So, I like books!
But, paradoxically, when it comes to books in the liturgy, I say, “Away with them!“ Clearly the clergy need the sacramentary and the lectors, the lectionary. Musicians too most often need some printed reference materials. But in the end, the faithful, if you ask me, should strive to worship without books, other than a hymnal. The liturgy is meant to be seen and heard. Some claim they cannot follow without the books and “worship-aids.” But I suspect the problem, then, is poorly presented liturgy, poorly trained lectors and clergy, if you will. The goal is to go “hands-free”and to allow the liturgy to unfold. Incessant references to texts and the “order of service” steal away some of the mystery, and cause us to look down at texts, rather than up and outward at the liturgy before us.
This is one of those things I've seen crop up before among Catholics. Interestingly (to me, anyway) lay people usually like missals or books with which to follow the Mass, and it is the clergy who seems to think we ought to be doing without them--though that's a totally non-scientific observation on my part.
I understand the point about wanting people to immerse themselves in the liturgy, to pay attention to what is going on by observing the liturgical actions and hearing the Word of God proclaimed--and the sense that if one's nose is buried in a book one may miss out on what is going on, or fail to unite oneself properly with the liturgical action. But I am not swayed by arguments which say that we don't need books now because that people didn't really use books at Mass until rather recently--because people were also from a largely-illiterate population attending a Mass in Latin where many of the prayers, addressed to God, were whispered--and this in churches in which the microphone was a few centuries away, so that even the parts the people were technically supposed to hear weren't coming across loud and clear, so to speak.
If you read comment threads like this one, you will find at least a couple of people longing for silent Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form, because the silence and the idea that people don't need to respond in any way frees them up for meditation and praying the rosary. Considering how hard today's champions of the Extraordinary Form have worked to tell people that, no, Mass isn't supposed to be an opportunity for private meditation or rosary recitation and that they are supposed to be following along in a missal, that has to be troubling. But even Msgr. Pope admits that those attending the EF Mass will need a missal--which brings me to another question:
Is the fact that people can theoretically attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass and not need a missal or, indeed, anything but a hymn-book to enter into the worship a good thing? In other words, is Mass in the vernacular with proclamations of the Word from a pulpit with a microphone that are clearly audible to the congregation a bug of the new Mass, or a feature?
It seems to me that we can't say, on the one hand, that the Church's highest act of worship is best celebrated inaudibly while people read along in missals and at the same time say that the Church's highest act of worship is best celebrated audibly while people follow along without any such aids. But perhaps I'm missing something important--tell me what, in the comment box!