Today, Sandro Magistero offers some information about Paul VI’s true attitude about the liturgical reform sparked by “experts” such as Annibale Bugnini well before the Council, during the Liturgical Movement, and carried out through and after the Council by the same.
Bugnini undertook a furious and relentless jihad against the Sacred Congregation for Rites after the Congregation gave him the heave-ho from his professorship on account of his goofy ideas. With great guile, Bugnini figured out a way to use the authority of the Council to bludgeon the Congregation and obtain his aims, among which was the diffusion of power away from the Congregation. Also, those experts were dead set to reform the whole of the Church through reform of the liturgy.
In a book over the signature of Bugnini’s secretary, later papal MC and now Archbp. Piero Marini A Challenging Reform, we read of the marvelous work of the Consilium of its head Card. Lercaro and Bugnini. Get this. Context: The Consilium has just taken a major step in moving from an informally meeting group to an officially and formally established body. They have their first plenary session.
“They met in public to begin one of the greatest liturgical reforms in the history of the Western church. Unlike the reform after Trent, it was all the greater because it also dealt with doctrine.” (p. 46)
They succeeded. The work of the Consilium, in revising the Missale Romanum, did indeed change the Church’s doctrine. Change the way you pray and you change what you believe… and vice versa.
In any event, what about the role of Pope Paul VI? He did a lot of this, right?
Magister reports that there is a new book which explores something of Paul’s attitude about the liturgical reform which draws on the diaries of the late Archbp. Virgilio Noè, papal MC from 1970-82.
Thus Sandro… my emphases:
In reality, between Paul VI and the reform that was taking shape little by little there was not that affinity for which the critics rebuke him.
On the contrary, it was not unusual for Paul VI to suffer on account of what he saw taking place, which was the opposite of his liturgical culture, his sensibility, the spirit in which he himself celebrated.
There is a brief book published in recent days that sheds new light precisely on this personal suffering of pope Giovanni Battista Montini over of a liturgical reform that in many ways he did not condone: [But permitted and signed off on.]
“Paolo VI. Una storia minima,” edited by Leonardo Sapienza, Edizioni VivereIn, Monopoli, 2018.
In this book Monsignor Sapienza – who has been regent of the prefecture of the papal household since 2012 – collects various pages of the “Diaries” compiled by the master of pontifical celebrations under Paul VI, Virgilio Noè (1922-2011), who became a cardinal in 1991.
With these “Diaries,” Noè carried on a tradition that dates back to the “Liber Notarum” of the German Johannes Burckardt, master of ceremonies for Alexander VI. In his account of every celebration, Noè also recorded everything that Paul VI said to him before and after the ceremony, including his comments on some of the innovations of the liturgical reform that he had experienced for the first time on that occasion.
For example, on June 3, 1971, after the Mass for the commemoration of the death of John XXIII, Paul VI commented:
“How on earth in the liturgy for the dead should there be no more mention of sin and expiation? [!] There is a complete absence of imploring the Lord’s mercy. This morning too, for the Mass celebrated in the [Vatican] tombs, although the texts were beautiful they were still lacking in the sense of sin and the sense of mercy. But we need this! And when my final hour comes, ask for mercy for me from the Lord, because I have such need of it!”
And again in 1975, after another Mass in memory of John XXIII:
“Of course, in this liturgy are absent the great themes of death, of judgment….”
The reference is not explicit, but Paul VI was here lamenting, among other things, the removal from the liturgy for the deceased of the grandiose sequence “Dies irae,” which in effect is no longer recited or sung in the Mass today, but survives only in concerts, as composed by Mozart, Verdi, and other musicians.
Another time, on April 10, 1971, at the end of the reformed Easter Vigil, Paul VI commented:
“Of course, the new liturgy has greatly streamlined the symbology. But the exaggerated simplification has removed elements that used to have quite a hold on the mindset of the faithful.”
And he asked his master of ceremonies: [NB] “Is this Easter Vigil liturgy definitive?”
To which Noè replied: “Yes, Holy Father, the liturgical books have already been printed.”
“But could a few things still be changed?” the pope insisted, evidently not satisfied. [Sigh.]
Another time, on September 24, 1972, Paul VI replied to his personal secretary, Pasquale Macchi, who was complaining about how long it took to sing the “Credo”:
“But there must be some island on which everyone can be together: for example, the ‘Credo,’ the ‘Pater noster’ in Gregorian….” [As Sacrosanctum Concilium wanted!]
On May 18, 1975, after noting more than once that during the distribution of communion, in the basilica or in Saint Peter’s Square, there were some who passed the consecrated host from hand to hand, Paul VI commented:
“The Eucharistic bread cannot be treated with such liberty! The faithful, in these cases, are behaving like.. infidels!”
Before every Mass, while he was putting on the sacred vestments, Paul VI continued to recite the prayers stipulated in the ancient missal “cum sacerdos induitur sacerdotalibus paramentis,” even after they had been abolished. And one day, September 24, 1972, he smiled and asked Noè: “Is it forbidden to recite these prayers while one puts on the vestments?”
“No, Holy Father, they may be recited, if desired,” the master of ceremonies replied.
And the pope: “But these prayers can no longer be found in any book: even in the sacristy the cards are no longer there… So they will be lost!”
You will remember the story – of which I was the origin in these interwebs – of the shock and sorrow of Paul VI on Pentecost Monday, when he found green vestments laid out for Mass.
Do look at this – HERE
I recount that story and add some other information about Paul and reform, including some old PODCAzTs about his words when the Novus Ordo was implemented. Shocking and sad.