To deny the invalidity of the Mass, even more recent forms such as the “Novus Ordo,” is a grave matter, for claiming invalidity opens up a Pandora’s box of other conclusions. If the “New” Mass is merely invalid, is an error that has been promulgated by all stages of Church hierarchy for the last 40 years, including all popes from Paul VI to our present day Holy Father, Benedict XVI. Such a claim is serious, for it undermines the right mind and authority of the Magisterium. On one hand, if the “Novus Ordo” is invalid because the intention of the priest is not the “intention of doing what the Church does,” as stated in the September 2002 issue of The Angelus, then there is no way that a member of the congregation can know for sure if the Mass is valid, and therefore must avoid any association to the form. On the other hand, if the Novus Ordo itself is sinful or heretical (sinful in its nature by promoting sacrilege or heretical by promoting heresy), then those who promote it are sinful/heretical, and therefore the popes from Paul VI through Benedict XVI are heretics. But a formal heretic cannot be pope, and therefore the see of Peter has been empty for 40 years, a series claim for any Catholic, much less a devout one. This, therefore, is no light matter and requires not a passing glance, but rather a firm examination.
I will first examine the claim that the Novus Ordo is invalid in itself, that is, in the matter and form of the sacrament.
The core of the validity of any sacrament lies in the matter and form of the said sacrament. The matter is the physical action or substance used, the physical vehicles for conveying grace. The form is the words spoken. For example, in baptism, the matter is the water poured on the recipient’s head and the form is the words “N. I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” That is the bare minimum for a valid baptism.
For the Mass, the matter and form are a little more complicated. The debate over the validity of the Mass centers on the consecration, where the matter (bread and wine) is transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through the form (the words of consecration) spoken by the priest. Since the beginning of the Church this has always been the case. The disagreements have been over things like what the exact consistency of the bread should be, or what exact words are necessary for consecration. These same debates have appeared again in the debate over the “Novus Ordo Missae” and its validity.
Since the main focus of the debate has been over the form, not the matter (at least 50% wheat bread and grape wine), this Apologia will likewise focus on the words of consecration.
One of the main arguments of the ultra-traditionalists is that the Words of Consecration were made invalid by moving the “Mysterium Fide” from the consecration of the wine, turning it into the Blood of Christ, to after the elevation and adoration of the sacrifice. In the Traditional Mass, the Consecration of the wine is as follows:
HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI,
THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT:
The Consecration (From the First Eucharistic Prayer) is as follows:
HIC EST ENIM CALIZ SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI, QUI PROVOBIS ET PRO MULTIES EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM.
THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR ALL SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN.
One notices that the phrase “Mysterium Fide” (“Mystery of Faith”) is missing. It appears immediately afterwards. In the Latin of the Novus Ordo, it retains the structure of Mysterium Fide; in the English translation it is rendered “Let Us Proclaim the Mystery of Faith.” We will return to this positioning and translation question later. For now, we examine the question of whether not having the Mysterium Fide among the words of consecration invalidates the consecration, and therefore the
The reason the rearranging of the words does not invalidate the consecration is because the phrase Mysterium Fide is not required for the consecration. It is a matter of rites. The Church is made up of several different rites from different parts of the world, Latin rite being the one with which most of you readers are most familiar. Each of these rites have valid, licit sacraments, including their liturgie; therefore their Masses, and thus their consecrations, are valid. The Church recognizes these rites as such, allowing certain things to be different about each one, while maintaining the central Pillars of faith. Such is the case with the
Now there are some rites recognized by the Church, much older than the 20th Century, which have consecrations lacking the phrase Mysterium Fide. These rites include the Ethiopian Rite and the Liturgy of the Abysinnian Jacobites. These rites are valid rites with valid sacraments, and therefore their liturgies are valid, despite the fact that they lack the phrase “Mysterium Fidei.” Though some ultra-traditionalists claim that St. Thomas Aquinas states that the whole consecration of the wine is every part of the consecration, not merely “This is the Chalice of my blood,” which is refuted by the fact that it is an instance of
But what of the argument on the part of Ultra-traditionalist that placing the “Mysterium Fidei” after the consecration actually draws away from the Eucharistic sacrifice, placing more emphasis on the response following the phrase, which references Christ death, Resurrection, and Second Coming? Surely that is a problem. It is not. The proclamation after the consecration (which follows immediately after the priest genuflects in adoration before Christ made present on the altar) draws the focus of the prayers out to encompass the entirety of salvation history. The sacrifice on the Cross, Christ’s death and Resurrection, are presented as one all encompassing sacrifice.
A related point is brought up by Ultra-traditionalists dealing with the English translation of the
The simple answer is no, but since simple answers don’t win arguments, I’ll give a little more complex one. The Mass does not become invalid with the translation of “multis” as “all” because of the same reason removing “Mysterium Fidei” does not produce invalidity. Both rites mentioned earlier, the Ethiopian and Abysinnian Jacobites, do not have anything resembling “pro multis” in their valid consecrations. Even if that were not the case, poor translations of sacraments do not mean the sacrament is invalid, as said in this quote from Instauratio Liturgica from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith:
"When a vernacular translation of a sacramental formula is submitted to the Holy See for approval, it examines it carefully. When it is satisfied that it expresses the meaning intended by the Church, it approves and confirms it, stipulating, however, that it must be understood in accordance with the mind of the Church as expressed in the original Latin text." - Instauratio Liturgica, 25 January 1974