The Holy Father on active participation and worth, reverent liturgical worship

The Holy Father, in his video address to the Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, made some statements about our liturgical participation.

POPE BENEDICT XVI’S MESSAGE AT CLOSING MASS

[…]

Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.

The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. [The signa we are presented with in liturgical worship should bring us to the res.] Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. [Is that what liturgical worship at your parish does for you?] Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, [Tell me if this sounds familiar…] and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. [The widespread implementation of Summorum Pontificum is of great importance.] In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life. [We must return to ad orientem worship to facilitate this.]
The Eucharist is the worship of the whole Church, but it also requires the full engagement of each individual Christian in the Church’s mission; it contains a call to be the holy people of God, but also one to individual holiness; it is to be celebrated with great joy and simplicity, but also as worthily and reverently as possible; it invites us to repent of our sins, but also to forgive our brothers and sisters; it binds us together in the Spirit, but it also commands us in the same Spirit to bring the good news of salvation to others.

[…]

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Benedict XVI, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The Holy Father on active participation and worth, reverent liturgical worship

  1. Given that the Holy Father’s comments probably deal with only one aspect of this problem, I am weary of the usual “either/or” arguments when it comes to actuosa participatio. It’s either everybody does something all the time, or nobody does anything but keeps it entirely internal. My understanding from the writings of Popes in the last century, is that neither is totally correct. For example, while the propers of the Mass belong to the schola, the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, etc) in the form of plainchant belongs to the people. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the above writings.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. [Is that what liturgical worship at your parish does for you?]”

    When I was a kid, before the Eighties really hit? Yes, that was Mass. Not so much now.

    But things are getting better at my current parish. And to be honest, I probably need to work harder on disposing myself better for encountering God. (And so far as singing in the choir goes, there’s always room for opening my heart more to the Lord and for improving my singing technique and humility.)

  3. wolfeken says:

    The Dialogue Mass of the 1950s is to blame for this mess. When we fail to see the acolyte’s role as clerical (i.e. altar boys wear the cassock and surplice, and make all of the responses, because they are substituting for a minor order) then Mass becomes a democratic chaos.

    Somehow this was not a problem or issue before the enlightened 20th century.

  4. Pingback: MONDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | Big Pulpit

  5. Aegidius says:

    I have read this somewhere, probably here: Isn’t the “active participation” (Tätige Anteilnahme” in German) nothing else than a (deliberately) wrong translation of “participatio actuosa”, meaning “actual paticipation” (“tatsächliche Anteilnahme”), which is by nature internal?

  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Father, I think Benedict agrees with your read fisking comments, but he is not able to openly say those things without causing an uproar. Look at the reaction when he once wore the camauro!

    I think it also explains why the Holy Father only celebrates “ad orientem” once a year in the Sistine Chapel and why celebrating a TLM is out of the question.

    If anyone wonders why the restoration is happening so slowly, they need only notice that the Pope himself is impeded from doing and saying certain things—things about which he could be more frank when he was a mere cardinal.

  7. MPSchneiderLC says:

    Great words! It repeats what he said in the spirit of the liturgy.

    As for implementing Summorum Pontificum, I think the key is the mutual influence the two forms should give each other (in the cover letter but not directly in it).

    If 500 people in a city with 70,000 Catholics go to extraordinary form every week, that doesn’t change the liturgy one iota for 69,000+. I think it can help if implemented as part of the diocesan program not just as one extra thing for a few people who want it over at St Joe’s (which is how it often is).

    Note: I am a seminarian and went to special training in extrordinary form primarly for this mutual influence because I see the danger of there being two forms that never interact. Honestly, overall ordinary form celebrated with precision (say the black, do the red) seems ideal to me.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If 500 people in a city are better disposed, and they pray and offer themselves to God better, it could have a lot of effect on the other people in town. :) But yes, obviously if the whole diocese is doing better, and both EF and OF are doing better, that would be a much better way to go about it.

  9. thomas tucker says:

    @BaedaB: interesting to think about whether the Holy Father is impeded by celebrating the TLM.
    I don’t think it would cause an uproar if he did, at least not among 99.99% of the faithful. Most people would either not know about it, or would think, rightly or wrongly, “Well, he can do what he wants, and we’ll do what we want.”

