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Jacob Michael's "Gutting the Gospels" -- or how "offensive" Scripture has been stripped out of the Novus Ordo Mass:

Gutting the Gospels: The Sacrilegious Stripping of the Novus Ordo Lectionary


When the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgica (Concilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy) released its new creation called the Novus Ordo Missae, very few people were aware that a full-scale liturgical revolution had been set in motion. This New Order of the Mass (hereafter, NOM) was not, as some claimed, merely a "restoration" of the Traditional Mass. Rather, it was a complete, wall-to-wall, top-to-bottom innovation - a brand new creation, conceived in the minds of the members of the Concilium. Far from an organic development of the Traditional Mass, this was a new entity altogether, an entity which borrowed here and there from the content of the Traditional Mass.

When one compares the two liturgies, the Traditional Mass (hereafter, TM) and the NOM, one finds striking differences in every single area of the liturgy. Dr. Thomas Droleskey has recently written a book on the changes in the rubrics; Kevin Tierney and I have been working on a manuscript that focuses on the changes to the propers of the Mass (the introits, collects, secrets, communion prayers, etc.); many other books have been written to describe the changes to the overall form of the Mass, including the commons (the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Canon of the Mass, etc.).

What has not been discussed in great detail, and which I will cover in this manuscript, are the many changes that were made to the Lectionary of Readings (the weekly epistle and Gospel readings). I had stumbled upon these gross anomalies quite by accident whilst comparing the propers of the two liturgies one evening, and was immediately intrigued (and horrified) by what I found.

How many times have you heard it said that the New Lectionary of the NOM more fully opened up the treasures of Sacred Scripture for the faithful, allowing them (some say) to hear the entire bible read during the course of a three-year period? At first glance, this may seem true. The Lectionary was changed from a one-year cycle of readings to a three-year cycle; surely this would mean that more Scripture would be covered over the course of three years. In addition to the traditional epistle and Gospel reading, a reading from the Old Testament was added to the New Lectionary; this, too, adds to the illusion that more Scripture is being read to the faithful during the Mass.

As I began to examine the actual content of the readings, however, I discovered something shocking: the readings were not at all "seamless," as some had claimed. The Lectionary would, for example, take the faithful through St. Matthew chapter 3, verses 1-6 on one Sunday, skip verses 7-11, and continue on the next Sunday with verses 12-20. This example is fabricated the purposes of illustration, but you get the point: certain verses, sometimes entire sections of verses in fact, were just simply missing from the Lectionary. What purpose would this serve?

I began to investigate more closely, searching my bible and reading the verses that had been passed over in the NOM Lectionary to see what they said. Time after time, I found the exact same thing: the verses that had been excised from the Lectionary consistently dealt with the same subjects. In every case, the offending verses spoke of miracles that could not be otherwise explained by natural causes, of Our Lord’s continual confrontation with the Jews and the Jewish leaders, of the uselessness of material goods and worldly wealth, of the necessity of self-denial and bodily mortification, of sin and the possibility of damnation, of hell, of the role of women in the home and in the Church, and other such subjects that would normally be deemed "offensive" to modern ears.

The same patterns could be detected equally in the Gospels and epistles alike! In the process of giving the faithful a "more complete" bible, the revolutionaries had managed to complete strip the Sacred Scriptures of anything that offended Modern Man, of anything that was ... well, "too Catholic."

I firmly believe that, having examined the content of these readings several times, these clear patterns are in no way coincidental. The passages were (as it becomes clear upon close scrutiny and examining the Lectionary on the whole) very skillfully and deliberated edited in order to present a Christ and Christendom that in no way conflicts with Modern Man’s inclinations. The Christ of the New Lectionary is loving, joyful, peaceful, calling all men to life, inviting all men to participate in the resurrection, exhorting us to love each other and help the needy. In short, the New Christ is fully humanitarian, the quintessential member (and founder) of the Civilization of Love.

Now, it is true, Our Lord certainly was loving, joyful, concerned with the welfare of mankind, etc., but the Gospels also present us with a Christ who warns us of sin, hell, damnation, the dangers of money and worldly possessions. This side of Our Lord’s ministry has been carefully removed from the New Lectionary, effectively giving us the "Hippie Christ" of the 60s and 70s.

It is my hope that many will read the facts I am about to present, and carefully consider whether the NOM is not truly a wholesale revolution, calculated to de-Catholicize the Christian world through constant exposure to a lop-sided liturgy, and in particular, through an imbalanced presentation of the Gospels.

