We have started a little series of posts on the central themes of this website.
It was only fitting, then, that the first of these addressed the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
And the second addressed themes like Ireland and the collapse of Christianity in the West, above all the Anglophone West – as well as the rise of a new paganism, the New Age movement. (Again, above all in the Anglophone West.)
Yes, all these are central concerns of this website.
And as I have explained, they all emerge from my own biography. For I spent nearly twenty years of my life devoted to the New Age movement, knowing nothing of Christianity – and that certainly reflects the fact that I grew up in a de-Christianised, re-paganised England and America …
But we come now to other concerns scarcely mentioned so far – such as the Latin Mass and the desire to guard Catholic Tradition.
Where and how do these fit into the picture I have started unpacking here?
To answer this, I will continue drawing from my own autobiography …
My years in the New Age, as I have said, were contingent on this: I regarded the Church as nothing more than a human institution or belief-system.
Nothing in the first part of my life gave me the least impression that the Church, was, first and foremost, a sacred Mystery – a mystery with the power to turn one’s life inside-out …
Growing up in America and England, I thought of a church as somewhere you went and listened to a minister or preacher, sang a few hymns and maybe prayed a little. It all seemed very dull indeed to me – which only facilitated my interest in things New Age.
And so I had not the least idea of a church as a place of Holy Mystery.
This is to say: a site where a Priest celebrated a Mystery whereby God – having once become Man – now becomes present on an altar – and God was literally consumed and integrated into one’s being – body and soul … !
Nobody ever told me this is what the Church was.
Now, as I indicated last time, my fundamental confusion as to the true nature of the Church owes much, very much to my growing up in England and America, where Protestant conceptions of Christianity have held sway for centuries, where one naturally thinks of things like ministers, sermons, hymns and prayer.
But one doesn’t naturally think of a Holy Mystery being enacted on an altar, whereby one communes with God and incorporates His (perfect) Body and Blood into one’s own (fallen) flesh and blood …
My point is that this confusion as to the Church’s nature is endemic in Protestant cultures like my own, although it never used to be endemic in places like Ireland, where I now live …
But how does all this relate to matters like the Latin Mass and Catholic traditionalism?
Well, when I finally converted to Catholicism in the year 2000, I came to realise – more and more – that I had joined a Church which, in so many ways, was on its way towards becoming ‘Protestantised’.
Or in other words, I saw that Catholicism, since Vatican II in the 1960s, had taken dangerous steps towards becoming a clone of Protestantism. Yet, of course, it was not simply myself that saw it like this – but innumerable others.
Indeed, I owe this image of a direction in the Catholicism towards cloning Protestantism to none other than Joseph Ratzinger, speaking in the time before he became His Holiness Benedict XVI.*
And for Joseph Ratzinger, as for so many others, the results have been nothing less than disastrous …
For as Joseph Ratzinger also said, around 1985, twenty years after Vatican II:
What the Popes and Council Fathers were expecting was a new Catholic unity, and instead one has encountered a dissension which – to use the words of Paul VI – seems to have passed over from self-criticism to self-destruction.
There had been the expectation of a new enthusiasm, and instead too often it has ended in boredom and discouragement.
There had been the expectation of a step forward and instead one found oneself facing a progressive process of decadence, that to a large measure has been unfolding under the sign of a summons to the presumed ‘spirit of the Council’.
Yes, what Joseph Ratzinger saw so clearly in 1985, many people clearly see today – fifty years after Vatican II opened.
And this website joins that chorus of voices which witness to what Ratzinger called ‘a progressive process of decadence.’
All this relates to the Protestantisation of the Church – a Protestantisation which is nowhere more obvious than in the new liturgy of the Novus Ordo.
At this website, Kim – beloved wife and fellow blogger – and I write with grave concern about the new liturgy.
Yet again, this concern draws from our own biographies, our our own experience. For as we have often stated, we have travelled much and lived in several European countries in the last years – allowing us to witness the Novus Ordo in innumerable settings.
We have also witnessed first hand that terrible and tragic dissension in the Church, which Joseph Ratzinger even described as a process of ‘self-destruction’!
All of this, I am convinced, has very much to do with a Protestantised Novus Ordo.
And in making that provocative comment, I think I can do no better, at this point, than to reference an earlier post I wrote:
In saying these things, dear Reader … I know that across the world there are innumerable sincere Priests in fine parishes, which are not at all hives of subversive activity. Indeed, I risk injustice to many good Priests and laity.
For in writing these things, I have stressed a very concerted, very liberal faction of the Church. This faction exists and it carries on conscious, yet undeclared, warfare with those who try to consciously uphold Catholic tradition.
Between the two groups, however, is a large grouping of sincere Christians, who are – alas! – less than conscious of all that is at stake.
Sadly, my own travels across Europe (and even America) have confirmed that liturgical abuse is much more widespread than many souls readily appreciate.
Dear Reader: If your God-given lot has been the happy fortune of spending long years in a single, sincere parish with a reverent Priest of the Novus Ordo, you may not even realise just how bad things have truly become in the wider world. You may even ask: Why all this fuss?