  10. xsosdid says:

    I have all but given up on my parish, having been involved in its inner workings and seen what my pastor is willing to encourage (i.e. open rebellion against the Magisterium). So I have been leading my family to high ground. We go now at least once a month to the EF mass that is nearby (thank you God!) and it seems to be going over well with my wife and four kids. Personally, I am in love with it and can’t wait to go again. It makes the experience of the OF more difficult all the time, especially given the environment at my home parish.

  11. “The Dialogue Mass of the 1950s is to blame for this mess.”

    This is kind of what I meant. Oh, and Pius XI was endorsing it as early as 1940.

  12. acardnal says:

    Pius XI died in 1939.

  13. “Pius XI died in 1939.”

    Oh, thanks. It must have been Pius XII then. I just remember reading it in my hand missal, and I remember the year. There are also records of congregational responses long before that, but the one I’m trying to think of right now escapes me. The best source I know of for historical background is this guy.

    http://www.romanitaspress.com/articles/dialog_mass_article-remnant.pdf
    http://www.romanitaspress.com/articles/some_further_clarifications-dialog_mass.pdf

  14. “The faithful should certainly not attend church prayers like strangers or deaf mute onlookers; they ought to join in with the sacred ceremonies and, filled with the beauty of the liturgy, they ought to blend their voices alternately with the voice of the priests and of the schola, according to the prescribed rules. Thus it will come to an end that the people hardly respond at all or respond only with some faint murmur to the common prayers which are recited in the liturgical language.” (Pius XI on Dec. 20, 1928).

    He was still alive when he said this.

  15. acardnal says:

    @manwithblackhat: correct me if I am wrong but it appears to me that you are a proponent of the assembly at Mass being vocal – even at a TLM/EF Mass. I do not agree with regard to a TLM Mass. Yes, it is legitimate to have a TLM dialogue Mass under certain circumstances but not normally. I prefer the acolytes, servers and schola to respond and represent the assembly for many reasons not the least of which is solemnity, decorum and singing and chanting in key with the proper pronunciation. Just my preference. As Fr. Z said previously about concelebration, dialogue Masses should also be “safe, legal and rare”.

  16. mrsschiavolin says:

    I don’t see how solemnity as such is harmed by the dialogue of the people. I suppose experiencing Eastern liturgy before the TLM ruined how I approach the TLM. The East seems to have few problems with active participation.

  17. Centristian says:

    The Dialogue Mass is the best way for the Tridentine Mass ought to be recited, if it is to be recited rather than sung (which is less than optimal, but understandable on a weekday). The inaudible Low Mass, I think, does not much but satisfy the needs of incurable introverts who want to worship privately and inwardly in an introverted way without being interrupted and without ever perceiving a need to worship in common with their brothers and sisters, or of priests who want their Mass to truly be “their” Mass. The inward turn towards self–this devotional and not liturgical way some Catholics would like worship to always be–is, I think, epitomized by the deformed liturgical culture that the Low Mass used to engender, and which is the opposite of what the Holy Father seems to be advocating (and, of course, he is hardly a pioneer in this regard).

    Optimally, the reformed version of the Extraordinary Form of Mass…the Ordinary Form of Mass…would be celebrated in every case (whether solemnly, on Sundays and feasts, or more simply recited on weekdays if necessary) with the dignity due any liturgical rite, generally, and specifically with those attributes that make it a dignified celebration of the Mass of the Roman Rite. It seems clear to me that so-called ad orientem worship is one of the expected components of the Roman Rite, under normal circumstances and in most cases. Furthermore, there are certain other external expectations in the way of music and vestments and ceremonial actions that ought to be embraced and which should never be forsaken in favor of something foreign to the character of the Roman Rite, specifically, and certainly not in favor of anything foreign to the character of Christian liturgical worship, generally.

    Neither congregational style attitudes, effects, and music characteristic of Protestant worship services, nor elements characteristic of secular entertainment or popular culture have any place in the Christian liturgy, not in the Roman Rite, nor in any other. Within the authentic liturgical traditions that have clung to apostolic succession (I therefore exclude the Anglicans/Episcopalians), you will not find the aberrations that so mar liturgical worship with foreign influences anywhere else but in the Roman Catholic Church.

