In my “ti morceaux” over the past couple of months I’ve mentioned the most important theological reality of Mass: the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I’ve also mentioned the most important principle of Catholic liturgy: full and active participation by all worshipers. Now, before beginning to deal with some of the details of the structure of the Mass, I want to mention what is supposed to be the most significant characteristic of good liturgy in our Church.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy mentions it in paragraph 34: “Ritual actions should be distinguished by a noble simplicity.” This basically means that our liturgy tries to be pretty formal and deliberate, all the while trying to attract attention to just one thing at a time.
The Mass is not a three-ring circus or sporting event, with three or four things always going on. No, the Mass is an experience of shared worship, when everyone focuses on the same things together, and in order. We try not to duplicate symbols or repeat things needlessly. We try to resist the temptation to add gimmicks to our worship, or to constantly change our ritual actions. Perhaps most importantly, the gestures and prayer texts used by priests and others don’t go overboard in extravagance or wordiness. Have you noticed this?