THE CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4 December, 1963 INTRODUCTI
THE CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY
Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4 December, 1963
1. The sacred Council has set out to impart an ever- increasing
vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more
closely to the needs of our age 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
all mankind into the Church's fold. Accordingly it sees
particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and
promotion of the liturgy.
2. For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine
sacrifice of the Eucharist, "the work of our redemption is
accomplished," and it is through the liturgy, especially, that
the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest
to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true
Church. The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible
but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and
dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a
pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward
and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible,
action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet
to come, the object of our quest. The liturgy daily builds
up those who are in the Church, making of them a holy temple of
the Lord, a dwelling-place for God in the Spirit, to the
mature measure of the fullness of Christ. At the same
time it marvelously increases their power to preach Christ and
thus show forth the Church, a sign lifted up among the
nations, to those who are outside, a sign under which the
scattered children of God may be gathered together  until
there is one fold and one shepherd.
1. Secret prayer of 9th Sunday after
2. Cf. Heb. 13:14.
3. Cf. Eph. 2:21-22.
4. Cf. Eph. 4:13.
5. Cf. Jn. 11:12.
6. Cf. Jn. 11:52.
7. Cf. Jn. 10:16.
3. That is why 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
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. Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred
Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully
recognized 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 present-day circumstances and
GENERAL PRINCIPLES FOR THE RESTORATION AND PROMOTION
OF THE SACRED LITURGY
I. THE NATURE OF THE SACRED LITURGY AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN THE
LIFE OF THE CHURCH
5. God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), "who in many times and
various ways spoke of old to the fathers through 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, to be
a bodily and spiritual medicine: the Mediator between God
and man. 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."
The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament
were but a prelude to the work of Christ Our Lord in redeeming
mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved his task
8. Cf. Is. 61:1; Lk. 4-18.
9. Cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch: Ad
10. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5.
11. Sacramentarium Veronese (Leonianium).
principally by the paschal mystery of his blessed passion,
resurrection from the dead, and glorious ascension, whereby
"dying, he destroyed our death, and rising, restored our
life." 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."
6. Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he
sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. this he did so
that they might preach the Gospel to every creature
and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection
had freed us from the power of Satan and from death, and
brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed
that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in
train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the
entire liturgical life revolves. Thus by Baptism men are
grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; they die with
him, are buried with him and rise with him. They receive the
spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry, Abba, Father"
(Rom. 8:15) and thus become true adorers such as the Father
seeks.  In like manner as often as they eat the Supper of
the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
That was why 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
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," and at he same time "giving thanks to
God for his inexpressible gift" (2 Cor. 9:15) in Christ Jesus,"in
12. Easter Preface of the Roman Missal.
13. Prayer before Second Lesson of Holy
Saturday (Roman Missal, before
14. Cf. Mk. 16:15.
15. Cf. Acts 26:18.
16. Cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; 2
17. Cf. Jn 4-23
18. Cf. 1 Cor. 2:26.
19. Council of Trent, Session 23: Decree on
the Holy Eucharist, ch. 5.
praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:12) through the power of the Holy
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,"
but especially in the eucharistic species. by his power
he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes
it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in
his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy
scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when
the Church prays and sings, for he has 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 in which 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.
The liturgy, then, is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly
office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man's
sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the
senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each
of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the
Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his
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, Minister of the holies and of
the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the
heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating
the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship
with them; we
20. Council of Trent, Session 22: Doctrine
on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ch.
21. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem
VI, ch. 1, n. 7.
22. Cf. Apoc. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2.
eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until he our
life shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory.
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 believed? And how are they to
believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to
hear without a preacher? And how are men to preach unless they
be sent?" (Rom. 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 one true
God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent and may be converted from
their ways, doing penance. 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, and encourage them to engage in
all the works of charity, piety and the apostolate, thus
making it clear that Christ's faithful, though not of this world,
are to be the lights of the world and are to glorify the Father
10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the
activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from
which all her power flows. for the goal of apostolic endeavor 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.
The liturgy, in its turn, moves the faithful filled with "the
paschal sacraments" to be "one in holiness"; it prays
that "they hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by
their faith." The renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant
between the Lord and man draws the faithful and sets them
aflame with Christ's insistent love. From the liturgy
therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured
forth upon us as from a fountain, 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,
are achieved with maximum effectiveness.
23. Cf. Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4.
24. Cf. Jn. 17:3; Lk. 24:27; Acts 2:38.
25. Cf. Mt. 28:20.
26. Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter
27. Collect for Mass of Tuesday of Easter
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 be attuned to their voices,
and that they cooperate with heavenly grace lest they receive it
in vain.  Pastors of souls must therefore, realize that,
when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required
than the laws governing valid and lawful 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 it.
