Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
December 4, 1963
1. This sacred Council
has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to
foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council, therefore, sees particularly cogent reasons
for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.
2. For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,"(1) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the
outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and
divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and
subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (cf. Heb 13:14). While the liturgy daily builds up those who are
within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (cf. Eph 2:21-22), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13), at the same time it marvelously strengthens their
power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations (cf. Is 11:12) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together (cf. Jn 11:52),
until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:16).
3. Wherefore, the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that
practical norms should be established.
Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however,
should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.
4. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that
holy mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity, that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary,
the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.
General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy
I. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church's Life
5. God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm 2:4), "who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by
the prophets" (Heb 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent his Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart (cf. Is 61:1; Lk 4:18), to
be a "bodily and spiritual medicine,"(2) the Mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tm 2:5). For his humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore, in Christ
"the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us."(3)
The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the
work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved his task principally by the Paschal Mystery of his blessed passion, resurrection from the dead and the glorious ascension,
whereby "dying, he destroyed our death, and rising he restored our life"(4). For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth "the wondrous sacrament
of the whole Church"(5).
6. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did that, by preaching the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk16:15), they might
proclaim that the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan (cf. Acts 26:18) and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of his Father. His purpose also was that they might
accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. Thus, by Baptism men are plunged into the Paschal Mystery of Christ:
they die with him, are buried with him and rise with him(6); they receive the spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" (Rm 8:15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks (cf. Jn
4:23). In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). For that reason, on the very day of Pentecost, when the Church appeared before the
world, "those who received the word" of Peter "were baptized." And "they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in
prayers...praising God and being in favor with all the people" (Acts 2:41-47). From that time onward the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the Paschal Mystery: reading those things "which
were in all the Scriptures concerning him" (Lk 24:27), celebrating the Eucharist in which "the victory and triumph of his death are again made present"(7), and at the same time giving thanks "to God
for his unspeakable gift" (2 Cor 9:15) in Christ Jesus, "in praise of his glory" (Eph 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.
7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in his
Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered
himself on the cross"(8), but especially under the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes.(9) He is present in his
Word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for he promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my
name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20) .
Christ indeed always associates the Church with himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved
Bride who calls to her Lord, and through him offers worship to the Eternal Father.
Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of
the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ,
that is, by the head and his members.
From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others;
no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.
8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of
Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle (cf. Rv 21:2; Col 3:1; Heb 8:2); we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory
with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and
we too will appear with him in glory (cf. Phil 3:20; Col 3:4).
9. The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy, they must be called to faith and to
conversion: "How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not yet believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear if no one preaches? And how are men to preach
unless they be sent?" (Rm 10:14-15).
Therefore, the Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, and may be
converted from their ways, doing penance (cf. Jn 17:3; Lk 24:27; Acts 2:38). To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance; she must prepare them for the sacraments, teach them to observe all that
Christ has commanded (cf. Mt 28:20), and invite them to all the works of charity, piety and the apostolate. For all these works make it clear that Christ's faithful, though not of this world, are to be the light of the
world and to glorify the Father before men.
10. Nevertheless, the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim
and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and Baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord's Supper.
liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal sacraments," to be "one in holiness"(10); it prays that "they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their
faith"(11); the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the
Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us, and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved
in the most efficacious possible way.
11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be
attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain (cf. 2 Cor 6:1). Pastors of souls must therefore realize that when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is
required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite and
enriched by its effects.
12. The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to pray with his brethren, but he must also enter into his chamber to
pray to the Father in secret (cf. Mt 6:6); yet more, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing (cf. 1 Thes 5:17). We learn from the same Apostle that we must always bear about in our body
the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame (cf. 2 Cor 4:10-11). This is why we ask the Lord in the sacrifice of the Mass that, "receiving the offering of the
spiritual victim," he may fashion us for himself "as an eternal gift"(12).
13. Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the
Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See.
Devotions proper to individual churches also have a special dignity if they are undertaken by mandate of the bishops according to customs or books
But these devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it and lead the people to it, since, in
fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them.
II. The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation
14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active 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 Pt 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 participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; 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. 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.
study of sacred liturgy is to be ranked among the compulsory and major courses in seminaries and religious 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, 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, 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. In addition, they must learn how to observe the liturgical laws, so that life in seminaries and houses of religious may be thoroughly influenced by the
spirit of the liturgy.
