Teenager Issues Challenge: Don’t Change The Mass – Let The Mass Change you…

Teenager Issues Challenge: Don’t Change The Mass – Let The Mass Change you…

Award-winning American author Dan Graham’s article Words That Count first appeared in our newsletter, Issue No. 51, September, 2008….Dan’s original article was easily one of the most popular we’ve ever published, as was the updated version published in the newsletter in 2010. In recent weeks I’ve been approached for copies of it (available on our website) so it might be worth airing it on the blog at this time.  American spellings prevail. 

Dan Graham, Award winning author
Dan Graham, Award winning author

This paper methodically compares the texts of the Tridentine Mass 1945 (TM) and the Novus Ordo Mass 1973 (NOM) so Catholics can better understand differences. The method is simple: off-the-shelf software WordListCreator™ alphabetizes and counts words in a text. I used the English translations. I simply compare the words and counts from both masses and ask: what does the NOM remove or add? My operating principle comes from St. Thomas Aquinas: whatever is objectively real is objectively true. This method helps avoid the acrimony that often derails fruitful discussions about the two masses. I present my two conclusions, then my supporting findings by working through a comparison of the words in the TM and NOM. Readers can review the data and come to their own conclusions. The first conclusion is that the two masses differ profoundly. Some argue that the differences in the two missals are trifling, a mere preference of style, but a close examination of the text proves otherwise.  Click here to read the entire article and then share your thoughts in the comments section below. 



For those Catholics who believe that the only change to the Mass has been the switch from Latin to the vernacular, this article will (or should) come as a shock.  However, the Catholic sense has been dulled to the point of extinction, so for a lot of Catholics, probably the majority, the “shock” will be nothing more than a mild surprise accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders and a “well, so what?”   Still, there’s been an increase in Catholics showing an interest in the Traditional Mass recently – at least, that’s been my personal experience. What about you? And what about the teenager who quoted a friend of his to me, a girl who had summed up the problems in the Church today with the words I’ve used in the headline above (may it not occur to her to sue me for copyright): “Don’t change the Mass” she reportedly said: “Let the Mass change you…” Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou hast perfected praise. (Matthew 21:16)


“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone?” St.Thérèse of Lisieux
“Do you realize
that Jesus
is there in the
expressly for
you – for you
St. Thérèse of Lisieux 

Comments (137)

  • Athanasius


    There is some truth in what you say, but let us not forget that in some cases at least a certain Bishop Williamson may have had a little to do with the departure of a few priests from the SSPX back then. It’s also worth noting that the same Bishop today, and the so-called “resistance” people, consider Bishop Fellay to be one of those “bedwetters” for even considering a reconciliation with Rome. Things are never as black and white as they appear.

    September 10, 2016 at 12:59 am
    • Summa

      I think the 1988 collaboration of some SSPX priests with Modernist Rome had nothing to do with Williamson and from all I have read has never been raised.

      Here is the pretence played about by one ex SSPX priest, Fr John Emerson

      Q. Father, you are a priest of the Society of St. Peter. When and how did the Society come into being, how does It operate, and what is its purpose?

      A. It came into being on July 18th, 1988, at a meeting at the Cistercian Abbey of Hauterive near Fribourg, Switzerland. We met there — I wasn’t yet a member, so I wasn’t there — the Society met there, about 10 priests and a number of seminarians, all of them, except one or two, persons who had just left the Society of St. Pius X because of the schismatic consecration of four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre. They were all convinced this was not simply a further necessary disobedience in order to keep tradition alive, but a true break with Rome, and they could not in conscience go along with it — particularly after Rome had offered everything that Archbishop Lefebvre had ever wanted of substance. Rome had offered it all, and we were scandalized he refused it, truly scandalized. We weren’t simply surprised or unhappy, we were scandalized because he was our spiritual father and we trusted him, and he did not do in the end what was right.

