Documents of Vatican II: On the Sacred
Constitution on The Sacred Liturgy
Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness, 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
2. For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is
accomplished," (1) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the eucharist,
is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their
lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature
of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both
human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and
yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home
in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is
directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the
invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city
yet to come, which we seek (2). 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 (3), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ
(4), 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 (5) under which the scattered children
of God may be gathered together (6), until there is one sheepfold and
one shepherd (7).
3. Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles
concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to
mind, and that practical norms should be established.
Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should
be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The
practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only
to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things,
affect other rites as well.
4. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council
declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites
to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in
the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires
that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of
sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the
circumstances and needs of modern times.
Chapter I: General Principles for the Restoration and
Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy
1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the
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 (8), to be a "bodily and spiritual medicine" (9), the Mediator
between God and man (10). 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" (11).
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 passions resurrection from the dead, and
the glorious ascension, whereby "dying, he destroyed our death and,
rising, he restored our life" (12). 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" (13).
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 (14), they might proclaim that the Son of
God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan
(15) 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 (16); 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 (17). In like manner, as often as they eat
the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He
comes (18). 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"
(19), 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" (20), 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 (21). 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.
Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great
work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The
Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him
offers worship to the Eternal Father.
Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the
priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of
the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected
in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the
whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ,
that is, by the Head and His members.
From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is
an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which .s 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
(22); 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 (23).
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?" (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 true God and Jesus
Christ whom He has sent, and may be converted from their ways, doing
penance (24). 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 (25), 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" (26); it prays that "they may hold
fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith" (27); 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 (28) . 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
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 (29); yet more, according to the teaching of the
Apostle, he should pray without ceasing (30). 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
(31). 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" (32).
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 approved.
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.
2. 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 their baptism.
In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and
active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered
before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from
which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and
therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means
of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.
Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this
unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly
imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give
instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be
directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy.
Wherefore the sacred Council has decided to enact as follows:
15. Professors who are appointed to teach liturgy in seminaries,
religious houses of study, and theological faculties must be properly
trained for their work in institutes which specialize in this subject.
16. The study of sacred liturgy is to be ranked among the compulsory
and major courses in seminaries and religions houses of studies; in
theological faculties it is to rank among the principal courses. It is
to be taught under its theological, historical, spiritual, pastoral, and
juridical aspects. Moreover, other professors, while striving to expound
the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation from the angle proper
to each of their own subjects, must nevertheless do so in a way which
will clearly bring out the connection between their subjects and the
liturgy, as also the unity which underlies all priestly training. This
consideration is especially important for professors of dogmatic,
spiritual, and pastoral theology and for those of holy scripture.
17. In seminaries and houses of religious, clerics shall be given a
liturgical formation in their spiritual life. For this they will need
proper direction, so that they may be able to understand the sacred
rites and take part in them wholeheartedly; and they will also need
personally to celebrate the sacred mysteries, as well as popular
devotions which are imbued with the spirit of the liturgy. In addition
they must learn how to observe the liturgical laws, so that life in
seminaries and houses of religious may be thoroughly influenced by the
spirit of the liturgy.
18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in
the Lord's vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to
understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they
perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life
and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care.
19. With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the
liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active
participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into
account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of
religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the
chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in
this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by
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.
3. 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
Wherefore the sacred Council establishes the following general norms:
A) General norms
22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the
authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may
determine, on the bishop.
2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the
liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of
competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.
3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add,
remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open
to legitimate progress 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
26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are
celebrations of the Church, which is the "sacrament of unity," namely,
the holy people united and ordered under their bishops (33)
Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the
Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it; but they concern the
individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their
differing rank, office, and actual participation.
27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their
specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the
presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of
celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a
celebration that is individual and quasi-private.
This 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
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
C) Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the
33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of
the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the
faithful (34). For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is
still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song
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 be observed:
34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they
should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they
should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally
should not require much explanation.
35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be
apparent in the liturgy:
1) In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy
scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.
2) Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best
place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the
nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be
fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should
draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its
character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in
the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and
active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.
3) Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be
given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken
by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites
themselves. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and
be in prescribed or similar words.
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
37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid
uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of
the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and
talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples' way
of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error
she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes
in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they
harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.
38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical
books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups,
regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the
substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be
borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.
39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical
books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical
authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in
the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals,
processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but
according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution.
40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical
adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater
1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in
Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which
elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might
appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are
judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the
Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.
2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection
which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same
territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the
case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined
period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.
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
Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the
diocese centered around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church;
they must be convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church
consists in the full active participation of all God's holy people in
these liturgical celebrations, especially in the same eucharist, in a
single prayer, at one altar, at which there presides the bishop
surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers (35).
42. But because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere
to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than
establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these the parishes,
set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the
most important: for in some manner they represent the visible Church
constituted throughout the world.
And therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relationship
to the bishop must be fostered theoretically and practically among the
faithful and clergy; efforts also must be made to encourage a sense of
community within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the
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
Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form
between them one single commission which will be able to promote the
liturgy by common consultation.
46. Besides the commission on the sacred liturgy, every diocese, as
far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred
These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it
will often be best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.
Chapter II: 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 (36), a paschal
banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a
pledge of future glory is given to us (37).
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 (38), 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
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
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
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 (39).
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 tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be
able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of
the Mass which pertain to them.
And wherever a more extended use of the mother tongue within the Mass
appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this
Constitution is to be observed.
55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the
faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the
same sacrifice, is strongly commended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent
remaining intact (40), 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
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
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
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.
Chapter III: 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 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
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
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 Church.
70. Except during Eastertide, baptismal water may be blessed within
the rite of baptism itself by an approved shorter formula.
71. The rite of confirmation is to be revised and the intimate
connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian
initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason it is
fitting for candidates to renew their baptismal promises just before
they are confirmed.
Confirmation may be given within the Mass when convenient; when it is
given outside the Mass, the rite that is used should be introduced by a
formula to be drawn up for this purpose.
72. The rite and formulas for the sacrament of penance are to be
revised so that they more clearly express both the nature and effect of
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
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
76. Both the ceremonies and texts of the ordination rites are to be
revised. The address given by the bishop at the beginning of each
ordination or consecration may be in the mother tongue.
When a bishop is consecrated, the laying of hands may be done by all
the bishops present.
77. The marriage rite now found in the Roman Ritual is to be revised
and enriched in such a way that the grace of the sacrament is more
clearly signified and the duties of the spouses are taught.
"If any regions are wont to use other praiseworthy customs and
ceremonies when celebrating the sacrament of matrimony, the sacred Synod
earnestly desires that these by all means be retained" (41).
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
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
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.
Chapter IV: 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
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; lt is the very prayer
which Christ Himself, together with His body, addresses to the Father.
85. Hence all who render this service are not only fulfilling a duty
of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honor of Christ's
spouse, for by offering these praises to God they are standing before
God's throne in the name of the Church their Mother.
86. Priests who are engaged in the sacred pastoral ministry will
offer the praises of the hours with greater fervor the more vividly they
realize that they must heed St. Paul's exhortation: "Pray without
ceasing" (1 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
a) By the venerable tradition of the universal Church, Lauds as
morning prayer and Vespers as evening prayer are the two hinges on which
the daily office turns; hence they are to be considered as the chief
hours and are to be celebrated as such.
b) Compline is to be drawn up so that it will be a suitable prayer
for the end of the day.
c) The hour known as Matins, although it should retain the character
of nocturnal praise when celebrated in choir, shall be adapted so that
it may be recited at any hour of the day; it shall be made up of fewer
psalms and longer readings.
d) The hour of Prime is to be suppressed.
e) In choir the hours of Terce, Sext, and None are to be observed.
But outside choir it will be lawful to select any one of these three,
according to the respective time of the day.
90. The divine office, because it is the public prayer of the Church,
is a source of piety, and nourishment for personal prayer. And therefore
priests and all others who take part in the divine office are earnestly
exhorted in the Lord to attune their minds to their voices when praying
it. The better to achieve this, let them take steps to improve their
understanding of the liturgy and of the bible, especially of the psalms.
