacraments
[give out communion], let him be anathema."
[Canon 10, Session VII, March 3, 1547]
|At the New Mass it is quite usual for lay people to read at Mass and to distribute Communion.|
|Communion under both species||"If anyone says that the Holy Catholic Church
has not been influenced by just causes and reasons to give communion under
the form of bread only...or that she has erred in this, let him be anathema."
[Canon 2, Session XXI, July 16, 1562]
|At the New Mass communion under both species is commonly administered.|
|The Canon of the Mass||"If anyone says that the Canon of the Mass contains
errors, and therefore should be abrogated, let him be anathema."
[Canon 6, Session XXII, Sept. 17, 1562]
|In the New Mass the Canon that existed in the Mass at the time of the Council of Trent has been changed (this includes the new Eucharistic Prayer I).|
|The Language of the Mass||"If anyone says that the Rite of the Roman Church,
according to which a part of the Canon is pronounced in a low tone, is
to be condemned, or that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular
only...let him be anathema."
[Canon 9, Session XXII, Sept. 17, 1562]
|At the New Mass the whole Canon (Eucharistic Prayer) is said out loud, and the New Mass is said entirely in the vernacular everywhere.|
|Making changes to the Mass||"If anyone says that the received and approved rites of
the Catholic Church... may be changed by any pastor of the Churches to
any new ones: let him be anathema."
[Canon 13 on the Sacraments, Session VII, March 3, 1547]
|Bishops and priests make personalized changes to the New Mass whenever they like. (This includes adding extra prayers that are not in the Missal, or leaving prayers out, or adding clowns, balloons or dancing girls. Some may argue that it also includes adding the shaking of hands, WHICH IS NOT IN THE MISSAL EITHER. Only the Pope has the authority to change the liturgy.|
To contradict any one of the above named infallible declarations results in automatic excommunication. We must make the observation that priests and bishops who say the New Mass contradict these infallible declarations every day. Vatican II did not nor COULD NOT CHANGE these declarations because they are infallible. Thus, in the light of these declarations, it is not the priests, bishops and faithful who attend the Traditional Mass today who are in danger of excommunication, but those who attend the New Mass.
Summary of Reasons why we shouldn't attend the New Mass
Besides the question of the New Mass and a Catholic's Sunday obligation, there are other pastoral questions, such as attending the New Mass for weddings, funerals, and other family occasions. We discuss these questions in the next section.
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions Regarding the New Mass
We have already shown above that the New Mass is always objectively displeasing to God and although it may on occasion be valid, nonetheless it can never objectively fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation: something displeasing to God cannot be considered to be a form of worship of Him, nor can it fulfill any command to worship God, either from the Church or from God Himself.
That being said, we must be prepared to answer the many questions that people will ask concerning attendance at the New Mass. These questions can be asked in several ways, but there are basically eight of them:
1. I have fulfilled the Sunday obligation all my life by attending Sunday Mass. Furthermore, the Church has always taught that to not fulfill the Sunday obligation is a mortal sin. I must, therefore, attend Mass on Sunday, even if it is the New Mass, must I not?
Quite simply, the answer is NO.
The 3rd commandment, which comes from God says that we must make the sabbath day holy. This commandment we must fulfill, without any exception. The Church has added to this a precept that in order to make the sabbath day (Sunday) holy, we must attend Mass. The Church's commandments can be dispensed from, especially when it is not possible to attend Mass, as in the case of illness, or if there is no Mass close to you. (The Church has decided that no-one is obliged under pain of sin to travel a distance of more than an hour to go to Mass. However it is very praiseworthy to do so).
What about the New Mass and the Sunday Obligation? These are our conclusions:
A. The Sunday obligation does not oblige anyone to attend the New Mass, andAnd this is not because the New Mass is always invalid, but because the New Mass is displeasing to God:
B. No-one attending the New Mass fulfills their Sunday obligation.
1. because of the defective intention of the Preparation of Gifts, which does not contain that intention which is due in true divine worship; hence the New Mass is not true divine worship and cannot fulfill a Sunday obligation
2. because of the ambiguity of expression which leads to lessening of faith and devotion of the faithful and the priest; this can lead to a possible contrary intention of the priest and then to possible invalidity
3. because the words of Consecration the New Mass tell a lie that Christ said something at the Last Supper that He didn't say
4. because in the New Mass the defective expression of the honour and respect due to God leads to irreverence toward the Blessed Sacrament which is the greatest of sacrilegesand finally because
5. the good intention of the priest saying the New Mass or of those who attend the New Mass can't make a Mass which is displeasing to God into one which does please God, just as a good intention cannot make a bad act into a good one.On the other hand: the traditional Mass DOES fulfill the Sunday obligation, because:
1. it always didWe know it still does because of a letter from Cardinal Oddi, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Clergy in Rome, dated March 17, 1984. This letter was a direct response to a letter from Mrs. Barbara Keenan, 17 Ralph Street, Holbrook NY 11741, dated January 11, 1984. In her letter, Mrs. Keenan asked whether her family could fulfill the Sunday obligation by attending Mass at a chapel which is under Archbishop Lefebvre.
2. it still does
The Cardinal's answer: YES.
The conclusion regarding the Sunday obligation is clear:
To fulfill the Sunday obligation:
i) attend the traditional Mass
ii) don't attend the New Mass.What if you can't find a Traditional Mass near you? If you cannot find a Traditional Mass within one hour's distance from you, the best thing to do is to stay at home and, putting aside the same time that you would've spent at the New Mass, read the Missal of the Traditional Mass, and if you are so inclined sing some hymns, and thus sanctify the Lord's day.
