The Second Vatican Council, through the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, instructs us that all those who actively assist at the Holy Mass should be properly taught the meaning and importance of their roles. It is for this reason, that the council states, “Pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve active participation by means of the necessary instruction of the faithful” (SC No.14).
Who are the lay ministers assisting the priest at the Holy Mass? They are the Altar Servers, the Lectors, who read the First and the Second readings & Intercessory prayers, the Eucharistic Ministers who help in the distribution of the Holy Communion, the Choir members & the cantor, who lead the Congregation in the singing before, during and after the Mass, the Ushers, who greet and welcome people at the entrance of the Church and take offerings given by the people, and most importantly the Sacristans, who set everything ready for the Holy Mass. They are all not only active participants, but also help the Congregation to take active participation in the Holy mass. They are, in fact, prominent participants, because of the important roles they perform in the liturgy. Hence, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy demands that they should be given adequate liturgical training, so that they give good example by behaving well in the Church and in the Sanctuary by doing well what they are supposed to do (Ref. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy No.46).
Active participation by the Congregation depends on the prompt, loud, and clear response to the priest’s prayers. This will create an atmosphere of the Congregation praying in the Church. In order to make these responses confidently, all are expected to use the Missalette or Gather hymnal.
All of us know the importance of praying and singing together during the Holy Mass. When the entire Congregation sings harmoniously with the Choir or the Cantor, a heavenly atmosphere is created in the Church.
God bless you,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.