WaPo, by indirection, finds direction out.

From WaPo‘s On Faith…  with my emphases and comments.

Pope’s master of liturgy helps Benedict restore traditions

By Jason Horowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer

IN ROME On a rainy Christmas Eve, Pope Benedict XVI followed a procession of Swiss guards, bishops and priests down the central nave of St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate midnight Mass before dignitaries and a global television audience.

And Monsignor Guido Marini, as always, followed the pope.

A tall, reed-thin cleric with a receding hairline and wire-framed glasses, Marini, 45, perched behind the pope’s left shoulder, bowed with him at the altar and adjusted the pontiff’s lush robes. As Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, he shadows the pope’s every move and makes sure that every candle, Gregorian chant and gilded vestment is exactly as he, the pope and God intended it to be. [A great ideal.]

“The criterion is that it is beautiful,” Marini said.

But beauty, especially when it comes to the rituals of Roman Catholic liturgy, is a topic of great debate between conservative and liberal Catholics, who share differing views on everything from the music and language of the Mass to where a priest should stand and how he should give Communion.

Some of the key trappings of the Mass – the vestments and vernacular, the “smells and bells” – have taken on a more ancient air since Benedict succeeded John Paul II, and since Marini succeeded Piero Marini.

Piero, 68, is a gruff [Could I tell a couple stories.] Vatican veteran, a progressive who advocates a more modern ritual that reflects the great church reforms of the 1960s. [wellll….] The younger and more punctilious Guido, who is not related to Piero, has argued for more traditional liturgical symbols and gestures – like the pope’s preference that the faithful kneel to accept Communion – that some church liberals interpret as the harbinger of a counter-reformation. [What an interesting comparison.  Pushed a little more, that would make the liberals the “Protestant” part of the equation.  No?]

‘Battle of the Marinis’

The coincidence of their shared last names has resulted in YouTube links like “Battle of the Marinis.” (“These things on the YouTube are fun but not important,” said Marini the Second.) But within Vatican and wider liturgical circles, the Marini schism is actually a profound one about the direction of the church.

The liturgical changes enacted under Guido Marini are “a great microcosm for broader shifts in the church,” said John Allen, a veteran Vatican watcher with the National Catholic Reporter.

Since the Marini II era began in October 2007, the papal Masses clearly have a stronger traditional element. Guido Marini, who has degrees in canon and civil law and a doctorate in the psychology of communication, caused considerable consternation among some progressive Catholics in January when he talked to English-speaking priests about a “reform of the reform.” [Let the counter-reforming begin!]

In an interview Thursday, he argued that the changes should not be seen as a liturgical backlash to modernity but as a “harmonious development” in a “continuum” that takes full advantage of the church’s rich history and is not subject to what he has called “sporadic modifications.[Get this…] Liturgical progressives, like Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., are concerned that Marini considers the reforms of the 1960s ecumenical council known as Vatican II as being among those sporadic modifications. [His Excellency Bp. Trautman reads the documents on the liturgical reform … selectively.  A closer reading would suggest that Guido Marini is on target.]

At most papal Masses, a large crucifix flanked by tall candles is now displayed on the altar, even though many progressives say the ornaments block the view of the priest and the bread and wine[Well said!  Yes!  Progressives like focusing on the priest and the “bread and wine”.] They argue that this obstructs the accessibility urged by liturgical reforms associated with the Second Vatican Council.  [‘Cause staring that the priest’s dopey face is what the Second Vatican Council is all about.]

Marini responds by saying that the crucifix reminds the faithful of who [Who] is really front and center in the Mass. He also says that the pope cannot sit in front of the altar when it bears the crucifix because “the pope can’t give his back” to sacraments on the altar[And if not the Pope, then how the bishop?  How the priest?]

For Marini, Gregorian chants must be the music of the church because they best interpret the liturgy. [And there is that pesky paragraph in Sacrosanctum Concilium about Gregorian chant.] And in September, ahead of the pope’s visit to Britain, Marini told the Scottish paper the Herald that the pope would celebrate all the Prefaces and Canons of his Masses in Latin.

