Friday, August 22, 2014

Another one enters the great beyond.

From Sacramentum Futuri.

Carlo Braga passes. Yet another one of the names that spearheaded liturgical reform in the Roman Church has embarked upon the great transitus.

Reading the article, coupled with the autumnal temperatures in my region of the country, I could not help but be taken back to some now distant October, working well late into the night on one of my (in retrospect) one too many degrees in Theology. I spent a considerable time of my life studying the depths of the liturgical reform in the Roman Church, such that a tinge of loss was the first reaction I had to reading of Carlo Braga's death.

Putting aside conspiracy theories and whatever one makes of the Novus Ordo and Liturgia Horarum, Fr. Braga, much like Bugnini, was a liturgical scholar of some notoriety in his time. Although Vaggiani was the only Italian to achieve must reputation in English speaking circles, Braga, like Bugnini, had a reputation among scholarly European Catholics. True, he did not gain the level of notoriety of, say, Jungmann. However, he was enmeshed in the project of liturgical reform in Italy.

It is impossible not to think of the numerous articles by Braga and other obscure but influential figures in the reform of the Roman liturgy. It is easy enough, and horribly common, to demonize these men, although such a Manichean worldview hardly does justice to them. The end result of their efforts may be questionable, and was even questioned by notable persons of their rank, but if one takes them time to read those obscure journal articles that floated about in Italy and the rest of the continent, one sees men whose enthusiasm for the liturgy was palpable. They lived and breathed the liturgy, really. They fed off the waves of excitement that came from rediscovering liturgical texts that never made it into the Roman Rite as it came down to us, the new horizons that were borne from comparative liturgy, and the noticeable results achieved by popularizing the vernacular with the copious hand missals in circulation.

Whether or not all of the above mentioned really should have funneled into a vision of reforming the order of the Roman Mass is debatable. However, you cannot deny the love for the liturgy that inspired such a fateful decision. Which is why, in my estimation, scholars like Ward and Johnson continue to defend the reform of the Roman Rite and go great efforts to reveal the sources of the liturgical reform. It only takes a few moments of reading these articles (published before, during and after the Council) until one has caught their excitement.

Braga goes forth to his eternal reward; at the end of the day, I think it unlikely that God condemns him. With his passing, one wonders how many figures are left from those decades of liturgical reform.

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