Pope Pius XII: TLM is NOT an Irrevocable Right

Read his encyclical Mediator Dei. Below are some of the more relevant quotes to the current situation:

“22. As circumstances and the needs of Christians warrant, public worship is organized, developed and enriched by new rites, ceremonies and regulations….”

~ The Church has the right and duty to enrich public worship with new rites, ceremonies, and regulations.

“23. Exterior worship, finally, reveals and emphasizes the unity of the mystical Body, feeds new fuel to its holy zeal, fortifies its energy, intensifies its action day by day: “for although the ceremonies themselves can claim no perfection or sanctity in their own right, they are, nevertheless, the outward acts of religion, designed to rouse the heart, like signals of a sort, to veneration of the sacred realities, and to raise the mind to meditation on the supernatural. They serve to foster piety, to kindle the flame of charity, to increase our faith and deepen our devotion.”

“24. But the chief element of divine worship must be interior. For we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified. The sacred liturgy requires, however, that both of these elements be intimately linked with each another.”

~ Excessive emphasis and reliance on the exterior elements of worship, which are necessary but not preeminent, is an error.

“44. Since, therefore, it is the priest chiefly who performs the sacred liturgy in the name of the Church, its organization, regulation and details cannot but be subject to Church authority. This conclusion, based on the nature of Christian worship itself, is further confirmed by the testimony of history.”

~ The Sacred Liturgy is always under the supreme authority of the Church and especially the Roman Pontiff with the body of Bishops. The faithful themselves are subject to Church authority and must accept the decisions of the Roman Pontiff on the Sacred Liturgy.

“45. Additional proof of this indefeasible right of the ecclesiastical hierarchy lies in the circumstances that the sacred liturgy is intimately bound up with doctrinal propositions which the Church proposes to be perfectly true and certain, and must as a consequence conform to the decrees respecting Catholic faith issued by the supreme teaching authority of the Church with a view to safeguarding the integrity of the religion revealed by God.”

~ The Church hierarchy, with the Supreme Pontiff as its head, has an irrevocable absolute right to determine the form of the Mass, and this is made all the more clear by the fact that worship of God is closely tied to doctrine, which is also under the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops. Those members of the Church who reject the authority of Popes and Councils over the Mass and the teachings of the Faith are contradicting this authority; they are refusing submission to the Roman Pontiff, which is schism.

“46. On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise.”

~ The opponents of Pope Francis have often put forward the proposition that the apparent piety and sanctity, and the growth in numbers, and even the amount of money raised at Mass!!, are proof that they are following the truths of the faith, and that the Roman Pontiff and his Bishops are therefore in grave error. But this very idea is contradicted by the above teaching of Pope Pius XII, who calls it an error and fallacious reasoning. Your own assessment of your own holiness is pride; fallen sinners often judge incorrectly, especially when judging themselves.

~ But the Roman Pontiff, though a fallen sinner, has the perpetual help of the Holy Spirit and of Christ himself in teaching and guiding the Church. Then the indefectibility of the Church necessarily implies that She cannot err gravely in Her decisions for the Sacred Liturgy, which have now stood for a generation or more. It is not possible that the promise of Christ that the gates of Hell would not prevail over the Church has itself failed for any length of time whatever, and it is appalling that the self-righteous would claim that She has gone astray in the recent Ecumenical Council and in the decisions for the Mass of every Roman Pontiff since then.

~ Therefore, none of the faithful, however pious and holy they seem to be in their own eyes!!, has the right or role to judge the decisions of the Popes and the recent Council, accuse them of grave error, and act to the contrary of the very orders of the Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis, on the Sacred Mass

“50. The sacred liturgy does, in fact, include divine as well as human elements. The former, instituted as they have been by God, cannot be changed in any way by men. But the human components admit of various modifications, as the needs of the age, circumstance and the good of souls may require, and as the ecclesiastical hierarchy, under guidance of the Holy Spirit, may have authorized. This will explain the marvelous variety of Eastern and Western rites. Here is the reason for the gradual addition, through successive development, of particular religious customs and practices of piety only faintly discernible in earlier times.

~ The divine elements of the Mass, such as Sacred Scripture, contrition and forgiveness, the consecration of the Eucharist, the reception of Communion by the priest, and other elements are unchangeable — but their exterior form is not unchangeable; the exterior form of these things are changeable. The words of consecration may be said in various languages. Recently, the words for the consecration of the wine were changed from cup to chalice. The Scripture might be read in one translation or another, as the Holy See decides. The prayers for contrition in the early part of the Mass might have different wordings. So the human components can be modified, and this is the sole right of the Church hierarchy under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do so.

~ The faithful usurp the authority Christ gave to His Church when the declare publicly that all the Popes from Pope Saint Paul VI to Pope Francis have erred gravely by authorizing the Novus Ordo Mass. The rise of the internet, and the phenomenon of Catholics priests or laity developing a large following — many of whom listen more to their favorite blogger or speaker than to the Roman Pontiff — has made the problem worse. Laypersons are declaring that the Church has essentially defected by means of Her authoritative decisions on the Sacred Liturgy. They assert this judgment to the world via the internet, and they accompany this rebellious declaration with grave accusations against the Roman Pontiff, even asserting that he supposedly has an interior gravely immoral desire and plan to corrupt the Faith by means of his decisions on the Sacred Mass.