Piero Marini, who stepped down in 2007 after serving as the master of celebrations for 20 years, has championed the Vatican II reforms, [His ideas of the reforms, at least.] including the simplification of rites that he believes facilitates active participation.

In the name of “inculturation,” or integrating church rites with local customs, [A good way to put it.  For a truer vision of inculturation would seek to integrate local customs with Church rites.] the silver-haired Marini in 1998 accepted the request of local bishops to allow a troupe of scantily clad Pacific islanders in St. Peter’s Basilica to honor the pope with a dance during the opening liturgy of the Synod for Oceania. [Yah… that was a winner.] During John Paul II’s visit to Mexico City in 2002, Marini likewise granted a local bishop’s wish to let an indigenous Mexican shaman exorcise the pope during a Mass there. [Some of the Greatest Hits. And there are so many more!]

He said the changes that have been made since he left are obvious. “You don’t have to ask me,” said Marini, who has expressed wariness about the rollback of liturgical reforms. “Everyone can see it for themselves.

A ‘more sober’ style

His successor said that the two clerics had a good relationship and that it was only natural that things change under a new regime.

“It’s true that there were celebrations that gave more space to different expressions, but that was one style and now there is a different style, one that is more sober and more attentive to the essential things,” said Guido Marini, who, like his predecessor, hails from northern Italy but who, like the pope, expresses admiration for the old Latin Mass. He added that Benedict considered the Mass a heavenly space that shouldn’t be modified with “things that don’t belong.

Marini has said there are no plans to force the changes on parishes around the world, but he hopes that they slowly spread and seep in.

Under Benedict, the faithful at papal Masses take Communion on their knees and receive the wafer on the tongue. Guido Marini said the change “recalls the importance of the moment” and keeps the act from becoming “banal.” A recent picture of Queen Sofia in Spain receiving Communion from the pope in her hand – and while standing and not wearing a veil – brought rebukes from conservative Catholics. (“Reform of the reform apparently put on hold,” read the Catholic blog Rorate Caeli.) [But we learned a few other things about that episode along the way.]

Perhaps the most apparent and luxurious sign of the new era is the pope’s vestments. Benedict has worn an ancient form of the pallium, or cloak, preferred by first-millennium pontiffs. [I liked the the “normal” one.] He also brought back the ermine-trimmed red satin mozzetta, a short cape. And the pope clearly does not obey the article of American political faith to never don an unconventional cap. He has sported a red saturno, a sort of papal cowboy hat, and an ermine-trimmed camauro, a crimson cap that resembles a Santa hat and is worn on nonliturgical occasions.

According to one senior Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Marini sent him a page-long list of vestments he had to wear during a special ordination in St. Peter’s. “I didn’t recognize half of the things on it,” the official said. “Then I had trouble getting it all on.”

“The pope likes new things and antique [To non-speakers of Italian, that means “old”.] things,” explained Marini, who compared the pope’s attire to someone in a family who likes modern fashions like, say, Gucci shades but also “the treasures of the family.”

At a Dec. 16 evening Mass, the pope opted for a paisley patterned crimson and gold chasuble, while Marini, his fingers tented in front of him, wore a white cotta with breezy lace sleeves over a purple cassock. As the frail pope sat in his throne, Marini adjusted Benedict’s robes and at the appropriate moments removed the gold miter in order to place a white skullcap atop the pontiff’s white hair. He adjusted the pages of prayer books that altar boys propped up before the pope. After the chorus sang about the divine promise made to David, Marini helped the pope up to read a prayer. At the end of the Mass, the pope followed the candles and large crucifix back up the nave. Marini, as always, trailed immediately behind.

“It’s hard work,” Marini said. “But it’s beautiful.”

