Sunday, January 12, 2014
Blessed Anna-Katerina Emmerick was an Augustinian nun who was born in Germany in 1774, spent a life of sufferings, and died in 1824. She is well known for her gift of prophesy. Our Lord Himself told her that her gift of seeing the past, present and future mystically in vision was greater than that given to anyone else in history. During the last 12 years of her life, she subsisted solely on the Holy Eucharist. From 1802 until her death, she bore the full stigmata of Our Lord.
Among her many visions, one stands out because it appears she foresaw Our Lord celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the modern Roman rite (“New Mass” or “Novus Ordo”) more than 149 years before Pope Paul VI decreed it as normative for the Latin rite. The reason for such belief is the glaring omission of the reading of the Last Gospel by the priest at the end of the Mass, which is consistent with the New Mass. Let’s take a look at this specific vision:
July 26. 1820. “I have a vision of the holy Emperor Henry. I saw him at night kneeling alone at the foot of the main altar in a great and beautiful church … and I saw the Blessed Virgin coming down all alone. She laid on the Altar a red cloth covered with white linen. She placed a book inlaid with precious stones. She lit the candles and the perpetual lamp… Then came the Savior Himself clad in priestly vestments. He was carrying the chalice and the veil. Two Angels were serving Him and two more were following…His chasuble was a full and heavy mantle in which red and white could be seen in transparency, and gleaming with jewels… Although there was no altar bell, the cruets were there. The wine was red as blood, and there was also some water. The Mass was short. The Gospel of John was not read in the end. When the Mass had ended, Mary came up to Henry (the emperor), and she extended her right hand towards him, saying that it was in recognition of his purity. Then, she urged him not to falter. Thereupon I saw an angel, and he touched the sinew of his hip, like Jacob. He (Henry) as in great pain; and from that day on he walked with a limped…” (Catholic Prophesy, Yves Dupont, Tan Books and Publishers, 1970, page 62. Bold emphasis supplied).
In his commentary on the vision, Dupont said, “It is interesting to note, too, that St. John’s Gospel ‘was not read at the end.’ This new development was foreseen 140 years ago by Sr. Emmerick.” (Ibid, p. 62) Desmond A. Birch, author of Trial, Tribulation & Triumph, (Queenship Publishing Company, 1996) noted that Yves Dupont assumes that Sr. Emmerick saw the post-Vatican II New Order of the Mass in her vision. Birch agrees with Dupont and contends that even allowing for legitimate exceptions to the reading of the Last Gospel as provided for in Quo Primum, he considered it “highly probable (but not certain) that the Mass which Sr. Emmerick saw in her vision was some post 1967 Latin Rite Mass.” (Ibid, p. 367) Birch cites three reasons to justify his contention (the following are taken verbatim from pages 367-368 of his book):
(1) Some day the Last Gospel would not be regularly read (as it was at the vast majority of Latin Rte Masses of her time), and,
(2) The Mass would have been shortened (but she could also have been describing a ‘Quo Primum’ ‘low’ Mass), and,
(3) There would be no altar bells for the altar servers to ring on several occasions during the Mass (bell ringing which since 1960 has become an uncommon practice).
So, are the authors correct in their interpretation of the vision? At first glance, it would seem so, but there are inconsistencies that suggest it is not what it appears to be.
Argument from silence favors the Old Mass
It would have helped us a lot if Sr. Emmerick had recounted more details about the Mass. But even with the few details we have, there is enough to make a compelling case.
Let’s suppose that Our Lord appeared in a mystical vision to a daily-Mass-going Novus Ordo Catholic who’s never before seen or assisted at a Traditional Latin Mass. If Our Lord said the Old Mass, that person would have immediately noticed many things that were different. But if Our Lord said the New Mass but changed only a few details, then that same person would probably have noticed only those few details that were different.
