What If You Can’t or Won’t Sing?


John asks some good questions below.

Do you really think that Vatican II’s call for greater active participation in the Mass was a call to turn every Mass attendent into a performer?

I get squeamish about the word “performer.” “Participant” is more to my liking and to what I would see as the object of Sacrosanctum Concilium. For those who lean heavily on the Mass as a vehicle for the praise of God, I suppose “performance” applies, in the sense that people strive to add their part to the overall effort.

What of the faithful Catholic who can’t sing, and/or doesn’t care to sing the songs on offer? He has no place at the Mass as you imagine it, it seems.

I hope not. Faithful Catholics who are unable to sing because they are mute have the option of praying the text while the people around them sing. As for a faithful Catholic who doesn’t care to sing a particular song is nevertheless obligated to pray during the time allotted during liturgy for a communal expression of prayer. Folding one’s arms and pouting would be an extreme example of disengaging from liturgy for one’s own choice. But I’d have no problem with a parishioner who detested a particular song to turn to another hymn in the book or to a prayer or other text and join in the common prayer of everyone else.

I think everyone has a place at Mass, but not every attitude is a welcome one, even the most heartfelt ones.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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