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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Old Mass/Old Faith, New Mass/New Faith: The Raison d'être of a Catholic Traditionalist

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Who is this man, and why do they still hate him nearly a quarter-century after his death? Who is this man, and why do they still hate him nearly a quarter-century after his death?

Editor’s Note: It was an honor for me to present the following paper at the Angelus Press Conference in Kansas City back in October.  Our hope and prayer in publishing it here at Christmastime is that it might help inspire traditional Catholics from the various camps to recognize the urgent need for all of us to unite against the real enemy -- those who hate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please God, let is be so. MJM

Your Excellency, Reverend Fathers, dear sisters and brothers in Christ: It is an honor for me to be with you today. As a life-long fan of the SSPX’s flagship magazine, The Angelus, I’m delighted to be here.

When I was young the names of your founding editors, Pulvermacher and Buldoc, were household words, and I’m proud to say that, since those long ago days, The Remnant and the Angelus have remained allies throughout the post-conciliar days of darkness.

In preparation for my talk, in fact, I came across a letter dated September 25, 1975 and addressed to my father, which I’d like to share with you this morning:


“Dear Mr. Walter Matt: Someone has called my attention to the various articles sympathetic to Econe which have appeared in recent issues of The Remnant. I wish to thank you for your kindness and courage in publishing these articles, which have done so much to bring forward important facts which otherwise would remain unknown to many of our American friends. The Remnant is fulfilling an ever more important function in the defense of the Mass and of the Catholic Faith in your beloved country, and I pray that God may help and reward you. With best wishes and a cordial blessing for you and your dear family and all the readers of The Remnant, Sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Titular Archbishop of Synnada”

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Remnant Founding Editor, Walter L. Matt lefebvre and dad large(1976)

This was penned nearly 40 years ago. So much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge since then, so many historic developments in the life of our Church under siege—mostly apocalyptic in nature, it is true, but some, such as the return of the old Latin Mass to the diocesan structures of the Church—utterly unthinkable 40 years ago! — welcome proof that God is still in charge and that there is no excuse for us to abandon hope either in Him or in His Bride.

According to a recent Remnant report by Brian Mershon, noting the progress made in the seven years since “Summorum Pontificum”: Nearly 500 North American Churches now offer the Traditional Latin Mass, and this does not include Mass centers operated by the largest traditionalist group in the world—the SSPX.

Outside the SSPX since July 7, 2007, in the 191 dioceses in North America, there are 485 parishes that offer the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis. 335 parish locations offer a weekly Traditional Latin Mass. 75 parish locations provide access daily.

In France 159 traditional Mass centers now exist outside of Paris. There are another 10 inside Paris proper, with an additional 73 in the suburbs, for a grand total of 242 Traditional Masses in France. And, again, this does not include the SSPX—which has a massive presence in France.

According to The Latin Mass Society’s recent release, there are in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland: 170 Traditional Latin Mass centers currently in operation.

Quite obviously, Summorum Pontificum and its aftermath have much to teach us about the failure of the Liturgical Revolution of Vatican II. For if the old Latin Mass—abrogated, hated, illegal and shunned just forty years ago—can make such a dramatic comeback in the midst of the worst crisis Mother Church has ever suffered, then quite obviously the Revolution has thus far failed.  

I have been asked to share some memories this morning about the early days of our movement, not for the sake of nostalgia, but rather by way of recalling the debt of gratitude we all owe our fathers and mothers, whose voices cried out in the wilderness and who against all odds never gave up the fight for the restoration of the old Mass and thus the old Faith of our Fathers.

We must never forget their sacrifices, their losses, their victories, their valiant and lonely stand for Tradition. They were traditionalists before “traditionalism was cool”!

We must examine what they did in the past so that we can prepare ourselves and teach our children what must be done in the future. For, in truth, the TLM was the only Mass in the Roman Rite when our fathers and mothers were young, and yet the revolution found a way to win massive victories over the old Faith despite that Mass.

Here is what I remember…

I was just a child when the traditional Catholic movement was teething. The Novus Ordo Missae had just forced itself upon the Bride of Christ, and liturgical experimentation was spreading like wildfire through the forests of what was left of Christendom.

Those who resisted what history would call the ‘regime of novelty’ had not yet organized themselves into a full-fledged movement.

Currents diverted this way and that by the designs of modernists, liberals and liturgical hippies were forming into a tsunami against the Church, her venerable liturgy, her dogmas and her holy priesthood.

