April 3, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Missae. Following is the letter of Mgr. Bernard Fellay to the Friends and Benefactors of the Society (#56). Though written 20 years ago, it retains much topicality.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
A few weeks ago a young priest who had only known the New Mass celebrated for the first time the Tridentine Mass in one of our priories. After his thanksgiving, a colleague asked him for his first impressions: "This Mass is sacred, mysterious, full of grace. The other Mass is empty".
Another young priest, attending the Tridentine Mass for the first time, cried out "We have been deceived for 30 years".
Thirty years of the Novus Ordo Missae, thirty years of emptiness! An emptiness which has emptied out Catholicism, emptying out the churches and often people's faith. Without any doubt, a major cause of the appalling crisis the Church is going through must be the loss of the spirit of faith and the spirit of sacrifice, each mainly brought about by the Novus Ordo Missae.
The innovators wanted a New Mass corresponding to the spirit of the Council, an adaptation to the spirit of the world, a lever to push forward ecumenism. Undeniably the most effective means of inserting the spirit of the Council into the life of the Church has been the New Mass. One may say that the introduction of the New Mass has achieved its purpose, to the great misfortune of our holy Mother Church. We cannot agree with those who would blame the disaster only on the abuses.
Archbishop Lefebvre wrote in 1980:
To the authorities in Rome we have always stated that we considered the Novus Ordo Missae to be dangerous for the faith of priests and people, and so it would be unthinkable for us to gather seminarians together and form them around the altar of this New Mass. Experience is proving us right. The sense of the faith amongst the people, wherever it is not yet corrupted, approves wholeheartedly of what we are doing, even amongst Catholics no longer practicing the faith. I would go so far as to say that anyone who still has a little common sense encourages and congratulates us. What is a society or a family without any past, or tradition? In which case, what can the Church be, that is nothing other than Tradition?
Twenty years after Archbishop Lefebvre wrote these words, the state of the Church confirms his analysis a thousand times over. It would be an over-simplification to reduce the Church's crisis merely to a question of the Mass. However, the Mass is a central pivot of that crisis, being the carrier of a new spirit which breaks with the spirit of the Church. The spirit the Church is a spirit of adoring the one true God to Whom is due all honor and glory; it is spirit of sacrifice, of partaking in the sacrifice of the High Priest and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ; it is a supernatural spirit of faith and love which makes us see, as God Himself sees, the realities of the world and God, sin and salvation, as they truly are.
In the same text quoted above, the Archbishop also said:
We should not be surprise if, in the storm devastating the Church, the frail Society of St. Pius X should also be undergoing violent attacks. On the one side it gets attacked for being too much opposed to the Council and to Rome, too attached to Tradition, in dogma and the liturgy, too set against the Conciliar reforms and ecumenism, etc.... On the other side it gets attacked for keeping on the contrary too close to Rome, which has turned into the seat of the Antichrist, a dependency of Hell, and for opposing too weakly the Conciliar reforms.
To all these attacks we reply with deeds rather than words. For we have a horror of sterile polemics. Our position has always been clear and it has not changed since the Society was founded: we continue to do what the Church has always done and always taught, especially when it comes to the formation of priests.
Church history teaches us how to act in these difficult circumstances, and it teaches us above all to bear in mind that 'Man frets while God leads'. What are we in the hands of God? Nothing! But with nothing He can do anything. An unshakable faith in Jesus Christ is what sustains and inspires us, and nothing else. He holds events in the hollow of His hand and His truth will not perish, even if the enemy has worked his way into the heart of the Vatican.
The Society is meant by God as all its history goes to prove, and all the good that, it has done, all the evil that it has prevented, show where it came from and how it is needed.
Let nobody ask me to change position, be it the authorities in Rome or the partisans of schism. This position did not come from me, it draws its strength from the Church's Truth and Wisdom, from her dogmatic and historical Tradition, from the conduct of the Saints and especially the last two saints who were popes, Pius V and Pius X.
…Let us remain united in our convictions, let us not be deflected by false arguments of disobedience or abstract logic, rather let us keep the solid and simple faith of the just and faithful soul, following the example of Mary and Joseph and all their imitators. (Editorial of the Society's in-house magazine, Cor Unum, February 16, 1980)
Such is still our position today, 19 years later, and with the help of God we mean not to change it. May the abundance of graces connected to the mysteries and ceremonies of Holy Week have strengthened you in the faith and nourished your souls in the love of Our Lord who "did not hesitate to be delivered into the hand's of His enemies, and to undergo the torment of the Cross" (Good Friday prayer).
Always deeply touched by your generosity, from the goodness of God we beg for you an overflowing blessing,
+ Bernard Fellay