2The opening statement gives us the council’s first articulation of its objectives 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 call all humankind into the Church’s fold” (SC 1).
3The Constitution addresses seven main topics: Basic principles for the restoration and promotion of the liturgyThe mystery of the EucharistThe other sacraments and sacramental (popular devotional practices)The divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours)The liturgical yearSacred musicSacred art
4THROUGH BAPTISM WE ARE IMPLANTED IN THE PASCHAL MYSTERY 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 (Mark 16:15) and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan (Acts 26:18) and from death, and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. He also willed that the work of salvation which they preached they should enact through the sacrifice and sacraments around which the entre liturgical life revolves. Thus by Baptism men and women are implanted in the paschal mystery of Christ; they die with him, are buried with him, and rise with him.LITURGY: The public worship of the church, from the Greek, LEITOURGIA, which means, literally, “the work of the people.” It is “public service” in the full sense of the phrase. The liturgy is the ritual activity of the community, as distinguished from private prayer or pious practices.The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the first major document debated during the council and one of the first to be promulgated at the end of the council’s second
5The centrality of the Paschal Mystery in the prayer of the Church Chapter 1 is a reflection on the nature of the liturgy and its importance in the life of the church.Paschal Mystery: The term “paschal” comes from the Greek PASCHA, which is a translation of the Hebrew PESACH or Passover. Mystery is from the Greek term MUSTERION, applied to Christ it literally refers to a reality that is hidden, veiled, beyond the complete grasp of human comprehension. God is utterly mysterious and incomprehensible yet freely discloses God’s self to us through the humanity of Jesus Christ. In the early church the term “mystery” was also applied to the sacraments, visible signs that manifest the action of God.
6Sharing in the Paschal Mystery through the sacraments The prayers of the initiation rite (baptism) draw clear parallels between the waters of baptism and the symbol of water in the great moments of salvation history.
7The Paschal character of the liturgical year The Council sought to restore the “paschal character” of the Sunday liturgy and the entire liturgical year.
9CHRIST IS ALWAYS PRESENT IN HIS CHURCH To accomplish so great a work Christ is always present in his church, especially in liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass both in the person of his minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,” and most of all in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anyone 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” (Matthew 18:20) #7
10The council explicitly affirmed that there were multiple modes through which Christ was to be encountered.Christ is present through the ministry of the churchChrist is present in sacramental signsChrist is present in the proclamation of the WordThe presence of Christ in the gathered assembly
11FULL, CONSCIOUS, ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN THE LITURGY It is very much the wish of the church that all the faithful should be led to take that full, conscious, and active part 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 priesthood” have a right and to which they are bound by reason of their Baptism.In the restoration and development of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the paramount concern, for it is the primary, indeed the indispensable source form 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 formation. SC #14
12The guiding principle for the reform of the liturgy
14The noble simplicity of the Roman Rite “The rites should radiate a noble simplicity. They should be short, clear, and free from useless repetition. They should be within the people’s power of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.” SC #34
15The needs and customs of different regions Vatican II recognized that the local bishops were most competent and qualified to determine whether it would be appropriate to celebrate the liturgy in the vernacular language. SC #35
16AFTER THE COUNCILThe Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy approved “restoration, progress, and adaptation “of worship (SC $24). It did NOT issue a blueprint for full-scale liturgical reform.The council said nothing about priests’ celebrating mass VERSUS POPULUM (facing the people) instead of VERSUS ORIENTEM (FACING East – in ancient churches, literally the direction in which the people faced when praying toward the altar).The real turning point was Pope Paul’s apostolic constitution MISSALE ROMANUM (1969). This document, along with a 1970 decree form the Vatican’s Sacred Congregator for Divine Worship, established a completely revised Roman rite designed to preserve the “old” and make use of the “new” (Cenam Paschalem, 15). The principle architect of the rite was Vincentian priest (and later archbishop) Annibale Bugnini, head of the post-conciliar working group charged with designing a new liturgy and making it a reality in the Catholic world. A controversial figure still shrouded in mystery, he defended the new approach to liturgy in his nearly 1,000-page memoir titled THE REFORM OF THE LITURGY, (published in Italian in 1983 and in English in 1990).
17NOVUS ORDOThe revised rite, known as the Mass of Paul VI or the NOVUS ORDO (new order) Mass, went into effect on the First Sunday of Advent The most noticeable features of the rite are now very familiar to Catholics worldwide: the use of local languages, the priest facing the people across a freestanding altar, a generous lectionary of Scripture readings, a biblically focused homily, Communion in the hand and in “both kinds” (both species), an emphasis on liturgy as a community celebration, and the active participation of lay people. Everything was ordered to the theme of “adapting the Church to the needs of today’s apostolate” (Cenam Pashalem, 12).
18REFORM OF THE REFORMIn recent years, some have called for a “reform of the reform”—a new liturgical movement to reclaim the true intentions of Vatican II. John Paul II spoke out against a “misguided sense of creativity” in Catholic worship. He also authorized greater access to the traditional Latin Mass. He noted: “Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).Benedict XVI, who served as one of the PERITI at Vatican II, has made a revival of reverence and artistic standards in worship a signature concern of his pontificate. His apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificam (2007) echoed John Paul’s concern and gave even more freedom to priests and laity devoted to the Tridentine Mass, now called the “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite.Benedict’s support for the new English translation of The Roman Missal, introduced in 2001, has also enhanced Catholic attitudes toward worship.Benedict’s basic principle has always been the continuity of Catholic history: “In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too” (Letter on Summorum Pontificum).As we are discovering, we are all part of a pilgrim Church!