Theological time bombs were exploding all over the place; nuns and priests were throwing off their old habits as well as the habits of old; and the first pope I remember, Paul VI, seemed to be in a permanent quandary over how to make the Church palatable to a modern world that was fast learning to hate Christ.

In the wake of that tsunami that was the Second Vatican Council, faithlessness flowed like roaring flood waters through the streets and sanctuaries of the Catholic world.

One day those waters reached the door of the little stone church in my neighborhood. The parish priest who’d baptized my siblings and me had built the church by hand, accepted no state aid for his school, always dressed in the Roman collar and clung to the old Latin Mass like a lifeline. He was the first priest I recall having been banished by the modernist authorities.

I remember the battle that raged the summer of 1971, when the old pastor and the Latin Mass were losing ground to the new trends and the ungodly spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Half his parishioners stood against him, half didn’t care, and a small faction stood by him as his little boat sank beneath the waves.

Before long, he was swept out to sea, and folks like my parents who’d stood with him were swimming in the unfamiliar waters of a post-conciliar nightmare. Everything was turned upside down. Everything was in chaos. Everything was shrouded in darkness.

I remember riding my bike through the church parking lot after the parish war had ended and seeing slabs of the hacked-up high altar serving as parking curbs—marble metaphors of a Church under siege and the defeat of Tradition. Without Sacrifice there was no need for an altar, and so the altars of God were literally hacked to pieces.

Soon freeways became a part of our Sunday morning experience as we (like many families in those days) joined the ranks of the “Roamin’ Catholics”—disillusioned folks who’d move from church to church trying to find something that resembled the Catholic Mass.

Then there were the Sunday morning walk-outs. Ours was a family of nine children, so when my father decided he’d had a stomach full of heterodoxy, our dash for the exits was anything but subtle. Midway through the sermon he would groan from the far end of the pew: “Good Lord, this is heresy!” And that’s when we knew we’d be finishing Sunday observance in the station wagon by praying the Rosary. Up he’d get and out we’d go—all nine of us.

All throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, then, families like ours depended for spiritual sustenance on sporadic visits from the Men in Black— travelling priests from around the world who’d resisted the regime of novelty and gradually set up an underground railroad for Latin Mass Catholics.

My father’s house was a regular stop for Father Urban Snyder (confessor to Archbishop Lefebvre), Father Harry Marchosky, Father Lawrence Brey, Father James Dunphy, Father Ives Normandin, Father Paul Crane, Father Vincent Miceli, Father Brian Houghton—men who’d been ostracized for the sake of the old Faith, abandoned by their own. Pastors out in the cold, accused of ugly things like schism and disobedience.

My earliest recollections of the ABROGATED Traditional Latin Mass are set in the basement of my father’s house. I remember the murmur of the Latin and the scent of altar linens, candle wax, wine and communion bread.

There in the catacomb chapel, the Men in Black—priests forced out of their sanctuaries and into basements like ours—went unto homemade altars of God.

The Masses were held in secret, as the old Latin Mass was illegal, or so we’d been told, kept alive by new Edmund Campions—brave priests who’d given up everything from pension to position in the name of preserving Tradition. At their feet, we learned to survive the revolution of Vatican II.

Homeschooling in hiding, hearing Mass in secret, fearing the advance of communists and modernists alike—this was the reality of those days of Cold War, both spiritual and temporal. But the travelling priests managed to carve that harsh reality into a bonafide Catholic counterrevolution.

In 1976, my father organized the first large scale public reception given in honor of Archbishop Lefebvre in the United States. During the course of this reception he delivered a testimonial in honor of the Archbishop in which he asked the following questions which have yet to be answered 40 years later:

Our illustrious guest, Archbishop Lefebvre, a duly consecrated Successor of the Apostles, a recognized Prelate and Prince of the Church, a man whose distinguished career both before and after the Second Vatican Council requires no apology either by himself or by anyone else, finds himself suddenly all but disowned by many, if not most, of his ecclesial confreres: Why? What is his offense, his wrongdoing, his crime? Why is it that, for a man of his outstanding credentials as a true priest of God, as a canonically accredited Successor of the Apostles, such a man… cannot find—either here in the St. Paul Archdiocese, or in any diocese—even a single parish church that dares to bid him open welcome, a single chancery, a single priestly seminary that will permit him to tell his story, much less defend his reputation and honor against the ravenous wolves in the public media who have given him either the well-known "silent treatment" or, worse, have lied about him and pilloried his work to a point almost beyond recognition? Why? Why, moreover, though he has appealed his case to Rome and has requested from that quarter a formal hearing, an ecclesiastical trial, if you will—why has he been summarily refused, worse still, condemned before the world without trial?

