Catholic Apologetics

In this second part of a response to Why I Left the SSPX Milieu, we will look at what “Ches” asserts with regard to the Novus Ordo Mass.  As he details in his essay[1], he eventually came to fully embrace the new missae, even celebrating it.


Space will not allow us to respond to all of Ches’ statements individually, though this would present no difficulty.  In this paper we will demonstrate first of all that the faithful have always been free to eschew the new Rite and have always had as their right as Roman Rite Catholics access to the received and approved Rite of Mass of the Roman Church, the Tridentine Rite codified at Trent.  We then have a cursory look at the very serious issues that do exist with the new Rite, objectively and by the happy admission of its own architects, which undermine Ches’ assertions that the Novus Ordo is fully Catholic and to fail to embrace it is not  Catholic.


It should be noted for posterity, when discussing this topic, that criticism of the Novus Ordo Missae is not criticism of the Mass itself(this is a non sequitur sometimes brandied for emotional  effect).  It is, rather, love for the Mass (in its true nature) that motivates such criticism.  To be able to assist in any way at the making-present of the Calvary Sacrifice, much less to consume the oblation of the Lord’s Body and Blood, is so great an honor and so wondrous a privilege that it ought to stop each of us in our tracks each and every time.  And this is precisely why the use of a missal expressly intended (according to its authors) to subjugate Catholic theology and make the Holy Sacrifice palatable to those who hate it is an affront to divine justice that must be resisted.


“Private Judgment”, Again


The author essentially makes the argument that because the Church has never officially condemned the Novus Ordo Rite, any argument against it is a simple exercise of “private judgment”:


In discounting the famed Ottaviani Intervention, he begins with this: “Firstly, there is a difference between individual theological opinion and the Church’s magisterial judgment. It hadn’t really occurred to me before…”


“Really?” we might reply: It had never occurred to him that there is any difference between the opinions of theologians and magisterial teaching?  First of all, he makes the implicit mistake we see running through the essay, that of making no distinction at all in the levels of authority and assent owed to various types of magisterial teaching.  Perhaps more importantly, to declare that one had not considered that the teachings of the theologians are categorically different from the magisterium must raise the eyebrows.  Personally, this doesn’t give me confidence in his conclusions before or after said realization.


"In other words, in using such documents, traditionalists were ignoring their own theological processes or methodologies… The idea that the New Mass was contrary to the faith could be found in no Church document; it was a theological deduction.”


We have previously demonstrated that the notion that everything emanating from the Church’s ecclesiastical bodies is infallible, binding, or generally good is not true; it is a gross oversimplification (and quickly leads to logical absurdities at that). 


As was discussed in Part I, and as the theologians have demonstrated, Catholics are expected to use the ability to reason given to them by God to “judge for [ourselves] what is right.”[2]  However, it turns out that precious little theological deduction is actually necessary for the Catholic to become unsettled regarding the Novus Ordo Missae, given that its architects and, sadly, even Paul VI himself, informed us directly that its purpose was not congruent with Catholic teaching:


-       Fr. Annibale Bugnini, Secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform and widely regarded as the veritable architect of the Novus Ordo, famously remarked that his intent in creating the new rite was to “[remove] every stone that could even remotely constitute an obstacle or difficulty” to “the separated brethren”.[3]

-       Pope Paul VI’s close friend, the liberal theologian Jean Guitton, stated that, “The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy - but what is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord’s supper… there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.”[4]


Since when has the Holy Catholic Church attempted to attract heretics and schismatics by subjugating her teachings rather than explaining their beauty?[5]  Truth sells itself to those who are interested in truth.  If the strategy of the Church was the seeking of a lowest common denominator amongst all men, St. Peter would not have called for the conversion of the Jews, nor Paul for that of the pagan gentiles 2,000 years ago, instead only “appreciating the elements of truth” in their false (or abrogated) religions – in other words, exactly what the modern Vatican has been doing since the council.


