I went to Mass with a devout Catholic friend a while ago who is an accomplished singer, musician, and scholar of medieval music. When I warned her that the liturgical music at that particular Mass was likely to give her a headache, she responded that she knew better than to come to Mass unprepared — she had ear plugs in her purse, at every liturgy she attended.
This friend stands for what I have come to call pro-active participation at Mass, the kind of embodied presence I bring to worship so as truly to be open to encountering the Triune God. Such pro-active participation will be specific to each individual worshipper: it might mean earplugs for a highly-trained musician; it will mean hard labor for mothers of infants (as I well remember); and it will entail yet something else for a woman wheeling her mother who suffers from senile dementia to Mass in a wheel chair. Moreover, this kind of pro-active participation does not only apply to pro-active preparation but rather accompanies the liturgical celebration as a whole. And it also has nothing to do with what one might call “activist” participation but rather is an attentive, pro-active opening toward what beckons us — and to what might hinder us, as the particular person we are — in being present, in worship, to the Triune God. (Which means that right now, I really need to get ready to hop on my bike, so as not to have to race to Mass but be able to cycle in prayerful anticipation :).