Some interesting statements along the way… no?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Martial Artist says:

    Fr. Z,

    Interesting observation and question, this

    “some church liberals interpret as the harbinger of a counter-reformation. “[What an interesting comparison. Pushed a little more, that would make the liberals the “Protestant” part of the equation. No?]

    Yes, it does!

    But having now read an uncounted number of historical instances of one or another liberal misquoting [knowingly? Intentionally?] distinct and unambiguous guidance from the documents of Vatican II, should it really surprise us that they are Protestants? Each example I have encountered has been a case study in exegesis based on personal revelation, whether it be the substitution of “sing at Mass” for “sing the Mass” or some other perversion of the language to achieve the revolutionary result.

    To be perfectly honest, it is refreshing to see them, however unwittingly, reveal their true objectives, via their tantrums and blathering. We are now in a position not dissimilar to that of Pogo, with the exeption that the quotation must be modified to “we have met the enemy and he is purporting to be one of us.”

    The alternative would be to believe that those presbyters and Bishops who have been accused of highjacking Vatican II were insufficiently intelligent to understand the clear language of the Council’s published documents—not only an uncharitable interpretation but also an exceptionally improbable conclusion.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  2. mike cliffson says:

    Steerpike or Barquentine?

  3. S Petersen says:

    One of your best posts, with extra credit for being out there in the trenches reading WaPo. I think you better ask them (WaPo) to print this post as it now appears on this site (i. e., an annotated WaPo article). I would only suggest that where you correct “who” with “Who”, you use “sic” instead of the capitalization. This itself should involve the interest not only of activist Catholics across the spectrum and of Wapo’s copy editor, but of the grammarians as well, feinted into “whom” questions.
    Also, Töpfer (above) is understating the case. They are now Protestants in the pews, they dress, talk, sing and pray like Protestants. They worship in Protestant-style churches. They listen to Protestant sermons from (praise the Lord, still only) men who eager to please their congregaton.

  4. Semper Idem says:

    [quote]Piero, 68, is a gruff [Could I tell a couple stories.][/quote]

    Please do, Father.

  5. teaguytom says:

    Under Piero Marini, there was this austerity to papal ceremonies similar to the later days of Paul V. We could not make it look like any triumphalism haunted St Peters. The pope must dress in modern vestments with lack of decor and be responded to like an everyday cleric. Under Guido, we now have the Silver Trumpets greeting the papal procession. The Holy Father wears vestments fitting for the Vicar of Christ. Roman style vestments aren’t mothballed in the sacristy as some pre-Vatican 2 museum piece.The traditional style papal ferula is now the norm for use. Could you imagine this under Piero Marina? Now I would be willing to watch a DVD of Piero Marini’s Greatest Hits. Can I order a copy from the WDTPRS store and watch it while I eat cheese cubes and ham slices?

  6. teaguytom says:

    That should be Paul VI. oops

  7. TJerome says:

    If I were Bishop Trautman, I don’t think I’d like it pointed out in a national media source that I am/was probably on the wrong side of liturgical history. I agree that he reads Sacrosanctum Concilium selectively, you know, that part about Latin being preserved in the Latin Rites and that the people need to learn to sing the parts of the Ordinary in Latin, proper to them. Those are the little “details” that derail his view of liturgical reform. On the whole, I thought this article was excellent because for once, it portrayed priests and laity in favor of traditional liturgy, in a favorable light.

  8. mdinan says:

    frail, eh? Doesn’t seem frail to me…

  9. Rich says:

    The author illustrated a depiction of what traditionalists consider “beautiful”, noted that what constitutes “beuaty” is a point of debate between traditionalists and progressives, but then omitted an explanation as to what in a more modern style would constitute “beauty” for progressives. Perhaps it would have been too obvious a stretch, so he decided to skip over that connection.

  10. Haec Dies says:

    For those who have followed the antics of Bishop Trautman I thought you would be interested to know that he has about 6 months to go begore he is required to submit his letter of retirement to the Vatican. Pray God that we get a more conservative bishop in Erie as I have heard that even his priests are not happy with him.

