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In 1947 Venerate Pope Pius XII wrote Mediator Dei, the Church’s first encyclical on liturgy.


In 1947  Venerate Pope Pius XII wrote Mediator Dei, the Church’s first encyclical on liturgy.




Venerable Pope Pius XII
Venerable Pope Pius XII

 

Fully Conscious, and Active Participation

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In 1947 Pope Pius XII wrote Mediator Dei, the Church’s first encyclical on liturgy. Pope Pius XII reminds us that; “The worship rendered by the Church to God must be, in its entirety, both interior as well as exterior.” (Mediator Dei, 23). Earlier Pope St. Pius X in his Motu Proprio, On the Restoration of Sacred Music (1903) commented that in order to acquire the Christian spirit the “first and most indispensable source” is “active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.” Pope Pius XII continues; “It is unquestionably the fundamental duty of man to orientate his person and his life towards God” (MD 13). He defines liturgy as;
“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.”
Pope Pius XII connects this idea to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ;
The Church prolongs the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy. She does this in the first place at the altar, where constantly the sacrifice of the cross is represented, and with a single difference in the manner of its offering, renewed. She does this next by means of the sacraments, those special channels through which men are made partakers in the supernatural life. She does this it, finally, by offering to God, all Good and Great, the daily tribute of her prayer of praise.” (MD 3)
The Church prolongs the priestly ministry of Jesus
  1. By means of the sacred liturgy.
  2. By means of the sacraments.
  3. By offering to God, “the daily tribute of her prayer of praise.” (MD 3)
The liturgy includes public worship, the sacraments, and the tribute of our daily prayers. Our lives should be centered on the Eucharist, enriched by the other sacraments and over flowing with prayer and contemplation in the midst of the world. As the Father of Second Vatican Council later repeat; “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.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14) In our daily lives we must strive to promote fully conscious and active participation which both interior as well as exterior.
Earlier in Sacrosanctum Concilium 7 the Council Fathers highlighted the various ways in which Christ is present in His Church:
To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross” [20], but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes [21]. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). (SC 7).
The ultimate purpose of the liturgy is to make present the Paschal Mystery. The Fathers of the council continue noting that through the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals the faithful are given graces which sanctify almost every event in their lives and that “they are given access to the stream of divine grace which flows from the paschal mystery of the passion, death, the resurrection of Christ, the font from which all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.” (SC 61).
Fully Conscious, and Active Participation
The phrase in Sacrosanctum Concilium 14 “fully conscious, and active participation” became a kind of “sound bite” or “catch phrase” after the council but note the line continues. . .
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. (SC 14 my emphasis).
The phrase “fully conscious, and active participation” is qualified by the phrase “which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.” What do the council Fathers have in mind? Sacrosanctum Concilium Paragraphs 5 through 13 have carefully laid out the true nature of the liturgy.
We are called to reverently enter into the re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery to meet the risen Christ present in the minister, the proclamation of the Word, in His sacramental Body and Blood, and in his Body the Church.
Sacrosanctum Concilium 19 gives the following advice;
With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example. (SC 19).
Pope Benedict reminds us, “To express one of its main ideas for the shaping of the liturgy, the Second Vatican Council gave us the phrase participatio actuosa, the “active participation” of everyone in the opus Dei [work of God], in what happens in the worship of God. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, 171). This does not mean that as many people as possible, as often as possible need to be involved but that everyone takes part in the action of liturgy. May God forbid that someone might think this means handing out the tambourines! Remember that the term “active participation” was originally used (1903, 1947) in relation to what we now call the Extraordinary form of the Mass. As the Holy Father points out, “the word ‘participation’ refers to a principal action in which everyone has a ‘part’.” (SL, 171)
St. Augustine views our common partaking of the Eucharist as a participation or ‘communion’ with Christ’s sacrifice, and a sharing in Christ’s immortality. St. Paul refers to the notion of sacrifice in Roman’s twelve, where he writes;
1I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).
St. Augustine comments on this passage in his book the City of God. He notes, “Thus a true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship [ut sancta societate], and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed” (City of God, X.6). St. Augustine interprets this sacrifice as the soul rising up in contemplation of God and being transformed by this union. The soul becomes “a sacrifice when it offers itself to God, in order that, being inflamed by the fire of His love, it may receive of His beauty and become pleasing to Him, losing the shape of earthly desire, and being remolded in the image of permanent loveliness” (City of God, X.6). We can see from this passage that we are all called to make our lives holy sacrifices to God. St. Paul’s appeal is not to a few chosen individuals but to all the brothers and sisters in Rome. Every aspect of our life is affected. The “renewal of our minds” will help us to seek God’s will in every aspect of our lives. In contrast with the Jewish notion of sacrifice the “Temple” of our sacrifice is now the world around us.
Our interior and exterior participation in Mass makes it “fully conscious, and active” without necessarily having to take on a formal liturgical role. We all participate together in the Sacrifice of the Mass.


http://mybhi.org/fully-conscious-and-active-participation/

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