Disclaimer: All selections are taken from the Lectionary cycle that is found in the 2001 St. Joseph Sunday Missal. I realize that the NOM is, much like the Protestant Reformation, “always reforming,” but I have no desire to republish updated editions of this little study every time the NOM decides to re-translate or re-release the Lectionary. The study I have done applies to a version of the Lectionary that has been in use since 1970 – I dare say 32 years’ worth of this “sanitization” warrants a close look.

Also, please note very carefully: the readings I have examined here are only those found in the Sunday Masses. I have not examined the weekday masses, and I am well aware that some of these “deleted” readings can be found ... on one of the other 900 weekdays (352 days in a year, multiplied by 3 Lectionary cycles, minus the 156 Sundays in that 3-year cycle). The thing that must be remembered here is that the Sunday Mass is the one that the majority of Catholics attend. Only a small handful will attend the weekday Masses, and the architects of the New Lectionary certainly knew this. The significance remains: this pattern of sanitization clearly appears on the one day during the week when the majority of Catholics come to Mass to be instructed in their faith.

Finally, one very well-meaning priest recently objected to this study of mine, offering the objection that the “current rubrics” do allow for the priest to substitute other readings for the prescribed Sunday readings, that is, “where there is pastoral need.” His point was that many priests can (and do?) substitute the weaker Sunday readings with more “Catholic” readings that come from the weekday Masses. To this I say: how sad. Why should a priest have to rearrange the Sunday liturgy in order to make it more Catholic? Has Rome not done a good enough job? Further, this argument cuts both ways, does it not? What’s to stop a liberal priest from using this same ill-defined “pastoral need” as justification for eliminating good Sunday readings and replacing them with much weaker readings?

With those qualifications in mind, then, we press on.

This work is prayerfully dedicated to St. Jerome, whose careful and constant labor produced for the Church the Latin Vulgate edition of Sacred Scripture.

St. Jerome, pray for us.


March/April, 2004

Sample from Chapter 4, "Gagging the Gospel of St. John"

Author’s note: In this and each of the following chapters, the Gospel texts that were removed will be referenced, followed by a commentary on the content of those verses and the probable reasons why they were deleted from the New Lectionary. I repeat again for the sake of clarity: the verses referenced here are those have been removed in the New Lectionary version of the Gospels.


It is rather amazing that this text should be removed, for it contains Our Lord’s discourse with Nicodemus, one of the Jewish teachers. In this discourse, Our Lord utters the famous words, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This verse affirms the necessity of water baptism for salvation - not the something the modern church is keen on affirming.

This passage also highlights Our Lord’s confrontation with the Jewish leaders. He chastises Nicodemus - who, it must be pointed out again, was a Pharisee - and says, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony." That last line, "you do not receive our testimony," is a condemnation of the Pharisees for rejecting the Messiah.


The New Lectionary does include the rather tame words of Our Lord in John 3:16, which affirms that "God so loved the world," but it cuts out these verses, which highlight the opposite side of the Gospel coin: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him."

Again we see how the modern church carefully avoids any hint of damnation and the "wrath of God."


The New Lectionary once again interrupts the flow of a discourse of Our Lord (this time, with the woman at the well) by making certain verses in the middle of the discourse optional. Which verses? We read: "Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, "I have no husband"; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.’"

I can only speculate that these verses might be deemed offensive because they highlight the immorality of, for lack of a better term, "shacking up" with someone who is not your spouse. Unfortunately, however, there are many "Novus Ordo Catholics" who are doing this very thing, and the liberal priests in those parishes are loath to say anything about it.

We will see this pattern of excising condemnations of immoral living become even clearer in the next volume, when we examine the New Lectionary’s version of St. Paul’s epistles.


There is little wonder why this entire chapter was removed. In it, we read of Our Lord healing the lame man who sat by the pool of Beth-zatha. Not only is this story another account of the miraculous and supernatural, but it contains yet another confrontation between Our Lord and the Pharisees, who were angry that Our Lord healed the man on the Sabbath. St. John tells us, "And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath."

St. John further tells us, "This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God."

Our Lord responds with very harsh words, words that still ring out as a condemnation of the Jews of our day who do not accept Christ: "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." He continues with such words as, "His voice you have never heard ... you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life ... yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life ... I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me ... Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me."

Our Lord also speaks of the possibility of damnation: "the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."

Miracles, anti-Semitism, and damnation: three very good reasons to remove this chapter in its entirety.

