Thursday, May 10, 2018


Paolo VI e la riforma liturgica. Anche per il papa cambiare non è facile

 by Mario Lessi Ariosto S.J.

(From "L'Osservatore Romano" of May 9, 2018)

Based on the diaries of the liturgical celebrations held between 1970 and 1978 by Monsignor Virgilio Noè, master of the pontifical ceremonies, Leonardo Sapienza has published another small book dedicated to Pope Montini (Paul VI, "A minimal story", Monopoli, Edizioni VivereIn, 2018, pages 118, euro 10). The intent of the editor of the collection, and even before the author of the diaries, was to not let anything of the simplest aspects of human, Christian and priestly depth fall into oblivion, but also of the virtues experienced in everyday life by Montini. Both have thus handed down and re-presented fragments of humanity and spiritual progress of those who, dominated by the love of Christ, of the Church, of humanity, soon, as has been announced, will be included in the catalog of saints.

In choosing the words of Montini, generally dated, even if divided and presented in sixteen themes, the curator wants to discover and understand to the readers the human and spiritual stature of the Pope. With simple shots, which in some cases could have been amplified with the help of other pages written by the cardinal Noah on the subject in articles, conferences, homilies to help those who read better to penetrate the occasion of certain sentences, Monsignor Sapienza reaches the goal that had been proposed: bring readers closer to a Paul I almost secret. And when a saint approaches he always receives something, because his mission of good is prolonged in time.

To look at Montini implies a return to the council in its entirety. But it also means, since the general context of Noah's diaries is the liturgy presided over by the Pope, to return to the renewal of the liturgical life of the Roman Church sanctioned by the council, to the reform of the rites and texts that Paul VI wished, supported and put in place , even if with the human effort, of those who were in front of something where "everything is new, and it is not always ready, as it could be once." After so many years, even for the Pope, change is not an easy thing "(p.25) recognized Montini.

In the same audience to the ceremonies of February 14th 1970, from which the curator drew that phrase, Paul VI also said that "the masters should not only have a relative and superficial knowledge of the conduct of the ceremonies, but must deepen the matter, because they must give an account to all of what happens ". And he added that "to be able to give an account of everything, one must apply to a personal study". It is therefore not surprising that this Pope, with a council to be enforced, a new ecclesiology, a renewed ecumenical journey and missionary commitment, a new Vulgate, a vast and articulate liturgical reform, a new code of canon law in preparation , human relationships and a thousand other important tasks to which waiting could not materially have time to study personally all the details of each text and every rite.

The editor of the book also accompanied him with the photographic reproduction of some autographs of Paul VI: a personal note on his tomb, a greeting card to Noah, three to Monsignor Giovanni De Andrea, one to Monsignor Giuseppe Caprio, a private letter to Monsignor Pietro Palazzini and eight letters in response to the wishes of Cardinal Jean Villot to highlight Montini's attention to his collaborators. There are certainly many others of similar autographs. The writer has had in his hands some of these writings, illuminating the way in which the Pope followed the reform and renewal of the liturgical life: some rites, instructions such as those on the Eucharistic mystery and that on the translations of liturgical texts ("Comme le prévoit ") written down and corrected in his own hand.

A special autograph is the one that concluded the process of reforming the missae agreement where Paul VI claims to have worked with Monsignor Annibale Bugnini and to appreciate how the experts had taken account of his observations and included them in the final drafting. And precisely on the "ordo missae" the Pope intervened, considering his achievements with the help of his collaborators and defending the whole of the reform, in the consistory of 24 May 1976 (see "Acta apostolicae sedis", 68, 1977, p 374), when he compared his promulgation to the approval by Pius V of the missal wanted by the Council of Trent.


In the illustration the autograph of Paul VI on the reform of the "ordo missae" dated November 6, 1968. The text was published in the new edition of the work of Annibale Bugnini "The liturgical reform (1948-1975)", Rome, Vincenziano Liturgical Center, 1997, p. 380.


