Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Scott P. Richert wrote the following: Three sentences from Pope Benedict XVI's letter to his fellow bishops "concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre" deserve to be examined on their own. In a mere 79 words, the Holy Father laid to rest the myths that are held dear by those who think that the Church remade Herself in Vatican II:

The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society [of St. Pius X]. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

In other words, those who see Vatican II as a break from the past--both traditionalists and (for lack of a better word) modernists--are mistaken. The Church's tradition never comes to an end, which means that all of Her actions, including Vatican II, need to be interpreted in light of Her tradition. If Vatican II seems to us to be "something new under the sun," then the problem lies with us.

Once the Church and SSPX have dealt with issues at the doctrinal level (as Pope Benedict says they now must), then the SSPX, in finally accepting "the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes," will be submitting itself to the living tradition of the Church. Yet they cannot be the only ones to do so. That same submission, the Holy Father has made clear, is required of those--including bishop, priests, and theologians--who sometimes act as if they believe that the tradition of the Church began with Vatican II.

Father Robert Fox was born in 1927 and ordained a priest in 1955. He died in 2009. He was a prolific writer and well known as a columnist for the National Catholic Register and other Catholic papers.

In 2000 he wrote his take on Vatican II which you can read in full by pressing HERE.

Below is the summary of what he wrote. Father Fox lived as a priest prior to the Council, observed it as it happened and saw what transpired afterward. I would recommend that anyone who has an antipathy toward the Second Vatican Council see it through his eyes and accept it as he does.


How does one summarize an ecumenical council, such as Vatican II, that has been and is transforming Christian society and has brought more changes to the Church in a few years than during the preceding 400 to 500 years? Without harm to faith or morals, some of the changes of Vatican II would have been realized centuries earlier if it had not been for the Protestant Revolt (and its own reformation) in the sixteenth century.

At the time of the Protestant Revolt there were movements for the use of the vernacular (language of the people) in the liturgy. The "revolters" immediately put their services in the language of the people, and so Latin became identified with Christians who remained loyal to the pope in the unity of the ancient Catholic Church. Doubtlessly, the nonauthorized innovations, changes, and discard of doctrines which accompanied the religious upheaval of the sixteenth century necessitated that the Catholic Church, for the protection of her members and to save them from confusion, maintain its long-held position on such questions as use of the vernacular. Thus Latin became almost a fifty (though nonessential) mark of the true Church after the Protestant Revolt.

What does one say about those Catholics who, after Vatican II and during the implementation of the council documents, became confused about of disobedient to Church authority, striking out even against the Holy Father, the pope? Ultimately, only God judges souls. One can sympathize with the faithful who were led astray by some members of the clergy and religious, who themselves rebelled against or misrepresented the truth. And still we must remember that, for each and all, God's grace is always sufficient in every temptation, and once the gift of the fullness of the true faith has been bestowed by God upon a soul, our good, heavenly Father will not withdraw it, unless the person himself (or herself) rejects it.

After Vatican II, life in the Catholic Church became more challenging and more thrilling — more full of joy for those who engaged in the authentic renewal under and together with the magisterium. Confusion reigned only when educators, clergy, religious, and laity did not work in harmony with the Holy Father in interpreting and implementing the authentic renewal to which each Catholic is called.

Most who read and use this book of Church history are Catholic teenagers, tomorrow's adults and tomorrow's Church. But the Church of tomorrow will be the same as the Church of yesterday, of the last century, and of the first century. A newly conceived human life in its mother's womb, is a continuum, sill the same life when it is born as it is one hour, one day, or fifty or eighty years later. So the Catholic Church, Christ's Mystical Body of today and the future, will always b the same Church Jesus Christ founded twenty centuries ago.

The cells of the human body change with the passage of years; still, it is the same human body. Individual members of the laity, religious, priests, bishops, and our Holy Father the pope change with the passage of years. Still, it is the same Church, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." As sacred scripture says: "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, the same forever."

Our Catholic youth of today must become so strong in the faith — not beset by confusion or misunderstandings, but looking beyond the human failings of individual members of the Church and striving for personal perfection in Christ Jesus — that the reality and the sanctity of the Church, its true face, will truly be known and loved by all the world.

The Catholic Church is a divine organism. It is of Christ, the God-Man himself. It is human, and also divine. With the eyes of faith, each member must see beyond its human quality and witness the inner divine reality which is Christ's Mystical Body.

We have just studied its 2,000-year history, and as we look to the future we can know that, as in the past, Satan and the forces of evil will always be there, attempting to destroy the Church through its human quality. As Christ Jesus was tempted in the desert, the forces of evil, the spirit of wickedness, will never cease tempting the members of Christ. As at the head of the Mystical Body did not and could not fall, for he is divine, so, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the human quality will be strengthened and will prevail.

The history of the Catholic Church will always be full of pages of great and lesser saints who testify to that mark of the Church we call holiness. It will always retain its oneness, its catholicity (universality), and always remain apostolic; the only Church built upon the apostles and promised that "the gates of hell shall never prevail against it."


Hammer of Fascists said...

I don't think any of the more "conservative" (for lack of a better term) commentators here would dispute BXVI's statements that "Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church" and "Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries." In fact, the "conservatives" here tend to emphasize those very things, and in large measure SSPX does too.

The problem is that--with no intention of speaking disrespectfully of the Holy Father (whether BXVI, JPII, or Paul VI)--talk is cheap.

In the disciplinary area, popes since 1968 have largely refused to deal strongly with grave dissent within the Church--not just among laity or priesthood but among the episcopacy. After a while--in this case 40-plus years--one starts to get the feeling that qui tacet consentire videtur.

Liturgically, the NO removed some things that had been present for hundreds of years, perhaps more than a millennium, and added things that are innovative and very Protestant or modernist, at least to my ear. The Offeratory no longer speaks of a sacrifice but of bread that relavistically becomes, "for us" the bread of life (does this mean that it doesn't transubstantiate for non-Catholics who are present?) and wine that becomes a "spiritual drink." What is a spiritual drink? Is it something different from a material drink, or the "real drink" that Jesus told us his Blood is?

In short, actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the papacy and of many, many bishops have been that of tolerance towards rupture. Steps back towards continuity, while they have been taken on occasion, have generally been hesitantly taken baby steps.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't think any of the popes we've had since Pope John XXIII have been corrupt as were some in earlier periods of the Church. They still have authority, though, in the areas of faith and morals even if their leadership stinks to high heaven.
The revised offertory prayers aren't infallibly revised, but the reason for the revision is to make clear that the actual offering of the "Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity" of Christ crucified occurs not during the offertory prayers, as these are not consecrated gifts, but during the Eucharistic Prayer and following the consecration.
What you do not indicate in your post is what the priest normally says in low voice (in fact, all of these "preparatory prayers" are to be said quietly, although aloud is permissible, except for the last prayer prior to incensing or washing of the hands:
Priest, bowing profoundly, says quietly: "With humble spirit and contrite heart, may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our SACRIFICE in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God." There you have it, but all these prayers are the prelude to the offertory which occurs during the canon of the Mass, not at the so-called "Offertory." The EF's form of the Offertory is almost like a consecration and thus its reform was to eliminate that likeness.
The Catholic Church is a huge institution to navigate with all the various legitimate theologies and spiritualistic there are. We cannot go back to 1962, 1972 or 2002 but we are going forward and we are in the era of the "reform of the reform but within continuity." Who knows what the Church will be like in another 50 years, but I doubt that it will be as polarized as she is today. I'm clairvoyant you know.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life."

What is this "bread of life"? It is the Body and Blood of Jesus; it cannot be anything other. There is no uncertainty or ambiguity here.

"Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink."


Followed today by, "Attend mercifully to the prayers we offer you, O Lord, by the intercession of St. Dominic, and through the great power of this sacrifice, strengthen by the protection of your grace those who champion the faith. Through Christ our Lord."

Again, the words are crystal clear regarding the nature of what we are doing - offering a sacrifice.

Ambrose Little said...

Not to mention that it depends on which Eucharistic Prayer you use, as to how much it emphasizes sacrifice. EPI sounds a whole lot like a translation of the EF to my ears (to borrow that turn of phrase).

Also, we the people say "may the Lord accept this sacrifice..." Maybe in various places the sacrificial nature of the mass has been downplayed, but it is erroneous to lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of the current order of the mass.

People are far too quick to make large logical jumps in determining causation in these matters. They need more humility and more intellectual rigor.

Pater Ignotus said...

J. Ambrose: Tetigisti acu! The need for "determining causation" via "intellectual rigor" cannot be overstated here.

dominic1955 said...

I think its a rabbit hole that gets people off topic when we start talking about the sacrificial nature of the NO vs. the TLM. I do not think anyone can deny that the NO has the prerequisite sacrificial language in it. The original GIRM from '69 was a travesty, but that wasn't the missal either.

The real problem in liturgy is that people thought they should or needed to "fix" it in the first place! There was no need to "fix" the Roman Rite in the extreme way in which it was undertaken. If they wanted the ferial cycle to be less obscured by the sanctoral cycle. Practical reforms are one thing, but the whole restructuring of the rite, the addition of "eucharistic prayers" to the Roman Canon for which there is no tradition, and the wholly loose rubrics resulted in a substantial loss of what Roman Rite meant. That, and the Borg-like centralizing effect that the NO has had in crushing what was left of local and Order rites after the last centralizing effort that came about after Quo Primum. The NO is to the TLM what the Neo-Gallican Lyonese Missal is to their actual usage. It cannot be denied that the NO is the neo-Roman Rite, it is not the same thing as what came before.

As to Vatican II in general, I also do not think that the majority of "conservatives" deny Vatican II. I've read the whole thing myself, plus lots of commentaries and there is nothing in the actual documents that is heretical or actually doctrinally problematic. There is, however, a definite stylistic change from Vatican I to Vatican II. You can certainly tell some of the undercurrents that influenced the documents in Vatican II and you can certainly see how some afterwards took and ran with those ambiguities and "time bombs" to promote their own idealogies. It does no good for us to deny the real and human side of the Church and that this side can and does effect Magisterial pronouncements. It is historically undeniable that people who were in the crosshairs of the Curia (i.e. Kung, Rahner, Schillebeecx, etc.) ended up exerting a lot of influence on the Council and the formation of the documents themselves. These various forces that were destructive of Catholicism were imbued with Modernism-and as Synthesis of All Heresies, it is very insidious and difficult to root out. Its proponents really thought they were the "traditional" ones, and their heirs of today think the same thing! Standing amid the modernist barns they call churches amongst ever more ailing, ignorant, and apathetic "Faithful". They think their revolution brought the "New Springtime"!

It is not a denial of Vatican II to move beyond, or clarify some of these troubling or unhelpful formulations which have none of the authority of the Canons of Vatican I or Trent anyway but neither are they invalid like Haec Sancta Synodus.

rcg said...