      Q. Perhaps we can conjecture later as to his motives …

      A. Sure, we will.

      For the rest of the self-justification, you can read the whole interview here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gYv07gGZSdMnplPe0SSSJpIouzTLOFq7hZQO3W8jUM0/edit

      September 11, 2016 at 6:17 am
      • Margaret Mary


        A friend of mine in Edinburgh who attends Fr Emerson’s Masses has told me several times that he speaks completely positively about the SSPX now and is very friendly with Society priests.

        I think it’s likely that at the time, things were so unusual and the whole situation was out of the ordinary, that people made mistakes, said things they didn’t mean and so on.

        I don’t think we should judge so much on what people said way back at the beginning of this, but what they are saying now. Now, Fr Emerson is friendly towards the Society and I think that shows humility.

        September 11, 2016 at 11:03 pm
  • Summa

    Here is a sermon by an FSSP priest (now Diocesan) on the SSPX…


    How charitable! Every sacrament performed and public mass performed by the SSPX is a Grave Offence Against God!

    If you want bucket loads of eveidence of FSSP agression towards the SSPX read this…


    That’s why I take the position I take.

    September 11, 2016 at 5:59 am
    • Margaret Mary


      I’ve checked your links and they are no reason to take the position you take. You are taking a really illogical position based on a minority opinion. Most FSSP priests would not think like that now, I’m sure about it. There will always be the odd one, that’s probably true, but it’s not fair to dismiss everyone in these traditional groups because some of them are anti-SSPX. There are stories told by people about the SSPX that are not very edifying, and some people have written off the Society because of those few bad apples. It’s what people do about the Church itself! They quote examples of unChristian behaviour and have no time for the Church as a result. LOL! Evil is everywhere – it’s the mystery of iniquity, but we should cherish the fact that the Mass is now more widely available and some of us who are not near a Society chapel can now get to a Mass somewhere.

      September 11, 2016 at 11:09 pm
      • Summa

        Can you continue to ignore everything I have posted on the FSSP et al and the acceptance of the NOM etc. If you continue to ignore it, then you have a point!

        September 11, 2016 at 11:12 pm
      • Summa

        Margaret Mary… I’ve checked your links and they are no reason to take the position you take. You are taking a really illogical position based on a minority opinion.


        September 11, 2016 at 11:14 pm
      • editor


        I’ve only skimmed some of these latest comments, the exchange between MM and your good self, and I really think there is no more to be said.

        We’re not going to agree on this, so let’s leave it there.

        September 11, 2016 at 11:39 pm
      • Summa

        I’m in complete agreement with you Ed.

        September 12, 2016 at 1:09 am
      • editor


        Always a wise move… 😀

        September 12, 2016 at 8:31 am
      • Summa

        Amongst other things, I’m reading the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I do think It’s worth revisiting one thing which was mentioned above on the intelligence of the Faithful.
        I won’t respond directly to the post, but on my reading today, the Council Fathers were explicit in their advice to priests in their catechising…

        Age, capacity, manners and condition must be borne in mind, so that he who instructs may become all things to all men, in order that he may be able to gain all to Christ, prove himself a dutiful minister and steward, and, like a good and faithful servant, be found worthy to be placed by his Lord over many things The priest must not imagine that those committed to his care are all on the same level

        I would have thought this was obvious and on reflection, this underpins my whole thrust in this thread: that dangers exist because by degree, we hold only a certain level of understanding and knowledge to be able to discern right from wrong when it comes from the mouth of a pastor.

        One only has to look at our Pope to see how much heresy comes forth and is bought in bucket loads by the Faithful.

        It is my opinion that the safest bet (i.e. don’t play with matches) is to avoid those places of worship that either in person or by association have accepted the NOM and the Fruits of Vatican II.

        Anyway, just a thought. (reading the Catechism does that to you) 🙂

        September 13, 2016 at 6:18 am
      • editor


        With all due respect, this latest post from you reveals that you really did not understand all along the core of what we were saying. I’m really weary of this but will try one more time. After this, you have the last word because I will take it as read that you are a candidate for a novena to St Jude 😀

        I have NEVER advocated going to non-SSPX Masses as a first choice, or for parents to take their children. I explicitly gave the example of my niece who goes to the Society chapels with her offspring to make sure they will grow up with an undiluted Catholic Faith (having said that, the point was once made by a visitor to our First Communions Mass that the sermon on the Eucharist was aimed at the adults, not the First Communicants.)

