Something from SSPX Bp. Williamson… remember him?

I can’t access the site of SSPX Bp. Williamson, but some of you have sent me his latest message, which I look at with my emphases and comments.

ELEISON  COMMENTS CXXVII (Dec. 12, 2009) : CALMING  CONFUSION. 

It has taken three issues of "Eleison Comments" to disentangle why the alleged death-bed testimony of Cardinal Lienart (EC 121) could easily be true, given that it corresponds exactly to how the validity of the Catholic sacraments has been imperilled by the Conciliar sacramental Rites introduced after Vatican II (EC 124, 125, 126).  A friendly critic thinks that I have been too concerned to defend the validity of the Conciliar sacraments. But I no more want to exaggerate their validity than their invalidity. [I didn’t see the earlier articles.  I am hoping that he isn’t saying that the sacraments celebrated according to the post-Conciliar books are invalid.]
 
For indeed no reasonable person who loves the truth wants to do anything other than conform his mind to reality, because truth is defined as "the matching of mind and reality". If a situation is black, I want to call it black. If it is white, I want to call it white. And if it is varying shades of grey in between, I want to make that grey in my mind no more grey-black nor grey-white than it is in reality.
 
Now it is true that any one sacrament administered in real life will have been either valid or invalid. There are no more shades between valid and invalid than there are between pregnant and not pregnant. But if we consider the Conciliar sacraments [Is that a real distinction?  Conciliar sacraments?] being all the time administered throughout the Newchurch as a whole, we can only say some are valid, some are invalid, but they have all been placed on a slide towards invalidity by the Conciliar Rites’ total thrust to replace the religion of God with the religion of man. That is why the Newchurch is on its way to disappearing altogether, and why the Society of St. Pius X can in no way allow itself to be absorbed into it. [So… that seems to be a "no" vote concerning the discussions going on between the SSPX and the Holy See.  I wonder what Bp. Fellay thinks about this statement by his SSPX brother.]
 
But at what exact point on that slide any given priest or priests, for instance, so lose the true idea of the Church that they can no longer Intend to do what the Church does, God alone knows. It may well be that to reach that point takes more than I suggested in EC 125. Maybe it takes less, as our critic suggests. In any case, since only God can know for sure, I do not need to know. All I need to have clear in my mind is that the Conciliar Rites have put God’s sacraments on a slide away from God, and once it is clear to me that they are helping to destroy the Church, that they were even designed to destroy the Church, I should stay away from them.
 
Meanwhile, as to just how far down the slide is this or that priest, or even the Newchurch as a whole, I will apply the great principle of St. Augustine: "In things certain, unity; in things doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity". [Actually, that’s not Augustine.] And within the framework of certainties such as, within the Newchurch neither already nothing, nor everything still, is Catholic, I mean to extend to my fellow-Catholics the same liberty to judge of things uncertain as I hope they will extend to me. Mother of God, obtain the rescue of the Church !                                      

Kyrie eleison.
      
London, England

He sounds like a Donatist.

About that phrase often attributed to St. Augustine…

A form of this phrase, pops up at first in about 1628 in German Lutheran circles.  It seems to have come from one Rupertus Meldinius, also known as, Peter Meiderln, in his tract entitled Paraenesis votiva pro Pace Ecclesiae ad Theologos Augustanae Confessionis:

 

Verbo dicam: Si nos servaremus in necesariis Unitatem, in non-necessariis Libertatem, in utrisque Charitatem, optimo certe loco essent res nostrae…. I’ll say it in a word: If we preserve Unity in essentials, Liberty in non-essentials, and Charity in both, our dealings would be in the best situation.

 

Anyway, it is nice to see that SSPX Bp. Williamson quoting a Lutheran writer.

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88 Responses to Something from SSPX Bp. Williamson… remember him?

  1. Fr. Steve says:

    What’s up with the term “Newchurch” ? I now see why the Vatican and the SSPX are having doctrinal talks. Do most in SSPX think this way?

  2. Choirmaster says:

    This isn’t helping. Someone tell him that he’s not helping!

    However, I can’t completely ignore his point. I have noticed that it is almost entirely impossible to invalidate a Sacrament; especially the Eucharist. Remember Cardinal Schoenborn’s Mass in the Vienna Cathedral? Matter and form were demonstrably violated (and the intent was suspect but, nevertheless, hidden) yet the Holy See remains silent, and the rest of the clergy is bouncing off the walls to find the loophole that proves the validity of that Mass.

    My opinion remains that if the Church did, indeed, make the tough call on validity in these circumstances the floor would drop from the Modernist movement (because we would all have to face the fact the the rules–the rubrics–really do mean something, and too many prelates (and popes) are invested just enough (or filled with enough pride) to keep silence and “trust in the Holy Spirit.”

    We are on a slippery slope. The wandering Bishop is correct (even though his talking about it in public is not helping)!

    I believe in [the Sacraments’] validity, but only because if I didn’t the Visible and Universal Church would cease to exist when the last of the usus antiquior orders have passed, and that would violate the validity of our Lord’s promise.

  3. Choirmaster says:

    Correction:

    “…really do mean something, and too many…”

    Should be:

    “…really do mean something), and too many…”

  4. jlmorrell says:

    His use of the term “Newchurch” is unfortunate. It causes nothing but suspicion and distrust on both sides – as evidenced by Fr. Steve’s comment.

    I am personally very sympathetic to the SSPX and hope that the doctrinal talks bear fruit. I also think that excellent points have been made by traditional groups regarding the sacraments after the reforms of Paul VI. How many priests, at Holy Mass, truly intend to offer and perpetuate the sacrifice of Calvary? I don’t know. But I do know that some in the SSPX need to use better tact if they want to sway “regular” Catholics to view them favorably.

  5. Choirmaster says:

    Well, I goofed!

    I think the wandering Bishop was actually indicating that the rubrics and rules themselves are making the Sacraments invalid.

    In that case, we are dealing with an intense ecclesiological consideration: Can the Church promulgate an invalid Sacramental formula?

    I don’t know the answer to that, but I maintain my first point that Wandering Williamson is not helping.

  6. Nathan says:

    Fr. Steve: What’s up with the term “Newchurch” ?

    Father, that’s a pretty old term used among “old trads.” It comes from the heyday of the liturgical innovators, when it sure seemed as if the entire heirarchy had decided to replace the Catholic Faith with something completely different.

    It seems to me that its use today, especially in the light of the Holy Father’s generosity to both the SSPX and all Catholics who love the traditional liturgy and the Faith expressed in tradtional terms, stems in no small part from the distrust and pain associated with the treatment (and percieved treatment) of both of those groups prior to (just to use a benchmark) Summorum Pontificum.

    In Christ,

  7. chcrix says:

    Father Z:

    I have seen the earlier articles. Bishop W. is not saying the sacraments celebrated with the post-V2 books are invalid.

    I think a fair summation of his views is that the Post V2 forms are clearly inferior, and that this inferiority will increase the chance over time of sacraments so poorly celebrated that they may veer into the realm of the invalid.

    So B. Williamson feels that the new forms should be eschewed. As an analogy a reading teacher would be well advised to use phonics rather than “whole word” reading instruction. It doesn’t mean that “whole word” always fails, and it doesn’t mean that phonics always succeeds. It also doesn’t mean that many have not learned to read via “whole word”. It just means that if you want a 99plus% chance of success you will do phonics. It also means that phonics may make it possible for a mediocre teacher to achieve good results, wheras “whole word” may lead to disaster.

    I think someone posted some similar idea about the NO and EF of the mass. The NO is actually best suited to the MOST orthodox priests since they will be the ones least likely to take objectionable liberties. The least orthodox priests would benefit from being constrained by the EF.

    So he sees no point in bothering with the new forms. I confess that I am not too far from his view on this.

  8. To add to the irony of his use of that quote, it actually appears in an encyclical from John XXIII, the pope who issued in the Council that +Williamson denounces. But the Holy Father had mind enough not to incorrectly attribute it to Augustine. In Par. 72 of Ad Petri cathedram he wrote: “But the common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    When his excellency was in Argtenia one could forgive his rash comments and charitably assume that the heat had affected his brain, but after almost a year back in England with our ‘wonderfull weather’ one wonders whether the damage was perminent.

  10. Mark01 says:

    Choirmaster said, “This isn’t helping. Someone tell him that he’s not helping!” I think his article makes it clear that he does not want to help. To quote him, “That is why the Newchurch is on its way to disappearing altogether, and why the Society of St. Pius X can in no way allow itself to be absorbed into it. ” It would seem that he doesn’t want talks to continue because he believes his church is now the true church and he doesn’t want to be taken over by the false church, i.e. the Catholic Church.

