"A Blind and Unchecked Passion for Novelty"
Postconciliar Revolution and the Thirst for Change
One of the most frequent objections which worldlings direct against the Catholic Church is that she is “not with the times.” Some of the Church's own leaders occasionally join in this worldly chorus, like the recently deceased Cardinal Martini, who gave an interview before his death which chastised the Church for being “200 years out of date.” Indeed, it was this desire for aggiornamento (“updating”) which John XXIII cited as his motive for calling the Second Vatican Council, to “open the windows” of the Church and let in the air of the world. Having instead admitted a deadly pestilence, and perhaps realizing that his unfounded optimism meshed poorly with the words of Our Lord, Who promised unceasing enmity between the world and His followers [Jn 15:18-21; 17:9, 16], John XXIII is rumoured to have exhorted, on his deathbed, “Stop the Council.”
Unfortunately his successor failed to heed this advice, pressing on gamely until he, too, later had occasion to lament that the Church had been invaded by worldly thinking. [23/11/73] Sadly, Paul VI appeared never to draw the obvious conclusion from the fact that this much-lamented invasion of worldly thinking followed upon the first Council in Catholic history which ever attempted to assimilate the values and aspirations of an anti-Catholic world.
With that as background, we must note that this worldly aspiration for “change” and “progress” actually reflects an underlying error about the nature of reality: that change is inherently desirable. The world holds that change is good and ought always to be pursued, and like many errors, this one holds a certain deceptive allure. Don't we enjoy a change of scenery, for instance, a change of pace, or any other bit of variety to spice up the otherwise mundane passage of our days? But in reality, as St. Thomas Aquinas notes, change is a mark of the finite or imperfect. [Summa Theologiae I, q. 9, a. 1] The most perfect of all Beings, God Himself, never changes. It is precisely one of His perfections that He is immutable, that is, not even capable of changing. To be capable of changing implies that one can acquire something new, but since God already possesses all perfections, He cannot acquire anything new to add to His already-infinite perfection. He already has it all. Change only supervenes upon beings which lack some feature and are capable of gaining or improving in it. Thus change should never be an end in itself, but rather a means to the end of acquiring one's ultimate perfection. We should seek change only insofar as we need it to approach closer to that state where we require little further change, because we have already arrived at a more complete state of perfection.
Yet as St. Pius X noted, the Modernists hold that change is of the very essence of our Catholic religion. The Catholic religion — which as God's own revelation, and thus the only perfect and true religion, needs no “improvement” or progress (1)— must change, say the Modernists, for change is the sign of life. A religion must conform itself to the ways of men, which ebb and flow, and to be thus conformed means to be “living,” to be ceaselessly changing just like the environs which that religion inhabits. If the world changes, then, Modernists hold that the Church must change with it. Because of this Modernist lust for change, we would naturally expect that if Modernists ever gained control of authority in the Catholic Church, they would very likely attempt to introduce into Catholic life a massive amount of change.
And in fact, if we look about us at the bleak expanse which is the postconciliar landscape, what is it that we find? Do we find that the authorities of recent decades show a firm and unbending will to preserve Catholic faith and practice exactly as they have always been? Or do we find instead that the behaviour of the authorities strangely resembles what we would expect from doctrinaire Modernists, confirming St. Pius X's above-quoted words about the “reforming mania” of Modernists which tries to change “dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself”?
To answer this question, let us examine a number of significant aspects of Catholic life since the Second Vatican Council, specifically: the liturgy; the Sacraments; the devotional life; doctrine and ecclesiology; and ecumenism. For there we will find our answer.