        The point most of us have tried to make is that it would be sinful for us – in the absence of SSPX Masses – to fail to attend a non-SSPX Mass, no matter the politics and preaching of the priest – because the Mass is the important thing. Frankly, sermons go over the heads of most young people and anyway, if they are of an age to understand, such as my own teenage nephew, then it is up to the parent to make sure he/she understands and listens with a critical ear to what the priest says. My own nephew could see that the FSSP priest to whom I have referred in other comments, was in the wrong. And, moreover, he recognised the weakness of the priest’s arguments and was not impressed by his description of them as “wolves”. Far from putting my nephew off the Society, that priest reinforced his understanding of the nature of the crisis in the Church and reinforced, too, his respect and love for the SSPX. He was singularly unimpressed by that FSSP priest – the only one he’s encountered.

        Look – it seems obvious to me. If you would prefer to miss Mass in case the priest says something with which you disagree, then you need to follow your own lights. Objectively, that is a mortal sin, but I’m NOT going to re-engage in this discussion because I believe your mind is made up. Because some (FSSP) priests hate the society, their Mass are to be avoided. Quite possibly. But not if they are the only Masses available. That’s about as clear as I can make it. And as for the closing words of your quote from the Catechism: The priest must not imagine that those committed to his care are all on the same level any FSSP priest who bad-mouthed the SSPX in his sermon or otherwise publicly, ought to be corrected by the Soldier of Christ listening to him! Feedback is all the rage these days, so don’t forget to correct him, with bells on, after Mass and tell him that the only reason you attend his Mass is because there is no SSPX chapel nearby and that every time he bad-mouths the Society, you will correct him personally and make sure that the rest of the congregation know that he is plain wrong. Better than committing the mortal sin of missing Mass unnecessarily.

        Now, please do not try to answer that – it is crystal clear and if you think that it is not a mortal sin to miss Mass because the priest may criticise the SSPX, then I strongly suggest you don’t broadcast the fact!

        September 13, 2016 at 10:33 am
      • Summa

        Hi Ed.
        Well I have understood, just disagree.
        I’m pretty sure you would rather have respectful discussion and debate?
        The matter of mortal sin you raise is just wrong, considerting the conditions necessary, but we won’t go into that as I have the last word 😇

        September 13, 2016 at 10:51 am
      • Michaela


        There are three conditions for mortal sin – the object is grave matter. It is committed with full knowledge. It is done with deliberate consent.

        I can’t imagine going to confession and saying that I missed Mass because the Mass was offered by an FSSP priest who hates the SSPX and might say things about them that I disagree with. I know that missing Mass is a grave sin unless I have the care of the sick, elderly or infants and just cannot go or I’m sick myself, but I’ve never heard any priest saying we could miss Mass if we disapprove of the priest.

        The new Mass is different, as it is a complete break with the Catholic theology of the Mass (see letter from Cardinal Ottaviani to Pope Paul VI) but if there is a true Mass available, it would be a mortal sin to miss it on the grounds that you don’t approve of the priest’s attitude to the SSPX or the Order he belongs to.

        There is so much confusion in the Church these days that although an FSSP might say something objectionable, even something positive about this pope, I can’t see that is an exemption from the conditions of mortal sin. You know the truth, you can teach your children, so there is no danger to souls there. You can pre-warn other people who are just feeling their way just now, because I agree that it is the Mass that matters. SSPX people refuse to go to the new Mass because it is a break with the traditional Catholic Mass, not because they disapprove of the priests saying it.

        September 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm
  • Josephine

    This is an interview about the FSSP and there is only one reference to the SSPX which is a very positive one. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3937/the_priestly_fraternity_of_st_peter_traditional_liturgy_booming_vocations.aspx

    September 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm
  • Summa


    Taken straight from an SSPX seminary…


    Question 13: What are we to think of the Fraternity of Saint Peter?