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 and also their active participation in the liturgy, both internally and externally, 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.
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
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; 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.
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.
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.
23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress, a 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 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.
As far as possible, notable differences between the rites used in adjacent regions must be carefully avoided.
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.
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.(13)
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 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.
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.
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.
31. The revision of the liturgical books must carefully attend to the provision of rubrics, also for the people's parts.
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.
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.(14) 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
Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides 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" (Rm 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; they should be short, clear and unencumbered by useless
repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.
35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy:
1) In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy Scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.
2) Because the sermon is part of
the liturgical service, 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. 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, 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. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments and be in prescribed or similar words.
services should be encouraged, 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; when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment
may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties.
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 then 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.
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.
IV. 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.(15)
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 within the
parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday Mass.
V. 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.
The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist
47. At the Last Supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did
this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of
love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity,(16) a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (17).
48. The Church, therefore, earnestly desires
that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers, they should take part in the
sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's Word and be nourished at the table of the Lord's Body; they should give thanks to God; by offering
the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator (18), they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect
union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
49. For this reason, the sacred Council, having in mind those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the faithful, especially on
Sundays and feasts of obligation, has made the following decrees in order that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the ritual forms of its celebration, may become pastorally efficacious to the fullest degree.
rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation
by the faithful may be more easily achieved.
For this purpose, the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were
added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may
seem useful or necessary.
51. The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's Word. In this way a more representative portion of
the holy Scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.
52. By means of the homily, the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from
the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on
Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.
53. Especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation, there is to be restored, after the Gospel and the homily, "the common
prayer" or "the prayer of the faithful." By this prayer, in which the people are to take part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs,
for all mankind and for the salvation of the entire world (cf. 1 Tm 2:1-2).
54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first
place to the readings and "the common prayer," but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless, steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
And wherever a more extended use of the
mother tongue within the Mass appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this Constitution is to be observed.
55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass, whereby the faithful, after the
priest's Communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact,(19) Communion under both kinds may be
granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred
ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
56. The two parts which in a certain sense go to make up the Mass,
namely, the liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship. Accordingly, this sacred synod strongly urges pastors of souls that,
when instructing the faithful, they insistently teach them to take their part in the entire Mass, especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation.
57. 1. Concelebration, whereby the unity of the priesthood is
appropriately manifested, has remained in use to this day in the Church both in the East and in the West. For this reason, it has seemed good to the Council to extend permission for concelebration to the following cases:
a) on the Thursday of the Lord's Supper, not only at the Mass of the Chrism but also at the evening Mass.
b) at Masses during councils, bishops' conferences, and synods;
c) at the Mass for the blessing of an abbot.
2. Also, with permission of the ordinary, to whom it belongs to decide whether concelebration is opportune:
a) at conventual Mass, and at the principal Mass in churches when the needs of the faithful do not require that all priests available should celebrate individually;
b) at Masses celebrated at any kind of priests' meetings, whether the priests be secular clergy or religious.
3. 1. The regulation, however, of the discipline of concelebration in the diocese pertains to the bishop.
2. Nevertheless, each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually, though not at
the same time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass, nor on Thursday of the Lord's Supper.
58. A new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and inserted into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal.
The Other Sacraments and the Sacramentals
59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ and finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs, they also instruct. They not
only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen and express it; that is why they are called "sacraments of faith." They do indeed impart grace, but in addition the very act of
celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly and to practice charity.
It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should
easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life.
60. Holy mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals.
These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments; they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church's intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the
chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.
61. Thus, for well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event in
their lives; they are given access to the stream of divine grace which flows from the Paschal Mystery of the passion, death, the resurrection of Christ, the font from which all sacraments and sacramentals draw their
power. There is hardly any proper use of material things which cannot thus be directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.
62. With the passage of time, however, there have crept into the rites of
the sacraments and sacramentals certain features which have rendered their nature and purpose far from clear to the people of today; hence, some changes have become necessary to adapt them to the needs of our own times.
