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The Church of the Footnote vs. The Church of Tradition

The last week has produced an outpouring of reflections on the state of the nation. For many, the election of Donald Trump was unimaginable, and many in the country’s governing classes are now forced to confront the true nature of the divisions within American society. The triumph of Trump made it impossible to deny the deep chasm that exists between elite opinion, concentrated in just a handful of spots across the continent, and the way in which most of the rest of the nation perceives the present condition of society.

There is a growing and similar phenomenon taking hold in the Church under Pope Francis. Francis can be confusing, even enigmatic. But a close look at his actions demonstrates that he is, indeed, an old man in a hurry, pushing the Church along in a definitive direction, despite the fact that some Church “elites” refuse to admit the pope’s rather apparent agenda.

To see his hurriedness, we need only look to his actions over the course of the last month. On October 9, the Vatican announced that Francis would hold a consistory this month to name 13 new cardinals, some from his beloved far-flung peripheries, such as the remote burg of Chicago. On October 29, Francis substantially remade the membership of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Out went Cardinals Burke and Pell; in came Archbishop Marini, the living embodiment of the mentality that created the Novus Ordo. While Cardinal Sarah remains prefect, his new colleagues are far less likely to endorse his call for a “reform of the reform.” Cardinal Sarah has written beautifully on the need for silence in prayer and the liturgy; Francis’s reconstituted CDW will ensure that Sarah has ample opportunity to remain silent indeed.

The pope ended October with the his trip to Lund in Sweden to kick off the year-long Reformation Celebration, where he, again, praised Martin Luther with the ridiculous claim that Luther “helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the church’s life.”

Then on November 11 came reports of the pope’s last musings, including comments wherein he speculated on the odd psychology of “young people” attached to the Traditional Mass, whom he apparently regards as harboring “a rigid attitude.” He referred to the notion of the “reform of the reform” as a “mistake.”

These remarks provoked a “Trumpian” reaction. Traditionalist sites and Facebook pages were deluged with comments of anger and frustration. A common Facebook post features a photo of Cardinal Burke with the simple slogan “Burke for Pope” written across the top. Another post shows a cardinal’s biretta emblazoned with the words “Fac iterum vaticanum magnum” – Make the Vatican Great Again.

Then, of course, came the somewhat shocking news of the four cardinals’ efforts to gain a clarification from the pope regarding the proper interpretation of the controversial exhortation Amoris Laetita. The move by Cardinal Burke and his confreres is the clearest sign yet of growing and substantial divisions in the hierarchy and marks the beginning of what may become active resistance to the pope’s plans for the Church.

So just as we have spent considerable time reflecting upon the divided state of civic affairs, it seems a good time to take an honest look at the state of ecclesial life. For as Francis’s increasingly frenetic tenure unfolds, the divisions within the Church are emerging in sharp relief. It has become apparent that there are three distinct “churches” within the Church.

The Church of the Footnote

At one level now exists the Church of the Footnote, mostly consisting of high prelates and liberal academics consumed with the agenda of the pope. Here we find the likes of Cardinal Kasper, the Unfriendly Ghost of the spirit of Vatican II, who spend their time expounding the meaning of the pope’s infamous footnote in Amoris Laetitia, proffering all manner of esoteric philosophizing in order to explain whether, when, how, and why married persons living with people other than their spouses may, under certain conditions, or perhaps under any circumstances, licitly receive Holy Communion.

Although the Footnoters at present have significant power in Rome and in other reaches of the hierarchy, their essential aims are beset with irony and irrelevance. It is ironic that the faithful of the Church of the Footnote style themselves as merciful pastors, yet they engage in more obscure theological hair-splitting than any medieval schoolman in order to justify the doctrinal basis for their “pastoral” program. More importantly, despite their illusions to the contrary, the Footnoters’ focus has limited relevance to anyone not immersed in their academic machinations. In fact, before Pope Francis made the single, and somewhat obscure, teaching on Communion for persons in a state of adultery into the most pressing matter facing Christendom, precisely no one, save Cardinal Kasper, was concerned with it.

Nonetheless, the Footnoters seem to believe that a sort of theological public relations strategy meant to warm the image of the Church will re-awaken their imagined New Pentecost, after John Paul II and Benedict XVI chased off the descending Dove. Eager to please, they are unconcerned that the Church has little purchase on the general mores of modern society, and they even indicate that they wish to embrace popular ideologies that are antithetical to the settled moral doctrine of the Church.

The highest reaches of the Church of the Footnote are also consumed by a mania for ecumenism. It is little appreciated that ecumenism was a fixation of the post-Council “reformers,” who used the notion of Christian unity as reason to engage in the Protestantization of the Church. Thus, we have Pope Francis’s praise of Luther in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the commencement of the revolt at Wittenberg and continuing evidence of a jaundiced view of the Mass itself as a stumbling block to Christian unity.

