The Problem of the New Mass
Rama P. Coomaraswamy (Vexilla Regis Cath. Bookstore, 8 Pond Place, Oyster
Bay Cave, N.Y. 11771)
1. The author presumes to decide by private judgment what is or is not a
substantial change in the form of a sacrament.That is the way Protestants
act. It is for the Church and the Church only to decide that. The Church
has decided that the New Mass is valid. To attack this shows both
disobedience and lack of faith. In what the author would call "the good old
days" his booklet would have been automatically forbidden reading under
Canon 1399. Today under a milder law it is still, by general moral
principles, sinful to propagate this book, for it can be an occasion of sin
for those not capable of answering it.
2. It is also guilty of rash judgment. The injunction of Christ: "Judge
not" refers not to saying that what is objectively wrong is objectively
wrong - it applies to presuming to pronounce on the motives, the interior
of the one doing it. That is precisely what this booklet does: it assumes
that more than one Pope let a committee deliberately make the Mass invalid.
We distinguish between the Popes - Paul VI, and John Paul II--and some of
the staff. It is just possible that some of staff - not the Popes - have
had bad intentions. The author has documented the fact that quite a few
specific wordings match those adopted by Protestants in their own worship
with a heretical intention. He also cites some Vatican official (named, but
I have not the booklet on hand now) who told a petitioner for the
Tridentine Mass that the new Mass was a a whole new Ecclesiology. That
would lead him to think there was heretical intent. In spite of all that,
our text is valid,for in itself it can express sound doctrine. The evil
wish of some does not change the intention of the Pope and Church. And if
even an ignorant priest one with deficient seminary training,who does not
understand the Mass as a sacrifice, but only as a meal) intends to do what
the Church does, that is sufficient for validity.
More likely there was simply a move in ecumenism, to try to make the
Protestants more amenable to our Church. This in itself is laudable, but
can cause confusion.
In this connection we need to carefully distinguish three things -
doctrine, legislation, good judgment or managing.
As to doctrine: I should believe it because of the promises of Christ. And
incidentally, He promised the gates of hell would not prevail against His
Church.This booklet claims they have prevailed, by destroying the heart of
the Church,the Mass.This is gross lack of faith. We are reminded of the
words of the Epistle of James (2:10) saying that if someone violates one
commandment, he is guilty of all. - The reason is this: He has denied the
authority of the lawgiver, and so violates all. Now we might see something
a bit parallel here. If a man believes all but one of the teachings of the
Church,we ask: Why is it that he believes those he does believe? It seems
it is not faith - for faith would lead him to accept all, not all but one.
Therefore, we wonder if such a person has any faith at all. What seems to
be faith is apt to be just old time stubbornness.
As to legislation and commands: We must obey unless the command is immoral.
The Pope of course has not ordered anything immoral even though this author
thinks two Popes have ordered or permitted the destruction of the Mass -
which would be grossly immoral. Of course it did not happen!). But some
U.S. Bishops have done wrong, in ordering religion textbooks for their
schools which either do not convey the faith or even contradict it.
Good judgment or management: Here we look back on the first two items and
ask: Is this done with good judgment? There is no promise of Christ, no
claim by the Church to protection in it. Past Church history shows many
defects in this. So if someone says now that there is a lack of judgment in
allowing the potentially ambiguous features of the Mass texts that are
mentioned, he is not breaking with the Church. But we must be careful to
say no more than that it is a slip in judgment: we must not say the Mass is
no longer a Mass. Then the promise of Christ to be with you all days even
to the consummation of the world would have failed.
3. The author says that the claim that there is an Aramaic word behind
"all" instead of many is just due to Protestant prejudice by J.Jeremias.