For this reason, the sacred Council decrees as follows concerning their revision:
63. Because the use of the mother tongue in the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals can often be of considerable help to
the people, this use is to be extended according to the following norms:
a) The vernacular language may be used in administering the sacraments and sacramentals, according to the norm of Art. 36.
b) In harmony with the new edition of the Roman Ritual, particular rituals shall be
prepared without delay by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, of this constitution. These rituals, which are to be adapted, also as regards the language employed, to the
needs of the different regions, are to be reviewed by the Apostolic See and then introduced into the regions for which they have been prepared. But in drawing up these rituals or particular collections of rites,
the instructions prefixed to the individual rites the Roman Ritual, whether they be pastoral and rubrical or whether they have special social import, shall not be omitted.
64. The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps, is to be restored and to be taken into use at the discretion of the local ordinary. By this means the time of the catechumenate, which is intended
as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time.
65. In mission lands it is found that some of the peoples already make use of initiation rites.
Elements from these, when capable of being adapted to Christian ritual, may be admitted along with those already found in Christian tradition, according to the norm laid down in Art. 37-40 of this Constitution.
Both the rites for the Baptism of adults are to be revised, not only the simpler rite but also the more solemn one, which must take into account the restored catechumenate. A special Mass "for the conferring of
Baptism" is to be inserted into the Roman Missal.
67. The rite for the Baptism of infants is to be revised, and it should be adapted to the circumstance that those to be baptized are, in fact, infants. The roles
of parents and godparents, and also their duties, should be brought out more clearly in the rite itself.
68. The baptismal rite should contain variants, to be used at the discretion of the local ordinary, for
occasions when a very large number are to be baptized together. Moreover, a shorter rite is to be drawn up, especially for mission lands, to be used by catechists, but also by the faithful in general when there is
danger of death and neither priest nor deacon is available.
69. In place of the rite called the "Order of Supplying What Was Omitted in the Baptism of an Infant," a new rite is to be drawn up. This should
manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant baptized by the short rite has already been received into the Church.
And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should
indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.
70. Except during Eastertide, baptismal water may be blessed within the rite of Baptism itself by an approved shorter formula.
71. The rite of
Confirmation is to be revised and the intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason, it is fitting for candidates to renew their
baptismal promises just before they are confirmed.
Confirmation may be given within the Mass when convenient; when it is given outside the Mass, the rite that is used should be introduced by a formula to be drawn up
for this purpose.
72. The rite and formulas for the sacrament of Penance are to be revised so that they more clearly express both the nature and effect of the sacrament.
73. "Extreme Unction," which may
also and more fittingly be called "Anointing of the Sick," is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from
sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.
74. In addition to the separate rites for Anointing of the Sick and for Viaticum, a continuous rite shall be
prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives Viaticum.
75. The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to
the rite of Anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.
76. Both the ceremonies and texts of the ordination rites are to be revised. The address
given by the bishop at the beginning of each ordination or consecration may be in the mother tongue.
When a bishop is consecrated, the laying of hands may be done by all the bishops present.
77. The marriage rite
now found in the Roman Ritual is to be revised and enriched in such a way that the grace of the sacrament is more clearly signified and the duties of the spouses are taught.
"If any regions are wont to use other
praiseworthy customs and ceremonies when celebrating the sacrament of Matrimony, the sacred synod earnestly desires that these by all means be retained"(20).
Moreover, the competent territorial ecclesiastical
authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, of this Constitution is free to draw up its own rite suited to the usages of place and people, according to the provision of Art. 63. But the rite must always conform to the law that
the priest assisting at the marriage must ask for and obtain the consent of the contracting parties.
78. Matrimony is normally to be celebrated within the Mass, after the reading of the Gospel and the homily and
before "the prayer of the faithful." The prayer for the bride, duly amended to remind both spouses of their equal obligation to remain faithful to each other, may be said in the mother tongue.
But if the
sacrament of Matrimony is celebrated apart from Mass, the epistle and Gospel from the nuptial Mass are to be read at the beginning of the rite, and the blessing should always be given to the spouses.
sacramentals are to undergo a revision which takes into account the primary principle of enabling the faithful to participate intelligently, actively and easily; the circumstances of our own days must also be
considered. When rituals are revised, as laid down in Art. 63, new sacramentals may also be added as the need for these becomes apparent.
Reserved blessings shall be very few; reservations shall be in favor of bishops or ordinaries.
Let provision be made that some sacramentals, at least in special circumstances and at the discretion of the ordinary, may
be administered by qualified lay persons.
80. The rite for the consecration of virgins at present found in the Roman Pontifical is to be revised.
Moreover, a rite of religious profession and renewal of vows shall be
drawn up in order to achieve greater unity, sobriety and dignity. Apart from exceptions in particular law, this rite should be adopted by those who make their profession or renewal of vows within the Mass.