Indeed, when planning for the Reformation Celebration in Lund, the pope himself initially did not want to celebrate Mass in order to maintain the ecumenical character of the visit. (He changed his mind after an outcry from Swedish Catholics.) The pushback over the summer against Cardinal Sarah’s proposal for ad orientem worship, and the purge of the CDW to protect the 1970s status quo approach to the Novus Ordo, is also likely driven to some degree by ecumenical considerations.

The Church of the Footnote ultimately seeks a humanistic Church that can claim a comfortable sinecure in the economy of modernity, preaching “social justice” but not the Creed, proclaiming a non-judgmental, universalist Gospel that comports with modern political and ideological preoccupations, where recycling is a corporal work of mercy and everyone is “welcomed” and “affirmed,” where there is much talk of mercy, little of sin, and none of doctrine.

The Church of John Paul II

The Church of the Footnote has its greatest impact upon the Church of John Paul II. The JPII Church is populated by certain clerics and leading intellectuals who carry on the work of the late pope by battling, in the main, the Sexual Revolution. These are the so-called Catholic “conservatives” who are seen as “social warriors” – anti-abortion, pro-marriage, horrified by “gender ideology.”

The Church of JPII arose in the 1980s and 1990s. It has many adherents among the American bishops, who for two generations saw their task as leading the conservative resistance to abortion license and the “attacks on the family.”

Prior to Francis’s election just four years ago, the Church of JPII was the prevalent expression of Catholicism in the United States. The JPII Church rightly prided itself on containing the post-conciliar madness that brought so much ruin upon the Church throughout the 1970s. At the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and the family, the JPII faithful drew a firm line and sought to re-evangelize society on these fronts.

So at the death of John Paul II in 2005, the crowds shouted, Santo subito!  His legacy would frame the Church’s work in the 21st century. The JPII Church reached its zenith with the election of John Paul’s right hand, Ratzinger, who, it seemed, might take the JPII Church and at last marry it with its greatest missing element, the Traditional Liturgy.

Then, of course, came the resignation of Benedict and the accession of Francis. Now the model bishop is said not to be the man of the JPII Church, carrying on about abortion and the redefinition of marriage, but the “pastoral” man who is no “culture warrior.” Good-bye, Archbishop Chaput; hello, Cardinal-Elect Cupich.

While there is no question that the JPII Church achieved many salutary results, Francis’s subtle dismantling of the project should not come as a surprise. The JPII Church rested on precarious foundations. Although John Paul himself evidenced, especially in the latter part of his reign, a growing recognition of the problems rooted in the devastation of the liturgy that followed the promulgation of the new missal, the average Catholic nonetheless continued to experience regularly the post-conciliar novelties and abuses. Regardless of John Paul’s exhortations and personal qualms, Communion in the hand while standing, “Eucharistic ministers,” “altar girls,” permanent deacons, and “One Bread, One Body”-style hymns dominated in nearly every diocese and every parish in the West.

So, in practice, the Church of the JPII era accepted most of the worst aspects of the implementation of the Novus Ordo. From that reality, the JPII Church set out to argue people back to traditional sexual and familial relations. This was a noble endeavor, but philosophical-style reasoning was no match for the individualist ideology that has marked modernity with increasing ferocity ever since Luther proclaimed the Priesthood of All Believers.

Without a properly catechized faithful, nourished by the sacraments and imbued with the unvarnished Gospel, the JPII Church was overmatched and largely unsuccessful. Mass attendance continued to decline; among the younger generations especially, cohabitation and marriage defined as including same-sex couples are taken for granted as perfectly normal and appropriate. Many Catholics, even those who attend Mass, revolt at the notion that the Church can “tell them what to do” and feel that it should stay wholly out of political matters.

Due to the emphasis upon sexual matters and matters with political implications, the faithful of the JPII Church were painted as hardline moralizers preventing the Church from effectively reaching the modern world. The mercy of the Church of the Footnote, with its dialogue and its apathy toward doctrine, is the antidote to the JPII Church. The rise of the Footnoters has left the JPII Church is a state of confusion, unsure of how to continue its model in the face of the newly ascendant “pastoral approach.”

The Church of Tradition

On Friday October 21, 2016, a young curate celebrated the first Solemn High Mass in the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (Long Island) in over 50 years. He was assisted by two other young priests from neighboring parishes who acted as the deacon and subdeacon of the Mass. The average age of the sacred ministers was around 30 years old.

