My uncle turned 60 yesterday, so many happy returns to him. He is of the ''spirit of Vatican II'' generation, and goes to Mass (sadly in the evening) every Sunday, goes to Communion, then goes home again, and doesn't really bother much about the ins and outs of Church politics, ''behind the scenes'' stuff or anything (nor does he go to Confession). He is not involved in his parish church in any way. I met him at Hyde Park a few weeks ago, and he introduced me to the lovely men from Argentina.
I spoke to him about Liturgy a few months ago, and asked him what Mass was like in the '50s and '60s. He said that it was terrible, as indeed it was, but of course his personal reason for thinking it terrible is quite different from my own. He said that the priest had his back to the congregation and mumbled from a book (in all fairness this is true at Low Mass) in Latin, and that ''for all we knew he could have been doing a crossword.'' This is another aspect of recent Church history where I differ from certain people. The enormous reaction against this appalling Liturgy (which by 1960 was in a pathetic state) in the '60s was inevitable. If the Roman Church had cultivated its liturgical tradition instead of dogma and devotions then perhaps the present state of the Sacred Liturgy would be a lot better. As you can see my uncle knew little to nothing about Liturgy as a boy, and still knows nothing. Perhaps this is clumsily put - perhaps men of my uncle's generation know little about the Faith because they could not, and cannot, discern the Faith from the Liturgy - precisely because the Liturgy provided them by the Church was exhausted and sterile, as a result of tampering at magisterial level and long neglect. More ''informed'' Catholics (the neo-Conservative kind) are hardly better. The premise of their orthodoxy is ''the Pope says'' rather than ''I am fortified in this belief by the Sacred Liturgy.'' It would not surprise me if these Ultramontane Catholics would go along with the Pope if a future pope declared Christ's Divinity (but not his own as God's oracle) to be superfluous to the Gospel.
It seems to me that orthodoxy for the wrong reasons (like Munificentissimus Deus) is fraught with so much danger. It rather reminds me of the Forms in Plato's cave.