With respect to the liturgy, Catholics have certainly experienced plenty of “change” with the new Mass. This Mass includes a new liturgical orientation (facing towards the people instead of towards God), a new language (the ever-changing vernacular instead of the unchanging, dead liturgical language of Latin, which Ven. Pius XII said was well-suited to guarding the unchanging dogmas which it expressed [Mediator Dei, n. 60]), new music (from the “stupendous Gregorian chant” — Paul VI's words — to the profane and ear-splitting nonsense which pains both devout Catholics and anyone at all with an aesthetic sense), and a new order of Mass which systematically eliminates prayers referring to the Mass as a propitiatory Sacrifice (the traditional offertory prayers, the Placeat Tibi, the Veni Sanctificator, the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas), prayers and rubrics fostering reverence for the Real Presence (numerous genuflections and signs of the Cross, the Mysterium Fidei, the priest's ablutions after distributing Holy Communion, to be sure not to lose a single Sacred Particle), and other indicators which unambiguously distinguish the Mass from a Protestant service.(2)
The new liturgy likewise includes a new lectionary and new collects and orations which eliminate themes likely to offend modern ears, including references to sin, Hell, despising earthly attractions, and matters likely to hurt ecumenical feelings.(3) A startling example of this liturgical hack job includes the new lectionary's second reading on Holy Thursday, wherein the textual wreckovaters inexplicably chose to omit the following warning of St. Paul about Holy Communion, so necessary in our days of frightfully infrequent confession and far-too-frequent Communion: “... he that eateth and drinketh [the Holy Eucharist] unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself...” [1 Cor. 11:29].
The new liturgy similarly eliminates various hymns and prayers, like the famous and magnificent Dies Irae —denounced by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini as reflecting a “negative spirituality” from medieval times which “overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair.”(4) A suspected Freemason, it is little wonder that Bugnini, the new liturgy's primary author, referred to this torrent of liturgical novelty in words we might expect from a member of the Lodge, dubbing it a “major conquest of the Catholic Church.”(5) One hesitates to agree with Bugnini, but in this he is entirely correct.
Change has come, too, with new forms for the Sacraments. The most famous changes involve those pertaining to the Holy Eucharist, such as the change to the Consecration at Holy Mass, which for 40 years placed the following false words on Our Lord's lips, words which He never spoke: “This is My Blood, which shall be shed for you and for all.” This despite the following words from the Catechism of the Council of Trent about the words “for many,” providing still more evidence that Modernists at times don't even try to cover their tracks by avoiding obvious “discontinuity” with past teaching:
With reason, therefore, were the words “for all” not used, as in this place the fruits of the [P]assion are alone spoken of, and to the elect only did that bring the fruit of salvation. [Catechism of the Council of Trent, trans. by Fr. J. Donovan, pp. 199-200.]
Together with the new form of Consecration comes a new way of treating the holiest of Sacraments, specifically by permitting the Most Blessed Sacrament, previously to be handled only by the consecrated hands of a priest (John Paul II himself called this a “privilege of the ordained” [Dominicae Cenae, n. 11]), now handled by various “lay ministers” who treat the Blessed Sacrament in ways scarcely imaginable to preconciliar Catholics. A new way, too, of receiving Holy Communion: no longer kneeling and receiving on the tongue (which was itself consecrated with blessed salt in the traditional rite of Baptism, but not so in the new rite), but now standing and in the hands, which may scatter Sacred Particles all over the floor to be sacrilegiously trampled on by the heedless steps of the faithful. World Youth Day — another postconciliar novelty — has showcased similar desecration of the Holy Eucharist, as described by one attendee at the 1993 version in Denver:
People were reaching over each other’s shoulders to grab the consecrated Hosts from the priests. I saw Hosts falling into the mud, where they were being trampled on. I reached forward and rescued as many as I could and consumed them. [“By the Time We Got to Woodstock,” by Christopher Ferrara.]
Baptism has changed, too, by “virtually... eliminat[ing]” prayers of exorcism once recited over the child.(6)Evidently the Modernists concluded that post-Vatican II babies were somehow less susceptible to demonic influence (a strange conclusion to draw in the latter half of the 20th century, as Western societies began accelerating their ongoing descent into a form of secular paganism which would have stung the conscience of Caligula). Or else they don't really believe in demonic influence at all (but then, as Padre Pio is said to have replied to a woman who rejected belief in Hell, “You'll believe in it when you get there”).
The traditional Sacrament of Extreme Unction included the priest's anointing each of the five senses while asking God to pardon the recipient all sins committed through those senses. The new form of anointing changes this (surprise!) by eliminating these prayers for remission of sin.(7) Once more the Modernists appear either to conclude that modern men need less pardon than their forefathers, or else perhaps don't really believe that there is such a thing as sin to pardon (Padre Pio: they will when they get there).
