Reforming the Liturgy
A Response to the Critics
John F. Baldovin
Liturgical Press, $29.95, 188 pp.
This thoughtful and judicious book by a prominent American liturgical scholar reports on and evaluates several now familiar critiques of the reform of Catholic liturgy promulgated by Vatican II. John F. Baldovin, SJ, professor of liturgy at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, is well placed to undertake this ambitious task. Baldovin’s voice is respected in the academy and the church, both nationally and internationally. Because his work has generally been associated with progressive ideas and institutions, the analysis and opinions he expresses here—which are broadly sympathetic to conservative concerns and issues—will interest a wide variety of readers. Although I will focus on what I find to be problematic in Baldovin’s assessment of the liturgical landscape, anyone interested in these questions should read this book.
Baldovin starts by debunking the naive assumption that the liturgical reform can be limited to what is found in the pages of the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical constitution, Sacrosanctum concilium. Innumerable decisions had to be made by those charged with its implementation. One may debate how faithful these decisions were to the vision of the liturgical constitution, or how successfully they were carried out, but not whether they were legitimate.
Next he offers what he calls a “brief chronicle of opposition” to the reform. This turns out to be...