12. The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to
participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to
pray with others, but he must also enter into his bedroom to pray
to his Father in secret;  furthermore, according to
the teaching of the apostle, he must pray without ceasing.
 We also learn fro the same apostle that we must always
carry around in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that the life
also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal Flesh. 
That is why we beg 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." 
13. Popular devotions of the Christian people, provided they
conform to the laws and norms of the Church, are to be highly
recommended, especially where they are ordered by the Apostolic
Devotions proper to individual churches also have a special
dignity if they are undertaken by order of the bishops according
to customs or books lawfully approved.
But such devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with
the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in
some way derived from it, and lead the people to it, since in
fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of
28. Cf. 2 Cor. 6:1.
29. Cf. Mt. 6:6.
30. Cf. 1 Th. 5:17
31. Cf. 2 Cor. 4:10-11
32. Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week.
II. THE PROMOTION OF LITURGICAL INSTRUCTION
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, and to which the Christian
people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
redeemed people" (1 Pet. 2:9, 4-5) have a right and obligation
by reason of their baptism.
In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the 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. Therefore, in all their apostolic
activity, pastors of souls should energetically set about
achieving it through the requisite pedagogy.
Yet it would be futile to entertain any hope of realizing this
unless pastors of souls, in the first place, themselves become
fully imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy and capable
of giving instruction about it. Thus it is absolutely essential,
first of all, that steps be taken to ensure the liturgical
training of the clergy. for that reason the sacred Council has
decided on the following enactments:
15. Professors who are appointed to teach liturgy in seminaries,
religious houses of studies, and theological faculties, must be
properly trained for their work in institutes which specialize in
16. The study of sacred liturgy is to be ranked among the
compulsory and major courses in seminaries and religious houses
of studies. In theological faculties is it to rank among the
principal courses. It is to be taught under its theological,
historical, spiritual, pastoral, and juridical aspects. In
addition, those who teach other subjects, especially dogmatic
theology, sacred scripture, spiritual and pastoral theology,
should -- each of them submitting to the exigencies of his own
discipline -- expound the mystery of Christ and the history of
salvation in a manner that will clearly set forth the connection
between their subjects and the liturgy, and the unity which
underlies all priestly training.
17. In seminaries and religious houses, clerics shall be given a
liturgical formation in their spiritual lives. For this they
will need a proper initiation, enabling them to understand the
sacred rites and participate in them wholeheartedly. They will
also need to celebrate the sacred mysteries and popular devotions
which are imbued with the spirit of the sacred liturgy. Likewise
they must learn to observe the liturgical laws so that life in
seminaries and religious institutes may be thoroughly influenced
by the liturgical spirit.
18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working
in the Lord's vineyard, are to be helped by every suitable means
to a fuller understanding of what they are about when they
perform sacred rites, 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, both internal and external, taking into account
their age, condition, 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 by word by also
20. Transmission of the sacred rites by radio and television,
especially in the case of Mass, shall be done with delicacy and
dignity. A suitable person, appointed by the bishops, should
direct it and have the responsibility for it.
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
unchangeable elements divinely instituted, and of elements
subject to change. These latter not only may be changed 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 less suitable. In
this restoration both texts and rites should be drawn up so as
to express more clearly the holy things which they signify. the
Christian people, as far as is possible, should be able to
understand them with ease and take part in them fully, actively,
and as a community.
Therefore, the sacred Council establishes the following general
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 law, the regulation of the
liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various
kinds of bishops' conferences, legitimately established, with
competence in given territories.
(3) Therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add,
remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
23. In order that sound tradition be retained, and yet the way
remain open to legitimate progress, a careful investigation -
-theological, historical, and pastoral -- should always be
made into each part of the liturgy which is to be
revised. Furthermore 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 granted 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 should be avoided.
24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the
celebration of the liturgy. For it is from it that lessons are
read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung. It is
from the scriptures that the prayers, collects, and hymns draw
their inspiration and their force, and that actions and signs
derive their meaning. Hence in order to achieve the restoration,
progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy it is essential to
promote that sweet and living love for sacred scripture to which
the venerable tradition of Eastern and Western rites gives
25. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible.
Experts are to be employed on this task, and bishops from various
parts of the world are to be consulted.
B. Norms Drawn from the Hierarchic and Communal Nature of the
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 arranged under their
Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole Body of the
Church. They manifest it, and have effects upon it. But they
also touch individual members of the Church in different ways,
depending on their orders, their role in liturgical services, and
their actual participation in them.
27. It must be emphasized that rites which are meant to be
celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively
participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that
way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately.
This applies with special force to the celebration of Mass (even
though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature) and
to the administration of the sacraments.