I don't disagree with Fr Fox as much as I feel he is trying establish a conciliation among us. Fair enough. I don't doubt the validity of the prayers in the NO, e.g. PI's entry above. It seems to me that Vat-II was an effort to relax the rigour of the Church so that people know they are offing a valid sacrifice and are heartened by it, even when they are not able to do it in the full EF manner. This allows for some very humble and locally influenced and completely valid Mass settings. This is why I always thought EF should have been applied to what we call NO, and vice versa.

It seems to me that these sorts of circumstances are intended to be exceptions, not the rule, and that Western countries that are capable of the proper execution have become lazy and have, in some cases, attempted to challenge basic teaching or ignore it, to support their lazy approach to the Mass.

Marc said...

The question of the offertory is not the "sacrifice" language. It is an issue of the lack of propitiatory sacrifice language. Even a Prot could agree we are offering a "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving."

Instead of the offertory as it existed in the Mass of Pius V, we now have an offertory that is a Jewish meal blessing that makes no reference to propitiatory sacrifice. The offertory in the Mass of Paul VI is deficient.

Additionally, as pointed out, the very fact that there are options is the problem. One cannot say we have a "canon" anymore since "canon" means rule. Instead, we have "options" with some being better than others. In fact, as Fr. Kavanaugh has pointed out, some days are even better than others!

I submit to our priest bloggers here to show us why it was necessary to "reform" the offertory in the first place. Prove to us that we are wrong in our thinking that it was changed in an effort at being more "ecumenical" by eliminating reference to propitiatory sacrifice.

The explanation that changing the offertory was necessary to avoid "confusion" about the Consecration doesn't make any sense: the people cannot hear the offertory so, who is getting confused? If it is priests getting confused, that is a completely different problem. For my part, having read books on the Mass of Pius V, the language used in the offertory is really quite straightforward.

Moreover, it is in line with the organic development of the Roman Rite throughout history. Indeed, compare the old Missal to the more ancient Divine Liturgies and you see that there has always been such language in offertories.

Finally, if there was confusion about the timing of the Consecration, wouldn't they have sorted out the offertory when that was determined? Did we forget that Trent both defined the moment of Consecration and ordered the culmination of a Missal?

More generally, keep in mind precisely what Vatican I says about the authority of the Pope. Yes, he has immediate "personal jurisdiction" over every Catholic (to use legal terminology). But, he cannot use that authority to order behaviour that is "un-Catholic." His authority is limited to its conforming with the Magisterium that he has received. He is a steward of that Magisterium in a sense.

Carol H. said...

As I understand it, SSPX has no problem with most of V2, just with four points made within the documents that seem to contradict what the Church had beleived previously. I also uderstand that others are firm in their belief that there is no condradiction. This tells me that the problem lies within the documents themselves- they must be too ambiguous on those points.

It seems to me the best solution would be a rewrite of those portions of the V2 documents for the sake of clarification. Take what is already written, compare them with the historical documents that they seem to contradict, and rewrite the V2 documents in such a way that it is clear that no rupture with tradition takes place. It would be V2 Revised Edition and should solve all of the problems that arose from the ambiguity of the original.

My two cents worth.

Unknown said...

Perhaps I'm missing the point, but I just don't see it.

It is clear what Vatican Council II did not do. It isn't so clear what Vatican Council II did do. That is the "tip of the spear," so to say.

While all of Fr. Fox's words are nice and all; they don't really address the question that is being asked by traditionalists and conservative Catholics.

What did Vatican Council II do for the Church? We know what it attempted to do. We know what the reformers AFTER the Council have done, but what exactly did Vatican Council II do for Holy Mother Church?

This is the ultimate question. This is all the traditionalists want to know and it is all that they have been searching for, these many years. While it hasn't been asked that way, that is the question.

We know that the documents speak one way and the actions of the reformers after the Council did something totally different.

While there are some who flat out reject Vatican Council II, I think that it's a little overbearing to say that the posters here are heterodox because some question the Council. We have to, because the reformers after the Council made it so, including Paul VI, JP II and their cardinals.

The statements of the hierarchy haven't exactly been consistent. And even stating that we should look at it as Fr. Fox does and just accept it, well....that's a problem. We shouldn't have to just accept it. That was one of the whole tenants behind aggiornamento, that we were to exercise religious freedom? Where is the freedom in that attitude?

No Father, I don't accept all that Fr. Fox has to say and I can guarantee you that I am not heterodox. (I know you didn't single me out, but you did leave that door open that anyone who disagrees COULD be labelled as such.) I don't disagree with him 100%, but I certainly don't agree with him 100% either. And that's ok. Within Holy Mother Church there can be a diversity of ideas, but that diversity needs to be rooted in tradition, not in something wholly new, contrived, banal and on the spot.

So, I'll bring it all back around and perhaps you can post on this question the traditionalists really want to have answered.

What exactly did Vatican Council II do for Holy Mother Church that hadn't been defined, discussed or addressed before?


Hammer of Fascists said...

Fr. McD: I certainly wasn't suggesting that recent popes are corrupt or that they don't have authority. I do argue that they have not used that authority wisely in the face of a modernist crisis, and I do believe that their actions, taken in toto, are not sufficiently reflective of BXVI's verbal commitment to continuity.

Pater: Protestants use the same term "bread of life" in a metaphorical sense. Thus I would respectfully disagree with your statement that "It cannot be anything other." But my above criticism focused not on "bread of life" but "for us." That, to my ear at least, is subjective language, or certainly could be. On the one hand it could be singling out Catholics as a whole in a "pro multis" kind of way, which I suppose is OK. On the other hand it could be taken in a far more sinister way: that it is existentially the bread of life for some people, but for other people it remains simply bread. (A rough analogy is the difference between ex opere operato and ex opere operantis.) And since these words may be (and often are) spoken aloud, this potential catechetical effect is troubling.

Further, with respect, I notice that neither of you addressed the even more disturbing phrase "spiritual drink."

Please keep in mind that I come from a Protestant liturgical tradition in which 1) a huge amount of the NO language is used, but with different substantive content, and 2) certain key phrases are deliberately omitted. (I.e., these liturgies have two of the same characteristics that concern me in regard to the NO.) The result in these Protestant liturgies is--if you will--a) an invalid "Mass" b) that teaches people error (lex orandi lex credendi.) Thus I can see red flags in the NO, when compared with the EF, that cradle Catholics might not see. Perhaps my background makes me oversensitive to such flags, but I do think that these points are worth considering.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Contrary to what some here may believe, I do not understand the words of the mass from a Protestant perspective. When the liturgical texts read "... it will become for us the bread of life" and "... it will become our spiritual drink" I and other Catholics understand this as the Church intends it. It is unambiguous.

When the text says "for us" it could have a variety of meanings: For us, members of the Church universal; For us, those present at this mass; For us, all humans (since the sacrifice of Christ was offered for the salvation of all).
(The understanding that should be avoised is "For us; and NOT for you...")

Protestants use most, if not all, of the theological/liturgical vocabulary that we use. That we use the same terms, but with different understanding, does not militate against our using the terms in any way.

Mormons use the term "Trinity" but, as we know, have an un-Christians understanding of the Triune God. Do we stop using the term because they use it differently?

Henry Edwards said...

Anonymous 5,

The concerns you express in your final paragraph are certainly valid.

However, on the one hand, even in the Quam Oblationem of the venerable Roman Canon, it says

. . . ut nobis Corpus, et Sanguis, fiat dilectissimi Filii tui
. . . that it may become for us the Body and Blood of Thy most beloved Son, . . .

But, on the other hand, it is clear from various accounts of the development of the Novus Ordo--from the notes of Bugnini and others--that most of the ambiguities as well as the elimination of the propitiatory offertory were motivated precisely to admit interpretations of the Mass that would appeal to Protestants.

For those not there then, in the mid- to late-1960s, there was a boundless optimism that such moves might facilitate a mass return of Protestants to the Church. So, to be fair, we should credit both this sincere and positive ecumenical motivation and the less positive intent of many involved to actually change the beliefs of Catholics.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, I actually think your last post is a good one and you have some excellent points. I think "unambiguous" is a bit strong, but in the context presented in your comment, I understand your point.

I guess it prompts a follow-up question, though: Why was the offertory changed with the advent of the Mass of Paul VI?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It is easy to see the fly in the ointment concerning some of the deleterious practices that developed out of the wrong implementation of the splendid documents of Vatican II. So there is plenty wrong with the wrong-headed, liberalizing, false egalitarianism of spirit of Vatican II ecclesilogy. Music in the reformed Liturgy has been the biggest sore thumb and the iconoclasm that went with what was proposed as renewal. But with that said, this is what has been good about Vatican II.

1. Catholic adults are asked to be Catholic adults and to live their lives as adults, responsible for their faith and their salvation. Gone are the days when only the priests and religious were understood as "church" and everyone else as inferior children who needed a paternalistic approach to them from priests and sisters. What many are doing here in terms of offering ideas and even challenging the authority of the Church is a result of Vatican II, but I would say some have gone to the extreme in that they reject a council which is anathema!

2. People are taking ownership in the local parishes, contributing as adults, and appreciate Catholic Stewardship and the Church's call that they use their talents for building up the Church and local parish, such as in ministries like Daybreak, Fam, St. Vincent de Paul, the RCIA and numerous other ministries and people are empowered to do these things. This would not have happened in pre-Vatican II times except for running bazaars and fund raisers.
3. The RCIA as we have it today provides for a recovery of an early Church practice with all the liturgies and prayers associated with it. This was totally lacking in the pre-Vatican II Church.
4. More pastoral flexibility and understanding the human condition a little bit better, more mercy than punishment.
5. Liturgy that is more accessible and without having to do cartwheels and handstands to understand it. I attribute this to the vernacular and I do feel that for the Mass itself, a total revamp was not necessary, but vernacular was/is and the expanded lectionary. I simply do not buy that a one year cycle was all lay Catholics need. That is a red herring to say the least and no one should lament the loss of the one year cycle, although I wouldn't mind it as a particular year.

John Nolan said...

I'm sorry, but as someone who lived through the 'brave new world' of the 1960s and managed to survive it with my faith intact, I take it as an insult to see as suggested that those who reject Vatican II are heterodox. Heterodoxy implies dissent on a number of doctrinal issues, and while this can justly be levelled against the LCWR, it cannot be, and and moreover has never been imputed in the case of SSPX. The idea that there is some sort of middle ground between orthodoxy and heterodoxy is nonsense on stilts. Even your excellent liturgical experiments are posited on a heresy, namely that the ignorant laity have any right to demand that the liturgy should be celebrated in way that suits their philistine tastes.

Henry Edwards said...

Of course, the problem now is that--whatever the original intent or motivation of some of the language in conciliar and post-conciliar documents--is not whether it can be misinterpreted, nor whether it was intended to be misinterpreted, but that it has been misinterpreted by many Catholic lay and clergy, thereby contributing to the massive loss of faith that has occurred within recent generations.

William Meyer said...

Father, the RCIA, as I experienced it two years in a row, was shockingly far from doctrinal in content. We were told the rosary is not for everyone, and that as to the ordination of women "well.... not yet." The catechists' "favorite theologian" was Fr. Richard Rohr, though they were also fond of citing Sr. Joan Chittister, and Fr. Teilhard de Chardin. The Catechism was not once referenced to us.

