Pope John Paul II on Participation

Posted by Jeffrey Pinyan at 9:42 AM

This is new content in the second edition of Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, from the Introduction.


Pope John Paul II, in an address to Bishop of the United States in 1998, explained the three terms describing participation:
Full participation certainly means that every member of the community has a part to play in the liturgy … [but it] does not mean that everyone does everything, since this would lead to a clericalizing of the laity and a laicizing of the priesthood; and this was not what the Council had in mind.  The liturgy, like the Church, is intended to be hierarchical and polyphonic, respecting the different roles assigned by Christ and allowing all the different voices to blend in one great hymn of praise.
Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship … [but it] does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening:  indeed, it demands it. …
Conscious participation calls for the entire community to be properly instructed in the mysteries of the liturgy, lest the experience of worship degenerate into a form of ritualism.  But it does not mean a constant attempt within the liturgy itself to make the implicit explicit, since this often leads to a verbosity and informality … [nor does it] mean that the Latin language, and especially the chants which are so superbly adapted to the genius of the Roman Rite, should be wholly abandoned.