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At Crisis I found an interesting piece about the older, traditional form of Holy Mass in the Roman Rite and “active participation”.
In the article “The Traditional Mass is Not a Spectator Sport by Steve Skojec focuses on the liturgical participation of the congregation urged by members of The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, “Don [Daniel] Oppenheimer’s fledgling clerical institute of consecrated life – were established in 2002 by then-Bishop Raymond Burke in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. What ensued was a nine year search by the Canons for a permanent home. When I discovered them, the CRNJs had recently been received by Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV. They began offering the sacred liturgy at the former St. James’ parish in Charles Town, WV.”
At their parish the whole congregation is encouraged to make the responses and sing those parts of the Mass – Extraordinary Form, mind you – that pertain to them.
Here is the meat of the article, though you should read the whole thing there.
Dom Daniel likes to remind visitors to the Priory that they do things “by the book.” They are rubrically scrupulous to the 1962 Missal, even if that might cause shudders to anyone who carries around a tattered copy of Pope St. Pius V’s Quo Primum in their back pocket. Among devotees of the Gregorian Rite, there’s some controversy in the notion that the faithful should ever open their mouths, whether in prayer or in song, within the context of a Sunday liturgy. [I’ll say!]
Theologically, historically, you can brawl this one out to your heart’s content. I’ve seen evidence for both arguments. But common sense tells me that the “be seen and not heard” approach to liturgical participation is madness, invented by people who want Catholics to fall in line, not ask questions, and wear their complete docility on their sleeves. This is the kind of Catholicism that caused many of the faithful to abandon the Church in the mid-twentieth-century. Those fabled ruler-wielding nuns cracking the knuckles of anyone who dared think for themselves or struggled with a doctrine drove Catholics away from the Faith and into the arms of secular rationalism. I should know. My father was one of them. Luckily, he came back. Many didn’t. [Haven’t.]
People are people, and by their very nature they need to be a part of something to care about it. They need to find themselves invested. We worship God in community because no man in the Christian life is an island. We pray together because none of us were meant to go it alone. Finding a liturgy that is reverent is hard enough. Finding a liturgy that is reverent but also inclusive in a healthy, orthodox way is even more difficult. The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem model this as part of a comprehensive approach to traditional Catholic spirituality. If the Traditional Latin Mass and sacraments are to not only be sustainable, but continue to grow, it’s the kind of model that more will have to follow.
I am sure that no one will have any opinion about this!