Ttony, of the excellent Muniment Room blog, tweeted some acute observations and asked some interesting questions, following my recent posts on antipathy to the traditional Latin Mass.
Thanks for making me think. I should have realised a long time ago that people were incited to have an opinion about praxis.and in response to my remark that my parents were initially pro English in the Mass, but were less keen when the full extent of the changes became clear (see my fathers notebook, here, and following posts, for more on that...), Ttony replied:
That for no apparent reason people suddenly started claiming that they couldn't understand-something that had never been an issue.
It gets worse the more you reflect. Your parents were persuaded that their understanding was defective. Stop & reflect.
Who in, say, 1939, would have even been able to think that there was something wrong with the way Mass was celebrated?
I'll withdraw and reflect for a while. How did "they" persuade people who had never questioned that there were questions?
These are all very through-provoking questions, and I will, as so often, think out loud about some possible answers, all the while inviting comments and perspectives from others.
I think that the immediate answer was the Second Vatican Council. The zeitgeist of the age, the press coverage, and the rhetoric of the Council itself 'throwing open the windows of the Church' invited ordinary lay people to consider these issues in a way that was, I suspect, wholly new to most of them.
But I think there is a background that set the scene and enabled that to happen within the Church. Throughout the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, there had been a growing liturgical movement. Some of it was very good: one thinks of the re-discovery of the Chant patrimony of the Church. But there were also strands that led to strange and illicit experimentation with the liturgy (particularly in parts of Europe around the Rhine...) and indeed to the radical changes to the Holy Week ceremonies in the 1950s, which were in many ways the precursors of the liturgical upheavals of the 1960s and 70s.
That Liturgical Movement, then, started to foster an environment in which ordinary people expected to have an opinion about praxis: people started to attend to the liturgy, rather than attend to Him to whom the liturgy is directed.
I quoted from memory something from (I think) Fr Bryan Houghton's great book, Mitre and Crook: we have been taught to be critics where we should be pupils. I am all to keenly aware of that in myself.
My late mother used to lament that in the past, on returning from Mass, she would laugh to herself when her protestant friends asked her if it had been a 'nice' or a 'good' service. It was the Mass, of course, silly, she inwardly answered. But since the changes, it seemed to her, the question was all-too-valid.
So those are my first thoughts in response to Ttony's tweets: I'll be interested in his and others' responses to them.