I. NATURE OF THIS INSTRUCTION
1. Among the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council's primary achievements must be
counted the Constitution on the Liturgy, since it regulates the most exalted
sphere of the Church's activity. The document will have ever richer effects as
pastors and faithful alike deepen their understanding of its genuine spirit and
with good will put it into practice.
2. The Consilium, which Pope Paul VI established by the Motu Proprio Sacram Liturgiam, has promptly taken up its two appointed tasks: to carry out the directives of the Constitution and of Sacram Liturgiam and to provide the means for interpreting these documents and putting them into practice.
3. That these documents should immediately be properly carried out everywhere and any possible doubts on interpretation removed are matters of the utmost importance. Therefore, by papal mandate, the Consilium has prepared the present Instruction. It sets out more sharply the functions of conferences of bishops in liturgical matters, explains more fully those principles stated in general terms in the aforementioned documents, and authorizes or mandates that those measures that are practicable before revision of the liturgical books go into effect immediately.
II. PRINCIPLES TO BE KEPT IN MIND
4. The reason for deciding to put these things into practice now is that the liturgy may ever more fully satisfy the conciliar intent on promoting active participation of the faithful. R1
The faithful will more readily respond to the overall reform of the liturgy if this proceeds step by step in stages and if pastors present and explain it to them by means of the needed catechesis.
5. Necessary before all else, however, is the shared conviction that the Constitution on the Liturgy has as its objective not simply to change liturgical forms and texts but rather to bring to life the kind of formation of the faithful and ministry of
pastors that will have their summit and source in the liturgy (see SC art. 10). That is the purpose of the changes made up to now and of those yet to come.
6. Pastoral activity guided toward the liturgy has its power in being a living experience of the paschal mystery, in which the Son of God, incarnate and made
obedient even to the death of the cross, has in his resurrection and ascension been raised up in such a way that he communicates his divine life to the world. Through this life those who are dead to sin and conformed to Christ "may live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor 5:15).
Faith and the sacraments of faith accomplish this, especially baptism (see SC art. 6) and the mystery of the eucharist (see SC art. 47), the center of the other sacraments and sacramentals (see SC art. 61), and of the cycle of celebrations that in the course of the year unfold Christ's paschal mystery (see SC art. 102-107).
7. The liturgy, it is true, does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church (see SC art. 9); nevertheless the greatest care must be taken about rightly linking pastoral activity with the liturgy and carrying out a pastoral liturgy not as if it were set apart and existing in isolation but as it is closely joined to other pastoral works.
Especially necessary is a close, living union between liturgy, catechesis, religious formation, and preaching.
III. RESULTS TO BE HOPED FOR
8. Bishops and their assistants in the priesthood should, therefore, attach ever greater importance to their whole pastoral ministry as it is focused toward the liturgy. Then the faithful themselves will richly partake of the divine life through sharing in the sacred celebrations and, changed into the leaven of Christ and the salt of the earth, will proclaim that divine life and pass it on to others.