    You will never hear of, for example, a “Folk Liturgy” being celebrated in the Orthodox Church. You will never see extraordinary ministers distributing communion in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as “praise” music is sung. You will never encounter a Byzantine Ruthenian “Children’s Liturgy” or a Maronite priest wearing a polyester vestment that sports an idiotic pop-culture symbol on it. The Surp Badarak, when celebrated by a bishop of the Armenian Church, is so sumptuous it makes the Tridentine Mass look like Woodstock by comparison (I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea).

    Only in the Roman Catholic Church do we take such joy in being ashamed of our liturgical heritage and in turning the sacred into the pedestrian, the magnificent into the completely lame. But as magnificent as the rites of the other liturgical Churches are, the aim is never to erect a wall of silence that effectively excludes the congregation from the action of the priest(s) at the altar. Never. You’ll never find that. Even in the Orthodox Church, which literally creates a wall between the altar and the people, the people are…and they full well know they are…indispensible to the celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist at the Holy Table. Just as you will never experience a “Folk” Divine Liturgy, neither will you ever encounter a silent one at which you can just kneel down and pray your devotions in peace (there are no kneelers in an Orthodox church, in any event).

    In the Eastern Church, there isn’t any debate as to whether or not the priest should stand on the other side of the altar and face the people; the thought of it would be absurd. That’s strictly a Roman Catholic foolishness. That is not to say that when the Pope celebrates facing the vast majority of the congregation at St. Peter’s or at other ancient Roman basilicas there is a liturgical flaw involved; not at all. Those churches are oriented based upon an earlier tradition. It isn’t that the Pope is facing the wrong way so much is that the congregation is facing the wrong way. So for those who are complaining that the Pope does not celebrate ad orientem, I trust they can only mean at his Masses outside of Rome, but even in those cases, I suppose, he is only postured according to long-standing papal custom on account of his usual venues for celebration, and therefore does so to maintain the traditional posture of the Bishop of Rome. Which he ought to. So leave it alone.

    No liturgy in the Christian liturgical universe is supposed to be merely the silent backdrop to private devotions, and that certainly includes the Mass of the Latin Church, according to any rite or form. The Mass ought to be precisely what Pope Benedict says it ought to be. These thoughts of his, like the advent of the Dialogue Mass many years ago, do not constitute any sort of a liberal notion about the Mass! The thoughts which Pope Benedict expresses and the impetus behind the Dialogue Mass are entirely traditional! Traditionally speaking, Christian liturgical worship is meant to be corporate, and it is meant to be joyous! It is that occasion upon which we, as the Christian family, are meant to unite with one another and together with the celebrant(s) in publicly and joyfully worshiping our God, who is our Father!

    Once upon a time, the church building, itself, was all but an after thought; it was the outdoor stational processions that were the stuff of liturgy, and these would go on all night, and Christians, their torches lit, loved them! The streets of Rome and Constantinople looked like rivers of fire. Once upon a time, the agape meal was likewise an indispensible element of the public worship of the Christian community. If you wanted to kneel down and pray quietly, you did that at home, when everyone else was asleep.

    I find it interesting that, in the Catholic East and in the Orthodox Church, the debate is not over what side of the altar the priest ought to stand on (and that never will be the debate), but whether or not there ought to be pews in the church, as they tend to separate the worshipers from one another!

  18. Spaniard says:

    @Centristian
    I don’t want to pretend to know all about liturgy there is to know, but I think you are making a mistake at putting all modern practices in the same evil box. In the Community I belong to, it is true we don’t celebrate with all the solemnity the Lord is worth, but there again, we can never even dream to worship him all he is worth, we are humans. To the best of our abilities, we say the black, do the red; we kneel for communion, girls know they can’t serve in the altar, and the reverence in the mass is extraordinary (mass is usually two hours long). Our priest preaches quite clearly and strongly, and the Holy Father’s teachings are read every week.
    However, we belong to the Charismatic Renewal: we have praise before the mass, the faithful raise their hands in adoration, we see the gift of tongues regularly, and visions and healings are not uncommon. I don’t expect anyone to understand just by this testimony what all this means, but I know what I live is supernatural and not man-made. That is why I cannot think of our forms of worship as contrary to the reverence due to the Holy Eucharist

  19. Spaniard says:

    Excuse my spelling, I’m not english, as my name states!!

