EVERYTHING You Do a Sacrifice"
by Michal Semin
In Part 1 of Michal Semin's address to
our Rome Conference in May 2012, he explained that Hell is not empty
and that we must all sacrifice and pray. He gave the inspiring example
of the sacrificial spirit of the three children of Fatima. In Part II,
Mr. Semin continues to explain the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ in
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In this second part of my address, I would like to compare the
Traditional Roman Rite with the new Rite of Pope Paul VI.
Can we, in good conscience, say that they convey the same attitude
towards the meaning of sacrifice?
Do they, in the identical way, express the Catholic teaching defined at
the Council of Trent and reiterated by Pius XII in Mediator Dei?
Cardinal Ottaviani didn't think so when he stated in 1969:
"The Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in
its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the
Mass as it was definitively fixed by the Council of Trent."
Why did he think so? What are the main differences between these two
Rites that confirm the claim
that the meaning of sacrifice and its role has shifted from a central
position to the side?
Well, it 's already the very structure of the Mass. The new Rite
of the Mass is divided into two parts - the Liturgy of the Word and the
Liturgy of the Eucharist. This division gives the impression that the
part of the Mass before the Offertory is somehow independent and
can exist without the second part, on its own; that these two parts are
separable and of the same value.
In fact, there are many parishes in Europe and perhaps elsewhere too,
where, due to the lack of priests, the faithful in the parishes are
invited to take part in "Liturgies of the Word", presided by a deacon
or a layman. The traditional Roman Missal has no
such division, for all of its prayers and sacred gestures are oriented
towards the propitiatory sacrifice, to the moment of Consecration.
In the Traditional Rite, the priest comes to the foot of the altar
stairs and stands facing the altar - which represents Our Lord - and
prays Introibo ad altare Dei,
followed by the Penitential Psalm Judica
me, arousing in his heart a spirit of repentance, awareness of
unworthiness and need of atonement for his own sins and the sins of the
present faithful. This Rite of the priest's cleansing comes from the
Old Testament liturgy where the priest of the Temple - before he walked
into the Holy of Holies - ritually cleansed himself.
The beginning of the Holy Mass at the foot of the altar steps - the
priest doesn't come bowing to the congregation - symbolizes climbing
up Mount Calvary, from which, after offering the Sacrifice, the graces
flow into the whole Church. The penitential nature of the opening
prayers is confirmed and crowned by a dual Confiteor - dual because the
priest and the faithful are not equal in offering the Sacrifice - a
fact that is not reflected in the New Mass having just a single
Also, the Kyrie Eleison is a
penitential prayer so it is completely
senseless to consider all these prayers as a preparation for the
reading from the Bible or as an instruction of the faithful.
Traditional Holy Scripture Is Understood Differently In the New
Even the reading from Holy Scriptures is, in the Traditional
understood differently from the way it is approached in the modern
liturgy - the Epistle is read facing the altar (Christ), the Gospel is
read facing North, because North represents pagan lands and the
dominion of demons. Reading the Gospel, in this sense, is a kind of an
exorcism - which is at the end of the Gospel - reflected by the words
of the priest: "By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out."
The shift from Sacrifice to meal is even more clear and transparent in
the changes of prayers made in the Offertory, or, rather, the change in
the very nature of the Offertory itself.
According to the Catholic Faith and related liturgical tradition of the
Church, the offering subject and offered object is Our Lord Jesus
Christ. That is why the prayers contained in the traditional Offertory
presuppose the presence of Our Lord as the true and only Victim, the
Eucharistic presence. The Offertory prayers anticipate Consecration.
They do not mention bread; they use the term Victim-Hostia, Spotless
Host, although it is not consecrated yet.
Along with the actions of the priest, this prayer makes it clear that
what is offered at the Holy Mass is the "Spotless Host" - that is, the
Spotless Victim. The propitiatory (atoning) nature of the Mass is
explicit - it is offered for our sins. It reminds us that the Mass is
offered "for the living and the dead"; and the priest who offers the
Sacrifice is a mediator between man and God.
