Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The pendulum, inexorably, swings.

It seems I am on something of a tear as re. America Magazine.

In their 4/14/08 issue, there is a review of the book A Challenging Reform by Abp. Piero Marini. (I'm not sure if the article is in the subscriber-only or freebie side of their site.)

The reviewer is none other than Bp. Donald W. Trautman* as in, "Yes, THAT Bp. Trautman."

For the new kids, it is widely held that Bp. Trautman lands somewhere along the (ahem) progressive side of the liturgical spectrum. He can be generally be counted upon to favor less formal, more colloquial aspects of Mass; from vestments to translations. It is my opinion Bp. Trautman has also used his chairmanship of the USCCB’s Committee on the Liturgy more-or-less to advance his views (the matter of the proper translation from Latin to English -- as opposed to the wildly inaccurate one in current use -- is among the more prominent examples of this).

More than one wag has nicknamed him Bp. Trautperson for his position on "inclusive language." In order for you, dear and gentle reader, to make sense of the book and the review, it bears keeping this in mind.

It also bears keeping in mind that I do not share Abp. Marini's or Bp. Trautman's opinions on matters liturgical. I am a lower-case-T traditionalist. In a frank and open discussion all sides ought show their cards.

Herewith, some snippets from His Excellency's review; as always with my emphases and comments.

1) Archbishop Piero Marini served as the leading liturgist of the Holy See for 25 years. As master of papal liturgical ceremonies and as secretary/confidant to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the chief architect of the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council, Marini now presents the inside story of the fierce struggle fought within the Vatican to implement the liturgical restoration I think the choice of the word "restoration" is incorrect, as it implies there was something that had been lost or been somehow-innovated-away overwhelmingly approved by the council fathers Again I take issue with His Excellency. While the Second Vatican Council did desire liturgical reform, the Council documents simply do not support the contention they desired the changes (was that charitable enough?) we got.

2) Written with firsthand knowledge, A Challenging Reform details the Curia’s Hmm. JUST the Curia's? opposition and its tactics to reverse the direction set by the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.”

3) Carefully documented, critically analyzed and candidly presented, Marini’s book reflects a historical memory of the clashes and conflicts between the anti-reformists and reformists over the interpretation and implementation of the liturgy constitution. Edited by three well-known liturgical and linguistic scholars Keep in mind these scholars are NOT impartial—Mark Francis, C.S.V., John Page and Keith Pecklers, S.J.A Challenging Reform is the best single-volume overview of the beginning of the liturgical reform. While it is easy to agree with this, I believe this falls under the "be careful what you wish for" category.

As Marini notes:

The Consilium and the Congregation for Rites championed two different perspectives. The Consilium remained true to its mission in support of a liturgy open to renewal. The Congregation for Rites was still firmly anchored to a limited tradition since the Council of Trent and not in favor of the broad innovations As stark an admission as can be had. Work with me can a restoration be accomplished with broad innovations? desired by the Council Again, this is a rather grand leap of an assumption. The changes sought by the 2nd Vatican Council specifically called for changes different than those which were eventually implemented.

4) The suspicion and stress encountered by the Consilium in interacting with the congregation point out a basic failure in ecclesiology that persists to this day: a collegial mindset versus a Curial mindset Why are these two necessarily in opposition? Collegiality -- under the pretext of which I believe eleventy gazillion kinds of awfulness have been perpetrated -- in my considered opinion, only works when everybody is rowing in the same direction. This was clearly evident at the very beginning of the liturgical reform, when there was strong, strident curial opposition to the conciliar endorsement of the vernacular. Another intriguing way of expressing himself. The Council did not "endorse" the vernacular. It stated the vernacular could be used but (and follow me here) that Latin was to be preserved...and not as a museum piece. Somehow this does not seem to fall within Bp. Trautman's memory. The Congregation for Rites sought to limit its use and to deny bishops’ conferences the right to approve vernacular texts.

5) Marini’s book fosters in the reader a new esteem for the liturgical reformers Well, let's not get all carried away, shall we? and their efforts to make the liturgy more responsive to pastoral concerns This is also something that to my mind has always proved semi-effective cover for assorted awfulnesses and biblical sources. They paid a personal price for their efforts If it's any consolation the Church has paid a steeper price, but they gave new liturgical life to the universal church.

6) Thanks to Marini’s book, we now appreciate all the more something we often take for granted: the restoration of the vernacular, “noble simplicity in the rites, concelebration and reformed liturgical books (Roman Missal, Roman Pontifical, Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgy of the Hours). All this did not happen without painstaking research and scholarly study, much dialogue and debate, and always countless meetings. This rich liturgical legacy of Vatican II has nourished the church’s worship for almost 40 years. What aggregate benefit has accrued from this nourishment is subject to, shall we say...lively? debate. The question to ask is: Why IS it subject to lively debate? Why ISN'T it the unabiguous success it was touted as being?

7) But are we seeing signs today of retrenchment, a return to a liturgical practice and piety from before Vatican II? I'm of the opinion we are seeing the realization the Catholic faith is 2000, and not 40, years old. Do we see signs of a preconciliar mentality, a Curial ecclesiology, influencing the liturgy? Notice Bp. Trautman's choices in wording. Uniformly pejorative. Also notice this is supposed to be a book review -- the author makes his case well or he does not, writes agreeably or he does not, etc. -- and not, supposedly, a convenient platform for broadcasting one's opinions under semi-benevolent camouflage Are there parallels between the first days of the renewal and the present time? Marini’s book is a wake-up call to contemporary Catholics to sustain the liturgical achievements of the Second Vatican Council Contemporary (or traditional) Catholics have as much sway over this as a coffee bean has over Starbuck's Inc. It is also worth notice is how His Excellency refers to these changes (which they unarguably were) as achievements (which they arguably were not) again something quite telling so that the past does not repeat itself.

