Sacrosanctum Concilium 113

Don’t look now, but active participation has popped up again:

Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people.

Imagine that! The untrained masses adding nobility.

As regards the language to be used, the provisions of Art. 36 are to be observed; for the Mass, Art. 54; for the sacraments, Art. 63; for the divine office. Art. 101.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 113

  1. Sorry, Todd, but for all this talk about “active participation” (or as the latin original says participatio actuosa, the Second Vatican Council decree, Musicam Sacram has elaborately defined the expression, and in a way which does not completely jibe with your and other liturgists’ definitions.

    That definition can be found at Musicam Sacram, paragraph 15, which can be found here,
    and which reads as follows:

    15. The faithful carry out their proper liturgical function by offering their complete, conscious, and active participation. The very nature of the liturgy demands this and it is the right and duty of the Christian people by reason of their baptism.

    This participation must be:

    a. internal, that is, the faithful make their thoughts match what they say and hear, and cooperate with divine grace;

    b. but also external, that is, they express their inner participation through their gestures, outward bearing, acclamations, responses, and song.

    The faithful are also to be taught that they should try to raise their mind to God through interior participation as they listen to the singing of ministers or choir.

    In short, active participation begins with listening, and then proceeds with an external participation which may include, but does not have to be, singing. The attempt to say that the congregation has to sing everything is a red herring, and not in fact mandated by Vatican II.

    I agree with you that the choir and cantor should be the leaders of the congregation in prayer, and not their replacement. As a matter of fact, on the occasions when I am the only one at St. Andrew’s who is in the choir, I put on a black stichar, stand at the left kleros in front of the church, and lead the rest of the congregation, who sing both lustily and rather well. I wish that I could find the same at most Latin rite churches. A failure in catachesis, perhaps?

  2. Todd says:

    Bernard, as best I can tell, when we’re talking about participation, we’re talking about the same thing. Musicam Sacram is a valuable document, but certain prescriptions of it have been superceded by the Roman Missal, it’s introduction and its rubrics.

  3. Dear Todd:

    It would be perhaps reasonable for you to indicate where and how, and in fact what “certain prescriptions” of Musicam Sacram have been superseded by the Roman Missal, its introduction and its rubrics.

    I seem to recall from Canon 20 of the Code of Canon Law the following:

    Can. 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

    Please then tell me how the universal law of the Council Fathers, as stated in Musicam Sacram, is derogated by an express statement of these later laws.

  4. Todd says:

    Bernard, it’s not a matter for canon law, but liturgical law. If the Roman Missal makes prescriptions for sacred music in its rubrics or general introduction that supercede Musicam Sacram.

    To put it bluntly, MS is not canon law. It is an instruction. The Roman Missal tells leaders of worship, including musicians, what to do at Mass. MS, in some aspects, did not anticipate the directives of the Roman Missal. And as an “instruction,” it does not carry sufficient weight to override a document whose framers were entirely aware of its existence and status.

  5. Todd, to put it correctly if not bluntly, I believe that your interpretation of liturgical law is contrary to explicit canon law.

    It is true that Canon 2 of the CJC states that For the most part the Code does not define the rites which must be observed in celebrating liturgical actions. Therefore, liturgical laws in force until now retain their force unless one of them is contrary to the canons of the Code. Emphasis added.

    However, your comment that Musicam Sacram is “an instruction with insufficient weight to override a document whose framers were entirely aware of its existence and status” does not seem to jibe with Canon 337, which states: The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council and further, Canon 341, which states: The decrees of an ecumenical council do not have obligatory force unless they have been approved by the Roman Pontiff together with the council fathers, confirmed by him, and promulgated at his order

    Musicam Sacram was a decree of the Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, an ecumenical council, promulgated by His late Holiness, Paul VI. It is therefore not simply “an instruction”, but a universal law with obligatory force over the universal church under Canons 337 and 341, and subject to the process of canonical interpretation of Canon 20.

    So, I’ll repeat, Please then tell me how the universal law of the Council Fathers, as stated in Musicam Sacram, is derogated by an express statement of these later laws.

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