Mediator Dei 20

Picking up on MD 19’s hope for a stronger and more unified Church, Pope Pius XII is under no illusion that this happens in any other way except through the grace of God.

We have a discussion on where Christ’s presence may be found in the liturgy. Those familiar with post-Vatican II teaching can probably cite easily: the Eucharistic elements, the Word proclaimed, the minister, and in the believing assembly. Notice

20. This result is, in fact, achieved when Christ lives and thrives, as it were, in the hearts of (people), and when (people)’s hearts in turn are fashioned and expanded as though by Christ. This makes it possible for the sacred temple, where the Divine Majesty receives the acceptable worship which His law prescribes, to increase and prosper day by day in this land of exile of earth. Along with the Church, therefore, her Divine Founder is present at every liturgical function: Christ is present at the august sacrifice of the altar both in the person of His minister and above all under the eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments, infusing into them the power which makes them ready instruments of sanctification. He is present, finally, in prayer of praise and petition we direct to God, as it is written: “Where there are two or three gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”[Matt. 18:20] The sacred liturgy is, consequently, the public worship which our Redeemer as Head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through Him to the heavenly Father. It is, in short, the worship rendered by the Mystical Body of Christ in the entirety of its Head and members.

No explicit mention of the Word. And note the interesting description of Christ’s presence in the prayer of the people. Would that include the proclamation of Scripture?

This notion of Christ being found in the prayers offered: how does this impact the pre-conciliar and the modern notions of participation?

One obvious bit is the more explicit acknowledgement of liturgy defined as human participation in the worship of the Father by the Son. That’s a traditionally acknowledged observation.

Also interesting is the notion of congregational participation in this light. We accept prayer, spoken and sung, as part of Christ’s worship of the Father. Is it then essential that explicit prayers help focus the engagement of the assembly? By that I mean the avoidance of a drifting attention (psychologically) and that “entirety” of worship by the whole Body, not just its clergy and Head.

To be sure, this notion of participation isn’t the same as all the people doing everything all the time, as the caricature often goes. But it implies the conciliar development of including the assembly in the rubrics of the Mass.

There’s a good bit more to discuss in this section I haven’t touched on yet. Feel free to chime in.

You can consult Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

About catholicsensibility

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