The Mass was organized by a small, informal confederation of laity and clergy acting through the local chapter of the Knights of Malta and a fledgling organization dedicated to the promotion of the traditional Mass known as the Sursum Corda Society. The bishop gave his kind permission, as did the rector of the cathedral.

A talented choir sang Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices. Altar boys, ranging in age from four to college-aged, served under the direction of an expert young master of ceremonies. A half-dozen priests attended in choro. The joy of the faithful assisting at the celebration was palpable.

This, in miniature, is the Church of Tradition. It is not organized from on high – indeed, it has few true friends among the hierarchy and even fewer among the professional ecclesial bureaucrats who staff chanceries and parish offices. Rather, the Church of Tradition is kept alive by the efforts of quietly dedicated laymen and clergy – mostly younger clergy without a stitch of purple on their cassocks or birettas.

The Church of Tradition has struggled in effective exile since perhaps the commencement of the second session of the Vatican Council. It was a tiny remnant in the 1970s and 1980s, but it kept on with virtually no ecclesial sanction. To his great credit, in 1988, John Paul II established Ecclesia Dei and indicated a warming toward the traditional Mass. That same year, JPII gave his sanction to the formation of the Priestly Society of St. Peter, allowing it to act exclusively according to the liturgical books of 1962.

Then, of course, Pope Benedict, in the most far-reaching act of his too brief reign, promulgated Summorum Pontificum. As a result, while the Extraordinary Form is still rather out of the ordinary, the traditional liturgy has clawed its way back to the edge of mainstream Catholic life.

The Church of Tradition is grounded in an immersion in the sacramental life of the Church, particularly, of course, in the love of the traditional Mass. As such, it is not focused on anyone particular area of the Church’s teaching or dogma, but rather, it seeks to accept the entire deposit of the Faith as handed down through the ages with filial obedience.

The Church of Tradition is interested in neither dilution of doctrine nor in lame, or even absurd, attempts to modernize the Gospel in a frenzied effort to appeal to the present age. It therefore rejects or ignores the labors of the Kasperites and is scandalized when the pope proposes, as he did in Lund, a contemporary restatement of the Beatitudes.

At the same time, the Church of Tradition is not defined by the teachings on sexual morality. Although it is not consumed by these “hard sayings,” by drawing people into the Sacred Liturgy, the Church of Tradition offers a path toward the spiritual conversion that must proceed the intellectual conversion on these matters.

Thus, the Church of Tradition seeks to build a spiritual life upward from the rock of the Church’s patrimony instead of upon the shifting sand of post-conciliar fads coupled with a code of sexual ethics.

Both the Church of the Footnote and the JPII Church have long been united in dismissing the Church of Tradition as an irrelevant rump of oddballs. The concern for the liturgy has been denigrated as an obsession over aesthetic tastes, as part of a pointless “liturgy war” from which the Traditionalists are told to move on.

Wedded to their assumptions on the wisdom and permanence of the post-Council ways, the Footnoters and the JPII adherents have been blind to the fact that, in truth, the Church of Tradition offers a means for both to reach their legitimate goals.

It is the Church of Tradition that can integrate the Footnoters’ laudable emphasis on mercy – the sacrifice of Christ crucified for man – and the moral concerns of JPII, for it is a people nourished by the sacraments and imbued with a pious devotion to the Church in all its fullness who will accept and strive for holiness in daily life, in the family, and in the public square.

* * *

The divisions in the Church are subtle, but they are stark, and they are becoming increasingly evident. There is no question that the Church of Tradition sees the Church of the Footnote as a group of aging, out-of-touch elites determined to tear down the sacred to please modern tastes. The Church of Tradition vehemently rejects the Footnoters’ project, both on theological and practical grounds, as a failure. There is a marked loathing of the prelates who are enforcing the anti-tradition agenda – hence the Fac iterum vaticanum magnum movement of the simple lay faithful against the reigning princes.

The Church of JPII lies in between. Those members who belong to the immediate post-Council generations are leery of the Church of Tradition. For them, ironically, the ways of the 1969 Missal form a kind of untouchable tradition that they refuse to re-examine. Yet the JPII Church also sees that the Footnoters would vastly diminish the work of the rebuilding of the Church to which John Paul committed them and would throw away all the sacrifices they have made to argue publicly for the wisdom and binding character of  the teachings of the Church.

Eventually, in God’s Providence, the long crisis of the post-Council period will end. One of these “churches” will emerge as the dominant expression of the Catholic Faith in the 21st century. It will be the one, I pray, that will reconcile the Church with the modern age – not by succumbing to it, but by leading it as the last, great, and impenetrable vessel of Christianity, sailing always onward, guided by its fixed stars, ever ancient and ever new.

