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Invalidity of the Novus Ordo Missae

A Reply to William Most’s Defense of the Novus Ordo

* This article originally appeared in the Fall 1977 issue (#29) of The Reign of Mary. It was recently reprinted in a special commemorative issue (#100) of the same magazine, along with several other of the most significant articles from the past three decades.



The editor was asked to reply and comment on a series of articles written by William Most, S.J., defending the Novus Ordo Missae against objections. We have taken the liberty to publish portions of the reply in this issue, as it may well serve to answer the questions of many who have doubts on the subject. Most, you see, has for his major premise in his arguments (and he repeats it many times) the assumption that the Teaching Authority of the Church has decided that the Novus Ordo is a valid Mass; as we must obey the Church, he concludes that we must accept the Novus Ordo. All the arguments he adds are merely, by his own admission, to strengthen that just stated and are inconclusive in themselves. Obviously, his arguments are quite strong against the pseudo-conservatives who accept the authority of Paul VI and the heretical bishops who have no authority whatsoever. We, in this publication and in others on our booklist, have shown conclusively that Montini was ineligible for the Papacy due to his earlier heresies. All that remains for us is to refute Most’s backup arguments and, in so doing, to bring up some important proof that the Novus Ordo is invalid.

The Words of Consecration: What is Essential?

Most argues that since the words “for many” are omitted in the accounts of the Last Supper given in the Gospel of St. Luke and in the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, and are also lacking in the writings of some early Church Fathers on the Mass, these words must not be essential in the words of Consecration (the form of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). Now, in fact, none of the Gospels, Epistles, or the writings quoted by Most state any intention of giving the precise words of the Consecration (although the fact that St. Matthew and St. Mark do have the words “for many” proves conclusively that Our Lord actually spoke them).

What really matters, though, is the Church’s teaching on the forms of the Sacraments. Put very simply, the Church teaches that both the matter and form of any Sacrament must signify what the Sacrament effects. This doctrine is explained and practically applied in the Bull of Pope Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae (on the Invalidity of Anglican Orders):

“All know that the sacraments of the New Law, as sensible and efficient signs of invisible grace, ought both to signify the grace they effect, and effect the grace they signify. Although the signification ought to be found in the whole essential rite — that is to say, in the matter and form — it still pertains chiefly to the form... the words which until recently were commonly held by Anglicans to constitute the proper form of priests Ordination — namely, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost,’ certainly do not in the least definitely express the Sacred Order of the Priesthood, or its grace and power... That form consequently cannot be considered apt or sufficient for the sacrament which omits what it ought essentially to signify.”

Actually, the matter was settled long ago when the Church defined, the Decree to the Jacobites (to be quoted later) and in the De Defectibus Decree, that the form of the Holy Eucharist is the full form as given in the Missale Romanum. Concerning the form it states:

“Defects may arise in respect of the form, if anything is wanting to complete the actual words of the consecration. The words of consecration, which are the formative principle of this Sacrament, are as follows: ‘For this is My Body,’ and ‘For this is the Chalice of My Blood of the New and Everlasting Testament; the Mystery of Faith, which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.’ If any omission or alteration is made in the formula of consecration of the Body and Blood, involving a change of meaning, the consecration is invalid. An addition made without altering the meaning does not invalidate the consecration, but the celebrant commits a grave sin.”

Thus, to omit the word “for” (enim) does not involve a change of meaning, but this is not the case with other words, and especially, “which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.” For these words clearly signify the grace which is conferred. On the contrary, the words, “For this is the Chalice of My Blood,” standing alone, do not signify the conferring of the grace of the Sacrament.

“Many” vs. “All”

That which is really in question in regard to the Novus Ordo is whether the change from “for many” to “for all men” involves a change of meaning or not. Most argues it does not. He reasons that the Greek word “polloi,” used by the Evangelists in the accounts of the Last supper (meaning “for many”), is used in other parts of Scripture to mean “all of a large group” (or “all who are many,” as Most puts it); thus, to translate it “for all” is really the same as “for many.”

