Thursday, January 30, 2014

Andrea Grillo Replies to Alcuin Reid's Review of "Beyond Pius V"

We recently published a review by Dr. Alcuin Reid, the author of The Organic Development of the Liturgy, and the organizer of last summer’s Sacra Liturgia conference, of Dr. Andrea Grillo’s Beyond Pius V. The latter has lately been republished in English by the Collegeville Liturgical Press, updated with a new chapter on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the instruction Universae Ecclesiae. On his blog, Dr. Grillo has made the following critique of the review, here translated by myself.

The title and the conclusion of the review which Alcuin Reid has dedicated to the American version of “Beyond Pius V” betrays an obvious lack of understanding of the principal questions dealt with in the book.

Albeit in a completely specious (see translator’s note 1 below) way, Reid begins with a clear agreement on the “rediscovery of the liturgy as fons (source)” on the part of the Liturgical Movement. On this point he seems to agree with my thesis. But then, with a sharp and unexpected change in direction, he reveals his own real inclinations, and indeed his idiosyncrasies. Here we find a small essay of authentically and irremediably traditionalist thought. Reid cannot bear the idea, or even understand, that the history of the Liturgical Movement brought about a far-reaching transition, already begun by Pius XII; a transition in which, in order to restore the rites of the Easter vigil, of Holy Week, and then of the whole of the Church’s liturgy, it was necessary to go further and reform the rites themselves. This, it should be noted, is expressed by Reid as follows, in a manner both naïve and disarming. According to him, I would uphold “the conviction—often found amongst liturgists and prelates in Italy—that the new rites are themselves essential to liturgical formation, to the achievement of participatio actuosa and to the renewal of ecclesial life, and that the usus antiquior is, of its essence, antithetical to the achievement of these indispensable aims.”

It is truly surprising, not to say shameless, that Reid would pass off as the “conviction(s) of liturgists and prelates in Italy” the solemn decisions of the Second Vatican Council, which then took shape as the reformed rites. The fact that the solemn deliberations of an Ecumenical Council are thought of as private opinions, and matters open to discussion, says a great deal about the respect for reality and for tradition which these reactionary approaches promise the poor reader.

It was the Council which decided the need to profoundly modify the rite of Pius V. It was not the whim of Italian prelates, but the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium which officially demanded this: unless Reid is confusing the conciliar text with the gossip of the Roman Curia, as many of his reactionary friends do…

But Reid does not seem interested in the real history: he only chases after the ghosts of the “extraordinary active participation” of the traditionalist groups, all perfectly formed and burning with apostolic zeal...

In effect, it is clear that he wants to defend, at all costs, even at the cost of reason, the logic of the rite of Pius V, declaring that, if one must really be “beyond Pius V”, one must also agree to be “beyond Paul VI”.

In this regard, (but not only in this regard,) I have been absolutely misunderstood. For me it is obvious that “beyond Pius V” means necessarily also beyond Paul VI, beyond John Paul II, and even, – if we really must admit it – beyond Benedict XVI. What strikes me is that Reid wants to set himself, and the tradition which he regards himself as belonging to, “only” beyond Paul VI. Inevitably, I have the following doubt. Will it not be that case that, in agreeing to apply the preposition “beyond” only to Paul VI, Reid means it not as “beyond”, (but) as “before”? (note 2) It is not perhaps his intention only to remain, forever, before Paul VI? As long he can guarantee himself this result, Reid shows himself ready to reconstruct history and the liturgy of the last century in a completely ideological manner, and without any respect for the truth. I believe I have already wasted too much time on these pointless ravings.

Translator’s notes 
1. The Italian word “strumentale’, here translated as “specious”, can also mean “deceptive” or “exploitative”. In the latter sense, it is commonly used in Italian politics, to claim that someone is using something else for political gain; a certain cheapness is understood to underlie his actions. As a nice example of the richness of the Italian language, this behavior has its own verb, “strumentalizzare”; the claim that your opponent is “exploiting” the matter in this way is decidedly not a compliment.
2. A literal translation of these words would be meaningless in English. The title of Dr. Grillo’s book in Italian, “Oltre Pio V” means “Beyond Pius V”, and is so translated in the two English editions. “Beyond” can also be expressed in Italian by the words “al di là”, which also means “over there.” The parallel expression “al di qua” means “on this side” or “over here.” But “here” cannot be applied to a theoretical state of affairs in which the Church has moved “beyond” the rite of Paul VI, still in use in the vast majority of cases where the Roman Rite is celebrated. The context demands therefore that the word be translated as “before”. I wish this to be made clear lest it appear to the reader that Dr. Grillo has been completely unjust to Dr. Reid.

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