Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | June 22, 2009

Why it’s virtually impossible to particpate…

Most people if you asked them about the 2nd Vatican Council only know about 5 words from the actual documents themselves (and one of them (active) is mistranslated), “full, conscious and active (actual) participation”

There has been this complete mistake that has been applied after the council, that was not envisioned by the council that participation implies “doing something.” Doing something in modern terms goes like this: being a lector, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, girl altar boy, speaking, the Liturgy being in the vernacular of whatever country your in, and the list goes on and on.

Now there were many abuses of participation even in the golden age, but these abuses were not as wide spread as everyone would have you believe. I’ve heard many old people say people would pray the Rosary during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because people didn’t understand what was going on (I’ll explain the fault behind this shortly), or that Mass was just a “spectator sport,” where you sat and watched the priest do everything. Or even worse the idea of “pray, pay, obey” where Church was just some kind of legalistic society just there, if you weren’t a priest or nun you weren’t getting to heaven (The Church has always taught for the sanctification of EVERYONE, not just priests and religious)…but apparently this message didn’t get out quick enough.

a. I don’t understand the Mass.

CCC 237 tells us about the Holy Trinity:

The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God.” To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

When something is a mystery, it means that the whole is beyond comprehension. Every Mass whether it’s in the vernacular or in Latin should be completely beyond our comprehension, why? Precisely because who we’re encountering is a mystery. Mysterium fidei…

Now of course just because something is mysterious, doesn’t mean we can’t piece together somethings. This is exactly why we’re able to put words to the Mass in describing it. Even though they fall short of the ultimate reality which is God, they help us to make manifest this mystery.

The problem is this misconceived idea that Mass must be “accessible.” Unlike at a protestant service, We are NOT the center of attention. The Mass is for the Adoration of God first, and the edification of the faithful last. For those of you that are familiar with the Tridentine Mass, you know that First Scripture is read facing East on the Epistle side, and the Gospel side of the Altar respectively (and for Solemn High, facing North). In case you haven’t figured it out, Scripture is for the Adoration of God. (Although one of the few rubrics I agree with in the NO is having the Scripture read facing the People….)

95% of the Mass is NOT addressed to you. (and actually, in the NO, the percentage is even more, there’s less Dominus Vobiscum’s (but even then Father’s not talking to you in the literal sense, but that’s a theological study for another day)…The prayers that are said at every Mass are being offered to God, and not us. (One of the major reasons why we need to re-orient the position of the priest). God may be present in the community (and he is, as with any half truth, there’s an element of truth to it)…He’s physically present in the Tabernacle. The words of consecration have changed the substance of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and DIVINITY of our Lord Jesus Christ (which of course all 3 of the persons of the Blessed Trinity are there). Wouldn’t be a good idea if we’re talking to God, to talk to him directly? The problem in many Churches, Jesus has been banished to the side, or to the back, or across the street.

For the Most Part, Mass is an A and B conversation, The priest acting as mediator before God, in the person of Christ. It makes complete and total sense that most of the prayers are said in a low voice, you have missals if you need to follow along. At every single Mass Calvary is being made anamnesis before our very eyes. We’re brought to the foot of the Cross. Unlike the 10 that ditched, and the one that killed himself, we get to be in the shoes of Our Blessed Mother, and St. John, kneeling at the Cross before our Crucified Lord (of course Jesus isn’t being recrucified at Mass). Time is transcendent and that mystery, because we could not be there ourselves, is made present at every Mass. All things related to God are outside of time. The Mass itself is outside of time.

The point, if you’re trying to understand, stop..And contemplate upon the mystery of God for a change of pace. Leads me to point 2.

b. I have to do something to participate.

There are many things in our daily lives that we don’t do directly and we’re still participating. For example martyrdom. What do I mean by this? Are you able to read this? Are you still breathing? I hope so. Martyrdom derives from the greek Mayrtus meaning witness. Even though many of us aren’t killed, many people will disagree with us for whatever reason, and it can often seem like the world is against us, (and usually it is). But we’re perseucted for what we believe in. We don’t directly participate in red marytrdom, (as white martyrdom is an indirect participation in red martyrdom).

