FROM THE ARCHIVE. (Since a couple people have recently asked about this through email.)
From a reader:
If I had to guess, there are probably many priests throughout the US who are refusing to celebrate the Mass according to the new translation.
My question is, “Is the Mass invalid if a priest uses the old words of consecration?” I am sure we can all agree that it would be illicit, but is it invalid? I am asking this because I am wondering what I should do if I encounter a Mass where the priest uses the old translation.
The consecration is NOT invalid if the priest uses the obsolete, incorrect words for the consecration as they were in the obsolete, incorrect and now illicit-to-use old ICEL version. If the priest says, for example the incorrect and now illicit, “for all”, purposely, he is probably committing a sin if he is doing so out of contempt for authority and because he thinks he knows better. It would, nevertheless, be a valid consecration.
What should you do?
If you are just dropping by that parish and you don’t have regular ties there, think twice before doing something. You are not there often enough to know if the priest is simply making a mistake because of an old habit – it happens! – or whether he is defying the Church’s authority and causing scandal at the most solemn moment of Holy Mass.
If are at your regular parish, then I suggest you consult my tips for writing to bishops or offices of the Holy See.
I suggest, first, a conversation with the priest if possible. Then follow up that conversation with a writing letter about what was said. If that doesn’t bear fruit, then send copies to the local bishop. If that doesn’t bear fruit, send copies to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. I think it is always best to work on these things at the lowest possible level of authority, (parish – diocese – congregation). The same applies if the priest is a member of a religious order in one of their chapels or churches or institutions.
At the end of Redemptionis Sacramentum we read:
6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
Again, priests can slip up out of habit. I knew a priest who – once in a while – used to say “Paul, our Pope” during the Canon… in the ’90’s! Words repeated every day of a priest’s life can become ingrained and pop out unexpectedly. If a priest is doing something all the time, that is another issue.
But if he slips here and there, cut him a little slack.