  11. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Thanks for the clarification on the “Augustine” quote. That one pops up from time to time under all attributions, including Augustine & John XXIII.

  12. jerzm says:

    Choirmaster: “This isn’t helping”. I do not think this is important whether bishop Williamson statements are helpful. The real question is whether such statements are true. So, is it possible for the Catholic Church to promulgate such rites of sacraments which are harmful for Catholics?

  13. Choirmaster says:

    @Mark01: I think you might be on to something.

    Would it help if the Society somehow disassociated him?

    I’ve been pulling for him for a while now, but–and I repeat–he’s not helping. The SSPX needs “Newchurch” because, like it or not, “Newchurch” is the real Church, no matter how disfigured and ugly it has been made by the tortures of Modernism!

  14. robtbrown says:

    However, I can’t completely ignore his point. I have noticed that it is almost entirely impossible to invalidate a Sacrament; especially the Eucharist. Remember Cardinal Schoenborn’s Mass in the Vienna Cathedral? Matter and form were demonstrably violated

    How were they violated?

    (and the intent was suspect but, nevertheless, hidden)
    Comment by Choirmaster

    Why suspect?

  15. moon1234 says:

    Any priest consecrating a cookie, doughnut, levened bread, etc. and modifying the words of consecration, etc. is already violating form and matter. A properly formed priest would KNOW that these things are WRONG, so it would lead a learned layman to wonder about the priest’s intent. If the priest has a genuine intention to consecreate it usually follows that he also wants to maintain proper form and matter as well.

    This one comment of Williamson is hard to judge without seeing any of the previous dialogue that it is based on. In any event the questions are valid. They may not be PC, but then Bishop Williamson has always had a flare for openly showing his cards. Many people today are not comfortable with his questions. If he were out and out wrong it would be simple matter to refute his claims.

    Those who wish to slap the Holy Father with a dead fish will surely be unable to resist the bait the Bishop Williamson has thrown out into the pond. Let’s hope it will be poison chum to them.

  16. Choirmaster says:

    How were they violated?

    The use of unapproved matter (leavened bread) as a host is a violation of matter. Form was violated throughout, but I will choose the balloons as a violation of form (note well that a violation in form for the Eucharist need not be limited to the Consecration).

    Why suspect?

    Because His Eminence knows–knows–that he was violating matter and from, as well as violating the spirit and now-broken tradition of the Latin rite. This is a safe assumption because his credentials speak to the fact that he is duly trained and competent to fulfill his duties as a Bishop.

  17. robtbrown says:

    The use of unapproved matter (leavened bread) as a host is a violation of matter.

    Leavened bread in not invalid matter.

    Form was violated throughout, but I will choose the balloons as a violation of form (note well that a violation in form for the Eucharist need not be limited to the Consecration).

    Sacramental Form refers to the Words of consecration. Balloons on the altar, celebrants in clown suits, etc., might be sacrilegious, but they are not Sacramental Form.

    Because His Eminence knows—knows—that he was violating matter and form,

    This premise is incorrect. See Above.

    as well as violating the spirit and now-broken tradition of the Latin rite. This is a safe assumption because his credentials speak to the fact that he is duly trained and competent to fulfill his duties as a Bishop.

    That’s not enough to invalidate the Sacrament Form, Matter, and Intention.

    The Minimal intention required for validity is not specific to each Sacrament.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Any priest consecrating a cookie, doughnut, levened bread, etc. and modifying the words of consecration, etc. is already violating form and matter.

    I probably agree about cookies and doughnuts, unless their contents are wheat bread and water.

    Leavened bread, however, is used in the Eastern Rites. Are you saying their masses are not valid?

    A properly formed priest would KNOW that these things are WRONG, so it would lead a learned layman to wonder about the priest’s intent.

    Depends on how learned the layman is.


    If the priest has a genuine intention to consecreate it usually follows that he also wants to maintain proper form and matter as well.
    Church intends.
    Comment by moon1234

    Once again: The Minimal Intention required for valid celebration of any Sacrament is general and is is the same for every Sacrament. To intend what the Church intends.

    Minimal intention for the celebration of the Eucharist is NOT the intention of consecrating the species. It is to intend what the Church intends. The Sacramental Form (This is my Body, etc) is the specific expression of the intention of the Church.

  19. robtbrown says:

    One other point on the words of consecration (Sacramental Form). Every modification of it does not invalidate the Sacrament, only a change destroys the essence of the meaning.

  20. Choirmaster says:

    Leavened bread in not invalid matter.

    In the Latin Rite? Really? I think the rubrics specify unleavened, but I may be mistaken about this, they may specify any baked good.

    Sacramental Form refers to the Words of consecration.

    No. If that were true one could confect the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Mass.

    That’s not enough to invalidate the Sacrament Form, Matter, and Intention.

    I know. But it is enough to justify suspicion about his intentions.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Bp Williamson is correct in saying that a Sacrament is either valid or invalid. IMHO, his mistake is that he seems to think that doubtful validity means invalidity.

  22. MichaelJ says:

    robtbrown,
    How should a Catholic approach a Sacrament of, as you put it, doubtful validity?

  23. dcs says:

    I’ve read Bp. Williamson’s earlier comments on this subject and I do not think he is quite correct about sacramental intention. For example, he states that in order to intend to do what the Church does one must have knowledge about what the Church is. But we know that even pagans and Muslims can have the intention in order to baptize validly, and it is hard to believe that all such people have knowledge of what the Church is.

  24. dcs says:

    If that were true one could confect the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Mass.

    One “can” do so – it is not permitted, it would be illicit but not invalid. Hope this helps. The form of the Sacrament is the Words of Institution, period.

    Leavened bread is illicit matter but not invalid.

    Hope this helps.

  25. MichaelJ says:

    dcs,
    Don’t you think that a Catholic Priest should be held to a higher standard when it comes to Sacramental intent than a pagan or muslim?

    I agree that valid intent does not depend on perfect knowledge, but I am greatly troubled by your seemingly cavalier attitude. Does it not bother you – at all – if a Priest has no idea about what the Church is or what She intends?

  26. robtbrown says:

    MichaelJ,

    The question concerns Minimal Intention Sacramental Validity, not what is appropriate intention for a priest.

  27. robtbrown says:

    How should a Catholic approach a Sacrament of, as you put it, doubtful validity?
    Comment by MichaelJ

    I think the first question someone needs to ask himself is whether he’s qualified to determine that it’s doubtful.

  28. robtbrown says:

    dcs,

    Bp Williamson seems to make the mistake common to many SSPX people: He assumes that minimal intention is specific.

    Minimal intention is general–it is Sacramental Form that is specific.

  29. robtbrown says:

    The question concerns Minimal Intention Sacramental Validity, not what is appropriate intention for a priest.

    Should read: Minimal Intention required for Sacramental Validity

  30. moon1234 says:

    robtbrown

    I think you are proving what Bishop Williamson is stating. You are willing to accept the most very basic intention, illicit, improper form, improper matter and doubtful intentions. THIS is what he is suggesting is a defect with the NO. It ALLLOWS for things like this on a much GRANDER scale than the EF ever would.

    According to your description, A priest could go the freezer at home, take out an eggo waffle (Whole wheat of course), perform the words of consecration and it would be a valid sacrament (As long as he had the minimal intent of the church. According to your definition this would be a valid consecration. Sorry I just don’t buy that. It would be such an extreme violation of everything Catholic to the point of being almost evil. Yet this actually goes on and you seem to be fine with it.

    I think Bishop Williamson’s words are wise. He doesn’t come right out and say the NO sacraments are invalid, but he does correctly state that the lack of rigid rubrics can easily lead to the behaviour above. You then demonstrate that you think this would be perfectly valid (Improper form, improper matter and very dubious intent.)

    Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis.

  31. Brian2 says:

    Isn’t there a story somewhere about Fritz Wilhelmson downing a bottle of wine at a restaurant after an apostate priest pronounced the words of consecration over it. The details of the story might be helpful here, in cashing out what is meant by ‘minimal intention’, but they escape me.

  32. Bob Brown, you are exactly right about what is required required for matter and form. Which is to be expected from a doctor of theology from the Angelicum. Here no need to continue repeating the obvious to the deaf.

    And an Eggo is not valid matter as it contains sufficient sugar and other ingrediants so as not to be bread. It is a waffle.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    Rbtbrown, you said: “Bp Williamson is correct in saying that a Sacrament is either valid or invalid. IMHO, his mistake is that he seems to think that doubtful validity means invalidity.”

