Pray the Mass

Friday was the feast of Pope St Pius X. 1835 – 1914.

St Pius X encouraged frequent reception of the Eucharist by the laity. He codified Catholic doctrines to inspire conformity in the church and rejected modernism .He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values.

The words of St Pius X that I often remember, however, are Pray the Mass.

When we pray the Mass with the priest we have active participation in the Mass, what Pope Pius XI called “active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.”

What is meant by active participation? Well, there is both external and internal participation.

Both forms of participation are present in Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the Latin Mass.

Internal? Mass can be so busy with externals, with apparent active participation,that one has no time to pray. The Latin Mass, however, has a sense of mystery and awe that gives participants a time to pray silently and understand the reality of the Mass.

The traditional Latin Mass has taught me that real participation at Mass does not mean only external activity; genuine participation can also be interior and requires silence. Just as an athlete or student needs quiet to prepare, work, and study, in order to focus fully on the task at hand, so do we need silence to focus fully on God and our presence before Him.

There is time for meditation, and this offers an opportunity for contemplation. I can read my missal, I can prepare before Mass by looking at the readings, at the liturgical calendar, by praying the prayers of the Mass. I can understand the rubrics of the Mass, the parts of the Mass, the the meanings ~ and pass these onto my children.

Mass in the Extraodinary Form gives me time, quiet, to do these things, to pray, to think, to listen to that small still voice, the voice of God. I forget about my daily concerns and am brought towards the sacred. It inspires a sense of awe; as I said in an earlier post, it teaches me about God and the Faith, is is catechesis in action.

So, the interior side of active participation means the interior participation of all the powers of the soul in the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial love. Participation is something interior; it means that my mind and heart are awake, alert and engaged.

Active participation also involves exterior action: saying things and doing things. In other words, the gestures and sacred signs we use in the course of the Mass.

But to talk of exterior and interior participation like this also implies that the two are separate. They are not.

There is a relationship between soul and body in liturgical prayer.There really is unity of being. Unity of body and soul. Unity of the interior man and the exterior man. As St. Irenaeus said ~ Man fully alive; integrating mind, soul and body into the unity of what the human person is called to be.

Interior preparation, prayer, silence, meditation and contemplation. Reading our missals before and during Mass. Praying, not saying, not ignoring, the words of the Mass, not watching as a bystander or as a member of an audience expecting to be entertained.

Exterior participation, sacred signs and gestures. Making the sign of the cross devoutly, according to the rubrics of the Mass, remembering that the cross is our hope. Standing, kneeling, genuflecting. Holding our hands together, self control in body stance and body language, recalling where we are, why we are there, what we are listening to during Mass. Active listening, listening with full attention, with concentration, with effort.

As an aside ~ my famous line, to my kids, when I am telling them to stand and sit properly during Mass – You are not at a picnic! The kids tease me about this continually!

Exterior participation can mean something as simple as the symbolic beating of the breast during the Confiteor. The rubric for this gesture ~ He strikes his breast three times, saying: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

We remember our sins. The exterior action recalls to our mind , to our souls, our sinfulness, our sorrow for sins. This is active participation, mind, body, soul. Pope Pius XII said that the overriding sin of our twentieth century is a loss of the sense of sin. As we participate fully in the Latin Mass, it is impossible to forget this sense of sin, and impossible to forget our salvation in Christ.

Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies. Not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and choir, according to the prescribed norms. Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII

And so we sing in Mass, we participate in the hymns, in the responses during Sung Masses, perhaps in Chant.

Active participation in Mass is not new. It is something the faithful have aways been called to, and while actively praying the Mass, we find our hearts and minds are lifted up to God. It is more eaily achieved, I find, within the solemn prayers of the Latin Mass.

Pope Pius X called for active participation in his motu proprio, Tra le sollecitudini, published in 1903, ~ the faithful assemble to draw that spirit from its primary and indispensable source, that is, from active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.

In his encyclical Mediator Dei in 1947, Pope Pius XII insisted that true participation was not merely external but consisted in a baptismal union with Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church.

In 1958, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the instruction, De musica sacra, which distinguished several qualities of participation:

The Mass of its nature requires that all those present participate in it, in the fashion proper to each.
a)This participation must primarily be interior (i.e., union with Christ the Priest; offering with and through Him).
b) But the participation of those present becomes fuller (plenior) if to internal attention is joined external participation, expressed, that is to say, by external actions such as the position of the body (genuflecting, standing, sitting), ceremonial gestures, or, in particular, the responses, prayers and singing . . .
It is this harmonious form of participation that is referred to in pontifical documents when they speak of active participation (participatio actuosa), the principal example of which is found in the celebrating priest and his ministers who, with due interior devotion and exact observance of the rubrics and ceremonies, minister at the altar.
c) Perfect participatio actuosa of the faithful, finally, is obtained when there is added sacramental participation (by communion).
d) Deliberate participatio actuosa of the faithful is not possible without their adequate instruction

So, to my friend who made the comment about not liking the Latin Mass because there is no participation, I say – pray the Mass, learn about the Mass, actively listen during Mass, allow the prayers and music and silence to bring you to God.

Hey, start by going to a Latin Mass before making a judgement! ..I think I will invite her..again..

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