Most Holy Father,
After a close
examination of the Novus Ordo Missae, which will enter into use on
November 30 next, and after having prayed and reflected a great deal, I consider
that it is my duty, as a Catholic priest and bishop, to lay before Your Holiness
my anguish of conscience, and to formulate, with the piety and confidence that a
son owes to the Vicar of Christ, the following request.
Ordo Missae shows, by its omissions, and by the changes that it has brought
to the Ordinary of the Mass, as well as by a good number of the general rules
that describe the understanding and nature of the new missal in its essential
points, that it does not express, as it ought to do the theology of the Holy
Sacrifice as established by the Holy Council of Trent in its XXII session. The
teaching of the simple catechism cannot overcome this fact. I attach below the
reasons that, in my opinion, justify this conclusion.
reasons that could, perhaps, be invoked, initially, in favor of the new structure of the Mass, cannot make us forget the doctrinal arguments that point
in the opposite direction. Furthermore, they do not seem to be reasonable. The
changes that prepared the Novus Ordo have not helped to bring about an
increase in the Faith and the piety of the faithful. To the contrary, they
remain very disturbed, with a confusion that the Novus Ordo has
increased, for it has encouraged the idea that nothing is unchangeable in the
Holy Church, not even the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Moreover, as I
indicate in the attached reasons, the Novus Ordo not only fails to
inspire fervor, but to the contrary, diminishes the Faith in central truths of
the Catholic life, such as the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy
Sacrament, the reality of the propitiatory Sacrifice, the hierarchical
accomplish an imperious duty in conscience by demanding, humbly and
respectfully, that Your Holiness might deign, by a positive act that eliminates
every doubt, to authorize us to continue using the Ordo Missae of St.
Pius V, whose effectiveness in bringing about the spread of Holy Church and an
increase in the fervor of priests and faithful has been proven, as Your Holiness
reminded us with so much unction.
I am convinced that Your
Holinessís fatherly kindness will bring to an end the perplexities that have
risen in my heart of a priest and bishop.
Prostrate at Your Holinessí feet,
in humble obedience and filial piety, I implore your Apostolic Benediction.
Antonio de Castro Mayer
Bishop of Campos, Brazil
Comments on the Novus Ordo Missae
Ordo Missae consists in general norms for the text of the Ordinary of the
Mass. Both the text and the norms propose a new Mass that does not consider
sufficiently the definitions of the Council of Trent concerning this matter, and
constitutes, for this reason, a grave danger for the integrity and purity of the
Catholic Faith. We have only examined here a few points, that, we believe,
establish that which I have affirmed.
of the Mass
In its no. 7
the new Ordo gives the follow as a definition of the Mass: "Cena
dominica seu Missa est sacra synaxis seu congregatio populi Dei in unum
convenientis, sacerdote praeside, ad memoriale Domini celebrandum. Quare de
sanctae ecclesiae locali congregatione eminenter valet promissio Christi: ĎUbi
sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorumí" (Mt.
In this definition:
insistence on the Mass understood as a meal. Moreover, this way of seeing
the Mass can be found frequently, all along the general norms (cf. v.g.
nos. 8, 48, 55d, 56 etc.). It seems even that the intention of the new Ordo
Missae is to inculcate this aspect of the Mass, to the detriment of the
other, which is essential, namely that the Mass is a sacrifice.
in the quasi-definition of the Mass given in article 7, the character of the
sacrifice of the Mass is not signified.
it attenuates the sacramental character of the priest, that distinguishes
him from the faithful.
nothing is said of the intrinsic value of the Mass, independently of the
presence of the assembly. Much to the contrary, it is supposed that there is
no Mass without the "congregatio populi", for it is the "congregatio"
that defines the Mass.
the text allows a confusion to exist between the Real Presence and the
spiritual presence, for it applies to the Mass the text from St. Matthew
which only concerns the spiritual presence.
between the Real Presence and the spiritual presence, already seen in article 7,
is confirmed in article 8, which divides the Mass into a "table of the
word" and a "table of the Lordís body". But it also
hides the aspect of sacrifice in the Mass, which is the principal of all, since
the aspect of a meal is only a consequence, as can be deduced from Canon 31 of
the XXII session of the Council of Trent.
We observe that
the two texts from Vatican II, quoted in the notes, do not justify the concept
of the Mass proposed in the text. We also note that the few expressions, that
are more or less passing references, in which are found expressions such as
this, at the altar: "sacrificium crucis sub signis sacramentalibus
praesens efficitur" (no. 259) are not sufficient to undo the ambiguous
concept, already inculcated in the definition of the Mass (no. 7), and in many
other passages in the general norms.
Purpose of the Mass
The Mass is
a sacrifice of praise to the Most Holy Trinity. Such a purpose does not appear
explicitly in the new Ordo. To the contrary, that which, in
the Mass of St. Pius V, shows clearly this sacrificial end is suppressed in
the new Ordo. Examples include the prayers "Suscipe,
Sancta Trinitas" from the Offertory and the final prayer "Placeat,
tibi, Sancta Trinitas". Likewise the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity
has ceased to be the Preface for Sunday, the Lordís Day.
As well as being
the "sacrificium laudis Sanctissimae Trinitatis", the Mass
is a propitiatory sacrifice. The Council of Trent insists greatly on this
aspect, against the errors of the Protestants (Chapter 1 & Canon 3). Such a
purpose does not appear explicitly in the new Ordo. Here and
there can be found a reminder of one or other expression that could be
understand as implying this concept. But it never appears without the shadow of
a doubt. Also, it is absent when the norms declare the purpose of the Mass (no.
