DPPL 26: Liturgical Families

STA altar at night smallThe CDWDS speaks of the “formation” of liturgical families. Certainly, the particular practices of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome all developed strongly prior to Constantine. Freer travel and greater accessibility to the liturgical and devotional life of the ancient Church just brought it all out into the open.:

26. During this period, the formation of various liturgical families with their consequent differences, matured. The more important metropolitan Churches now celebrate the one worship of the Lord with their own cultural and popular forms which developed from differences of language, theological traditions, spiritual sensibilities, and social contexts. This process gave rise to the progressive development of liturgical systems with their own proper styles of celebration and agglomeration of texts and rites. It is not insignificant to note that even during this golden age for the formation of the liturgical rites, popular elements are also to be found in those rites.

Such “popular” elements were naturally part of what people of faith brought to the liturgy before things became standardized somewhat in the larger cities. Bishops met throughout the 4th and 5th centuries to address not only liturgy, but as we know, essential matters of faith, such as the nature of Christ and the governance of the Church.

On the other hand, bishops and regional synods began to establish norms for the organization of worship. They became vigilant with regard to the doctrinal correctness of the liturgical texts and to their formal beauty, as well as with regard to the ritual sequences.* Such interventions established a liturgical order with fixed forms which inevitably extinguished the original liturgical creativity, which had not been completely arbitrary. Some scholars regard these developments as one of the source of the future proliferation of texts destined for private and popular piety.

* “[Placuit] ut nemo in precibus vel Patrem, vel pro Filio, vel Filium pro Patre nominet. Et cum altari assistitur, semper as patrem dirigatur oratio. Et quicumque sibi preces aliunde describit, non eis utatur, nisi prius cum instructioribus fratribus contulerit”: THIRD COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE , can. 23, N. 1, in I. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, III, Florentiae 1759, col. 884; “Placuit etiam hoc, ut preces quae probatae fuerint in concilio celebrentur, sive praefationes sive commendationes, seu manus impositiones, ab omnibus celebrentur, nec aliae omnino contra fidem praeferantur: sed quaecumque a prudentioribus fuerint collectae, dicantur”: Codex canonum Ecclesiae Africae, can. 103 (ibid., col 807).

Make of that note, as you will.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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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.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to DPPL 26: Liturgical Families

  1. Liam says:

    Two renderings of the Latin adapted from online Google Books:

    “Let no one in praying rename either the Father by the Son or the Son by the Father. And prayer at the alter is always addressed to the Father. And whoever copies down prayers for his use, from some other source is not to say them unless he has first shown them to more well-instructed brethren.” (Btw, this is the same Council of Carthage that defined the Canon of Christian Scripture.)”

    “This also seemed good, that the prayers that shall be allowed in a council, whether prefaces or commendations or imposition of hands, may be used by all; neither may any other, against the faith, be used; but all whatsoever that shall be communicated with the more discreet may be used. “

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