Sr. Emmerick was gifted with the understanding of liturgical Latin. She would have immediately noticed if Our Lord had used a different text of the Mass than what she was used to, because the structure of the New Mass is different. For instance, in the Old Mass, the prayers at the foot of the altar are said at the end of the entrance procession. She would have noticed right away if these prayers were omitted. But she said nothing. She would have noticed if Our Lord did not wear a maniple (required in the Old Mass but fell into total disuse after Vatican II), but she said nothing. She would have also noticed if the angels did not move the missal from the epistle side to the Gospel side and back as it was done in the Mass of her day, but she said nothing either.
If Our Lord had wanted to show Sr. Emmerick a vision of the representative Novus Ordo Mass in the distant future, wouldn’t He have faced her as is the common practice in the modern rite? If the Lord did, that would have been the very first thing Sr. Emmerick would notice, but she said nothing. We can assume, therefore, that the Lord faced the liturgical east, which is rare in the New Mass but the norm in the Old Mass.
Among the myriad of liturgical details that Sr. Emmerick could have recounted, she mentioned only seven: (1) Our Lord carried the chalice and veil; (2) the book was inlaid with precious stones; (3) Our Lord wore a heavy red and white chasuble, which matched the colors of the altar cloths; (4) the cruets were there but the bells were not; (5) the wine was as red as blood; (6) the Mass was short; and (7) the Last Gospel was not read after the Mass. She found nothing unusual about the rest of the Mass to even merit mention. She can’t be accused of inattention either because not even the blood red color of the wine escaped her attention. This is a compelling argument from silence in favor of the Old Mass. But even without recourse to these “proofs from silence,” the details she recounts still do not support the New Mass. Let’s analyze them.
Processing in carrying the chalice and veil is not the norm
In the modern rite, the priest does not process in to the sanctuary carrying the chalice and the veil. They are pre-positioned on a credence table before the Mass and are brought to the altar by the servers during the Offertory. (The priests of the London Oratory process in carrying the chalice and the veil in a Novus Ordo “low” Mass, but this practice is not in accord with the General Instructions of the Roman Missal. I am also aware that when priests process in to the side altars of St. Peter’s basilica to celebrate Mass (Novus Ordo), they would carry the chalice and veil (if there is one), but this is an accommodation given the circumstance of the place) In the vision, the Lord Himself carries the chalice and the veil as He processes in. The chalice and veil could have been placed beforehand on a credence table just as easily as the candles were already placed on the altar before the Mass. Since the Lord cannot violate the rubrics of His own Church in saying the Mass according to the modern rite, His carrying of the chalice and veil is telling us that perhaps this is not the modern rite, but the pre-conciliar rite, where it is the norm for the priest to carry the chalice and veil (in a low Mass).
What about the absence of the bells?
The use of (Sanctus) bells is not forbidden (and never was) in the Novus Ordo. They just fell out of use in many places, but many parishes still use them, including the Novus Ordo parishes I occasionally go to. In fact, the ringing of the bell during the consecration is specifically mentioned as an option in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. (GIRM 150)
From personal observation, priests who subscribe to the minimalist approach to the liturgy would typically eschew the use of the bells. If, as Birch says, the absence of bells in the vision was to show the common practice in the New Mass during our time, then that would be like saying Our Lord preferred the minimalist approach to His own liturgy. Setting aside the obvious absurdity of this line of thinking, the problem with this is that Sr. Emmerick saw Our Lord vested in a chasuble that “was a full and heavy mantle in which red and white could be seen in transparency, and gleaming with jewels.” Moreover, the book Our Lady placed on the altar was “inlaid with precious stones.” This is utterly inconsistent with the minimalist approach. If Our Lord had wanted to be minimalist, using a plain chasuble and a simple, unbejeweled Book of Gospels would have been more effective in conveying the message, not the omission of the optional Sanctus bells. For this reason, I do not find Birch’s explanation persuasive.
