In October 1967, the Episcopal Synod called in Rome was required to pass judgement on the experimental celebration of a so-called
“normative Mass” (New Mass), devised by the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia. This Mass aroused the most serious
misgivings. The voting showed considerable opposition (43 non placet), very many substantial reservations (62 juxta modum), and 4
abstentions out of 187 voters. The international press spoke of a “refusal” of the proposed “normative Mass” (New Mass) on the part of the
Synod. Progressively-inclined papers made no mention of it. In the Novus Ordo Missae lately promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution
Missale Romanum, we once again find this “normative Mass” (New Mass), identical in substance, nor does it appear that in the intervening
period the Episcopal Conference, at least as such, were ever asked to give their views about it.
In the Apostolic Constitution, it is stated that the ancient Missal promulgated by St. Pius V, 13th July 1570, but going back in great
part to St. Gregory the Great and still remoter antiquity, was for four centuries the norm for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice for
priests of the Latin rite, and that, taken to every part of the world, “it has moreover been an abundant source of spiritual nourishment
to many holy people in their devotion to God”. Yet, the present reform, putting it definitely out of use, was claimed to be necessary
since “from that time the study of the Sacred Liturgy has become more widespread and intensive among Christians”.
This assertion seems to us to embody a serious equivocation. For the desire of the people was expressed, if at all, when - thanks to Pius
X - they began to discover the true and everlasting treasures of the liturgy. The people never on any account asked for the liturgy to be
changed, or mutilated so as to understand it better. They asked for a better understanding of the changeless liturgy, and one which they
would never have wanted changed.
The Roman Missal of St. Pius V was religiously venerated and most dear to Catholics, both priests and laity. One fails to see how its use,
together with suitable catechesis, could have hindered a fuller participation in, and great knowledge of the Sacred Liturgy, nor why, when
its many outstanding virtues are recognised, this should not have been considered worthy to continue to foster the liturgical piety of
Rejected by Synod
Since the “normative” Mass (New Mass), now reintroduced and imposed as the Novus Ordo Missae (New Order of the Mass), was in substance
rejected by the Synod of Bishops, was never submitted to the collegial judgement of the Episcopal Conferences, nor have the people - least
of all in mission lands - ever asked for any reform of Holy Mass whatsoever, one fails to comprehend the motives behind the new
legislation which overthrows a tradition unchanged in the Church since the 4th and 5th centuries, as the Apostolic Constitution itself
acknowledges. As no popular demand exists to support this reform, it appears devoid of any logical grounds to justify it and makes it
acceptable to the Catholic people.
The Vatican Council did indeed express a desire (para. 50 Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium) for the various parts of the Mass to be
reordered “ut singularum partium propria ratio nec non mutua connexio clarius pateant.” We shall see how the Ordo recently promulgated
corresponds with this original intention.
An attentive examination of the Novus Ordo reveals changes of such magnitude as to justify in themselves the judgement already made with
regard to the “normative” Mass. Both have in many points every possibility of satisfying the most Modernists of Protestants.