ARDINAL FERDINAND ANTONELLI served as Secretary for the Consilium of Paul VI. Extremely well-informed and experienced, he was probably the most reliable and unbiased witness of the postconciliar liturgical reforms.
As you can see below, Cardinal Antonelli would today be given a “Reform of the Reform” label, proving that Pope Benedict XVI was correct 1 in his interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.
Please do not freak out because the diary contains Latin quotes: I’ve provided an English translation at the end.
Any comments written in red are mine.
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PRIVATE DIARY OF CARDINAL ANTONELLI
— Entry Date: 27 December 1964 —
1. Article 50 of the Constitution contains 3 words which are explosive when compared to the actual state of things: Ordo Missae recognoscatur.
Therefore, the fixed parts of the Mass must be revised. In reality, they are not very ancient and assumed their present form only in the Tridentine reform. The Canon, however, has remained unchanged since the time of Gregory the Great, simply because he believed it to be Apostolic in origin.
[Cardinal Antonelli is incorrect when he says “in reality, they are not very ancient.” He’s probably referring to the fact that certain parts of the Tridentine Ordo Missae—such as the Offertory Prayers and “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar“—are not quite as ancient as things like the Canon and Proprium Missae. However, even those items go back many centuries before the Council of Trent, as anyone who purchases the Jogues Missal can see clearly.]
2. The Constitution also gives the criteria for recognition:
a) Singularum partium propria ratio necnon mutua connexio clarius pateant, for example, distinguishing the place of the liturgy of the word and that of the Eucharist;
[The Tridentine Low Mass did not demonstrate the difference between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist as clearly as the arrangement used during a Tridentine Pontifical Mass. Antonelli here wants the Pontifical to be chosen so that the “intrinsic nature and purpose of the Mass may be more clearly manifested.” For the record, the Pontifical form is probably more ancient.]
b) Pia et actuosa fidelium participatio facilior reddatur, simplifying some things, Psalm 42, for example;
[The Tridentine Rite prescribed a recitation of Psalm 42, which had been used as preparation for Mass many centuries before the Council of Trent. However, Antonelli is here suggesting that “devout and active participation by the faithful” is impossible if Psalm 42 remains.]
c) ritus simpliciores fiant, for example some genuflections and many signs of the cross;
[In response to the Council’s desire that “the rites are to be simplified,” Antonelli suggests that some of the numerous genuflections could be eliminated, as well as the great number of times the Priest makes the sign of the Cross. In particular, some liturgists—especially those who possessed a very superficial understanding of the Sacraments—had a difficult time understanding why the Priest was required to make the sign of the Cross over the Sanctissimum, because no man can ever “bless” God. There is more that could be said about this, but it would be inappropriate to do so here.]
d) ea omittantur quae duplicatur fuerunt, for example, that the celebrant should have to say alone the parts sung by the deacon or subdeacon;
[Antonelli here reacts against those parts of the Tridentine liturgy where the priest “duplicates” the exact words prayed by the choir, congregation, deacon, or subdeacon. Pope Pius XII had already eliminated this duplication during the Gospel, as well as the sizable readings at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. For the record, it’s hard to see how it makes any difference to Catholics in the pews whether the Celebrant quietly recites prayers like the Gloria, Creed, and so on.]
e) restituantur nonnulla quae deciderunt, for example, the oratio fidelium.
[Antonelli was a huge fan of the “Prayer of the Faithful,” which some liturgists believe to be extremely ancient. There is an odd moment in the Tridentine Rite where the priest (after the Creed) turns around and sings «Orémus» but no prayer follows, and this might have been where the ancient “Prayer of the Faithful” happened. In another diary entry, Antonelli says the special prayers on Good Friday are vestiges of the “Prayer of the Faithful,” but scholars today disagree about this.]
Article 50 of the Constitution, which is very dense, lays down two indisputable conditions:
1. Ut substantia rituum servetur, in such a way that were St. Pius V or St. Gregory the Great to come back, they would be able to say that the Mass had substantially remained the same.
2. Ad pristinam sanctorum Patrum normam. This expression is taken from the Bull of Saint Pius V of 1570 on the Missal. It means that the entire revision must be carried out in accordance with the tradition of the Church.
Here’s a “key” to the Latin quotes:
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 By the way, I’m amazed that Benedict’s astounding talk has not been made into a booklet yet.