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Mosebach’s Paradox

The German novelist Martin Mosebach, who has also become well known for his eloquent and outspoken defense of the traditional Latin Mass, articulated a particular problem that many in the Church today face — namely, the problem of a certain self-consciousness and critical spirit invading our prayer life as Catholics. Here is how he puts it:

 Perhaps the greatest damage done by Pope Paul VI’s reform of the Mass (and by the ongoing process that has outstripped it), the greatest spiritual deficit, is this: We are now positively obliged to talk about the liturgy. Even those who want to preserve the liturgy or pray in the spirit of the liturgy, and even those who make great sacrifices to remain faithful to it — all have lost something priceless, namely, the innocence that accepts it as something God-given, something that comes down to man as a gift from heaven. Those of us who are defenders of the great and sacred liturgy, the classical Roman liturgy, have all become — whether in a small way or a big way — liturgical experts. In order to counter the arguments of the reform, which was padded with technical, archaeological, and historical scholarship, we had to delve into questions of worship and liturgy — something that is utterly foreign to the religious man. We have let ourselves be led into a kind of scholastic and juridical way of considering the liturgy. What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy? When are the celebrant’s whims tolerable, and when do they become unacceptable? We have got used to accepting liturgy on the basis of the minimum requirements, whereas the criteria ought to be maximal. And finally, we have started to evaluate liturgy — a monstrous act! We sit in the pews and ask ourselves, was that Holy Mass, or wasn’t it? I go to church to see God and come away like a theater critic.

This, then, is what we might call “Mosebach’s Paradox:” The more circumstances compel me to become an armchair expert in the nature, structure, rubrics, and history of the sacred liturgy, the more inclined I am to become a spectator and critic when I assist at Mass. Traditionalists face this problem in acute form. Many of them know quite a bit about the riches, beauties, and subtleties of the liturgy as well as the vandalism, carelessness, and even sacrilege that has been visited upon it, so they are more sensitive than most Catholics to the slightest abuse, aberration, or vacuum of meaning.

Can we get past Mosebach’s Paradox, or are we doomed — because of the tragic decision to rend asunder the Roman liturgical tradition — to be critics forever? Can we break through to a childlike apprenticeship to the sacred liturgy, giving ourselves totally to it without second guessing or analyzing, comparing and contrasting? Can we be like St. Thérèse, following the little way of confidence and love?

Even amidst the worst internal crisis the Church has ever suffered, I believe that this is something we can do, but only by laying our foundation on solid rock — the traditional liturgy itself. A wholehearted immersion in the Mass of the Saints, making it our personal point of reference, will help us shake off the dismay, agitation, and feeling of schizophrenia that so often result from bouncing back and forth between different forms of Mass, with the different worldviews, priorities, expectations, and habits they embody or encourage. In the spirit of St. Benedict, we need to make the best effort we can to achieve stabilitas loci, stability of place, by binding ourselves to one rite, one calendar, one community, one chapel or parish, one traditional Catholic way of life that is fully integrated and fully integrating.

There’s a peacefulness and naturalness that come from knowing what you’re going to get or what you’re supposed to do. As a layman, there is nothing more consoling and conducive to prayer than showing up at a traditional Latin Mass and simply being able to rely on the sameness of everything that will happen, from start to finish — everything for the glory of God and the sanctification of the people, even in the humblest conditions. There is nothing more liberating and lovely for me as a cantor and choirmaster than to show up on a Sunday morning and know, without a moment’s doubt or hesitation, exactly which chants the schola must sing, because it is laid down for us and, in most cases, hasn’t changed for centuries. It all works, everything comes together with a blessed inevitability, and one can surrender to the Mass, to prayer, to the Lord. It is a recipe for sanity and sanctity in a world that is characterized by escalating insanity and unholiness.

I’ve traveled a fair amount in my lifetime, and I’ve had two very different kinds of experiences as a traveler. The first can be described as the “oh my goodness, what kind of a church have I managed to get myself into” experience, when one is simply trying to find somewhere to catch a Sunday Mass and really has no idea what to expect — and is usually distressed or grieved beyond measure at the hootenanny one is forced to endure. The other kind of experience is exactly the opposite — the blessing of being able to locate a chapel where the traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. One steps in, and the atmosphere is devout. A bell rings, the priest comes to the altar and commences his prayers. Perhaps there is chanting, too, or just the pregnant silence of many Catholics praying side by side, focused on the one thing necessary. Suddenly it does not matter where one is on the face of the earth; deep down and all around, it is the same, even as Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yes, there are minor regional variations in pronunciation or ceremonial, but the overwhelming sameness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass emerges, dominates, and descends like a balm on all who are present.

