In the modern Church, there’s this emphasis on “active participation” during the Mass – by which they mean moving your mouth and raising your hands at the same time as everybody else – so much so that any semblance of not doing as the rest of the team is frowned upon.
What if I told you that when they use that phrase “active participation,” it does not mean what they think it means?
If we dig into history before Vatican II and put the “Catholic” back into Catholicism, we find a concept of active participation that has nothing to do with the mouth or the hands, and everything to do with the mind and the heart. In fact, when your great-grandmother prayed the Rosary during Mass, she wasn’t guilty of some superstitious practice; she was doing exactly what Popes Leo XIII and Pius XII told her she could do, in spite of Paul VI’s about-face on the matter in Marialis Cultus (n. 48, end of paragraph).
In fact, the Rosary’s Mysteries can be used as a prolonged meditation on the entire Mass, but that’s a subject we can visit another time.
What matters to us today, is this: not everybody is going to approach the same ritual in the same manner, or be able to get the same out of said ritual. In fact the beauty of both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom is that those attending can access it according to their own level of spiritual development – no matter what their level of development – and get something out of it both familiar and new. In fact Traditional Liturgy is built upon refusing to lower itself to the lowest common denominator, but instead invites everyone to rise to the heights while simultaneously meeting each individual where he or she actually is.
To this end, it was common in pre-Vatican II prayer books to give prayers and meditations the faithful could read or say to themselves while attending Mass, with the purpose of helping engage their minds and hearts to engage the ritual at their level of understanding. One person could read the prayers from a given book, another could pray their Rosary, and a third could read the Order of Mass and follow along with the priest, a fourth person could sit quietly and meditatively “lose oneself” in the Mysteries going on about them, and yet a fifth person could take a different approach altogether.
What we mean to say here, is that active participation has nothing to do with group conformity. Active participation is instead the “locking in” of mind and heart to engage – whether actively or contemplatively – with the Sacred Mystery.
For the occultist and magician, this conception of “active participation” has as many implications for one’s spiritual life as it does for the devout in the pews, the only difference being that the occultist would be more aware of the opportunities presenting themselves. As an aside, this is why the practice of “Stealing the Mass” observed in some magical traditions is essentially a false teaching; because you can’t steal something that’s being offered up for free.
What I present to you now are a common set of meditations on the Mass found in prayer books of the pre-Vatican II era. I have interspersed the text with images of the Mass commonly found in children’s prayer books of he period, both because they were found in a prayer book I had read in my own youth, and as a reminder of Jesus’ own teaching that we must become as little children to perceive the Kingdom of Heaven.
Forming Our Intention Before Mass
I intend to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the rite of the holy Roman Catholic Church, to the praise of almighty God and of the whole court of heaven; for my benefit, and that of the whole Church on earth; for all those who have commended themselves unto my prayers, in general and in particular; and for the happy estate of the holy Roman Catholic Church.
Joy with peace, amendment of life, space for true repentance, the grace and comfort of the Holy Ghost, perseverance in good works, a contrite and humble heart, and a happy consummation of my life, grant unto me, O almighty and merciful Lord. Amen.
Offering at the Beginning of Mass
Eternal Father, I unite myself with the intentions and affections of our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary, and I offer Thee the Sacrifice which Thy beloved Son Jesus made of Himself on the cross, and now renews on this holy altar: (1) To adore Thee, confessing Thy supreme dominion over all things, and the absolute dependence of everything upon Thee, Who art our one and last end. (2) To thank Thee for innumerable benefits received. (3) To appease Thy justice, irritated against us by so many sins, and to make satisfaction for them. (4) To implore grace and mercy for myself, for ___, for all afflicted and sorrowing, for poor sinners, for all the world, and for the holy souls in Purgatory.
Special Offering for the Dying
O my God, I offer Thee all the holy Masses which will be said this day throughout the whole world for poor sinners who are now in their last agony, and who will die this day. May the Precious Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ obtain for them mercy.
