So our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Cæsar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to a God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours. ~Fortescue
Question.A certain confessor
enjoys quite a
reputation for expediting matters in the
confessional. As a
rule, he pays no attention to the
different classes of penitents
who approach his confessional. He rarely
asks a question; He allows the
penitent to tell his sins without
interruption, and then if he thinks him
at all disposed, he absolves him immediately, without any word of instruction or admonition. On the vigils of great feasts, when the
number of penitents
is very great, he does not permit his penitents
to make a full confession, but when they have told one or the
other sin, he admonishes them to tell the
rest of their sins in their next
confession, and then absolves and dismisses them. He maintains that he is justified
in acting thus, because otherwise he would never be able to hear all the
people who come to him. To instruct or
to admonish penitents in the
confessional is not an essential part of
the Sacrament of Penance,
he says, nor is the confessor strictly bound to interrogate the
penitent, provided the
penitent confesses “materiam suficientem.” What must be
thought of his method of action?
—The practise of this confessor is certainly
blameworthy, because he is neglecting certain strict obligations that are binding on the confessor's conscience.
First, as regards the practice of dismissing all penitents indiscriminately, without admonition or instruction.
Benedict XIV, in his encyclical letter, Apostolica Constitutio, of July
26, 1749, issued for the jubilee of the following year,
admonishes all confessors that they do not discharge the obligations of their
office, but, on the contrary, that they are
guilty of mortal sin, if, while sitting in the sacred tribunal of Penance, they show no
solicitude for their penitents,
instruction, absolve them immediately they have finished the recital of their sins. The words of the Encyclical are as follows:
meminerint suscepti muneris partes non implere, imo vera gravioris criminis reosesse eos omnes, qui cum in sacro Pœnitentiæ tribunali
resident, pœnitentes audiunt, non monent, non interrogant, sed expleta criminum
enumerations, absolutionis formam illico proferunt.
Every priest who exercises the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance
is, according to the uniform teaching of the theologians, a teacher, a physicianand a judge. As a teacher he is bound to
instruct the penitent concerning the things that are, hic
et nunc, required for the
reception of the Sacrament, as well as
in the things he ought to
know, in order to be able to lead a Christian life. As a physician of souls, he is required to investigate the causes of the spiritual illness of
his penitents, that is to say, the nature and causes of
their sins, in order to apply suitable spiritual remedies in each and every
case. And, finally, as every judge is obliged to hear and to study the whole case of the culprit before him, to
consider its various phases and to weigh justly all extenuating or aggravating
circumstances before he renders a final judgment; so likewise does the office of the confessor require of him, as a judge in the court of conscience,
that he study the state of the penitent’s conscience,
and consider his dispositions and judge of his firm purpose of amendment, and
then only to give or deny him absolution.
Now it is evident that the confessor mentioned in this case
does not and cannot fulfil this threefold duty of teacher, physician and judge.
His purpose is not to instruct and to heal and to judge; his purpose is to hear
and to absolve as many penitents
possible. It stands to reason, of course, that where the number of those
desiring to confess
is very great, and they are for the most part pious souls, who are accustomed to approach the sacred tribunal of Penance frequently
and have at the most only venial sins to confess, and
the confessor knows that they are sufficiently
instructed concerning the Sacrament of Penance, and rightly disposed, it stands to
reason, I say, that the
dispatch his work expeditiously, because such penitents do not need the spiritual care and help of the confessor in order to receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily and
But to proceed in the same manner with all penitents indiscriminately, whether they be known or unknown
to the confessor, even with the ignorant and the poorly instructed, whether they
confess mortal sins or venial sins, is certainly not to administer the Sacrament of Penance as we are bound
by grave obligations to administer it. For experience proves that there are
those who approach this holy tribunal unprepared, who have not sufficiently
examined their conscience, who through false shame hesitate to confess certain sins, who are lacking in true
contrition, though believing themselves contrite, because they have repeated
orally the act of contrition. Now the prudent and careful confessor, whose earnest desire is to fulfil
this holy ministry validly and licitly, with fruit and with profit, as the Church ordains that it shall be
fulfilled, will endeavor to discover and correct the faults and defects and shortcomings
of his penitents,
questioning and instructing and disposing them, lest their confession be fruitless
or even sacrilegious.
