For the past week or so, the blog world has been talking about Andrea Grillo’s new book Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform. On January 21st, Dom Alcuin Reid posted a review of the book which can be found at New Liturgical Movement. Reid begins his review by saying:

Late last year the Liturgical Press published this (second) edition in English, which includes a new chapter considering Summorum Pontificum and the subsequent 2011 Instruction Universae Ecclesiae. Why? The author claims that its publication, together with Massimo Faggioli’s True Reform (2012) and Patrick Regan’s Advent to Pentecost (2012), from the same publisher “is surely a ‘sign of the times’ worth noting.” To Grillo’s list we can add from this publisher John Baldovin’s Reforming the Liturgy (2009) and Piero Marini’s A Challenging Reform (2007). Indeed: the Liturgical Press is pulling out all the stops to defend the liturgical reform of Paul VI—presumably because it is considered to be in some danger.

At the conclusion of his review, Reid writes that:

[Y]es, we must move forward. And in doing so we shall indeed be moving (further) “beyond Pius V.” But we shall also, rightly, be moving beyond Paul VI—a journey for which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, both through his critical examination of the liturgical reform as a cardinal and through his acts and teaching as Pope Benedict XVI—in particular his gift to the Church of Summorum Pontificum—has given us much guidance indeed.

Grillo felt the need to respond.

Grillo gets to the heart of the issue with admirable clarity and forthrightness, even if he perhaps expresses himself with more combativeness than one might have wanted. Pray Tell is happy to publish his sharp response, and we hope for a calm and constructive discussion of these important issues.

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Before Paul VI?

by Andrea Grillo, translated by Barry Hudock.

The title and the conclusion of Alcuin Reid’s review of the American edition of Beyond Pius V reveal an obvious incomprehension of the principal questions addressed by the book.

Reid begins, though in a completely disingenuous way, by expressing his agreement that the rediscovery of the liturgy as the fons of the Church’s life is the central goal of the liturgical movement. On this, he seems to agree with my thesis. But then, with a quick pivot, he reveals his true inclinations and his particular idiosyncrasies. Here we find a small taste of authentically and hopelessly traditionalistic thought: Reid has no intention of putting up with or even understanding the fact that the history of the liturgical movement has clearly led to an epochal shift, initiated by Pius XII, in which the decision to restore the paschal vigil, and then holy week, and then all that makes up the church’s liturgy, made it clear that reforming the rites themselves was necessary. This, we should note, is expressed by Reid in his own way, which is both naïve and disarming: he speaks of my “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 indispensible aims.”

It is truly surprising, not to say shameless, that Reid is willing to speak of the solemn decisions of the Second Vatican Council to reform the rites as “convictions of liturgists and prelates in Italy.” The fact that the solemn deliberations of an ecumenical council are attributed to private and questionable opinions explains a lot about the respect for reality and for tradition that unfortunate readers are subjected to by these reactionary approaches.

It is the Council that identified the need to profoundly modify the rite of Pius V. It is not the whim of Italian prelates, but the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium that officially called for it; Reid, like many of his reactionary friends, confuses the conciliar text with the backroom chatter of the Roman Curia.

But Reid does not seem interested in the true history – only in chasing fantasies about the “extraordinary active participation” of the traditionalist groups, all perfectly formed and ardent in their apostolic zeal.

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

This is a proposal, and not only this one, that I do not understand. For me, it is obvious that “beyond Pius V” means, necessarily, also beyond Paul VI, beyond John Paul II, and even – if we must say it – beyond Benedict XVI. It strikes me that Reid wants to place himself and the tradition he chooses to accept as being “only” beyond Paul VI. And here I am skeptical. Could it be that, by applying the preposition “beyond” only to Paul VI, Reid really means to say not “after” but “before”? Might his intention be simply to stay, forever, “before Paul VI”? Just to make sure of this result, Reid demonstrates his willingness to reconstruct the history and the liturgy of the last century in a totally ideological way, with no respect for the truth. I believe we have already wasted too much time with these pointless ravings.