My priest friend and I were continuing the conversation that we have been having for some time now and he posed the following:
The biggest complaint that modern liturgists lodge against the pre-Vatican II Mass is that the congregation was not in "full, conscious, active participation." This usually means that they came in late, left early, didn't understand Latin, sat in their pews like bumps on a log and did private devotions, such as the Rosary to occupy their time. Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on.
After Vatican II with the emphasis on a narrow interpretation of what "full, conscious, active participation" meant, and the priest now facing the congregation which made it possible for him to see what was happening out there in front of him, the priest and deacons now acting as policemen would chastise the congregation if they weren't in lockstep with a narrow, sterile view of full conscious, active participation. And on top of that the priest introduced his own peculiarities into the liturgy, such as asking everyone to hold hands at the Lord's Prayer, turn and greet everyone at the beginning of Mass and the like.
Now, since I am more of a traditional minded priest, even when celebrating the OF Mass facing the Congregation, I do get disturbed by what I see happening in the congregation if I find it distracting or not in lockstep with what the books tell the people to do. I use to go ballistic when I saw people holding hands at the Lord's prayer, or the charismatics holding hands high at the singing of hymns or at the Gloria and Sanctus or the congregation motioning back to me when I extended my arms to greet them and they did the same when responding, "and also with you."
So should priests give a flip over what the congregation is or isn't doing, such as standing at the Eucharistic Prayer when everyone else is kneeling, or kneeling when the reading are read when everyone else is sitting, or raising their hands in ectasy like charismatics are prone to do which is clearly not prescribed by "read the black and do the red."
To me (being a trained liturgist), this is a very interesting post. It really speaks to a couple of big misconceptions and I think shows the inaccuracy of the liberal mindset (read: I am not calling Father a liberal, but rather commenting on the point he is making).
It is said of the TLM, "This usually means that they came in late, left early, didn't understand Latin, sat in their pews like bumps on a log and did private devotions, such as the Rosary to occupy their time. Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on."
It is observed of the Novus Ordo, "Now, since I am more of a traditional minded priest, even when celebrating the OF Mass facing the Congregation, I do get disturbed by what I see happening in the congregation if I find it distracting or not in lockstep with what the books tell the people to do."
To me (after a cursory reading), this shows that things really haven't changed with the "aggiornamento." To me, this shows that the liberal liturgist has failed in his re-imagined view of "full, conscious, and active participation." The traditional liturgist holds the obverse view. The authentic understanding of "full, conscious, and active participation" doesn't mean active participation, but rather it means actual participation. Participatio actuosa, not participatio activa.
Father echoes what the traditional liturgist knows and promotes (read: what I have been advocating since day 1), "Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on."
My response to that statement is quite simply, "So what?" Is it a sin to sit during the consecration (or in some places kneel)? No. There is usually a valid reason why, in the TLM someone is not kneeling, but that is of little consequence AND if it is a "willy nilly" reason, the faithful will usually take care of the faithful, in short, they will offer the fraternal correction (not so much in the Novus Ordo, though...curious).
What this comes down to is simple. The traditional understanding of worship is a very personal one. How one worships is never more important than WHY one worships. So, if Mrs. Flubberback is in the back row praying her rosary and Mr. Cummerbund is halfway up the epistle side meditating on the stations, and little if Suzy Snodnose is following along in her hand missal intently, who is participating more? The liberal would say that none of them, but the traditional liturgist would say that all of them are, because they are all uniting their minds, hearts and souls to the salvific action on the altar in an unbloody way to the life of Christ. And isn't that what worship is? To unite one's soul, mind and heart to God?
So, Mrs. Flubberback doesn't stand, but sits...why? Did she just have a knee replaced? Is she lazy? Does she have back problems? Who cares. So, Mr. Cummerbund kneels through the whole Mass, is he pietistic? Is he repenting for something? Does he like to kneel? Who cares? Is little Suzy kneeling, and sitting, and standing? Maybe, but that is because she's following along with her missal, but...who cares?
What the faithful should care about isn't what those persons are doing, but rather that they, themselves are uniting their whole mind, soul, and heart to God.
If the liturgist is more interested in making the faithful into little ersatz-clerics, through hand positions and uniform actions 100%, then the liturgist has missed the point of worship. The faithful don't respond and "act" because everyone else is doing it, but because it is an ejaculation of love for God, the Father. To do it for any other reason is quite simply, participatio activa.
The answer is simple, Father. Turn around, celebrate Mass ad orientem and don't worry about things that you cannot control. You can't control Mrs. Flubberback, Mr. Cummerbund or little Suzy Snodnose, but you can control the "black and the red." Your role is clear. You are the mediator between the worship and God, the Father. You are Christ at Calvary, in an unbloody way. Your action (not acting, please note the very important difference) is precise and it is calculated. The red is there for a reason, it isn't a suggestion, it isn't a guide, it is a rule (or law). The black is there for a reason, it isn't a suggestion, it isn't a guide, it is a rule (or law). I can guarantee you 100% (with the exception of perhaps your childhood bully) that no one is making faces toward your back and I can certainly guarantee that nobody is going to stab you in the back (unless you have a liberal liturgist).
To answer your last paragraph...NO. Priests should not give a flip as to what the congregation is doing.