New forms of priestly and episcopal ordination now exist as well. Among other alterations, the new rite of priestly ordination omits the following prayer, which does appear in the old rite: “Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained....”. Perhaps Modernists thought that teaching modern Catholics such “outdated” notions as priests having power from Christ to absolve sins might cause them to confuse the postconciliar enterprise for something that is actually Catholic.
Much could be said about what has become of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony since the Council, and little of it is good. Kenneth C. Jones offers the following statistics:
In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. There were more Catholic marriages in 1950 than in 2002. There were extremely few annulments in the U.S. in 1968. In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.(8)
An entirely separate article would be required to survey statistics showing the frightful number of nominal Catholics who use contraception, the staggering rates of premarital cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, and the paltry fertility rates in many once Catholic nations which now guarantee an unavoidable demographic winter.
As for the oft-cited motive for many of these liturgical and sacramental changes — Vatican II — the Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium made the following exhortation concerning change: “Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them....” Since the good of the Church absolutely did not require any of the preceding changes (indeed, the good of the Church rather required that they not be changed), traditionalists find themselves in the delightfully ironic position of needing to exhort their Modernist brethren to remain faithful... to the prescriptions of Vatican II! Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
New Exorcism, New Blessings, New Rosary
One of the few remaining holdouts against the aggressively advancing Modernist bulldozer was the ancient rite of exorcism, which came down to us all the way from the year 1614. But alas, not even the devil himself was to be spared the onslaught of aggiornamento! Thus, in 1999, the Vatican did indeed give us a new rite of exorcism; a rite which among other problems downgrades the imperative forms of prayer — which feature the exorcist issuing commands to the demon — to a merely optional status, able to be set aside in favour of simple petitionary orations.(9) One exorcist referred to this rite as “atrocious,”(10) and the world's most famous exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, classifies it as a “farce,” as containing “very damaging” content, and as “[a]n incredible obstacle that is likely to prevent us acting against the demon.”
Yet another exorcist is said to have elicited a laugh from the devil while attempting to use this new rite of exorcism; the latter, speaking through the mouth of the possessed, evidently asked, “You're not really going to use that to get rid of me, are you?” If Modernists were capable of feeling shame for their destructive projects, perhaps they would feel it upon learning that the devil himself mocks their attempts at liturgical “renewal.”
Incidentally, Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Medina managed to add a permission to continue using the old rite of exorcism, a strange concession indeed if the new version represented a much-needed and highly desirable “renewal.”
Turning now to other Catholic sacramentals, the authorities also gave us a new Book of Blessings. One well-known conservative priest, though often a defender of papal policy, nevertheless admits with respect to this inaccurately-named book that some of its contents actually fail to bless anything:
The book attempts to change the Church’s theology about blessings, effectively trying to eliminate the concept of the constitutive blessing and reducing every prayer and action to an invocative blessing...
I know without question that when I bless water with the older rite, it is blessed water, holy water. I have never used – and never will use – the newer book. But were I to imagine myself to do such a thing, I am not sure what there would be in the bucket when I was done.(11)
The timeless Catholic devotional of the Rosary, too, must needs succumb to the Modernist obsession with change. Archbishop Bugnini was not only the Masonic architect of the new Mass, he also tried to “reform” the Rosary as part of the liturgical reign of terror he unleashed upon postconciliar Catholics. Providentially, the oft-weak and vacillating Paul VI, though seldom unwilling to change many other facets of Catholic life, finally put his foot down and refused Bugnini's attempts to cut off the second half of the Hail Mary and alter the Rosary beyond recognition. However, Bugnini's ideological descendants made certain to finish the job with five new mysteries of the Rosary introduced in John Paul II's 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Although traditionalists certainly do not oppose meditation on further aspects of Our Lord's life, one of the problems with this novelty stems from its attempt to modify yet another immemorial custom of Catholic life along the non-Catholic principles of the postconciliar zeitgeist.
