An element lacking in good taste has crept into the liturgy since the (falsely interpreted) Council, namely, the joviality and familiarity of the celebrant with the congregation. People come, however, for prayer and not for a cozy encounter. Oddly enough, because of this misinterpretation, one gets the impression that the post-conciliar liturgy has become more clerical than it was in the days when the priest functioned as mere servant of the mystery being celebrated. Before and after the liturgy, personal contact is entirely in place, but during the celebration everyone’s attention should be directed to the one Lord.
The tendency of a congregation to celebrate itself instead of God will increase, imperceptibly but unfailingly, if its faith in the reality of the eucharistic event wanes. When an almost rudimentary Church, gathered to await her Lord and to let herself be filled by him, considers herself from the outset as a church to which nothing essential can be added, the eucharistic celebration will degenerate into mere symbolism and the congregation will be celebrating nothing but its own piety which existed already and feels corroborated by the community’s repeated gathering.
Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Worthiness of the Liturgy, in New Elucidations, Ignatius Press.