Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sacrosanctum Concilium 14
Chapter 1 continues with a new sub-section entitled, "The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation." Let's keep in mind the context of this: we've just completed a nine-part portion outlining the nature of the liturgy and its importance in the life of the Church. Continuing under "General Principles," we read:

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

Naturally, post-conciliar liturgists take this to heart. The very nature of liturgy implies a dialogue inclusive of those who attend worship. It is more than a right. Vatican II describes it as a "duty." I think one can misapply this and demand literal, fundamentalist compliance, thus alienating the people one is supposed to be leading. Or we can apply the principle in general. If a community or individual steadfastly refuses to be engaged in any way at any time, that would be a matter of grave spiritual import.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

The council bishops seem to suggest that the Roman Rite was in need of restoration, that somehow in its preconciliar state, it was failing to provide a full measure of sanctification to the faithful. Pastors--namely bishops and parish priests--are on the spot to provide the achievement of a full and active participation.

Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. Wherefore the sacred Council has decided to enact as follows: And we'll read more about these points a bit later. For now, any thoughts?

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