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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 16 Aug 2001

liturgy QUESTION from steven sesto April 22, 2000 Dear Sir,
I have just returned back to the Catholic Church and have some questions regarding Vatican II and how things have changed. I have had some contact with the traditionalists which have proved more confusing than helpful, besides I don't believe in sedevacantism. My question is, is the Novus Ordo Mass a valid one or is our faith in jeopardy? Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated.
In Christ Jesus,
Steven Sesto
ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on April 22, 2000 Dear Steve,
Welcome back. I ran into those types too when I started to practice my faith again so I can understand your confusion. Those who claim the Mass of Pope Paul VI is invalid or illicit also claim to be more Catholic than the Pope. They make all kinds of accusations against him.
It's important to remember that liturgy in the language of the people (the vernacular) is as ancient as the Church itself. All of the Eastern Rites celebrate Mass in the language of the people. Latin was the language of the common person for many years.
The Pope has the authority to regulate how we worship. The so-called traditionalists love to quote the Council of Trent in an attempt to justify their schismatic position so I think a quote from Trent is in order;

The Council of Trent Twenty-first Session CHAPTER II.
The power of the Church as regards the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
It furthermore declares, that this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, (l) it may ordain,- or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places. Another favorite of the so-called traditionalists is Pope Pius XII. They forget to mention though that Pius XII wrote much about Church authority over the Mass. In his 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei he says;
As circumstances and the needs of Christians warrant, public worship is organized, developed and enriched by new rites, ceremonies and regulations, always with the single end in view, that we may use these external signs to keep us alert, learn from them what distance we have come along the road, and by them be heartened to go on further with more eager step; for the effect will be more precious the warmer the affection which precedes it. [#22] From time immemorial the ecclesiastical hierarchy has exercised this right in matters liturgical. It has organized and regulated divine worship, enriching it constantly with new splendor and beauty, to the glory of God and the spiritual profit of Christians. What is more, it has not been slow—keeping the substance of the Mass and sacraments carefully intact—to modify what it deemed not altogether fitting, and to add what appeared more likely to increase the honor paid to Jesus Christ and the august Trinity, and to instruct and stimulate the Christian people to greater advantage. [#49]
In his General Audience of November 19, 1969, Pope Paul VI declared that:
We wish to draw your attention to an event about to occur in the Latin Catholic Church: the introduction of the liturgy of the new rite of the Mass. . . . The Mass will be celebrated in a rather different manner from that which we have been accustomed to celebrate it in the last four centuries, from the reign of St. Pius V, after the Council of Trent, down to the present. How could such a change be made? Answer: It is due to the will expressed by the Ecumenical Council held not long ago. The Council decreed: The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can more easily be accomplished. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, while due care is taken to preserve their substance. Elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded. Where opportunity allows or necessity demands, other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the earlier norm of the holy Fathers. (Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #50). The reform which is about to be brought into being is therefore a response to an authoritative mandate from the Church... It is not an arbitrary act. It is not a transitory or optional experiment. It is not some dilettante's improvisation. IT IS A LAW... (Emphasis added).
I hope this helps.
John Miskell
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