Summary: We cannot come to worship unprepared. Silent prayer, fasting and confession are recommended.

Monday of Fourteenth Week in Course

July 6, 2009

Sacramentum Caritatis

The House of God and Gate of Heaven is, fundamentally, Jesus Christ. The woman with the hemorrhage found that out through her experience of the healing touch of His garment. The little girl experienced it through her resuscitation. What Jacob saw in vision, men and women like these and Thomas the Apostle experienced through the words, gestures, glances and embraces of God Himself. They were totally engaged with the mystery of Christ, and, filled with the Holy Spirit, many of them spent the rest of their lives spreading and celebrating the mystery we have the privilege to repeat today–the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Son of God become Son of Mary for our salvation.

The Council Fathers insisted that we who receive our identity and sustenance at Mass are freed for what they called actuosa participatio. Now this has been translated “active participation,” but in our activist society many people have misinterpreted this to mean that everybody is busy doing something all the time at Mass. I like to use the term “engaged” participation, which means everyone is praying the Mass, not doing something else. We can pray by singing, by active listening, by meditating on the mystery and our response.

The Holy Father tells us about the personal conditions required for engaged participation. He begins by telling us that we need a spirit of “constant conversion.” As Paul teaches, we must first examine ourselves. He recommends that we be silent and recollected for at least a few moments before the beginning of any liturgy. He also mentions fasting, and the least of that is the one hour Eucharistic fast. When necessary, he reminds us of the need for sacramental confession. A heart reconciled to God makes genuine participation possible. And, finally, there is no engaged participation without an accompanying effort to participate actively in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ’s love into the life of society.

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