It’s about time in our consideration of the Eucharist to begin to get practical. We’ll certainly come back to some of the key theological points about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but for now let’s begin to deal with subjects that are not so theoretical.
The main practical idea about the Mass that we should begin with is the idea of full and active participation in it by everyone. You know, the best and most holy Mass is never a “solo” performance by a skilled presider, talented readers, gifted homilist, outstanding choir, or other individual or group. Neither does the setting, like a beautiful church building or superb pipe organ, “make” the Mass the best kind. All of these things help, but they’re not what the Church says is the key.
Rather, the Catholic bishops of the world meeting at the Second Vatican Council in 1963 clearly affirmed that the thing “to aim for before all else” is the “full and active participation by all the people” (no. 14 in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). When the Mass is a cooperative and engaging effort, so that all who are present understand themselves as participants and not mere spectators, then the worship of Christ Jesus is the best and holiest. I know lots of people forget this, but that’s in part why I’m writing these little articles!