Tuesday 14 April 2020

Active Participation

In my missal (inherited from my Father, [Society of St John the Evangelist/Desclée & Co, 1948, with changes post-1956] who bought it in 1973), there is an interesting note with regard to the new liturgy for Palm Sunday.

The english (sic) texts of pp 382 - 558 are those of the "Holy Week Manual" published in 1956 by Burnes and Oates, London, and Desclée & Co, Tournai.

[There is then an overview of the new rite, which concludes:]

In the new rite of "Palm Sunday" the active participation of the people is provided for: -

(1) The blessing of palms is to be done in sight of the congregation and facing it; and for this the people may hold their own palms and have them sprinkled and censed in their places.
(2) The people are to take part in the procession, walking after the celebrant, carrying their palms; and women are not excluded from this procession.
(3) The congregation is to sing the responses, and if possible, the refrain Gloria laus; and it may add the hymn Christus vincit, or another one, in honour of the Christ-King.
(4) The final (new) prayer at the end of the first part of the rite is to be sung facing the people.

I am not going to comment here on the wisdom of these changes, nor the principle apparently established, that the Church could create new rites in this way.

Rather, my attention was caught by the phrase 'active participation of the people.'  This was clearly a key idea of the liturgical movement, and what interests me is how modest were the provisions made for participation, compared to those unleashed by Bugnini after the Council.

Because, and this is the point I wish to make, I was struck by the probability  indeed the near certainty - that when the Council Fathers voted for more active participation, what most will have had in mind is the modest types of provision that they had experienced since the changes of 1955, as listed above.   Clearly there is nothing here that remotely presages what actually was done in the name of that simple phrase.

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