SANDRO MAGISTER GIVES US REAL NEWS ON POPE OAUL'S EVENTUAL DISDAIN FOR THE CONTRIVED MASS HE APPROVED
Paul VI and the Liturgical Reform. He Approved It, But Didn't Like It Much
“The pope wants it.” This is how Monsignor Annibale Bugnini (1912-1982), the author of the liturgical reform that followed Vatican Council II, silenced the experts every time they contested one or another of his most reckless innovations.
The pope was Paul VI, who in effect had entrusted to none other than Bugnini the role of secretary and factotum of the council for the reform of the liturgy, headed by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro.
Bugnini had a terrible reputation among some of the members of the council. “Sinister and smarmy,” “schemer,” “as devoid of education as of honesty”: this is how he is described in the “Memoirs” of the great theologian and liturgist Louis Bouyer (1913-2004), highly esteemed by Paul VI.
Which pope, in the end, was on the point of making Bouyer a cardinal and punished Bugnini by exiling him as nuncio in Tehran, having realized the damage that he had done and the duplicity of that “The pope wants it” with which the reprobate shielded himself.
Over the subsequent decades, nevertheless, the heirs of Bugnini dominated the field. His personal secretary, Piero Marini, was from 1983 to 2007 the master of pontifical ceremonies. And recently books have been published on Bugnini, glorifying his role.
But getting back to Paul VI, how did he experience the unfolding of the liturgical reform? The defenders of the preconciliar liturgy point to him as the one ultimately responsible for all the innovations.
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:
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: “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.
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….”
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!”
They are brief remarks, but they express the liturgical sensibility of pope Montini and his discomfort with a reform that he saw growing out of proportion, as Noè himself noted in his “Diaries”:
“One gets the impression that the pope is not completely satisfied with what has been carried out in the liturgical reform. […] He does not always know all that has been done for the liturgical reform. Perhaps sometimes a few matters have escaped him, at the moment of preparation and approval.”
This too must be remembered about him, when next autumn Paul VI is proclaimed a saint.
By way of documentation, the following - in Latin and contemporary language - are the prayers that the priests used to recite while they were putting on the sacred vestments and that Paul VI continued to recite even after their removal from the current liturgical books.
Cum lavat manus, dicat:
As he washes his hands, he shall say:
Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendam omnem maculam: ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.
Grant, O Lord, that my hands may be clean from every stain: so that I may serve you with purity of mind and of body.
Ad amictum, dum ponitur super caput, dicat:
At the amice, as he puts it on his head, he shall say:
Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus.
Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, to overcome the assaults of the devil.
Ad albam, cum ea induitur:
At the alb, as he puts it on:
Dealba me, Domine, et munda cor meum; ut, in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis perfruat sempiternis.
Purify me, O Lord, and cleanse my heart: so that, purified in the blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal delights.
Ad cingulum, dum se cingit:
At the cincture, as he cinches it on:
Praecinge me, Domine, cingulo puritatis, et extingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis; ut maneat in me virtus continentiae et castitatis.
Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and extinguish in my loins the ardor of concupiscence; so that the virtue of continence and chastity may be preserved in me.
Ad manipulum, dum imponitur bracchio sinistro:
At the maniple, as he places it on his left arm:
Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris; ut cum exsultatione recipiam mercedem laboris.
May I be worthy, O Lord, to bear the maniple of grief and pain: so that I may receive with joy the recompense of my labor.
Ad stolam, dum imponitur collo:
At the stole, as he places it around his neck:
Redde mihi, Domine, stolam immortalitatis, quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi parentis: et, quamvis indignus accedo ad tuum sacrum mysterium, merear tamen gaudium sempiternum.
Restore to me, O Lord, the stole of immortality, lost through the prevarication of the forefather; and although I may approach unworthily your sacred mystery, grant that I may merit eternal joy.
Ad casulam, cum assumitur:
At the chasuble, as he puts it on:
Domine, qui dixisti: Iugum meum suave est, et onus meum leve: fac, ut istud portare sic valeam, quod consequar tuam gratiam. Amen.
O Lord, who said: My yoke is easy and my burden is light: grant that I may bear this in such a way as to attain your grace. So may it be.