“57. The Church has further used her right of control over liturgical observance to protect the purity of divine worship against abuse from dangerous and imprudent innovations introduced by private individuals and particular churches.”

~ The Roman Pontiff, who with Christ Himself constitute one only Head of the one indefectible Church, has the right of control over the liturgy. Self-appointed guardians of doctrine and worship, who malign the Pope in public expressions before the whole world, have no such authority. In fact, depending on the particular case, some of these persons may be in a state of public formal schism, so severe is their rejection of submission to the Roman Pontiff and even to the recent Ecumenical Council and the Bishops as a body.

~ Only the Church, led by the Pope, has the right of control over the Sacred Liturgy. And if She determines that the form of the Mass is to be changed, then it is certainly changeable. If She determines that the Mass will be in the vernacular, rather than in Latin, that is Her right. She determines what is and is not abuse, what is and is not pure. The accusation by certain self-appointed judges of Popes and Councils that the Church has erred gravely in her right of control over the liturgy is contrary to the indefectibility of the Church and the never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiff and the unblemished nature of the Apostolic See.

“…in the year 1588, Our predecessor Sixtus V of immortal memory established the Sacred Congregation of Rites, charged with the defense of the legitimate rites of the Church and with the prohibition of any spurious innovation. This body fulfills even today the official function of supervision and legislation with regard to all matters touching the sacred liturgy.

“58. It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.

~ The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, has decided to phase out the TLM and have the Roman Rite use a single liturgy, so as to address a grave problem in the Church, that of a community which uses the TLM as a source of schismatic unity. That community rejects the Second Vatican Council, rejects the authority of Pope Francis, and disdains all the recent Popes, so much so that they accuse Popes and Councils of heresy, and misappropriate to their subculture the right to judge every decision of Popes and Councils on doctrine and discipline. And they are unified by gathering at the Latin Mass, said by priests who are part of that schism.

~Now certainly some of these priests and a good portion of the faithful at Latin Mass are not schismatics, and are faithful to Vatican II and Pope Francis. But the subculture largely is not faithful. So as also happens with the suppression of religious orders, many of the religious are entirely faithful, and they unfortunately suffer due to the grave sins of their peers.

Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.”

~ Lay persons, religious, priests, and deacons, then even individual Bishops speaking or acting in opposition to the body of Bishops and/or the Roman Pontiff, are not to decide for themselves what is correct discipline or doctrine in matters concerning the Sacred Liturgy. And yet that is what is happening today. It is the very situation that prompted Pope Francis to restrict and possibly phase out the TLM, that so many individual lay persons and priests have declared the Novus Ordo Mass to be gravely disordered and to be even, as some have said, part of a diabolical plan to destroy the Church.

“59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof.”

~ The Roman Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, rejects the “revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics” saying this deserves “severe reproof”. This applies quite aptly to the current situation as well. But those who rebel against the authority of the Pope over the sacred liturgy, also rebel against his authority over doctrine.

“60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See.

~ The Apostolic See ALONE is empowered by Christ to decide which language and which form of the Mass is used. It is forbidden to take any action contrary to the decision of the Apostolic See and the Supreme Pontiff.

“61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.”

~ Pope Pius XII rebukes those who “are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately” — and especially in contradiction to proper authority in the Church. Why should the Roman Pontiff have authority over the Sacred Liturgy, and not anyone who decides to appoint themselves as judges over doctrine and discipline? It is because the Holy Spirit assists the Church in every age “even to the consummation of the world.” He who resists the authority given by God to the Church resists the ordination of God.

“62. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device.

~ It is again condemned by Pope Pius XII to “reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device”. The faithful must submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the liturgy and not make these judgments themselves.

“63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

~ No Catholic may reject the recent teachings of Popes and Councils on doctrine, in favor of returning to the “old formulas”, which they are certainly misinterpreting as their interpretations conflict with current teaching. Similarly, the cannot return to “the rites and usage of antiquity” contrary to the decisions of the Church.

“64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”

~ Pope Pius XII even points out the similarity between this error, repeated again today in those who reject the authority of Pope Francis over the TLM, and that of the illegal Council of Pistoia — which taught Jansenism — and which Council and errors the Church had “every right and reason to condemn”.

“65. In every measure taken, then, let proper contact with the ecclesiastical hierarchy be maintained. Let no one arrogate to himself the right to make regulations and impose them on others at will. Only the Sovereign Pontiff, as the successor of Saint Peter, charged by the divine Redeemer with the feeding of His entire flock, and with him, in obedience to the Apostolic See, the bishops “whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church of God,” have the right and the duty to govern the Christian people. Consequently, Venerable Brethren, whenever you assert your authority – even on occasion with wholesome severity – you are not merely acquitting yourselves of your duty; you are defending the very will of the Founder of the Church.”

