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Jason Steele wrote:

Hey, Folks —

I am really glad you are doing this on-line work.

I have never been to a Tridentine Mass but a friend recently gave me a video of one. I consider myself an orthodox Catholic, fairly well read and I have a long history of Latin studies, but I could not really relate to the Old Mass.

  • How do I answer my friend who says that the Novus Ordo Mass is illegitimate?

He thinks that the Vatican has been taken over by the Evil One or something — I just don't get where he is coming from.

  • Can you tell me what is going on with all this return to Trent?


  { Can you tell me what is going on with all this return to Trent and where my friend is coming from? }

Mike replied:

Hi Jason —

Thanks for your question.

I admire your dedication to the orthodox Catholic life.

Depending on the open-mindedness of your friend, you may or may not be able to answer him.

My assumption is that your dissenting friend considers himself a "catholic".

I have talked for hours with people who say they are catholic, but deny the authority of St. Peter in the person of Pope Paul VI, who promulgated the Novus Ordo Mass for the faithful.

What it boils down to is refusing to accept the Church's judgment on what is valid and what is not. In this case, to the best of my knowledge, it is an application of a doctrine, not a doctrine itself that's in dispute. As faithful Catholics, we trust the Church's judgment on what is and is not a valid Mass. If your friend does not trust this judgment, he is a schismatic.

They believe the only valid Mass on the face of the earth is the Tridentine or Extraordinary form of the Mass. Before the Council of Trent, many clergy were taking liberties and changing parts of the Mass they shouldn't have been changing. The Council of Trent codified the Tridentine Mass, as the standard that was to be used. Their desire to go back to the Council of Trent, satisfies their personal desire for a valid Mass. They don't trust the Church's authority to determine what is, and is not, valid, so they choose what is valid. Seeing the very first Mass was not said in Latin but probably in Aramaic or Greek, my question to them is:

  • If Pope St. Pius X had the authority to codify the Tridentine Mass, why don't you give
    Pope Paul VI the same authority to create a new Mass for the faithful?

The Church's authority to make such judgments can be found in the following Scripture passages. Here we find support for the authority of St. Peter, his successors and the Church founded
by Jesus Himself!!

  • Matthew 16:13-20
  • Matthew 18:15-20
  • 1 Timothy 3:15

We believe Jesus has bound himself to the Church He founded. For short:

  • He found it, He bound it!

The Church's choice is Jesus' choice.
The Church's stance is Jesus' stance.

The Church's Ordinary form of the Mass is Jesus' Ordinary form of the Mass
(Novus Ordo)
The Church's Extraordinary form of the Mass is Jesus' Extraordinary form of the Mass (Tridentine or Latin)

We can say this with confidence because, again, we trust the Church to tell us what is, and is not a valid Mass. In the process of doing this, both Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have told the faithful they should never politicize one form of the Mass over another.

Questions I would ask:

Do you believe and obey the words of Jesus when he says:

"Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail and I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever you bind in Heaven will be bound on Earth and whatever you loosed in Heaven will be loosed on Earth"? Matthew 16:13-20

If his answer is No, he's not an obeying Christian. Practicing Catholics strive to obey all of what Jesus, through His Church, wants us to believe.

Sadly, there are some religious orders who set extremely poor examples for lay Catholics who are trying to learn more about the faith. Whenever there is contention between what the Church states and what any religious friend says, even if they are from a religious order recognized by the Church, we are obliged to listen to the Church at the cost of our friendship.

There can be a type of gnosticism in these Catholic religious orders where it appears only they have a hidden knowledge of the correct way of doing things; a way the rest of the Church is not aware of. This is all rooted in pride.

He is probably going to quote the Council of Trent, and pull various sessions and paragraphs out of context. These dissenting 'catholics' use documents from our holy councils, the same way Non-Catholic Christians use the Bible. They will "pick and choose", (this is where we get the word heresy from), what they want to believe, instead of what the Church and Our Lord wants them to believe.

They call themselves catholic, yet dissent from Church authority and sometimes its teachings. They would claim:

    The Holy Spirit was doing a great, job up until Vatican II.

This last statement is laughable. They are evaluating the Holy Spirit!

Why? Because they believe they have the same authority as the Holy Spirit.

Some even believe the Chair of St. Peter has been empty for the past six or so Papacies. This is their justification for going back to Trent. Just say away from these people. They may be baptized Catholics, but they have broken their bond of unity with the Church. They are no different than Protestants. Some will constantly encourage you to debate them.

  • Why?

Because they, themselves, are insecure in calling themselves, Catholic!

Jesus did not give us a brain to leave at the foot of our doorway before going to work. He gave us a brain to use 24 hours a day! Tell your friend to try using it.

These last two lines maybe to harsh. It depends on how much he knows about the Church.
The dissenting catholics I have known, should know better.

Richard Chonak, one of my colleagues, has answered your question indirectly in several answers he has given. If you search the rest of the knowledge base, you should be able to find them.

Your brother in prayer, your brother in Christ,

Mike Humphrey
[Related posting]

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