Apologia pro Novus Ordo Missae
One of the most popular parables in the Gospel accounts is the story of the Prodigal Son. The story is so influential that Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, uses the parable as one of seven that best summarize Jesus’ teaching ministry. The story is universal in message, delving into the depths of God’s forgiveness, the great gift of salvation. Often a homily on this Gospel will reflect on just that, that no matter what the prodigal son did, the forgiving Father welcomes him back.
So what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with defending the Novus Ordo Missae, now referred to as the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite? The reality is that the parable has a lot to do with Ultra-traditionals, against whom this defense is argued. The parable does not end with the Father embracing the son, and Jesus saying “isn’t that nice; that’s how God loves everyone.” The resolution involves another son. The other son is a good boy. He never left his Father’s side, has never deviated from what his father has set forth, etc. Now his brother, his sinful, stupid brother who had told his father to drop dead, comes home; the Father receives him with open arms. A celebration, the Father cries, for my returned son, and the other son watches in envy. Why, he asks his Father. Why have you never rewarded me for my devotion to you? Should I not be rewarded for my love?
You do not understand, the Father replies. I love you too. You have always been devoted to me, but your brother, while he did not show his love of me as you have, has returned. I love you both. Now rejoice, because you are both my sons.
The message was for the Pharisees, but can also be applied to the Ultra-traditionalist of today. While the Church at large may not see itself as the prodigal son, the Ultra-traditionalists certainly see it that way. What these Ultra-traditionalists do not realize is that they, in labeling the main Church as such, have labeled themselves the other son. They are waiting for their brother to return home and be punished, but are shocked and appalled when they see do not see that happening. What is God doing, they may wonder. Has God abandoned the Church, leaving them as the only surviving (to use their term) remnant of the true Church?
The simple answer is that God will never abandon his Church, that the Papacy will always have a pope on Peter’s chair either actually or potentially) until the end of the world, and that the Mass will never end, no matter what Satan may try, for he has already lost. This is not a reason to be prideful or envious of favor. It is a time of rejoicing. Yet the Ultra-traditionalists, particularly those who argue the invalidity of the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, stand as firm as the other brother. They produce arguments that, on the surface, seem perfectly align with Church teaching, even more so than what the Church herself produces. There lies the classical danger of those who have stood against the Church and the Pope throughout history. The Ultra-traditionalists claim to come from the same lineage as the defenders of the Church. Unfortunately, they do not see how their reflection shines in the Church’s enemies.
It is against these enemies, the Ultra-traditionalists, that these arguments are aimed. It is in defense of the Church and the Mass, both the extraordinary (the “Traditional Mass,” as it is called) and ordinary (the “Novus Ordo Missae, or New Mass”) forms.
Apologia pro Novus Ordo Missae est.