VATICAN II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, ch 1-12














1. This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

1. Sacrosanctum Concilium, cum sibi proponat vitam christianam inter fideles in dies augere; eas institutiones quae mutationibus obnoxiae sunt, ad nostrae aetatis necessitates melius accommodare; quidquid ad unionem omnium in Christum credentium conferre potest, fovere; et quidquid ad omnes in sinum Ecclesiae vocandos conducit, roborare; suum esse arbitratur peculiari ratione etiam instaurandam atque fovendam Liturgiam curare.





2. For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,”  (Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. 2. Liturgia enim, per quam, maxime in divino Eucharistiae Sacrificio, “opus nostrae Redemptionis exercetur”(1), summe eo confert ut fideles vivendo exprimant et aliis manifestent mysterium Christi et genuinam verae Ecclesiae naturam,
It is of the essence of the Church that she be [:] cuius proprium est esse

both human
and divine,

visible and yet
invisibly equipped,

eager to act and yet
intent on contemplation,

 present in this world and yet
not at home in it;

humanam simul ac

invisibilibus praeditam,

actione ferventem et
contemplationi vacantem,

in mundo praesentem
et tamen peregrinam;


and she is all these things in such wise that in her  [:] et ita quidem ut in ea

the human is directed and subordinated
to the divine,

the visible likewise
to the invisible,

to contemplation,

and this present world
to that city yet to come, which we seek
 (Cf. Heb. 13:14.).

quod humanum est ordinetur
ad divinum eique subordinetur,

quod visibile
ad invisibile,

quod actionis
ad contemplationem,

et quod praesens
ad futuram civitatem quam inquirimus(2).

 While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit  (Cf. Eph. 2:21-22.), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ  (Cf. Eph. 4:13.), at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations  (Cf. Is. 11:12.) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together  (Cf. John 11:52.), until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd  (Cf. John 10:16.).

 Unde, cum Liturgia eos qui intus sunt cotidie aedificet in templum sanctum in Domino, in habitaculum Dei in Spiritu(3), usque ad mensuram aetatis plenitudinis Christi(4), miro modo simul vires eorum ad praedicandum Christum roborat, et sic Ecclesiam iis qui sunt foris ostendit ut signum levatum in nationes(5), sub quo filii Dei dispersi congregentur in unum(6) quousque unum ovile fiat et unus pastor(7).





3. Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

3. Quare Sacrosanctum Concilium, de fovenda atque instauranda Liturgia quae sequuntur principia censet in mentem revocanda et practicas normas statuendas esse.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

Inter haec principia et normas nonnulla habentur quae tum ad Ritum romanum tum ad omnes alios Ritus applicari possunt ac debent, licet normae practicae quae sequuntur solum Ritum romanum spectare intellegendae sint, nisi agatur de iis quae ex ipsa rei natura alios quoque Ritus afficiant.





4. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

4. Traditioni denique fideliter obsequens, Sacrosanctum Concilium declarat Sanctam Matrem Ecclesiam omnes Ritus legitime agnitos aequo iure atque honore habere, eosque in posterum servari et omnimode foveri velle, atque optat ut, ubi opus sit, caute ex integro ad mentem sanae traditionis recognoscantur et novo vigore, pro hodiernis adiunctis et necessitatibus, donentur.






Caput I









1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church’s Life

I. De sacrae Liturgiae natura eiusque momento in vita Ecclesiae



5. God who “wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), “who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart  (Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18.), to be a “bodily and spiritual medicine”  (St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2.), the Mediator between God and man  (Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5.). For His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore in Christ “the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us”  (Sacramentarium Veronese (ed. Mohlberg), n. 1265; cf. also n. 1241, 1248.).

5. Deus, “qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritatis venire” (1Tim 2,4), “multifariam multisque modis olim loquens patribus in prophetis” (Hebr 1,1), ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Filium suum, Verbum carnem factum, Spiritu Sancto unctum, ad evangelizandum pauperibus, ad sanandos contritos corde (8), “medicum carnalem et spiritualem”(9), Mediatorem Dei et hominum(10). Ipsius namque humanitas, in unitate personae Verbi, fuit instrumentum nostrae salutis. Quare in Christo “nostrae reconciliationis processit perfecta placatio, et divini cultus nobis est indita plenitudo”(11).

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passions resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby “dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life”  (Easter Preface of the Roman Missal.). For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth “the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.”  (Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in the Roman Missal before the restoration of Holy Week.).