This is a lack of scholarship. Jeremias is a fine scholar. But leaving him
aside,we should know that there is a Hebrew word, "rabbim," which means the
all who are many. If I would be in a room with three persons, I could say
all, but could not say many. We first meet this usage not in J. Jeremias
but in the prophecy of Isaiah 53. In verse 6: "The Lord laid upon Him the
iniquity of us all." But then,referring to the same ones,in verses 11 and
12 we find "rabbim:" "My righteous servant will justify "rabbim"...he bore
the sins of "rabbim." Further if one uses a Greek concordance to the New
Testament, he finds that absolutely every time St.Paul uses Greek "polloi"
as a substantive, he means all, even though "polloi" normally in Greek
means many. For example in Romans 5:19: "Just as by the disobedience of the
one,the "polloi" were made sinners, so by the obedience of the one man, the
"polloi" will be constituted just." St. Paul clearly means original sin -
he does not mean only some contract original sin. He means all. The author
says we changed to all to mean all are actually saved. Nonsense. It merely
means Christ died for all. Aramaic "saggi'in" at least at times has the
same sense as Hebrew "rabbim." The Aramaic Targum on Isaiah 53:11 does use
"saggi'in." Cf. E. C. Maloney, "Semitic Interference in Marcan Syntax," pp.
141-42 (Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation 51, 1981).
As to the statements of a few rather recent Saints (It is not as he claims,
that the Church has always said this). They were simply showing how the
only text they could think of was fitting. They had no notion of the
language problem involved.
4. In the Confiteor, the author seems not to have read the new text of the
Mass. On p.12: "we start out with a truncated confession 'to our brothers
and sisters.' Post-Conciliar Catholics no longer beseech the Blessed
Virgin, the angels and the saints for their prayers." This is simply a lie.
The present text reads thus: "I confess to Almighty God [not just to
brothers and sisters] and to you my brothers and sisters,that I have sinned
through my own fault,in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.
And I ask Blessed Mary ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my
brothers and sisters,to pray for me to the Lord our God." Incidentally in
the old Mass we did pray to our brothers and sisters "et vobis fratres."
We turn to other canons and only by mighty straining can the author make
them look like no sacrifice:
In Canon 2: "Let your Spirit come [so it is the work of the
Spirit,not of the congregation as author charges] upon these
gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us,the body
and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ." So the Real Presence is
clearly here....Then after the Consecration: "In memory of his
death and resurrection [compare Canon 1: we celebrate the memory
of Christ your Son...his passion,his resurrection from the dead
and his ascension into glory] we offer you,Father,this
life-giving bread,this saving cup [Canon 1: "the bread of life
and the cup of eternal salvation."]
In Canon 3: We ask you to make them holy by the power of your
Spirit [again it is the Spirit that does it,not the
congregation] that they may become the body and blood of your
Son,our Lord Jesus Christ [Real Presence], at whose command we
celebrate this Eucharist [so we mean to do what He commanded]."
After the consecration: Father calling to mind the death your
Son endured for our salvation [again, much like Canon 1]...we
offer you this holy and living sacrifice...see the Victim whose
death has reconciled us to yourself [this is the means of
redemption,and so is sacrifice]. "...Lord may this sacrifice
[the one just mentioned] which has made our peace with you,
advance the peace and salvation of all the world."
Canon 4: "Father,may this Holy Spirit sanctify these offerings.
Let them become the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord
[Real Presence again]"....After Consecration: Father we now
celebrate this memorial of our redemption, we recall Christ's
death, his descent among the dead, his resurrection,and his
ascension...we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable
sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world. Lord look
upon the sacrifice which you have given to your
Church...Remember those for whom we offer this sacrifice...."
No word at all thus far in any canon about a sacred meal. Many times
offering and sacrifice, and what is offered is the body and blood of
Christ, changed into that by the Holy Spirit, not by the congregation.
5. The quotes given saying the Church cannot change anything refer only to
substantial change--which is to be judged by the Church, not by protestant
private judgment. Further, the Church has actually made over the centuries
many nonsubstantial changes in forms of sacraments, especially
confirmation, penance, anointing.