We stole from the culture this idea of direct participation, and it’s gotten to us in the form of lectors, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, girl altar boys, more speaking in the Liturgy, etc, etc.

In of themselves, none of these practices are “evil” (well…), or in of themselves, wrong, the intention is noble and just, yet the conclusions are completely wrong.

As was a major mistake that krept into the minds of the Faithful (some not all), that the only people who could be Saints or be holy were Priests or Religious (inspite of the numerous lay Saints), So I guess, all of these extra “ministries” were added to compensate for that, I’ve only been alive since 1985, I can’t speak to it really, just give my commentary.

None of these “ministries” (note the quotation marks, I use the term REALLY loosely) are rights. Absolutely none of us have a right to do any of these…In particular Extraordinary Minster of Holy Communion and girl altar boys.

I truly believe that being Extraordinary Minster of Holy Communion removes the dignity that belongs to US as lay people. It’s as if you’re saying, who you are as a lay person isn’t good enough to get you to heaven, so I have to hold the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of Our Lord (which has been traditionally been a clerical act)….(and before you go, the early Church receieved in the Hand, I know that, but it was not as practiced in the Western Church. Communion was on the right palm, and the head was inclined towards the Host, and then the hands were purified immediately after (as well as before)…Dominus Est is a good read if you haven’t bought it, get it)…Things then become about our own pride and our own will instead of the will of God.

Trying to participate in this manner is impossible for me for the magnitude of this mystery that’s being made present. My logic to it is rather simple…My hands haven’t been consecrated, my tongue has (in the rite of Baptism, blessed salt on the tongue))…Ergo, I use the tongue directly. Now, some will say, but it allows me to feel more “welcome” or “apart of the Mass.”

As I tell people, remember the order of the world, God, others, you. Notice that you are last on the list. As I’ve said, we need to get this idea of participating directly is better than particpating indirectly out of our heads. When the 2nd Vatican Council talked about “full, consscious, actual participation” what they meant, was that interior participation, should be fully conscious of the actions that are going on at the altar. In otherwords, the mind should be fully conscious. (Keep in mind the NO hadn’t been promulgated)

Think about this for a min…

When the priest intones the Mass, (1), When the priest greets you (2), Confiteor (3), Kyrie (4, 5, 6) Gloria (7), Collect (8), 1st Reading (9) Responsorial Psalm (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15…depending on length of the psalm), 2nd Reading (if on a Sunday or Solemnity, 16), Dialogue before the Gospel (17, 18), After the Gospel (19), Credo (if on Sunday or Solemnity, 20), Prayers of the Faithful (21, 22, 23, 24, 25). Offertory (if prayers are prayed aloud (27), Orate Fratres (28), Preface (29, 30, 31), Memorial Acclimation (32), Doxology (33), Our Father (34), Doxology at the end of the Our Father (35) . Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum (36), Agnus Dei (37, 38, 39), Domine non sum Dignus (40), If you receive under both kinds (41, 42), Sanctus (43), Post Communion (44), Offertory prayer (45), Dominus Vobiscum (46), Benedicat (47), Ite Missa est (48), Prayers over the people (if done, 49, 50, 51)

For each time ewe reply to something, I’ve listed it above (in the NO), 51 times we reply or say something in Mass, FIFTY ONE….


Compare that to the Tridentine Mass: Aspegeres (1, 2, 3, 4), Collect (5), Dialogue before Gospel (6,7), Preface (8, 9, 10, 11), Final Doxology (12), Our Father (13), Pax Domini…(14)…Post Communion (15), Dismissal (16, 17).

Total of 17 times…(You’re NOT supposed to reply at the Domine Non sum Dignus…but often times many people do out of their own perrogative (which I do silently))

Something that I’ve said on here, is in the TLM, when you’re called to participate, it comes naturally…things flow are not manufactured, a la the OF.

