What is wrong with
the Novus Ordo Missae?
A. Preliminary remarks
A criticism of the New Rite cannot be a criticism of the Mass in itself, for this is the very sacrifice of Our Lord bequeathed to His Church,
but it is an examination, whether it is a fit rite for embodying and enacting this august Sacrifice.
A typical New Mass
It is difficult for those who have known nothing other than the
Novus Ordo Missae to understand of what they have been
deprived, and attending a “Latin Mass” often just seems alien. To see clearly what it is all about, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the defined truths of
our Faith on the Mass (principles 11-18 are some of them). Only in the light of these can the “new rite” of Mass be evaluated.
B. What is the
Novus Ordo Missae?
Let us answer this by looking at its four causes, as the philosophers would say:
that make up the New Rite? Some are Catholic:
Now, the Novus Ordo Missae assumes these heterodox elements alongside the Catholic ones to form a
liturgy for a modernist religion which would marry the Church and the world, Catholicism and Protestantism, light and darkness. Indeed, the
Novus Ordo Missae
presents itself as:
a meal (vs.
11). This is shown by its use of a table around which the people of God gather to offer bread and wine
to communicate from rather common-place utensils, often under both kinds (vs.
15), and usually in the hand
too the almost complete deletion of references to sacrifice).
narrative of a past event (vs.
12). This told out loud by the one presiding (vs.
14), who recounts Our Lord’s words as read
in Scripture (rather than pronouncing a sacramental formula) and who makes no pause until he has shown the Host to the people.
a community gathering,
13). Christ is perhaps considered to be morally present but ignored in his Sacramental Presence
Notice also the
numerous rubrical changes:
celebrant facing the people from where the tabernacle was formerly kept.
just after the consecration, all acclaim He
“will come again.”
sacred vessels are no longer gilt.
Particles are ignored
the priest no longer joins
thumb and forefinger after the consecration.
the vessels are not purified
as they used to be.
Communion is most frequently given in the hand.
on the part of the priest and kneeling on the part of the faithful are
the people take over much of what the priest formerly did.
Moreover, the Novus Ordo Missae
defined itself this way:
The Lord’s Supper, or Mass, is a sacred
synaxis, or assembly of the people of God gathered together under the presidency of the priest to celebrate the memorial of the
Lord. (Pope Paul VI, Institutio Generalis,
§7, 1969 version)
What is the aim
of the Novus Ordo Missae as a rite?
...the intention of Pope
Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the
Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the
Protestant liturgy... there was with Pope Paul VI an ecumenical intention to
remove, or at least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic,
in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic
Mass closer to the Calvinist mass...*
Guitton on December 19, 1993 in Apropos (17), p. 8ff [also in
Christian Order, October
1994]. Jean Guitton was an intimate friend of Pope Paul VI. Paul
VI had 116 of his books and had made marginal study notes in 17 of these:
When I began work on this trilogy I was concerned at the extent to which the Catholic liturgy was being Protestantized.
The more detailed my study of the Revolution, the more evident it has become that it has by-passed Protestantism and its final goal is
humanism. (Pope Paul's New Mass, pp.
137 and 149)
This latter is a fair evaluation when one considers the changes implemented, the results achieved, and the tendency of modern theology, even
papal theology (cf.
5. WHO made up the Novus Ordo Missae?
It is the invention of a liturgical commission, the
Consilium, whose guiding light was Fr. Annibale Bugnini (made an archbishop in 1972 for his
services), and which also included six Protestant experts. Fr. Bugnini (principal author of Vatican II’s
Concilium) had his own ideas on popular involvement in the liturgy (La
Riforma Liturgia, A. Bugnini, Centro Liturgico Vincenziano, 1983), while the Protestant advisors had their own heretical ideas on the essence of the Mass.
Archbishop Bugnini, one
of the architects of the New Mass
But the one on whose authority the Novus Ordo Missae was enforced was Pope Paul VI, who “promulgated” it by his
Missale Romanum (April 3, 1969).
