Cum ergo videritis abomination desolationis, quae dicta est a Daniele propheta, stantem in loco sancto, qui legit, intellegat: tunc qui in Iudaea sunt, fugiant ad montes; qui in in tecto, non descendat tollere aliquid de domo sua; et qui in agro, non revertatur tollere pallium suum. Vae autem praegnantibus et nutrient bus in illis diebus! (Matt 24: 15-19)
Desolatio, -nis, f. means a desert, an abandonment. It comes from the Latin verb desolare, which means to lay waste or to ruin. It is that which brings destruction, waste, hopelessness and despair. Specifically, in this context, the Church has always read this to mean the desolation of Antichrist.
Abominatio, -nis, f. means a detestation, a loathing aversion. It is repugnance, disgust and horror. It is a derivative of the Latin expression “ab homine”, which means “away from man”, or “inhuman”. It is something that is beastly or monstrous.
It would seem that the post-Vatican II liturgical changes fit the bill, so to speak. The idea of sacrifice has been diminished, translations fraught with errors are used in the modern lectionaries, the prayers have been changed to such an extent as to cloud what the Church has always taught. What’s more, the novus ordo liturgy was created by committee. It was new creation, albeit created from many of the same materials that made up the Traditional Latin Mass. This spirit of human creation has made creativity a central aspect of the novus ordo, to such an extent that every parish community has re-created the novus ordo for themselves. This has often resulted in a rather beastly monstrosity, but is this beastly monstrosity the desolation of abomination prophesied by the Prophet Daniel, and spoken of by Our Blessed Lord in today’s Gospel?
The Prophet Daniel explains (9:26-27) that after the Christ has been slain, at which time a portion of the people will deny the Christ, and another people, with their leader, will come and destroy the holy city and the sanctuary. The result of this destruction will be a ruin or a waste, i.e. a desolation. Then in the midst of this desolation, the abomination of the same will be erected in the temple.
Haydock’s biblical commentary reads:
The abomination of deslation was frist partly fulfilled by divers profanations of the timepl, as when the image of Cæsar was set up in the temple by Pilate, and Adrian’s statue in the holy of holies, when the sacrifices were taken away; but will be more completely fulfilled by Antichrist and his precursors, when they shall attempt to abolish the holy sacrifice of the mass. St. Hyppolitus, in his treatise de Anti-Christo, mentioned by Eusebius, St. Jerome, and Photius, thus writeth: “The churches shall lament with great lamentations, because there shall neither be made oblations, nor incense, nor worship grateful to God. …In those days the liturgy (or mass) shall be neglected, the psalmody shall cease, the reciting of the Scripture shall not be heard.” The prophet Daniel (xii 11.) calculates the reign of Antichrist, from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away; which, by able commentators, is understood of the sacrifice of the mass, which Antichrist will endeavor to suppress.
P. Huchedé in his History of Antichrist explains:
Then by order of the tyrant the continual sacrifice shall be abolished (Dan. 9:27). The holy sacrifice of the Mass shall no longer be offered up publicly on the altars. The Church shall be devasted; the sacred vessels desecrated; the priests shall be scattered and separated from their flocks and put to death. The beauty of the new Sion has vanished! Her priests sigh; her streets resound with wailings and lamentations because there is no one found to assist at the solemnities of the Lamb. The Church has taken up her abode in the catacombs. (26)
The holy city is equated with the visible, institutional Church. The leader is equated to the Antichrist, and the “other people” are equated with those who follow Antichrist. The abomination itself is equated to the suppression of the public offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We can assume that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be replaced by some other rite in the “holy place”, that is the sanctuaries of the desolated churches. However, does this other rite constitute the novus ordo?