Ches asserts that traditionalists create a false dichotomy between the sacrifice & the supper in criticizing the new Mass: “…in the old liturgy we genuflect more to the cross on Good Friday than to the Eucharist on ordinary days. But nobody would think we are honouring the cross more than the Eucharist.”  What Ches misses here that there is an absolute relationship between Sacrifice & supper, with the former being primary and the latter secondary.  Such is not the case with the elements he contrasts above.  The Novus Ordo, by intent, downplays and subjugates what defined Catholic truth tells us is the most important aspect of the Holy Sacrifice – that is, that it is a sacrifice, first and foremost (the supper is secondary and follows from the sacrifice).  So, Ches’ analogy here is completely invalid; what Ches deems subjective is entirely objective.


Canonical Matters


It can be argued that the Church cannot, in her official capacity, give the faithful rotten food in the form of a defective liturgy, especially as the Mass is the absolute highest and most important form of worship.  It is interesting, then, to note that a strong case can be made that the Novus Ordo Missae was never properly promulgated at all: lacking is a specific order from the pontiff to use the missal in any particular time or place.[6]


This should not necessarily surprise us, because one of the most consistent characteristics the post-conciliar pontiffs have displayed is a reluctance to bind – and, indeed, in this we see the work of the Holy Ghost protecting His Church.  Since Paul VI himself referred, in his general audience of November 26th, 1969, to his new Rite of Mass as “this novelty”, a “new rite”, “this many-sided inconvenience”, speaking of “annoyance” “that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed”, pointing out that the loss of a liturgical language will be a “great sacrifice”, likening those who assist to “profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance”, lamenting “reason for regret… even bewilderment”,[7]perhaps indeed he hesitated to bind the faithful to it!  Perhaps he was prevented from doing so.


So, while the valid promulgation of a Rite of Mass[8] is a juridical matter perhaps not beyond the protection of the Holy Ghost, serious doubts regarding that of the Novus Ordo do exist.  What is beyond doubt is that the use of the new Rite was enforced by churchmen.


Yet, whether or not the Novus Ordo Rite was ever correctly promulgated or not is irrelevant as the faithful of the Roman Church have always had legal recourse to the Mass of Pius V regardless.


It has been established that in 1986, wishing to settle the question as to whether the Tridentine Rite had been abrogated, Pope John Paul II commission a group of nine cardinals to that purpose.  Their unanimous opinion was in the negative, this confirmed by one of the nine, Cardinal Stickler, who remarked that John Paul II lamented that he could only say, “I want that the new Mass be said”.[9]


Of course, Pope Benedict XVI’s moto proprio Summorum Pontificum[10] settled once and for all, finally for the neo-Catholic deniers, that the Tridentine Rite had never been abrogated; more than that, according to the pope, no priest anywhere ever required special permission to use the Tridentine Rite.


It has also been demonstrated that Catholics are bound by divine law to use a liturgy “received and approved” – that is, a Rite of Mass proceeding directly from divine revelation.[11]  St. Paul teaches that the liturgy he transmitted to the Corinthians originated directly from Christ, and numerous scholars have shown that the Tridentine Rite codified at the Council of Trent can be traced in its essential elements to the apostles.  This is absolutely untrue of the “banal fabrication” that is the Novus Ordo.


(As for those who assert that Trent’s anathema on “any pastor” who would change approved rites into “new” ones could not bind future supreme pontiffs, can another example be put forth of the anathema of a general council having any temporal upper bound?  As Benedict XVI noted, “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law.”  The pontiff’s supreme juridical power over the Church is bound by divine law, as Benedict stated in Summorum Pontificum as well.)


The Novus Ordo – Serious Issues


An exhaustive treatise of the problems of the Novus Ordo is well beyond the scope of this article.[12]  We will, however, examine its most egregious faults.  We might categorize them as follows:


-       The Novus Ordo Rite is anthropocentric – man-centered rather than centered on God.  (This befits Paul VI’s proud declaration that the council brought the “Cult of Man” to the Church.)