Great article, and bookmarked for future reference. I'd always heard the new lectionary allowed you to hear the full Gospel every three years (not the whole Bible), but this didn't seem right to me given the large number of optional memorials, transferred feasts, etc. Sure enough my own research into it revealed much the same pattern -- the lectionary is selective, and selective according to a theological agenda, specifically the theological agenda of the man who wrote the bulk of it. A theological agenda that would be largely incomprehensible to anyone not born within 100 years of 1970; far from the timeless proclamation of Christ contained in the old lectionary.

The new lectionary is, to my mind, the most discontinuous aspect of the new liturgical paradigm. Not only are the readings different, the whole purpose of the readings is different. In the new Mass they are didactic, catechetical, educational -- an opportunity to teach and lecture -- and so they reduce the Mass, or at least this part of it, to, basically, a history lecture; hence the baffled questions, "Why did they used to do the readings in Latin????" everyone asks. Because in the old Mass the readings were not didactic, they were theophanic, a moment of encounter not with the word but with the Word Incarnate -- they were themselves a prayer and they fulfilled a specifically prayerful and intercessory sort of function.

Worse still, since the Lectionary is on a three-year cycle and both the Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours are on a one-year cycle, the effect is to totally detach the Scripture readings at Mass from the integral celebration of the rest of the liturgy. There is no longer any necessary connection between the Scripture readings of the day and the other propers at Mass (e.g., the Collect) except on very special occasions, nor is there any logical connection between the readings at Mass on a day and the concordant prayers of the day in the LotH. The result is, predictably, a liturgical paradigm that is modular, interchangeable, and unintegrated, with no logical connection between any of the components.

Truly a profanation of the highest order and one I hope to live to see righted some day.
Veeeeery interesting....  :hmmm:

I had noticed the readings between old and new were different, but wasn't sure what that meant.
Is this from a website? a book? WHERE?! I must keep up with this.
I not being a savy dude, first figured this out at EWTN. I noticed the psalms always left out gobs of verses. I'm a psalm guy, so it was obvious. After looking at more of the Epistles and Gospels it became clear horsefeathers was afoot.

I have suspected this for a looong time, and have been confused to read how the new lectionary somehow gives us "more" of the Bible. In our house, we read the whole Bible together at night prayers, start to finish, and it just seemed more radical than what I was hearing in NO mass. And the psalm thing, as Tim said, is a real kicker. Once I had become familiar with the Anglican Breviary, I realized that there was no way we were getting close to an entire psalm in mass.

Sad, but true.
I guess I did not stick with the NO long enough (began attending TLM in 2007) to realize these things!  I am amazed that this is not more widely known. As a recent revert, and budding apologist, in the early 2000s, I used to tell my Protestant friends that you get "the whole Bible" at the Catholic Mass, unlike the very selective readings at the "Bible Churches".  Well, I sure as heck was wrong on that one, practically speaking.
How can this person say that the Lectionary was stripped down to be as inoffensive as possible when Ephesians 5 makes a fairly frequent appearance?  There's always husbands elbowing their wives in church whenever this one comes up.

Wealth and divorce get tackled a lot in the NO Lectionary too.

Okay sure, there's sections of readings that are omitted directly or indirectly at the priest's discretion.  How often is this done for sake of brevity?  If they want to cut down Mass times then the priests should probably consider getting rid of the offertory hymn, though.

That said, there are questionable translations in the NAB.  Why is fornication a terrible word?  They don't have a problem with saying "ass."
Excellent and very perceptive analysis!  Though I briefly noted the absence of groups of verses frequently,
here and there, I never realized that they were thematic--"watered down" Gospel, basically.

We need to pray that Catholics will read the Bible on their own.

THANK YOU for citing this article, VOX.
As a Protestant,  i used to read the narrative parts of the Old Testament all the time.  have four different Bible translations. Hair raising stories are there.  Some in the New Testament such as in Acts when Ananias and Sapphira drop dead on St Peter's rebuke.

One of the things that is most concerning to me though is a section form Tobias 6:16-17.  In Douay-Rheims this passage describes  the devil being able to prevail by lustful behavior even within marriage.  Tobit is told to pray for three days before touching his bride.  That passage is gone in the New American Bible and replaced by chasing the devil away with fish innards.    The Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version discusses the discrepancy in a foot notes.  Here they note that Qumran fragments favor the text used for preparing the Vulgate over the modern version.    Chapter 8:4-6 is also altered so that critical teachings on purity are lost.

This is freaks me out because it seems that even from the Bible itself it looks like they want to get rid of uncomfortable teachings.  But then humans being what they are maybe they had two manuscript and opted for the easier one?

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