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NOM Attendance and Validity

Spiritual Conference, Econe, 23 December, 1974

NOM Symbols

In a few days, let’s say 48 hours from now, you will be leaving, to return to your families. It is during holidays that one can measure oneself. Here it is us priests and professors that assess you. In your holidays, we’re no longer there. It’ll be up to you to assess yourself, to see what you are capable of, what you are capable of in terms of self control, in the usage you make of your time, in the program of your day.

Do you let go of things, your faith, as it comes ? Do you fulfill all your resolutions for each hour of the day, that is to say according to your last inspiration ? Do you even have a minimum program set out in advance ? Even if you have to travel, even if you have to move, well, you must have a minimum program set out for fulfilling your pious exercises, for doing your exercises in piety, and after that do the things you intend to do in your holiday. If you can, if it is possible, say your prayers in front of the Blessed Sacrament. You answer me : “But is the Blessed Sacrament still there, where I go ?” That is the question that will pop up, with the subsequent problems that will start to trouble your brain.

Well, evidently, if Fr Barbara is right, it is not worth the effort of going into a church to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, if it isn’t there. But I think he’s not right, I think he’s not completely correct, at least not in a general way. I think his principle is still much too absolute. We talked about this together after the little communication he gave to us, to the professors, and I think that none of us is in full agreement with what Fr Barbara said, with his thoughts.

Notice, that obviously these are things that one may discuss, isn’t it. It is not forbidden to discuss this. That is why I didn’t think it was wrong that he exposes his ideas to us, and to the professors. But in any case, I think that it is an exaggeration to say that the rite itself renders the Mass invalid, because we always have to consider the three indispensable conditions that are necessary for the validity of the Mass, which are : the intention of the priest, the matter and the form.

With regards to the form, we can discuss the translation that is made in many languages, with “for all” and “for many”, which is obviously disastrous and unfortunate, because the catechism of the Council of Trent is quite formal on this point, and explicit in the given reason why, in the formula of the consecration of the Precious Blood, ‘pro multis’ is used and not ‘pro omnibus’. So we do not see how these translations could have been authorized with equivocally using ‘pro omnibus’ in German, Spanish, English and French. “For the multitude” would mean for all, which would mean for anyone, that is not very clear anymore. Anyway, it’s unfortunate because we need this very clear and firm intention expressed by Our Lord Himself when he pronounced these words. This is what the catechism of Trent says quite explicitly. But it doesn’t appear to me, according to the authors, relying on these authors.. of theology, that this change could effect even the validity of the sacrament. No, these authors say that it is a grave sin to change words, and especially the important words of the consecration. But because the priest still pronounces, and because we pronounce “mysterium fidei” after these words, the first words pronounced, the words of the consecration of the Precious Blood, it seems all the same that the True Presence can take place. In any case, those are things that we can discuss, evidently. But at the same time I believe that in such a case one has to stick to the more common opinion of theologians.

So, I encourage you to say your prayers in from of the Blessed Sacrament, if you are not convinced that the Blessed Sacrament is not there of course. It is up to you to judge, I cannot judge that for you. You must know the priest, the manner in which he celebrates Holy Mass. Generally speaking, I think we may say that many priests don’t think too much of how the Mass was changed, unfortunately, and still have the intention with which they celebrated before the changes. I think that one can say in a fairly general way, but not absolute, that there are certainly those who now have a different spirit, who maybe even changed their intention in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But at the same time I think that one can equally say that there are many priests, [who are] good priests. You certainly know some who celebrate the Mass according to the NOM, but keep the intention of making the sacrifice of the Mass, of offering the sacrifice of the Mass and who thus have the intention to do what the Church does. If they have this intention and if they pronounce the words of the consecration, in it’s entirety, and which they pronounce over the bread, well, the Mass will certainly be valid.

After this little declaration I gave you, some of you, I think, have wondered about the problem, in what could be my thoughts on.. how to express my thoughts regarding the Holy Mass, and what I told you before, believing that I ought to give you some instructions on the subject of attending Mass, especially on a Sunday.

It is clear that if you have the Mass of St Pius V on your doorstep every day, you have to go to that Mass, daily as far as you possibly can, but naturally without question on a Sunday, [since] the Sunday obligation exists and always remains. Can one say that the same remains for the Novus Ordo, if the Mass is a Mass in the Novus Ordo ? There, I confess, I would be less affirmative, less affirmative, and that I don’t think one can say in a general way that the Sunday obligation remains for a Novus Ordo Mass, because I do not think that there is a grave obligation that obliges us to assist at a Mass that is equivocal, for certain, that is certainly equivocal.

Does that mean that we are absolutely dispensed from going to Sunday Mass because we cannot go to a Mass of St. Pius V, to the Traditional Mass? If the distances truly prevent us, if no priest can be found close by who says this Mass, then I believe that it is up to each one of you to judge according to the circumstances. Maybe, in my opinion, it may be better to assist anyway at a Mass that is not a Traditional Mass because of certain circumstances that you consider in such a moment to be serious enough for you to go there yourself, because after all, we must make distinctions in all these Novus Ordo Masses. We say Novus Ordo Mass but there are some that come very close to the Mass of St. Pius V and you also have some that are quite far from it.