28. In liturgical celebrations each person, minister, or layman
who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those
parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and
the norms of the liturgy.
29. Servers, readers, commentators, and members of the choir
also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought,
therefore, to discharge their offices 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,
psalms, antiphons, hymns as well as by actions, gestures and
bodily attitudes. And at the proper time a reverent silence
should be observed.
31. When the liturgical books are being revised, the people's
parts must be carefully indicated by the rubrics.
1. St. Ciprian, "On the Unity of the
Catholic Church," 7; cf. Letter 66, n. 8,
32. In the liturgy, apart from the distinctions arising from
liturgical function or sacred orders and apart from the honors
due to civil authorities in accordance with liturgical law, no
special exception is to be made for any private persons or
classes of persons whether in the ceremonies or by external
C. Norms Based on the Educative and Pastoral Nature of the
33. Although the sacred liturgy is principally the worship of
the divine majesty it likewise contains much instruction for the
faithful.  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, in the
person of Christ, presides over the assembly, are said in the
name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the
visible signs which the sacred liturgy uses 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
spiritual homage and receive his grace more abundantly.
Therefore 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 free from 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 rite and words may be
apparent in the liturgy:
(1) In sacred celebrations a more ample, more varied, and more
suitable reading from sacred scripture should be restored.
(2) The most suitable place for a sermon ought to be indicated in
the rubrics, for a sermon is part of the liturgical action
whenever a rite involves one. The ministry of preaching is to be
fulfilled most faithfully and carefully. The sermon, moreover,
should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical
sources, for it is the proclamation of God's wonderful works in
the history of salvation, which is the mystery of Christ ever
2. Cf. Council of Trent, Session 22:
Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass, ch. 8.
made present and active in us, especially in the celebration of
(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 competent minister should be provided
within the rites themselves. But they should be given only at
suitable moments and in prescribed words or their equivalent.
(4) Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils
of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays of Advent and Lent,
and on Sundays and holidays, especially in places where no priest
is available. In this case a deacon or some other person
authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.
36. (1) The use of the Latin language, with due respect to
particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites. (2) But
since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the
administration of the sacraments, or in other parts of the
liturgy, may frequently be of great advantage to the people, a
wider use may be made of it, especially in readings, directives
and in some prayers and chants. Regulations governing this will
be given separately in subsequent chapters.
(3) These norms being observed, it is for the competent
territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22:2,
to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is
to be used. Its decrees have to be approved, that is, confirmed,
by the Apostolic See. Where circumstances warrant it, it is to
consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same
(4) Translations from the Latin for use in the liturgy must be
approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority
D. NORMS FOR ADAPTING THE LITURGY TO THE TEMPERAMENT AND
TRADITIONS OF PEOPLES
37. Even in the liturgy the Church does not wish to impose a
rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the
good of the whole community. Rather does she respect and foster
the qualities and talents of the various races and nations.
Anything in these people's way of life which is not indissolubly
bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy,
and, if possible, preserves intact. She sometimes even admits
such things into the liturgy itself, provided they harmonize with
its true and authentic spirit.
38. Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is
preserved, provision shall be made, when revising the liturgical
books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different
groups, regions and peoples, especially in mission countries.
This should be borne in mind when drawing up the rite and
39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the
liturgical books it shall be for the competent territorial
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22:2, to specify
adaptations, especially as regards the administration of the
sacraments, sacramentals, processions, liturgical language,
sacred music and the arts, according, however, 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. For this reason:
(1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned
in Article 22:2, must in this matter, carefully and prudently
consider which elements from the traditions and cultures of
individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine
worship. Adaptations which are considered useful or necessary
should then be submitted to the Holy See, by whose consent they
may be introduced.
(2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the
circumspection necessary, the Apostolic See will grant power to
this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and
direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary
experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups
suitable for the purpose.
(3) Because liturgical laws usually involve special difficulties
with respect to adaptation, especially in mission lands, men who
are experts in the matters in question must be employed to
E. PROMOTION OF THE 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 upon whom it in some way depends.
Therefore all should hold in the greatest esteem the liturgical
life of the dioceses centered around the bishop, especially in
his cathedral church. They must be convinced that the principal
manifestation of the Church consists in the full, active
participation of all God's holy people in the same liturgical
celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, in one prayer, at
one altar, at which the bishop resides, surrounded by his college
of priests and by his ministers. 
42 But as it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere
to preside over the whole flock in his church, he must of
necessity establish groupings of the faithful; and, among these,
parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of
the bishop, are the most important, for in some way they
represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world.
Therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relation to
the bishop must be fostered in the spirit and practice of the
laity and clergy. Efforts must also be made to encouraged a
sense of community with the parish, above all in the common
celebration of the Sunday Mass.
