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Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Pg.3)

Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition | Latin Mass/Catholic Trad. Q & A

Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Page 3)

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Question

Answer

Why Have So Many Good Catholics Taken a Liberal Bent?

There are number of reasons why many good Catholics of today have adopted a liberal mentality over the last few decades. Reasons may include ignorance, misinformation, or peer pressure. Or, they might have been convinced that they are "doing the will of the Holy Spirit". Catholics who follow a liberal direction may think they are being obedient. They may have suffered abuse, isolation, reprimand, etc. for their previously 'conservative' views. They may find the new ways "fun" or pleasing. They may have become desensitized. They may not realize they have changed. Or, they may simply have "given up". Even older persons who were properly educated and should know better are often turned on to a liberal path. In any event, it can be quite difficult to be a traditional Catholic. Note: Click here for some idea of the treatment traditional Catholics might expect.

 "Once a consensus has been established within any social group, it is very hard for individuals to resist conforming. When an individual does refuse to conform, he is more likely to be rejected by the group than to affect the attitude of an appreciable number of its members... Those who cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday and called for His death on Good Friday were just going along with the majority." (Davies)

"When any individual puts up significant resistance, the manipulators (correctly) assess that it would be counter-productive to devote excessive effort to winning him over. They realize that it is control of the group which matters; the recalcitrant individual, therefore is simply isolated." (Davies)

"The Nazis proved that the constant propagation of false or slanted information would eventually convince the ordinary German, who was not able, or more likely, would not trouble, to consult alternative sources of information. Stalin observed that most people do not have critical minds. Most are content to accept that official information is the correct information." (Davies)

In our days, many people are apathetic. Not only do they not question things, but they are often presented with information that sounds so "nice" or "sweet" that they don't think very hard about whether it is actually accurate, but instead simply accept it at face value. When they do hear "hard truths", they tend to discount them or label those who present the truths as "divisive", "rebels", "unloving", etc. Even if they realize that there may be truth to what is presented, they often do not care or do not want to accept the truths since they would have to make uncomfortable lifestyle changes or to also be thought of as "divisive" or "unloving". It brings to mind Pilate's question before he had Jesus crucified: "What is truth?" (Jn. 18:38) 

What Rights Do Traditional Catholics Have With Respect to the Church's Current Situation?

Catholics, first of all, have the right - and the duty - to protect their faith, including the right to right to take appropriate steps to avoid exposure to what is harmful to their faith. They also have the moral right to legitimately withhold obedience when a command violates faith or morals. Further, Catholics have the right to stand up for Catholic tradition and the right to properly educate others about Catholic tradition. They have the right - if not the duty - to strive for the restoration of Catholic tradition.

Catholics also have the right to seek the abrogation of Church laws, if they prove harmful, as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci have stated: "The subjects for whose benefit a law is passed have always had - more than the right - the duty, if it should instead prove harmful, of asking the legislator with filial trust for its abrogation".

As Von Hildebrand, "loyal son of the Church" and "twentieth century Doctor of the Church" (Pope Pius XII), has said, "In the case of practical as distinguished from theoretical authority, which refers, of course, to the ordinances of the pope, the protection of the Holy Spirit is not promised in the same way [as it is for dogmatic matters]. Ordinances can be unfortunate, ill conceived, even disastrous, and there have been many such in the history of the Church. Here Roma locuta, causa finita does not hold. The faithful are not obliged to regard all ordinances as good and desirable. They can regret them and pray that they will be taken back; indeed, they can work, with all due respect for the Pope, for their elimination."

Catholics are not required to have their "heads in the sand" and to deny truth. Well-informed Catholics have the right to legitimate criticisms, providing they are within proper limits and expressed appropriately. As Pope John Paul II has said, "... nevertheless criticism too should have its just limits. Otherwise it ceases to be constructive and does not reveal truth, love and thankfulness for the grace in which we become sharers principally and fully in and through the Church."

Catholics also have other rights accorded to them, such as these indicated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

"Can. 214. The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church."

"Can. 212 §1 Christ's faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show Christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church. §2 Christ's faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church. §3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

Note that Catholics have right to be treated properly by prelates, but Traditional Catholics may find that although they have this right, it may not be accorded to them. In fact, it is not uncommon for blatantly heretical priests and active homosexual priests to be accorded better treatment than traditional Catholics.

Finally, it should be noted that Catholics do not have the right to spread dissension. Pope Pius XI has said, "To all Our children, finally, of every social rank and every nation, to every religious and lay organization in the Church, We make another and more urgent appeal for union. Many times Our paternal heart has been saddened by the divergencies - often idle in their causes, always tragic in their consequences - which array in opposing camps the sons of the same Mother Church. Thus it is that the radicals, who are not so very numerous, profiting by this discord are able to make it more acute, and end by pitting Catholics one against the other. In view of the events of the past few months, Our warning must seem superfluous. We repeat it nevertheless once more, for those who have not understood, or perhaps do not desire to understand. Those who make a practice of spreading dissension among Catholics assume a terrible responsibility before God and the Church." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937 A.D.)

Why Should I Care About What's Going on in the Church Today?

