Editorial: Radicati nella fede, July 2014
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Domodossola and Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy
Last month, when we talked about the solemnity of Corpus Christi, we mentioned the great danger of forgetting the sacrificial nature of the Catholic Mass. A forgetfulness which leads slowly but inexorably to heresy. On this point we should never forget Michael Davies’ great work on the Anglican Reform, which underlines the danger of “what’s left unsaid” in liturgy: Cranmer’s Anglican Reform, in removing all of the explicit references to the propitiatory Sacrifice, successfully introduced Protestantism into England in the space of a generation and brought the country definitively into heresy.
Last month, however we pushed it further saying, that by forgetting the Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the awareness of the Substantial Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist is inexorably lost: if we don’t have the Victim, we don’t have the Presence of Jesus Christ, since Christ is present in the Eucharist as Victim. A Mass increasingly identified as a commemoration of the Last Supper truly risks not being a Catholic Mass. It is undeniable that the last reform to the Mass, the one in 1969, made it more and more like the Protestant Holy Supper, Anglican or Lutheran - whichever it is.
There is still something else though: A Mass that is more and more “protestantized” has “protestantized” the Catholic faithful in its mission, so much so, that each day they resemble more and more Protestant congregations, “involved in the world. “
If we don’t have the Victim, we don’t have the Presence of Christ either. This is true for the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament but it is also true for the entire work of the Church. If Christ Crucified is no longer at the heart of the doctrinal preaching and pastoral work of the Church, the entire mission of the Church risks being frighteningly empty. Never before as in the last few decades have we seen so many pastoral efforts with techniques that have been refined for effective communication; never as in the past fifty years have there been so much talk of mission with hardly any good results. The Church has moved towards the world continuously announcing and announcing, and its relentless de-Christianization has taken place.
Who, among the Fathers of the Council could have imagined, that the Catholic Faith would have almost disappeared in the space of fifty years? Who among the Bishops of Vatican II, could have imagined the advent of the anti-Catholic and immoral society that we have today, where every law seems to be made purposely against the plan of God for man?
Yet, it is undeniable. This disaster is before our very eyes.
If we no longer have Jesus-Victim, we don’t have Jesus-Present either.
A Church that has been enthusiastically “encountering” the world since the ‘60s and has put the Cross of Christ in second place, has lost Christ Himself and has brought nothing or almost nothing to society. It needs to be said clearly: without the centrality of the Cross, without the centrality of Christ crucified, you lose Christ Himself. The ones who speak about Jesus without His Cross and its centrality, are suffering a terrible delusion. The ones who put the Cross of Christ “among the many other things” in the life of Jesus, but don’t’ envisage the center - in truth - they are not even talking about Christ. They are talking about a “confectioned” Jesus specially for the modern world, which like the Jews and gentiles of Saint Paul, judged Christ Crucified as a scandal and foolishness.
The decision was made to go into world and have friendly dialogue with it, avoiding the condemnations of the Church in the past; in order to have friendly dialogue, they had to “veil” or “hide” the Cross and the Sacrifice of Christ, so that the dialogue with modern society, with its religions, would be serene and amicable, resulting in the twofold tragedy of not having brought anything to the people of these times and, worse, in devastating the Sanctuary of the Presence of God, which is the Church.
We cannot avoid it: we must be the first to accept and embrace the scandal of the Cross, recognize it as the central content of the Church’s doctrine, life and mission, and so, not calculating the results, but confident in the infinite power of God’s grace, go into the world so that it will be converted and healed by the Cross of Christ.
Woe to those Catholics, woe to that Church, that wants to convey another Jesus without the Cross! It will lose its essence, strength, soul and its exclusive power of grace. In addition. it will become more and more useless and unbearable to the world that it wanted to reach. A Church without the Sacrifice and the Cross is detestable and unbearable to the world.
What is more, the world is now ready to savage such an empty Church.
In hoc signo vinces, is not only a memory from past history, it is the truth of every single moment: the victory is in the Cross and of those who bring it and show it to the world, without human calculations.
O Crux, ave, spes unica, Hail O Cross, our only hope; if there isn’t a return to this clarity in all things – truly in the entire Church - the disaster will be inevitable.
If faced with this devastating picture of confusion we feel powerless; if powerless we are wondering what to do and above all where to begin, let’s remember that the rebuilding of the Church will always start from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let’s not make human calculations, let’s not make the same mistakes of the 60s, let’s not go into the world, with our techniques, not even to rebuild Tradition, but let’s start again from the Mass.
We say this first to priests and then to the faithful: let’s return immediately to the Mass of Tradition. Let’s return to the correct Rite of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and from there we can begin again the painstaking work of rebuilding the faith. Let’s not make the mistake of doing the opposite, first pastoral work, then a return to the Mass of Ages, it would be basically hiding the Cross of Christ again, in the expectation of better times, as the deluded missionaries did in the post-conciliar years.
The truth instead is in the reality of His Redeeming Sacrifice, perpetuated in the Catholic Mass. The first duty of priests is to celebrate it. The first duty of everyone is to live by it, so that life, true life, will continue.
[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana. Main image, and in details: Diego Velázquez, Cristo Crucificado (1632), Museo Nacional del Prado.]