Desiderio Desideravi 30: Saint Paul VI on the Priority of Liturgy

Pope Francis offers a significant quote from the end of the Vatican II session that produced Sacrosanctum Concilium:

30. Closing the second session of the Council (December 4, 1963) Saint Paul VI expressed himself in this way:

“The difficult, complex debates have had rich results. They have brought one topic to a conclusion, the sacred liturgy. Treated before all others, in a sense it has priority over all others for its intrinsic dignity and importance to the life of the Church and today we will solemnly promulgate the document on the liturgy. Our spirit, therefore, exults with true joy, for in the way things have gone we note respect for a right scale of values and duties. God must hold first place; prayer to him is our first duty. The liturgy is the first source of divine communion in which God shares his own life with us. It is also the first school of the spiritual life. The liturgy is the first gift we must make to the Christian people united to us by faith and the fervor of their prayers. It is also a primary invitation to the human race, so that all may now lift their mute voices in blessed and genuine prayer and thus may experience that indescribable, regenerative power to be found when they join us in proclaiming the praises of God and the hopes of the human heart through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit”. [AAS 56 (1964) 34]

There’s a lot to unpack here. Some thoughts …

  • Liturgy was certainly at the forefront of the council bishops. Some Catholics lament SC wasn’t finished in 1965 when there might have been somewhat more open-mindedness about how far to push reform. I don’t agree with that. I think the first raft of post-conciliar liturgy documents (1964-67) pushed things forward, as did the movement from all the world’s bishops to the vernacular and other reforms. Caution entered in with 1970 and the beginning of the interim Missal and the beginning of the end of the wild experimentation of the 60s. All in all, 1963 was right for being the first major effort.
  • First source and first school: I like the way this is placed in the context of joy. Gaudium is how the second constitution on the Church is labelled and how Pope Francis described a hoped-for approach to evangelization in his 2013 apostolic exhortation.
  • Liturgy is also an invitation to all people, and non-believers appear to be included. Many people have their first experience of Christianity in communion at liturgy. These folks range from children to guests to friends to people coming in off the street.
  • At root, liturgy is an expression of hope. 

The full document, copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana is here on the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Desiderio Desideravi 30: Saint Paul VI on the Priority of Liturgy

  1. Pingback: Desiderio Desideravi 31: The Distraction of Non-Acceptance | Catholic Sensibility

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