New Mass “Evil”? Then Why Did Sr Lucia Attend?editor
The identity of both the woman correspondent and the priest who replied to her questions about the Novus Ordo Missae (New Order of Mass) are withheld, simply because I’ve not asked permission to publish this letter here. The woman is a long time supporter of Catholic Truth in Ireland, but she is not online, and I’ve no contact at all with the priest. The interest for us here is simply the points made about the liturgy with the additional interesting point about Sr Lucia. The identities of the correspondents is irrelevant.
Surely, the argument goes, if Sr Lucia attended the new Mass throughout her Religious Life, there can be nothing wrong with it. Father had described the new Mass as “evil” in a published article and it is this which caused our reader to challenge him, and make the point about Sr Lucia. Read the letter below, and share your thoughts…
Letter from a priest of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) to a Catholic Truth reader, 2005.
I thank you for your letter in which you question some of [my] opinions expressed on the Novus Ordo Mass. Your reflections are interesting ones indeed, and I believe that they can help us to grapple more precisely with the whole problem of conscience that the new order of Mass poses to Catholics.
We both agree that the New Mass is not what it ought to be, or – as you put it – less perfect. We also both agree that not all celebrants of the New Mass make a mockery of it, as do evil celebrants who use the Mass for sacrilegious or blasphemous purposes.
However, I believe that our principal difference of opinion concerns the term “evil”. You are speaking of evil as a moral characteristic of a person. In this sense it most certainly does not apply to those who strive to celebrate the New Mass with respect and reverence, who still believe in the Real Presence and who try to make it a prayer as best they can. They are well intentioned, but misled.
I am speaking of evil as descriptive of a human action, not of the person who does it. Here it has the philosophical meaning of “evil”, namely the absence of the good that is due. An example in the physical order is the prescribing of a medication that is harmful, and does not restore health as it ought to do. An example in the moral order is Robin Hood style charity – stealing from some persons in order to give to others. There is no justice in such behavior, and it lacks the good that is necessary for the practice of virtue, for we cannot practice charity with other people’s goods.
The same applies to the Liturgy. Communion in the Hand is an evil, in the circumstances of the present time, for the action of distributing Holy Communion in this fashion lacks the respect and reverence that is due to Our Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament, regardless of the Faith or good intentions of those who might administer it.
This can also be said of all the novelties and omissions in the ceremonies of the New Mass, and of the New Mass as a whole. It corrupts and undermines the Faith for it does not adequately express the Church’s Faith in the fact that the Holy Mass is a true and propitiatory sacrifice. Furthermore, this complete expression of the Faith is essential to the Mass as a liturgical act. For it is a symbolic act, the very nature of which is to express completely the Church’s Faith on this question. The elimination of this profession of Faith in the new rite, given the protestant revolt of the 16th century, is a very grave absence, for at the very least it makes the faithful believe that this aspect of the Mass is no longer important. It is the absence of a good that is due to the Mass.
The gravity of these omissions can be understood only when all the aspects of the true Mass that are eliminated in the New Mass are put together side by side: e.g. doing away with genuflections and kneeling, with altar stones and altar cloths, with Latin and the silent Canon, with the holding together and purification of the priest’s fingers, with the limitation of touching the sacred vessels and hosts to the priest only, with the double Confiteor, with the Offertory prayers, with prayers mentioning such things as sin, judgment, Hell, Purgatory, the purification of the soul, and detachment from this earth. One could go on and on. It is when the whole picture is put together that the New Mass can be clearly seen to be radically defective in those things that are essential to the Mass. It is consequently evil, regardless of the good intentions of the celebrants and assistants.
This is the reason why no Catholic who is aware of all these defects in the New Mass has a right to assist at it, even to satisfy his Sunday obligation. To do so would be to participate in an evil act, one that is destroying the Church and the Faith. Since the end does not justify the means, this is never permissible. Furthermore, a person cannot be bound to do something evil in virtue of a precept of the Church. Catholics ought not to assist at Sunday Mass in their parishes on the justification that it is a reverently celebrated New Mass. It is still lacking the profession of Faith essential to the Mass. It is still evil, harmful and destructive to the Church. The presence of a few traditionally minded Catholics is not going to make any difference to this, since the changes were never wanted by the faithful in the first place, but were [imposed] from above. Attending the New Mass cannot possibly make something that is bad become good.
You ask why Sister Lucia attended the New Mass until her death. She had the problem of conscience of so many religious, bound by the vow of obedience to do what their superiors tell them. Although, objectively speaking, a person in such circumstances should refuse to assist at the New Mass, we certainly understand Sister Lucia’s predicament, especially given the special revelations that she had received. She understood that, for one who receives such special graces, obedience is the only means to sanctification, and to avoiding illusion and diabolical deception. Hence her preference for obedience above everything else. After all, she was not a theologian, the Masses celebrated in her convent were very respectful, and the question of the Mass was not her concern, but rather living the message of Our Lady of Fatima – namely prayer and penance.
It is certainly true that the evil that has come upon the Church since Vatican II is a chastisement for the absence of the supernatural spirit and for the failure to respond to the message of Fatima. However, this is not a reason for us to cooperate with it in any way, as does a person who goes to the New Mass, albeit unwillingly. Our duty is to stand up against the evil and refuse to compromise with it.
I am grateful to you for your words of appreciation for the Society of Saint Pius X, and our place in the combat. I hope, though, that you will also see the wisdom in the solid guidance given to us by Archbishop Lefebvre on this question.
Yours faithfully in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts,