The article below my comments is written for the Catholic News Agency by Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, a retired priest. Thus he must be in his 70's which could indicate that he might have some residual 1970's ideologies as it concerns the liturgy, the Church and her teachings.

One of the ideologies of the 1970's betrayed in the good Monsignor's article is that the reforms of the Mass were SORELY needed. Really? When up to 90% of Catholics were attending Mass up to and shortly after Vatican II was there really a SORELY needed reform of the Mass? 

We all know that Vatican II's document on the Liturgy was mild and conservative simply calling for the use of some vernacular, more Scripture in the Lectionary and eliminating "useless" repetition, but not really naming what was useless. It did not call for an overhaul of the Mass or a new Order of Mass or the elimination of Latin and ad orientem altogether.  That latter, though,  came rather quickly under the direction of Pope Paul VI who approved radical reforms of the Mass that went well beyond what Vatican II envisioned but was wholly in line with what academic liturgists wanted to do and were trying to do since the late 1940's and through the 1950's. They won the day, not Vatican II!

We must go back and recover what was good and holy about the pre-Vatican II Mass now called the Extraordinary Form and in fact we are doing this today. We cannot go back to a time when the pre-Vatican II Mass was forbidden as though a poison fruit of some kind. 

Need I remind Msgr. Mannion of Pope Benedict's words concerning the two forms of our one Latin Rite? Yes, I do:

"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.  Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books.  The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."

We must, though, apply the same principles of actual participation to the EF Mass as to the OF Mass and have an "art" to celebrating both forms in a natural and reverent way. Films of the pre-Vatican II Mass show how celebrants were quite comfortable with this Mass and far from mere robotic functionaries. And yes, Catholics in the pews should be able to speak and sing the parts that were normally reserved only to the altar boys and choir. 

But most of the article hits the nail on the head as it concerns the abysmal state of the Ordinary Form of the Mass perhaps in the majority of parishes in the USA. Thus a reform of the reform in continuity with what preceded the Ordinary Form of the Mass is SORELY needed today given the fact today, which was not present prior to the Council, only 20 percent or so of Catholics actually attend Mass regularly!

Monsignor M. Francis Mannion's article:

I think that by now readers know that I am an unambiguous supporter of the liturgical reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council. These reforms were sorely needed, and there is no going back, as some “conservatives” would wish.

The reform in the liturgy, particularly of the Mass, was undoubtedly the centerpiece of post-Vatican II developments. The liturgical changes impinged immediately on the life of worshipers. Practicing Catholic experienced the liturgical reforms first hand in their parish churches.

However, not everything is as it should be in the Church’s liturgical life. There is much unease in some quarters, and many people have a vague feeling that something is amiss with the liturgy.
What is wrong? In my opinion, the fundamental problem has to do with the manner in which the liturgy is celebrated.

Speaking generally, I do not give high marks to the way in which clergy preside at liturgy (sloppy, mechanical, soulless, artless), and the way they homilize (superficial, disorganized, prosaic, and unable to connect with people’s deepest needs).

Lay liturgical ministers are very often trained inadequately, and are unprepared to assist at Mass (this is especially true of lectors). On a regular basis, liturgical ministers simply do not show up when assigned; and they are often sloppily dressed (I continue to argue that lay ministers should wear albs, not least to cover a multitude of wardrobe sins).

Besides lay and ordained malfeasance, there are two areas in which the condition of the Church’s liturgical life is in very bad shape. These are liturgical music and church architecture.

Church music continues to have the folksiness carried over from the 1970s, and has a very outdated feeling; and there are almost no (and I mean no) good composers in the field of liturgical music today. Pastors are not willing to employ professional musicians, and musical leadership is often left in the hands of well-meaning, but poorly trained, amateurs.

The situation with church architecture is even worse, even disastrous (and I do not use that word lightly). Music programs can be improved quickly, but (modern) church buildings are apt to last for a century or more. For the first time in 2000 years, our churches are not designed to be replicas of the New Jerusalem; they do not point to heaven, and do not make present in icons, paintings, and murals the celestial hosts of angels and saints.

Modern churches are merely functional: They provide high-priced, colorless, and lifeless auditoriums for worship. (One prominent church architect who designed many Catholic churches–and renovated at least one cathedral–called his designs “non-churches”!)

The fundamental problem here is that few church architects are trained in liturgical theology, know very little about the history of church architecture, and simply ape one another. And the situation is not getting better. Church design in mired in the severe, cold, and lifeless style that began in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Some people think that all the problems would be solved if only the Church would make further structural changes in the liturgy. “Conservatives” think that we must go back to what obtained before the Council; and “liberals” think that, if only we would move forward and adapt the liturgy to the culture, things would improve vastly.

How can the problems I identify be resolved? Largely, by a massive liturgical education of clergy, lay ministers, musicians, architects, and artists. (On the matter of liturgical education in the seminaries, I’m afraid the outlook continues to be rather bleak.)

Msgr. Mannion is pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Salt Lake City.  
The article was written for Catholic News Agency.