Firstly, as Catholics, we should love the Church:

"[T]o the extent that one loves the Church of Christ, to that extent does he possess the Holy Spirit." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church) 

"...there can be no true sanctity without [love of the Church]" (Dom Gueranger)

"A filial love for the Church is the sign of the elect; obedience to her commandments is the mark of a soul in which God has set His kingdom." (Dom Gueranger)

"All, moreover, are bound to love the Church as their common mother, to obey her laws, promote her honor, defend her rights, and to endeavor to make her respected and loved by those over whom they have authority." (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", 1885)

"Now, if the natural law enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up, so that every good citizen hesitates not to face death for his native land, very much more is it the urgent duty of Christians to be ever quickened by like feelings toward the Church. For the Church is the holy City of the living God, born of God Himself, and by Him built up and established. Upon this earth, indeed, she accomplishes her pilgrimage, but by instructing and guiding men she summons them to eternal happiness. We are bound, then, to love dearly the country whence we have received the means of enjoyment this mortal life affords, but we have a much more urgent obligation to love, with ardent love, the Church to which we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure forever. For fitting it is to prefer the good of the soul to the well-being of the body, inasmuch as duties toward God are of a far more hallowed character than those toward men." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

Secondly, it is important to realize that the state of things in the Church today may effect countless souls - both your own soul and the souls of our brothers and sisters. 

Further, and of the greatest importance, one should consider that many of the problems in the Church today - e.g. Eucharistic abuses, profanation, sacrilege, are offensive to Almighty God. 

Those who are apathetic to these facts should strongly consider how those in the Old Testament who "moan[ed] and groan[ed] over all the abominations" were spared, while the others were struck without pity or mercy:

"...Pass through the city (through Jerusalem) and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it. To the others I heard him say: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not look on them with pity nor show any mercy! Old men, youths and maidens, women and children - wipe them out! But do not touch any marked with the X; begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the men (the elders) who were in front of the temple." (Ezek. 9:4-6)

And, the New Testament, we find that Christ will vomit the lukewarm out of His mouth:

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth." (Apoc. 3:15-16)

Therefore, it is clear that Catholics should have great concern over what's going on in the Church today.

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The 'Tridentine' Mass (& The Novus Ordo Mass)

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

Question

Answer

What is the 'Tridentine' Mass?

The 'Tridentine' Mass refers to the highly referent, unquestionably Catholic, traditional Latin Mass. Its most essential elements trace back to the earliest days of the Church and it was most commonly used in Catholic parishes worldwide until after the Second Vatican Council. It was "the way the saints and our ancestors worshiped". It is an entirely different rite of Mass than the Mass said at many parishes today. The Mass said at many parishes today is the "Novus Ordo" (New Order) Mass. It was fabricated by men in the 1960's. Besides the language, there are numerous and significant differences between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. For more information on the differences between these Masses, click here.

Thankfully, the desire for and ability to attend this incomparable 'Tridentine' Mass have grown steadily during recent years. The desire for this Mass has been called a "rightful aspiration" deserving of respect by Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI has also supported the desire for the Traditional Mass. In fact, recent years have seen an increase in priestly orders dedicated to the traditional rites and even a whole diocese has received papal sanction to be an "entire traditional diocese". The number of Traditional Masses has increased over recent years and many dioceses have at least one 'Tridentine' Mass per week, while some have daily 'Tridentine' Masses. Additionally, the number of traditional Catholics has been swelling over recent years and even high ranking prelates have publicly said the Traditional Mass. Further, it has been said that the only vocations "crisis" facing traditional orders is how to handle all the applicants they receive!

Why Should One Attend the 'Tridentine' Mass?

There are many compelling reasons to attend the 'Tridentine' Mass. For example: the 'Tridentine' Mass is generally more reverent and uplifting, the 'Tridentine' Mass shows greater respect for the Holy Eucharist, the 'Tridentine' Mass has more safeguards to ensure orthodoxy, the 'Tridentine' Mass fosters a prayerful, sacred atmosphere, the 'Tridentine' Mass emphasizes the vertical rather than the horizontal, the 'Tridentine' Mass has countless good fruits, the 'Tridentine' Mass is more beautiful and less prone to abuse, the 'Tridentine' Mass has a fuller calendar, the 'Tridentine' Mass is historical and links us with our ancestors and the saints, the 'Tridentine' Mass has not been Protestantized and therefore protects one's Catholic faith from corruption (e.g. "If one walks in the rain, one must expect to get wet" - especially if one exposes oneself to the rain week after week after week), etc. Considering that the very purpose for which man was created is "to know, love, and serve God" (Baltimore Catechism), it is clear that one must consider the proper worship of God to be of paramount importance. Note: For more specific information regarding the differences between the 'Tridentine' Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass, click here.

Does the "Traditional Latin Mass" Simply Refer to the "Normal Mass", Said in Latin?

The Traditional Latin Mass is an entirely different rite of Mass than the Mass said at many parishes today. The Mass said at many parishes today is the "Novus Ordo" (New Order) Mass. It was fabricated by men in the 1960's. Besides the language, there are numerous and significant differences between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. For more information on the differences between these Masses, click here.

Is a Spanish Mass the Same as a Latin Mass?

No. A "Spanish Mass" is not the same as a "Latin Mass". A Spanish Mass is a Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass said in the Spanish language, whereas the Traditional Latin Mass is an entirely different rite of Mass. Besides the language, there are numerous and significant differences between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. For more information on the differences between these Masses, click here.

How Can I Understand the 'Tridentine' Mass Since I Don't Speak Latin?