Religious profession should preferably be made within the Mass.
81. The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death, and should correspond more closely to the
circumstances and traditions found in various regions. This holds good also for the liturgical color to be used.
82. The rite for the burial of infants is to be revised, and a special Mass for the occasion should be provided.
The Divine Office
83. Christ Jesus,
high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to
himself, associating it with his own singing of this canticle of divine praise.
For he continues his priestly work through the agency of his Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding
for the salvation of the whole world. She does this not only by celebrating the Eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying the divine office.
84. By tradition going back to early Christian times, the
divine office is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God. Therefore, when this wonderful song of praise is rightly performed by priests and others who are deputed for
this purpose by the Church's ordinance, or by the faithful praying together with the priest in the approved form, then it is truly the voice of the bride addressed to her bridegroom; it is the very prayer which Christ
himself, together with his body, addresses to the Father.
85. Hence, all who render this service are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honor of Christ's spouse, for by
offering these praises to God, they are standing before God's throne in the name of the Church their mother.
86. Priests who are engaged in the sacred pastoral ministry will offer the praises of the hours with greater
fervor the more vividly they realize that they must heed St. Paul's exhortation: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17). For the work in which they labor will effect nothing and bring forth no fruit except by
the power of the Lord who said: "Without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). That is why the apostles, instituting deacons, said: "We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word"
87. In order that the divine office may be better and more perfectly prayed in existing circumstances, whether by priests or by other members of the Church, the sacred Council, carrying further the
restoration already so happily begun by the Apostolic See, has seen fit to decree as follows concerning the office of the Roman rite:
88. Because the purpose of the office is to sanctify the day, the traditional
sequence of the hours is to be restored so that once again they may be genuinely related to the time of the day when they are prayed, as far as this may be possible. Moreover, it will be necessary to take into account
the modern conditions in which daily life has to be lived, especially by those who are called to labor in apostolic works.
89. Therefore, when the office is revised, these norms are to be observed:
a) By the venerable tradition of the universal Church, Lauds as morning prayer and Vespers as evening prayer are the two hinges on which the daily office turns; hence, they are to be considered as the chief
hours and are to be celebrated as such.
b) Compline is to be drawn up so that it will be a suitable prayer for the end of the day.
c) The hour known as Matins, although it should retain the character of
nocturnal praise when celebrated in choir, shall be adapted so that it may be recited at any hour of the day; it shall be made up of fewer psalms and longer readings.
d) The hour of Prime is to be suppressed.
e) In choir the hours of Terce, Sext and None are to be observed. But outside choir it will be lawful to select any one of these three, according to the respective time of the day.
90. The divine office, because it is the public prayer of the Church, is a source of piety and nourishment for personal prayer. And therefore, priests and all others who take part in the divine office are earnestly
exhorted in the Lord to attune their minds to their voices when praying it. The better to achieve this, let them take steps to improve their understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the psalms.
revising the Roman office, its ancient and venerable treasures are to be so adapted that all those to whom they are handed on may more extensively and easily draw profit from them.
91. So that it may really be
possible in practice to observe the course of the hours proposed in Art. 89, the psalms are no longer to be distributed throughout one week, but through some longer period of time.
The work of revising the psalter,
already happily begun, is to be finished as soon as possible and is to take into account the style of Christian Latin, the liturgical use of psalms--also when sung--and the entire tradition of the Latin Church.
92. As regards the readings, the following shall be observed:
a) Readings from Sacred Scripture shall be arranged so that the riches of God's word may be easily accessible in more abundant measure.
b) Readings excerpted from the works of the Fathers, doctors and ecclesiastical writers shall be better selected.
c) The accounts of martyrdom or the lives of the saints are to accord with the facts of history.
93. To whatever extent may seem desirable, the hymns are to be restored to their original form, and whatever smacks of mythology or ill accords with Christian piety is to be removed or changed. Also, as occasion may
arise, let other selections from the treasury of hymns be incorporated.
94. That the day may be truly sanctified and that the hours themselves may be recited with spiritual advantage, it is best that each of them be
prayed at a time which most closely corresponds with its true canonical time.