The Letter — which one author speculates may not even have been written by John Paul II, who was in terrible health at the time— sounds a familiar ecumenical note which seems almost to apologise for the Rosary's focus on the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God: “Perhaps too, there are some who fear that the Rosary is somehow unecumenical because of its distinctly Marian character... If properly revitalized, the Rosary is an aid and certainly not a hindrance to ecumenism!” [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 4] Notice that the author of this passage implicitly assumes that the Rosary derives part of its value from its compatibility with postconciliar ecumenism. The author feels he must defend the Rosary from the charge of being “unecumenical”; a charge in which preconciliar Catholics could delight, as being an uncompromising statement of Catholic love for the glorious Virgin Mary, but one which deeply wounds the sensitive postconciliar ecumenist's heart, ever anxious as he is to placate Christ's enemies.
Speaking of the Letter's claim that the new mysteries will better bring out the Rosary's “Christological depth,” Christopher Ferrara calls attention to the implicit contempt such a statement heaps on traditional Catholic piety:
Here we see yet another example of the postconciliar process of discovering hitherto unnoticed "defects" in Catholic worship to be "corrected" by an immediate patch job... But how is it that neither St. Pius V nor a single one of his successors... ever perceived that the Rosary was lacking in "Christological depth"...? [“Bugnini’s Ghost”]
In answer to Mr. Ferrara's question, we may say that St. Pius V and his predecessors failed to notice this “defect” because they missed out on the Postconciliar Enlightenment. Or, to say the same, those prior popes discovered no defects because they revered the Church's traditional forms of piety, while modern authorities do not.
New Catechism and New Seminaries
The revolution continues apace, this time with a new Catechism. Among other things, this Catechism tries to “reformulate” irreformable dogmas like “No salvation outside the Church” [CCC, n. 846]; appears to encourage “sincere respect” for false, non-Catholic religions which deny the true religion [CCC, n. 2104]; and presents papal opinion on the death penalty which conflicts with 2,000 year old allowances for its use, stemming back to St. Paul himself (or even to Our Lord, Who did not reprove St. Dismas for the following words, spoken as he suffered the death penalty:
Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds.... [CCC, n. 2267; Rom 13:4; Lk 23:40]
Modernism has likewise introduced new modes of seminary life. Michael Rose's renowned investigative work Goodbye, Good Men chronicles the penchant of certain seminaries to weed out orthodox, manly seminarians with uncompromising theological beliefs in favour of heterodox liberals who are responsible for the liturgical/catechetical disaster that afflicts modern parish life. Not surprisingly, this situation favoured the development of a festering homosexual subculture which one conservative priest who managed to weather the storm described as follows: “If you wore a cassock, you were a reactionary 'daughter of Trent.' If you wore women's underwear, they'd make you seminarian of the year.” This scandalous predicament and its toleration by postconciliar prelates largely explains our contrived “vocations crisis.”
We have also been gifted a new terminology to “reform” ancient realities. For the only true religion (Leo XIII [Sapientiae Christianae, n. 34]), we now have merely the “fullness” of truth. For false religions cut off from the Church and having no communion at all with her (Pius IX [Jam Vos Omnes]; Leo XIII [Satis Cognitum, n. 9]; and Pius XI [Mortalium Animos, nn. 2, 4, and 10]), we now have communities with “real but imperfect communion.” For heretics and schismatics, we have “separated brethren.” And for popes whose disastrous policies have devastated the Church, we likewise have a new term: “Blessed.”
The Modernist revolution has also yielded many new slogans, like “hermeneutic of continuity,” a term referring to the fact that the Second Vatican Council's teaching is often so scandalously ambiguous that a special interpretative tool is required to show how it can possibly be reconciled with 2,000 years of Catholic teaching. There is also the term “reform of the reform,” a slogan referring to the need to repair the liturgical tragedy of errors imposed by the Vatican, ironically without discarding the idea — the blind obsession with “reform” — which touched off the disaster in the first place.
Then we have the “new Evangelization” catchphrase. This refers to the need to re-convert the millions of Catholics who have apostatised from the Faith in the wake of the Conciliar “springtime.” Oddly, this “springtime,” rife with ecclesial death, destruction, and decay, much more closely resembles winter.