At the Confiteor
O Blessed Trinity, one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, prostrate in spirit before Thee, I here confess in the sight of the whole court of heaven, and of all Thy faithful, my innumerable treasons against Thy divine Majesty, I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned: I have grievously offended through the whole course of my life, in thought, word, and deed; and therefore am unworthy to lift my eyes to heaven, or so much as speak Thy sacred Name: how much more am I unworthy to appear here in Thy sanctuary, and to assist among Thy angels at these heavenly mysteries, which require so much purity, because Jesus Christ Himself is here in person, both Priest and Victim! But, O my God, Thy mercies are above all Thy works, and Thou wilt not despise a contrite and humble heart; and therefore I here venture to come into Thy temple, and with the poor publican, strike my breast and say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”
When the Priest Goes to the Altar
Let us adore the Heart of Jesus, which has loved us so much; let us prostrate ourselves before Him, and bewail the sins of which we have been guilty. Grant us, O Lord, a contrite and humble heart; let the homage of our adorations be as acceptable to Thee as if we offered Thee thousands of victims.
At the Introit
The Lord hath opened the gates of heaven; He hath rained down manna to feed us; He hath given us the Bread of Angels. Thy goodness, O my God, hath prepared it for the poor and humble heart; blessed art Thou, O God of Israel, Thou only canst work such wonders for me. I will offer to Thee, in the presence of all Thy people, the homage of my love and gratitude.
At the Kyrie
O Father of infinite mercy, have pity on Thy Children; O Jesus, sacrificed for us, apply to us the merits of Thy Precious Blood; O Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, descend into our hearts, and inflame them with Thy love.
At the Gloria in Excelsis
What happiness for us that the Son of the Most High should have been pleased to dwell among us, and have vouchsafed to offer us a swelling in His divine Heart! Suffer us, O Lord, to mingle our voices with those of the angelic choir, to thank Thee for so great a favor; and let us say with them, “Glory to God in the highest heavens.” O almight Father, we praise Thee, we bless Thee, we adore Thee; we give Thee thanks for all the benefits which Thou has lavished upon us without ceasing. O Jesus, Lamb without spot, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord, Who reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost in glory, and meritest all our homage on earth.
At the Collect
O Lord vouchsafe favorably to hear the prayers which Thy priest offers to Thee for the Church and for me.
I earnestly beseech Thee to grant me those graces and virtues of which I have need, in order to deserve Thy love. Fill my heart with eternal gratitude for all the blessings which Thou hast conferred upon me, with a lively horror of sin, and with perfect charity toward my neighbor. Make my whole life worthy of one who is Thy child. I deserve not to be heard for my own sake, O my God, but I beseech Thy mercy through the infinite merits of Thy divine Son.
O divine Jesus, inexhaustible fountain of all good things, open to us, we beseech Thee, the interior of Thy Heart; that having entered, by pious meditation, into this august sanctuary of divine love, we may fix forever there our hearts, as the place wherein are found the treasure, the repose, and the happiness of holy souls.
At the Epistle
Thou has vouchsafed, O Lord, to teach us Thy sacred truths by the prophets and apostles; oh grant that we may so improve by their doctrine and examples in the love of Thy holy Name and of Thy holy law, that we may show forth by our lives whose disciples we are; that we may no longer follow the corrupt inclinations of flesh and blood, but master all our passions; that we may be ever directed by Thy light, and strengthened by Thy grace, to walk in the way of Thy commandments, and to serve Thee with clean hearts.
At the Gospel
O Lord Jesus, Who, according to Thy Father’s will, has declared unto the world the message of the Gospel; grant that we may receive it into our minds, embrace it with our wills, preserve it in our memory, and practice it in our lives; and being united here with those elect sheep who hear Thy voice, may be numbered with them also at the last day at Thy right hand, and hear Thee say, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’.
