Sunday, December 18, 2011


The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI cannot be measured merely by his nearly seven year papacy, it must be measured by his entire priesthood culminating in being first named the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith where he came to be known as "God's Rottweiler" for disciplining errant theologians like Fathers Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeeckx and many others who promoted theologies of Christ, the Church and salvation that were falsifications and fabrications that all had a deleterious effect on the revised Catholic Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger's naming these theologies and theologians for what they were and are has earned him their scorn as well as the scorn of the progressive wing of the Church that sought to deconstruct and re-imagine the Church, in other words to do away with the true Church with which Vatican II was actually in continuity.
Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) himself, in his preface to Mgr. Gamber’s ‘Reform of the Roman Liturgy’, called the new rite a ‘fabrication', and in the next sentence a ‘falsification.’

I have read where Cardinal Ratzinger said this, but I have also read a speech he gave to traditionalists in the late 1990's that if the Post Vatican II Sung Mass were celebrated in Latin, strictly following its rubrics and ad orientem, that most laity would not be able to detect the difference between the older and newer forms of the Holy Mass.

I think what Cardinal Ratzinger was decrying was not so much the post-Vatican II Mass, but theology about it that was a fabrication or falsification. The following is what I would deduce Cardinal Ratzinger meant, but I am open to correction and I have no footnotes to qualify what I am writing as being attributed to the then cardinal.

1. The emphasis of the Mass as a meal rather than the "re-presentation of Calvary in an un-bloody way": what this does is to impact not only the style of the celebration of the OF Mass, but its architecture and orientation of the people and non-rubric manipulation of the Eucharistic Prayer. The altar is stripped, made to look like someone's dining room table; the altar is thrust into the nave of the church so people can be seated around it and enjoy seeing each other and the priest at the consecration gestures with the bread and chalice of wine toward the people as though they are at the Last Supper just like the apostles--a literal enactment not of Calvary but of Holy Thursday's "fellowship meal." That is a fabrication and falsification of the Mass! But with that said, once the "re-presentation of Calvary in an un-bloody way occurs during the Canon" the Rite of Holy Communion is a "meal" in the sense of Christ bringing us into union with Himself through our worthy reception of Holy Communion, bringing us all the merits that He has won for us in becoming the Sacrificial Victim. In other words it is not a "fellowship meal" like Christmas dinner at home or worse yet a "McDonald's Happy Meal."

2. Low Church and Low Christology as it concerns Catholic doctrine and dogma about the Church and about Christ. Some theology of the Church and of Christ in the 1960's and 70's made Jesus just a good buddy and de-emphasized His divinity. The Church too was turned into a merely human institution devoid of divinity. This of course is a fabrication and falsification of the Mass, but certainly not intended by Pope Paul VI who approved the revised Mass. The way this fabrication and falsification manifests itself is through the demand that the communicant like the priest (because of the false and fabricated theology that there is no difference between the two) stand where kneeling was once prescribed, such as during the Canon of the Mass and at the reception of Holy Communion and that the communicant take the consecrated Host in his hand rather than on the tongue.

3. False theology of ecumenism is another falsification as well as fabrication that had a deleterious effect on the Mass. Intercommunion, the stripping of the traditional accoutrements of the Catholic Churches, the shunting of the tabernacle outside of the sight line of the nave all appeared as a dethronement of Jesus Christ and a lowering of His divine status (low Christology). Catholic Churches began to look more like Protestant Churches to emphasize the hope that all would be one one day. But true unity does not come about by selling out our Catholic identity or fabricating and falsifying a new one.

Just some thoughts.

My last comment pertains to the revised Mass. If celebrated according to the mind of the Church, meaning following the General Instruction and all the rubrics and using good liturgical music, there is no falsification or fabrication. We merely need to recover some things, like the traditional orientation of the Catholic sanctuary and kneeling for Holy Communion. Those two things alone would solve many problems associated with fabrication and falsification. The Mass itself is not that, a false and fabricated theology imposed upon it is.


Gene said...

Seems to me what he wrote is pretty clear. It does not need de-constructing. I also agree with what Fr. wrote and believe that he is right on the money.
One thing I have learned since leaving the Reformed church, and that is that Christology must exist within the larger context of the Church and the Magisterium or it becomes a disembodied intellectual/theological exercise. The Lutheran/Calvinist tradition has a profound, carefully developed Christology which is, in many ways, compatible with Catholic Christology, but it is lost in secular humanism and utter theological nonsense. Catholic Christology is embodied in the Eucharist and the Mass, which are necessary and powerful protections from...well...idiots (that is a theological term).

Anonymous said...

I will yield to anyone else's understanding of theology, but if the initial quote was from a forward Cardinal Ratzinger wrote for the book, I would take it at full face value. Again, if what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of the mass was correctly attributed, then your conclusion that his concern was with the ocean of sloppy theology that has washed in, then you are right on course.

My concern is that we arced well past ecumenism and into sycretism. I think the Rotty is on to it.


Pater Ignotus said...

You misunderstand the terms "High" and "Low" Christology.

