Saturday, February 01, 2014

Alcuin Reid Replies to Andrea Grillo's Critique

NLM recently published Dr Alcuin Reid’s review of the newly updated second edition of Dr Andrea Grillo’s book “Beyond Pius V”. Dr Grillo wrote a reply to the review, and critique of it, on his blog, which I then translated into English and published on Thursday. Dr. Reid has offered the following response to Dr. Grillo’s critique.

It is not altogether necessary to respond to Dr Grillo’s reply to my review of his work—a reply which, for a Professor at a Pontifical University, is extraordinary in both its attitude and tone, and in its failure to comprehend or to engage substantially with the points made in the review—as Dr Grillo’s reply itself proves many of the points made in the review. However, as others have asked for comment, I offer the following observations:

- My own detailed study of the 20th century liturgical movement, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, now available in Italian translation Lo sviluppo organico della liturgia (Ed. Cantagalli, 2013), adequately demonstrates an understanding of the movement’s emphasis on the liturgy as fons and of the growing desire for ritual reform to facilitate participation in this.

- “Far reaching transition” was not the desire of the liturgical movement or of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. As the sources demonstrate, they desired development that was moderate and organic. I have published a number of further studies on this, referenced here:

- One can and must distinguish between the Council’s call for liturgical reform and the rites produced by Paul VI’s Consilium which, according even to Archbishop Bugnini, went beyond Sacrosanctum Concilium, with the authority of Paul VI. The question of the vernacular is illustrative. Bugnini states clearly: “It cannot be denied that the principle, approved by the Council, of using the vernaculars was given a broad interpretation.” Whilst Bugnini states that this change was “in line with the spirit of the Conciliar decrees” and relies on “the approval of competent authority,” the departure in this and in other areas [the celebration of Mass facing the people, the reception of Holy Communion on the hand, the introduction of new Eucharistic prayers etc.] from the reform authorised by the Council itself is clear (The Reform of the Liturgy, p. 110).

- To elevate the rites promulgated by Paul VI as themselves being essential to liturgical formation and the achievement of participatio actuosa is to make idols of contingent and perhaps even flawed products belonging to a particular era. This is theologically, historically and ecclesiologically naive. It denies the reality of living liturgical tradition and the possibility of both development and/or of correction in that tradition.

- These observations are grounded in a profound respect for the “solemn deliberations of an Ecumenical Council” and of their nature—a respect not always found in the liturgical reforms enacted in its name or in their implementation.

- Regarding the rites of Paul VI as iconic, essential and untouchable (to the exclusion of the use of the usus antiquior or of any discussion of a possible ‘reform of the reform’) is indeed a position often found in Italy—today—as Dr Grillo’s book and reply ably demonstrate. So too, the liturgical proscriptions visited upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate manifest its presence in elements of the Roman Curia.

- The reference to the conviction “often found amongst liturgists and prelates in Italy” is specifically to this idolisation of the new rites today, as the text of the review makes clear, and not to the Council or Council Fathers. To confuse this indicates (at best) a lack of diligence.

- The reality of participatio actuosa, profound immersion and formation in the Church’s liturgy and apostolic zeal in communities that celebrate the usus antiquior, is no ghost. It is a vital sign of the times—a new flowering of the liturgical spirit in our day. I am perhaps more acquainted with this reality in communities in several countries than Dr Grillo. It is a reality not to be dismissed.

- My use of “beyond Paul VI”—inspired by Dr Grillo’s own title (which is provocative in its categorisation of those who celebrate the usus antiquior as backward looking)—asserts that those who believe the rites of Paul VI to be essential need to move beyond this position. I have argued in my October 2013 lecture “The New Liturgical Movement After Benedict XVI”, that principles, not the personalities or preferences of popes, are what authentic liturgical practice is based on. That includes Benedict XVI, whose particular importance in respect of the liturgy is because of his articulation of sound liturgical principles.

- I have said before and say again: I am not a traditionalist; I am a Catholic. And I am a liturgical historian. My reasoned arguments are grounded in these realities.

- Dr Grillo saw fit to publish his own argument in English. I have paid him the compliment of engaging with it and do not regard that as a waste of time.

- It may be that Dr Grillo does not read English well and that this may account, in some part, for the nature of his reply. It does not, however, excuse English-speaking commentators from reading the arguments advanced carefully.

I wish to take this opportunity to correct an error in my review. I wrote in the belief that the Liturgical Press was publishing only books intended to defend the liturgical reform of Paul VI. Their Academic Publisher informed me that they have just released a work dedicated to the usus antiquior: William H. Johnston’s Care for the Church and Its Liturgy: A Study of Summorum Pontificum and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I hope to be able to study and write about this work—a happy sign of progress—in the future.

Dom Alcuin Reid.

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