A Long Lent Commenced on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969

On November 30, 1969, the first Sunday of Advent, the Novus Ordo Missae took effect, and what is now known as the “Extraordinary Rite” was effectively abolished. The floodgates of mediocrity and stupidity flew open…
Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the mediocrity and stupidity were merely unmasked.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, the wife of the 20th-century theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, traces the historical roots of the crisis of the last 40 years:

I relate in my biography of my husband, The Soul of a Lion, that a few years after his conversion to Catholicism in the 1920s, he began teaching at the University of Munich. Munich was a Catholic city. Most Catholics at the time went to Mass, but he always said that it was there that he became aware of the loss of a sense of the supernatural among Catholics. One incident especially offered him sufficient proof, and it greatly saddened him.

When passing through a door, my husband would always give precedence to those of his students who were priests. One day, one of his colleagues (a Catholic) expressed his astonishment and disapproval: “Why do you let your students step ahead of you?” “Because they are priests,” replied my husband. “But they do not have a Ph.D.” My husband was grieved. To value a Ph.D. is a natural response; to feel awe for the sublimity of the priesthood is a supernatural response. The professor’s attitude proved that his sense for the supernatural had been eroded. That was long before Vatican II. But until the Council, the beauty and the sacredness of the Tridentine liturgy masked this phenomenon.

…[My husband] believed that after Pius X’s condemnation of the heresy of Modernism, its proponents merely went underground. He would say that they then took a much more subtle and practical approach. They spread doubt simply by raising questions about the great supernatural interventions throughout salvation history, such as the Virgin Birth and Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, as well as the Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. They knew that once faith – the foundation – totters, the liturgy and the moral teachings of the Church would follow suit. My husband entitled one of his books
The Devastated Vineyard. After Vatican II, a tornado seemed to have hit the Church.

Modernism itself was the fruit of the calamity of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt, and it took a long historical process to unfold. If you were to ask a typical Catholic in the Middle Ages to name a hero or heroine, he would answer with the name of a saint. The Renaissance began to change that. Instead of a saint, people would think of geniuses as persons to emulate, and with the oncoming of the industrial age, they would answer with the name of a great scientist. Today, they would answer with a sports figure or cinema personality. In other words, the loss of the sense of the supernatural has brought an inversion of the hierarchy of values.

Even the pagan Plato was open to a sense of the supernatural. He spoke of the weakness, frailty and cowardice often evidenced in human nature. He was asked by a critic to explain why he had such a low opinion of humanity. He replied that he was not denigrating man, only comparing him to God.

With the loss of a sense of the supernatural, there is a loss of the sense of a need for sacrifice today. The closer one comes to God, the greater should be one’s sense of sinfulness. The further one gets from God, as today, the more we hear the philosophy of the new age: “I’m OK, You’re OK.” This loss of the inclination to sacrifice has led to the obscuring of the Church’s redemptive mission. Where the Cross is downplayed, our need for redemption is given hardly a thought.

The aversion to sacrifice and redemption has assisted the secularisation of the Church from within. We have been hearing for many years from priests and bishops about the need for the Church to adapt herself to the world. Great popes like St. Pius X said just the opposite: the world must adapt itself to the Church.”

The interview concludes with the following summation:

“The devil hates the ancient Mass. He hates it because it is the most perfect reformulation of all the teachings of the Church. It was my husband who gave me this insight about the Mass. The problem that ushered in the present crisis was not the traditional Mass. The problem was that priests who offered it had already lost the sense of the supernatural and the transcendent. They rushed through the prayers, they mumbled and didn’t enunciate them. That is a sign that they had brought to the Mass their growing secularism. The ancient Mass does not abide irreverence, and that was why so many priests were just as happy to see it go.”

And so the ancient Mass went — but only temporarily. It is worth noting that, for all the anguish that the sudden shelving of the old rites caused, these rites have at least come down to us intact: if the Ordo Missae of 1962 was out of the reach of the faithful, it was also out of the reach of modernist tinkerers who have had a field day with the new Ordo.
Viewed in this light, the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae and its constellation of latent follies was not the source of the crisis of the last four decades, but — thanks to the divine Providence that works all things to our good — its remedy. Because God is ultimately in charge, and not Archbishop Bugnini or any other infiltrators in the Church, the Novus Ordo was always bound to be an instrument of good, for all the damage that has been wreaked on its account. It has destroyed our illusions about our spiritual health. It has torn the veneer of holiness off the rot and the maggots and put them in our collective face.

A bitter cure, to be sure, but that is often the nature of a cure. A boil, after all, has to be lanced and drained. The process is painful and disgusting, but necessary.

And there is healing at the end of it.

[Source: Adoremus in Aeternum, a Catholic Tradition]

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8 Responses to A Long Lent Commenced on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969

  1. Crow says:

    What a wonderful take on the devastation wrought by the novus ordo – and so true! The follies and untruths of modernism would never have been shown as the superficial, spiritually unsatisfying things they are, without their full, ghastly expression by the little fascist music ministers of the NO parishes and the lack of focus on the whole of Catholic doctrine by the VII generation of priests. While it is unfortunate that many Catholics have been lost, there are so many young, reverent and confident Catholics who are coming to our Latin Mass that it speaks to me if a genuine regeneration – dare I say it, a resurrection?

