Adam Wood and I are getting into a decent discussion on participation at the Café. Adam is a good egg. I think he’s colored somewhat by his surroundings, and takes a little too much time to harp on what he perceives as misguided attempts at participation. He views me with skepticism, too. And that’s okay.
My sense of the Church’s understanding of participation is simply a corporate expression of public prayer, in the liturgy.
Choir members, servers, Communion ministers, lectors, sacristans, decorators, and priests “participate” in the sense that they are part of a service to others in the liturgy. But this is not what I understand the Church to mean in terms of participation. It’s not what I encourage others to do if they are looking to participate liturgically.
But serving is another thing …
The Church teaches that “(speech, song,) actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes” contribute to participation (SC 30). And I think that participation involves something deeper. Something not just the interior thing promoted by traditionalists. That’s important too. But that too is a human thing. A human being at rest, in contemplation or a person doing some human actions–what’s the difference? Just muscles? Either expresses a human response to a godly initiative.
That brings us back to participation. The speech, singing, actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes are a start of something liturgical leaders can assist. We can’t really reach directly into people’s brains and hearts and evoke directly the response to God we hope you feel.