Was the Novus Ordo Mass an infallible declaration?

During Vatican II , was the new order of the Mass infallibly defined or declared?

I am debating a fellow Catholic who will only attend the Latin Mass because though she admits that the new Mass is valid, she says it is of a “lesser” form or is less efficacious. I know this is false and asked her by what authority can she say this. I told her that the Holy
Spirit would not guide the Church to develop a new form that is inferior to which she sites instances in history when popes and councils taught heresy, etc.

The order of the Mass and the Missal are not matters of doctrine.

You are wasting your time. This is a particularly illogical type of Catholic.

So is there someplace I can reference to prove that the Magisterium deems both forms as equally efficacious and that she has no leg to stand on?

Yes. vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070707_lettera-vescovi_en.html

That will prove the point you asked about, but as to whether or not it will convince her, that’s altogether different.

Missale Romanum (1969) was an Apostolic Constitution, the highest level of decree by a Pope.


It was, btw, promulgated in Latin.


If she chooses to attend only the EF, that is perfectly reasonable, assuming she is referring to Masses offered in unity with the Catholic Church. It doesn’t hurt anyone else if this form is the one that ministers to her needs the best.
However, if she believes popes taught heresy - on matters of faith and morals - that is more significant. What Catholic authority could she possibly cite that could prove that? In any event, if that were possible. that would invalidate not only the authority of the OF but the EF as well.
But debating isn’t the best way to respond. I sometimes found people attached to the TLM because it was the only one in town said with genuine reverence, with a highly motivated congregation that really wanted to be there. They dress for Mass as if it were something important. Listen to her reasons why she loves the TLM. If she finds reverence and love at other kinds of Masses in her town, my guess is that her logical reasons against it will dissipate. Or if she sees that OF doing a good work in people she knows - including you - that will speak louder than internet ammunition reasons.

No, an order of Mass cannot be “infallibly” defined. However that does not mean it was not authoritatively defined. It was. The Church’s authority extends far past matters of faith and morals.

If this person only wants to attend Mass according to the Missal of St. John XXIII, then that is perfectly acceptable, assuming that this person is not of course missing Mass out of protestation because there is no Mass in Latin available.

Vatican II had absolutely nothing to do with the New Order of the Mass. The revised Roman Missal was developed after the Council was closed. It was developed by a commission of experts, including some Protestant ministers, under cardinal Bugnini. The result was approved by Pope Pius VI and established as the new form of the Roman Rite. It is thus valid as long as the words of Consecration are observed.

Some argue that certain translations into the vernacular render the Mass invalid (ex. qui pro vobis et pro multis translated as “por todos los hombres” or “for all”), but these vernacular translations have been approved and therefore they are expected to be valid.

The old form was never juridically abrogated, and in principle was always permitted (cif. Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI). The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is as valid as the Extraordinary Form if celebrated according to the rubrics. However, sometimes the validity may be questioned when the words of consecration are altered, or if the priest does not intend to do what the Church does (which is very rare).

In general, the graces ex opere operantis may be said to be greater when the recipient of the Sacrament is more properly disposed - ex. where contrition, reverence, awe of the Lord, and interior recollection are greater.

It is erroneous to state that the Holy Spirit would not guide the Church to develop a new form which is inferior. All known heresies have sprung forth from priests, bishops, or religious of the Church. The very fact that liturgies such as the Holy Mass and the Divine Office had to be reformed time and again demonstrate that they indeed become inferior through time. The reform called forth by the Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium appear to have very little do do with the reforms (and indults) enacted and conceded in the following 40 years, which is why a large number of theologians, clergy, and laity have gathered to promote a “reform of the reform”, a restoration of the sense of the sacred, and the promotion of traditional elements of Catholicity called for by the Council such as the use of Latin in the liturgy, the Gregorian chant, and the pipe organ.

In general, one can define the Ordinary Form by the words of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum:

in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.

I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives.

He also said other things as a cardinal, but those are not the official teaching of the Vicar of Christ requiring assent of mind and will. He said, for instance:

What happened after the Council was totally different: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We left the living process of growth and development to enter the realm of fabrication. There was no longer a desire to continue developing and maturing, as the centuries passed and so this was replaced - as if it were a technical production - with a construction.

The second great event at the beginning of my years in Regensburg was the publication of the Missal of Paul VI, which was accompanied by the almost total prohibition, after a transitional phase of only half a year, of using the missal we had had until then.

There is no doubt that this new missal in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something “made”, not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this it also follows that we are not to recognise the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every “community” must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life.

A renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation that again recognises the unity of the history of the liturgy and that understands Vatican II, not as a breach, but as a stage of development: these things are urgently needed for the life of the Church. I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us.