TJM said...

LOL - sure, just sure. Why this guy could even be considered for Sainthood shows the extent of the rot in the Vatican

Victor said...

No matter what can be said about Paul VI, he was merely following what the Council had dictated. Certainly, what the Council dictated was subject to interpretation, but the pope's entourage of neo-Modernist experts told him the correct interpretation.

For quite some time I was of the opinion of TJM above, until I realised how radical most of those "experts" at the Council were, later influencing a pope that had his hands full with so many matters to take care of following the Council. Paul VI was more a victim of bad advice and deception than someone who ignorantly or deliberately wanted to damage the Church. The push at this time to make Paul VI a saint probably does come from the neo-Modernists currently in control at the Vatican, but even these forget that Paul VI near the end of his life regretted that all these neo-Modernists, revealed by the smoke of Satan, took advantage of him; but it was too late.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Victor, what I wonder is how Paul VI did not foresee the bad effects of the changes that were proposed. Did he not reflect on and ponder what his advisors were saying, praying for light from Our Lord? If he did do that, how could he have been taken in by them? His encyclical Humanae Vitae seems to be on the mark, and was powerfully explosive when it was published. I was a little kid when that happened, and I still remember how controversial it was, and how much open dissent there was from clerics and religious. The years have proven it to be built on rock, and everything Paul VI predicted about the social effects of birth control has come true. So why did he not stand up to them regarding the liturgy?

I guess we won't really know the answer to that until we are in heaven with God.

God bless.

TJM said...

Paul VI, whom I met when he was Giovanni Baptista Cardinal Montini, was a clueless elitist. I am not certain of this, but I believe he NEVER lived in a seminary but stayed home with Mommy while he was studying for the priesthood. I was trained by the Sisters of the Holy Cross (now left-wing loons and dying out) and could sing 5 Latin ordinaries by the age of 10. I know that will sadden fake priests who post here

TJM said...

Victor, you are too kind. When a Pope, sua sponte, destroys the Roman Mass, I have NO sympathy for him. I lived through this, and I will never forgive him. He did Satan's work

Victor said...

The liturgical movement had been around for a long time when Vatican II came along. It had tremendous influence and power, where even Sacrosanctum Concilium was basically written by them. I can see why it was so hard for Paul VI and many others to see things differently from those "experts" who claimed to know everything there is to now about the "correct" way of doing liturgy. Recall that active participation was not new, yet became the cornerstone of the liturgical reform about 50 years after the phrase was coined. Now, 50 years after the liturgical debacle, that we see what this reform, conciliar document, and liturgical movement really were, a neo-Modernist takeover of the Church.

Henry said...

I hesitate to defend Paul VI, who not only presided over the most calamitous disaster the Church as a whole has ever experienced--leading finally to the current devastation of faith, liturgy, and morals--and certainly bears responsibility for his decisions and appointments that made it worse than it might have been.

However, regarding his signing off on the Novus Ordo, it has been argued that others sold him on the argument that, however questionable it might be, it was necessary to bring some semblance of order out of the liturgical chaos of the late 1960s. Reportedly there were then some 200 Eucharistic prayers in use, circulating in the loose-leaf binders that had replaced bound altar missals on many altars.

In my own Georgia parish, it seemed like we heard a new one almost every Sunday, and those of who were "commentators" who lead the people's vocal participation were frequently handed new prayer cards for this purpose when we showed up to prepare for Sunday Mass. I recall a parishioner asking if this madness would ever end, and my reply that it had to, because we simply could not stand it much longer.

The truth is that the worst of it ended when the Novus Ordo was introduced, and the 200 Eucharist prayers were reduced to "only" four, with only one of these four being arguably so Protestantised as to endanger to faith of those subjected to it as regular Sunday Mass fare. Allegedly, Paul VI personally scotched the attempt of Bugnini to delete the Roman Canon, which of course is the only remaining EP that embodies and transmits Catholic faith in its fullness.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't fault Paul VI, because he and his generation are the ones supposedly formed in the splendidness of the pre-Vatican II Church but were willing to abandon so much so fast.