Two, three days ago I spoke with Fr. Lourdelet, who succeeded Canon Catta in France for the Opus Sacerdotale. Among these priests there are I believe about 600, but at least over 100, who say the Mass of St. Pius V, like we say ourselves. A certain number of them, Fr. Lourdelet himself told me that he encourages and he is at all times inclined to urge all member priests of the Opus to use the old Offertory, and the old Canon too. Given that we already have such a group of priests who are decided to maintain this practice that was requested by Fr. Lourdelet, it is certain that this is already so close to the Mass of St Pius V, we may say, especially if one keeps the old Offertory and the first Canon, the old Canon. We cannot say that it is perfect, it is obviously not perfection, but in any way, in all circumstances we are obliged to judge things not in an absolute manner… but according to the reality of things, according to the reality of facts.

We must ponder, you have to ponder : are there any moral advantages or disadvantages for me in assisting at Holy Mass, at a Mass according to the Novus Ordo, that will be said in such a parish, or are there more moral advantages if I do not assist, if I do not assist there? It is up to you to weigh the circumstances. But it is obvious that you are certainly not obliged in conscience to attend a Mass that is said according to the habits of many priests in France, of many priests where one gives Communion in the hand or where there’s even laity who give Communion in the hand, or where women read the readings, or… and I know, things are really , really Protestant, they are really, really contrary to all traditions of the Church, and they are real denials of the role of the priest, denials I would say, of fundamental dogmas of the Holy Mass. One is certainly not obliged to attend a Mass of this kind, certainly not.

But I believe that no harm is done to assist there, especially ‘per modum actus’, I would say, and not habitually, ‘per modum actus’ like you, for example, who find yourself on holiday, you go to assist there because of your parents, because of a priest you know well and who is a friend of Econe, who holds collections for Econe, who makes some exchanges..

[laughter]

Well yes, there are some like that, who raise funds for Econe and who sing the Kyrie, the Credo, the Sanctus, who try to keep the most.. who are unhappy with their situation, who are anguished, etc. So I think that in such circumstances, in which.. these people who strive to give also communion in a traditional way, who encourage their faithful to receive communion in a traditional way, all these are rather particular circumstances. So, imagine what would a priest think of a seminarian of Econe, which you are, and who is truly a friend of Econe, if he knew that your are 100m away from him.. Ok, if you have the Mass of St Pius V you must not hesitate, you can tell him squarely : I’m sorry, but for me, what do you expect, I will not hesitate [to choose] between one or the other. But I if you do not have [such a Mass], rather than stay home and say “I cannot go there” when this priest who is 200m away from you said Mass in such a manner, I believe that morally speaking, what do you expect, it is not at all a sin to attend this Mass, and thus I would say that you can render him a service in this sense that he can say that, see there, you have a seminarian from Econe who comes. And so we must encourage them, I am all for them and I wish there were many priests like those from Econe. These are special cases, difficult cases I know, peculiar cases, and it is for this reason that I find it impossible to tell you, that I don’t feel it is my moral duty to tell you : you cannot set foot in a Novus Ordo Mass.

If in conscience and in all the circumstances in which you find yourself, you judge that it would be better for you to go there, then go there ! I make no demands of you, I do not force you to go to Masses of this kind. But on the other hand, I also ask you personally - if a seminarian told me he could not do otherwise, he felt obliged to go to such a Mass, then I will not throw the first stone - and so I demand from you too, as one amongst the others, not to throw stones if you hear of one seminarian going to such a Mass, because he believed he had to go. Leave it to his own conscience.

Certainly, as I have always told you, what I just told you is more severe than what I told you a year ago, and two years ago, because as time goes by, the more we have invalid Masses, because the younger ones don’t believe anymore, the younger ones don’t believe in dogmas anymore, those who are currently being formed in the seminaries, compared to a priest who has said and celebrated Mass in the old rite for 20, or 25 years, who all of a sudden felt obliged, through pressure that was put upon him, to take on the new Mass, but who deep down is not at all convinced of what is going on and who would happily go back if the situation changed. Well, I think that such a priest still says a valid Mass, that he makes a valid sacrifice, especially if he does his best not to accept all these novelties that are offered. We must recognize this is becoming less and less frequent, and that the manner in which Holy Mass is being celebrated resembles more and more a meal, and that is very, very, very serious and it is why I told you that there is less danger if you attended ‘ad modum actus’ [occasionally], that is to say once in passing by such a Mass because of your parents and your friends who go there, than there is danger in going regularly, in which way you slowly, slowly, slowly absorb the poison and end up saying too, it’s a meal, it’s a meal, yes.. One no longer thinks of a Sacrifice, and because of no longer genuflecting for the Blessed Sacrament, very slowly respect diminishes. There’s no longer an act of adoration, and slowly one also start to diminish belief in the True Presence, that is clear… It is very dangerous, it is very dangerous and this is why I believe one can advise people who themselves sense the danger to stay at home, to go maybe once ‘per modum actus’, occasionally if you don’t have access to a different Mass. But on a regular basis, it would be better for you to abstain and to say your Sunday Mass at home, if you feel that slowly, very slowly you no longer retain the same notion of the Mass that you had before. It’s very dangerous, one becomes protestant without noticing it. It’s even more serious for children who have never seen otherwise, and who by themselves, would fall into full protestantism and without hesitation.

