Sacrosanctum Concilium 21

Now we get to some of the principles laid down for actual liturgical reform in this subsection of chapter 1, entitled, “The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy.”

In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy MotherChurch desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself.

This is a clear start that tells us two important things. The council bishops wish that believers would derive more spiritual benefit from the liturgy. To achieve that goal, a “restoration” is deemed as necessary.

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.

For many, this is the tricky point. Many elements “subject to change” might well be the object of deep attachment, or even theological significance or truth, but do they belong in the Mass? This section also suggests that what may have been right or important once for the Christian believer, might come to no longer be so.

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.

So the community, their needs, and the goal of their participation is the measure of judgment for changeable items.

Wherefore the sacred Council establishes the following general norms:

And these norms will follow in later posts.

By my count, this is the fourth reference thus far to active participation by the assembly. We have yet to hit organic development, to cite one popular revisionist theme, in the body of the text.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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