Traditionalism Is Not About The Mass
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." (II Thessalonians 2:14)
It is most likely that those who decided originally to call themselves Traditionalists in the 1960's were referring to this verse in Sacred Scripture. This chapter of Sacred Scripture discusses the Antichrist, who many of us thought in the 1960's and 1970's might be coming soon. The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican known commonly as Vatican 2 (1962-1965) called by Angelo Roncalli as the second Antipope John XXIII in history and carried on by his successor, Paul 6, had a logical reaction.
Ironically the first John XXIII also called a Council, the Council of Constance. After this Council deposed him and Pope Gregory XII resigned in favor of a new election at the end of the Council, this Council healed the Western Schism.
Vatican 2, however would usher in the Great Apostasy. Joseph Ratzinger would speak about the Bishops arriving in Vatican 2 in his book, Milestones: "For believers, it was a remarkable phenomenon that their bishops seemed to show a different face in Rome from the one they wore at home. Shepherds who had been considered strict conservatives suddenly appeared to be spokesmen for progressivism." (page 132)
Basically these wolves in sheep's clothing realized when they got to Vatican 2 that the cat was away, so the mice decided to play, and play they did. Back home the preachers in the pulpits soon found that it was open season. Of course the sermons began to vary from parish to parish, as one preacher might be very conservative, while the preacher in the next parish was very liberal in his thinking. The sermons became so offensive to pious ears, that one old couple was no longer able to hear the sermons. Their Catholic mind simply turned off their ears at the time of the sermon. Another person observed that some sermons would begin fine and being knowledgeable in the Faith she would know where it should go. However, half way through the preacher would take a left turn and end up some place totally different. Some people walked out of the sermon, because it was so heretical. In fact one man stood up and looked down the pew, which was filled with his children with his wife at the other end, and said their family name and then "out". And proceeded to process his family down the center aisle and out. We thank God that concerned parents in Oklahoma City in about 1965 formed a catechism class to teach the Catholic Faith to us.
Recently We were interviewed for a school project by some college students. They asked: "When did you realize your views were different from the mainstream Catholic Church?" We were enrolled in this catechism class mid way through third grade. In the late 1960's We began fifth grade in Rosary School. Although the pastor at the time was very conservative as was his assistant, the nuns teaching were very liberal. They emphasized the Social Gospel. After a few catechism classes, We began to think these classes were a joke and a waste of time. We never heard of the Creed, the Commandments or the Sacraments in these classes. We were there for four years, fifth through eighth grade. Although I was still a child, our concern was the Faith. I recall that my Dad told the first Traditional priest to bring the Mass throughout the United States, Father James Dunphy, that he had converted in 1968. This priest asked: "how?" Isn't it the Mass that matters? Martin Luther was the first to say that it is the Mass that matters. The earliest references to Tolle Missam: Tolle Ecclesiam (Destroy the Mass and destroy the Church) attribute the saying to Martin Luther as well. Luther, and Cramner both revised the Mass and Sacraments to fit their new theology. Note well the heretical theology came before the destruction of the Mass. Henry VIII was buried with the same Mass that was in use the day he was born, the Sarum Usage of the Latin Rite. It was after his death that his successors and the clergy went seriously into heresy. Prior to that it had been a schism only.
Of course, every schism invents a heresy to support itself. Let us return to the 1960's and the catechism class I attended. Dad was not even a Catholic, so he either stayed home with my baby brother or came with us and stayed with my brother at his in-laws two and a half blocks from the Cathedral where the classes were held on Sunday mornings. Mom and I would go to Mass at the cathedral rather than our parish church, because it was convenient. After his conversion Dad came with us to Mass and attended the high school classes. The Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated on April 3, 1969. However, it took time to translate it into the various vernaculars. In English the International Commission for English in the Liturgy translated the Roman Canon of the John XXIII Mass into English, translating the Latin words pro multis into for all. When the Novus Ordo was instituted this mis-translation continued. However, no one we knew noticed this problem. It was only later that we would look back and find out that the Mass had not been valid since this mis-translation came into use on October 22, 1967 in the United States.
Although the Mass is extremely important, it is the Faith that matters, a faith based upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
Jesus said: "Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) Jesus also said: "And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28) Commenting on this Saint John Vianney tells us that hearing the word of God is more important than receiving the Holy Eucharist: "Perhaps it seems to you, my brethren, that Jesus Christ teaches us that he who hears the word of God with the earnest wish to profit by it, is more pleasing to God than he who receives Him in Holy Communion." The reason is simple, without hearing the Word of God, we cannot understand how truly precious the Holy Eucharist is.
Unfortunately Traditionalism has gone off course, focusing on minor points of practice, while the Faith has been taken away from them. Much time is wasted debating which Mass to use, John XXIII-II or Tridentine, as they are slightly different. Time is wasted discussing which calendar to use, that of Pope Saint Pius X, the 1955 revision by Pope Pius XII, or the 1960 of John XXIII-II. Should we use the Holy Week prior to 1955 or the new one instituted at the request of the Bishops for good pastoral reasons by Pope Pius XII in 1955. All the while little time is spent in what is truly important, the Word of God.
There were two incidents that caused this shift. The first was the fact that some began looking to Vatican 2 to see if it was the source. They would find troubling statements in Vatican 2 and bring them to light. Rather than address the issue, we were told that the book in circulation was not an official translation. Remember this was the 1960's, and information was not readily available. In any case, instead of addressing the real issues, people were diverted away from looking at Vatican 2 as the source of the problem. The second was the introduction of the Novus Ordo and the logical reaction by priests and people to leave the pews and seek a place for the true Mass and Faith. Soon, the focus was shifted to the Mass away from the cause of the New Mass, the destruction of the Faith. This all occurred in the early 1970's, when priests and even an archbishop shifted away from the Novus Ordo to return to the Tridentine Mass. A few priests refused the Novus Ordo from the beginning. However, many of the popular Traditionalist priests of the late 1970's celebrated the Novus Ordo for a time. In fact, Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Apostles of Jesus and Mary under its public title the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) on the Novus Ordo. It was only when a professor there challenged him on this, that he dumped the innovated mass of Paul VI in favor the the Tridentine Mass. Later he would dump the Trindentine Mass in favor the 1962 Missal of John XXIII, which is quite similar, but different on a few points. (https://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/B409_Lefebvre.html)
One might be surprised to know that in the early 1970's that Traditionalists were also sede vacantists at heart. How can a true Pope give us the heresies that are flowing from the Conciliar Church. The actual debate on this did not really begin until the very late 1970's. It is not the Mass that matters, but the Faith. Restore the Faith completely, and the Mass and Sacraments will be preserved. Unfortunately, modern Traditionalism lost this focus decades ago, focusing on the Mass and not the Faith.