Sacram Liturgiam: Norms for Immediate Implementation

Here’s the other half of the motu proprio. Twenty-two days after Sacram Liturgiam, these eleven norms were due to go into effect.

Therefore, with our apostolic authority and on our own initiative, we order and decree that from the coming first Sunday of Lent, that is from February 16, 1964, the end of the interim period established by Law, the following norms enter into force:

Seminaries were to begin planning for the next school year:

I. We desire that the norms contained in Articles 15, 16 and 17 concerning teaching of the liturgy in seminaries, in schools of religious communities and in theological faculties immediately should be worked into the programs in such a way that beginning in the next school year students may devote themselves to such study in an orderly and diligent way.

Diocesan commissions for liturgy, music, and art should be formed ASAP:

II. We also decree that, according to the norms of Articles 45 and 46, there be established as soon as possible in the various dioceses a commission whose task is, under direction of the bishop, to foster knowledge of the liturgy and advance the liturgical apostolate.

It will also be opportune that in certain cases, several dioceses should have a single commission.

Furthermore, in all dioceses let two other commissions be established: one for sacred music and the other for sacred art.

These three diocesan commissions may also be merged into one if necessary.

Starting in twenty-two days, homilies will be required on Sundays and holy days:

III. From the date established above, we desire that the norms of Article 52 should enter into force, prescribing the homily during holy Mass on Sundays and holydays.

Confirmation may now be celebrated within Mass:

IV. In the same way, we also put into immediate effect the norms contained in Article 71, which permits administration of the sacrament of Confirmation during holy Mass when convenient.

… as must the Sacrament of Marriage as a normative practice:

V. Concerning Article 78, we admonish all concerned that the sacrament of Matrimony must normally be celebrated during holy Mass, after the reading of the Gospel and the sermon.

If Matrimony is administered outside the Mass, we order that the following rules be observed until a new ritual is established: At the beginning of this sacred rite (SC 35, paragraph 3), after a brief exhortation, the Gospel and Epistle of the Nuptial Mass must be read; and then let spouses receive the blessing which is contained in the Roman Ritual in Section 8, Chapter III.

For those obligated to pray the Office, some trimming may take place in the minor hours:

VI. Although the Divine Office has not yet been revised and renewed according to the norms of article 89, we nevertheless grant immediately the following permission to all who are obliged to recite the Divine Office. From February 16, in recitation of the office outside of choir, they may omit the hour of Prime and choose from among the three other little hours one that best suits the time of day, always without prejudice to the dispositions of Articles 95 and 96 of the Constitution.

We make this concession with strong confidence that this will not detract in any way from the piety of the clergy, but rather that in diligently carrying out the duties of their priestly office for the love of God, they may feel more closely united to God throughout the day.

Bishops will have the power to implement additional “trimming” or substitution as circumstances merit. Note the overall tone of this is not to subtract from prayer obligations, but to permit people to draw closer to God through other means, if that means is achievable as a replacement for the minor hours:

VII. Still regarding the Divine Office, we ordain that bishops may for just and well-considered reasons dispense their own subjects wholly or in part from the obligation of reciting it, or substitute another pious practice for it (SC 97).

VIII. Still regarding the Divine Office, we desire that those members of institutes of perfection who, according to their constitutions, recite some part of the Divine Office, or some “little office,” provided this is drawn up on the pattern of the Divine Office and regularly approved, are to be considered as taking part in the public prayer of the Church (SC 98) .

The very first concession to the vernacular in the post-conciliar world:

IX. Since according to Article 101 of the Constitution those who are obliged to recite the Divine Office may in various ways be permitted to use the vernacular instead of Latin, we deem it proper to specify that the various versions proposed by the competent territorial bishop’s conference must always be reviewed and approved by the Holy See. We order that this practice always be observed whenever a liturgical Latin text is translated into the vernacular on behalf of the territorial authority.

Clearly, the pope also intended that national conferences would play a major role in liturgical reform:

X. Since in accord with article 22, paragraph 2, the direction of the liturgy within geographical limits comes within the competence of the legitimately constituted territorial episcopal conferences of various kinds, we establish that the term “territorial” be understood as meaning national.

In addition to the residential bishops, all who are mentioned in Canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law may participate in these national conferences, with the right to vote.

In addition, coadjutor and auxiliary bishops may also be called to these conferences. In these conferences, legitimate approval of decrees requires a two-thirds majority, with the voting secret.

And a final caution on experimentation and change beyond what Rome, individual bishops, or their conferences would authorize:

XI. Finally we wish to emphasize that—beyond what we in this apostolic letter on liturgical matters have either changed or have ordered carried out at the established time—regulation of the liturgy comes solely within the authority of the Church: that is, of this Apostolic See and, in accordance with the law, of the bishop. Consequently, absolutely no one else, not even a priest, can on his own initiative add or subtract or change anything in liturgical matters (SC 22, paragraphs 1 and 3).

We ordain that all we have established with this motu proprio should remain valid, and in force, everything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, January 25, 1964, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, in the first year of our Pontificate.

Comments, especially on the rapidity of changes, the vernacular, or anything else you see as significant?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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