It is not at all necessary to understand Latin to understand and appreciate the 'Tridentine' Mass, even though the Mass is said in Latin. Remember that Catholics of all ages and levels of intelligence have attended (and even understood) Mass in Latin - for most of the life of the Church - even though it was often not a language the people conversed in. Note that when attending this beautiful and incomparable Mass, it is easy to follow along in a Missal (which contains both Latin and English). You will note that the priest usually reads the Gospel and Epistle in the native language just before giving the sermon (also in the native language). Further, after attending the 'Tridentine' Mass for a while, it becomes easy to understand what occurs in the Mass. In a short while, like so many others, you may come to have a deep appreciation for the glorious and majestic Latin language - "the language of heaven". Note: It may also be helpful to gain a deeper understanding of why the Church has used the Latin language for so long. For more information on this topic, try here.

Why Has the 'Tridentine' Mass Become So Popular?

The 'Tridentine' Mass has become increasingly popular in recent years for various reasons. Some have grown tired of the frequent liturgical abuses, irreverence, and "watered down" doctrine of the Novus Ordo Mass. Many have just recently learned there was a 'Tridentine' Mass or have recently learned about the many differences between it and the Novus Ordo Mass. Many attend since Pope John Paul II recognized that the desire for the ancient Mass was a "rightful aspiration" which is deserving of "respect". Many are able to attend this precious Mass simply because it is finally available in their area. These and other reasons may have contributed to the increasing popularity of the ancient Mass. Note: For more information on the status of the 'Tridentine' Mass, click here.

Are All 'Tridentine' Masses Said in Latin?

Generally, 'Tridentine' Masses are said in Latin. Note: Click here for some reasons the 'Tridentine' Mass is said in Latin.

Are All Masses Said in Latin the "Old" Kind?

No. The New Mass (the Novus Ordo Mass) may also be said in Latin (the official language of its promulgation). Even if the Novus Ordo Mass is said - partially or entirely - in Latin, there are numerous and significant differences between it and the Traditional Latin Mass. For more information on the differences between these Masses, click here.

Why is the Traditional Latin Mass Called 'Tridentine'?

The Traditional Latin Mass is often called the 'Tridentine' Mass, since its codification is tied to the Council of Trent. In contrast to the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass of the 1960's however, the 'Tridentine' Mass was not fabricated by men. Rather, most of its central elements are said to trace back - nearly without change - to apostolic times. Therefore, although it is convenient to refer to the Traditional Latin Mass as the "Tridentine" Mass, it is somewhat misleading.

Is the 'Tridentine' Mass Still Available?

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

Thankfully, the Traditional Latin Mass - in use for most of the life of the Church - is still validly said in Catholic parishes today. Contact your diocese for the nearest location of this incomparable Mass. If this Mass is not available in your parish, petition your pastor!

Note: Click here for 'How to Find a Latin 'Tridentine' Mass'

Is the 'Tridentine' Mass the Same Everywhere?

If said according to the rubrics, the 'Tridentine' Mass is essentially the same everywhere. Note, however, that there may be some minor variations (e.g. High Mass vs. Low Mass).

Why Was the 'Tridentine' Mass Replaced After the Second Vatican Council With the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass? 

The 'Tridentine' Mass was "replaced"* by the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass in the 1960's for various reasons. Especially, the New Mass helps to (1) foster ecumenism, since Protestants aren't so offended by the New Mass (click here), and (2) to foster 'active (external) participation' in the Mass by the laity (in contrast to the Church's continual emphasis on active internal participation). The results have been decreased reverence, "watered down doctrine", doctrinal confusion, frequent profanation and sacrilege, a loss of the fear of God, a blurring of the priestly role, etc. Note: For more information on the differences between these Masses, click here. For more information on the fruits of the Second Vatican Council, try here.

* Note: It is technically incorrect to state that the Novus Ordo Mass "replaced" the 'Tridentine' Mass, which is still licitly said throughout the world. For more information on the status of the 'Tridentine' Mass, click here.

What Are Some Differences Between the 'Tridentine' Mass and the New (Novus Ordo) Mass?

There are numerous and significant differences between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. For more specific information on the differences between these Masses, click here.

Was the Rite of the 'Tridentine' Mass Affected By the Second Vatican Council? 

Thanks be to God, the rite of the 'Tridentine' Mass itself was unaffected by the changes made in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Rather than making changes to the Traditional Mass, a new Mass was fabricated. This left the ancient Mass protected and untouched.

What Other Names is the 'Tridentine' Mass Known By?

The 'Tridentine' Mass may be known by various names - for example: the old Latin Mass, the traditional Latin Mass, the Mass of Pope St. Pius V, Extraordinary form of the rite, Gregorian Rite, etc. It is even popularly called the "original Mass".

What is the Status of the 'Tridentine' Mass?

For information on the status of the Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass, click here.

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

Is the 'Tridentine' Mass Forbidden? / Is it Forbidden to Attend the 'Tridentine' Mass?

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

No. Despite what some persons may mistakenly tell you, the 'Tridentine' Mass is not forbidden and persons are not forbidden to attend approved 'Tridentine' Masses.

In fact, the desire for this Mass has been called a "rightful aspiration" deserving of "respect" by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI has also supported the desire for the Traditional Mass. Further, recent years have seen an increase in priestly orders dedicated to the traditional rites and even a whole diocese has received papal sanction to be an "entire traditional diocese". 

