Today, October 13, 2018, is the feast day of St. Edward, Confessor , according to Lives of the Saints by Fr. Alban Butler (first published in 1887 under the title Lives of the Saints–With Reflections for Every Day in the Year), http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots319.htm
You can read about him in a more detailed artile from Tradition in Action https://traditioninaction.org/SOD/j268sd_Edward-10-13.html
Reading about these saints is a wonderful daily reflection; such marvelous lives they lived, such an army who has our back in heaven.
Participation in the Mass
As a convert baptized in 2003, the participatory or New Mass, is all I knew until I got to a Latin or Old Mass and boy was I pleasantly surprised to learn that what the Church had been doing for a couple thousand years was so much more than what they were doing now; so this article from Tradition in Action resonates.
Who are the “true actors” (1) in the liturgy? Before the Liturgical Movement, the answer was dazzlingly clear from the way Mass was performed by the priest with the assistance of his ministers at the altar, while the congregation, suitably separated from the sanctuary, participated spiritually in prayerful silence.
But the liturgical reformers, who assiduously promoted the notion that the whole assembly performs the liturgy, have used this falsity – borrowed from Protestantism – to impugn the special status that is essential to protect the integrity of the ordained priesthood.
To bring these two positions – Catholic and Protestant – into sharper focus, it will be illuminating to juxtapose two commentaries on lay participation, the first written before the start of the Liturgical Movement by the English Redemptorist, Fr. Thomas Edward Bridgett, (2) who described the Mass as essentially a divine action, and the second by a post-Vatican II priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Robert Duggan, who presented it as the work of the people.
First, Fr. Bridgett’s explanation:
“Suppose a ship, filled with a mixed crew of French, Spanish and Portuguese, is being wrecked on the coast of England. A crowd is assembled on the cliff, watching with intense earnestness the efforts being made by the captain and crew on the one hand, and by lifeboats from the coast on the other, to save the lives of the passengers. A great act is being performed, in which all are taking part, some as immediate actors, others as eager assistants. …
“It is a common act at which they assist; it is accompanied by the prayers of all; but they are not common prayers, in the sense of all joining either vocally or mentally in the same form of words.” [emphasis added] (3)
We have to admire the use of this memorable analogy between the action of the Mass and the life-saving work of a rescue operation, insofar as it illustrates who the “true actors” really are.
The captain of the ship is obviously meant to evoke the priest, for on his shoulders alone devolves the whole responsibility for the Mass, while the assisting crew and lifeboat operators represent his ministers in the sanctuary.
The people on the shore, powerless to intervene in the action, represent the congregation in the pews who have no active role in the Mass because they lack the power to re-enact the Holy Sacrifice or officiate at its ceremonies. Nevertheless, they participate spiritually by offering their own heartfelt prayers without, however, any obligation to follow the priest’s prayers either silently or audibly, or to engage in vocal dialogue with him.
As Fr. Bridgett explained:
“To join in this act of sacrifice, and to participate in its effects, it is not necessary to follow the priest or to use the words he uses. Every Catholic knows what the priest is doing, though he may not know or understand what he is saying, and is consequently able to follow with his devotions every portion of the Holy Sacrifice. Hence, a wonderful union of sacrificial, of congregational and of individual devotion.”
Of course, there was no need to spell any of this out to Catholics of the 19th century. Fr. Bridgett was writing in defence of the Mass against the prejudices of contemporary Protestants who, ironically, were making the same gibes against Catholic worship as the progressivists of the 20th century would do.
He was addressing the Protestant charges of “clericalism” – that the people were “excluded” from participation in the proceedings because their rightful roles were usurped by the priest; that they were prevented from understanding what was going on by the “language barrier,” and so on and ridiculously on.
What was Vatican II’s response to this “a wonderful union of sacrificial, of congregational, and of individual devotion”?
Its Liturgy Constitution set out to denounce it, in carefully coded terms, as a recipe for alienating the faithful and introduce, instead, liturgical reforms to “rectify” the problem through “active participation.” This “solution” (to a problem, let us remember, that never existed) was presented as if it were an article of faith and the highest state of grace to which the faithful could attain.
Active participation’ leads to a misunderstanding of the priesthood
For our second commentary on lay participation in the Mass, we will fast forward to the post-Vatican II period when the reformers were given a free pass to recreate the liturgy in their own ideological image. Fr. Robert Duggan comments on the role of the faithful at the Mass:
It is they ‒ just as much as the presider ‒ who must offer the great sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God; it is they ‒ just as much as the presider ‒ who carry responsibility to say the prayers and sing the songs prescribed for them in the ritual texts; it is they ‒ just as much as the presider ‒ who must be channels of the Spirit’s consecratory power, allowing the gift of themselves to be transformed as surely as the gifts of bread and wine are changed into Christ’s body and blood.” (4)
It is obvious that the two ways of understanding the liturgy are poles apart, and even stand in opposition to each other. The Novus Ordo Mass was conceived by the reformers as the “work of the people,” a community act in which all present are equally entitled to their share of “active participation,” without distinction of whether they are clerical or lay.
The dark underbelly of the progressivists’ dream
This subversive power-to-the-people message is perfectly encapsulated in the teaching of the Liturgy Constitution §28, which states:
“In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of the liturgy.”
In making such a statement, the reformers revealed their covert plans to Protestantize the liturgy. For, it subtly suggests that Catholic worship is simply and solely a joint enterprise between the priest and the people in which the latter have an essential liturgical office to perform – a proposition condemned by the Council of Trent.
This intention was confirmed by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen in an interview with one of the Council’s Bishops immediately before the final vote on the Liturgy Constitution (1963):
“Bishop Zauner [of Linz, Austria] told me that four important aims or principles were reflected in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. “The first is that divine worship must be a community action; that is, that the priest should do everything with the active participation of the people, and never alone.” The use of the vernacular, he said, was a necessary condition for such participation. [emphasis added] (5)
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