Congrats! A community actively participating

After the posts last week, I’ve been musing a bit over the nature of participation- what that means in a possible Thomistic sense, and how that conception affects what we do and how we do things.

One thing I have been turning over in my head and in conversation is the idea of community participation in the liturgy in and through the (ostensibly) non-liturgical actions and work of the parochial church as an organization and also the actions and of a parish’s members, individually.

There was a time when the substance of liturgical celebration came directly from the community: the baking of bread, the vinting of wine, the pressing of oil, the cutting of stones, and the working of precious metals were all done by craftspeople and artisans whose guilds supported the local cathedral, basilica, monastery, or parish church. Even the luxury goods that had to be imported – silk from China, dye from Turkey, incense from Arabia – represented not just a monetary expense but moreover the labor and cunning of merchants and traders.

I believe that a critical part of the new liturgical movement is the discovery or invention of new ways to re-establish a liturgical participation of the parish community in this traditional sense – a sense in which the day to day business of living, the work and labor of the people, is a part of the journey upward and flowing outward within which the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass is truly “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

By this I do mean the simple “participation” in which everyone “gets to do something” or “is encouraged to contribute.” I don’t (just) mean an environment wherein a kind leader finds a way to use the contributions and hobbies of parishioners for some ostensible good, and liturgy is a showcase for “what people are interested in.” I mean, rather, a sacramental culture, wherein the work of the people is fundamentally ordered to and formed by the Eucharist.

Obviously, the difficulty here is that we are not, for the most part, a culture of people who make things. While I do think there could be an important role for the Church in re-orienting our society towards the inclusion and development of a strong artisinal culture, we must still – today – find ways to connect the economic life of the people with the sacramental life of the Church.

I had been thinking about all of these things in a vague philosophical way recently when, thanks to Facebook, I found a perfect living example of just this very thing. And no surprise, it came from the Cafe’s own Fr. Christopher Smith.

Fr. Smith’s parish, Prince of Peace, just recently finished paying the debt service on their building. The video below is a celebration of that milestone, a celebration placed firmly at the center of the community, honoring the work and sacrifice of the people who contributed to the parish and its building fund over the last decade.

Congratulations to Prince of Peace parish on this amazing milestone! May God bless your continuing ministry and witness.

5 Replies to “Congrats! A community actively participating”

  1. Adam,
    Thanks for the shout out. This year we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the new Prince of Peace with a Missa Cantata in the EF for Christ the King, a Eucharistic Procession with Solemn Benediction (everything from "To Christ the Prince of Peace" to "At the Name of Jesus" being sung), a rocking good party for the Parish Picnic and the burning of the mortgage on the church. Two years ago, when I arrived at POP, we had 2 million in debt, and it looked like we were going to be at least 550,000 short. We also had come due another 550,000 on a land purchase next to our property. But, due to the generosity of some people who really love Prince of Peace, and our devotion to the Infant of Prague, today we are debt free, we have increased the assets of the church by over $2.2M, and we now have to build a larger school because of all the kids who are coming to the school.

    Just goes to show: love Jesus, do His work, and amazing things happen. It is an exciting time for us!

  2. "a sense in which the day to day business of living, the work and labor of the people, is a part of the journey upward and flowing outward within which the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass is truly "the source and summit of the Christian life.""

    Of course this is only part of participation with your life in this sacrifice. In Lumen gentium a participation in the eucharistic sacrifice which encompasses your entire life is described:

    34. The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.

    For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne—all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".(199) Together with the offering of the Lord's body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.

  3. Mozart's Te Deum Laudamus KV 141. I have no information on this particular recording of it.

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