Our recent promotion of liturgical ministry comes from the central challenge the Church set for itself during the Second Vatican Council. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy – Sacrosanctum Concilium – tell us:
In the reform and promotion of the liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else. For it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit and therefore pastors must zealously strive in their pastoral work to achieve such participation by means of the necessary instruction. (SC 14)
All the people who gather are called to participate in the liturgy. It is not just the liturgy itself that is the source and summit of Christian life, but rather our participation in it stirs within us “the true Christian spirit.”
For the past forty-plus years, we’ve faced the same challenge. Are we truly participating in the liturgy? Are we engaged and involved, or are we simply observing what someone else is doing? It doesn’t mean that every person has to be “up the front”, with a special job to do. What it does mean is that we all contribute to celebrating our community’s Eucharist.
When we gather in our church, it should be shaped and constructed in such a way that it demands our participation. No one should be prevented from fully, consciously and actively entering into the celebration of the Eucharist. Our community should feel as it is gathered around the altar, the table of the Lord.
Does our liturgical space encourage everyone within it to participate in the liturgy?
Does our liturgical space currently allow everyone to participate equally?
Does our community feel that it is gathered around the altar?