From Robert Mickens’ excellent column in the Tablet, “Letter from Rome” comes the following story this week. –ed.
The systematic reinterpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council began in Rome well before the Council Fathers even headed back to their dioceses around the world. And it continues to this day.
One of the more recent examples came last month when Mgr Guido Marini, the 46-year-old master of papal liturgical ceremonies, gave a lecture at the Opus Dei-run Holy Cross University here in town.
In an apparent effort to justify the return of lavish pre-conciliar liturgical costumes and furnishings that has marked his tenure, the Genoa native gave a new reading to an old Vatican II document.
“The mysterious and real presence of Christ in the liturgy”, he said, “requires of the liturgical language the splendour of noble simplicity, according to the diction of Vatican Council II.” The splendour of noble simplicity? “I spoke of the splendour of noble simplicity because that’s the complete expression used by the Council Fathers,” he said.
Actually, it is not. “Ritus nobili simplicitate fulgeant” is the complete expression found in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 34). It means, “Let the rites radiate a noble simplicity”.
Some English translations say the rites “should be distinguished by a noble simplicity”. That’s because fulgeant is a subjunctive verb.
How could one of the Vatican’s chief advocates for more Latin in the liturgy make such an elementary mistake? Sacrosanctum Concilium (no. 124) says “noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display” should be the mark of “sacred vestments and ornaments”. However, Mgr Marini did not appear to quote that part of the document in his lecture.