opposition between internal & external participation
  • Jeffrey asked recently in another discussion:
    But Gavin, what if there are people for whom external participation comes at the expense of internal contemplation? I've felt this before, this sense of not wanting to make a noise or move my mouth because I'm struck so profoundly by spiritual emotion. This happens to me especially in a tremendously beautiful liturgy. It happened to me in Portland this year. I recall that it happened once at St. Agnes in NY at a Mass at which the Machaut Missa Notre Dame was sung. I was awe struck and completely silenced by it, to the point that I couldn't even think of vocalizing responses. I just wanted to pray. I really don't see what is wrong with that.

    ...and, while I know he didn’t direct this question at me, I’d like to weigh in on it nonetheless. (Esp. since Gavin was agreeing with and elaborating on one of my points..)

    Musicam sacram gives first precedence to the singing of dialogues. A dialogue is a two-way action: one party does something, and one or more other parties answer. In the case of, say, the opening dialogue of the OF Mass, the priest dialogues with the congregation.

    ISTM that, for a congregation member to sit through this dialogue without participating externally is to be occupied with something other than the liturgy. Even if what occupies us is indeed a very spiritual activity (e.g. the rosary), at that moment our purpose is to celebrate the liturgy, which is a public ritual act. In other words, praying the rosary at Mass, or doing something other than what the liturgy calls for us to do, is to do a good thing, but at the wrong time.

    I think Jeffrey hits on something that I actually hope will be the topic of more discussion in the future: does the dialogue Mass really and truly, over time, produce more spiritual fruit than a Mass at which it is normal, even expected, for the people not to participate externally to any appreciable extent? Yes, we have all heard the stories of how wonderful people in the late 1960s thought it was when they were given the expectation that they would actually say things in the Mass....but we need to reevaluate this in light of that a very large number of people who now participate in such liturgies have little to no experience of anything else.
  • I've found this topic to be very divisive. There are many traditionalists out there who find the dialogue Mass offensive. This is just the reality. I don't entirely understand this position, but I doubt that there is anything that can be done to stamp it out.
  • Of course it's divisive - with all due respects to all sides. Just about everything that has happened in U.S. Liturgy for the last century has been divisive. (Now maybe "divisive" is strong, but read Thomas Day's "Why Catholics Can't Sing" and you'll least see the dichotomy.)

    Pope Pius XII encouraged the Dialogue Mass. Millions of parochial school kids grew up with it, and most of their parents experienced its blossoming from the weekday Masses to the weekends. I think it was a good move - get all the people to at least be able to pronounce the Latin before asking them to sing along - neither of which had they done for generations (in most parishes).

    But, like everything else in this country, not all Bishops and Pastors followed what Rome asked. So many "traditionalists" still have the total divide between the Low and High Masses in their memories and desires. Yes, it is a fact. Whether or not you respond at a Low Mass does not make it any more or less the Mass. Likewise, whether the congregation or the choir/schola take the sung parts and a High Mass does not make it any more of less the Mass.

    I truly believe there is room in our Liturgical lives for all of the above.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    "I truly believe there is room in our Liturgical lives for all of the above."

    Isn't THAT a refreshing take on things?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    It should also be noted that the emphasis on the litugy prior to VII was the sacrificial aspect, the role of the priest and ministers offering the Mass in forgiveness for sin. Theologically, that position still holds up. Whether we make a peep or not at Mass makes no difference to what occurs and the efficacy of the liturgy itself. It was simply a reorientation since then to 'involve' the people to a much greater extent.

    I also agree that there is room for both. It's not an 'either-or'. Many times I don't sing the responses or say the prayers OUT LOUD, but I am still saying them in my heart to God silently. I am not participating any less by doing so.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Again, I find it bizarre we're even having this conversation. We're not talking parishes full of men and women drenched in tears, trembling at the majesty of the Latin text of the Mass and afraid to spoil the beauty of the music with their unclean tongues and children looking on in speechless awe. If that's the external participation problem you have at your parish, then go ahead and drop the issue. I don't know, the last time I played for Mass, I saw more people reading the bulletin during the offertory hymn than praying. And we've all seen the people of a certain... generation... who will hear the announcement "we will sing the Latin verses" and put their hymnals back in the racks and slump with their arms crossed. Oh wait, maybe they just hate hymn announcing!?

    Sarcasm aside, this is more reason that I've lately been beginning to suspect the post-1962 Missals were a HUGE mistake. From all accounts, the Dialogue Mass was spreading and the usage of chant was increasing. But people then were in the same problem we are - certain age groups who won't drop their piety. You still had the old lady clutching her rosary, unaware of the Mass except to peek and see if the priest had communed so she could leave. They probably had the same enlistment and talent problems we have in choirs - but with the help of Ward, progress was being made. Then it was announced - Congregation does everything. Rather than building up a piety of participation, it was forced on people. Rather than learning their role in the liturgy, people were expected to do it all, and when they did it wrong or not so well, no one complained so it stuck. This is the problem we're in today - people are stuck 150 years in the past where Mass is something you sit through for 45 minutes to avoid Hell, whether or not you sing, respond, or snore.

    I'll let Jeff and Francis have their quiet piety, if they'll give musicians in parishes a leg up in getting ANY sort of piety into their parishioners.
  • this short history sounds essentially correct to me.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697

    I think you would be pleasantly surprised at the "EITHER and the OR" that occurs in the liturgy here! What I usually find is that the traditionalists incorporate the new, but it is hardly ever the other way around.