Out of 12 Traditional Offertory Prayers 2 Remain in the New Mass
From the twelve Offertory prayers in the Traditional Rite, only two are
retained in the New Rite of Mass. And
of interest is the fact that the
deleted prayers are the same ones that Luther and Cranmer eliminated.
[Emphasis added.] And why did they eliminate them? Because, as Luther said, they "smacked
of sacrifice - the abomination called the Offertory, and from this
point on almost everything stinks of oblation." [Ibid.]
The New Rite of Mass doesn't even use the term Offertory anymore; it
calls this part of Mass "preparation of gifts". And within this part of
the New Rite there is not a single Word which even hints that it is the
Divine Victim which is offered. The bread and wine - "the work of human
hands" - is all that is offered.
Michael Davies, who had a close relationship with Cardinal Ratzinger,
points out that this concept is fully compatible with the Teilhardian
theory that human effort, the work of human hands, becomes, in a
certain way, the matter of the Sacrament.
Then we have the changes in the very heart of the Holy Mass - in the
Canon. The second Eucharistic prayer is famous for the absence of
preparation prayers for the Consecration and the words of Consecration,
the Institution Narrative. The priest says these words as if he was
merely retelling the story of the Last Supper some 2,000 years ago,
instead of actually consecrating the bread and wine in the here and now.
Besides all these changes in the prayers of the Mass - the most
profound change indicating the shift from Sacrifice towards a
congregational meal is the change in the priest's orientation during
His Position no longer symbolizes the fact that he is an intermediary
between God and man, as in the Traditional Mass - where he faces the
Tabernacle, but he is now the "president" of an assembly, presiding at
the table around which the faithful are to gather and "refresh"
themselves at the "memorial supper." (All these phrases are from the
General Instruction.) We all can share plenty of stories about the
destruction of the traditional altars in churches all over the world
and their replacement by tables. Again - the nature of the Mass moves
from Sacrifice to meal.
I do not doubt the validity of the New Mass, but how can one not
conclude from these changes that there is something seriously wrong
about it? I do not doubt that there are many devout priests and laymen
assisting at the New Mass, but their faith in the sacrificial nature of
the Holy Mass and thus the Catholic religion as a whole is well and
alive - no thanks to the liturgical so-called reform, but despite it.
From a historical perspective, we see that the post-Conciliar
liturgical changes are similar, if not identical, to those which the
founders of Protestantism were bringing to life — Mass as an
assembly with presider, the shift from Sacrifice to meal, laymen taking
over specifically priestly functions, narrative nature of consecration,
priest facing the people, etc.
The Protestant inspiration in creating the New Rite of Mass was
confirmed by a dose friend of Pope Paul VI, Jean Guitton:
"The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the
Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should
almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy — but what is curious is
that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant
Lord's supper ... there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to
remove, or least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too
Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass, and, I repeat, to get
the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist service."
Sacrificial Mentality and Priestly Vocations
Not being a priest, I do not want to dwell excessively on the matters
that are mostly related to the priestly life, but allow me to mention
my concern, that the lack of sacrificial mentality in the New Liturgy
might affect the very identity of the priesthood. I am not here to
teach you, dear Fathers, because I am sure you not only know it, but
live it, that the life of the priest is defined and also nurtured by
sacrifice, both at the altar and in his ministry outside of liturgy.
Our Lord, Who is the Highest Priest, gives the example — He gave His
Own life for our eternal salvation. The priests of His Church are to
follow Him and lay down their lives for the entrusted flock.
Am I too daring to make a connection between the repression of the
sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass and the lack of priestly vocations?
Or the rise of the violation of the celibate life — as the vow of
celibacy cannot be fulfilled without sacrificing the good of matrimony
for a higher one?