F. PROMOTION OF PASTORAL LITURGICAL ACTION
43. Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the sacred liturgy
is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of
God in our time, and as a movement of the Holy Spirit in his
Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the life of the
Church, and, indeed, of the whole tenor of contemporary religious
thought and action.
Therefore, so that this pastoral liturgical action may become
still more vigorous in the Church the sacred Council decrees:
44. It is desirable that the competent territorial
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22:2 set up a
liturgical commission to be assisted by experts in liturgical
science, sacred music, art and pastoral practice. As far as
possible the commission should be aided by some kind of Institute
for Pastoral Liturgy, consisting of people who are eminent in
these matters, not excluding laymen, if circumstances so demand.
It will be the task of this commission, under the direction of
the above-mentioned competent territorial ecclesiastical
authority (see Article 22:2), to regulate pastoral liturgical
action throughout the territory, and to promote studies and
necessary experiments whenever there is a question of adaptations
to be proposed to the Holy See.
3. Cf. St Ignatius of Antioch: Magnesians,
7; Philadelphians, 4; Smyrnaens, 8.
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. In addition to the commission on sacred liturgy, every
dioceses, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred
music and sacred art.
These three commissions must work in the closest collaboration.
Indeed it will often be best to fuse the three of them into one
THE MOST SACRED MYSTERY OF THE
47. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior
instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he
did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross
throughout the ages 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,  a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the
mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to
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. Offering the immaculate victim, not
only through the hands of the priest but also together with him,
they should learn to offer themselves. Through Christ, the
Mediator,  they should be drawn day be day into ever more
perfect union with God and 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 faithful assisting,
especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation, has made the
following decrees so that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the
ritual forms (of its celebration) have full pastoral efficacy.
1. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannis
Evangelium, ch. 6 n. 13
2. Roman Breviary: Feast of Corpus Christi,
Second Vespers, Antiphon to Magnificat.
3. Cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria: "Commentary
on the Gospel of St. John," Book 11, ch. 11-12.
50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the
intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as well as the
connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that
devout and active participation by the faithful may be more
For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being
taken to preserve their substance. Parts which with the passage of
time came to be duplicated, or were added with little
advantage, are to be omitted. Other parts which suffered loss
through accidents of history are to be restored to the vigor they
had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or
51. The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so
that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table
of God's word. In this way a more representative part of the
sacred 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 on
Sundays and holidays of obligation, with the people assisting, it
should not be omitted except for a serious reason.
53. The "common prayer" or "prayer of the faithful" is to be
restored after the gospel and homily, especially on Sundays and
holidays of obligation. 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. 
54. A suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses
which are celebrated with the people, especially in the readings
and "the common prayer," and also, as local conditions may
warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people, according to
the rules laid down in Article 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may
also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the
Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
Wherever a more extended use of the vernacular in the Mass seems
desirable, the regulation laid down in Article 40 of this
Constitution is to be observed.
4. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2.
55. The 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 warmly recommended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of
Trent remaining intact,  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. For example,
To the Newly ordained in the Mass of their ordination;
To the newly professed in the mass of their religious profession;
To the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
56. The two parts which in a sense go to make up the Mass, viz.
the liturgy of the word and the 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 holidays 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 celebration to
the following cases:
1. (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 the
priests available should celebrate individually;
(b) at Mass celebrated at any kind of priests' meetings whether
the priests be secular or religious.
(2) 1. The regulation, however, of the discipline of
concelebration in the diocese pertains to the bishop.
5. Council of Trent, Session 21: On
Communion under Both Species, ch. 1-3.
2. 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 the 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
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, confer grace but, in
addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively
disposes the faithful to receive this grace to their profit, to
worship God duly, and to practice charity.
It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that the faithful
should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should
eagerly frequent 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
nature, 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 of
their lives with the divine grace which flows from the paschal
mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. From
this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.
There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot
thus be directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of
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 are necessary to adapt them to
present-day needs. For that reason the sacred Council decrees as
follows concerning their revision:
63. Because the use of the vernacular in the administration of
the sacraments and sacramentals can often be of very great help
to the people, this use is to be extended according to the
(a) In the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals the
vernacular may be used according to the norm of Article 36.
(b) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority designated in
Article 22:2 of this Constitution shall forthwith prepare, in
accordance with the new edition of the Roman Ritual, local
rituals adapted linguistically and otherwise to the needs of the
different regions. These rituals, on authentication by the
Apostolic See, are to be followed in the regions in question.
But in drawing up those rituals or particular collections of
rites, the instructions prefixed to the individual rites in the
Roman Ritual, whether they be pastoral and rubrical or whether
they have a special social import, shall not be omitted.
