Trend pendulums swing back and forth as one generation reacts to the previous one. For the first generation or two after Vatican II, Catholics were grateful for the Mass being in English and for the opportunity to participate fully. Often they vilified the prior time when Mass was in a language they didn’t understand, and they were not allowed to voice the responses to the prayers. They celebrated their new found participation by completely abandoning Latin prayers and music. Gregorian Chant was considered antiquated and useless.
Now, a new generation of Catholics feels the loss of Latin in the liturgy. They point out that Vatican II’s Document on the Liturgy, while mandating translation of the Latin into the Vernacular, also encouraged some honored place for Latin. In European churches, the missalettes contain Latin and Vernacular translations for various Mass parts, such as the Sanctus, the Pater Noster, and the Agnus Dei. The faithful have never forgotten how to pray the Our Father in Latin; so, if the priest intones it in Latin, they pray it in Latin. In the English version of the Roman Missal, it is given in both languages. Here at St. Thomas More, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are chanted in Latin during Lent.
One key thing should be understood, though. The number one goal of the renewed liturgy of Vatican II is this: THE FULL, CONSCIOUS, ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY ALL THE PEOPLE. The Mass is about neither nostalgia nor innovation. It is the timeless encounter between God and humanity. “In it, complete and definitive public worship is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members” (SC 7). That means that it is not the ordained priest’s Mass, but the Mass of all the priests: Christ and all those baptized into his priesthood.
~ Fr. Frank Coady