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Why Liturgy Really is the Key to Everything

There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.

– Saint Jean-Marie Vianney

The first time I walked through the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I was overcome. This greatest treasure of Christian architecture impressed upon me an incredible and awe-inspiring feeling of smallness. As I passed from the sunny piazza outside into the cavernous interior of this church of churches, I was swallowed up. Here, in this majestic testament in stone and marble, gilt and gold, to the overwhelming glory of God, my insignificance became clear.

No religion in the history of the world has ever inspired such temples; no pagan deity could claim the outpouring of human innovation, craftsmanship, and achievement that has been made manifest in the service of honoring the True God. The quantity and quality of architecture, artistry, music, poetry, and theological exposition that have been brought forth into the world by twenty centuries of Catholicism stagger the mind. There is no greater source of inspiration than He who gives us everything – our lives, our talents, our joys, our eternity. In honoring Him through the finest works of our own capacity for creation, we are merely returning all we are and have to Him from whom it was received. “Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas. 1:17).

It is only fitting, therefore, that God commands us to worship Him. We are created to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world in order that we may be happy with Him forever in Heaven. But do we believe that to fulfill these precepts on our own terms is sufficient? Is God not exacting in what He obliges from us? Is He not a jealous God, in the appropriate sense of the term – expecting that which is His due, which is to say no less than our very best?

It has always been so. Most people know the biblical story of Cain, who murdered his brother Abel, but not many could tell you what drove Cain into a killing rage. It was envy – envy that arose because Abel’s worship was more pleasing to God than Cain’s own.

Abel was a shepherd, and Cain a husbandman. And it came to pass after many days, that Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord. Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.  And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. – Genesis 4:2-8

“Why art thou angry?” asked the Lord. “why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive?” When Abel sacrificed to God, he brought forth his very best. He sacrificed his firstlings, giving to God not just the best of the flock, but their fat, which is to say the most highly prized portion of their substance. He wasn’t holding anything back; he wasn’t keeping the parts he really wanted for himself. It was an outpouring, an emptying of self, his supplication before God pleasing in its totality.

We don’t know what Cain offered – only that he gave of some “fruits of the earth.” We know, too, by God’s words to Cain, that his sacrifice could have been pleasing if he had been generous. It is clear, therefore, that not all sacrifices offered to God are seen by Him as equal. There is a distinction between worship that is pleasing to Him and worship for which “He has no respect.”

It is not selfish of God to demand our best. Not only has He given us every good thing, and not only does He hold us in existence every moment we draw breath, but He “so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn. 3:16). Whereas God sent the angel to stay Abraham’s hand (and spare the life of Isaac), He allowed every cruel torture that was perpetrated against His own divine and perfectly innocent Son until Christ’s ignominious death on the Cross. This chalice of suffering, as Christ Himself put it, was drunk “to the dregs.” There truly is nothing more precious to us than the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ crucified. God loves us so much that He gave us this unspeakably selfless gift to accomplish our redemption. There is nothing more great, for if there were, it too would be ours, such is His love for us.

But do we treat this gift as the greatest gift there is? Do we honor the Eucharist as the most precious thing in the universe? Do we recognize that this gift of God’s Self demands one of our own in return?

Every liturgy places us into this cycle of self-gift anew. God gives us the best He has, and He asks for the best we have in return. But we truly have nothing to give that can compare to what we have been given. So in the absence of a sufficient gift, God gives us Himself to give back to Him. He even takes our place as the offeror – by becoming both priest and victim. Every priest who stands at every altar is subsumed by Christ; it is Christ Who consecrates the Most Holy Sacrament of His own Body and Blood, Christ Who offers and is offered to the Father on behalf of us poor sinners.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a meal. It is a holocaustThe priest does not set the table for a supper. He places the Victim, butchered and bloodied, upon the altar of sacrifice, because by His death He conquered death — the eternal death of sin — and by His rising He restored us to eternal life. The Mass is not, truly understood, celebrated; it is offered to Him whose Divine wrath must be appeased for all of our great and many sins. The Victim is not only perfect, but beloved, and as God looks upon Him, and us who receive Him, He pours out His mercy upon us as Christ poured out His blood.

When we go to Mass, it is the most intimate experience of God we will ever encounter in this life. We come to the altar to participate in a mutual outpouring of self. He gives His all to us, and though this is infinitely more than we can return, we nonetheless give our all to Him. Whereas a husband and wife cling to each other to become one flesh in the imperfect union of the marital embrace, God allows us to consume Him so that He may literally, physically, become one with our bodies and our souls and, in so doing, may consume us. It is a breathtaking experience.