6. Or did Pope Paul VI REALLY DO SO?
In the original
Missale Romanum, signed by Pope Paul VI, no mention was made either of anyone’s being obliged to use the
Ordo Missae or when such an obligation might begin.
Translators of the constitution
mistranslated cogere et efficere (i.e., to sum up and draw a
conclusion) as to give force of law.
The version in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis
(which records all official texts of the papacy) has an added paragraph “enjoining” the
new missal, but it is in the wrong tense, the past, and reads
praescripsimus (i.e., which we have ordered) thereby referring to a past obligation, and nothing, moreover, in
Missale Romanum prescribes,
but at most permits the use of the “New Rite" (The
Angelus, March 1997, p. 35).
Can it be true that Pope Paul VI wanted this
missal but that it was not properly
imposed (it is known moreover, that Pope Paul VI signed the Institutio
Generalis without reading it and without ensuring that it had been
previously confirmed by the Holy Office).
C. Judgment on the Novus Ordo Missae
Novus Ordo Missae in itself and in its official Latin form (printed in 1969)*, Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci
wrote to Pope Paul VI:
Brief Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae,
September 25, 1969)
...the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXIII of the Council of Trent.
*A Novus Ordo Missae celebrated
according to the 1969 typical edition would look very similar
to the traditional Roman Rite, with the celebrant saying most (if not all) the
prayers in Latin, facing the tabernacle and wearing the traditional Mass
vestments, with a male altar server, and Gregorian chant, etc. None
of the current abuses, e.g., Communion in the hand, Eucharistic Ministers, liturgical dancing, guitar-masses, etc.,
have part with this official form. Hence, the aforementioned
cardinals' (as well as the SSPX's) critique of the Novus Ordo Missae
is not of its abuses or misapplication, but rather of its essential and
And Archbishop Lefebvre definitely agreed
with them when he wrote:
Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, ...is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the
faith (An Open Letter to Confused Catholics,
p. 29 [appendix
The dissimulation of Catholic elements and the pandering to Protestants which are evident in the
Novus Ordo Missae render it a danger to our
faith, and, as such, evil, given that it lacks the good which the sacred rite of Mass ought to have.
2. By their
fruits you shall know them:
We were promised the Novus Ordo Missae would renew Catholic fervor, inspire the young, draw back the lapsed and attract non-Catholics.
Who today can pretend that these things are its fruits? Together with the
Novus Ordo Missae did there not instead come a dramatic decline in Mass
attendance and vocations, an “identity crisis” among priests, a slowing in the rate of conversions, and an acceleration of apostasies? So, from the point of view of its fruits, the Novus Ordo Missae is
not a rite conducive to the flourishing of the Church’s mission.
3. Does it follow from the apparent promulgation by the
popes that the
Novus Ordo Missae is truly
Catholic? No, for the indefectibility of the Church does not prevent the
pope personally from promoting defective and modernist rites in the Latin rite of the Church. Moreover, the
Novus Ordo Missae:
properly promulgated (and therefore does not have force of law; cf., [vi]
Roman Mass (aka, the Tridentine or traditional Latin Mass) was not
abolished or superseded in the constitution Missale Romanum, hence
in virtue of the of
Quo Primum (which de jure [by law] is still the liturgical
law and therefore the official Mass of the Roman Rite), it can always be said
lastly, the constitution Missale Romanum does not engage the Church's
us remember that a pope engages his infallibility not only when teaching on
faith or morals (or legislating on what is necessarily connected with them)
but when so doing with full pontifical authority and definitively (cf.
Vatican I [Dz 1839]. But as regards the Novus Ordo Missae,
Pope Paul VI has stated (November 19, 1969) that:
rite and its related rubric are not in themselves a dogmatic definition. They are capable of various theological qualifications, depending on the
liturgical context to which they relate. They are gestures and terms
relating to a lived and living religious action which involves the ineffable
mystery of God's presence; it is an action that is not always carried out in
the exact same form, an action that only theological analysis can examine
and express in doctrinal formulas that are logically satisfying.
