The New Mass and Indefectibility

by Michael Davies
from Catholic, October 1996

Mr Davies has been under some attack since, by means of an interview in these pages, his position on a number of issues has been made clear. There is no question as to the work that he has done over the years to achieve the restoration of "the Tridentine Mass to all the altars of the Church."
It must be remembered however, that there is more to the restoration of the Church than the Mass, and to be satisfied with that, to the neglect of all else, is simply not enough. But it also must be remembered that only from the Old Mass, the Mass that is without question pleasing to God, will the graces flow to achieve the rest.
And lest we be accused of defending the new Mass, we are not. But this battle will not be won by making false claims about our adversary, this aberration that is the Novus Ordo Missae. As Archbishop Lefebvre clearly put it: "One can fairly say without exaggeration that most of these (new) Masses are sacrilegious acts which pervert the Faith by diminishing it." (1979)

The Catholic Church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son made Man. He has promised His Church that She will continue to exist exactly as He constituted her until He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. The Catholic Church is the Church that is indefectible. The term "indefectible" means, of course, "unable to fail".

Our Lord assured us:
All power is gven unto Me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations: baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt. 28:18-20).

The Church differs from all other human societies in that the end to which She directs Her members is a supernatural one. In order to achieve this supernatural end, the Church's divine Founder invested or constituted Her with power to teach us what we must know and do in order to be saved, and to provide us with the grace necessary to live in accordance with this teaching.

The power of order (holy orders), makes possible the communication of divine life through the sacraments, particularly the Sacrifice of the Mass. This power has for its main object the sanctification of men's souls through divine worship and the administration of the sacraments, and it can never be extinguished in the Church. There will always be Bishops in communion with the Pope who can ordain successors so that the faithful will not be deprived of the sacraments. Furthermore, because the sanctification of the faithful is an essential function of the Church's divine constitution, She can never cease to offer Her members the means of holiness through valid sacraments and above all, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Roman Rite, to which the overwhelming majority of Catholics belong, is considered as equivalent to the universal Church. It is thus incompatible with the profession of the Catholic Faith to claim that any liturgical rite of Mass, could be invalid, contain heresy, or harm souls. It is the unanimous opinion of all the approved authors that the Church is infallible in her universal laws. All the necessary documentation to prove this is contained in my booklet I Am With You Always and I will not take up space by reproducing it here, but I will be happy to do so if challenged.

It is thus, to put it mildly, theologically untenable to maintain that "the New Mass is not a Catholic in itself a danger to the faith and is intrinsically evil" and is not "an official Mass of the Catholic Church".

The only people who could logically make such a claim are the schismatic sedevacantists who deny that Paul VI and John Paul II are true Popes. If a true Pope authorised an intrinsically evil Mass for the universal Church it would mean that the Church founded by Our Lord had failed, which would mean that He had made promises He could not keep and that He is therefore not divine. There is only one person in the Church who can decide what constitutes amd what does not constitute "an official Mass of the Catholic Church" - and that person is the Vicar of Christ in Rome. He is also the only person in the Church who has the authority to state which rite of Mass Catholics may or may not attend. Archbishop Lefebvre accepted and confirmed to me in writing that the New Mass fulfills the Sunday Obligation.

It would be ludicrous to claim that one could fulfil the Sunday obligation by being present at an intrinsically evil rite of Mass! It has been claimed that if one concedes the Catholic character of the New Mass one no longer has "a valid reason for demanding the old". This came quite as a surprise to me as I concede the Catholic character of the New Mass and I am quite certain that no one in the entire world has devoted more effort to demanding the old than I have. If there is any valid criticism of the New Mass that cannot be found in my book Pope Paul's New Mass I would be most interested in having it brought to my attention.

To deny the Catholic character of the New Mass constitutes an explicit denial of the divine authority of the Pope and must therefore be considered a schismatic act. To state that the New Mass is intrinsically evil is also blasphemous. In the New Mass God the Son is made present on the altar as our sacrificial victim, and offers Himself to us in Holy Communion, with as much certainty as He does in the old, and to state that the countless good orthodox priests who celebrate the New Mass with great devotion daily are committing an intrinsically evil act is both outrageous and blasphemous.

The promise of indefectibility applies only to the Latin version of any sacramental rite approved by the Pope and known as the typical edition, the edition which all vernacular versions are supposed to reproduce faithfully. Only the Latin version is approved for universal use and by definition no vernacular version can be universal. All the vernacular Missals are indeed approved by the Pope, but all this means is that he presumes that those who have approved the translation have done their job properly. I would challenge any reader of Catholic to point out anything in the Latin typical edition which is harmful to the Faith, let alone intrinsically evil, or to state any aspect of Catholic Eucharistic teaching which is not affirmed specifically in that Missal. Please do not write if you have not examined the Latin Missal.

Those who have read my books will be aware that I not only do not deny but affirm explicitly that the Faith can be harmed, and even completely undermined, by assisting at the New Mass in the vernacular, but this is the result of the deplorable ICEL translation, the irreverent manner in which the New Mass is often celebrated, the gimmicks incorporated into its celebration, and not to any intrinsic evil in the rite itself.

On Easter Sunday this year, the Easter Bunny distributed chocolate eggs during 'Mass' at St Patrick's Cathedral at Toowomba in Queensland. Easter Bunnies are certainly not featured in the rubrics of the 1970 Missal approved by Pope Paul VI. The same is true of balloons, banjos, dancing girls, extraordinary ministers, Communion in the hand, Mass facing the people, tables in place of altars, or altar girls.

To avoid any possible misunderstanding, I am not claiming that Catholics should be satisfied with the New Mass celebrated strictly acording to the rubrics, either in Latin or the vernacular. I have devoted twenty-seven years of my life to the cause of restoring the Tridentine Mass to all the altars of the Church. This cause is not helped by going beyond the evidence, by making theological statements that are untenable, and by making ourselves appear ridiculous to theologically literate priests and laymen who are content to assist at the New Mass. My books are aimed not at traditional Catholics, but at those who are not, in the hope of convincing them that they should be. I have lost count of the number of those who have written to me to say that my books brought them to, or back to tradition, including a not inconsiderable number of priests in the Society of St Pius X.

As regards the claim that if one accepts that the New Mass is an official Catholic Mass there is no reason for preferring the old, let me provide an analogy. Imagine that I had the good fortune to own a Rolls Royce and then had the misfortune to have it stolen. If the insurance company replaced it with a Mini-Minor I would certainly object. They could state correctly that I had lost a car and I had been given a car as a replacement, and that the Mini-Minor performed all the functions of the Rolls Royce. Without denying that the Mini-Minor was a genuine (valid and licit) car I would have no problem in explaining why I did not consider it an acceptable substitute for the Rolls Royce. The Tridentine Mass is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven, and we should be satisfied with only the most beautiful possible rite of Mass to make present the sacrifice of our redemption.

There is nothing that does more harm to the cause of the traditional Mass than intemperate and untenable attacks upon the new one made by those claiming to be traditionalists. The question as to whether the new Mass is or is not intrinsically evil must be decided by our acceptance or rejection of the fact that Paul VI was a true Pope. If he was then the New Mass is an official Catholic Mass. Those who deny that Paul VI was a true Pope are schismatic and their opinion is of no relevance to members of the indefectible Church founded by Our Lord.