The neo-traditionalist movement that favors the restoration of pre-Vatican II Catholicism is virtually unknown in the Czech Republic. The mass is in Czech, there are lay readers and Eucharistic ministers. Altar girls are as common as altar boys. The mass is invariably celebrated facing the congregation. Communion in both kinds is virtually unknown however. A reluctance here might be due in part to the history of the utraquist movement. (The Utraquists were a movement in Bohemia from the fourteenth century through the time of the Reformation that taught that communion in both kinds was necessary for salvation.) The music in the churches for mass tends to a rather classic (I won’t say traditionalist or conservative) sound and while there may be violins or brass along with wonderful baroque organs, guitars are not to be seen. The churches themselves are usually in the baroque or neo-classical style and the statuary and decorations are superb. Overall, the effect of the liturgy is dignified and yet communicative with the ordinary person.
My clergy friends spoke of rebuilding the faith there and they have great hope. In addition to mass, I noticed that various forms of communal prayer—the Liturgy of the Hours, a sort of Taizé like reflective prayer, and other devotional practices are strong. The church is a place for socialization as well as prayer. The clergy are very present to the people—and surprisingly non-clerical. (I did not see a clerical collar the whole time there, though religious priests are often in their habits while around the church. I noticed the priests were very comfortable in shorts and t-shirts—and were young enough and thin enough to wear them—while socializing with parishioners dressed the same way.) It will be a long time before the Church is a vibrant part of Czech culture again but it does appear that a good foundation is being laid.