  11. edm says:

    One of the best things that could have happened to papal ceremonies. He is a good man who has brought back much needed dignity to the Church’s liturgical life.

  12. cpaulitz says:

    Thanks for posting Father. I can’t believe the Post reported on that photo I posted on Rotate. I need to start watching what I say more closely for now on!

  13. CarpeNoctem says:

    mdinan says:
    25 December 2010 at 8:18 pm
    frail, eh? Doesn’t seem frail to me…

    I agree. This pope has a vigor that is encouraging for a man of his age. To see him out and about, I agree: this is no frail man.

    But I think there is something subtle here that the original article and the original charge of being ‘frail’ does not capture. When a priest, any priest, is fully vested for vespers or for Mass and when all the servers and MC’s are doing their job and the priest assumes the role he is supposed to take, he does take on a kind of frailty. Any otherwise-healthy man can certainly get and read his own book without need of help; he can put a hat on his head or ‘call the shots’ of how something simple like a liturgical procession can happen… but he doesn’t… or at least he shouldn’t. That’s not his job and should not be to focus of his attention… or his identity in the eyes of the faithful.

    It’s not out of some penchant for being served by some weasily little sychophants (hopefully), or aggrandizing the man who holds whatever grade of ministry he is carrying out. I don’t even think it is necessarily a vicarious sign of respect for who or what he represents (the person of Christ or the office of the pope, etc). It may be important to add, it certainly isn’t like dressing a Infant of Prague statue in liturgical colors of the day and setting it out there for all to see.

    A priest or bishop who is fully vested and celebrating Mass or presiding over the Liturgy of the Hours 1) needs space to pray– which good servers and MC’s can provide (there’s a zillion distractions that can come in play, and having good servers taking care of what is going on provides a buffer to a lot of this), 2) needs to be serene while in front of the faithful… there is nothing more distracting, I fear, than a priest/bishop having to step out of his ‘service’ role to be the ‘heavy’, that is, doing ‘governance’: having to correct servers or other ‘ministers’ who are messing up, or having to attend to some other detail that was left hanging by accident, negligence, or whatever… I cringe when something has to be done to ‘rescue’ a lector who cannot find the day’s reading or a musician who doesn’t know his/her cues. 3) He needs to fully accept and assume his role without ‘grasping’ for it… simply BE the priest rather than imposing onself on the rites (which I think is often implied by the title “presider” which flies in the face of this) or the people gathered, 4) in accepting service, there is an acceptance of the assistance of the faithful who are present “assisting” at Mass… rather than simply being ‘his own man’ who ministers by virtue of his own power, 5) esp in the case of full pontificals, it is a subtile visual sign of the crushing weight of the sacred ministries which this man has dared to assume (someone must be there, like in Moses’ time to help him ‘hold is arms up’ in the midst of the battle), and finally, 6) it covers the priest, be he a vigorous 30 year-old or a failing 90 year-old, drawing attention away from his youth or strength or other physical features and simply identifies him as ‘priest’ among the people. The priest is not simply invisible or an indiscriminate interchangable part (as may sometimes be argued about the reason for vesture), but he is a person that is focused on being a ‘translucent’ mediator of grace… rather than the object of attention/sanctity himself. Maybe a better word describing the role would be ‘pontifex’? In any case, the liturgy is (instrumentally) a human action needing an engaged human actor, but one that is as completely pliable to the will and Spirit of God as the human person can be.

    There’s an attitude, I think, that reflects and inspires an authentic ars celebranda which the present papal MC is conscious of. There was a certain drama and excitement watching a youthful JP2 glad-hand the crowds and wave the pastoral staff to the cheers of thousands, it made for all the more hand-wringing commentary from secular media and distress from the faithful as he continued to fail in the final years of his life. Without directing this as a criticism to the great JP2, one may wonder that if Benedict has lost a step in the last 5-6 years– it would be hard to tell by way of his public liturgical presence. There is something right about that, I think. Again, without criticizing JP2, there is a very fitting presence and humility which is integral to the priestly ministry B16 lives and exercises.

