Tag Archives: reform

Why no synod coverage?

From a reader:

“I am somewhat alarmed that you haven’t had any discussion or podcast on the Synod, or on Pope Francis in general. Why is your voice conspicuously absent?”

Even socially people ask me what I think about the synod. My answer: Nothing.

There is a reason for this. Firstly, why am I not covering the synod? Apart from the fact that I am too busy with work and my children, in general I am just not interested in what is little more than a media circus. In the first place, there are many groups with correspondents in Rome, or providing coverage from such people. There is precious little that I can add. You’ve seen Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and they have given scathing commentary on the instrumentum laboris for this Synod. What can I add to it? I’m not there, I don’t have access to sources who know what is going on, and others are doing a good job.

More importantly, I am resisting the trend in the blogosphere and traddom of becoming an “authentic commentator.” In all reality, I am just a guy with opinions, and largely so are others, no matter how correct they may be. I know of people who are losing the faith over this, or less importantly but no less destructively, sleep, increasing stress, becoming angry. There is simply no reason for this. In a just sense, I do get angry over what manifest heretics like Cardinal Kasper are trying to do to the Church. But I do not let it disturb my faith. St. Paul tells us: “Irascimini, et nolite peccare: sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram.” (Be angry and do not sin: Let not the sun set on your anger.) The first part is a quote from Psalm 4, which we sing every night in Compline in the Benedictine breviary. St. Paul is acknowledging that we can be angry, but we need to be in control of it, or we should not be disturbed. St. Thomas observes that anger is a perfection that helps you overcome difficult things, but is disordered after the fall so that it lashes out in all directions, rather than being directed at difficult things.

The fact is, there is nothing I can do to change the Synod but pray. More importantly, however, there is nothing the Synod can do to change the faith.

Firstly, a Synod does not have doctrinal authority, unless the Pope should elevate its status to that of a local Council and promulgate it as part of the ordinary magisterium. Even if Pope Francis were to do this, there is nothing he can do to eviscerate the tradition on marriage, namely what the Church has always and everywhere believed. This is documented in the Fathers, the Medievals, the Schoolmen, the Manuals, and ecumenical Councils (preeminently Trent). The Pope is not able to change these teachings, or abridge them.

Secondly, the Pope cannot affect the moral effect of Catholic teaching, whatever comes out of the Synod in the way of praxis, or the practical effects of his change to Canon law.

Thirdly, as has been revealed in other places, the outcome has already been decided. There has long been a plan to force the Kasperite thesis through. So while others are melting down over the goings on at present, I am already planning the response to the inevitable change in “praxis” that is somehow divorced from “teaching”, which itself is a novelty and frankly impossible state of things. That is to adhere to the Tradition, and treating novelty the same way the Church fathers treated it: as if it were heresy to be avoided. I will adhere to the Fathers, the Schoolmen and the Manuals, and work on translations of what is not already in English, time allowing. The fact is, the ramming through of what is being prepared will probably cause a schism, if not more widespread confusion. The task at hand, is not to let the sun set on our anger, but to prepare and advocate the course of real reform. This is the Traditional Catholic response. In the 15th century, reforming theologians and canonists advocated reforms that would not be realized until the mid-16th century. This means they died and others picked up their torch, and also died, until after the Council of Trent when reforms began to be realized. Will it take 150 more years? Salva nos Domine! Nevertheless, we need to be planting seeds with prayer, not merely reacting. We need to lay down the challenge with truth, and continue to do so while Christ works in His Church.

We can see this in St. John Fisher, who was himself a reforming bishop, and did his utmost to be a true shepherd of his flock. When refuting a Lutheran, Velenus, he made the following remarks:

Perhaps some may say, “Nowhere else is the life of Christians more contrary to Christ than in Rome, and that, too, even among the prelates of the Church, whose conversation is diametrically opposed to the life of Christ. Christ lived poverty; they fly from poverty so far that their only study is to keep up riches. Christ shunned the glory of this world; they will do and suffer everything for glory. Christ afflicted himself by frequent fasts and continual prayers; they neither fast nor pray, but give themselves up to luxury and lust.
They are the greatest scandal to all who live sincere Christian lives, since their morals are so contrary to the doctrine of Christ, that through them the name of Christ is blasphemed throughout the world.” This is perhaps what an adversary might object. But all this merely confirms what I am proving. For since the Sees of other Apostles are everywhere occupied by infidels, and this one only, which belonged to Peter, yet remains under Christian rule, though for so many crimes and such unspeakable wickedness, it has deserved like the rest to be destroyed, what must we conclude but that Christ is most faithful to his promises since he keeps them in favour of his greatest enemies, however grievous and many may be their insults to him?
Convulsio calumniarum Ulrichi Minhoniensis quibus petrum numquam Romae