-       The Rite obscures the most core Catholic doctrine regarding the Mass, that it is primarily a propitiatory sacrifice, indeed the very “making present” of the singular Calvary Sacrifice, with Christ the High Priest offering Himself as Victim to the Father in propitiation for the sins of man.  This is almost a corollary of the above, as man who worships himself has no need to offer sacrifice to God for sins he does not contemplate.

-       As corollaries to the major points above are these natural consequences:

o  The role of the priest is diminished, and the sacerdotal priesthood confused with the priesthood of the people

o  The doctrine of Transubstantiation is downplayed; in fact, the word itself is scandalously completely absent from Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy[13]


When we examine the Novus Ordo vs. the Tridentine Rite, especially in light of what the authors of the former intended and in the light of what they had in common with other “reformers” such as Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer (all of whom detested the Holy Sacrifice), it is readily apparent that (as they told us) the Novus Ordo Rite intentionally downplays the core Catholic theology of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, and leaves itself open to, if not directly suggests, heterodox interpretations.


The Intervention


The so-called Ottaviani Intervention was the presentation to Pope Paul VI by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci the document A Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass[14], a critical treatise of the Novus Ordo Rite produced by a group of eminent Roman theologians several months after the promulgation of the new Rite.  The treatise castigates it in the strongest possible terms, concluding that, “…the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.”


We can make one certain statement: For a group of cardinals and doctorate theologians to assert that a Rite of Mass foisted upon the entire Roman Church fails to be congruent with Catholic doctrine on the Mass is utterly unprecedented in the history of the Church.  (The reports of Cardinal Ottaviani’s subsequent repudiation of the document are illogical given that virtually all of the pertinent facts remained the same.  If true, the conclusions of the document remain regardless.)


Ches discounts the Intervention entirely with his misunderstanding of the duty of the Catholic since it is not an “official” Church document, but to do so is a grave error, as God has not excused any of us from our use of reason and adherence to the Tradition of His Church.  Thus we will examine some excerpts from the document, which may remain to this day the best succinct critique of the Novus Ordo.


Regarding the much ballyhooed will or desire of the people for major reform of the liturgy:


“…the desire of the people was expressed, if at all, when—thanks to St. Pius X—they began to discover the true and everlasting treasures of the liturgy. The people never on any account asked for the liturgy to be changed or mutilated so as to understand it better. They asked for a better understanding of a changeless liturgy, and one which they would never have wanted changed.”


“The Roman Missal of St. Pius V was religiously venerated and most dear to Catholics, both priests and laity. One fails to see how its use, together with suitable catechesis, should have hindered a fuller participation in, and greater knowledge of, the Sacred Liturgy…”


In point of fact, there is no evidence at all that there were large bodies of faithful Catholics requesting a new Rite of Mass or anything similar anywhere in the western world.  What is documented is the fact that quite often the Novus Ordo was imposed quite against the will of the people and often parish priests as well; the liturgical periti were running the show in Europe and the states, and no dissent was tolerated.[15]


On the obfuscation of the Sacrifice:


“The definition of the Mass is thus limited to that of a ‘supper,’ and this term is found constantly repeated (nos. 8, 48, 55d, 56). This ‘supper’ is further characterized as an assembly presided over by the priest and held as a memorial of the Lord, recalling what He did on the first Maundy Thursday. None of this in the very least implies either the Real Presence, or the reality of the sacrifice, or the Sacramental function of the consecrating priest, or the intrinsic value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice independently of the people’s presence. It does not, in a word, imply any of the essential dogmatic values of the Mass which together provide its true definition. Here the deliberate omission of these dogmatic values amounts to their having been superseded and therefore, at least in practice, to their denial.”