Furthermore, it should be noted that the Second Vatican Council did not prohibit the 'Tridentine' Mass, but rather said that all lawful rites were of equal dignity and should be preserved and fostered in every way:

"Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, emphasis added)

As Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) has said: 

"It is good to recall here what Cardinal Newman observed, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished or forbidden orthodox liturgical forms. [To do so] would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy [is] one which expresses the true faith... The authority of the Church has the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them! Thus the [Second Vatican] Council ordered a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not prohibit the use of the previous books." (emphasis added)

On the other hand, some Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass may be offered "illicitly". This may occur, for example, when the priest offering the Mass has broken away from the Church or has affiliated himself with a schismatic organization. To attend these unapproved Masses may be considered 'forbidden'. Note: For more on this topic, try here.

For more information on the status of the 'Tridentine' Mass, click here.

Is it True That the Permission for the 'Tridentine' Mass is Only For Older People?

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

No. Although liberals would like you to believe to the contrary, it is not true that the permission for the 'Tridentine' Mass is only for older people. There are absolutely no age restrictions attached to the permission for the 'Tridentine' Mass. Further: (1) the 'Tridentine' Mass was never forbidden (click here), and (2) the Second Vatican Council said that all rites were to be preserved and fostered in every way: "Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, emphasis added). In recent years, Pope John Paul II called the desire for the Traditional Mass a "rightful aspiration" deserving of "respect" and Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) desired that it be granted more generously. The Church has approved new priestly orders dedicated to the Traditional Mass (with many young priests), and numerous traditional baptisms and weddings have been conducted. It is quite clear that the 'Tridentine' Mass is in no way limited to older persons! Rather, such arguments seem to be last ditch efforts by liberals to keep faithful Catholics from this precious Mass. Note: For more information on the status of the 'Tridentine' Mass, click here.

Is the Attachment to the 'Tridentine' Mass Due to Nostalgia?

The attachment to the 'Tridentine' Mass is not due to nostalgia. In fact, many persons who have come to love this Mass in recent years had never previously attended it before. Persons who attend the 'Tridentine' Mass often do so for doctrinal reasons, because they see the superiority of this rite of Mass over the new rite of Mass (which is even acknowledged by high-ranking prelates), because they are tired of the liturgical abuses, irreverence, and profanation which are, unfortunately, so common to the Novus Ordo Mass, etc. Some persons attend the 'Tridentine' Mass because they are concerned that a priest's intention may be defective in a Novus Ordo Mass (leading to an invalid consecration), while others may attend simply for aesthetic reasons. Note: For more information regarding the differences between the 'Tridentine' Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass, click here.

Is it Disobedient to Attend the 'Tridentine' Mass?

CLICK HERE For Most Current Info. (7/07 & Later Updates)

No. Despite what some persons may mistakenly tell you, it is in no way disobedient to attend approved 'Tridentine' Masses.

In fact, the desire for this Mass has been called a "rightful aspiration" deserving of respect by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI has also supported the desire for the Traditional Mass. Further, recent years have seen an increase in priestly orders dedicated to the traditional rites and even a whole diocese has received papal sanction to be an "entire traditional diocese". 

Furthermore, it should be noted that the Second Vatican Council did not prohibit the 'Tridentine' Mass, but rather said that all lawful rites were of equal dignity and should be preserved and fostered in every way:

"Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, emphasis added)

As Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) has said: 

"It is good to recall here what Cardinal Newman observed, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished or forbidden orthodox liturgical forms. [To do so] would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy [is] one which expresses the true faith.... The authority of the Church has the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them! Thus the [Second Vatican] Council ordered a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not prohibit the use of the previous books." (emphasis added)

On the other hand, some Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Masses may be offered "illicitly". This may occur, for example, when the priest offering the Mass has broken away from the Church or has affiliated himself with a schismatic organization. To attend these unapproved Masses may be considered disobedient. Note: For more on this topic, try here.

For more information on the status of the 'Tridentine' Mass, click here.

What Are Some Differences Between a High and a Low Mass?

Some differences between a High Mass and Low Mass include: 

High Mass: Asperges, sung prayers, sung Gospel, less kneeling, six candles, incensing of altar

Low Mass: No asperges, no sung prayers, no sung Gospel, more kneeling, two candles, no incensing of altar, prayers after Mass

What Are Some Reasons For Saying Mass in Latin?

There are many reasons why it is fitting that the Mass be said in Latin. For example:

* The use of Latin preserves unity.

* "The use of Latin contributes to a sacred atmosphere"

* The use of a universal language prevents the Church hierarchy from losing control

* The use of Latin "safeguards the purity of the doctrine by preventing heterodox translations" 

* The use of Latin allows us to pray "in one voice". With the 'Tridentine' Mass, peoples of all nations throughout the world use can use a single language. One may attend Mass anywhere in the world and feel "right at home".