In my view, those attending RCIA have a right to be taught strictly according to Church teaching. I do not know how many parishes may be as dissident in teaching as this one, but it is a problem in desperate need of correction. Lack of catechesis has been a problem for decades, and this is no help.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Nothing dogmatic changed as a result of Vatican II but pastoral considerations did and the desire to restore Christian unity. The 1960's was a "can do" era and many thought that we could conquer all, poverty, space, technology, the sky was the limit. The only thing standing in the ways was authority, civil or religious. The Vietnam war is the epitome of authority gone wrong.
But I remember being told that Vatican II opened the door for all kinds of doctrinal changes and dogma changes and I think many intellectuals in the Church operated from that perspective. So, I reiterate, that the implementation of the Vatican II was naively done by the pope and bishops and very quickly they lost control and others took over. That is it in a nutshell.
The pope and bishops probably thought docile laity and clergy would accept everything in the most obedient way and there would be Utopia on earth, the eschaton. Like at Babel, the Lord show the hierarchy and the rest of us.

Henry Edwards said...

Fr. McDonald,

I largely agree that your 5 points refer to laudable objectives to be carried out in such a way as to enhance faith and worship. However, I believe it indisputable that they HAVE NOT been carried out in such a way.

So, once again, I would challenge you to point to a single area of innovation as a direct consequence of the Council, that has in fact resulted in a tangible improvement in the belief, devotion, spirituality, or worship of Catholics as a whole.

Incidentally, I would point out that the more plausible candidates likely would come from areas that were on the table before Vatican II. For instance, in the largely wholesome pre-conciliar liturgical movement, one could point (in addition to the vernacular movement) to revision of Holy Week ceremonies to make them more accessible, and the move towards active participation dating back to Pius X and leading to Pope Pius XII's De musica sacra and sacra liturgia (1958). Indeed, it could be argued that none of the legitimate reforms of Sacrosanctum concilium came from the Council itself, but were previously on the liturgical table, and likely would have been carried in an organic manner if the Council had not even occurred.

Marc said...

Father, as to your list:

1. I agree with this one. The portions of Lumen Gentium concering the laity are generally excellent and should be read by every Catholic layman.

2. This is not necessarily a good thing in that it creates a democratic mentality in the laity that is harmful. It further confuses the role of the priest and the laity.

3. If there were no "vocations crisis," would you really say that having group meetings for converts is better than a potential convert meeting individually with a priest? Surely not!

4. I have met many Traditional priests. None suffer from a lack of being pastoral. They are notoriously more demanding on their congregations in terms of living the faith and, particularly, in the Confessional. I get the sense that "pastoral" is a key-word for "easy-going" - being truly pastoral is conveying truth to save souls. I know you personally do this very effectively, but did the Council really help this situation for many priests, are has it created a laissez-faire, I'm-okay-you're-okay attitude in many?

5. I don't understand this idea that Catholics "need" to hear a large amount of Scripture, particularly the Old Testament. That is not a Catholic idea. Catholics hear the Gospel - and I believe they hear much more of it in a more orderly manner in the one-year lectionary for Sundays. Finally, vernacular in the Mass has not aided understanding in the pews! Does it help people understand there is a propitiatory sacrifice going on here? If people were finally able to grasp that with the advent of the vernacular, why did 75% of them stop going to Mass on Sundays?

Hammer of Fascists said...


I'm in a hurry, so just two quick points here: I'm not so much concerned with whether you understand the words in a Catholic context, but how the laity who hear the words might be confused by them.

The fact that, as you point out, the words in themselves are ambiguous is a problem. If--hypothetically speaking--I were a heretic liturgist in charge of putting together a new liturgy, I wouldn't put in bald-faced errors i couldn't get away with, but instead "weael words" subject to a variety of meanings, some doctrinally correct and some heretical. It makes them more likely to be accepted by the orthodox while opening the door for dissent.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What is not really fair here is that we cannot compared anything to anything. Let us say that there had been no Vatican II, but everything else that has transpired in culture, would we still be where we are, liberals advocating change and a tremendous exodus of Catholics to more liberal expressions of the faith? The Orthodox Churches are not booming by any stretch of the imagination and they have never changed anything.
If people wanted pre-Vatican II tradition but in full communion with the Holy Father, St. Francis in Mableton, GA would be the biggest parish in the archdiocese, but the majority of Catholics are not drawn to them even conservative Catholics.

Marc said...

I agree with you there, Father!

I think that most people simply do not put a great deal of time into thinking about their Faith from Sunday to Sunday. I mean, we are all commenting on this blog, engaging in a good discussion, thinking about the Faith.

Most people out there is the world are not doing that - some because they don't care, some because they are busier than I am today! :-)

I think we could agree, despite our difference of opinion on the content of Vatican II, that it came at possibly the worst possible time considering the cultural climate at the time. So, we could ask, what would have become of the Church if the Council were called at a better time? We could also ask what would have become of the Council if it were called at a better time?

Those are questions we can never answer. Which leaves us asking precisely what Andy suggested in his comment: what exactly did Vatican II do? I know I for one am pretty eager for the Holy Father to tell us the answer to that question.

Unknown said...

Fr. McDonald,

"Nothing dogmatic changed as a result of Vatican II but pastoral considerations did and the desire to restore Christian unity."

And that is the issue. Every single Council prior to Vatican Council II defined dogma. And there was growth from those Councils.

Were those "pastoral considerations" for the good of the Church? Her outward look changed, overnight. Her liturgy changed, overnight. Her priests left in droves. Her religious left in droves. Her faithful became apathetic toward her teachings and have become treating them as a'la carte beliefs. How did that help again?

The 1960s was not a can do era, it was an era to tune in, turn on, and drop out. And that is exactly what happened in the Church. They dropped out

There was nothing naive about what was implemented after Vatican Council II. I argue with every fiber in my body that those who were the reformers after the Council were smart. They accomplished everything that they wanted. The problem was that they didn't account for Archbishop Lefevbre and authentic Catholicism. The nutshell is that Bugnini, Tisserant, Paul VI, et al were absolutely spot on in what they were doing....but they weren't smart enough to obliterate Tradition. And now it is resurfacing.

Bottom line, Father...there was precious little good that came out of Vatican Council II. The best good is that going forward, my generation knows what not to do. If the Council was pastoral and not dogmatic, then that was the most pastoral thing it can teach.

But when it comes to: The Mass, Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, and the Magisterium of Vatican Council II, there are just too many unanswered questions. Dogmatically, doctrinally, and disciplinary.

William Meyer said...

"If people wanted pre-Vatican II tradition but in full communion with the Holy Father, St. Francis in Mableton, GA would be the biggest parish in the archdiocese, but the majority of Catholics are not drawn to them even conservative Catholics."

I may quibble a bit. Although people do not appear to want it, there are two other issues involved:
First, in a diocese of 100 parishes, Mableton is the only ONE where the Latin Mass can be found. And Atlanta driving just isn't that conducive to the trip, if you're not close.
Second, as with so many things, people do not want it because they neither know it, nor have been taught about it. Or worse, have been taught by catechists with a rolling of eyes and the assertion that it's about tossing out Vatican II.

Henry Edwards said...

"f people wanted pre-Vatican II tradition . . ."

Surely, Fr. McDonald, you would not suggest that what's right and proper is determined by what a tragically ill-formed majority of Catholics want?

Plainly, the majority of Catholics today do not actively want the continuity with pre Vatican II tradition that our Holy Father calls for.

But just as plainly, they need it desperately.

William Meyer said...

"Nothing dogmatic changed as a result of Vatican II..."

And yet, there are so many people who contend that Vatican II can contravene what was infallibly declared at Trent and Vatican I. How else the massive changes to the liturgy, in spite of Quo Primum, and even the reaffirmations in Sacrosanctum Concilium? The provision for Mass in the vernacular was in SC #37, if I recall correctly, and read in context, appears to me to be a provision made in support of bringing the Mass to hugely different cultures.

But no, we had the Latin ripped from our parishes, and the new Mass, and the hootenanny Mass, were overnight anointed. I was in college when this travesty occurred, and to those who claim the old Mass was not made to disappear, I say nonsense. At least it was in SW Michigan.

Marc said...

Henry, not only do the vast majority of Catholics want nothing to do with pre-Vatican II Catholicism, they want nothing to do with Catholicism period.

So, yes, using the vast majority as a barometer means we should basically just fold the Church up and call it a day.

Unknown said...

To speak to your points Father,

1. I also have to disagree with your assessment of Catholic adulthood. It is elist to think that Catholics prior to Vatican Council II were somehow oppressed children who left their faith to priests and nuns. I disagree 100%.

The role of the priest and the nun is to guide Catholics through their faith and to help them understand it. But we don't have to have a perfect knowledge of that faith.

There is something to be said about having the faith of a child. We should be able to look to the Church as our mother. We should be able to look to the Church in a way where her priests and religious are leaders and we shouldn't have to rely on strict "freedoms" and "adult thoughts" to get us through.

We can and we should speak to the Church as adults, when we are so, but we should always look upon her with the wonderment and eyes of a child. To lose the sense of mystery and the sacred is to lose a great portion of what it means to be Catholic. Sure, one can understand that a Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to bring about grace. But is there more that needs to be known, or is that enough? For centuries, that idea of sacrament is what got billions to heaven. But since the Council, it isn't enough? There is a real problem in that way of thinking.

2. People took ownership in their parishes. The Knights of Columbus. The building of 1500 seat parish churches out of stone and mortar. The advent of various clubs and organizations. The ownership in parish life is not just the spiritual, but the temporal working with the spiritual in harmony. There is so much more to ownership than just the is knowing that the parish church is home. It is where we go to bury, to marry, to baptize, to cry, to laugh and to love. It is a place in heart, mind and deed. But is not just what Vatican Council II babies think, when it comes to "ownership." This all existed well before the Council and it has largely dried up since. The world has taken the place of the parish for the center of Catholic life and that is a huge problem. Schools are closing. Parishes are closing. Membership in service organizations are dwindling....not because of what happened before the Council, but after.


Unknown said...

3. Interesting to note that the "early Church" references that keep popping up sure seem like archealogicalism. What about development? What about the definition of dogma and doctrine which happened in the two millinea between the early Church and Vatican Council II? And where does one start defining "the early Church?" 100? 325? 1000? 1054? 1570? 1854? 1961? It is a complete misnomer and misleading to use the "early Church." The Church has grown since then and there have been organic and necessary changes. The education that Catholics got catechetically prior to Vatican Council II puts to shame any RCIA program today.

4. More mercy than punishment? I don't ever recall my mother or grandmother being punished for being Catholic. Archbishop Sheen taught mainly before the Council...and he was full of merciful teaching....As was Pius X, as was the Cure D' Ars, as was Therese of Liseiux. But they also understood that there were consequences for actions. Something we have lost in this generation.

