A friend recently suggest to me that I should not be concerned so much with the overuse of EMHCs. He asked how it affected my "walk with Jesus".
My view is that of the many dozens of changes made in the wake of Vatican II, most of them, taken individually, are of little import. However, taken in their totality--as indeed they must be--they are scandalous.
Mass was, before the Council, a reverent sacrifice. The laity were indeed reverent, silent before the Mass, and prayerful (most of them, at least) during the Mass. The celebrant (not presider) and the laity faced their Lord together. The celebrant offered the prayers, and the faithful assisted, with prayers responses from the Missal, and with prayers of their own (many prayed the Rosary during the parts where the celebrant could not be heard.) We had a sermon, not the all too often feel-good homily, but a usually firm teaching, which did, on occasion, become a stern admonition against the sinful practices of those who needed to hear it.
And in my youth, I do not recall seeing the dash to the parking lot before the closing prayers.
The design and decoration of our churches was traditional and reflected the reverence to our Lord, to whatever degree the parish could afford. There were fancy churches, and plain ones such as the parish in which I grew up. We had not stained glass windows, but windows with an applied and very regular pattern, much less expensive, but still in a very traditional motif.
At no time did the church, in the interval before Mass, sound more like a parish hall than like the house of our Lord.
The Missal was given in Latin and English, and those of us who took such things seriously could easily see the relation between the two forms, and could readily follow the Latin. Admittedly, the particular priest might enunciate less well than we might hope, or the church acoustics could interfere, and in these cases, following was chancey. It was, however, never impossible.
We go to Mass to worship our Lord. At least, we are supposed to go for that purpose. It's not a communal meal, nor a picnic. Despite what is seen in many parishes, it is not about us congratulating one another on our piety and good works. It is worship, and it is our obligation, as Catholics, to be there each week.
As to the picking of nits, I find as follows:
- We should do our best not to allow the local variations to distract us from worship.
- We should prepare ourselves for Mass, arriving early enough to purge the distractions from our minds, and to pray well before Mass, the better to assist in the sacrifice.
- We should, when the local variations intrude, remember to discuss them with our priests, letting them know how and why these things were disturbing.
- We should not be accepting of practices which violate the rubrics and intention of Holy Mother Church, but should, respectfully, point out the concerns we feel about them.
- We should educate ourselves endlessly in our faith according to the true teachings of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church should be as well read as our Bibles and Missals.
- We should, gently and respectfully, remind our priests (and when necessary, our bishops) that when the deviations from form reach a certain level, they are no longer minor, but become a scandal.
- We should, we must, pray for our priests and bishops.