* With a universal language, it is not necessary to have separate Masses for persons of varying nationalities (thereby segregating the congregation and causing disunity)

* The use of Latin connects us with our Catholic ancestors, and even ties back to the inscription on the cross which was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek

* "Latin is majestic and lifts us up into the sacred realities". As Gihr states, "Since the Latin language has been withdrawn from daily life, from the ordinary intercourse of mankind, since it is not heard on the street or in the market-place, it possesses in the eyes of the faithful a holy, venerable, mystic character... The celebration of this mystic Sacrifice [of the Mass] fittingly calls for a language elevated, majestic, dignified and consecrated; religious sentiment demands this". As one well-known Catholic convert has said, "The vernacular [used in the New Mass] has robbed the Mass of its majesty and mystery." (Brown)

* The use of a universal language is appropriate for a universal Church. As Gihr states, "In her bosom we behold how the Holy Ghost has 'gathered all the nations from out of the babel of tongues into the unity of faith.' Being formed of 'all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues' she constitutes but one family of God, one kingdom of Christ, a kingdom not of this world, but exalted above every nation of the earth. Therefore, it is proper that the Church, when celebrating divine worship, when offering the divine sacrifice [of the Mass], should make use not of the language of some one single country or nation, but of a language that is universal, consecrated and sanctified. Thus, at the altar is a figure of the heavenly Jerusalem, where all the angels and saints in unison sing their 'Holy, holy, holy' and Alleluia." As one well-known Catholic convert has said, "The existence of a common liturgical language of some kind is a sign of the Church's mission to reverse the curse of Babel and to create a body of unity between the peoples." (Dawson) Remember also that "[the] confusion of languages at Babylon was the expression of God's anger." (Fr. Groenings)

* The use of Latin protects against heresy (vernacular languages are subject to frequent changes of meaning)

* The use of a "dead language" follows the example of Christ Himself: "Our Lord Himself always worshiped according to the ritual of the Palestinian synagogue, in which only the readings, with a few prayers immediately connected with them, were in the vernacular. The great fixed prayers... were all retained in Hebrew, a language at least as dead then, so far as common usage was concerned, as Latin is now. If Our Lord had found such a practice intolerable, He Who so relentlessly denounced the formalism of the Pharisee would certainly not have accepted that practice without a word of criticism, as He did." (Bouyer)

* The use of Latin by Catholics throughout the world was an impressive sign to those outside the Church: "It was a tribute to the Church that all her children spoke the same language."

* Popes and saints, and even the Second Vatican Council have recommended the use of Latin. Consider the following:

"The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites." (Second Vatican Council)

"[C]are must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Second Vatican Council)

"It will be quite clear from these considerations why the Roman Pontiffs have so often extolled the excellence and importance of Latin, and why they have prescribed its study and use by the secular and regular clergy, forecasting the dangers that would result from its neglect." [Pope John XXIII (the pope who called the Second Vatican Council), "Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.]

* The use of Latin "takes us outside ourselves" - "One virtue of Latin, perhaps the least, is that it makes no attempt to get everybody talking: it is the language of Holy Church, of God's priest, not 'my' language. And it is a language imposed by the Mystery itself, the language of Pontius Pilate and of those who being his contemporaries crucified the Incarnate Lord as our agents, the language of the penitent Gentiles. It lifts us out of our complacent English suburb and our self-sufficient century into that universal moment in which man first acknowledged the divine Savior, the Son of the Living God. The vernacular reverses the procedure. The whole change [to the vernacular in the Novus Ordo Mass] has been made in concession to ourselves. The vernacular is the language of our private prayers, the grammar of our private life. It accompanies an extensive and potentially disastrous change of mind". (Davies, quoting Mr. Gregory)

* The use of Latin spares the Church the trouble and expense of creating and constantly updating a multitude (hundreds and hundreds) of translations into the vernacular. Note: Experience since the 1960's shows that this is an expensive and daunting task, which has been plagued with errors (even serious ones). Each translation may require at least one commission and may go through a long approval process. Each new translation risks confusion, disunity, error, etc. Each new translation may bring with it a high cost (including high fees for experts). With so many languages and translations, it also becomes difficult even to get them approved, possibly leading to the use of unapproved translations. Further, translations into "living languages" tend to become obsolete as time goes by.

* Even those outside the Church realize the importance of using a special language for worship. One non-Catholic has admitted that "[the] Church utilizes every means of taking people beyond everyday interests; the language of commerce and of everyday occupation is left outside; the people are taught the language of worship. That shows deep insight into the human mind."

* Latin is sometimes called the "language of heaven" 

* The devil - our fierce enemy - is said to hate the Latin language. "If the devil hates it, we know it must be good for us!"

Further the use of the Latin language is efficient and economical, promotes unity, saves time, is inclusive of all peoples, and protects Church dogma.

For more on this topic, try here. For 'Latin Language Facts & Pronunciation Tips', click here. For Latin Language Reflections, click here

Religious Ceremonies: Why Do They Exist? Why Are They Important? Are They Essential?

There are a number of important reasons for religious ceremonies (e.g. rites of Mass). For example:

* Ceremonies help lead us to knowledge of spiritual things: "Indeed, the sense of sight, as being more noble and more honorable than other senses, more easily leads to a knowledge of spiritual things." (Pope Pius XII, "Miranda Prorsus", 1957)

* Symbols help us to perceive God: "In the life to come, our mind will see the true God himself, and our outer worship will need no symbols but will consist in praise of God from heart and mind. At present, however, God's truth can only express itself to us in symbols we can sense." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* Ceremonies are Scriptural. In fact, it should be noted that God required certain precise ceremonies in the Old Testament: "Thus we observe that when God institutes the Old Law, He makes provision besides for sacred rites, and determines in exact detail the rules to be observed by His people in rendering Him the worship He ordains. To this end He established various kinds of sacrifice and designated the ceremonies with which they were to be offered to Him. His enactments on all matters relating to the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple and the holy days are minute and clear. He established a sacerdotal tribe with its high priest, selected and described the vestments with which the sacred ministers were to be clothed, and every function in any way pertaining to divine worship." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