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 Church.
92. As regards the readings, the following shall be observed: a)
Readings from sacred scripture shall be arranged so that the riches of
God's word may be easily accessible in more abundant measure.
b) Readings excerpted from the works of the fathers, doctors, and
ecclesiastical writers shall be better selected.
c) The accounts of martyrdom or the lives of the saints are to accord
with the facts of history.
93. To whatever extent may seem desirable, the hymns are to be
restored to their original form, and whatever smacks of mythology or ill
accords with Christian piety is to be removed or changed. Also, as
occasion may arise, let other selections from the treasury of hymns be
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
95. Communities obliged to choral office are bound to celebrate the
office in choir every day in addition to the conventual Mass. In
a) Orders of canons, of monks and of nuns, and of other regulars
bound by law or constitutions to choral office must celebrate the entire
b) Cathedral or collegiate chapters are bound to recite those parts
of the office imposed on them by general or particular law.
c) All members of the above communities who are in major orders or
who are solemnly professed, except for lay brothers, are bound to recite
individually those canonical hours which they do not pray in choir.
96. Clerics not bound to office in choir, if they are in major
orders, are bound to pray the entire office every day, either in common
or individually, as laid down in Art. 89.
97. Appropriate instances are to be defined by the rubrics in which a
liturgical service may be substituted for the divine office.
In particular cases, and for a just reason, ordinaries can dispense
their subjects wholly or in part from the obligation of reciting the
divine office, or may commute the obligation.
98. Members of any institute dedicated to acquiring perfection who,
according to their constitutions, are to recite any parts of the divine
office are thereby performing the public prayer of the Church.
They too perform the public prayer of the Church who, in virtue of
their constitutions, recite any short office, provided this is drawn up
after the pattern of the divine office and is duly approved.
99. Since the divine office is the voice of the Church, that is of
the whole mystical body publicly praising God, those clerics who are not
obliged to office in choir, especially priests who live together or who
assemble for any purpose, are urged to pray at least some part of the
divine office in common.
All who pray the divine office, whether in choir or in common, should
fulfill the task entrusted to them as perfectly as possible: this refers
not only to the internal devotion of their minds but also to their
external manner of celebration.
It is, moreover, fitting that the office, both in choir and in
common, be sung when possible.
100. Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours,
especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and
the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the
divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even
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.
Chapter V: The Liturgical Year
102. Holy Mother Church is conscious that she must celebrate the
saving work of her divine Spouse by devoutly recalling it on certain
days throughout the course of the year. Every week, on the day which she
has called the Lord's day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's
resurrection, which she also celebrates once in the year, together with
His blessed passion, in the most solemn festival of Easter.
Within the cycle of a year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery
of Christ, from the incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day
of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of
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.
Chapter 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 (42),
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
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
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 music.
It is desirable also to found higher institutes of sacred music
whenever this can be done.
Composers and singers, especially boys, must also be given a genuine
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to
the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be
given pride of place in liturgical services.
But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no
means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with
the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.
117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be
completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books
already published since the restoration by St. Pius X.
It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler
melodies, for use in small churches.
118. Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered
so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical
services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms
and requirements of the rubrics.
119. In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there
are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a
great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due
importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to
be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but
also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated in Art. 39
Therefore, when missionaries are being given training in music, every
effort should be made to see that they become competent in promoting the
traditional music of these peoples, both in schools and in sacred
services, as far as may be practicable.
120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem,
for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful
splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind
to God and to higher things.
But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship,
with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority,
as laid down in Art. 22, 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 faithful.
121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that
their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of
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
The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with
Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy
scripture and from liturgical sources.
Chapter VII: 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 he passage of time.
Wherefore it has pleased the Fathers to issue the following decrees
on these matters.
123. The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her
very own; she has admitted styles from every period according to the
natural talents and circumstances of peoples, and the needs of the
various rites. Thus, in the course of the centuries, she has brought
into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved. The
art of our own days, coming from every race and region, shall also be
given free scope in the Church, provided that it adorns the sacred
buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honor; thereby it is
enabled to contribute its own voice to that wonderful chorus of praise
in honor of the Catholic faith sung by great men in times gone by.
