Someone asked me the other day what might be the saddest question I have ever heard as a Priest. "How does a layman know whether a Novus Ordo Mass is valid if there are so many abuses that occur?" The "saddest" because laity should never (as in NEVER) have to worry about that. Yes, there may be an occasional situation where a Priest may be disobedient, but that should be extremely rare. Priests should merely be faithful and obey the rubrics of the Mass they are assigned to perform.
The fact that the question even came up in our conversation leaves a pit in my stomach about how many abuses there are, but I must say, I rejoice at the fact that I am starting to see people (and not just Ordinariate or Traditional Latin Mass folks) recognize we have a problem. To live in a day and age where the people are uncertain about the validity of a Mass (any Mass) shows that we are living in very dark times.
In our conversation the subject also came up about how the second Vatican Council was not where the Novus Ordo was established, nor was it where the modern abuses were allowed to continue (otherwise known as being: "approved"). In fact, I was able to point out that virtually nothing of the Novus Ordo was actually from Vatican II, but was all later developments.
So, once again, that was the saddest question. Yet, at the same time, it caused joy in my heart to know that people are thinking about these things and concerned that the Mass they attend is done right. They are concerned that we obey God and have a valid Mass. The question is not going to make abusive Priests repent, but it may ripple out and make more and more people think about it.
Great change always starts somewhere, and sometimes it even starts with small things, like questions that ask "how can I know how to be faithful?"