  20. Imrahil says:

    If you wanted to kneel down and pray quietly, you did that at home, when everyone else was asleep.

    And I don’t think that would be a good state to go back to. While silent, devotional, quiet prayer is, as you dear @Centristian very truly remark, not all there is to liturgy, it too is legitimate liturgy.

    Besides, Sunday liturgy is the only liturgy that comes as obligation. It follows that in the external forum, we have to treat it as legitimate (whatever to be said about the internal forum) if a person’s devotion more or less is limited to the obligatory Sunday Mass plus some little prayers per day as also considered obligatory. In this sense, if a Christian needs and not only wants to kneel down and pray quietly, he must get this at a Sunday Mass, at least sometimes.

    However, I have indeed always had a feeling that today’s agape, the chatter at the Church door or what is here called “early half-pint [of wine]” and used to have a tradition after Mass, is more genuinely Christian than pious people are sometimes wont to think it.

  21. mrsschiavolin says:

    Centristian, thank you…this really captures my struggle with the EF.

  22. “@manwithblackhat: correct me if I am wrong but it appears to me that you are a proponent of the assembly at Mass being vocal …”

    Well, okay, you’re wrong.

    I am a proponent of the mind of the Church (which at least two popes in the 20th century had the unmitigated gall to write down) with regard to actuosa participatio, both internally and externally. Every man is entitled to his preferences, and to his opinion. He is not entitled to his own facts, and there are those, under the guise of would-be erudition, who presume to be an authority on this subject, without so much as a citation other than their own word, accompanied by an air of condescension (often expressed quietly during the Mass itself towards others).

    Father Simoulin (a priest of the — gasp! — SSPX) writes: “[W]e should recall that none of these rules is obligatory. It is merely the wish of the Church that the faithful participate actively at Mass, but She does not want to force anything.”

    http://sspx.org/miscellaneous/attendance_at_mass_and_participation_in_the_liturgy-fr_michael_simoulin.pdf

    Opponents of outward participation (even singing the chant for the Ordinary, which was specifically called for by Pius X), on the other hand, often do attempt to force their preferences on others — again, without a shred of authority.

    Claiming that complete silence in the pews is “the more traditional way” only goes so far as living memory, and a limited part of the Western church, not to mention a limited section of the United States (to name one country as an example). Father Simoulin goes into more detail in his essay, but I am old enough to remember when the “Old Mass” was just “the Mass.” I can assure you that, in the Midwest, we were not as shy about outward participation as, say, our brethren on the East Coast).

    As to dialogue Masses being “safe, legal, and rare,” it would depend on what is meant here, as the definition is rather broad. Responding to the prayers at the foot of the altar would be less appropriate than, say, responding to “Orate fratres” or “Sursum corda” or “Ecce Agnus Dei.”

  23. It may only be recently that some–from self-appointed liturgists to bishops conferences–have arrogated to themselves the prerogative of specifying how everyone else should participate in Holy Mass.

    Is it not presumptuous for anyone–whether comboxer, priest, or bishop–to say that another cannot participate most actively by uniting himself in silent prayer with the action at the altar?

    Or that one may glory in corporate worship in the Sunday high Mass with its ceremony, incense, and perhaps congregational chant, but also in the spiritual intensity of a silent daily low Mass (maybe preferring it without any vernacular reading or homily to interrupt his concentration on the altar)?

  24. “Is it not presumptuous for anyone–whether comboxer, priest, or bishop–to say that another cannot participate most actively by uniting himself in silent prayer with the action at the altar?”

    Quite right, which is why this “comboxer” did not, as well as cited others who did not.

  25. Centristian says:

    Spaniard:

    Please likewise excuse the typos and errors that litter my post as English is my first language and I have no good excuse!