If the penitent confess mortal sins, he ought to be admonished of
their heinousness, in order that he may be moved to realize his spiritual
condition and abhor his sins and take the necessary means of shunning them in the future. If such penitents be absolved and dismissed
incontinently from the
sacred tribunal without a word of admonition or advice, they will very likely
consider their sins of little consequence and never come to a realization of the necessity of correcting them, and
thus will they speedily fall into them again.
confessor who has had experience
of souls in the tribunal of Penance
appreciates the gravity of this danger.
For this very reason the Roman Ritual admonishes
confessors to be careful to instruct their penitents regarding the condition of their souls, endeavoring to make
them realize the number and gravity of
their sins and to dispose them to contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.
“Demum, audita confessione, perpendens
peccatorum, quae ille
admisit, magnitudinem et multitudinem, pro eorum gravitate, ac penitentis
conditione, opportune correptiones ac monitiones, prout opus esse viderit,
paterna charitate adhibebit et ad dolorem et contritionem efdcacibus verbis
adducere conabitur, atque ad vitam emendandam ac melius instituendam inducet,
remediaque peccatorum tradet.”
The great number of penitents waiting to be heard does not excuse the confessor from the obligation of
admonishing, correcting and disposing them, so that the reception of the Sacrament of Penance
may be of benefit to them. St. Francis Xavier was accustomed to say that it was
better to hear a few confessions, and to
hear them well, than to hear a great many and to only half hear them. And St. Alfonsus
says that it matters little whether there be others waiting to confess or
whether some will be obliged to depart without being heard; for on the day of judgment the confessor will have to render an
account of those he actually heard, and not of the others.
“Parum refert, quod alii expectant aut
inconfessi discedant; confessarius enim de hoc tantum, qui sibi nunc
confitetur, non vero de aliis, in die judicii rationem reddere debet” (Praxis
it is quite blameworthy that the confessor, on the eves of great festivals, when the number of confessions
is very great, should permit the penitent to confess only one or two sins and
then absolve him, with the
confess his other sins in his next confession. It is expressly stated in all
moral theologies that the number of penitents desiring to be heard in
confession can never be a
or just reason for making only a partial confession, even though many must depart unheard
Under all such circumstances, a full and integral confession
of all mortal sins is required of the penitent, sub gravi. The practice of absolving penitents without permitting them to
confess all their mortal sins, because otherwise many must depart without absolution, is
expressly condemned by Pope Innocent XI, in the 59th proscribed proposition.
“Licet sacramentaliter absolvere,
dimidiate tantum confessos, ratione magni concursus penitentium, qualis v. g.
potest contingere in die magnae alicujus festivitatis vel indulgentiæ.”
The reason why this proposition was condemned, says
Billuart, is that the harm done by sending
some penitents away unheard is not so
great, as to justify a partial confession, especially
when there is danger of absolving
by reason of the precipitation with
which the confessions are heard
and the omission of a part of one’s sins.
It does seem "odd" that someone who does not want certain things to happen ends up being the one whose signature officially approves the unwanted things. ... It seems difficult to think that Paul VI willingly and knowingly approved what he thought deserved condemnation. After all, when he wanted to reprimand somebody or condemn something, he made it happen ... all one has to do is see how Archbishop Lefevbre was treated, or anyone who publicly opposed the changes Paul VI had already approved, not to mention how wonderfully Paul VI spoke of the fruits that would emerge from the new horizons that he was foreseeing.
Moreover, the way in which Paul VI dealt with Cardinal Mindszenty is still something that scandalizes any serious Catholic with a little bit of Catholic sense left in him -- it was a complete betrayal of the fight that the Cardinal had put up against communism for decades in order to ensure the survival of the Catholic faith under such savage regime.
Besides Humanæ Vitæ, can anyone really bring up anything else (positive) for which Paul VI's pontificate was known? Has the Catholic Church ever based Her decree of canonization on one (1) thing done by the person being added to the catalogue of Saints? Should every person believed to be in Heaven be declared a Saint ... should every Pope? We can think of a few Popes who are still (and have long been) waiting to be canonized, Popes with a better track record, as Popes and as fervent and devout men of prayer and undeniable holiness, than Paul VI.