~ The supporters of the TLM, those in particular who oppose Pope Francis, have arrogated to themselves (that’s the word I’ve been looking for over several days now: arrogate) the right to regulate the Mass and impose their decisions on others, in opposition to the successive Roman Pontiffs.

“66. The mystery of the most Holy Eucharist which Christ, the High Priest instituted, and which He commands to be continually renewed in the Church by His ministers, is the culmination and center, as it were, of the Christian religion.”

“82. The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks.”

~ Only the Church and Her Supreme Pontiff and Her Apostolic College has the right to renew and change the Sacred Liturgy. The faithful have no right to demand that it stay the same, and no right to decide what the changes will be.

“85. All this has the certitude of faith.”

~ The idea that the faithful do not have to accept anything except what the Church proposes infallibly is schismatic, as it rejects the per se authority of the Church over doctrine and discipline through Her ordinary Magisterium, and is heretical, as it denies the dogmatic teachings on the authority itself of the Church.

“109. Wherefore We exhort you, Venerable Brethren, that each in his diocese or ecclesiastical jurisdiction supervise and regulate the manner and method in which the people take part in the liturgy, according to the rubrics of the missal and in keeping with the injunctions which the Sacred Congregation of Rites and the Code of canon law have published. Let everything be done with due order and dignity, and let no one, not even a priest, make use of the sacred edifices according to his whim to try out experiments. It is also Our wish that in each diocese an advisory committee to promote the liturgical apostolate should be established, similar to that which cares for sacred music and art, so that with your watchful guidance everything may be carefully carried out in accordance with the prescriptions of the Apostolic See.”

~ The Roman Pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have consistently opposed errors that have crept into the Novus Ordo Mass. But this does not imply that the New Order of the Mass is erroneous or harmful to the Faith. Rather, the errors of liberals are much like the errors of conservatives, disdaining the authority of the Church over the Mass and trying to make all things conform to their will, rather than to the decisions of the successive Popes.

“193. It cannot be said that modem music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul.”

~ Pope Pius XII decided that modern music should not be excluded from the Mass. The proponents of the TLM are adamant that such music should be condemned. They exercise an authority not given to themselves.

“195. What We have said about music, applies to the other fine arts, especially to architecture, sculpture and painting. Recent works of art which lend themselves to the materials of modern composition, should not be universally despised and rejected through prejudice. Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive ‘symbolism,’ and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist. Thus modern art will be able to join its voice to that wonderful choir of praise to which have contributed, in honor of the Catholic faith, the greatest artists throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, in keeping with the duty of Our office, We cannot help deploring and condemning those works of art, recently introduced by some, which seem to be a distortion and perversion of true art and which at times openly shock Christian taste, modesty and devotion, and shamefully offend the true religious sense. These must be entirely excluded and banished from our churches, like ‘anything else that is not in keeping with the sanctity of the place.’ ”

~ The same applies to holy art. What is modern or new must not be excluded, but it must also be fit for what is sacred and holy.

“203. But in all these matters, it is essential that you watch vigilantly lest the enemy come into the field of the Lord and sow cockle among the wheat; in other words, do not let your flocks be deceived by the subtle and dangerous errors of false mysticism or quietism — as you know We have already condemned these errors;[182] also do not let a certain dangerous “humanism” lead them astray, nor let there be introduced a false doctrine destroying the notion of Catholic faith, nor finally an exaggerated zeal for antiquity in matters liturgical. Watch with like diligence lest the false teaching of those be propagated who wrongly think and teach that the glorified human nature of Christ really and continually dwells in the “just” by His presence and that one and numerically the same grace, as they say, unites Christ with the members of His Mystical Body.”

~ Pope Pius XII condemns an “exaggerated zeal for antiquity in matters liturgical”.

“207. To those whom an excessive zeal occasionally led to say and do certain things which saddened Us and which We could not approve, we repeat the warning of St. Paul, “But prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” Let Us paternally warn them to imitate in their thoughts and actions the Christian doctrine which is in harmony with the precepts of the immaculate Spouse of Jesus Christ, the mother of saints.

“208. Let Us remind all that they must generously and faithfully obey their holy pastors who possess the right and duty of regulating the whole life, especially the spiritual life, of the Church. “Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy and not with grief.”

“209. May God, whom we worship, and who is “not the God of dissension but of peace,” graciously grant to us all that during our earthly exile we may with one mind and one heart participate in the sacred liturgy which is, as it were, a preparation and a token of that heavenly liturgy in which we hope one day to sing together with the most glorious Mother of God and our most loving Mother, ‘To Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction and honor, and glory and power for ever and ever.’ ”

~ Heed the words of Pope Pius XII on the liturgy. Do not get caught up in a subculture that presumes to decide every questions of doctrine and discipline, and then maligns any Pope or Council or Bishop which might speak to the contrary of the subculture. That is idolatry. Faith in the Church founded by Christ is not idolatry; it is not Pope-worship. We believe that the decisions of the Pope are of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes God corrects sinners.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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