Sep 26, 2004

Participation of the Faithful - 1962 Missale Romanum

Changes in the rubrical code:


  • Novum rubricarum brevarii et missalis romani corpus approbatur, AAS 52, 1960, 593-595. Moto proprio of Pope John XXIII July 25, 1960 (Rubricarum instructum)
  • De musica sacra, AAS 50, 1958, 630-663. Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites September 3, 1958.
  • Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, July 26, 1960, AAS 52, 596

The Moto Proprio of Pope John XXIII, referred to as Rubricarum Instructum promulgated a new code of rubrics for the Missale Romanum. The new rubrical code was published the next day by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. I found the following section interesting.

DSCR: no. 272:
272. Of its nature the Mass demands that all those present take part in it, after the manner proper to them.
A choice must be made, however, among the various ways in which the faithful may take part actively in the most holy sacrifice of the Mass, in such a way that any danger of abuse may be removed, and the special aim of the participation may be realized, namely a fuller measure of worship offered to God and of edification obtained for the faithful.
This active participation of the faithful has been dealt with at greater length in the Instruction, Sacred Music and the Sacred Liturgy, given by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on September 3, 1958.

The referenced document De musica sacra lays out the following interesting items, those proposed (one could even say encouraged) in no. 31 exceptionally so:

28. In the case of the read Mass, too, special care must be taken that the faithful are present “not as outsiders or as silent spectators” (apostolic constitution Divini cultus, December 20, 1928: AAS 21, 1929, 40), but in such a way that may exercise that kind of participation which is demanded by such a great mystery and which yields such abundant fruits.

29. The first way in which the faithful can participate in the low Mass is when each participates on his own initiative, whether his participation is internal, through devout attention to the principal parts of the Mass, or external, according to the various approved local customs. They deserve special praise who use a small missal suitable to their understanding and pray along with the priest in the very words of the Church.
But, all are not equally capable of understanding properly the rites and formulas, and spiritual needs are not the same and do not always remain the same for any individual. Hence, there are easier and more suitable ways of participating for some, such as “piously meditating upon the mysteries of Jesus Christ, or performing other devotional exercises, or reciting prayers which, though they may differ in form from the sacred rites, are nevertheless in keeping with them by their nature” (Mediator Dei, AAS 39, 1947, 560-561).
Furthermore, it should be noted that if the practice prevails in some places of playing the organ during a read Mass, and if, after stopping this practice, the faithful would participate either with common prayers or with singing, then it is necessary to disapprove the uninterrupted playing of the organ, harmonium or other musical instrument. Such instruments must therefore remain silent:

a) after the priest celebrant has reached the altar until the offertory;

b) from the first verses before the preface up to and including the Sanctus;

c) where the custom exists, from the consecration up to the Pater noster;

d) from the Lord’s Prayer up to the Angus Dei inclusive; during the Confiteor before the people’s communion; while the postcommunion is being said: and during the blessing given at the end of the Mass.

30. A second form of participation is when the faithful take part in the Eucharistic sacrifice by offering up prayers and song in common, provided, above all, that the prayers and song are suited to the individual parts of the Mass, observing what has been noted in no. 14-c.2

31. Finally, the third and most perfect manner of participation is had when the faithful give the liturgical responses to the celebrant, taking part, as it were, in a dialogue with him, and saying aloud the parts that belong to them.

In this more perfect participation there are four stages:

a) In the first stage the faithful give the easiest liturgical responses to the celebrant, which are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Deo gratias; Gloria tibi, Domine; Laus tibi, Christe; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est, and Sed libera nos a malo.

b) In the second stage the faithful give those responses which the acolyte must pronounce according to the rubrics, and if holy communion is given during the Mass, also recite the Confiteor and the triple Domine non sum dignus.

c) The third degree is that in which the faithful recite parts of the ordinary of the Mass with the celebrant, namely: Gloria in excelsis Deo, the Credo, the Sanctus-Benedictus and the Agnus Dei.

d) The fourth and final degree is that in which the faithful also recite with the celebrant part of the proper of the Mass: the introit, gradual, offertory and communion. This last degree can be practiced with fitting dignity only by select and well trained groups.

32. In read Mass, the entire Pater noster, an appropriate and ancient prayer in preparation for communion, may be recited by the faithful, but only in Latin and with all joining in the Amen. Its recitation in the vernacular is strictly forbidden.

1 The New Liturgy: A Documentation, 1903-1965, R. Kevin Seasoltz, Herder and Herder NY, 1966.

2 14-c: It is strictly forbidden to say aloud the parts of the proper, ordinary and canon of the Mass together with the priest celebrant, in Latin or in translation, and this applies both to the faithful and to a commentator, with the exceptions laid down in No. 31

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