JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
“Hagan lío”, Tridentine-style
Fifty years before Pope Francis suggested to young people to “raise Cain” in their parishes, Blessed Oscar Romero told the faithful that if they wanted to be active participants in the liturgy, they should get to Mass early and crowd the front pews.
The previous year, Saint John XXIII had issued a revised edition of the ‘Missale Romanum.’ Later the same year, the Second Vatican Council would produce ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium,’ leading to dramatic changes in “active participation” for Catholics around the world. Romero’s proposal therefore represented a compromise, suggesting that “active participation” might be found within the Tridentine Rite.
This concededly light and pastoral reflection from Blessed Romero may be of interest to adherents of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form for its commentary on the last version of the Tridentine Mass, as well as to followers of the ‘Novus Ordo’, for its implications for the reformed liturgy. While completely in line with liturgical instruction of the time—especially, Pius XII’s ‘Mediator Dei’ (1947) —Fr. Romero offers a proposal to make active participation in the liturgy a reality in the usus antiquior.
With kind regards to those taking part in the Summorum Pontificum conference this week.
HOW TO ATTEND MASS
Bl. Oscar Romero
January 19, 1963
One can attend Mass and sit there silent as a stone, or with arms crossed like someone watching a Chinese theater piece, not understanding anything. But a true Christian cannot attend mass in this way. We do not come to Mass to observe the plot of an interesting show because we are forced to be there and to follow along. For us baptized, going to Mass is a PARTICIPATION and a taking part with all our being in the mystery of Christ in our midst.
The Mass is a participation—constantly renewed in space and in time —in the Last Supper, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. And when we attend Mass, we incorporate ourselves to this mystery.
Mass is a great communal event that calls us to come together around Christ. The first condition for good participation in the Mass is to ARRIVE ON TIME. It is not good to devalue the first part of the Mass, because it is the dialogue of God with his people. God speaks through the liturgical texts, especially the Epistle and the Gospel. We also speak to him, singing our joys in the psalms of the Introit and the Gloria. The priest prays in our name in the Collect. This first part of the Mass shows our faith in the Word of God and increases our love for God. It prepares us to celebrate the Eucharist itself.
In the Church and especially at the time of the Mass, the center of interest is the ALTAR. The Mass is of interest to all Christians, but there would be no Mass if there were no altar and if there were no priest at the altar. Accordingly, to attend Mass well, we must also see the altar, and see the priest who celebrates the Mass and his gestures. It is necessary to hear what he says. Let us not be afraid to get as close as possible to the altar and to surround it. LET US NOT STAY AT THE BACK of the churches when there are empty spots up front!
At Mass the priest prays for all those who are around him. He prays for the "holy people," for the people who are the family of God, that is to say, for those surrounding the altar. Let us gather around the altar to better express that at Mass we all pray together, each for everyone else. We present ourselves together before God. Together we are all sinners and God saves us all.
In the Mass, there is a prayer of the body and a prayer of the soul, and this is why the Mass embraces gestures and movements for the whole community. Often our faithful neglect the fact that, in prayer, the body is the interpreter of the soul. A standing posture expresses vigilance, an active attitude, thanksgiving. When we hear the Gospel we stand, because the word of God makes us free, and makes us future risen ones. A sitting posture, in the Church, is not simply an attitude of rest. Instead, it expresses the facility of receptive and meditative contemplation of the mystery. A kneeling attitude expresses a gesture of penance, humility and adoration. That is why the Church is mindful of these common motions during Mass. The requirement of these collective movements in the Mass is not arbitrary, but intended to guide our prayer according to the various phases of the action, IN AN ACTIVE AND COMMUNAL PARTICIPATION.
The “Participation of the faithful” in the Mass is accomplished above all through COMMUNION. It is true that the priest's communion suffices to guarantee the integrity of the sacrifice, but the communion of the faithful is recommended as the most perfect form of participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The Eucharist is consecrated at the altar, but it is intended for all. Communion unites us not only to Christ but also to our brothers and sisters because it is a fraternal banquet.
Maybe when Mass is finished, we may have the impression that we are done. But on the contrary if we have participated in the sacrifice, it sets down demands for us. In fact, concrete demands on our lives relating to charity, for our FAMILY life and for our SOCIAL WITNESS.
 Ibid., 170
 Ibid., 119