75 thoughts on “The Church of the Footnote vs. The Church of Tradition”

    • The permanent diaconate was revived as a result of the Vatican II Council. Many traditionalists either think it was a invalid council or that just about everything that came of it was evil.

      • For the record, I don’t believe Vatican II was invalid, nor is everything that flowed from it “evil.” Permanent deacons, however, was an attempt to clericalize the laity that they clearly hoped would lead to a married priesthood etc. Another instance of using supposed practices of the “Early Church” to justify Protestantization.

      • It goes a little deeper than that as it was unfinished business from the Council of Trent. There was a proposal at Trent to restore the minor orders and the diaconate as orders in their own rite and to extend the minor orders to married men. It was shelved – other matters being more pressing.

        Patriarch Maximus of the Melkite Greek Catholics then took this up again with Paul VI at Vatican II and urged him to take this forward in the Roman Rite, which he argued was in violation of Canon V of the XXIII Session of the Council of Trent by not having permanent orders of the other ministers:

        CANON V.–If any one saith, that, in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy by divine ordination instituted, consisting of bishops, priests, and ministers; let him be anathema.

        His motivation in part was that if the Latins had married deacons, they were less likely to turn on the Greeks and demand they get rid of their married priests. He got his way but then Paul VI abolished the minor orders leaving only the diaconate open to married men. However, the stability or permanence of the order of deacons was seen as an important part of the nature of the hierarchy as it had formerly existed from Apostolic times.

        I think the issue that some trads have with the permanent diaconate is more to do with it being open to married men rather than the fact that it exists. And that is fair enough – people will have different opinions on that just like they do about married priests. However, one reason why I hope the Church does not relax the rules on a celibate priesthood is that it would undermine the stability of the diaconate as an order in its own right. If married men were ordained as priests, you could guarantee that the diaconate would revert to being a transitional order overnight. And then, with some justification, it could be argued that the Church was in breach of the Canons of Trent.

        Naturally, as somebody who is definitely not in the Church of JPII nor the Church of the Footnote, I appreciate that only a minority will think that the latter point is important.

    • You will get different answers on that question, even among traditionalists.

      There’s nothing about permanent deacons that’s against Church doctrine per se. The real difficulties most commonly mooted are that 1) the theology underlying the permanent diaconate isn’t articulated very well, and 2) the actual discipline is not consistent, either – take the problem of continence, which is still technically a canonical requirement (see Dr. Ed Peters on this question), and was pretty clearly the observed norm in the early Church among deacons who did not advance to the priesthood – yes, even among the married ones.

      • Having spent three and half years in the major seminary, I can tell you what you say about the theology of the permanent diaconate is absolutely accurate.

        Here’s another: I received Institution into the canonical Ministries of Lector and Acolyte. Prior to VII, that would have made me a minor cleric which is called the Sub-deacon.

        • Thanks kindly for the feedback, Al.

          Subdeacon was of course a specific order, but you’re correct that the minor orders (porter, exorcist, lector, acolyte) were considered to be minor clerics – and continence was expected even of them. With subdeacons, the bishop at the subdiaconate ordination even warns the new subdeacon that he is now formally bound to observe perpetual continence, in fact.

          When you say “major seminary,” do you mean that of an Ecclesia Dei society, or the SSPX?

          • I attended my first year of graduate theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, OH, followed by two years at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, MO. I completed all but three required graduate hours, and nine graduate hours of electives- short of earning my M.Div. I was shown the door just six months before ordination to the transitional diaconate all because I helped to out my former bishop (who resigned from the Diocese of West Palm Beach, FL, in 2002) who I knew had molested numerous teenage, high-school seminarians while he was rector of the seminary. The formation team at the seminary also booted me for being too “rigid”, “conservative”, and otherwise orthodox. Hope this fills in some of the blanks.

          • No, that makes sense – though it’s less common to hear of formal institution into the offices acolyte and lector – thus my hasty assumption that you had gone in with an ED group. Of course, for them it’s more than mere institution – they’re still treated as minor orders, notwithstanding Ministeria quaedam.

            I used to live in Florida (Diocese of Venice), and it is stories like yours which help explain why the Church is in such a bad state down there.

  1. Never mind, posted on the wrong thread. When I get a chance I can read this article and perhaps put a real comment here that belongs to this thread, until then please ignore stupid post.

  2. I don’t understand why the Church of the Footnote do what they do. It’s like they’re trying to change God to fit man, rather than change man to fit God. Seems absurd on its face.

    • Essentially, most are really just some variety of Moral Therapeutic Deists.

      Because that’s really what most Christians in the West actually are now, in terms of what they believe.