95. Communities obliged to choral office are bound to celebrate the office in choir every day in addition to the conventual Mass. In
a) Orders of canons, of monks and of nuns, and of other regulars bound by law or constitutions to choral office must celebrate the entire office.
b) Cathedral or collegiate chapters are bound to recite
those parts of the office imposed on them by general or particular law.
c) All members of the above communities who are in major orders or who are solemnly professed, except for lay brothers, are bound to
recite individually those canonical hours which they do not pray in choir.
96. Clerics not bound to office in choir, if they are in major orders, are bound to pray the entire office every day, either in common or individually, as laid down in Art. 89.
97. Appropriate instances are to be defined by the rubrics in which a liturgical service may be substituted for the divine office.
In particular cases and for a just reason, ordinaries can dispense their subjects
wholly or in part from the obligation of reciting the divine office, or may commute the obligation.
98. Members of any institute dedicated to acquiring perfection who, according to their constitutions, are to recite
any parts of the divine office, are thereby performing the public prayer of the Church.
They too perform the public prayer of the Church, who in virtue of their constitutions, recite any short office, provided this
is drawn up after the pattern of the divine office and is duly approved.
99. Since the divine office is the voice of the Church, that is, of the whole Mystical Body publicly praising God, those clerics who are not
obliged to office in choir, especially priests who live together or who assemble for any purpose, are urged to pray at least some part of the divine office in common.
All who pray the divine office, whether in choir
or in common, should fulfill the task entrusted to them as perfectly as possible; this refers not only to the internal devotion of their minds but also to their external manner of celebration.
It is, moreover, fitting that the office, both in choir and in common, be sung when possible.
100. Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on
Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.
101. 1. In accordance with the centuries-old
tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in reciting the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those
clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.
2. The competent superior has the power to grant the use of the vernacular in the celebration of the divine office, even in choir, to nuns and to members of institutes dedicated to acquiring perfection, both men
who are not clerics and women. The version, however, must be one that is approved.
3. Any cleric bound to the divine office fulfills his obligation if he prays the office in the vernacular together with a group of
the faithful or with those mentioned in 2 above provided that the text of the translation is approved.
The Liturgical Year
102. Holy mother Church is conscious that she must celebrate the saving work of her divine spouse by devoutly recalling it on certain days throughout
the course of the year. Every week, on the day which she has called the Lord's day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's resurrection, which she also celebrates once in the year, together with his blessed passion, in the
most solemn festival of Easter.
Within the cycle of a year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from the Incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day of Pentecost and the expectation of blessed
hope and of the coming of the Lord.
Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time, and
the faithful are enabled to lay hold upon them and become filled with saving grace.
103. In celebrating this annual cycle of Christ's mysteries, holy Church honors with especial love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church holds up and admires the most excellent fruit of the redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she
herself desires and hopes wholly to be.
104. The Church has also included in the annual cycle days devoted to the memory of the martyrs and the other saints. Raised up to perfection by the manifold grace of God and
already in possession of eternal salvation, they sing God's perfect praise in heaven and offer prayers for us. By celebrating the passage of these saints from earth to heaven, the Church proclaims the Paschal Mystery
achieved in the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ; she proposes them to the faithful as examples drawing all to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she pleads for God's favors.
105. Finally, in the various seasons of the year and according to her traditional discipline, the Church completes the formation of the faithful by means of pious practices for soul and body, by instruction, prayer and
works of penance and of mercy.
Accordingly, the sacred Council has seen fit to decree as follows:
106. By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ's resurrection,
the Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery every eighth day; with good reason this, then, bears the name of the Lord's day or Sunday. For on this day Christ's faithful are bound to come together into one place so that by
hearing the Word of God and taking part in the Eucharist, they may call to mind the passion, the resurrection and the glorification of the Lord Jesus, and may thank God who "has begotten them again, through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto a living hope" (1 Pt 1:3). Hence, the Lord's day is the original feast day, and it should be proposed to the piety of the faithful and taught to them so that it may
become in fact a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations, unless they be truly of greatest importance, shall not have precedence over the Sunday which is the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical
107. The liturgical year is to be revised so that the traditional customs and discipline of the sacred seasons shall be preserved or restored to suit the conditions of modern times; their specific character is
to be retained, so that they duly nourish the piety of the faithful who celebrate the mysteries of Christian redemption, and above all the Paschal Mystery. If certain adaptations are considered necessary on account of
local conditions, they are to be made in accordance with the provisions of Art. 39 and 40.
