Response to a Traditionalist on the Mass:

Nothing of Substance?

From "Letters To The Editor" of "Lay Witness"


Dear Editor,

In his review of "The Great Facade" (Woods and Ferrara, Remnant Press, 2002) in the January/February '03 issue of "Lay Witness", James Likoudis quotes Denis Crouan:

"Contrary to what is claimed by groups and movements that belong to the traditionalist sphere of influence, there is no substantial difference between the Roman liturgy before Vatican II and the Roman liturgy after Vatican II."

Anyone has only to put a traditional missal side by side with a missal for the Pauline Mass to see that many elements have been omitted, renamed, moved, or reworded in the new liturgy. Other parts have been fabricated and added that were unknown prior to the Mass of 1970, such as the Prayers of the Faithful and the proclamation of the Mystery of Faith. The liturgical calendar now refers to the weeks beyond Epiphany and Pentecost as Ordinary Time, certain feast days have been moved - such as Christ the King - while the readings of Scripture come from a newly devised two- and three-year cycle instead of the yearly cycle of the traditional Mass. Even the prayers of Eucharistic Prayer I, labeled "Roman Canon," are not the same as those of the Canon of the Mass in the traditional Roman Rite, and the words of consecration have had phrases added-to and subtracted-from the traditional formulation.

I wonder just what Mr. Likoudis and Mr. Crouan would consider a "substantial difference."

– Barbara G. Brown
Lafayette, GA

The following is the rebuttal by Mr. Likoudis:

Dear Editor,

It seems that Mrs. Brown may have been unduly influenced by the many "traditionalist" publications that have sought to discredit the reformed Mass that was ordered into existence by an Ecumenical Council of the Church. We read in Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that the Mass was to be revised to manifest the nature and purpose of its parts and to achieve a more devout and active participation by the faithful. Therefore, it required that the rites be simplified, with care being taken for the preservation of their substance.

There is, in fact, as Denis Crouan noted, "no substantial difference in the Roman Liturgy before Vatican II and the Roman Liturgy after Vatican II." The basic structure of the Mass remains the same, as can be seen by actually comparing the texts of the so-called "Tridentine" Mass and the Pauline Mass side by side. The basic structure of the Roman Mass has remained unchanged: Introit, Penitential rite, Kyrie, Gloria, Epistle, Gradual and Tract (Responsorial Psalm), Gospel, Homily, Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Offertory, Sanctus, Benedictus, Canon or Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) with words of Consecration, the Our Father, Agnus Dei, the Breaking of the Bread and Holy Communion, the Concluding Rite and Dismissal.

It is true, as Barbara Brown notes, that some elements of the Ordo [of Mass] of the 1963 Roman Missal have been "omitted, renamed, moved, or reworded" in the 1970 Roman Missal. However, this was done by Holy Mother Church in order to (1) once again incorporate some ancient practices which had unfortunately been set aside over the centuries, (2) eliminate unnecessary repetitions of prayers, (3) do away with certain incoherences, and (4) foster greater understanding of the mystery taking place, as well as more active spiritual participation by the people themselves. This latter point was to be enhanced by the introduction of the vernacular - though by no means did the Council intend the elimination of all Latin. Indeed, the ecumenical Council ordered: "Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 54). One wonders in how many American parishes this is being done.

The words of Pope Paul VI uttered in 1969 should be recalled by every Catholic who has suffered from liturgical abuses:

"Keep this clearly in mind. Nothing has been changed of the substance of our traditional Mass. Perhaps some may allow themselves to be carried away by the impression made by some particular ceremony or additional rubric, and thus think that they conceal some alteration or diminution of truths which were acquired by the Catholic faith forever, and are sanctioned by it. They might come to believe that the equation between the law of prayer 'lex orandi' and the law of faith 'lex credendi' is compromised as a result. It is not so, absolutely not... The Mass of the new rite is and remains the same Mass we have always had. If anything, its sameness has been brought out more clearly in some respects. The unity of the Lord's Supper, of the Sacrifice on the Cross and the representation and the renewal of both in the Mass, is inviolably affirmed and celebrated in the new Rite just as they were in the old... So do not let us talk about 'the new Mass'. Let us rather speak of the 'new epoch' in the Church's life"   (L'Osservatore Romano, 11/27/1969).

There are also the wise words of Cardinal Ratzinger, who has taken the lead in discussing a needed liturgical "reform of the reform":

"Supporting the legitimacy of the Pauline Rite as promulgated is not akin to endorsing the abuses of the liturgy during the last 30 years."
– James Likoudis
Montour Falls, NY

For more information on liturgical issues call CUF's toll-free hotline at (1-800) MY-FAITH.


Reprinted from "LAY WITNESS" (CUF), issue of March/April, 2003
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