* The Holy Eucharist is veiled underneath the sacramental species and can't be known by reason alone: "Christ's body is not received by being seen, but only its sacrament, because sight does not penetrate to the substance of Christ's body, but only to the sacramental species." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") Therefore, distinguishing Christ's Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist requires faith, and external ceremonies help to foster this faith. Note that such faith is especially critical since one who fails to discern the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist "drinks judgment on himself." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:29) "Pastors, aware of the warning of the Apostle that those who discern not the body of the Lord are guilty of a most grave crime, should first of all impress on the minds of the faithful the necessity of detaching, as much as possible, their mind and understanding from the dominion of the senses; for if they believe that his Sacrament contains only what the senses disclose, they will of necessity fall into enormous impiety. Consulting the sight, the touch, the smell, the taste and finding nothing but the appearances of bread and wine, they will naturally judge that this Sacrament contains nothing more than bread and wine. Their minds, therefore, area as much as possible to be withdrawn from subjection to the senses and excited to the contemplation of the stupendous might and power of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Ceremonies lift up the mind: "And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the Mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice [of the Mass] might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice." (Council of Trent)

* It is fitting to have proper ceremonies surrounding the Sacraments - as these Sacraments may be considered "gifts from God." As Davies says, "It is only natural that the Church, the steward of these holy mysteries, should clothe them with the most solemn and beautiful rites and ceremonies possible." 

* Ceremonies serve to express the inward grace they confer: "And all know that the sacraments of the New Law, as sensible and efficient signs of invisible grace, ought both to signify the grace which they effect, and effect the grace which they signify. Although this signification should be found in the whole essential rite, namely, in matter and form, yet it pertains especially to form, since the matter is the part not determined by itself, but determined by form." (Pope Leo XIII, "Apostolicae Curae", 1896 A.D.)

* Worthy ceremonies foster the respect due to the sacred mysteries: "In explaining [the Sacraments], pastors should keep in view principally two things, which they should zealously strive to accomplish. The first is that the faithful understand the high honor, respect and veneration due to these divine and celestial gifts. The second is that, since the Sacraments have been established by the God of infinite mercy for the common salvation of all, the people should make pious and religious use of them, and be so inflamed with the desire of Christian perfection as to deem it a very great loss to be for any time deprived of the salutary use, particularly of Penance and the Holy Eucharist." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Ceremonies are closely bound up with how people believe, and actually influence those beliefs ["lex orandi lex credendi" ("the law of praying is the law of believing")]: "Since the Church has received from her founder, Christ, the duty of guarding the holiness of divine worship, surely it is part of the same, of course after preserving the substance of the sacrifice and the sacraments, to prescribe the following: ceremonies, rites, formulas, prayers, chant - by which that august and public ministry is best controlled, whose special name is Liturgy, as if an exceedingly sacred action. And the liturgy is an undoubtedly sacred thing; for, through it we are brought to God and are joined with Him; we bear witness to our faith, and we are obligated to it by a most serious duty because of the benefits and helps received, of which we are always in need. Hence a kind of intimate relationship between dogma and sacred liturgy, and likewise between Christian worship and the sanctification of the people. Therefore, Celestine I proposed and expressed a canon of faith in the venerated formulas of the Liturgy: 'Let the law of supplication establish the law of believing. For when the leaders of holy peoples administer legislation enjoined upon themselves they plead the cause of the human race before divine Clemency, and they beg and pray while the entire Church sighs with them'." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini cultus", 1928 A.D.)

* Established ceremonies help to ensure proper reverence and dignity are accorded to holy things.

* Religious ceremonies visibly represent truths which are imperceptible to the eye.

* Religious ceremonies help in the comprehension of higher truths.

* Established ceremonies help to remove error, occasions of which should be removed: "[O]ccasions of error ought to be withheld from men" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* Established ceremonies help to prevent the undermining of dogma by wayward / heretical / misguided / etc. prelates.

* Religious ceremonies are used to give fitting worship to God and help us to distinguish what is holy from what is common: "The chief purpose of the whole external worship is that man may give worship to God. Now man's tendency is to reverence less those things which are common, and indistinct from other things; whereas he admires and reveres those things which are distinct from others in some point of excellence. Hence too it is customary among men for kings and princes, who ought to be reverenced by their subjects, to be clothed in more precious garments, and to possess vaster and more beautiful abodes. And for this reason it behooved special times, a special abode, special vessels, and special ministers to be appointed for the divine worship, so that thereby the soul of man might be brought to greater reverence for God. In like manner the state of the Old Law...was instituted that it might foreshadow the mystery of Christ. Now that which foreshadows something should be determinate, so that it may present some likeness thereto. Consequently, certain special points had to be observed in matters pertaining to the worship of God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* Ceremonies better impress upon our minds the effects of the sacraments and elevate the mind: "It is not without good reason that the administration of the Sacraments has been at all times, from the earliest ages of the Church, accompanied with certain solemn rites. There is, in the first place, the great propriety in manifesting such a religious reverence to the sacred mysteries as to make it appear that the holy things are handled by holy men. Secondly, these ceremonies serve to display more fully the effects of the Sacraments, placing them, as it were, before our eyes, and to impress more deeply on the minds of the faithful the sanctity of these sacred institutions. Thirdly, they elevate to sublime contemplation the minds of those who behold and observe them with attention, and excite within them faith and charity." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Worthy religious ceremonies are "a taste of heaven" and may be compared to heavenly worship (see Rv.)

