Recently, Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles put his foot into his mouth by saying the following in a chatroom:
CardinalMahony: Ann: The Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don’t believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us. (Source)
One of the things that gets me about this remark is that Mahony has chutzpah to say that there is no participation by the people at a Gregorian Mass. I suppose that if one was to go to a Gregorian Mass without any prior experience of it, I’m sure that that person would agree with the Cardinal’s statement. The laypeople may not seem to be actively participating, but they are. By following along in their hand missals, they are praying along with priest. Essentially, this is the type of participation that one would find at any Gregorian Mass. The hand missal was instituted so that people would understand what was going on and would lead them to a greater devotion to the Holy Sacrifice.
Another point that correlates with this one is the idea that the Gregorian Mass was restore for those that could not get used to the vernacular Mass. I hate to say it, but this is a bunch of garbage. “Summorum Pontificum” did not merely liberate the Gregorian Mass for those that found themselves attending Masses outside the fold, but also for those that had never experienced it before. The document was also promulgated by His Holiness so as to allow more people to experience the Gregorian Mass and to participate in it morefully. It is his hope that it will help the Church to breathe with both lungs.
I remember once having a discussion with a priest a couple of years ago on this same topic. I was between parishes at the time and I wanted to stick with the Gregorian Mass. I asked the priest for his advice. He told me straight up that God didn’t need to be adored, but that we had to bring God to the people. Like Mahony, he saw the Gregorian Mass in terms of what it wasn’t giving the people in the pews: participation
Yet patricipation is a tricky concept for many people. To participate at Mass does not necessarily mean that you are singing, shaking hands, or whatever else, but that you are praying. The Mass, in whatever Form, is not mean to be an entertainment. Rather, it is the Sacrifice of Christ Himself renewed for us on the altar. I wonder, sometimes, how many of us actually realize this at Sunday Mass.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!