Image by jimforest via Flickr1. The first false myth is that the Vatican II Mass arose as something new only after and because of Vatican II. No, the Mass that we inartfully call the "Vatican II Mass" is merely a form of the Mass of all ages, what I call the "Mass of Justin Martyr" who in the second century described the Mass that underlies all forms of the Mass. Please do not take my word or that of anyone else. Take the word of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Mass of all ages
1345 As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;
- the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form "one single act of worship"; the Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.
The Mass of all ages includes a kiss of peace exchanged by the entire assembly. Hmm, doesn't sound Tridentine. The Mass of all ages includes distributing the Eucharist in the forms of both bread and wine. Again, doesn't sound Tridentine. By the way, the Mass of all ages described by Justin Martyr was probably in Greek, not Latin. Justin wrote in Koine Greek, which was the common spoken language (the vernacular) of the eastern Mediterranean. Koine Greek was the vernacular, apparently, even of the Roman Christians at that time, a fact which is consistent with the fact that Paul's Letter to the Romans (circa 56 A.D.) was also written in Greek (see appendix at end of this post). Again, not Tridentine. Yet, what makes the Tridentine Mass itself a Mass to begin with is that it shares the same fundamental structure as the Mass of Justin Martyr. Yet, in my view, the so-called "Mass of Vatican II" more clearly reflects the description of Justin Martyr. That's my judgment as I read the description by Justin quoted in the Catechism.
My suggestion is this plea: stop calling the ordinary form of the Mass that became widespread after Vatican II the "Novus Ordo" because it is not new at all (in addition, it seems that "Novus Ordo" is not used in any official Church document on the liturgy--see link). The ordinary form of the Mass is, in my opinion, best called the "Mass of Justin Martyr" or the "Mass of all ages." Ironically, very ironically given the way many speak, it is the Mass of Justin Martyr that is most traditional.
I will move on to some other false myths about the so-called "Vatican II Mass" in future posts, Lord willing. Let the chips fall where they may. Let the facts carry the day.
Cardinal Arinze notes:
The Church in Rome used Greek from the beginning. Only gradually was Latin introduced until the fourth century when the Church in Rome was definitely latinized (cf. A.G. Martimort: The Dialogue between God and his People, in A.G. Martimort, ed.: The Church at Prayer, Collegeville, 1992, I, p. 161-165).
Source link. See also Catholic Encyclopedia.