Friday, October 28, 2011
ACTIVE PARTICIPATION OR NO PARTICIPATION
Progressive Catholics like to say that the Mass today engenders active participation. By this they mean that the congregation actively speaks and sings the parts of the Mass that are theirs, like hymns, responses, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Lamb of God. Singing also the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons or equivalent hymns.
In pre-Vatican II time, depending on the country in which one lived, Catholics for the most part participated only internally or attended simply to hear Mass. Others distracted themselves by the beauty of their church, praying the rosary or something else.
I was taught in the first and second grades how to use the "St. Joseph Missal" which was somewhat complex for a child but we knew how to use it. Active participation was being encouraged in that regard in the late 1950's and early 60's at least in the Dioceses of Savannah and Atlanta.
However, interior participation and proper focus was also encouraged. God forbid that you would look behind you when your eyes should always be on the altar.
How many people today think nothing of getting up during the Eucharistic Prayer to go to the bathroom or take a child to one?
But worse yet, how many Catholics absent themselves from Mass altogether?
In the 1950's in this country upwards to 90% of all Catholics attended Mass every Sunday no matter what type of "participation" they expressed while in the confines of the church building for that hour or so.
Today in many places in the USA only 25 to 30% of Catholics and in some places even lower, attend Mass on any given Sunday and those attending may be participating externally, but their internal disposition is something else altogether different.
In the 1950's only 1/3 of the congregation might have gone to receive Holy Communion, but presumably in a state of grace having been to Confession.
Today nearly the entire church goes to Holy Communion but one wonders about the effect of grace since no where near that number goes to confession regularly.
Father Z at his blog writes about this: "If they [progressive Catholics] are worried about greater active participation and sign value of the Eucharist and how meaningful it all is to them, I recommend to them, priests and lay people alike, that they reflect also on the frequency of their use of the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Communion in any manner. If they are not in the state of grace when they receive, they receive no graces from the Sacrament and they actually commit the mortal (sin) of sacrilege. Reception of Communion should be about grace, not about their personal views – set against those of the Church’s laws – about their right to have “the wine” or “the cup”."
Now if 90% of all Catholics are at Mass no matter how they actually express their participation in the so-called "God-awful pre-Vatican II Church with its secretive, top down authoritarianism" of the 1950's and today only 25% are at Mass who participating externally very well, but more than likely haven't been to confession in years and receive Holy Communion regardless of the state of grace their souls may be experiencing at any given time, it seems to me that the participation both from the point of view of physical presence (or real presence of the laity) as well as their disposition sacramentally when receiving Holy Communion was much better in the 1950's than today.
I think we had more and better participation in the 1950's. What do you think?