Monday, February 25, 2019

Looking for Parallels in the Pornocracy

"Seventy years," said an Oratorian to me after Ascension Thursday (on Thursday) in 2011. "Seventy years it usually takes for crises in the Church to resolve themselves. That puts us just about at the point when we should start coming out of our current rot."

He was adamant on this figure: Arianism, the Reformation, Jansenism, and the Prisoner in the Vatican episodes all lasted about three or four generations until matters began to resolve themselves, either through the intervention of Church leadership, the shifting attitude toward orthodoxy among the laity, or some combination of the two. History is a helpful means of interpretation, but, as economists will rightly tell you, it is a poor predictor of future events, albeit better than tea leaves. 

Still, we might let history edify us as to why, unlike in those other crises in Church history, we just cannot seem to "snap out" of the "Modernist" quagmire. Michael Davies and the more severe members of the Traditionalist camp compared our age of rampant, unpunished disbelief with the Arian heresy, a comparison that is not unreasonable at its heart. Only a handful of bishops opposed a heresy that received widespread disapprobation very early on in the history of the Church. Perhaps one reason why Latin Christianity has a lower, more flexible view of ecumenical councils than their Eastern, more specifically Greek and Slavic, brethren is that in the Roman experience councils do not consistently do anything. The first Nicene Council condemned Arius and his followers by an astounding 318-2 vote and issued a general statement of orthodoxy only to find Arius rehabilitated at the Imperial Court some years later, a resurgent and reformed Arianism pervading the Church along moderated formulae, and the world "groan[ing] and find[ing] itself Arian."

The leadership of the Church was either complicit in the general diffusion of Arianism, a heresy held more often by the intelligentsia than by the laity, or wariness of Imperial punishment from Constantinople. Only Athanasius, that brilliant star and perfect soldier of Christ, stood against it among the great bishops of the Church. Saint Liberius, the pope, opposed the heresy until kidnapping, exile, and corporal punishment silenced him. Hilary of Poitiers "hammered" the Arians with his pen, but one wonders if he was as influential in his own time, at a distance from the Empire's heart, than his words are in history. Only Athanasius the Great successfully opposed Arianism in his day to the point of near-martyrdom. Heroic, but hardly the stuff of reform.

Arianism eventually died because people stopped believing it, vestiges of pagan intellectualism evanesced, and new and exciting variations of Christological heresies presented themselves for future disbelief. The parallels with our day are strong, particularly with regard to Church leadership and the inability of the few good bishops to influence the whole, but this writer finds the strongest parallel to our age some five, six, or seven centuries later in Rome.

How that age came about is a little murky. In 600 Saint Gregory the Great sat on Saint Peter's throne in Rome, the last pope for several years to ask for Imperial approval of his election. A few generations later all the popes were Greek and some hardly knew Latin, much to the chagrin of the Romans. Christianity diffused throughout Europe and the churches of Gaul and England sought to imitate Roman liturgical practices through their own interpretative lenses, grafting the Roman kalendar, Canon, lectionary, and psalter to their own ceremonies, customs, and monastic impulses. With the coronation of Charlemagne, the papacy should have ascended to its height, but instead it languished. Roman Christianity proliferated throughout Europe during a quiet Christianization, but Rome itself was rarely heard. Saint Nicholas I may be the last pope called "the Great", but he hardly belongs in company with Gregory and Leo; he was simply one of a few good popes during several centuries of "pornocratic" rule.

The pornocracy is discernible through the customary means: Catholic Encyclopedia, the Oxford History of the Papacy, Wikipedia etc. It began in earnest with Sergius III murdering his rivals to the Roman bishopric and then fathering children with the wife of a local aristocrat. The children would successively occupy the papacy, although occasionally an elderly caretaker pope was elected and only murdered when the Sergian whelp came of age.

But it went back further than Sergius. Before Leo III placed the crown on Charlemagne's brow Pope Stephen, of the house of Spoleto, put his predecessor's decaying corpse on trial for heresy and appointed a deacon to give a defense! Then someone, probably a frightened spectator, decided God needed Stephen more than this world did.

