by Fr Richard Heilman | September 30, 2015 8:27 PM
I don’t know what to make of this article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker: “Is the Latin Mass the Magic Bullet?” I am usually in full agreement with Fr. Longenecker, but we diverge here. Father does a wonderful job describing the present situation (he is very gifted that way), but then gives his opinion that the Latin Mass (including a reverent Novus Ordo) is the symptom rather than the problem. I disagree.
I changed the title of my article here to reflect “more” of what the point Fr. Longenecker was making, since he included “reverent Novus Ordo Masses” as part of his argument … and so, this is where we diverge.
Here is why I disagree. If we believe the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be the Source and Summit of our faith, there are supernatural consequences to that certitude of truth. It means the Mass is far more than merely a weekend gathering with the folks where we enjoy each other’s company, sing some songs and learn some stuff from the bible. It means we are, quite literally, receiving from THE Source, and it is the very pinnacle (summit) of what we do. As Source and Summit we then believe it is the “primary” source, and “everything” flows from it. Either this is true or it is not … but we do teach that this is, in fact, true.
If it’s just a fellowship meal then, yes, reverence or irreverence doesn’t really matter … it really has no supernatural impact on the folks. It’s just one among many things Catholic folks do … NO BIG DEAL.
But that gets to the core of what I see is the problem. Sure, Fr. Longenecker rightly points out that the “real” problem is a pervasive modernism that has grown over 500 years. True. But – HOLY COW! – it may have been rumbling for 500 years, but the volcano erupted after Vatican II, when modernists made the most aggressive changes to the Mass in all of our 2,000 year history. We also include the iconoclast movement rapped up in this modernism that gutted out our heavenly churches and turned them into conference centers or warehouses. All in a handful of years following Vatican II. And, therefore, Catholics themselves radically changed in just a few short years after the council … if the Mass is no big deal, then our faith is no big deal. That got into the bones of our people overnight!
Let me be clear, I am in that school of thought that believes the documents of Vatican II, rightly interpreted, are beautiful. But, at the same time, I am also of the school of thought that believes modernists planted time bombs of ambiguity in the documents, enough to give them carte blanche in the immediate years following the council to abuse the documents in order to usher in their modernist agenda in the most radical way.
For Fr. Longenecker to assert that modernism slowly crept up on us over 500 years, does not match the actual experience of Catholics who endured the complete transformation of our Church, literally, overnight.
Reverent Masses are not the magic bullet, Fr. Longenecker contends. I could not disagree more. I have watched and heard from countless people who tell their stories of having had a complete conversion, once exposed to a heavenly, sacred and reverent Mass. Virtually all of them speak of being agnostic, at best, until they were exposed to the “true beauty and reverence” of the Mass as it should be offered. In that moment, they talk about a light going on inside them, and they knew (and I will paraphrase here) that they had been making their faith “no big deal,” but now they have truly recognized God in these Masses (for the first time), and now they knew this was a “very big deal.”
Since I am fortunate to be in a place that offers the Novus Ordo ad orientem with great reverence, along with chant, Latin, well-trained altar boys, etc. …. I am not ready to say the “Latin Mass” (excluding reverent Novus Ordos) is the magic bullet. But, I absolutely believe that when we make the Source and Summit of our faith a VERY BIG DEAL, people then understand that they need to start making their whole Catholic faith life a VERY BIG DEAL.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.
Yes!!! I Do Believe Reverent Masses Are the Magic Bullet!!!
It matters that, overnight, we went from this …
To this …
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