Once we begin to truly understand the nature of the Mass and our purpose there, it becomes possible for us to recognize how important it is that it be conducted in a fitting manner. Though the Mass can be said to have been made for man, it was made so that he might have a fitting means by which to honor Our Lord. The object of our worship is God, not ourselves. This is why any Mass where man becomes the center of attention or the principle focus is a dangerous inversion.

Some argue that the shape of the liturgy does not matter as long as Christ is present. It is true that whenever Christ is made present, the sacrifice being offered is perfect, but that does not mean our worship or understanding of the sacrifice is. Christ’s Eucharistic presence is accomplished through divine action. It is Christ the Priest offering Christ the Victim to the Heavenly Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. What we see taking place upon the altar is a glimpse of the inner life of the Blessed Trinity, the love and interaction between Divine Persons that takes place by no merit of our own. As the priest prays in the Quam Oblationem of the ancient Roman liturgy:

And do Thou, O God, vouchsafe in all respects to bless, consecrate, and approve this our oblation, to perfect it and render it well-pleasing to Thyself, so that it may become for us the body and blood of Thy most beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is God Who makes the oblation pleasing to God, and this is possible because it is God Who is the oblation.

What we bring to the liturgy, what we offer to God is our honor, reverence, supplication, contrition, adoration, and praise. “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). The priest who consecrates the Eucharist does so not by some power he possesses, but by one that possesses him: participation in the One True Priesthood of Christ.

“When I say the Mass,” a young traditional priest once told me, “I am a slave to the liturgy. The Church tells me where to stand, how to place my hands, when to genuflect, when to kiss the altar…I am gone, and it is Christ who acts through me.” The priest’s offering is one of humility, of reverence, of the emptying out of self. “Judge me, O God,” he implores at the foot of the altar, echoing the words of the Psalmist, “and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man; for thou art my God and my strength…”

We, too, come as humble supplicants, with a receptive and attentive disposition. The liturgy happens independently of us, but it draws us into its mysteries and grants us heavenly gifts, thereby perfecting us and propelling us toward Heaven. We unite our prayer with the priest, who prays on our behalf, who performs, in virtue of his union with Christ, what we cannot.

It is the most important and beautiful thing this side of Heaven.

It is therefore inescapable that a proper understanding of liturgy grounds us in a correct knowledge of our place in the universe. Liturgy that emphasizes Our Lord’s Sacrifice and places us mentally and spiritually before the Cross on Calvary humbles us and makes us receptive to our absolute dependence on God for all good things, especially our salvation. Liturgy where priest and people alike are oriented toward Heaven and where sacred things are veiled and shrouded and reverenced in an appropriate way teaches us who we are — and what duties we have — in relation to Him from Whom all good things come and in Whom we must trust when we have no choice but to walk by faith rather than by sight. Liturgy should make us feel small, like entering the great edifices of Christendom.

The attack on the liturgy that we have witnessed over the past half-century can be understood as nothing less than a diabolical attempt to strike at the heart of our most important and intimate connection with Our Creator — and also to confuse and disorient us through this loss of perspective. We have been given over to idolatry – the idolatry of self, such that we see the world only through the lens of our own desires. Christ’s sacrifice has been replaced with food and fellowship, His altar of oblation turned into a table, His priesthood adulterated by those persons who intrude upon the domain of the priest but do not possess the ability to act in persona Christithe universal orientation of priest and people toward God turned inward so that we are, in essence, all just talking to ourselves, and nearly every act of reverence for the sacred has been stripped away.

Christ remains present in this reinvented, banalized, man-centered liturgy, but He is ignored, forgotten, abused, and upstaged. Like Cain, we no longer offer God our best, but keep it for ourselves. Anyone who attempts to offer God what He deserves, like Abel, is met with envy, contempt, and even violence.

The crisis in the Church is manifestly a crisis of selfishness and anthropocentrism. It is the fruit of this new idolatry. We have come to believe that we know better than God what is best for us. The Second Vatican Council tells us, “[A]ll things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.” We must reject this. All things on Earth should be related to Christ as their center and crown. We are not worshipers of man; we are worshipers of Jesus Christ! Of the Blessed Trinity! But if our liturgies fail to hold God as our object of adoration, is it any wonder that we have become obsessed with ourselves? We talk incessantly about how we “feel” about liturgy and what we “get out of it” and whether it “moves us” – but for Whom are we there?

The architects of the Church’s “new and improved” liturgy knew exactly what they were doing. And they have been successful. They have, with a single stroke, moved the entire liturgical edifice of the Church to a foundation of sand. And now that this edifice is crumbling to the ground, and the faith along with it, they swoop in, telling us that the other truths of our faith are nothing more than “ideals” too hard to live up to, that because things have strayed so far, we must now find ways to accept and work with situations “as they are.” By destroying our understanding of our relationship with God through the central act of prayer of the Church, they have undermined all else besides. Now, after half a century of demolition, they are dismantling what’s left of the faith almost unopposed.