These men may not have been formal heretics, but by their actions anyone with plain eyes could see they believed neither in God nor in natural law. John XII, killed by an angry husband, was rumored to have invokes pagan gods during his dice games. Perhaps most like today, these popes proliferated their own successors and the problems continued. Through Theodora and Marozia, the popes of the pornocracy continued to make Rome into a venue for the turf wars of central Italian nobility. They fought more and more for less and less until Rome was not worth having.

Rome's licentiousness did not exist in a vacuum. Europe re-Christianized after the collapse of the Roman Empire (we ought not forget that Gaul and Brittania were Roman provinces) and Christianity took on a distinctly local character, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Local liturgical uses generated new customs and religious communities coterminous with princes investing bishops with power rather than the Church through her own means. While the Roman clergy, aside from the popes themselves, retained the more ancient tradition of clerical continence, even among married clergy, the northern priests often had wives who continued to bear them children, children to whom they would attempt to pass on ecclesiastical property without passing on the cloth, too. 

The situation among clergy who did not bother to marry was hardly better and was, morally, even worse. Without recounting the very sordid details, the sexual proclivities of impure, modern clerics were also well known and practiced in the Dark Ages. Saint Peter Damian, whose feast came a few days ago, asked, "How can a sodomite priest, depraved himself, seek to become an intercessor for the sins of others?"

Renewal came slowly until a genuine reform movement coalesced around the monastery at Cluny. They did the hard work in reform, planting new monasteries throughout modern day France and Germany that would oppose local corruption and provide those with a vocation to religious life with a venue to do so. Eventually the reform party came to Rome during the nadir of the pornocratic papacy: the simoniac, thrice-pope Benedict IX. Several Clunaic monks and sympathizers, like Archdeacon Hildebrand, became pope. None enjoyed the fruits of their labors during their lifetimes yet they revitalized the Latin Church and the Roman See, beginning the "age of faith". 

There has been some discussion of the "Overton window" concept today, something I touched upon in my review of Yves Chiron's Annibale Bugnini. The idea is to present a desired outcome so absurd that no one wants it, yet they now have the concept in their minds and will accept lesser versions of this novelty because anything less comes across as a moderate, sensible view. Liturgically, the Roman world was boiled like a frog in cold water in the '50s and '60s. The St. Gallen [Lavender] Mafia desire something similar today. As laymen we have charge over our own souls and I sincerely recommend against reading daily news about Rome, Bergoglio, ecclesiastical politics, Brexit, the Democratic Party, or anything that makes one's blood boil. While I am not entreating readers to put their heads in the sand, I am asking them to keep clear minds in murky times. Washington DC is not the only political swamp in the world. What we can do as individuals is reverse the fight much like Saint Peter Damian and the Cluniacs did in their day. Reverse the Overton window. Speak about when the Roman rite is restored to its normal place in fifty years. Talk confidently about well staffed parishes with orthodox priests and contrast it to the dying places who sterile people and sterile ideas. And laugh at how antiquated and impossibly caught up in the '60s liberalism is, how out of touch it is with our young people, who desire direction and authenticity more than license and liberation (they do not expect that of the Church and never did). 

Historical parallels break down when the example becomes more specific, but the pornocracy offers much to learn from in our own Dark Age.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Longevity of Religious Orders

The Carmelite Order has been reformed several times, most famously by two Spanish saints during the Counter-Reformation. The Minorites have been reformed more often than that. Their peers, the Dominicans, have needed attention over the years, but less. The Benedictines have had less explicit reform, but have been indirectly revitalized by other new communities follow a more severe interpretation of the Rule of Saint Benedict. And then there are the Jesuits....

At what point is a religious order or community necessary? When the conditions for its inception by the Church fade, ought the order fade, too? 

Years ago a friend of mine was in novitiate for the Dominicans in the eastern province of the United States. A mutual acquaintance asked why they were called the Order of Preachers. I explained that this eponym is in fact their proper name. During the Middle Ages one had to be licensed by the local bishop to preach in a church and sermons were quite rare. The Dominicans received their permission directly from the pope, which permitted these educated, ambulatory priests to oppose the Cathar heresy with great militancy. He asked if all priests can preach now. Yes, I said. Are there Cathars anymore? No, I said. Then what do they do?