A priest gives up the goods of marital life so that he can be an alter
Christus, a second Christ, a mediator between God and men. The
for celibacy is not only that the priest has more time for pastoral
work (practical reasons), but because he is unifying himself with the
celibate living Christ, the High-Priest, for offering the most Holy
Sacrifice, for which he has to be ritually clean.
Everything the priest does as a priest is in some way oriented towards
the altar and Our Lord's sacrifice, the font of all graces. It is from
his service at the altar that he receives his priestly dignity, not
from playing guitar or football with the youth. And when he is at the
altar, he is not there to concoct some creative liturgies, expressing
his own personality, but to conform to Christ and act in His person.
How well this is reflected in the fixed rubrics of the
Sacrificial Mentality and Lay People and Marriage
But, obviously, the life of sacrifice is not exclusively reserved for
the priests. Also we, laymen, are obliged to follow the example of Our
Savior. How does the calling to live a sacrificial life usually
manifest itself in the life of a family? In the generous acceptance of
children, the willingness to have a much larger family than is the norm
in the contemporary contraceptive societies of the modern world.
Today the definition of a "good life" is based on one's
and career building. Today the "good life" is the mere enjoyment of
life without respect to the supernatural final goal of human life, or
the needs of others. Unfortunately, even Catholics are not immune from
succumbing to such a lifestyle.
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The Loss of the Sense of Sacrifice
Contraception, the symbol of modern hedonism and thus the loss of sense
for sacrifice, is widespread in the post-Conciliar Church. But even
among those who object to the use of artificial contraception and
abortion and who promote natural family planning, we encounter an
effort neutralizing the clear teaching of Pius XII on the conditioned
lawfulness of this method of spacing children.
Knowing NFP literature and having taken part years ago in a NFP course,
I do not recall any specific consideration for the explicit medical,
social or economic conditions under which the married couple is
allowed to enjoy the marital act with the expected sterility of that
Although many Catholics in general keep having more children than one
or two, the unwillingness to have more children is leading the
nominally Christian nations of Europe into extinction. Their
demographic future is very bleak and, barring a miracle, they, in the
course of a few decades, will be subjected to alien cultures and
Spain and Italy - the two most important countries of Christendom -
along with France, have a total fertility rate of 1.29 children per
woman. That is less than European Protestant, and thus
contraception-friendly, countries of the North! As we know, 2.1 is the
replacement level. I just don't see how it is possible to call these
nominally Catholic countries Catholic at all!
Another bitter fruit of the lost sense for sacrifice is the omnipresent
breakdown of marital fidelity. The divorce rates in most nominally
Christian countries are increasing, as is the number of annulments in
the case of Catholic couples.
"In the context of a divorce mentality, even canonical annulment cases
can be easily misunderstood, as if they weren't anything more than ways
to obtain a divorce with the blessing of the Church."
Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative
Texts, said this to the media two years ago when the Vatican issued a
critical note about the sharp rise of annulments in USA. And he is
perfectly right - I have met a good number of modern-minded Catholics
who don't see any difference. They see it as a divorce for Catholics,
which is similar to their view of non-restricted use of NFP -
contraception for Catholics.
Along with the new and modern concepts of priesthood, the decline of
number of children in Catholic families is the chief cause of the lack
of priestly and religious vocations. Large families are always -
especially if they experience some hardship and discomfort - a school
of selflessness and service to others. On the contrary, the modern
model of one child per family - that exists for the pleasure of his
parents - does not provide a sufficient environment for learning any
positive social skills.