The reason why the OF becomes extremely difficult to pray at times is NOT because it’s less Catholic (which I can make theological arguments for, but that’s not the point of this discussion), but rather because of the constant necessity of having to reply to everything in combination with the horrible translations. This is made worse when there’s horrid music from the OCP book.

Any time when I’m trying to conemplate upon the mystery that’s being made present…insert a reply.

What I try to do at every Mass is place myself at the foot of the Cross along with our Blessed Mother and St. John, contemplating the great love that God has for his chief sinner (that’d be me), and the fact that even though I’m not worthy of receiving His Body and Blood, by His grace this is able to happen. Watching God suffer upon the Cross is very humbling to me. (Somthing I need a ton of)…

In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the translations are so pathetic, my dog could make a better translation (no, seriously). I mean, for example look at the prayers over the gifts for Pentecost:

Lord, may the Spirit you promised lead us into all truth and reveal to us the full meaning of this sacrifice.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Now for those that don’t know the Latin, they’re probably like what’s the big deal, it’s just a prayer….

Well, here’s the Latin text:

Præsta, quaésumus, Dómine, ut, secúndum promissiónem Fílii tui, Spíritus Sanctus huius nobis sacrifícii copiósius revélet arcánum, et omnem propítius réseret veritátem.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Here’s a translation, thanks to Roman Sacristan, who saved me the work of translating it myself

Grant, we beseech You, O Lord, that, according to the promise of Your Son, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us more abundantly the hidden sacred mystery of this Sacrifice, and will graciously reveal to us all Truth.
Through Christ our Lord.

Read both of the English translations, you tell me which one conveys the sense of mystery and our Catholic Faith! (None of you readers better answer the top one, lol, otherwise I’ll fail you, lol)

I have to do my best not to laugh at it, since I know the Latin conveys much more than the English text as written in the Mass currently conveys. It’s still an approved translation of the Church.

Combine this fact with the Mass of Cremation (aka Mass of Creation), or anything else from the OCP book (Haugen isn’t even Catholic)…Objectively, the music is hideous.

The music is very dissonant (and that’s being kind). The melodies are very choppy as well as being from the secular culture. If I wanted to hear a tune from the secular culture, I’d turn to the secular tunes on my ipod (and I have a ton). Liturgy should be set apart from the ordinary.

Praying the Missa Orbis Factor vs. Mass of Cremation is no contest. Missa Orbis Factor happens to be my favorite setting for the ordinaries of the Mass (Gloria, Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). That setting assists me in getting to the chief point of Mass, which is to contemplate the mystery being made manifest before us. (Especially the Kyrie), I take the points of the Kyrie setting, the Beginning the Incarnation, and the end the Ressurection and Ascension. 🙂

Getting to my near least favorite moment of Mass, the Responsorial Psalm. Besides for it being objectively lame…They’re hard to pray because often times it’s some manufactured form of the Actual Psalm verse. For example in today’s Liturgy the RP is as follows: “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” Now the actual Psalm verse reads more like this (NAT Liturgical Translation): “Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.” Now, The top verse, has some ambiguity to it, the actual verse is much more specific and refers to the Church (fulfilment of the OT in the new). The new pslams are supposed to be better. I still don’t care, how about we go back to the Gradual Psalm (which I don’t happen to have with me)…that usually kept with the particular doctrine of the Church that was being taught at that Mass. For example last weeks OF Mass was on Faith and Suffering (see my reflection earlier). Much easier to take that Psalm and apply it to Calvary (the gradual) instead of the current Responsorial Psalm…(which by the way is the LAST option in the General instruction of the Roman Missal)

Now I know the logic behind the prayers of the Faithless (Faithful…I know, my nickname for them..the needs of the Community (of course if you had public Liturgy of the Hours you would not need them))…Some of the prayers of the Faithful…”Climate Change” I mean ridiculous. Besides for the fact that global warming is a joke, there’s a prescirbed instruction on how the Prayers are to be said, for the Pope, the Church, the world, and then the community. In many parishes there isn’t even mention of our Holy Father (with the exception for the Canon) or the Church, just some leftist agenda driven lay person composing the prayers of the Faithful. Mass would be so much easier to pray if these were all axed from the Liturgy. Works well for the Byzantines, but with the Roman Rite, it just does not work. I’m sorry.