The very next day, many of us children received the Sacrament of Confirmation. I was ten years old. The setting was the small country church where our old pastor had been put out to pasture.

I remember kneeling at the rail, trying to say my prayers and ready myself for the big moment. The formula of Confirmation began, recited in soft voice and unfamiliar accent. My forehead was anointed with holy chrism, and I lifted my face to receive the “slight blow on the cheek”—and for just an instant I was looking up into the face of Archbishop Lefebvre—the lone Prince of the Church who had kept the old Faith. That moment will never be forgotten.

To my grave it will be my contention that on that day we all stood in the presence of a saint who had remained on the field of battle as a true soldier of Christ when nearly everyone else had deserted.

The early traditionalists lived and breathed in defense of the entire deposit of Faith, the touchstone of which was the immemorial Tridentine Mass—the Roman Rite, offered in the ancient tongue by a priest who faced the altar of God as priests had done for thousands of years.

They rallied round the Sacrifice of Mass codified by Saint Pius V at a dogmatic Council that forever cast in ecclesial stone both the doctrine and liturgy against the great assault on both that was the Protestant Revolution.

“It’s the Mass that matters”, the early traditionalists kept reminding themselves — borrowing the rallying cry of the traditionalist English martyrs of the Western Uprising some 500 years earlier who had also defended the Catholic Faith by rejecting a new rite of Mass and clinging to the old one.

“It’s the Tridentine Mass that matters!” The traditionalists of the 20th century also knew that important aspects of that Mass had predated Trent by some 1500 years. But by referring to it affectionately as the “Tridentine Mass”, men such as Lefebvre, Davies, Senior, Matt, Fraser, de Saventhem, von Hildebrand lashed themselves in perpetuity to that mast of Catholic Tradition that was the dogmatic Council of Trent—codifier of the Mass, codifier of the Rosary, codifier of the Catholic Catechism.

With Trent as their compass and the Latin Mass as their anchor, they made their way through the squalls of modernism, following the same course that had been set by Catholics in the 4thcentury Arian heresy, 16th century England, and in France during the holy war for altar and throne in the Vendee.

For them the old Latin Mass was the touchstone of all the dogmas and doctrines of the Catholic religion. Their refusal to abandon it was part and parcel of their refusal to abandon them. And their defiant stand for the old Faith is the stuff of legend.

Archbishop Lefebvre would suffer a phony “excommunication” for his dogged defense of all things Tridentine. But because of him a worldwide Catholic restoration was born.

My friend and mentor, Michael Davies, worked himself into an early grave for Tradition, as did the great Hamish Fraser and John Senior.

My father gave up everything except Faith and family in its name. After thirty years in harness as editor of The Wanderer, he left birthright behind in order to defend Tradition in that same basement where the Latin Mass was preserved in secret. Soon there was one and then two AB Dick 360 printing presses howling away down there at all hours, right beside that homemade altar, cranking out newspapers and pamphlets that cried out like the very stones in defense of Tradition.

This small worldwide remnant of faithful Catholics did not see themselves as heroes. All they wanted to be was what their fathers and grandfathers had raised them to be—Catholics! Some called them “Traditional Catholics” but that was redundant, and they knew it. They were merely trying to hand down the Faith to their sons as it had been handed them by their fathers. And for this they were banished from their parishes, castigated as “schismatic”, and forced to live the old Faith in new catacombs.

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But they never forgot the words of their catechism: “You must be prepared to die rather than deny it”. And so they remained for forty years in the desert—resisting the spirit of Vatican II, the New Mass and myriad novelties of an era marked by ecclesial and social chaos.

Finally even Rome itself was forced to recognize the legitimacy of the resistance they’d mounted against the New Mass. Two motu proprios in the 1980s attempted to placate the traditionalists but succeeded only in expanding their ranks.

Then, finally, the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, or in English: Of the Supreme Pontiffs…the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI dated July 7, 2007.

Summorum Pontificum replaced the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei and granted greater freedom to the Traditional Latin Mass, going so far as to grant all priests the right to freely celebrate the old Mass without having to ask permission of anyone.

As Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Darío Castrillón Hoyos put it: "Priests can decide, without permission from the Holy See or the bishop, to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite. And this holds true for all priests. It is the parish priests who must open the doors to those priests that, having the faculty [to do so], go to celebrate. It is not therefore necessary to ask any other permission."

It was an important, if partial, victory—important because it admitted, finally, what the traditionalists had insisted upon right from the beginning, that the old Mass had never been abrogated, and that every priest has the right before God to say it. Partial because it concedes the equality of the New Mass.

The MP came about largely through the impetus, directly and indirectly, of the Society of St. Pius X, via the specific conditions laid down by Bishop Fellay as prerequisite for any serious talks with the Vatican—that the Traditional Latin Mass must first be liberated—and also because the Holy Father as Cardinal Ratzinger had been personally involved with Archbishop Lefebvre’s case and in the failed negotiations that had led up to the events of 1988.

Today only a fool or someone with an ax to grind will argue that were it not for Archbishop Lefebvre there would be no SSPX, no FSSP, no ICK and no worldwide traditional Latin Mass movement firmly entrenched in the diocesan structures of the Church—for which we thank God.

I know this to be true because I was there! I remember the basement Masses, I remember the Howard Johnson Masses. As a journalist and Catholic publisher, my father fought day and night against the revolution of Vatican II and the New Mass. But it wasn’t until an Archbishop took his famous last stand, that the Vatican finally blinked.

As Michael Davies noted long before Summorum Pontificum: “It is only thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre more than any other individual that the Mass is now being celebrated throughout the world. Without the Archbishop, there would be no Indult Masses, no Fraternity of St. Peter, no monastery at Le Barroux. One might hope that all those who now assist at the Tridentine Mass each Sunday outside the auspices of the SSPX would appreciate that they owe this inestimable privilege to Monsignor Lefebvre. In my opinion, the Archbishop is a saint and will emerge with more credit than any other prelate when the history of these troubled times is written.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Davies, and I spent most of my adult life attending Masses approved by the local ordinary of the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese. Because of Archbishop Lefebvre my seven children know only the Latin Mass and have never seen the Novus Ordo. For that great grace alone, I echo the words of Cardinal Silvio Oddi, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy , who on September 18, 1991, just months after the Archbishop’s death from cancer, visited Archbishop Lefebvre's tomb, knelt down at it, prayed, and then said aloud: "Merci, Monseigneur".

God writes straight with crooked lines. And Summorum Pontificum was first and foremost Cardinal Ratzinger’s attempt to correct what had gone wrong in 1988—one of the great regrets of his career. This is as much as admitted in the MP itself as well as in the accompanying cover letter from the Holy Father in which he explained that his action was aimed at "coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church" with Traditionalist Catholics in disagreement with the Holy See.

The Holy Father also speaks of mutual enrichment between what the MP calls the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, and hinted at a reform of the reform, which, it seems evident now in hindsight, was his genuine secondary objective.

I’m not asking anyone in this room to agree with Pope Benedict in this regard, but I would ask you to consider the ramifications of what the Holy Father was tacitly admitting—that the New Mass needed to be enriched by the old Mass, that something had gone wrong with the liturgical “renewal” of Vatican II, which he personally confirmed in his last official address on Feb. 14, 2013, to the Roman clergy: “And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this [Second Vatican] Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized.”

There’s no question that Benedict believed the New Mass needed to be enriched by a closer proximity to the old Mass. And as we saw it at the time, it was all a question of direction. We favored the so-called “reform of the reform” so long as the Mass being reformed was exclusively the New Mass—which was desperately in need not only of reform but of total recall.

If, according to Benedict’s wishes, the new Mass in every city in the world would begin to adopt exclusively the Roman Canon, for example, or to use the correct words of consecration, be celebrated ad orientem sans novelties and abuses such as altar girls and communion in the hand—who could object to that, so long as fraternal orders of priests such as the SSPX and FSSP don’t budge from the rock of traditional doctrine and the exclusive use of the Tridentine Mass which protects and safeguards that doctrine.

And there is something else. In Summorum Pontificum Benedict is attempting to establish yet another hermeneutic of continuity. He could not get around one stark reality that plagued him throughout his entire career and is clearly evidenced in his early writings—that if the two forms of Mass are mutually exclusive one must represent a break with Tradition.

