The reason why I think that the Bugnini liturgy is unsuccessful for the most part is not because it has introduced innovations and thus is a reform-liturgy, but because it has introduced defective reforms and has thereby caused damage. There is no doubt that a liturgical reform was necessary, but it is not so clear that this liturgical reform was needed. Consequently, I decline to accept the grouping of opinions into “progressive” and “conservative” categories, as well as the attempt to seek the main cause of the present troubles in these “progressive” and “conservative” extremes. I am convinced that the scholar may undertake the awkward task of examining both the old and the new elements in the liturgy, each according to its own specific truth, as long as he is willing to observe the regulations of the Church in daily practice.

The liturgy has its own particular laws and truth, and what is more, its own immanent laws and truth, and not only legal statutes. When in the following pages the Bugnini liturgy is criticized, it will be done from the standpoint of this particular “liturgical truth” and not from a theological point of view, in spite of the fact that at certain points (e.g., the rites of the sacraments) the liturgical solution suggests a problematic dogmatic attitude. The liturgy seems to have no measure apart from the lex credendi; everything can be imagined and verified by means of speculation. Yet the liturgy is one of the most important repositories of holy TRADITION, the dynamic handing down of the wisdom of the Church even in its stylized state. Its dogmatic contents are constituted, in addition to the normative system of dogma, by the sum of spiritual, socio-psychological, aesthetic, cultural, emotional, historical and pedagogical factors which preserve at the same time the role of the liturgy connected with the other spheres of religion but not identical with them. Theological speculation may warrant the harmony between lex orandi and lex credendi; liturgical legislation can protect the values of liturgy against arbitrariness; and yet for grasping the specific truth and validity of the liturgy, theological speculation proves inadequate and the law insufficient. To touch this sacred sphere, utmost tact is required, since our reasoning is in much the same way secondary to reality as any speculation about life is to the fullness of life.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)


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