It might be a good thing (some people might say) that the cult of canonized Saints is not a "big deal" in general. Very few canonized Popes receive much popular attention from the devout faithful after they are added to the catalogue of Saints (St. Pius V and St. Pius X) being very well known exceptions. And, let's be serious: Paul VI was not a Pius V, nor a Pius IX, nor a Pius X, nor a Gregory VII, either in his personal life nor in the exercise of the Pontificate entrusted to him.
Paul VI celebrating the (immemorial?) New Order of Mass. At the time this photo was taken, the New Order was only a few years old, and its creators were still alive and kicking.
[Protestant] Contributors to the creation of the New Mass ... forget about the way in which the New Order is ("unfortunately") celebrated ... what about the creation process? Who was involved? Why were non-Catholics part of that process?
One could complain about the way in which some priests celebrate the traditional Mass, but when would one find anybody seriously complaining about who created the traditional Mass (or how it came about), or even better, who could pinpoint the time/place when the traditional Mass was created and by whom?
Paul VI with Michael Ramsey, "Archbishop" of Canterbury.
Paul VI giving the said "Archbishop" of Canterbury the episcopal ring he used when he was Archbishop of Milan ... a strange present for somebody the Church has formally decreed possesses no Apostolic succession! Stranger still is from *whom* the present came. Such a meaningless dramatic gesture!
Paul VI meeting with Orthodox leaders.
In an attempt to show humility (?) and moved by strong emotions (?), Paul VI kneels to kiss the feet of Metropolitan Meliton ... we can think of another "famous" kiss (a little over two thousand years ago) that was a betrayal of betrayals.
“What is Charity? A supernatural habit of the
mind whereby we love God above all things for His own sake, and ourselves and
our neighbor for Him. It is a theological virtue [like Faith and Hope], but
higher than they, and the only *eternal* one of the three. Faith and Hope will
take us as far as the threshold of eternity, but when we actually enter it,
they will have fallen away. Only of Charity St. Paul has said: ‘Charity never
falleth away, never dies’; it is eternal, like God Himself, like the Holy
Spirit Who pours it into our hearts; and of such surpassing excellence that
only the Divine Spirit can infuse it; of a quality that no human force or even
the strength of the Seraphim, the spirits of love, can impart to us.” ~Fr.
“Even supposing --an impossible supposition, of
course-- that every virtue were enshrined in my soul, my whole existence a most
fertile soil and limitless source of heroism, if I lack Charity, “nihil mihi prodest, nihil sum”; it would
avail me nothing, I should count for nothing (Cor. xiii, 3). Charity is
necessary --necessitate medii-- for
my justification and salvation. Who does not love God is in sin.... Whoever
appears before the Judgment-seat of God without the cloth-of-gold garment of
divine love will have his part and lot with the hypocrites in the unquenchable
fire.” ~Fr. Escribano
“O God, let the solemn, imperative, and burning
proclamation which accompanied the issuing of the great precept of love on
Mount Sinai serve to impel my entry into the Kingdom of those that love Thee: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy
whole heart and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength and with thy
whole mind’ (Deut. vi, 5)... ‘for
this is the greatest and the first commandment’ (Matt. xxii, 37).” ~Fr.
“The act of least outward significance, for
instance, to give someone a drink of water, if done out of supernatural charity
is of greater value in the sight of the Supreme Judge than the tortures of a
St. Laurence if endured without Charity.” ~Fr. Escribano
“...Because it is so necessary to love [to have
Charity] in man’s life, God has imposed it upon him as a precept... and has
placed it at the head of His commandments... and He has even summarized in it
all the other (precepts). He who loves, keeps already all the other
commandments.” ~Fr. Villar
This good news that concerns everyone who comes into the world must be announced incessantly by word and by pen, by telegraph, telephone, and radio, through books and through the theater, from the heights of the pulpit and through the microphones of popular assemblies, in the cities and on the highways, by television and in the darkened halls of the cinema, on the eight continents and in all languages, in verse and in prose, through didactic teaching and the evocative medium of poetry, in all varieties of literature and in all forms of uproar of this news:
Christ is risen!
