In the mountains of ND du Laus the Missionaries took particular care to celebrate the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations as well as possible.

Services are carried out at the shrine of Notre Dame du Laus with ail possible dignity. This is so true that you would look long and far in our mountains to find places where God is served with as much respect and propriety. The people are struck by it, and, which says quite a bit, priests who come cannot stop agreeing that, if they performed their services with such respect in their parishes, their people could not resist: there would be more piety.
Such are the affirmations that people made to me on the feast of the Visitation; it is true that on that day we outdid ourselves,

Letter from Henri Tempier to Eugene de Mazenod, 5 July 1819,
Oblate Writings II.2, n. 15

It was a reflection on how demanding Eugene was on himself and on others that liturgical prayer was to be celebrated in an attractive way. In one of his Pastoral Letters as Bishop of Marseille he wrote, for example:

Those in attendance … during Mass are not mere listeners, but engaged in everything, they intervene constantly to express loudly their total solidarity with what is going on at the altar and the participation of those in attendance is not limited to the clergy alone, but is the privilege of every individual member of the faithful present in this holy place

Mandement à l’occasion du saint temps du carême, le 8 février 1846


“We cannot build up the idea of the apostolate of the laity without the foundation of the liturgy.”   Dorothy Day

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  1. John Mouck says:

    I found this to be the case with every mass I was privileged to celebrate with Jack (Fr. Jack Lau OMI).
    Yes, there was the order of the mass to be followed but, beyond that, it was very spontaneous and free-flowing, and everyone in attendance contributed in their own way.
    It was not just Jack who called upon the Holy Spirit to consecrate this bread and this wine but rather each individual present inviting Jesus to be with us – physically with each one of us and present among us.
    It is just simply special and inexplicably different than mass at my local parish.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…participation of those in attendance is not limited to the clergy alone, but is the privilege of every individual member of the faithful present in this holy place.” What was true 200 years ago remains true now. I do not recall “participating” in the Liturgy as a young girl – pre Vatican II. There were many reasons for that, but having the Mass in Latin did not help – even with the words written down in a little prayer book – they were just words and I did not seem to connect. Mass was something the priest “did” and something that I watched.

    It would be difficult if not impossible for me to attend a liturgy today, no matter what language was being used, and not be an active participant on some level. Taking the word privilege that Eugene uses and inserting the words “right and responsibility” seems to express a little more clearly some of how I think of it today. It is my right to not only attend, but to fully participate in the Mass (and in fact my responsibility in a way as a member of the Body of Christ). At one point I realised that it was not even a “doing” thing any longer but more a part of my being – there was/is an invitation in all of it that I cannot help but respond to. There is within a “need” to participate, to be fully present and alive.

    One of my professors said: “In good liturgy people are the point. It is for us to encounter our God.” That sounds so Eugene, so Oblate.

  3. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    “We cannot build up the idea of the apostolate of the laity without the foundation of the liturgy.” Dorothy Day
    So with Dorothy Day of New York and Eugene of Provence we have it. Communion happen from the moment we are welcomed at that door and even before as we prepare for liturgy and as we head home for putting the message into practice. In yogic term I would say, “taking the practice off the mat.”
    This weekend I went out to a local parish, but what I sense is less participation with the new rite, maybe that is just the church.
    Just looking at this weeks prayers for mass, lets be honest, how often do you use the word “Abasement”. Let us listen to the founder and let’s “use the language of the people”!

    • Anda says:

      Now Jack – you know how I really feel on this issue – but -yesterday on CBC radio there was a woman composer/lyricist talking about an opera in English about “the gods”. And to paraphrase this woman in Canadianese: you can’t talk to or praise God using, you know, just plain kitchen language, eh!”

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