Saint Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus along similar lines, using his own unique skills to service the Church in combat against the reigning heresy of the day. Yet, there are still protestants and anti-Christian governments. Does this necessitate the aggressive orthodoxy and militant attitude of the Society of Jesus in our age?

One might be tempted to compared religious orders to government bureaucracies, seeing them as self-confirming institutions that perpetuate their own relevance long after their immediate need has passed. The Dominicans and the Social Security program have some superficial parallels.

It would be wrong, however, not to consider the orders in their integrity and only look at God's blessing of their work in historical context. Eastern Christianity has comparatively few religious orders, just freestanding communities following certain sets of traditions. Most monks, in one way or another, follow the ways of Saint Basil: work eight hours, pray eight hours, sleep eight hours. A few monasteries have the Hesychast emphasis that pervaded what Taft called the "final synthesis" of Greek Christianity before the fall of Byzantium. In the deserts of Egypt a monastery follows the way of Saint Anthony in conjunction with the cave-dwelling anchorites. There is no strict "rule", no international conference of delegates answering to a superior general, and no dicastery for religious life. They also did not come into existence after an outbreak of heresy, although the Athonite communities rose to prominence after the Hesychast movement. There is something inherently durable in the manner of Christian life found in these communities that is not bound up in the personalities of their founders

The religious communities which have had the least "reform" or on-going maintenance are the ones least related to the personalities of their founders. Biographical details and acts of Saint Benedict survive through Gregory the Great and the monastic traditions, although little about the man's temperament and personality survive. A monk following the rule looks to Benedict as his father, but not necessarily his model. The Divine Office and the weekly recitation of the 150 psalms is his model, to disappear into work, be it manual or spiritual work. Ora et labora could well be Orare est laborare for a Benedictine. It is an ideal to diminish the place of the individual and, through prayer and labor, augment the place of Christ.

Our Dominicans have been slightly less durable than the Benedictines, if only because of their necessary proximity to "the world." Though no longer uniquely situated as great preacher among few, their ubiquity, academic affiliations, and penchant for study have elongated their place in the Church long after the death of Saint Dominic de Guzmán. The Dominicans have produced such varied saints as Catherine of Sienna, Martin de Porres, Vincent Ferrer, and the Common Doctor, each a saint in their own right and an instrument of God's grace in the world.

Perhaps less apparent in these excellent, enduring qualities are the Minorites, the friars who are supposed to live the life of Saint Francis. It does not aid the Minorites, in their three iterations, that for two centuries our society has re-imagined Francis as a proto-socialist, tree-hugging, animal-loving, limp-wristed vagrant. A man so uniquely blessed by God, so idiosyncratic in his ways could only help attract followers who desired the same holiness Francis possessed, but there was only one Francis. Even in the Saint's own lifetime his order was growing in scope far beyond the narrow mendicant brotherhood he initially envisaged. The Minorites have produced saints, surely, and many lesser known friars and sisters who has striven to life the Gospel with the unguarded simplicity Francis did, but it has also produced a multitude of ebullient cretins who seek to replicate a perceived quietism and spontaneity wrongly attributed to Francis. At the cost of this aesthetic comes the integrity of the liturgy and the body of doctrine, the two things most dear to living Christian life; someone called Dan Horan is, in some deranged way, the heir to the Fraticelli. The Franciscans of the Immaculate may have prefaced a revival of genuine Franciscan life, but that endeavor proved too much for our day.

Orders and communities hopefully receive the blessing of Our Lord in their own time and continue to act as a blessing on the Church in our time. The most successful of these are built on eternal needs and the received wisdom of the Church's liturgy and discipline. Sometimes a charism is simply no longer needed. Sometimes it matures into a more lasting contribution. And sometimes it festers.

I know you're all wondering: should the Society of Jesus be suppressed? Clement XIV may have been wrong in 1773, but the world would have been better off if they stayed dead.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Solutions for the Current Crisis

Fr Hunwicke recently suggested the White Lady in partial tribute to Our Lady's appearance in Lourdes. Some others might recommend it as a general elixir for the complications and tribulations of being a Christian in post-Christian age, with creeping paganism, an inept hierarchy, and the rather obvious fact that part of the remedy for the clergy will involve the on-going exposition of scandals by these same clergy. I have my own set of standby elixirs, cures, and general fixes for your problems.

