Rorate Caeli

The Council and the Eclipse of God – by Don Pietro Leone : CHAPTER VII –Man’s Cult of God - Sacrosanctum Concilium : a veritable modernist minefield

 Many people praise Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council’s document on the Liturgy as being something orthodox, but Don Pietro shows how, in reality, it is but another modernist minefield. In this section, he quotes from Don Gueranger’s prophetic book on anti-liturgical heresy ‘Liturgical  Institutions.’  

For a fuller analysis  of how the Mass was changed as a result of the Council, readers may consult Don Pietro’s book, 'The Destruction of the Roman  Rite' found here: and which was first published on Rorate Caeli some years ago:  .



The Council and the Eclipse of God
 Don Pietro Leone
(Part I)


A veritable  modernist minefield 

 In this chapter we consider:


A.   The Sacraments in General;

B.   The Holy Mass.

A.   The Sacraments in General


In this section we consider briefly the more notable changes proposed by the Council to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Extreme Unction.


i)‘With the passage of time…certain features have crept into the rites of the sacraments and sacramentals which have made their nature and purpose less clear to the people of to-day. Hence some changes are necessary to adapt them to present-day needs…’ (SC 62); Sacrosanctum Concilium  

ii) ‘The rite for the Baptism of infants is to be revised. The revision should take into account the fact that those to be baptized are babies…’ (SC 67);


iii) ‘In mission countries… those elements of initiation may be admitted… insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual...’ (SC 65);


iv) ‘The rite of confirmation is to be revised also so that the intimate connection of this sacrament with the whole of Christian initiation may be shown more clearly…’ (SC 71);


v) ‘Extreme Unction’ which may also and more fittingly be called ‘Anointing of the Sick’ is not a sacrament for those who are at the point of death. Hence it is certain that as soon as any of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, this is already a suitable time for them to receive this sacrament.’ (SC 73);


In text (i) we see the Council make an attempt [1] to justify sacramental change as a return to the putative original purity and clarity of the sacraments. The revision of the three sacraments referred to here corresponds to Protestant principles.


The mandate to reform baptism, justified by the cryptic remark in text (ii) that infants are ‘babies’, has been applied inter alia by changing the beginning of the rite, where the celebrant asks the adults accompanying the child what is being asked of the Church. They were no longer to reply ‘Faith’ as in the old rite, but ‘baptism’. This conforms to the heresy of some Protestant sects that Baptism does not imbue the infant with Faith. We also note that the multiple exorcisms characteristic of the old rite of baptism have been excised, as is the case in the Protestant rites.


We add in regard to the program of inculturation promoted by text (iii), that ‘initiation’ rituals, belonging entirely to the natural, or preternatural (in the sense of demonic), order, have no place in the rite of baptism which belongs entirely to the supernatural order: where the soul is cleansed of Original Sin, endowed with the Faith, united to the Most Holy Trinity, made adoptive child of the Father, member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and Temple of the Holy Spirit.


The purpose of Confirmation is expressed by the Decretum pro Armenis as follows: ‘By confirmation we grow in Grace and are strengthened in Faith’, whereas the concept of ‘Christian initiation’ in text (iv) is Protestant.


To call the Last Rites the ‘Anointing of the Sick’ in text (v) and to administer it not only to the dying, corresponds to the Lutheran heresy of Sola Scriptura, since the scriptural evidence for the sacrament (Jc. 5. 14) does not in fact refer to the dying, but only to the anointing of the sick, whereas the traditional teaching of the Church is that this sacrament is indeed (in direct contradiction of text v) a sacrament for the dying.



B.   The Holy Mass


In this section we shall (continue to) examine the Council’s teaching on the Holy Mass, beginning by briefly sketching its historical background.



Historical Background  [2]


Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB

The 19th century had seen Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB initiate the ‘Liturgical Movement’ as a return to the traditional Roman liturgy in the context of the monastic life, making its abundant treasures available for the Church. In the first years of the 20th century, St. Pius X built upon this sure foundation to make a number of dispositions regarding the Holy Eucharist, the catechism, and the breviary.


The movement was however eclipsed by another liturgical movement, of Modernist inspiration, anti-Roman and independent of, and often contrary to, the indications of the Holy See. After exegesis, the liturgy was the principal field in which Modernism worked. Its proponents held that religious experience should be first expressed in the liturgy and only thereafter in dogmatic formulae.


