Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | November 21, 2009

Participation in Liturgy Part I

From the 2nd Vatican council Sacrosanctum Concilium (the document no one reads):

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; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.”

First and foremost, something that I’ve mentioned on this blog is that participation doesn’t neccesarily mean doing something. Interior participation is just as much participation as exterior participation. Further from the document no one reads…

“In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.”

a. Each Member of the Body of Christ has its own part.

We read from the Holy Scriptures “But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him. And if they all were one member, where would be the body? But now there are many members indeed, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help; nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you. Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary. And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness. But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour, That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if ne member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.” (1 Cor 12, 11-31)

Christ is the Head of the Church, and we form the Mystical Body of Christ. Within this body there are different parts. The Hierarchy, and the Laity. As mentioned in yesterday’s thought of the day that Liturgy is like a tapestry, interwoven to form a beautiful picture. That is to say there are multiple actions going on at once. All woven together to form the One Action of Worship to God.

In the Sanctuary are the priest, deacon, subdeacon (acolyte in NO Missal). If deacon and subdeacon aren’t available, then there are altar boys who subsitute as miniature clerics for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In the Nave are us the Laity and above us is the choir in the Choir loft. (who are also apart of the Laity ususally)

Each of us have distinct functions that are apart of the Liturgy. One of the few things I have nice to say about the Missal of Paul VI is that it does distinguish the parts of the clergy, from the parts of the Laity, albeit the flow of the Liturgy does not go quite as well as the Missal of John XXIII (I’ll explain what I mean)

In the Missal of Paul VI The flow of the Mass is as follows (Strict reading of the rubrics,, and use of the propers, as should be done)

Introit, Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Penitential Rite, Miseratur, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, 1st Reading, Gradual, (2nd Reading if Su), Alleluia, Gospel, Sermon, Creed, Prayers of the Faithful, Offertory, Orate Fratres, Preface, Sanctus, Canon, Our Father, Sign of Peace, Agnus Dei, Communion, Post Communion, Ite Missa Est (Announcements in my humble opinion should be made either before Mass, during the Sermon, or After Mass has concluded)

In the Missal of John XXIII the flow goes something like this:

Asperges (if Su), Introit, Sign of the Cross, Prayers at the foot of the altar, Confiteor, Misereatur, Indulgentiam, More prayers, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, Gospel, Sermon, Credo, Offertory, Orate Fratres, Preface, Sanctus, Canon, Our Father, Pax Domini, Agnus Dei, Communion, Post Communion, Ite Missa Est. (I know there are things I excluded, but it’s on purpose)

If we examine first the Missal of Paul Vi..Ideally, the Introit should be sung by everyone. I believe that this is best functioned in parts. That is the Choir should sing half, and the laity in the pews should sing the other half.

For example, I share with you the text of the Introit from the 1st Su of Advent:

Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam: neque irrideant me inimici mei: etenim universi, qui te exspectant non confundentur. — Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi: et semitas tuas edoce me. V.: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, qui erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. — Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam: neque irrideant me inimici mei: etenim universi, qui te exspectant non confundentur. (Ps 24, 1-3)

The choir would lead in the Ad te levavi up to the confundentur, then the laity would join in at the Vias tuas til the Gloria Patri, where they’d continue at the qui erat, and then join in the whole introit for the last. (I’ll update this post later with sound with what I mean later)…I don’t know if my idea is being communicated very well.

This idea of an interwoven tapestry is what I’m trying to get across by having the Introit sung interwoven with the choir in the loft, and the laity in the pews. That is everything is supposed to work together.

However, this requires something that most Pastors don’t have the time to do, teaching. Teaching the importance of chant, and how to properly do chants. (Yes, I’ve heard bad chant, and there’s nothing as ugly, lol)

While this is going on, the priest, deacon, subdeacon and servers will be processing to the altar. This is the other action that is going on. The procession to Gethsemene (as mentioned in another blog). While there are not any private or preporatory prayers at this point in the Missal of Paul VI, it goes straight to the Sign of the Cross. The normative Liturgy is to CHANT everything. Yes, Chanting everything is more conducive to prayer.

In the Missal of John XXIII A similar thing can be done for the introit. Strictly speaking, THIS is where the Laity begin participating in the Liturgy. During the prayers at the foot of the altar, those are private. While the servers are kneeling, you should not be kneeling (at this point in the Mass), you should be sitting saying the parts depending on the size of your parish in a semi-audible, or minimal audible tone. That is to say you shouldn’t just be sitting there listening. The so called silent Mass is not in the mind of the Church. Reason being, the low Mass came from the private Masses of priests and various derivatives of private Masses in monastic life. People would be coming from all over to go to Mass, and they wouldn’t know the exact place of the priest in Mass. Hence the tendency to be quiet. Even though the Quiet Mass does have much symbolism of the way Jesus came to Earth for Salvation. Keep in mind in the Eastern Church, there’s no such a thing as “Low Mass,” All Liturgies are sung no matter whether on Sunday, or on the weekdays. I’d say they’re doing a better job than we Romans are on Liturgy.

This united with our interior participation by uniting ourselves to Calvary by doing this we can fully participate in the Liturgy. This is going to be a 3 part series showing how we should be participating in BOTH the OF and the EF of the Roman Rite. (In combination with some other thoughts as well)…

More to be written next week.



  1. Congratulations on knowing more about what Sacrosanctum Concilium really said & meant that Bishop Trautman seems to know. After his bit at the USCCB meeting this week something happenned that I wasn't sure was possible. My opinion of him got even lower.

  2. Al, Bp Trautperson (gotta use inclusive language dontcha know)…he frustrated me during the USCCB meetings, did he forget that the USCCB has for all intensive purposes no Authority?I thought Mahony should undergo the Rite of Deposition first, but I think Trautperson and Clark need to be Deposed together with Mahony now.

  3. Joe, Are you aware that Mahony & The Fish are BFF? In some ways he is just Mahony's front man.Technically, the USCCB does have some authorit, but not to the extend Trautman claims.I found his whole referncing Sacrosanctum Concilium nauseating & uber hypocritical, esp in light of his past attacks on the "law" documents that Sacrosanctum Concilium recognizes as the final authority.

  4. Al, right, they have a little bit, though an individual Bishop can always trounce the USCCB if he so wishes.Yeps, i know about the bff between Mahony and Trautperson, yes, me as well, I think his and Mahony's vision of the Church is about the same.

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