In the Dictionary of the Second Vatican Council (Corpus
Books, Washington, D.C., first edition, 1968) on the subject
of the "Paschal Mystery," editors Fr. Adrien Nocent,
O.S.B., and Jacques Deretz wrote:
would be excessive to think that it might have been necessary
to wait for Vatican II because, again, the term and the
theology of the Paschal mystery was very much alive in
the Church and was a part of the Church. However, it has
to be recognized that such a rediscovery did not take
too long to occur. The last and most important liturgical
document prior to Vatican II, Pius XII's 1947 encyclical,
Mediator Dei, did not as yet employ the term. It
speaks of redemption and does not insist at all [sic]on
Our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection. It keeps to the
viewpoint that posits the death of Jesus Christ [as] the
central salvific event, and still does not emphasize that
His Resurrection is as much, and in an
essential way [emphasis added], the event
of the world's salvation. Certainly, this does not at
all mean that Mediator Dei ignores the Paschal
mystery: on the contrary, all of the elements which comprise
it are materially contained in this important Papal Magisterial
document...But these elements' unification and synthesis
is not perceived.
According to the editors of the Dictionary
of the Second Vatican Council, the "unification
and synthesis" would, instead, be carried out by the
"Paschal Mystery theology" which is the rediscovery
that "we Christians participate together with Our Pxisen
Lord, Jesus Christ, in the Community that is the Church,
in the Paschal mystery." The same theology has also
"rediscovered how such a mystery comprises the Liturgy's
center and its essential nucleus" (ibid).
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It seems to us that these assertions-which
we must really call falsifications-are unfounded. In fact,
if Pope Pius XII did not use the expression "Paschal
Mystery" in Mediator Dei, it does not mean that
he ignored it or didn't know anything about it. What really
counts is that he points to "Paschal Mystery theology"
among the Liturgical Movement's twisted deviations that
he intended to correct with that encyclical.
What characterizes "Paschal Mystery
theology"? Fr. Nocent says that it is the departure
from "the viewpoint that posits the death of Jesus
Christ [as] the
salvific event [emphasis mine]," the viewpoint, by the way, maintained
by Pope Pius XII. According to Nocent, this departure emphasizes
"that His Resurrection is as much, and in
an essential way, the event of the world's salvation."
But Pope Pius XII was an excellent theologian in his own
right, enough of one so that Cardinal Montini, the future
Pope Paul VI, had warned Roger Schutz of the proto-ecumenical
Taize community about this, advising him to pose his questions
to Pius XII on the "pastoral" level alone and
not theologically. Neither as theologian nor pope did Pius
XII allow himself any departure or exit from Tradition.
It is the Church's perennial doctrine, defined by the Council
of Trent on the basis of Sacred Scripture and Patristic
Even though all Christ's individual activities
have redemptive value for us, and as a whole compose the
work of the Redemption, still His redemptive activity
finds its apogee in the death of sacrifice on the Cross.
On this account it is, by excellence but not exclusively,
the efficient cause of our redemption.1
Therefore, for Fr. Adrien Nocent to say that
the resurrection of Jesus is "as much" the salvific
event as His death, or to say even more strongly still that
it is so "in an essential way" is to depart from
the Church's traditional doctrine or, more precisely, to
Jesus himself said that He came to "give
his life a redemption for many" (Mt. 20:28) and to
"shed his blood" in order to expiate the sins
of men (Mt. 20: 28; Mk.lO:45). At the Last Supper, He celebrated
the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood, poured
out "for the remission of sins," with no mention
of the Resurrection (Lk. 22:19; Mt. 26:28). To His disciples
on the road to Emmaus, He said His Resurrection was the
fruit of His Passion (Lk. 24:25,26). In fact, both the Old
and New Testament equally attest that in God's plan, "Christ
must vanquish death by means of death" and, by means
of death merit resurrection for Himself and for the Mystical
His resurrection was earned,
and not praiseworthy, nor could
it have been because "with his death, Christ shut himself
off from the praiseworthy level"2
just as it will be closed for us by our death. If all of
the meritorious actions of Christ's life culminate in the
Passion and Death by which Christ merited salvation, His
resurrection merited nothing but was the victorious conclusion
of His redemptive work, the recompense for the Passion's
humiliation, the prototype of our spiritual resurrection,
as well as the pledge and token of our bodily resurrection.
For this reason and no other, the resurrection of Christ
belongs to the integrity of the Redemption. In fact,
the Fathers of the Church speak of "merit" through
the Passion and Death, and of "recompense" (i.e.,
retribution; reward) through His Resurrection. Finally,
the Council of Trent has defined infallibly that the "meritorious
cause" of our salvation is Jesus Christ, which He merited
"with His Most Holy Passion on the wood of the Cross"
Thus, one can understand why Pope Pius XII
in Mediator Dei "did not at all emphasize Our
Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection," but concentrates
on "the field of vision of Jesus Christ's death [as]
the salvific event" and why we, too, keep to this same
"field of vision."
But the new "Paschal Mystery theology"
demands giving the Christ's resurrection at least "as
much" salvific value as the death on the Cross and
also the rivilege arising from it. This "New Soteriology"
i.e., doctrine of salvation) is thick into the Liturgical
Movement. Romano Guardini, one of its "fathers"
and to whom Cardinal Ratzinger likes to refer, wrote in
his II Signore (pp.435-436): "Total clarity
on the concept of redemption comes uniquely from the Resurrection."
Elsewhere he wrote:
anyone asks: "What is redemption; what is it to have
redeemed, and to have been redeemed?" the answer
ought to be: "It is the Resurrection."