64. The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct
steps, is to be restored and brought 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 countries, in addition to what is furnished by
the Christian tradition, those elements of initiation rites may be
admitted which are already in use among some peoples insofar as
they can be adapted to the Christian ritual in accordance with
Articles 37-40 of this Constitution.
66. Both rites for the baptism of adults are to be revised, not
only the simpler rite but also, taking into consideration the
restored catechumenate, the more solemn rite. A special Mass
"For the conferring of Baptism" is to be inserted into the Roman
67. The rite for the baptism of infants is to be revise, its
revision taking into account the fact that those to be baptized
are 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 when a large number are to be
baptized. Likewise a shorter rite is to be drawn up,
especially for mission countries which catechists, and also the
faithful in general, may use when there is danger of death and
neither priest nor deacon is available.
69. In place of the rite called "Rite for supplying what was
omitted in the baptism of an infant" a new rite is to be drawn
up. This rite should indicate more fittingly and clearly that
the infant baptized by the short rite has already been received
into the Church.
So also 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. Baptismal water, outside of paschal time, may be blessed
within the rite of Baptism itself by an approved shorter formula.
71. The rite of Confirmation is to be revised also so that the
intimate connection of this sacrament with the whole of the
Christian initiation may more clearly appear. For this reason
the renewal of baptismal promises should fittingly precede the
reception of this sacrament.
Confirmation may be conferred within Mass when convenient. For
conferring outside Mass, a formula introducing the rite should be
72. The rite and formulae of Penance are to be revised so that
they more clearly express both the nature and effect of the
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 anyone of the
faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old
age, the fitting time for him to receive the sacrament has
certainly already arrived.
74. In addition to the separate rites for Anointing of the Sick
and the Viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared in which a
sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he
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 to 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 addresses given by the bishop at the beginning of
each ordination or consecration may be in the vernacular.
In the consecration of a bishop the laying on 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 so that it will more clearly signify the
grace of the sacrament and will emphasize the spouses' duties.
"If any regions use other praiseworthy customs and ceremonies
when celebrating the sacrament of Matrimony the sacred Synod
earnestly desires that these by all means be retained."
Moreover, an ecclesiastical authority having the territorial
competence described in Article 22:2 of this Constitution is free to
draw up its own rite suited to its people and region,
according to the provisions of Article 63, but on the express
condition that the priest assisting at the marriage 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 of mutual fidelity, may be
said in the vernacular.
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.
79. The sacramentals are to be revised, account being taken of
the primary principle of enabling the faithful to participate
intelligently, actively, and easily. The circumstances of our
times must also be considered. When rituals are being revised as
laid down in Article 63, new sacramentals may also be added as
Reserved blessings shall be very few. Reservations shall be in
favor only of bishops and ordinaries.
Provision should be made for the administration of some
sacramentals, at least in special circumstances and at the
discretion of the ordinary, by qualified lay persons.
80. The rite of the Consecration of Virgins contained in the
Roman Pontifical is to be revised.
Moreover a rite of religious profession and renewal of vows shall be
drawn in order to achieve greater unity, sobriety, and
dignity. Apart from special exceptions granted by law, this rite
should be adopted by those who make their profession or renewal of
vows within the Mass.
It is recommended that religious profession be made within the
6. Council of Trent, Session 24: On Reform,
ch. 1. Cf. Roman Ritual, Title 8, ch. 2, n. 6.
81. Funeral rites 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
also applies to 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. Jesus Christ, 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
attaches to himself the entire community of mankind and has them
join him in singing his divine song of praise.
For he continues his priestly work through his Church. The
Church, by celebrating the Eucharist and by other means,
especially the celebration of the divine office, is
ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the
salvation of the entire world.
84. The divine office, in keeping with ancient Christian
tradition, is so devised that the whole course of the day and
night is made holy by the praise of God. Therefore, when this
wonderful song of praise is correctly celebrated by priests and
others deputed to it by the Church, or by the faithful praying
together with a priest in the approved form, then it is truly the
voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is
the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body
addresses to the Father.
85. Hence all who take part in the divine office are not only
performing a duty for the Church, they are also sharing in what
is the greatest honor for Christ's Bride; for by offering these
praises to God they are standing before God's throne in the name
of the Church, their Mother.
86. Priest who are engaged in the sacred pastoral ministry will
pray the divine office the more fervently, the more alive they
are to the need to heed St. Paul's exhortation, "Pray without
ceasing" (1 Th. 5:17). For only the Lord, who said, "Without me
you can do nothing," can make their work effective and fruitful.