Those who have come to terms with the crisis in the Church will occasionally raise the question, “Why can we see what’s happening when others can’t? Why does God seem to be showing this to only a handful of us?” Could it be that it’s because of what he said to Cain? “If thou do well, shalt thou not receive?

Someone recently wrote to me concerning the level of denial among fellow Catholics about what’s happening in the Church: “It’s only attending the Latin Mass,” she said, “that has allowed the scales to fall off my eyes.”

It is not too late. Do not lose your way, fellow Catholics. Do not be deceived. Good liturgy — and by that I mean holy, reverent, God-fearing liturgy — will change your life, even if you have to make difficult sacrifices to have it. Is there anything more important to you than your salvation, or that of your children? If you don’t have a good Mass to attend, move! If you can’t find a Traditional Latin Mass, turn to the East, which has been largely ignored by the demolitionists!

The saboteurs had one shot, and so they struck the one form of the liturgy that would affect the greatest number of Catholics. They gave it all they had, but as God would have it, it was not a killing blow. God is still truly worshiped. And we are obliged for His sake and for our salvation to join in that true worship. No more excuses.

While it is true that good liturgy alone will never be a panacea, there is nonetheless nothing more powerful you can do for your faith, for your understanding of what is happening in the world, for the good of your soul and those of your loved ones, than to stop, without delay, attending a liturgy that was designed to separate you from the very Sacrifice it is supposed to commemorate. You cannot drink poisoned water without ill effect, no matter how thirsty you are, or how resilient. It does not nourish; it emaciates.

The new paradigm is collapsing on itself even now. It will be abandoned in our lifetimes, a husk of what it once was — or else rendered unrecognizable to anyone with faith as it becomes, like the Arian churches of the 4th century, the exclusive domain of the enemies of Our Lord.

The liturgy is the key to our entire understanding of what we face, of who we are, and of what we must do. There may well be no other way to weather what is coming. More importantly, it is our most essential interaction with God. We have a duty to find a place where the priest and the people worship God in a way that is fitting and pleasing to Him. Once it is found, flee to it. Cling to it. Do not worry about the hardships you must endure to accomplish this, for God knows these things, and He will bless you.

Be reminded of your place in the universe. Be subject to Him Who rules it. Love Him with all your heart, mind, and strength, and adore Him as He deserves. It’s a decision you’ll never regret.


Originally published on June 8, 2016. 

75 thoughts on “Why Liturgy Really is the Key to Everything”

  1. Steve, thank you so much for this.

    A few months ago I started to realize just how truly deficient the Novus Ordo is but I had great difficulty explaining it to anyone. My wife, who is very wonderful and fully understands the gravity of the problems of the current papacy, does not understand that the NO is deficient. She trusts me, and believes me, but she doesn’t see it.

    I’ve suffered greatly over the last 4 years with mental illness; I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and minor social agoraphobia. Sadly, on many Sundays, it’s honestly more than I can do to get to Mass. I’m simply too ill. It’s getting better, but it’s still often nearly impossible. So I pray. I offer what little I have. And my wife goes to Mass. Almost always NO. The nearest traditional parish is only about 25 minutes away, but our local parish (where we were both received into the Catholic Church and where we have many dear friends) is only about 5 minutes. There is a parish not far that does offer one mass on Sunday in the ancient form, maybe 10 minutes away, but it’s very sparsely attended (no more than 10 congregants in a parish of 1000 families).

    I’ve been advocating for switching and going to the EF every Sunday at either of the 2 parishes where it’s offered for some time. But she hasn’t been able to follow through on her own. She doesn’t see. Finally, with this article, she may see. This is a treasure Steve. You don’t know what a gift this is for my family. Thank you.

    • If you can’t make it to Mass because of your illness, Fr. Jay Finelli is going to start offering the TLM every Sunday live on iPadre. Perhaps it will make you feel better to pray along.