Fisher was martyred by the tyrant Henry VIII, not knowing what reform would befall the Church. This is the path for the true reformer, to stay united to truth, passed on by Christ to His apostles, which they passed on to their successors, even to us. God’s providence cannot leave the Church without a remedy.

[The Quote was taken from “St. John Fisher: Humanist, Reformer, Martyr“, a reprint of EE Reynolds’ in depth historical treatment of the saint, now back in print from Mediatrix Press.

See also another helpful discussion in this vein from Boniface at Unam Sanctam.

Objections to the Traditional Latin Mass answered: The Lectionary

In commentary after commentary of defenders of the Novus Ordo, from liberals to so-called “conservatives” (who are preserving the liberal revolution), they always point to the supposed superiority of the lectionary of the Novus Ordo to that of the Traditional Latin Mass.

The argument goes “Since the majority of the bible is read in the course of 3 years, Catholics are exposed to more scripture now than in the Traditional Liturgy with its narrow selection of readings”.

We’ve heard this for years, and I’ve refuted it for years, but it won’t go away. To be fair, I’m not concerned with issues of translation. The best arguments against the Novus Ordo are against the Latin Novus Ordo, not the ICEL translation. Defenders of the new rite can always appeal to a bad translation to explain away the endless problems with the fabricated liturgy of Bugnini’s Concilium. They might also refer to Bishops changing the banal and doctrinally questionable translations in favor of traditional ones. It is simple enough to go back to the source. Forget the ICEL monster. This I do here, and have consistently done when criticizing the new rite.

The argument is essentially flawed because it relies upon numbers and the mere quantity of something as the sufficiency necessary for correct evaluation. Thus, to put it another way it seeks to implement the liturgical reform the way governments try to reform things, by throwing more of something indiscriminately. In this case it is scripture. Just as truly as government throws money at education, or defense in the desperate hope that things will get better, so the new lectionary throws as much of the bible at the layman as possible, indiscriminately, in the hope that he will leave the Church knowing something about the bible. However, the Traditional Lectionary’s effect is qualitative, focusing not so much on how much of the Bible the man in the pew hears, but rather what the man in the pew hears.
In the Traditional Liturgy the lectionary was tailored to match the breviary and lead the faithful to a certain idea through its collects, antiphons and other propers, the lectionary of the Novus Ordo often makes use of antiphons and propers that do not match any liturgical objective, that are given just for the sake of it.

The next problem with the argument is that there are many texts of scripture, which are present in the Traditional Rite of Mass but are omitted or made optional in the new lectionary (which, if all the endless options and alternative texts were gathered into one book the thing would plummet to the center of the earth). The text of the great apostasy predicted in 2nd Thessalonians is present on the ember Saturday of Advent in the Traditional Rite, but absent in the new lectionary. Another example was pointed out by Cardinal Stickler speaking on the text of I Corinthians XI:27-29:

Apart from the pastoral difficulties for parishioners’ understanding of texts demanding special exegesis, it turned out also as an opportunity-which was seized-to manipulate the retained texts in order to introduce new truths in place of the old. Pastorally unpopular passages-often of fundamental theological and moral significance-were simply eliminated. A classic example is the text from 1 Cor. 11:27-29: here, in the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, the serious concluding exhortation about the grave consequences of unworthy reception has been consistently left out, even on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The pastoral necessity of that text in the face of today’s mass reception without confession and without reverence is obvious. (Online source)

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a writer for Latin Mass magazine, had this to say in an October article on the New Lectionary:

There is the basic human problem of having more than one year’s worth of readings. A single year is a natural period of time; it is healthy, pedagogically superior, and deeply consoling to come back, year after year, to the same readings for a given Sunday or weekday. This has been my experience. You get to know the Sunday readings especially; they become bone of your bone. You start to think of Sundays in terms of their readings, chants, and prayers, which stick in the mind all the more firmly because they are both spoken or chanted and read in the missal you are holding (more senses engaged). In this way the traditional Western liturgy shows its affinity to the Eastern liturgies, which go so far as to name Sundays after their Gospels or after some particular dogma emphasized. In the old days, the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost had a distinctive identity: Protector noster was the introit, you knew its melody, and the whole Mass grew to be familiar, like a much-loved garden or a trail through the woods. Nowadays, who knows what the “tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time” is about! It’s anyone’s guess. Online source