It seems to me that here lies a way to begin overcoming Mosebach’s Paradox. If we can do it, if the conditions of our life allow for it, we ought to make a decisive break with pluralism, excessive variety, options galore, speaking out of both sides of our mouths, juggling with both hands, and give ourselves simply, completely, and bravely to the traditional worship of the Catholic Church. Over time, with God’s help, we will stop being theater critics. We can regain something of our lost innocence. We can indeed look for the maximum, because we know that we are touching the seamless garment of Christ, handed down to us over the course of 19 centuries, lovingly embellished by each passing generation. The traditional Mass is, in truth, a gift from Heaven — one that we could never deserve, and one that will never, ever pass away as long as the world endures. It is time now for us to yield ourselves to it and to know a peace that surpasseth understanding.

Originally Published on August 1, 2014.

65 thoughts on “Mosebach’s Paradox”

  1. St. Augustine tells us to offer up our hearts, ourselves, body and soul to God with the priest. Actually, through the ordained power of the priest to act “in persona Christi” at the Consecration of the Mass. (and also to forgive sins through the priest acting “in persona Christi” at absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that is Penance.) This offering up of ourselves unites us to God.

  2. The problem of self-consciousness is a problem first posed by the poet Friedrich Schiller when he made the distinction between naive and sentimental poetry. The former is an authentic expression of one’s soul freely put to paper without the guidance of Reason, while the latter is more akin to a re-creation informed by Reason and study. One the one hand we have Homer; the other hand, we have Goethe.

    Mosebach’s Paradox is a real problem in that it turns an inward longing and worship of Christ and makes it just another battlefield in the long line of cultural conflicts. The Mass is now sliced and diced, with every movement studied, debated and fought over like a political position paper.

  3. One not overlook the inspirational genius of the Montini-Bugnini Lord’s Supper for thinks to it we flummoxed faithful get to have our own form or penitential praxis during the ordinary lil’ licit liturgy as we suppress screams of indignation and refrain from shouting-out imprecations.

    Our Way of the Cross is now easily walked just by entering into one’s local worship space where the community of st whomever gathers to do something.

  4. This is crass idolatry of one period, the 16th century. Trent only succeeded in impoverishing the immense regional pluralism of medieval Catholicism.

    Worst internal crisis? Talk about hyperbole. It’s like the 15th century never happened.

  5. A regional liturgical pluralism that was closely related to the ancient Roman Rite in nearly all cases – far, far more so than is the case with the modern Roman Rite. Which I think gets back to Kwasniewski’s point.

    In any event, Artur, the Roman Rite assumed its basic profile no later than the time of St. Gregory the Great, which is a good deal before Pius V, who merely codified what was already in existence. What he banned was mainly a question of recent rites and uses which had problematic elements too suggestive of heresies rampant over the two previous centuries. To the extent that local and regional rites diminished in scope (or became extinct) this was mainly a function of the Reformation, which annihilated the liturgical life in many places – consider the beautiful rites of England, such as Sarum, York, and Hereford – all victims of the Protestant Tudors, not St. Pius V (nor Trent, which did not, last I checked, ban any rites).

    The one notable advantage of those Protestants, by the way, was the fact that they self-identified as such, and waged their war on the Church mainly from without. The dissenters of the Modernist Crisis wage their war almost entirely from within, resulting in much more insidious damage, not least to our liturgical life.

  6. I am not a “traditionalist” in the sense that I think we all need to go back to the old Latin Mass. I think it should be available in at least one parish in every diocese so that those who prefer it have access to it.

