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Friday, December 12, 2014

“Mass is Community Worship Where Believers Gather To Offer Praise and Thanksgiving…”

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“Mass is Community Worship Where Believers Gather To Offer Praise and Thanksgiving…”

I recently came across an article entitled, “I Don't Get Anything Out Of Mass.” The article was posted a month ago at, a conservative oriented and “mainstream” Catholic website. Since then, the article has amassed nearly 33,000 Facebook shares.

The article attempts to respond to the primary reason modern Catholics give for not attending Mass, which is: “I don’t get anything out of it.” While the goal of the article is admirable and the intent of the author is no doubt sincere, the response he gives is a shocking indicator of what passes for “orthodox” Catholic belief in this country.


The author begins by stating the following familiar statistics:

Up until the early 1960s, a full 75-percent of Catholics in America went to Mass on a regular basis. ("Regular basis" being defined as every Sunday plus Holy Days of Obligation.) Nowadays, of those people who identify themselves as Catholic, the figure is more like 25-percent. And that's not counting the people who have left the Church completely, those who no longer identify themselves as Catholic. Don't forget, although the church denomination in the U.S. with the largest membership is the Catholic Church, the second largest religious group in this country are people described as "former Catholics."

Any Catholic reading this article should ask himself why this took place. Apparently 75% of Catholics were “getting something” out of the Traditional Mass before it began to be tinkered with in 1965 and finally replaced with the Novus Ordo in 1969. Imagine what had to have happened for so many millions of Catholics to give up their Faith all together, while 75% of those who remained, according to the author, no longer even bother to go to Mass. As anyone can see, the decline is directly correlated with Vatican II and the changes to the Mass.

As for the Neo-Catholic excuse that correlation does not equal causation, attendance of Protestants at Sunday services remained constant during this same period. Thus, the idea that the secular culture of “the 60’s” struck a blow across all faiths is a canard. Something happened unique to Catholicism during this period that devastated the Catholic Church and devastated it quickly. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the cause was. Yet, sadly, most of our conservative Catholic friends are not allowed to even begin down this line of questioning before being prodded back into line by their Neo-Catholic leaders.

The article continues:

Is going to Mass similar to going to a movie or a ballgame, or going out to a restaurant, where the whole reason for going is to get some personal enjoyment or entertainment? No, of course not…

Mass is not a show; it's not a party; it's not entertainment. Mass is community worship where believers gather to offer praise and thanksgiving to the God who created them, and to enter into a mystical communion with the Almighty Lord by receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Let this sink in for a moment. An author on a popular “conservative” Catholic website, in an article with 33,000 shares on Facebook and an overwhelming number of positive comments from Catholics leads his definition of the Mass by stating it is “community worship where believers gather to offer praise and thanksgiving.” He then adds that the “believers” also “gather”, “to enter into a mystical communion with the Almighty Lord by receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.” Thus, according to his definition, the Mass is nothing more than community worship of praise and thanksgiving where one also receives the Eucharist. This is not a Mass. It is nothing more than a praise and worship “Communion service”, which is precisely what so many Novus Ordo Masses have become. In the author’s defense, however, his definition of the Mass is not much worse than the original definition of the Novus Ordo Mass found in the 1969 General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

7. The Lord's Supper, or Mass, is the sacred meeting or congregation of the people of God assembled, the priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. For this reason, Christ's promise applies eminently to such a local gathering of holy Church: 'Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst' (Mt. 18:20)."

In any case, isn’t it striking that nowhere in this article is the word “sacrifice” used when the very topic of the article is why one should assist at Holy Mass? Catholic365 readers should be aware of Canons I and III of the Twenty Second Session of the Council of Trent, which seem to apply almost verbatim to the author’s definition. The only thing missing is the outright denial of the sacrifice:

CANON I.--If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacriflce is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema.

CANON III.--If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving…let him be anathema.

The article continues:

Many people think of Mass as a show. The priest is the performer; God is the prompter, who whispers to the priest what to say; and the people in the pews are the audience, who sit back and expect to be entertained. And if the priest does not entertain the audience, either with inspirational or humorous comments, then the show is a flop. By this standard, virtually every Mass is a flop.