It is clear from the above that the event will be obvious and unmistakable, at least on the part of the faithful. The erection of the abomination of desolation will be at the hands of the Antichrist after he has unmistakably laid waste the visible, institutional Church. There will be no room for debate among faithful, traditional Catholics. As Huchedé says, “all the faithful shall be terror-stricken, for there is nothing to equal the ferocity with which the beast will persecute the Church” (26). In other words, if we are debating whether or not this or that is the abomination of desolation, then we can be sure that this or that is definitely not the abomination of desolation. The very event, itself, will silence all debate.
Secondly, the abomination belongs to, is of the "desolation", which etymologically signifies emptiness. Therefore, we can conclude that whatever rite that replaces the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be empty. Because a valid sacrament is confected at the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it can not be said to be empty; thus it can not be the rite that replaces the public offering of the Mass.
On these two points we can safely conclude that the novus ordo missae is definitely not the abomination of desolation spoken of by Our Blessed Lord. However, at the risk of offending, it can be argued with legitimacy that there is a certain and mediate relationship between the post-Vatican II liturgical changes and the 20th Century Liturgical Movement that affected them, and the work of Antichrist in erecting the abomination of desolation in the holy place in the end times. Is the work of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement a precursor to the abomination of desolation, a kind of shadow for what is to come?
As Haydock’s commentary points out the abomination “will be more completely fulfilled by Antichrist and his precursors.” Throughout history there have been many antichrists at work in the world, all of whom are precursors to the one man of history who is or will be the Man of Perdition. It goes without saying that there are also shadows of the work of Antichrist in the world. For a plethora of reasons we can scrutinize the novus ordo missae, at least in some of the ways it is offered, as being a shadow of the work of Antichrist. At the very least, we can scrutinize the inherent weaknesses of the new Mass that have allowed irreverence, even sacrilegious acts before the Blessed Sacrament, and a weakening of Catholic faith due to poorly conceived and confusingly worded prayers. The spirit of creativity, inherent in the novus ordo has lead to the evolution of cult of human self-worship. One need only look at some of the extremely poor translations used for the new lectionary to conclude that the Scriptures are not being heard, or at least not being heard clearly, in many places.
Huchedé writes: “By his deceitful craft he [Antichrist] will detach the minds and hearts of all peoples from the religion of Jesus Christ…” (17).
Antichrist and his precursors endeavor first to weaken the faith of Christ in the minds and hearts of man in order to prepare a generation that will accept Antichrist. Given the fruits of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement, and given its roots in the heresy of Modernism, it is easy to conclude that its fruits are a shadow of the work of Antichrist. At the very least, the new Mass’ purposeful defects, put in place by the Modernists of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement, allow for a shadow of the abomination of desolation to weaken the faith of Christ in the hearts and minds of men.
It is not our place to condemn the work of the Magisterium of the Church as a work of Antichrist. Far be it! However, we would have to be naive beyond measure to conclude that all is well in regards to the liturgical life of the modern Church. The adoption of new translations and the call for a “New Liturgical Movement”, presumably to undo or correct the work of the 20th Century one, belies the fact that something is wrong.
And that something, which is wrong, needs to be taken as seriously as our considerations of eschatological event of the abomination of desolation. No, the novus ordo missae and the current state of Catholic worship in the Latin Church is not the abomination of desolation spoken of by Our Blessed Lord in today’s Gospel, but it does encapsulate a wrong that strikes to the very heart of our Church, because our liturgy is at the very heart.
Our Blessed Lord commands those in Judea to flee to the mountains, fugiant ad montes, without any delay. Just as the Christians escaped the ravages of the destruction of Jerusalem, the faithful are to seek refuge in the mountains, the high ground, in the time of the abomination of desolation. In our own confusing times, when our own sanctuaries are visited by irreverence and even sacrilege, traditional Catholics are called to flee to high ground. That high ground is the Traditional Latin Mass, of course. However, it is also the moral high ground that we must seek. We are called to bear forth the fruits of the Traditional Latin Mass and to attract others by our virtue, kindness and charity. If the Traditional Latin Mass is superior to the Ordinary Form, then our lives as traditional Catholics will reflect this reality, if only we hear the Mass fruitfully and remain faithful.