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Neil wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can you help me with information and/or documentation on the validity of the Mass after Vatican II?

Someone in my prayer group is being troubled by a family member who is asserting:

  • the invalid nature of the Mass, and
  • the invalid nature of the Vatican II.



  { Can you help me with information or documentation on the validity of the Mass after Vatican II? }

Richard replied:

Hi, Neil —

That's a pretty broad question, because the Church's critics throw so many arguments against the revised liturgy, and against the Council — arguments which sometimes even contradict each other, but who needs consistency? :-)

For a start, let me recommend the best book I've seen in defense of the Church on this question, which is "The Pope, the Council, and the Mass" by Likoudis and Whitehead. It answers dozens of arguments posed against the Church's soundness by various schismatic critics.

Unfortunately, it's common for fringe movements to spread around accusations against the Church, with two apparent aims:

  1. trying to justify their own disobedience, and
  2. trying to scare devout people out of the Church and into the fringe group!

Like all schismatics, the current ones claim that they are the real Church, and that it is the Pope and the bishops who have broken away. They remind me of the British humorists who described how, "the Pope and his followers left the Church of England."

Hope this helps as a start!

If you have more particular questions, feel free to write back.

Richard Chonak

Mike replied:

Hi, Neil —

I can empathize with your friend because I have met and talked to people who hold this schismatic view. Some believe:

  • we have not had a valid Pope in a few decades, since Pope St. Pius X
    On a side note: Some also believe the Catechism of the Catholic Church has errors.

What it boils down to is refusing to accept the Church's judgment on what is valid and what is not. In this case, it is an application of a doctrine, not a doctrine itself that's in dispute. As faithful Catholics, we trust the Church's judgment on what is and is not a valid Mass. If your friend does not trust this judgment, he is a schismatic. Pride and a lack of faith in the Church is at the root of this problem.

Those I have talked to say, the Novus Ordo Mass (or Mass of the Ordinary Form) is invalid, even if it is said correctly by the priest. They maintain that only the Mass of the Extraordinary Form, also know as the Latin or Tridentine Mass, is valid.

My colleague Eric made the following comment on this issue:

From my understanding the Traditionalist argument against the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass falls down to one of a few forms. One, they do not accept that "for all" is sufficiently equivalent to "for many" to preserve the validity of the Mass. Both sides agree that the words of institution must be said faithfully; where the disagreement is, is on what is faithful and what is so unfaithful that it makes the Mass invalid. The Church has ruled one way, they maintain another. I consider this a schismatic act, not a heretical one, because there is no disagreement over doctrine, only over the way it is applied in practice.

Now some people become Jansenistic in insisting that Jesus died only for the elect, and object to "for all" on this ground; that would be heresy. Another argument is over whether Catholic priests intend to do what the Church intends to do when they consecrate the Eucharist. In other words, they doubt that canonical ("Novus Ordo", as they call them) priests really intend to offer sacrifice, so they prefer their own "safe" priests. While this is not declaring the Ordinary Form invalid, per se, since their priests only celebrate the Extraordinary Form, in practice it boils down to that. In any case, this, too, is an error in judgment, not a heresy.

Notice in all the dealings with the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius X), the Holy See has never accused them of heresy, only of schism. On the other hand, it is they who really have doctrinal problems with the Holy See, not the reverse, so insofar as they are "choosing" which doctrines to emphasize ("heresy" means "to choose") perhaps they are moving in that direction.

I have attended both the Mass of the Ordinary Form and Mass of the Extraordinary Form in the past. In my personal opinion, the Mass of the Extraordinary Form or Tridentine Mass is far more reverent, for those that understand what is going on and why it is being celebrated that way, than the Novus Ordo Mass.

Nevertheless, the Novus Ordo Mass is just as valid and can be just as uplifting for others. What it comes down to, again, is accepting the Church's judgment and discipline on matters of divine worship. I've been attending an Novus Ordo Mass on a regular, sometimes daily, basis for over ten years now.

For either the Mass of the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo), or extraordinary Form (Tridentine) to be valid:

  • it must be celebrated by a validly ordained Catholic priest in good standing with the Church
  • the priest must know the rubrics of that form and how to celebrate it
  • the priest must use the proper form and matter for consecrating the Eucharist,
    in whichever form of the Mass he is celebrating, and
  • intend to do what that Church expects him to do

I would tell your prayer partner to ask their family member one question:

  • Does the Catholic Church have the divine authority that Jesus entrusted to St. Peter and His successors, to make decisions, not only on faith and morals, but on discerning what are, and are not, valid norms for Catholic worship?

They may say, No.

Most likely they will say, Pope Paul VI had no right to change [and/or] invalidate the Mass.
Pope St. Pius V codified the Traditional Latin Mass in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum in 1570. They will also say Quo Primum stated that the changes made to the Mass are unchangeable in perpetuity.

Deacon Ed from Catholic Answers replied:

It is a disciplinary document based upon internal evidence that was in force
"in perpetuity" which is Pope-speak meaning "for an indeterminate period of time". It certainly doesn't mean "forever" because no Pope can bind another in matters of discipline.

There is one other problem with their logic, Pope Paul VI did not change the Mass; he created
a new form of the Mass
and because he is the Pope and responsible for discerning what are, and are not, valid norms for Catholic worship, he had absolute divine authority to do this.
Read Matthew 16:13-20.

Most likely they will say:

But the Latin Mass is so much more devout and reverent.

For them, it may be, but they have no right to tell you or others, who find the Novus Ordo Mass more convenient, if not uplifting, that their Mass is invalid. Blessed Pope John Paul II and
Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly have emphasized that the faithful should not be politicizing one
form of the Mass over another.

Probably the most significant question you can ask them is this:

  • Seeing that the Mass was originally celebrated in Aramaic and Greek, who gave Pope
    St. Pius V the right to codify the Mass after it had original been celebrated in Aramaic
    and Greek?

The answer is identical to what I said earlier: Because he is the Pope and responsible for discerning what are, and are not, valid norms for Catholic worship. Bingo!

To me, the behavior of these groups are so scandalous! There are probably thousands upon millions of people worldwide who have never hear of the name "Jesus Christ" or received
"the real scoop" about what the Catholic Church believes, and these people wish to interrupt
our outreach with this scandalous attitude.

One of the dangerous things about groups, like these, that break to the far right ... right outside the Church, is because they come across as such religious people, the uncatechized Catholic in the pew, who was never taught the faith correctly, is more vulnerable to their dissenting views.

It appears your family members belong to a group that is not in good standing with the Church.
I would encourage him, if possible, to belong to a group that is.

Hope this helps,

[Related posting]

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