Not to mention the excess feminization by all the hand grabbing…Please, if I wanted to grab your hand, I’d do so outside of a Liturgical context. (Plus I’d ask, not to mention, since I’m mostly a hands off kind of guy, I’m not inclined to do so)….Mass is not the time to be looking for a date, or scouting the pew for the girl or guy’s hand to hold during the Our Father (an authentic understanding of the GIRM condemsns such practices)….

If Altar serving were just about physically performing a function, (aka, just genfulecting, handing Father, the curets, holding patens, ringing bells), I’d say let girls go ahead and serve. The reason being it’s just a function, and that can be done by anyone, it doesn’t matter who.

However, in reality, altar servers are SUBSITUTES for clerics. That’s right, SUBSITUTES, normally for a Mass you’d have priest, deacon, and subdeacon (though now and days this would be replaced by acolyte or lector). Clerics are male only (have a problem, talk to Jesus). Altar boys came about because well, not everyone had enough priests to have the full ceremonial of a Solemn High Mass. The lines become confused when I’m sitting here trying to pray the Mass reflecting upon the High Priesthood, and the Sacrifices offered, when females are at the altar serving. Even more so, when they’re in MALE clothing (Cassock and Surplice)…I don’t promote eccesiatical cross dressing in any way.

On to Extraordinary Mobsters (I mean Ministers) of Holy Communion. In my not so humble opinion, this is an act in destroying the ministerial priesthood of the Church (having ordinary lay people hold the Body of Christ).

Something to think about, the Church did just fine in distributing Communion WITHOUT Extraordinary Mobsters of Holy Communion for nearly 1980 years. (Extraordinary Mobsters didn’t come around till the 80’s). With a drop in Mass attendence of nearly 80% since the post Vatican II liberal reforms, how did more people at the altar needed for less people in the pews? I don’t get it, I’m only a math teacher, but wouldn’t less people, mean that you could keep the number of people that you have at the altar (2 or 3) at two or 3? If 2 or 3 priests could distribute to 800 people, what’s the difference between those same 2 or 3 priests and 100 people?

(And don’t even talk to me about the “priest shortage” (that’s been self inflicted))

NONE OF US, have a right to be at the altar, it’s a privlege a humbling one at that, that I get to assist at the altar frequently whehter EF or OF, We need to stop acting like we have a right to be there, because we do not. However we do have a right to a Liturgy celebrated by the books.

Indirect participation I say is a better way to participate in Mass. I mean really, how many of YOU want to take on Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection yourselves? I know it’s very Carmeliteish to want to, but me, I’m glad I’m not God and did not have to go through any of that. It’s humbling to know that God suffered, and died on the Cross (no, not a torture stake), for the chief sinner (me). If we understand that it’s mystery that we’re encountering, and that we take this mystery of God into over everyday lives our workplace, home, etc. I truly believe the world will be a better place. The solemnity that we should be approaching Liiturgy is the same way we should approach our lives. Yes, we are supposed to live the Mass, believe it or not, they were half right.

The external gestures are to reinforce our Faith, hence the multiple signs of the Cross, the multiple genfuections, the multiple censing of the altar, the multiple head bows, etc, etc. With the removal of these external gestures, what has happened, is the lack of reinforcement has led to the lack of faith. Jesus being removed from the Center of the Church (where he belongs, right in front) has done more to damage the faithful than it has to help us. How many people just walk right past the Tabernacle without genuflecting? Or if you’re at the Cathedral parish, bowing to the altar of Sacrifice? I’m embarassed as a Catholic to see so many walk straight past the Tabernacle, it hurts me, but it hurts Jesus more that you’re not acknowledging him.

Pax Vobis.


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