03 May 2016

Who is involved in 'active participation' in 'Gabriel's Oboe'?

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.

So states Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Liturgy, in No 14. This was the first document of Vatican II to be promulgated, by Blessed Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963.

Where is that fully conscious, and active participation to be seen in the video above? Clearly Henrik Goldschmidt, the oboist, is. Clearly too the members of The Faroe Islands Philharmonic Orchestra.

But so is the audience. And not just by clapping at the end. Their fully conscious listening to the music is true active participation, just as much as that of the musicians.

Both musicians and audience showed deep respect for the music of Ennio Morricone. The musicians played exactly what he had composed, though not mechanically. The audience listened in silence until the end, totally involved.

This was a performance but there are parallels with the liturgy, especially that of the Holy Mass. The musicians weren't casually dressed. The men all wore ties, the conductor a bow tie. Rituals were followed - the soloist bowing to the audience and the orchestra at the end of the performance, a young girl giving him a bouquet of flowers, the audience applauding.

First Holy Communion

No 34 of Sacrosanctum Concilium reads: The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

Some time ago I was at a parish fiesta Mass here in the Philippines. After the priest's greeting at the beginning, a commentator read out a not too short but prepared introduction. When she was finished the main celebrant gave another. Before each reading the commentator gave a brief, prepared introduction, which is allowed. 

Four different readers lined up to read the petitions of the Prayer of the Faithful. This is not uncommon on big occasions.

Where was the noble simplicity? I should add that the Mass was celebrated reverently. There was nothing 'wild' or untoward.

Like many a priest - and bishop - I have been guilty on occasion of preaching far too long, and of sometimes not being prepared. But I find so many celebrations of Mass 'deadening' with all the words, all the unnecessary 'explanations' and introductions, the 'wall-to-wall' sound, even though the Missal itself directs us to have periods of silence. I find most concelebrated Masses I take part in to be burdensome.

My sentiments on these occasions are often those of Eliza Doolittle/Julie Andrews: Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words!

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