Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | February 5, 2009

Sacrosanctum Concilium Chapter 1 skipping the intro

Comments on the Vatican II document on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium my comments in RED

(Now remember, the Novus Ordo has NOT been promulgated at this point)

II. The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation

14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious (that is to say, not running through the motions for the sake of running through the motions), and active participation (actually, this is incorrectly translated from the Latin participtia actuosa, which is actual participation) in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active (actual) participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else (The participation of the Laity in the Sacrifice of the Mass is very important it’s essential); for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit ; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy (Liturgical formation, ars celebrandi). Wherefore the sacred Council has decided to enact as follows:

15. Professors who are appointed to teach liturgy in seminaries, religious houses of study, and theological faculties must be properly trained for their work in institutes which specialize in this subject.

16. The study of sacred liturgy is to be ranked among the compulsory and major courses in seminaries and religions houses of studies; in theological faculties it is to rank among the principal courses. It is to be taught under its theological, historical, spiritual, pastoral, and juridical aspects. Moreover, other professors, while striving to expound the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation from the angle proper to each of their own subjects, must nevertheless do so in a way which will clearly bring out the connection between their subjects and the liturgy (Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi), as also the unity which underlies all priestly training. This consideration is especially important for professors of dogmatic, spiritual, and pastoral theology and for those of holy scripture.

17. In seminaries and houses of religious, clerics shall be given a liturgical formation in their spiritual life. For this they will need proper direction, so that they may be able to understand the sacred rites and take part in them wholeheartedly (not just running through the motions); and they will also need personally to celebrate the sacred mysteries, as well as popular devotions which are imbued with the spirit of the liturgy (Hmmm, devotions, Liturgy of the Hours, Rosaries, Benediction). In addition they must learn how to observe the liturgical laws (say the black, do the red), so that life in seminaries and houses of religious may be thoroughly influenced by the spirit of the liturgy (From the Liturgy flows all else).

18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care.

19. With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful (the Faithful need to know what to do, and how to act at Mass, that’s right), and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally (This is VERY IMPORTANT, actual participation involves BOTH the internal and the external realities. To pray the Mass means not only to listen to the words and contemplate them on your heart, but also to join the priest at the Dominus Vobiscum), taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example (No being a hypocrite).

20. Transmissions of the sacred rites by radio and television shall be done with discretion and dignity, under the leadership and direction of a suitable person appointed for this office by the bishops. This is especially important when the service to be broadcast is the Mass.

III. The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy (reform, not destruction of)

21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify (Again, a clearer expression of the lex credendi); the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community (This does NOT mean that the Mass needs to be in the vernacular, but rather the Faithful should be catechized on the meaning of the gestures and texts when possible).

Wherefore the sacred Council establishes the following general norms:

A) General norms

22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop (NOT the USCCB).

2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority (No authority to ab-lib the texts).

23. That sound tradition may be retained (retained, that’s right), and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults (permission to act against the norm) conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing (In other words, NO Versus Populum Masses, no pagan Masses, no clown Masses, etc).

As far as possible, notable differences between the rites used in adjacent regions must be carefully avoided (There should be more uniformity amongst the rites (i.e. Dominican, Carmelite, Cathusian, etc).

24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony (This did not mean add an extra reading par se, but maybe include more lessons).

25. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world.

B) Norms drawn from the hierarchic and communal nature of the Liturgy

26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the “sacrament of unity,” namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops [33]

Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it; but they concern the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their differing rank, office, and actual participation.

27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private (This is the problem of private devotions during the Mass, Mass is not the place for that, hence better Liturgical formation).

This applies with especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature.

28. In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy (In other words, priests must be priests, laity must be laity, deacons must be deacons, etc).

29. Servers, lectors commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their office with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God’s people (Notice, no extra-ordinary mobsters of Holy Communion).

Consequently they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, each in his own measure, and they must be trained to perform their functions in a correct and orderly manner.

30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence (In other words, there was too much emphasis on the internal participation, and it needed to be balanced with the external participation, even though interior participation is more important in the Roman Rite).

31. The revision of the liturgical books must carefully attend to the provision of rubrics also for the people’s parts (which technically, isn’t that much, lol).

