For the promotion and dissemination of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in the Archdiocese of Malta and the Diocese of Gozo, as endorsed by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI (2007) and in the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae (2011). This goes hand in hand with what the Second Vatican Council stated in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium of 1963: Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in ritibus latinis servetur.
One of Pope Paul VI’s famous speeches was the so-called “smoke of Satan” that he used on 29 June 1972. There were many who interpreted it to suit their own agenda, until His
Eminence Virgilio Cardinal Noè, Paul VI's Master of Ceremonies revealed that it concerned liturgical abuse of the Novus Ordo Missae (aka Paul VI's Mass) by several priests. Extracts from the interview follow (Source for the whole interview).
How did the Holy Father take the liturgical reform desired by Vatican II?
Noe: With pleasure.
Paul VI’s denunciation of the presence of the smoke of Satan
in the Church is unforgettable. Still today, that discourse seems to be
Noe: You from Petrus, have gotten a real scoop here, because
I am in a position to reveal, for the first time, what Paul VI desired
to denounce with that statement. Here it is. Papa Montini, for Satan,
meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t
render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy
Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the
Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he
maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the
name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the
pride of the Evil One. so, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the
mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons
of the Eucharistic ceremony.
It is thought that Paul VI was the real culprit as the cause
of all the ills of post-Conciliar liturgy. But based on what you have
revealed, Eminence, Montini compared the liturgical chaos, even if in a
veiled way, actually to something hellish…
Noe: He condemned craving to be in the limelight and the
delirium of almighty power that they were following the Council at the
liturgical level. Mass is a sacred ceremony, he often repeated,
everything must be prepared and studied adequately, respecting the
canons, no one is “dominus” [lord] of the Mass. Sadly, in many
after Vatican II not many understood him and Paul VI suffered this,
considering the phenomenon to be an attack of the Devil.
Your Eminence, in conclusion, what is true liturgy?
Noe: It renders glory to God. Liturgy must be carried out
always and no matter what with decorum: even a sign of the Cross poorly
made is synonymous with scorn and sloppiness. Alas, I repeat, after
Vatican II it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted.
Now it is necessary to recover, and in a hurry, the sense of the sacred
in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the
whole Church. Thanks be to God, we have Pope Benedict XVI: his Mass and
his liturgical style are an example of correctness and dignity.
This interview reminded me of a testimony by a Pro Tridentina (Malta) symphatiser who confided the following example of a recent liturgical abuse in Malta. Some details have been omitted to protect the identity of this person, the priest and the other laity.
The Mass was said for the intention of the soul of a
deceased brother of one of the employees. It took place at a room at the employer's site that was tentatively transformed into a chapel. Behind the table which had been transformed
into an altar, there was a priest sitting. On the altar there were 2
plastic bottles (0,33l), one contained
water, the other one – wine. Next to the bottles there were two plastic
margarine containers which contained....hosts (hopefully
non consecrated ones). There was a crucifix
standing with two candles. Behind the crucifix there was a... mobile
The priest commenced the Mass so our friend stood up but then
the priest and the people around her told her to sit down again. They
informed her that this was going to be a “seated Mass”. The Gospel was read and heard while everyone
was sitting. The sermon was about the computer screen being a window to
heaven (very useful when IE, Google Chrome and Firefox play pranks). For the universal prayer and the offering the priest remained seated (looking every now and then at his
For the Transubstantiation (consecration) the priest remained seated. Our friend
knelt down together with perhaps 2-3 more people. The Our Father - as by now it became obvious - was said in a sitting position (while the priest
kept looking at his mobile phone). And finally there was the Sign of Peace. It
was the only moment when the priest stood up to approach each and every
faithful to shake his/her hand. Then he returned to the altar, sat down
and kept saying prayers.
Then he announced
he would distribute Holy Communion under 2 forms. He warned the
congregation, that “wine is somewhat sour and may therefore taste
strange” so if anyone wanted to receive the Body of Christ 'only', he/she had to inform the priest beforehand. The priest distributed Holy Communion while sitting behind
the altar table. In fact he was making strange signs with his head
trying to find out under how many forms do people wish to receive the Holy
Communion. He gave the final blessing while sitting and he
didn’t even finish drinking the Blood of Christ from the chalice, he
didn’t purify the sacred vessels, so one wonders what he did later
with the Flesh and Blood of Christ.
When our friend approached this priest to tell him to celebrate Holy Mass in a dignified manner he just said that everyone was entitled to his/her opinion.
Surely Pope Paul VI never imagined that the Novus Ordo Missae he introduced in 1969-1970 would be abused to such an extent. And, unfortunately, this is one of several similar cases that are happening regularly in Malta.