    • I don’t know if this will help. I have had major panics for years. I laugh when I read “panic attacks last around 3 minutes”. (Yours might mate, mind last six hours.) I came to the realisation a while ago that my fears have nothing to do with reality. I’m not having a heart attack. There isn’t a mad axe man outside my bedroom door. I’m not going to collapse. Etc. etc. Did that stop the panic? No. Of course not. A few months ago a funny thing happened. I was staying in a large house (terrifying for me. I can’t go to the bathroom until I’m desperate because I KNOW there’s an axe man waiting). Someone I dredged up from my memory “Note your physical symptoms with interest and disregard them”. I sat up and noted that my heart was pounding, my mouth was dry, hands shaking… You get the picture. I thought that if I had been given medicine, for example, that I was told would give me these side effects, they wouldn’t bother me. Why would they bother me now? I also knew perfectly well that the mad axe man didn’t exist. (Even if he did. What could I do about him?) I got up and went to the bathroom. I ignored my physical symptoms. I went to the bathroom again, just because I could. I then stayed awake for about four hours for the sheer pleasure of not being afraid. I still get all those physical symptoms and can ignore them. You have to be aware that the symptoms can shift. The next time I might feel dizzy. I sometimes do. Or sick. There’s nothing wrong, it’s just the panic. I have a friend who’s a nurse. She said “why are you worried you might pass out? You’ll find out if you do. In the meantime ignore it”. It’s getting easier too. I try to remember the one important thing. The worse thing that can happen is I could go to hell. If I make sure I’ve made a good confession, why be afraid of anything else? I really and truly believe that these fears are sent by the devil himself to try stop us from doing what we should be doing. If we can ignore them and offer them up, with God’s grace, we can live as normally as we can. I am also very fortunate in that I have access to frequent Latin Masses and maybe that’s how come I got this wonderful grace. Heaven knows I’ve asked for it at those Masses.

      Sorry to have gone on and on. But I thought it might help someone who’s going through this. I’ve lived with this for over 25 years. It hasn’t gone. It’s just stopped worrying me. Deo gratias!

    • If it is helpful, then thank God for it. He gave me the insight, and I asked Him to help me write it. I’m not usually at a loss for words, but I’ve been wrestling with this since April. In rare moments of lucidity I can grab onto pieces of it, and I don’t know how lucid this really is, but I think it’s incredibly important. (You may recall that I said, back at the beginning of May, “There are some ideas I am working on, things I’m trying to come to an understanding of how best to express, and I hope to share them with you soon.” Well, this is that thing I’ve been grappling with.)

      If it’s been done well it’s by His grace. I was fighting massive writer’s block the whole time, and just praying that I could get it out. And if it isn’t sufficient (and it doesn’t feel like it to me) then I am going to try to keep building on it.

      I don’t want to be having the same old technical arguments about liturgy. There is something far deeper at work, and I was, for some reason, given a glimpse through the veil. I really hope that if possible, I can grasp it well enough to expound on it further.

    • ‘She trusts me, and believes me, but she doesn’t see it.’

      I think, for a good many time is what’s needed. And I think watching the Latin Mass at home may be a great help.

      Shall pray for you and your wife! God bless!

    • All you can do is the best you can…reading Steve’s blog will certainly help you to know that you are not alone. He is blessed by the Holy Ghost. And you are a soul who has been given the gift of suffering which you can offer up for the souls in Purgatory. God bless you and I will keep you in my prayers, dear soul.






      Have you received

      Christ’s body dead

      Like the sorrowful Mother

      Who cradled His head?

      Christ’s body dead

      Is the death of a child

      Deformed or sickly

      Did you feel beguiled?

      Christ’s body dead

      Is the gift of disease

      Physical, mental

      Can’t do as you please.

      That’s because Christ

      Wants to be close

      To you who accepts

      The sixth sorrow’s dose.

      He chose you of hope

      To cradle His head

      For you know what is life

      And what really is dead.

      Climb Golgotha hill

      For you can handle

      So others can see

      Your light like a candle

      That Christ is with you

      Before and behind,

      And they’ll follow your path

      To the tomb quite resigned

      Where quietly gently

      All suffering will rest

      And your head will be cradled

      At our Lady’s breast.

      Oh sons of sorrow

      The gift – your breath…

      You’ll breathe at your birth

      Due to Christ’s body’s death.

      • Thank you for the lovely poem! God has given you a great gift.

        I’ve had epilepsy since I was a baby and suffered from depression for many years.

        One day, the thought came to me that my epilepsy and depression were my share of the crown of thorns. This really helped me (along with prayer, Liturgy, the Sacraments).

        You put into words some of the things that came to mind but in a much more profound and beautiful way. (As for me, I’m one of the people who need the delete key; otherwise I waste paper trying to get the words right.).

        St. Ephrem is the Father of Hymnody. I hope that we meet each other and him in Heaven.

    • The difference between the NO and the EF is much like that of the celebration of the MEAL/ SUPPER on the TABLE of the NO and the OFFERING of the SPOTLESS VICTIM ON CALVARY of JESUS on the ALTAR to HIS FATHER in the EF. Now we can imagine how GOD the FATHER looks upon BOTH the SUPPER and the OFFERING. IN the LAST 50 years, God showed how He looked at the NEW PROTESTANT contrivance of the MASS by allowing HIS CHURCH to go through a SLIPPERY SLOPE DOWNWARDS IN ALL the Church FUNCTIONS; from one CRISIS to ANOTHER, with no END IN SIGHT. Actually, going at a steeper angle . Just look at what is being done in this Papacy. WOW. Please God have MERCY and REDUCE the TIME OF INIQUITY in this present situation.