32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred Orders, and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances, no special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display (In modern terms, this means NO THANKING EVERYONE AROUND YOU, no, did you have a b-day today?, no are there any visitors? or any other ab lib comments).

C) Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the Liturgy

33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful (i.e. The Faith is taught in every action at Mass) [34]. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.

Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides (I do not like this term, presiding seems more like entertainment, celebrant is more appropriate) over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read “which were written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.

Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity (not destruction of the Church, but rather a fluidity in rite); they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions (In other words not circular…); they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension (but not “God is big, help us to be big like you. Through Christ our Lord Amen!” we’re not stupid dontcha know?), and normally should not require much explanation.

35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy (there’s that lex orandi lex credendi thing again):

1) In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable (In other words this: You know how in the TLM, sometimes the exact same reading can be said over and over again, or the exact same propers over and over again. For example 3-5th Sunday after Epiphany, they wanted variation in that as well as some of the readings, but not necessarily 3 readings for Sunday Masses).

2) Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service (but not everything), the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity (Fidelity, something some priests need to relearn). The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God’s wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ (So basically not every sermon need be catechetical, but sometimes, the context of Scripture should be explained), ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

3) Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites themselves (this does NOT mean an ab lib commentary on the Mass, but say for example like a wedding, where there may be non-Catholics present, a quick reminder would be a good thing). But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and be in prescribed or similar words.

4) Bible services should be encouraged (read the Bible, a good thing), especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts , on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available (note, when NO PRIEST IS AVAILABLE…not when a priest is taking a nap in the rectory because he’s recovering from staying up too late, that priest is available, when no priest is around for 100s of miles); when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside (in this context it works) over the celebration.

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites (There it is, LATIN IS TO BE PRESERVED, not abolished).

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments (There was permission to Baptise for example in the vernacular), or other parts of the liturgy (the introit, offertory, communion), frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended (note, extended, not full vernacular, as seen above). This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives (directives for example, kneel, lol, even then the readings were done in the vernacular before the sermon), and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language (Here is the passage that led to the abuse of the vernacular. Some modernist Bishops took this and ran with it).

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above (translations, not excuses for one, such as the 70 ICEL).

D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples

37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples’ way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit (Authentic inculturalization not this in-authentic one where we see Mariachi Masses, Liturgical dancing etc, but authentic inculturalization, where the cuture will influence a hymn which will derive from Chant, St. Paul talks a little bit about the authentic inculturalization).

38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved (In otherwords after the authentic inculturalization there should be some adaptation, this does not mean the complete secularization of the Mass…for example look at the old rites when the Franciscan Missionaries came to the New World); and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.

39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution (Here’s where the USCCB comes in and hijacks the Liturgy).

40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose (indult).

3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

E) Promotion of Liturgical Life in Diocese and Parish

41. The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent.

Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church; they must be convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church consists in the full active participation of all God’s holy people in these liturgical celebrations, especially in the same eucharist, in a single prayer, at one altar, at which there presides the bishop surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers [35].

42. But because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these the parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important: for in some manner they represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world.

And therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relationship to the bishop must be fostered theoretically and practically among the faithful and clergy; efforts also must be made to encourage a sense of community (authentic community, unite for the one purpose) within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday Mass.

F) The Promotion of Pastoral-Liturgical Action

43. Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the Church’s life, indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action.

So that this pastoral-liturgical action may become even more vigorous in the Church, the sacred Council decrees:

44. It is desirable that the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, set up a liturgical commission, to be assisted by experts in liturgical science, sacred music, art and pastoral practice. So far as possible the commission should be aided by some kind of Institute for Pastoral Liturgy, consisting of persons who are eminent in these matters, and including laymen as circumstances suggest. Under the direction of the above-mentioned territorial ecclesiastical authority the commission is to regulate pastoral-liturgical action throughout the territory, and to promote studies and necessary experiments whenever there is question of adaptations to be proposed to the Apostolic See.

45. For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate.

Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single commission which will be able to promote the liturgy by common consultation.

46. Besides the commission on the sacred liturgy, every diocese, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred art.

These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it will often be best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.

Noticibably absent from this chapter

  1. Masses offfered Versus Populum
  2. All Vernacular Masses
  3. The destroying of altars
  4. The destroying of Communion Rails

Chapter 2 commentary next week.


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