But, if we examine the actual usage in the Novus Ordo, we find “for all men” in English. We do not find “for all who are many,” but “for all men,” period. Now by no stretch of the imagination can “for all men” mean the same as “for many” or even “for all who are many.” The last two phrases refer to the members of a large exclusive group; “for all men” is exclusive of no one. “For all men” is the official English translation of the Vatican II church.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent explains why “for many,” i.e., the exclusive group, must be used:

“Looking to the efficacy of the Passion, we believe that the Redeemer shed His Blood for the salvation of all men; but looking to the advantages which mankind derive from its efficacy, we find, at once, that they are not extended to the whole, but to a large proportion of the human race... With great propriety, therefore, were the words, ‘for all,’ not used, because here (in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist) the fruit of the Passion is alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation.”

Thus, the “many” are those who actually receive the fruit of the Holy Eucharist and the Mass; for the Mass is the unbloody renewal of Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary. (We refer the reader to the article, Res Sacramenti, by Patrick Henry Omlor).

Now it becomes even more obvious that “for all men” bears no relation to the effect of the Sacrament; all men’s souls do not receive the fruit of the Passion. Here is a clear illustration from another Sacrament: if a priest were to say, in baptizing an infant, “I baptize all men, in the Name of the Father, etc.,” even though he had the right intention, would the Baptism be valid? Assuredly not, and Most would be the first to say so. This point should be obvious then: in the Novus Ordo, the words “for all men” do not signify those for whom the Holy Eucharist effects grace; thus, for this defect alone, it is invalid.

Intention of the Priest: To Offer Sacrifice

To the editor’s thinking, the most damning evidence against the Novus Ordo is its official definition: “The Lord’s Supper or Mass is a sacred meeting or assembly of the People of God, met together under the presidency of the priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord (No. 7, Institution Generalis, c. 2: De Structura Missae).”

Most claims that he can show us the references to sacrifice in the Novus Ordo, few though they may be. But in the Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae (submitted by Cardinal Ottaviani to Paul VI as a protest against the New Mass), there is asked, “Which sacrifice is referred to? Who is the offerer?” No answer is given to either of these questions.

Let us examine these few references to the “Eucharistic Prayers.” In Prayer I (called the “Roman canon” because it is the least heretical), there are about a half dozen references to sacrifice of some sort. But what sort of sacrifice is it one of propitiation for sins, which the true Mass must be? Assuredly not; there is not one mention of the remission of sins. In Eucharistic Prayer II there is only, “... we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup.” In Eucharistic Prayer III, which sounds like a Baptist service, the “offering” has already “reconciled” us to the Father. It has already “made our peace” with God. Is this a sacrifice of propitiation? It is not; it is a Protestant “salvation rally.” Eucharistic Prayer IV is even worse; now, the “sacrifice” brings “salvation to the whole world” (to “all men”).

If a priest intends to offer a “memorial” instead of a Sacrifice of propitiation, his intention is invalid. In Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XIII taught:

“...if the rite [in this case, of the Mass and Holy Eucharist] be changed, with the manifest intention of introducing another rite not approved by the Church and of rejecting what the Church does, and what by institution of Christ belongs to the nature of the Sacrament, then it is clear that not only is the necessary intention wanting to the sacrament, but that the intention is adverse to and destructive of the Sacrament.”

Pope Eugene IV

Most states that Pope Eugene IV “ordered the words ‘pro multis’ inserted in the words of consecration.” He reasons that they must have been frequently omitted before, but asks, “Did Christ so desert His Church as to let many Masses be invalid before the 15th century and Pope Eugene?” This is a clever bit of sophistry. For Eugene IV did not order these words inserted in the Catholic Mass, but rather issued these decrees in union with the Council of Florence, to the schismatic Greeks, Armenians and Jacobites. These decrees (particularly those to the Jacobites) demand that these schismatics be questioned as to their orthodoxy in a number of areas before they could be reconciled to the true Church. In fact, the Decree to the Jacobites defined:

“In the consecration of the Body of the Lord is used this form of words: ‘For this is My Body’; but for the Blood: ‘For this is the chalice of My Blood, of the New and Everlasting Testament; the Mystery of Faith, which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.’”


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