  2. When I search more thoroughly, I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion.

    • It is when the Empire seems invincible that it is at its weakest; it was true of Rome, Russia, America, and it will prove to be true of the modernist empire.

      Franciscus was necessary so the depravity of the new theology/ anthropocentric modernism could be unveiled in all of its insipidity and evil.

      Those who now wield authority are, they imagine, the Sainted Sextons who will bury the bad old Church once and for all when the truth is, they will prove to be one of the keys to the success of the reemerging Tradition for the powers that be are the ones who are making real men sit up and take notice that this modern project is aught but frippery festooned with feces.

      The self-slaying act of audacity will come when he visits Lund, Sweden and bows down for a blessing by a faux Bishop, a lesbian who is married to another ugly lesbian.

      There is NO WAY real Catholic men are going to tolerate this pestilential act of Papal Perfidy.

      • I appreciated seeing the temporary Tomb of the Unknown Martyr you propped up at that one fashion-obsessed ecclesial community, but your inability to raze the other fashion-obsessed community’s building that burned not too long ago dampened my joy of love.

        And to find out they took ownership of it? Whose side are you on?

        I’ll take away the red hat that I haven’t yet given you if you don’t work harder.

        It might be “your” archdiocese, but it is my church.

        So it is my archdiocese.

        You are on notice.

  3. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a meal. It is a holocaust


    This is an excellent treatment of the Liturgy. Kudos

  4. Ann Barnhardt, in her Ann Barnhardt directedness, said “The Novus Ordo makes people stupid.”

    She’s onto something.,

    • If it were celebrated within a “hermeneutic of continuity,” it could be and would be so much better than it is. But that, alas, is as rare as hen’s teeth.

      • It’s close enough that a realistic “Reform of the Reform” is possible with a few significant tweaks (ad orientam, chant, Latin for the Ordinary/Canon) and abrogating the non-traditional (most frequently used) options, but it would have to be pushed from the top down just like the Novus Ordo itself was.

      • And what does that tell us? If celebrating the NO within a hermeneutic of continuity is as “rare as hen’s teeth”, I think it is foolish to assert that this is just about disobedient clergy or misinterpreted intentions. I don’t lay that charge at your feet, professor; I’m simply characterizing the typical excuses that are raised in defense of the NO.

        But at the end of the day, they are just that: excuses. And very poor ones. Rather than excuses, what needs to be said often and loudly is that the definitive character of the NO is rupture; that is to say, unless actively resisted by a mind well formed by Sacred Tradition, the NO positively invites novelty at every turn. At such, it tends to imperil rather than safeguard the Faith. There’s something manic about that liturgy that sends it consistently off the rails.

        And the reason for this is the endless options. When there is one way of doing things, people respect and revere it. However, when there are 68 ways of doing things all that respect is lost, and people quite naturally conclude why not 69 or 70 or even 700. The thing has to go, root and branch.

  5. Thank you Steve for mentioning “Going East” as well.
    Many people don’t have a TLM in their diocese so Eastern rite parishes are quite a blessing.

    • I had this very strong epiphany a month or so ago where this all just hit me – the traditional liturgy (or those of the other ancient rites, especially the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) instructs us on a subconscious and spiritual level about the order of the universe. The more we are trained by it, the clearer things become. This is why almost everyone who is actively resisting what is happening now, everyone who feels strongly that there is a deep darkness coming over the Church, comes from that liturgical paradigm.

      There are a few who are making out the shape of what is to come while still attached to the new paradigm. I would suggest, though, that these are individuals who are either deeply rooted in theology, or who have identified certain specific issues of serious importance (like Amoris Laetitia). I would say that all of the people in this category are at least attracted to the most reverent liturgies they can find.

      The two things may seem unrelated, but perspective is everything. The way we see our relationship with God — and importantly, our duties and obligations to Him — has a direct impact on our ability to discern when these things are under assault, or being distorted. If you’re in a place you’ve never been before, you won’t know that things are missing or out of order. But when you become familiar with a room, you walk in and right away, you know that something has been taken, or re-arranged.

      It is increasingly my theory that they attacked the liturgy because they knew it would numb us, blind us, and make us useless against the rest. It is, if you will, a sort of immunosuppressant to the Catholic consciousness.

