In the fourth part of our presentation of Don Pietro Leone's "The Roman Rite: Old and New", the author continues his analysis of the several problematic aspects of the theology of the New Mass, as compared with the Traditional Rite. Are there deficiencies in the way the New Mass presents the Real Presence, the Ministerial Priesthood, and the very ends of the sacramental sacrifice?
We now proceed to compare certain general features of the Mass in the Old and the New Rites.
We have already quoted the Council of Trent to the effect that Christ Himself is offered in the Mass. In the 4th canon of the 13th Session, the doctrine of the Real Presence is expressed in the clearest terms: “If any-one were to deny that in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the whole Christ; but were to say that he is present in it only as a sign, a figure, or a power: Anathema sit ”.
In the Old Rite this dogma is expressed clearly in the text of the Mass by phrases such as that which follows the consecration: “… the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the immaculate Victim, the Holy Bread of eternal life and Chalice of everlasting salvation.”
Respect for the Real Presence is expressed by the many genuflections, the purification of the celebrant’s fingers in the chalice, the avoidance of contact with any profane object before they are purified, the purification of the sacred vessels on the corporal immediately after their use, the use of a pall to protect the chalice, the internal gilding of the vessels, the consecration of the immobile altar, the use of the pietra sacra and relics in the mobile altar and on the mensa when the Mass is said in a sacred place, of three altar-cloths, the reception of Holy Communion and the thanksgiving while kneeling (as opposed to the former standing and the latter sitting), the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, the prescriptions in the case of a consecrated host falling to the ground, the prohibition that faithful and mass-servers touch the sacred vessels (see Critical Study IV 2).
The Reformer Martin Bucer, mentor of Thomas Cranmer, expressed the Protestant consensus as to the Real Presence (to which only Luther did not subscribe in virtue of his doctrine of consubstantiation) in his Censura when he said: “It becomes our duty to abolish from the churches… with all purity of doctrine whatever forms of bread-worship they wish to have employed by the anti-Christs and preserved in the hearts of the simpler kind of people” (MD p. 463).
In the New Rite the Real Presence is no longer clearly expressed. The words denoting the oblata, in contradistinction to those quoted above (“a pure Victim…” etc. - words accompanied by 5 signs of the Cross) become panem vitae et calicem salutis: the bread of life and the cup of salvation (with no signs of the Cross), or, at another point, panis vitae…potus spiritualis: the bread of life and spiritual drink, which, as the Critical Study states, “could mean anything” (III 3), and suggest a merely spiritual, rather than a substantial presence.
Moreover, all the signs of respect towards the Real Presence listed above have been abolished. We note particularly the abolition of the genuflections immediately following the consecration of the bread and wine.
In the years subsequent to the promulgation of the New Rite, further signs of respect were no longer enforced or obligatory, such as Communion on the tongue distributed by the priest or deacon, kneeling for the consecration, and genuflecting and keeping silent in the church. Instead, Holy Communion is usually received in the hands (a practice which Bucer prescribed explicitly in order to deny belief in the Real Presence (see above), and which became one of the hall-marks of the denial of Catholic eucharistic teaching) and is often distributed moreover not only to standing communicants but also by lay ministers - where the New Rite has “out-Cranmered Cranmer” (MD p. 518).We see in short how the Blessed Sacrament is “now consumed without any sign of adoration”, with neither spiritual preparation nor subsequent thanksgiving. Indeed the latter is impossible when the church is closed immediately after the Mass, as is often the case. What is worse, the faithful, who are no longer taught not to communicate after having committed a mortal sin, communicate in increasing numbers. Indeed this ignorance is furthered by the creators of the new rite who have excised St. Paul’s admonitions against receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin from the Mass of Maundy Thursday and from the Feast of Corpus Christi, as we show in our discussion of the passages eliminated from the Epistles in the second part of this essay... (continued)