At the Sermon
I will hear what the Lord will say unto me. O Jesus, Light of the world, enlighten my understanding, that I may understand Thy word; and cleanse my heart, that it may bring forth the fruits of the same.
At the Creed
I firmly believe – because God Who is infallible Truth hath so revealed it to the holy Catholic Church, and through the Church to us – I firmly believe that there is one only God, in Three Divine Persons, equal and distinct, Whose names are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: that the Son became man, and through the operation of the Holy Spirit took flesh and a human soul in the womb of the most pure Virgin Mary, died for us upon the cross, rose again, ascended into heaven, and will come from thence at the end of the world to judge the living and dead, to give paradise to the good, and hell to the wicked, forever; and furthermore, upon the same motive, I believe everything that the holy Church believes and teaches. In this faith and for this faith I desire to live and die. Grant, O Lord, that my life may be comformable with my faith, that my faith may be animated by good works, that I may never be ashamed to declare myself a Catholic, and may constantly maintain the interests of Thy holy religion. Draw closer to me, Lord, the bonds that bind me to Thy holy Church; put into my heart a spirit of perfect obedience to its lawful pastors. In its bosom I became Thy child, and in its bosom I desire to live and die.
At the Offertory
O Eternal Father, Who wast pleased to institute this most Holy Sacrifice of the New Law, wherein Thy only-begotten Son might be offered to Thee; I offer the same to Thy divine Majesty, and in union therewith I offer myself, and all that Thou has bestowed upon me. Look upon me, and have mercy upon me.
At the Washing of the Fingers
O my Jesus, would that Thou couldst bear witness to the holiness of my life and the innocence of my heart! But, with the Prophet, I must cry out: It is in Thy mercy only that I place my hope; my consolation is in meditating on Thy promises to the penitent heart, and Thy faithfulness in performing them: confounded at all that I have committed to this day, and encouraged by the favors which Thou has bestowed upon me, I can but promise to correspond better with Thy graces than I have hitherto done. I will purify myself more and more with tears of penitence; I will bless Thee as I do this day; and I will sing of the wonders of Thy power and of Thy mercy.
After the Washing of the Fingers
O most holy and adorable Trinity, vouchsafe to receive this our Sacrifice in remembrance of our Saviour’s Passion, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension: and grant that we may die with Him to our sins, rise with Him to a new life, and ascend with Him to Thee. Let those saints, whose memory we celebrate on earth, remember us before Thy throne in heaven, and obtain mercy for us, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
At the “Orate Fratres”
The creature can offer nothing to the Creator that can be worthy of His acceptance; I unite myself, therefore, to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which can alone merit anything in my behalf. I desire nothing but through Him and with Him. I have no wish beyond Him. O God of mercy, I seek nothing but Thy love. Graciously accept the sacrifice of my heart and of my whole self, and may it, like the sacrifice of Jesus, be pleasing to Thee and unite us to Him.
At the Secret Prayer
Mercifully hear our prayer, O Lord, and graciously accept this oblation which we Thy servants make to Thee; and as we offer it to the honor of Thy name, so may it be to us here a means of obtaining Thy grace, and life everlasting hereafter.
(Or, for a Saint’s Day)
Sanctify, O Lord, we beseech Thee, these gifts which we offer Thee in this solemnity of Thy holy servant N. and so strengthen us by Thy grace, that both in prosperity and adversity our ways may be ever directed to Thy honor.
At the Preface
O Lord, do Thou Thyself lift up my heart to Thee. Take from it all unholy thoughts, all earthly affections. Lift it wholly up to heaven, where Thou art worthily adored, and to the altar, where Thou art about to manifest Thyself to me. My life is but one continual succession of Thy mercies; let it be one continual success of thanksgivings: and as Thou art now about to renew the greatest of all sacrifices, is it not meet that I should burst forth, in expressions of heartfelt gratitude? Suffer me, then, to join my feeble voice with the voices of all the heavenly spirits, and in union with them to say, in a transport of joy and admiration:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.
