I recently found a fascinating artifact, a “People’s Mass Book” dated 1966, the year the transitional sacramentary came out in both English and Latin. It was the period when every so often a new piece of the mass would come out in the vernacular. In the Order of the Mass at the opening of the rite, I found this:
Priest: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I will go to the altar of God.
People: To God who gives joy to my youth.
Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
People: Who made Heaven and Earth.
Priest: I confess to almighty God….to pray to the Lord our God for me.
People: May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins and bring you to everlasting life.
People: I confess to almighty God….to pray to the Lord our God for me.
Priest: May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins and bring you to everlasting life.
Priest: May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution and remission of our sins.
Priest: O God, you will give us life again.
People: And your people will rejoice in you.
Priest: Show us, O Lord, your kindness.
People: And grant us your salvation.
Priest: O Lord, here my prayer.
People: And let my cry come to you.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Let us pray.
Priest: Lord have mercy…
These are the old prayers at the foot of the altar formerly said between the priest and a deacon. What I learned from this is that there was a period of time from 1966 when much of the old rite was still intact, but was said in the vernacular with the priest facing and in dialogue with the congregation. Fascinating!!
It is pretty amazing to note that the people actually pray over the priest in the opening dialogue. That actually strikes me as more “liberal” than the present rite. Perhaps that is, in part, why it was changed, though the literature generally attributes the change to the elimination of the a prayer said exclusively by the priest so that he now says the prayer with the congregation. Many, man prayers said by the priest alone in the old rite with either eliminated or cut down to a tiny fraction of what they had been in the old rite. (Saved for another post).
I am especially intrigued that there were intermediate steps in the reform which, if returned to, might actually satisfy many in the Church now miserable with the cheesyness in many of their parishes.
Could Benedict actually be pointing to an eventual middle way? I hope so. Most Catholics today would not be open to the EF every Sunday, but to have it partly in Latin and partly in the vernacular would solve so much of the present situation, in my humble opinion.