That is why the apostles when instituting deacons said, "We will
devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts
87. In order that the divine office may be better and more
perfectly prayed, whether by priests or by other members of the
Church, in existing circumstances, the sacred Council, continuing
the restoration so happily begun by the Apostolic See, decrees as
follows concerning the office of the Roman rite:
88. Since the purpose of the office is to sanctify the day, the
traditional sequence of the hours is to be restored so that, as
far as possible, they may again become also in fact what they
have been in name. At the same time account must be taken of the
conditions of modern life in which those who are engaged in
apostolic work must live.
89. Therefore, in the revision of the office these norms are to
(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. They must be
considered as the chief hours and are to be celebrated as
(b) Compline is to be drawn up so as suitably to mark the
close of the day.
(c) The hour called Matins, although it should retain the
character of nocturnal prayer when recited in choir, shall be
so adapted that it may be recite at any hour of the day, and
it shall be made up of fewer psalms and longer
(d) The hour of Prime is to be suppressed.
(e) In choir the minor hours of Terce, Sect, and None are to
be observed. Outside of choir it will be lawful to select
any one of the three most suited to the time of the day.
90. The divine office, because it is the public prayer of the
Church, is a source of piety and a nourishment for personal
prayer. For this reason, priest and others who take part in the
divine office are earnestly exhorted in the Lord to attune their
minds to their voices when praying it. To achieve this more
fully, they should take steps to improve their understanding of
the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the psalms. When the
Roman office is being revised, its venerable centuries-old
treasures are to be so adapted that those to whom it is handed on
may profit from it more fully and more easily.
91. So that it may be possible in practice to observe the course
of the hours proposed in Article 89, the psalms are no longer to
be distributed throughout one week but through a longer period of
The task of revising the psalter, already happily begun, is to be
finished as soon as possible. It shall take into account the
style of Christian Latin, the liturgical use of the psalms --
including the singing of the psalms -- and the entire tradition
of the Latin Church.
92. As regards the readings, the following points shall be
(a) Readings from sacred scripture shall be so arranged
that the riches of the divine word may be easily accessible in
more abundant measure;
(b) Readings taken from the works of the fathers, doctors, and
ecclesiastical writers shall be better selected;
(c) The accounts of the martyrdom or lives of the saints are
to be made historically accurate.
93. Hymns are to be restored to their original form, as far as
may be desirable. They are to be purged of whatever smacks of
mythology or accords ill with Christian piety. Also, as occasion
may warrant, other selections are to be made from the treasury of
94. So 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 the time which corresponds most
closely 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.
(a) Orders of canons, monks, and nuns, and of other
regulars bound by law or constitutions to choral office,
must say the entire office;
(b) Cathedral or collegiate chapters are bound to recite
those parts of the office imposed on them by general or
(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, but who are in major
orders, are bound to pray the entire office every day, either in
common or individually, as laid down in Article 89.
97. The rubrics shall determine when it is appropriate to
substitute a liturgical service for the divine office.
In particular cases, and for adequate reasons, ordinaries may
dispense their subjects, wholly or in part, from the obligation
of reciting the divine office, or they may change it to another
98. Any religious who in virtue of their constitutions recite
parts of the divine office, are thereby joining in the public
prayer of the Church.
The same can be said of those who, in virtue of their
constitutions, recite any "little office", provided it be drawn
up after the patter of the divine office, wand be duly approved.
99. Since the divine office is the voice of the Church, that is,
of the whole mystical body publicly praising God, it is
recommended that clerics who are not obliged to attend office in
choir, especially priests who live together or who assemble for
any purpose, should pray at least some part of the divine office
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
mind but also to the external manner of celebration.
It is, moreover, fitting that whenever possible the office be
sung, both in choir and in common.
100. Pastors of souls should see to it that the principal hours,
especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays
and on the more solemn feasts. 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 age-old tradition of the
Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in
the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has
the power to grant 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 in
accordance with the provisions of article 36.
(2) The competent superior has the power to grant the use of
the vernacular for the divine office, even in choir, to
religious, including men who are not clerics. The
vernacular 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 par. 2, above, provided that the text used has
THE LITURGICAL YEAR
102. Holy Mother Church believes that it is for her to celebrate
the saving work of her divine Spouse in a sacred commemoration on
certain days throughout the course of the year. Once each week,
on the day which she has called the Lord's Day, she keeps the
memory of the Lord's resurrection. She also celebrates it once
every year, together with his blessed passion, at Easter, that
most solemn of all feasts.
In the course of the year, moreover, she unfolds the whole
mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the
ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope
of the coming of the Lord.
Thus recalling the mysteries of the redemption, she opens up to
the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits so that
these are in some way made present for all time; the faithful lay
hold of them and are filled with saving grace.