Hoc autem humanae Redemptionis et perfectae Dei glorificationis opus, cui divina magnalia in populo Veteris Testamenti praeluserant, adimplevit Christus Dominus, praecipue per suae beatae Passionis, ab inferis Resurrectionis et gloriosae Ascensionis paschale mysterium, quo “mortem nostram moriendo destruxit, et vitam resurgendo reparavit”(12). Nam de latere Christi in cruce dormientis ortum est totius Ecclesiae mirabile sacramentum(13).





6. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also He sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature  (Cf. Mark 16:15.), they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan  (Cf. Acts 26:18.) and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father. His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him  (Cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:11.); they receive the spirit of adoption as sons “in which we cry: Abba, Father” ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks  (Cf. John 4:23.). In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes  (Cf. 1 Cor. 11:26.). For that reason, on the very day of Pentecost, when the Church appeared before the world, “those who received the word” of Peter “were baptized.” And “they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in prayers . . . praising God and being in favor with all the people” (Acts 2:41-47). From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things “which were in all the scriptures concerning him” (Luke 24:27), celebrating the eucharist in which “the victory and triumph of his death are again made present”  (Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c.5.), and at the same time giving thanks “to God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15) in Christ Jesus, “in praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Ideoque, sicut Christus missus est a Patre, ita et ipse Apostolos, repletos Spiritu Sancto, misit, non solum ut, praedicantes Evangelium omni creaturae(14), annuntiarent Filium Dei morte sua et resurrectione nos a potestate satanae(15) et a morte liberasse et in regnum Patris transtulisse, sed etiam ut, quod annuntiabant, opus salutis per Sacrificium et Sacramenta, circa quae tota vita liturgica vertit, exercerent. Sic per Baptismum homines paschali Christi mysterio inseruntur: commortui, consepulti, conresuscitati(16); piritum accipiunt adoptionis filiorum, “in quo clamamus: Abba, Pater” (Rom 8,15), et ita fiunt veri adoratores, quos Pater quaerit(17). Similiter quotiescumque dominicam cenam manducant, mortem Domini annuntiant donec veniat(18). Idcirco, ipsa die Pentecostes, qua Ecclesia mundo apparuit, “qui receperunt sermonem” Petri “baptizati sunt”. Et erant “perseverantes in doctrina Apostolorum et communicatione fractionis panis et orationibus... collaudantes Deum et habentes gratiam ad omnem plebem” (Act 2,41-42, 47). Numquam exinde omisit Ecclesia quin in unum conveniret ad paschale mysterium celebrandum: legendo ea “in omnibus Scripturis quae de ipso erant” (Lc 24,27), Eucharistiam celebrando in qua “mortis eius victoria et triumphus repraesentantur”(19), et simul gratias agendo “Deo super inenarrabili dono” (2Cor 9,15) in Christo Iesu, “in laudem gloriae eius” (Eph 1,12), per virtutem Spiritus Sancti.





7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”  (Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, c. 2.), but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes  (Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 7.). He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) .

7. Ad tantum vero opus perficiendum, Christus Ecclesiae suae semper adest, praesertim in actionibus liturgicis. Praesens adest in Missae Sacrificio cum in ministri persona, “idem nunc offerens sacerdotum ministerio, qui seipsum tunc in cruce obtulit”(20), tum maxime sub speciebus eucharisticis. Praesens adest virtute sua in Sacramentis, ita ut cum aliquis baptizat, Christus ipse baptizet(21). Praesens adest in verbo suo, siquidem ipse loquitur dum sacrae Scripturae in Ecclesia leguntur. Praesens adest denique dum supplicat et psallit Ecclesia, ipse qui promisit: “Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum” (Mt 18,20).

Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father.

Reapse tanto in opere, quo Deus perfecte glorificatur et homines sanctificantur, Christus Ecclesiam, sponsam suam dilectissimam, sibi semper consociat, quae Dominum suum invocat et per ipsum Aeterno Patri cultum tribuit.

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of [hu]man[ity] is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

Merito igitur Liturgia habetur veluti Iesu Christi sacerdotalis muneris exercitatio, in qua per signa sensibilia significatur et modo singulis proprio efficitur sanctificatio hominis, et a mystico Iesu Christi Corpore, Capite nempe eiusque membris, integer cultus publicus exercetur.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Proinde omnis liturgica celebratio, utpote opus Christi sacerdotis eiusque Corporis, quod est Ecclesia, est actio sacra praecellenter, cuius efficacitatem eodem titulo eodemque gradu nulla alia actio Ecclesiae adaequat.