    Since the introduction of the new sacramental rites, Rome had allowed no Society or Congregation exclusive use of the older rites. Then on June 30, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops to ensure the survival of the traditional priesthood and sacraments, and especially of the traditional Latin Mass. Suddenly, within two days, Pope John Paul II recognized1 the “right-fill aspirations” (for these things) of those who wouldn’t support Archbishop Lefebvre’s stance, and offered to give to them what he had always refused the Archbishop. A dozen or so priests of the Society of Saint Pius X accepted this “good will” and broke away to found the Society of Saint Peter.

    The Society of Saint Peter is founded upon more than questionable principles, for the following reasons:

    (i) It accepts that the conciliar Church has the power:

    to take away the Mass of all time (for the Novus Ordo Missaeis not another form of this, QUESTION 11 1°),
    to grant it to those only who accept the same conciliar Church’s novel orientations (in life, belief, structures),
    to declare non-Catholic those who deny this by word or deed,2 and,
    to professes itself in a certain way in communion with anyone calling himself “Christian,” and yet to declare itself out of communion with Catholics whose sole crime is wanting to remain Catholic.3
    (ii) In practice, the priests of the Society of Saint Peter, having recourse to a Novus Ordo bishop willing to permit the traditional rites and willing to ordain their candidates, they are forced to abandon the fight against the new religion which is being installed:

    they reject the Novus Ordo Missae only because it is not their “spirituality” and claim the traditional Latin Mass only in virtue of their “charism” acknowledged them by the Pope,

    they seek to ingratiate themselves with the local bishops, praising them for the least sign of Catholic spirit and keeping quiet on their modernist deviations,4 even though by doing so they end up encouraging them along their wrong path, and

    note, for example, the Society of Saint Peter’s wholehearted acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (QUESTION 14),acceptance of Novus Ordo professors in their seminaries, and blanket acceptance of Vatican Us orthodoxy (QUESTION 6).

    They are therefore conciliar Catholics and not traditional Catholics.

    This being so, attending their Mass is:

    accepting the compromise on which they are based,
    accepting the direction taken by the conciliar Church and the consequent destruction of the Catholic Faith and practices, and
    accepting, in particular, the lawfulness and doctrinal soundness of the Novus Ordo Missae and Vatican II.

    That is why a Catholic ought not to attend their Masses.


    I’m with the SSPX on this one.

    September 13, 2016 at 10:18 pm
    • editor

      Summa, we’ve already had that posted – probably by you – and taken into account in our discussion.

      You are perfectly free to be “with the SSPX on this one” just as others are perfectly free not to be with them on this one!

      If you are unable to attend an FSSP Masses because of the 1988 situation and the points made in the above undated article, so be it.

      I could attend an FSSP Mass every day of the week and it would not adversely affect my faith one bit. Whoever wrote the above undated article is not infallible and I am not bound to accept those opinions on pain of sin, so as you are perfectly free to be “with” the SSPX on this, I am equally free to reject this view.

      Now, can we just agree to disagree on this as [rest of this comment deleted as it might annoy Summa intensely! 😀 ]

      September 13, 2016 at 10:36 pm
      • Summa

        Fair enough we’ll move on.

        September 13, 2016 at 10:38 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I would choose to attend an SSPX mass first and foremost, if available. In Germany recently, I drove some 45 minutes to a tiny SSPX Chapel in a farming community, rather than attend the various novus ordo Churches on our doorstep. It was the devil’s own job to find the tiny SSPX Church, but it was a great experience and I dont have the stomach for the mainstream Church in Germany anyway.

    (Attending mass in a foreign country really brings home the genius of the Church having its own language. Its just the same mass and you can participate and follow along as normal, whereas at the novus ordo abroad, you don’t understand a word – right enough, in many places, that would probably be a blessing).

    However, I would never turn my nose up at the FSSP or any Diocesan provision. While it isn’t uncommon to meet clergy (of any affiliation) who are snooty about the SSPX, there are good priests in the FSSP / Dioceses too.

