The Diocese of Trenton Celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass)

Q&A
General Questions on the Extraordinary Form
The Solemn High Mass
The Solemn High Pontifical Mass
Priest Facing the Altar (Ad Orientem)
Sacred Silence and Active Participation
The Asperges Me (Sprinkling Rite)
Incense
Holy Communion
Confession
Veils
According to the Second Vatican Council, shouldn't we be actively participating?

Yes, the Council does recommend to us that we should be actively participating in the Mass. According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council, "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." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14) The Constitution goes on to say that pastors should zealously try to achieve this participation because it is the "primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit." (ibid.) However, this term is greatly misunderstood by many who employ it. Some have taken it to mean that people should be talking throughout the Mass, planning the Liturgy or even that they have to be taking on the roles of the sacred ministers such as reading the lectionary and distributing Holy Communion in order to participate in the Mass. The council itself does not describe what active participation is. However, it does say that active participation should be achieved through necessary instruction and above all through the pastors themselves becoming "thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the Liturgy, and... [undertaking] to give instruction about it." (ibid.) So, we see that this participation does not call for a change in action or role of the laity but for them to deepen to their understanding of the Mass. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has expressed the same concerns saying, "The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. I ts true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christís love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and 'active participation' has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life." (Pope Benedict XVI's Message at Closing Mass, Dublin, Ireland, June 17, 2012, Zenit.org)