Recognizing that our Church was dying where she once thrived, Saint Pope John Paul II, in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, first introduced the concept of “the new evangelization.”
“There is an intermediate situation, particularly in countries with ancient Christian roots, and occasionally in the younger Churches as well, where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”
Saint Pope John Paul was, of course, exactly right. The Church in the Western world was hurtling toward extinction, and something had to be done. Clearly, his words hit a nerve. Thousands of faithful Catholics leapt immediately to the call, launching programs, organizations, apostolates, conferences and curriculums designed to bring their lapsed brothers and sisters in Christ back to the Church.
And yet, despite all their efforts, the Catholic Church has continued its demographic tailspin almost unimpeded, a phenomenon perhaps best illustrated in weekly Mass attendance numbers which, in the United States, have plummeted from 39% in 1990 to 23% in 2017.
So, what’s going wrong?
The New Evangelization is a classic example of treating the symptoms and not the cause. Ok – what’s the cause? The answer has been clear for some time but, until recently, too fantastic for most to accept: the liberal coup of Vatican II. Modernist cardinals, bishops, priests and theologians commandeered the well-intended but disastrously timed Second Vatican Council to advance their agenda by introducing radical changes into the Church, most prominently, the “new Mass.” The work of these men — the “virtual council” Pope Benedict spoke of in 2013 — has proven abundantly successful in disaffecting the laity, demoralizing the clergy and, as we all now see with excruciating clarity, corrupting the episcopacy. Thus, virtually any success the New Evangelization has in bringing people into the Church is undone by the powerfully repellent effects of corrupt leaders now clearly in control.
The Attack on The Mass
The average Catholic in the 1960s had little knowledge of the myriad proposals, stratagems, and encyclicals generated within the Second Vatican Council. Their first and foremost introduction to the revolution was the “new Mass”— the Novus Ordo. They had no way of knowing that this new Mass was not the Mass intended by the actual Vatican Council. It is well documented how the inspired but vague language of the Council Fathers in their 1963 liturgical reform constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium was exploited by modernist saboteurs within the council to fashion liturgical timebombs by which they blasted the Church from her foundations and tradition, creating the fissure through which, as Pope Paul VI observed in 1973, “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
Why attack the Mass? Because if one’s goal is to destroy the Catholic Church, the Mass is the prime target. It is what St. Pope Pius X declared “the highest prayer that exists,” “the source and summit of Christian life,” the intimate union of Christ and His Bride the Church, the most direct connection possible between God and man this side of death, and the foundation of Catholic identity. If we get the Mass wrong, everything else follows suit. As the Church used to declare, lex orandi, lex credendi — as we worship so we believe and live our lives. The Mass is also ordinary lay Catholics’ primary — often only — active engagement with the faith. For roughly 1,969 years, this one point of connection served to consistently bring ordinary men and women out of lives of sin and futility into the light of Christ, to faithful marriages, to the consecrated life, to heroic virtue, martyrdom and sainthood. And the Church grew from 12 men to billions.
Then came the reform of the Mass, and since that time, what have we seen?
- Plummeting rates of vocations, faithful marriages, attendance at Mass, participation in the sacraments, belief in the Real Presence, and belief in God.
- Divorce, contraception and abortion among Catholics at pace with non-believers.
- A once epic Catholic education system desacralized, dumbed-down and largely indistinguishable from public schools.
- A majority of self-identified Catholics unable to articulate any meaningful understanding of what it actually means to be Catholic.
- And now – a corrupt and impotent episcopate.
As far as the modernists are concerned, mission accomplished.
Somewhat stunning to learn is that many anticipated this cataclysm even before the reformed Mass had been fully imposed. Cardinal John Heenan, for instance, who, upon experiencing the new Mass for the first time in 1967, wrote,
“At home it is not only women and children but also fathers and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel, we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children.”
In 1969, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, Cardinal Antonio Bacci, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and twelve Roman Catholic theologians carefully examined the reformed Mass and wrote a thorough and scathing rebuke to Pope Paul VI,
“To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error.”
An incalculable error indeed as, sadly, the “manifest errors” and “countless liberties implicitly authorized “were and are now explicitly practiced — something average Catholics witness firsthand virtually every Sunday and which key Church leaders have lamented for years. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his preface to Klaus Gamber’s 1992 book Reform of the Roman Liturgy, observed,
“What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it — as in a manufacturing process — with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”
Ratzinger was emphatic that there is a direct connection between the deformation of the Mass and the current apostasy.
“Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God.”
The cardinal-soon-to-be-pope famously reiterated his diagnosis in his 1998 autobiography,
“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”
In 2003, St. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. pleaded with bishops, priests, deacons and anyone who would listen to help remedy the situation.
“In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet . … How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.”
And most recently, Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his 2016 address, Towards an Authentic Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, explained,
“These abuses of the Sacred Liturgy grew up because of an erroneous understanding of the Council, resulting in liturgical celebrations that were subjective, and which were more focused on the individual community’s desires than on the sacrificial worship of Almighty God.”
Is it not curious that, despite 50 years of observations such as these, even from the highest levels of the hierarchy, scarcely anything has been done to correct this obviously disastrous course? Well now we know why. The Catholic episcopacy is infested with corrupt and rebellious men for whom the worst thing possible is a Church grounded firmly on her tradition and in harmony with the chorus of angels. After all, such a church makes it difficult to get away with sexual and financial depravity of almost unimaginable proportions. That’s why, since Vatican II they have sought to make of the Church, not a New Jerusalem, but a new Sodom and Gomorrah. And so here we are, with even our most orthodox New Evangelization efforts amounting to little more than pious window dressing in the front entrance of the whorehouse.
Time to rethink the strategy
Being severed from our tradition has all but killed the Catholic Church as an institution. Any and all efforts to revitalize her must, from this point forward, have the realignment of the faithful with tradition — Catholic tradition — as the top priority. Since this rupture is most apparent and destructive in the Mass, the Mass is where this new New Evangelization ought to begin.
The time is now! Our utterly disgraced episcopacy is in no position to ignore or deny the legitimate demands of the laity. An army of New Evangelizers in parishes throughout the United States demanding that their bishops take measures to restore reverence, mystery and awe to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass could prove remarkably successful.
The best and most direct route to accomplish this is to simply demand the reinstatement of the Tridentine Mass, accomplishing all the below in one fell swoop. As nearly every Catholic younger than age 55 was raised under the spell of the “Spirit of Vatican II” however, this is also the least likely route — most have been conditioned to regard “the Latin Mass” with great suspicion. So be it. For now, merely halting the 50-year veer and taking incremental steps in the right direction would constitute a revolution in the effort to restore the Church to her proper — and critical — course.
These steps include:
- The immediate elimination of liturgical innovations not explicitly called for in the rubrics of the Mass of Pope Paul VI , the Mass of Vatican II or, again the best option, the Tridentine Mass.
- The return of all tabernacles to the center of the altar.
- The elimination of communion in the hand.
- The return of communion rails and kneeling upon reception of the Holy Eucharist.
- The elimination of extraordinary ministers except in extraordinary circumstances.
- The return to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction, toward Our Lord in the tabernacle (i.e. Ad orientem.)
- The elimination of contemporary music and Protestant hymns from the Mass and the return of Gregorian chant and traditional Catholic hymns.
- The reinstitution, per the missals cited above, of a proper balance between the use of the vernacular and Latin within the liturgy.
- The elimination of the practice of having female altar servers.
- Mandatory genuflection (for those who are able) before the tabernacle upon entering and leaving the Church as well as when passing in front of the tabernacle.
- Respectful, modest apparel at Mass, particularly for lectors, ministers etc.
- Silence or at least whispering within the Church proper (not the narthex/lobby) before and after Mass.
- Ensuring that the Tridentine Mass is readily available throughout all dioceses for those who wish to participate in it.
It’s a start anyway.
Enforcing these measures will, of course, ruffle feathers. But ruffled feathers are better than scandalized and damned souls. Many will leave the pews. They are already leaving. Better they do so because the Church is rigorous in her efforts to please God than because she is disgraced in her attempts to please man.
It is a terrifying and critically important fact for all Catholics today to understand: the new Mass we were given in the late-1960s is NOT the new Mass the Second Vatican Council intended and certainly not one in line with the preceding nearly two millennia of Catholic tradition. We have been defrauded of our Catholic heritage by corrupt and evil men who believe in no god but themselves. We must fight to get it back – for the honor of God and the salvation of souls.