Priests, laity, and the Liturgy – An interview with Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, part 1

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, during an exclusive interview with journalist Peter Jennings for CTS, explains how priests and the lay faithful should work closely together to achieve a standard of liturgical celebration which is both dignified and beautiful.

Peter Jennings: Your first CTS booklet, “Understanding the Roman Missal” has been well received. How does your new publication “Participating in the Mass – Celebrating the Liturgy with dignity & beauty” (available now) relate to it?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB: There is a widespread desire not only in the Catholic Church in Great Britain but elsewhere to celebrate the Liturgy with dignity and beauty.

This booklet carefully explains that mere external and aesthetic issues, important though these may be, are not of themselves enough. There is a need for all of us, priests and lay-faithful people, to learn the art of celebration. This is a skill which enables us to exercise correctly that full, conscious, and active participation in the Liturgy first called for by the Church more one hundred years ago and yet still not fully understood today.

Peter Jennings: In what particular way is the full, conscious, and active participation in the Liturgy not fully understood?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson:The expression full, conscious, and active participation should be understood within the context of the Church’s teaching on the Liturgy. Participation is first and foremost sharing in the Divine Life through the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of Saint Peter we are partakers of the Divine nature.

Participation is a disposition of mind and heart, body and soul. In general terms we understand participation as simply taking part in an event. Whereas in the liturgy our participation is not conditioned by what we do but by what we are: co-heirs with Christ and sharers in the Divine nature. Because of this everyone, irrespective of personal disability or restricted ability is able to participate fully and meaningfully in the Liturgy.

Peter Jennings: From what you have said so far, I understand that it is not by doing things in the Liturgy that one participates but by the fact of being baptised. Is this correct?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson: Yes, you are right and put in another way, participation as understood in this way is the exercise of the priesthood of all the faithful, We are a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a People Set Apart. There is indeed a diversity of roles to be fulfilled in the celebration of the liturgy. Those who exercise them in a way which edifies everyone is one manifestation of the actualising of our baptismal responsibilities as members of the Body of Christ.

More on Monday!

Participating in the Mass is available from the CTS website priced £2.50

Of related interest:

D745 Simple Guide to the Mass – Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, a Consultor to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, provides a simple and concise guide to the new translation of the Mass introduced by the Church on Sunday, 4 September 2011. Pope Benedict XVI has expressed the wish that the introduction of the new translation will mark the beginning of: “A renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world”.
Participating in the Mass –Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, in this companion to his widely acclaimed CTS booklet Understanding the Roman Missal, provides an informative, step-by-step guide to the celebration of the Mass, to enable the Liturgy to be celebrated with reverence.
Understanding the Roman Missal – the New Translation –A presentation and explanation of the new translation, accompanied by liturgical and spiritual reflections. This presentation and explanation of the new translation is accompanied by a series of liturgical and spiritual reflections.

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