The pope’s master of ceremony gives his definition of the liturgy

Source: FSSPX News


In this lecture, Mgr. Marini considers that "from a Roman liturgy characterized by uniformity (unicity of language and fixity of rubrics), we had moved to a liturgy closer to the sensibility of modern man, open to adaptation and to various cultures. It expresses a Church of communion which views diversity not as a negative element in itself, but as a potential enrichment of unity."

Evoking the transformations of pontifical liturgy imposed by Paul VI in February 1965, the Italian archbishop underlined that "appeal was made to the psychology of modern man, who can no longer manage to understand a mixture between a court etiquette and a religious rite". He specifies that the liturgists wished to "abolish the kind of retinue which surrounded the sovereign pontiff in the liturgical celebrations", and insisted on "simplicity for the sacred vestments, so as to avoid some clerics looking like extras on the stage". For Mgr. Marini, the fact that Paul VI renounced the pontifical tiara, in order to adopt the same miter as the bishops, made it possible to "better express the communion of unity which binds the successor of Peter to the episcopal college".

The man in charge of the pontifical ceremonies, mentions, in passing, that we meet with diverse tendencies in the Catholic Church "between those who want a more horizontal, community and participation-minded liturgy, and others who prefer a vertical and detached liturgy. On the one hand, there is the parochial liturgy, and, on the other, that which is expressed by certain groups, by those who have Tridentine affinities and regret the absence of Gregorian chant". Making no comment upon these tendencies, Mgr Marini stressed that, contrary to present day consumerism mentality and a mentality of answering the expectations of the consumers, "liturgy does not belong to the species of consumables, it is not a supermarket in the Church! (…) It is above all the work of God,” he specified, “adoration, welcome, gratuity." According to him, it is a matter of looking for the "fundamental criteria of beauty in the liturgy, beyond tastes and fashions. (…) It would be a major mistake to simply apply to the liturgy, the profane tastes for the beautiful." "The liturgical gestures,” he explained, “have a beauty and esthetic in themselves, as gestures of Christ, well before the accessory and secondary beauty, we might add ." How then does the pope’s master of ceremonies explain this sustained attention of the liturgists to "the psychology of modern man" and this "liturgy closer to the sensibility of modern man, open to adaptation and to various cultures"? Do we not thus run the risk of falling into line with profane or even pagan tastes and fashions? (see in fine, his answer concerning dances and local rites)

Summing up the meaning of beauty in a celebration, he specifies that this latter "does not depend essentially upon the architectonic beauty, the icons, the decoration, the chants, the sacred vestments, the choreographies and the colors, but primarily, upon its capacity to let the love gesture accomplished by Jesus shine through." And Mgr Marini calls to mind the principle, which is essential for him, of the "noble simplicity", capable of making manifest the relation between what is human and what is divine in the liturgy. According to him, "liturgy is not the sum of emotions of a group, much less the receptacle of personal feelings. It is above all a time and a space to interiorize words that are listened to, sounds that rise up, to make one’s own the gestures accomplished, to assimilate the texts recited or sung, to allow oneself to be pervaded by images observed and perfumes smelled." This liturgy, which centers on the pronominal form (with the reflexive personal pronoun), is more like the cult of self. What happened to the worship of God?

At the end, answering criticisms leveled at the pontifical liturgies, especially those where dances and local rites punctuate the liturgy, Mgr. Marini stresses the importance of enriching the liturgies "with elements proper to the peoples concerned". He quotes the pope himself who, for the synod of the African continent, had asked that the opening and closing celebrations of the synod "bear a clearly African stamp." John Paul II in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation had then been "warmly grateful" for the work accomplished by the working group, which had "so well taken care of the eucharistic liturgies".