Large Catholic Families Provide Good Vocations
On January 20, 1958, at an audience for the Italian Association for
Large Families, Pius XII stressed the importance of the ideal of large
Catholic families for providing a good environment for vocations:
"All of these precious benefits will be more solid and permanent, more
intense and more fruitful if the large family takes the supernatural
spirit of the Gospel, which spiritualizes everything and makes it
eternal, as its own particular guiding rule and basis. Experience shows
that, in these cases, God often goes beyond the ordinary gifts of
Providence, such as joy and peace, to bestow on it a special call - a
vocation to the priesthood, to the religious life, to the highest
"With good reason, it has often been pointed out that large families
have been in the forefront as the cradles of Saints. We might cite,
among others, the family of, St. Louis, the King of France, made up of
ten children; that of St. Catherine of Siena, who came from a family of
twenty-five; St. Robert Bellarmine from a family of twelve; and St.
Pius X from a family of ten."
"Every vocation is a secret of Providence; but these cases prove that
having a large number of children does not prevent parents from giving
them an outstanding and perfect upbringing; and they show that the
number does not work out to the disadvantage of their quality, with
regard to either physical or spiritual values."
The gradual loss of the sense of Our Lord 's propitiatory sacrifice on
the Cross and its re-presentation on the Catholic altars all around the
world leads to
another serious effect - a weakening of the awareness of our own
sinfulness, the need of our conversion, penance and offering reparation
for our sins. It is for these sins of ours that Our Lord suffered and
died a brutal death; we are guilty of the pains He had to bear.
The Passion and the sacrificial action of Our Lord makes us aware of
the venom, the darkness of sin; the infinite offense of the limitless
holiness of God. It is for our sins that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass
is offered today so that we may benefit from Christ's merits and come
to understand the great price Our Lord paid for our redemption.
Our Need for Conversion
The muffled, the inhibited aspect of propitiation in the New Rite leads
to the total unawareness of our sinfulness and the nature of sin and
also to the serious decrease in the number of confessions. Many priests
stopped preaching about the nature of sin - saying that it insults God
- about mortal sins that deprive men of the sanctifying grace, closing
the gates of Heaven to them.
More than the necessity of our reconciliation with God, we hear about
reconciling with ourselves, with
accepting ourselves as we are, without any call for penance and
conversion of our hearts.
I do not know the situation in other countries, but in the
German-speaking area the practice of individual confessions is pretty
rare. A Czech traditional priest, stationed in Austria, told me
recently that he knows parish priests in Austria and Germany who didn't
't have a single confessing parishioner in the course of the whole year!
The Old Mass Conveys Better the Sacrificial Nature of the Catholic
From what was said so far, I hope it is clear what I wanted to convey.
The Traditional Liturgy expresses much more clearly than the New Rite -
which even Pope Benedict XVI calls a
"banal product of the moment" -
our sinfulness and the need for our redemption. [Ibid.]
I once met a lady, who told me that at the occasion of her first
presence at the Traditional Latin Mass, she wasn't able to receive
Holy Communion. When I asked her why, she replied: "I would have
had to go to Confession first!" Something she had never thought about
The way we pray, the way we believe - the way we live. It's that very
Fatima Gives Us a Better Understanding of Living a Life of Sacrifice
The Fatima Message leads us towards a more thorough understanding of
the necessity of living a life of sacrifice. The Holy Mass, being the
center and summit of our lives, regardless of being priests or laymen,
must teach us the right lesson - that sacrifice is the means to our
redemption and salvation. If it fails to convey this message, then
there is something seriously wrong about it.
We, as faithful Catholics, must do as much as we can to build our lives
upon healthy and firm foundations and avoid everything that weakens
them. It's not a matter of choice, it 's our duty.
All of us present at this conference take the Fatima Message seriously
and want to live according to it. Not because we somehow like it or
that it fits our subjective preferences, but because it's a message
from Heaven, recognized and promoted by the highest authorities in the
Church; because it is, along with the Mass of Pius V the insurmountable
barrier raised up against all heresies.
The apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima stress the vital importance of
living a life in a sacrificial manner. The Traditional Roman Rite, as
opposed to the Liturgical Reform, embodies this spirit in the most
profound and perfect way. What God hath joined together, let no man put
Taken from Winter
The Fatima Crusader