8) When the Curia attempted to limit the liturgical reform, there was decisive and strong reaction from episcopal onferences and national liturgical commissions, especially from the French.

Again, I reiterate that I do not share the views of Abp. Marini or Bp. Trautman, and that I further believe the overall results of the "spirit of V2" are, demonstrably, a net negative for the Church.

His Excellency's writing seeks to leave the reader with the (incorrect, in my view) impression the current liturgy -- which in most "as seen today" instances I consider monumentally banal -- is precisely what V2 mandated (it wasn't) and was hailed with universal acclaim (it wasn't) and those who were not favorably disposed were some crusty, hoary old dinosaurs in some bureaucratic recesses of the Vatican and a few half-lucid/mostly rabid/invariably schismatic Traditionalist flat-earthers who probably still get worked up over flouridated water (they weren't and aren't). More cynical folk than I would consider His Excellency's perspective self-evidently unilateral and his tone to be dismissive of those who disagree with his outlook, and it would be difficult to argue they are wrong.

I'd also like to bring to your attention that it seems ver-r-r-r-r-ry curious those who favor a "liturgy open to renewal" usually don't seem quite so open when the renewal happens to come from more (and not less) traditionalist sources, such as those in the "Reform of the reform" liturgical movement. It's either open to renewal or it ain't.

I must further reiterate that I am not one of those "Give me the TLM or give me death" Rad-Trads. I believe the Novus Ordo can be (usually isn't, alas) glorious and reverent when it's celebrated -- steady, there -- according to the explicitly written documents of V2...and not according to the rather, er, peculiar and subjective interpretations made in the "spirit" of Vatican II.

I've said it umpteen times: my preference is for a reverent Novus Ordo, with the unchanging prayers in Latin, the rest in the vernacular and ad orientem. Not very complicated, that. It also has the nice touch of being what the council fathers explicitly desired



* Although His Excellency DID have the courage and conviction to stand up and not accept the old excuses regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton's appearance at Mercyhurst College. So I'm cutting the guy some slack here.


  • At 9:36 PM, April 08, 2008 , Blogger properlyscared said...

    Gracious! We could have a good food fight on this --in all charity, couldn't you leave us in ignorance? (of this review)

    Sigh, a fly by to note quickly that
    Bugnini also lobbied to change the Rosary also--but Pope Paul VI was having none of it:

    "The faithful would conclude that the Pope has changed the Rosary, and the psychological effect would be disastrous… AND, " The Rosary is to remain single in form and unchanged from what it is now. Let any new forms of Marian devotion take their place alongside the Rosary."

    Bugnini has to be examined in order to put this book by Abp. Marini in context. Abp.Bugnini led the troops. He served as Secretary to the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy for the Second Vatican Council-- a powerful position.

    Those in his wake, including Abp Marini, were simply enamored of him--an enormous personality with drive and ambition.

    Joe, I think we cannot dismiss the genius of Bugnini. Yet one can make a case that he abused his genius, hitching it to his revolutionary ambition.

    Keep in mind too that Abp. Bugnini was actually dismissed by "Good Pope John" (xxiii) as the head of the Second Vatican Council's Commission on Liturgy
    a short time after his schema was accepted by the Preparatory Committee.

    Someone out there may know why this dismissal was ordered in the midst of the Council; I do not know.

    One last point: For a few decades before the Council, the "Rhine" bishops had been agitating for that "broad" liturgical "reform."

    A post war modernist meme was set loose on Europe as a form of apology for its Christian roots. Many of the European bishops were infected with the modernist angst over all things overtly religious.

    They believed that a "modern" liturgy was needed for a modern Europe--and as Europe was becoming less religious, so too did the Mass need to be stripped of "excesses" that anchored the Church in the past.

    One of the young periti at the Council was Josef Ratzinger. He was a rising theologian to Cdl. Frings and worked with another rising star, Karl Rahner. His work on Dei Verbum was a major contribution.

    In short, I think we can see that as Pope Benedict XVI, the present Holy Father is fully aware of what the Council meant the liturgy to be, and what machinations were evident in the immediate after math.

    Doesn't it seem that his quick moves to restore the solemnity of the liturgy, and to permit widest use of the TLM is his "reply" to the Bugninis and the Marini's ??

    I'll be back--there is MUCH more on this --and I want to re-read your own comments more closely--but I need to make a deadline.

  • At 9:40 PM, April 08, 2008 , Blogger properlyscared said...

    Joe, is it just me? Blogger won't let me sign in here as my wordpress identity. I had to create a blogger account to be able to comment.

    (NOT a good thing as it might mean I'll be commenting here too much!)

  • At 1:05 AM, April 09, 2008 , Blogger Joe said...

    There are so many directions which one may profitably analyze and investigate...

    I'll look into why Blogger's acting up.



  • At 1:06 AM, April 09, 2008 , Blogger Joe said...

    OK, fixed!

    (I think)


  • At 11:26 AM, April 09, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yes, fixed! Thanks.

    I am going to the Tocqueville event--wish you were as well.

    But have more in my spleen on the topic of this post (the Marini review)--will be back.

  • At 11:29 AM, April 09, 2008 , Blogger Joe said...

    As a fan of de Tecqueville, Schall AND McInerney, I would have gone (with some notice).

    Give me more of a heads up, and I am SO there.



    P.S. I can't take all these FF miles when I die, right?


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