From Catholic American Thinker
If we are not a Eucharistic People, are we still Catholic? Restoring Eucharist to the Central Place of Honor, and turning Priests to Ad Orientem, will inevitably lead to Eucharist Rising in the hearts and minds of the Faithful.
You ain't going anywhere without Eucharist, buddy.
And that means, first of all, recognizing Him, and acting accordingly.
Those of us born in the 1940s and coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s were catechized and religiously formed in the Latin Mass. We knew Who Eucharist was. He was the central theme in all Catholic Churches, at the focal point of the very architectural design. The Tabernacle on the Altar was where your eyes were drawn when you first walked in. The whole Church was designed to fill the visitor with awe, to silence him, and put him in that special frame of mind that knew it was In The Presence Of Our Lord.
Standing before the Holy Of Holies.
That was then, this is now. We stand in the aftermath of Vatican II and institution of the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI.
Right up to that point, the Catholic Church was vibrant and growing, by leaps and bounds, adding millions to the fold every year. Parishes had multiple priests saying Masses almost round the clock on Sundays and Holy Days, to overflow crowds. Standing-room only on a regular Sunday, let alone Easter or Midnight Mass. New Churches being built everywhere; rocketing numbers of ordinations of Priests and consecrations of Religious.
The most significant thing I remember is the Church always being open, never locked. You could go in there any time, day or night.
Again, that was then, this is now.
A degradation and degeneration of American Culture has accompanied the decline in Catholicism, since then. Now, all doors are always locked, including especially Catholic Churches.
For the absolutely stunning numbers involved in how the Church was prospering and growing before, and how it is dwindling and shrinking after, look at the War Within Catholcism page, and click on the video presentation by Michael Voris.
You will be, or you should be, shocked at the suddenness of it.
Churches are closing and Catholics are leaving the faith, and many more Catholcis who are not converting to any other religion are simply not practicing the faith any more. They never darken any Church doorway except for weddings and funerals, and for them, any other Church is the same as any Catholic Church. They may still call themselves Catholic, but they are actually Practical Atheists, or those who, in the practical world, live and behave as though they were atheists.
We're talking millions here. Tens of millions. We've lost over half of all practicing Catholics since the introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass. And the numbers are still rising, and still going in the wrong direction.
You can't blame Vatican II for all of this decline, although the odd failure of Vatican II to condemn Communism may have allowed and helped Cultural Marxism to advance even within the Church, to the greater degradation and degeneration of all of human society. In the false name of "Progress".
The biggest destructive factor, I believe, is in the sudden changes in the treatment of Eucharist in the Novus Ordo Mass. That, I am convinced, is what did all the massive destruction within the hearts, minds and souls of the Catholic Faithful.
We had the traditional Latin Mass.
And then, one Sunday - Poof!
All these new Altars appeared in Parishes, everywhere, as if by secret plan. It was just, there they suddenly were. The Priest turned around, turning his back on Eucharist, using the new Altar. We had a whole new Liturgy to learn. The Choir left the Choir Loft and came down front, in chairs almost in the Sacred Area, facing the Congregation, as if putting on a show.
Shortly thereafter, the Altar Railing was taken out. We received on our feet, not on our knees.
Shortly thereafter, we received in our hands, of all things.
Shortly thereafter, we received from laymen, not Priests.
All that, I believe, is what did it. Eucharist went from being God, to being a common snack, in the minds of Catholics. Mass had become man centered rather than God centered. People went for what they could get out of it, rather than what they could put into it. The Celebration part of it overwhelmed the Sacraficial part of it, and it almost became a feel-good party-time. Shaking hands all around just before Communion with God, which had been reduced to someone handing you a Host, and you consuming it.
It, not Him.
With this obvious, to me, lowering of recognition of Eucharist, it should have been predictable that He would be moved off to a closet somewhere to be "out of the way" of the normal activities, including even the Mass itself. Look at the architecture and the design of the new "Catholic" Churches. The Tabernacle is no longer the central focal point of all the whole design. In fact, it's out of sight. As a Catholic Church, from the outside, it may be unrecognizable. From the inside, it takes on the appearance of a theater, with plenty of room on the "stage" that has supplanted the Sacred Area. Lots of room for such things as Interpretive Dance being incorporated into the Liturgy.
I am convinced that all of this it the real reason for the decline.
And I am convinced that turning it around will reverse the trend.