The Modernist freight train of novelty continues its express trip over the theological cliff with a new ecumenism which features abominations fit to delight the devil: a German cardinal who claims that the Jewish religion is salvific for Jews and that Vatican II “abandoned” the idea that ecumenism entails conversion to Catholicism(12); a papal nuncio who told a seminarian of the schismatic Orthodox that he “must not become a Catholic”; an Italian bishop who permitted diocesan properties to be used for the religious practices of Moslems and “Orthodox” while forbidding a traditional Mass [Rorate Caeli blog, Sept. 2007]; a French bishop who attended the “ordination” of an Anglican “priestess” [Rorate Caeli blog, April 2007]; a French cardinal and a French bishop who participated in a Mass followed by a reading of a Koranic surah which contains a blasphemous denial of Christ Our Lord [Rorate Caeli, July 2007]; an Italian cardinal and two Italian bishops who evidently expressed support for the construction of mosques; an American cardinal who gave his “blessing,” on national television, for a formerly Catholic man to apostatize to Judaism[Culture Wars, Jan. 2008].
But the wildness of episcopal ecumenism can hardly rival and may be often surpassed by papal inter-religious gestures, which include outrageous displays like a papal visit to the “sacred” forests of Togo for prayer with animist pagans (Togo, August 1985 [CO, May 2011, pp. 69-70]; cf. Psalm 95:5), and three times to Assisi to outrage God and anger the cognisant faithful with shocking scenes of Buddhists placing a Buddha statue atop the tabernacle (Assisi I, 1986 [New York Times, Oct. 1986]), crucifixes being removed from a convent to facilitate false worship (Assisi II, 2002 (13)), and an African witch doctor reciting a prayer to a demon inside the sanctuary of a Catholic church, with the Roman pontiff in attendance (Assisi III, 2011 ). All of which is another day at the office for the proponents of “renewal.”
New Attitude Towards Preconciliar Magisteria
The conciliar “renewal” likewise requires a new view of the preconciliar Magisterium: specifically by downgrading its authoritative teachings from infallible and irreformable truths to mere historical contingencies, liable to be blown away by the ever-swirling winds of change. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger offers an example of this fast-and-loose attitude towards preconciliar papal teaching with remarks such as these, commenting on St. Pius X's condemnation of Modernism (italics added):
[A 1990 CDF text] affirms — perhaps for the first time with this clarity — that there are decisions of the magisterium that cannot be the last word on the matter as such, but are... a kind of provisorial disposition. The nucleus remains valid, but the particulars, which the circumstances of the times influenced, may need further correction... In this regard, one may think of the declarations of Popes in the last century [19th century] about religious liberty, as well as the anti-Modernist decisions at the beginning of this century... As a cry of alarm in the face of hasty and superficial adaptations, they will remain fully justified... But in the details of the determinations they contain, they became obsolete after having fulfiled their pastoral mission at their proper time. [L'Osservatore Romano, June 27, 1990]
The truth is that none of St. Pius X's words even remotely suggest that his teaching was simply a vague and contingent “cry of alarm” needing “correction” by later theologians. In fact, in Pascendi, his encyclical on Modernism, St. Pius X condemns the attempt to classify doctrine as changeable! As for “correcting” the Magisterium's condemnation of Modernist Scripture “scholarship,” here is another error condemned by St. Pius X's Lamentabili Sane (italics added): “2. The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected, nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes.” Naturally, this raises the awkward question of whether Cardinal Ratzinger spoke as he did because relegating the Church's anti-Modernism to the “obsolete” historical past is the only viable strategy for defending the obviously Modernist-themed policies which have shaken the Catholic world for decades.
This attitude manifests itself not only in word but in deed, as with Cardinal Ratzinger's inexplicable attempt to overturn Pope Leo XIII's authoritative condemnation of the theological errors of Fr. Antonio Rosmini. Typically, he stated that “The Word, insofar as it is the loved object, and insofar as it is the Word, that is the object subsisting in itself, known by itself, is the person of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, according to Rosmini, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is the Third Person.
Another of the 40 condemned Rosminian errors suggested pantheism: stating that the “indeterminate being” abstracted from God and creatures is essentially the same as God.
