A Challenging Reform
Archbishop Piero Marini
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Buy *A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, 1963-1975* by Archbishop Piero Marini online

A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, 1963-1975
Archbishop Piero Marini
Liturgical Press
205 pages
December 2007
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Archbishop Piero Marini was Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVIís master of pontifical liturgical celebrations from 1987 to 2007. Now president of the Pontifical Commission for International Eucharistic Congresses, he was also the personal secretary of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who was the secretary of the Consilium for Implementing the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council and then in the Congregation for Divine Worship and was a major player in the liturgical reforms of the Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Mariniís close association with Archbishop Bugnini and his work gives him inside knowledge of what happened during the liturgical reforms during the 1960s and 1970s. The foreword says that this present book ďis intended as a complement and supplementĒ to the account of the liturgical reform published in 1985 by Annibale Bugnini, La riforma liturgica (1948-1975).

The introduction discusses what was happening before the Second Vatican Council. The liturgical movement can be traced back to the French Benedictine Abbot Prosper Gueranger of the Abbey of Solesme. Other Benedictine monasteries took up the cause, too, like Beuron in Germany, Maredsous in Belgium, Farnborough in England and others. Popes St. Pius X and Pius XII had major roles in the liturgical movement and reforms. From there Marini discusses the preparation and history of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, which was overwhelmingly accepted by the Council Fathers by a vote of 2,147 to 4.

In 1964, Pope Paul VI appointed Bugnini among others to a group called the Consilium to begin the work of reforming the liturgy of the Catholic Church. The Consilium was to work somewhat independently of the Roman Curia; some in the Roman Curia were opposed to changes in the liturgy and even tried hampering the reform. Chapter one presents the beginnings of the Consilium and the reform during the months of October to December 1963. The second chapter covers the months of January to March 1964, the actual beginning of the Consilium and its work. The authority of the Consilium was questionable until Pope Paul VI stepped in and announced what authority they actually had and that they should not be hampered.

There was conflict between the Congregation of Rites (a Vatican office in charge of liturgical matters) and the Consilium as to who had the authority to approve reforms of the liturgy. It was discovered that the Consilium had major support from bishops worldwide to bring about the liturgical renewal that the Second Vatican Council wanted but the Congregation did not. Chapter three covers March to June 1964, Marini discussing not only the Consiliumís work but also its conflict with the Congregation of Rites. During this period, the Consilium was able to organize itself and become a working group. Chapter four spans July to October 1964, which saw continued conflict between the Consilium and the Congregation of Rites. Eventually it was decided the Congregation was to only authorize resolutions of the Consilium and to let the Consilium actually do the reforms.

Chapter five covers the months of October 1964 to March 1965. The conflict between the Consilium and the Congregation continued, but the Consilium gained major support from the bishops who were in Rome for the continuance of the Second Vatican Council, and from the Pope. Some of this conflict might have been turf war or a way for those in the Roman Curia to continue to oppose the reforms. During this period the journal Notitiae was initiated as a Consilium instrument to help spread the reforms to Catholics throughout the world. The Consiliumís first instruction on reforms or renewal, Inter oecumenici, was also published during this period.

Chapter six examines the activity of the various study groups of the Consilium, of which there were 29 or so. They covered topics like the Divine Office, the liturgical calendar, the Mass, the Roman Pontifical, the Ritual, and many others (this chapter is the most boring of the book). Chapter seven is about the aftermath of the initial reform and quickly covers the years 1965 to1980. In 1969, the Consilium became the new Congregation for Divine Worship with Cardinal Benno Gut, O.S.B., as the prefect and Fr. Annibale Bugnini as its secretary. At this time, the Novus Ordo Missae, also known as the Mass of Pope Paul VI, was being worked on by the new Congregation and promulgated by the Pope. Bugnini and others became involved with pontifical celebrations that helped the liturgical renewal to continue to move forward. Bugnini was ordained a bishop by Pope Paul VI on February 13, 1972. In 1975, Bugnini was made and Archbishop pro-nuncio to Iran. The Congregation for Divine Worship was joined with a new congregation, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Marini surmises that Bugnini was really running the Consilium, since the cardinal prefects were not in Rome or were busy with other things and trusted him to get the work done. He was known as a person not easy to work with, which might have worked against him with his last boss and may have even led to the Congregation for Divine Worship being folded in with another congregation and him being sent to Iran.

This book was edited by Mark R. Francis, C.S.V, John R. Page, and Keith F. Pecklers, S.J., who provide the epilogue. Six appendices contain various documents that are mentioned or discussed in the book. There is a subject index and a names index.

The book is intriguing and keeps the readerís attention most of the time, although the general reader will not likely get much out of it. Catholics interested in liturgy or the Second Vatican Council, on the other hand, will be interested in this book since it is by a person who is an authority on liturgical matters, was in the midst of the liturgical renewal, and was responsible for getting things done. Without his doggedness and continued faithfulness to the renewal of the Council, the liturgical reforms most likely would have taken longer or may be even have been thwarted by those in the Roman Curia and others who opposed them. The book is on the academic side, but those really interested in liturgy and the renewal will not be stumped by that.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2008

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