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While we must respect Mrs Cleary's experience of Mass, both pre- and post-Vatican II (August AD2000), it has been not the experience of all of us.
Especially so when we see the rapidly shrinking crowd at current Sunday Masses as compared with the packed ones pre-Vatican II. Where have all the young people gone?
While we accept the desire of Vatican II for liturgical change, much of what the liturgists did to us since then was neither constructive nor helpful - which is why we are welcoming the Missal retranslation as a first step back to normalcy.
The only time I have experienced packed churches full of singing people was 50 years ago, at various sodality Masses such as Holy Name Sundays. Do we ever see a church of men or of women in full voice today? Why not?
The Church has yet to tell us specifically what it means by active (more correctly actual) participation. There is little opportunity for activity of the whole congregation unless, as seems likely, when there will be only ten or twelve people present at future Sunday Masses: two for readings; two for the Offertory procession; two for extraordinary ministers; two or three for the choir; two or three altar servers.
Contrary to Mrs Cleary's observation, I have yet to see any of the recent hymns being related to the liturgy or readings of the day. That is one of the liturgists' furphies.
More commonly, what we are inflicted with are "Come as you are", "Come to the table of bread and wine" or "Go tell everyone".
These are a far cry from the hymns of praise and belief in the Body and Blood of Christ of 50 years ago.
While nearly everyone sang 50 years ago very few people sing now (although all will sing the Our Father).
Back then most of us carried the Saint Joseph's bilingual Missal to Mass which is why we later realised that serious mistranslations had occurred with the subsequent post-Vatican II vernacular versions.
I am delighted that groups of Anglicans have been invited to join the Catholic Church. We can learn a lot from them regarding hymns and reverence.
Perhaps this is what Pope Benedict's "reform of the reform" is about.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 24 No 9 (October 2011), p. 15
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