The New Mass and the Real Presence

December 04, 2013
Source: District of the USA

Taken from The Mass of All Time, a collection of the words of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we offer some extracts about the defects of the Novus Ordo Missae.

We offer here the second of 3 crucial points of dogma that Archbishop Lefebvre uses to explain some fundamental flaws of the New Mass in his book, The Mass of All Time.

To resummarize from the introduction of Part 1: The New Mass weakens the notion of sacrifice, three dogmas of the Catholic Faith in relation to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass have been greatly diminished in the Novus Ordo Missae:

  1. The Mass is a true, real and propitiatory sacrifice offered to God.
  2. The victim is Christ Himself truly present under the species of bread and wine.
  3. Priests alone are the ministers of the Holy Sacrifice.

The New Mass and the Real Presence

[Second dogma]

Numerous gestures of the new rite and changes in liturgical furnishings, vessels, and vestments, occult the fundamental dogmas of the Catholic Mass. We have just seen this in the analysis of the New Mass and sacrifice, and we shall find confirmation of it in the study of the New Mass in regard to the Real Presence.

1. The suppression of the genuflection before the elevation

In the New Mass, the priest, like the Protestants, no longer genuflects before the elevation.[44] For the Protestants, Christ is not made present at the Mass as a result of the words of consecration pronounced by the presider of the ceremony, but as a result of the faithful’s belief in conjunction with the celebrant’s words. It is because the faithful make an act of faith in the presence of Our Lord that Christ is present in the Eucharist. The idea is gradually spreading among Catholics that it is their belief that causes Our Lord to be present. This is a totally Protestant idea, and it explains why the priest does not genuflect before the elevation. The host is elevated first so that the faithful can make an act of faith, and it is by their act of faith that Our Lord is made present in the host.

This is appalling, because the Real Presence is implicitly denied. The presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is assimilated to the presence of Our Lord in the community: we are together here, and Our Lord is in our midst. But for some, it would be the same for the Eucharist. Our Lord would be made present by the faithful’s act of faith. In that case, it would involve a moral presence and no longer Our Lord’s Real Presence. In that case, there would no longer be any need to pronounce the words of consecration. It would be enough to elevate the host to rouse the faith of the assistants, and Our Lord would be present in the host. A nun could do that; anybody could do that; there is no need to have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Now the Real Presence is practically denied even by priests, and perhaps even by bishops, because the marks of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are no longer given. They rarely genuflect. It is really unimaginable! In the end, they come to believe that the Eucharist is only bread, in remembrance of Our Lord, but not His real Body and Blood, nor His Divinity.

If you do not genuflect before Our Lord, if you do not show respect before the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, you will end up not believing in it any more.

To stop believing in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is to go astray from the Church, it is to let go of the Church’s Tradition.

2. An heretical conference

Here beneath my eyes, I have the text of a lecture on the Eucharist given by the Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg: “Contemporary Thought and the Expression of Eucharistic Faith.” This lecture, from the first line to the last, is heretical. There is no longer any question of the Real Presence of Our Lord. The Real Presence, for the one who is Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg, is comparable to the presence of a composer of a piece of music, who shows himself in his piece when it is played.

He claims that it is not an efficacious sign. Concerning the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, he says:

Someone can be present by a symbolic action that he does not accomplish physically, but which others carry out with creative fidelity to his profound intention. The Bayreuth Festival undoubtedly realizes a presence of Richard Wagner that is superior in intensity to that which recordings or occasional concerts can manifest."

Now listen to this:

It is in this last context, it seems to me, that we ought to situate Christ’s Eucharistic presence."

Hence, by his meaning, Christ’s Eucharistic presence would be similar to the presence of a musician who composed a piece of music; the piece is played and the audience experiences the composer’s presence on that occasion. And that is what the Eucharistic presence is.... It is a rather serious matter, coming as it does from a dean of the Theology Faculty of Strasbourg. And, unfortunately, it would be possible to cite very many examples like this.

He [the Dean of the Strasbourg Faculty] smiles at that Eucharist which is called an “efficacious sign,” which is the definition of the Sacrament, of all Sacraments. He says: “That is utterly ridiculous; such terms cannot be used today. In our day they are meaningless.”

...Young seminarians still in residence are gradually steeped in error, marked by it.

In many churches, the Gospels are placed on the altar while the Blessed Sacrament is relegated to a side chapel. This elevation of Holy Scripture at the expense of the Blessed Sacrament increases doubts about faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.

3. The Gospels placed on the altars

In the schema on the Holy Scriptures,[51] the Scriptures and the Eucharist are put on an equal footing. How can we fail to reflect on all the gospels which will henceforth replace the Eucharist on the high altars of our Churches?

4. The Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Scripture conflated

Let us beware of venerating these two gifts of God—Holy Writ and the Eucharist—in exactly the same way. There is an essential difference between the two. The Spirit of God is only in Scripture in usu,[53] while the Spirit of God and of Our Lord, His glorious body, are present in esse[54] in the Holy Eucharist. It is to commit an inadmissible confusion to treat the Gospels book with the same veneration as the Eucharist.

Communion received standing and in the hand accentuates the notions of the Eucharist as “memorial” and “meal.” The way in which Our Lord is treated in the Blessed Sacrament shows the lessening of faith in the Divinity of Christ and in the Real Presence.

5. Communion in the hand

If there is a tendency to regard the sacrifice of the Mass as a meal, then it is natural to take Communion in the hand. If it is a meal, it is a morsel of bread which is distributed, a memento, a memorial. But when we know that Our Lord is present! When we know who Our Lord is! We cannot indeed know, we have no means of telling! Reflect that all the angels of heaven bow before Our Lord, that at the very name of Jesus every knee is bent whether in heaven, on earth, or in hell. Yet we are afraid to kneel in the presence of Him whose name, if it be but spoken on the Day of Judgment, will bring to their knees all humanity, all the souls in heaven, all the angels, and all in hell.

6. The hosts distributed by anybody

The priests do not even genuflect before the Holy Eucharist. They have no more respect for the Blessed Sacrament. The hosts are distributed by anybody. That cannot be our God whom they treat this way.... The people who treat Our Lord Jesus Christ the way He is treated in Eucharistic ceremonies nowadays are people who do not believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not possible otherwise.

It was the Council of Trent after all that said that Our Lord is present in the least particles of the Holy Eucharist. What a lack of respect is shown by those who may have particles of the Eucharist on their hands and who return to their places without purifying them!

The faithful who truly believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord understand very well that it must be the ministers who distribute Holy Communion, and they absolutely refuse to receive Communion in the hand.

In the holy Mass, the reforms that have been introduced cause the loss of faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. For a Catholic, the reforms are such that it is difficult, if not impossible, for children who have not known what we older Catholics knew before, to believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not possible to treat the Blessed Sacrament the way it is treated today and at the same time believe that, in the Eucharist, are truly found present the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the way the priests [and the “extraordinary ministers”] distribute the Holy Eucharist and the way the faithful go and receive Holy Communion without genuflection or any sign of respect, communicate, and return to their places after having received, it does not seem possible that they still believe in the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.


NB: the footnotes referring to the conference or work the Archbishop’s words were derived from have been omitted here for the sake of space.

44 He is speaking about the elevations that take place immediately after the consecration of the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord.

51 The reference is to a schema that was published as Dei Verbum, Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation, on November 18, 1965, at the end of the Council.

53 In usage.

54 Substantially, in being.