Wednesday 4 December 2013

Do you really want to participate so actively?

Does even Pope Francis hanker after sitting quietly at the back instead of running to the front to "participate"?  

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  As Dom Alcuin Reid asserts:
"these past 50 years have not been the universal liturgical or ecclesial springtime for which many hoped. The ongoing decline in numbers attending Mass may have many causes, but the modern liturgy is not to the forefront in arresting it." Dom Alcuin adds: "(I)n marking the 50th anniversary of the Constitution an examination of conscience is in order."
Just one or two little thoughts struck me from what seems common anecdotal experience among priests of all liturgical hues that would seem to belie the alleged longing for "participation".  Despite decades of "education" telling ordinary Catholics they must outwardly actively participate, the popular vote would seem to indicate that they are not really comfortable with this outward participation.

*         In most Masses people still fill up from the back of the church. They don't want to sit at the front (let alone the horror of being invited up onto the sanctuary during some quiet weekday Mass.

*         In many years of supplying in quite a few parishes (particularly some years ago when I was a full-time schools chaplain and visiting parishes to say Mass most Sundays) I couldn't help but notice that while many music groups were letting rip, more than a few in the congregation did not pick up a hymn book and did not join in the singing.  For all the "active" participation, it might as well have been Palestrina (O happy thought). 

Perhaps many would prefer to be actually praying to God instead of actively participating in community activities.


Sixupman said...

I have witnessed more than one Mass, in Lancaster Diocese, where one was presented with every appearance of the priest con-celebrating with the laity - most of the congregation having been called to the altar. One of the priests operating under the title "Liturgist", educated in Paris wouldn't you know, appeared to have little time for the 'sacred books', utilising, insttead, a loose-leaf folder containing liturgies of his own construction.

Jacobi said...

For those many Catholics who are instinctively unhappy with the many unauthorised trends in the New Mass, may I suggest a few little things
- Kneel to the tabernacle on entering your pew
- Make the sign of the cross at Absolution before the Kyrie
- Strike your breast during the Confiteor
- Bow or kneel at the “and became incarnate “, during the Credo
- Don’t feel obliged to read. That is better done by a priest or a Lector
- Remember that the sign of peace is optional. If you do make it, it is a bow/embrace not a handshake. A slight bow is perhaps better. And, only to those beside you!
- Receive the Host by mouth kneeling or after a deep bow – and from a priest whose hands have been blest to handle the Sacred Elements
- There is no need to also receive the Sacred Wine. Personally I consider it rather unhygienic, which is, I suppose, why the Church in its wisdom dropped this early custom.

And don’t feel obliged to sing three, or four, or five hymns, often of five or six verses , many of them Protestant in their theology.

Just a few suggestions !

Mercator Pessimus said...

There is no such thing as "Sacred Wine"! There is only the wine brought for consecration as a 'holy and unblemished sacrifice', and the Precious Blood of Our Lord.

Talk about washing the outside of the vessel...

Jacobi said...

@Mercator Pessimus

I happily accept your correction. It is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ under the outward appearance of, in this case, water and wine.

Did I get that right?

Vincent said...

Jacobi said "make the sign of the cross at Absolution before the Kyrie". Now, I'm not expert on liturgy, but a little observation on this is that in the EF the absolution is formed from two parts: first, the "Misereatur vestri..." (May Almighty God have mercy on us, etc.)

However, there is a second part, the "Indulgentiam absolutionem..." (May the Almighty God grant us pardon, absolution and remission of our sins).

Like I say, I'm no liturgical expert, but it strikes me that the OF removed the second part, which is the actual Absolution - the first part looks to me more like a plea in place of confession. Obviously I'm not denying that God himself can provide absolution, I just find it odd that at the OF the priest himself, acting as the Alter Christi, does not actually at any point give absolution.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!

Anonymous said...

No. Best leave out the water.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Archbishop Ramsay, in retirement in Durham, so hated the "sign of peace" that he always appeared deep in prayer at that moment and no one dared disturb him!

Rhoslyn said...

I think people are conditioned to think that participation, in the sense that they should be distributing Holy Communion and doing the readings and so on (I admit that if I am asked, I will do the readings. Otherwise, if there is no one, the priest will do it and because people are so used to seeing lay people doing the readings, it becomes a source of shame for the priest, and I can't bear that. Once I was late for mass when I was supposed to be reading and someone came up to me as I came in and almost gleefully said how pathetic it was that the priest was doing it). Even my own mother is so used to it that, although she was raised with the old rite until her mid 20s, she refuses to attend a more traditional Novus Ordo with me.

I think by addressing this issue of participation and how correct or incorrect it is, people must admit that what they have done for the past 40+ years, the way they have participated in mass and been encouraged to do so, was not correct. Unfortunately, this is not very pleasant! I have such heated arguments about this with my parents, we cannot even discuss it anymore. "The mass is the mass" is my mum's favourite saying. Yes, and I pity Our Lord who suffers through it all!

Since I have become more traditional, almost in rebellion, they have gone the other way! As we speak, they are at some Indian mass at a parish which is already very liturgically liberal.

I do not think people especially like the participation (well, some women do!) but it's so ingrained now...