ECENTLY, I had occasion to consider words spoken by Pope Pius XII on 2 November 1954: “This is to be done only for a justifiable reason, and provided the Bishop has not forbidden it because of the danger that the faithful might think it strange.”
We see that Pius XII is careful, lest any novel liturgical actions harm the faithful. I wish bishops had used the pastoral sensitivity of Pius XII in the years following the Second Vatican Council.
Those words of Pius XII remind me of a private letter written by his predecessor, Pope Pius XI:
Of interest is also a responsum privatum of Pius XI to Rev. Beatus Reiser, O.S.B. (June 29, 1930) concerning the use of the orchestra in church: where it has hitherto not been introduced, it should not be in the future; where it can be done away with without too much difficulty on the part of the faithful, it should be abrogated; but where it is an inveterate custom, the use of orchestra should only gradually be cut back till it disappears; in exceptional cases with the Ordinary’s permission, Mass with orchestra can be permitted. Though this is only a private reply, it gives the mind of at least Pius XI on the matter. [source]
Again, we see the truly pastoral understanding of these great popes.
YEARS AGO, I SHARED with a very smart priest the words of one of the piccoluomini, who had criticized Pius XII for wearing beautiful vestments. I’ll never forget the priest’s reply: “Yes, men like Pacelli actually knew and believed what the Episcopacy represents.” There was nothing more to be said.
Pope Pius XII was, perhaps, the most intelligent person of the entire 20th century. He wrote so much, it would take a lifetime to read it all (with understanding). For instance, his words on “antiquarianism” (Mediator Dei, 20 November 1947) are worth looking at. So are his words about concelebration quoted in the 1958 Instruction. Speaking of concelebration, Bishop Peter J. Elliott has written:
Concelebrating “mentally”, in total silence, is contrary to the practice of the modern Roman Rite. In 1956, anticipating the restoration of concelebration, Pope Pius XII decided that our Rite would follow the Russian practice whereby all concelebrants articulate the words of the epiklesis and the consecration together with the principal celebrant. Cf. Pope Pius XII, Address to the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy on the Liturgical Movement, September 22, 1956, II. 1, “Actio Christi”.
I strongly recommend reading the following speech (mentioned by Most Rev. Elliott):
Therein, Pope Pius XII speaks about so many different aspects of liturgy. And now I will not say another word, because this document speaks for itself. Please read it!