Rorate Caeli

Interior participation and devotions during Mass

The Catholic Church incorporates into its liturgical practices a significant number of devotions. The most notable and traditional of these is the devotion known as exposition and benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. Others include stations of the cross, the recitation of litanies, recitation of the rosary, May crowning, statues and images of saints. One of the illegitimate interpretations of the liturgical adaptations of the 1960s was that such devotions were to be diminished and limited. The unfortunate interpretation seems to have arisen, in part, because of a previous overemphasis on devotional practices which sometimes eclipsed even the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One still occasionally hears the stories of Mass attendees reciting their rosaries throughout Mass or engaged in other private devotions while Mass was being celebrated. My own recollections include images of my grandparents reciting Czech prayers and the rosary during Mass. The modern liturgist cringes at the thought of such a perceived aberration. Yet, I know that my grandparents had a tremendously deep and rich devotion to the Eucharist and while they may have engaged in other devotions during the course of Holy Mass they were never far in thought from the Lord whose sacrifice they were also recalling.

Nevertheless, those spiritual activities which were classified as “devotions” were frowned upon, discouraged and even forbidden. This was done, in many instances, without a suitable catechesis and without a legitimate interpretation of what full and active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice entailed. Full and active participation, which is the phrase from the liturgical documents, was often interpreted in an inappropriately superficial fashion to mean physical activity. Thus there was a great increase in “participation” through recitation of the Mass parts in English, reading the scriptures, leading the prayers of the faithful, and singing, but whether this actually led to a deepened “full and active participation” in the Holy Sacrifice on the part of the congregation as envisioned by the Council is certainly questionable. It is legitimate to wonder whether my grandparents were not just as fully and actively participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice even though their participation would have had all of the external appearances of great passivity. Our secular age certainly recognizes and praises “activity” and liturgical “activity” has been presumed to be the same as “active participation” and this is not necessarily so. In the training video for lectors and acolytes this active participation is divided into that activity which is from the neck down and that which is from the neck up. There has been a great increase in the neck down form of participation and this is not necessarily bad but the real goal is for greater “neck up” activity throughout the whole of the Holy Sacrifice on the part of all in the congregation. This is a much greater challenge.
Robert Vasa, Bishop of Baker, Oregon
June 11, 2009


18 comments:

Prodinoscopus said...

We need more Bishops like this.

Peter said...

By crossing themselves and prostrating when they hear Holy Names etc. during the Divine Liturgy the Byzantines participate actively both internally and externally.

Anonymous said...

I asked a FSSP priest about praying during Mass and he said the TLM is designed for that too. The TLM Mass can accommodate reverent prayers while the mass is being said by the Priest.

I see the connection.

In my experience the NO does not accommodate any prayers in fact they say to pray at home.

I am glad Bishop Baker is starting to get it.

Truly I believe that this spiritual fog is being lifted by almighty God. Lets keep saying the St.Michael prayer and get more people to the TLM.

pyro

Paul Haley said...

Bishop Vasa speaks correctly, I think about interior participation and devotion during Mass, particularly among those brought up with the traditional Mass. But, I would humbly add one important factor and that is the training one might have received, or not received, regarding the parts of the Mass and the type of participation expected of the laity during the Mass.

I was fortunate enough to have been taught such things by dedicated nuns in both grammar and high school. But what of those who had no such opportunity and who were brought up in the Faith in earlier generations when they had to work rather than attend school, who had the simple Faith of the workman, the farmer, the peasant, the homemaker, the laborer? Their Faith may have been much greater than mine and I daresay it was in a number of cases in my own family tree.

However, one can only wonder about the motives of those who tampered with the liturgy in the 60's and came up with so many deviations and novelties from what had come before. Many of us, I suspect, would not agree that their product was superior to what had existed for centuries and had nourished the Faith of millions.

So we are all one one side, I think, and that is the side of Tradition. Though we may disagree about the correct way to solve this or that problem in the Church, we can rest assured that we are on the right track if we favor Tradition.

And so, it is with a somewhat heavy heart that ask Pablo not to consider me his enemy for my military background or my strong stance on certain issues for I desire only friendship and solidarity for the cause of Tradition. I respect very much where he is coming from and I ask only that he do the same for me.

Pablo said...

Que Dios te Bendiga, Senor Palad.

Anonymous said...

You wonder if some of these people ever had any "neck up activity."

Anonymous said...

