Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"MY WORD shall not return to me void": the criteria for participation

"Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it."
Is 55:10-11

The sacred Liturgy is an encounter with that living divine "Word" who is Christ. Participation in the sacred Liturgy is first defined, therefore, by those attitudes and dispositions which best enable the faithful to "receive" that Word from the Father in the Holy Spirit of docility. Thus may the living "Word" bestow His life and bring fruitfulness in the living faith of the believer and the communio of believers, never returning "void" to the heavenly Father.

"Fully conscious and active participation" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14) is not identified exclusively with speaking. Here are the ways in which the faithful participate with full consciousness and active participation in the sacred Liturgy without saying a word:

1. Making the sign of the Cross with holy water upon entering the church.
2. Genuflecting in adoration of the Lord truly present in the tabernacle which contains the Eucharist.
3. Kneeling to make a prayer of preparation before holy Mass.
4. Striking the breast while praying the "Confiteor".
5. Sacred silence before the opening prayer.
6. Bowing during the Creed.
7. Listening as the sacred Scriptures are proclaimed.
8. Standing for the proclamation of the holy Gospel.
9. Kneeling during the canon of the Mass and consecration.
10. Receiving the Eucharist with a spirit of devotion and adoration.
11. Sacred silence and thanksgiving following Communion.
12. Making the sign of the Cross when the priest gives the blessing at the end of holy Mass.
13. Genuflecting before departing the church after the conclusion of holy Mass.


Photo: Early morning snowfall blankets Saint Peter's Church.