Did you merely “watch”  Holy Mass today?  Or did you worship God in Spirit and truth as He wishes – by full, conscious, and active participation?

How to worship God as He wishes is one of the   significant parts of the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in today’s gospel.  As Catholics, we worship God principally by following the command that Jesus gave us at the Last Supper to “Do this in memory of me.”  In other words, God Himself has taught us how He wishes us to worship Him.

Church teaching instructs that the Catholic Faithful worship God by participating at Holy Mass as a right and duty by reason of their baptism, and that they do so by their “full, conscious, and active    participation” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14).  This means that one’s heart, mind, and soul are awake, alert, and engaged at the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, as opposed to merely attending or “watching” from the church pews without responding as the Church asks.  

The liturgical directives in the General Instruction to the Roman Missal stress the importance of the Catholic Faithful engaging “dialogically” at Holy Mass with the Priest-Celebrant.  There are certain acclamations and responses that belong solely to the Faithful.  These include the singing or recitation of the Mystery of Faith, the Great Amen, the conclusion of the Our Father (“…for the Kingdom, the power and the glory …), and the Lamb of God.  The Priest-Celebrant is directed to sing or recite, with the Faithful, the Holy, Holy, Holy (the Sanctus) and the “Lord I am not worthy…”.   Because there are acclamations and responses at Holy Mass that belong to the people, for the priest to say or sing them as well diminishes the dialogical and shared responsibility intended by the Sacred Liturgy. 

In order to ensure that you have obeyed fully and fruitfully the meaning of the Third Commandment by worshiping God in Spirit and in truth, please bring your best gift to the altar with your full, conscious, and active participation at Holy Mass.

With prayerful best wishes for a grace-filled Lent,

Fr. John Mahoney