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Monday, March 13, 2023

From the “Hey, Catholics, Did You Know...?” File: About the Mass

Offertory prayers at the Traditional Latin Mass stress the offering of Jesus Christ in atonement for sin.

Let's talk a little bit about the Holy Mass. Most Catholics today have never experienced the Traditional Latin Mass, barely remember Vatican II, and have no idea what came before and what's been lost. So let's look at just two changes effected by the Novus Ordo Missae: the offertory prayers and Communion in the hand.

First: Did you know that the Novus Ordo (NO) Offertory Prayers are Jewish table prayers... like the grace you say before meals? If you’ve ever attended a Jewish Seder meal, you heard them. The Seder is a memorial meal commemorating the Passover in Egypt, not a sacrifice. 
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life....Blessed areyou, Lord God of all creation, for througt your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
So what exactly is being offered to God at the NO and why? It’s hard to tell because the language is so ambiguous. In the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the offertory prayers make it totally clear that the offering is Jesus Christ Himself offered in a sacrifice with a purpose, i.e., to atone for sin. Can offering bread and wine, which the NO offertory prayers emphasize, atone for our offenses against Almighty God? No! Of course not! Only the offering of Jesus Christ can do that, but almost all references to the propitiatory nature of the Mass were removed to make it more acceptable to Protestants. 

As Dan Graham writes in his book, Lex Orandi:
Protestants reject the sacrificial nature of the Mass in the strongest terms. Luther taught that the Mass was idolatry because it attempted to be a sacrifice that delivers man from sin. Luther states, “The mass is not a sacrifice but a thanksgiving to God and a communion with believers.” Protestants believe strongly that the Eucharist is a gift from God to men. They believe that in no way is the Eucharist an oblation of men to God; therefore, not a sacrifice.

Moving on to Communion in the hand.  Did you know that Communion in the Hand came about through disobedience? 

After Vatican II the practice of receiving in the hand became widespread around the world, particularly in Germany, Belgium, Holland, and France. [Think about where the scandals and rejection of the faith are coming from today.] A liturgical abuse, sadly, Communion in the hand was often encouraged by liberal bishops and priests. 

Although most bishops opposed the change, Pope Paul VI, after publication in 1969 of the document Memoriale Domini, Instructions on Receiving Communion in the Hand (MD), provided an “indult” (exception) to those countries where disobedience was already rampant if 2/3rds of the bishops agreed. So disobedience was rewarded. Although the norm continued to be Communion on the tongue, in the hand quickly became the practical reality and those receiving on the tongue became a rare breed. In Rome, however, no one could receive in the hand until recent papacies. 

Sad to say, Pope Benedict was one of the innovators who said of the practice, “I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself.” So despite all the warnings in MD about profanation of the Eucharist and loss of belief in the Real Presence, which have come to pass, the novelty expanded to the point where people were often forbidden to receive on the tongue as happened recently at the Vatican when those receiving the office of lector and catechist were mandated to receive standing and in the hand. Will a mandate be coming down next to forbid Communion on the tongue?

The crisis in the Church is serious and it is becoming clearer and clearer that it revolves around the center of Catholic faith, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. My husband and I have returned to the Mass of our youth, the Traditional Latin Mass, with a new appreciation and gratitude to God for bringing us home.