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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Apostolic Letter: On the 25th Anniversary of the Liturgical Constitution  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsPart IV: The Practical Application of the ReformPart VI: The Organisms Responsible for Liturgical RenewalEndnotes

Part V: The Future of the Renewal

14. The constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium is the expression of the unanimous voice of the college of bishops gathered around the successor of Peter and with the help of the Spirit of truth promised by the Lord Jesus (cf. Jn. 15:26). The constitution continues to sustain the Church along the paths of renewal and of holiness by fostering genuine liturgical life.

The principles enunciated in that document are an orientation also for the future of the liturgy, in such a way that the liturgical reform may be ever better understood and implemented. "It is therefore necessary and urgent to actuate a new and intensive education in order to discover all the richness contained in the liturgy." [63]

The liturgy of the Church goes beyond the liturgical reform. We are not in the same situation as obtained in 1963: A generation of priests and of faithful which has not known the liturgical books prior to the reform now acts with responsibility in the Church and society. One cannot therefore continue to speak of change as it was spoken of at the time of the constitution's publication; rather one has to speak of an ever deeper grasp of the liturgy of the Church, celebrated according to the current books and lived above all as a reality in the spiritual order.

A. Biblical and Liturgical Reform

15. The most urgent task is that of the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful. The constitution had already stressed this: "There is no hope that this may come to pass unless pastors of souls themselves become imbued more deeply with the spirit and power of the liturgy so as to become masters of it." [64] This is a long-term program, which must begin in the seminaries and houses of formation [65] and continue throughout their priestly life. [66] A formation suited to their state is indispensable also for lay people, [67] especially since in many regions they are called upon to assume ever more important responsibilities in the community.

B. Adaptation

16. Another important task for the future is that of the adaptation of the liturgy to different cultures. The constitution set forth the principle, indicating the procedure to be followed by the episcopal conferences. [68] The adaptation of languages has been rapidly accomplished, even if on occasion with some difficulties. It has been followed by the adaptation of rites, which is a more delicate matter but equally necessary. there remains the considerable task of continuing to implant the liturgy in certain cultures, welcoming from them those expressions which are compatible with aspects of the true and authentic sprit of the liturgy., in respect for the substantial unity of the Roman rite as expressed in the liturgical books. [69] The adaptation must take account of the fact that in the liturgy, and notably that of the sacraments, there is a part which is unchangeable because it is of divine institution, and of which the Church is the guardian. There are also parts open to change, which the Church has the power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of recently evangelized peoples. [70] This is not a new problem for the Church. Liturgical diversity can be a source of enrichment, but it can also provoke tensions, mutual misunderstandings and even divisions. In this field it is clear that diversity must not damage unity. It can only gain expression in fidelity to the common faith, to the sacramental signs that the Church has received from Christ and to hierarchical communion. Cultural adaptation also requires conversion of heart and even, where necessary, a breaking with ancestral customs incompatible with the Catholic faith. This demands a serious formation in theology, history and culture, as well as sound judgment in discerning what is necessary and useful and what is not useful or even dangerous to the faith. "A satisfactory development in this area cannot but be the fruit of a progressive maturing in faith, one which encompasses spiritual discernment, theological lucidity, and a sense of the universal Church acting in broad harmony." [71]

C. Attention to New Problems

17. The effort toward liturgical renewal must furthermore respond to the needs of our time. The liturgy is not disincarnate. [72] In these 25 years new problems have arisen or have assumed new importance, for example: the exercise of a deaconate open to married men; liturgical tasks in celebrations which can be entrusted to lay people; liturgical celebrations for children, for young people and the handicapped; the procedures for the composition of liturgical texts appropriate to a particular country.

In the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium there is no reference to these problems, but the general principles are given which serve to coordinate and promote liturgical life.

D. Liturgy and Popular Devotions

18. Finally, to safeguard the reform and ensure the promotion of the liturgy [73] it is necessary to take account of popular Christian devotion and its relation to liturgical life. [74] This popular devotion should not be ignored or treated with indifference or contempt, since it is rich in values [75] and per se gives expression to the religious attitude toward God. But it needs to be continually evangelized, so that the faith which it expresses may become an ever more mature and authentic act. Both the pious exercises of the Christian people [76] and also other forms of devotion are welcomed and encouraged, provided that they do not replace or intrude into liturgical celebrations. An authentic pastoral promotion of the liturgy will build upon the riches of popular piety, purifying and directing them toward the liturgy as the offering of the peoples. [77]

Table of ContentsPart IV: The Practical Application of the ReformPart VI: The Organisms Responsible for Liturgical RenewalEndnotes

You are here: Documents > General Principles > Apostolic Letter: On the 25th Anniversary of the Liturgical Constitution  Back one page.

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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Apostolic Letter: On the 25th Anniversary of the Liturgical Constitution  Back one page.

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All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com