Participation in the Liturgy

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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Dom Perignon
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Participation in the Liturgy

Post by Dom Perignon » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:38 pm

In another thread Tom_Neal wrote:

"On another thread John Ainslie wrote that 'the choice of music must depend on local circumstances which should include […] (always!) the ability of the congregation to make the music, both heard and sung, their instrument of worship and participation in the liturgy.' This seems to me to be suggesting that the faithful participate in the liturgy by singing, and that the liturgy must “always” include opportunities for the congregation to “make the music,” seeing that is how they participate. If so, I think this needs examining further.

If the Society of St. Gregory encourages parish priests and music directors to think first and foremost about active participation, then the faithful will treat the liturgy as a ‘sing-along’. And we all know this has happened in the past forty years, and indeed is still happening in some corners. Reducing the liturgy to concerns about whether people are “joining in”; standing-up and sitting-down at the “correct” moments; saying or singing the responses loudly; etc. etc.––all of this can only lead to one thing: the loss of the faith. It might encourage people into church who want to join a local musical society, créche, or community bingo, but it doesn’t convert them and therefore it cannot save their souls. This attitude is one of the reasons our churches are gradually emptying. Why should people come to Mass? Why should they join the Church? If it’s just about a sing-along, then there are many other options on the market, and there are many other Christian denominations who do a better job. But because the Catholic Church is the one true fold, only the Catholic faith can save their souls. It is simply a waste of time to bring in potential converts under false pretences. No-one ever saved their soul with a song.

The point is: if you focus so much on outward participation, you ignore the inner participation. If the SSG’s mission is to 'foster participation in the liturgy' as John Ainslie has also said, and if the Society is not simply ‘about’ music but also liturgy, then its first concern MUST be inner participation. A society for music can afford to focus only on outward forms, but a society for liturgy cannot. (Prayer cannot be heard, seen, felt, or touched because it is entirely internal. Liturgy may concern the outward form of prayer, but it indicative of the inner form, i.e. prayer itself.) Music, movement, and speech are, after all, merely outward expressions of inner belief. To focus entirely on everyone “joining in” with the hymns is to put the cart before the horse. In time, the only thing this fosters is apostasy. If anyone doubts this, I would remind them that no amount of sing-along liturgies have, to date, succeeded in reversing the crisis of faith which has overtaken the Church since the Second Vatican Council.
"

Southern Comfort responded:

"Tom_Neal wrote:
'No-one ever saved their soul with a song.
'

- There are countless examples of people whose faith was nourished, or who had conversion experiences, as a result of encountering a song, or a hymn, or even a chant.

Tom_Neal wrote:
'To focus entirely on everyone “joining in” with the hymns is to put the cart before the horse. In time, the only thing this fosters is apostasy. If anyone doubts this, I would remind them that no amount of sing-along liturgies have, to date, succeeded in reversing the crisis of faith which has overtaken the Church since the Second Vatican Council.'


- I don't think you were around when we discussed previously the manifold reasons for changes in the Church since World War II, not least cultural factors, Humanae Vitae, clergy sex abuse, etc, etc."



As with other 'split out' threads, contributors are welcome to continue this thread concisely, staying on topic and, please, within the rules of the Forum. Thank you.
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alan29
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by alan29 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:24 am

Somewhat derogatory to call active participation a "sing along." I find that sort of linguistic approach so offensive that it acts as a barrier to my continuing to read. Should snideness have any place in a discussion on christian worship? I think not.
I reject the suggestion that active participation leads to a loss of faith - or, I would love to see research data on this that went deeper than "post hoc," that demonstrated a direct causal connection. Maybe Tom has links that he could share.
My thoughts are that the church provides for a rich diversity in its celebrations of Mass. We all find a style of celebrating the Eucharist that suits us within that diversity.
I rejoice in that breadth. It is patently the church's intention.
The trouble starts when people then start to think that their way is the only way and so cherry-pick documents/statements/interviews to back their position.
It does nothing for the peace and unity of the church for which Christ prayed.

Tom_Neal
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by Tom_Neal » Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:22 pm

In haste, John... (I'll respond in more depth after the weekend)

In his article "In the Presence of the Angels," Adoremus Bulletin, Vol. 2, Nos. 6-8 (Oct-Dec. 1996), Pope Benedict XVI wrote:Wherever an exaggerated concept of "community" predominates, a concept which is (as we have already seen) completely unrealistic precisely in a highly mobile society such as ours, there only the priest and the congregation can be acknowledged as legitimate executors or performers of liturgical song. Today, practically everyone can see through the primitive activism and the insipid pedagogic rationalism of such a position which is why it is now asserted so seldom. The fact that the schola and the choir can also contribute to the whole picture, is scarcely denied any more, even among those who erroneously interpret the council's phrase about "active participation" as meaning external activism.
Last edited by Tom_Neal on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tom_Neal
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by Tom_Neal » Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:24 pm

alan29 wrote:It does nothing for the peace and unity of the church for which Christ prayed.


