At the Council of Vatican II, the Council fathers were dismayed that many of the faithful, when they went to Mass, were, in many ways, disconnected from the Mass; they would come and pray their rosaries, do their devotions, and even sat down to some spiritual reading during the Mass! They were missing out on the “source and summit” of our faith (Lumen Gentium 11). In the greatest of all the Sacraments, the Eucharist was being ignored for lesser, yet still good, devotions. The fathers desired and worked towards a greater integration and participation in the Eucharistic celebration, so that they might enter more fully into the Mass with attention and intention. This was the birth of the Novus Ordo Mass, which we celebrate exclusively here in the Panhandle; the other valid form of the Mass is called the Extraordinary Form.
With the advent of the Novus Ordo, the laity are called to a fuller participation through responses. For instance, when the priest welcomes the congregation with “the Lord be with you,” the people of God respond, “and with your spirit.” It is like when someone says “good morning,” we should respond in a proper manner. It would be bad manners to ignore them or to mumble a response. The Mass is full of these exchanges, often referred to as “call and response,” since the priest or deacon issues a call and awaits the people to respond. Just as it is poor etiquette to be too quiet or too loud, the response of Mass should be given clearly and confidently. Part of the Mass Plunge is to get into it and participate. There are many parts of the Mass which belong to you as the laity, and to you alone. If at any time you are confused or unconfident as to your parts in the Mass, never feel any shame to use the missalettes in the pews; as Benjamin Franklin said “being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn”...but no one has to be ignorant when we have the resource right there.