For a Rough Day: the Old Fashioned

The original cocktail and, according to some, still the best. A cocktail is just sugar and water (simple syrup), bitters, and any spirit. The substitution of other sweetening and bittering agents made the original cocktail known as the "old fashioned" way of making it. While most prefer Bourbon, Rye is more traditional and makes a superior drink; the spice in Rye cuts through the sugar, while sweet Bourbon is typically lost in the general mix of the drink. I prefer to make my Old Fashioned with Cognac, which is a softer drink and has a richer flavor.

In a rocks glass:
-2 oz spirit
-enough simple syrup to make a puddle in the glass
-one dash of Angostura bitters
-one dash orange bitters

Add large ice and stir until desired chill. Garnish with an lemon twist and an orange twist. Express oils over the drink and drop the twists in.

For a Rough Week: the Martini

An evolution of the Old Fashioned, the Martini is a gin cocktail made with vermouth as the sweetener instead of simple syrup. Made with sweet vermouth and in a balanced ratio, this drink is much more flavorful, rich, and interesting than the "dry Martinis" of the Mad Men era, when a "dry" Martini somehow meant less and less vermouth. A "dry" Martini is just a Martini made with dry vermouth instead of the 19th century, pre-Prohibition norm, sweet vermouth. Dry vermouth is preferable unless one can acquire a truly proper sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes, or something similar. Good sweet vermouth has a flavor profile similar to Port, just more moderate and better for mixing. A good sweet Martini is rich, herbaceous, and underlines the citric notes in the ingredients. A good dry Martini is juniper forward, clean, and crisp.

In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin (Beefeater, Berry Bros., skip the Hendricks)
-1 oz of vermouth
-two dashes of orange bitters

Add ice and stir until desired chill. Strain into a chilled Martini glass or champagne goblet. Garnish with a lemon twist expressed over the drink.

For Reunions: the Vesper

"Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet" Ian Fleming asked for, shaken over ice and served with a lemon peal in a deep champagne goblet. A variation on the Martini and named for the double agent in Casino Royale—hence the vodka, the Vesper has a few problems for the home drink-maker. First, is that good vodka has no taste and bad vodka tastes terrible. The second is that Kina Lillet is no longer made. At the Duke's Hotel, where Fleming invented the drink, they substitute the modern Lillet Blanc aperitif wine with a few dashes of Angostura bitters to compensate for the quinine in the original Kina Lillet. I make it the way they serve it at the Duke's Hotel, only I omit the vodka in favor of more gin.

Enjoying a Vesper in its birthplace
In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin
-1 oz of vodka
-1 oz of Lillet Blanc
-one dash of Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a Martini glass or champagne coupe. Garnish with an orange twist for a little sweetness on top.

For Afternoons: the Rivoli 75

The French 75 is really just a Tom Collins topped with champagne instead of soda water. On its own it is a fine drink, but at the Ritz of London the Rivoli bars makes its own version of its called the Rivoli 75. It uniquely calls for yuzu juice, the juice of an obscure Japanese citrus fruit; if unavailable, make a juice consisting of two parts lemon juice to one part orange juice. The Ritz does not add simple syrup, but I think it cuts the tartness of this drink and balances it out. This is a perfect drink for the mid-afternoon, between luncheon and Martini hour.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of London style gin
-0.5 oz of simple syrup
.0.5 oz of yuzu juice
-one dash of grapefruit bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute or goblet and top with either champagne or the sparkling wine of your choice. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit expressed over the drink.

For Early in the Evening: the Sidecar

The Sidecar is a sour style drink, one of French origin as evidenced by its use of Cognac. As with the Rivoli 75, I add simple syrup because I appreciate the balance it brings to an otherwise tart drink. Use a VS label Cognac; the quality of a VSOP or XO will get lost in the drink, but something unlabeled will be quite harsh. Lastly, do not be tempted to cheap out on the Cointreau for triple sec or orange curacao, those are Novus Ordo orange products.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of Cognac
-1 oz of Cointreau
-0.5 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-0.5 oz of simple syrup

Shake vigorously over ice until the noise of the ice hitting the shaker becomes high pitched, meaning the dilution is sufficient. Prepare an chilled Martini glass by adding a dash of sugar to the rim. Strain the drink into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Late in the Evening: the Last Word

The ultimate hipster indulgence, but actually a damn fine drink. If you do not like cherry liqueurs—and I do not—then you can omit the Luxardo.