    However, the Novus Ordo is not going away and I don’t have any problem with that. Ninety-nine percent of the Masses that I have attended have been celebrations of the Novus Ordo – mostly in English but also in French and Spanish. Yes, it represents a dramatic change from the traditional form, but it CAN be celebrated with reverance and beauty. The problem is that it often isnt. The Novus Ordo does not have to be banal, informal, irreverant or boring. Every Novus Ordo Mass should mix in at least a little Latin, even if it is just the Kyrie and the Agnus Dei. And use of Chant would not hurt since it is supposed to be given “pride of place.”

    I guess I am saying that, in my view, for the most part it is the WAY the Novus Ordo is celebrated can be problematic. Unfortunately, we have two things working against us on this front. First, most bishops and priests want desperately to be perceived as modern and up-to-date and people-fiendly. Second, (and sadly) most Catholics want the same. That means eliminating the Latin and the Chant. It also means making the Mass as much about the people as about worship.

    • In The Heresy of Formlessness, Martin Mosebach noted that the “liturgy’s death knell is sounded once it requires a holy and good priest to perform it.” Sadly, that is the case with the Novus Ordo. Who is offering the mass determines whether or not it will be reverent or irreverent, sacred or profane. At the TLM, regardless of it being a low or high, this is not the case. That speaks volumes to this topic.

  7. I am lucky enough not to know all that much about liturgy. I just go to the TLM every Sunday. It is so nice worshiping with a congregation that really cares THAT much. And of course there is the feeling of safety, stability and continuity so conducive to a meditative state.

  8. The Liturgical Movement was a decidedly mixed blessing, and has had more than a little to do with our present predicament. Rather than allowing simple people to remain simple, learned and lowly alike are crammed into a paradigm insisting that we all be more (externally, visibly) participatory at Mass. Gone was the easygoing mediaeval model in which the lay faithful, so long as they believed and observed basic precepts and decorum, were left unmolested to be inspired and demonstrative in their devotions, or else merely composed. For the past century or so, an obnoxious clericalism has obtained, in which the laity are pestered endlessly about “understanding” the liturgy, about responses, postures, songs, and now “ministries”, as if anything we do at Mass really matters more than unadorned receptivity. Pope Francis has done well to decry the clericalizing of the laity — very well indeed.

  9. What a ridiculous post.
    Mosebach’s question is puerile: “What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy?”
    Answer: The Pope promulgates it.

    Everything else is just posturing, the whinging of individuals insisting that THEIR personal preferences matter more than what the Pope promulgates.

    Doesn’t matter whether it’s a “traditionalist” or a “Novus Ordo” whinger. For all the “riches, beauties and subtleties” they allegedly know, they don’t know the basics. Liturgy is promulgated by an Apostolic Constitution, the highest exercise of the Ordinary INFALLIBLE Magisterium. All these lay people and many, many priests mistake their personal preferences for ultimate judgement, their personal emotions for final papal authority.

    Frankly, NONE of us have authority in this area. It’s the Pope’s business, not yours nor mine. Doesn’t matter what I like or what VC II liked. If the Pope permits it, then it’s in, if he doesn’t, then it’s out. Done. For people who claim to respect the Pope and his authority, many traditionalists sure don’t talk or act like they do.

    • That the Pope approves something simply means it’s approved and cannot be repudiated as such. It by no means automatically makes it the best. We have learned a lot in the past 45 years as we see the promethean neo-pelagian liturgical reforms play themselves out. One can, after all, learn from experience about what is better and what is worse, what works and what doesn’t.

      We are not arguing about validity or licitness. We are arguing about immersing ourselves in the real tradition of the Roman Church. Thanks be to God, the Pope — Benedict XVI — permitted us freely to do that, and, with Gospel joy, we are going to do it.

      • The question is “what is AUTHENTIC liturgy?” The question is not about what is the best. If you are asking for AUTHENTIC, you are necessarily asking about what is valid and licit. But, you’re a traditionalist, so you can’t admit that. You have to change the question, change the very DEFINITION of “authentic”, in order to win the discussion.

        Furthermore, “best” is a subjective qualification open to several definitions: best for what purpose, for openers?

        Finally, if you want to insist that the liturgy is the cause of the post- VC II crisis, then we must admit that the liturgy is equally at fault for the pre-VC II situation that led to VC II. After all, every Catholic priest, bishop and periti at that council was formed by the pre-VC II liturgy and pre-VC II Church.