And where, pray tell, did modern Catholics get the idea that Mass is a show and that the priest is a performer? Could changing the orientation of the priest from facing Christ, to facing the people have anything to do with this? Could the fully “approved” charismatic “renewal”, where rock music is played, or the teen rock masses seen at World Youth Day with full papal approval have anything to do with this? Where in the world would any Catholic today get the idea that the Mass is a show or entertainment!? I have no idea.

After the author disagrees with the idea that the Mass is a show and the priest is an entertainer, he proceeds to give the “correct” understanding of the Mass to his readers:

But in reality, here are the correct roles: The people in the pews are the performers; the priest is the prompter who guides the pace of the performance; and the audience is God. When we go to Mass, we're not going as audience members to be entertained. We're going as performers to put on a presentation of prayer and worship and gratitude for our audience of One: God Himself.

Wow! Thus, instead of the priest being the performer, WE ourselves are the performers. The priest simply guides the pace of our performance. Therefore, the priest apparently has even less of a role than in the previous absurd description. Also our entire “performance” appears to be for the purpose of entertaining God who is our “audience.” Thus, the Vatican II call for “active participation” in the Mass continues to bear its fruit in modern Catholicism.

How far all of this explanation is from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! It shows just how serious the crisis in the Church has become. The ancient saying that “the law of prayer becomes the law of belief” has been proven time and time again in the Novus Ordo. We have now reached the point where even well meaning “conservative” Catholic websites are attempting to evangelize other Catholics by putting forward a Protestant concept of worship mixed with Eucharistic belief. This is the depressing contradictory belief system that develops when Catholics habitually attend an ambiguous and protestantized liturgy.

The author then chastises those fallen away Catholics who say they don’t get anything out of Mass and tells them that it is because they don’t put enough “into it.” The clear implication is that if these lazy Catholics “actively participate” aka say their responses with more enthusiasm, sing louder, pay more attention, become a “lay reader” or “extraordinary minister”, join the choir, and really “get into it” then they will somehow “be filled with His joy and peace and love” and “enter into a personal relationship with the Eternal Being.”

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It may shock the author and his readers, but in many cases the fallen away Catholics who don’t get anything out of the Novus Ordo Mass are correct not to go. Something deep inside these Catholics is telling them that something is wrong with the modern Mass. It is called their Catholic sense, or sensus Catholicus. These fallen–away Catholics are merely making the same tragic choice those millions of Catholics made in the 1960’s when the Mass was changed to begin with. The very thing their hearts long for and were made to long for is missing at their local Novus Ordo Mass. Their God given desire to offer themselves up with the mysterious sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in an atmosphere of reverence and silence necessary to efficacious prayer has been thwarted by the current man-centered, juvenile, loud and ugly “performance” found in most parishes today. No amount of trying harder to “give” of oneself to such a disordered and misguided “gathering” is going to fill this divine need of the fallen away Catholic in the slightest.

The fault of these fallen away Catholics lies in their not searching hard enough for the alternative. While rejecting the poison, they still haven’t found the cure. Some have resigned themselves to a life of secular hedonism. Others have joined Protestant sects to receive morsels of stolen Catholic Truth, which is more than they received from their modernist parish. Far from asking these Catholics to simply “try harder” at their local Novus Ordo experiment, I would challenge them to attend a Traditional Mass. There, nothing will be asked of them except to be reverent, receptive, and to pray. Everything around them will fill their sense with the sacred they have been longing for. They will begin to see simply by the demeanor of the congregation and the priest that something serious is happening. They will begin to see that they are present once again at Calvary. And like Our Blessed Mother at the Cross, they need not say a word or take any physical action in order to be near Our Savior. It is in that conversation with Christ on the Cross, that He will begin to heal their wounds, convert their souls, and “make all things new.”