Whereas dioceses in other regions have seen tremendous improvement in their bishops in recent years (see Milwaukee, San Antonio, Dallas, Kansas City MO, etc.), I think it a fair generalization to say that the dioceses of the west coast--more than any other region--remain the most entrenched in the 1970s "spirit of the council" era.
This wonderful bishop, however, is very much one of the shining lights (along with Bishop Cordileone and some others) on the west coast.
I pray that it may please God to promote this wonderful bishop to one of the larger archdiocese on the "left coast" (Seattle, LA, San Fran, etc.) in the coming years, to hasten the renewal of the Church in that part of the country.

Biggus Headdus said...

While theologically there may not be anything wrong with doing your own private devotion during Mass (uniting our prayers with the Priest) many a Saint and Pope expressed the better way; following along with the Priest.

On the flip side if I somehow found myself at a novus ordo Mass I would probably just sit in the back and pray my rosary ;)

Anonymous said...

Big Head,
Same - if I went to a NO mas I would pray the Rosary the entire time.

Anonymous said...

"We need more bishops like this." That is for sure! This was a pleasure to read. I remember being 13 years old when the changes in the mass were introduced, and the priest order that there will no longer be allowed any "rattling of the beads" in church. I remember even then being shocked. Little did I know that things would only get much, much worse over the years. For this reason I only attend the mass in the EF at a local parish run by the FSSP. It is Catholicism in the fullest--not Catholic Lite that my neighborhood parish promotes....yes, more bishop like Bishop Vasa please!

M.A. said...

I see nothing wrong in praying the rosary while standing with Mary at the foot of the cross. It works for some in elevating the heart to God. I know, because I am one of those people. (That's why I can't stand dialogue Masses.)

Anonymous said...

"Whereas dioceses in other regions have seen tremendous improvement in their bishops in recent years (see Milwaukee, San Antonio, Dallas..."

Does anybody know whether Bishop Farrell intends to someday promote the TLM (or even the Novus Ordo in Latin)?

Don

Diane at Te Deum Laudamus said...

On the one hand we have those who follow the Mass while praying a Rosary, and there are yet others who engage in mental prayer during the Mass, as well. Rosaries and devotions are vocal/meditative while the other is meditative/contemplative. Neither are necessarily following in a Missal, yet the graces from the Mass and Sacrament are there.

How many people - religious and laity - made it to documented sainthood long before there were hand-missals for the faithful (many of whom couldn't understand the Latin)?

It's that interior participation and the graces that come from it, along with worthy reception of the Eucharist that matters, not actively doing things in the Mass.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Bishop Vasa is good in many ways, but he's not a friend of the TLM, and traditionalists have a very hard time in his diocese.

Mary said...

Don asked...
"Whereas dioceses in other regions have seen tremendous improvement in their bishops in recent years (see Milwaukee, San Antonio, Dallas..."

Does anybody know whether Bishop Farrell intends to someday promote the TLM (or even the Novus Ordo in Latin)?


As far as I can tell, he doesn't intend to promote it, but with his approval the Latin Mass community here is on the cusp of purchasing a church building and becoming established as a personal parish. Pray God soon we will be "off the cusp" and a parish.

Pablo said...

Mr. Haley said:

And so, it is with a somewhat heavy heart that ask Pablo not to consider me his enemy for my military background or my strong stance on certain issues for I desire only friendship and solidarity for the cause of Tradition. I respect very much where he is coming from and I ask only that he do the same for me.

Pablo responds;
Friendship and solidarity for the cause of Tradition is our common bond with the thread that holds them together being love for the Divine Master.

Since when did two tough guys have to apologize to each other? Man, modernism creeps in everywhere.

Anonymous said:

Furthermore, Bishop Fellay, as a truly Catholic Bishop, needs to serve all the faithful and not only Society supporters. There are tens of thousands of souls who would be enormously helped by Society ministry if they only felt that they were permitted to attend Society Masses and retreats.

Pablo responds:

Many SSPX Chapels in the U.S. are located in poor neighborhoods.

How many of those poor are allowed to attend?

Very well spoken Mr. Anonymous. I understand you are not saying this to columny, you are making an important observation.

Gideon Ertner said...

"How many people - religious and laity - made it to documented sainthood long before there were hand-missals for the faithful (many of whom couldn't understand the Latin)? It's that interior participation and the graces that come from it, along with worthy reception of the Eucharist that matters, not actively doing things in the Mass."

True, and that, along with the debacle of the last 55 years, makes one wonder whether the original Liturgical Movement was such a necessary thing after all.

New Catholic said...

That is right, Mr. Culbreath. Paint me as a Vasa-skeptic: if he decided to become more liberal (in the literal sense of the word) regarding Traditional Catholics in his diocese, his views on interior participation would make more sense.