Dom Lambert Beauduin OSB

The new movement is considered to have been born in 1909 with an address held at Malines by Dom Lambert Beauduin OSB of the Abbey of Mont-César in Belgium, its principal interpreter. Here he presented a new concept of the liturgy, which was to be taken up by his associates and successors, which was to find its way into the conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium and be applied to the new Rite of Mass. The concept was that of communitarianism. He claimed that liturgical assemblies had lost such a character, becoming reduced to mere exercises of private and interior devotion. He called for a ‘democratisation’ of the liturgy, and for an ‘active participation of the faithful’. In addition he saw liturgical action as a method of asceticism and spirituality. Amongst his admirers was the Oratorian, Father Giulio Bevilacqua, who gave Giovanni Battista Montini his liturgical formation.

Pope PaulVI nominates 
Fr. Giulio Bevilacqua Cardinal

The starting point of the liturgical movement in Germany is considered to be the celebration of a ‘Communitarian Mass’ in 1921 in the crypt of the Benedictine monastery Maria Laach in the Rhine. Amongst the priests connected with the movement in Germany were its monk Father Odo Casel and Father Romano Guardini. In 1923 the Augustinian Canon Dom Pius Parsch began to celebrate a Mass versus populum in his monastery of Klosterneuburg near Vienna, translating the liturgical texts into German. In his principal work Volksliturgie (1940) he advocated the idea of a ‘popular liturgy’, taken up by Father Joseph Jungmann SJ, a liturgy intended to ‘horizontalise’ the vertical relation with God. Those who attended the first Masses at Klosterneuburg came from the ‘biblical movement’, which, both in Germany and in Belgium, flowed into the liturgical movement. Mgr. Eugenio Pacelli in 1929 as Nuntius to Germany, and then in the 1930’s as Cardinal Secretary of State, criticised such practices for ‘exaggerating the value of the liturgy, desiring almost to substitute exterior forms to the essential content of the Catholic Faith.’ 

Father Odo Casel

The new ideas had unfortunate consequences in the spiritual, pastoral and ecclesiological domains. The reformers tended to cancel the substantial difference between the sacramental priesthood and the common, spiritual priesthood of the laity so as to seem to attribute some sort of genuine priesthood to the community; they insinuated the idea of ‘concelebration’ between priest and people; they promoted ‘active participation’ by dialoguing with the celebrant to the exclusion of any other legitimate form of personal assistance at the Mass; they favoured the reduction of altar to table; they opposed personal piety and devotions towards the Blessed Eucharist, Our Lady and the saints, as well as to traditional spirituality and morality in general. In a word they sought to adapt the doctrine and structure of the Church to the modern age.

Father Romano Guardini

The Liturgical Movement developed in Belgium thanks to the Action catholique, the founder of which was a friend of the Abbey of Mont-César. Toward the end of the Second World War a liturgical institute in Paris and another in Trier contacted the same Abbey and organized a private meeting at Maria Laach, in the absence of any representative of the Roman hierarchy, to discuss the question of a radical reform of the Mass. Father Jungmann, as guide of the German branch of the movement, suggested structural changes to the Canon itself.

Dom Pius Parsch

In 1947 Pope Pius XII promulgated the encyclical Mediator Dei, intending thereby to correct the deviations of the Liturgical Movement. Around the same time, however, under the influence of his confessor, Father (later Cardinal) Bea, he agreed that the Biblical Movement should carry out a work of liturgical reform, already initiated by a translation of the psalms into ‘Ciceronian’ Latin by the same Father Bea. The only explanation for the Pope giving permission for two such great blows to Tradition can be the spirit of perfectionism which characterized his personality, combined with the diminishing powers of his mind and body.


Father Joseph Jungmann S.J.

In 1948 a Commission was nominated for the liturgical reform with Father Annibale Bugnini as its secretary. For the next 12 years it reformed all the liturgical books, including the divine office and the liturgy of Holy Week. The reform of Holy Week has been described as being permeated by a mixture of rationalism, archeologism and fantasy.


Father Louis Bouyer

In 1954 the ex-Lutheran minister Father Louis Bouyer of the Congregation of the Oratory published the work ‘Liturgical Piety’ in which he presented the Mass as ‘assembly-supper’ in the words of Fr. Anthony Cekada. One Father Didier Bonneterre calls the publication of this work a decisive stage in the history of the Liturgical movement: ‘the movement removes its mask’ [3]. In conclusion, then, we see the Liturgical Movement introduce a concept of communitarianism comprising the active participation of the people and the undue elevation of their common priesthood, together with the devaluation of the sacramental priesthood, piety and adoration: in fine a shift from God to man in the best Protestant tradition. At the same time we see the rising of the dark star of Mgr. Bugnini into the vault of the neo-modernist heavens.   

