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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Motu Proprio on putting into effect some prescriptions of the Constitution on the Liturgy  Back one page.

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That the sacred liturgy be carefully safeguarded, developed, and, where necessary, reformed has been the concern of earlier popes, of ourself, and of the bishops of the Church. The many published documents on liturgical topics, known to all, confirm this. So does the Constitution on the Liturgy, approved with near unanimity by Vatican Council II in solemn session and promulgated 4 December 1963.

The concern for the liturgy rests on the fact that "in the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy 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 (see Rv 21:2; Col 3:1; Heb 8:2); we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with the whole company of heaven; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and communion 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 (see Phil 3:20; Col 3:@)." [1]

The hearts of the faithful who so worship God, the source and exemplar of all holiness, are therefore drawn, even compelled, to seek this holiness and in this way to become in this earthly pilgrimage "seekers of holy Zion." [2]

Accordingly, our foremost concern is clearly that the faithful, and especially priests, dedicate themselves first of all to the study of the Constitution on the Liturgy and from this moment on prepare themselves to carry out its prescriptions wholeheartedly as soon as these take effect. Because by the very nature of the case the understanding and dissemination of liturgical laws must go into effect without delay, we earnestly exhort bishops of dioceses to an immediate, intense effort, aided by their sacred ministers, "the stewards of God's mysteries," [3] so that their own faithful, in keeping with their age, particular state in life, and level of culture will grasp the innate power and value of the liturgy and at the same time participate devoutly, body and soul, in the rites of the Church. [4]

Many of the prescriptions of the Constitution clearly cannot be put into effect in a short period of time, since some of the rites must first be revised and new liturgical books prepared. In order that this work may be carried out in the wisdom and prudence required, we are setting up a special commission with the principal task of seeing that the prescriptions of the Constitution are put into effect.

Other norms of the Constitution, however, are applicable now; we desire their immediate observance, so that the faithful may no longer be without the anticipated fruits of grace.

By apostolic authority and "motu proprio", therefore, we prescribe and decree that the following norms shall go into effect beginning with the First Sunday of Lent, 16 February 1964, the expiration date of the established "vacatio legis".

I. The norms in art. 15, 16, and 17 on the teaching of liturgy in seminaries, houses of study of religious and theological faculties are to be incorporated into their programs of study in such a way that with the beginning of the next academic year students may devote themselves to liturgical studies in an orderly and intense way.

II. In keeping with the norms of art. 45 and 46, in all dioceses there is to be a commission that is entrusted, under the bishop's direction, with the duty of increasing the knowledge and furthering the progress of the liturgy.

In this manner it may be advantageous for several dioceses to have a joint commission.

Each diocese should also, as far as possible, have two other commissions, one for music, the other for art.

In some dioceses it will often be advisable to merge the three commissions into one.

III. On the date already established, the norms of art. 52 shall take effect, namely, that there be a homily during Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation.

IV. We direct the implementation of the part of art. 71 that permits the sacrament of confirmation to be celebrated, when convenient, within Mass after the reading of the gospel and the homily.

V. Regarding art. 78, the sacrament of marriage is normally to be celebrated within Mass, after the gospel has been read and the homily given.

Should marriage be celebrated without a Mass, the following regulations, pending revision of the entire rite, are to be observed: at the beginning of the rite, following a brief instruction, [5] the epistle and gospel of the nuptial Mass are to be read in the vernacular; then the blessing found in the Rituale Romanum, tit, VIII, cap. III is always to be given to the spouses.

VI. Although the order for divine office has not yet been revised and reformed, in keeping with art. 89, those not bound by choral obligation now have permission, from the expiration date of the vacatio legis, to omit the hour of prime and to choose from among the other little hours the one best suited to the time of day.

We make this concession with the full confidence that sacred ministers will not grow slack in devotion, but rather that, if they diligently carry out the duties of their priestly office for the love of God, they will see themselves as going through the day closely united in spirit with him.

VII. Also in regard to the divine office, Ordinaries may, in particular cases and for just cause, dispense their subjects from the obligation, in whole or in part, or may replace it with something else. [6]

VIII. In regard also to recitation of the office, we declare that members of any institute of religious perfection who by reason of their own rule recite either some part of the divine office or a little office, structured like the divine office and duly approved, shall be counted as celebrating public prayer with the Church. [7]

IX. To those bound to recite the divine office art. 101 of the Constitution grants the faculty - in various ways and for various classes of people - to use the vernacular instead of Latin. Therefore it seems advisable to make it clear that the various vernacular versions must be drawn up and approved by the competent, territorial ecclesiastical authority, as provided in art. 36, §§ 3 and 4; and that, as provided in art, 36, § 3, the acts of this authority require due approval, that is, confirmation, of the Holy See. This is the course to be taken whenever any Latin liturgical text is translated into the vernacular by the authority already mentioned.

X. Whenever the Constitution (art. 22, § 2), entrusts regulation of the liturgy, within certain specified limits, to various types of competent, lawfully constituted, territorial assemblies of bishops, we decree that for the present these must be national bodies.

In such national assemblies, besides the residential bishops, all those mentioned in CIC can. 292 may participate and vote; coadjutor and auxiliary bishops may also be summoned to meetings.

Passage of lawful decrees in these bodies requires two-thirds of the votes, cast by secret ballot.

XI. Finally, we want it understood that over and above the liturgical matters changed by this Apostolic Letter or made effective before the date established, regulation of the liturgy depends exclusively on the authority of the Church, i.e., of the Holy See and of the bishop in accordance with the law; therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add, take away, or change anything in matters of liturgy. [8]

We order that all matters decreed by this Letter, issued motu proprio, are confirmed and established, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Motu Proprio on putting into effect some prescriptions of the Constitution on the Liturgy  Back one page.

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The Catholic Liturgical Library