Friday, February 27, 2015

The Novus Ordo Mass and Protestant Church Services

Earlier this week I had a group suggested to me by Facebook called Traditional Catholic Mothers. Here is the group's description:

From the Administrator: Hello Ladies, I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on what is going on with this group. As of a couple months ago our old administrator has left this group and handed over the administrative responsibilities to my sister Marrissa Garratt and I. We have had a lot of new member requests lately and many new members have joined in the last month. SO as a refresher here is what this group is for, it was founded as a place where we can share and enrich each other with the Traditional Catholic Faith. Anyone who attends a Latin Mass, or acknowledges the true Mass to be the Latin Mass is welcome for membership in this group. We will not tolerate any Novus Ordo!! So if you are sympathetic to the Novus Ordo and Vatican II, I suggest you leave this group and look for membership into another group as I will moderate what is posted and delete anything Novus Ordo! Please DO NOT post about what is happening in Rome and all that stuff, we are well aware of what is going on in the Vatican II church. We are also a Homeschooling group for those who Homeschool or are supportive of Homeschooling. Personally, my views are Sedevacantist, but I'm not here to enforce my views on anyone, again, we are not here for debate. I want this page to be a page about living the Traditional Catholic Faith, Homeschooling, and also a source for those new to the Traditional Faith who are trying to learn more about the One, True, Holy, Catholic Faith. Thank You!

Wow, right?! This is why I am occasionally tempted to get off FB altogether. It leads me to unfortunate places. This isn't the first time I've felt disturbed by the "traditional vs. progressive" debates and the hullabaloo over Vatican II. Once again I was sucked into surfing the internet for articles and conversations on these topics, and the more I read, the less serenity I was able to preserve. I read on a sedevacantist website (people who believe that the Chair of Peter is empty, that there hasn't been a real pope since at least Vatican II) that the only valid Mass is the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), that the Novus Ordo Mass (NOM) is evil (as was Vatican II); and that in fact the transubstantiation does not take place in the Novus Ordo. It became very difficult to discern what was true. I was too much in my head.

Other recurring themes were that the NOM lacks reverence and is filled with liturgical abuses, and that it has "Protestantized" the Catholic Church. Now, there is so much that could be discussed in the TLM vs. Novus Ordo debate that it simply would not fit into one blog post, even if I thought myself informed enough to take it on, which I do not. I've only even been to a TLM once. However, the reverence and Protestantization issues I can knowledgeably speak to. So what is reverence? According to Merriam-Webster, the first definition is  

honor or respect felt or shown :  deference; especially :  profound adoring awed respect.

I am a Protestant convert to the Catholic Faith. The first time I attended a Catholic Mass as an adult, I thought to myself, Wow, I didn't know Catholics were such Jesus freaks! This might sound incredibly irreverent, but I meant it as a sincere compliment. Considering that I had heard along the way in life that Catholics weren't real Christians, I was extremely struck by the reverence paid to Jesus in the Mass. The entire thing was saturated with Jesus. I can't say whether the TLM is even more reverent, because I honestly couldn't follow what was going on. I have a book coming to explain the TLM to me, and I plan to go again soon. 

Are the accusers against the NOM implying that the Novus Ordo is less reverent, for one reason, because they believe that it closely resembles a Protestant service? First of all, I have to wonder if most of these people have ever been practicing Protestants or even visited Protestant churches enough to have an educated opinion. Second, with there being something like 22,000 Protestant denominations and independent churches, I can't see how one could even make a sweeping generalization of comparison. And the implication that Protestants are less reverent Christians is quite presumptuous!

On the surface the NO Mass has similarities to some Protestant church services. That shouldn't be surprising, as we are worshiping the same Lord. When I started to attend Mass regularly, I was glad that the experience wasn't entirely foreign. The priest told bad jokes just like I was used to hearing from Protestant ministers! Scripture was read, hymns were sung, prayers were said, the priest gave a homily, which I took to be a sermon like I was familiar with, all done in English, and there was Holy Communion. But that's where things get radically different. Grape juice was always substituted for wine in the Protestant churches I attended, and the bread and juice were understood to be only symbolic of Jesus' body and blood. 

The entire Catholic Faith, and the central reason for the Mass, pivots on the belief in the Real Presence of Jesus, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the transubstantiated bread and wine. Grape juice is never substituted for wine. The bread must be wheat. The bread and wine must be properly consecrated by a bishop or priest, who obtains the power to do so through apostolic succession. The lineage of the bishops and priests today (via their connection by ordination) can be traced back all the way to the 12 apostles. Where did Peter end up going after Jesus' Ascension and where was he subsequently martyred? Rome, my friends, Rome. Peter was the first pope, which means he was the first head bishop. Pope means "papa", a term of endearment. 

I don't think Protestants are any less reverent as people of God than are Catholics. Reverence is an attitude of the heart. A greatly significant difference is that a Protestant minister would have no power to change the bread and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus. The Eucharist is a re-enactment which makes present, today, the one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It is an un-bloody sacrifice, as well as a memorial meal. This key difference in belief renders Catholicism and Protestantism into virtually two different religions. Differences aside, I have never experienced Communion in a Protestant Church that was not done with great reverence.

The only place in the Novus Ordo where I question the suitability for reverence is the practice of singing a hymn during Communion. Usually my family sits close to the front of the church, so my attention is divided between singing and keeping an eye out for when it's time to stand up and get in the Communion line. Then when I get back to my seat, I have to try to locate where everyone is at in the song. This is so distracting, and at a time when we should be focused on receiving our Lord. I think silence during Communion would be more reverent, but that's my opinion, not a fact. I do my best by simply not singing the hymn at that time and praying when I get back to my seat. The song distracts me from my prayers, but it is what it is. And sometimes it's a hymn I love, and I go ahead and sing. 

To wrap it up, I had been praying on my concerns, and yesterday I went into the adoration chapel to pray to Jesus before the tabernacle, where the consecrated host that hasn't been consumed yet is stored. As soon as I walked in, the Presence swept over me. I felt it in my bones. Without doubt, Jesus was there, not just spiritually, but in the unique form of transubstantiated, Eucharistic bread. The Novus Ordo is valid. It should really be enough for the doubters and dissenters that the Church says the NO Mass is valid. The risk of Protestantization occurs when Catholics stop respecting the authority of the Church!

I rejoice that through this trial (and it is Lent, after all!) I had the opportunity to offer up my suffering and to experience a renewal of my faith. I started reading a book I have owned since my conversion, The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel, to deepen my understanding of the Novus Ordo. There are many other differences between Protestant and Catholic worship, which perhaps I will explore in a future post. But for now I am consoled that the Catholicity has not been removed from the Church. She remains the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

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