124. Ordinaries, by the encouragement and favor they show to art
which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere
sumptuous display. This principle is to apply also in the matter of
sacred vestments and ornaments.
Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other
sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith,
morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense
either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and
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, and 46.
Ordinaries must be very careful to see that sacred furnishings and
works of value are not disposed of or dispersed; for they are the
ornaments of the house of God.
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 art.
It is also desirable that schools or academies of sacred art should
be founded in those parts of the world where they would be useful, so
that artists may be trained.
All artists who, prompted by their talents, desire to serve God's
glory in holy Church, should ever bear in mind that they are engaged in
a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator, and are concerned with
works destined to be used in Catholic worship, to edify the faithful,
and to foster their piety and their religious formation.
128. Along with the revision of the liturgical books, as laid down in
Art. 25, there is to be an early revision of the canons and
ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provision of material things
involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy
and well planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and
construction of altars, the nobility, placing, and safety of the
eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the 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 art.
130. It is fitting that the use of pontificals be reserved to those
ecclesiastical persons who have episcopal rank or some particular
A Declaration of the Second Ecumenical Council of the
Vatican on Revision of the Calendar
The Second Ecumenical Sacred Council of the Vatican, recognizing the
importance of the wishes expressed by many concerning the assignment of
the feast of Easter to a fixed Sunday and concerning an unchanging
calendar, having carefully considered the effects which could result
from the introduction of a new calendar, declares as follows:
1. The Sacred Council would not object if the feast of Easter
were assigned to a particular Sunday of the Gregorian Calendar,
provided that those whom it may concern, especially the brethren who
are not in communion with the Apostolic See, give their assent.
2. The sacred Council likewise declares that it does not oppose
efforts designed to introduce a perpetual calendar into civil
But among the various systems which are being suggested to stabilize
a perpetual calendar and to introduce it into civil life, the Church has
no objection only in the case of those systems which retain and
safeguard a seven-day week with Sunday, without the introduction of any
days outside the week, so that the succession of weeks may be left
intact, unless there is question of the most serious reasons. Concerning
these the Apostolic See shall judge.
1. Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
2. Cf. Heb. 13:14.
3. Cf. Eph. 2:21-22.
4. Cf. Eph. 4:13.
5. Cf. Is. 11:12.
6. Cf. John 11:52.
7. Cf. John 10:16.
8. Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18.
9. St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2.
10. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5.
11. Sacramentarium Veronese (ed. Mohlberg), n. 1265; cf. also
n. 1241, 1248.
12. Easter Preface of the Roman Missal.
13. Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in
the Roman Missal before the restoration of Holy Week.
14. Cf. Mark 16:15.
15. Cf. Acts 26:18.
16. Cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:11.
17. Cf. John 4:23.
18. Cf. 1 Cor. 11:26.
19. Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist,
20. Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass, c. 2.
21. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 7.
22. Cf. Apoc. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2.
23. Cf. Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4.
24. Cf. John 17:3; Luke 24:27; Acts 2:38.
25. Cf. Matt. 28:20.
26. Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter Sunday.
27. Collect of the Mass for Tuesday of Easter Week.
28. Cf. 2 Cor. 6:1.
29. Cf. Matt. 6:6.
30. Cf . 1 Thess. 5:17.
31. Cf . 2 Cor. 4:10-11.
32. Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week.
33. St. Cyprian, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 7; cf. Letter
66, n. 8, 3.
34. Cf. Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass, c. 8.
35. Cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Smyrnians, 8; To the
Magnesians, 7; To the Philadelphians, 4.
36. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 13.
37. Roman Breviary, feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon
to the Magnificat.
38. Cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John,
book XI, chap. XI-XII: Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 74,
39. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2.
40. 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.
41. Council of Trent, Session XXIV, November 11, 1563, On Reform,
chap. I. Cf. Roman Ritual, title VIII, chap. II, n. 6.
42. Cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.