In view of the canonization of Pope Paul VI, the pope of liturgical reform, in October, Pray Tell is occasionally publishing some of his most significant statements on liturgical reform. This helps us understand the Church’s understanding of liturgy, and also reflect on how far we have to go in implementing the teaching more fully!
1. It is unavoidable that at the beginning there should be some confusion and uneasiness. It is simply normal that a spiritual and practical reform that affects ingrained and devoutly observed religious practices should cause confusion and that it should not always please everyone. 2. But a bit of explanation, preparation, assistance kindly given have quickly quieted uneasiness and made people understand and like the new order of things. 3. We should not think that after a while there can be a return to the former, undisturbed devotion or apathy. No, the new way of doing things will have to be different; it will have to prevent and to shake up the passivity of the people present at Mass. Before, it was enough to assist; now, it is necessary to take part. Before, being there was enough; now, attention and activity are required. Before, everyone could doze or perhaps even chatter; now all must listen and pray. We are hopeful that soon celebrants and people can have the new liturgical books and that their literary and typographical quality will be no less worthy than that of the former books. The assembly becomes alive and active; taking part means allowing the soul to become attentive, to enter into the dialogue, to sing, to act. The unity of a community action, consisting not only of outward gestures but also of an inner movement of faith and devotion, invests the rite with a special power and beauty. The rite thereby becomes a chorus, a concert; it takes on the rhythm of giant wings, soaring toward the heights of joy and of the divine mysteries.
(General Audience, March 17, 1965)