Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No Mystery Here...

On Saturday I had a conversation with a few fellow Catholics regarding the legitimacy of the Ordinary Form of the Mass. This is less of a hot topic than it used to be I guess since nearly all traditionalists agree the OF is valid but just less desirable than the Traditional Latin Mass. (that is another topic) There are numerous reasons sede vacantists will throw at the OF to claim its invalidity. These people are not sedes just an FYI. Here is the gist of the conversation:

Him: “Knowing what I know now, I’m not so sure the new Mass is even a valid Mass. Its questionable at least.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Him: “Well the Council of Trent says ‘The Mystery of Faith’ (mysterium fidei) has to be in the words of consecration and they have been removed from the new Mass and relegated to after the fact with a choice of several responses after it.”

Me: “I hadn’t heard that it was required, but no, the new Mass is absolutely valid.”

…(back and forth)…

I said I’d look into it. I always do that and I mean it. If you give me a theological point to think about, I do. It is dishonest not to, and disrespectful I think. These people deserve my respect.

So! I came home and did research. First stop, the Council of Trent. I recently purchased a used copy put out by TAN so I looked everywhere I could think of. Trent does not specifically make reference (as far as I could find) to the actual words of consecration used. The CATECHISM of the Council of Trent however does, and has a lengthy exposition on the subject. It is very interesting. It also has a section on how not all of the words are specifically required for validity. Also interesting. The Catechism is not infallible however, only the council decrees. (some people will even say its just the anathemas, but I digress)

And so, that was strike one against the “not valid” theory. Second pitch came as a pop-fly to end the inning. Here it is:

We know the Catholic Church has always held as valid the Eastern Rites of the Orthodox. So I pulled my copy of the Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy and found the following formula:

Take! Eat! This is My Body which is broken for you, for the remission of sins. Amen.

And likewise, after supper, He took the cup, saying:

Drink of it, all of you! This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins! Amen.

No “Mystery of Faith” yet we have a valid Eucharist. Its really a very simple answer. So…that theory is shot down. It seems to me someone (probably groups of someones) out there is crawling around in the theological sewers to put ideas into people’s heads. Naturally, traditionalists are not going to like the New Mass. But if we are going to help the Church become more holy and we believe the Traditional forms of worship are the key then we have to be honest about stuff and not try to create situations that don’t exist. This guy wasn’t being disingenuous at all, he was very sincere. But nevertheless the Church CANNOT err on the validity of the Mass.

I see pictures of Neocatechumenal and Charismatic Masses and they make my stomach churn. But guess what – they are valid Masses. Oh well, enough of this diatribe.

For reference:

Decress of the Council of Trent
Do a search for "mystery of faith". You will not find it.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton