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the liturgist's lament

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 12, 2008

Having (finally!) been relieved of his duties as the Vatican's chief liturgist, Archbishop Piero Marini-- not to be confused with his successor at that post, Msgr. Guido Marini-- has written a little book defending his approach and denouncing his critics.

If you enjoy liturgical dance, conch-shell fanfares, and rainbow chasubles-- in short, if you are high on the "spirit of Vatican II"-- you probably miss Archbishop Marini, and would enjoy his new book, A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, 1963-1975.

Father George Rutler is not a big fan, however, and his acerbic review of the Marini book for First Things blasts gaping holes in the arguments that the author uses to justify his divergence from accepted liturgical norms. ("Marini is not a slave to the Principle of Non-Contradiction," Father Rutler notes.)

Archbishop Marini wants to revive the excitement that he, at least, apparently felt during the era of liturgical experimentation that followed Vatican II; he is contemptuous of those who harken back further to the traditions of bygone centuries. Father Rutler wants to know "why nostalgia for the 1560's is inferior to nostalgia for the 1960's, except for dentistry."

The Marini book is an apologia for the work of professional liturgists over the course of the last four decades. Not surprisingly, then, the archbishop is now on tour, promoting his book and rallying the spirits of his fellow liturgists-- who might otherwise be depressed by the trend toward liturgical sobriety under Pope Benedict XVI. Their day has come and gone, their work has lost its luster, the people in the pews are bored with their latest shenanigans. Still you can't expect the liturgists to go quietly, because...

The blithe obliviousness of many experts to damage all around them is, nonetheless, breathtaking.

Amen. The whole review is a "must read."

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2009 12:04 PM ET USA

    As a Blue Dog (conservative Democrat) myself, I applaud Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson and the others fighting for life from within the Democratic Party. They need our prayers and support. Abortion only will lose its place as the "first, controlling principle" when we show party leaders that enough of us on "their side" disagree with them on that issue.

  • Posted by: peggyann - Oct. 31, 2009 9:15 AM ET USA

    I would applaud them if I could believe them. Simply put, I don't. Listening to a Stupak interview recently, in his confusion of speech, I got the distinct impression that his stand against funding for abortion is a weak and shaky one which could easily be blown off in exchange for other reform favors. Typically politician-like he speaks from both sides of his mouth. I will continue to urge him to insist on taking the abortion funding out of the bill.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Oct. 30, 2009 9:14 PM ET USA

    It seems to me that Mr. Arkes should be congratulating and encouraging those few brave pro-life Democrats, instead of raking them over the coals. Neither of the two major parties are based on any principles, and if, by the grace of God, there are pro-lifers in the Democratic party, we should be applauding that fact.