Friday, June 1, 2018


Posted by Frenchie                             Part I

His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze offered these reflections in St Paul's Catholic Church in the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ on April 20 2018

Francis Cardinal Arinze is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrements.
He also is the Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segis (following Cardinal  Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict)

The second Vatican Council desires that the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations be full conscious, and active.
Let us look into what it is meant by such participation. How does it show itself in liturgical gestures, singing, and the observance of silence?
In particular, what place is to be given to the reception of the sacraments, especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist? And what of the veneration of the Holy Eucharist outside Mass?
We shall conclude with a brief reflection on the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae , and liturgical participation as we commemorate half a century of the issue of this important document by Blessed
Pope Paul VI.

Active Participation

It is very important that there be a proper understanding of what the Church means by active participation. The Second Vatican Council highlights this consideration:
"Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, 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 purchased people' (1 Peter 2:9;cf 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.14)
Such active participation show itself in ever deeper understanding of what is being celebrated, in movements of the soul to share ever more and more that mind "which was in Christ Jesus" (Phil.2:5),  in desire  and efforts to share with the Church in the celebration in question by joining in common gestures, in inner conversion of soul and in fervent reception of the sacraments.
Active participation does not therefore refer primarily to something external. It does not mean that as many people as possible should be visibly engaged in some action. It is not frenetic activism.
The real 'action' in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate", says Cardinal Ratzinger, "
is the action of God himself.
This is what is new and distinctive about the Christian Liturgy: God himself acts and does what is essential.....The uniqueness of the Eucharistic liturgy lies precisely in the fact that God himself is acting and that we are drawn in that action of God.
Everything else is, therefore, secondary" (J. Ratzinger: the spirit of the Liturgy, pp173,174)
Since the celebration of the mysteries of Christ is the "primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit" (SC,n.14), the active participation of the people in the sacred liturgy is given high priority by the Council. That great assembly goes into considerable detail to map out how priests, and therefore candidates to the priesthood, are to be properly prepared to give good leadership in matters liturgical (cf.SC, nn.14-19).

Gestures and Common Action

Liturgical celebrations include gestures and common action such as moving, standing, sitting, kneeling, listening, singing, exchanging signs of peace,  and moments of meaningful silence.
The liturgy knows the sharing of roles such as those of the priest celebrant, the deacon,  minor ministers, leaders of song, lectors, and church wardens. The people of God gathered together are a
praying community. It is, therefore, expected of each member to share in common gestures and to do what is expected of him or her in the various part of the celebration.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal extols the importance of these common gestures:
"The gestures and body posture of both the priest, the deacon and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, and to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all" (GIRM, n.42).

Singing In The Liturgy

Because of its special importance, liturgical singing deserves particular attention. When we sing together with other people, emotions are released and connections are deepened. When we sing together in the service of God,  we manifest and we promote our common calling in Baptism as the people of God, as member of Christ, as God's family. Singing together in the praise of God promotes our unity in the Church, our worship of God. When the priest chants and the people reply, and especially when they all sing together the Our  Father,  they manifest their unity as God's people.
This is clearly different from people sing in a bar or in an auditorium, where they are right to sing to enjoy themselves or to entertain others.
In a liturgical celebration, people sing to adore God, to beg for his pardon for their offenses, to thank him and to present to him their many requests for things material and spiritual. For this reason, it is important that the Church choir should not monopolize the singing, but should make room for the people to join, while admittedly leading them on. Liturgical singing also manifests our joyful union and connection  with our fellow Christians in another parish, diocese, country, or even continent. We also show our union with the Church triumphant in heaven as well as with the suffering Church in purgatory.

Silence In The Sacred Liturgy

  In liturgical celebarations, we sing, we read, we respond, and we move in processions. But we also observe silence. Silence is part of the liturgy, not just as the absence of speech and action, but especially as silence with a content. The human being needs some periods of quiet in order to favor recollection, inward peace and fuller appreciation of what is taking place. The missal and other liturgical books, therefore, make room for moments of silence and sometimes expressly  ask for them.
The Second Vatican Council underlines the place of "a reverent silence" (SC, n.30). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that "sacred silence, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times" (GRIM, n.45).
The reason for silence can differ according to the moment when it is indicated in the different parts of a celebration. In the Penitential Act at the beginning of Mass, and also at the invitation to pray, the reason is to allow people moments to recollect themselves. After the readings and after the homily, the moments of silence are meant to give people time to meditate on what they have heard. After people have received Holy Communion, a period of silence allows them to adore, than and pray the Lord Jesus in their hearts.
The Missal  sees the role of recollection even before Mass begins:
"Even before the celebration itself, it is a praiseworthy practice for silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may disposes themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner" (GIRM, n.45).
Priests and other ministers will do well to attend to this directive. Also congregations should engage in social greetings after the Mass outside the church building rather than inside the sacred place, especially when the Most Blessedd Sacrament is reserved in the church.
Pope Francis made these and similar points in his  address at the Wednesday general audience of January 10, 2018. "Silence", he said, "is not confined to the absence of words but rather to preparing oneself to listen to other voices: the one in our heart and , above all, the voice in the Holy Spirit"
(address in L'Osservatore Romano, weekly English edition, January 12, 2018, p.3).