I have read that Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass on the 50th Anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s first vernacular Mass. According to the article, this was reported by “L’Osservatore Romano” although I was unable to find the report on its website. Perhaps it is only in the printed edition which I do not have handy.
The report I have linked to above says that Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass on March 7th in the same church where Pope Paul VI celebrated this Mass. It opines that this will lead to debates about the problems with the changes to the Mass and to celebrations of Vatican II. What I found in the comments section there was a nearly complete absence of any real understanding of what the Mass is, including comments by religious who ought to know better.
In these comments, a few have lamented that the changes have led to the seriously diminished attendance at Mass over the last forty years. They were quickly taken to task by the more enlightened Modernists who trotted out the “facts” that the Mass is boring, that people don’t get anything out of it, that the Church needs to update itself to the sensibilities of the world, rid the Mass of “liturgical minutiae”, in the words of a “sister”, and that the priest should not be turning his back to the people, in the words of a priest. I am particularly appalled by the shameful comments by these religious. What kind of formation did they have and what have they been doing since taking their vows?
I love a properly celebrated Mass, one where the rubrics are followed, without novelties, puppets, liturgical dancers, rock bands, and pyscho-therapeutic drivel dressed up as a “homily”, irreverence toward God and the Eucharist, and a bazaar-like atmosphere before, during and after the Mass in the Church. Some parishes do this much better than others, and we all have had the experience of one and the other many times at the Ordinary Form of the Liturgy. Some of us have had the blessed experience of the Extraordinary Form, where such novelties are completely absent. The problem for me is that most of the time I have no choice but the Ordinary Form, and how it will be celebrated is always an open question when I enter a Church. Of course, some churches I know now not to even bother and stay away, but even in my own pretty solid parish, a Mass can be irreverently celebrated, such as at the “family” Mass which does no good service for the children despite its intention.
It is eminently apparent and glaringly obvious that many, and likely even most, Catholics have lost the understanding of the meaning of the Mass. The Church has allowed this to happen so that today less than a third of Catholics even recognize the need to attend, less than half even understand the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and many who do attend are bored, rather than riveted. Catholics by and large do not understand that the Mass is for us to worship and praise God, not the other way around. They do not understand that they are present at the foot of the Cross as Jesus offers Himself as the sacrificial Lamb to God to expiate our sins, thereby redeeming us and giving us salvation so that Heaven is opened to us.
If someone is bored at Mass, they miss the point. If the Mass doesn’t appeal to their modern sensibilities that seem to require everything to be entertainment and self-centered, they miss the point. If they are at the Mass expecting to “feel good”, they miss the point. If they do not believe the Mass is vitally important, they miss the point. Overall, they miss the fundamental understanding that the Mass is not about them, is not for them except for its intrinsic qualities, and that they witness the most awesome and sublime spectacle any person can this side of Heaven.
That these effects are more apparent and wide-spread than ever must indicate that the changes in the Mass begun by Pope Paul VI are a big part of the problem. Something has happened after the introduction of the new Mass particularly after 1970 when the Ordinary Form we have today was fully implemented. I and others can only note the symptoms and the outcome but cannot say and even understand why. We can only speculate and debate. Yet, I think back to what Pope Paul VI might have prophetically noted not necessarily on this matter but which seems to be a big part of the problem in the Church: the smoke of Satan has entered into the Church. Maybe that’s what is going on. Maybe with the destruction of the Mass of the ages and the introduction of a new nearly completely different rite and the resultant facts with which we live today, we are indeed enveloped in that smoke. If so, then how do we ventilate the Church?
It will no doubt be interesting to hear what Pope Francis has to say on March 7th and what he does, if anything before and afterwards.