      • Steve, in 1998 I found myself driving a bi-ritual (Latin NO/Byzantine) priest to Byzantine church in the middle of no-where rural Pennsylvania so he could substitute for the pastor who was on vacation. I can still see myself in the tiny little building. There weren’t more than a dozen people in attendance but I recall that halfway through the Liturgy — after nearly 30 years of NO exposure — the thought struck me that I had never really worshipped until that moment. I helped to open my eyes.

        • Long before I came to know and love the TLM, which I hold in the highest esteem of any liturgy, I took refuge in the Byzantine Ruthenian rite, and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

          I attended it at the prompting of some friends whose parents brought them up in a Byzantine parish when the Detroit Archdiocese went off the rails in the 70s. They were ritually Latin Rite, but the Byzantine was their primary formative experience. (True story: my first time attending a Divine Liturgy I was roped into being an acolyte and serving at the Mass. I had no idea what I was doing, but I followed along.)

          I was immediately drawn to the mysticism, the sung Mass, the iconography, and the prayers. The prayers were glorious, and the words of those prayers were so rich, they were not just treasures, they were like water given to a man dying of thirst. They were a catechism in and of themselves.

          The iconostasis, the exclusion of anyone who didn’t belong in the sanctuary, the reverence for the precious body and blood, the ad orientem, all of it. It was all there. It was all Catholic. I went there a lot when I was at Steubenville, and then again when I moved to Phoenix just out of college (that diocese was a nightmare in 2001.)

          I was given a lot of great experiences to lead me down the crooked path to where I am today, far, far from the best of the meager fare my parents could find to give us when we were little.

          • Dear Steve,

            James 1: 17 is in the Ambo Prayer of Divine Liturgy. (Since you’ve been to Divine Liturgy, you already know that, but most people don’t.)

            In Christ the King,


  6. I believe it was Father Rich Simon of Relevant Radio who, in debating the meal/sacrifice thing with a Protestant, simply broke off the conversation at one point and said, “Look, I don’t want argue with you. Why don’t you worship God your way, and we’ll worship Him His?”

  7. RED

    Vestments of red

    Altar cloth too

    Martyrs who bled

    Did this for you.

    Gold Tabernacles

    Veiled in red’s hue

    Martyrs in shackles

    Hung for this view.

    Red mums full bloomed

    In water and brass

    Martyrs consumed

    Burned for this Mass.

    Red rays of sun

    Rose-streak the nave

    Their suffering done –

    Now red we must crave!

  8. Steve, I think this might be the best thing you’ve written so far. And that’s saying a lot. Thank you so much for this.

      • Steve, you and a few others, the Remnant, Hilary White, Ann Barnhardt etc. are about all that keeps me sane. I had wonderful Catholic parents and went to a reasonably decent school. I attend the Latin Mass regularly and often, but these times are so confusing that I would be torn between the extremes of eitherbelieving the Pope must always be right and sedevacantism. Thank heaven for you all. May God protect you.

        • The pope is not always right, but he is the pope. As Catholics, as followers of Peter we must never lose sight of the papacy, and its supreme importance in the Church.
          We have one pope, and his name is Pope Francis. We have one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit. When there is a conflict, you know who to follow. Follow HIM, the One who created you. Stay in Christ, His
          teachings, His Commandments and when you can pray for the pope.
          Do not be confused! Follow Him and let Holy Mother Church guide you in her traditions, her saints, and in the everlasting Mass of the ages.

          God be with you.

        • Chloe, Vatican I defined the necessary points that are needed before the Pope is infallible, and all three are necessary. If one point is missing he is not making infallible pronouncements. 1) The Pope must be speaking of faith or morals. 2) He must be speaking to the world, and finally 3) He must use language that we know he is speaking infallibly.

  9. This: “Any who attempts to offer God what He deserves, like Abel, is met with envy, contempt, and even violence.” Amen. Why would they care, if they believed what they were offering were ‘truly right and just’?? And I had this epiphany just yesterday: Is there any doubt that 1969 was an eerily, well, eery year; mostly in America, but it would have had to have been all over the world – Woodstock, Moon Landing, Stonewall riots, the world’s first ‘successful’ IVF, and the Manson murders. Is it any surprise then, knowing what we know, that on April 3, 1969, the Novus Ordo was promulgated? It is almost like something evil was unleashed, or we suffered the immediate, natural repercussions of I Cor 11:27-29, and we have been “sick and dying” ever since.

  10. This post really struck a chord for me/us – beautifully done, Steve! It is uncanny how you often express so eloquently what I’m thinking and feeling, but can’t find the words to express. Let’s just say that I’m finally beyond the denial stage and now seriously considering what you mentioned in the article:

    “Good liturgy — and by that I mean holy, reverent, God-fearing liturgy — will change your life, even if you have to make difficult sacrifices to have it. Is there anything more important to you than your salvation, or that of your children? If you don’t have a good Mass to attend, move!”

