Say the black. Do the red. Or else. PART II

[Continued from PART I]

Various uncharitable comments are found after several different posts by Fr. Z. The comments in question revile and denigrate any priest who deviates in the least from the exact form of the Mass approved by the Church.

Their attitude is that all priests should SHUT UP AND COMPLY with the form of the Mass. They are greatly sympathetic toward the heretical and schismatic group called SSPX. But if any priest changes the mere exterior form of the Mass, they reject him utterly and rejoice when he is removed from his ministry.

This attitude is Pharisaical, and not at all Christ-like.

[Matthew 12]
{12:1} At that time, Jesus went out through the ripe grain on the Sabbath. And his disciples, being hungry, began to separate the grain and to eat.
{12:2} Then the Pharisees, seeing this, said to him, “Behold, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbaths.”
{12:3} But he said to them: “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him:
{12:4} how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
{12:5} Or have you not read in the law, that on the Sabbaths the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath, and they are without guilt?
{12:6} But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here.
{12:7} And if you knew what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would never have condemned the innocent.
{12:8} For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
{12:9} And when he had passed from there, he went into their synagogues.
{12:10} And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand, and they questioned him, so that they might accuse him, saying, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbaths?”
{12:11} But he said to them: “Who is there among you, having even one sheep, if it will have fallen into a pit on the Sabbath, would not take hold of it and lift it up?
{12:12} How much better is a man than a sheep? And so, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbaths.”
{12:13} Then he said to the man, “Extend your hand.” And he extended it, and it was restored to health, just like the other one.
{12:14} Then the Pharisees, departing, took council against him, as to how they might destroy him.
{12:15} But Jesus, knowing this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he cured them all.

See these three posts:

ACTION ITEM! POLL ALERT! Should priests be able to change the words of Mass when they want to?

QUAERITUR: Priest changes “many” to “all” in the consecration.

Priest who refused to “Say The Black” loses his parish

Some quotes from the comments:

Denis says: “Unfortunately, this sort of anarchism is endemic to the culture of the Novus Ordo.”

This poster blames the entire vernacular Mass, approved by the Church, for a whole host of problems.

It is unfortunately common in comments at Fr. Z.’s blog, and generally among more conservative Catholics, to disparage and disdain the Mass in the vernacular. If any priest disobeys the rules for saying Mass, deviating from the proper form in the least, he is treated as if he were an apostate. But at the same time, they have no qualms about vilifying the entire form of the Novus Ordo Mass. Their hypocrisy is hidden from their own eyes, by their assumption that, if a Catholic is very conservative in his view, he cannot be mistaken. All errors are (supposedly) found on the left, not the right.

Warren says: “If only these errant men could realize how much damage they are doing by setting a precedent of disobedience. If only they could realize that they are the servants of the Liturgy, not its master, what a better world it would be. Save the Liturgy, save the world. Take back the Liturgy, take back the world for Christ!”

This commentator claims that great damage is done by a priest deviating from the exact form of the Mass, and yet he does not see the harm that is done by his own words, maligning and condemning a priest greatly, for a small fault. This commentator takes the Pharisaical point of view that if only all priests followed the exact exterior form of the Mass, the world would be saved. Nothing could be more Pharisaical than to suggest that the salvation of the world depends only or mainly on exterior action.

But to make matters worse, this poster thinks that priests are the “servants of the Liturgy”. This claim crosses the line from Pharisaism to idolatry. It is literally idolatry to treat anything that is less than God as if it were God, including the approved form of the Mass in any language. But there are some conservative Catholics who literally worship the Latin Mass, rather than using the Mass (in any form) as a means to worship God.

Christ says: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27). Therefore, the liturgy of the Mass, especially its mere exterior form, was made for man, not the other way around. We are NOT servants of the exterior form of the liturgy of the Mass. The Mass is designed to help us worship God. The exterior form of the Mass is the least important part of the Mass.

What is most important is our interior worship of God, our reception of the Word of God, and our reception of Christ in holy Communion. These points are utterly ignored in very many discussions about the Mass. All the emphasis is on the exact exterior form, as if merely following the exterior form of the liturgy would result in salvation. Am I exaggerating this point? Unfortunately, no. They even say: “Save the liturgy, save the world.” They literally explicitly state that mere adherence to exterior form would save the world. This attitude is Pharisaical in the EXTREME.

When discussing the Eucharist, they focus solely on exterior form: whether to receive in the hand or on the tongue, whether to receive standing or kneeling, etc. These discussions often go on at great length, with NO MENTION of the truth that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, in His whole Person, with no discussion of the interior worship of Christ after receiving Him in Communion.