“As is only too evident, the emphasis is obsessively placed upon the supper and the memorial instead of upon the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary. The formula ‘the Memorial of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord’ is, besides, inexact, the Mass being the memorial or the Sacrifice alone, in itself redemptive whilst the Resurrection is the consequent fruit of it.”


“The reason for this non-explicitness concerning the Sacrifice is quite simply that the Real Presence has been removed from the central position which it occupied so resplendently in the former Eucharistic liturgy. There is but a single reference to the Real Presence (a quotation—in a footnote—from the Council of Trent), and again the context is that of ‘nourishment’ (no. 241, note 63).  The Real and permanent Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the transubstantiated Species is never alluded to. The very word transubstantiation is totally ignored.”


But, says the dogmatic Council of Trent: “If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God, or that the act of offering is nothing else than Christ being given to us to eat, let him be anathema.”


It is a plain fact acknowledged on all sides that since the time of the council understanding and appreciation of the Mass have plummeted, even among weekly Mass-goers.  Well under half of the faithful believe in the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist (as did even the original “Reformers”[16]), never mind the more specific, accurate, and Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.  There are virtually none at a typical Sunday Novus Ordo Mass in the States who have the slightest idea as to the primary purpose of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice as opposed to a meal or communal gathering.  (In all of salvation history, the consuming of an oblation – the meal – follows and is secondary to its immolation.)


(My own reversion to the Catholic faith began with a reading of Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper in the early 2000s.  I began attending daily Mass at, I discovered some time later, the very same chapel that Hahn had attended.  But what is most curious is that by merely assisting at Mass there including reading all the prayers I did not come to an understanding of the true nature of the Mass, something that is not only typical but perhaps nearly universal.  The very opposite is the case with the Tridentine Rite; a mere reading of the vernacular translation of the Offertory and Canon in the missal makes the nature of the Mass completely clear even to someone almost completely uninitiated.)


On the general desacralization and elimination of supernatural character:


“It is laid down that the altar must be detached from the walls so that it is possible to walk round it and celebration may be facing the people... This will mark an irreparable dichotomy between the presence, in the celebrant, of the eternal High Priest and that same Presence brought about sacramentally. Before, they were one and the same presence.”


“The consecratory formulae are here pronounced by the priest as the constituents of a historical narrative and no longer enunciated as expressing the categorical and affirmative judgment uttered by Him in whose Person the priest acts…”


“Desacralizing omissions everywhere debase the mystery of the Church. She is not presented above all as a sacred hierarchy: angels and saints are reduced to anonymity in the second part of the collective Confiteor: they have disappeared, as witnesses and judges, in the person of St. Michael, from the first.”


On the obscuring of the sacerdotal priesthood:


“…the following words are addressed to the Lord: ‘from age to age you gather a people to Thyself, in order that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of Thy name,’ the in order that making it appear that the people, rather than the priest are the indispensable element in the celebration; and since not even here is it made clear who the offerer is, the people themselves appear to be invested with autonomous priestly powers.”


“Not a word do we now find as to the priest’s power to sacrifice, or about his act of consecration, the bringing about through him of the Eucharistic Presence. He now appears as nothing more than a Protestant minister.”


Such things should make the post-conciliar crash in priestly vocations quite easy to understand.  How many men want make the concessions a vocation demands to become the presider of a community supper (many or most of which were and are straight out of a 60s hippie commune in spirit)?  This is not hyperbolic commentary as anyone familiar with the true state of the Novus Ordo Church (at least in the west) can attest.


On the banality, lack of supernatural emphasis, focus on the temporal and the specific rather than the eternal and universal:


“From the outset therefore the new rite is launched as pluralistic and experimental, bound to time and place. Unity of worship, thus swept away for good and all, what will now become of the unity of faith that went with it, and which, we were always told, was to be defended without compromise?”


“By way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.”


How prescient has that proven?


Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and who chooses to use the intellect the Creator endowed them with understands exactly what happened to the Mass, which, again, is just what we were told by the innovators themselves.  It can be demonstrated very easily that the differences between the new Rite and the old correspond with astounding precision to what Luther and Cranmer themselves did 500 years ago.[17] 


Said Luther himself of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: “It is indeed upon the Mass as on a rock that the whole papal system is built, with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its collegiate churches, its altars, its ministries, its doctrine, i.e., with all its guts. All these cannot fail to crumble once their sacrilegious and abominable Mass falls.”[18]  The post-conciliar Vatican, which, in early 2015, publicly supported the renaming of a prominent square in the Eternal City after this arch-heretic, will also celebrate the 500th anniversary of his satanic rebellion from the true faith and the Church founded by Jesus Christ in 2017.


Misplaced, Invalid Motivations


We were told, at the time of its initiation, that the main reason for the new Rite of Mass was to better speak to “modern people”[19]who (it was presumed) were “fond of plain language which is easily understood”.[20]  With all due respect to the supreme pontiff (who, of course, was not even close to being protected from error in this particular document), this is pure bunk.  There is no such thing as “modern people”: people are the same as concerns relation to their Creator across time and space.  If man is now “modern” and needs a new liturgy (thoroughly dumbed-down to his modern, lower level, apparently) presumably he will be even more modern in five years and will need yet another new liturgy, and so on ad infinitum.


No, in reality, man – at least man seeking truth with his heart – has never wanted a liturgy brought down to Earth; rather, he wants to be lifted up to Heaven with the incense; he wants to understand and appreciate the startling, breathtaking beauty of the Holy Sacrifice as it really is, not in a bastardized, lowest-common-denominator form designed to please heretics (I use the term only objectively) and humanists who are more at home at the local Unitarian service.


Then and now and always, the notion of tailoring the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to please those who reject (if not despise) the theology it is built upon is diabolical madness.  The Church has always drawn good-hearted souls to Herself by placing Her truth upon a pedestal, not by covering it with dung.


Finally, we were told, “active participation” of the laity was of prime importance – indeed, shockingly, we were told that “full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else[21] (emphasis mine) – could the man-centered focus of the New Orientation be any more plain?  It isn’t proper worship of God or faithfulness to the doctrine of the Church that are of prime importance, but giving people a warm fuzzy that they’ve done their part too when they go to church! 


Pope St. Pius Xth tells me, in my 1962 missal, exactly and all I need to know regarding my participation in the Holy Sacrifice:


"The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists.  It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar.  If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the altar.  Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him.  You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar.  When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass."


Ches has this comment: “…one can still hold the new rite to be integrally Catholic, and yet consider that the culture of the extraordinary form, where the people are supposedly passive, tends to teach people to pray independently…”


Clearly this belies a complete misunderstanding of what true participation in the Mass for the laity is really about, at least according to St. Pius Xth.  Uniting oneself with the priest in offering the Sacrifice – which I might add, comes extremely naturally when praying the Tridentine Mass – is not “praying independently”.  Furthermore, I must offer that such is infinitely more important than the “active participation”  that Bugnini & company enshrined, which is simply outward, visible interaction of man with man


At the very root of the modern heterodoxy and loss of faith is the inversion of the Second and First Great Commandments.  Modern man wants to think he is loving God by loving man, when, in reality, love of God is the first and most important love, with love of fellow man following naturally from it.  Inversion of these imperatives completely destroys man’s proper relationship with God.


In 2006 this author and his future wife lived some intensely moving Mass experiences – one in the catacombs of Rome where many early Christian martyrs were laid to rest, and one in the presence of the awesome Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy.  These were Masses according to the Novus Ordo Rite.  At the time, we were just beginning to discover the full Tradition of the Church, and did not know the history of the Novus Ordo nor understand exactly why the Sacrifice was so shrouded in its vague, noncommittal language.  Now that I know better, I cannot, in good conscience, attend Novus Ordo Masses.  The well-formed Catholic does not allow emotionalism to overpower the intellect.




