The Problems with the Prayers of the New Mass, by Fr. Anthony Cekada

Please note: since the time of this review TAN has chosen not to reprint this book, which is fine considering it is essentially a chapter in Father’s landmark Work of Human Hands.

Title: The Problems with the Prayers of the Modern Mass
Author: Anthony Cekada
Publisher: TAN Books
Rating: Intermediate
Excellence: 4 stars
Why: Short, sweet, and devastating.
Summary in a sentence: How substantial the changes really were, roasts the canard that the Novus Ordo is simply a vernacular translation of the Old Mass, and does so with extensive footnotes.

For those of you who are familiar with Fr. Anthony Cekada’s work, you will notice he often is extensive in his footnotes. This is because often the jab at him is: “What does Fr. Cekada know, he’s just some priest who got his training in Econe.” To which Fr. Cekada replies, “They are right, and that’s why I use a lot of footnotes – to show that it’s not just me making stuff up – people should look up what I’m quoting.”

The great thing about this book is that it can be read in an hour, but gives enough food for thought for days. At this point, I’ve read so many books on the New Mass vs. Tridentine Mass controversy that I thought, what more could I learn – and this short booklet showed me I still had a whole lot more to understand.

From the Introduction:

Their (traditionalists) adherence to the old Mass and rejection of the New Mass is founded on the differences in content between the two rites. Traditionalists, in one way or another, view the prayers and ceremonies of the new rite, even when conducted in Latin, as a threat to Catholic tradition and Catholic doctrine.

Meaning, it’s not the Latin and incense, stupid (memo to FSSP).

Father then explains how the “Committee for Implementing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (in the spirit of 1789, we could call this the “Committee of Liturgical Safety”) or Consilium, as it is better known, was established as a workaround for the more intransigent fogies at the Sacred Congregation of Rites. “Establishing a new entity to propose liturgical changes, therefore, achieved the proverbial end-run around a well-entrenched opposition” (p. 7).

Father cites a Fr. Guy Oury, who stated “If someone were to devote his time to the work of making a line-by-line comparison, he would find in the Missal of Paul VI three-quarters if not six-ninths of the content of the original Missal of St. Pius V” (p. 6). Without addressing the howls that such a statement would receive among the faithful of today who do not in any way represent the sheep that baaaed when this was published in 1975, Father calmly states: “The statistics, however, tell a different story: The Traditional Missal contains 1182 orations. About 760 of those were dropped entirely. Of the approximately 36% which remained, the revisers altered over half of them before introducing them into the new Missal” (p. 9).

Father Cekada then goes on to deal with 6 areas of Catholic doctrine that have been devastated (understatement) by the New Missal, viz.

“Negative theology”
Detachment from the world
Prayers for the departed
The merits of the Saints

My goal here is not to reprint Father’s book, but to encourage you to read it, so as much as I’d like to quote more, I will just quote a single example that Father gives in each of these sections.

“Negative theology”

What is this? Basically anything that talks about “bad” stuff, like hell, sin, human weakness, the world, the flesh, the devil, you know, that outdated stuff.

Collect for the Third Sunday after Pentecost was changed to the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the last part was changed from:

we may so pass through the good things of time that we may not lose the good things of eternity.


we may now so use transient things that we may cling to those things which endure.”

Father notes: “The allusion to the possibility of damnation – the loss of heaven through the misuse of temporal things – has disappeared. In its place there is expressed a desire to cling to things which endure,’ a vague, though infinitely ‘more positive’ notion” (p. 14).

Detachment from the world

Those of us familiar with Vatican II Newspeak will recognize this jarring change for the Collect of St. Peter Damian

Old text: “that by a contempt of earthly things, we may obtain everlasting joys.”

Short, sweet, Catholic, right?

New text: “that putting nothing before Christ and always intent on the service of Thy Church we may be led to the joys of eternal light.”


Prayers for the Departed

One of the most striking changes in the post-Conciliar liturgy involved the rites and prayers for the dead. White vestments replaced black; Alleluia replaced Eternal Rest Grant unto Them, and the typical funeral, in America at least, was turned into something akin to a canonization ceremony” (p. 20).


This is one of the most indicting changes, and looks deep into the soul-less heart of Vatican II.

The Collect for the Propagation of the Faith, now changed to the “Evangelization of Peoples” reads:

Old text: “Send, we beseech Thee, laborers into Thy harvest and grant them grace with all boldness to speak Thy word; so that Thy word may run and be glorified, and all nations may know Thee, the only God, and Him whom Thou has sent, Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord.

Again, perfect. Catholic. Clearly. But not good enough for Consilium. The bulldozed text reads:

Look upon Thy great harvest, and graciuosly send laborers therein, so that the Gospel may be preached to every creature adn that Thy people, gathered by the word of life, and strengthened by the power of the sacraments, may advance in the way of salvation and charity.”

What? If you are lost, you’re not alone. Fr. Cekada responds: “The goal of the missionary’s apostolate has been changed…in the new collect, it appears to be merely ‘preaching the Gospel’” (p. 23). In other words, why mention Jesus? He’s not really “good” for “ecumenism.”

The Merits of the Saints

Old text for the Collect of St. Gertrude the Great:

by her merits and intercession do Thou mercifully wash away from our hearts the stains of sin and grant that we may rejoice with her in heavenly fellowship.

New text:

by her intercession do Thou mercifully enlighten the darkness of ourhearts that we may joyfully experience Thee working and present within us.”

The whole perspective of the prayer was altered: ‘enlightenment’ and ‘joy’ are part of contemporary man’s experience; ‘merits,’ the ‘stains of sin’ and ‘heavenly fellowship’ are not, so these latter concepts have disappeared” (p. 26).


The oration for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes no longer mentions her apparition, but then the new orations for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary no longer bother to mention her Rosary, either” (p. 28).

I can provide no better conclusion than Father’s last 2 paragraphs of the book.

Finally, there is the proverbial man in the pew – the average Catholic. He is oblivious to the continuing controversies between neo-Modernists and the conservatives over what is and what is not Catholic teaching, he reads little about the faith and he more than likely received his last formal religious instruction in high school. The only formation he now receives in his faith is what he hears and sees druing the 45 minutes or so that he spends in church on Sunday. For him, “The law of prayer,” practically speaking, is his only “law of belief.”

For him (as Father Braga predicted), the contents of the New Missal will indeed “have a transforming effect on catechesis.” If hell, the human soul or the wickedness of sin count for little in the new ligurgy, they will in turn count but little for the man in the pew. And if this man – contemporary “Catholic” man – no longer believes in or is even aware of these and other parts of the Church’s teaching, it will be in no small measure due to the law of unbelief in teh orations of the new Missal of Paul VI.
(p. 31)

I highly recommend this short succinct read. It is great to hand out to Novus Ordo and Indult friends and TAN offers bulk pricing.

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