Although the original thread was closed due to some uncharitable posts, I thought that Pug brought up a good topic that deserves some actual discussion and clarification
The topic was regarding the participation of the laity in the Classical Latin Mass and what qualifies as assisting or participation in the Mass.
First, I would like clarify and expand my thoughts on the subject from my original post in the other thread. When we think of lay participation in the Mass we often think of the “extraordinary” lay readers and ministers of Holy Communion, the cantors (no, not the ones that are supposed to lead the choir- I’m talking about the ones that stand at the lectern with their hands raised in the orans posture singing the versicles and trying to get a response from the congregation), and various other Liturgical roles passed off to the laity in the Novus Ordo. However, the traditional definition of lay participation in the Mass is quite different, and I think the preface to my 1955 St. Joseph’s Daily Missal says it well:
“To follow the priest in saying the prayers of the Missal is the most fruitful way of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: “they are to be praised who with the idea of getting the Christian people to take part more easily and more fruitfully in the Mass, strive to make them familiar with the Roman Missal so that the faithful, united with the priest, may pray in the very words and sentiments of the Church” (Mediator Dei).”
So basically, to participate in the Mass one needs only to follow along in their Missal book and (as a fine traditional priest once told me) pray the responses (given vocally by the server and/or the choir) silently in preparation for Holy Communion (in the TLM, the server responds on behalf of the congregation). Vatican II called for active participation of the laity and, contrary to some traditionalists, this was something called for by Pius XII and even St. Pius X. Up until the late 1960s, after Vatican II, did active participation begin to take on the new meaning it has today. St. Pius X called for the laity to Gregorian chant so that at Sung Masses the congregation might join the choir in singing some of the Ordinary prayers that held important meaning for the congregation (I believe these were the Kyrie, the Gloria and the Credo, with the rest of the Ordinary and the Propers left to the priest and the choir- these are simple chants that can easily be learned by the congregation).
Another thing to keep in mind when considering lay participation is that the Mass was not directed to the people, but to God. Many Novus Ordo Masses today are performances- it is from this mindset that we get liturgical dancers, bad music and worse. The average parish church today has the priest wearing a clip-on microphone, sometimes with other mics around the sanctuary, even fixed to the altar, so that the congregation can hear every word that comes out of his mouth. In the traditional Mass, it matters little whether the congregation hears the priest or not- in fact; some Low Masses (Masses which are completely spoken rather then Sung) are entirely inaudible. The prayers of the Mass are directed to God and the congregation can pray by themselves.
Now, some people might get a little angry to know that some in the congregation might be praying some private devotions during Mass. A fine traditional priest once explained to me however, that these devotions are fine if prayed with the Mass- for example, one might pray the rosary while contemplating the actions of the priest in the Mass. That is- have private devotions if you wish, but do not let them distract you from the greater devotion and worship happening around you.
And finally, let me say that only the priest celebrates Mass. To say that the laity celebrates Mass is even incorrect in the NO. Only the priest may offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, just as only Christ offered Himself up as that Sacrifice.