    • Fr. Malachi Martin wrote a novel called, “Windswept House” that will explain what is going on in the Vatican at present and the world. Fr. Martin was a Vatican insider and he told Fr. John Hardon that 90 percent of the events expressed in the book were true. Also, Pope Pius XII ordered published the “Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita” to expose what is happening on the world’s stage. It’s all unfolding exactly as planned, except for the holy Cardinals who have had the courage to say, “No”! Pray for the safety of Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider and the few other saintly heroes.

      • A book by a group of scholars under the pen name Maurice Pinay “The Plot Against the Church” was written and handed out to all the Cardinals at Vatican 2. It tells the unvarnished truth about who and why this has all happened- the Sanhedrin is alive and well and through the Rothschild psychopaths who have unlimited money to control events and governments we are all being ushered into the New(Jew) World Order to be enslaved under rule by Satan and his Jews. It’s time to tell the truth from the rooftops and suffer the consequences, we owe deep gratitude for the courage of Bishop Burke and his partners.

  3. You forgot to mention that the Traditionalists have their flaws, too. Once you are ready to include those in your analysis, it will have more credibility.

    The NO is here to stay, my friend. You are dreaming if you think that one day the EF will become the predominant Mass throughout the world. Pope Benedict’s project with the Extraordinary Form was to use it to shine a light on the weakness of the OF so that it could be improved and conformed to the actual intentions of the Council Fathers. This is what Cardinal Sarah was pushing forward with his exhortation to return to ad orientem posture in the OF. We need to continue on that path. We need ad orientem posture in the OF. We need to bring back Gregorian Chant and the use of more Latin. We need incense and bells and beauty and majesty. The point I am making is that the OF will be the OF for the foreseeable future; we need to do what we can to reform and improve it.

    Of course, all of this is anathema to the Footnoters. Thus, PF states it is an error to even mention the “reform of the reform.” This is because, while he rejects the so-called “moralism” of the JPII Church, he absolutely despises any form of Traditionalism. He is a very psychologically wounded man. He has never forgotten nor got over whatever experience he had in the pre-Vatican II Church. It seems clear that for him, Vatican II was a complete (and welcome) rupture from the past, and this was the defining experience of his life. He literally cannot fathom how anyone would have any sincere attachment to the pre-Vatican II Church.

    Please, please, Cardinal Sarah for next Pope. Soon.

    • If I’d read your comment a year or so ago, I’d agree with you. Now though, after at least weekly experiencing the TLM, I know that the Novus Ordo has to go, and it will. It may not be in my lifetime, but it will be gone. It’s damaging to the faith, it’s deficient, it’s barely valid (though it IS valid.) I wish it was another way, but it’s definitely not.

      • I agree with you, and have been telling people the same thing. The Norvus Ordo Church is getting old, and not attracting the young. The young, who have supernatural faith, are drawn to tradition. It will be a long haul, but it will happen. John Paul II and Benedict XVI tried to reconcile the new with the old, and found out it cannot be done. We cannot go forward any longer, while we are severed from the past.

    • Everyone has flaws. But I do think that the TLM is the future of the Church. Yes, the present pope is an old man in a hurry: he will be 80 in a few weeks. He is busy making the mess he told the young people to do! And he is remaking the Church to his agenda and appointing men in that image. He embraces atheists and abortionists but seemingly not to bring them to Christ. He praised the apostate luther who not only committed the mortal sin of schism but started civil war. Is the pope Catholic can truly be asked! And too many faithful are left with hirelings instead of true shepherds and we see the cardinals vs cardinals and all that. Yet it is also a time for saints. Perhaps one day Cardinals Burke and Sarah will be recognized in that number. Holiness is persecuted from within. So those who know the faith must continue ever stronger to hold fast to the traditions and teachings of Christ and His Church and discern what is only passing fad. The salvation of souls is, after all, the mission of the Church.

    • 1. The NO is here to stay, my friend.

      For the time being – sure.

      In the longer run, the future is harder to predict. And I will venture only one prediction which seems safe to me: The year 2100 will not see a return to the liturgical uniformity that characterized the Latin Church in the final decades of the Tridentine era.

      But that doesn’t mean it will still be dominated in the same way and scope by the Pauline Missal in its present form, either.

      2. A word about the Council Fathers: It is important to remember that Sacrosanctum Concilium is a prescriptive document, not a dogmatic one. What it attempted to do was not to formally define anything, nor did it create a new or revised missal. It instead confined itself to providing desired principles of reform. And those principles can be fallible. To take one example: the prescription for a multi-year lectionary certainly seems to have been a mistake, and we should have no reticence in saying so. Piling on more Scripture in the readings has utterly failed in its aspiration to create a laity more familiar with Scripture. On all evidence, scriptural literacy among Catholics is actually worse now than it was in 1969.