~Fr. R. L. Bruckberger, The History of Jesus Christ (1965)
from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Guéranger OSB
The History of Lent
forty days' fast, which we call Lent, is the Church's preparation for Easter,
and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. In most languages,
the name given to this fast expresses the number of days - forty, such as Quadragesima in Latin; the
English word Lent
signifies the Spring-fast,
for Lenten-tide in
the ancient Anglo-Saxon language, was the season of Spring. Our Blessed Lord
Himself sanctioned this fast by fasting forty days and forty nights in the
desert; and though He did not impose it on the world by an express commandment
(which, in that case, could not have been open to the power of dispensation),
yet He showed plainly enough, by His own example, that fasting, which God had
so frequently ordered in the old Law, was to be practiced also by the children
of the new.
disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to Him,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Thy disciples do not
fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the children of the Bridegroom
mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the
Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast."
(Matt. 9, 14-15)
we find it mentioned, in the Acts of the Apostles, how the disciples of Our
Lord, after the foundation of the Church, applied themselves to fasting. In
their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the faithful. Nor could it be
otherwise. Though the divine mysteries whereby Our Savior wrought our
Redemption have been consummated, yet we are still sinners; and where there is
sin, there must be expiation.
Apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness by instituting, at the very
commencement of the Christian Church, that the solemnity of Easter should be
preceded by a universal fast; and it was only natural that they should have
made this period of penance to consist of forty days, seeing that Our Divine
Master had consecrated that number by His own fast. St. Jerome, St. Leo the
Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Isidore of Seville, and others of the
Fathers of the Church, assure us that Lent was instituted by the Apostles,
although, at the beginning, there was no uniform way of observing it.
the Eastern Rites begin Lent much earlier than the Latin, owing to their custom
of never fasting on Saturdays. This is the origin of the Latin Rite's Septuagesima, which roughly
corresponds to the beginning of the Eastern Lent. We see also that the Latin
Rite - which, even as late as the sixth century, kept only thirty-six fasting
days during the six weeks of Lent (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to
be kept as days of fast) - thought it proper to add, later on, the last four
days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday,
might contain forty days of fast.
Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the
remark, that the commandment put upon our first parents was one of abstinence;
and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every
kind of evil upon themselves and upon us their children. The life of privation,
which the king of creation, Adam, had thenceforward to lead on this earth (for
the earth was to yield him nothing of its natural growth, save thorns and
thistles), was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance
imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.
God mercifully shortened man's ordinary life span, that so he might have less
time and power for sin, He permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an
additional nourishment in that state of deteriorating strength. Fasting, then,
includes abstinence from such nourishment as this. Its privation is essential
to the very notion of fasting.
also includes the depriving ourselves of some portion of our ordinary food,
inasmuch as it allows only one full meal during the day. It was the custom with
the Jews, in the old Law, not to take the one meal allowed on fast days, till
sunset. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously
practiced for many centuries. But about the ninth century some relaxation began
to be introduced in the Latin Church, and the custom, though resisted at first,
gradually spread of taking the repast after the hour of None, that is, about
three in the afternoon. By the late thirteenth century, even this was
considered too severe, and a still further relaxation was deemed necessary -
that of breaking the fast after the hour of Sext, or after noon.
whilst this relaxation of taking the repast so early in the day as noon
rendered fasting less difficult in one way, it made it more severe in another -
by evening the body had grown exhausted by the labors of the day. It was found
necessary to grant some refreshment for the evening, and it was called a collation. The word was
taken from the Benedictine rule, which allows wine to be taken in the evening
on fast days outside of Lent. It was the custom to read from the Collationes of Cassian
during this refreshment; thus the name. Shortly after the death of St. Karl the
Great, the Chapter of Aachen extended this indulgence to the Lenten fast. By
the fifteenth century, it was permitted to take a morsel of bread with the
wine, so the monks would not be obliged to take wine on an empty stomach. These
mitigations gradually found their way from the cloister to the world, and
eventually a second collation was permitted - so long as the two collations
together did not constitute a full meal. Eventually, a variety of foods,
besides bread, were permitted at the collations, with the exception of meat.
Beverages were permitted between meals.
did the decay of piety, and the general deterioration of bodily strength among
the people of the western nations, infringe on the primitive observance of
fasting. To make our history of these humiliating changes anything like
complete, we must mention further relaxations. For many centuries eggs and
dairy foods were not allowed, because they came under the class of animal food.
