PODCAzT 171: The strange birth of the Novus Ordo – 50 years later

This last week saw the 50th anniversary of the “birth” of the Novus Ordo – after an unnaturally swift gestation – on 3 April 1969 when Paul VI promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum.

Today I read for you, and I rant both before and after, an essay by Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman, OSB, of Douay Abbey in Berkshire, England, called “The strange birth of the Novus Ordo”.

It is published at the Catholic Herald, 4 April 2019.

This essay drives home the incredible speed with which the liturgical changes were rammed through in the 1960’s.

I also talk about our Catholic identity and the need for stability of our traditional rites and how that plays with the Novus Ordo as it is today and as it will be in the near future.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. OrdinaryCatholic says:

    I have serious question concerning Novus Ordo. I am getting hit by all sides in the Catholic media/blogs that Novus Ordo is bad, invalid?, watered down, not good, disrespectful of God and on and on ad nauseam. That is ALL I have in my area parishes. We HAVE no TLM’s, no other masses period!! If the Holy Spirit protects our Church then I would have to assume that Novus Ordo is valid in all it’s details correct??? Because if it is not why are we using NO and not TLM? We(laity)seem to be held hostage and no one seems to be helping getting our release!

  2. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    “The ‘Kyrie’ in Latin” Father????

    [Think it through.]

  3. TRW says:

    The Novus Ordo, properly celebrated by a validly ordained priest is valid. Period. Anyone saying anything to the contrary or raising doubts among the faithful is certainly propagating error. One can argue that the NO is objectively inferior, in that it has elements that suggest, imply or represent a deformed protestant theology that minimizes the sacrificial nature of the mass (among numerous other defects). That being said, it is Our Lord that we are offered in Holy Communion at any valid mass. The same Eucharistic Sacrifice. The same Divine Victim offered to The Father. Body and blood, soul and divinity. God Incarnate on the altar. The auditory assault of jingley-jangley folk guitars and Lutheran lyrics may indeed be offensive and border on sacrilege. Thankfully, the combination of saccharine sentiments and bad music doesn’t affect the validity of the mass. If we cannot attend an EF mass or a reverent NO mass, we can certainly strive, with the aid of Divine Grace, to be interiorly prepared to humbly receive something of infinite value, Our Lord and Saviour. That’s no small thing.

  4. ex seaxe says:

    Yes TRW I agree “Thankfully, the combination of saccharine sentiments and bad music doesn’t affect the validity of the mass.” I can recall that before VII and SC these were often present in the Tridentine Mass. The funeral of President Kennedy was presumably conducted to what was in 1963 considered a high standard! [No and NO! I don’t think that anyone back then would have thought that was a high standard. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they thought it was an embarrassment. As are your exaggerated and purposely tendentious example below. I notice that you avoided citing example such as the 1941 video narrated by Fulton Sheen (HERE) of the 1944 Christmas Holiday with the moving scene filmed at St Vibiana in L.A. during a real Midnight Mass (HERE @18:00). How about the high standard of a Mass in 1950 in Westminster Cathedral (HERE)? Didn’t mention that one, did you? Conveniently, you forget a Solemn Mass at Ushaw College, Durham, in 1960 (HERE) or their Midnight Mass in 1962 (HERE). Those are high standards. But Durham isn’t “ex seaxe” I guess.]
    Neither would I wish a return to the practice of a cleric in the pulpit leading recitation of the rosary throughout Mass except for a pause from Hanc igitur to the elevation of the chalice. Such things do not excuse the actions of the Consilium, but they do help explain why a reform was called for.

  5. OrdinaryCatholic says:

    Thank you. That is the first solid explanation I’ve received yet. Thank you again.

  6. tho says:

    A reform was not called for, it was imposed. The same way Henry VIII imposed Protestantism on England, against the will of the average Catholic. What have been the fruits of this dramatic break with tradition? From my perspective it has been chaos, sprinkled with silliness, and the loss of many disillusioned Catholics, whose mantra has been “I didn’t leave the church, the church left me”.
    And I am not counting the loss of 48,000 priests and 150,000 sisters, along with the closing of countless churches. Please wake up, and stop saying the church needed reforming Mr. Cranmer.

