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Promoting a Peacenik Liturgy

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Since the new Mass of Paul VI was imposed de facto (but never legally) upon the Church, we have heard the Mass described as everything but what it primarily is: a propitiatory sacrifice of the Son to the Father, presenting again on the altar of God (but not repeating) the sacrifice on Calvary, so that sins may be forgiven and favors obtained for the whole world.

On May 20, 2005, Zenit news reported that "the liturgy is an important school for education in peace, according to a document to be published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace." According to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the council, "the document will be the result of a seminar held in the Vatican on ‘Peace and Liturgy: An Itinerary of Search,’ organized by the council in collaboration with the Athenaeum of St. Anselm, one of the premier institutions on the study of the liturgy. The seminar's objective was ‘to reflect more profoundly and promote the close relationship that exists between liturgical celebrations and the social and political commitment of peace.’"

In a typical example of postconciliar bomfoggery in Vatican documents, Zenit reports that "the pastoral document, to be written by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will illustrate ‘the liturgical mysteries as events of peace’, said Cardinal Martino. It will present the liturgy, he said, ‘as a great school of peace, capable of forming and educating in peace and as a realm of Christian and communal discernment on responsibilities linked to the promotion of peace.’"

What in Heaven’s name does all this verbiage mean? The Mass that I know  —  which is to say the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic Church of more than 1500 years’ standing  —  has nothing to do with educating people about a "social and political commitment to peace." Rather, the Mass can obtain for us the grace of peace among nations, but only in merit of the sacrifice of Christ and not because of any "education in peace" provided by the text of the Mass liturgy. That is, the Mass is not a device to turn people into peaceniks, but rather to sustain them as members of the Church militant. The only peace worthy of the name comes through the unity of all men in that one true Church, failing which there will always be division and war. For Our Lord Himself declared: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt. 10:34).

This indeed is why Our Lady of Fatima came to call for the conversion of Russia and the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart throughout the world, rather than "education in peace." Peace is a grace, not a subject of study; and that grace, in the end, comes only from adherence to the teaching of the Prince of Peace, whose supreme Sacrifice the Mass is. As Pius XI declared in Ubi Arcano Dei: "We do not need a peace that will consist merely in acts of external or formal courtesy, but a peace which will penetrate the souls of men and which will unite, heal, and reopen their hearts to that mutual affection which is born of brotherly love. The peace of Christ is the only peace answering this description: ‘let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts.’ (Colossians iii, 15)."

The peace of Christ cannot come unless men are Catholics; that is why we pray for the conversion of non-Catholics at Mass, and especially in the liturgy for Good Friday, when the Sacrifice of Mass was consummated. When will the Vatican begin to preach again this simple message? God only knows. But until it does, the crisis in the Church will continue.