    Would you believe that doubtful validity = validity? In every case?

    I realize that most mass abuse doesn’t invalidate the mass, of course, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t say that “doubtful validity = validity” IN EVERY CASE. When you see someone really, really totally botch the mass, as I have seen just once in my 25 years as a Catholic, suddenly you are faced with huge issues, the least of which is whether you should step forward to receive. Indeed, the best thing one can do it walk out!

    The real heart-breaker is that nothing is done. If you complain, you get called names and the priest is coddled. You learn who to avoid. This is a huge scandal and it can’t help but be causing damage to the Church.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    A priest whose actions cause a significant number of people attending his masses to have doubts about what is happening during his masses is a scoundrel, a cheat and a man to be avoided at all times. God only knows what else he might do with a mindset like that.

  35. Maltese says:

    *To quote him, “That is why the Newchurch is on its way to disappearing altogether, and why the Society of St. Pius X can in no way allow itself to be absorbed into it. ” It would seem that he doesn’t want talks to continue because he believes his church is now the true church and he doesn’t want to be taken over by the false church, i.e. the Catholic Church.*

    I very much doubt that +Wlilliamson would entertain the validity of sacraments from a “false church.” To be “absorbed” into something, in Williamson’s reasoning, means to be overtaken by it–to be enmeshed with it. In the milieu of the sacramental discussion, supra, Williamson is only saying that he, vis a vis, the Society, wants to retain a division with respect to pre-conciliar v. post-conciliar sacramental formulas. He is not saying that he disagrees with a rapprochement with Rome in line with a personal prelature, or whatever structure is decided upon. The returning Anglicans are reintegrating into the Church without an “absorption” away from their traditions.

    But if anyone thinks Summorum Pontificum has had any real impact–aside from a few nice examples here and there–in bringing the Church back around to her roots, they would be very mistaken. It’s business as usual, mostly, throughout the world. “Catholics” continue to contracept and abort at a rate with the general population, and almost universally disbelieve in a central teaching–perhaps THE central teaching–of the Church: the True Presence.

    Essentially, Christ is ignored in His own Body. How can we really disagree with Williamson that, in a sense, we have a “Newchurch,” in ways, since the council? But that it is still, in its essentials, the same Church, albeit one in crisis, I believe Williamson would agree with. When Arians overtook the Church, they created a “Newchurch,” in many ways, but in her essence–her heart–the Church was still there.

  36. “You are willing to accept the most very basic intention, illicit, improper form, improper matter and doubtful intentions.”

    I can’t speak for Mr. Brown, but I don’t think it is the case that he approves of playing around with the Mass. He merely states that the Sacrament will still be valid as long as the basic intent is there. Which is good, because it means that it is very hard for even the most goofy priest to deprive his parishioners of the Sacraments.

    “THIS is what he is suggesting is a defect with the NO. It ALLLOWS for things like this on a much GRANDER scale than the EF ever would.”

    Don’t be silly. It is possible to violate the texts and rubrics of the Old Rite as much as you is the case with the new. The reason this doesn’t happen on a grand scale is merely that the Old Rite is almost exclusively celebrated by priests who have no interest in doing so.

  37. Will D. says:

    Don’t be silly. It is possible to violate the texts and rubrics of the Old Rite as much as you is the case with the new. The reason this doesn’t happen on a grand scale is merely that the Old Rite is almost exclusively celebrated by priests who have no interest in doing so.

    Thank you for pointing this out, it’s one of my pet peeves with some traditionally-minded Catholics. There is an assumption that somehow one form is more resistant to abuse than another. I don’t think that’s the case.

    If Father Bubblehead celebrates the OF with whimsical abandon, he could certainly do it to the EF as well. If Father Pious celebrates the EF with solemnity and respect, he could certainly do it in the OF as well.

    It’s really down to the intent of the priest, while the rubrics are certainly narrower in the EF, most of the egregious abuses in the OF are done when the priest throws the rubrics aside. In either form, Father Zuhlsdorf’s bon mot is the right way to go: “Say the Black, Do the Red.”

  38. jlmorrell says:

    Gideon and Will D.,

    I disagree with you that both the old and new Mass can be violated with the same ease. I assert that the TLM is much more resistant to abuse than the NO. One reason is the use of Latin in the old Mass, which prevents the incessant ad lib that takes place in the NO.

    One example from my NO parish – the priest ad libs the ecce agnus dei every single mass, trying to incorporate some theme from the Mass into it (i.e. Behold the good shepherd,our savior, the lamb of God who takes away…). Most priests would not have the proficiency in Latin to do this, thus serving as a protection against abuse and forcing the priest to say the black.

    Of course, I’m not saying that a careless priest cannot abuse the older form of Mass, just that it is more difficult and resistant to this abuse – one reason, among others, being the Latin.

  39. Geoffrey says:

    Who is his superior? Can’t he be told to “keep quiet!”? *sigh!*

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    jlmorrell,
    They can. The traditional community here had to request that one local priest not substitute for the regular one because he was winging it, leaving out parts he didn’t like and singing whenever he felt like it. It was a mess. The community’s stance was that they’d forgo the latin mass on weeks when the regular priest couldn’t come rather than put up with the aberrations. He knew what he was doing, but he didn’t take it very seriously. It was pretty tense for a while. (This was shortly before the Motu Proprio.)

  41. Dave N. says:

    First off–lots of confusion above between “illicit” and “invalid” it seems to me.

    Second, the “…why the Society of St. Pius X can in no way allow itself to be absorbed into it” comment seems to refer to the talks with the Vatican. If this is indeed the case, the comment either points to some serious disagreement and dissent within the SSPX itself, or someone’s not negotiating in good faith, or there’s a great deal of confusion here.

  42. greg the beachcomber says:

    I was familiar with the term “Newchurch” 30 years before I knew there was such a thing as traditional Catholicism. It was bandied about in the NO parishes I attended with pride. Perhaps this is what Bishop Williamson means by “the matching of mind and reality,” or what I’d consider “calling a spade a spade.”

    It’d be a little like me taking offense at being called a “beachcomber,” since I gave myself the moniker. Now “lazy beachcomber” is another matter; that hits WAY too close to home.

  43. dcs says:

    Does it not bother you – at all – if a Priest has no idea about what the Church is or what She intends?

    The fact that it bothers me – lots of things bother me, by the way – does not make the Sacraments he celebrates invalid. It simply means that I might avoid his Masses if I have the option.

    One need not know what the Church intends in order to intend to do what the Church does. One can even have very wrong ideas about what the Church does and still have the necessary intention.

  44. Davidtrad says:

    Dr. Brown is right.

  45. Davidtrad says:

    The tragedy isn’t that these sacrilegious Masses are invalid. The tragedy is that they ARE valid.

    Even the ones that aren’t riddled with obvious liturgical abuses… still Our Blessed Lord is subjected to near Pelagian prayers, and one or more of the following: a closed circle of Self worship, banal music, lowest common denominator architecture (if not downright satanic International Style architecture), indifference, immodesty, absently recited rote responses, near total absence of interior prayer.

    Really, it makes one wish that the Lutherans had valid Masses… at least they have Bach.

  46. Mike says:

    Aside from the discussion of validity/invalidity (not particularly helpful, sorry guys)…Bp Williamson’s remarks, it seems to me, are utterly destructive in regard to healing the Church’s wounds inflicted–yes, self-inflicted–over the last 40 years. My goodness, doesn’t the man understand that this line of discussion, with it rhetorical harshness, is counter-productive. We need SSPX good w. Rome; we don’t need rhetorical brushfires.

  47. Davidtrad says:

    Why are Bishop Williamson’s remarks “utterly destructive” “rhetorical brushfires”? In comparison to sacrilegious Masses that occur daily, Masses to which traditionalists react with such disgust, his remarks are more like a spark in the swamp.

  48. Fr. Steve says:

    jlmorrell said,
    “I disagree with you that both the old and new Mass can be violated with the same ease. I assert that the TLM is much more resistant to abuse than the NO. One reason is the use of Latin in the old Mass, which prevents the incessant ad lib that takes place in the NO.”

    jlmorrell, I have to disagree with this. I think the reason why it would seem easier to violate the mass in the venacular is because it is more obvious to the people, for the priest is speaking out loud in a familar tongue. It can happen just as frequently with the same ill intent, for the priest to mumble through the Latin and skip over some parts, which was admittingly known to happen, by some priest who wants to “get it over with” and go watch the football game. This latter violation, would not be as easly known by the people but likewise an abuse none the less.

