The New Mass Is Not Protestant.
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I am not very certain in the argument presented on the site in "The New Mass: A Flavor of Protestantism" by Marian T. Horvat. I am a recent convert who has been drawn to the Church from an early age. I was raised Protestant, a group known by many as Word of Faith, and find no similarities between mass in English and Protestant services.
Firstly, while mass attendance has been shown to drop over the post Vatican II years it is currently on the rise among "cradle" Catholics and RCIA converts.
Second, I do not sense or see a loss of "sacrificial character" in the mass. While it may not be mentioned in a bold statement as traditional masses it is felt presented in the solemnity of the service, prayers and responses.
While there is a sense of it being a memorial of Christ's death it is more than that and expressed as such in words and action. As for the stressing as people being essential to the mass, that is true. The believers presence is essential to the mass just as the priest is essential. He is the main "player" but believers have another more secondary role as well.
I believe that it is incorrect for someone to write that the Novus Ordo was intended to appease Protestant when that was not its purpose, even if it can be construed as such. It was intended to bring the Mass to more people, more nation. Among recent converts that I have meet during my RCIA experience many have voice that the traditional mass was confusing to them and that if it was still in use uniformly throughout the Church they most likely would not have join the Catholic Church. They have said they were drawn to the Church because Protestantism, in some cases, was missing something. Something they found within the mass.
I am aware the site supports a return to Tradition Mass, which I am not against, however such strong statements as presented in the above mentioned essay/article may offend, confuse or alienate certain people.
Z.G-K. - Medieval Historian
Fr. Somerville responds:
You do not see similarities between the New Mass and the Protestant service because you are coming from a Protestant perspective. When a person has his hand in cold water and puts it in warm water, it feels hot; when a person has his hand in hot water and puts it in warm water, it feels cold. So, since you are coming from Protestantism you consider that the New Mass is more traditional than a Protestant service. It is a normal subjective reaction. But objectively speaking, this does not prove that the New Mass is not heading toward Protestantism when you contrast it with the Tridentine Mass.
The objective fact is that since the 1960’s and the onset of ecumenical fervor, much effort has been exerted by the Vatican to reduce differences between the Catholic and Protestant religions.
Catholic churches often sing Protestant hymns. Also, the content has changed. I once made a comparison of the Tridentine Catholic Mass with the Novus Ordo Mass. I tallied the deletions from the Tridentine Catholic Mass of gestures and references to the real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood and the allusions to the real sacrifice of the Cross that is truly realized in the Holy Mass. I found more than 50 deletions after I reckoned in the non-use of the Roman Canon, a prayer rich in references to the real Presence and Sacrifice. Priests nowadays usually skip the Roman Canon, having chosen a shorter one. This is an enormous “appeasement” (your word) to Protestant doctrine.
You say that Mass attendance is on the rise among “RCIA converts.” Such are by definition Protestants or other non-Catholics who have decided to turn Catholic and take up Sunday Mass going. One hundred per cent of these come to Mass, or should. But my own reading indicates that in fact many of these converts are lapsing from the Mass. Such converts, you say, tell you that the Traditional Mass had been confusing and unattractive. This attitude may be due to the anti-Tradition bias of the catechists.
Prior to Vatican II, there was a much higher rate of Protestants seeking to become Catholic, and a much higher rate of attendance among born Catholics. Mass then was not found confusing and repelling. The widespread use of Latin-English missals (prayer books) with parallel columns made everything clear to the people after a short period of becoming accustomed to the rite.
Does Protestantism sometimes “miss something?” Indeed it does. Catholics believe in and claim the real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood and Soul and Divinity at Mass. Protestants deny the real Presence. Moreover, the action involved is that of the Sacrifice of Christ, the greatest conceivable and sublime act of love of all time. Jesus, who is Priest, Victim, and Altar, renews His Calvary-Ascension self-oblation to His Father, Who accepts this gift in the union of their Holy Spirit of mutual love.
Such divine action takes place at every valid Mass. But the Protestant founders denied the reality of this liturgical Sacrifice. What a fearful impoverishment of worship for Protestants was wrought by Luther and Calvin and Cranmer! What a tragic policy for Catholics now to protestantize their once holy Liturgy!
To conclude: No, it is not true that the presence of the people is “essential” at Mass. The priest offering alone (with his acolyte, at a Missa privata) still makes glorious sense. On Calvary, Jesus had only Mary, John, and a handful of women. Only His Mother understood the action of her Son. Crowds of the perfidious bystanders hurled their insults. But today, the faithful Catholic remnant proudly and reverently maintain this Holy Sacrifice, this Breaking of Bread, this omnis honor et gloria, all honor and glory to God. These are the closing words of the priest at the end of the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer) of the Mass.
Joy and light to you and to all who love Catholic Tradition,
In Christ Jesus,
Fr. Stephen Somerville
Related Topics of Interest
Paul VI Invited Protestants to Write the New Mass
The October Revolution
The Augsburg Accord
From Pentecostalism to Apostasy
Let None Call It Liberty
Revolution and Counter-Revolution
Some Great Anti-Protestant Saints
St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Philip Neri
St. Peter Canisius
St. Adalbert of Prague
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