Over and over again it was drummed into me that the Novus Ordo Mass was to conform with Vatican II documents that say we need Full, Active, Conscious Participation in the Mass. Monsignor Guido Marini, the Pope’s Master of ceremonies gave an excellent talk on what he described as full, active, conscious participation. His and Pope Benedict have described it as an interior attitude, rather than the exterior behavior. Pope Benedict touches on this in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy”.
This teaching found in the documents of Vatican II are a huge weapon against the Holy Tridentine Mass. Bishops and priest believe very strongly that the Novus Ordo Mass conforms to Vatican II. But what has come out of all this activity in the Novus Ordo Mass. It is very hard to meet God in a contemplative way. Yes all the ministers and presider and choir and activity pleases MAN. Are we at Mass to please us or to please God?
As all of you traditional Catholics know, novus ordo english mass goers find the Tridentine Latin Mass BORING. There is no dialogue between the priest and the people. There is no running around and shaking of hands at the kiss of peace. There is no holding of hands at the Our Father. Instead of upbeat rock music, there is Gregorian chant in Latin. There is a lot of kneeling especially when receiving God in Holy communion. There is the mysterious language of Latin instead of English.
Contemplative prayer is the highest form of prayer. The Holy Latin Mass is contemplative. You enter into God’s presence in silence. You open your heart in silence, not you lips. If you go to a monastery, you will be very uneasy with the silence. Why do the monks and nuns keep silence most of the time? So they can enter into God’s presence in quiet prayer.
Before monasteries were very well known. At one time in Italy around the time of St. Benedict, there were monasteries with 10,000 monks. Now when you travel to Europe they have turned into museums.
Being quiet and alone with God is not attractive anymore. Before Vatican II many men and women fled the world to go and live a life of prayer and penance in the silence of a monastery. Many of the great saints like St. Bernard, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Terese of the child Jesus, were contemplatives who lived their lives in solitude and silence.
Going to the Novus Ordo mass and hearing lots of English words does not necessarily mean you will be conscious of the prayers you are repeating out loud with everyone else. Please do this experiment. After you have recited the Gloria, the Creed, the Our Father in English together, be honest and admit how much you paid attention to the words and their meaning. We get distracted so easily. Let us be honest.
Yes, you do understand English, but where is you mind. Maybe it is on the people sitting ahead of you. Maybe it is back home where you forgot something. Maybe it is worried about what people think of you. Maybe it is about what your were doing before entering into church or on where you are going after mass, especially if it is to eat. Food is a very powerful distraction. Maybe it is in how the women are dressed so sexually that you can not pray.
Last week in the parish I used to be at, the lector wore a very short dress. Someone told me when she bowed down you could see a lot. Yes it was active participation, but it also was not what men need to see in God’s house. At that mass, some men could not help but become sexually active in their mind when they want to be praying.
Do another experiment. See what is easier; reading and talking about God for a half an hour, or sitting or kneeling in silence for a half an hour. Of course, staying still with no action in prayer is much more difficult. But when you practice this over time you become in union with God. You rest with God. You believe more in God.
Spending a Holy Hour with God in the Blessed Sacrament is not easy at first. But as you get into the virtue or habit of doing it on a regular basis, you feel a peace and rest being in God’s presence. Then when someone comes in and starts moving around, or praying out loud or talking, you feel pulled away from God’s presence. It irritates you.
In the preface of the daily latin missal it is written: “The liturgy has also for its aim the sanctification of mankind. It is the most fruitful source of divine graces which spreading from the Father through Christ into the Mystical Members of His Body, assure to them the divine life of grace. St. Pope Pius X said: “The active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church is the first and indispensable source of the true christian spirit.” By the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments which constitute the very essence of the liturgy, does the Church sanctify souls.”
Full Active Conscious Participation is an interior action of the Soul. Yes celestial music, silence, kneeling, beautiful churches all help us get to that union with God. But the real union is in the Soul. Let us keep trying to quiet down and pray with the Loving God who is more present to us than we are to Him. It is very difficult. I get constantly distracted. But I go on praying anyway. God created us and knows us. He knows it is not easy for us to slow down and quiet down. He is patient. It is so wonderful to be a traditional contemplative catholic.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.