My own God-given lot has been different. For my lot has been to travel from one country to the next, from one parish to the next, seeking out daily Mass everywhere I went. Years of daily Mass in innumerable settings has yielded me the often-sorry experience of thousands of Masses, by now, in English, French, Spanish, German and further languages besides.
All of this has been wretchedly instructive: It becomes all-too-clear how the Novus Ordo readily facilitates liturgical abuse.
Let me elaborate. For centuries, the Priest had his back turned; every soul turned together with the Priest to face the arrival of the Lord. And no doubt the Priest’s ad orientam position aided him to pray all the more intensively.
Now, facing an ‘audience’ it is far easier to become distracted from prayer.
Temptation frequently becomes all-too-great.
Now, the audience must be entertained.
The Priest ad-libs or even feels he needs to play comedian: Jokes must be cracked. This Mass must be made accessible to the world. Modern music must replace Gregorian, Baroque or humble, pious hymns. Bring out then the electric guitars! Let us harken to the strains of Pink Floyd, as we approach the altar of His Sacrifice.
A profound disjunction – nay, an abyss – opens out between the true, holy meaning of the Mass and the way that Mass is celebrated.
How many abuses can be witnessed when one travels and witnesses so many parishes: Priests as stand-up comics; Priests who aspire to be the star of the show; Priests who can barely conceal their trivialisation – even active disdain of the Sacrament.
In Switzerland, I witnessed a Priest who broke the bread before the consecration and then held the broken fragments at arm’s length. He did not raise these pieces of the host above, but stared at them – at eye-level and arm’s distance.
Quite honestly, he seemed to scowl at these pieces. And in the same country, another Priest recommended prolonged ‘Eucharistic fasting’ to his flock!
In France, I have assisted at Mass seated around something that looked very much like a large boardroom table. And the Mass was said in like fashion: The Priest kept asking questions, as though it were necessary to consult the fellow members of the board.
And a Bishop of France grinned inanely during the Mass, while he tapped his crozier in time to a rock beat.
Will you accuse me of being all-too-subjective, dear Reader, with my talk of zany Bishops or scowling Priests? Well, accuse me then! I will roundly declare that I saw not the least hint of reverence in either and my soul is shuddering still at that Swiss Priest’s icy glare …
Moreover, dear Reader, I have witnessed even worse. I recall one unhappy parish I stayed in, where a newly-arrived Priest initiated open warfare with his sacristant. The sacristant and her old friends in the parish valiantly tried to maintain their traditions.
But their new, ultra-liberal Priest would not refuse one dirty trick after another in his efforts to undermine them. The sacristant was dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion and the Priest openly confessed to me his utter revulsion for this Saint Faustina’s legacy to this world.
He even tore up the sacristant’s literature before her eyes. His hostility to the Holy Father was marked. Eventually, the sacristant abandoned her parish, broken-hearted, and found a traditional Latin Mass community instead …
I report these things because the grace of a travelling lifestyle has provided me with an unusual set of windows onto the world – windows onto innumerable parishes throughout Western Europe. From this, it is clear how many Priests, and indeed Bishops, have lost the true understanding of the Mass.
And all of this is just one man’s own personal experience!
Surfing the Internet one can find untold further reports of things like: ‘Clown Masses’ (with the Priest dressed as a clown); an Easter bunny Mass (the Priest concelebrates with the Easter bunny, who hands out chocolate); a Doritos Mass (the Priest attempts to consecrate tortilla chips instead of bread); coffee, Mountain Dew and Kool-aid Masses (the Priest attempts to consecrate other beverages than wine); a Spongebob Mass (where a figure of Spongebob Squarepants features prominently in the sanctuary during Mass); a ventriloquist Mass (the Priest celebrates the Mass with a ventriloquist dummy) and a cheesehead Mass (where the Priest wears what appears to be a block of cheese on his head).
The terrible truth is that as the Catholic Church ‘protestantised’ herself by abandoning her transcendent liturgy in Latin, her new liturgy became, all-too-often, like the ‘happy-clappy’, evangelical or even rock and roll services one finds in modern Protestant denominations.
And here, dear Reader is only one reason is why we declare loudly at this website: Catholicism must not become a clone of Protestantism!
We will pause now, before resuming this little series of posts on this website’s main concerns. We will be speaking more, then, of matters like the Latin Mass and the need to guard Catholic tradition.
But for now, I simply direct your attention to a post Kim has written of the Latin Mass in a heartfelt way.
Now, this post from Kim also contains a video of Elvis Presley – a video which must be seen to believed …
For this video of Elvis – I kid you not, good Reader – is all to do with the tragedy we have just been speaking of.
*This image of a tendency within Catholicism to clone Protestantism can be found in different places in Cardinal Ratzinger’s book Salt of the Earth, which we have reviewed here. Ratzinger indicates that he owes the image, in turn, to Johann Baptist Metz.