  49. Is Bishop Williamson talking about the ‘abuses’ of the Ordinary Form or the Ordinary Form in its Latin or correct vernacular usage?
    That’s what I would like to know.
    Sometimes these issues get very confusing when we do not know exactly what is being talked about.
    If the case is that he is questioning the validity of the Sacraments, according to the revised rites, this is just wrong, and is schismatic if not apostasy.
    Otherwise, if he is talking about the the liturgical abuses that go on within the Ordinary Form, there may be some justification, according to what EXACTLY he is referring to. If the revised rite of Ordination of Priests is, according to his estimation, invalid, then I am an invalidly consecrated priest; Archbishop Raymond Burke ordained me in the Ordinary Rite in 2003. If this is not correct then I am an impostor and a blasphemer.
    Is this what Bishop Williamson is saying?
    I hope to God, not.
    I hope he is, in fact, speaking of the aberrations and disobedience of those who do not follow the rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
    Otherwise, chaos.
    Just read the blogspots and web pages of the Society of St. Pius V.
    Jesus, help us!

  50. Okay, I’ve thought about the pejorative term “apostasy” in my previous post and reconsidered that this is not the correct term. Calm down, please.
    Never the less, if the sacraments are invalid in the Ordinary Form, ‘per se’, then we are in big trouble, MEGA trouble.
    I cannot believe this. No way.
    But if Holy Mother Church has given us invalid sacraments, then I, and the rest of us “novus ordo” priests should find another profession. Tomorrow.
    Otherwise, these Bishops, priests, whoever who deny the validity of the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church, no matter what form, should shut the hell up. And I mean it.

  51. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Thank God for Dr. Brown and Fr. Thompson, OP, in this comments section. They are actually quoting what is found in the most orthodox manuals of sacramental theology, and have a great grasp of the mind of the Church.

    Bishop Williamson’s comments about validity of “Newchurch” sacraments not only present a mistaken and very elevated bar of “intention” but they are surprising coming from one who should simply know better, being that he is supposedly well read in Catholic history. Church history is replete with ignorant clergy, untrained in theology, who often make mistakes in the liturgy, but have a pious intention to bring Jesus to the people. In her great wisdom, the Church has from time immemorial assumed validity so long as the priest used proper matter, form, and had a basic sense of what the Church wanted through that sacrament.

    As Fr. Z says, it is truly a Donatist position that would hold the validity of the sacraments hostage to the problems which flow from an “ex opere operantis” (the work of the priest) mentality (as opposed to the Catholic doctrine, “ex opere operato” (validity flows from matter, form, intention).

    Being that trads are fed up with priests, it is to be expected that they would be comfortable dismissing their sacraments based on the ignorance of the clergy, the sinful conduct of the clergy, and the tendency of some priests to disregard the rubrics. But that anger, bitterness, and yes, anticlericalism, is no excuse for dismissing the Catholic Church’s traditional belief that the sacraments promulgated and celebrated are presumed to be valid unless their invalidity is proven to be so by a competent authority.

    “I’m mad as hell with the damn, useless clergy and I’m not taking it anymore” does not an expert make, nor does it give a right to usurp the proper role of the Holy Father and his bishops to pronounce on the validity of the Mass or other sacraments.

    Bishop Williamson’s blame game (“look at all the problems since V2–ergo, the sacraments have been sabotaged”) is actually Martin Luther’s same argument after the Renaissance (“corrupt clergy, money grubbing church, therefore the Gregorian Mass and sacraments are useless and without validity”). Anger at church corruption, and the need for a whipping boy, whether from the bile of Bishop Williamson or Luther, do not invalid sacraments make.

    His Excellency should know you cannot pontificate away the grace of the post-Vatican II Mass and sacraments because you feel like and it will make some of the SSPX feel special and holier. The Church and her sacraments are in the hands of the Holy Spirit and need no defense beyond the promise of the Risen Lord to be with us until the end of time.

  52. ppojawa says:

    nazareth priest,

    I read what seems to be Bishop Williamson previous note (google “ELEISON COMMENTS CXXI”), where he explains quite clearly what he means.

    It isn’t that the rites are invalid; it’s that rites of the Mass and of Consecration, although valid, VERY GRADUALLY degrade the celebrant priests’ or bishops’ intention to Do What the Church Does. That happens (over decades?) by altering the understanding/faith of what the Church and the Mass are.

    Bp Williamson (if the text I read is actually his) quotes some source saying this has been DESIGNED that way by the freemasonry as a long-term attack on the Church’s sacraments.

  53. Davidtrad says:

    “His Excellency should know you cannot pontificate away the grace of the post-Vatican II Mass and sacraments because you feel like and it will make some of the SSPX feel special and holier.”

    Is that what he is really saying? Now that, that seems to me to be a “rhetorical brushfire”.

  54. Davidtrad says:

    Fr. Sotelo, don’t you think your generalizations are both unfair and uncharitable?

    Is it really true that “trads” (thanks, I just love those kinds of appellations; certainly gives you the moral high ground, doesn’t it?) are fed up with priests? How can we be? There’s so few of them these days. Can it be that you are still scratching your head over why that might be??

    If I’m goofing off at work, and a co-worker tells me to get to work, he isn’t fed up with me; he’s fed up with my behavior. What is wrong with a lay person telling a priest to do his job? It’s clericalism for priests to think they are above criticism or to call criticism from the laity “anti-clericalism”. It was post-VCII clericalism, not anti-clericalism on the part of the laity, that lead to the scandal of 2002. Please don’t forget that from your ivory palace.

  55. ChadS says:

    The other week, Fr. Hunwicke, on his blog, had a similar reaction as Fr. Z did to an earlier writing of Bishop Williamson’s that seems to come from the same series as this one. Perhaps people would be interested in seeing what Fr. Hunwicke had to say. http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2009/12/another-barmy-bishop.html

  56. dcs says:

    It isn’t that the rites are invalid; it’s that rites of the Mass and of Consecration, although valid, VERY GRADUALLY degrade the celebrant priests’ or bishops’ intention to Do What the Church Does. That happens (over decades?) by altering the understanding/faith of what the Church and the Mass are.

    Yes, but he is wrong. One need not know what the Church is or what the Church does in order to intend to do “what the Church does.” One need only intend: “I want to do what the Church does,” or the equivalent: “I want to do what Christ instituted.” A more specific intention would be sufficient, but it is not necessary.

    In fact Bp. Williamson’s musings on this issue are contradicted by literature offered on the SSPX home page:
    http://www.sspx.org/miscellaneous/validity_of_holy_orders.htm

    Therefore, in the conferral of the sacrament of holy orders (or of any other) as long as the ordaining bishop, be he Catholic or apostate, observes externally the rite prescribed for the sacrament, he MUST be presumed to have the right intention, and the sacrament MUST be accepted as valid.

  57. robtbrown says:

    Would you believe that doubtful validity = validity? In every case?

    Of course not.

    I realize that most mass abuse doesn’t invalidate the mass, of course, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t say that “doubtful validity = validity” IN EVERY CASE. When you see someone really, really totally botch the mass, as I have seen just once in my 25 years as a Catholic, suddenly you are faced with huge issues, the least of which is whether you should step forward to receive. Indeed, the best thing one can do it walk out!
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    If there is obvious invalidity of either Sacramental Form (which designates the matter) or Matter, then one can conclude that the Sacrament is invalid. If there is NOT obvious invalidity of either, then the presumption is that the Sacrament is valid.

    Minimal intention is just that, the bare minimum. That means that valid intention does not depend on the morality of the priest or of an extensive theological insight into the Eucharist. Because minimal intention is a general reference to the mind of the Church, doubt in the mind of the celebrant does not mean invalid intention.

    And Fr Z’s comment that Bp Williamson sounds like a Donatist is on target. The irony is that some years ago while visiting the Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto, I picked up a Catholic newspaper, containing nn article by Fr McBrien. His argument that the SSPX ordinations were invalid, like Bp Williamson’s above, sounded Donatist.

    Re Moon1234: He reminds me of someone who thinks he can he a golf ball better by closing his eyes and swinging harder.

  58. Am I the only one who finds it hilariously ironic that a man who is a suspended bishop with no faculties – a man who commits an objectively grave evil act everytime he attempts to celebrate a sacrament – is questioning the intent of other priests to do what the Church intends?

    Hey Bishop Williamson, how do we know YOU intend to do what the Church intends? When you throw around words like “newchurch” and refuse to follow the lawful directives of the Holy Father, I question YOUR ability to intend what the Church intends!