At the Canon
O Eternal and most merciful Father, behold, we come to offer Thee our homage this day: we desire to adore, praise, and glorify Thee, and to give Thee thanks for Thy great glory, joining our hearts and voices with all Thy blessed in heaven, and with Thy whole Church upon earth. But acknowledging our great unworthiness and innumerable sins, for which we are heartily sorry, and humbly beg Thy pardon, we dare not venture to approach Thee otherwise than in company of Thy Son, our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ, Whom Thou has given us to be both our High Priest and Sacrifice. With Him, therefore, and through Him, we venture to offer Thee this Sacrifice; to His most sacred intentions we desire to unite ours; and with this offering which He makes of Himself, we desire to make an offering of our whole being to Thee. With Him, and through Him, we beseech Thee to exalt Thy holy Catholic Church throughout the whole world; to maintain her in peace, unity, holiness, and truth; to have mercy on all poor sinners; that we may be converted to Thee, finding mercy, through Jesus Christ Thy Son; through Whom we hope one day to be admitted into the company of all Thy saints and elect, whose memory we here celebrate, whose prayers we desire, and with whom we communicate in these holy mysteries.
When the Priest Spreads his Hands Over the Oblation
(Here the bell is rung to announce the approaching consecration.)
Give ear, we beseech Thee, to the prayers of Thy servant, who is here appointed to make this oblation in our behalf; and grant it may be effectual for obtaining of all those blessings which he asks for us.
Behold, O Lord, we all here offer to Thee, in this bread and wine, the symbols of our perfect union. Grant, O Lord, that they may be made for us the true Body and Blood of Thy dear Son; that, being consecrated to Thee by this holy Victim, we may live in Thy service, and depart this life in Thy grace.
At the Elevation (of Host and Chalice)
“MY LORD AND MY GOD”
These words are to be said with faith, piety, and love while looking upon the Blessed Sacrament, either during the Elevation in the Mass, or when it is exposed on the altar.
At the Memento for the Dead
I offer Thee again, O Lord, this Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Thine only Son, in behalf of the faithful departed, and in particular for the souls of [here name whom you chiefly purpose to pray for] my parents [if dead], relatives, benefactors, neighbors, etc. Likewise of such as I have in any way injured, or been the occasion of their sins; of such as have injured me, and been my enemies; of such as die in war, or have none to pray for them. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and peace.
At the “Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus”
Vouchsafe to grant the same to us, poor and miserable sinners: judge us not according to our demerits; but through the infinite multitude of Thy mercies, in which we hope, liberally extend to us Thy grace and pardon.
We ask it of Thee in the name of Thy dear Son, Who liveth and reigneth eternally with Thee, and in that form of prayer which He Himself has taught us.
At the Pater Noster
Our Father, Who reignest in heaven, come and reign in my soul, come and sanctify it by Thy presence; come and subject it to Thy holy will, and render it obedient to the inspirations of Thy grace. Extinguish in my hear every feeling of hatred and revenge; forgive me as I forgive. Grant to me such wisdom and such strength that I may triumph over all temptations. Deliver me from all those evils which oppress me, and under which I groan. I come to Thee, as a child to his father, to be fed; as a subject to his prince, to be protected; as one afflicted, to his only succor, to be consoled and comforted.
At the Libera Nos Domine
Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, and of all the saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that by the assistance of Thy holy grace we may be always free from sin and secure from all disturbance.
At the Pax Domini
Thy Body was broken, and Thy Blood shed for us: grant that the commemoration of this holy mystery may obtain for us peace; and that those who receive it may find everlasting rest.
O Lamb of God, pure and spotless Victim, Who only canst satisfy the justice of an offended God, vouchsafe to make me partaker of the merits of Thy sacrifice. What lessons of humility, meekness, charity, and patience dost Thou not give me! Impress these virtues upon my heart, that it may be to Thee a pleasant habitation, wherein Thou mayest repose as in an abode of peace.