Beginning with the ninth century, dairy foods were gradually permitted,
especially in northern Europe. The Churches of France resisted this custom
until the seventeenth century.
earlier ages, even princes had difficulty in obtaining dispensations.
Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, being seized with a malady which rendered it
dangerous to his health to take the Lenten diet, applied, in the year 1297, to
Pope Boniface VIII, for permission to eat meat. The Pontiff commissioned two
Cistercian abbots to inquire into the real state of the prince's health; they
were to grant the dispensation if they found it necessary, but only on
condition that the king had not taken a vow to observe the fast for life, that
he must abstain from meat on Fridays, Saturdays and the vigil of St. Matthias,
and that he must not take his meal in the presence of others and was to observe
moderation in what he took. But after the fifteenth century, dispensations
became increasingly easy to obtain. Eventually eggs and even meat were widely
permitted on most of the Lenten fast days. Pope Benedict XIV lamented this
general relaxation in an encyclical in 1741, and, in 1745, he renewed the
prohibition of eating fish and meat at the same meal - but even this
prohibition has been generally relaxed.
few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present
mild form! What comparison can be made between the Christians of former times,
who, deeply impressed with the fear of God's judgments and with the spirit of
penance, happily went through these forty days, and those of modern times, when
love of pleasure and self-indulgence are forever lessening man's horror for
sin? Where is now that simple and innocent joy at Easter, which our forefathers
used to show, when, after their severe fast of Lent, they partook of
substantial and savory food? The peace, which long and sharp mortification ever
brings to the conscience, gave them the capability, not to say the right, of
being light-hearted as they returned to the comforts of life, which they had
denied themselves in order to spend forty days in penance, recollection, and
retirement from the world.
the "ages of faith", Lent was a season during which, not only all
amusements and theatrical entertainments were forbidden by the civil authority,
but even the law courts were closed; and this in order to secure that peace and
calm of heart, which is so indispensable for the soul's self-examination and
reconciliation with her offended Maker. Hunting, too, was for many ages
considered forbidden during Lent. Even war, which is sometimes so necessary for
the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy season. Indeed, in the
eleventh century, the institution called "God's truce" became
widespread, which forbade the carrying of arms from Wednesday evening until
Monday morning throughout the year. St. Edward the Confessor, King of England,
decreed that God's truce should be observed without cessation from the
beginning of Advent through the Octave of Easter and from the Ascension through
the Octave of Pentecost, as well as on all Ember days and Vigils, beside the
days already prescribed.
did the secular world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and
borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the
liturgical year. The influence of this forty days' penance was great, too, on
each individual. It renewed man's energies, gave him fresh vigor in battling
with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality,
ennobled the soul. There was restraint everywhere; and the present discipline
of the Church, which forbids the solemnization of marriage during Lent, reminds
Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during
the whole forty days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the
liturgical books, the Missale
Romanum, still retains the recommendation. The final rubric of the
Nuptial Mass states: Let the
priest admonish them, in grave words…to remain chaste during the time of
prayer, especially fasts and solemnities…(such as on liturgical
vigils and during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent.)
we extract from the encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV, cited above: The
observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove
ourselves not to be enemies of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine
justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields
us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent,
it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion,
and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence
would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of
than two hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of
Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he
inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. The result of this
ever-growing spirit of immortification has been a general laxity of character,
which has led to frightful social disorders. The sad predictions of Pope
Benedict XIV are but too truly verified. Every nation among whose people the
spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the
wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of
these scourges - civil disorder or conquest.
sad and humiliating to note that as laxities were introduced by the hierarchy
and local churches into the laws of fasting and practices of severe penance,
the members of the Church have suffered immeasurable spiritual loss - a loss of
at least part of the rigor of those sacred times set apart to cleanse their
bodies and souls of imperfections and the corrupting spirit of the world. In
our modern times, the spread of permissiveness, liberalism, deterioration of
morality and the general practices of purity, have led to a spirit of
relaxation and the loss of a general effort, on the part of the faithful, to
strive for a life of holiness and of union with God through the practices of
self-denial, mortification, piety and renouncement of the spirit of the world -
a spirit which is opposed to the spirit of a true Christian life and the very
possibility of eternal salvation.