In the Catholic RESISTANCE! movement, among all the many things we need to address, two stand out as vitally important.
- Moving Tabernacles back to the center of the Main Altar, or behind/above it so that it is visible from everywhere in the Church.
- Having Priests turn Ad Orientem to always face the Tabernacle while offering Mass. And, if possible, getting rid of the second Altar altogether.
These things may be impossible in a lot of the modern (Modernist?) Catholic Churches because the architectural design is so radically different from the ancient Catholic tradition. But we should strive to come as close as we can to the ideal.
That ain't all, by a long shot, but it's a good beginning. If we can convince Bishops to do these two things, recognition of Eucharist will begin to return. He is where all the attention will be focused, once again. With increased recognition of Eucharist, other changes can be placed on the agenda and more easily achieved.
A good Novus Ordo Mass model exists in the Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit Michigan. When we visit Michigan, we go to the 9:30 Latin Mass. But if you ever attend a Novus Ordo Mass there, you will see something beautiful. The whole Mass is sung in Latin. The Priest is Ad Orientem. You receive at the Altar Railing on the tongue from a Priest or Deacon. There is no Gift Of Peace. There is none of the Liturgical nonsense you see in most other Novus Ordo Masses.
Now, unfortunately, not many remember the old Latin days, and a whole lot of practicing Catholics now prefer the Novus Ordo. It's what they're used to. Going Latin all at once might be too much for them.
This is understandable. We were caught up in it too, because we had no choice. All Churches (in our knowledge) offered only the Novus Ordo Mass. For many years, that's how we worshiped. I was a Lector, an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, an Altar Boy. But there was always this nagging feeling about the unseriousness of it all.
So many people never genuflected; there was always such loud, even boisterous conversation going on before or after Mass; the Gift Of Peace often almost became an aisle-crossing glad-handing party-time. And, more seriously, a little deeper conversation with Parishioners sometimes revealed a shocking lack of knowledge of the Catholic faith. Including even wishes to change the faith. To change Catholic Doctrine.
Well, why not? It's not as if that were God up there in that Tabernacle.
Ultimately, we gave that all up and joined Holy Family, a Latin Mass Church; it was sad parting with "family" and starting over somewhere, but - that really is God up there. He is most important. It wasn't easy leaving Priests and Parishioners we know and love, but - again - that's God up there. And He's the Point of it all. He's the Reason.
Moving Eucharist back to the central place of honor in Novus Ordo Churches, and getting Priests standing Ad Orientem while offering Mass, will go a long way toward turning this decline around. Restoring simple recognition of Who it is we go to Mass for, and Who it is we are striving to give Him His due, will at least slow the decline, if not turn it.
What would absolutely reverse it, in my humble opinion, is a Papal decree reversing the 1962 Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo. Making the Latin Mass the "Ordinary" Mass, and making the Novus Ordo the "Extraordinary" Mass, would have an immediate response, in old Catholics coming back to the Mass, and new Catholics drawn in.
Of course, that may take a new Pope. But the Catholic Church always has new Popes. No Pope is permanent. Popes are "episodic" in the history of the Catholic Church. And Liturgy belongs to the Magisterium, not to the rest of us. There is little we laymen can do to restore proper recognition of Who Eucharist is, but there is much that a Pope can do.
Younger Priests I have known, I believe, really want to offer the Latin Mass. They would prefer it over the Novus Ordo. I can't say this with anything like ontological certitude, but I can feel it; I sensed it every time I served Mass with one, or observed him offering the Holy Mass. They now learn the Latin Mass in Seminary, and they love it.
You can recognize these guys in their extreme reverence to the Eucharist, and their precise manner of following the rubrics. And sometimes in their ornate, beautiful, Latin-Mass style vestments, which they (or someone) went to a lot of trouble and expense to acquire. There is a vast difference even in the vestments between most Novus Ordo Churches and Latin Mass churches.
But, that's daydreaming. We have to start somewhere, and the best place to start, in my view, is in once again centering Eucharist, and going Ad Orientem.
Remember this little nugget:
Proper fear of God is just the bare beginning point of wisdom.
If you internalize that, and put it at the beginning of all your reflections, you will seldom go wrong in whatever you do.
"With fear and trembling, work out your salvation" --Phil 2:12
Seek the Truth; Find the Way; Live the Life.
Please God, and Live Forever.