Are they stupid?
Well, what is it?
I am a convert. The first time I was taken to a Catholic liturgy it was the new mass in ICEL's appalling mistranslation.
However, I had never even heard of ICEL (the International Committee for English in the Liturgy) at the time.
My first thought was "Why is the English so abysmally poor compared with, say, the Anglican Prayer Book?"
My next thought was "Surely this liturgy cannot be that of the 2,000 year old Roman Catholic Church?"
Not only was the English abysmally poor but the liturgy itself was banal, dull, flat and uninspiring.
I again wondered "Is this the mass that inspired great men like St Thomas More? If so, why has it been so badly translated? Who could be so crass as to do such a thing? And why have the Church's authorities permitted this to happen?"
Later I was taken by the priest receiving me into the Church to a "Rock mass". I plainly said to him I was not likely to be very interested in it. Nevertheless, said he, you should go to it. So I went.
He, by the way, has since left the priesthood.
I was amazed by the whole concept. There being some music it was at least better than the banal, flat spoken mass I had previously attended. But the whole atmosphere was absurd: it was neither fish nor fowl. It was neither a religious liturgy nor, on the other hand, was it a rock music discotheque or nightclub. It missed both marks and so failed completely.
I found it silly, childish and facile.
This almost put me off the Catholic faith altogether.
Fortunately, I was being instructed "on the side" by a layman (now a priest) who was able to explain the phenomenon to me, wryly observing the fatuities and re-assuring me that this was the so-called "new liturgy" which was being famously traduced all over the world and that I should not take it as any more than the absurd posturing that it was. Better times would come, he said, when proper liturgy would be restored.
This intrigued me and naturally I wanted to know more.
So began a voyage of discovery which has, Deo volente, confirmed me completely in my initial reactions to the "new" liturgy as "performed" in most churches today.
It is, was, and always will be little more than puerile nonsense and childish trash, at least so long as the ICEL mistranslation and silly, modern "rubrics" (if they can be called such!) are used.
This might not matter were it not for one, huge, inescapable and unavoidable fact.
This is now what most Western Catholics get, most of the time, in most Catholic churches in the Western world.
What happened to the leaders, scholars, bishops, clergy and learned men and women of the Catholic Church that they ever let it get into their heads to accept this cheap, tawdry substitute for the beauty and solemnity of real liturgy?
What collective madness stole over an entire Church to allow this to happen?
I still do not have a proper answer to this question.
And most bishops in most parts of the Western Church are not about to give me an honest answer, either.