5. Cartwheels to understand the Mass. The Mass doesn't need to be literally understood, but I can guarantee you that most traditionalists understand the TLM a lot better than Catholics understand the Novus Ordo. This is about language. And the idea that if it "ain't in English" it "ain't good." I call BS on that. The Mass particular is where the priest communes with God on behalf of the faithful in the pew. It matters not whether the faithful hear one word of what the priest says, Latin, English, Russian or Greek. He should be focused on worshiping God the Father through the sacrifice of the Mass. That can be achieved by any number of means, meditating on the Life of Christ, the Stations of the Cross, the Nativity, or following along in the hand missal, which allows a person to (gasp) understand.

Bottom line Father....the destruction wrought after Vatican Council II wasn't because of Vatican Council II. It was because Vatican Council II opened the stage for men to hijack that which was beyond them. They took the Divine and made it profane. And now it falls on my generation to pick the pieces up and start re-building brick by brick. And we are none too happy about the fact that our glorious Church is in shambles, because aggiornamento needed to rule the By tuning in, turning on, and yes, Father....dropping out.

We're not dropping out...we're coming back...but we don't want the banal and on the spot. We want authenticity as the Church gave it to us from time immemorial through all of the Councils, including today.


William Meyer said...

"Bottom line Father....the destruction wrought after Vatican Council II wasn't because of Vatican Council II. It was because Vatican Council II opened the stage for men to hijack that which was beyond them."

Andy, I'd say that is true only if you allow for willful misinterpretation of the documents. SC contained exception cases (37..40) which were read in some perverted way as universal.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - We hear words according to our capacity to hear them. Words that you consider to be perfectly clear and unambiguous will not necessarily be considered such by others. Nor can you expect that other will, on hearing the same words as you, understand tham as you do.

Even those who have substantial training in theology can and do differ in their understanding and/or interpretation or theological and/or liturgical texts.

There is no way to ensure that everyone understands the same words in the same way.

Marc - By diminishing the importance of the Old Testament you stray toward Marcionsim. No one can understand the New Testament without understanding the Old.

William - Quo Primum did not forbid changes to the liturgy, as Marc will happily explain to you.

Marc said...

Father Kavanaugh, you are right. The Old Testament is important to understand the New. I didn't mean to suggest that Catholics should not have an understanding of the Sacred Scriptures - I meant that having extensive readings from the Old Testament is not particularly necessary during the Mass.

Also, as you rightly point out, it can be dangerous for any individual to just go reading Scripture for his or herself without the guidance of the Church. Thankfully, we are not a sola scriptura faith, so we understand the balance and rely on the Church for our understanding of Scripture.

But, again, I agree that there is a balance. In fact, there are many Old Testament readings in the one-year lectionary for Mass, but most of the Old Testament is read during the Divine Office, which is reserved for priests, religious, and devoted laity (as you know).

I have to watch out for Marcionism, anyway, since it is the only heresy that includes my name. I guess if I ever invent a heresy, the people in charge of naming it are going to have to get creative! :-)

Unknown said...

@ William Meyer...

Agree 100%. Part of what I speak, is the willful misuse of what precious little good did come from the Council.

Hammer of Fascists said...

PI, I'm still on the run. While I generally agree with your point about being unable to guarantee how people hear/.interpret, you can, with context, encourage the current interpretation. For instance, setting the text of =either the EF or the NO to acid rock and have the priest (or for that matter a layman) dress as Marilyn Manson will definitely affect how the words are received. My argument is that the NO context both introduces ambiguous phrases and unpins the rest from time-honored EF ways of understanding.

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

"There is no way to ensure that everyone understands the same words in the same way."

But there is. Holy Mother Church. When the Magisterium authentically acts, then it should be understood the same way.

However, the question remains, with regard to Vatican Council II...without it being a Magisterial Council (no dogma or doctrine defined, nothing new taught, but rather a pastoral action), was there a Magisterium? It is a question which must be addressed.

To put it a bit more bluntly, if Vatican Council II didn't teach anything new, but rather expounded upon that which was already in place, how can that be considered Magisterial?

Please note, I'm not questioning the fact that the Magisterium exists or that I don't assent to it. I assent to the Magisterium 100%. But what I am questioning is, can it be applied in this instance? Let's be perfectly clear. Thanks.

Unknown said...

To steal the words of the Cure D'Ars...

If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.

I agree. Yet we're supposed to be adults and not give to such whimiscal thought...surely, I'll not die, if I understand the Mass....

Genesis 3:4-5

dixit autem serpens ad mulierem nequaquam morte moriemini scit enim Deus quod in quocumque die comederitis ex eo aperientur oculi vestri et eritis sicut dii scientes bonum et malum.

Not a perfect analogy, but you get the point. We don't have to understand everything, in order to gain from it...but the reformers after Vatican Council II would not have us believe that...

rcg said...

Carol alluded to a point, that clarification is needed in about four points of V-II. This point has been explored by many of the blog entries since her post.

Without taking sides in any particular discussion, the exchange between PI, Andy, A5, and Meyer show that precision is needed in some cases. I would say that the Church should be urged to determine when precision is needed and endeavour to make it happen. As an admitted conservative in this matter I think that is precisely the case for Latin and precisely why it is not wanted by liberals: they want wiggle room in their faith. I want clarity in my dogma, and latitude only in my path to understanding it.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - There is nothing - nothing - ambiguous about " will become for us the bread of life." This is a CATHOLIC text (borrowed from the Jewish table blessing) spoken to a CATHOLIC congregation in the midst of a CATHOLIC liturgy.

It is not ambiguous.

Andy - You are wrong. The Church does not have the power (or the desire to have the power, I would say) to make everyone who hears/reads her prayers/documents understand these in precisely the same way. This is an impossibility. Language, the medium of communication, simply does not work that way.

Vatican II is an essential, undeniable, and irreformable part of the Magisterium. Those who think otherwise are part of the "heterodox" crowd Good Fr. McDonald so adamantly and courageously referred to in the heading of this thread.

rcg said...

Sorry to double post but this thought returns to me all the time: we need an adult Mass and the EF, and maybe the NO in the St Joseph format, is an adult mass. In many other complex fields there are reasons to take short cuts or omit things under special circumstances. But eventually we need to speak to adults as adults. This includes those among us who are not intellectually capable of reaching for the 'diaphanous' elements underlying the objects of out philosophy.

The irony is that the easy to reach NO Mass is NOT the most simple. We have to think hard and sometimes squint just right to see the sacred in the way it is handed to us. The EF is not an elaborate dance, it is the fundamentals and each part links self-evidently to the next when you take the tiny amount of effort it requires to learn the individual parts.

Even I admit there are some Haugen tunes I could stomach under certain circumstances and I would wade through a significant amount of the Hass repertoire to reach the Bread of Life. I have sung along with accordions in Mass, someday I want a banjo and fiddle. But most days I want to tune out the pop tunes and prayers and feel good gruel and bite into something that requires teeth and have someone speak to me as an adult.

I don't reject Vatican II any more than I reject that I can occasionally eat fried food and drink sweet tea. But for crying out loud, not every meal.

Anonymous 2 said...

One of the central questions running through this thread seems to be: What did Vatican II itself do for the Church?

For many years after St. Thomas died one could have asked: What did Thomas Aquinas do for the Church? Because they associated him with more extreme exponents of Aristotelianism, many thought he was a destructive and corrupting influence. But we know that the eventual verdict of history – of the Church’s sacred history – was different.

I am by no means attempting to suggest substantive comparisons between St. Thomas and Vatican II, just urging some historical perspective. Let’s check back with each other on the Blog about Vatican II in 100 years. Or, hopefully, chat about it together in Heaven. But in the meantime, of course, we can continue talking about it here on Earth, just like they did about Thomas.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Once again, I encourage anyone with an antipathy toward Vatican II to read Fr. Robert Fox--it hits the nail on the head and is obedient. He remained a thorn in the side of progressive liberals in the 1960's and 70's by much of his writing in the National Catholic Register and I think Our Sunday Visitor calling people to fidelity to the Magisterium and deriding those who were making a mockery out of the Second Vatican Council by the so-called spirit of Pope John XXIII (and thus denigrating him) and the "spirit of the Council." Don't toss the baby out with the bath water in terms of only reacting to those who were trying to destroy the Catholic Church as we knew it in order to form a bastardized version of it, which neither Pope John XXIII wanted nor the Second Vatican Council envisioned!

Gene said...

There is a huge difference between "Bread of Life" and "Body of Christ." Bread of life is a metaphor, like "daily bread," "bread and butter," "bread on the water." It is often used in this metaphorical sense as slang or vernacular: "Stop talking like you have a mouthful of cornbread;" "Hey, bro', I scored the crack, now where's my bread;" "with regard to post-Vatican II Christology, stones are being offered here instead of bread." Often, interestingly enough, it is used as a euphemism as in, "sweetbreads" and "south Georgia hog bread."
There is a vagueness about the term, and it can be interpreted in various ways. This is imprecise theology, which is to say bad theology.
"Body of Christ" on the other hand, is only a metaphor if you are Protestant.
Given the attacks upon the Church by modernists and liberal theologians, anyone who emphasizes the "bread of life" Eucharistic theology is either theologically naive, careless, or doing so deliberately to make the progressivist point.

Gene said...

Here is a definitive statement regarding the Lord's Supper that Fr. Kavanaugh should find agreeable: "In the Lord's Supper, we are concerned in a uniquely dramatic way with the action of the community by which it establishes fellowship. In the Lord's Supper, we have the repeated and conscious unification of His people, manifested in the sign of common eating and drinking and receiving, once again, the free grace which we constantly need and is constantly given. In the Lord's Supper an invisible action of God-the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the fellowship of God and Man in Jesus Christ, the fellowship of Jesus Christ the Head with His Body and its members and, finally, the fellowship of God with the world created by Him and reconciled to Him-is the prototype, the meaning and power of the action of the Church and therefore of the unification of men therein attested."

Hammer of Fascists said...

PI: With respect, your emphatic statement that There is nothing - nothing - ambiguous about " will become for us the bread of life" is on its face so absurd to me that it's clear to me that you and I are on totally different wavelengths--that you don't get at all the point that I'm trying to make. Your assertion that it's Catholic in nature in fact merely begs the question. By that logic, the Church could gut the entire liturgy and say what's left remains valid because the Church says it's valid.

Let me try to show you what I mean. Let's try a little experiment. Here's the first step.

What is the difference in meaning between

" will become for us the bread of life"


" will become the bread of life"?

To put this another way, what does "for us" add to the meaning of the statement?

Bubba Ignotus said...

John 6:35: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

John 6:48-49: "I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died."

Now ain't it just a cryin' shame that the good Lord Jesus hisself used such vague and imprecise language to teach us the Gospel truth. I mean, even his theology is about as imprecise as I have ever heard in my natural born days.

I mean, that Jesus surely was theologically naive, careless, or deliberately making a progressivist point.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene and Pater Ignotus,

Please help me out here a bit. Gene, I think I get your point, bro’, about the risks of using such language in a particular cultural context such as that of the contemporary United States. (I wonder what the context is in other countries.)

