Participatio Examples


Richard asked for some specifics on our participatio topic, so let me give these a shot before bedtime.

* Is a dialogue response in the readings necessary to ensure PA in this part of the liturgy? Not so much: *can* it elicit PA (I think it can) but is its inclusion a strong guarantee of it? How much should we presume on that?

I’ve gone from promoting it to being a strong doubter. The Word of God needs people, including priests, who are very well trained in the vocal arts. I’d have to say I’m even a doubter when it comes to the Passion gospels. This is an instance in which active listening of the Word is vital. I could see a musical acclamation interspersed into long gospel readings, but it would have to be well done to be a consideration.

* Is maximizing the number of EMHC’s necessary to increase PA during the liturgy of the Eucharist?

No. But it is a nod to the pragmatic sensibility of most pastors. In my parish, the advantage would be that asking people to sing three or more Communion songs might hinder PA.

* Are other, more performance oriented liturgical practices, such as dances, necessary to (or even detrimental to) PA at the designated part of the liturgy? (I am not trying to pull out a strawman, since I don’t ever recall you being a strong advocate for liturgical dancing – I’m just asking.)

I see dance as an artistic parallel to music. If the people are invited to dance and are willing to do so, it makes sense to engage the physical aspect of a person. Outside of Africa and a few other locations, I don’t see that as a plausible possibility.

* How often are hymns and dialogue responses needed throughout both parts of the liturgy to achieve a desirable level of PA?

As a liturgist I place hymns on a lower priority, under acclamations, lianties, and psalmody. I know that the dialogue responses with the presider are considered a very high priority, but I reserve doubts about them. That said, most American Catholics have a high comfort with hymnody. Taking it away without explanation or preparation would be harmful in some places, I think.

* Is there ever a point where elimination of Latin (or if you like, Greek in the Kyrie) in favor of vernacular, and rendering of translations into as colloquial a language as possible (vis a vis Bishop Trautman’s position) to render the liturgy as simple and understandable to the laity as possible ever be counterproductive to PA, for example by possible diminution of the sense of the mystery or sacrifical character of the mass?

First, I’m not sure Bishop Trautman or any progressive liturgist today is in favor of maximal colloquiality. The progressive bent since the 80’s has been to a more poetic and beautiful rendering of English. Faithfulness to the Latin original, not necessarily excellent English, would be where the current retrenchment is taking us. Nobody I know approves of the current translation, but turning the argument into one of Vox Clara versus 1975 ICEL is the biggest load of straw off the farm. Bodily attitude and parish priority says a lot more about the sense of mystery or the sacrificial character of the Mass than language. I have no doubt the 1962 Rite works as well as it does because the people involved give a darn about liturgy.

* Are there choices made in terms of music genre, outward rubrics, or wording of dialogue prayers which might be actually detrimental to PA by male congregants – a question I ask in regards to the empirical evidence suggesting a growing disparity in many areas by male attendance at mass?

Call me a doubter on a so-called “growing” disparity of male Mass atendance. Women have always out-attended men. A sociological study out of U Washington showed this is true across the board in all major religions and many minor ones. Males don’t read as much as females and are less concerned about education. The solution: fathers reading to children and taking an active interest in academics, especailly with their boys. I suspect if more dads took their families to church and boys saw their fathers praying, it would do more than cosmetic changes like, “Hell yeah, and also with you.”

I think the focus on externals, while important, does not quite get at the heart of PA. It’s more than people seeing their peers involved as leadership. It’s about cultivating a sense of prayer. Coming to Mass and getting involved as a pew person should be so easy that a person sings, responds, listens, and gets inspired without nearly a conscious effort in doing so. The model to which I aspire for my parish I find when I visit monasteries. Religious do PA extremely well.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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