108. The minds of the faithful must be directed primarily toward the feasts of the Lord whereby the mysteries of salvation are
celebrated in the course of the year. Therefore, the proper of the time shall be given the preference which is its due over the feasts of the saints, so that the entire cycle of the mysteries of salvation may be
109. The season of Lent has a twofold character; primarily by recalling or preparing for Baptism and by Penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the Word of God and devote
themselves to prayer, to celebrate the Paschal Mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence both in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis. Hence:
a) More use is to be made of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy; some of them, which used to flourish in bygone days, are to be restored as may seem good.
b) The same is to apply to the
penitential elements. As regards instruction it is important to impress on the minds of the faithful not only the social consequences of sin but also that essence of the virtue of penance which leads to the
detestation of sin as an offense against God; the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners.
110. During Lent penance should not be only internal and individual, but also external and social. The practice of penance should be fostered in ways that are possible in our own times and in different regions and
according to the circumstances of the faithful; it should be encouraged by the authorities mentioned in Art. 22.
Nevertheless, let the paschal fast be kept sacred. Let it be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday and,
where possible, prolonged throughout Holy Saturday, so that the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection may be attained with uplifted and clear mind.
111. The saints have been traditionally honored in the Church and
their authentic relics and images held in veneration. For the feasts of the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in his servants, and display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation.
feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only
those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance.
112. The musical tradition of the
universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this preeminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of
the solemn liturgy.
Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song (cf. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), and the same may be said of the Fathers of the Church and of the Roman Pontiffs who in recent times, led by
St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.
Therefore, sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely
connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed
qualities and admits them into divine worship.
Accordingly, the sacred Council, keeping to the norms and precepts of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline, and having regard to the purpose of sacred music, which is
the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful, decrees as follows:
113. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred
ministers and the active participation of the people.
As regards the language to be used, the provisions of Art. 36 are to be observed; for the Mass, Art. 54; for the sacraments, Art. 63; for the divine office, Art.
114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches, but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to
ensure that whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.
Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes and also in other Catholic institutions and schools. To impart
this instruction, teachers are to be carefully trained and put in charge of the teaching of sacred music.
It is desirable also to found higher institutes of sacred music whenever this can be done.
Composers and singers, especially boys, must also be given a genuine liturgical training.
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it
should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations so long as they accord with the spirit of the
liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.
117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed, and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the
restoration by St. Pius X.
It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies for use in small churches.
118. Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in
devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.
119. In certain parts of the world, especially
mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason, due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable
place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion but also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated in Art. 39 and 40.
Therefore, when missionaries are being given training
in music, every effort should be made to see that they become competent in promoting the traditional music of these peoples, both in schools and in sacred services, as far as may be practicable.
120. In the Latin
Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.
But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 2, 37 and 40. This may be done, however, only on
condition that the instruments are suitable or can be made suitable for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.
121. Composers, filled with the
Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures.
Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining
themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.
The texts intended to be sung must
always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed, they should be drawn chiefly from holy Scripture and from liturgical sources.
Sacred Art and Sacred Furnishings
122. Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of man's genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest
achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of
redounding to God's praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning men's minds devoutly toward God.
Holy mother Church has therefore always been the friend of the
fine arts and has ever sought their noble help, with the special aim that all things set apart for use in divine worship should be truly worthy, becoming and beautiful, signs and symbols of the supernatural world, and
for this purpose she has trained artists. In fact, the Church has with good reason always reserved to herself the right to pass judgment upon the arts, deciding which of the works of artists are in accordance with
faith, piety and cherished traditional laws, and thereby fitted for sacred use.
The Church has been particularly careful to see that sacred furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship, and
has admitted changes in materials, style or ornamentation prompted by the progress of the technical arts with the passage of time.
Wherefore, it has pleased the fathers to issue the following decrees on these matters:
123. The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own; she has admitted styles from every period according to the natural talents and circumstances of peoples, and the needs of the various
rites. Thus, in the course of the centuries, she has brought into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved. The art of our own days, coming from every race and region, shall also be given free
scope in the Church, provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honor; thereby, it is enabled to contribute its own voice to that wonderful chorus of praise in honor of the
Catholic faith sung by great men in times gone by.
124. Ordinaries, by the encouragement and favor they show to art which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display. This
principle is to apply also in the matter of sacred vestments and ornaments.
Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals
and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense.
