ADVENTCAzT 2019 04: When liturgical participation became “doing”

Here is ADVENTCAzT 03, for Tuesday in the 1st Week of Advent.

Jacques-Benigne Bossuet talk about the serpent and the woman, and Peter Kwasniewski remarks on active participation (actuosa participation, actual participation) in the liturgy.

We are accompanied by the Umeå Studentchoir from the album Julsång.


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8 Responses to ADVENTCAzT 2019 04: When liturgical participation became “doing”

  1. Mariana2 says:

    Thanks, Father.

  2. veritas vincit says:

    Thank you, father Z, for these podcasts.

    In Peter Kwasniewski’s remarks on “Active participation” he refers to a reason that such participation was lacking and needed, prior to Vatican II, to be revitalized. That reason was (if I am spelling it correctly) was debotcio moderna, which according to Google Translate means “modern devotion”. Does anyone know what he was referring to?

  3. Nathanael says:

    Veritas Vincit,
    Devotio Moderna (DM) does mean Modern Devotion, but modern circa the 14th century, and lasting until the protestant revolt (though its progeny remain, e.g. in the Jesuits’ Spiritual Exercises). If you’re familiar with Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, you’re familiar with DM.
    Kwasniewski’s brief reference is, I think, really to a series of pendular overcorrections, one of which was how DM saw the Catholicism, and her liturgy, of its day as overemphasising empty gesture and lacking interior spirituality, and so it focused on those interior things, viz. contemplation, meditation, etc., and shied away from the exterior expression of the same.
    This pendulum swung too far in the other direction, and the interior things are overemphasised and liturgy and participation in liturgy are diminished. Additionally, without the cohesive effect of that emphasis on exterior communal liturgy, religious expression is atomised (indeed, we can see elements of DM in Luther and the other protestant “reformers,” as partial impetus for the individualistic aspects of the protestant revolt).
    Note that the current promoters of active participation in fact share much of the motivation of the proponents of DM, though instead of developing an active interior spirituality by deemphasising distracting hollow externals, they seem to be attempting to use hollow externals to distract from a lack of internal activity.
    While it does not address DM directly, the paragraph immediately preceding our gracious host’s narration gives some useful context:

    One reason the liturgy has become so banal is that the “ordinary mysticism” of Western liturgical life was gradually lost. This was something that was slipping away long before the Council, although not everywhere and certainly not for everyone. Whenever and wherever the faithful are able to be touched in their soul by chant, by a candlelit morning Mass in Advent, by the stillness of the priest praying the Roman Canon, by the simple but poignant gestures of the sacred ministers, by the fervor of the collects and other prayers printed in well-thumbed handheld missals—when things like this are firmly in place and appreciated for what they are, there is neither need nor desire for any “reform,” excepting the most obvious, and the most miniscule, adaptations for time and place, new saints or new feasts. Making allowance for differences of temperament, state of mind, and degree of devotion, it is plain that the predominantly quiet participation of the faithful is, in healthy circumstances, as deeply active as it will ever be. One only makes it superficially active (that is, one actually makes it spiritually more passive) by forcing people to stand up and talk, shake hands, lift hands, wave hands, and so on. Man’s highest activity is the silent contemplation of divine reality through the power of his mind elevated by grace, and this is the activity toward which the liturgy should be leading all of us.

    It’s tempting to simply quote the entire book; so many things tie together, it’s difficult to stop at just one piece.
    The book, if you’re inclined to read it, is Kwasniewski, Peter. Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church
    That was longer than I hoped I’d be, but hopefully there’s something useful in there.

  4. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    I think the definition of words is the problem for me. How can you participate if you are not doing something. (But I don’t think you have to actively do something for it to be good)

    Do I participate when I go hear a concert? For me no. But I do participate with the other listeners in the experience? Yes. So I can just be somewhere and participate in the experience, but not in the act of the performance.

    But why do people feel you have to do something at the altar? Someone has to be in the audience. Someone has to repair things. Someone has to clean. Someone has to buy the flowers and the candles. Why does everyone think they need to be front and center to be important?

  5. Facta Non Verba says:

    Father – thank you for doing this again this year. It has been really helpful for my Advent preparation in previous years. Thank you!

  6. Simon_GNR says:

    I participate in the Mass by kneeling and praying, joining my prayers to those of the priest offering the sacrifice of the Mass. Of course I’m doing something – I’m praying!

  7. veritas vincit says:

    Thank you Nathaniel. Relistening to Kwasniewski (who is quoting an address by Pope St John Paul II) makes clear that his reference to Devotio Moderna is to pre-Vatican II devotion.

    Whatever else one can say about popular devotion during the Mass, there was a genuine overcorrection to physical as opposed to interior participation, which was not at all what the Council Fathers intended. But there was a need for correction. The common pre-Vatican II practice of the laity reciting the Rosary during the Mass, makes that clear.

    Such corrections are often like a pendulum, which doesn’t stop in the middle but swings from one extreme to the other.

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