  59. dcs says:

    Why are Bishop Williamson’s remarks “utterly destructive” “rhetorical brushfires”?

    Because they give fuel to the fire for people inclined to think that the new rites are invalid.

  60. haleype says:

    Bishop Williamson is notorious for making statements that make people think and whether one agrees with him or not, he can stir the pot better than anyone. What people need to understand is this – the views of Bishop Williamson do not necessarily reflect the views of Bishop Fellay or the SSPX as a whole. And, it is Bishop Fellay that has the reigns of command, if you will, in the Society. the fact that Bishop Fellay has removed Bishop Williamson from any official position in the Society and sent him off to a semi-retreat in jolly ol England speaks volumes.

    Bishop Willaimson’s point is, I think, to make it clear that there are problems of conscience for any Catholic immersed in the Faith up to 1965 in the manner by which sacraments are confected in the post Vatican II period. He uses “newchurch” and other such terms to show what he believes is a break with the past, with Tradition, or as Pope Benedict XVI would say, a hermeneutic of rupture rather than continuity. Some agree with him; many do not. In my case I can see how he can come to the conclusions he does, after witnessing some of the horrendous liturgical abuses presented to us in these last 40 years continuing up to the present. At the same time, I disagree with his “sliding slope” theory and I would not characterize someone else’s intention as valid or invalid for that is known only to God Himself.

    May the talks between Rome and the SSPX result in unity both theologically and in practice. That would mean much more than the latest missive from His Excellency.

  61. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Davidtrad:

    LOL. I think you meant to say “ivory tower” instead of ivory palace–most of the intellectual elite don’t make enough money to live in palaces. It is a compliment, in any event, which I do not deserve. I am not a priest with fancy diplomas on my wall, but I have been in many discussions with Catholics who prefer to call themselves trads, so the word was not meant to give me “moral high ground.”

    They have the uncanny ability to veer a discussion which has upset them back to my personal character, as opposed to whether someone should be publishing articles sowing doubts about the validity of the sacraments on an internet blog site.

    The anticlericalism is not vented on their own priests, however, because they are always so much holier and valid than us Newchurch presbyters.

  62. robtbrown says:

    And an Eggo is not valid matter as it contains sufficient sugar and other ingrediants so as not to be bread. It is a waffle.
    Comment by Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P.

    And being a waffle, it is deserving of butter and maple syrple.

    With some sausage on the side.

  63. Fr_Sotelo says:

    nazareth priest:

    Don’t let the Bishop’s words rattle your cage. It is like when boys get in a fight and someone calls your mother a name and implies that you are illegitimate. Angry traditionalists often call our mother the Church various names for the changes after Vatican II, and imply that we who follow her are spiritual bastards who confer doubtful sacraments.

    There is no theological basis for the Bishop’s comments. His blog speaks of an alleged confession from Cardinal Lienart exposing himself as a freemason and giving the priest permission to warn others of a plot to sabotage the Catholic Church. Supposedly Vatican II played into this plot by introducing sacramental rites which are purposely meant to be ambiguous and to lesson, over time, the correct intentino of the minister to do what the Church intends.

    What is an awkward question is why Bishop Williamson would make such a damning comment and character assassination on the Cardinal who ordained the very bishop (Arch. Lefebvre) who ordained him (Williamson). It is too easy to brand Cardinal Lienart a traitor to the faith now that he is dead and cannot defend himself. Of course, this is the same bishop who doesn’t think gas chambers were used on the Jews and that white men should never have abandoned their role of civilizing dark skinned people.

    Always beware of “I heard from someone who heard from someone who said….” Even if Lienart was a freemason, there is a guarantee of Christ’s protection through the Holy Spirit of a church council. Also, the word “ambiguity” is tossed around with little acknowledgement that the Mass rubrics and instructions for each sacrament still make very clear what is supposed to be accomplished in each sacrament.

  64. Jason Keener says:

    I think a big problem with Bishop Williamson’s approach is that he turns almost everything into a false dilemma, which is a serious logical error. For example, Bishop Williamson is always setting up the “Newchurch” vs. the pre-Vatican II Church or the New Religion of Man vs. the Old Religion of God. In reality, the situation in the Church has always been much more complex and nuanced.

    Before the Second Vatican Council, the Church was in pretty good shape, but it was certainly not perfect. The condition of the Church is not perfect today either, but not everything about today’s Church is horrible. Can Bishop Williamson really not see any good in the Second Vatican Council? Was there no good in Pope John Paul II’s papacy? Have newer theologians really not come up with any good ideas?

    I also hardly think that everything the Church is doing today can be characterized as some new “Religion of Man.” For example, allowing vernacular in the Liturgy, right or wrong, was meant to assist man in reaching God more easily through the Liturgy. The use of the vernacular was not intended to exalt man above God. The simplification of the Rites that we saw after the Council was not intended to replace the Religion of God, but it was meant to help man more easily understand the essential meaning of the Rites so that man could reach God. This may or may not have worked, but it is silly to think the Church’s simplification of Rites means the Church is now exalting man over God in some evil “Religion of Man.”

    There can also be a case made that not everything was perfect in how the Church was celebrating the Liturgy before the Council. If the pre-Vatican II Church was some pristine “Religion of God,” why did the lay faithful during the Mass often focus their attention on personal devotions instead of towards the sacred and liturgical actions taking place at the altar? Why were the human participants in the Mass before the Council not exercising their proper sacramental role during the Liturgy by making responses and singing the Ordinary? If human beings have physical bodies made for praising God, why were they not using their physical bodies in at least some outward ways to respond and sing during the Sacred Liturgy before the Council? After all, humans are not going to express prayer exactly like angels because human beings have both spiritual AND material elements.

    I hope Bishop Williamson will start being a little more fair and balanced with his comments about the Church’s situation.

  65. MichaelJ says:

    dcs,
    You missed the point entirely. I was not saying (and neither was Bishop Williamson) that the NO Mass is inherently invalid. I was not even commenting on what the Bishop wrote. Instead, I was responding to your rather cavalier dismissal of any concerns one may have about the hypothetical Priest’s intention. You were saying, in effect, “Who cares if the Priest does not understand what the Church intends? What does it matter if his mistaken understanding, as long as it is sincere, is actually contrary to what the Church intends? After all, this does not affect validity

    Well, I certainly object. This attitude, while seemingly being charitable is actually quite insulting to those who have made the sacrifice needed to become a Priest. It reduces them to Sacramental Pez Dispensers.

    That being said, in an EF Mass a Priest would have to consciously and maliciously form a contrary intent in order to affect that validity. This is why we must presume a valid intent if the correct form and matter are used. I am not convinced that the same can be said about the OF mass. I can easily see it leading to an individual’s (not just talking about Priest’s here) mistaken understanding. Ask any Catholic to define the “Mystery of Faith”

  66. dcs says:

    I was not saying (and neither was Bishop Williamson) that the NO Mass is inherently invalid.

    Yes, I know: I’ve read His Excellency’s comments. He’s saying that the new rites are ambiguous, therefore priests formed in the new rites do not know what the Church is or what the Church does, therefore they are more likely to not be able to form an intention to do what the Church does. But the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises (assuming, in the first place, that we accept the premises!).

    You were saying, in effect, “Who cares if the Priest does not understand what the Church intends?

    That is not at all what I was saying, whether actually or in effect. I am not saying that validity is the only thing that matters. I am saying that Bp. Williamson’s views on the intention necessary to confect a Sacrament are wrong (and, might I add, ironic for a member of an order that prides itself on its Scholasticism).

    That being said, in an EF Mass a Priest would have to consciously and maliciously form a contrary intent in order to affect that validity. This is why we must presume a valid intent if the correct form and matter are used.

    No, we must presume a valid intention because he uses the correct form and matter and doesn’t express a contrary intention exteriorly.

    I am not convinced that the same can be said about the OF mass.

    As long as there is no defect in the form or in the matter and a contrary intention (“I withhold my intention”; “I do not wish to do what Christ instituted”; etc.) is not manifested exteriorly then we must presume the validity of the Sacrament. This is the teaching of St. Thomas (III, q.64, a.8 ad 2). It does not matter whether the minister is mistaken in his understanding.

  67. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Jason:

    You stated ” In reality, the situation in the Church has always been much more complex.” I could hardly agree with you more on this comment, as well as your observation that those with a firm faith never fail to see the good which is accomplished in the Church with every passing year.

