This is a terrific question, equally applicable to the Traditional Latin Mass, Novus Ordo, Divine Liturgy…
From a “Young TLM Dad”…
Since starting to attend the TLM on a more regular basis I noticed that mine, and other missals feature a quote from St. Pius X on how to pray the mass.
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 the eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the Altar. Further you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says 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 at the Altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass.
~Pope Saint Pius X
Generally speaking, following those directives were easy to do. However, since discovering the TLM I have gotten married, and now have 3 kids under the age of 3 (pray for me) with more desired in the future.
Seeing as I don’t plan to follow the Holy Father’s anti-rabbit marriage formula; I wonder on how best to pray the mass, and to give God His due through my weekly mass attendance. Mass for my wife and I is usually spent in the back vestibule guarding one of two toddlers from causing anymore chaos or noise making, or bouncing a fussy baby who won’t be satisfied for any amount of trying.
I usually try and speed read a proper or two as I’m able during mass. I see lots of people praying the rosary. I never really understood doing that if you could follow along with the mass in a missal.
Are other devotions appropriate instead of a rosary?
Is there a best practice approach for praying the mass you could recommend for distracted parents?
Thank you for all you do.
Young TLM Dad
From the onset let us dispel the nonsense that Vatican II, as if Aphrodite emerging from the brine, introduced into the Church the concept of participation at Holy Mass that is “full, conscious and active”. Keep in mind that the Council Fathers had an idea of participation already in the mind of the Church since Pius X.
Apart from the quote, above, in 1903 St. Pope Pius X issued a Motu Proprio called Tra le solicitudini on the renewal of sacred music. Pius X wrote, “In order that the faithful may more actively participate in the sacred liturgy, let them be once again made to sing Gregorian chant as a congregation.” The same Pope also promoted more frequent Holy Communion. (On both counts Pius would be disappointed in the results.) However, at the beginning of the liturgical movement, the Roman Pontiff wanted to get people engaged, especially through singing (“cantare amantis est” – Augustine – singing is the activity of one who loves) and more frequent reception of the Eucharist.
In 1928 Pope Pius XI in his Apostolic Letter Divini cultus essentially repeated what Pius X had said.
In 1947 Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei used this phrase with essentially the same meaning.
Until the Second Vatican Council, “active participation” referred to the congregational singing of Gregorian chant, responding, etc.
This all sounds very exterior, right? Everyone singing?
But wait, there’s more.
In the Sacred Congregation of Rites instruction De musicam sacra 22, we find, and the Council Father’s would have had this:
“c): Active participation (actuosa participatio) is perfect when ‘sacramental’ participation is included. In this way ‘the people receive the Holy Eucharist not only by spiritual desire, but also sacramentally, and thus obtain greater benefit from this most holy Sacrifice’.” This cites “Council of Trent, Sess. 22, ch. 6; cf. also Mediator Dei: AAS 39  565: ‘It is most appropriate, as the liturgy itself prescribes, for the people to come to holy Communion after the priest has received at the altar’.”
It looks like was have come full circle with St. Pope Pius X’s projects including participation at Mass including more frequent Communion. This is the foundation of what the Council Fathers were after.
This is very important: active participation is “perfect” in the form of reception of Holy Communion in the state of grace, an interior condition.
Going on, you all know that the Second Vatican Council’s document Sacrosanctum Concilium 14 said
“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations, which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.” The key words are “full, conscious, and active participation.”
The Latin for “active participation” is actuosa participatio. Actuosa not activa.
Problem: Council Father after Council Father during the Council itself warned in their relationes (speeches) against any interpretation of liturgical participation which would reduce participation to merely or primarily outward activity.
If you consult the Acta Synodalia Concilii Vaticani II (Roma, 1970) you find the speeches. Just for one example, a famous American, Francis Card. Spellman, cautioned saying “cavendum est a mera divulgatione et participatione tantum externa” which even those capable of only Latin baby talk know is a warning against mere popularization and only external participation (Cf. AS I/1, 305 and 316). Examples can be multiplied.
And yet, those who hijacked the implementation of the conciliar liturgical reform in many – most – places turned Mass into a tragic carnival. The ars celebrandi of priests devolved. Now we are at a point, in these USA at least, where maybe a quarter of the people in the pews on a given Sunday (where bishops allow them) believe in the Real Presence. Communion, pace Pius X – XI – XII, is the time when someone puts the white thing in your hand and then you sing a song… and it ain’t Adoro te devote.
In his 2007 apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI said:
“It should be made clear that the word ‘participation’ does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration. It also means ‘a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life.’ Fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the
mystery being celebrated.”
Popes of old, up to and including John XXIII, would be horrified at what is going on in our churches today. They would be furious with bishops who made it devolve, through commission or by omission. Those Popes would wonder if those bishops believed in the Real Presence.
As our shepherds, so our Masses, so our congregations.
We are our Rites.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen pretty fast, in view of history. I won’t be cleaned up overnight, because building is always slower than demolition.
But the job that takes the longest to finish is the one that is never started.
That being the background, I circle back at last to the question.
What do I suggest?
Do your best.
It’s simple, I know, but, do your best. Each episode of dealing with junior at Mass is going to be different. If you know you have to go out, and you are not going to be able to see and hear what’s going on, then reach with the eyes of your mind and ears of your heart through the doors and into the sanctuary.
As Augustine says, where there is charity, there are no distances.
As Richard of St. Victor says, “Love is the eye and to love is to see.”
If you love your Mass, love your participation at Mass, love your children even as they fuss, love your fellow congregants and the priest, your loves can’t be in conflict. For the love of all of them, take little stupor mundi out of the congregation and into … wherever. You can still participation fully, consciously and interiorly actively (the real foundation of all participation) on the other side of the doors.
Does the Rosary help you do that? Use the Rosary. Does a hand missal help? Use it. Does just walking back and forth do it? Do that.
Now I want to open this up to the real experts.
Moms and dads who have had to do this a zillion times.