In the pre-conciliar Mass, the bells are not rung at a low Mass at all “(a) during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at an altar other than the altar of the Exposition; (b) during a sung Mass; or a public procession, or while the absolution at the bier is going on; (c) when the clergy are going to or returning from choir in procession, or the celebrant and ministers of solemn Mass are going to or returning from the altar; (d) when the Divine Office is being said in choir and the (side) altar at which low Mass is being celebrated is in sight of the choir.” (The Celebration of Mass, Rev. J. B. O’Connell, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1964, p. 355). In the 1st edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, Adrian Fortescue writes that “If he serves low Mass at a side altar while High Mass or a sung Mass is celebrated at the high altar, he does not ring the Sanctus bell at all. Nor does he do so when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the church.” (Ibid. p. 76) Returning to Sr. Emmerick’s vision, the Mass she saw appeared to be a low Mass, since Our Lord processed in carrying the chalice and veil (in a sung Mass, the veiled chalice is placed on the altar before Mass) and the Mass was short. There was no procession or movement of clergy anywhere either. Neither was the Divine Office being said. So, that leaves only the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (a).
The prohibition on the ringing of bells is limited to Masses at altars where the exposition is not taking place when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed anywhere in the church. The bell, therefore, should have been rung in the vision. But the angels did not bring any bell. How do we explain this?
What we can easily determine from the vision is that the sanctuary lamp was lit for Our Lord, the Blessed Sacrament, who was coming to celebrate the Mass. There was no Blessed Sacrament reserved on the altar beforehand or else the sanctuary lamp would have already been lit. If Our Lord Himself was the Blessed Sacrament exposed, then the bells should have been rung, because, as O’Connell and Fortescue explain, bell ringing is not prohibited on the altar of exposition. Bell ringing could have been avoided if the Mass was celebrated on a side altar while a sung Mass was taking place on the main altar at the same time. But there was no sung Mass taking place apart from the low Mass in the vision because Henry was “kneeling alone at the foot of the main altar in a great and beautiful church….” It is possible that there was a separate Blessed Sacrament Chapel in that great church (which is typical in great churches) that Sr. Emmerick did not see in her vision where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration which would justify the non-use of the bells at the main altar, but then one wonders why Henry was kneeling at the main altar at that hour in the night where the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved when he could have adored in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel if that was indeed the case.
A more mystical explanation is that since Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, His throne there is the permanent altar of exposition, while the altar that Sr. Emmerick saw is the “altar other than the altar of exposition,” which means it is justified not to use the bell there. There is biblical support for this. There is an altar in Heaven (Rev 6:9), and a throne where the angels prostrate themselves and worship God (Rev 4, Rev 5:11-14, Rev 7:11-12). The Heavenly altar/throne may not have been visible to Sr. Emmerick, but it would have been to the angels, who are continually in the presence of and behold the face of God in Heaven. (Matt 18:10) Both explanations are plausible, although I find the mystical explanation more persuasive.
The omission of the Last Gospel points to a precise day in the liturgical calendar
In the post-Vatican II New Order of the Mass, there is no more reading of the Last Gospel after Mass as it was omitted in its entirety. In the pre-conciliar Mass, however, the reading of the Last Gospel is required after every Mass except during the following:
(1) In Masses in which Benedicamus Domino replaces Ite, Missa est;
(2) At the Third Mass of Christmas Day (when the first Gospel is Jn 1:1-14);
(3) On Palm Sunday in the Mass that follows the blessing and procession of palms;
(4) In the Easter Eve Mass;
(5) In a requiem Mass followed immediately by the absolution for the dead;
(6) Certain Masses which follow some consecrations (e.g. the consecration of a church) according to the rubrics of the Roman Pontifical.
In the vision, there was no liturgical procession or ceremony following the Mass that would justify the omission of Ite, Missa est, its replacement with Benedicamus Domino and the omission of the Last Gospel, so (1) is out. The ceremonies that accompany the Palm Sunday Mass (3) and the Easter Vigil Mass (4) are very long and elaborate, and the vision does not speak of a requiem Mass (5) in honor of a dead person. Neither is the vision about the consecration of a church (6). So by process of elimination, that leaves only the Third Mass of Christmas Day (2), when the Last Gospel is omitted because it is the same as the Gospel reading for the Mass.