103. In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of
Christ, Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with
a special love. She is inseparably linked with her son's saving
work. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent
fruit of 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 memorial
days of the martyrs and 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 pray for
us. By celebrating their anniversaries the Church proclaims
achievement of the paschal mystery in the saints who have
suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them
to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the father
through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God's
105. Finally, in the various seasons of the year and in keeping
with 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 mercy.
Accordingly the sacred Council has decided 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 seventh day, which day is
appropriately called the Lord's Day or Sunday. For on this day
Christ's faithful are bound to come together into one place.
They should listen to the word of God and take part in the
Eucharist, thus calling to mind the passion, resurrection, and
glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who "has
begotten them again, through the resurrection of Christ from the
dead, unto a living hope" (1 Pet. 1:3). The Lord's Day is the
original feast day, and it should be proposed to 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
the greatest importance, shall not have precedence over Sunday,
which is the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical year.
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
the Christian redemption and, above all, the paschal mystery. If
certain adaptations are necessary because of local conditions,
they are to be made in accordance with the provisions of Articles
39 and 40.
108. the minds of the faithful should be directed primarily
toward the feasts of the Lord whereby the mysteries of salvation
are celebrated throughout the year. For this reason, the Proper
of the Time shall be given due preference over the feasts of the
saints so that the entire cycle of the mysteries of salvation may
be suitably recalled.
109. The two elements which are especially characteristic of
Lent -- the recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and
penance -- should be given greater emphasis in the liturgy and in
liturgical catechesis. It is by means of them that the Church
prepared the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they
hear God's word more frequently and devote more time to prayer.
(a) More use is to be made of the baptismal features which
are proper to the Lenten liturgy. Some of them which were
part of an earlier tradition are to be restored
(b) The same may be said of the penitential elements. But
catechesis, as well as pointing out the social consequences of
sin, must impress on the minds of the faithful the
distinctive character of penance as a detestation of sin
because it is an offense against God. The role of the
Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over
and the need to pray for sinners should be emphasized.
110. During Lent, penance should be not only internal and
individual but also external and social. The practice of penance
should be encouraged in ways suited to the present day, to
different regions, and to individual circumstances. It should
also be recommended by the authorities mentioned in Article 22.
But the paschal fast must be kept sacred. It should be
celebrated everywhere on Good Friday, and where possible should
be prolonged throughout Holy Saturday so that the faithful may
attain the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection with uplifted
and responsive minds.
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 offer to the faithful fitting examples for
Lest the 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
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 pre-eminence is that, as a combination
of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part
of the solemn liturgy.
Sacred scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred
song. So have the Fathers of the Church and the Roman
pontiffs who in more recent times, led by St. Pius X, have
explained more precisely the ministerial functions exercised by
sacred music in the service of the Lord.
Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy, the
more closely connected it is with the liturgical action, whether
making prayer more pleasing, promoting unity of minds, or
conferring greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. The Church,
indeed, approves of all forms of true art which have the
requisite 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
As regards the language to be used, the provisions of Article 36
are to be observed; for the Mass, Article 54; for the sacraments,
Article 63; for the divine office, Article 101.
114. The treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and
cultivated with great care. Choirs must be assiduously
developed, especially in cathedral churches. Bishops and other
pastors of souls must take great care to ensure that whenever the
sacred action is to be accompanied by chant, the whole body of
the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation
which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Articles 28 and 30.
115. Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and
practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of
studies of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic
institutions and schools. To impart this instruction teachers
1. Cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.
are to be carefully trained and put in charge of the teaching of
It is desirable also that higher institutes of sacred music be
established whenever possible.
Composers and singers, especially boys, must also be given a
genuine liturgical training.
116. The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially
suited to the Roman liturgy. Therefore, other things being
equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
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
117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to
be completed. In addition 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 smaller churches.
118. Religious singing by the faithful is to be intelligently
fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises as well as in
liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may be heard, in
conformity with the norms and requirements of the rubrics.
119. In certain countries, especially in mission lands there are
people who have their own musical tradition, and this plays a
great part in their religious and social life. For this reason
their music should be held in proper esteem and a suitable place
is to be given to it, not only in forming their religious sense
but also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated
in Articles 39 and 40.
Therefore, in the musical training of missionaries, great care
should be taken to see that they become competent in promoting
the traditional music of those peoples both in the schools and in
sacred services, as far as may be practicable.
120. The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin
Church, for it is the traditional musical instrument, the sound
of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies
and powerfully lifts up men's minds to God and higher things.
But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine
worship, in the judgment and with the consent of the competent
territorial authority as laid down in Articles 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; that they
accord with the dignity of the temple, and that they truly
contribute to the edification of the faithful.