However, doesn’t the phrase “Bread of Life” echo Christ’s own “I am the Bread of Life” narrative that we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel and also resonate with other relevant texts (if I recall correctly: the Old Testament reading regarding the feeding of the Israelites with heavenly food in the desert that we also heard last Sunday and the Miracle of the Loaves from the previous Sunday)?

Aren’t these connotations intentionally being evoked by the phrase “Bread of Life” and would we not lose them by suppressing the phrase?

Anonymous 2 said...

Sorry, I sent my comment before “Bubba Ignotus’s” comment came up on my screen. His response answers my questions I think, so my comment is now largely redundant.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Bubba Ignotus: I'll see your John 6 and raise you an Acts 8: “[A]nd behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me?”

Protestants have been reading John 6 for 500 years and apparently have no problem with believing he was speaking metaphorically. The flesh availeth nothing and all that, don'tchya know. :-)

The only way I know what John 6 means is to listen to what the Church tells me it means. But there's an argument to be made that in the NO it's telling me some mighty strange things about spiritual drinks and such.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Remember, the words of the liturgy are "for us," to help us understand, to some degree, the great mysteries celebrated in the mass.

"For us" clarifies the purpose of the transformation of the elements into the Body and Blood of Jesus.

"For us" personalizes the purpose of the transformation. It answers the question "Why?" Why do the elements become the Body/Blood of Jesus? For us and for our salvation.

"For us" humanizes the miraculous change in the elements. This miracle is directed specifically to "us" humans, accomplished for "us," and meant to transform "us."

"For us" is also there because that's what the text says in Latin.

Gene said...

Ignotus, your understanding of NT theology rivals my understanding of aeronautical engineering. LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

"The only way I know what John 6 means is to listen to what the Church tells me it means."

PRECISELY! And what does the Church tell you "Bread of Life" means? So when you hear " will become for us the bread of life" you KNOW what the Church says it means.

That is exactly my point - we have a Catholic understanding of the words. That understanding takes the ambiguity away. We don't choose our liturgical language on the basis of how it might be misunderstood.

Pater Ignotus said...

Further, "For us" makes a connection (and this may be THE crucial part) between the Divine and the Human. This act of material elements being changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Jesus, this act of offering in sacrifice to the Father the Body and Bloof of the Son, this act of being able to "take and eat" the elements of the sacrifice - this is THE connection between ourselves and God.

Marc said...

So, then, we've gotten Fr. Kavanaugh's analysis of the revised offertory in light of Anon5's objection to the use of the phrases "bread of life" and "for us"... can we now have an explanation as to why we are using a Jewish meal blessing that makes no mention of propitiatory sacrifice as an offertory during Mass? Specifically, what was the need for reform and why was the reformed formula chosen?

Then, perhaps Fr. Kavanaugh can give us an explanation why the reformers changed the formula for the Consecration of the Chalice during the Mass?

I've never read a good explantion behind these changes...

Hammer of Fascists said...


Good answers. But are not all of those things your gloss on the phrase "for us?"

Gene said...

Notice: NT theology lecture on "bread metaphor" in John's Gospel after I have lunch. (This is a non-credit course. You may skip it if you like.)

Hammer of Fascists said...

Also, the phrase "nobis fiet" in the Latin doesn't resolve the ambiguity. I'm no Latin scholar, but can't that phrase also be translated in that context as "it will happen in regard to us" thus raising a possible implication that it may not happen in regard to other people and thus making the Real Presence a relative thing?

My point is that the phrase "nobis fiet" or "for us" doesn't HAVE to be interpreted in a relativistic sense, but only that the text CAN support a relativistic interpretation that conflicts with Catholic doctrine.

The Latin text of the EF, by the way, doesn't present this problem, since (among other reasons) "for" in that text speaks of which people the sacrifice is being offered for, rather than whether Transubstantiation is objectively taking place. Further, the Latin of the EF uses "pro" and not the NO's "fio." The difference being "pro" is more along the lines of "I am doing this for your benefit or on behalf of you," while "fio" is that something happens or is made to happen.

Pater Ignotus said...

Further, if " will become for us the bread of life" is ambiguous, why in the creed do we say "'For us' men and for our salvation he came down from heaven..."? Why not say simply "...he came down from heaven"?

Why do we say, "'For our sake' he was crucified under Pontius Pilate..."? Why not say "...he was crucified under Pontius Pilate..."?

Again, there is a Divine purpose for the elements becoming the Body/Bllod of Jesus. That purpose is referenced in "for us." The same is true of "for our sake." He did not just "come down from heaven." "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven."

The phrases "for us" and "For us men and for our salvation" are not glosses. They are essential to understanding the meaning of the Incarnation and the gift of the Eucharist.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, your posts have been a pretty good defense of your position. Your last post, however, seems to be missing the subject/object distinction A5 is making.

A5, keep in mind, in addition to the precision of the Latin in the Traditional Mass, the offertory is silent. Therefore, the priest is the only one exposed to such "ambiguities" in word choice... he, presumably, has the education to understand that Catholic sense of the phrasing. He then communicates generally and in a simpler way the Mystery to the congregation in catechesis.

So, this is yet another problem that arises solely from the use of vernacular and the non-silent Canon (in addition to the poor, "ecumenical" word choices).

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - The phrase "Jesus Christ is Lord" CAN have a relativistic interpretation that conflicts with Catholic doctrine. But that's true of any phrase found in Catholic liturgy or theology.

Translation is a whole 'nother can o' worms, indeed. The best work I've read on it is "Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language" by Douglas Hofstadter. He took one small poem, "Ma Mignonne" and gave it to dozens of polyglot translators. In return he received as many versions as as there were translators.

In "Le Ton beau" he even speaks of a "translation" of Poe's 18 stanza poem "The Raven."

"Raven lurches
In, perches
Over door.
Poet's bleary
Query -
"Where's Lenore?"
Creepy bird
Knows one word:

Warning: Hofstadter is an expert in artificial intelligence, is currently a professor in the dept of Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, has an MS and PhD in Physics, and has taught in Computer Science, Psychology, and Philosophy Departments. In other words, reading him takes work.

Hammer of Fascists said...


To answer your last point first: I rhetorically asked if your explanation of "for us" that you provided in your post were glosses. I never said, nor do I believe, the phrase "for us" itself to be a gloss. So I repeat my question: Aren't all of your explanations of "for us" in answer to my original question your glosses?

As to your quoting the Creed, that answer is simply nonresponsive. I agree with your characterization of the quotations you supplied from the Creed, but they have no bearing on the issue I'm discussing. Different language, different point, different context from my discussion of the NO offertory language. But if you insist on the digression, the language you quote from the creed is "pro" and not the 'fia" language of the NO offertory, and it uses other phrasing, e.g., "for our salvation" to reinforce the "pro" language. He is doing something for us in those places. But in the NO Offertory, given the language, there is a reasonable argument to be made that, according to the text, something (i.e., Transubstantiation) is happening in relation to some people that is not happening in relation to other people. That is relativistic, subjective, and counter to Catholic doctrine, and yet the text can be (not must be, but can be, which is quite bad enough) taken to mean that.

To put it another way, I argue that "for us" in the NO offertory goes to whether something is happening. In your Creed examples as well as the EF offertory, the language goes to why it is happening. Those are two very different things.

rcg said...

Hofstadter is one of my favourite authors. His original "Godel, Escher, and Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid" had great influence on me. Interestingly, the body of his work indicates the limits, extensive, but real, of gnosis vis-a-vis epistemological efforts. His work lead him to a toally atheistic conclusion while consistently labouring under the glories of creation. He works with communication at the most elemental level, ala machine language, where I was first exposed to his work. He attempts to break everything down to the most simple elements to accurately communicate while pronouncing the variation that leads to more complex output. See 'The Ever Rising Canon'.

Therefore, the translations absolutely must have guidance to prevent variation of the output, or as Hofstadter would say, the 'Meta' language, that allows for the execution of the instruction within parameters that yield the desired result. Again, I conclude that the language of the prayers and readings are not valuable in the variability of how they can be permuted, but that the same prayer and readings, after numerous iterations have context for me when I hear them, months or years apart.

Hammer of Fascists said...

PI, I agree that anything can be ambiguous, but some things can be more readily ambiguous than others.

My whole criticism is that the NO offertory substituted for the EF offertory a "whether" for a "why"--a change that in itself is a cause for concern about the liturgists and their prejudices and motivations and perhaps their orthodoxy. It wasn't merely a new Latin description of the same concept described by the EF offertory, but a new Latin description of a very different concept. And that description--a "whether"--happens to be particularly ambiguous in regard to a vitally important phrase ("bread of life") that is taken very differently from Catholics by the Protestant world. Thus, that ambiguity is dangerous to the congregation from a catechetical point of view, especially when taken in the NO context of a de-emphasis on the vertical and sacrificial.

Your post on "The Raven" is very interesting (and I say that as a Poe fan). I myself have done more work than I care to recall on interpretive theory, and have even written a bit on it, so I'm no stranger to the points you raise. But since we're looking not just at translation here but the original "pro/fio" language, it isn't just about the translator's choice. The ambiguity in the NO offertory resides at least partly in the Latin text.

Gene said...

Typically, Ignotus, you quote Scripture out of context and without considering the Christological meaning of the entire passage. So, for others on the blog (as I am sure I am casting pearls in your case): The "Bread" discourse in John's Gospel points beyond itself the coming Kingdom of God and to Christ's Sacrifice. keep in mind that the entire passage and discourse comes after the feeding of the five-thousand. When Jesus refers to himself as the "true bread," this comes after the people have challenged him. Jesus says, " seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on Him has God the Father set his seal."
Then they said to him, 'What must we do to be doing the works of God?" (I particularly love Christ's response here because it drives lib theologians up a wall.) "Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him who was sent."

At this point, they ask for a sign, saying, "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. Moses gave them bread from Heaven to eat." Now, listen Ignotus, to his response, "It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven." Jesus continues with his wonderful discourse Jn. 6:35-40which is a resurrection discourse. When Jesus identifies himself with the true bread and says that whoever eats this bread will live forever, thus making clear that this bread is His own flesh, this is an unmistakable reference to His sacrificial death...note 6:51"I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the breadwhich I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
That is about as precise a statement of sacrifice as Jesus could make, Bubba! Everything in the entire discourse points to Sacrifice. (cont'd)

Gene said...

Now, looking at Pope Benedict's book, "Jesus of Nazareth," the Pope says that the mention of manna as an ordinary food is intended to show the superiority of Jesus to the law. When Jesus refers to himself as the "true bread," according to Pope Benedict, what he is really telling the Jews is that He is the new Torah. And, this Word has become flesh, listen to the Pope,
"...God becomes bread for us first in the Incarnation of the Logos...Beyond the act of Incarnation,this points to its intrinsic goal and ultimate realization:Jesus' act of giving himself up to death and the mystery of the Cross. These words point to what underlies the Eucharist: the sacrifice of Jesus."
"Jesus of Nazareth," pp. 268-269.
So, to focus on "bread" and a meal miss the point entirely and, in your case Ignotus, deliberately.
Everything points to the Sacrifice.