As to why Henry would be at this “great and beautiful” church on the night of Christmas Day, the vision does not give us any clues. If he did, the Mass would use the variable parts for the Third Mass of Christmas Day according to the traditional liturgy. What we do know from prophecy is that Henry, the prophesied last Great Catholic King, at a desperate time when all hope seemed lost, with divine aid would lead his small Christian army into a decisive battle against an overwhelmingly superior anti-Christian force and utterly defeat them, leading to the eventual collapse and dismantling of the Islamic empire, the mass conversion of Muslims, atheists, pagans and non-Catholics into the Catholic faith, and the glorious restoration of the Church and papacy.
The significance of the colors of the vestment and altar cloths
In the vision, the color of the Lord’s chasuble, is white and red, whereas the liturgical color for Christmas is white. While having some red color in a predominantly white chasuble is acceptable, the reverse in this case is not. Whatever the case, the colors may not have been intended to correspond to the correct liturgical color, but rather were chosen for their symbols. According to Dupont, “The white and red cloths of the vestments symbolize the purity of Christ the Priest, and the fire and blood of those times. The red color also symbolizes the age of the Holy Ghost, which is to come after our age of darkness.”
Anyone, of course, can give whatever meaning they want to the colors in a manner that suits their interpretation. But Dupont’s interpretation is not without basis. In fact, the vision of Sr. Mechtilde of Helfta (13th century) lends support to the symbolic significance of red and white in latter times. She saw that prior to the time of the Antichrist, an order of preachers would come into existence. She described the members as follows:
“They will be clad in a double garment, the undergarment white and the outer one red and fastened with a girdle. Their beards and hair will be unshorn. They will go barefooted, except in winter when they will wear red sandals with white thongs. They will have no possessions and will not be allowed to have gold or silver. Each of them will bear at all times a staff which will be painted white and red and which will have a crook a span long. On one side will be portrayed the Passion of Christ and on the other side His Ascension into Heaven. No member of the order shall be younger than 24 years old. They will be priests, confessors, and good preachers.” (Revelations of Sister Mechtilde of Magdeburg, p. 208, quoted from Trial, Tribulation & Triumph, p. 414.)
St. Francis of Paula said that this order will be called Knights of the Cross (“Crusaders”), who will be instrumental in converting Mohammedans, heretics, and fallen-away Christians to Christ after the triumph of the Great Monarch. (Trial, Tribulation & Triumph, pp. 412-413). Taking these two visions together, we can see how Dupont’s interpretation of the colors makes sense - white for the purity of Christ, and red for the fire and blood of the impending chastisement, and also for the coming of the Holy Ghost at the onset of the re-evangelization process to be led by this order of preachers wearing red and white.
The vision shows Our Lord prefers the Traditional Latin Mass
Many Catholics, particularly those attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, find solace in many of the visions of Sr. Emmerick because they serve to validate the same gloomy conditions about the Church that they (and any honest Catholic) can see: “I saw again the strange big church that was being built there (in Rome). There was nothing holy in it…” (Catholic Prophecy, Yves Dupont, p.61) “I saw deplorable things…priests allowed everything and said Mass with much irreverence…” (Ibid, p. 66) “I saw that many pastors allowed themselves to be taken up with ideas that were dangerous to the Church. They were building a great, big, extravagant Church. Everyone was to be admitted in it in order to be united and have equal rights: Evangelicals, Catholics, sects of every description. Such was the new Church…But God had other designs.” (Ibid, p. 71) These visions are in sharp contrast to pronouncements that the Church is experiencing signs of a great springtime (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990), or when a reigning pontiff is quoted as saying “I dare say that the Church has never been so well as it is today. The Church does not collapse: I am sure of it, I am sure of it!” (Pope Francis, meeting with the Roman clergy at the Lateran basilica, 16 September 2013.)
However, when traditional Catholics are confronted with this vision of Sr. Emmerick, they’re stumped, because if Our Lord was seen celebrating the Mass in the modern rite, that would be tantamount to an endorsement by Our Lord of a rite that many deem inherently inferior, and whose abrupt and arbitrary imposition heralded the beginning of an unprecedented crisis (dramatic loss of vocations, drop in Mass attendance, unbelief in real presence, deformed liturgies, etc.) that besets the Church even today, contrary papal pronouncements notwithstanding. But rather than studying the matter, many conveniently gloss over this vision or look for the easy way out, asserting that Sr. Emmerick’s visions are private revelations, or that the person who transcribed Sr. Emmerick’s narration was not dependable, etc. This is an untenable position to take – quoting Sr. Emmerick on the one hand when convenient, but claiming her private revelations are unreliable when not so.
