Written in 1969, the words of Fr. Calmel for resisting the New Mass—and the consequences of taking such a stance—remain just as true today as then.
Declaration of Fr. Calmel, O.P.
November 27, 1969
I hold fast to the traditional Mass, the one which was not composed but codified by St. Pius V in the 16th century as a custom many centuries old. I therefore refuse the Ordo Missae of Paul VI.
Why? Because in reality the Ordo Missae does not exist. What does exist is a universal and permanent liturgical Revolution, adopted or intended by the present pope, and which has momentarily donned the mask of the Ordo Missae of April 3, 1969. It is within the right of every priest to refuse to wear the mask of that liturgical Revolution; I consider it my duty as a priest to refuse to celebrate Mass in an equivocal rite.
This new rite fosters confusion between the Catholic Mass and the Protestant “Lord’s Supper”—as two cardinals have stated in as many words, and as solid theological analyses have proven; if we accept it, we will quickly fall from an interchangeable Mass (as a Protestant minister has actually attested) to a Mass which is blatantly heretical and therefore null. Launched by the pope and then abandoned to the national churches, the liturgical reform will simply follow its infernal logic. How can we consent to be party to such a process?
You are going to ask me: do you realize what you are opening yourself up to, by taking this stand for the Mass of All Time? Indeed I do. To use your own expression, I am opening myself up to persevering in the path of fidelity to my priesthood, and therefore to rendering the humble witness of my priestly office to the Sovereign High Priest, who is our Supreme Judge. I am also opening myself up to reassuring the faithful, whose world has been turned upside down and who are being tempted to skepticism or despair. Indeed, every priest who holds fast to the rite of Mass codified by St. Pius V, the great Dominican pope of the Counter-Reformation, allows the faithful to participate in the Holy Sacrifice without the least ambiguity; to receive the Word of God incarnate and immolated, made really present under the holy species, without doubt of the sacrament.
On the other hand, the priest who yields to the new rite, pasted together by Paul VI, is collaborating in the gradual establishment of a counterfeit Mass which will have been transformed into an empty memorial with no longer a true presence of Christ. By the very fact, the Sacrifice of the Cross will no longer be really and sacramentally offered to God; communion will no longer be anything but a religious meal where a little bread is eaten and a little wine is drunk. Nothing more. Just what the Protestants have.
By refusing to collaborate in the revolutionary establishment of an equivocal Mass, oriented toward the very destruction of the Mass, what temporal hardships and what difficulties in this world may one expect? The Lord knows, whose grace suffices. Truly, the grace of the Heart of Jesus will always suffice, and it comes to us through the Holy Sacrifice and by the sacraments. That is why the Lord tells us with such tranquility, he who loses his life in this world for My sake will live eternally.
I recognize the authority of the Holy Father, without hesitation. I affirm nonetheless that it is possible for any pope to abuse his authority. I maintain that Pope Paul VI commits an exceptionally grave abuse of authority in building a new rite of Mass on a definition of the Mass which is no longer Catholic. He writes in his Ordo Missae that, “The Mass is the sacred assembly or congregation of the people of God gathering together, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.” This insidious definition deliberately omits what makes the Catholic Mass, Catholic, absolutely irreducible to the Protestant “Lord’s Supper.”
For the Catholic Mass is not just any memorial; it is a memorial which really contains the Sacrifice of the Cross, because the body and the blood of Christ are made really present by virtue of the double consecration. The rite codified by St. Pius V permits of no misunderstanding on this point, but the rite invented by Paul VI leaves the question floating and equivocal.
Likewise, in the Catholic Mass, the priest does not preside in just any manner; he is marked with a divine character which sets him apart for all eternity and thus he acts as the minister of Christ, who performs the Mass through him; he could never be likened to a Protestant minister, who is delegated by the faithful to ensure the good order of the assembly. This role is obvious in the rite of Mass established by St. Pius V; it is obscured if not suppressed entirely in the new rite.
Simple integrity, therefore, and priestly integrity infinitely more, demand that I not have the impudence to tamper with the Catholic Mass, received on the day of my ordination. Since it is a question of honesty, and especially in such a matter of divine gravity, there is no authority in the world which may stop me, be it the authority of a pope.
Moreover, the primary proof of fidelity and love which the priest must give to God and men is to maintain intact the infinitely precious deposit which was confided to him as the bishop imposed his hands upon him. It is first on this proof of fidelity and love that I will be judged by the Supreme Judge. I have entire confidence that the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Sovereign High Priest, will obtain for me the grace to remain faithful until death to the Catholic Mass, true and unequivocal. Tuus sum ego, salvum me fac.
Roger-Thomas Calmel, O.P.
1 Among others, Pensee Catholique n. 122 and Courrier de Rome n. 49 ff.
2 From article 7 of the General Instruction preceding the Novus Ordo Missae.