Long before the Second Vatican Council the ideal of "full, conscious and active" participation at holy Mass had been developed during the Liturgical Movement and taught by Sovereign Pontiffs.
In his autobiography, Papa Ratzinger described how one of the very earliest Latin-German hand missals was complied by Anselm Schott, the Benedictine abbot of that pulsing center of liturgical renewal the Monastery of Beuron. A priest had given a "Schott" to Joseph Ratzinger’s parents for their wedding and it became a point of reference for the whole Ratzinger family. The children also had prayer books for Mass, inspired by the "Schott" for big people. There were graduated volumes for different ages and purposes. His Holiness describes how passing from stage to stage with these books, which explained the parts of Mass and gave special prayers to aid comprehension and participation, allowed him to enter more fully into Mass. He describes his participation at Mass with these books as an "adventure". It was an adventure into mystery that has stayed with him all his life.
Now that Papa Ratzinger has released Summorum Pontificum, many people who are puzzled over why anyone would want the older form of Mass, will suggest that use of the older forms is against the tenets of the Second Vatican Council. They do not understand that proper "full, conscious and active" developed with and through the older form of Mass long before the Council.
Some may, perhaps, seek to limit the use of the older Mass – despite the regulations of Summorum Pontificum – with the claim that people today don’t have adequate comprehension of or formation in what is going on at the older extraordinary use of the Roman Rite.
For this reason I urge people to support good efforts at liturgical catechesis. Very helpful will be the use of a good hand missal. There are many editions available from years gone past. There is also a new reprint by Baronius Press in the UK. I received a press release from them today describing their hand Missale, which looks to be very nice.
Hand missals are treasure chests. They were gifts to young people that enriched them all their lives. I have often seen people come to even the Novus Ordo carrying their old prayer books, worn from decades of use, so thick with memorial and ordination cards that they must be held together with rubber bands.
It is very important that people who frequent the older form of Mass know their Mass very well. In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, always be prepared to give reasons for the hope that is in you with gentleness and reverence. Many people will be curious about the older form. They will come looking for answers. You must be ready to receive them with warmth and welcome, well prepared to explain and point out where they are in the booklets or missals, giving a good example to them of both joy and of devotion.
Using and studying a good hand missal can be of enormous help for you and others.