        So, if liturgy is the source of the problem, the TLM caused the crisis. But traditionalists never want to follow their own logic, so you will immediately deny that one.

        Even if traditionalist wing-nuts managed to return us to the 1940’s and 50’s, all we would get is the 1960’s and 70’s again. No thanks.

        • The TLM did not “cause the crisis” as if having that Mass for hundreds of years was leading inevitably to the Novus Ordo and the period of the 60’s and 70’s (and today).

          It was a select committee, headed by Archbishop Bugnini, who came up with the New Mass, not the majority of Bishops, who I believe had little to no idea that they were going to be getting the Novus Ordo when they approved Sacrosanctum Concilium, which is probably one reason they voted the New Mass down when it was first presented to them.

          Yes, there have always been bad liturgical ideas floating around

          The difference is that whereas Pius VI condemned the harmful liturgical ideas of the Synod of Pistoia in Auctorum Fidei, and did not allow them, Pope Paul VI let Archbishop Bugnini’s committee completely revise the liturgy along their own ideological lines and approved it (probably because he thought this new liturgy would be more amenable to the Protestants and thus more “ecumenical”).

          • The TLM has created a lot more heretics than the Novus Ordo.

            VC II did not implement ANY liturgy. Councils don’t create liturgy. At most, councils recommend. Popes frequently sign off on conciliar recommendations, yet ignore those same conciliar recommendations. Consider Fourth Constantinople and the case of Photius, for instance. This is merely one more example of a council having nothing to do with liturgy.

            Pope Paul VI implemented the liturgy. All the Popes following did not see fit to change it. The liturgy we have comes from the Popes, not Bugnini, not the Council.

          • So the TLM in and of itself “creates” heretics? So which prayers in the TLM in particular do you think help foster heresy?

            Yes, Steve, I know Councils don’t create or implement liturgy. The Novus Ordo was created by the committee headed by Archbishop Bugnini and approved by Pope Paul VI. That was one of my main points. The clerics that actually created the Novus Ordo was quite small compared to the number of Bishops who approved of Sacrosanctum Concilium and probably had no idea the extent to which the traditional Latin Mass would be dismantled and altered in Archbishop Bugnini’s committee.

          • Doesn’t matter who created it.
            Pope Paul VI approved it.
            That MAKES it authentic liturgy.

            Mosebach hasn’t created a paradox, he has just revealed his ignorance. The Ph.D. who wrote this essay is not very familiar with Catholic teaching or praxis, or he would have realized Mosebach was ignorant and would not have bothered to write this essay.

            Either that, or the Ph.D. is deliberately milking the traditionalists for his own personal reasons because he knows traditionalists are not informed enough to realize that Mosebach was ignorant.

          • There’s no one here or in the original article who has argued that the Novus Ordo isn’t valid and licit. I think the word “authentic” encompasses more than that, but I don’t wish to quibble over the word.

            Just because Pope Paul VI approved of the Novus Ordo does not mean it was a good and positive development in the liturgy. A Pope can approve of a liturgy which is inferior and detrimental to the life of the Church even if it is valid and licit.

          • Brennan, it doesn’t matter what you think. What matters are the facts.

            The fact is, “authentic liturgy” means liturgy promulgated by the Pope via the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium.

            Your personal predilections about how to define “good” and “positive development” is your personal opinion, not the Church’s. It has nothing to do with the issue of authenticity. The Pope approved it. It is authentic.

          • Like I said, the New Mass is valid and licit. If that’s what is meant by “authentic” then I agree. But approval by a Pope doesn’t mean liturgical changes are of necessity good and beneficial, nor that they are organically developed from previous forms.

            Now, one can argue that they are good changes, but Papal approval of them certainly doesn’t make them so ipso facto as if the Pope is infallible in his decisions on the liturgy.

          • Then you agree that “Mosebach’s Paradox” is silly. There is no question concerning authentic liturgy.

          • No, I think his assessment is spot on, as is what he writes in his book “The Heresy of Formlessness”. And of course he hasn’t said that the New Mass in and of itself is invalid or illicit.

          • Now, one can argue that they are good changes, but Papal approval of them certainly doesn’t make them so ipso facto.

