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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More on Participatio Actuosa and the Misconceptions

Recently, a priest friend and I were having a discussion regarding active participation prior to the Council and after.  He made the following assertions:

This is what I remember about Pre-Vatican II actual participation in the Mass during that brief and early period of my life:
1. Participation in Mass was highly individualized and personal. The only communal aspect was simply being gathered together. However, all eyes had to be fixed on the sanctuary, there was very little or no interaction amongst those present.
2. The Holy Rosary seem to be the prayer of choice during the liturgy by the vast majority of people. I was taught by my parents to hold the Rosary during Mass and even pray it during Mass.
3. However, I was given a St. Joseph Missal and asked to bring it to Mass to follow the Mass and many people brought both their rosaries and missals to Mass--missalettes or worship aids were not provided by the parish, except a hymnal of some kind.
4. The laity remained quiet, and only the altar servers spoke during the Mass or the choir if there was one--my experience during pre-Vatican II times was mostly the Low Mass at the early Sunday morning time slot.
He then stated, "So no one can tell me that "actual participation" as Vatican II and post Vatican II developments did not hinge on building upon what was good prior to Vatican II but also addressing what wasn't good, meaning passivity and letting others do for them what they should be doing themselves, like singing, speaking and actively engaged in the liturgy both internally and externally and the external being a symbol of internal participation and a fruit of it."

I can.  What you call passivity is not right.  I will use myself as an example (feel free to criticize me, it won't hurt my feelings).  I NEVER respond at Holy Mass and I can guarantee you that I am not passive in my worship.  I internally process and adore Our Lord called down from heaven at each and every Mass.  I do this primarily by the means you list first.

1.  I don't care what the person next to me is doing.  To be honest, I don't want to know.  It doesn't mean a hill of beans to me whether or not Billy is praying a rosary, meditating on the life of Christ or following his missal.  That is how he worships and that is his right.

2.  How one unites himself to the Sacred Mystery is not for me to call.  If one most perfectly unites himself to the SM by meditating on the Life of Christ, good.  If one unites himself to the SM through the rosary, good.  If one unites himself to the SM by following the Missal, good.  But I am not a huge fan of hand missals, because I see them as a crutch, outside the translation of the readings (personal opinion, others will disagree).  But regardless of that, it doesn't matter to me how Billy unites his mind, soul and heart to the SM, just that he does so.

3.  Missalettes and worship aids are unneeded expense and socialist.  The fact that I can pray from a Lasance Missal and you can pray from a St. Joseph Missal and Marc can pray from a St. Andrew's Missal and we are all able to express our personal taste in that manner.  And that is ok.  I shouldn't be forced to follow what OCP or Leaflet or whomever chooses for me.

Rosaries are good, even at Holy Mass.

4.  And yet there is imposed silence now.  It's as if silence is a bad thing, unless it is forced on us after the homily and after Holy Communion's song....Silence at Holy Mass is desirable.  It allows for the faithful to focus on the Sacred Mystery.  It allows for the internal aspect of worship to be expressed.  It is a major fault of Vatican Council II and after that all of a sudden we have to be "busy."

He then went on to say:

After Vatican II and when the liturgy changes were being first implemented, the thrust of the priests who were telling us what was desired by Vatican II was active participation and two things would facilitate this, the turning of the priest to face the congregation during the Mass to make the Mass more "intelligible" more vernacular to make the Mass more easily understandable and the actual participation of the laity in the responses and chants of the Mass that up until that time were reserved to the altar boys and/or choir.
By the 1980's and at the behest the liturgist Father Eugene Walsh, active participation was being defined in the following way:
1. hospitality2. creating silence for private prayer, listening to the Scriptures and meditating on them and listening actively to the prayers that are prayed and not using worship aids and following these in a book, but looking and listening with eyes, ears, body and soul.3. Actively participating and energetically in all spoken and sung parts4. Departing Mass recommitted to bringing Christ to our homes, play and work.
The clericalism part of this was priests in the late 60's and 70's trying to enforce this post Vatican II vision and by facing the people during the entire Mass, acting like supervisors of their participation and sometime belittling people who were slow or unwilling to change from their pre-Vatican II practices. This clericalism might well explain why so many who did not like being supervised during Mass may well have dropped out of Mass altogether, especially if they were felt to be second class citizens by maintaining their pre-Vatican II worship practices. 

No, I'm not looking to be hospitable during Mass.  I don't need to create silence, it is already there, as long as the faithful and the celebrant stop needlessly talking.  My participatio activa (actively participating by singing, responding, etc) is ALWAYS secondary to my participatio actuosa (internal and actual participation) which is how I properly worship.  I'll leave the talking to the servers.  I think that the lack of commitment was minimal compared to today's "participants."  At least people who went to Mass before the Council left the church.  The people after the Council just stopped going.

Is it any wonder, Father that the churches that are filling up are the TLM churches, by percentage?  So, those are the faithful who are committed.  Not those who self-idenitfy as Catholic and do nothing about it.

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