NB: It should be also be understood that the papal bull, Quo Primum is
neither an infallible document, but rather only a disciplinary document
regarding the liturgical law that governs the Tridentine Rite (cf.
Catholic FAQ for details).
D. This being so,
can it be said that the Novus Ordo Missae is invalid?
This does not necessarily follow from the above
defects, as serious as they might be, for only three things are required for
validity (presupposing a validly ordained priest), proper:
However, the celebrant must intend to do what the Church does. The
Novus Ordo Missae will no longer in and of itself guarantee that the celebrant has this intention. That will depend on his personal faith (generally unknown to those assisting, but more and more doubtful as the crisis in
the Church is prolonged).
Therefore, these Masses can be of doubtful
validity, and more so with time.
The words of consecration, especially of the wine, have been tampered with. Has the
“substance of the sacrament” (cf., Pope Pius XII quoted in
5) been respected?
This is even more of a problem in Masses in the vernacular, where pro multis
(for many) has been deliberately mistranslated as "for all".
While we should assume that despite this change the consecration is still
valid, nevertheless this does add to the doubt.
E. Considering what has been said, are we obliged in conscience to
attend the Novus Ordo Missae?
If the Novus Ordo Missae is not truly Catholic, then it cannot oblige for one’s Sunday obligation. Many Catholics who do assist at it are unaware
of its all pervasive degree of serious innovation and are exempt from guilt. However, any Catholic who is aware of its harm, does not have the right to
participate. He could only then assist at it by a mere physical presence without positively taking part in it, and then and for major family reasons
(weddings, funerals, etc).
More on this topic
A Brief Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae
Commonly referred to as the
Ottaviani Intervention, this excellent and well-known study on
the Novus Ordo Missae was chaired by Archbishop Lefebvre
and Spirituality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Summarizes what the battle
over the Mass is about: the purity of the Catholic doctrine
The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: the book sent to
This book contains "The Mass of Vatican II and of Paul VI; A
Theological and Liturgical Study by the SSPX" and Bishop
Fellay's address when he presented a copy to Pope John Paul II
What Archbishop Lefebvre said about the New Mass... in the
...I am convinced that one cannot take part in the New Mass, and
even just to be present one must have a serious reason. We
cannot collaborate in spreading a rite which, even if it is not
heretical, leads to heresy. This is the rule I am giving my
What Bishop Fellay really said to Cardinal Canizares about the
As very often in such circumstances, a phrase has been
interpreted badly: I was describing to Cardinal Canizares (and
this was some five or six years ago) that the abuses in the
liturgy have caused a major reaction amongst us...
Is the New Mass Legit?
"...this document [Universae Ecclesiae] affords us
the chance to go over the reasons why Archbishop Lefebvre always
contested the legitimacy of the liturgical revolution of 1969.
We will show this in three ways, of increasing importance: the
legal aspect, the historical context, and the dogmatic
"...at least it is a recognition that, in the minds of the
faithful, there is a real problem with the Novus Ordo.
This is what we have said all along! The problem of the new
liturgy is a doctrinal rupture"...
The Indult Mass: Should One Attend it All?
Despite the motu proprio, this article continues to have
pertinent points, particularly about fulfilling one's Sunday
Obligation vis-à-vis the existing conciliarist environment
Archbishop Lefebvre was right!
Some comments on the legitimate resistance of traditional
Catholics to the ecclesiastical abuse of power
September 2000 District Superior's Letter
The new rubrics for the Novus Ordo
Superior General's Letter #56, April 1999
30 years of the Novus Ordo Missae
Superior General's Letter #54, March 1998
The corruption of the Mass
Bishop de Castro Mayer's
Letter to Pope Paul VI regarding the promulgation of the New Mass
Written on September 12, 1969, this
letter pre-dates the famous Brief Critical Study of the New Order of
Mass, and briefly highlights some of the doctrinal problems with the
Motu proprio articles
about the motu proprios,
Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007) and Ecclesiae Unitatem (July
2, 2009) both promulgated Pope Benedict XVI
and their ongoing consequences