            In fact, we can find examples of Popes contradicting Popes on liturgical questions at a number of points in Church history (albeit never to the degree we have seen in the 20th century, to be sure). To take but one example, from more distant papal history: Pope Paul III promulgated the Quinones Breviary in 1536 and again in 1536. It ran to more than 100 editions. But after it came under growing attack by many men of the Church for its abandonment of tradition (and Protestant influences), Pope Paul IV completely suppressed it twenty years later. He thought Paul III had erred in promulgating it, and that consensus on Quinones was sustained in the following centuries.

            So who was right? Paul III? Or Paul IV? I can only conclude that Steve Kellmeyer would say they are both right, because Popes can do whatever they want, whenever they want.

          • “The fact is, ‘authentic liturgy’ means liturgy promulgated by the Pope via the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium.”

            Your statement contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Faith. That’s evident simply by consulting the first paragraph of a certain ecclesiastical document that, as it happens, is titled, “The Authentic Liturgy” (Liturgiam Authenticam). Perhaps you’ve heard of it — St. John Paul II approved and ratified this authoritative liturgical instruction on 20 March 2001. By LA, the pope called for the total revamping of the shoddy and hasty and frequently inaccurate vernacular translations of the reformed liturgical texts which had previously been approved by the Holy See.

            Here’s the introductory paragraph of LA from which the document takes its title:

            “The Second Vatican Council strongly desired to preserve with care the authentic Liturgy, which flows forth from the Church’s living and most ancient spiritual tradition, and to adapt it with pastoral wisdom to the genius of the various peoples so that the faithful might find in their full, conscious, and active participation in the sacred actions – especially the celebration of the Sacraments – an abundant source of graces and a means for their own continual formation in the Christian mystery.”

            The plain meaning of that sentence is that “authentic Liturgy” is much more than liturgy that is promulgated by the pope via the ordinary infallible magisterium. For if the two concepts were completely synonymous as you claim, then there would have been no need for the Church to fix the old post-Vatican II mistranslations of the Liturgy that the Holy See had approved for our use — anything and everything pertaining to the liturgy that is put out by the pope is automatically “authentic Liturgy” and exempt from criticism.

            Indeed, your comments here betray an embarrassing ignorance of liturgical history. In the first several centuries of the Church’s history, the various liturgical rites weren’t crafted by papal committees and then promulgated by the pope — they developed organically and gradually in different major Sees from the traditions implemented by the Apostles. No one in those days would have seen any need for the pope and his advisors to personally oversee the various liturgical rites and uses of the Churches, nor would there have been any practical means for the pope and his advisors to do so even if anyone had had the notion back then.

            Finally, I really recommend you actually read Martin Mosebach’s book before presuming to criticize it. Clearly you haven’t read it (and judging from your more recent blog posts, I doubt in the two years since your comments you’ve yet gotten around to reading it). “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him,” Solomon wrote under divine inspiration.

          • The word in the Mosebach quote is “genuine.” I don’t know what he wrote in German. Wish I did. He is a careful writer.

          • At least by “genuine” Mosebach does not mean “valid”:

            Influenced by constant desecrations and the slide into neglect, we have again become accustomed to seeing the liturgy or particular aspects of it in terms of “validity.” This is the language of Roman jurisprudence; it has its own tradition and justification, but basically it cannot help us when we come to ponder liturgical actions. The Mass is not a legal act, something that becomes “valid” in the presence of minimal requirements. Just imagine a canon lawyer trying to explain to a confused and hapless visitor at a modern Sunday celebration what what has taken place contained the various elements (“firstly, secondly, thirdly”) and that therefore it was a “valid” Mass—he could even stamp a document for him, certifying that he had fulfilled his Sunday duty! (p. 114)

            So whatever one might think of Mosebach’s reasoning about “validity,” by “valid” he does not mean “genuine”.

            A few pages before this, Mosebach writes, “I know what I am doing” (p. 106). He is a good enough writer and thinker that I am inclined to agree with him.

          • I think you are arguing at cross purposes. The question is not, “Is the Novus Ordo Mass, as promulgated, ‘authentic’?”, but rather, “Was the Mass I just attended ‘authentic’ considering the improvised rubrics, wording, etc.?”

