Friday, May 20, 2011

A liturgical reformer's memoirs (1940's - 1970)

Msgr. Nicola Giampietro's The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Derdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970, (Roman Catholic Books, 2010), relates the Fernando Cardinal Antonelli's involvement in and contribution to the liturgical form from the 1940's until 1970s.

He was an influential member of the Commission for Liturgical Reform established by Pope Pius XII in 1948. He later served as the Secretary for the Liturgical Commission of the Second Vatican Council. He was a member of the post-conciliar Consilium and was appointed Archbishop Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Rites in 1965. As Alcuin Reid points out in his review of the book at the Amazon site linked above, the Concilium wages a political battle for control of the liturgical reform against the Congregation for Rites.

The publication of Msgr. Giampietro's book allows us to listen in to yet another voice and perspective in the conversations unfolding during those critical years during and after the Council.

At the end of the Concilium's first meeting, Antonelli observed:
"I am not enthusiastic about this work. I am unhappy about how much the Commission has changed. It is merely an assembly of people, many of them incompetent, and others of them well advanced on the road to novelty. The discussions are extremely hurried. Discussions are based on impressions and the voting is chaotic. What is most displeasing is that the expositive Promemorias and the relative questions are drawn up in advanced terms and often in a very suggestive form. The direction is weak."
As the Consilium's work proceeded, Reid notes, Antonelli's concerns about its competence, its predilection for innovation and its consuming haste, grew. After several years with Consilium he wrote that the liturgical reform was becoming "more chaotic and deviant":
"That which is sad...however, is a fundamental datum, a mutual attitude, a pre-established position, namely, many of those who have influenced the reform...and others, have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore."
Antoneilli observes that Bugnini "always had the backing of Paul VI," but that "his greatest lacuna was his lack of any theological training or sensibility."

What we get in Msgr. Giampietro's book, says Reid, is not a revisionist history of Vatican II, but rather part of the history of the liturgical reform and of the Council itself.


Anonymous said...

"They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore."

That reminds me of something Harry Truman once said: "One of the worst things you can say about a man is that he meant well."


I am not Spartacus said...

The new Mass was a revolution in Form and it was imposed from the top down.

The first time a Synod of Bishops were served Bugnini Burgoo they vomited all over the Sistine Chapel and voted something like 171-75 (This is from memory) never to order it again.

And, still, it was shoved down our throats.

Thanks be to God the Mass was resurrected after 40 years in the Liturgical Desert but there is a galactic distance Holy Mother Church must backtrack over to return to a healthy state of Traditional Triuphalism and for that to happen an Ecclesiastical Pistol has to be fired into the back of the Bugninii Rite's skull.