The Second Vatican Council, held in Rome from 1962 to 1965, the Church called for all Catholics, not just priests and religious, to active participation at mass. This wasn’t a new thing, but the result of a liturgical movement stretching back about 100 years before Vatican II. It was this movement that encouraged people to be more engaged with the Mass. They encouraged music in the Mass that people could sing, which resulted in a renewal of Gregorian Chant, which is easy enough that most people can sing along with it, beautiful enough to lift our hearts and souls to God, and has a long history in the Church. Often, in the old form of the Mass, many people would pray their rosary or other prayers while the Mass was going on, the Liturgical Movement encouraged people to follow along with the prayers of the Mass by buying Daily Missals, which have all the prayers and readings of the Mass. That’s why most church’s today have missalettes in the pews.
When Vatican II called for active participation in the Mass, this is the history they were thinking of. The bishops at the Council had all been brought up in this movement. They saw that many people were taking the Mass for granted and thought the solution was to be more actively engaged in the Mass. So, while it’s very good, and a big help, for people to be involved in the Mass by doing the readings, being an altar server, usher, or member of the choir, or helping distribute Communion, even people who aren’t doing that can actively participate by engaging their mind, heart, and soul.
So, I want to encourage everyone to pay attention to the readings, listen to the homily, and pray along with the prayers of the Mass. Just like the priest offers the Mass for a specific intention, every time you go to Mass you can offer that Mass for a specific intention. After Mass, spend a moment in prayer thanking God for the Mass and thinking about one think that God wants you to take home with you. Don’t be upset or surprised if you get distracted in Mass, it happens to everyone. Just gently turn your attention back to the Lord. Every time you do you’re telling Jesus that you’d rather spend time with Him than think about whatever was distracting you. The problem isn’t when you’re distracted 100 times during Mass, it’s when you’re distracted once and it lasts the entire time.
Next Week: Exaltation of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.