We know this very well, and that is why we must try to convince all your relatives and friends, as much as you can, to attend the old Masses, the traditional Masses wherever they are said, and support the priests who do this in spite of all the difficulties they may face, they must be supported, they must be encouraged. And with regards to this, I encourage you very much to obtain the last issue of the “Courier De Rome” which has just arrived today. It just arrived today, even though I had already seen it in Paris, I had already been shown the article of Father Graviers and the article by M. Salleron who are to be admired, who are very, very courageous, and who canonically and theologically refute all the statements recently made by the Episcopal conference.. by the Episcopal Conference of France, which clearly abused it’s power, obviously abused it’s power, obviously !

There you are, that is what I think I must tell you for the moment, I don’t know how much.. how long this will last, really. I think, as I said often to those who are much stronger, there are some of them, among our Traditional friends, who are much firmer. I heard some in Paris who told me : “Ah, you should no longer mention the name of the Holy Father in the Canon.” I told them : “But listen, .. for now I pray for the Holy Father anyway, I think he needs our prayers!” “Ah, you should not even pray the Mass of St Pius V in a chapel that has been profaned by the Novus Ordo!” “Listen here, that touches on some points which are truly extreme, extreme ! I’m not talking about what happened recently in a chapel in Rheims 8 days ago : orgies, a real orgy, that was all over the French newspapers, and on the radio, where some young people took drugs, did all one can imagine in the cathedral of Rheims, obviously that is an abominable profanation. The bishop should make a public and official reparation, it’s abominable.. so there I would say that myself I would no longer set foot in this cathedral before it is restored and before it is sanctified again. I would no longer go to Mass there, I understand that. But to say that one no longer can celebrate Holy Mass in a church where the new Mass has been celebrated, really, I think, that’s quite a different matter, that is exaggerating a little.

See, that is what makes the situation a little difficult, because there are always those who, as I say, lead Providence, who do not follow it. They are prophets, perhaps, but prophets of truth or error I don’t know for sure, but are run always ahead … they are always ahead, a year ahead of the others … I think we must follow the events that Providence shows us, until the day when everything is clear, everything is clear, that we can no longer set foot in these Masses, that it is impossible to do so. But I think that we must not condemn all those priests who strive to do everything they can to keep the Holy Mass as good as possible, who by the way agree, with us, who help us, who write to us, who encourage us.

So do not discourage them while telling them, hoping that they have the courage to clearly change and praying for them so that they have the courage to change, of course! It is the same with regards to our visit. They will talk to you about it, everyone will tell you, ask you: but what happened at Ecône, what happened at Ecône? So do not try, do not try to surrender … make your story interesting by making it a little novel, try to keep the truth anyway, tell what happened, do not invent too much! And when they ask you “well then the results, the results, you are condemned, have you been condemned?”

No, nothing, nothing, no echo, at least I do not have any. If you do, you can tell me, but I have nothing, absolutely nothing! But then they are not going to tell you anything? Well, maybe, so they have nothing to tell us, so it’s all right, what else do you want us to say, that’s all. So this is it. In any case, let us pray, let us pray as well so that this holy year in spite of everything is not a year when we have … findings to be made that are painful to us, I dare not, I do not want to anticipate events, I do not know what will happen. And here also, on this occasion, you may be told of a pilgrimage which I have allowed myself to take charge of in a certain way: a group of gentlemen from Paris came to see me … asking … to make a pilgrimage in May, on the Trinity or on Trinity Sunday, and asked if I would lead them. So, a pilgrimage. They organize everything, ..it is they who organize everything, it is … the committee is formed by Mr. Michel de Saint Pierre who is its Chairman, Mr. Salleron who is also a member, General Lecomte and other persons who are willing to be part of it. I do not occupy myself materially, but I told them: it is obvious that the condition is that the Masses which these pilgrims will attend are Masses of Saint Pius V, but these Masses will be said in various parishes of Rome, where they are normally said at the moment. Therefore the pilgrims would be dispersed according to their location in Rome and would gather for the Masses of Saint Pius V in these different parishes where they are already said now and then we would visit the 7 Basilicas of Rome, visit the 7 Basilicas of Rome where we would try to have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, sing the Credo and perhaps, at least in one of the Basilicas, recitation, and the proclamation of the anti-modernist oath, for example, to affirm our faith. I think that since we all recited it during the council, all the bishops recited it during the council, there is no reason why it should not be recited now! In short, all I wanted to say about this pilgrimage, because you will certainly be told about it, then you would say: Monsignor never spoke of it, we know nothing about it, we do not know what it is. So that is going to happen … it will last three days: the Saturday before the Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Monday after the Trinity .. and my faith, if it pleases God.. and everything is going well and is being prepared well, I think we could go all together so that …

[applause, end of the tape]

Archbishop Lefebvre