The great French traditionalist thinker, Jean Madiran, pointed this out back in November of 1976 when he wrote in Approaches No 51-52: “Consider this most carefully: if the Old Mass and the New were substantially the same Mass; If the New were merely a question of bringing language and appearances up to date, there would be no reason for its prohibition. Conversely, if the New Mass makes inevitable the prohibition of the Old, it is implicitly but necessarily because it is deemed foreign to it, incompatible with it, and is seen as the expression of another religion.”

Summorum Pontificum is as much about salvaging the Novus Ordo as it was about accommodating the “legitimate aspirations” of Traditional Catholics. It is a complex document, and not without serious flaws. But it also offered an incredible opportunity for us to take our fight for Tradition back out into the mainstream.

And although the hard-liners in our own ranks called us sell-outs and accused us of being naïve, there can be no doubt that the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum gave traditionalists a strategic opening, which is why Bishop Fellay was quite right to observe at the time: “By the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated the Tridentine Mass in its rights, and clearly affirmed that the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V had never been abrogated. The Priestly Society of St. Pius X rejoices to see the Church thus regain her liturgical Tradition…for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, to the priests and faithful who had so far been deprived of it...”

Note that Bishop Fellay in no sense intimates that the SP means the end of the war, for indeed it does not! We are still at war precisely because the new doctrine that the New Mass represents is still the “ordinary form” which via Faustian bargain we’re supposed to accept in order to gain approved access to the Mass “we prefer”.

Nevertheless, the MP was still too much for the wolves that surrounded Benedict from Day 1 of his Pontificate. There can be little doubt that the MP had everything to do with the unprecedented abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. The prospect of the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass triggered a visceral and demonic reaction against the Holy Father on the part of those wolves he’d prayed at the outset of his pontificate would not cause him to flee.

Why? Lex orandi, lex credendi—and the enemies of the old Faith know it, and so they viciously opposed Benedict for having taken even baby steps towards restoring the old way of praying that they feared could lead to a rebirth of the old way of believing.

These wolves knew, just as Archbishop Lefebvre knew and famously observed, that “there can be no fundamental modification of the lex orandi (law of the liturgy) without producing a corresponding change in the lex credendi (the things that we must believe). The new Mass corresponds to the new catechism, the new Priesthood, the new seminaries, the new universities, and the charismatic Pentecostal Church—all of which are opposed to orthodoxy and to the age-old teaching of the Magisterium.”

Now if we invert these words of the Archbishop’s, we can begin to see why modernists—the WOLVES—so feared Summorum Pontificum despite its flaws: “There can be no fundamental modification of the lex orandi (law of the liturgy) without producing a corresponding change in the lex credendi (the things that we must believe). The old Mass corresponds to the old catechism, the old Priesthood, the old seminaries, the old universities, and the traditional Catholic Church—all of which are opposed to novelty and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.”

They fear the old Mass. They hate the old Mass. They understand the potential of the old Mass to undo their revolution—not based on some liturgical smells-and-bells magic trick, but rather on the potential the old Mass has to wake slumbering masses to the obvious heterodoxy of the new orientation of the Church—an orientation liturgically codified in the Novus Ordo Missae.

What is the future of the Traditional Latin Mass? With the dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate under Vatican visitation, and the demotion of Cardinal Raymond Burke, we can see that the winds of change are blowing back again and we must prepare for war, preparation for which begins with traditional Catholics publicly reasserting not just what we are for but indeed what we are against—i.e., the new theology, the new doctrine, and the new orientation of the Catholic Church.

So while it is very true that Summorum Pontificum represents a significant vindication of the traditionalist cause, it is also true that it contains a direct contradiction to one of the foundational planks of the traditionalist platform—namely that the New Mass, though technically valid, is dangerous to the faith.

Pope Benedict’s cover letter to Summorum Pontificum contends that, "needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."

But how can we agree to peacefully coexist with that which Archbishop Lefebvre contended “even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules… is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.” (Open Letter to Confused Catholics, p.29)

While rejoicing at the partial restoration of the old Mass, we cannot allow greater access to the old Mass to purchase our silence against the new abomination. And if that is the price we must pay, then we must return to the catacombs.

We cannot declare a truce with that about which Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer said back in January of 1978: “It seems to me preferable that scandal be given rather than a situation be maintained in which one slides into heresy. After considerable thought on the matter, I am convinced that one cannot take part in the New Mass, and even just to be present one must have a serious reason. We cannot collaborate in spreading a rite which, even if it is not heretical, leads to heresy.”

