I have been reading the August 2009 issue of U.S. Catholic. I enjoy reading that magazine. I don't always agree with everything it has to say but it always gives me food for thought. This month's cover article is about the renewed use of the Tridentine mass along with the current mass that has been in use since Vatican II. The article by Ted Rosean maintains that having two rites separates us rather than unites us. It serves to widen the chasm between those on one side and those on the other and those who live in the middle.
To offer full disclosure, I have never been to a Tridentine mass and I consider myself a "middle-of-the-road Catholic." I have several very conservative Catholic friends who love the Tridentine rite. These are good people who can certainly choose how they want to worship. I know the Pope has endorsed it, and I will concede that it does have more of an air of mystery about it than the modern Mass. It is all about worship. The modern Mass combines worship and fellowship.
I think that there was a reason that Vatican II sought to reform the liturgy and it wasn't just because of the Latin. Latin can be used to celebrate the new mass as well as it can the old. It is just another language, albeit one that few people understand. I agree with Ted Rosean that "The Second Vatican Council had some very good reasons to call for an end to the Tridentine Mass and to promulgate a new rite. More sophisticated research uncovered a fuller understanding of how liturgy was celebrated in the early church. Improved scripture scholarship developed into a new lectionary with a wider selection of readings. . . Perhaps most important for the average Catholic, the Mass was celebrated in the language of the people. . . In 1965 the church came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that people should understand what is being said in Mass."
I think that the new Mass is more in keeping with the spirit of the Last Supper, which was the first Mass. Jesus broke bread with his friends. They took it in their hands and ate. Those original Apostles were like us in many ways. They were sinners, yet Jesus saw fit to share a meal with them. Yes, worship is extremely important. We do need to be reverent at Mass. But there is room for friendship as well. Mass is a conversation, a sharing of prayer, and ultimately a meal. It's symbolism and history are profoundly rich.
As Rosean states, "the Mass that emerged from the reform of Vatican II is wonderful, divine, human, and sublime. It works. . . We do not need to celebrate an old rite. We need to get more people to celebrate the existing rite well."