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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should Father Be "Concerned?"

Recently, I was speaking with one of my priest friends and he posited the following in the course of our conversation:

Of course, I can't see what is happening in the congregation and so don't become preoccupied by how well or how poorly the congregation is actually participating... I become like a teacher in the classroom evaluating what the congregation is doing and experience rises in my blood pressure when I see children or adults getting up during Mass to go to the bathroom or outside or whatever, even during the words of consecration...

I know that this will raise the ire of some, but I was refreshed to hear this from him.  His role at Mass is NOT first to be a teacher.  His role first is to be a celebrant.  He is offering the Holy Sacrifice and what the faithful do outside the rail shouldn't really impact what he is doing inside the rail.

I know, I know, this is a very "old" way of looking at the Mass, but it is nevertheless true.  There are (and always have been) two distinct actions taking place at Mass.  First, the priest (with his ministers) is offering the Holy Sacrifice.  Second, the faithful are worshipping and adoring God the Father as this action is taking place.  It is the obligation of the faithful to assist (participatio actuosa) at that Mass, but not to participatio activa.  And it is the blurring of that which has caused no end of trouble in the aftermath of Vatican Council II, liturgically.

As the conversation went on, he asked,

Should the priest be a detective or policeman concerning how well or poorly the congregation is "actually" participating?

My answer is no.  It isn't his concern.  It is his concern to celebrate the Mass validly, licitly and with all reverence, honor and glory due it, EVERY SINGLE TIME.  If there is a ruckus or if there is a disruption during the Mass with regard to the faithful, it falls on the ushers to do their job.  If the same happens in the sanctuary, it falls on the MC to do his job.

It is Father's job to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice.

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