    Never having experienced the liturgy that you attend, I am in no position to critique it, specifically. I would nevertheless maintain, however, that the traditional characteristics of the Church’s treasured heritage of liturgical worship ought to be reverently preserved in every case and should not be mixed with, or worse yet replaced outright by the characteristics of non-liturgical worship. That goes with regard to celebrating liturgies that, in betraying traditional liturgical worship, end up taking on the atmosphere of Protestant style services or worse yet of secular pop cultural events on the one hand, or with Masses in which liturgical worship is stifled or silenced in favor of an emphasis on quiet devotional prayer. There can be nothing praiseworthy about deforming the Church’s authentic liturgy, and deformities inspired by introverted pietistic devotionalism are no less odious, I think, than those inspired by Protestant-style worship or by secular “feel-good” events.

    As I said, you will not find such deformities or violations of the liturgical principals and traditions in the rites of other liturgical Churches. Why are Eastern Catholics somehow spurned by the Holy Spirit when it comes to “Charismatic Renewal”? Does the Holy Spirit only care about the Latin Rite Church? And yet a celebration of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in a so-called “charismatic” fashion would be absolutely unthinkable. Why must the traditional ceremonial atmosphere of the Latin Rite liturgy, then, be so dramatically altered in order to accomodate the Holy Spirit?

    Imrahil:

    I disagree that silent, quiet, devotional prayer that keeps one focused inwardly in a sort of “this is just about me and God, right now, and nobody else” attitude is the same thing as liturgical prayer. I think that is something more approaching the opposite of liturgical prayer, to be quite honest. Liturgy is the work of the people, together; it is not merely a gathering of the separate private devotions of so many individuals compelled once a week to be in the same place in order to do their own private, personal thing in the vicinity of one another. What would be the point of that, really? Just let everyone stay home, in that case.

    The Christian, apart from the liturgy, has time and opportunities to be alone with God and to pray to him in undisturbed silence in a devotional way. He may go for a walk and recite his rosary. He may stop into church and visit the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament after work. He may read the Scriptures and meditate in silence in the enclosure of his room. He may get to church well before Mass to prepare in quiet or may remain after Mass to silently and privately make his devotions, &c, &c, &c. But the liturgy is not the time or the place for a Christian to expect be able to turn inwardly, away from everyone else, and be left undisturbed in his private devotional worship.

    The Eucharist is not merely a banquet but it certainly is a banquet. In the liturgy, we gather together as a family in order to worship God, together, as a family. We do not come to ignore one another. To do so would be akin to accepting an invitation to a dinner party and then ignoring everyone at table and saying “don’t talk to me while I’m eating,” anytime another guest attempted to converse with you, or asked you to pass the bread.

    When the Lord commanded “do this in memory of me” it seems to me that when he said “this” he meant “this”…the activity that he and the apostles were together engaged in at that first Eucharist…a coming together in love to give thanks to the Father and also to love and serve one another. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Naturally, there should be a moment of quiet recollection involved after we receive the Lord; I’m hardly suggesting that there is no room for silence. But silent, private worship should certainly not characterize the bulk of the liturgy, as some would like it to.

    To borrow the quote of Pope Pius XI posted above by manwithblackhat…

    “The faithful should certainly not attend church prayers like strangers or deaf mute onlookers; they ought to join in with the sacred ceremonies and, filled with the beauty of the liturgy, they ought to blend their voices alternately with the voice of the priests and of the schola, according to the prescribed rules. Thus it will come to an end that the people hardly respond at all or respond only with some faint murmur to the common prayers which are recited in the liturgical language.”

    Amen.

  26. Spaniard says:

    Centristian
    I believe your understanding of charismatic is rather more close to “modernist” than the meaning I handle every day.

    Charismatic is not the name I would have chosen: it represents the fruit of what we (and the whole Church) live; the charisms (Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world. (CCC 799))

    Charismatic is the fruit, openness to the constant action of the Holy Spirit is what we live. The fact that some people take this as a way to disobey the Church is logically anti-charismatic, as the Lord would not tell you to disobey his Vicar. Taking this in mind, how is openness to what the Lord wants, when the Lord wants and how the Lord wants in contradiction to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom ? My spiritual director is a Chartusian prior and is charismatic: I can assure you his liturgical practices are as traditional as any, and yet, he is open to praise and adoration when the Spirit asks, in discernment with the rest of the Community.