As a service and an antidote to the readers of the Catholic365 article I offer the following excerpts from an article titled “Why In Latin?” by the Rev. George Bampfield in 1917. In it, Fr. Bampfield explains why the Vatican II idea of “active participation” in the Mass as it has been commonly understood (i.e., repeating responses aloud, singing enthusiastically, joining a “liturgical ministry”) is nonsense. He then explains all one truly needs to “do” in order to “get” what one is supposed to receive at the Holy Mass:

[The priest at Mass] is not only praying; he is doing a work which is greater than prayer; and the people join with him not in the words he is saying, but in the work he is doing. He does not want them to join in the words he is saying; he would rather they did not; so little does he want them to join that he says half the prayers, not only in Latin but quite low to himself: let the people use their own words, say their own prayers, point out to God their own wants, for each heart knows its own grief, and no shoulder bears the same cross; let many different prayers therefore arise to Heaven, so long as all join in the one great Act, the grand Work, which gives to all the different prayers their value.

" What is that one great act ?"

Sacrifice. Sacrifice is the worship of God. The Jewe of old time had their synagogues- their chapels­ all over the Holy Land, and in these synagogues they preached and read the Bible, and prayed. That wasgood, but it was not THE worship of God. The worship of God, the true grand worship of God, was in the Temple, where daily, morning and evening, the lamb was offered to God and died - a blameless martyr - to the honour of Him who made it. It was to this worship that three times a year the Jews were ordered, at no little cost and weariness, to travel up. It was the loss of this that made David weep when he was in exile. The synagogue -the bible, the sermon, the prayer- was not enough: it was for sacrifice, for the worship of God, that he yearned. Now your service is the service of the synagogue, ours is the service of the Temple. The sacrifice of the Temple is greater than the prayers of the synagogue.

Think for one moment of the great worship of God that was done on Calvary. The greatest act of worship ever done was done there by the greatest Priest, the only Priest; but it was done in silence. Mary, St. John, and the Magdalen were beneath, and knew what the great act was, and as Abraham offered Isaac, so Mary, herself martyred, joined in the sacrifice of her Son; but seven times only amidst the thick darkness rang out the voice of the High Priest, nor always then in prayer. Not all three of those who stood beneath prayed surely the same prayer; one was the prayer of the Magdalen who saw there before her eyes the terrible work of her own sins, who crouched at her Lord's feet that those scarlet sins of hers might, as the blood dropped down, be made white as wool; and another was St. John, him, the innocent one, the virgin friend of the virgin heart, who had entered by right of his innocence into all its tenderness, and understood the depths of its love; and another still the mother's prayer, who drew from that slow dripping blood a higher grander salvation than we all, who, saved more than we, had a work to do more than we, and a right to stand there offering the Son who saved her, the blood which she had given Him, for us, who were not yet saved, who were not yet one with Him. Each his own prayer, each his own thoughts, as they stood beneath the Cross, but all joined in the one Sacrifice, and to all their prayers and thoughts that one great Act gave their value.

…Prayer is something said to God: Sacrifice is something done to God. In prayer the words are ALL; in sacrifice the thing done is first, the words said are second. Sacrifice is a gift given; in a gift the grand thing is the act of giving, not the speaking of any particular word…

The important point is that they should all join in offering the one gift, which gift is Jesus Christ: not that they should all join in the same words; joyful words could not express the sad man's sorrow, and sad words could not tell to God the happy man's joy; but both joyful and sorrowful tell their joy and their sorrow to God by the same gift, by the offering of the same Jesus Christ. The one thing required then is that all men should join in the act of Sacrifice; but a form of prayer in the vulgar tongue which would force itself upon the ear -would be in the way at the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is not the idea. or wish of the Church, that her priest should pray aloud, and be heard, and take the people with him; she leaves the people each man to his own freedom of prayer. Mass is a time of silent prayers, all put up through the one great Sacrifice. Sacrifice, and prayer without sacrifice, are in the Church’s eyes different things…

...Some Protestants love a form of prayer, and feel their devotion aroused and guided by that which is old and familiar : others feel that to pray according to a. form is to pray in chains and to imprison their devotion. Both feelings are, no doubt, true instincts of our nature, and both are satisfied by God's true worship of the Mass, as true instincts of the nature God has made must be satisfied by God's religion. The same unchanging sacrifice is the cause and the guide of our devotion; our liberty to pray during the sacrifice as we will, takes all chains from our devotions and make the same worship ever new.

Last modified on Friday, December 12, 2014