    The article, again, has it right without even knowing, it seems. The ‘fraility’ of B16 is exactly the image that is intended, the one that is being presented, and the one that is needed in this very public ministry. The strength of the human person shrouded in holy weakness is the very icon of Christ. Yeah, that’s what I want to be as a priest and what I want to see in priests celebrating the sacraments… an icon of Christ. You can’t go wrong there. I think that WaPo is getting a glimpse of that ‘beauty’ without even beginning to realize what it all means.

  14. Laura says:

    As someone who has had to suffer through aesthetics that were not my own at Mass more then I would have liked to; I focus on the fact that the Sacrament is the same.

    Beauty, and oh yes Gregorian Chant… icons, please! But to state that these Catholic churches [like the one in Berkeley, CA that is all concrete (!)] are protestant churches is to doubt the Real Presence.

    The Sacrament is the same.

    Merry Christmas, Fr. Z!

  15. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    S Petersen says:
    25 December 2010 at 6:58 pm
    “… Töpfer (above) is understating the case. They are now Protestants in the pews, they dress, talk, sing and pray like Protestants. They worship in Protestant-style churches. They listen to Protestant sermons from (praise the Lord, still only) men who eager to please their congregaton.”

    Would this include, S Petersen, Fr. Z., or any other knowledgable poster, the charismatic movement in the Catholic church? I always keep seeing these adds for their “rallies” in the local Catholic paper and churches and I’m always unsure about them.

  16. kallman says:

    Thank God for Pope Benedict 16 and than dear God for Mgr Guido Marini, truly a wonderful man, who deserves our constant prayers. The future of the Church is at stake and in peril. These two men are its guidance. The Liturgy is the Church.

  17. Mariana says:

    “Let the counter-reforming begin!”

    Yes, please!

  18. HighMass says:

    Those of us who have followed the bugnini and piero mariani ism in the Church, shutter, at the damage that has been done. Good for Mgr. Guido Marini and Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI!Could say more but in the Spirit of Christ better stop at this point.

  19. MikeM says:

    One of the best things about Pope Benedict and Mgr. Guido Marini is the striking difference between their attitudes and those of the old guard. Piero Marini has to get his jabs in about the changes. Benedict and his Marini just make the changes, call them beautiful, they might explain the meaning, but they don’t jump into the battles. They’re not the slightest bit apologetic, but not adversarial, either. They are so dignified as they restore the dignity of our worship.

  20. q7swallows says:

    Wow!  What a great affirmation!  When my boys were learning to serve the EF a few years ago, I encouraged them to behave as Msgr. Guido Marini did since he seemed to me to be a model server.

    Even on the handful of occasions that I have been able to observe him on TV, he has been ever-attentive, humble, well-groomed, expression-free, almost invisible, and gives quiet evidence of a “servant’s heart.” He is loyal first to the Lord, then to the Holy Father, and respectful to all.  

    He is constantly and yet unobtrusively aware of what needs doing then accomplishes it unhurriedly and serenely.  His authority is obvious but it does not come across as haughty or high-handed.  That he honors beauty IS completely in harmony with his actions that I have observed on the altar.  I hope he continues for many years.  We are all beneficiaries of his thoughtfulness and holy allegiance.

    So Msgr. Guido Marini should take as a compliment the admiring comment that a fellow parishioner made the other day about our son [who is now himself an MC]:   “F—— just *floats* in the sanctuary!” Because he incarnated the inspiration.          

  21. AnnAsher says:

    May I ask why John Paul II submitted to the shaman’s ‘exorcism’? Is the Pope left in the dark with regards to ceremonial plans and encounters? I find this news shocking….

  22. Mike Morrow says:

    Ann Asher asked: “May I ask why John Paul II submitted to the shaman’s ‘exorcism’?”