The New Lectionary has a cold and meaningless feel about it. First of all, let us suppose a Latin Novus Ordo where the propers were used, and not replaced by this or that hymn, something which is rubrically incorrect even in the NO. There is no theme, no attempt to unite the psalms sung with the readings. Sometimes they are consistently repeated throughout Sundays of the Year. Second, while the Sunday readings are on a “3 year cycle”, the weekday readings are on a “2 year cycle”, which is completely nonsensical. If they match up at all to what is read on Sunday it is a pure accident occurring around the time when the planets align. And, who can remember all of these readings? I have known priests who say the Novus Ordo who haven’t a clue of the general order or pace of the readings beyond the Sunday they are in, and one back as well as one forward. It becomes a dead letter and we move onto the next one. And if we consider Lent and Holy Week, in some instances the readings match up and follow a progression, but there is no overall theme matched by the Mass propers or the Divine Office. In Holy week you only hear two passion accounts, on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, where as in the Traditional Liturgy you hear all four, Matthew on Palm Sunday, Mark on Tuesday and Luke’s on Wednesday, while Monday contains a prophecy of our Lord’s death and resurrection.

The whole of the lectionary for the Traditional Mass is contained in the same book as the Missal, and it comprises a modest size book. As I said above, if one was to take the entire Novus Ordo with all of its options, extra prayers, and the lectionary with its endless options and substitutions, it would fall through the altar and wind up in the center of the earth (a good place for it if you ask me, and good riddance!)

Another problem is the fact that the lectionary was arranged by exegetes with sociological leanings (which could just as easily be written socialist), while the ancient Roman lectionary was arranged by St. Jerome one of the greatest of ancient doctors apart from Chysostom and Augustine, and apart from changes and modifications for the saints or new feasts, the propers for the year are unchanged. If we lined up the Traditional Lectionary with the calendar of the Eastern Church (or even that of the Orthodox), one will find striking similarities. Only one epistle reading, not two as in the Novus Ordo. A one year cycle, is unique to both calendars, and to liturgical tradition. The concept of a three, or two year lectionary is a novelty east and west and not even suggested by Vatican II. Sundays after Easter are called “Sundays after Pentecost” by both calendars, and the propers which must always be sung in a Divine Liturgy match up to the epistle and Gospel reading. Lastly, the readings must be sung in the Divine Liturgy, just as they must at a Tridentine High Mass. The Traditional lectionary is linked with and grew out of the common heritage of liturgical development which in spite of different cultures, locations and circumstances, share characteristics coming form ancient practice.

Therefore, for both practical and liturgical reasons, the New Lectionary is a complete and useless novelty, inferior to Catholic tradition, just like everything else in the Novus Ordo. Yet one may ask, how could one reform the Traditional lectionary? There are several Masses for different types of saints, and when there is no regular reading for the saints, the regular readings from the Mass Os Justi, or some such Mass will be used over and over again, sometimes within the same week. So texts could be found which would match the life of the saint, while this is often not done in the Novus Ordo, and as Dr. Kwasniewski notes in the article I linked, the readings for St. Therese in the Traditional Mass make sense, whereas the ones in the new rite follow the baneful 2 year cycle and have nothing to do with her.

There is but one more consideration. At the average Traditional Mass, one will hear more scripture than at the Novus Ordo if one is to take the whole of the liturgy into account. The Mass begins with Psalm 42, many of the responses are actually quotes from the Psalms (Adjutorium nostrum…Psalm 69, etc.), a good portion of the offertory prayers are from scripture directly, including all of Psalm 25, many parts of the canon and the priests communion come directly from scripture, not to mention the Last Gospel (John 1:1-18) and the fact that the propers are never skipped, while in the Novus Ordo encoutnered by 99% of Catholics in the world they are generally skipped, and or are repeats from a series of options while in the Traditional Liturgy they are different every Sunday and saints day.

Like all things, the simple fruits of tradition are better than the ugly creations of modernity.