Cardinal Ratzinger's decree purporting to exonerate Rosmini admits that his system contains “ambiguous and equivocal” concepts and expressions, that “the speculative and intellectual enterprise of Antonio Rosmini... at times bordered on a risky rashness,” and that the Magisterium condemned propositions from his works. ["NOTE: on the Force of the Doctrinal Decrees Concerning the Thought and Work of Fr Antonio Rosmini Serbati," CDF, 1 July 2001] But not to worry! In a move reminiscent of Jansenist attempts to evade papal condemnation of their heresy by claiming that the errors being condemned did not actually represent their real position, behold the postconciliar flair for transforming heterodoxy into orthodoxy:
This is so [the “nullifying” of Leo XIII's condemnation of Rosmini's errors] because the meaning of the propositions, as understood and condemned by the Decree, does not belong to the authentic position of Rosmini, but to conclusions that may possibly have been drawn from the reading of his works. [“NOTE”, CDF, 1 July 2001]
In other words, the errors contained in Rosmini's works, although manifest to a well-catechized ten year old, are mere “errors of interpretation.” Evidently not sharp enough to discern Rosmini's “authentic” position, poor benighted Leo XIII failed to discover the (non-existent) orthodox reading which might be given to pantheism and denials of basic Trinitarian doctrine. The task of clarifying these matters for us was left to our enlightened postconciliar betters, who have coincidentally presided over the greatest doctrinal collapse in all of Catholic history.
Of course, since not even a pope can nullify an infallible dogmatic definition of one of his predecessors, it is not clear how it could even be theologically possible for a mere cardinal to “overturn” the authoritative doctrinal condemnations of a pope. Modernists, however, tend not to concern themselves with such inconvenient details; their reforming obsession is too insatiable be mired in the thickets of logic and theological consistency.
Summary and Conclusion
Space forbids a complete examination of every change which has accompanied this out and out ecclesiastical revolution, but at a brief glance we can also mention: a new (and greatly diminished) Breviary; a new code of Canon Law (canon 844.4 of which inexplicably allows members of schismatic and heretical sects to receive Holy Communion!); new formulas for receiving non-Catholic converts (which omit the preconciliar exhortation for converts from paganism, Islam, Judaism, and heresy to “abhor” and reject their errors [Rorate Caeli blogspot, June 2009]); new rules of life for religious orders (which altered the venerable ancient rules, much to the chagrin of — among others — St. Pio, who angrily remonstrated with some enthusiasts of reform by stating that at the Last Judgment, St. Francis would not recognize these “reformed” Franciscans as his sons (14)); new church architecture (which Michael Rose described in a book fittingly entitled Ugly as Sin); the suppressions of the Anti-Modernist Oath, of many traditional penitential days of fasting and abstinence, of liturgical vigils and the Ember Days, of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum; new “female altar boys” (in the face of nearly 2,000 years of prohibition); and the new theological currents embracing dubious masters like von Balthasar, Congar, and Rahner, while rejecting traditional Scholastic Thomism, both praised and even required by preconciliar popes.(15)
And so, perplexed friends, we come to the end of our (abbreviated!) enumeration of the avalanche of postconciliar change. Do you feel betrayed by the wolf-like shepherds who perpetrated this outrage? You should. How truly apt is the phrase used by certain traditionalists to describe this all-pervasive plague: revolution. Or as Cardinal Leo Suenens put it, “Vatican II is the French Revolution in the Church.” ["Open Letter to Confused Catholics," Archbishop Lefebvre, ch. 14.]
Whatever one thinks of the Society of St. Pius X, whatever its faults, if you have ever wondered why, largely for doing nothing more than believing what Catholics have always believed, it finds itself in continual tension with Rome, look no further than the preceding analysis. If you insist on remaining changeless, as the First Vatican Council insisted all Catholics must do relative to the Faith and Tradition (16), then naturally you will lock horns with your Modernist “brethren,” whose insatiable thirst for change and novelty will not even halt at the contradiction of encouraging “tolerance” for and “dialogue” with everyone, then inflicting intolerance and monologue on traditional Catholics.
