I admit that Latin holds an attraction for me. The idea that a liturgy celebrated in Rome could be celebrated the same way and in the same language in Ohio is simply wonderful to ponder. However, I grew up with mass in the vernacular, and for the most part, I think that it’s a good thing. I especially like the revisions to the readings (i.e., Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, Gospel, along with a three year cycle for Sunday readings and a two year cycle for weekday readings) that were made in aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.
I have never been to a Tridentine mass, so any impressions that I have of one are based solely on what I’ve read, and most of what I’ve read applies to the degree of reverence that was involved. Reverence at mass is a good thing. The question at hand is whether the use of Latin produces reverence or, conversely, the use of English causes a loss of reverence.
The problem with Latin is that very few people are fluent in it. I like a little Latin in my liturgy. Singing the Agnus Dei with its miserere nobis or the Tantum Ergo gives me a little warm and fuzzy feeling in the soul (although as I’ve said before and will say again, it’s not about feelings). That said, I get tongue-tied trying to recite the Credo or the Pater Noster, and there’s little comprehension between the syllables coming from my mouth and the meaning tied to them. If the readings or the Eucharistic Prayer were in Latin, I would have little choice but to sit there dumbly, or stick my nose in a missal and try to keep up. I would need the bells and elevation to let me know when the consecration had happened. I don’t think that facilitates full, active, and conscious participation. I certainly would not want to see a return to the days when people prayed the rosary during mass.
That said, there are so many things that have become standard in the modern mass that I would love to see reversed. For example, I like the idea of the celebrant facing the same direction (preferably east) as the congregation and leading them in worship, rather than facing them as if performing. I love incense. I love chant. None of these things is incompatible with the modern mass.
Given a choice between a reverently said Latin mass, most of which is incomprehensible to me, and the vernacular mass as it is offered in most parishes, I would probably elect to attend the Latin mass, hoping to improve upon my own very limited ability to speak and understand Latin. However, given a choice between a Latin mass and a reverent English mass, I would opt for the English.