    I sincerely believe what the Lord wants is more important than heritage: if the heritage is divine and not human, the Lord will take care it is not lost. And the Lord is usually quite clear, as he was with the jews and pharisees, of when something is human and when it is divine.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Centristian, if the prayer is really devotional, it will at least spiritually join in the Holy Mass, including the present congregation. It is not ignoring the others any more than listening together with others to the music at a concert is ignoring the rest of the audience. The faithful should certainly not attend church prayers like strangers or deaf mute onlookers, indeed. Whether the only way to do that is the Dialogue Mass or congregational singing, that is the question. The interesting thing about the Old Mass is that it allows so much variation.

    But the liturgy is not the time or the place for a Christian to expect be able to turn inwardly, away from everyone else, and be left undisturbed in his private devotional worship.

    He should be left undisturbed in principle (what’s the good of being disturbed?); the question is whether some sort of worship in this context are legitimate even in the onset. As regards the rest, I’d be with you if we are talking about a Congregation of Christians who do all the rest of devotion as you mentioned. In the external forum, however, we have no business to judge or overlook a do-what-I-must-and-nothing-more-Christian. If such a Christian does not possibly sometimes get his dose of devotion and silence, it’s a (feelable!) overstraining all the time actively to participate in the full, dialogue-wise etc. sense.

  28. Spaniard says:

    And by the way, Protestants read the Bible: are we to stop reading it? Just because they praise, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Kind David did it, the early christians did it… Why must Protestant get what is our heritage too?

  29. Centristian, another pertinent papal quote (this one from Pope St. Pius X):

    “The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the Altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.”

    Which may be taken to admit the possibility that silent prayer at Mass may be liturgical participation and of a quite different order than the merely private devotion that you appear to denigrate. (Unlike Pope Benedict, in a comment I recall as suggesting that we hesitate to assume our own spiritual superiority to the little old lady with her rosary.) An idea that might be worth some private reflection.

    I myself share your own preferences for “high Mass” liturgy on Sunday, but doubt that either my preference (or any single pope’s) can encompass all the possibilities for spiritually valuable participation at Mass.

  30. Centristian says:

    Henry Edwards:

    You’ve put an unfair spin on my words, I’m afraid. I do not, as you assert, denigrate private devotion. Not at all. I only suggest that the liturgy, by its very nature, is the occasion for public, corporate worship and should not be regarded as yet another opportunity to indulge in individualistic private devotion. I think that much is clear from my remarks. I am all for private devotional prayer…in private. Or even in public when there is no liturgical prayer occurring.

    I’m not really sure how the words of St. Pius X stand in contrast to my own assertions…

    “If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, AND MOUTH all that happens at the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him.”

    I concur. We could then agree, I suppose, that it might be considered a challenge to “hear” Mass that way when you cannot hear Mass, at all. Ergo, with respect to Mass in the Extraordinary Form, at any rate, the Low Mass (as we traditionally imagine it) can hardly be considered an expression of the liturgy that is superior to the Dialogue Mass (as has been suggested on this thread…”The Dialogue Mass of the 1950s is to blame for this mess”).

    Finally, far be it from me to stand in judgment of or regard with a spirit of haughty condescension “a little old lady praying her rosary” at Mass. As I have often remarked, what other people do when they come to church is none of my business, whatsoever. I couldn’t care less what somebody else is doing. The approach that my neighbor takes with respect to communicating with the Almighty is none of my affair.

    I think a person taking my remarks in a spirit of fairness, however, would fully comprehend that what I am speaking to (without any pretense to any authority at all, but as a mere blog reader posting his own opinions in a combox, like most of the commenters whose remarks fill these boxes) is not what YOU should be doing at Mass, but what the character of liturgical worship would seem to imply as opposed to what it would not seem to imply. How the little old lady with her rosary responds to the manifest character of liturgical worship when she encounters liturgy was not so much my concern, so much as that the character of liturgical worship be maintained for what it is, over what, perhaps, some who would rather it be conducive to their personal devotions would like it to be. But the same goes for those who would like it to become like a sit in or a motivational seminar or an Evangelical praise service. If that’s what you want, do that instead. That isn’t what Catholic liturgy is, however.

    The liturgy is what it is, and it only suffers when we try to make it something else based upon personal preferences. I do not regard that what the popes who have been quoted on this thread are promoting, however, amounts to their own personal preferences but rather to an objective teaching regarding the nature of liturgical worship and the optimal response to it.

