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Actual Participation in the Liturgy

Vatican II called for actual participation in the liturgy, actuosa. Not so much “active” participation, but actual in Latin. What is “active” participation? So often active participation means to get as many people on their feet or involved as possible, fabricating something that we came up with. “Active” participation means innovation. Active participation more often means, in the U.S., not following the book. The Holy Spirit anointed the Church with the Mass and yet, somehow, after the Council, so many people got the idea that they could do better!

“Actual” participation is what we want. That consists of active passivity, active receptivity to the unveiling of the mystery of Christ that is opened before us here at the altar. Active passivity, actual participation, contemplative participation — getting caught up in the mysteries, never doing something because people find it entertaining. It is not about being entertained, but getting caught up in the mystery, which only happens if what the Church wants done, is done.

…. Actual participation is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

—from Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s Homily, Promoting beauty, reverence in the liturgy, at the Chrism Mass, Tuesday, April 11, 2017


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