Sacrosanctum Concilium 36

This post is the last one today on those “didactic and pastoral” norms of liturgy.

1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

People are often surprised to read this, but it is indeed in print.

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 subsequent chapters.

Given the directive of SC 36.1, some concessions are given in the area of readings and commentary, as well as the prayers and songs.

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 language.

Work together on determining the best approach to use the vernacular–that’s what SC 36 seems to be saying here. SC 22.2 refers to “various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops.” But a clear chain of command is described. Local bishops make the determinations of the use of the vernacular. Rome confirms it. Neighbors are consulted in the process. There seems to be no great conspiracy here to sink the Latin language. Not only did the world’s bishops approve this, but the Vatican is a part of the discernment/approval of the use of the vernacular.

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

Note that it says the local bishops must approve translations from Latin into the vernacular. That would seem to be at odds with the recent curial prescriptions that Rome may impose a translation if the bishops are unable to deliver an acceptable one to the curia.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 36

  1. John Heavrin says:

    Here’s a general comment on your whole project:

    It’s your blog, of course. But I think that if Pope Benedict were to read this blog and comment thereon, he’d say something along these lines: a plodding reexamination of documents that were never implemented properly is beside the point. Getting about the business of correction and restoration is the point.

    You’d do better to point out, specifically, if you’re even able to perceive them, the innumerable errors and overreaches of the enthusiasts of the council, then to engage in attempts at jot-and-tittle justification of the results from which we now suffer. It seems clear to me that the grave problems facing the Church are the result of actions taken by the fans of this council, not its foes. Self-examination, not self-justification, is what the faithful need from the leadership, such as it is. I don’t think its an overstatement to say that the institutional church is vanishing; those who remain a compensated, quasi-official part of it need to ponder that reality very deeply, no? Under the circumstances, strained marching through these documents strikes me as something like scruples: not only imprudent, but harmful. Of course, again, it is your blog.

    I mean, it called for the preservation of Latin in the rites, and Latin hasn’t been preserved, it was tossed out. Doesn’t a disregard that conscious and wanton discredit the good faith of the entire project launched by these documents? I know, I know — they were unanimously approved; to me this indicates that they weren’t fully considered; or perhaps the negative results were literally unimaginable to men who’d utterly lost any sense of humility.

    The Church of Rome is moving on from this sad period and inevitably will re-embrace her discarded treasures in favor of proud novelties. Deo gratias.

  2. Anne says:

    Moi, Je suis optimiste. I am optimistic.
    Time will prove that “all things work together unto the good for those who love God.”Rom 8:27

  3. John, I do appreciate your post. Unlike many St Bloggers, I did not have a largely negative experience of the aftermath of Vatican II. That’s not to say it wasn’t 100% positive. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate both my personal experiences and the theological and pastoral developments in a number of parishes in various locations around the country.

    I think I’ve mentioned frequently my head-butting at my uber-progressive home parish in the 80’s. I’ve chronicled many of the abuses perpetrated there, but unlike most bloggers, I don’t make a point dwelling on past hurts. I don’t indulge the You-Tube phenomenon of pointing out liturgical abuses either. Other people are doing it with more enthusiasm than I could ever muster.

    Nobody denies the reform was poorly implemented in places. But it has been by no means a totally dark period. In fact, I’d say the controversy and difficulties are evidence it has been a deeply formative time in the Church’s spiritual life.

    Like Anne, I’m an optimist.

  4. Gavin says:

    I for one appreciate this series, as it has been a fine way to look through the documents. Admittedly, I could just read 3 paragraphs a day and draw my own conclusions, but that would last a week or so. The other benefit of this series is it leads to a varied and informed discussion of the documents.

    As for Latin, I do have to ask the poster and any commentors, how much Latin do you retain in the Mass where you can? I had a discussion with my choir over the usage of Latin last night, and they all were negative towards the idea of more Latin. So, a little question: would the same attitudes about Latin be there today if Latin were preserved a little better (say, the Eucharistic Prayer and a good chunk of the dialog)?

  5. I don’t think that there’s any need to mystificate large portions of the Eucharistic Prayer and the dialogues into the unknown tongue. However, I have never been in a parish that didn’t sing in Latin sometimes, especially some of the chant hymns like Ubi caritas, Ave verum corpus, O Filii et filiae, and the Agnus Dei in several settings.

    My suspicion is that in a couple of hundred years when this all shakes out, we will have a Latin Agnus Dei to match the Greek Kyrie that’s left from the last time the Mass was redacted to the vernacular known tongue.

    karen marie

  6. Speaking for my present parish, occasional choral music, Pange Lingua, Adeste Fideles, and the occasional Lamb of God. My personal choice might be a bit more, but there are limitations mostly beyond my control.

  7. Pingback: Sacrosanctum Concilium 63 « Catholic Sensibility

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