          • A strength of Mosebach’s book is that it is totally without nostalgia. He considers “ways in which the celebration of the Holy Mass customary in traditional circles deviates [in his opinion] from the real spirit of the liturgy.” Yet even “a baneful tradition . . . should not be interfered with, as long as there is any danger of harming a spiritual and intellectual reality that is anchored deep in the souls of believers.” One need not agree with Mosebach to recognize a great and charitable mind at work.

      • Well said Prof. Kwasniewski. To your point, there would have been no need for Ratzinger to write The Spirit of the Liturgy if all we were called to do was “pray, pay and obey.” While two masses (regardless of rite or form) may both be valid, it does not mean both are necessarily beautiful or reverent.

        Thank you for your insightful article!

    • Kellmeyer being Kellmeyer. Your tone and condescension betray you.

      Dr. Kwasniewski has written a thoughtful post, inspired by an excellent book by Mr. Mosebach. Your argument basically seeks to nullify the writings of Ratzinger, Gamber, Bux and Reid as being pointless, since the only apparent requirement of the liturgy is it’s validity. Thank goodness others, including our pope emeritus, see that not all masses are equal, though they may be equally valid. Your comment would make sense if this article suggested that the Novus Ordo was invalid. Of course no one has. Rather, what you are striking out against is the belief (and reality) that liturgical rupture is the “on the ground” reality for many Catholics, and the motivating factor for much of Ratzinger/Benedicts teaching…including SP in 2007.

      Can we possibly continue this discussion without the polemics, the soapbox comments and with the labeling of fellow Catholics for simply sharing a view that argues for liturgical continuity.

      • Yep. Following KbK’s STFU argument to its logical (?) conclusion, the pre-V2 liturgical scholarship and proposals of men like Jungmann, Bouyer, Hellriegel and Fortescue was itself anti-papal trolling. Back then, he’d be telling *them* it was none of their damn business–you have a papally-approved mass, shut up. Which, of course, is an almost piquant irony.

        Papal positivism: a sure cure for God-given reason.

      • You don’t address the article’s question: “What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy?” I do.

        The article is stupid because it poses a question which it then doesn’t answer.
        Instead, it answers a different question, never posed and not at all relevant to the central question.

        The good professor engages in red herring logic.
        And traditionalists are unable to understand the problem because that is where they live.

        • “What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy?”

          The question asked by Mosebach should be read as one which the average Catholic is faced with answering, not the proposition or the concern of the article itself.

          The entire premise of this article is that it’s not natural for man to have to concern himself with such things, and so he should find a place to go to Mass where this is not an issue. Worship is something he gives his assent to, not his approval. But in a world full of lousy, invalid, and abusive Masses, this has become precisely the dilemma man faces. He is forced to figure out the bare minimum requirements of genuine liturgy — as a baseline — so that he can know whether the Mass he just attended meets those requirements. In it’s simplest form, it’s a question of validity. And there are any number of invalid Masses being said even today. (That Mosebach is from Germany where liturgical abuses and general heterodoxy is higher than in many other parts of the world should also be taken into consideration.)

          There are objective measures by which to evaluate the propriety of a form of worship: the theological content of its prayers, rubrical gestures, scriptural and historical significance, imposed standards of reverence (ie., communion posture and prohibitions on improvisation), etc. One can also evaluate a liturgy by its long standing with the Church – was it a thing that nourished and bore the fruit of sanctity over a period of time? Did it edify the doctors and saints of the Church?

          We know this is true of the traditional rite of the Church. It doesn’t take much to see and understand it as a superior form of worship to what we have now. The statistical correlations in the loss of faith of self-professed Catholics following a liturgical reform that de-emphasized the Christocentric and sacrificial nature of the liturgy should also be noted.

          Nobody is here arguing that the TLM is a panacea. It is, however, a tremendous bulwark against the erosion of faith. Combined with healthy catechesis and a Church that isn’t ashamed of its own exclusive claims on salvation, it’d put us in a far better situation than we’re in now, papal approval or not.

          Unless you think the Church today looks exactly the way it should. In which case, I’d argue that we have very different definitions of “Catholic.”

          “The article is stupid because…”

          I probably should have just stopped you right there. Please don’t be rude to our writers and guests. If you can’t find a more productive way of speaking, feel free to ignore us and take your toxic rhetoric elsewhere.