Remember: you can't make the Lord's day holy with a Mass (the New Mass)
that is not holy.
2. If the New Mass is as bad as you say it is, then no-one could attend it under any circumstances. Must I then cut off all ties with relatives and friends who get married or die?
NO. The Church has always permitted Catholics to attend Protestant services when a serious reason, such as civil or family duty, has made such attendance necessary. The attendance in question must be passive participation and must be occasional.
Passive attendance. There must be no question of active participation. Out of courtesy you may stand and sit when the others stand and sit, but don't answer any of the responses or sing any of the hymns. Moreover, don't take an active part by being a pallbearer or a member of the bridal party.
Occasional: There must be no question of attending these services on
a regular basis. Inasmuch as the New Mass is based on a compromise with
Protestant ideas, and does not clearly proclaim Catholic beliefs, regular
attendance at the New Mass will gradually make you lose your Faith. This
is simply human nature: after a while what is said and done at the New
Mass will "gradually sink in", and you will eventually be thinking like
a Protestant. However it might also be true that the occasional attendance,
although never with any participation, could actually strengthen your Faith.
The reason for this is that by attending the New Mass on such isolated
occasions, you would be shocked by what you see, and this would serve as
a confirmation that by attending only the Tridentine Mass you are in fact
doing the right thing to preserve your Faith.
3. In my area there is no Traditional Mass except those Masses which are said by priests under the Indult of 1984. What about attending such Masses?
NO. In such cases, the local bishop has made people sign an agreement
that the New Mass is just as good as the old. Furthermore, the priest saying
the Indult Mass usually has the permission to say it only if he assures
the bishop that he will say the New Mass at least once a year. Lastly,
when you attend an Indult Mass, you have the Traditional Mass, but New
Sacraments. The New Sacraments are unacceptable for the same reasons that
the New Mass is unacceptable. To accept them is to compromise. It's better
to stay at home and read the Missal, just as we said in answering the first
4. In my area there is no Traditional Latin Mass but there is a Ukrainian Rite Liturgy. What about attending Traditional liturgies such as the Ukrainian?
Besides the Tridentine Latin Rite, there are many other rites of Holy Mass (or Divine Liturgy) that were approved by Rome for use in Catholic churches before Vatican II. Among these are the Ukrainian and Maronite Rites, but there are many others. A Catholic could only consider attending these rites of the Church if they are done in churches that are in union with Rome. Many churches where these rites are performed were not in union with Rome before Vatican II, and these churches are clearly schismatic.
If in fact the Ukrainian or other rite church in your area is in union
with Rome, it could be possible to attend liturgies at this church, but
there is another problem. Some of these churches are already becoming quite
liberal, and have already made ecumenical and other compromises in line
with the "spirit of Vatican II". For example, some Ukrainian Catholic churches
have held ecumenical services with schismatic Orthodox clergy. Others have
introduced changes in the Liturgy, with obvious ones such as General Absolution,
Saturday evening liturgies, and dancing girls, but also with subtle ones,
such as changes to the words. If this is the case in your local situation,
then you cannot attend liturgies at such a church, as the compromises that
permeate the spirit of the place would put your Faith in danger, just as
they would in the case of the New Mass.
5. I do not attend the New Mass, and there is not a Traditional Mass close to me. What if I am in danger of death, and need to receive the sacraments?
If possible, you should call a traditional priest. He may agree to come to administer the last rites even if you are several hours away.
Canon Law (before Vatican II) provided that in danger of death, any
Catholic could receive the sacrament of confession from any priest, even
a schismatic priest, if there were no Catholic priest available. If can
you foresee this happening to you, the best thing is to talk to a traditional
priest now, and get his advice on what to do if this should happen. Many
people have explicitly stated in their wills that they must be given the
Traditional Mass of St. Pius V for their funerals, and have pre-arranged
this with a local funeral home.
6. What should be our attitude towards those who attend the New Mass in good faith, being ignorant that it is objectively a lie and a sacrilege?
As the catechism teaches, for a mortal sin, you need three things: grave
matter, full knowledge and full consent. In the case of someone who is
ignorant of the true nature of the New Mass, an act which otherwise would
be an evil act (such as attending the New Mass) would not be a sin on their
part. This is especially true in the case of someone for whom the ignorance
is not their fault. These things are best judged on a case by case basis,
and require a knowledge of a person's inner dispositions.
7. What should be our attitude towards those who have begun to attend the Traditional Mass, but because of scruples or other reasons continue to attend the New Mass?
As we said above, for a mortal sin, you need three things: grave matter, full knowledge and full consent. It is sometimes true that there is not full consent, through fear, or coercion. In such cases, an act which otherwise would be an evil act (such as attending the New Mass) would not be a sin on the part of the one committing the act. On the surface, it does seem unlikely that someone who "should know better" could be excused from attending the New Mass again. However, we could imagine the case of a person who has begun to attend the Traditional Mass, but cannot attend this Mass every Sunday or on days during the week, and on these occasions this person still wishes to be able to attend Mass. Or another case where family pressures place a heavy moral obligation upon this person to "go along" and attend the New Mass. If you know someone in this situation, you do weel to remind them that to resist such pressures is an act of heroic virtue, and God will help them resist if they pray. Such situations are best judged on a case by case basis, and require a knowledge of a person's inner dispositions.
All the above being said, we should remind someone who "should know better" about the scandal they are likely to cause those who are weaker in their Faith. We can easily imagine someone saying: "So-and-so goes to the Traditional Mass but they also go to the New Mass, therefore both Masses must be O.K." We must stress with everyone who attends the Traditional Mass that to attend the New Mass, without a serious reason as given in question 2 above, is to be in danger of formal cooperation in the evil.