Do you really mean to say that a unified liturgical practice, resulting from true adherence to Catholic tradition, would do nothing for the unity of the Church? ;)

Tom_Neal
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by Tom_Neal » Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:28 pm

Pope Benedict XVI, in The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000), p.170, wrote:Of course, external actions—reading, singing, the bringing up of the gifts—can be distributed in a sensible way. By the same token, participation in the Liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Do­ing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a mat­ter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking to­gether toward the Lord and going out to meet him. The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the lit­urgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being arti­ficially multiplied) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the “theo-drama” of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody. True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting with external activities. Instead one must be led toward the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, who wants, through what happens in the liturgy, to transform us and the world. In this respect, liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here.

oopsorganist
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by oopsorganist » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:56 pm

Pope Benedict XVI, in The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000), p.170, wrote:

......
"If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being arti­ficially multiplied) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the “theo-drama” of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody.".......

Now, here Tom, is a point - a point for those parishes who condone the kind of gatecrashing of parish pastoral liturgies for the inclusion of children that quite likely , they will never see again. Children whose families will take away not a participation in the Mass but a participation in a theatrical event starring their child! That is artificial multiplication. Luckily, God will get over most of it.
uh oh!

Tom_Neal
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by Tom_Neal » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:35 pm

oopsorganist wrote:Now, here Tom, is a point - a point for those parishes who condone the kind of gatecrashing of parish pastoral liturgies for the inclusion of children that quite likely , they will never see again. Children whose families will take away not a participation in the Mass but a participation in a theatrical event starring their child! That is artificial multiplication. Luckily, God will get over most of it.


oopsorganist, could you clarify your argument, please? I'm fairly sure I can see what you're saying, but it would be good to have clarification before I respond in detail. Thanks! :)

oopsorganist
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by oopsorganist » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:05 am

Tom
I am talking about having a line of kinder to read the Bidding Prayers, start the Hail Mary - another set to read the Readings, Psalm. A role for them all, Bless them. And this pressure put upon them to perform, when they are -
*in a strange place!
* preparing for the Sacrament

Oooo yes, and just a few years ago, they would arrive complete with recorded accompaniment of the whole school singing with their peripatetic pianist and sing along to it.

That is without the high jacking of the planning for music. This would happen because no one knew when the school was "coming".

I do think they are cute and lovely. I have infinite toleration of children. I would have liked to see them every Sunday. No Mass is complete without the presence of the whole community.

It is just over the years as I have witnessed this, alongside the prayers and pleadings of the PP that they stay and continue to come to Mass........ I have realized that it is counterproductive to supporting the parents to understand what is happening at Mass. They leave thinking that their children have made a huge contribution and the parish should be grateful! Otherwise, how would they get through those big books and what with the congregation not singing and all. Lucky that little Kyle and Petunia were there to show them how its done! If the parents had to commit for the duration of the Preparation classes, to doing the Readings, saying the Bidding Prayers, singing the Acclamations, then they might begin to understand what is involved. Because it is Monkey See, Monkey Do. Actually no, that is proliferation of roles and quite unnecessary. Just coming to Mass might be the way forward. Otherwise, you end up with Active Participation without Conscious Participation.

And who is going to come back when they made you stand in front of a huge crowd of people with your knees knocking? Or, if you enjoy that kind of thing and like to be the centre of attention, then you won't come back when you find that is not what it is all about! Think we are talking Parody here.
uh oh!

High Peak
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Re: Participation in the Liturgy

Post by High Peak » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:23 am

Monsignor Kevin McGinnell, at last year's Summer School, gave the best illustration of "active participation" that I have been confronted with.

In one of his talks he got us all to introduce ourselves, including a potted biography, to some one seated nearby. I'm sure that I was not the only one not looking forward to this and, as my neighbour briefly introduced herself, I found myself wondering what I would say in turn, eager to get this socially-awkward interruption over and done with. Then came the spanner in the works; when it was my turn the good Monsignor told us not to give our own biography but to recount what we had just been told by our neighbour!

As many of us writhed uncomfortably on our chairs and smiled nervously, he simply said, "That is active participation!"

Brilliant! :D

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