We cannot accommodate what Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci stated in 1969 “represents as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass which was formulated by Session XXII of the Council of Trent, which by fixing definitively the "canons" of the rite, erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery.

We cannot give tacit approval to that about which Michael Davies said: “The only manner in which a Catholic can bring himself to assist at a rite of Mass which represents a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass formulated by the Council of Trent is by compromising with his conscience and this we cannot do.”

Of the New Mass Dietrich von Hildebrand said: "Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better."

And Hamish Fraser got it exactly right: “What power other than a diabolical one could possibly have contrived to suppress the unequivocally Catholic Mass of all time and replace it by a Novus Ordo Missae confected by a Freemason who had coopted six Protestant heretics on to the Concilium in their capacity as heretics, in order to ensure that the New Mass would be acceptable to Protestants.   What power other than a diabolical one could have dreamed up a New Mass which though sufficiently equivocal to be accepted by the generality of Bishops and priests is intrinsically Protestantiszing and the most divisive force the Church has ever encountered.”

The New Mass is the work of those Pope Pius X described in Pascendi as vipers who nest themselves in the very bosom of the Church and have indeed proliferated and spawned a far more pestilential new breed there—Modernists who have infiltrated the Church at every level, which is why, though it is indeed the Mass that matters, it is also much more than the Mass that matters.

We have been given a great grace from God—the return of the Traditional Latin Mass, touchstone of our Faith, rallying point of Catholic counterrevolution, without which we are surely lost—but God has given us this grace for a reason, to preserve the old faith in our families and communities and to steal ourselves for the spiritual Armageddon that is now imminent—the universal war for the heart and soul of the Holy Catholic Church, hope of the whole world, to raise our children to be countercultural in a battle for the survival of Faith, Family and Freedom—the battle against the new religion of the world, against which the New Mass presents pathetic and ineffective defense.

Cardinal Newman, in his sermon on “The Religion of the World,” warns us against the modern-day ‘ape of God’, the ‘world religion’, the ‘counterfeit of the Truth’ only “partially evangelical, built upon worldly principle, yet pretending to be the Gospel, dropping one whole side of the Gospel, its austere character, and considering it enough to be benevolent, courteous, candid…though it includes no true fear of God, no fervent zeal for His honour, no deep hatred of sin, no horror at the sight of sinners, no indignation and compassion at the blasphemies of heretics, no jealous adherence to doctrinal truth, no especial sensitiveness about the particular means of gaining ends… no sense of the authority of religion as external to the mind: in a word, no seriousness, - and therefore is neither hot nor cold, but (in Scripture language) lukewarm."

The New Mass was concocted by those who were heavily influenced by the modern age, the zeitgeist, which is why Archbishop Lefebvre reminded us all of what we must do, especially now when the Mass of Saints, Virgins and Martyrs has—even against all odds and expectations—been made available in the mainstream once more and, incredibly, from the chair of St. Peter itself. God has given us the means to prepare for spiritual combat—the Rosary and the old Latin Mass—and so we must ready ourselves to fight exactly as Archbishop Lefebvre noted 40 years ago:

Now we are bound to pray, to redouble our prayers! We are witnessing an assault by Satan against the Church, as has never been seen. We must pray to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to come to our assistance, for we can have no idea what horrors tomorrow may bring. It is not possible for God to tolerate indefinitely these blasphemies, these sacrileges which are committed against His Glory and Majesty! One need only reflect on the horror of abortion, on rampant divorce, on the ruin of moral law and of truth itself. It is inconceivable that all of this can continue without God punishing the world by some terrible chastisement. This is why we must beg God's mercy for ourselves and for all mankind, and we must struggle, we must fight. We must fight fearlessly to maintain Tradition, to maintain, above all, the Liturgy of the Holy Mass, because it is the very foundation of the Church, indeed of Christian civilization. Were the true Mass no longer to be celebrated in the Church, the Church would disappear.  An Examination of the Shocking Similarities Between the New Mass and Luther's "Mass" by His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre, February 15, 1975.

We have the Mass, and it is the Mass that matters. God has not abandoned us. He will be with us always. But it is up to us to keep the old Faith, to keep hope alive, and to never surrender in this war for Tradition and the preservation of the Mass and the faith of our fathers.

Last modified on Saturday, December 20, 2014
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.