      1962 is not a perfect missal – even many traditionalists appreciate that, and not just those of us who would undo most or all of the changes brought about in 1955-1962 by Pius XII and John XXIII. But this doesn’t mean the Council Fathers were always right about what needed reforming. And as they recede ever further into the past, their claim of authority over the liturgy, whatever it was, diminishes, too.

    • As far as improving the Novus Ordo Mass, I disagree that ad orientem will be an improvement. I’ve attended a couple of ad orientem masses, and they’re clunky. The priest is speaking to the people (rather than to God) presumably, but his back is turned away from them, so that it can be difficult to hear him speaking to them. And it just doesn’t flow very well, IMO. The Novus Ordo was intentionally designed to have everything clear for the people, and in the vernacular so that they could hear every word. EVERY WORD. Absolutely nothing is to be left to the imagination. Cut and dry, and that’s it.

      Gregorian chant doesn’t fit with the Novus Ordo, unless it’s in the vernacular. That means no Latin. If you want Gregorian chant to be sung in Latin, then you are going against the intentions of those men who designed the Novus Ordo.

      • One criticism of the Latin Mass was that as it was in Latin, people did not understand the prayers the priest was saying. But after the NO had replaced the Latin Mass for some time, a poll showed that many catholics did not understand that in communion they received the true body of Christ.

        The thing is that when the LM was the rule, as a young man I traveled about the U.S. and always felt at home wherever I attended the Mass. It was the same everywhere. One time in Germany, not knowing any German I felt I was among strangers, that is until I attended Mass, and while the sermon was in German as the rest of the Mass was exactly what it was in a small mission Church in the foothills of the Adirondacks where I grew up, I felt a bond existed between me and the Germans there. We were all united in the world by the Mass. Americans visiting Rome did not have to scurry around Rome to find a Mass in English as they do now. And now I find a wide variation in the Novus Ordo Mass within even a given diocese. Various parishes have instituted their own variations. We all had missals which translated the Latin, and after attending Mass for years one soon understood the meaning of the Latin prayers.

        But the NOvus Ordo like a weed that it is will be difficult to pull out. It appeals to the modern culture, and from my observations it has a special appeal to americans as it is an audience participation service, with opportunity for the audience to applaud by clapping as they do on Dr. Phil’s horror stories. The priest, who now serves as a master of ceremonies feel that as he looks at his parishioners that he has to be a performer too. Facing an audience has that psychological effect. But I am from a different generation and I feel so out of place at a Novus Ordo Mass that even though the Novus Ordo Mass that my daughter and her family attend, as they feel this is what the Church recommends and they are trusting, is 15 minutes away from where I live, I drive across the city to attend an Eastern Catholic Liturgy.

        • Heck, I am a convert of 3 years and I feel the same things you say. Every priest has his own twist to the NO. MANY of the young priests try to make it reverent and honest but don’t seem to realize that they are more or less acting as Protestant pastors when they do because their version of reverent and honest is different than their buddy’s version just down the street.


          And those of you out there in Novusordoland who are staunch defenders, don’t toss at me Sacrosanctum Consilium and the Roman Missal because they don’t define it and you know it.

          Ask 100 Catholics what IS the standard for the NO Mass and you will get 126 different responses!

          I say give us Latin and the teachers to make us proficient.

          For crying out loud, people all over the world in multilingual countries learn different languages just so they can go buy tomatoes at the veggie market.


        • Yes, well said. The old Latin mass as it was celebrated before the Council had a unifying effect. There are so many options now that the celebrant can use for the Novus Ordo that it can be confusing. The priest gets to ad lib quite a bit with the various options, if he so chooses. Though some Novus Ordo masses are said quite reverently, of course.

          Yes, the Novus Ordo indeed appeals to a modern culture in that it is man-centered rather than God-centered; thus, facing the people, for the priest, does have a psychological effect. We as Americans are rather individualistic, so maybe that’s where the appeal comes from, for some folks anyway. I have sympathy for those who attend the Novus Ordo, in that they may have a variety of reasons as to why they don’t want to attend a TLM. That’s okay, though I do believe that the Novus Ordo, though not evil, is very much inferior to the TLM.

      • Wrong. In fact, were it not for improper implementation of the Novus Ordo, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal directed that Latin Gregorian chant be used, and that the new Mass was to be celebrated ad orientum. I know this from spending three years in the major seminary. The problem is that too many bishops chose to go against this, as well as nearly all Latin rite priests, and religious (theologians too). Even when Paul VI tried to fix the situation, his own cardinals and bishops ignored him en masse. Thus, the invention of the “Cafeteria Catholic.” And, by extension, now known as the Church of the Footnote, followed by the Church of JPII, who practically worship whoever the pope is- whether the pope is teaching heresy or not. This is the Church we now must live in and try to follow the Lord as best we can given our individual states in life.