  31. Centristian: “I only suggest that the liturgy, by its very nature, is the occasion for public, corporate worship and should not be regarded as yet another opportunity to indulge in individualistic private devotion. I think that much is clear from my remarks. I am all for private devotional prayer…in private. Or even in public when there is no liturgical prayer occurring. ”

    I myself cannot claim to know any single manner to which I’d argue all others should conform when they pray publicly or privately, in liturgical situations or otherwise. But it does seem unfathomable for anyone to argue that private prayer or contemplation is ever wholly inappropriate, during Mass or otherwise.

  32. Centristian says:

    Spaniard:

    As I say, I am not offering a critique of the liturgy you attend. I haven’t got a clear idea of what you’re describing, to be honest, and I’ve never seen it, so I have no cause to criticize it. I have only said what I say once again: liturgy is what it is and ought to be maintained as such. A liturgical rite should neither be abused in a way that makes it merely devotional, nor in a way that makes it unrecognizable.

    “Taking this in mind, how is openness to what the Lord wants, when the Lord wants and how the Lord wants in contradiction to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom?”

    You tell me. Liberties are never taken with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the way they are with the Roman Catholic Mass. If the Lord desires a fresh approach to worship in the Latin Rite, shouldn’t he also desire a fresh approach to worship in the Eastern Rites? Pardon me if I am somehow misunderstanding you.

  33. Centristian says:

    Henry Edwards:

    The totality of my post responds to your objection.

  34. Spaniard says:

    No worries, Centristan!! I didn’t mean to say liturgy should be changed each mass as we like. Just that the means of outward worship, or to put it in another way, the external expression of the faithful, can sometimes be out of the ordinary, according to the motion of the Holy Spirit; in any rite.

    To better understand my position, I strongly recommend you read this 6-parts article. I know it’s long, but I believe it is worth it:

    http://www.markmallett.com/blog/2012/01/charismatic-part-i-2/

  35. Centristian,

    I did not mean to suggest any real “objection”, only a difference of personal perspective. I find your richly detailed comments among the most interesting ones I ever see here, and therefore look forward to them, for that reason rarely seeing your monicker in the upper left pane without clicking on it immediately, knowing you’ll have something, probably a lot, to say.

  36. acardnal says:

    The Mass is not an assembly, but the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on
    the Cross, where Our Lord as the Eternal High Priest works through human priests, and the faithful assemble in order to participate in the Sacred Action and to draw from It graces and blessings. But even if no one is gathered, even if the priest celebrated totally alone, the Holy Mass is still, according to its whole content, the Sacrifice of the God-Man.

    From Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical Mediator Dei “On the Sacred Liturgy,” paragraph 95 and 96:
    95. “Some in fact disapprove altogether of those Masses which are offered privately
    and without any congregation, on the ground that they are a departure from the
    ancient way of offering the sacrifice; moreover, there are some who assert that priests
    cannot offer Mass at different altars at the same time, because, by doing so, they
    separate the community of the faithful and imperil its unity; while some go so far as
    to hold that the people must confirm and ratify the sacrifice if it is to have its proper
    force and value.
    96. They are mistaken in appealing in this matter to the social character of the
    eucharistic sacrifice, for as often as a priest repeats what the divine Redeemer did at
    the Last Supper, the sacrifice is really completed. Moreover, this sacrifice, necessarily
    and of its very nature, has always and everywhere the character of a public and social
    act, inasmuch as he who offers it acts in the name of Christ and of the faithful, whose
    Head is the divine Redeemer, and he offers it to God for the holy Catholic Church,
    and for the living and the dead.[88] This is undoubtedly so, whether the faithful are
    present – as we desire and commend them to be in great numbers and with devotion –
    or are not present, since it is in no wise required that the people ratify what the sacred
    minister has done.”

    At a Low Mass, just as at a High Mass, the assembly join their intentions, prayers and petitions with those of the priest. They do so quietly from their heart. Having said the aforementioned, I personally prefer a High Mass but one should not denigrate a Low Mass just because the assembly is not vocal.

    I recommend Mediator Dei be read by all. Even though it was promulgated in 1947, it is interesting how the Holy Father was dealing with a lot of the same issues we are troubled with today.