When the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless.

This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.

Well, I read it, but apparently am not very smart…where in that document does it talk about how one form is just as efficacious as the new?

The question confuses me. A Mass is either valid or it isn’t. Less efficacious? Like what? An Ordinary consecrates a carpenter Jesus and a Tridentine consecrates a Navy Seal Jesus?

The supernatural event of the Mass occurs via the power of God, not by the celebration in of itself.

  1. the OF mass was not promulgated by the council, but by Pope Paul VI.
  2. The missal promulgation was done ex-cathedra in the proper manner.
  3. A missal text is a matter of discipline, not doctrine nor dogma but…
  4. the Missal text is particularly special in that it closely ties to the teaching of Doctrine
  5. the inerrancy principle applies to the theological lessons encoded in the missal.
  6. No pope nor council can bind a later pope in matters of discipline.

The inerrancy principle is two fold -
A. There is no sin in lawful obedience to lawful things ordered by the lawgiver of the Church.
B. The pope can make no error in matters teaching of the Faith nor Doctrine

Which leads inevitably to…
Any flaws with the OF missal are neither doctrinal nor substantial to the faith. (The same applies to the flaws of the older missals. After all there was a 1925 revision, a 1950-something revision, the 1962 revision, the 1964 revision…)


No matter the flaws of either missal, there is no sin in the using of them under the current rules for them as given by the lawful lawgiver, the Pope, since any such flaws are neither matters of the faith nor of doctrine nor dogma.

Cardinal Ratzinger has noted that there is striking contrast between the texts of Vatican II and the practical consequences which followed in the wake of the Council. “This is another of those cases which are all too frequent in recent years, where there is a contradiction between, on the one hand, what the Council actually says, the authentic structure of the Church, and Her worship, the real, contemporary pastoral requirements, and, on the other hand, the concrete response of particular clerical circles.” (The Ratzinger Report, Vittorio Messori, Ignatius, 1985, p 122-3).

The prayers and Sacred Scripture readings were developed by the Church, and we have a Latin (Tridentine) Mass as well as a renewed Ordo Missae (vernacular). We now have the renewed Liturgy in the Ordo Missae, after the problems associated with the Committee which originally constructed the Ordo Missae.

I believe the paragraph preceding “In conclusion” is what you’re lookiing for.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

That doesn’t seem to do for me nor would it her. Thanks though.

But what about her contention that one is more efficacious than the other? The Holy Spirit still guides the Church. I can’t believe that the Holy Spirit would allow for a lesser or inferior form for His faithful to follow. How do I convince her that this would never happen?

The validity of the translations came into question before the Missal of 1970 became actually promulgated. Many misinterpreted the mere questioning of those translations to be taken as calling the New Missal invalid which didn’t make sense, at least not to me. My understanding is the transitional Mass had some problems in that there were too many canon options available; it was probably one of the reasons the Missal of 1970 was promulgated.

All of the Sacraments are works of Christ Jesus. It is His action in the Mass. When it is a validly offered Mass, at which a priest or bishop in communion with the Holy See offers it, the rite does not matter. The Eastern and Oriental Rites, as well as the Rites that exist in the West, (Ambrosian, Dominican, Cistercian, etc) as well as the OF and EF, are approved rites of the Mass, and of they are all of equal and infinite value, because it is the Work of Christ, which He entrusted to the Church. Our Lord and his Graces cannot be more or less available and effective from rite to rite, because He does not work that way.

How effecatious any Mass of any rite is in our soul depends on our interior disposition to receive the graces that Jesus gives to us through His Sacraments. If we just go to a Mass, even a Solemn Papal Mass in the EF, and our disposition is to see a public spectacle or event, and we do not prepare ourselves spiritually, all of the Graces will be there, but we will not be disposed to receive them. In the same vein, if we assist at the Mass of a newly ordained priest who is offering a low Mass in a mission hut, but we have prepared ourselves to worship God at his altar, and worthily receive communion, the Graces Christ gives are the same, but we are able to dispose ourselves more to those graces.

This was taught before the Council and remains Catholic teaching. Sadly many who are attached to the EF do not see it the way the Church does. I myself prefer the EF, and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom over other rites, but I know and assent that any Mass of any approved Rite is of equal value.

Well, if Latin was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!

On Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages… and that day about three thousand persons were added. How’s that for efficacious?

Because the graces are from Christ not the priest. For what she says to be true that would make the graces subject to some human agency beyond what Christ required. Our Lord required, the bread the wine and the words of consecration. If what she said was true then the priest would decide how much grace you receive base on him choosing one form or the other.

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