        • Can you point to or site a document that says that those who designed the Novus Ordo recommended that Latin Gregorian chant be used, and that the Mass was to be said ad orientem? What the designers wanted and what the Girm says may be two different things.

          • Correct. The GIRM never intended for the Novus Ordo to turn out the way it did. Although Latin was the preferred language of the NO, translating the liturgy into the vernacular was permitted by Rome. However, the entire implementation process of the translation- most especially into English got hijacked by the the USCCB (liberal) bishops and their staffs to include the members of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). This resulted in bastardized translations from Latin to English, the horrible Glory and Praise lyrics/music that no one could sing and which focused not on God but on the “priesthood of the faithful”, led to “clown” Masses, guitars, banjos, female liturgical dancing, the willful changing the the words of the Mass and prayers (other than what was eventually authorized), inclusive language, among many other things we now see in clear daylight.

            Here’s some sources:,

            I hope this helps! God bless and Happy Advent to you!

    • You seem like a very smart man.

      I saw a New mass for the first time last Sunday!
      It is a big mess. Also makes for really uncomfortable.

      I had Always been told of the new mass but never had to go.

      I just wanted to see it. Now I have to
      Confess it!

  4. THIS IS THE NEW STYLE BABY! Thank you Benedict XVI you saw what I saw.

    From the Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Good Friday 2012:

    “Once more in meditation, prayer and song, we have recalled Jesus’s journey along the way of the cross: a journey seemingly hopeless, yet one that changed human life and history, and opened the way to “new heavens and a new earth” (cf. Rev 21:1). Especially today, Good Friday, the Church commemorates with deep spiritual union the death of the Son of God on the cross; IN HIS CROSS SHE SEES THE TREE OF LIFE, which blossoms in new hope.”
    [emphasis mine]

    Why the Fire? The Tree of Life is just like the Burning Bush! Go back to Genesis and start thinking! A Tree (The Tree of Life) that gave everlasting life. And compare it to the Burning Bush that reveals the State of Everlasting Life given by the Everlasting God on Mt. Sinai. Have Fun!


    • Pius X is a good model!

      The traditionalist pope is somewhere playing T ball or eating graham crackers, or watching Sesame Street!

      Give him time to grow up and he will restore everything! I know he is out there, just a baby now.

  5. I swam the Tiber in 2012 in a JPII parish with Traditional leanings. Sunday NO masses are sung, with one of them having the propers chanted in Latin. No altar girls, actual confessionals, and no polyester vestments. Very reverent NO Masses and orthodox homilies. I became a Lector and Sacristan not long after Confirmation, feeling very privileged to assist. Then in 2014 I discovered Tradition practiced daily in a parish less than a day’s drive from where I lived. I made up my mind to find a job and relocate, which I did in 2015. Now, a little over a year later, I can’t imagine regularly attending an NO Mass, even one as reverently celebrated as in my last parish. I’ve visited a few times in the past year, and the differences are quite stark. I use the analogy of Bud Light to an ancient ale formula that has been brewed continuously for over 1500 years. Yes, it is beer, and you can get drunk on the Bud, but you cannot compare it to something that has had so much thought and care put into it over the centuries.

    Also, and this is key, the Sacrament of Confession is WAY more utilized in mine (and any) TLM parish. There is Confession before and during every Mass, and the line is always long. My own experience is that frequent absolution makes a huge difference in the transformation St. Paul wrote about. The parishioners themselves live and breathe Catholicism; it is not merely something one does on Sunday. If you want to make it heaven, do what it takes to get you and your family to a parish that regularly celebrates the Mass of the Ages.

  6. Cardinal X Assumes role of Trump to Make the Catholic Church Great Again.

    The silent war for the heart and soul of the Catholic Church must go public with JPII conservatives joining the Traditionalists. This movement would be led by a Cardinal or Bishop with a fearless outspoken personality willing to take on Pope Francis and other Protestantized Cardinals and Bishops.

    Today’s whited sepulchers must be called out just as Jesus did in his day. He was willing to die for the Truth. And He will expect some of today’s shepherds to do the same. Where are you courageous Cardinal or Bishop? Come out from wherever you are!

    This is a spiritual battle that must be fought in public under the banner of St Michael and Our Lady of Victory.

  7. I’ll believe it when we start praying for the conversion of the “perfidious jews” again, until that day the New World Order is still in control of the Vatican.

    • That prayer will come.
      The Jews are going to too many extremism.

      Even in Japan now we have to deal with the issue. It’s too much!

      Many are waking up to what they are doing, particularly their wanting to replace natives in advanced countries with more primitive foreigners.

