We continue our examination of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s June 2015 essay for L’Osservatore Romano. I’ve used an “early” translation, attributed here to Michael J. Miller at Catholic World Report. Others are out there.
The dialogues are among the most important parts of the Mass. I would suggest there are many dialogues at Mass that involve other persons. Responsorial psalmody is both the proclamation of the sung Word of God as well as a dialogue with the liturgical assembly.
Of course, there are other parts of the Mass in which the priest, acting “in persona Christi Capitis” [“in the person of Christ the Head”] enters into a nuptial dialogue with the assembly. But the only purpose of this face-to-face is to lead to a tête-À-tête with God which, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will become a heart-to-heart conversation.
That experience of cor ad cor loquitur would certainly be a prime grace hoped-for in the spiritual life of Christians.
Cardinal Sarah adds a citation from SC, but inaccurately, I think:
The Council thus proposes other means of promoting participation: “acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes” (no. 30).
The Constitution reads that encouraging these means will promote participation. It is the encouragement in context of the non-participating assemblies of the 1960’s that was deemed an important need. When the faithful engage in these spoken and sung words as well as bodily postures they are fulfilling the rubrics of the Missal with regard to their own participation.
A misinterpretation of good liturgy follows:
An over-hasty and all-too-human interpretation has led some to conclude that it was necessary to make sure that the faithful were constantly busy.
Post-conciliar liturgical reform also promotes silence. There is a difference between silent attention when other people are serving and biding one’s time for one’s next opportunity. Clergy are often, but not always, good role models for this. There are also collective times of silence: after readings, after the invitation to pray, and at other important moments.
The contemporary Western mentality, shaped by technology and fascinated by the media, tried to make the liturgy a work of effective, rewarding instruction.
Not only media, but also the Church’s misplaced catechetical instincts.
In this spirit, many have tried to make liturgical celebrations convivial. Liturgical ministers, prompted by pastoral motives, sometimes try to instruct by introducing profane, show-business elements into liturgical celebrations. Don’t we sometimes see a proliferation of testimonies, scenery and applause? They think that this will foster the participation of the faithful, whereas in fact it reduces the liturgy to a human game.
Often it does. Announcements, staging, and clapping all can reduce liturgy to something less than it could be. I tend not to worry over much about applause–it’s second dictionary definition is affirmation for an idea expressed. It’s not always about affirming performance. The local pastor is the best judge of the context of things such as testimonies and applause.
Note: I Wasn’t able to find the original essay on the L’Osservatore Romano site. Your comments, however, are most welcome.