ON THE SACRED LITURGY
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY
POPE PAUL VI
ON 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,"  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 . 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 , to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ , 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  under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together
, until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd .
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
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
1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church's
5. God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the
truth" (1 Tim. 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 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 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" . 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. 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 , they might 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. 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 ; they receive the spirit of
adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become
true adorers whom 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 .
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 onwards the Church has never
failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things
"which were in all the scriptures concerning him" (Luke 24:27), celebrating the
eucharist in which "the victory and triumph of his death are again made present"
, 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" , 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
. 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" (Matt. 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
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
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 ; 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 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 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?"
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 . 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
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.
The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal
sacraments," to be "one in holiness" ; it prays that "they may 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 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  . 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 ; yet
more, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing
. 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 . 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" .
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 lawfully
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 fully 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 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of
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
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
15. Professors who are appointed to teach liturgy in seminaries, religious
houses of study, and theological faculties must be properly trained for their
work in institutes which specialize in this subject.
16. The study of sacred liturgy is to be ranked among the compulsory and
major courses in seminaries and 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
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
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 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 
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
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
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 . For in the
liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And
the people reply to God both by song and prayer.
Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the
assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people
and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify
invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only
when things are read "which were written for our instruction" (Rom. 15:4), but
also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is
nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their
rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.
Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should
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
35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in
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.
4) Bible 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 chapters.
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what
extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved,
that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called
for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have
the same language.
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use
in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical
authority mentioned above.
D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of
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
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
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.
E) Promotion of Liturgical Life in Diocese and Parish
41. The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom
the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent.
Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese
centered around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church; they must be
convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church consists in the full
active participation of all God's holy people in these liturgical celebrations,
especially in the same eucharist, in a single prayer, at one altar, at which
there presides the bishop surrounded by his college of priests and by his
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.
F) The Promotion of Pastoral-Liturgical Action
43. Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to
be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of
the Holy Spirit in His Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the Church's
life, indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action.
So that this pastoral-liturgical action may become even more vigorous in the
Church, the sacred Council decrees:
44. It is desirable that the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority
mentioned in Art. 22, 2, set up a liturgical commission, to be assisted by
experts in liturgical science, sacred music, art and pastoral practice. So far
as possible the commission should be aided by some kind of Institute for
Pastoral Liturgy, consisting of persons who are eminent in these matters, and
including laymen as circumstances suggest. Under the direction of the
above-mentioned territorial ecclesiastical authority the commission is to
regulate pastoral-liturgical action throughout the territory, and to promote
studies and necessary experiments whenever there is question of adaptations to
be proposed to the Apostolic See.
45. For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred
liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical
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
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 Saviour
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 , a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is
filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us .
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 , 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.
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 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 .
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
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 , 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 principle Mass in churches when the needs
of the faithful do not require that all priests available should celebrate
b) at Masses celebrated at any kind of priests' meetings, whether the priests
be secular clergy or religious.
1. The regulation, however, of the discipline of con-celebration 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 of 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.
66. 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
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
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" .
Moreover the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art.
22, 52, 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.
79. The 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
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 Thess. 5:11). 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" (John 15: 5).
That is why the apostles, instituting deacons, said: "We will devote ourselves
to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).
81. 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
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.
In 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
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 particular:
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
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 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 52 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
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 Pet. 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 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
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 suitably recalled.
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 a social
consequences of sin but also that essence of the virtue of penance which leads
to the detestation of sin as an offence 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.
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 universal importance.
VI SACRED MUSIC
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 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 , 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. 101.
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.
115. 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
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
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
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
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
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, 52, 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
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
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
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
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 orthodoxy.
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,
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
127. Bishops 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
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
baptistery, 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 vestments.
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
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:
- 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.
- 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
 Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
 Cf. Heb. 13:14.
 Cf. Eph. 2:21-22.
 Cf. Eph. 4:13.
 Cf. Is. 11:12.
 Cf. John 11:52.
 Cf. John 10:16.
 Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18.
 St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2.
 Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5.
 Sacramentarium Veronese (ed. Mohlberg), n. 1265; cf. also n. 1241, 1248.
 Easter Preface of the Roman Missal.
 Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in the Roman
Missal before the restoration of Holy Week.
 Cf. Mark 16:15.
 Cf. Acts 26:18.
 Cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6;
Col. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:11.
 Cf. John 4:23.
 Cf. 1 Cor. 11:26.
 Council of Trent, Session XIII,
Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c.5.
 Council of Trent, Session XXII,
Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass, c. 2.
 Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 7.
 Cf. Apoc. 21:2; Col. 3:1;
 Cf. Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4.
 Cf. John 17:3; Luke 24:27;
 Cf. Matt. 28:20.
 Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter Sunday.
 Collect of the Mass for Tuesday of Easter Week.
 Cf. 2 Cor. 6:1.
 Cf. Matt. 6:6.
 Cf . 1 Thess. 5:17.
 Cf . 2 Cor. 4:10-11.
 Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week.
 St. Cyprian, On the Unity of the Cathotic Church, 7; cf.
Letter 66, n. 8,
 Cf. Council of Trent, Session XXII,
Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass, c. 8.
 Cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch,
To the Smyrnians, 8; To the Magnesians, 7;
To the Philadelphians, 4.
 Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 13.
 Roman Breviary, feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon to the
 Cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, book XI,
chap. XI-XII: Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 74, 557-564.
 Cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2.
 Session XXI, July 16, 1562.
Doctrine on Communion under Both Species,
chap. 1-3: Condlium Tridentinum. Diariorum, Actorum, Epistolarum, Tractatuum
nova collectio ed. Soc. Goerresiana, tome VIII (Freiburg in Br., 1919), 698-699.
 Council of Trent, Session XXIV, November 11, 1563,
On Reform, chap. I.
Cf. Roman Ritual, title VIII, chap. II, n. 6.
 Cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.