In announcing that vernacular languages were to be allowed into the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church on the first Sunday of Lent, 7 March 1965, Pope Paul VI used these words. “[This is] a memorable Sunday in the spiritual history of the Church … for the vernacular has officially taken its place within liturgical worship. The Church has sacrificed its native tongue, Latin, a language that is sacred, measured, beautiful, richly expressive, and graceful. The Church has made the sacrifice of an ago-old tradition and above all of unity in language among diverse peoples to bow to a higher universality, an outreach to all peoples.”
A short time later, in a general audience on 17 March 1965, after some people had publicly criticised the above announcement, Pope Paul VI had this to say: “Those remarks … show a lack of understanding about religious rites … They do not indicate a true devotion or a genuine perception of the import of the Mass. Rather they betray certain spiritual laziness, the refusal to make the personal effort toward understanding and participation… Before, it was enough to assist; now, it is necessary to take part. Before, being there was enough; now, attention and activity are required. Before, everyone could doze or perhaps even chatter; now, all must listen and pray… The assembly becomes alive and active; taking part means allowing the soul to become attentive, to enter into the dialogue, to sing, to act.” Quoted in Worship, May 2003, page 254
The kind of active participation so vividly described by Pope Paul VI needs to include participation in sharing reflections after the readings. This kind of sharing is required to engage the thinking processes in active participation. Without this kind of active participation it is too easy to slip into a monotonous routine of oftentimes superficial participation even when the vernacular language is used. After forty years we have discovered that the vernacular language, with virtually the old routine of ritual, does not solve the problems of participation in the liturgy. Perhaps this is the main reason why the changes in the liturgy following the introduction of the vernacular have not produced the desired and initially expected results.
In this respect lay led Liturgies with relatively small congregations have an advantage: it is easier to introduce a sharing of reflections, open to the whole congregation, after the readings.