In a shaker:
-1 oz of any gin
-1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-1 oz of Luxardo maraschino liqueuer
-1 oz of Chartreuse

Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Enjoy

A Hot Day: the Mai Tai

A tiki style drink invented by Trader Vic, the Mai Tai is a delicious drink that has unjustly fallen out of favor because, like the Old Fashioned and the Martini, it spent a lot of time in the hands of incompetent bartenders. You will often see nonsense involving pineapple juice and grenadine, but a true Mai Tai is a simple, refreshing drink best made with a dark, spicy rum. The original recipe does call for orange curacao, but I find Cointreau makes a more exciting, vivacious drink.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of dark or medium rum
-0.75 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-0.75 oz of orange curacao (Cointreau works better)
-0.5 oz of orgeat (can substitute simple syrup)

Shake over ice for a good long time to get proper dilution; this drink should not be too strong. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Take a few sprigs of mint leaves, slap them to release the essential oils, and add as a garnish.

And there you have it, a list of "solutions" for any occasion on which you may be irritated by something your coworker or bishop may have said. Saint Ignatius recommended the faithful discern the spirits. Why not follow that advice?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy (BOOK REVIEW)

The world knows Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Does it know Tim Berners-Lee? The world knows "Uncle Joe" Stalin. Does it know Ion Mihai Pacepa? Jobs gave us the iPhone and Zuckerberg some blue website, but Berners-Lee gave us the internet. Stalin took over Eastern Europe and committed genocide, but Pacepa inculcated materialism and jealously into the hearts of academics and undergraduates throughout the West. The real work of changing the world is so often obscured by those who later reap its laudatory recognition.

Similarly, Paul VI is given the credit for the final form of the Roman liturgy which emerged in the late 1960s. Responsibility for the Liturgia Horarum and Novus Ordo Missae do inevitably fall upon Giovanni Bautista Montini, who signed his regnal name under the decrees promulgating their uses, but the creation of these rites belongs to the less known and more obscure Annibale Bugnini.

We know the name Bugnini and we know the product of his work. What we do not know is the man and his life. We do not know how the man who changed how we pray actually prayed himself. We do not know how the man who influenced how we related to God himself related to God. We do now know how the man who wrote the liturgy himself understood the liturgy. Yves Chiron's Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy does not answer all of these questions, but it does open a substantial aperture into the life and decisions of a man whose traces remain in the trace of every western Christian.

The Author

Yves Chiron is a French essayist and historian who has written extensively on the history of the modern papacy, the saints, and the contemporary state of the Church. A traditionalist, but a staid one, a Francophonic correspondent likened him to a "more intellectual version of Michael Davies". Not many of Chiron's works have made it into English, but Annibale does reflect an objective approach to the sensitive subject matter, an interest in connecting the facts, and a respectable refrain from voicing an opinion until the end of the work.

The Book

Annibale Bugnini was born near Orvieto to a sharecropper and his wife. The fifth of seven children, Annibale came from a pious family that attended the great feasts of the Church and made an annual pilgrimage to Santa Maria de Scopulis during the Paschal octave. Half the children went into the religious life, Annibale himself into the Vincentians. 

Chiron follows his subject through his religious studies in Sienna and his initial interest in liturgy. He loved the major feasts with tremendous enthusiasm and would readily put on a cassock in the sacristy of any church if given the chance to introire ad altare Dei. Liturgy, Chiron suggests, was an enthusiasm for Bugnini. His real interest was in managing people, a skill which would inform his life's work much more than his expertise. A student in Sienna, he wrote his dissertation on the role of committees during the Council of Trent. 

