The typical parish experience of the Mass is devoid of the faithful saying or singing certain parts of the Order of Mass (like the Our Father or the Holy, Holy, Holy) in Latin. In fact, most of the faithful have absolutely no ability to do so. And yet, our weekly experience of the reformed liturgy includes 1) an expanded Lectionary, 2) the regularity of homilies, 3) the Prayer of the Faithful, 4) the use of the vernacular, 5) the partaking in the sacrifice offered at that Mass (rather than Hosts consecrated at a previous Mass and retrieved from the tabernacle), 6) Communion under both kinds, 7) and a new rite of concelebration.
Those seven reforms I just mentioned are part of the typical parish experience (priest shortage notwithstanding), and they are the products of articles 51-58 of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Yet among those articles, right in the middle of article 54 (concerning the use of the vernacular in the Mass), is a sentence about the reform which seems to have been overlooked completely. Article 54 reads:
In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
And wherever a more extended use of the mother tongue within the Mass appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this Constitution is to be observed.
So why have the other reforms been so successfully implemented (and then some!) and generally well-received, but that pesky little sentence in article 54 about Latin can’t seem to get its foot in the door? Why are Catholics who are benefiting from the reforms listed in articles 51-58 impotent when it comes to praying in Latin at Mass? And it goes beyond lack of ability: why do some Catholics who otherwise support the reforms they experience from articles 51-58 become indignant at the mere mention of possibly making Latin responses at Mass?
What’s the problem with that sentence about Latin in article 54? People — at least some people — were making the responses in Latin before 1963. Why did it become impossible and undesirable? Is it obsolete? Opposed to “full, conscious, and active participation”? A monastic ideal not appropriate for normal parish life? A compromise sentence which was never meant to be taken seriously?