Father Anthony Cekada (R.I.P. 2020) 
author of 
'Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI'

The liturgical neo-modernists present at the Council were not to shrink from inhumanity in the implementation of their agenda. When Cardinal Ottaviani, in an impassioned address against what he saw as the Liturgical Revolution being orchestrated by the Fathers, exceeded the ten minutes allotted for speakers, Cardinal Alfrink rang the bell, but he continued to speak nonetheless. The same Cardinal thereupon ordered that the microphone be switched off, with the result that the elderly and nearly blind Curia Cardinal, one of the greatest dignitaries present, was reduced to silence and stumbled back to his seat, humiliated before the entire aula. ‘…The Council Fathers clapped with glee’, reported Father Wiltgen [4], which Monsignor Helder Câmara was pleased to interpret as ‘the Spirit of the Council’ [5], while the journalist Xavier Rynne interpreted his subsequent two week absence from the Council as the consequence of feeling ‘insulted.’  So were the Old Guard ridiculed by the Modernists, as though representing an antiquated, excessively rigorous Catholicism well on the path to extinction.

‘… Rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis.’  Catullus

('And let us value all the murmurings of the over-severe old men at one brass farthing.')

Monsignor Helder Camara 

Nor did the liberals shrink at deceit. Cardinal Heenan writes: ‘The bishops were under the impression that the liturgy had been fully discussed. In retrospect it is clear that they were given the opportunity of discussing only general principles. Subsequent changes were more radical than those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the liturgy. His sermon at the end of the First Session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts’ [6].

Archbishop Anninbale Bugnini, 
the architect of the Novus Ordo Mass

     Analysis of the Texts


The following Council texts on the Mass manifest strong Protestant influence, both directly, and indirectly through the Liturgical Movement just described. We shall consider:


1.     the Vision of the Mass as the Paschal Mystery,

2.     the Vision of the Mass as an Assembly;

3.     the Undue Elevation of the Sacred Scriptures;

4.     Dispositions for Liturgical Reform.




1.     The Vision of the Mass as the Paschal Mystery


i) ‘At the last supper… our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice… to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross…, and so to entrust to… the church a memorial of his death and resurrection… a paschal banquet…’ (SC 47);


ii) ‘… the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows.’ (SC 10);


iii) ‘… the church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day… For on this day Christ’s faithful are bound to come together so that, by hearing the word of God and taking part in the Eucharist, they may commemorate the suffering, resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God…’ (SC 106);


iv) ‘… by Baptism men and women are implanted in the paschal mystery of Christ… the church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery’ (SC 6);


v) ‘[The catechumens…] celebrate with the whole people of God the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection’ (Ad Gentes 14);



The Council of Trent declares (S. 22, can1): ‘If any-one says that in the Mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God… Anathema sit.’ The Mass is therefore correctly referred to as a ‘sacrifice’ in text (i) and subsequently also in SC 49 and elsewhere; it is also correctly described as the ‘summit’ and ‘source’ of the Church’s activity in the much quoted text (ii).


And yet in text (iii) it is also described as a ‘paschal mystery’. Judging by what is said of the ‘paschal mystery’ in text (iii) & (iv), as well as the related term ‘paschal banquet’ in text (i), we can conclude that this term signifies the conjunction of the occurrences of the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, or more fully, of His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension: a conjunction of occurrences into which we are envisaged as entering by Baptism and celebrating in the Mass.


In reply, it is true that we commemorate the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Our Lord in the Holy Mass, but this commemoration does not of itself constitute the Mass. What constitutes the Mass is the making present only of the death of Our Lord: the four particulars are commemorated, but only the death is made present. We may express this fact alternatively by saying that all the four particulars are commemorated, but only the death is commemorated in a way that makes it present.


Furthermore, in texts (i), (iii) and (v) the nature of the Mass is expressed also in terms of the commemoration of the paschal mystery, in text (iii) also as thanksgiving, in text (i) also as a banquet. These terms correspond variously to the Protestant view of the Mass as a memorial, an offering (merely) of thanks and praise, and a meal. Here the finalities of expiation and propitiation are omitted contrary to the anathema of the Council of Trent (s.22 c.3).


In text (v) the Council presents the Mass, just as the Liturgical Movement had done so previously,

as a celebration of the people, where the distinction between the sacramental and common, spiritual priesthood is implicitly blurred. 


The Protestant disfavor for the sacrificial nature of the Mass is seen in all these ways.



2.        The Assembly


i) ‘… the eucharistic celebration (Eucharistica Synaxis) is the centre of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence the priest teaches the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their lives.’ (Presbyterorum Ordinis 5).


ii) ‘It must be emphasised that rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately. This applies with special force to the celebration of Mass (even though every Mass has of itself a public and social character)…’ (SC 27).


iii) ‘The Council has… decided to extend permission for concelebration [for] Holy Thursday, … Masses during councils, bishops’ conferences and synods… in addition with the permission of the Ordinary… at conventual Mass, and at the principal Mass in churches, when the needs of the faithful do not require that all the priests available should celebrate individually, at Mass celebrated at any kind of meeting of priests, secular or religious…’ (SC 57).