I would also point out that, when Jesus was tempted by Satan to "turn these stones into bread," he did not do so. He rejected "humanistic" self-sufficiency referring to the nourishment of the Word of God, which is Jesus himself and by which we must live. Just as Jesus never questioned Satan's ownership of and right to offer "all the Kingdom's of the world," so he rejected the world's notion of nourishment...bread. So, Bubba Ignotus, you have some reading to do. Might start with the Pope's book. Now, run pop another top.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - I don't understand your "whether" and your "why" distinction as it relates to the text in question.

It seems to me that both in the creed and the prayer at the preparation are "why" statements.

Could you say a little more on this?

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus;

You misunderstand what I say when you say, "The Church does not have the power (or the desire to have the power, I would say) to make everyone who hears/reads her prayers/documents understand these in precisely the same way. This is an impossibility. Language, the medium of communication, simply does not work that way."

The Church does have the means to explain it so that everyone who is Catholic can understand it. However, you miss the point becuase there is a differenece between "precisely the same way" and "should be understood the same way."

I'm in no way saying that everyone WILL understand it in the same way, but that isn't what was at issue. What is at issue is the Church will present the Truth in a way in which everyone can understand it. And that is the point of the Church.

I realize that my answer was nuanced, but nevertheless, it is a distinction which must be made. To be clear, I am in no way saying that everyone will understand it the same way, but I am saying that the Church does proclaim the Truth in a way in which everyone can understand.

You go on to say, "Vatican II is an essential, undeniable, and irreformable part of the Magisterium. Those who think otherwise are part of the "heterodox" crowd Good Fr. McDonald so adamantly and courageously referred to in the heading of this thread."

Thank you for restating what Fr. McDonald has already stated, but that doesn't address the question which I raised. I'll ask again.

If Vatican Council II didn't teach anything new, but rather expounded upon that which was already in place, how can that be considered Magisterial?

Thanks for the conversation Father...please note what I said with my regard to my attitude toward the Magisterium, so as to not be accusatory toward my place within Holy Mother Church.


Unknown said...


With regard to the Offertory, you said, "...I've never read a good explantion behind these changes..."

Actually, you have. You just don't agree with the premise. The point of the revisions of the Offertory was to remove the sacrificial nature of the presentation of the gifts, so as to not offend the Protestant ideology. It didn't mesh with Luther's view.

The Consilium said of the Offertory: History teaches us that the Offertory rite is an action of preparation of the sacrifice in which the priest and the ministers accept the gifts presented by the people.... this preparatory meaning has always been the identifying note of the Offertory, even though the formularies did not adequately bring it out and were couched in sacrifical language... (Reply 25, "Documentorum Explictio," Notitiae 6 (1970) 37)

In short, the reformers changed the theology to that which in line with Luther's (and the Protestant) view. That is actually a very good explanation of the changes...but they happen to be theologically wrong, from a Catholic POV. ;)

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - How, then, does the Church "present the Truth in a way in which everyone can understand it"? What does this process look like? How, and by whom, is it decided that the explanation is universally understandable?

Gene said...

Alright, I just finished reading Gaudium et Spes in its entirety. I must say I was underwhelmed. It reads like a humanist manifesto with a white wash of God talk...sort of like the "Spirit of Vatican II." Trite, reads like these mission statements that are so popular now that you see on the walls of everything from a government office to a laundry. God help us!

rcg said...

So we're done with Hofstadter?

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

Through the authentic Magisterium of the Church. By dogmatic and doctrinal statement and clarification. By disciplinary action and support of all of the above.

ex. The Assumption. Munificentissimus Deus; the teaching is perfectly clear. It can be understood by all who read it. It is universally understandable by all Catholics and it is Truth. Whereas not all people will understand it, those who are Catholic should assent their wills to the dogma, regardless.

The process is brought to us through proclamation mainly, but it can be through a Council or through transmission of Sacred Tradition brought down through the ages.

What does it look like? Usually it looks like words on a page, but occasionally it is an action which has been transmitted through time in a consistent way.

How is addressed. By Whom? The authentic Magisterium and the Pope. They decide that the explanation is universally understandable.



Unknown said...

One further thing, Pater Ignotus;

I think that you presume a perfect knowledge.

I do not. One does not have to have perfect knowledge to understand that which is True.



Hammer of Fascists said...


My best analogy is a typical explanation of the Special Theory of relativity. In this explanation, spaceship A races past spaceship B at the speed of light. Spaceship B is stationary. Each spaceship has a perfectly calibrated clock on board and the clocks are synchronized with each other. As ship A passes ship B, person A, who is aboard spaceship A, bounces a tennis ball off the floor and catches it. For A--note the "for" here--the ball has traveled about 6 feet--3 down, 3 up. In other words, relative to A, the ball has traveled 6 feet.

For person B aboard ship B, however (again the "for"), the path of the ball is a hugely elongated V. assuming A took two seconds to bounce the ball, each leg of the V is nearly 200,000 miles, as opposed to 3 feet.

For A the ball traveled 6 feet in two seconds. For B the ball traveled nearly 400,00 miles in the same two seconds, as verified by both clocks. Since neither A nor B is in the "correct" position against which the other is measured, since there are no fixed stationary objects in the universe, the only possible conclusion (given that light moves at the same speed for both ships/observers) is that time is moving at a different rate for A than for B. In other words, A experiences a different reality of spacetime than B does, and both experiences are equally true.

Note the phrases "for A" and "for B" in the baove paragraphs. If this is is the sense in which "for" is used in the "for us" of the offertory--and I argue that it is susceptible of that interpretation given the original Latin of the NO as well as its proximity to a phrase used metaphorically by Protestants and its displacement of very different EF language--then it means that the reality of the Host is that it is bread for some people while simultaneously the Body of Christ for others, and that both groups of people are simultaneously correct about it. This, as you can see, completely undercuts the objective reality of the Real Presence. it is also, incidentally, the practical teaching of the Anglican Communion, which as a practical matter ignores the Thirty-Nine Articles in its catechesis and leaves to each Anglican whether to decide whether Transubstantiation is occurring or not.

Long, I know, but does that better explain my position?

Gene said...

Ignotus, Your unbelief is striking. Get thee to a cannery...

Anonymous 2 said...

Well, Gene, you are the first to cross the finish line in reading Gaudiem et Spes in its entirety. I won’t be able to do that until the weekend at the earliest, and I believe Marc is planning on reading it on vacation next week.

As I suspected, profundity is in the eye of the beholder. I try to keep in mind the purpose of the document, which is stated at the beginning:

“2. Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today.
Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theater of man's history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfillment.”

Given that purpose, which seems to me to be a high and noble one, it is perhaps not too surprising that the document reads to you as “a humanist manifesto with a whitewash of God talk.”

Do you question the purpose or the way in which the Document seeks to achieve that purpose or both?

Gene said...

Anon 2, I believe the very existence of this blog indicates that there are, indeed, a great number of Catholics who "question the purpose or the way in which the document seeks to achieve that purpose...." I also see no evidence that it "probes more profoundly into the Mystery of the Church."

rcg said...

Have you ever been to a planning meeting where someone stands up and starts their soliloquy with the phrase, "To me, this means..." It indicates they either have not been listening or are trying to negotiate an objective for themselves into the plan. This is the door that Vatican II opened. People are trying to establish that personal relationship with Jesus where He is their friend and they can tell Him what they feel about things. There is a big difference between explaining something and restating it differently because the latter changes the meaning. It appears to me that the more I find out about Vatican II, the more I think it was incomplete or too loosely written to be useful as instruction. I don't reject it, but it is not surviving the actual reading of final draft and needs some repair.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene, It seems like I am falling at the first fence here. I need help understanding what is wrong with the purpose as set out in the passage I quoted. Please bear in mind your priest in the whorehouse analogy. He might be there to do the work of the Church.

BTW, Some readers may not realize this is a continuation from the earlier thread of Tuesday August 7 (Baby with the Bathwater).

Gene said...

Anon 2, The fact that the document says that it is addressing the world of men and the "theater of history" is not the issue. The issue is from what vantage point does the Church do so? There is the prophetic vantage point, which judges and relativizes all human endeavor, bracketing the "theater of history" with Christ's judging and redeeming act (Sacrifice), and there is, for lack of a better word, the "courtly" vantage point which Amos and Hosea condemn and which speaks from within the city gates and employs the language of the day. The prophetic voice says, "Repent and believe the Gospel;" the courtly voice says, "can't we all just get along." I find too much of the latter voice and not nearly enough of the former in the document. To wit:
1. What business is it of the Church to "Promote Culture," as one long section discusses?
2. What business is it of the Church to tell the State how and when to conduct war?"
3. Since when is the church called to be an expert on international finance and economic principles?
4. What business does the Church have in a discussion of the formation of "political parties," for God' sake?
5. And what business has the Church making such statements as that which says when a man is destitute he has the right to "procure his needs from the wealthy?" Anarchy anyone?
These are just a few of the more glaring problems I have with the document.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Gene. I have a much better idea now. Remember you still have me at a disadvantage as I have not yet had the time to read the entire document. But here is a preliminary reaction from behind my veil of ignorance (no, I am not really invoking John Rawls, just making a joke):

1. Integral human development. Aristotle anyone?

2. Just War. Augustine anyone?

3. Common Good. Aristotle and Aquinas anyone?

4. Ditto.

5. Ditto, and John Locke anyone?

All that said, I do like your distinction between the prophetic voice and the courtly voice, and agree that the former is vital.

Gene said...

Anon 2, More later but, last time I checked, Aristotle and John Locke were neither theologians nor prophets.
And, surely, you are not equating the meanderings of this flimsy document with "The City of God," "the Summa," or even the Nichomachian Ethics (although I prefer Plato).

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Sorry, I'm too ignorant of relativity theory, special and ordinary, to follow that argument.

When the mass is celebrated, there are four "actors." Christ, the Church, the Priest, the Congregation. For whom, among these four, do the elements become the Body/Blood of Christ? Who is the "us" in the "for us"?

Bread and wine do not become Christ's Body and Blood for Christ. They do become the Body/Blood for the Church, the Priest, and the Congregation - for our salvation. (They become these elements for the same reason Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross.)

Again, I don't think one can criticize the words because they MIGHT be understood.

Gene said...

Ignotus, "For us" and "for our salvation" convey two very different meanings. The first could be construed as for mere know, like the libs view it.

Hammer of Fascists said...


I appreciate your reading through all this. :-)

The basic thrust of my relativity argument is that the NO term "nobis fiet" suggests that transubstantiation is actually, truly occurring for one group of people--the group to whom the word "us" applies, be it the congregation, all Catholics, all Catholics in a state of grace, whomever--but that it is simultaneously not occurring to those exact same elements for another group of people, e.g., Protestants, non-Christians, whomever, even if those others are sitting right next to us in the pew. The term doesn't denote why Christ is changing the elements into His Body and Blood, as is the case in the credal quotations you supplied, but whether, in some peoples' ("us") reality, he is transubstantiating the elements at all. Yes, He's working that miracle for us, in our case, in our reality, but He's simultaneously refraining from working that miracle for that group over there in their reality, even though we're talking about the very same wafer, and both our group and their group are correct. In our reality it's Christ's body, and simultaneously in their reality it's a piece of bread, and both realities are valid. Only in a relativistic world can this be the case. If this is the correct meaning of the term nobis fiet, and I argue that it may well be, then it undercuts the doctrine of transubstantiation and the Real Presence and substitutes some sort of existential framework of reality instead. That's as plain as I know how to make it.

