You can find the full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL) at the Vatican web site. Unless there is a huge outcry, I’ll use the acronym DPPL throughout.
With this first post, I’d like to call your attention to the introduction, which will take us about three weeks to navigate. The structure is as follows:
Nature and Structure (4)
Those to whom the Directory is addressed (5)
- Pious Exercise (7)
- Devotions (8)
- Popular Piety (9)
- Popular Religiosity (10)
Some Principles (11-13)
- The Primacy of the Liturgy (11)
- Evaluation and Renewal (12)
- Distinction from and harmony with the Liturgy (13)
The Language of Popular Piety (14-20)
- Gestures (15)
- Texts and Formulae (16)
- Song and Music (17)
- Sacred Images (18)
- Sacred Places (19)
- Sacred Times (20)
Responsibility and Competencies (21)
By the end of this review of the DPPL introduction, we should have a good idea of the purpose and scope of this document, and be ready to delve into things more deeply. For immediate digestion, our first several posts will cover an introduction to the introduction, as it were. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II kick-starts this document. Let’s not delay any longer:
1. In accordance with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, this Congregation, in furthering and promoting the Liturgy, “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed…and the font from which all her power flows”(Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC] 10), wishes to draw attention to the need to ensure that other forms of piety among the Christian people are not overlooked, nor their useful contribution to living in unity with Christ, in the Church, be forgotten(SC 12-13).
To be clear, I would view popular piety as ritual religious and/or spiritual practices that arise from the laity (or can be traced there) and somewhat straddle the place between liturgy, individual spirituality, and communal devotions. If that seems fuzzy, maybe that’s because it’s the way it’s always been with us Catholics. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) was looking our for this vast region of Catholic spirituality. Hence this document.
There is a power in ritual, and even outside of the liturgy, the Holy Spirit is at work in the means people use to be nourished so that they can move in and through the world in service of the Gospel.