new massHow many times have I heard priests exclaim their enthusiasm for ‘full participation’ at Mass. It is a kind of modern Catholic mantra. Indeed, not only a Catholic mantra, it has become an ideological slogan before which all must bow.

So, in the name of ‘full participation’ we have overturned 2000 years of church architectural tradition and built round churches, fan shaped churches, churches that are auditoria, churches that are circus tents, churches that are stadiums–all in an attempt to get as many people as close as possible to the altar as if proximity to the altar constitutes full participation.

The tradition of sacred music has fallen to this revolutionary creed as well. Down with Gregorian chant and classic hymns and the venerable music of the liturgy and up with tacky songs with sentimental semi heretical lyrics. More often than not this music is imposed on the people. Every kind of secular style of music has entered the sanctuary in an attempt to get ‘full participation’ and all of it has been imposed by well meaning ideologues–and the irony of it is that these are the same people who claim to be democratic and ‘listening to the voice of the people of God’.

Other priests, in an attempt at “full participation” try to get each person to do something. So they cram the procession full with every possible altar server, lector, extraordinary Eucharistic ministers, Boy Scouts, Sunday School children, Knights of Columbus….there are so many people in the procession there’s hardly anybody left in the pew.

And has it worked? Continue Reading