Music ministers are trailblazers leading lay people to their proper role in the church following the Second Vatican Council, a leading theologian told a gathering of pastoral musicians in Philadelphia July 8.
Few Catholics realize the "sacramental significance" of the entire congregation of worshippers giving themselves to God in a collective song of praise, said Dominican Father Paul J. Philibert, one of the main speakers at the Eastern Regional Convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
"Who draws the assembly of the faithful into the church's work of praise? You do," he said.
Father Philibert, who teaches at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, said that, according to Vatican II, in the liturgy "Christ joins the entire community of humankind to himself, associating it with himself in singing his divine song of praise."
In the Catholic culture before Vatican II, "the Mass was the priest's Mass, and from it he gave the treasure of Holy Communion to the laity. The laity were spectators at a sacred drama," he said.
But with the council the church's understanding of priests and laity "underwent a radical transformation," he added.
"The laity are no longer spectators, but rather the active subject of the church's liturgical action. ... The faithful present their very selves as a living and holy sacrifice pleasing to God," he said.