Searing comments by the highly esteemed Louis Bouyer on Novus Ordo as it was devised

From his Memoirs, here gathered by the prolific Joseph Shaw. The widely published Bouyer was in on the process from the start of Vatican 2. He refers to the concilium, or commission, charged with concretizing liturgical reform according to guidelines given by council’s document. Italics are added here.

Wrote Bouyer:

I should not like to be too harsh on this commission’s labours. It numbered a certain number of genuine scholars and more than one experienced and judicious pastor. Under different circumstances they might have accomplished excellent work. Unfortunately, on the one hand a deadly error in judgment placed the official leadership of the committee in the hands of a man who, though generous and brave, was not very knowledgeable: Cardinal Lercaro. He was utterly incapable of resisting the manoeuvres of the mealy-mouthed scoundrel that the Neapolitan Vincentian, Bugnini, a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty, soon revealed himself to be.

Even besides this, there was no hope of producing anything of greater value than what would actually come out of it, what with this claim of recasting from top to bottom and in a few months an entire liturgy it had taken twenty centuries to develop.

Shaw notes:

Bouyer’s description of personally bodging [trying this, trying that until somehow you get a product] together Eucharistic Prayer II with [another liturgiologist] Dom Botte in a cafe in Trastavere [in Rome], before rushing to the meeting at which it would be discussed, has already passed into legend. He was, in fact, revising it by the time he got to the cafe, but the scorn he had for the haste and the amateurishness of the whole process is searing.

He continues from Bouyer:

The worst of it was an impossible Offertory, in a Catholic Action, sentimental / workerist style, the handiwork of Fr Cellier, who with tailor-made arguments manipulated the despicable Bugnini in such a way that his production went through despite nearly unanimous opposition.

More Bouyer:

I prefer to say nothing, or so little of the new calendar, the handiwork of a trio of maniacs who suppressed, with no good reason, Septuagesima and the Octave of Pentecost and who scattered three quarters of the Saints higgledy-piggledy, all based on notions of their own!

Because these three hotheads obstinately refused to change anything in their work and because the Pope wanted to finish up quickly to avoid letting the chaos out of hand, their project, however insane, was accepted!

Of which more later. Call it the trials of Paul VI, or something like that. A saint he may be; but a judge or manager of men, not so much.

Bouyer, finally:

After all of this, it is not much surprise if, because of its unbelievable weaknesses, the pathetic creature we produced was to provoke laughter or indignation … so much so that it makes one forget any number of excellent elements it nevertheless contains [Shaw
liked the lectionary and the Common Preface, for example, though
the former was was too hastily composed], and that it would be a shame not to salvage as so many scattered pearls, in the revision which will inevitably be called for.

As it was, early and often in the decades to come, to little effect.

More later on the fearful mystery that became the Novus Ordo . . .

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