Let me also try a different approach.. Let's pretend that the offertory reads something like this, and is said aloud by the priest: "Lord, we know that this bread will not become the Body of Christ, but we are going to finish this liturgy anyway." My questions in this case are as follows: 1) Assuming the rest of the Mass remains the same, do the elements transubstantiate at the consecration despite this offertory? 2) If so, why would the Church put in a prayer that seems to undercut the fact and doctrine of transubstantiation? 3) What would the catechetical effect on the congregation of such an offertory prayer be?

Anonymous 2 said...

That’s true, Gene, neither Aristotle nor John Locke was a theologian, although arguably there are prophetic elements in both, as there are in Plato. But the former was a big hit with St. Thomas, and you can’t have_him_without Aristotle, and the latter was a big hit on this side of the Pond and you can’t have America without Locke. The minimal statists might want to check out the Lockean Proviso and other such qualifications, although I agree we can argue about their interpretation.

And, no, of course I would not compare Gaudiem et Spes with those Great Works. We are all, now, dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants (except for Einstein of course =)).

Hammer of Fascists said...


I advisedly side with Anon2 at least in theory as regards just war, which has strong roots in Aquinas and Augustine. It further seems to me one of the most fundamental bases of moral theology to tell us whom we can and cannot kill and under what circumstances, or to put this another way, what the contours of "Thou shalt not kill" are. Once you get into political parties and economics, I think your case becomes stronger, though where exactly the line is I'm not sure. Can the Church, for instance, denounce the Nazi or Communist Parties as terror organizations and thus illegitimate?

I do agree that Gaudium et Spes is, compared to De Civitate Dei and the Summa, simply vapid.

My own theory is that the Church, which is usually so glacial in its speed, suddenly reacted swiftly to the upheavals of the prior fifty years, and these reactions are evident in many of the documents, often in a "whistling past the graveyard" way. The problem is that, as the technological and (consequently social) change accelerated enormously since around 1800, the odds of the Church making pronouncements in such an environment that would quickly become obsolete were (and are) very high. In other words, the faster the change, the greater the need for glacial deliberation. All of this suggests that the VII documents are short-term pastoral documents.

Freedom of religion, for instance--one of the four major deviations from established doctrine--was probably aimed squarely at the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. Well, the USSR and the Eastern Bloc are gone now, vanished as quickly as they appeared. So what are we to do with the VII pronouncement on freedom of religion? Why not go back to what the Church taught for the preceding 2000 years?

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus;

With all due respect, I cannot agree to your premise. You say, "When the mass is celebrated, there are four "actors." Christ, the Church, the Priest, the Congregation.""

I cannot agree with this sentiment. There are no actors. There is a celebrant. The priest and there are those who are there to worship. The faithful. There is nothing more, nothing less. Why make it more complicated than it needs to be? There need be no more than two persons, a priest and one layman to have Holy Mass. Yet, you start making things immediately more difficult by including Christ as an actor? The Church as an actor? No Father, the Church is present insofar as the Church militant gathers, but the Church doesn't have an acting role. And Christ, while present in an unbloody way, is not an actor, He is the sacrifice.

You then ask, "For whom, among these four, do the elements become the Body/Blood of Christ?"

I know that you'll disagree 100% with this, but for God, the Father. That is who the Mass is offered for. It is not offered for man. That is the change in theology which has burdened the Church. Holy Communion is not a necessity save once a year for the faithful. The sacrifice, in an unbloody way, is for God the Father. And the faithful worship God, the Father at Holy Mass while the Sacred Host is being immolated. Once the sacrifice is complete, we may share in it, through Holy Communion. But it is in our joining to God, the Father that we are able to share in that sacrificial banquet.

You then state, "Bread and wine do not become Christ's Body and Blood for Christ. They do become the Body/Blood for the Church, the Priest, and the Congregation - for our salvation. (They become these elements for the same reason Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross.)"

This is true, but the re-presentation of the sacrifice at Calvary in an unbloody way is first a sacrifice to God, the Father. Why would we sacrifice something to ourselves? That makes no sense, from any sort of religious point of view.

Yes, Christ sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross. But that happened one time. He doesn't die over and over and over. The unbloody re-presentation of Calvary is a commemoration of that event, on our behalf to God, the Father.

Are you getting it yet, Pater Ignotus? I'll spell it out as clearly as I can. The sacrifice of the Mass is not "for us" in the manner that you are presenting it. It is for God the Father. We participate in that sacrifice insofar as we worship. But, to presume that it is for us is to misunderstand the intention of the Church.

How does the Canon start again? We come to you Father....

The whole of the Canon is aimed not toward us, but toward God. Where it rightly belongs. We worship. We lay our prayers at the foot of the altar. The priest gathers those prayers and he takes them to the altar and offers them on our behalf, as he offers (celebrates) the Mass.

I can't be any clearer. Sure there are parts of the Mass where we recognize what we are doing, but the Mass is not "for us" it is "for God." If that were not the case, then there would be no need for a heavenly liturgy. Yet there is one. And the Mass is the re-presentation of that heavenly liturgy on Earth.

Gene said...

Andy Milam, Amen and Amen!

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - There are four actors in each mass.

Christ is acting, offering Himself to the Father for our salvation. If Christ is not acting then the mass is not the "representation of the sacrifice of Calvary." Christ acted on Calvary. Therefore, if the mass is a representation of Calvary, Christ must also act in the mass.

The Church acts in each mass. The Church has called each priest and has ordained each priest. (In the ordination ritual, we hear the request made to the the bishop, "Most Reverend Father, Holy Mother CHurch asks you to ordain....") And, through the priest, who acts in persona Christi, the Church acts in each mass.

The Priest, acting with the Church and in persona Christi, is the third actor in the mass. His voice, his movements, his "person" are used by Christ and the Church to bring about the mystery of the Eucharist.

The Congregation, through full, conscious, and active participation, acts in each mass. Whether that congregation is one or one million, the role of the congregation is an essential element.

The sacrifice offered on the altar is offered TO God FOR us. God does not need the sacrifice, we do. And in this sacrifice the sense-perceptible gifts (bread and wine which become the sense-imperceptible Body and Blood of Jesus) are offered to God as an outward manifestation of our veneration for God AND with the object of obtaining communion with him.

Both elements of sacrifice must be present if it is a true sacrifice.

Yes, the sacrifice of the mass is offered TO God FOR us.

Gene said...

There is another factor here, Ignotus...God may not "need" the Sacrifice, but he commands it. We do it out of obedience and duty to his sovreign will. Don't you just hate that...LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin - You are right. God does not need the sacrifice - we do. Therefore the sacrifice is offered TO God FOR us.

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

Ah, but now you change the meaning of actor to suit your whimsical view. The Church acts, but it is not an actor. Christ acts, but is not an actor. The priest acts, but he is not an actor. The faithful act, but they are not actors.

These are not roles, like those of a cast of characters. The act of doing is real. To confuse the two, as you are doing is to mislead the reasoning behind why there is action at the Mass.

Christ isn't physically acting out His role over and over and over and over and over again. No. That is why it is called a re-presentation. Christ died one time. The sacramental action is that transubstantiation occurs. That is the miracle of the Mass. So, no, Christ isn't an "actor" in the sense that you're passing it off. Christ's action is re-presented in an unbloody way.

Yes, the Church does act at each Mass, but the Church is not an "actor." Again, it is misleading vividness and a conflation of terms to assume that the Church is an actor at Mass. She is not. She acts through the sacraments of Orders and not through playing some sort of role, like that of Juliet.

The priest, who offers the Mass is not putting on an exhibition, he is praying a public prayer. There are ritualized movements which he should be following, but it is not a stage performance. Because someone acts on something doesn't mean that he is an "actor."

I agree that the faithful participate in the Mass. But, through participatio actuosa, but they are not acting. They are worshipping. That is a huge distinction. And that is a direct misunderstanding of the actuosa to limit them to activa. They are not doing, simply to be doing. They are not acting. They are simply put, being.

Pater Ignotus, I competely understand allegory and hyperbole. I use it a lot, but in this context, it is wrongheaded and theologically ambiguous at best to assume that there are "actors" in the Mass. It simply is misleading and cheapens the participatio actuosa of the sacrifice.

I know that we are speaking from two different schools of theology. Mine is based upon a vertical theology and yours a horizontal. The problem is that you erroneously believe that the horizontal has usurped the vertical. That simply isn't the case. And that is the great injustice done by Bugnini and the Consilium.

And I also take issue with the TO God FOR us. That is theologically imprecise. It is more proper to say, the Mass is offered TO God ON OUR BEHALF.

But again, you change the meaning of FOR US. You change it to mean not as you originally argued that it is for us, as in I do it for my brother, which is what you originally argued, but rather now you are saying on our behalf.

Please don't be so twisty. The fallacy is that you are changing terms. Certainly you remember what the fallacy of Equivocation is, from your days in philosophy, right Father?

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - An actor acts. This is not some whimsical change, it is just reality. You wrongly assume that I am equating the "acting" of Christ, the Church, the priest, and the Congregation with "stage actors." I am not.

Christ's action is the same at mass as it was at Calvary. It is the same action, the same act - the offering of Himself to the Father.

Yes, the Church acts at each mass. As you note, the Church acts through the sacrament of orders. That is an actor acting.

The priest acts, as you note and is, therefore an actor.

The congregation's action is worship. The congregation also acts.

I do not believe that the "horizontal has usurped the vertical." Both are present in the actions of the actors at mass.

I am perfectly comfortable saying that the sacrifice is offered to God on hour behalf (aka, "for us" or "for our benefit" or "for our salvation.")

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

I am very well aware that an actor acts, but not everyone who acts is an actor. And that is what you ignore. Because an act is done, does not mean that an actor does it. No. When we use hyperbole and allegory, we must be precise, lest the faithful be misinformed.

You do though, Father. You are very clear in stating that there are four actors. What other meaning could there be? You change the attitude, tambor and meaning when you say that it is Christ's action. Previously, you say that Christ is an actor. We can unpack it if you like, but I don't think it's necessary...I think it speaks for itself. And it is abundantly clear.

Regarding the horizontal v. vertical, I think that I have to disagree with you. Your words are supportive of the horizontal being superior. When you make statments, like there are actors in the Mass, that the Mass is "for us" that the congregation acts in the Mass...those are all ideas which speak to the horizontal. I have not seen much vertical language from you yet.

I am glad that you are comfortable saying that the sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God on our behalf, because it is.