Pope Paul VI, when introducing the new Mass, expressed his concern for the aspirations of “modern man.” But how has “modern man” reacted to the tidal wave of change outlined above? Since modern man is actually no different a species than pre-modern man, modern man has reacted much as anyone would react if someone tried to tear the unchanging faith of his youth away from him. Modern man has watched the authorities treat with unutterable disdain all that the Church regarded as most holy and most sacred for centuries: tearing out Communion rails, throwing away vestments, burning treasured Catholic theology texts, gutting liturgies, changing Masses, Sacraments, doctrines, and everything else. And otherwise practicing an iconoclasm which rivals the devil in destructive zeal.
When modern men saw the authorities treating all that was holy and sacred for centuries with such contempt, changing anything and everything on which they could lay their grimy reformist paws, they drew a not unlikely conclusion: this must not really be very sacred, for if it was, surely those entrusted with its protection would not have treated it with such contempt (17). And although modern men are wrong to conclude that Tradition is not holy and not worth their time, they are absolutely correct to savage the modern authorities' sheer contempt for tradition; a contempt aptly described by St. Pius X:
... they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty.... From all that has preceded, some idea may be gained of the reforming mania which possesses [the Modernists]: in all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten...What is there left in the Church which is not to be reformed according to their principles? [Pascendi, nn. 13, 38]
New Mass, new Sacraments, new Breviary, new Rosary, new exorcism, new code of canon law, new council, new ecumenism, new catechism, new rules for religious orders, new seminary life, and novelties of many other forms. In reply to St. Pius X's question — with which parts of Catholic life do Modernists not wish to tamper? — we answer: none of them.
In light of all this, we should also point out, against those neo-conservative Catholics who disingenuously demand peaceful co-existence between Tradition and postconciliar novelty, that such a desire is unprincipled and impossible. There must always be battle between traditionalists and the proponents of novelty. As the above-noted principle of St. Thomas holds, the desire for change always and invariably implies that whatever one seeks to change is in some way undesirable or imperfect. Thus the very attempt of the Modernists to throw away everything which formed a staple of preconciliar Catholic life is a standing, implicit, and often explicit expression of contempt for traditional Catholic existence. If they loved and revered Catholic patrimony as we do, why would they attempt to eliminate it? Because they do not love and revere it as we do, which means that there can be no peace between us, nor do we fight on the same side.
Take an example: when asked about the traditional Mass, Archbishop Charles Chaput said he was grateful for its liberation, though “not because I personally prefer it, in fact I find the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship....”(18). In other words, as a commenter on the Rorate Caeli blog pointed out, the Archbishop implicitly believes that the traditional Latin Mass is a “much poorer expression of of worship.” How terribly unfortunate were Saints John Vianney, Pius V, Alphonsus Liguori, Francis de Sales and many other canonised celebrants of the traditional Mass, that they lacked an Archbishop Chaput to steer them away from such liturgical “impoverishment.”
It will be seen from this consideration how preposterous is the neo-conservative Catholic's exhortation that traditionalists peaceably acquiesce to the postconciliar projects which decimated the Church's traditional doctrine, liturgy, and culture, for it is precisely those postconciliar “reforms” which represent an attack against all that they loved, revered, and were taught by that same Church to cherish, even to martyrdom if occasion required.
Paul VI himself recognised this fundamental incompatibility between Tradition and Conciliarism, albeit from the wrong side. “This Mass, called the Mass of St. Pius V, as it is viewed at Econe,” he said, “is becoming the symbol of the condamnation (sic) of the Council.”(19) Pope Paul could not abide there being opposition to his Council, which in his own words “has no less authority,” and “in certain respects is even more important than that of Nicea”(!)(20). But the existence of the old Mass was a standing repudiation of his new one, and so he realised, correctly, that there can be no peace between Tradition and the postconciliar Modernist revolution.
The Second Vatican Council serves as a sort of tipping point for the “change” noted above. It was therefore of no small distress to find Benedict XVI proclaiming an ongoing “year of faith” which would centre on Vatican II! The reforms launched in its name having largely decimated the faith in millions of formerly Catholic souls, Vatican II will now allegedly “renew” the Faith in a world devastated by the sort of apostasy which led St. Pius X, over a century ago, to pose this question:
... We were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and [deep rooted] malady which... is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is — apostasy from God... When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the "Son of Perdition" of whom the Apostle speaks (II. Thess. ii., 3). [E Supremi Apostolatus, nn. 3-5]
St. Pius, speaking in 1903, a year which many of us would regard as a sort of golden era of Catholicism in comparison with what we face today, wondered aloud in his very first encyclical whether the immense wickedness of early 1900's society signalled the near approach of the Antichrist. This holy pope, who condemned the Modernist lust for change which has set the Church astorm in the last fifty years... what would he say today?
