Chapter I. General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy
Part 1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and its Importance in the Church's life.
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 gospel to the poor, to
heal the contrite of heart,  to be
a "bodily and spiritual medicine,"  the Mediator between God and man.  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." 
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 passion, resurrection
from the dead, and glorious ascension, whereby "dying, he destroyed our death and,
rising, he restored our life." 
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." 
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,
 they might proclaim that the
Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from thee power of Satan  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;  Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15), and
thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks.  In like manner, as often as they
eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim thee death of the Lord until He comes.  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 thee 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,"  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
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,"  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.  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 thee midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).
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 thee 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 is 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
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;  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 Savior, Our
Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in
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 in 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.  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, 
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;"  it prays that "they may hold
fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith;"  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 fir. 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 effacious 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.  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 effects.
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;  yet more, according to the teaching
of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing.  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.  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." 
13.Popular devotions of the Christian people are to bee 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.
Part 2. The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation
14.Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full,
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 thee 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 religious 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 thee
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 example.
20.Transmission 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.
Part 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 community.
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
§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 bee retained, and yet the way remain open to
legitimate progress, a 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 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 Liturgy
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. 
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
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 itself a public and social
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 liturgy.
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 external display.
C) Norms Based Upon the Didactic and Pastoral Nature of the Liturgy
33.Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the
worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful.  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 and prayer.
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
35.That the intimate connection between words and rites
may be apparent in the liturgy:
- In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture,
and it is to be more varied and suitable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
§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
§4.Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for
use in the liturgy must bee approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority
D) Norms for Adapting the Liturgy to the Culture and Traditions of Peoples
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 indisolubly 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 bee 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
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
40.In some places and circumstances, however, an even
more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties.
- 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 then be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.
- 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.
- 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.
Part 4. 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 dependent.
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. 
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 Sunday Mass.
43.Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign
of the providential disposition 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 a question of adaptations to be proposed to the Apostolic
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 liturgical apostolate.
Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single
commission which will bee 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 art.
These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it will often be
best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.