8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle (Cf. Apoc. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2.); we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory  (Cf. Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4.).

8. In terrena Liturgia caelestem illam praegustando participamus, quae in sancta civitate Ierusalem, ad quam peregrini tendimus, celebratur, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens, sanctorum minister et tabernaculi veri(22); cum omni militia caelestis exercitus hymnum gloriae Domino canimus; memoriam Sanctorum venerantes partem aliquam et societatem cum iis speramus; Salvatorem exspectamus Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, donec ipse apparebit vita nostra, et nos apparebimus cum ipso in gloria(23).





9. The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and to conversion: “How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not yet believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear if no one preaches? And how are men to preach unless they be sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15).

9. Sacra Liturgia non explet totam actionem Ecclesiae; nam antequam homines ad Liturgiam accedere possint, necesse est ut ad fidem et conversionem vocentur: “Quomodo invocabunt in quem non crediderunt? Aut quomodo credent ei quem non audierunt? Quomodo autem audient sine praedicante? Quomodo vero praedicabunt nisi mittantur?” (Rom 10,14-15).





Therefore the Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and may be converted from their ways, doing penance  (Cf. John 17:3; Luke 24:27; Acts 2:38.). To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance, she must prepare them for the sacraments, teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded  (Cf. Matt. 28:20.), and invite them to all the works of charity, piety, and the apostolate. For all these works make it clear that Christ’s faithful, though not of this world, are to be the light of the world and to glorify the Father before men.

Quare Ecclesia non credentibus praeconium salutis annuntiat, ut omnes homines solum Deum verum et quem misit Iesum Christum cognoscant et a viis suis convertantur, paenitentiam agentes(24). Credentibus vero semper fidem et paenitentiam praedicare debet, eos praeterea debet ad Sacramenta disponere, docere servare omnia quaecumque mandavit Christus(25), et allicere ad omnia opera caritatis, pietatis et apostolatus, quibus operibus manifestum fiat christifideles de hoc mundo quidem non esse, sed tamen esse lucem mundi eosdemque Patrem glorificare coram hominibus.





10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.

10. Attamen Liturgia est culmen ad quod actio Ecclesiae tendit et simul fons unde omnis eius virtus emanat. Nam labores apostolici ad id ordinantur ut omnes, per fidem et Baptismum filii Dei facti, in unum conveniant, in medio Ecclesiae Deum laudent, Sacrificium participent et cenam dominicam manducent.

The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness”  (Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter Sunday.); it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith”  (Collect of the Mass for Tuesday of Easter Week.); the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Vicissim, ipsa Liturgia impellit fideles ut “sacramentis paschalibus” satiati fiant “pietate concordes”(26); orat ut “vivendo teneant quod fide perceperunt”(27); renovatio vero foederis Domini cum hominibus in Eucharistia fideles in urgentem caritatem Christi trahit et accendit. Ex Liturgia ergo, praecipue ex Eucharistia, ut e fonte, gratia in nos derivatur et maxima cum efficacia obtinetur illa in Christo hominum sanctificatio et Dei glorificatio, ad quam, uti ad finem, omnia alia Ecclesiae opera contendunt.





11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain  (Cf. 2 Cor. 6:1.). Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

11. Ut haec tamen plena efficacitas habeatur, necessarium est ut fideles cum recti animi dispositionibus ad sacram Liturgiam accedant, mentem suam voci accommodent, et supernae gratiae cooperentur, ne eam in vacuum recipiant(28). Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.





12. The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to pray with his brethren, but he must also enter into his chamber to pray to the Father, in secret  (Cf. Matt. 6:6.); yet more, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing  (Cf . 1 Thess. 5:17.). We learn from the same Apostle that we must always bear about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame  (Cf . 2 Cor. 4:10-11.). This is why we ask the Lord in the sacrifice of the Mass that, “receiving the offering of the spiritual victim,” he may fashion us for himself “as an eternal gift”  (Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week.).

12. Vita tamen spiritualis non unius sacrae Liturgiae participatione continetur. Christianus enim ad communiter orandum vocatus, nihilominus debet etiam intrare in cubiculum suum ut Patrem in abscondito oret(29), immo, docente Apostolo, sine intermissione orare(30). Et ab eodem Apostolo docemur mortificationem Iesu semper circumferre in corpore nostro, ut et vita Iesu manifestetur in carne nostra mortali(31). Quapropter Dominum in Missae Sacrificio precamur ut, “hostiae spiritualis oblatione suscepta, nosmetipsos” sibi perficiat “munus aeternum”(32).










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