Since the fall the world has been in the thrall of the devil, correct me if I’m wrong here. The Mass therefore is an attack on the disordered nature of the world by God, it is the one bastion of God where for a few moments the world is brought back to the perfection it enjoyed in the garden of Eden. As Catholics we should relish this subversive desire to stick it to the world and the devil in every way possible.
The sad truth however is that the Mass has become increasingly worldly recently, I think anthropocentric is the word, thank you Fr Ray (though I really can’t recommend the video). The heretical (not to mention protestant) nonsense that suggests any way in which we can make the Mass more ‘accessible’ is doing God’s work. It has done the opposite, it has made God’s greatest work banal, its made the cosmic rumble of God into a rather muffled English platitude.
Anything which points to the miraculous and awesome nature of the Mass should be encouraged, and here is where the subversion comes in, because if you do these little things like genuflecting every time you pass the Tabernacle and especially kneeling to receive communion you will get a slight buzz that the world doesn’t want you to do these things ‘what will people think of me if I do that?’
The devil will tempt you with ‘well people will think you are pompous, or think you think you are better than everyone else’ when actually you are humbling yourself before God and what anyone else thinks couldn’t be more irrelevant. There can be no better and empowering way to subvert the banality of the fallen world than being humble before God. Be a rebel against the devil.
If we all started doing the little things that point towards the immensity of what occurs during Mass priests will gradually become more aware of the magnitude of what is going on at the altar, and perhaps would take greater care of the sacred liturgy, you never know they might even start facing east. Awareness I think isn’t just about what is going on in our heads either, I am sure almost every priest I’ve ever met is aware in their heads that the Mass is spectacularly holy and awesome.
Unfortunately that awareness sometimes doesn’t sink all the way down into their bones (and consequently their liturgical observance), perhaps because it isn’t hammered home by the little quirks, the frivolous dedications to God which make Catholicism great, and which have gradually become less and less observed.
We can’t complain about poor liturgy if we aren’t taking care of our end of the bargain, if we must use active participation in the Mass to mean physically doing something then let it be the little things that all Catholics can and should if possible do.
Of course quietly praying through the Mass and properly preparing yourself to receive God in the sacrament will always be the most important active participation but the signs and symbols do matter as James Preece said so eloquently in his post about the St Margaret Clitherow pilgrimage Mass at York Minster.