PODCAzT 180: Kwasniewski on how Vatican II reversed the order of priority, exalting “active participation” over proper liturgical worship of God

I found a great article at LifeSite by Peter Kwasniewski which screamed to be made into a podcast.  Sometimes I do this with good articles to make sure the content is more available to those who are pressed for time or have a hard time reading.  You can listen.

The piece in question is “How Vatican II elevated worshipers’ ‘active participation’ above worship of God”

Peter argues that the concept of “active participation” elevated by Vatican II really turned on its head the principles of liturgical reform at the heart of Pius X’s efforts to renew liturgical worship. Pius X was the first to use the concept of “active participation” in a document. He argued that when liturgical worship is well and truly carried out with sacredness and dignity, then the people will be conformed to it and their participation will be fuller, active, etc. So, first and foremost, the rites must be fostered. However, Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium says that that, first and foremost, the active participation of the people must be fostered. That reverses the logical order. Of course both are going on at the same time, in actuality, but there is a logical precedence. Vatican II and so-called experts subsequently reversed it. Peter makes a good argument.

Then I rant about the meaning of “active participation”. I pick up also on a key point Peter made and carry on with it with my watchword:


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  1. Ted says:

    “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else…” SC14
    I have often wondered whether there is not some kind of heresy involved in that “all else” (summopere est attendenda) because God and His worship seem to be secondary to the concerns of man in terms of his “active participation” in the liturgy. There is such a desire to place human participation as the highest concern in the reform and promotion of the liturgy, rather than in the glorification of God, that active participation seems to be a kind of idol.
    Be that as it may, this active-participation-above-else reveals SC to be a partisan document of the Liturgical Movement that was successfully sold to the Fathers of the Council, very few of whom were liturgists. Indeed, the phrase “active participation” itself (or “participatio actuosa” as in SC), the cornerstone of the Liturgical Movement’s project, does not even appear in the official Latin version “Inter Plurimas” of St Pius X, but only in translations, including the Italian “Tra Le Sollecitudini”:


    Louis Bouyer was shocked at what scholars before the Council, in order to justify their positions, were to attributing to St Pius X because very few of these could be found in any of Pius’s works.

  2. joekstl says:

    It is not “active participation” OVER proper liturgical worship of God;; it’s active participation IN the liturgical worship of God.

    And as the various rites in our liturgies show: our rites are us, not the opposite.

    [Not. A. Clue.]

  3. Sonshine135 says:

    Thank you for this podcast, Father. I really enjoyed the insights. How can it ever be said that a person who walked 5 miles to Mass to be with their Lord not be an active participant? Also, wouldn’t the Pharisee be seen as an “active participant” by many of today’s liturgists over the tax collector?

    “Active participation” comes from where one’s heart is at, not by their physical gyrations.

  4. veritas vincit says:

    I think that, once the Church recovers a reverent observance of the Ordinary Form Mass, in accordance with the rubrics, restoring things like altar rails, ad orientem, use of the vernacular in addition to Latin instead of totally replacing it, restoring sacred music, and so on, we will be in a much better position to judge the effects of the emphasis given to “active participation” in the Vatican documents.

    But first we have to clear away those extra-Conciliar “innovations”.

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