121. Composers, animated by the Christian spirit, should accept
that it pertains to their vocation to cultivate sacred music and
increase its store of treasures.
Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to
genuine sacred music, and which can be sung not only by large
choirs but also by smaller choirs, and which make possible the
active participation of the whole congregation.
The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with
Catholic doctrine. Indeed, they should be drawn chiefly from the
sacred scripture and from liturgical sources.
SACRED ART AND SACRED FURNISHINGS
122. The fine arts are rightly classed among the noblest
activities of man's genius; this is especially true of religious
art and of its highest manifestation, sacred art. Of their
nature the arts are directed toward expressing in some way the
infinite beauty of God in works made by human hands. Their
dedication to the increase of God's praise and of his glory is
more complete, the more exclusively they are devoted to turning
men's minds devoutly toward God.
For that reason holy Mother Church has always been the patron of
the fine arts and has ever sought their noble ministry, to the
end especially that all things set apart for use in divine
worship should be worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and
symbols of things supernatural. And to this end she has trained
artists. In fact the Church has, with good reason, always
claimed the right to pass judgment on the arts, deciding which of
the works of artists are in accordance with faith, piety, and the
laws religiously handed down, and are to be considered suitable
for sacred use.
The Church has been particularly careful to see that sacred
furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of
worship. She has admitted changes in material, style, or
ornamentation prompted by the progress of 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 own. She has admitted styles from every period, in keeping
with the natural characteristics and conditions of peoples and
the needs of the various rites. Thus in the course of the
centuries she has brought into existence a treasury of art which
must be preserved with every care. The art of our own times from
every race and country shall also be given free scope in the
Church, provided it bring to the task the reverence and honor due
to the sacred buildings and rites. Thus it is enabled to join
its voice to that wonderful chorus of praise in honor of the
Catholic faith sung by great men in past ages.
124. Ordinaries are to take care that in encouraging and
favoring truly sacred art, they should seek for noble beauty
rather than sumptuous display. The same principle applies also
to sacred vestments and ornaments.
Bishops should be careful to ensure that works of art which are
repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend
true religious sense either by depraved forms or through lack of
artistic merit or because of mediocrity or pretense, be removed
from the house of God and from other sacred places.
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 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 the
Christian people may find them incongruous and they may foster
devotion of doubtful orthodoxy.
126. When passing judgment on words of art, local ordinaries
should ask the opinion of the diocesan commission on sacred are
and -- when occasion demands -- the opinions of others who are
experts, and the commissions mentioned in Articles 44, 45 and 46.
Ordinaries should ensure that sacred furnishings and works of
value are not disposed of or destroyed, for they are ornaments in
127. Bishops, either personally or through suitable priests who
are gifted with a knowledge and love of art, should have a
special concern for artists, so as to imbue them with the spirit
of sacred art and of the sacred liturgy.
It is also desirable that schools or academies of sacred art
should be established in those parts of the world where they
would be useful for the training of artists.
All artists who, prompted by their talents, desire to serve God's
glory in holy Church should ever remember that they are engaged
in a kind of holy imitation of God the Creator: that they are
concerned with works destined to be used in Catholic worship, for
the edification of the faithful and to foster their piety and
128. The canons and ecclesiastical statues which govern the
provision of external things which pertain to sacred worship
should be revised as soon as possible, together with the
liturgical books, as laid down in Article 25. These laws refer
especially to the worthy and well-planned construction of sacred
buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the nobility,
placing, and security of the eucharistic tabernacle, the
suitability and dignity of the bapistry, the proper ordering of
sacred images, and the scheme of decoration and embellishment.
Laws which seems less suited to the reformed liturgy should be
amended or abolished. Those which are helpful are to be
retained, or introduced if lacking.
In this matter, especially as regards the material and form of
sacred furnishing and vestments, in accordance with Article 22 of
this Constitutions, powers are given territorial episcopal
conferences to adapt such things to the needs and customs of
their different regions.
129. During their philosophical and theological studies, clerics
are to be taught about the history and development of sacred art,
and about the basic principles which govern the production of its
works. Thus they will be able to appreciate and preserve the
Church's ancient monuments, and be able 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
A DECLARATION OF THE SECOND VATICAN
ECUMENICAL COUNCIL ON REVISION OF THE
The Sacred Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 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 results that could follow from the introduction of a new
calendar, declares as follows:
1. The sacred Council is not opposed to assigning the
feast of Easter to a fixed Sunday in the Gregorian
Calendar, provided those whom it may concern give their
assent, especially the brethren who are not in communion
with the Apostolic See.
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 devised with a view
to establishing a perpetual calendar and introducing it into
civil life, those and only those are unopposed by the Church
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 in the
judgment of the Apostolic See there are extremely weighty reasons
to the contrary.
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