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March 1999



Late last year, while salivating over plans to re-order their church, a liberal clique in a south-western parish duly invited a liturgical "expert" to conduct a "teach-in" for interested parishioners. Eighteen years a liturgical lecturer and twenty-five years on the National Liturgical Commission, here is a taste of what the priestly "expert" told his captive audience about the Mass, as related in the parish notes:

"Imagine going to the theatre only to find the actors have their backs to you, speak in barely audible whispers, and when you do catch a bit of it, you find it’s in a foreign language! How can you really understand what’s going on? Reminds you of how the liturgy used to be! Liturgy… is about communication. For good communication we need the priest facing us.

"Imagine going to a dinner party where the host had great big portions yet you were only offered a tiny bit of food and no drink! What if you weren’t allowed to contribute to the meal in any way? Usually we like to bring a bottle or help with the preparation or clearing up. Thirty years ago, the liturgy of the eucharist was rather like that!

"Imagine being the party host, where the guests sat as far away as possible, wouldn’t join in, wouldn’t sing, let alone touch each other during Auld Lang Syne! Some Masses are still like that! Liturgy is a celebration …we decorate, move furniture, dress up, etc… Canon Christopher …felt that we should not be afraid of change, rather we should embrace it…"

How could any priest be so utterly wrong-headed about the essence of the Catholic Mass? Well, you spend two decades peddling the very liturgical idea rejected out of hand by the Council Fathers in 1967 i.e. Mass as Congregationalism dressed up, and see how your faith copes! Poor old Canon Christopher, "thirteen years a member of ICEL," "Chair since 1993" and "involved in all liturgy revisions of the last 20 years." Enough said. Like the generation of English laity on the receiving end of his hackneyed Modernism, he never stood a chance.

I relate this rather unoriginal episode merely to juxtapose the ongoing juggernaut of liturgical deconstruction against the articles which follow; to highlight once more the absolutely pivotal role of the Old Mass in any post-millennial counter-reformation the Lord may wish to kick-start.

All things being equal, of course, the Old Mass would certainly get to play that role by finally reclaiming its rightful place as the normative missal of the Roman Rite. After all, the Council Fathers themselves willed it so and even the most fixated liberals can only resist and pervert such a godly consensus for so many lifetimes. Yet we know that all things are not equal. The unprecedented damage inflicted by the Novus Ordo has seen to that. And so the question arises not about when that inevitable return to the Fathers’ demand will eventuate, but if the Mass per se will survive at all; whether in fact we can afford the luxury of a tortuous and tortoise-like process seeking to ‘reform the reform.’

The prophet Daniel [8:12; 9:27; 11:31] along with Fathers and Doctors of the Church have all forecast the failure (loss of efficacy) or abolition of the Mass as the precursor of the Antichrist. And as Cardinal Ratzinger himself has indicated in lamenting the demise of the Latin Mass and warning about contemporary movements which favour the rise of Antichrist, the Novus Ordo rebellion (as typified above) has brought us closer to that scenario than ever before. One wonders, therefore, whether we have the time to indulge in endless debate about reforming an originally superfluous, so-called "reform" while Canon Christopher and his chums push their enfeeblement of the Holy Sacrifice to the point of no return? Especially when the final outcome of such tedious deliberations – the ‘sensible compromise’ – promises at best a schizophrenic mix of newchurch banality and Catholic majesty.

The simple, direct, Route #1 alternative - to revert to the slightly revised 1962 Missal envisaged by the Council Fathers - may seem as fanciful as the Cardinal’s Dream which follows. Indeed, the very idea elicits frantic nay-saying from the ‘reform of the reform’ lobby. Yet it would save not only an enormous amount of wasted time and energy reinventing the liturgical wheel, but perhaps the Mass itself.

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