          • “If you can’t find a more productive way of speaking, feel free to ignore us and take your toxic rhetoric elsewhere.”

            Isn’t it interesting that there is so often a fatal sense of anger that dogs these types of discussions?

            The article describes exactly what I and my family have had to go through since reverting/converting to Catholicism. We were in RCIA at a Novus Ordo parish, but with a priest who was reverent. He was soon supplanted by a “pastoral administrator” and a very liberal priest. The New Order Mass changed overnight. It was as if a light had been extinguished. We noticed the rubrics had changed. We began to ask questions, and were condescendingly brushed off. Imagine this happening while you are studying to enter the Church.

            We were then forced to study the liturgy of the Church. Believe me, I did not want this to happen. Like so many, we just wanted to worship quietly, attend our local parish and enter into parish life. Nothing more. But we are forced by circumstances (our desire to worship in spirit and in truth) to try to ascertain “…the bare minimum requirements of genuine liturgy — as a baseline — so that he can know whether the Mass he just attended meets those requirements.”

            We have come to the sad conclusion that we have probably attended and received at Masses that I now suspect may not have been valid. One can see the implications that then come forth…should I go to confession for having received when I wasn’t sure if it was valid? Do I continue on in this parish? Should I meet with the priest and discuss rubrics with him? If I do meet with him and he rebuffs my questions, do I escalate to the bishop? Will I be tagged as a trouble maker?

          • So, it all comes down to what YOU wanted?
            Very Protestant outlook – but I’ve found most traditionalists are very Protestant in their outlook. They mostly just want their emotional needs tended to, and they expect liturgy to conform to what THEY want.

          • Steve, this is the exact quote you must be referring to when accusing me of a Very Protestant outlook: “…we just wanted to worship quietly, attend our local parish and enter into parish life.”

            Please tell me specifically how that is Protestant and unworthy of being a Catholic.

          • Didn’t answer the question, Mr. Kellmeyer. Because you can’t and maintain the position you took that I am Very Protestant.

            What you seem to be attempting is to discredit the idea that the New Order Mass has been shown to be deficient in ways articulated in this article. A losing battle easily proved by attending a New Order Mass, by reading about the origin of the New Order Mass, by comparing the rubrics to the Masses of the Ages and so on.

            Your ad hominem comments betray the weakness of the argument. You accuse me of being Protestant. “What thou seest, that thou beest.”

          • The objective measure is, “Did the Pope promulgate the liturgy with the power of the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium?”

            The answer is “Why, yes. Yes, he did.”

            Every “average Catholic” is supposed to know that this is the measure of authentic liturgy. Insofar as the “average Catholic” doesn’t know this is the measure, the “average Catholic” is your typical uninformed Protestant.

          • The authenticity of the rubrics have anything to do with the individual priest’s decision to follow or not follow those rubrics.

            Something is authentic independently of whether or not someone (a priest, in this case) decides to abuse it. The sexual act is authentically instituted by God for procreation even if Linda Lovelace decides to turn it into porn. The rubrics are authentically instituted by God via the Pope even if Father Lovelace decides to turn it into liturgical porn, and regardless of whether he does this in a TLM or Novus Ordo.

          • The authenticity of the rubrics isn’t what is in question. The question pertains to whether the rubrics — such as they are — facilitate inauthentic liturgy.

            Put another way – since the liturgical reform, it has become far more commonplace and much easier for a Mass to be said invalidly. Improvisation has become the norm; abuses have proliferated; the vagueries of the new rubrics and the lack of enforcement of norms have lead to innumerable sacrilegious Masses, and the problem continues half a century later.

            The safeguards for “authentic liturgy” have been ripped out. It now requires a good and holy priest to ensure a reverent, valid Mass, because the standards and practices of the Church no longer require that this be so. A liturgical Pandora’s box has been opened, and no honest person can say that the question of whether “authentic liturgy” is being offered in any given parish isn’t a question that the faithful must consider.

            I don’t know what the nature of your axe is or why you feel the need to grind it here, but your obvious knowledge of the subject matter leads me to believe this is either an exercise in sophistry or evidence of a an intellectually unserious agenda.

          • Read Mosebach’s book before presuming to criticize it.