Like I said, if you want to unpack your Equivocation, we can. I have no problem doing that. But it would just be easier if you'd just admit that you changed the meanings of terms vis-a-vis actor v. action; and for us v. on our behalf.


Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - Christ is an actor. Christ acts in each mass.

No, my words do not speak to the horizontal being superior. My words speak to the necessary presence of both the horizontal and the vertical dimensions of the mass.

I did not say the mass is for us. I said the sacrifice is offered to the Father FOR US.

The Congregation does act. And its action is worship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I have changed no meaning. I said on August 10: "When the mass is celebrated, there are four "actors." Christ, the Church, the Priest, the Congregation."

I say exactly the same thing now.

Unknown said...

I guess, Pater Ignotus, we must unpack your words. Sadly, I was hoping that we wouldn't have to do this, but alas....

You said, ""When the mass is celebrated, there are four "actors." Christ, the Church, the Priest, the Congregation. For whom, among these four, do the elements become the Body/Blood of Christ? Who is the "us" in the "for us"?"

Clearly, you viewed this as meaning "actors" as in thespians. Otherwise you would not have presented it in quotation marks. Also, your language continues to bear this out in later posts where you speak of them carrying out a role. That is properly what a thespian does. I take issue with that.

The Mass is not a production. It is a prayer; albeit a public prayer, but it does not contain "actors" in the sense that you are presenting it. It does contain persons who participate in an action. That is NOT the same thing as saying those are actors. When I go to the cinema, I participate, but I am not an actor, like Christian Bale playing Batman or John Huston playing Cardinal Glennon. Yet, that is exactly the sentiment you were trying to convey with your statement above.

To the contrary, the sacrifice of Calvary is an act done once, re-presented through sacramental reality for all time. There is no actor, but there is an action. The Church does not act (as a player on a stage), but there is an action by which the Church makes valid and licit through her dogma and doctrine. The priest is not playing a role, but rather he is offering a prayer to God the Father in a sacrificial manner. The faithful participate in that action by uniting their minds, hearts, souls and beings in a way not which makes them a central player, but rather allows for them to fully engage the prayer, not by what they do, but by how they do it. No Father, you were very clear in your meaning and you have tried to change the meaning since it was called out.


Unknown said...

To address your FOR US comments...I will unpack those as well...

You state quite clearly, "Remember, the words of the liturgy are "for us," to help us understand, to some degree, the great mysteries celebrated in the mass."

No. The words of the liturgy are a prayer to God the Father. They are irrelevant to our particular understanding. That doesn't make them any less or more impactful as a prayer. As long as the one making the prayer (in this case the priest) makes the prayer understood to God the Father (in the way the Church intends) then the faithful must assent their will to that. They can come to understand later. But it is not necessary that they have a perfect understanding.

So, when you say that the the Mass is "for us" you were clear in stating that it was celebrated for us to be participatory in the celebrating. That is wrong. The faithful are not to look at ourselves as celebrating the Mass, but rather we are to look at ourselves as worshipping. HUGE distinction, still. And my point remains.

The Mass is not "for us." The Mass is celebrated ON OUR BEHALF (or for us, by the priest), but not for us, so that we might celebrate the Mass together with the priest. And it is the latter which you were assuming until you made the swap in language once called out.

As I said, it is clear to see that Equivocation took place. And it is clear that the two views you took place horizontal theology above vertical.

Again, these are the problems in Sacramental Theology which Bugnini and Consilium wrought through and after the Council. This mindset is harmful and it misleads the notion of participatio actuosa. Which is not necessarily most accurately stated as full, conscious and active. But rather it is most accurately stated as participation first with the heart, mind and soul assenting the will to the action which presents itself sacramentally and only then the physical application. In other words, actual partipciation, as opposed to active particpation. To make participatio activa seem and function like participatio actuosa, is to highlight the horizontal over the vertical.


Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - Christ is not a thespian, nor is the Church, nor is the priest, nor is the congregation.

A don't know what parallel linguistic universe you inhabit, but one who acts is an actor. Christ, the Church, the Priest, the Congregation all act in the mass - they are, therefore, actors.

I am presenting - and have from at least August 10 - presenting actors as those who act.

I stand by my statement of August 10. There are four actors in each mass - Christ, Church, Priest, and Congregation.

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

Let's try to be more precise...when we define "actor" we define it as:

a person who acts in a play, film, broadcast, etc. (Harper/Collins)

However, to complete an action is not to be an actor. That is a person who simply completes an action.

the state or process of doing something or being active; operation. (Harper/Collins)

There is a difference. And there is no word game being played. What I continue to argue is that there are no actors. Also, to speak to that even further, the Church cannot be an "actor" because the Church is not a person.

So, I continue to argue, based upon what I have posited that Christ, the Church, the priest and the faithful do not act as actors, but rather they participate and complete the action by their being active, in this case, through participatio actuosa.

It is not a very hard concept to understand.

Pater Ignotus said...

"France, Britain and any other external actors now involved in the affairs of the continent must be prepared to stand firm."

"Employers are key actors in industrial relations."

Not all actors are involved in cinema or stage performances.

Don't include me in your "we." You have either failed to read what is plainly written in your dictonaries, or you have chosen to overlook the definitions that do not support your hypothesis.

The Church acts when bishops in union with the pope teach that it is wrong to defraud a worker of his/her just wages. The Church acts when, as a juridic person, she teaches, holds a Council, calls a person to Holy Orders, etc. The Church acts.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Andy: I may be being dense, but I do understand PI's use of the term "actor" as one who carries out an act. I may not have the theological background to spot the problem that you're describing.

Unknown said...

I also understand Pater Ignotus' use of the term actor, but I also understand the imprecise reasoning behind it.

To deem the priest, the Church, the faithful and Christ, Himself as actors in the Mass is to limit the meaning of the Mass.

THAT is my point. While Pater Ignotus might not see it that way, that is exactly what is being conveyed. That these "actors" are simply playing a role. As I said, I understand allegory and hyperbole, but I think that the use of them in this instance is misleading and dangerous, because it leads one to think that there is nothing sacred happening and that it is just a mere play being "acted out" on a stage. It is not.

The priest doesn't act, as an actor would. He is not up there performing, but rather he is up there praying. One doesn't speak of Moses being an actor with God the Father on Mt. Sinai. One doesn't speak of the High Priests of the temple as being actors when they enter the Holy of Holies, yet there is no problem speaking of the priest as an actor in this instance? I beg to differ.

To carry out an action doesn't mean that said person is an actor. No. To carry out an action means that one does what one is deigned to do. In this instance, the priest is ordained to offer the Mass. He doesn't act as if he's doing it, he actually does it. The faithful don't act as if they are worshipping, they actually worship. The Church doesn't act as if she is imparting the sacraments, she actually does. AND Christ was not acting when He died on the cross. He actually died. And the unbloody sacrifice that is re-presented on the altar is not an act. It is an action. It is the source and summit of our faith.

To limit the scope or even to present it as characters carrying out a stage play is not serving the point properly. The Mass, is not a staged event, it is a ritualized prayer offered to God on our behalf. We don't act, we do. We are not actors it is imprecise, it is wrong headed and it is a misleading use of allegory and hyperbole to assume that the priest, the Church, the faithful and Christ Himself are "actors," when clearly that is what is stated.

Anon5, you are not dense. I understand that you see what he means. So do I. I just disagree with his premise. It is logically flawed by the fallacy of Equivocation.

Unknown said...

Pater Ignotus,

Yes, the Church can act. I never said she couldn't. I just said she cannot be an actor. As I said days ago and moments ago, I understand allegory and hyperbole. I just disagree with your use of it. I think that it leads to a misunderstanding of the Mass with regard to the faithful.

But, that was ignored, by and large, several days ago.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - I'm not using allegory or hyperbole. To say that Christ, the Church, the Priest, and the Congregation "act" in the mass is simply a statement of fact.

You insist on understanding the term "actor" as being limited to a stage or screen performance It is not.

Unknown said...

I insist upon understanding it that way Father, because that is how you are using it?

If you are not using the term actor as I defined it according to Harper/Collins, then praytell, how are you using the term actor?

Your statement of definition, which I quoted speaks directly to my point.

How is that not hyperbole and/or allegory? What you are saying about the Church being an actor, is no different than saying, "That bag weighed a ton." or ""Therefore of this one and only Church there is one body and one head—not two heads as if it were a monster... If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ."

So, please Father, explain how the priest, Church, faithful, and Christ are actors without being actors. I, for one, am curious.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - Every dictionary source I looked at gave two or three or even four definitions for "actor." How many does Harper/Collins offer?

"This bag weighed a ton" is hyperbole because the bag did not actually weigh 2000 pounds. It was found to be heavy by the person lifting/carrying it.

"The Church is an actor in the mass" is not hyperbole, because the Church, following the example of Christ, acts in the mass, through the priest, for the benefit of the People of God

Unknown said...

But not in the sense that she is an actor. But in the sense that an action is completed.

There is a difference.

It is hyperbole to say that the Church is an actor, because it is an exaggeration to say that is what she does. She does not. She completes an action. That does not make one an actor.

Is it really that hard to understand? Apparently.

At least you're understanding that the Mass is not "for us" in the sense that you were using it, but rather "on our behalf," as the Church intended. Praise God for that!

Oy vey....

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - I'm done here. The Church is one of four actors in the mass, along with Christ, the priest, and the congregation.

The sacrifice of the mass is offered to the Father for us.

Unknown said...

That's fine, you can be done, but understand that your analogy, hyperbole, metaphor, whatever you call it is not accurate.

I stand 100% behind my criticism. One who completes an action is not necessarily an actor in the way that you are presenting it. Sorry. That person is simply a person who completes an action.

However, one who performs or acts in a dramatic or comedic production is an actor, in the way you are presenting it.

The Mass, is not a production in the way that you presented it originally and are still presenting it. The priest is not an actor. The Church is not an actor. The faithful are not actors. Christ is not an actor.

The three persons, priest, faithful and Christ paricipate by completing an action, but that does not mean they are actors. It means they complete an action. Each distinct and completely their own. The Church, as an entity does not act in the manner that you are putting forth either, because an entity cannot be an actor, except allegorically or metaphorically. Yet, you continue to persist.

I am not being obtuse. I know exactly what it is that you're doing. I see perfectly what you mean by "actor." I have since the beginning, as I have said. But I disagree with your premise. I think that it is imprecise and I think that it misleads the faithful in their understanding of how they should participate in the Sacred Mysteries. They should not view themselves as "actors, but rather they should view themselves as worshippers. They should see themselves as completing the one action for which they were created. To worship God. That does not mean they are actors, but rather that means that they are being.

So, while you continue to say that "The Church is one of four actors in the mass, along with Christ, the priest and the congregation," I will continue to say that your allegory is imprecise and that it misleads the faithful in understanding their true end in the Mass.

Have a good day. Thanks for the discussion. I found it to be a good exercise in making sure that I understand what it is that I do when I assist at Holy Mass as one of the faithful. I don't act, as an actor would; like Christian Bale, but rather I act, as a member of the faithful completing an action for which I was born. To worship God.

Vale tibi, Pater...nunc.

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