* Ceremonies helps us to become properly disposed to receive the grace of the Sacraments: "Very truly, the sacraments and the sacrifice of the altar, being Christ's own actions, must be held to be capable in themselves of conveying and dispensing grace from the divine Head to the members of the Mystical Body. But if they are to produce their proper effect, it is absolutely necessary that our hearts be properly disposed to receive them." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

* Throughout history, religious ceremonies have always been important.

* Our Lord Jesus Christ participated in various religious ceremonies. "The perfection of religion is to imitate whom you adore." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

* Ceremonies help to promote veneration of the sacred mysteries: "In a word this Sacrament is, as it were, the very soul of the Church; and to it the grace of the priesthood is ordered and directed in all its fullness and in each of its successive grades. From the same source the Church draws and has all her strength, all her glory, her every supernatural endowment and adornment, every good thing that is hers; wherefore she makes it the chiefest of all her cares to prepare the hearts of the faithful for an intimate union with Christ through the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, and to draw them thereto. And to this end she strives to promote the veneration of the august mystery by surrounding it with holy ceremonies." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

* Ceremonies help us meditate on divine things: "Having the nature that he does, man cannot easily meditate on divine things without external helps. For this reason, holy Mother Church has prescribed certain rites for the Mass, some parts to be said in a low tone of voice, some to be said more loudly. She also has made use of ceremonies such as sacred blessings, candles, incense, vestments, and other things of like nature which have come down from apostolic teaching and tradition. All of these things are used to point up the majesty of this great sacrifice [of the Mass] and to raise the minds of the faithful though these visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of the very exalted things hidden in this sacrifice." (Council of Trent)

* Worthy religious ceremonies help us to appreciate the great mysteries that are set before us.

* Worthy religious ceremonies help to excite our faith.

* Worthy religious ceremonies help to foster interior devotion and encourage piety.

* Religious ceremonies emphasize our unity, foster zeal, and set us apart from false and heretical counterparts. They also rouse the heart, raise the mind, foster piety, kindle the flame of charity, increase faith and devotion, and provide instruction: "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. They provide instruction for simple folk, decoration for divine worship, continuity of religious practice. They make it possible to tell genuine Christians from their false or heretical counterparts.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

* Religious ceremonies help to display the majesty of the sacred mysteries: "The Sacrifice (of the Mass) is celebrated with many solemn rites and ceremonies, none of which should be deemed useless or superfluous. On the contrary, all of them tend to display the majesty of this august Sacrifice, and to excite the faithful when beholding these saving mysteries, to contemplate the divine thing which lie concealed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Religious ceremonies impress truths on the mind: "It is manifest that ceremonies contribute to the more religious and holy administration of the Sacraments, were to place, as it were, before the eyes of the exalted and inestimable gifts which they contain, and impress on the minds of the faithful a deeper sense of the boundless beneficence of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent) 

* Religious ceremonies are an open and explicit profession of one's faith.

* Religious ceremonies foster faith. Similarly, their absence likewise affects faith (e.g. if certain ceremonies are removed, over time, people will lose faith in related doctrines). 

* "External practices edify our neighbor."

It is clear that religious ceremonies are quite important for a number of reasons. One may even go so far as to say that religious ceremonies may be considered - albeit indirectly - in some ways necessary for the salvation of our souls.

One must note, however that particular ceremonies may not be considered absolutely essential for salvation. As stated in the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

"[A]lthough ceremonies are not of absolute necessity, they are of very great importance and deserve great veneration. This is the authority of those by whom they were instituted, who were, no doubt, the Apostles, and also the object of their institution, sufficiently prove." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Further, the omission of certain unessential ceremonies does not invalidate a sacrament: "To (the matter and form) are added certain ceremonies. These cannot be omitted without sin, unless in case of necessity; yet if at any time they be omitted, the Sacrament is not thereby invalidated, since the ceremonies do not pertain to its essence." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

As Pope Pius XII has said, "It is to be observed, also, that they have strayed from the path of truth and right reason who, led away by false opinions, make so much of these accidentals as to presume to assert that without them the Mass cannot fulfill its appointed end." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

We are reminded that we must distinguish between the essential parts and the non-essential parts: "In the rite of conferring and administering any sacrament one rightly distinguishes between the ceremonial part and the essential part, which is customarily called the matter and form. And all know that the sacraments of the New Law, as sensible and efficient signs of invisible grace, ought both to signify the grace which they effect, and effect the grace which they signify. Although this signification should be found in the whole essential rite, namely, in matter and form, yet it pertains especially to form, since the matter is the part not determined by itself, but determined by form." (Pope Leo XIII, "Apostolicae Curae", 1896 A.D.)