When discussing the Mass, they give no attention to the importance of interior worship, of devout prayer, of attention to the Presence of God, of instruction from the Word of God. All the focus is on exterior form. And if anyone, even a priest who has served the Church selflessly for 47 years, should dare to deviate from the exact form, they treat him with as much contempt as the Pharisees treated Christ on the Cross. And they do not notice that their behavior is like the Pharisees and unlike Christ.

{15:7} Hypocrites! How well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
{15:8} ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
{15:9} For in vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men.’ ”

More comments on Fr. Z.’s posts:

rodin says: “the Bishops had better get busy getting the priests in line” and that any Catholics who disagree, who think that a priest should be able to change some of the wording of the Mass, must have been “improperly catechized.”

This is a common attitude among some traditionalist Catholics. Anyone who disagrees with their view, is considered to be disagreeing with the Church. Anyone who disagrees must be forced to get in line — not with the teaching of the Magisterium, but with the opinions of traditionalists on exterior form.

No theological argument carries any weight with them, because they assume that their own position, being conservative, must be truth. Catholicism becomes conservativism, and conservativism becomes absolute truth, eventually replacing God who is Truth. Then, when an Ecumenical Council like Second Vatican Council teaches otherwise, many fall away, many doubt, many seek ways to undermine the Council. They cannot imagine that their own conservative views could ever be wrong.

Yet when we look at the teachings of Christ, He did not always have the ‘conservative position’. On the question of punishing the woman caught in adultery, Christ was liberal, forgiving her and forbidding anyone from stoning her. On the question of divorce and remarriage, Christ was more conservative than the most common conservative position of his day. On the question of the washing of hands and pitchers and cups, Christ rejected the precise form and tradition asserted by the Pharisees, for our Lord places great emphasis on interior worship and little emphasis on exterior form.

{7:5} And so the Pharisees and the scribes questioned him: “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but they eat bread with common hands?”
{7:6} But in response, he said to them: “So well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, just as it has been written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
{7:7} And in vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and precepts of men.’
{7:8} For abandoning the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men, to the washing of pitchers and cups. And you do many other things similar to these.”
{7:9} And he said to them: “You effectively nullify the precept of God, so that you may observe your own tradition.

I tell you sincerely, many traditionalist Catholics have completely abandoned the teaching of Christ. These words of the Gospel against Pharisaism have no effect on them. They nullify the precepts of Christ, so as to observe their own traditions.

In reply, a traditionalist will say: “Oh, but we are simply following the form of the Mass decided by the Church.” But if that is true, then why do you disparage the entire form of the Novus Ordo Mass? And if that is true, then why to you deprecate the Second Vatican Council with all manner of excuses? Why do you ignore all of the teachings of the Church on the interior worship of God at Mass? Truly, you only use the rules of the Church as an excuse to exalt exterior form as a god to be worshipped, just as the Pharisees did.

With some traditionalists (not all), any deviation from the smallest point of discipline is treated the same as a rejection of dogma. Strict adherence to rules and rulings replaces the love of God and neighbor. A priest who deviates in the least from discipline or rules is treated worse than a heretic; they literally consider him to be an apostate, thereby proving that they are treating discipline as if it were dogma. And a priest who follows all of the exterior requirements, is assumed to be holy and faithful. The worship of God is replaced with strict adherence to rules and exterior form.

Romuleus says: that he refuses to go to Mass in his own diocese, in the state of Illinois, and that he will drive to St. Louis, Missouri, rather than attend a Novus Ordo Mass in his own diocese. He also says: “I don’t know what Bishop Braxton did to deserve to be sent to this diocese …” So he disparages the entire diocese, except for the Bishop. Yet this type of Catholic considers himself to be more faithful than any other Catholic, as his other comments clearly indicate.

KAS says: “This priest can follow the examples of two thousand years of rebellion and go ‘plant a church’ at his own expense to do his own thing. Of course, these apostates will have to live with the wages of their rebellion, but at least they won’t be causing those of us who prefer to be CATHOLIC the misery they would inside the church.”

So a validly ordained Catholic priest (Fr. Rowe), who is not even accused of any grave sin, is treated as an apostate and as if he were not truly Catholic, because he deviates, in relatively limited ways, from the exterior form of the Mass. But if any priest keeps to the exact exterior form, it is assumed that he is faithful. No consideration is given to the interior worship of God. Truly, this is the Pharisaism that Christ foresaw and condemned.

{4:23} But the hour is coming, and it is now, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such persons who may worship him.
{4:24} God is Spirit. And so, those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

APX says: I noticed most of the posts [on another blog] are about how wonderful the priest is and not on the actual issue at hand. I’ve also noticed this seems to be the “argument” or “answer” many liberal catholics give. “He’s making a mockery out of Mass.” “But, he’s such a wonderful priest. Everyone loooves him. He fills the pews.” “Oh, I just love his homilies. He gives such good homilies.”