    John Paul II was a world politician, much much much more than a faith-oriented Pope. We must respect him for his political achievements in the secular world, for it was always obvious that little that was purely religious was of much concern to him. He contributed greatly to the fall of Communism, and he should be properly honored for that.

    Also, he began relaxing the hate-filled death-grip that Vatican II novus ordo fascists and homosexual clergy exerted to suppress the true Mass, although obviously without the courage of his successor in freeing it entirely.

    I’ve been around since Pius XII. Benedict XVI is truely the GREAT…the greatest of Popes in the modern era. A long life I wish for him. He holds light at the end of a 45-year long tunnel of depravity and perversion.

  23. irishgirl says:

    Long live Msgr. Guido Marini, a faithful servant of God and of the Holy Father!
    CarpeNoctem-what you said! Way to go!

  24. Laura says:

    MikeM, I like how you put it. They just make the changes and do not ‘protest’ with their changes.

  25. Chrissin says:

    Of course I’m suspicious of anything from WaPo. SEEMED to be ‘fair and balanced’ presenting the two Marinis. I was glad Horowitz include the two outrageous examples of Piero’s tenure. Anyone in their right mind reading it would have to concede they were outrageous. I wondered what the motive of this reporter was. (I said I was suspicious!) The average Joe knows little about liturgical styles or the ‘reform of the reform’. These subjects interest a more esoteric audience. It could maybe be compared to an article on the new ICEL translations to come into use in 2011 and the two sides of that topic. I suppose I was glad someone noticed. (in WaPo, that is) But then again, I’m suspicious.
    What I took exception to was the last few paragraphs where I thought both Guido and Benedict were portrayed as fussy, concerned with vestments as an expression of ‘style’, or just for their own sake. It sounded like it should have been in Women’s Wear Daily. He made Guido sound like a toady- adjusting this and that. I didn’t like the tone of it: explaining the Pope’s ‘attire’ like a fashion statement, what he likes, and the words ‘lush’ and ‘luxurious’, ‘ermine trimmed red satin’, and the Pope’s penchant for hats, Guido’s ‘breezy lace sleeves over a purple cassock’ , the Pope ‘opted for paisley patterned crimson and gold.’ PULLEASE! It sounded very shallow and vapid. And gay. I was just surprised he didn’t make the gratuitous reference to the Holy Father’s red shoes!

  26. What I wonder about, more than why Pope John Paul II watched the scantily-clad Pacific islanders dance and received an “exorcism” from a Mexican shaman, and more than why Marini senior accepted the requests, is why bishops were asking for these things to be granted! Why would a Catholic bishop ask for the Pope to receive an “exorcism” from a Mexican shaman?!

  27. q7swallows says:

    Just stumbled on this quote and thought it pertinent to this post:

    “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'” — John Keats

    I love Msgr. G. Marini’s criterion of “it must be beautiful.” And I truly appreciate the classy beauty he and the Holy Father, as householders, present from the treasury to offer to God on our behalf.

  28. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, I do find it difficult to understand why the Holy See went along with some of this stuff. I don’t find it hard to imagine that some bishops are idiotic enough to ask for it. The church has almost always had a certain number of idiotic bishops and it has caused us much trouble through the ages. Might as well be truthful about that seeing as how it’s even been memorialized in the decisions of some ecumenical councils. It is what it is.

  29. catholicmidwest says:

    Mike Morrow, astute observation about PJP2 being a world politician. Yes, he was. I was always perplexed by his reported indifference to liturgical matters. I still don’t know what that was all about.

    However, I think that papacy had some purposes which were realized, among them those affecting world politics. That papacy was also a cooling down period, so to speak, where many things were just put on ice, as if awaiting the future. Some things festered, it’s true, but the revolution died down. We had to have the PJP2 papacy, as frustrating and confusing as it was, to get to where we are today.

  30. Jayna says:

    Well, that article was surprisingly even-handed where Msgr. Guido Marini is concerned. The phrasing of “reform” leaves a little to be desired, but it is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that even the author of the article seems to think some of the things Marini I did were a little ridiculous.

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