  7. veritas vincit says:

    Thank you Father, for the explanation of how the Consilium devised the Norvus Ordo. As a convert to the Catholicism who has only experienced the NO I have been puzzled by the strong reactions against it by traditionalist Catholics. This is at least a partial explanation.
    What still puzzles me is the implication that the NO is, if not a “train wreck,” not that far removed from one. I still have to think that much of the traditional objects to the NO, stem from changes and outright abuses that strictly speaking are not part of the NO missal, from versus populum to excessive vernacular to bad music to removing altar rails, to the deracinated 1970 ICEL translations of prayers into English. A reverent NO Mass (I have been at a few of those), along with the new 2011 ICEL translation, can correct much of those problems. I pretty much agree with TRW on this.

  8. acardnal says:

    Fantastic audio essay! Your readers should disseminate this post through their social media. I know I will. In fact, I foresee myself listening to this post more than once. Keep up the great work, Father Z. Thank you.

  9. APX says:

    I don’t know what year this is from (the black and white video can be misleading, but it’s a “Traditional Novus Ordo” Mass celebrated in Madison Wisconsin. Completely ad orientem, with Latin Chants, communion kneeling at the altar rail and on the tongue, only altar boys and a prayer for Vocations before the homily. I wonder what the Church would be like if this is how Mass was celebrated.

  10. ex seaxe says:

    Fr Z, thank you for those video links which I shall study later. And thank you for the remarks after your reading of Dom Hugh’s article, which are no “rant” but a sober and balanced account of where we are and how to get somewhere better (IMHO).
    I did not mean to imply that the Mass was a good liturgical example, what Mrs Rose K wanted was a ‘typical parish’ funeral. The Kennedys could afford, and I assume they got liturgically, what they wanted (making due allowance for the scale of the event). The Church organised a Solemn Pontifical Requiem a couple of months later. What I meant was that this was an example of the expectations of people in the pew, not liturgists, executed to a high standard.
    With due apologies for the location of the link, here is Thomas Day’s take on Music at John F. Kennedy’s Funeral : https://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2013/11/22/music-at-john-f-kennedys-funeral/

  11. OrdinaryCatholic says: I have serious question concerning Novus Ordo. I am getting hit by all sides in the Catholic media/blogs that Novus Ordo is bad, invalid?, watered down, not good, disrespectful of God and on and on ad nauseam.

    I think the bar for invalidity is pretty high. Remember that the primary actor at Mass is not a mere human but Jesus Christ, Who always accomplishes what He sets out to do. I believe that, for the sake of His flock, he puts up with a LOT. And we still have the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. I don’t see how we get around this, even in places where one is reduced to seeking out the least obnoxious Mass available. I trust that obedience, even through gritted teeth, is meritorious. At least we only have to put up with one badly celebrated Mass a week: Jesus is there for all of them, everywhere. We cannot be more offended than He is.

    Might not be a bad idea to cut down on reading Catholic blogs.

  12. yea Father, this is really good. Thank you so much.
    A good podcast, I did relive a bit of the anguish I watched my mother go through at the time. And of my anguish as well. At a tender age I was told that it was a sin to attend the New Mass – yes, try starving from affiliation with the Church and see how well ya do during college years. But the drastic change from what we knew before induced the informed to think crazy stuff.
    Oh and then Lefebvre totally betrayed us – so much hope we had in his faithfulness. I will never forget the devastation of my mother that day he decided to go off on his own rebellious way.
    Those who are younger than me HAVE NO IDEA how horrible this phase was. Priests and bishops really did die of heartbreak.
    Just the other day a very young ‘new’ priest argued with me that the old Mass was ever suppressed. No clue.
    Things are actually better today, in some ways, as we now know what they did to us. Yes, the details are ghastly as the Church is pursued unto death, but many of us understand more than we did in the 60s and 70s. And we know the prophecies mirror the Passion of Christ. We know that they want to kill Jesus [His Church] we see it coming. But oh my God, so much blood.
    With the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, when she gives birth to the Church and its restoration after centuries of her travail, when the whole world is Catholic [except the Jews who await their false Messiah], we will know the ghastly truth of this era. The truth of the Passion of the Church will be known.
    The present is so terribly painful – to hear a description of our agony, a recognition, is somewhat of a comfort.

  13. Therese says:

    I can only repeat Tina’s heartfelt words: “The present is so terribly painful – to hear a description of our agony, a recognition, is somewhat of a comfort.”

    Thank you, Father. It is a great comfort. I took acardnal’s suggestion and sent the link to friends.

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