Monday, January 28, 2019


Press title for great full article. I have printed only the great conclusion to it:

Lament for the Liturgy

Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy by Yves Chiron is indispensable both for its historical depth and breadth and also for understanding how we received the only liturgy that most Roman Catholics have ever experienced.

An Assessment
Chiron’s book provides a helpful vehicle by which to assess, at least partially, Bugnini and his efforts at liturgical reform. If one were to base this assessment simply on output and results, Archbishop Bugnini must be judged a resounding success. In the space of six years he took the general directives of the Second Vatican Council and engineered a new missal for the Latin Rite. The Mass, which had been celebrated for centuries in Latin, was now celebrated, almost exclusively, in the vernacular. Within a half-decade, Mass went from being celebrated ad orientem in both the East and West, to being almost exclusively celebrated versus populumin the Latin Rite. The reforms directed and overseen by Bugnini have become deeply embedded in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
And, yet, reading this wonderful book in light of the 50 years since the Novus Ordo’s implementation, Bugnini’s legacy is decidedly more mixed, even negative. Bugnini and the other members and consultors who manned the Consilium were undoubtedly experts in the practice and history of the liturgy. Their legacy, however, raises the very important question whether they were, as Paul VI famously described the Church, “expert[s] on humanity.”
The buzzwords of their articles, talks, and titles of their books betray their biases and presuppositions and suggest that they were not experts on humanity. For instance, Dom Botte’s book describing his inside view of the liturgical reform is titled From Silence to Participation. Bugnini described the transformation of the “inert and mute assembly” into true participants. Such descriptions are a common theme. The liturgical reformers failed to see how silence could be a form of participation, indeed perhaps a deeper participation than the recitation of banal translations.
The reformers also seemed unable to credit ordinary lay people with the ability to learn and penetrate the mysteries of the Mass as it was already being celebrated. If these people could not “understand” the words, they could not truly worship. Bugnini had to paraphrase the Mass to make it “accessible.” This both assumes that one can really comprehend phrases such as, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body,” and obscures the manner in which mystery and comprehension coincide and overlap. As we begin to grow in knowledge, we realize that God’s mystery is even greater than we ever imagined.
The reformers’ zeal for relevance and for a liturgy fit for contemporary man was and is a fool’s errand. As soon as one “updates” a liturgy, it is suddenly out-of-date. The new new man succeeds the new man. And so on and so forth. Nor does this chasing after relevance take into account man’s eternal and universal thirst for transcendence.
Finally, Bugnini and his fellow reformers put a premium on rational comprehension and stark simplicity. But this was done at the expense of basic human anthropology and a proper understanding of God. We are not simply spirits, but embodied souls who need to touch, to feel, to taste, to see. When we no longer kneel, genuflect, kiss, adore, we often cease to believe. We may now “understand” the words of the liturgy but at the expense that we do not actually believe them. Further, God is superabundant. His language is superabundance. He expresses Himself in ways that seem excessive, even superfluous. Why should our worship of Him be any different?
Chiron’s book is a great gift to the Church. While we cannot change the past, Chiron gives us the ability to see it clearly, to assess it with honesty, and to ask the deep questions that will help us avoid making missteps in the future. Bugnini was clearly well-intentioned. He loved the liturgy. But so many of his actions undermined rather than cultivated the liturgy he loved. May we avoid repeating his mistakes.
Annibale Bugnini:Reformer of the Liturgy
By Yves Chiron
Foreword by Alcuin Reid
Angelico Press, 2018
Hardcover, 214 pages


rcg said...

Every assesment I have read ends by claiming Bugnini loved the Liturgy and was an expert in it. Yet did not see even the tiniest result of his extensive labor. He reminds me of the Norse god Hodr blindly killing with the most pure intentions.

Paul McCarthy said...

His first draft was 15 minutes long. Bugnini and his fellow masons had funny further destroying our church. cardinal Ottavini was right in 62 when he was laughed at during the opening of VII and right again after reading the first draft. But who was he to be listened to by the great destroyers.

TJM said...

Story of the Traveler from Outer Space

If someone from outer space had come to American Catholic parishes in 1960 they would have found churches packed on Sunday, since about 80% of American Catholics attended Sunday Mass, even though it was in a non-vernacular language, Latin. When the traveler interviewed parishioners if they wanted any changes to the Mass, the overwhelming majority would have been surprised by the question. So the traveler concluded there was no pressing need to make changes to the Mass when tremendous numbers of Catholic faithful were obviously NOT avoiding Mass or demanding radical changes.

Fast forward to 2019. Our same outer space traveler returns to earth and finds that only around 20% of American Catholics now attend Sunday Mass, and many parishes have closed, even though their "betters" in the hierarchy insisted on a radical reform beginning in 1964 in which the Mass was vernacularized, the treasury of sacred music jettisoned for the trite, and the priest became the center of attention. Shaking his head, the traveler would come to the conclusion that the un-asked for, unwanted reforms, had had disastrous results. This time, instead of interviewing the parishioners, the traveler interviewed members of the hierarchy, suggesting that the un-asked reforms did not achieve their purported goals and they might want to consider recovering that which had been lost. Bristling at this suggestion, the members of the hierarchy told the traveler to naff off, that he simply did not understand the brilliance of the reforms, that everything was just fine, and that the liturgical springtime promised 55 years ago, was just around the corner!

John Nolan said...

Bugnini must have at least one defender on this site. Perhaps Fr Kavanaugh would care to offer a reasoned critique of Chiron's assessment. Granted, it's a bit more challenging than nit-picking others' grammar and making snide remarks. He might even be persuaded to put his name to it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I will not be adding Chiron's book to my already rather full reading list.

Would you like a review of my current read, "Nixonland - The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" by " by Rick Perlstein?

Dan said...

Okay, okay. So maybe Francis was just a little right when he criticized blogs and social media.....

The Egyptian said...

Bugnini must have at least one defender on this site

So does Stalin and Marx, but, well you know

TJM said...


Are reading books on making converts to the Catholic Faith or increasing vocations? For a priest, you sure seemed consumed with left-wing politics and their propaganda screeds!

Joseph Johnson said...

On the subject of liturgy, today (January 29, 2019) on the Church Militant "Headlines," there was a story about one of Detroit's auxiliary bishops, a bishop Fisher, sanctioning a priest (by limiting how many times he can publicly celebrate Mass each month) because the priest had started celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem (which is a legitimate option, according to the GIRM and according to the Congregation for Divine Worship).

According to the story, the priest has appealed to said Congregation, which is headed by Cardinal Sarah (the story mentions Sarah's 2016 exhortation for priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem). Maybe this will be an interesting "test case" on this issue and the legal status of this option and if there is any limitation on bishops as to prohibiting or discouraging it?

TJM said...

Bishop Fisher should be given the boot. I bet he doesn't even know what the rubrics say because they PRESUME ad orientem celebration