In her biography of Fr. Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, Sister Kathleen Hughes wrote:
HEN GODFREY BELIEVED a particular intervention of the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship regarding ICEL work was unmerited and/or unjust, he was quick and strong in his reaction. The following letter was sent to the ICEL secretariat after confirmation of the Order of Christian Funerals had been withheld. [Cardinal Augustin Mayer, O.S.B., was prefect of the Congregation at the time; Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B., is on the staff.]
“I wish to go on record to express my outrage at the recent maneuverings and demands of Gus Mayer (we used to call him that, as students) re the funeral rites. They simply have no business, no right whatever, to dictate ‘corrections’ or ‘alternatives’ of translation. The very thought of one man, Cuthbert Johnson, presuming to impose his views (many of which are palpably nonsense) over against a version arrived at with much labor by many experts, makes me froth at the mouth.” [The Monk’s Tale, 270-271]
Passages like this are supposed to have a particular effect on the reader. Specifically, the reader is supposed to say inwardly:
“Oh, how wonderful to hear a progressive monk bravely challenging authority. Oh, how marvelous that a broad-minded monk isn’t afraid to stand up to big, bad, bullying, outdated, medieval Rome. Oh, how inspiring that a free-thinking monk is willing to speak in a disrespectful way to the authoritative, totalitarian, oppressive Roman committee.”
FOR SOME REASON, passages like this never affect me the way they’re supposed to. Perhaps it’s because the (false) “spirit of Vatican II” narrative has been exposed over the last decade or so. Perhaps it’s because we’re seeing the fruits of the anarchistic approach to Theology and the Church. Perhaps it’s because the “renewal” promised by men with hatred in their hearts for the Vicar of Christ has lead to empty seminaries, widespread apostasy, and a whole host of other terrible things. Perhaps it’s because I abhor sensationalism almost as much as I loathe biographies written with an “agenda.”
However, I suspect the main reason is I’ve seen what the ICEL of Diekmann’s generation produced, and it turned out to be an absolute travesty. Thankfully, Diekmann’s work has been discredited and cast aside forever.
It reminds me of a story about a pianist. (At this point, you’re probably thinking, “What doesn’t remind you of a piano story, Jeff?”) A student was to audition for some famous pedagogue (Josef Lhevinne, I think). He arrived carrying letters of recommendation, and talked about the places he’d studied, competitions he’d won, and so forth. Lhevinne listened for a while, and said, “That’s wonderful. Let me know when you’re ready to play something.” In other words, don’t tell me what you can do: show me.
Similarly, Diekmann’s friend and biographer can talk all day long about how much smarter he and his generation were than “Big, Bad, Foolish Rome.” The problem is, I’ve seen what they produced, and it wasn’t pretty.
SPEAKING OF THE FUNERAL LITURGY, I’ve always felt this to be one of the biggest failures of the Conciliar reforms. However, it seems to have been done by design. Archbishop Bugnini wrote:
They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved tests as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies irae, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. [Reform of the Liturgy, 773]
This is just another example where Bugnini is dead wrong (no pun intended). For one thing, to suggest the Requiem Mass prayers “overemphasize despair” is idiotic. Bugnini seems not to understand that the Traditional Requiem Mass is beautiful, powerful, important, ancient, and consoling. It’s not “scary.” It’s beautiful. It’s powerful. Am I repeating myself? And many souls will be in Purgatory longer if we don’t pray and offer sacrifice for them. Canonizing them is the most wicked, uncharitable thing we can do. As he lay dying, St. John Vianney’s confessor whispered, “Hide my whip, hair shirt, and other instruments of penance. If people find them, they’ll think I’m in Heaven, and won’t pray for me.”
BEFORE I END THIS BLOG, I have to mention a paragraph from the biography of Godfrey Diekmann (which I purchased for 1¢ on Amazon.com). In the 1991 Foreword, Fr. Frederick R. McManus wrote:
This brings me to the second purpose of this foreword — my own appraisal and personal testimony to the greatness of Godfrey Diekmann. It is a difficult task, not at all because of any peril of exaggeration — quite the contrary — but because of constraints of space, and I must not indulge in triumphalistic nostalgia.
Fr. McManus may have meant to say “triumphalist,” but leave that aside. The only reason I point this out is to (once again) prove the theory of “notice an unfamiliar word, see it within 24 hours.” You see, earlier today, Pope Francis talked about what he called “triumphalist Christians.”
Several blogs have put forward the idea that Pope Francis was talking about the Traditional Latin Mass. I find this very difficult to believe. Anyone who asserts that Latin Masses offered by the great Jesuit saints — Noël Chabanel, Charles Garnier, Isaac Jogues, etc. — were “triumphalist” hasn’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about. In fairness, several of the blog authors making this claim know very little about the Traditional Mass.
Besides, if we go down that road, it means Pope Francis thinks Pope Pius XII didn’t believe in the Resurrection …