    Far from post-Vat. II “ambiguity” causing a lessoning of proper intention, I see the Church with ever increasing discussion on the proper intention for a sacrament, especially in the seminarians and younger priests. If confused priests after the Council thought that anything could be done in the liturgy, that only led us through a crucible in which the clergy had to “choose sides.”

    Today’s seminarians often make a very educated decision to seek after holiness vs. just being psychologically “actualized” and “integrated.” They decide to teach Catholic morality vs. coddling the faithful with “comfort” teachings. They want to know the rubrics vs. “celebrating creative liturgy.” They have an attentiveness to the liturgy and the sacraments vs. having no time to deal with liturgy and just “winging it.”

    In researching the growth of lay movements in the Church which actively promote Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, true devotion to Mary, love for the Holy Father, obedience to the Magisterium, and the renewal of Franciscan, Dominican, and Carmelite spirituality, you will find so many groups that it is hard to keep up with it all. As I remember the 70’s, you had Catholics United for the Faith and not too much else in this country that promoted orthodox, Catholic holiness in the laity.

    Bishop Williamson’s worry that the purity of the SSPX will be “reabsorbed” into “Newchurch” is indeed a false dilemna. He would be pleasantly surprised, if he was under papal obedience, to see how many in the Church would help him work for the restoration of Catholic orthodoxy and holiness. He would be pleasantly surprised, if he actually interacted with more “novus ordo Catholics,” to see that they are not bumbling spiritual idiots or secret freemasons.

  68. MichaelJ says:

    Fr Soleto,

    I sincerely hope you are correct. Unfortunately, for me at least, the vision you present has not manifested itself. Perhaps I am one of those you refer to who do not have a firm faith, and cannot see the good, but it seems that for every reverently offered NO mass, there are dozens of puppet masses. For every one parishoner I see kneeling in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, I see dozens who, at best, act indifferent to His Presence.

    I have no doubt that this trend will eventually be reversed (despite that I have seen no evidence that it is), but am under no illusion that it will happen in my lifetime. While I am not affiliated with the SSPX and do not attend one of their Chapels, I can well sympathize with Bishop Williamson’s aversion. I am fortunate enough to have a generous Bishop who makes the EF freely available. If this were to change, and the EF Mass were canceled, I would leave instantly and begin going to the Byzantine Church without a second thought.

  69. Jack Hughes says:

    I second Michael J , whilst in the hands of a good orthodox priest the sacraments according to new books are valid in the hands of a priest with ‘interesting’ ideas one does sometimes doubt them, also the morons who designed many of our new church buildings ‘forgot’ to build parish rooms which necessitates the after mass coffee morning being held at the back of the Church itself – not very reverent methinks, this also presents the dilemma of neglecting reverence or failing to integrate with the parish (not that the folks at my church want me anyway- they don’t like anything that stinks of traditionalist malarky).

  70. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Sotelo,

    Are trads really fed up with priests? Really? I don’t get that impression. In fact, when the mass is said correctly and decently, in my experience, priests are treated very, very well by trads. In addition, many trads have a lot of gratitude for those priests who were willing to say the TLM in that period between Ecclesia Dei and the motu proprio. Saying the Latin mass in those days could get a priest sent to the most dangerous & poorest parish in the diocese–or worse–and often did.

    I’m not a supertrad, but I think I (and other laypeople) have a right to hear the mass (OF &/or EF) celebrated as promulgated in the Roman Missal. Priests who take it into their own hands to try to rewrite the mass the way they want it often incur some trouble and some resentment, and they really don’t have any right to grouse about it. What did they think would happen??

    Like it or not, this (and the abuse scandals) are THE big reasons why Catholics might be negative about clergy. I think this is true for trads & non-trads alike. And it pains us. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s been very painful. Catholics love the priesthood for a million reasons. We hate to see priests talked about badly, but darn, it’s hard to defend some liturgical abuse, doctrinal abuse (and child abuse) on those occasions when you’re confronted with it. Sometimes you just can’t do it. And I think that’s as true for OF Catholics as for EF ones.

  71. catholicmidwest says:

    Really, most laypeople are very slow on the blame switch in both communities (OF & EF). I’ve been Catholic for more than 25 years now, and seen just one mass that I’m pretty sure was invalid, and the other laypeople around me were very aware things were going off the tracks in that mass too. Among other things, he dramatically revised the words of the consecration. People next to me were turning around and saying to each other out loud, “Can he do that?” First came the shock, and only then anger specifically because of what he had done.

    On the other hand, I’ve been to many masses with nuisance-sized mass abuses and off-key homilies (because sometimes that’s all we’ve had), and none of those masses have gotten the same response from the people in the pews as that invalid one. We’re not so dumb. And we’re not so nasty, either. But many people are sick and tired of the ad libbing. It’s corny, it’s old and it’s NOT OKAY. It has reached a level where it interferes doctrinally with the Church’s teaching…and it’s been that way for quite a while in the US. That’s also not okay.

  72. catholicmidwest says:

    Mike, you said, “……My goodness, doesn’t the man understand that this line of discussion, with it rhetorical harshness, is counter-productive. We need SSPX good w. Rome; we don’t need rhetorical brushfires.”

    Mike, you’re making Bp Williamson’s argument for him. The ultratrad argument goes: If we submit to Rome, then we will be swallowed and forced to do these things too. In fact, because it happened before, there’s no reason to think it couldn’t happen again. And then there would be no choice except to leave again. Therefore, it could be pointless to just go over.”

    I’m not an ultratrad, mind you. I’m just pointing out that your argument might not make much sense to an ultratrad. You’re missing the premises an ultratrad would hold (which are founded on experience, unfortunately. They were treated very, very, very badly, especially when compared with the absolute raving fruitloops on the left.)

  73. Davidtrad says:

    Whatever, Padre. Laugh it up. I suppose you can add ridiculing a layman as another feather in your cap. Priests like you always forget who is in the trenches. [You don’t get to talk to priests in that manner here. Bye.]

  74. Maltese says:

    Jason Keener:

    *I also hardly think that everything the Church is doing today can be characterized as some new “Religion of Man.” For example, allowing vernacular in the Liturgy, right or wrong, was meant to assist man in reaching God more easily through the Liturgy…

    If the pre-Vatican II Church was some pristine “Religion of God,” why did the lay faithful during the Mass often focus their attention on personal devotions instead of towards the sacred and liturgical actions taking place at the altar?*

    These are good observations/questions. I would posit, first, what is the meaning of Liturgy? Why are rubrics? What IS the Mass?

    Actually, you are right that some distracted themselves during mass before VII with devotions such as the Rosary. But this fact, in and of itself, does not mean that people were generally ill-informed during said masses. In fact, before the Council, Mass attendance was around 90% of Catholics, and they believed almost universally in the True Presence.

    The “old lady praying her beads during mass,” is a tired argument against a rite deriving, in parts, since the time of the apostles, and largely complete from the time of St. Gregory the Great.

    In essence, if you disparage the Traditional Latin Mass, you must contend, with Martin Luther, that the Church was ill-informed since the sixth-century A.D.

  75. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s absolutely amazing how many people too young to remember before the council want to talk disparagingly about all the hordes of “little old ladies with rosary beads.” I was there. Where were those hordes of rosary prayers?? I didn’t see them. There were a few, that’s all. We probably have more people chewing gum and talking through the mass to their neighbors now than we had rosary prayers then, % for %.

    By the way, since when has it been a sin to pray during mass???

  76. catholicmidwest says:

    Before the council, actually, people carried missals–missals full of holy cards and ribbons–which they used every time they came to church. And they knew how to use them to follow the mass, and this is what they did mostly, rather than the rosary. People also had kids that they brought to mass, and that’s always work, like now, except they had more kids then. People really sang too, very different from today, but the music was much better and one wanted to sing. Besides, people knew most of the songs by heart and loved them. I loved them. I still remember some of them.

    And there was absolutely and positively no gum chewing that I ever saw. Ever. People didn’t talk casually either. It was very respectful. People used to regard the church itself as a holy place, the house of God. You whispered a prayer and smiled when you went past in the car on your way downtown.

  77. Fr_Sotelo says:

    catholicmidwest:

    You wrote “I’m not a supertrad, but I think I (and other laypeople) have a right to hear the mass (OF &/or EF) celebrated as promulgated in the Roman Missal.” Hear, hear–yes, I agree totally. And I agree very much that traditional Catholics are very good and very respectful to priests when Mass is offered “correctly and decently.”

    However, they tend to see those priests as a small minority and tend to be very hurt because of what they have experienced with the rest of the clergy. It is only a small step to read, then, a Bishop Williamson and to say, “yes, I can see this; yes, so much ignorance, so much disobedience–it probably is true that the intention of priests is so weakened that many Masses and sacraments can be seen as probably invalid.”