The term Christology from above (high) refers to approaches that begin with the Divinity and pre-existence of Christ as the Logos (the Word), as expressed in the first sections of the Gospel of John. These approaches interpret the works of Christ in terms of his Divinity. Christology from above was emphasized in the ancient Church, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century.

The term Christology from below (low), on the other hand, refers to approaches that begin with the human aspects and the ministry of Jesus (including the miracles, parables, etc.) and move towards his Divinity and the mystery of Incarnation.

"Low" and "High" Christology are starting points. Both are equally legitimate and necessary approaches to understanding Jesus Christ. Both have been part of the Church's theological tradition from the beginning.

The Synoptic Gospels, for example, are generally considered to fit within the framework of "low" Christology while the Gospel of John is regarded as "high."

The overemphasis of either low or high Christology can lead to poorly nuanced theology, erroneous exegesis, and distorted liturgical praxis.

Joseph Johnson said...

As I've written before, I think by "fabrication" the Pope may have meant the process by which the Novus Ordo was created (as well as what you have written about the wrong emphasis and low Christology). I have used the term "rewrite" of the Rite of Mass to describe the Novus Ordo (which, I agree, can be celebrated in an orthodox way which emphasizes the Sacrificial nature) because it was much more than a mere reform of the previously existing Roman Rite.

This is true even though it incorporated certain parts more or less "word for word" from the old Rite (such as the Gloria, Pater Noster, or the Roman Canon as Eucharistic Prayer I). Still, it was more than a "reform," it was a reconsideration and reordering (a new form altogether) rather than merely reforming the existing Missal (as in the '65 Missal).

Nonetheless, I still agree with everything else you have written, including how the new Rite can be reformed to restore the proper emphases.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that high and low Christology must be in tension with one another, that it isn't either/or but both/and. But with that said, what we have experienced since Vatican II in terms of an over-emphasis on low Christology has been more deleterious to the faith than any high Christology ever had on Catholic praxis. Even at the hieght of a high Christological emphasis in the Church there was never a denial of Christ's humanity (except in ancient hersies) but in recent times and with some modern theologians, Kung primary, they have come very close to the denial of His divinity and the divine nature of the Church with only a nod to His humanity.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My last sentence should have read, "nod to his divinity."

Gene said...

I agree with Fr. Christology has pretty much become anthropology in the Prot churches and liberal Catholic theologians are doing the same thing.
Funny thing, Ignotus. These so-called Christologies that "begin with the human aspects and the ministry of Jesus..and move towards his divinity..." never seem to get there.
BTW, this attempt to identify the Gospels with one or the other types of Christology is nonsense. I listened to that stuff all through seminary and grad school ('70's). Christ's (or Jesus, as the lib theologians are careful to call him)actions and words are pretty meaningless considered apart from his Divinity. Matthew and Luke both begin with the birth of Christ (i.e. his Divinity), and in Mark, interestingly enough, it is the demons who recognize Him as the Son of God before anyone else! That seems like pretty high Christology to me. The demons, Satan, recognize Him for who He is long before the Jews, the disciples, liberal theologians, apostate priests, and secular humanist unbelievers. Christ have mercy...

Henry said...

That next sentence from Card. Ratzinger's preface reads (in full)

"We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries and replaced it--as in a manufacturing process--with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product."

While "banal" seems pretty accurately descriptive of what many or most Catholics regularly see at Sunday Mass, I think this reflects more a certain generation of poorly formed priests than the new Mass itself.

Too many ordinary parishioners are unaware that the Novus Ordo can be celebrated well, with dignity and reverence. But in regard to Card. Ratzinger's later quote, I recall a recent Novus Ordo funeral Mass, celebrated in Latin, in black Roman vestments, ad orientem at high altar, communion at altar rail, which I suspect some friends and family present indeed thought was a tradition Latin Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, in my previous assignment before the EF was allowed as now, I had a monthly Sunday Gregorian chanted OF Latin Mass--all in Latin except the readings. And many people told me afterward that they loved the old Mass!

William Meyer said...

To the degree that there might be any misunderstanding of Cardinal Ratzinger's preface to that book, I think that reading his Spirit of the Liturgy leaves no room for such confusion. His use of the word banal is repeated, and his meaning, and his opinion of the post-Vatican II changes to the liturgy seem abundantly clear.

Joseph Johnson said...

"We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries and replaced it--as in a manufacturing process--with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product."

Again, I certainly don't wish to devalue all of the good discussion here about the surrounding theology. Still, it seems pretty evident from this quote (which is not new to me) that Ratzinger is referring to the replacement of the historically evolved Roman Rite (now called the EF but also found in the form of the 1965 Missal, which allowed the vernacular option) with a newly created product (or "form", now called the OF).

Two valid forms of the Roman Rite, both based on Sacred Tradition but one being an actual product of a long and continuous historical development ("organic growth") as opposed to the other, which was deliberately produced by Fr. Bugnini and the Consilium in the latter half of the 1960's.

I recall reading somewhere that Paul VI intervened to save the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) and incorporate it into the New Order of Mass. It is sad to think that, had Bugnini had his way, the historic Roman Canon could have gone the way of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel.