Living the liturgical life: let’s join Pope Pius XII in examining this, and what it means for us today.
197. But there is something else of even greater importance, Venerable Brethren, which We commend to your apostolic zeal, in a very special manner. Whatever pertains to the external worship has assuredly its importance; however, the most pressing duty of Christians is to live the liturgical life, and increase and cherish its supernatural spirit.
Seminarians require attention in this regard:
198. Readily provide the young clerical student with facilities to understand the sacred ceremonies, to appreciate their majesty and beauty and to learn the rubrics with care, just as you do when he is trained in ascetics, in dogma and in a canon law and pastoral theology. This should not be done merely for cultural reasons and to fit the student to perform religious rites in the future, correctly and with due dignity, but especially to lead him into closest union with Christ, the Priest, so that he may become a holy minister of sanctity.
So liturgy not only must be taught on the level of canon law, pastoral ministry, and other disciplines, but it must be lived also. Seminaries of this age gave their students something of a model of life in the cloister. How well that translated into parish practice, especially parish leadership, before the Council–that is a good question. In the modern lonely priest’s lifestyle, does it sustain?
Pope Pius XII prescribes a unity between clergy and people:
199. Try in every way, with the means and helps that your prudence deems best, that the clergy and people become one in mind and heart, and that the Christian people take such an active part in the liturgy that it becomes a truly sacred action of due worship to the eternal Lord in which the priest, chiefly responsible for the souls of his parish, and the ordinary faithful are united together.
Mediator Dei teaches that active participation is itself a sacred action. This seems a rather radical thought, given my encounters with some traditional-leaning Catholics. The union described here is not one of congruence, of doing the same thing or performing the identical action. I’d say the unity is marked by the common purpose of worshiping God. That is the act that draws people together. Not necessarily doing the same things at liturgy.