    What has been holding us back? We moved around quite a bit (chasing the American dream) when our kids were younger until finally settling down about 8 years ago. Our three oldest are teens – one in college, another joining her this fall and the third will be a HS junior next year. We are torn about the impact another move would have on them at this point in their lives when they are, for once, experiencing some sense of stability. If not for concern about our teens, we would have moved 3 or 4 years ago. As it stands, the nearest Traditional parish/chapel is 3-1/2 hours away. I spoke with a priest there this week and was thrilled to hear that he celebrates Mass twice/month in another town “only” 2-1/2 hours away.

    Our local Masses are getting so bad that we often leave frustrated and angry. If not for the kids, we would likely not attend locally at all. We are concerned about how this would impact them (as teens/young adults) if Dad and Mom suddenly stopped attending Mass. Thankfully, we’ve been able to discuss these things openly with them but I feel it is too early to make a sudden change.

    For now, until our Lord prompts us otherwise, we intend to gut it out here until our HS Junior graduates. In the meantime we will homeschool our youngest and make as many road trips as possible for a reverent TLM and good Confession. I pray every day that this is the right path – the one that will ultimately lead us to Holiness and eternal salvation.

    I suspect we are not alone (even though we feel very alone here most of the time). For others out there in similar situations, please know that we are praying for you, too, and we hope to see you someday near a community with a solid, Traditional Parish and School (for our youngest).

    • Where are you? The Fssp run some really great camps. If you register in time and are willing to go the distance to get there it would be something special for your children to go to. Here’s the details from one such camp in the US

      Also look into any pilgrimages undertaken by traditional groups in your country, maybe there’s one you could make it to?

      Sign up for newsletters from traditional religious orders. They can be a source of inspiration to your children. Good to support our religious communities too. The Benedictines of Mary have a really beautiful one Such joyful faces, always a pleasure to receive their newsletter.

      Buy traditional calendars. The Fssp have one each year available at their book store Won’t be available until the end of the year again now though.
      My favourite calendar is by the Transalpine Redemptorists which you need to be quick to buy from their bookstore when they release it end of year here I recommend their newspaper too it’s one I’m happy for my children to browse through.

      Stock your bookshelves with as many good Catholic books as you can. Listen to good online sermons. This priest is really lovely
      My favourite is this strong stuff though, you may want to pre listen ahead of your children.

      Enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home if you haven’t already.

      Celebrate the liturgical year in the home as much as you can (the Transalpine Redemptorist’s calendar is a really great help with this, to know feasts and seasons etc.). Build precious traditions!

      Probably telling you stuff you already know. But maybe there is something useful here.

      Is there any chance you could get a priest to come down to your area? Even once a month? So many traditional priests are ‘run off their feet’ busy but if you could find other people who are interested in the LM you could ask and see what’s possible.

      I shall pray for your discernment! God bless you!

      • Dear Sharon, Wow!! Thanks for all of this great information. We are looking forward to researching and following up on all of them. We live in North Central Washington State – about equidistant from Seattle and Spokane. We’ve been trying to find a traditional priest nearby and know at least one other family who is interested in the TLM. I know that we could get others to come if we could simply find a way to introduce them to it’s beauty and reverence. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post and may God bless you, too!!

      • Thank you for the suggestion, Lynne. It was an SSPX priest I spoke with who told me about traveling to a town a bit nearer to us to celebrate Mass twice/month. We are looking forward to meeting with him soon. God bless!

  11. Ave Maria! My Dear Friends in Jesus & Mary,

    When Jesus visited St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, He held out His Most Sacred Heart in His Adorable Hand. However, His Sacred Human Heart is/was surrounded by horrible thorns. Why, might one ask are the thorns not surounding His Precious Head? Because, then, and especially, now, Jesus is most offended by mankind in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Holy and Blessed Sacrament continues to be desecrated, profaned, and violated, etc. At The Holy Mass, many of us no longer, “See the Victim” as prayed in the Eucharistic Prayer III.

    Liturgy, so to speak, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is so critical in our times! Holy Mother Church teaches us this by instituting the First Friday Devotion. Especially, since we have priest and bishops who prefer to make people laugh or clap during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the beginning of Mass, during the Sermon, and at the end of Mass (O my, we have just received The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; “leave us alone with Him”, priest!). This is an outrage! Who in their right mind would make jest or jokes at a harden-criminal’s execution? Why are our priest and bishops making jest and jokes at the Execution of Jesus?

    “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sorrows of this day, for the Intentions of your Most Sacred Heart!”