Thus, the Passion and the Death on the Cross
are minimalized and annihilated in the glory of the Christ's
Resurrection (although the risen hands and feet carry wounds
and the heart is opened by a lance). Good Friday is eclipsed
by Resurrection Sunday, the glorious reward being substituted for the sorrowful meriting.
The "New Soteriology" hides from souls the
understanding that no one conforms to the Risen Christ
who does not will first to conform (and allow themselves
to be conformed) to the Crucified Christ.
In Mediator Dei, Pius XII demonstrated
he was not ignorant of this deviation, and clearly condemned
it without naming the "Paschal Mystery theology"
specifically. After recalling that the entire liturgical
year requires us to make "an intense and efficacious
effort" to imitate the mysteries of Christ, "in
order to enter voluntarily the way of His sufferings and
to participate finally in His glory and eternal blessing"
(Mediator Dei), Pope Pius XII condemns those
who attempt to separate the glorious goal of the Passion:
162. From what We have already explained,
Venerable Brethren, it is perfectly clear how much modern
writers are wanting in the genuine and true Liturgical spirit
who, deceived by the illusion of a higher mysticism, dare
to assert that attention should be paid not to the historic
Christ but to a "pneumatic" [i.e., "spiritualized"
-Ed.] or glorified Christ. They do not hesitate to
assert that a change has taken place in the piety of the
faithful by dethroning, as it were, Christ from His position;
since they say that the glorified Christ, who liveth and
reigneth forever and sitteth at the right hand of the Father,
has been overshadowed and in His place has been substituted
that Christ who lived on earth. For this reason, some have
gone so far as to want to remove from the churches images
of the Divine Redeemer suffering on the cross.
But these false statements are completely opposed to
the solid doctrine handed down by tradition. "You believe
in Christ born in the flesh," says St. Augustine, "and
you will come to Christ begotten of God." In the sacred
liturgy, the whole Christ is proposed to us in all the circumstances
of His life, as the Word of the Eternal Father, as born
of the Virgin Mother of God, as He Who teaches us truth,
heals the sick, consoles the afflicted, Who endures suffering
and Who dies; finally, as He Who rose triumphantly from
the dead and Who, reigning in the glory of heaven sends
us the Holy Paraclete and Who abides in His Church forever":
"Jesus Christ, yesterday and today; and the same forever."
Besides, the Liturgy shows us Christ not only as a Model
to be imitated but as a Master to Whom we should listen
readily, a Shepherd Whom we should follow, Author of our
salvation, the Source of our holiness and the Head of the
Mystical Body whose members we are, living by His very life.
164. Since His bitter sufferings constitute the principal mystery of our
Redemption it is only fitting that the Catholic faith should
give it the greatest prominence. This mystery is the very
center of divine worship since the Mass represents and renews
it every day and since all the Sacraments are most closely
united with the Cross [(emphasis mine) ed. Mary Immaculate
Queen Ctr., pp.56,57].
As is evident from the above quotations,
Pius XII did not separate the Resurrection from the Passion,
just as the Church has never separated it, and, as the Church
has always done, he also emphasizes the Passion's privileged
place and did not place it on equal footing with the ends
of salvation: "...His bitter sufferings constitute
the principal mystery of our Redemption—" The provision
for our salvation is His death on the Cross and, consequently,
the Sacrifice of the Cross-and not the Resurrection-is "the very center of
divine worship," as the Church has always taught.
However, in the "Paschal Mystery theology,"
there is a theological
inversion, logically followed by a liturgical inversion. Says Fr.
Adrien Nocent: "[T]he center, the essential nucleus
of the liturgy," is no longer the Sacrifice of the
Cross, but the "Paschal Mystery" that is, the
Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci pointed out
the descent of the Novus Ordo Missae toward the "Paschal
Mystery theology" when, in their Short Critical
Study of the New Order of Mass [a.k.a. The Ottaviani
Intervention-Ed.]presented to Pope Paul VI on Pentecost,
1969, they noted that the definition of the Mass was rendered
It is obvious that the Novus Ordo obsessively
emphasizes "supper" and "memorial,"
instead of the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the
Even the phrase in the Instruction describing
the Mass as a "memorial of the Passion and
Resurrection" is inexact [emphasis in original]. The Mass is the memorial
of the unique Sacrifice, redemptive in itself; whereas,
the Resurrection is the fruit which follows from
that sacrifice [emphasis in original]. We shall see later
how such equivocations are repeated and reiterated both
in the formula for the Consecration and throughout the Novus
Ordo as a whole [The Ottaviani Intervention, ed.
TAN Books and Publishers, pp.35,36].
In exalting the Resurrection, which pervades
today's liturgy (even though the "New Theology"
negates Christ's bodily Resurrection), there might be more
than an inexactitude. Practically speaking, this is a recycling
of the 38th modernist thesis condemned by Pope Pius X in his decree, Lamentabili
Sane [a.k.a. Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the
Modernists}, that is: "The doctrine of the expiatory
death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical." This
is to say that the Catholic Church condemns the idea that
Christ's salvific Passion and Death is a fabrication
of St. Paul and not of the "true Gospel."
emphasis on the Resurrection, and the creeping heretical
negation of Christ's expiatory sacrifice which results,
strikes not only the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass, but all Christianity. It is diabolical.
This article was translated by Suzanne Rini
from the original Italian (SiSiNoNo, April 30,
2002) exclusively for The Angelus. It was edited
for clarity and partially added to for interest by Fr.
Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, (Rockford,
IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974), p.185.
See Tito Denti, O.P., note 2, p.281 of vol. XXVI of La
Somma Teologica, edited by the Italian Dominicans, published
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Kansas City, MO 64109
translated from the Italian
Fr. Du Chalard
Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14
Italia 00049 Velletri (Roma)
2002 Volume XXV, Number 9