    I was simply trying to point out that emotion has to be kept in check while we listen to a Dr. Brown or Fr. Thompson give a very educated take on the true nature of that kind of intention which is needed for valid sacraments. I did not mean to imply that all traditionalists are angry at all the clergy, just very disappointed at the majority and thus open to thinking that the Bishop has a good argument (based on that emotion which moves us to evaluate the minister too highly in the question of validity).

    Davidtrad:

    I am sorry that you felt I was ridiculing you. I was trying to be humorous in response to your strong statements about my attitudes and “clericalism.” I can see that my try at diffusing some tension between us went over like a lead balloon. I try to communicate that I am not attacking posters, but criticizing ideas and behavior and yes, like everyone here, I make the mistake of a stereotype here and there. But I sincerely did not mean to make you feel personally attacked when I criticized some tendencies of traditional Catholics.

  78. Jason Keener says:

    First, let me say that I am a devotee of the Traditional Latin Mass, and I attend the Extraordinary From almost exclusively.

    My point in bringing up people engaging in personal devotions during the Mass is not to rip on those people because I am sure they are intending to do a very holy and good thing. I think the fact still remains, however, that when the Church is carrying out Her public worship in the Eucharistic Liturgy, it is probably best for lay Catholics to be actively engaged in the rituals of the Holy Mass by praying the Mass and also by making some of the responses and doing some of the singing. This is the proper sacramental role of the baptized faithful, the Body of Christ, in the Liturgy. The priest offering the Sacrifice acts as Christ, the Head of the Body.

    Active participation is surely mostly interior, but active participation amongst human beings is also going to involve physical actions of the body because humans are material creatures as well as spiritual creatures. It was a good development of Vatican II to stress that the laity need to take up their own proper role as baptized members of the Body in the work of the Sacred Liturgy by actively making responses and singing. After all, how can the baptized laity fully take up their own proper role in the Sacred Liturgy if the servers and the choir are making all of the responses and doing all of the singing?

    My point in bringing this up is to show that not everything in the Church before Vatican II was at a higher point of development and understanding than now, as Bishop Williamson sometimes would lead us to believe. It is not a situation of the good old pre-Vatican II “Religion of God” and the big bad post-Vatican II “Religion of Man.”

  79. JPG says:

    One thing is clear to me personally is that I could use a brushup on Sacramental theology. I am bothered by +Williamson’s comments on two fronts. One is the implication that Christ would allow such a widespread imposture on the whole Church. Second the disparaging term NewChurch when hurled at the Holy Father would likewise imply a change in the Church and therefore on the Bishop’s part a defective Ecclesiology. As a last consideration these arguments he proposes seem similar to Luther or a Richard McBrien. Just at is unthinkable that He who promised that the “Gates of Hell would not prevail” would permit a Babylonian captivity of the Church ,so it is that He would permit an invalid rite to be promulgated by legitemate authority to whom He has given the keys. A view which would say that such a deception could be promulgated by His Vicar is an outrage and would seem to this layman to be heretical. As to the tendencies exhibited by many priests because the rubrics (or lack thereof) in the OF , it would seem that to fix the problem one needs to tighten the rubrics. To this end I think enforcing a new translation into the vernacular will help to restore some sense of sacrality to worship. my concern is that any rubrics so defined are often ignored. I still see breakable vessels routinely. Until the local ordinary enforces these rubrics the situation will remain this way until the hippies retire.
    JPG

  80. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Sotelo,

    Many priests play down the seriousness of the mass and tell jokes in every homily, often golf jokes or silly animal jokes. On All Saints this year where I went to mass, we were treated to a homosexual halloween joke which made the people in the pews squirm a bit, as you might guess. We have one old priest in this diocese who insists on singing country western songs to the accompaniment of a very expensive guitar played badly–during the “homily.” And then he waits for the applause–and it’s obvious he’s waiting for it. These things are a problem. And they’re very widespread. I love to travel but one has to be very careful when traveling because you can walk into just about any kind of a shindig or weird performance and that’s a fact.

    Trads seek to escape this kind of frivolity and I don’t blame them. It’s outrageous; it’s boring; it’s insulting. YOu can’t expect laypeople to “enjoy” this kind of thing indefinitely. It’s an enormous imposition on us. There are many people who object, but aren’t trads, who search for parishes where they can avoid this kind of thing. There’s a lot of this kind of transit from parish to parish among laypeople.

    I understand, as do most people in here, that there is a qualitative difference between an invalid mass and one merely said tastelessly or poorly or with various common liturgical abuses. I don’t doubt that this has been correctly defined in here, and that’s fine, but that’s not the only point that’s being made here.

    In addition, it’s possible to say that the mass–said so poorly, so casually, with so many small defects, significant and insignificant all mixed together–over such a long period of time as we’ve seen in the post-V2 period, can wear on the seriousness and doctrinal fidelity that mass should have. And this idea is not something that can just be blown off like nothing. It’s what the new translations, the reconstitution of ICEL, Liturgiam Authenticam and all the rest are all about. It is important to get the mass right because *Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.* [Did I say it right, Fr Z?]

    Cardinals George and Seratelli made good statements to this effect at the last USCCB meeting right after the vote on the new translations. Did you see it? I think I read a post here at this blog with those comments in it.

    [Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: As we pray so we believe.
    The Mass is the Church’s most important prayer, the source and summit of faith. Yet these things (that I’ve described above and more) have become part of the Mass. I hope my spiritual life doesn’t become a golf joke, or a country western song, or a casual frivolity. I don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to be. So praying that way serves what purpose? What purpose exactly? Shouldn’t it be done correctly?]

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, Jason, I agree with some of what you say. It’s sometimes said that it’s a clear dichotomy between the “religion of God” before and the “religion of man” after, and that’s a huge oversimplification–so huge as to be false. It’s also sometimes said, however, that mass before involved no participation and mass now has lots of participation, and that’s just as false.

    People have always participated in mass. It’s just that the style has changed. Personally, I don’t think that participation levels among those that show up are any higher now than they were pre-vatican II. (And a lot of people don’t show up now, so their participation is zero.) People used to pray the whole way through, and as you said, interior participation is still participation. Maybe it’s especially participation.

    It’s never been perfect because this isn’t heaven yet. But we don’t have to aim for mediocre just because it’s not perfect.

  82. kat says:

    From http://usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/Sacraments_Executive_Summary.pdf

    • A majority of adult Catholics, 57 percent, say their belief about the Eucharist is reflected best
    by the statement “Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist,”
    compared to 43 percent who said their belief is best reflected in the statement, “Bread and
    wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not really present.” Among all Catholics, members of
    the Pre-Vatican II Generation are more likely than all other Catholics to believe that Christ is
    really present in the Eucharist (70 percent compared to 54 percent). Among Catholics
    attending Mass at least once a month, those of the youngest generation, the Millennials, are
    just as likely to believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist as Pre-Vatican II Catholics
    (85 percent compared to 86 percent). Nine in ten of all weekly Mass attenders (91 percent)
    say their belief about the Eucharist is reflected best by the statement “Jesus Christ is really
    present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.”

    I just want to know: What is it that makes CATHOLICS deny the very Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Could it, just possibly, be that the N.O. Mass in some way is NOT showing very distinctly that He is Present at the Consecration? Is something missing, or not done in such a reverent way, that it leads to such doubts? Just curious…

    Also, as far as the participation in the Mass pre-Vatican II: I do not claim to be an expert on this at all, but I have read some books, in college especially when I would do my historical research on the Church, that here in the U.S. things were different than other parts of the world with regard to following everything the Pope said. After all, it was in the beginning of the 20th Century that Pope St. Pius X tried very hard to get more people to participate in the Mass. It was he who told choirs to stop singing the Polyphonic Masses as if one were attending a concert, and get the CONGREGATION singing the Kyriale in Gregorian. He knew that that synthesis of all heresies, Modernism, was already entering the Church. He fought it vigorously. This was 50+ years before Vatican II. He knew the people needed to know their Faith better, to participate more fully in the Mass. But from the little I know of the U.S. Church even in those first 50 years, things like Pius X suggested did not seem to be put into place. American Catholics did not always want to do what their counterparts in Europe were doing, even from the early days of the U.S. That IS a historical fact. My mother, born in 1931, was shocked that it was the senior citizens who ripped out the Communion rails in her parish church soon after Vatican II. I was born in ’66, but it seems from the examples I’ve heard, when “parish councils” and the like were introduced, that the changes came most quickly from the older people. Somehow, those that did this seem to have not learned their Faith very well. Perhaps the Faith was not being lived, but only practiced on SUndays? I do not know; I wasn’t there. But SOMETHING happened to make the PEOPLE willing to change so quickly. I just wonder, if Pius X’s instructions on the Sacred Liturgy, Music, and participation, had been brought to the Church especialy here in the U.S., if people would not have been searching for another way to begin with?

