The Problem at Mass
Su,-Mr. Graham Young asks for constructive suggestions as to how to get our " passive spectators" to take an intelligent interest in the Liturgy, instead of destructive criticism. As I am no1 in sympathy with the movement (although I appreciate the motive which inspires it), my criticism must of necessity be destructive.
In the first place I cannot agree with Mr. Young that passive spectators do not take an intelligent interest in the Liturgy, nor do I believe that there are great numbers of lapsed or potential Catholics defident of a mental capacity to understand the Mass.
Writing as a passive spectator I must say that I would regard with dismay the prospect of being dragooned into a general mumbling of prayers, and a cacophony of community singing during Mass. 1 he greater noise does not necessarily mean the greater praise or prayer; npr is the voice a better vehicle than the eyes and ears.
Passivity is not confined to Catholic congregations. It is also quite noticeable in the " reformed church " -not to the same extent of course. probably due to the " obligation " to join in, and the fact that there is a vastly greater number of practising Catholics than practising Protestants. etc.
When I was a member of the Anglican community it was often an embarrassment to be obliged to stand up and add my tuneless croak to the generally feeble noise (except when a more popular and hackneyed tune threatened to blast the roof uff) of psalm and hymn singing, and it is certain that with the gabbling going on all around me, my mind was in a less receptive state. But when I came into the Catholic Church it was a great joy to be able to take an entirely passive interest in the beautiful Liturgy of the Mass, and particularly to hear the strict liturgical music of the Mass sung by the celebrant and choir.
The Reformation may.or may not. have " succeeded with such comparative ease because of the introduction of the vernacular." hut it is certainly not filling the Anglican Church today.
I do not, however, presume to speak for the Clergy, and this seems to he their particular problem; nor do I speak for other Catholics. however passive or wooden-headed they may appear, for who can know what is in another's heart? My opinion is a personal one, conservative, a little selfish perhaps, and largely influenced by the fear that. in these days of innovation and social flux. the Church may lose its international character and spirit.
George A. Wheatley,
Home Farm, Tatchbury Mount; Totton, Southampton.
Heart of the Matter
SIR, May I congratulate Mr. Graham Young on reaching the very heart of the matter when he states that it is those passive spectators who cannot or will not use a missal whom we can only reach through some measure of the vernacular in the Mass.
As he so rightly says, no one wants the vernacular for its own sake and those of us who have learnt to appreciate the part which the laity have In sharing the offering of the Holy Sacrifice are precisely those who have learnt that appreciation through the medium of the Latin Mass. If this appreciation is really sincere and practical it must result in the urge to bring the riches of participation in the Liturgy within the reach of all-even those who are at pmsent aloof or indifferent. and it is only by doing this that we Catholics generally will learn to " live the Mass" and convert the world by our example.
(Mrs.) Betty F. Simmons.
10 Radnor Gardens, Enfield, Middlesex.
Catholics and Anglicans
SIR,-Any movement to encourage the active participation of the laity in the Church's liturgy will help forward understanding between Cetholics and Anglicans, and thus the eventual return of this country to communion with Rome. If we arc to attract English Christians to Catholicism, we must understand how strongly they are attached to their traditions of corporate worship and must learn to value such traditions at least as much as they do.
Very many Anglicans, while regretting the excesses of the Reformation in this country, welcome the attempt which was then made in the Church of England to help the laity to play their proper part in the Church's worship; in our own time, when all Christian bodies are more and more stressing corporate worship, they feel that their own liturgical movement rests on a long tradition. while we are only just beginning to realise the riches of our liturgy and to give to our congregations the part that belongs to them.
J. M. Richards.
46 Goldington Avenue, Bedford.
The Children's Mass
Salt,-In the discussion on Liturgy and the Laity. no one seems to have mentioned the Children's Mass pus, ternary in many of our larger churches. Outstanding portions of the Mass prayers are recited in English by the children the Confiteor, Gloria. Credo, the response to the Orate Fratres. the Pater Waster, the Agnus Dee, and the Domine. non Sum dignus.
Is there any reason why this example should not be followed by adults at other Masses? The Epistle and Gospel could be read in English while the Priest is saying them at the Altar. some member sof the congregation being chosen for the purpose. This wouldrgive time for a five-minutes homily Iss the Priest, straight from the sheulder. which is badly needed in these days.