On the site Petrus there is an interview by Bruno Volpe with His Eminence Virgilio Card. Noè, [pronounced "No-eh"] "former papal MC, the predecessor of Archbp. Piero Marini.
These are very interesting comments. He speaks of the phrase of Paul VI that the "smoke of Satan" had entered the Church and what Paul VI meant by that phrase.
My translation and emphases.
Exclusive: the revelation of Card. Noè:" When Paul VI denounced the smoke of Satan in the Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses following Vatican II."
by Bruno Volpe
CITTA’ DEL VATICANO – He speaks with a thread of a voice and at times laboring for breath he it is so difficult he has to stop. But his mind is lucid and his heart is sound.. The interview with Virgilio Card. Noè, 86, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies during the Pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, once the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter and Vicar of the Pope for Vatican City, showed himself to be at the same time both touching and engaging. The Cardinal, who has very much abandoned public life because of the infirmities of old age, helps us, taking us my the hand, better to know a Pontiff – wrongly forgotten in history’s haste: Giovan Battista Montini. He reveals for the first time what Paul VI was referring to precisely when in 1972 he denounced the presence of the smoke of Satan in the Church.
Your Eminence, who was Pope Paul VI?
A real gentleman, a saint. I remember still how he lived the Eucharistic Mystery, with passion and participation. When I think of him I tear up, but not in the way of a hypocrite. I am truly moved. I owe him a great deal, he taught me a lot, he lived and paid a great price for the Church.
You had the privilege to be Master of Liturgical Ceremonies precisely because of the assignment from Papa Montini in the time of the post-Conciliar reform. How do you remember those times?
Splendidly. Once the Holy Father said to me, personally, and in a very tender way, how the MC ought to carry out his role in that particular historical period. He came into the sacristy. I drew near and he said: "The MC must foresee everything and taken everything on himself, he has the task of making the Pope’s road smoother."
Did he add anything else?
He affirmed that the spirit of the MC must not be shaken up by anything, large or small, that may be his own personal problems. An MC, he stressed, must remain also the master of himself and be the Pope’s shield, so that Holy Mass can be celebrated in a dignified way, for the glory of God and His people.
How did the Holy Father take the liturgical reform desired by Vatican II?
It is told that Paul VI was quite a sad man, true or legend?
A lie. He was a good and gentle father, a gentleman and a saint. At the same time, he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia. But I would prefer not to talk about that.
As a whole, against the historians, You, as one of his closest and trust collaborators, describe Papa Montini as a serene person.
He was. Do you know why? Because he also affirmed that whoever serves the Lord cannot ever be sad. He he served Him especially in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Paul VI’s denunciation of the presence of the smoke of Satan in the Church is unforgettable. Still today, that discourse seems to be incredibly relevant.
You from Petrus, have gotten a real scoop here, because I am in a position to reveal, for the first time, what Paul VI desired to denounce with that statement. Here it is. Papa Montini, for Satan, meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. so, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony."
It is thought that Paul VI was the real culprit as the cause of all the ills of post-Conciliar liturgy. But based on what you have revealed, Eminence, Montini compared the liturgical chaos, even if in a veiled way, actually to something hellish.
He condemned craving to be in the limelight and the delirium of almighty power that they were following the Council at the liturgical level. Mass is a sacred ceremony, he often repeated, everything must be prepared and studied adequately, respecting the canons, no one is "dominus" [lord] of the Mass. Sadly, in many after Vatican II not many understood him and Paul VI suffered this, considering the phenomenon to be an attack of the Devil.
Your Eminence, in conclusion, what is true liturgy?
It renders glory to God. Liturgy must be carried out always and no matter what with decorum: even a sign of the Cross poorly made is synonymous with scorn and sloppiness. Alas, I repeat, after Vatican II it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted. Now it is necessary to recover, and in a hurry, the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the whole Church. Thanks be to God, we have Pope Benedict XVI: his Mass and his liturgical style are an example of correctness and dignity.
A few observations.
First of all, I have good and bad memories of Card. Noè.
He was the one who tore out the altar of the Chair in the apse of St. Peter’s. He was one of the main causes of the emasculation of the style of papal ceremonies and the minimalism we experience still in many places.
At the same time, I remember what a gentleman he was. I would from time to time encounter him in the Basilica in the mornings. I said Mass there everyday. In the corridor between the sacristy and the basilica he would step reverently aside for any priest going to or coming from Mass. He would say quietly to those going, "Memento" and to those returning, "Prosit". Old school.
Also, he made sure the Basilica was clean, which was a real change in those day that persists to today.
Still, while I take what His Eminence says about Paul VI cvm grano salis, I was very interested to read his high praise of Pope Benedict, whom he respects for his liturgical style.
Card. Noè wasn’t a real fan of the Polish Pope’s style, for sure, and there was some tension there. As a matter of fact Noè was just a little impatient and bossy with him, who wasn’t all that interested in the finer points of liturgy. I remember a story from a papal MC who was present one day toward the end of Msgr. Noè’s service as MC to John Paul II. The Pope would descend using an elevator to the floor of the basilica and then, after being greeted according to protocol by the MC and others, would go to vest. One today, as I said close to the end of Noè’s time, when the MC greeted the Pope, John Paul II responded "Oggi, Monsignore, faccio io papa!…. Today, Monsignor, I think I’ll be the Pope." Msgr. Noè moved along to a new post in the Congregation not long after that.
In any event, the comment Card. Noè made about decorum and the need to celebrate Mass well are spot on and he gets WDTPRS kudos.
As a matter of fact, there is something in his remarks that echos very strongly two of the main points I am trying to drive home on this blog.
Celebrate Mass well, participate properly – affect the whole world. Celebrate poorly – affect the whole world.
What is most fundamental to celebrating Mass well?
Simply putting yourself aside and obeying the rules in the book, saying the texts well and properly, is already a huge step in the right direction.
They are the sine quibus non of a sound ars celebrandi, which Noè mentioned. This is the phrase that was used during the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005 and then which Benedict explained in Sacramentum caritatis.