    Just musing…

  83. catholicmidwest says:

    • A majority of adult Catholics, 57 percent, say their belief about the Eucharist is reflected best
    by the statement “Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist,”
    compared to 43 percent who said their belief is best reflected in the statement, “Bread and
    wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not really present.”

    EEEK. Who wrote the question? Jesus Christ is not *”in”* the bread and wine. He IS what the bread and wine used to be. It’s just that the accidents of bread and wine remain, but the essence of bread and wine DO NOT REMAIN. The Holy Eucharist is Christ entire, body & blood, soul and divinity. WHY is this mistake on the USCCB website?

  84. Fr_Sotelo says:

    kat:

    I cannot speak for the lay experience before Vatican II, since I am closer to your age. However, knowing the clergy that I have known who were trained from the 30’s on, I would agree very much with your musings.

    One priest ordained in the mid-40’s said that most priests were concerned to pay bills, put up buildings, and keep order in the parish. “Some of us actually had contempt for the guys who paid so much attention to the liturgy–we called them sacristy priests or litnicks.” The idea was that a Low Mass was perfectly fine to take care of the spiritual needs of the people and there was no need to get “all worked up” about fancy liturgy when the Church had so many other pressing needs.

    There is a lopsided interest in the EF Mass. The older guys trained and ordained in that form could care less to go back to it and it is mostly younger guys who want to learn it and revive it in the parishes. The really older priests are pleasantly amused to see youthful interest in the EF Mass. They are not against it, but most are happy to just stick with the OF Mass.

  85. catholicmidwest says:

    kat,

    An number of social threads all coming together in a perfect storm, of sorts, propelled huge changes that occurred in Western society in the late 50s and early 60s. The church was caught up in it. Among the trends that affected behavior among Catholics were these:

    -the simplification of society and the increasing horizontal-ization of everyday life (the repercussions are still operant; just look at any young person’s living room) It’s hard to express how regimented everyday life was pre-1960 for everyone and it changed rapidly in about 10 years after that. Small examples of before: Women slept in painful hair rollers in order to be accepted in public. One did not EVER wear shorts (or tennis shoes, or sandals or bare feet) on a city street. School girls wore regulation skirts every single day even in sub-zero weather. There were people you were expected to talk to and people you’d better not talk to. There were things you had to do regardless and things you dare not even think about–Period.

    -the ardent desire of an immigrant Catholic population to enter the mainstream. I tell you Jack Kennedy was almost divine for some Catholic people because he had “beaten the system,” and made Catholicism “respectable.” Many Catholics never consented to be Catholic; rather, they were just born into it and it was something to be endured, regardless of the fact they didn’t WANT to be different from Johnny, the Baptist, down the street. They wanted to be “REGULAR.” Jack Kennedy was a war hero and the Kennedys played football. Football is “REGULAR.”

    -the invention of the birth control pill, along with a *many-years-long delay* before the announcement of Humanae Vitae. Many people were on the pill by the time the decision was made and would not give it up. Respected Catholic figures (profs, etc) jumped on this and published inflammatory things in newspapers.

    -the second vatican council, called when the Vatican became very worried about societal changes and the growth of communism in Europe. (You had to be there. Communism looked more than viable at one time. It looked like the “wave of the future.” Hard to imagine now, no? Read “Razing the Bastions” if you want to see the foundations of this thinking–it’s laid out very clearly there.)

    -the discarding of latin; the vernacular mass, seemingly full of “common talk” which dismissed the mystique of being Catholic and reduced it to a set of habits which could be changed at will

    -the popularity of pared-down modern architecture, Mies vander Rohe, danish modern and so on; distaste for the old-fashioned and immigrant-like surroundings; shame for the statues which were often regarded as primitive and old-country leftovers

    -shock and disbelief from WW2, still very present in the memories of adults; hard to overestimate the importance of this. It’s as if God had left and evil had seized the world for that 5 years. This happened also on the tail end of the depression, which was unrelenting and many people who were older in the 50s and 60s remembered from childhood. Where was God then, they wondered?

    -man’s increasing dependence of innovations. It was commonly believed that anything could be invented. *Anything.* And no one thought about downsides.

    Among the older people, liberation from restrictions, piety and rules they never understood were huge values. Among the younger, openness, ethnic & sexual equality and sexual license were huge values. And among many of all ages, birth control was considered very modern and wonderful and people just could not see what might be wrong with it, accusing the Church of being a prude.

    Monumental numbers of people just plain up and left the church. Many of the rest set about to change it, and just maybe become a big shot in it–song leader, employee, etc.– a useful activity.

    And laypeople were thrust into the center of the Church’s machinery. Their pastors no longer taught or really expected things of them, preferring to spend all their time reminding the laity that they were “loved.” Therefore the laity set about to remake the church in their own image–useful rather than beautiful. The only problem is, useful to whom? And for what?

  86. catholicmidwest says:

    Sorry about all the strikethroughs. They were not intentional.

    The world was so much different then, and I can imagine it’s very hard for younger people to imagine what might have happened. The late 50s and early 60s were a very strange time. The currents of social change during those years were very very strong, every bit as strong as the currents of globalism, eco-sensibility and digital dependence are now. And there were compelling forces that drove decisions in those years that are no longer remembered as experiences by people now but only as facts or impressions.

    I don’t know how old you are, but imagine explaining globalism, before and after, to your grandchildren who will have known nothing but a global world by the time they are born. Who knows what it will bring the church? And what it will cost her?

  87. catholicmidwest says:

    Incidentally, for a brief period in the 70s, virtually every communicable disease was preventable or treatable if you lived in Western society. This has never happened in the history of mankind and is not so even now. (I remember the absolute shock that occasioned the discovery that genital herpes was not curable. What?! Not Curable?! This was just about the time of the first discovery of AIDS.) Antibiotics would get rid of any and all VD, you understand, up to this point.

    Moreover, there was birth control and abortion. And there was a horizontality in Western culture that said that everyone everywhere, no matter how important or how unimportant, was really the same inside.

    People drew from this the conclusion that all mistakes were fixable, everyone had them and it was no big deal, all things were relative, and the things you did didn’t matter so much as long as you “managed” them. People had flings of all kinds, and it not only didn’t kill or infect them, it didn’t even inconvenience them much. The majority of people had a very free attitude about all contacts and travels, and didn’t even think about physical, moral or spiritual costs, you understand.

    Societal norms and restrictions are hard to maintain in such an environment. Piety and religion fare even worse.

    This was really the first time in human history this thing had happened. Ever. (It didn’t last long though.)

    Of course, this situation no longer obtains, and many young people once again have real worries and limits in their lives and so I expect that society will be vastly different again soon, and I hope more ordered to suit the human condition. Young people will have to build it. Good for them.

  88. Fr. Sotelo, thank you.
    Please be assured that I am not in any way wondering if my Orders are valid. You are correct. This whole thing is confusing and contradicting.
    I just want to add that I understand the deep suffering and sometimes despair of the traditional Catholics; I offer the EF frequently. I hope to God that I am, indeed, faithful to Him and to His Church. I in no way want to offend or somehow belittle those who have suffered mightily (as have I) beneath the iron-fisted gloves of those in positions of authority who have watered-down, laughed at or denied the authentic Faith of Catholics for all ages.
    That being said, I must admit that when our Holy Father is attacked, the perennial teachings of the Church are put into question, or the authentic Magisterium, which is a living and active reality is absolutely denied, I react in anger and complete frustration whether from the left and the right (whatever the heck that means in this day and age!). My intemperate comments were just that: intemperate.
    If Bishop Williamson believes that the new rites of the Church are invalid, that is his opinion. I hope and pray to God that is not the case. The man is not evil incarnate, nor is he an imbecile. He is a bishop and a priest and one, from what little I am aware, is a very
    intelligent man. I hold absolutely no animus or prejudice.
    With that said, let us, in the Year of the Priest, pray for all bishops and priests. The Evil One is roaring like a lion and ready to take all into his dominion. Our Lord has promised dominion over him and his minions until the end of time. May the prayers of our Lady and the intercession and power of Saint Joseph protect us all!