Our Lord does not make mistakes, nor are the angels prone to forgetfulness. Every little detail in Sr. Emmerick’s vision was not there by chance, so it behooves us to pay close attention. The choice of vestments, the colors, the bejeweled book, the lighting of the sanctuary lamp, the absence of bells, the omission of the Last Gospel – all were deliberate choices for a specific purpose. My research on the subject matter leads me to conclude that what Sr. Emmerick saw in her vision was Our Lord celebrating a low Mass, specifically, the Third Mass of Christmas Day according to the pre-conciliar Latin liturgy, most likely that of 1962, known also today as the Extraordinary Form.
I could be wrong, of course. It is entirely possible that what Sr. Emmerick saw was Our Lord celebrating the modern rite ad orientem (which is licit), processing in carrying the chalice and veil as priests do at the side altars of St. Peter’s basilica (in violation of the norms but tolerated at St. Peter’s), dispensing with the bells as they usually do in the modern rite (minimalist but licit), and omitting the Last Gospel (since it is not part of the modern rite). But all these can also be explained (actually better explained) according to the traditional Roman rite as I have done above, and therefore it does not follow that what Sr. Emmerick saw in her vision must necessarily be the modern Mass. Traditional Catholics should stand fast and not be easily disheartened.
If the Great Catholic Monarch of prophesy pertains to our present age, then Our Lord would have only two licit choices for Mass in the Roman rite today – the Ordinary Form based on the New Order of the Mass issued by Paul VI in 1969, or the Extraordinary Form according to the 1962 liturgy, the sixth and final typical edition of the Tridentine liturgy that actually goes all the way back into antiquity to the time of the apostles. From everything I’ve read, Our Lord preferred a rite that grew organically and developed from the beginning of the apostolic age nearly 2,000 years ago, to a rite that was once described by our Pope Emeritus as a “fabrication, a banal, on-the-spot product.” (Preface to Msgr. Klaus Gamber’s “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.) This gives us reason to hope that one day the venerable Roman liturgy will be restored to its former glory.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Please send this link to everyone interested in the Latin Mass, and please take some time to fill out the form, even if you are already involved some way with the Latin Mass:
My name is Charles Coulombe. For those of you who don't know, I have been a Master of Ceremonies for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for over 15 years, and have been serving the Latin Mass since 1993. Coming from a Military Family, I have had the luxury of going to several parts of the US and during this time, I have the honor of training under some great MC's and priests, including those by the Fraternity of Saint Peter. While in Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity serve as Vice President for Una Voce LA and Board Member for Una Voce Ventura. I have also trained dozens of Altar Servers and even a few priests in the Mass, and other Ceremonies such as Benediction, Processions, Baptisms, and Confirmations.
When Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter on the celebration of the Roman Rite according to the Missal of 1962, it was a very good day for the church, as ever since people could celebrate the Traditional Latin Masses throughout the world in the comfort of their own parishes.
Now, over six years later, with the Summorum Pontificum still in force, there are still many people in our area that live over two hours away from a Tridentine Mass, or Mass of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the EFM. I am taking this survey to find out more about people who live in Southern California, and who would like a Tridentine Mass in their area. The list would also serve as a contact list whenever special Masses are in the area for those to go to.
Please take some minutes to fill out this form, and also to send it to everyone you know who may be interested in the Mass, or may be already involved in the Tridentine Mass in some form or way. I would really like to learn about other people as my goal in the next few years will be to reach out to people and bring more Tridenting Masses in the area.
Also, if you are a priest, a seminarian, or other lay member with certain specialties, or may be interested in Serving or Chanting, I would like to know as well.
Here is the link. Again feel free to forward this to everyone. Communication is a vital tool. This list is intended for folks in Southern California, but anyone can fill out this form. Any information given will be kept strictly confidential.
Yours in Christ,