The correspondence on the Tridentine problem' has gone on long enough. It is patently obvious that most of your correspondents are, whether consciously or not, comparing the ceremonial splendour of the former Solemn High Mass with the tawdriness all too often encountered at weekday Masses today.
The Catholic Herald Gallup Poll demonstrated that there is a large measure of dissatisfaction with the
New Order of Mass as currently celebrated; and, despite protests as to how representative the Poll's sample of English Mass-attenders actually was, It must be admitted that this was on the whole a true picture: the majority of Masses celebrated in this country, both Sunday and weekday Masses, are tedious and boring, However. it should also be remembered that the Tridentine weekday Low Mass could he, and often was, equally deadly-dull.
The reason why so many Masses are such that one wonders why many people ever go to church at all is straightforward: education, not of the laity as the General Secretary of the National Liturgical Commission seemed to think shortly after the Poll results were published) but of the clergy. I lowever hard to take, the fact must be faced that a substantial proportion of priests everywhere, not just in England and Wales, have no idea how to realise the enormous potential contained in the New Order of Mass. The New Order of its very nature demands a great deal more effort to 'make it work' than the Tridentine Mass ever did, and large numbers of priests have had neither the time nor the energy to reeducate themselves.
To put it another way, the principal reason why so many people find the New Order of Mass to be boring and unsatisfactory is that they have never been shown by their priests, over a period of time, how to really celebrate the Mass as a community. This is a terrible indictment.
Why else do numbers of people every year gather at such functions as the Society of St Gregory's Summer School? To give themselves a concentrated 'dose' of spirituality and true celebration with which to sustain themselves during the. next twelve months in their barren parishes. Such gatherings may be 'unreal', but they certainly fulfil a need in this respect as well as in many others; and they also have the advantage of being staffed by the foremost liturgical experts, so much derided by Mr Inman (August 12), who are there on the spot to show those present at legit the beginnings of how every parish and community should be approaching the celebration of Mass.
It is obviously difficult to expect old habits to become revitalised overnight, but if more people were aware of just how much the New Order of Mass can give them, when properly prepared and celebrated (and I do not mean some of the peripheral jolly junketings which have offended some of your recent correspondents), there would be far fewer moaning letters in your columns,
Paul Inwood General Editor, 'Music and Liturgy' London, N22.
The letters in your issue of August 12 under the heading "Tridentine problems" present a very sad picture — that of "countless thousands" of Catholics dragging their unwilling feet to the Norms Ord*.
In our local church the Sanctuary has been beautifully rearranged to form a worthy setting for the present rite, the text is spoken slowly and clearly, with warmth and understanding, and it is a very satisfying thing. I would not return to the "holy mutter" which we so often had previously.
On the other hand 1 do truly hope that some consolation will be afforded to your most unhappy correspondents, whoI trust are in the minority. Why do people find it embarrassing to shake hands as a sign of peace in the household of the Faith? It is a welcome to a stranger and a greeting to a friend, and its value is enhanced when the priest comes out of the Sanctuary and walks down the aisle pressing the hands of everyone he can reach. The young man described in your columns complains that it is "unspontaneous". Of course it is: it is an act within the liturgy, and liturgy is something expected and repetitive.
(Mrs) M. V. Crispin Kew, Richmond, Surrey.