54). In fact, it is insufficient to express the theology of the Mass established
by the Council of Trent to simply affirm that it brings about
"sanctification". It is not clear that this concept necessarily
implies that of propitiation. Moreover the propitiatory intention, so clearly
visible in the Mass of St. Pius V, disappears in the New Mass. In fact the
Offertory prayers Suscipe Sancte Pater and Offerimus tibi and that
for the blessing of the water Deus qui humanae substantiaeÖ reformasti
have been replaced by other that make no reference to propitiation at all. It is
rather the sense of a spiritual banquet that they impress.
Essence of the Sacrifice
of the Sacrifice of the Mass lies in repeating what Jesus did at the Last
Supper, and this not as a simple recitation, but accompanied by the gestures.
Thus, as the moral theologians have said, it is not enough to simply say again
historically what Jesus did. The words of consecration must be pronounced with
the intention of repeating what Jesus accomplished, for when the priest
celebrates, he represents Jesus Christ, and acts "in persona
Christi". In the new Ordo there is no such
precise statement, although it is essential. To the contrary, in the passage
that speaks of the narrative part, nothing is said of the properly sacrificial
part. Thus, when it explains the Eucharistic Prayer, it speaks of the "narratio
institutionis" (no. 54 d.) in such a way that the expressions: "Ecclesia
memoriam ipsius Christi agit" and another at the end of the
consecration: "Hoc facite in meam commemorationem" have the
meaning indicated by the explanation given in the preceding general norms (no.
54 d.). We remark that the final phrase of the (traditional) consecration "Haec
quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis" were much more
expressive of the reality that in the Mass, it is the action of Jesus Christ
which is repeated.
placing other expressions in the midst of the essential words of consecration,
namely "Accipite et manducate omnes" and "Accipite
et bibite ex eo omnes", introduce the narrative part into the same
sacrificial act. Whereas, in the Tridentine Mass the text and movements guide
the priest naturally to accomplish the propitiatory sacrificial action and
almost impose this intention on the priest who celebrates. In this way the "lex
supplicandi" is perfectly in conformity with the "lex
credendi". We cannot say this for the Novus Ordo Missae.
However, the Novus Ordo Missae ought to make it easier for the celebrant to
have the intention necessary to accomplish validly and worthily the act of the
Holy Sacrifice, especially given the importance of this action, not mentioning
the instability of modern times, nor even the psychological conditions of the
IV. The Real
sacrifice of the Mass is bound to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most
Holy Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Real Presence is a consequence of the
sacrifice. By transsubstantiation the change of the substance of the bread and
wine into the Body and Blood of the Savior is accomplished, and thus the
sacrifice takes place. As a consequence the perpetual Victim is present on the
altar. The Blessed Sacrament is nothing other than the Victim of the Sacrifice,
who remains once the sacrificial act has been accomplished. As a consequence of
the new definition of the Mass (no. 7) the new Ordo allows
ambiguity to exist concerning the Real Presence, which is more or less confused
with the simply spiritual presence, indicated by the phrase "where two or
three are gathered in my name".
suppression of nearly all the genuflexions, traditional expression of adoration
in the Latin church, the thanksgiving seated, the possibility of celebrating
without an altar stone, on a simple table, the equating of the Eucharistic Banquet with a spiritual meal, all lead to the obscuring of the Faith in the
The equating of
the Eucharistic Banquet to a spiritual meal leaves open the idea that Jesusí
presence in the Blessed Sacrament is bound to its use, as his presence in the
word of God. From this it is not difficult to conclude with the Lutheran error,
especially in a society that is little prepared to think on a higher plane. The
same conclusion is favored by the function of the altar: it is only a table, on
which there is not normally place for the tabernacle, in which the Victim of the
sacrifice is customarily kept. The same can be said for the custom for the
faithful to communicate with the same host as the celebrant. By itself, this
gives the idea that once the sacrifice is completed, there is no longer any
place for reserving the Blessed Sacrament. Thus none of the changes in the new
Ordo Missae lead to greater fervor in the Faith towards the Real Presence,
but they rather diminish it.
of Trent defined that Jesus instituted his apostles priests, in order that they,
and the other priests, their successors, might offer His Body and Blood (Session
xxii, Canon 2). In this manner, the accomplishment of the Sacrifice of the Mass
is an act that requires priestly consecration. On the other hand, the same
Council of Trent condemned the Protestant thesis, according to which all
Christians would be priests of the New Testament. Hence it is that, according to
the Faith, the hierarchical priest is alone capable of accomplishing the
sacrifice of the New Law. This truth is diluted in the new Ordo Missae.
In this missal,
the Mass belongs more to the people than to the priest. It belongs also the
priest, but as a part of the assembly. He no longer appears as the mediator "ex
hominibus assumptus in iis quae sunt ad Deum" inferior to Jesus
Christ and superior to the faithful, as St. Robert Bellarmine says. He is not
the judge who absolves. He is simply the brother who presides.
We could make
other observations to confirm what we have said above. However, we feel that the
points that we have raised suffice to show that the new Ordo Missae
is not faithful to the theology of the Mass, as established definitively by the
Council of Trent, and that consequently it constitutes a serious danger for the
purity of the Faith.
+ Antonio, Bishop of Campos