The priests that took the most liberties with everything in the Church to include children and teenagers, mostly boys, were those who were trained in the pre-Vatican II Church--what was it about the pre-Vatican II Church that kept priests and sisters as small children and then once the controls and discipline were removed they became like adolescences with reckless abandon in all they did?

Of course in the 1960's these reckless priests still had authority themselves and some semblance of the pedestal so many in the clergy and religious life were placed upon by the laity.

Paul VI tried to normalize things by the 1970's but soon became too old, too feeble and too depressed to be effective. John Paul II has to be given credit to bringing more stably to the Church as well as Cardinal Ratzinger and then Pope Benedict.

But the old guard who prefer the chaos symbolized by Pope Francis is still around and exerting their once lost influence.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

You are being kind to Paul VI, whom I met when I was a little boy. I think part of his problem, is that as an intellectual, he thought if he just said something, all would assent because after all, he was being rational and he was the Pope. Unfortunately as you know from your pastoral experience, the world does not work that way. You give some folks an inch, and they will take a mile. I think one of the overlooked tragedies of the 1960s is that a lot of orthodox priests and nuns left their ministries because they could no longer tolerate the chaos. My aunt, was a nun of almost 30 years, nominated to be Mother General of her order but turned it down and left when some of the younger sisters defied her and would no longer wear a veil. She remained devout and a faithful Catholic to her dying day, continuing to go to daily Mass, whereas, one of the left-wing loons who remained in her order stopped going to Mass because it was too "patriarchal!" At this point in time, that order is on life-support

Anonymous said...

Yes, when I was young, I knew sisters who left their convents and remained devout Catholic women. Some married, many did not. I think they felt betrayed at what had happened to religious life. They tried to make a life on their own without the "community" and without the "order," of lack there of.

I think the same can be said of some priests. One time in the early to mid 2000's, I was at a showing of a film about the sex abuse crisis. There were a number of ex priests present. It dawned on me that I think a number of these priests, when they were young, their pastors had girl friends, boy friends or were bringing altar boys up up their room. If they reported this, they were the problem and treated harshly. I think they became disillusioned and left. JMO.

Henry said...

"I don't fault Paul VI, because he and his generation are the ones supposedly formed in the splendidness of the pre-Vatican II Church but were willing to abandon so much so fast."

Those who not only abandoned, but rebelled against, the splendor of the pre-Vatican II Church, should be faulted for that very reason. The ancient whisper in the garden was heard long before Vatican II--the modernist heresy of which Vatican II was the culmination rather than the inception, dated back before the turn of the 20th century.

Paul VI was one of those who early on listened to that whisper. It was no accident that as Pope he allowed a small minority of activists to commandeer the Council, and afterwards handed over its implementation to the worst of the lot. What they did to Faith and Church should not be blamed on the largely faithful generation of priests who were powerless to stop the juggernaut that flattened them.

It was Paul VI who handed over the keys to that juggernaut to those whose intent to not merely rephrase but to change permanently the doctrine of the Church was explicitly avowed (at least by Bugnini, in his autobiography).

TJM said...


And those lefties at the Council, were by and large, petty little men. I recall reading in an account of the Council that Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani's mic was actually cut off when he was finishing up one of his addresses because the person controlling the mic didn't like him or what he had to say. That was uncharitable and a disgrace.

Bean said...

"... the modernist heresy of which Vatican II was the culmination rather than the inception.."

Pretty amazing assertion, that.

Henry said...


Are you really unaware of the historical fact that the 2nd Vatican council and it's aftermath were the continuation of a movement that popes before and after the turn of the 20th century--e.g., Pope St. Pius X's encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis--referred to as the "modernist heresy" (their phrase, not my assertion)?

TJM said...

I see Kavanaugh has a new nom de plume - Bean. Good choice because he is full of beans