Much of the work of Vatican II can be undone with just five simple words – words that strike terror into a liturgist who just wants to do the Roman Rite – and they are these, “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . .” It is what follows these words that is often painful.
One of the things the Second Vatican Council did was to streamline much of the Mass. What some saw as unnecessary repetition was trimmed away, accretions into the Mass accumulated over centuries were examined and much eliminated. Now I like the extraordinary form of the Mass - don’t get me wrong - but I also like the ordinary form as the ordinary form. “Wouldn’t it be nice” is a way to wedge into the Mass all kinds of things it is not designed to take on. There are a limited amount of blessings that may take place during the Mass but that does not stop well intentioned people from requesting all kinds of blessings to take place at Mass with invented ceremonies that surround them. Not that there is anything wrong (hopefully) with the ceremonies themselves and they may be jim dandy at any other hour of the day or week including just before or just after the Mass – just not during this one hour, which is aimed in an entirely different direction.
But it’s more than blessings, it new processions, recognitions, added ministers, invented ministries, new “rites”, presentations, and other activities, recognitions, and human activity oriented undertakings – all very well intended – during a time when the community’s attention is supposed to be drawn toward God, not to each other.
And even they still are aimed at God, the “wouldn’t it be nice” contingents (and at times I am among them!) still do not have footing to employ them. Their brothers and sisters in the pews have a right to the Roman Rite. I feel sorry for the poor priest who wants to return to what the Church asks us to do and to which his fellow Christians have a right who gets beat up pretty badly because he wrests the community back to what it is called to do, and not only to do, not only to do well, but in which he has no authority to add or subtract from that which all have a right.
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to all start there?