  8. Francis wants one thing-to approve of sin and teach those with itching ears the same. All his actions point to it. The cover story is a false mercy.

  9. Mr Browne, I enjoyed reading your wide ranging, quick paced, and insightful article. I found your article refreshing and uplifting and agree with much of what you say.

    However, and I say this respectfully, I think there is more to John Paul II than this. JPII came to a Church that was suffering from the dual attack on the Sacred Liturgy and on the Doctrine of the Faith; he came to a world that was not only marked by the sexual revolution but also by an apparent, almost complete loss of the sense of human dignity and of human nature as created in the image of God; the Traditional Mass had enemies not only amongst the implementers of the liturgical reform but also amongst many of the grass roots implementers who were all too ready to “innovate” and forsake traditional forms, reverence, and piety; he came to a Church that was not only deeply wounded but also steeped in an identity crisis; he came to a world that had by and large not only lost the Faith but had also lost (by and large) the faculty of right reason; he came to a world that was not only in spiritual crisis but also in threat of nuclear war; and in all these areas he made improvements and much progress, and, moreover, through his profound teaching and witness and prayerfulness strengthened the Church to withstand the trials that we are seeing today, and to some extent mitigated the present suffering-crisis which the Church is experiencing.

    I think to analyse the Church into a JPII-versus-Tradition Church is too simplistic, though I love both the Traditional Liturgy and all that the Church has traditionally stood for.

    • Very insightful comment. Thank you! Thinking on it I agree. I will say that the author’s critique was more perhaps what people have taken away from his papacy rather than his fullness. It is the people he describes so aptly. Just in my opinion. I have no idea of the author’s intent.

    • I understand your point, and my intent was not indict JP II himself. Rather, it was to use ascribe certain realities to his era. His pontificate was a momentous one with many dimensions and successes–but also failures that left unresolved problems. I think we now a must look honestly at the course of the Church’s development over the entire course of the post Council era, and evaluate its successes and its sound theology as well as its many failures and indefensible ideas.

      • Thank you for this clarification. As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article and found it refreshing and uplifting. I think you’ve done very well to discern clearly the lines of division, the teachings and tendencies (both good and bad), and the direction we need to take. May our Lady, Queen of Victory, help us move forward and restore the true Faith and Sacred Tradition. May God bless you.

    • And who were the attackers? And I realize the post WWII world had some problems, I would say they were not comparable to what we have today. Today the loss of faith has markedly increased, Catholic Ireland has slipped, Catholic Quebec is no longer very Catholic, vocations are down, Catholic Church attendance is decreasing every year, and many distinguished observers of the international scene believe that we are closer to a nuclear war today than we were during the Cold War, and the identity Crises of the church is worse than it has been since Pope Pius XII. And I am not a fan of Pope JPII as whatever the state of the
      church was when he became Pope, it has continued to go down hill. Moreover I fault him for not doing more to crack down on the sexual predators. I know he gained a lot of popularity in the world and possibly gained some good will among the Non-Catholic world, and he did face difficult times, but I can’t help being a critic. He did hold the line on some things, but after all that is what a Pope should do. So it does not appear to me that Pope JPII or Pope Benedict did much to halt the slide. We certainly are in a crises now.

      • I certainly agree with you about the extent of the devastation-crisis in the Church today. But I want to suggest to you that there was much more to JPII than meets the eye. It’s easy for us to judge a person in hindsight but it was not so easy for him to confront all that he did and to make as many breakthroughs as he did. And I still maintain that through his profound teaching and witness and prayerfulness JPII strengthened the Church to withstand the trials that we are seeing today, and to some extent mitigated the present suffering-crisis which the Church is experiencing.

  10. The bottom line up front is: THE POPE MUST TOTALLY ABROGATE THE NOVUS ORDO MASS and return to the TLM. All of the novelties including horrible folksy hymns, girl servers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, etc., must all go!

    Barring this, the Catholic Church in the West WILL SPLIT INTO SCHISM.

    I agree with many who posted remarks about the shortcomings of JPII and Benedict. JPII did not do what he should have done, and Benedict did not finish the job. WHY? Because both men feared such actions to make everything right would cause a major schism.

    I contend that the schism is here and originated during the leading up to the Second Vatican Council by those who supported the Modernist heresy long condemned by the Church more than a century ago.

    It is most unfortunate that Benedict has not only remained mostly silent in the wake of Francis’ destruction and deconstruction of the Catholic Church, but that he has not bothered to speak out at all.

    Sad, sad, days in the Church.

    Mary, Mother of God, and Destroyer of Heresies, PRAY FOR US!

  11. “… who carry on the work of the late pope by battling, in the main, the Sexual Revolution.”. Having just read Randy Engels book on Theology of the Body, I would question that.


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