For those of you new to this story, check out our post a few days ago “Beyond Pius V – Andrea Grillo and Alcuin Reid.” On Saturday Alcuin Reid responded to Grillo’s critique of Reid’s original review of Grillo’s book “Beyond Pius V.” (It’s like watching a tennis match.) Reid’s response can be found at New Liturgical Movement. Grillo has written a second response to Reid, which we are providing below.



“The Reform of the Liturgy through Actuosa Participatio, Necessarily beyond Pius V”

by Andrea Grillo, translated by Barry Hudock

A. Reid’s counter-reply to my reply following his review of Beyond Pius V offers an opportunity for a conversation about different readings of the recent liturgical tradition. Sometimes one begins a dialogue and ends up with an argument. At other times one begins with a conflict and ends up with a conversation. I won’t rule out that this second case is still possible here. But the necessary condition is absolute clarity. Reviewing Reid’s reply point by point, I respond to each of them below.

– A professor who works at a pontifical university can and sometimes must adopt an extraordinary attitude and tone, when he sees basic truths of the tradition denied and key points of historical development ignored. In recent years, I have found myself taking this extraordinary tone rather often, most often in Italian, but also in French and German. This is the first time that I have taken it in English. On the other hand, not even pontifical universities live only on repetition and patience, but also on novelty and audacity, as even the Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, Donum Veritatis (1990), teaches. It would be quite strange for the pontifical universities to fail to faithfully follow this instruction. To me, this is what has happened: failing to find the Roman Rite’s extraordinary use to be well-founded theologically and historically, I have often had to assume an extraordinary use of theological and academic language. And I have felt compelled to do so.

– As I have already said, though with great irony, in my first reply, I am in full agreement with a reading of the liturgical movement as being concerned above all with the “formation/initiation [of the faithful] into the liturgy.” (See my book, La nascita della liturgia nel XX secolo. Saggio sul rapporto tra Movimento Liturgico e post-modernità, [Assisi: Cittadella, 2003]). What I contest, though, is an “archaic” reading of the movement, which is no longer justified and against which there is a need today for the development of a new historiographical categorization of the movement (as has also been argued by A. Angenendt [Liturgik und Historik, 2002]) that recognizes in it an initial phase (until 1947), a phase of reform (from 1947 to 1988), and a phase of reception (1988-2???) that still continues today. But it is not legitimate to insert jumps, breaks, and ruptures into this history. The Council and the reform, in this perspective, would be the second phase of the liturgical movement! Here I am fighting for a true hermeneutic of continuity, while it seems to me that Reid suggests a dangerous rupture. The fact that he attributes the “rupture” even to Bugnini is perhaps the result of a lack of confidence in the Italian language.

– Reid says he is not a traditionalist, but a Catholic. Very well. But why, then, assume all the common traditionalist points of departure for his research? I offer a single example. To suggest that the essentiality of the rites of Paul VI and the achievement of actuosa participatio are only “idols” and the fruit of a naïve reading of history seems to me to be a very grave and ideological affirmation. It seems to me that this irremediably undermines a correct and scholarly understanding of the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical reform. With this as a starting point, developed with a mindset that negatively reacts to the Council, it becomes impossible to interpret correctly the Council, what followed it, and also what preceded it.

– It is therefore pointless for Reid to say that these considerations of his are based on a “profound respect for the solemn deliberations of an Ecumenical Council” while at the same time accusing the reform of not having respect for the Council. These traditionalist sophisms – introduced by M. Lefebvre himself – are false arguments, nostalgia with an academic varnish, and they stand in the way of a scholarly approach to the object of study.

– When Reid reiterates that this “conciliar” vision is typically Italian, he confirms two things. Reid evidently does not know Italy very well. Above all, he does not know how profoundly and with what power Vatican II was received in the Italian church and culture. I would advise him not to confuse the Roman Curia with Italy, and that accusing the Italian theological culture of “idolatry of the new rites” is simply a stupid thing to be avoided tout-court. Also with regard to Italy, Reid gives greater voice to the bias than to good judgment [a play on words: più al pregiudizio che al giudizio – Tr.].

– To speak of “active participation” in the usus antiquior is a ghost not because Grillo says so, but by intrinsic necessity; it is the fruit of a contradiction in terms. If Reid had carefully read my Beyond Pius V – and I would also refer him to Introduzione alla teologia liturgica. Approccio teorico alla liturgia e ai sacramenti cristiani (Padova: EMP – Abbazia S. Giustina, 2011) – he would understand that his “ghosts” derive from a mistaken understanding of actuosa participatio. It is no coincidence that in his book, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, he proposes a theory of actuosa participatio that is clearly based on Mediator Dei, not on Sacrosanctum Concilium. This is an irremediable error that compromises everything else. The new meaning of actuosa participatio considers the “ritus et preces” as a language of the entire assembly, and for this reason necessarily calls for a liturgical reform. It is, necessarily, “beyond the usus antiquior.” When this is not understood, the conclusions that result are risky and easily uncontrollable.

Permit me to conclude with a citation of a great “Italian prelate,” who interpreted in July 2007 what Reid – this time truly in a surprisingly naïve way – understands as a “new flowering.” Carlo Maria Martini, having evoked his long ecclesial and cultural experience with the Latin language, wrote:

I have the credentials to take advantage of the recent Motu Proprio and return to celebrating Mass in the ancient rite. But I don’t, and this is for three reasons.

First, because I am convinced that the Second Vatican Council brought us a beautiful step forward in our understanding of the liturgy and its capacity to nourish us with the Word of God, which it offers us much more abundantly than before. There have certainly been some abuses in the practice of the reformed liturgy, but this it does not seem to me to be many of us. As for the rest, I would say for those who understand Latin, abusus non tollit usum [the abuse does not preclude the proper use]. In fact, it is necessary to recognize that for many people the renewed liturgy constitutes a source of interior rejuvenation and spiritual nourishment.

Second, I cannot be unaffected by that sense of being closed off that emanated in a general way from the kind of Christian life as it was generally lived then, when only with effort could the faithful find that breath of freedom and responsibility that comes from living in first person, which Saint Paul speaks of, for example, in Galatians 5: 1-17. I am very grateful for the Second Vatican Council, because it opened doors and windows to a more joyful and humanly more livable Christian life. Certainly, even then there were saints, and I knew them. But overall, Christian existence lacked that little bit of a mustard that gave more flavor to everyday living, which one could perhaps live without, but which brings more color and life to things.

Third, while admiring the great benevolence of the Pope who wants to allow everyone to praise God with both old and new forms, I have seen as a bishop the importance of communion even in the forms of a liturgical prayer that expresses in a single language the adherence of all to the highest mystery. And here I trust in the traditional good sense of our people, who understand how hard it can be for the bishop to provide the Eucharist for all and that he cannot easily multiply the celebrations or conjure out of nowhere ordained ministers able to respond to all the individual needs. (Il Sole 24 Ore)

The meaning of my Beyond Pius V is only a small variation on this basic melody, which is so free of idolatry and full of good sense. And it is in this spirit that the book can be understood and evaluated.


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