How absurd it is to speak as if being a wonderful priest, being loved by the faithful, bringing people into Church to fill the pews, giving good homilies, is all so much chaff to be swept away. The “actual issue at hand” is the exact wording of the Mass. This is treated as greater than Love, greater than bringing sinners into the Church to be saved, greater than good homilies that instruct the faithful in the Faith.

The same attitude is seen in this next commentators words:

JimGB says: “The comments accompanying the newspaper poll laud the priest as an exemplary pastor, homilist, leader, indeed the “backbone” of his parish as one gushing reader proclaimed. In their view, he is being persecuted for nitpicking over words in a book. Well, if the words in the missal are so inconsequential when compared to his overall priestly accomplishments, THEN WHY CAN’T HE JUST READ THEM AS THEY APPEAR IN THE MISSAL??”

The answer is: because the exact wording is so inconsequential. Yes, his overall priestly accomplishments, serving Christ and the people of God for 47 years should be sufficient for us to forbear and forgive his small fault of not saying the words exactly as written. But I say more. It may well be the case, in the near future, that the Church will decide to permit some extemporaneous prayers by the priest, and some deviations from the written text by all priests in the Church. FOR THE PRIEST STANDS BEFORE US IN PERSONA CHRISTI. And therefore, he should not be required to merely “Say the black. Do the red.” as if he were a slave to the liturgy, rather than IN PERSONA CHRISTI.

The priest has the ability to forgive sins. The priest has the ability to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. So how is it that he cannot pray extemporaneously or make small changes to the exact form of the Mass?

There are many more foolish and derogatory comments after the posts on this subject at Fr. Z.’s blog. But they are much the same. They each repeat the same error as in the above examples. These foolish persons think that they are in charge of the Church. They think that they can revile and malign anyone, even a faithful priest whom no one accuses of grave sin, if such a person should dare to disagree with their own traditionalist opinions. But persons such as this have already departed from Christ and His Church in their hearts and minds. They consider themselves to be the most faithful, by their strict adherence to exterior form. They do not notice that this error was repeatedly strongly condemned by Christ.

{23:12} But whoever has exalted himself, shall be humbled. And whoever has humbled himself, shall be exalted.
{23:13} So then: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you close the kingdom of heaven before men. For you yourselves do not enter, and those who are entering, you would not permit to enter.
{23:14} Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you consume the houses of widows, praying long prayers. Because of this, you shall receive the greater judgment.
{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.
{23:16} Woe to you, blind guides, who say: ‘Whoever will have sworn by the temple, it is nothing. But whoever will have sworn by the gold of the temple is obligated.’
{23:17} You are foolish and blind! For which is greater: the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
{23:18} And you say: ‘Whoever will have sworn by the altar, it is nothing. But whoever will have sworn by the gift that is on the altar is obligated.’
{23:19} How blind you are! For which is greater: the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
{23:20} Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears by it, and by all that is on it.
{23:21} And whoever will have sworn by the temple, swears by it, and by him who dwells in it.
{23:22} And whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits upon it.
{23:23} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you collect tithes on mint and dill and cumin, but you have abandoned the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, while not omitting the others.
{23:24} You blind guides, straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel!
{23:25} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you clean what is outside the cup and the dish, but on the inside you are full of avarice and impurity.
{23:26} You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, and then what is outside becomes clean.
{23:27} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed sepulchers, which outwardly appear brilliant to men, yet truly, inside, they are filled with the bones of the dead and with all filth.
{23:28} So also, you certainly appear to men outwardly to be just. But inwardly you are filled with hypocrisy and iniquity.
{23:29} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, who build the sepulchers of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the just.
{23:30} And then you say, ‘If we had been there in the days of our fathers, we would not have joined with them in the blood of the prophets.’
{23:31} And so you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets.
{23:32} Complete, then, the measure of your fathers.
{23:33} You serpents, you brood of vipers! How will you escape from the judgment of Hell?

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to Say the black. Do the red. Or else. PART II

  1. Milefolio says:

    Indeed, one of the worst problems of traditionalists is that they’re prone to condemn the whole of humanity to Hell. For them, salvation is garanteed by one, and only one, act: that of accepting unthinkingly, and repeating parrot-like, those manifestations of the Magistery that they themselves consider binding. Theological virtues are thrown out of the window as meaningless without blind adherence; charity is unspoken of and unpracticed. They should be reminded that “as you judge, so will you be judged”.

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