After ordination to the priesthood, Bugnini made two pivotal moves which would determine the direction of his ecclesiastical career. First, he accepted the directorship of a failing liturgical journal called Ephemerides Liturgicae, which had fallen to 96 subscribers; under Bugnini's niche interest in "pastoral liturgy", readership increased into the thousands. The other major step was Bugnini's first and only pastoral experience as a weekend chaplain in a poor Roman suburb [presumably] celebrating low Mass for the locals. Here, he nursed his "pastoral" angle on the liturgy by having a "reader" hold up large cardboard signs which commented on the Mass or translated the priest's words into Italian and which prompted the congregation to reply in Italian. Something new was in the mix.

We then follow the aspiring liturgist to the Le Thieulin conference in 1946, a gathering of like minded promoters of the Liturgical Movement and all its aspirations. Here Bugnini met Dom Beauduin, Yves Congar OP, and the progressive Georges Chevrot. The mutual meeting effected the formation of the Centro di Azione Liturgica, which gave this particular brand of the Liturgical Movement its form and Carlo Braga his first job. 

Bugnini played his modest part in the Pian reforms to Holy Week, in which he was a passive secretary more than an active participant. After the election of John XXIII and the calling for an ecumenical council, Bugnini was appointed secretary for the new commission charged with drafting the Conciliar agenda and documents regarding the liturgy. Here emerged what the author astutely denominates the "Bugnini method." 

Normally, a secretary functions as a minute-taker, an envoy for someone in greater authority, and a delegated staffer. Bugnini employed his talents for bureaucracy and used his unique position to create various factions within the preparatory commission, isolate them, and then dictate their agenda to them. He created thirteen subcommissions, each dedicated to a particular function such as vernacular, sacred music, concelebration, the Office, and more. No one subcommission could influence the work of another subcommission nor consult them. Everything had to be done through Father Bugnini. 

In the preparatory commission, Bugnini set the agenda for each commission and by putting hitherto unconsidered matters on the table, he moved what political scientists call the "Overton window" such that some movement on these issues was inevitable. Wary of backlash, Bugnini instructed members of the subcommissions drafting sections of what would be called Sacrosanctum Concilium not to be too forward in their views on the vernacular, concelebration, or the extent to which they desired to reform the entire liturgy:
"It would be most inconvenient for the articles of our Constitution to be rejected by the Central Commission or by the Council itself. That is why we must tread carefully and discreetly. Carefully, so that proposals be made in an acceptable manner (modo acceptabile), or, in my opinion, formulated in such a way that much is said without seeming to say anything: let many things be said in embryo (in nuce) and in this way let the door remain open to legitimate and possible postconciliar deductions and applications; let nothing be said that suggests excessive novelty and might invalidate all the rest, even what is straightforward and harmless (ingenua et innocentia). We must proceed discreetly. Not everything is to be asked or demanded from the Council—but the essentials, the fundamental principles [are]." 
In 1962, Bugnini was informed that Ferdinando Antonelli OFM would be named head of the Conciliar commission on the liturgy. Bugnini, in a risible fit of extraordinary self-entitlement one usually only sees in college sororities, wrote everyone he knew asking for the job, citing his "bitterness" and the harm done to his reputation. At the same time he was fired from his job teaching at the Lateran University. He appealed to Pope John, who either willed his dismissal or consented to it.

Bugnini's double edged sword, Sacrosanctum Concilium, passed muster in Saint Peter's Basilica during Vatican II; even Archbishop Lefebvre voted for it (although bishops were hardly given the time to read the documents). Now Giovanni Bautista Montini was Pope Paul VI and he restored Bugnini to his secretariat on the Conciliar commission. What is most impressive, and new, in Chiron's research is that he has uncovered Bugnini's takeback of control of the reform project. The Consilium, under the nominal leadership of Cardinal Lercaro, was to be dissolved and the reforms to the Mass and Office would descend upon Cardinal Larraona and his Congregation for Sacred Rites. The Consilium managed to appoint itself reformer of the liturgy.

From here, we are familiar with the history. Our author does, however, supply us with new and useful tidbits, including the startling reaction of the 1967 Synods of Archbishops who viewed three experimental Novus Ordo Masses in the Sistine chapel. A two thirds majority was needed to approve the new rite and only a third voted against it, a fact already known; what was largely unknown is that another third of bishops, uncomfortable with the new Mass and equally uncomfortable opposing the Pope, voted "present." Pope Paul eventually saw a spoken rendition of the Novus Ordo himself and suggested numerous changes (returning the Kyrie, keeping the triple Agnus Dei, and retaining the Last Gospel). Apparently the new Mass was to have even less of the old Mass than it does now.