    I have heard SSPX priests refer to the FSSP as “pseudo-traditionalists” which I though was unkind at first, but I have gradually come to understand and accept this argument – as per the info in Summas link above.

    But with the state of the Church today, I think we should always seek to build bridges and find allies. Common ground is a positive in today’s world and I think its better to look for friends, than to cut our nose off to spite our face.

    These is no doubt the SSPX is the engine room of tradition, and the pillar upon which the Ecclesia Dei communities and Summorum Pontificum rests. This is true, even if some newly ordained priests speak ill of them. I think the priest who spoke ill of the society, mentioned by Editor, will come to his senses sooner rather than later, especially when he encounters the enemies of tradition.

    At the mass the priest in question offered that day, he was assisted by an FSSP priest (ordained by ++Lefebvre and still sympathetic to the SSPX), a Diocesan priest (sympathetic to the SSPX) and at least one server who also serves for the SSPX. If he had known that, he would probably realise how silly his comments made him look. But then, such a young priest will have had a very different life experience and formation to his seniors and this difference in perspective / understanding is undoubtedly at the root of his opinion.

    In my opinion, we should not condemn others who lack the courage or vision to speak as the SSPX speaks. Not all men are bold men, of the calibre of ++Lefebvre or +Fellay – yet they are still good men. Rather we should encourage them and support them. To be honest, men like ++Lefebvre are very rare and we can see this through the fact that it was essentially only he and +de Castro Mayer who had the vision to see, the courage to speak and the resolve to act, in the wake of V2.

    Personally I think if the SSPX regularisation occurs, (as I think it ultimately will), then it will signal a tipping point where others will find the strength to speak out about the Novus Ordo and the state of the Church. And the authorities will find themselves in a real pickle, as they can hardly run a double standard in the Church (though we all know of the scheming, underhand ways of modernists).

    September 13, 2016 at 10:48 pm
    • Summa

      Gabriel, do you know if the Ecclesia Dei groups take the Oath Against Modernism?

      That information alone would be helpful.

      September 13, 2016 at 11:03 pm
      • editor


        Seems the FSSP do – click here

        September 13, 2016 at 11:52 pm
      • Summa

        That’s interesting. I’m tempted to go about contradiction now, but you’ll close the thread 🙂 Suffice to say, the comments on that link beat me to it.

        September 14, 2016 at 12:02 am
      • Margaret Mary


        Would you prefer them not to take the oath against modernism?

        September 14, 2016 at 10:04 am
      • Summa

        No, but I suppose you would like me take that position Margaret Mary?

        September 15, 2016 at 1:21 pm
  • Zara

    What is your all’s opinion of Thuc line Bishops & Priests?
    The last 5 Bishops he consecrated 1981-1984 were Catholic priests and not in any way schismatic.
    Fr.Des Lauriers (consecrated by Archbishop Thuc 1981) helped write the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary circa 1950.
    Fr.Storck whom Archbishop Thuc consecrated in 1984,had PhD and was ordained in traditional rite by Bishop Kurz circa 1972.
    These men were not in any way non Catholic or schismatic prior to receiving episcopal consecration from Archbishop Thuc.
    My opinion is modern day Thuc line clergy are one of 4 groups who have valid apostolic Catholic succession.
    The others being SSPX, SSPV & the Bishop Hnilica group in England.
    Some say the Duarte Costa line is valid but that is a somewhat complex line & subject matter.

    November 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm
    • editor


      Why are you asking about this?

      November 18, 2016 at 7:13 pm
  • Athanasius


    The Thuc line bishops are schismatic, no question about that. Most, if not all of them, and there are quite a few (!), are declared sedevacantists who have gone on to consecrate their very own bishops. It’s a completely different situation to that faced by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, who only consecrated the four bishops that were necessary to maintain Traditional priestly ordination and administer confirmations. These SSPX bishops never refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Pope or subimt to his authority in all that is truly Catholic.

    Besides this, Archbishop Lefebvre had a purpose; he was head of an institution of priests formed for the old Mass, an institution of 500 priests, with seminaries and religious houses. The Thuc bishops are just roving rebels without a cause.

    November 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

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