Review: Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform

Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical ReformBeyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform by Andrea Grillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At the heart of the ongoing struggles – some might say wars – surrounding the liturgical life of the (Roman) Catholic Church, between those who embrace the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and those who resist them, stands a fundamental misunderstanding of what has been happening in the liturgical life of that Church for at least fifty years before the Second Vatican Council – and it’s liturgical reforms – was even conceived.

So argues Andrea Grillo, professor of sacramental theology at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, argues that the liturgical reforms of the Council were only the second phase of an ongoing revitalization of the liturgical life of the Church, and thus of the Church itself, that started with a consideration of the “liturgical question”, the development of a new theological methodology, and the rise of what has become known as the Liturgical Movement. Grillo passionately presents the case that unless and until the Church addresses once more the “liturgical question”, of which both the Liturgical Movement and the Conciliar liturgical reforms are tools, we can never fully appreciate the liturgy of the Church – and more specifically the celebration of the liturgy of the Church – as the very source of the Church’s identity.

Originally written in 2007, the text was revised in 2013 following the publication of the motu propria of Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum that significantly liberalised the possibility of celebrating what Grillo would strongly argue was the abrogated pre-Conciliar liturgy (often referred to as the Tridentine rite). The new edition includes a new chapter in which Grillo analyses the contents and effects of this document – and subsequent documents that draw on it – in light of his prevailing thesis that the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council was not the end of answering the “liturgical question” but rather a tool that will assist with the longer term, and as yet unstarted, process of initiating the Church into the reformed rites so that the liturgy truly becomes the ‘font and summit’ of the Church’s life.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the liturgical life of the Church, and to anyone who would like to deepen their understanding and knowledge of that liturgical life.

From the blurb:

The reform of the liturgy is at risk, says Andrea Grillo. Recent developments have sown doubts and confusion within the church. While many authorities pay lip service to the importance of the liturgical reform that followed Vatican II and cite all the right documents, what they offer is “out of tune” with the fundamental reasons for the reform.

Grillo argues that the church today must refresh its collective memory of the essential meaning of the liturgical reform. For Grillo, this means understanding

* the meaning and significance of Vatican II in the history of the church in the twentieth century
* the key concept of “active participation”
* the core ideas of the original liturgical movement and the role they played during and after the reform of the liturgy
* what the reform has accomplished and what remains to be done

Beyond Pius V is not simply a set of pastoral observations. It is a strongly argued theological essay on the true meaning and purpose of liturgy and liturgical reform. That reform, Grillo says, must continue to challenge and provoke us, never to be reduced to the precious past of our ancestors; rather, like children who honor the legacy of their parents, we are called to carry on and nurture the life of the reform.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

3 replies added

  1. Jay Young 16 September, 2016 Reply

    RE: “…significantly liberalised the possibility of celebrating what Grillo would strongly argue was the abrogated pre-Conciliar liturgy…” The pre-Conciliar liturgy (i.e. the Missal promulgated by Bl. John XIII) was never suppressed nor abrogated. This unfortunately is a common claim. You will be hard pressed to find a directive from Rome that formally abrogates the Old Rite. If you can, please do quote me the document.

    • Andrew Doohan 16 September, 2016 Reply

      Read the book – Grillo makes the argument perfectly well, both logically and common sensically. He also argues, validly I believe, that is not up to me to prove that it was abrogated – that is the correct logical and common sense approach given the history of liturgical development in the life of the Church – but rather for supporters of the (now labelled) Extraordinary Form to prove that it wasn’t. Grillo arguments, again logical and common sensically, argue that it is not possible for that to be done.

      Basically, the argument that must be countered runs thus: because a new liturgy was promulgated as the results of reforms called for by an Ecumenical Council of the Church, and the promulgation was by the supreme law-giver of the Church, the liturgy that was before – and was recognised as being in need of reform – was abrogated de facto and de jure by the very promulgation of the new liturgy.

    • Andrew Doohan 18 September, 2016 Reply

      In fact, I have previously quoted at length the passage from Grillo’s book that supports his assertion and argument.

      You can find that passage on the post entitled “Common Law and Common Sense”.

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