Marshall McLuhan believed that the microphone led to the priest facing the congregation and the end of the Latin Mass, explains Kevin White :

In 1974, Marshall McLuhan argued that the microphone was the proximate cause both of the elimination of Latin from the Mass and of the turning around of the priest to face the congregation. Before microphones, a priest quietly said Mass in Latin, with his back to the congregation. From any distance, his voice was indistinct, although an instructed Catholic could follow what he was saying from a missal containing the Latin text of the Mass or a translation of it.

McLuhan’s suggestion was that, once microphones began to make every syllable spoken by the priest crystal clear to all, it became intolerable for him not to be speaking in a language understood by all. And since it seemed urgent to have him understood by all, it also seemed unnatural for him to have his back to the congregation. He was turned around to face them, and started to say Mass in their language.


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Articles by Matthew Schmitz

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