    The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Holy and Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar: Holy Eucharist!

    If, each day, the Catholic priest were distributing one gold dollar coin or even a silver dollar coin, instead if the Holy Eucharist, at every Mass, then the Holy Communion line would be out the door and around the block for miles and miles.

    Yet, and I, with (O my) just fury, echo to all the healthy eyes/ears that can not see/hear: “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”

    The word “Liturgy”, itself, means to “worship”. We are to worship the Word, and then we are to worship the Most Holy Eucharist! It is our duty!

    All Jesus wants is for us to love Him in some return for His Love. His Most Sacred Human Heart surrounded by horrific thorns, as does any good human heart, wants and needs our love. O Mary, help me to love Jesus, in the Holy and Blessed Sacrament, more and more each day!

    May I be so bold and so brave:
    “Most Sacred & Immaculate Hearts of Jesus & Mary, we, in this forum, love you!”

    Ad Jesum per Mariam.

    • PS: Finding and attending a very prayerful Latin or otherwise Holy Mass is always a good thing to do. However, The Sacred Heart of Jesus Is also present in the not so prayerful Masses. Who will go to do reparation if we all abandon these Masses? Therefore, when we attend these Holy Masses, since they are kept Holy by the Angels and Saints, above, so to speak, let us make loving, prayerful reparations here below on Earth, during these Holy Masses.

      The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was created in the womb of Mary, by means of her Immaculate Heart! The very DNA of Mary exists in the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

      O Mary, Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus!
      Ave Maria!

  12. Steve, thank you. I know people think Father Malachi Martin was a crack-pot, but he made a point in one of his interviews that affirms what you have said here. He said it was possible to have a NO Mass be valid, but that it was very difficult. A priest would have to change some of the words of the translation under his breath during the Eucharistic prayers. I know priests who do this, but many don’t even know they should. Why do they do it under their breath? If they want to continue to serve the souls in their care, they must avoid running foul of the bishop. God willing, real Eucharist and Worship of God will spread.Until then, good priests have to play a game of stealth. I am thankful for those that do.

    • I think the consecration is done correctly, most of the time (with the correct form, matter and intent). Satanists wouldn’t try to steal Novus Ordo hosts otherwise. And this (the fact that the consecration is valid) is why communion in the hand is so bad a practice.

    • The words of Consecration were changed back in 2011 to “for many” (which is in Scripture). Fr. Martin died in 1999.

  13. Steve, supreme article. Some days ago I listened to a Fr. Hesse´s conference on VII, where he said exactly that Gaudium et Spes is an inversion of worshiping, he called satanic; what about the “per quem omnia facta sunt, from the Creed? Many points I´ve been thinking of, for instante, someone told me last Sunday, “I attended Mass (NOM and she is charismatic), but something happened, I don´t feel alright”. Even in the Misal, NOM is an Cain sacrifice, another point, not to mention what really happens everyday. I do congratulate you for this great article, which could perfectly called a resumé of why we prefer Tradition. Thank you very much. I let many points to comment, maybe later.

  14. Steve the more I follow blogs like yours the more I am understanding of the importance of the liturgy in the traditional form and the more I am feeling alienated by the NO masses I have to attend, that are not done very well. How I wish I coul attend a TLM

  15. Steve, this article needs to be locked in a prominent place on your website. It’s too important to get pushed back by new articles. Very well written!

  16. Wonderful article. I’d had my house for sale for over 2 years so I can move with my child closer to a TLM. I lowered the price to $58,500 and even put in a new furnace, but thus far, no interest. I would appreciate the readers praying for us to sell soon. I home school my special needs child, but our home school support group is Evangelical Protestant. Very few Catholics, especially conservative ones, in our location.

  17. Notwithstanding a couple of caveats I’d want to make, this is the greatest short statement on the liturgical question I have read. I particularly homed in on this: “Be reminded of your place in the universe.” Exactly so. This sentence sums up my own experience, and understanding, of the Holy Liturgy. “Be reminded of your place in the universe.” Yes!

  18. When I read the V2 documents and ponder what Sacrosanctum Concilium said, most of what is in the Novus Ordo today is not in there. The corrupt “spirit of V2” is what took over. If we had the TLM format with the propers and the readings in the vernacular today, with everything else the same, things would be much better. I rarely go to a Novus Ordo these days and am fortunate to have a TLM within easy access. I have been to some Byzantine Eastern Catholic services over the years. The sanctuary guarded by a all and gate really tells you that something important is going on up at the altar.

  19. This week I officially registered in the only FSSP parish in my archdiocese – 45 minutes one way. While driving to my new parish I pass through portions of at least five NO parishes. It’s like driving through a liturgical wasteland to find a pearl of great value.


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