            But even in the passage quoted by Dr. Kwasniewski, that isn’t his central question. But then, as I show in a comment above, you don’t even know what the Church means by “authentic liturgy.”

          • Historically, TLM priests abused rubrics just as much as NO priests.

            An assertion – a very remarkable one – that would be all the more convincing for evidence presented to support it.

    • Answer: The Pope promulgates it.

      Ladies and gentlemen, behold the face of ecclesiological positivism.

      Tradition, apparently, is whatever a man in a white cassock in Rome decides it is when he wakes up on a given morning. No matter how different it is from what prevailed last night.

    • One would be a victim of Mosebach’s Paradox to verify it, but I doubt if I have ever been at a New Mass promulgated by the Pope, that is, where only the black was said and only the red was done. I suppose the Pope permits what actually occurs–in absentia. As a Catholic, I accept any Mass said by a priest as a Mass. As a reader of “The Heresy of Formlessness,” I thought Mosebach wrote a great book.

    • My dearest Steve,

      Tender caresses from the Eternal City. You fill me with the joy of love and a strong desire to care for our common home.

      Thanks for defending my church from the fashionistas. But it’s a waste of time. Because in the end, it is my church. No matter what you or anyone else may say.

      Drop by when you’re in the Eternal City; I might have a spare red hat and a crosier lying around.

      Maybe more.

  10. Artur, I am not understanding your reference to the 16th century. Are you bemoaning Trent and it’s codification of the centuries old Roman rite? I would imagine that the canonized saints associated with Trent were better qualified to assess the needs of the Church in the 16th century than you or I playing armchair quarterback in the 21st century.

  11. One way out of Mosebach’s Paradox when attending Mass is not to “attend.” Here is one of several descriptions of the immemorial Mass (the Novus Ordo is described later) in Fr. Bryan Houghton’s novel “Judith’s Marriage”: “At last Sunday came. Judith dutifully went to the eight o’clock Mass. She felt far too gay to pay the slightest attention, but she was sufficiently wide awake to notice a curious phenomenon: it made precisely no difference if she were attentive or not. The Mass was so far above human affairs that her thoughts, her attitudes, her longings added or subtracted exactly nothing. She pushed her way out at the earliest possible moment as though she were a hardened Catholic, utterly satisfied at having done nothing. There had been two presences, God and Judith; there could not be more.” One of Fr. Houghton’s objections to the New Mass is that it is “in your face” and thus almost impossible not to attend to. Impossible for men, but with God all things are possible.

  12. Even in the Diocese of Albany, NY, Catholic Mass is celebrated in several Rites. What happened in the 15th century that you want us to take notice of?

      • Some funny quotes from my Mom:
        “There is a warm place in Hell for many architects.”
        “Jesuits are anti-architecture.”
        “They should call this church “Our lady of the locker room.”

    • In destroying German architectural heritage, the RAF and USAAF clearly were pickers next to 20th century modernist architects and urban planners.

      Which brings to mind something the Prince of Wales once said. “You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe,” he told the Corporation of London Planning and Communication Committee’s annual dinner at Mansion House 1987. “When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble.”

  13. On this anniversary of 1P5, I thank Mr. Skojec for his courage to step out into the deep, (at considerable personal cost as he has a large family for which to provide ) to set up a teaching forum where Catholics who are aghast with the current papacy have a place to visit and know they are not alone in their angst.

    I say “Teaching forum” because of the recent comment by Christian that, as a result of the information she obtained from this site, that she and her husband are taking taking the necessary steps to come home to the Catholic Church.

        • That’s a very kind and encouraging comment @mxd132_1997:disqus, thank you very much! Glad that someone finds my small contributions useful. Thanks be to God.
          Two things coincidentally brought on the break: the last exchange with @skojec:disqus [he has been kind not to kick me out] and God was kind enough to grant me a vacation and I got to travel. A break always does good [cf. Mk 6:31] and perhaps I will blog about some wonderful anecdotes from that trip. God bless you and yours and his work at your hands.

  14. It is true that one of the benefits of attending the Old Rite is that I could finally hang up my hat as a liturgical expert and just attend Mass qua worshipper. Before I used to get annoyed all the time at the flagrant disobedience all over the place. Now “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum” is a little more of a reality.


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