Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Today was truly a warm and wonderful spring day. It happens to be my day of rest. I managed to spend most of it sitting in the garden following the sun. I am very pleased that I managed to read two books which were on top of my “waiting to be read” books.

The first book (Cover photo below right) is the one recently published by Archbishop Piero Marini, (shown in photo next to the body of the Servant of God John Paul II).Its launch took place at the Cardinal’s House in Westminster.
I have a great respect for Archbishop Marini. Though traditionalists see him as the proverbial red rag, his deep knowledge and pastoral approach to liturgy are traits that I admire even if I do not always share. Archbishop Marini had the fortune to live for some time with Archbishop Bugnini, the master mind behind the liturgical reforms following Vatican II. Again Archbishop Bugnini is not the favoured of traditionalists, to put it very mildly. I admire his zeal and knowledge and finally his success in implementing the principles agreed by the world wide bishops gathered in Rome for the council called by Blessed John XXIII. Archbishop Bugnini kept as his model the Apostolic and Patristic Church and his views were to streamline the liturgy to those ideas. His main focus was to dispense with what accrued down the centuries and restore noble simplicity (almost a motto for Marini). He succeeded in doing this in many ways, but we all know that in some quarters, not to say many, it was taken too far especially at grass root levels.
So I approached this book with great interest. I have to say that I was disappointed. It seems to be a general minute keeping of what went on between 1963 to 1975. For me that would have been well and good if it had to it another element. When discussing issues like concelebration, communion under both kinds, the reform of Holy Week etc…it would have been splendid to be told, even if in very broad terms, what was the understanding behind them, who proposed them and why. I know that people can argue against what I think, but I frankly found the book a little bit tedious, and though I never knew about the many meetings that happened, and when and where they happened, it said nothing new about friction in the Curia. We all knew that, and quite frankly it is understandable as the Liturgy was being reformed in a radical way. This does by no means diminish my respect to Archbishop Marini, I believe that he could have offered much more. I say that because I have read most of his wonderful and learned publications that he presided over as Master of Ceremonies of H.H. He presided over the liturgies of the Great Jubilee and provided for us critical studies of the reason behind them, just as he did with the liturgies of the death, election and initiation of the successor of Peter. Why not the same here? This book confirms the maybe widening gap between the so called traditionalists and liberals in the Roman Church. Beware Anglicans not to draw any parallels. Our seperated brethren differ on the way they celebrate the Mystery but not on the Doctrine itself.

The second book (cover photo on right), which was given to me by a friend, is edited by Peter Jennings and called “Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman”. It was exciting to read it today as I think just yesterday rumours were circulated in the National Media that his beatification may happen in the Autumn. This coffee table style book is very well presented and attractive; the plates illuminate and complement the text. It is a collection of speeches and sermons given about the Venerable Cardinal. Obviously it was very fascinating and refreshing to read what Cardinal Ratzinger said about him in April 1990 and in February 1991.

However, I can not see the correlation of the final section with the rest of the book, but that can be lived with when looking at the over all result.
Cardinal Newman is the pre-eminent English saint for all English Christians, and I can not but share the wish of so many in the book to see him beatified, canonised and declared doctor of the church – Santo Subito!

On this note about Englishness, I wish all of you a happy day as tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of St George the Martyr, Patron of England.


Andrew Teather said...

Having read 'the Reform of the Liturgy', I think that Bugnini was a master politician and lobbyist but I am unsure of the sanctity of his ways or, for that matter, the nature of his reforms. He was certainly fully human, but to the extent that he pushed for reforms which, time is showing, are neither long lasting or necessary. The interim Missal which should have been published is the natural fruit of reform and is being returned to gradually. Most certainly reform was needed, but like the communists jumping the bandwagon of true socialism and then perverting that good thing, Bugnini jumped on the reform wagon and used it as a personal vehicle.

Fr Ivan D Aquilina SSC said...

I am very glad to be assured that we do not stand in front of the tribunal seat of Fr Teather.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

I'm with Catherine Pickstock on this one: the liturgical changes were fundamentally misconceived, quite apart from any abuses which they may unintentionally have opened the door too. They embody a false understanding of the nature of liturgy and of liturgical development.

I'd also argue that Bugini/Marini misinterpreted the intentions of the the Fathers of the Council.

(Of course the rot had already set in with Pius XII. Easter Vigil in the evening of Holy Saturday? Quite ridiculous!)

Fr Ivan D Aquilina SSC said...

About the thoughts of Catherine Pickstock my reservation is that Liturgy is not the icing on the cake but part (a fundamental one to that) of the whole cake: the Faith Catholic. It appears that Pickstock prefers to pick and choose. See: http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=4174
Finally I really do not like to engage with ghost individulas, so please state your name if you decide to write again on this blog.

William Davies said...


No disagreement with you over Dr Pickstock's other views. I have no more time for a cafeteria approach to dogma than for Bugnini/Marini's cafeteria approach to liturgy.

One can be right about one thing and dead wrong about others. (Perhaps she hasn't yet come to terms with the implications in other areas of what she has discovered about the liturgy.)

My apologies if my pseudonym offended you. (I find that pseudonyms impart a certain nineteenth century charm to the largely charmless Internet, but realise that not everyone agrees.)

Andrew Teather said...

I am sorry, I had meant only to add to the (percieved) debate.