Once upon a time folks thought it would help the laity to "participate more fully and meaningfully" if they were to envision the Mass as a kind of conversation between them and Christ, or if they were to envision the Congregation, including the priest, as "gathered around" the alter, or if they were to envision the Mass as a kind of "banquet", with Christ as the "presider". In short, "participation" is like any other shibboleth: I can make it jibe with just about anything. Hearing the Mass in the vernacular enables you to "participate" more because you can understand what's happening? On the contrary, it give you opportunity to question the truth of every word you hear, thus destroying whatever "participation" you thought you had. Hearing the Mass in the vernacular enables you to "participate" more because you can understand what's happening? On the contrary, hearing it in Latin forces you to "participate" even more, because you have to be very alert to every little thing that is happening in order to know where you are in the Mass and what's going on. Hearing the Mass in the vernacular enables you to "participate" more because you can understand what's happening? Hearing it in Latin makes you part of a greater multitude of saints stretching back from today to the second century, when Latin was already itself the "vernacular", the "vulgate" or language of the vulgus (Latin for "crowd"). By participating along with this great multitude of faith and tradition by becoming one with them in language you "participate" in a much more important and meaningful way than merely by "understanding" the language in words for your own, private purposes. Our faith is one of symbols, indeed, we ourselves are imagines Dei, images of God; the use of Latin is far more symbolic than the vernacular could ever be in this sense.
I like An Examined Life
more and more and more... These are EXACTLY the same points that I made recently when I happened to mention that I go to a Mass in Latin once in awhile and someone else happened to go off on me over it. I would only add one more thing - those who feel that they just can't "participate" if Mass is in Latin, the question to then ask them is: What did Fr. say this morning at the opening prayer? Or at the offertory? Or at the preface? Or at the closing prayer? Or even what the homily was, which has pretty much always been in the vernacular. "Knowing" the language DOES NOT mean that there is any better comprehension (ie, authentic participation) present. Instead, "knowing" the language can be a crutch that allows us to simply let the words glide right over us, and we presume that we don't have to prepare ourselves for the day's Mass any more.
In the "bad old days" right before Vatican II, Catholics used their missal to prepare themselves for the Mass of the day. In today's "bad new days", Catholics should use their missal to prepare themselves, but too many now just show up and hear words in one ear and out the other with less comprehension than their elders did when the Mass was only in that mysterious Latin language.