The Mass in text (i) is described as an ‘assembly’ (or ‘Eucharistic Synaxis’), rather than as a sacrifice, although the word ‘sacrifice’ figures later in the sentence, without any explanation, however, of how the ‘sacrifice’ should relate to the ‘assembly’.


We here make two criticisms: first metaphysical, then theological. The metaphysical error consists in attributing to one given thing two distinct natures. If the Mass is an assembly, it is not a sacrifice; if it is a sacrifice, it is not an assembly. An orange is an orange: it is not a lemon.


The theological error consists in describing the Mass as an ‘assembly’. This corresponds to the Protestant heresy that the Eucharist is a communal gathering rather than a sacramental sacrifice. The heresy was re-proposed by the Liturgical Movement in their ‘communitarian’ vision of the Mass, and more explicitly by Fr. Louis Bouyer, as we have seen above.           .     


The Mass according to text (ii) is ‘meant to be celebrated in common’, and is accredited with a public and social character. And yet the Mass is communal, public, and social essentially as an action in the name and for the benefit of the whole Church: of all Her members: angels and men, living and dead; and not in the sense that it necessitates the presence of living faithful. Aversion to the Private Mass was inculcated into the mind of Luther by the devil himself and was expressly condemned by Pope Pius XII (Mediator Dei : 83-84). 

A further distancing from the idea of the sacramental sacrifice is effected by the emphasis given to the common, spiritual priesthood as against the sacramental one. The Council speaks namely of:


a)      the priest who ‘presides’;

b)     the faithful who ‘celebrate’ - and indeed celebrate with ‘the whole people of God’ [7];

c)   the faithful who are taught to offer the victim together with the priest - as though this purely spiritual form of priesthood were the only form of priesthood involved in the Mass.


We have noted how such a heterodox attitude was espoused by the Liturgical Movement and finds its expression in text 1 (v) above.    


Owing to the alleged public and social character of the Mass, it is clearly preferable in Council thinking that it should be concelebrated rather than celebrated individually, unless an individual celebration is required by the faithful. In view of the public character attributed to the Mass and of the multiple occasions for which concelebration is permitted in text (iii), one may conclude that concelebration is motivated negatively by the avoidance of private Masses, and positively by the clergy’s convenience.


There are two shortcomings to the concelebration advocated above: first, that it expresses less clearly the sacrificial nature of the Mass since the priest’s action in persona Christi is not manifest where there is more than one celebrant; and secondly, and more importantly, the Graces from the concelebrated Mass are less than those that would have flowed from the Masses which could have been celebrated by each of the assisting priests individually. The theological ground for this is that the Graces that flow from any given Mass are those that flow from the Principal Celebrant who is Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: This is true whether there is one, or more than one, human celebrant.



3.        The Undue Elevation of the Sacred Scriptures


We have shown above how the Council opened itself up to the Protestant heresy of Sola Scriptura outside the Mass. Here we shall see how it unduly elevates the Scriptures within the Mass.


i) ‘The Church has always venerated the divine scriptures as it has venerated the Body of the Lord […by offering the bread of life… ] from the one table of the word of God and the Body of Christ.’ (DV 21);


ii) ‘[Christ] is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in church… In the liturgy the sanctification of women and men is given expression in symbols…’ (SC 7);


iii) ‘[In] the liturgy of the word… there is an indivisible unity between the proclamation of the Lord’s death and resurrection, the response of the hearers and the offering itself by which Christ confirmed the new covenant in his blood. In this offering the faithful share both by their prayer and by the reception of the sacrament.’ (PO 4).


The Word of God in text (i) is given a status equivalent to the Body of Christ in accord with the erroneous Protestant opinion of Word and Sacrament; whereas of course God’s presence is only virtual in the Word but substantial in the Body of Christ. To say moreover, in text (ii), that Christ Himself speaks through the Word, effectively elevates the proclamation of the Scriptures to the level of an action in persona Christi: to the level of the pronouncement of the words of consecration. The word of God in the Mass is correspondingly presented as possessing a directly sanctifying, and even in text (iii) some kind of mystical, effect on the faithful. The Council hereby exhibits that ‘cult’ to the Scriptures that it is pleased to attribute to the non-Catholics (UR 21).    


[1] condemned by Pope Pius VI – see below in the section on the Mass

[2] RdM I, 4

[3] Father Cekada, Work of Human Hands, p. 32 

[4] MD pjc, p.93â

[5] RdM p.245

[6] A Crown of Thorns (London 1974), p.367 quoted in MD rl p. 142

[7] a phrase which, as we have seen above in the historical introduction to the chapter on Ecumenism, was used by the ‘World Council of Churches’ to refer to a notional church consisting of a conflation of all Christian confessions