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The Bold Language of the Old Rite

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A friend of mine, who also happens to be a diocesan priest, recently shared an interesting discovery with me. Interesting, in part, because the Church just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions.

This particular priest happens to be familiar with the traditional liturgy of the Church, offering both the Mass and the Sacrament of Baptism in the old rite. It was within Father Philip Weller’s classic Roman Ritual Volume 1: Sacraments and Processions that my friend found the following excerpt for the Supplying Ceremonies in Adult Baptism. The text reads in part:

“If the candidate is a convert from paganism, the priest adds: Abhor idols and their images.”

“If from Judaism: Abhor Jewish infidelity, renounce the false belief of the Hebrews.”

“If from Mohammedanism: Abhor Islam’s infidelity, renounce this evil and faithless sect.”

“If the candidate belonged to a Protestant, sect, and the validity of previous baptism is in question, he says: Abhor the evil of heresy, renounce the infamous sect of N. (mentioning the name of the sect).”

Now let’s be clear about the use of the word abhor. The Oxford Dictionary states that to abhor something is to “regard it with disgust or hatred.” So what we see in the old rite is very clear and direct language being addressed to the candidate. The old religion is being rejected. Renounced. Why? Because this adult convert to Catholicism, having found the one, true, Church now views false beliefs with disgust.

At a time when the plague of indifferentism decimates the faith and leads souls astray, the triumphalist text of the Old Rite seems all the more timely. As my friend noted, regarding the removal of such language from the ritual today, “And they wonder why we’re in trouble!”

Photo Credit: JP Sonnen

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