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    Crow mentions the “little fascist music ministers of the NO parishes”. Indeed, I’ve seen some pretty egregious and grievous assaults on the sanctity of the Mass at our parish – perpetrated quite innocently and without a political agenda (they don’t want to set the world on fire, but believe they have special musical *gifts* to share) by geetar players and by women who think Joan Baez was a Catholic folk artiste. Whatever their *talents* may be, I wish they’d follow the example of the “wicked and lazy” servant who buried his talent in the ground (Matthew 25: 14-30). Thank goodness the circa 1968 Greenwich Village people only perform at one of our four Sunday masses.

    And now at our principal Mass, featuring our excellent choir and organist, we seem to be slowly transitioning to the 3rd edition of our nationally approved Book of Worship. Haven’t seen it in the pews yet – the words are displayed on a screen in the sanctuary which serves to hide the statues of Joseph and Jesus when pulled down into the viewing position – and although it is not an especially bad hymnal, I note that the forward to it was written by a ex-bishop before he was convicted on child pornography charges. He served his time and seems contrite, which is why I don’t identify him, but you’d think people would consider that before buying new hymnals with his name plastered all over them. Perhaps they’ll razor out the page 1 forward as I’ve done in mine.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Concerning the 3rd edition Book of Worship that I refer to: CP&S and I may not have any influence over the hymnal choices of bishops, but perhaps we may. I remember criticizing that 3rd edition here on CP&S a couple of years ago for the reason mentioned above, at a time when it was the hymnal used in our archdiocese cathedral (now a cathedral basilica after a decade long renovation which has made the interior stupendous – the exterior remains unimaginative albeit now very sturdy) and I said that I intended to write to the cathedral office to point out that embarrassment. I never did because I don’t like poison pen letters and am too shy to take strong positions outside my line of work – BUT LO! – that 3rd edition of the Book of Worship was removed from the pews early this year and replaced by what looks to be a very traditionalist and bespoke hymnal With Angels and Archangels. It is not beyond the realm of reason to think that our orthodox Cardinal Archbishop reads this website and decided to look into the problem I refer to. I shall ask him about this the next time we breakfast at the same time in our favourite morning restaurant around the corner from said cathedral basilica. Different tables, obviously, but we have talked before.

  4. Crow says:

    John Henry, the music ministry at our local church is replete with microphone (after all, the Mass is about THEM, isn’t it)!? I finally left when the woman in charge of the music started playing the spoons! I dragged my daughter off, she was young at the time, and took her to the Latin Mass. I had been reluctant to take her before that, as I thought that she would not understand it. What I did not appreciate is that faith and grace are bigger than words.
    She will now have nothing to do with the Novus Ordo Masses and is scathing when her school has its Masses.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “…and (she) is scathing when her school has its Masses.”
    Well done!

  6. kathleen says:

    Crow @ 00:32

    The story of your daughter is something I’ve often witnessed among young people. Once they discover the profound holiness and transcendent beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, the N.O.M. pales in comparison. I’m not surprised your daughter is “scathing” about those happy-clappy school shows N.O. Masses. Don’t we remember the same from our own childhood? 😔
    I think we (all of us) make a big mistake in believing that youngsters would not appreciate the TLM, starting with the unfamiliar Latin language; it’s simply not so. Although sometimes it might take a little time to fully comprehend at first, right from the start they are aware of something great and other-worldly taking place on the altar. We should give our youngsters more credit 😉.

    A little anecdote… (Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before; sorry if I’m repeating myself.)
    When my Anglican mother was 15 years old her parents sent her to a convent school in Brussels for a year to perfect her French. (This was pre-V2 of course.) She always said that even without understanding much of what was going on, the sublime TLM she had to attend with her classmates left her in awe and wonder. Fr Faber’s words that the TLM is “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven” certainly resounded strongly with her. She learnt the meaning of the Latin liturgical prayers and then began to devour as much literature as she could about the English, so-called, Reformation, becoming totally convinced that the Catholic Church was the One True Church. At 18 years of age she was received into the Catholic Church and always said, right up to her death in 2012, that it was the best thing she ever did!
    Vatican II’s destruction* of the TLM broke her heart, and my father (a cradle Catholic) too.

    * we’re told the TLM was never “abrogated”, but it was nowhere to be found in the V2 aftermath! We were left with a New Mass that was so weak in comparison, even when celebrated with devotion, that it is small wonder people began to fall away in droves. They were left feeling un-nourished.

  7. toadspittle says:

    I also have fond memories of TLM in my childhood. Like asking the priest who taught us religion, “Why does it have to be in Latin, Father?”
    “So that where\ever you are in the world, you can attend a Mass, secure in the knowledge that you won’t understand a word of it, ” he replied. I think he might have been kidding.
    However, I tend to favour Masses in the vernacular, myself – just as long as they are in a foreign language.

  8. toadspittle says:

    (Sending someone to Brussels, “to perfect their French,” is like sending someone to Glasgow to perfect their English.)

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