Traditionalists have much to celebrate in Sacrosanctum Concilium, or, put negatively, they have many just grounds of complaint against the actual liturgy of the contemporary Church. Latin should, for example, be given pride of place and Gregorian chant should be the normal and familiar music of the Mass. But Traditionalists have to eat their peas too, and one of the central texts in this vein is Paragraph 48:
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators (muti spectatores); on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration
Had the Church been content to speak of “participation” or even “full collaboration” the EF Mass could have gotten away with more or less superficial revisions (demanded by paragraph 50). Silent spectators can still consciously participate in an action. But to rule out muti spectatores requires, at minimum, that the laity say a good portion of what the altar boys once said and that we carve out more opportunities for speaking during the eucharistic prayer. I’ve been a part of many traditionalist communities, and not one of them was bothered by not being faithful to the council on this point. If anything, it is an unspoken point of pride among traditionalists to stay silent and be inactive during the liturgy – the allergy that most traditionalists have to the kiss of peace in the Novus Ordo is a case in point.
Vatican II clearly wanted the liturgy to be a public act performed by all the faithful, though in a way that preserved the difference between the sacramental priesthood and that of all believers. If there is any doubt on this point it dies soon after reading the Catechism of Vatican II (cf. CCC 1140–41) The revisions of the Mass (and of church architecture) are most sympathetically understood as attempts to promote the liturgy as communal prayer. The attempts don’t have to be viewed as successful, but we can’t drop the goal at which they aim. That said, the roadblocks to celebrating mass as a collective ritual are substantial and do not suggest any easy solution. We have insisted for centuries that religion is a matter of personal belief as opposed to collective practice, and our age of mobilization makes any stable community difficult. But it’s the duty of those of us who don’t have the answer to keep the question alive until it can find a reformer of genius and/or a road to an organic response.