07 September 2014

Are you a conscious participant at Mass?

I was reading through the Proceedings of the Seventy-fifth Anual Convention of the Canon Law Society of America last night on the way back to Assisi from Rome by train - which was much more interesting than I expected it would be - when I found this excellent quote from Pope Saint John Paul II in which he distinguishes passive participation in the Liturgy from true active participation, with my emphases:

Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.
This sort of participation Saint John Paul II called "conscious participation" and it is to this that each of us is called at every celebration of the sacred mysteries.

Today, as you prepare to take part in the Holy Mass, ask the Lord for the grace to be a conscious participant at the altar that you may not harden your heart at the voice of the Lord (cf. Psalm 95:8).

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