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The terrible impact of the shifting of the focus of the Mass May 31, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, error, Eucharist, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, Tradition.
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I was told, specifically, not to do this.  May God have mercy on me.  I was told to drop Iota Unum – not truly a command, but a strong recommendation.  I did, a bit, but picked it up again last night.  The analysis regarding the shift of focus in the Mass from a Sacrifice to a community meal is so profound I feel called to present it.  I pray this leads none astray, but edifies them in a right understanding of the principle role of the Mass – that of Sacrifice.  Just as a reminder, you can read a good portion of Iota Unum for free on the SSPX Asia website.  The below is from Chapter 37, The Eucharist (not on the website, that I could find):

The centrality of the Eucharist in the mystery of the Catholic religion means that its degrading leads to the degrading of all the other Sacraments that lead up to it.  This lowering is particularly obvious when it comes to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which gives a man the ontological capacity to perform the act of transubstantiation. [ontological implies a change in essence, or in being] In this point of religion, as indeed on all points, realities and their manifestation are bound together by bonds which cannot be broken; to try to break them is “to clash with the fates” (Inferno, IX, 97, Dante Allegheri)

The “new theologians” attempt to equate the priesthood common to all the faithful with the sacramental priesthood, by which certain individuals are marked out by an added charadcter which gives them a new level of being [an ontological change in being] and enables them to effect the transubstantiation of bread and wine in the Eucharist.

The ontological element in the priesthood exactly corresponds to the ontological element in the Eucharist, and it obviously follows that if the Sacrament does not involve an ontological transmutation of substance, but merely a transposition in meaning that does not go beyond the order of human mental processes, then there is no need for the priest to have any special level of being, any ontolotical peculiarity, to enable him to effect a change which is itself not ontological. [Thus, eliminating the notion of the Real Presence, or even simply shifting focus exhorbitantly towards the anthropocentric view of the Mass as a “remembrance” of Christ’s Sacrifice, wipes out the need for a sacramental priesthood.  Even more, it drives the faithful to profound doubt regarding the Incarnation and Resurrection of our Lord] If what is present in the Eucharist is Christ, as He is present spiritually in the community gathered together to remember the Last Supper, all specifically priestly activity is superfluous because it is the meeting of the faithful people that constitutes the “eucharistic presence” of Christ. In that view of things, the priest does not give effect to any substantial change in the elements of bread and wine.  Rather, on the basis of an equality shared by all members of the Church in their exercise of their common priesthood, the priest simply presides at the symbolic change performed by the community. [which is why I find statements by priests that they merely “preside” at the Mass, rather than offer the Mass, very disturbing.  Even if such a priest accepts, apparently, the transubstantiation of the Eucharist, the notion of “presiding” seems to point towards a problematic view of the purpose of the Mass and the reality of the change in essence that occurs during the Consecration]

The reduction of the Eucharist to a memorial gathering was officially approved by article 7 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (the first General Instruction of the Roman Missal released after Vatican II)promulgated by Paul VI on 3 April 1969.  It defines the Mass in these terms: “The Lord’s Supper or Mass is the holy assembly or meeting of the people of God, gathered together under the presidency of a priest to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.” [This language is exactly that used by Thomas Cranmer to help “break” the belief of the faithful in England to the Real Presence during the dismembering of the Church there. He specifically chose to eliminate reference to the Sacrifice and to shift focus – totally – to the Anglican service as a community meal]  According to Charles Cardinal Journet, Paul VI admitted that he had signed the Institutio without reading it, even though it was an important doctrinal pronouncement.

The fact that the definition of the Mass advanced is objectionable on various grounds, and dubiously orthodox becomes obvious upon inspection, and was also confirmed a posteriori by its retraction some months after it was promulgated, and its replacement by a doctrinally correct formula. [This was actually done mere weeks after the initial release of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) – 1969.  It was in May 1969 that  the official publication of the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship, Notitiae, released the retraction which, very rightly, asserted the Mass as Sacrifice again.  This was done separately from the other modifications, for many other problems, made to the 1969 GIRM when it was replaced by the 1970 GIRM.]

Up until Vatican II, all schools of theology and all catechisms defined the Mass as a true and proper Sacrifice, in which through the ministry of the priest, Christ offers His Body and Blood to the Father for the remission of our sins……….The Mass, which is a series of sacred actions, cannot be identified with a meeting, which is a moral entity.  Nor can it be erduced to a remembering of the Lord, since memory is a matter of merely mental attention. It is true that Christ said “Do this in memory of Me” (Lk 22:19), but the remembering is consequent upon the doing.  We are not commanded to remember what Christ has done, bur rather to do the same thing that Christ did (hoc facite) and to do it to remember……Nevertheless, whole episcopal conferences have adopted the idea that the Mass is merely a memorial; the French bishop’s Missal of 1969 expressly states that in the Mass “it is simply a matter of making an act of remembering the one sacrifice already accomplished.”  This is grammatically the same formula condemned as the “mere commemoration” condemned at the Council of Trent (Session XXII, Canon 3).

This  new conception of the Mass as remembrance basically implies a subjectivization fo the Sacrament, because by saying nothing about transubstantiation, the objective side of the matter is ignored.  Everything is reducible to the congregation’s experience of its own faith……..

……Emptying the Sacrament of its real content has two main results. First, if there is no supernatural ontological change in the Eucharist, there will be no need for a supernatural ontological power to bring about Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist: this causes the priestly office to be lowered from the level of a giver of the sacred, to that of a first among equals at the assembly’s celebration. Second: since Christ’s presence is conceived of as a presence in the community, brought about by remembrance, the fact of the consecration of the elements by the priest at a given point will wane in importance, compared with the fact of the coming together in unity of the congregation, with or without any idea of an ontological basis for such unity dependent on the Sacrament.

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This is already a very long post, so I will endeavour to be brief.  A few notes: if the Mass is no more than a community meal or remembrance of Christ’s one time Sacrifice on Calvary (which is, in fact, the protestant view, for the most part), then why go to Mass?  If Grace does not flow in huge amounts from that ongoing re-presentation of the Sacrifice, but is available in each of us already when we present at the remembrance, why bother going?  And if the Mass isn’t a Sacrifice, and doesn not have Heaven and earth touch at the glorious moment of the Consecration, then why not have bongos and clowns and dancing and feasts with all kinds of food and general carrying on?  I mean, it’s a party, right?  It’s all about us, right?  So, why not?

In reality, the view of the Mass tends to cause two direct effects: 1) the death of vocations – why be a priest when we’re all really priests, essentially equal?  Or why give your life to a religious order when you can party in the world with the rest?  2) The death of Mass attendance and material support for the Church.  Why should I go to Mass, when all we’re doing is reveling in a Sacrifice long past?  Can’t I do that at home?  And if there is nothing truly transcendent, other than Christ’s presence in our own awesome selves…..can’t I also do that at home?  And without the transcendent, why should I support the Church?  

Those glorious churches of the past, with the expensive stained glass windows and marble altars and altar rails were built by people who believed in something truly transcendent, an awesome Gift coming from on high that they were totally unworthy to receive.  This feeling of something totally beyond themselves prompted their generosity, to offer God something back for all He has given, and gives, us.  These things die when the Mass is reduced to an immanentist, pantheist, anthropocentric celebration. 

I guess the final point is – everything in the Faith is connected.  You can’t assault one part of it, or disbelieve it, without it having massive ramifications throughout your faith life or the life of the Church.

Comments

1. Catherine - June 1, 2012

I really like what you said toward the end about beautiful churches being something we offer back to God out of awe and thankful generosity.


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