But why dwell on these gloomy thoughts; isn't it better to ignore them? In truth, the most dangerous enemy is the one which is unknown. Liberals and Modernists, both in the Church and in society, prey on the ignorance of those who might otherwise be able to stop them. If they can disguise their plans for long enough, they can spring them on the unsuspecting when it is too late to reverse course. We see this in the United States of America, once an anti-Communist country, yet after long decades of subtle intellectual and psychological reshaping of its electorate, in media, schools, culture, and academia, now in the clutches of a political potentate increasingly Communist in his moral, political, and economic orientation.
Likewise, many Catholics intuitively sense the problems of the last decades, they see a sacrilegious Mass here or a heretical catechism there, but they have never seen the extent of these problems compiled in one place and presented as the systematic and revolutionary design of an organized Modernism.
Still, we may hope that more and more Catholics will begin to recognize our enemies and their revolutionary aims. Enemies, that is, like Bishop Paulo Machado of Brazil, who spoke of adherents to the traditional liturgy in the following words (italics added):
I cannot understand how, in the very 21st century, there are people who wish the return of the Latin Mass...what is behind this agenda? A longing feeling? I don’t think so. It is more than that: it is a morbid desire, a fear of novelty, an aversion to change. [Rorate Caeli, April 2012]
But traditionalists who experience a virtuous aversion to changing what God has given us can reply to the semi-coherent tripe of wolves like Machado with these profound words of Our Lady of Fatima: Whose intercession we must beg to destroy the program outlined in the preceding, Who prophesied this crisis in the Church, and Who also offers us the means for its resolution:
“Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Divine Lord very much. Those who serve God ought not to follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.”
The writer is the author of a comprehensive apologetical work: Rational Faith: Proof of the Existence of God, the Falsity of Atheism, and the Truth of Catholicism
(1) For suggesting this and some of what follows, I credit a remark by Fr. James McLucas, which praised the fixed and unchanging rubrics of the Old Mass as reflecting one of God's perfections: His unchangeableness.
(3) Ibid., Part 8.
(4) Wikipedia quote from Bugnini's The Reform of the Liturgy, p. 773.
(5) “How the liturgy fell apart: the enigma of Archbishop Bugnini,” Michael Davies, AD 2000, June 1989.
(6) A paraphrase of famed exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth's evaluation. Another priest seems to indicate that the new rite changes the imperative or commanding form of exorcism to a mere petition.
(12) “The Nuns of Vatican II,” Christopher Ferrara, Fatima Perspectives, 306.
(13) Mentioned by Bishop Fellay in part 2 of his 2010 Angelus Press conference
(14) “Padre Pio: on Spirituality, Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missae,” Fr. Jean, OFM Cap.
(15) Leo XIII ignited the neo-Scholastic Thomist movement in Aeterni Patris. St. Pius X singled out Thomism as a prime remedy for Modernism and praised Thomism in Doctoris Angelici. Benedict XV made Thomism a mandatory part of seminary formation in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. And Pius XI stated in Studiorem Ducem that Thomism is the philosophy of the Church.
(16) Vatican I, Session III, c. 4 (my italics): “Hence, also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our holy Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretence or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them....”
(17) Martin Mosebach makes a similar argument in his book The Heresy of Formlessness with respect to the change in the manner of receiving Holy Communion: from kneeling and on the tongue, to standing and on the hand.
(18) “Glorify God by your life: evangelization and the renewal of the liturgy,” Hillenbrand Lecture, Mundelein Seminary, 24/6/10.
(19) Quoted in “The Roman Rite: Old and New,” Dom Pietro Leone, Rorate Caeli, Dec. 2011.
(20) Letter from Paul VI to Archbishop Lefebvre, June 29, 1975, quoted in Michael Davies' Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre, vol. 1, chapter 7.