Rorate Caeli

Behold the handmaid of Annibale

No man had greater power in the liturgy during the 20th century than Annibale Bugnini -- actually, make that "in the 20 centuries of the Church". He fell in disgrace in 1975 and was soon sent as a pro-nuncio to the moribund regime of the Shah, though the reasons Paul VI, the man who gave him more power than any pope had ever given to any "liturgical expert", had to send him to the wilderness were never made clear.

Thankfully, he never returned to any position of liturgical responsibility, though it is hard to fathom what else he could have done to destroy the Roman Rite.

He left, however, many important disciples in the Roman Curia, the most important of whom was his own personal secretary, Piero Marini, the master of Pontifical Ceremonies since 1987: 19 long years in which the worst aspects of the new Mass were prominently displayed in the Papal Masses, in Rome and abroad.

So what exactly does Marini think of the liturgy? He has written and spoken extensively, and some of his best comments are these:

In the old liturgy, in use before the Second Vatican Council, the role of the master of ceremonies consisted in applying a series of rigid norms which could not be changed. Today one cannot organize a celebration without first having thought: who is celebrating, what is being celebrated, where is it being celebrated. The celebration is the point toward which converge diverse and reciprocally coordinated elements under the guide of that spirit of adaptation that is the soul of post-conciliar reform. Thus it´s a matter of foreseeing and planning the celebration with a view toward the result one wishes to obtain. For example, one cannot think of a liturgical action without taking account of the spaces in which it will take place, the chants which will be performed. All that is thought out and planned in view of a celebration may be considered real and proper direction. One finds oneself acting, in a certain way, upon a theatrical stage [palcoscenico]. Liturgy is also a show [spetacollo].
(Virgilio Fantuzzi SJ, in: La Civiltà Cattolica 1999 III, pag. 168-180, "Celebrazioni liturgiche pontificie, radio e tv"; sources here and here).

Marini has been facetiously called a "traditionalist" by progressive bloggers because he is in the habit (as his master, mentor, and inspiration Annibale "Hannibal" Bugnini) of picking things from the past which he likes and fashioning them in a modern "liturgical collage" -- the very antithesis of Tradition, as Saint Vincent of Lérins reminded: "Let there be no innovation--nothing but what has been handed down."

Now, compare Marini's words to these:

The liturgical reform, in its concrete realisation, has certainly distanced itself from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but a devastation. On one hand, there is a degenerate show-style liturgy, in which religion is rendered interesting with the aide of fashionable stupidities and seductive moral rules, with temporary success in the gang of liturgical fabricators and with an attitude of very pronounced rejection by those who search in the liturgy not the spiritual "showmaster", but an encounter with the living God for whom all 'making' becomes insignificant, an encounter itself capable of allowing us to climb the true riches of the being.
(J. Card. Ratzinger, Preface to the French Edition of Klaus Gamber's "The Reform of the Roman Rite").

Benedict and Marini: the Marini "stage" seems to be too small for both actors. Who will leave the stage?

1 comment:

  1. I think Marini will go eventually.

    I think there are two reasons why that hasn't happened yet. First, I am sure you have heard the story that has been reported. Right after the election, Marini approached the Holy Father and tendered his resignation. Benedict responded, "Are you happy here with us?" "Yes, Holy Father," Marini responded. "Then you must stay," came the Pontifical reply. Ratzinger doesn't like anything that smacks of a vendetta.

    Second, he is modest and self-critical and is loathe to use his position as the Universal Pastor to put into practice his own opinions. He feels that he can always be wrong and is willing to be patient and to look again and again for the good elements, even when there are many elements that disturb him. That is why he can compliment and strongly support the NeoCatechumenal Way, while having strong reservations about some of the "Way"'s liturgical practices.

    Marini will probably WANT to leave on his own at some point. Bishops who want to rise usually need some experience in running a diocese to do so. This was the path to the papacy taken by most Popes, even those who had served in the Curia.


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