Around 1966, I was about 13 years old when the first wave of reform for the Mass came to my home parish of St. Joseph Church in Augusta. At the time we thought it was a big deal and so dramatic. I have to tell you I was excited and thrilled about the first changes. There really were only two. First a movable altar was placed in front of the "real" altar so the priest could face the people. Second, the laity's parts of the Mass were allowed to be in English, although all of the priest's parts remained in Latin. Other than these two changes, the Mass was the Mass of the 1962 missal with those rubrics which now became visible to the congregation.
I loved these changes and that it was easier to participate and we were encouraged to do so. I think most people loved these changes, especially my father's generation (if he were living, he'd be 100).
But then, even as a rebellious teenager, I noticed around 1967 that the order of the Mass was being dumbed down. Our pastor said it was being simplified. First it was the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. These were shortened to the "Requiem" form of these prayers. Then the offertory prayers were shortened to what we have now. Then the prayers at the foot of the altar were eliminated and what we now have as the penitential rite was introduced. Then the extra Eucharistic prayers were introduced. Then the rubrics for the priest were totally simplified. Then we got the 1970 missal which dumbed down the Gloria, the Creed and the Lord I am not worthy. Even as a teenager I was puzzled by all of this dumbing down.
By this time it seemed the Vatican and the bishops had given control of the Mass and Church architecture over to liturgists. Even the rubrics of the 1970 Mass to this day state that priest could say a prescribed formula or "words similar" which opened the door for all kinds of improvisations that still haunt us today. And the old adage about the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist began to surface and be quite clear. You can negotiate with a terrorist being the primary difference.
Then the folk music came and all kinds of other types of music, even secular was inflicted upon the 1970 missal. Then we were told it was wrong to kneel for Holy Communion and to receive on the tongue, so we were herded into a soup-kitchen type lines and eating on the run, rather than kneeling at the altar rail even briefly after receiving. We were told that if we liked kneeling better than standing then we were just too stupid to know that standing symbolized be raised up with Christ to receive Holy Communion. Kneeling was subservient and debased us. There were those who wanted to eliminate any mention of our unworthiness at Mass as well.
I really wish that a thorough sociological study could be done that would show what happened to my father's generation of this late 1960's and 1970's period. My father's generation were the ones who were so committed to the Pre-Vatican II Church. 90 percent of them went to Mass every Sunday and they brought their children up in the faith. But by the 1970's with the changes in the Mass, public dissent from official Church teachings, the elimination of the Baltimore Catechism, total chaos and confusion in the Church, my father's generation of children (which is me) lost the faith and discipline of the Church. My generation of children have not done a very good job of handing on the faith to their children. So today we are at 25 % of Catholics who attend Mass regularly and many of those are confused about the Church's teaching and profess to be both Catholic and pro-choice! If the Church prior to the Second Vatican Council could be described as a rock of sure and certain faith and sound discipline, the Church after Vatican II became like a marshmallow quite mushy and with no real nutritional value.
So, if the pope gave me permission to reform the reform this is what I would do:
1. Bring back the Baltimore Catechism in a revised form and teach the basics again to our children and expect them to memorize certain things.
2. Focus on non-liturgical devotions again, especially those that can be done at home.
3. Maintain the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and calendar as Pope Benedict now allows.
4. Reform the Ordinary Mass so that it is the order of the Extraordinary Mass but in the vernacular, maintaining the revised three year lectionary and calendar but with all the revised English Prayers for the collect, prayers over the gifts and prefaces, Eucharistic prayers etc. Maintain the rubrics of the Extraordinary Mass in the Ordinary Mass.
5. Ban any more churches from being built in the round!
6. Bring back communal forms of penance (meatless Fridays year round, ember days, stricter Lenten discipline--maybe make every Wednesday and Friday of Lent days of fast and abstinence, I think everyday of Lent is a bit much for fasting but it got dumbed down too drastically after Vatican II.
What ya think?