In any event, it is clear that even unessential ceremonies pertain to the sacraments' well-being. As St. Thomas Aquinas states:

"Although those things that belong to the solemnity of a sacrament are not essential to it, yet are they not superfluous, since they pertain to the sacrament's well-being" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Therefore, it is important to perform ceremonies appropriately:

"[S]acred rites should be performed with due external dignity." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"Ceremonies may be shadows, but they are the shadows of great truths, and it is essential that they should be carried out with the greatest possible attention." (St. Vincent de Paul)

Further, we are to consider that mere external actions are without meaning - that our interior disposition must correspond with our external actions:

"It is obviously necessary that the external sacrificial rite should, of its very nature, signify the internal worship of the heart." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"Thus we are urged, when there is question of fasting, for example, 'to give interior effect to our outward observance.' Otherwise religion clearly amounts to mere formalism, without meaning and without content. You recall, Venerable Brethren, how the divine Master expels from the sacred temple, as unworthily to worship there, people who pretend to honor God with nothing but neat and well-turned phrases, like actors in a theater, and think themselves perfectly capable of working out their eternal salvation without plucking their inveterate vices from their hearts." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"The sacred Liturgy, then, constitutes the public worship which our Redeemer, the Head of the Church, has shown to the heavenly Father; and which the society of the faithful in Christ attribute to their Founder, and through Him to the eternal Father; and, to sum up briefly, it constitutes the public worship of the mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and its members. Therefore, they wander entirely away from the true and full notion and understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, who consider it only as an external part of divine worship, and presented to the senses; or as a kind of apparatus of ceremonial proprieties; and they no less err who think of it as a mere compendium of laws and precepts, by which the ecclesiastical Hierarchy bids the sacred rites to be arranged and ordered." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

We also know that the Church can change the ceremonies, providing that the substance of the Sacraments remains unchanged:

"In the Church there has always existed this power, that in the administration of the sacraments, provided that their substance remains unaltered, she can lay down or modify what she considers more fitting either for the benefit of those who receive them or for respect towards those same sacraments, according to varying circumstances, times or places." (Council of Trent)

"From all this it is gathered that according to the mind of the Council of Florence the tradition of the instruments is not required for the substance and validity of this sacrament, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But if, according to the will and prescription of the Church, the same should some day be held necessary for validity also, all would know that the Church is able even to change and to abrogate what she has established." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacramentum Ordinis", 1947 A.D.)

Of course, any such changes should only be made only with the greatest caution and only if they serve the good of the Church. Also note that no individual priest has the right to tamper with the sacred ceremonies, which can have an effect on the "integrity of Catholic faith itself": 

"The Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, and also to modify those he judges to require modification. Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship... 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 the Catholic faith itself." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

It is clear that there is an inherent danger in changing established ceremonies: "The rites are more than formulas, they are a way of expressing truths. There is a danger in changing them, especially when vague terms are employed. It may result in a changed meaning or even a denial of truths, especially if they are open to varying interpretations."

Over time, various persons have sought destructive changes to the liturgy. In some cases, this was intentionally done to harm the faith of Catholics, in others, it may have been due to error or ignorance:

"There has been such a systematic effort made to destroy, or at last to impoverish, the exterior rites and practices of religion, that we find, throughout the world, thousands of Christians who have been insensibly made strangers to those admirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone, in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the faithful." (Dom Gueranger)

"A false idea has for a long time grown stronger and spread widely through these regions. This idea is spread by an impious and absurd system of indifference toward religious matters which claims that the Christian religion can become perfect in time. While the patrons of such a false idea are afraid to adapt the shaky possibility of perfection to the truths of faith, they establish it in the external administration and discipline of the Church. Moreover, in order to bring about faith in their error, they wrongfully and deceitfully usurp the authority of Catholic theologians. These theologians propound here and there a distinction between the teaching and the discipline of the Church which underlies this change, that it will always stand firm and never be harmed by any alteration. Once this is established, they state categorically that there are many things in the discipline of the Church in the present day, in its government, and in the form of its external worship which are not suited to the character of our time. These things, they say, should be changed, as they are harmful for the growth and prosperity of the Catholic religion, before the teaching of faith and morals suffers any harm from it. Therefore, showing a zeal for religion and showing themselves as an example of piety, they force reforms, conceive of changes, and pretend to renew the Church." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833 A.D.)

"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. Thus it came about - during the 16th century, when usages and customs of this sort had become increasingly prevalent and exaggerated, and when private initiative in matters liturgical threatened to compromise the integrity of faith and devotion, to the great advantage of heretics and further spread of their errors." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Those who claim that changes are needed to keep up with "human progress", with 'modern man' should consider: 

"In his book... Dietrich von Hildebrand shows convincingly that the so-called 'modern man' is a myth, invented by the sociologists, that in his essential nature, in his basic needs, desires, and attitudes, contemporary man does not differ from his predecessors of past centuries. Human nature does not change." (Davies)

Further, it should be noted that changes must be careful not to signify anything outwardly which is contrary to the truth:

"Now it is a lie if one signify outwardly that which is contrary to the truth. But just as a thing is signified by word, so it is by deed: and it is in this signification by deed that the outward worship of religion consists... Consequently, if anything false is signified by outward worship, this worship will be pernicious." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Experience shows that even changes to the "unessential" parts of the liturgy (e.g. the reduced signs of reverence, reduced references to our sinfulness, reduced signs of respect to the Holy Eucharist, etc. which have been incorporated into the Novus Ordo Mass) have had serious effects on the faithful (e.g. loss of reverence, loss of fear of the Lord, loss of belief in the Real Presence, etc.) Note: Click here for a comparison of the Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass of the 1960's.

And, finally, it should be noted that some elements of the liturgy are never subject to change:

"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." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Continued on Next Page

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