One last insight provided by the author is a debasement of the long held rumor that Archbishop Bugnini was a subversive Mason, a member of the Lodge bent on destroying the Church from within. When Paul VI decided to abolish both the Consilium and Congregation for Sacred Rites, he elected to create a new commission to handle the regulation of his new liturgy. Bugnini was the obvious choice, but was, inevitably, not the choice. Why? The author sides with those who think Pope Paul was simply tired of Bugnini, his methods, and his antics.

Montini intended to send Bugnini on a Papal Embassy to Latin America, but Bugnini objected on the grounds of his ignorance of Spanish. Instead he was sent to Tehran. Those who believe him to be a Freemason have their roots in Cardinal Oddi, who started to Tito Casini that he had seen evidence that Bugnini was an affirmed member of the Lodge. Archbishop Lefebvre repeated this rumor in 1975 and began an accusation that lingers until our own day. Ironically, while in his second exile, Bugnini wrote to Paul VI suggesting that Lefebvre and the Seminary of Saint Pius X be given permission to use the old Mass under similar conditions to the "Agatha Christie Indult" in England; he was ignored and Rome's relations with the French missionary deteriorated.


There is much more in Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy that cannot be covered in a simple review: his influence on papal ceremonies, his war against the collegiate churches of Rome in their effort to preserve Gregorian chant, and his very human reactions to the political situation in Iran. 

Chiron has given his reader much food for thought without explicitly telling them what to think. The cover of this book is, fitting, a picture of Msgr. Bugnini against a page for the introductory rites of the Novus Ordo Missal. We can see any number of option greetings, aspersions with lustral water, or a penitential rite. The choice is left with the reader of the Missal. Similarly, conclusions about Bugnini are left with the reader. To the progressive, he will be a noble warrior who patiently dealt with the Baroque liturgical establishment in Rome until he found the moment to spring forward and initiate renewal. To the traditionalist, Bugnini comes across as a double dealing, mealy mouthed ignoramus who spent decades destroying sacred things and replacing them with his own machinations. The moderate and the conservative, however, are so confronted with facts that they have no where to hide, no where to talk about the misinterpretation of Vatican II or the silvering linings of the reform; either Bugnini was a scoundrel or the agent of reform.

Chiron only departs from his dispassionate facts and gives an opinion on the last page. The opinion is his own, but Josef Ratzinger supplies the words:
"On the other hand, the liturgical reform enacted after Vatican II made 'the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm'."

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ultramontane Holy Week

Until quite recently, good discussion on the rites of Holy Week was not readily available. In the past few years traditionalists have found themselves able to critique the rites of Pius XII on their own merits and often reverted back to older usage irrespective of last year's Ecclesia Dei (RIP) indult. Consideration tends to focus on the antiquity of the older rites, their more popular appeal in terms of ceremony, their theological cohesion, and their greater conformity to the traditional liturgy.

Once upon a time the best and most powerful objection was that the 1955/6 Holy Week represented an experiment with the Pauline reforms in mind. The FSSPX accepted the changes as did a large congregation of sedevacantists. The hold outs in the old days tended to be sedevacantists who would not touch anything that smelled of the new rite, regards of its own demerits. As such, we find Anthony Cekada respectfully telling Pius XII that he would prefer to retain the Presanctified Mass on Good Friday because Paul VI, his successor, later wrote that the Pian changes were meant to evolve the reformed liturgy. There is no question of the rites themselves representing something troublesome or ill-fit for use because a pope published them.

In this stance, the Reverend Father Cekada represents an older form of Traditionalism that looks back to the halcyon, Ultramontane days before Papa Giovanni and upholds their standards as normative, whereas modern, mainstream Traditionalists who recognize Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope find him wanting and are cured of whatever Ultramontanism Pius XII or Benedict XVI may have planted (the former by desire and the latter by his good deeds). Indeed, could the revival of Holy Week in the Trad world have transpired without the less legalistic, more pastoral papacy of Francis?