Learn about Mass: “Fully conscious and active participation”

NOTE: This is the beginning of a series of lessons on the Mass.

One of the most elusive goals from Vatican Council II is the following: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” (Sacrosanctum concilium, Paragraph 14).

Almost 60 years after the Council, one can visit a parish church on a Sunday and ask whether Catholics are closer now to that goal.  Unfortunately, a cynic might say that people still buy a one-way ticket to Planet Boredom as soon as they sit in the pew.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker offers interesting insights on liturgical participation: “I think a lot of Catholic priests … don’t understand how much Catholics DO take part – even in a Mass that is celebrated traditionally.”

Also, Kimberley Hope Belcher argues that we should deepen the participation that already exists.  She cites David Stosur’s suggestion of “understanding liturgical participation as an immersion into a narrative, which little by little comes to change our vision of the world.”

A blogger (I can’t find it now) observed that Mass participation can be likened to parents watching their kid perform a play.  They focus on their child’s performance.  Emotionally, they follow the ups and downs with the child.  The parents don’t have a role in the play.  But they were participating with the child.

That sounds very nice.  But how do we immerse ourselves into the narrative of the Mass?

I have never found anyone give practical steps for that immersion … until a few years ago.  Venerable Bruno Lanteri wrote for himself a way to celebrate Mass more devoutly in the late 1700s.  He bequeathed that method to the Oblates of the Virgin Mary when he founded the order in 1826.  The method is presented before every Mass broadcast from St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston.  (You can also find the Mass on the OMV YouTube channel.)

Prayer before Mass 1 - Logo

The method evokes images from the Bible to be more drawn into the Mass.  Subsequent blog entries will examine Venerable Bruno’s method piece by piece.  Each piece has such a spiritual richness that by itself, it will enhance your participation and experience of Mass.  Also, all those steps do look intimidating.  They scared me when I first saw them.

So if you want a deeper appreciation of the Mass, come back and learn Venerable Bruno’s method.

Scripture passages for prayer:

  1. Hebrews 10:24-25
  2. Colossians 3:16
  3. Acts 2:42

Questions for reflection:

  1. What do you want most from the Mass?
  2. How do you rate your participation at Mass?
  3. What inner issues holds you back from participating more at Mass?



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