After the Agnus Dei
In saying to Thy Apostles, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; Thou has promised O Lord, to all Thy Church, that peace which the world cannot give – peace with Thee, and peace with ourselves.
Let nothing, O Lord, ever interrupt this holy peace; let nothing separate us from Thee, to Whom we heartily desire to be united through the blessed Sacrament of peace and reconciliation. Let this food of angels strengthen us in every Christian duty, so as never more to yield under temptations, or fall into our common weaknesses.
At the Domine, Non Sum Dignus
God only can be worthy of receiving God; how, then, can a soul so sinful as mine merit so great a happiness! But Thou, O Lord, regardest not Thy greatness, but Thy mercy. Thou willest that I come to Thee, as one sick to the physician who can heal him, as one poor to the rich man who can assist him. O God of love, behold at Thy feet the poorest, the most infirm of Thy creatures. Unite me to Thyself, and I shall become rich and whole in Thy sight. Work, I beseech Thee, this miracle, worthy of Thy omnipotence and charity.
While the Priest Communicates
O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us!
Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we may so reverence the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, that we may ever find in ourselves the fruits of Thy redemption.
Act of Spiritual Communion for Those Who Do Not Intend to Communicate
O my most loving Saviour, since I cannot have the happiness of receiving Thee this day, suffer me to gather up the previous crumbs that fall from Thy table, and to unite myself to Thy divine Heart by faith, hope, and charity. I confess I do not deserve the children’s bread; but I venture humbly to declare that, away from Thee, my soul is dried up with thirst, and my heart cast down with faintness. Come, then, into me, O my divine Jesus! come into my mind, to illuminate it with Thy light; come into my heart, to enkindle in it the fire of Thy love, and unite it so intimately with Thine own, that it may be no more I that live, but Thou that livest in me, and reignest in me forever.
Prayer During the Ablutions
Grant us, O Lord, a part in the fruits of Thy death and Passion, the sacred memory of which we have this day commemorated. I adore Thy goodness, O gracious Lord, for Thy inestimable favor in admitting me to be present again at that Holy Sacrifice, where Thou art both Priest and Victim. Oh, make me always sensible of so great a blessing, and let not my unworthiness put a bar to Thy mercy and goodness.
At the Communion Antiphon
Let it be now, O Lord, the effect of Thy mercy, that we, who have been present at this Holy Mystery, may find the benefit of it in our souls.
How sweet, O Lord, is Thy spirit; Who, to show Thy sweetness toward Thy children, givest them the most delicious Bread from Heaven, and sendest the proud away empty.
At the Postcommunion Prayers
Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy love, that, by Thy mercy, Thou mayest make those of one mind whome Thou has fed with one celestial food. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
We give Thee thanks, O God, for Thy mercy, in admitting us to have a part in offering this Sacrifice to Thy holy Name: accept it now to Thy glory, and be ever mindful of our weakness.
(Or, for a Saint’s Day)
We have received heavenly mysteries, O Lord, in the commemoration of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed N., and all Thy saints; grant, we beseech Thee, that what we celebrate in time, we may obtain in the joys of eternity. Through Christ our Lord.
At the Last Gospel
O Eternal Word, speak to my soul, which adores Thee in profound silence; Thou Who are the great Creator of all things, abandon not, I beseech Thee, Thy own creature; be Thou my life, my light, and my all.
O Light Eternal, enlighten me as to this present life, and in the life to come.
Reign in me as in Thine own inheritance; for Thou, O Lord, hast made me; Thou hast redeemed me. May I be ever Thine!
Here we conclude one set of meditations written for those attending Mass, by those who understand no one set of meditations is going to be suitable (or even worthwhile) for everyone. So if you choose to go this route, feel free to use another set of prayer if you so desire, or you can even compose your own.
In any case, you’ve now discovered the true meaning of active participation and can now apply it to your own spiritual journey!