And when churches are to be built, let great care be taken that they be
suitable for the celebration of liturgical services and for the active participation of the faithful.
125. The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be
maintained. Nevertheless, their number should be moderate and their relative positions should reflect right order. For otherwise they may create confusion among the Christian people and foster devotion of doubtful
126. When passing judgment on works of art, local ordinaries shall give a hearing to the diocesan commission on sacred art, and if needed, also to others who are especially expert, and to the commissions
referred to in Art. 44, 45 and 46.
Ordinaries must be very careful to see that sacred furnishings and works of value are not disposed of or dispersed; for they are the ornaments of the house of God.
should have a special concern for artists, so as to imbue them with the spirit of sacred art and of the sacred liturgy. This they may do in person or through suitable priests who are gifted with a knowledge and love of
It is also desirable that schools or academies of sacred art should be founded in those parts of the world where they would be useful, so that artists may be trained.
All artists who, prompted by their talents,
desire to serve God's glory in holy Church, should ever bear in mind that they are engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator, and are concerned with works destined to be used in Catholic worship, to edify
the faithful and to foster their piety and their religious formation.
128. Along with the revision of the liturgical books, as laid down in Art. 25, there is to be an early revision of the canons and ecclesiastical
statutes which govern the provision of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy and well planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the
nobility, placing, and safety of the Eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the baptistry, the proper ordering of sacred images, embellishments and vestments. Laws which seem less suited to the reformed
liturgy are to be brought into harmony with it or else abolished, and any which are helpful are to be retained if already in use, or introduced where they are lacking.
According to the norm of Art. 22 of this
Constitution, the territorial bodies of bishops are empowered to adapt such things to the needs and customs of their different regions; this applies especially to the materials and form of sacred furnishings and
129. During their philosophical and theological studies, clerics are to be taught about the history and development of sacred art, and about the sound principles governing the production of its works. In
consequence, they will be able to appreciate and preserve the Church's venerable monuments, and be in a position to aid by good advice artists who are engaged in producing works of art.
130. It is fitting that the use
of pontificals be reserved to those ecclesiastical persons who have episcopal rank or some particular jurisdiction.
A Declaration of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican on Revision of the Calendar
The Second Ecumenical Sacred Council of the Vatican, recognizing the importance of the wishes expressed by many concerning the assignment of the feast of Easter to a fixed
Sunday and concerning an unchanging calendar, having carefully considered the effects which could result from the introduction of a new calendar, declares as follows:
1. The sacred Council would not object if the
feast of Easter were assigned to a particular Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, provided that those whom it may concern, especially the brethren who are not in communion with the Apostolic See, give their assent.
2. The sacred Council likewise declares that it does not oppose efforts designed to introduce a perpetual calendar into civil society.
But among the various systems which are being suggested to stabilize a perpetual
calendar and to introduce it into civil life, the Church has no objection only in the case of those systems which retain and safeguard a seven-day week with Sunday, without the introduction of any days outside the week,
so that the succession of weeks may be left intact, unless there is question of the most serious reasons. Concerning these the Apostolic See shall judge.
1. Secret prayer of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
2. St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians 7, 2.
3. Sacramentarium Veronese,
ed. L. C. Mohlberg (Rome: 1956), n. 1265; cf. also n. 1241, 1248.
4. Easter preface of the Roman Missal.
5. Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in the Roman Missal before the restoration of Holy Week.
6. Cf. Rm 6:4; Eph 2:6; Col 3:1; 2 Tm 2:11.
7. Council of Trent, Session 13,
Decree on the Holy Eucharist, ch. 5.
8. Council of Trent, Session 22, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ch. 2.
9. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem 6, 7.
10. Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter Sunday.
11. Collect of the Mass for Tuesday of Easter Week.
12. Secret prayer for Monday of Pentecost Week.
13. St. Cyprian,
On the Unity of the Catholic Church 7; cf. Letter 66, 8, 3.
14. Cf. Council of Trent, Session 22, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ch. 8.
15. Cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Smyrnians 8; To the Magnesians 7; To the Philadelphians 4.
16. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem 6, 13.
Roman Breviary, Feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon to the Magnificat.
18. Cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John 11, 11-12: PG 74, 557-564.
19. Council of Trent, Session 21, Doctrine on Communion under Both Species, ch. 1-3. 20. Council of Trent, Session 24, On Reform, ch. 1; cf. Roman Ritual, title 8, chap. 2, n. 6.