“…having begun thinking that the New Mass and Vatican II could not be accepted by the Catholic conscience, I now understood that the Catholic conscience was bound to recognise at least the Catholic character of the former and to assent religiously with mind and will to the latter.”


In the first part of this response, we demonstrated that Ches makes no distinction whatsoever between what is binding (according to the theologians and the Church Herself) and what is not regarding Vatican II.  To state simply that we must “assent… with mind and will” is inaccurate.  In truth, according to the pope, the council defined nothing binding – that is, requiring unequivocal assent; anything that is truly binding was the restatement of existing doctrine.


Concerning the Novus Ordo Rite of Mass, Ches’ statement is without precise meaning.  Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society have always taught that the Novus Ordo Rite could be use to confect a valid Sacrament.[22]  In that sense, the Novus Ordo does have “Catholic character”, and in this we see again the Holy Ghost’s protection of His Church.  However, it is also a matter of fact, according to its own creators and the promulgating pope himself, that this Rite of Mass was not designed to accurately express Catholic doctrine or to worship God in the most ideal manner possible, but to cater to non-Catholics and facilitate an entirely novel type of “participation” by the faithful.  Thus do I need to part company with Fr. Ches regarding whether or not faithful Catholics should take issue with such a thing; we know how faithful Catholics before “modern” times reacted to express novelties.


Fr. Ches seems to be entirely aware that the Novus Ordo downplays the making-present of Calvary, which has been infallibly defined by the Church to be the primary purpose of the Mass,[23] and of more elements entirely antithetical to Catholic theology and the entire history of the Church, yet ultimately accepts it all as he believes this is a necessary aspect of obedience to the Church.  This is a tragedy.  Archbishop Lefebvre pointed out that this crisis may be the devil’s master stroke in that he has managed to pit ecclesiastical obedience against Tradition itself.  However, to reiterate, obedience is a moral virtue which is subservient to the theological virtue of faith, of which the Tradition of the Church is an aspect.


Lastly, Fr. Ches plays the “in [full] communion” card.  The notion of varying levels of “communion” is another Vatican II novelty; it makes its appearance in Unitatis Redintegratio but the document does not define it.  What is doctrinal is the definition of schism, which was explored in Part I of this response.  No reasonable person could assert that the clergy of the SSPX are in schism because they recognize the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome and have never claimed jurisdiction for their own bishops, who were consecrated solely out of necessity – a necessity that the Catholic conscience knows exists.  The Vatican itself has agreed on numerous occasions.


My own conscience, and that of my wife’s, reached a new level of clarity after we began assisting at Society Masses.  Never had we had the Catholic Faith taught so clearly and so beautifully – not even in our five years’ attendance at Masses of the Institute of Christ the King.  When I stand at the Judgment I will be able to proclaim that it was nothing other than love of Jesus Christ and His Church that moved myself and my family to this path.


Disclaimer: I am merely a layman that assists at Society Masses; I do not speak for the SSPX in any capacity.



[1] Which, at the time of this writing, had been removed from his blog.  The author of this rebuttal can provide interested parties with the original text.

[2] Luke 12:57



[5] Since 1965 is the answer to that question.



[8] And we were told it is a new Rite indeed: “The Roman Rite is dead” – Concilium member Fr. Jungmann, S.J.




[12] See especially the books by Michael Davies on the subject



[15] Michael Davies, Liturgical Time Bombs (TAN Books, 2003)

[16] Davies, p31

[17] See Michael Davies, Cranmer’s Godly Order (Roman Catholic Books, 1995)

[18] Martin Luther, Against Henry, King of England, (Werke, 1522), Vol 10, p220


[20] Ibid.


[22] A valid Mass requires valid form, matter, and intent.  According to their own statements, many Novus Ordo priests lack proper intent, and thus the validity of their Masses is indeed put in doubt.

[23] See, for example,