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Thursday, June 21, 2012

More on Participation

So....maybe I'll catch some flak for this, maybe I won't, but I feel that it needs to be said.

I think that how the word participate is being used is exactly how the Holy Father doesn't want it to be used.  That is part of the misconception of Vatican Council II.  The way that it is being used in the post assumes that the faithful are somehow sharing in the ministerial action of the Mass, that they are somehow participating in the celebration of the Mass.  That is participatio activa. And that is not to be the primary function of the Mass for the faithful.

I think that properly speaking one shouldn't talk about participating as if it were a verb, but rather one should speak about HOW one participates.  What is it that the faithful do in the nave?  They do more than just participate.  They worship!  That is what they do.  To simply say that the faithful participates is to sell their inner action short.  It is to bring it to the level outward actions only.  To say that one worships is to give a fuller sense of the word and to be demonstrable in how the faithful participate.

I have been going round and round for almost 20 years trying to figure out what the issue was with the term participation.  It has never really sat right and we're seeing that now with how it is being addressed by some high powered theologians.  One of the big issues that has existed since the Council with regard to participation is how to properly state what one is doing?  Is it inward, is it outward, is it both?  The amount of confusion which exists because of that word is immeasurable.

If we stop using the word as an action verb and use it as a passive verb, then I think that it becomes much easier to deal with.  So, rather than say, "The nave is the location where the laity participate in the Sacred Mysteries."  Isn't it much more complete to say, "The nave is the location where the laity worship during the sacrifice of the Mass."  Because that is their proper role.  That is what they are called to do, before anything else.  Worship is the proper term for full, conscious and active participation.  But the term "worship" is so outdated that the liberals decided to come up with a much more complex and convoluted way of describing what they actually do.  Participatio actuosa = worship for the laity.

The same thing can be applied in our application of the clergy and lesser clergy.  I think that to speak about participation is to level the playing field, where the playing field shouldn't be leveled.  The ministerial role of the priest is not the same thing as the role of the faithful.

I think that we have to rethink how we speak of participation.  I don't think that it serves the proper purpose to simply state that we are participating that then turn around and talk about the clergy participating.  What is the difference?  Where is the distinction?  But, if we talk about the faithful as worshiping and the clergy as offering or celebrating.  It is just a more complete and clear view of how we participate.

As an aside, the term presider just chaps my chiggers.  To call a priest a presider assumes that the faithful celebrate the Mass and the priest is merely the president of the assembly.  The priest is not.  He offers the Mass, his role is not equal to the faithful.  He is not presiding, he is ministering and the Mass is his offering.  He celebrates and offers the Mass on behalf of the faithful.  One of the best ways to look at it is that as the priest celebrates the Mass, the faithful take their petitions and place them at the foot of the altar and the priest collects them at the collect and the offering begins....but that is an outdated view, right?  ;)

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