In the midst of the birth of a new Mass setting, an interdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, and heaven-knows-what-else, I have managed to read a number of books, of which these are the most interesting:
This fascinating book is an unexpectedly readable exploration of the fundamental rationale underlying liturgical reform. Grillo’s thought processes can often be dense, but here he has been well served by his translator, a former student of his, resulting in a book that, while small, is remarkably clear. Grillo’s basic premise is that the liturgical reform is at risk both because of rearguard action but also because of a widespread failure to understand exactly what the liturgical reform was for: to enable Catholics not only to understand the rites they participate in but as a consequence for them to be formed by those very rites and so allow the rites to reform the Church. In four brief chapters Grillo deals in depth with different understandings of what exactly liturgical participation is. He is firmly rooted in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and is very clear that liturgical reform is not just about reforming liturgical rites but about reforming the Church’s theology. In this respect he is on the same page as Massimo Faggioli’s magisterial True Reform: Liturgy and Ecclesiology in Sacrosanctum Concilium. I was delighted to find that he views the connection between anthropology and theology as crucial, and that he finds the Liturgical Movement essential but insufficient. The book should be essential reading for every liturgist. As a bonus, this is in fact a revised edition of Grillo’s original four-chapter book: he has added a fifth, a devastating critique of Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.
Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence, Ross King, Vintage paperbacks (Random House), ISBN 975-0-099-52678-0. [Also published by Bloomsbury USA with a different subtitle: “How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture”, ISBN 978-1-62040-193-4]
At the end of April this year I had a week’s break in Siena, with excursions into surrounding Tuscany. One of these included the Duomo in Florence, where I climbed to the very top of the dome ― a remarkable feat of engineering. The experience was stunning, and a friend later recommended this book as the best commentary on the dome and its construction. The dome’s architect in fact was an amateur, and his life was one of ambition, ingenuity, rivalry and intrigue, in a context of plagues, wars, political feuds and intellectual ferment. Finally, in 1436, the dome was completed, a tribute to the tremendous labour and technical ingenuity of its creator, It soars elegantly above the city, showing no sign of the bitter personal strife involved in its building but rather standing as a symbol of the glorious age of the Renaissance. Ross King’s tale is brilliantly told and captivated me from start to finish.
This book is one which I am currently in the course of reading. Joseph Kelly’s style is accessible and readable, and yet his very considerable scholarship shines through. Starting with some preliminary remarks about the nature of Church Councils in general, he takes the reader on a journey from the very earliest gatherings to Vatican II. The way in which he groups the Councils according to the matters they were principally chewing over is extremely helpful, as is his provision of the historical context for the Councils as well as details of their proceedings. Viewing the history of the Church through this particular lens is fascinating and rewarding. I shall enjoy finishing the book.
As well as these, I am also currently reading the revised 2013 edition of Thomas Day’s notorious Why Catholics Can’t Sing and comparing it with the original edition, but you’ll have to wait for the full review on Pray Tell later this year.