Chiron's biography of Bugnini, which I reviewd recently and is necessary reading for those who desire to be on-the-ball with regard to scholarly discussion of the post-Concilar 'reforms', reminds us that S Paul VI, as disorder spread like wild fire in the Latin Church, wrote in 1965 an encyclical Mysterium Fidei. Among the Pontiff's "concerns and anxieties", he condemns the idea that a "Community Mass" has greater value than mere private Masses, with these words:
"Every Mass, even though a priest may offer it in private, is not a private matter; it is an act of Christ and of the Church".
This truth was unpacked very neatly by the great Anglican Thomist and dogmatic theologian, the Reverend Professor Canon Doctor Eric Mascall, OGS MA: (Very Germanic of me to pile up all the titles, yes?)
"What makes the mass one and corporate is not the fact that a lot of people are together at the same service, but the fact that it is the act of the one Christ in his Body (corpus) the Church. And I can think of no better way of making anyone understand wherein the unity and corporateness of the mass really consists than to take him into a church in which a number of priests are simultaneously celebrating private masses and to say: "Look at those men at their various altars all round the church, each of them apparently muttering away on his own and having nothing to do with the others. In fact they are all of them doing the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing; each of them is taking part as a priest in the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the sacrament of his body and blood."
Mascall used to say his own mass before breakfast every morning, usually privately in the church where I went for daily mass as an undergraduate, at the altar under the picture of blessed Charles the Martyr. How wonderful it would be if the scene he describes returned to the life of our churches ... just imagine the Rosary Basilica at Lourdes every morning with a constant coming and going of priest pilgrims to the altars of the Fifteen Mysteries.
Even the marbled refrigeration of Westminster Cathedral might wake up to warm and vibrant new life!