The book Spiritus et Sponsa, a collection of the
Records of the Day commemorating the 40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum
Concilium (Rome, 4 December 2003), was presented to journalists at the
Press Office of the Holy See on Friday, 2 April. We publish here the
translation of the addresses given on this occasion by: Cardinal Francis
Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline
of the Sacraments; Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Secretary of the
Congregation; Fr Juan Javier Flores Arcas, O.S.B., President of the
Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St Anselmo, Rome, and Mons. Giuseppe
Liberto, Director and Choirmaster of the Pontifical Musical Chorus of the
Renewing the Liturgy
Cardinal Francis Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and
Discipline of the Sacraments
released work witnesses to the validity of the directives of Vatican II on
An event worthy of
On 4 December 1963, the Second Vatican Council promulgated
the first of its major Documents,
Sacrosanctum Concilium. This Constitution on the Sacred
Liturgy was the first product of the Council, "the great grace bestowed on
the Church in the 20th century" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, n.
Sacrosanctum Concilium lays down the fundamental
principles to guide the liturgical practice of the Church in her renewal,
as required by the very purpose of the sacred liturgy: to give glory to
God and to further the sanctification and salvation of each person.
Since the liturgy is a very exalted expression of the
Church's mysterious reality, it is hardly surprising that of the 15
Documents, issued one after another, the Second Vatican Council chose to
begin with this one. The Church manifests herself in the celebration of
Christ's mysteries in the liturgy. The liturgical celebrations,
particularly the Eucharistic Sacrifice, bring every member of the Church
closer to her heart and life.
Thus, it was to be expected that the Congregation for
Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments would not have missed
an opportunity to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum
Concilium. It did so on 4 December 2003, with a Congress in the
Synod Hall at the Vatican.
On that occasion our Congregation was pleased to receive
Cardinals, Bishops, representatives of the Roman Curia, rectors,
professors and students of the Pontifical universities and liturgical
institutes, delegates from monasteries, religious institutes and various
associations, as well as distinguished liturgists.
To meet the needs of a public so vast that it could not be
present, our Congregation is now presenting the Minutes.
A Document in two parts
The Records that we entitled Spiritus et Sponsa are
divided into two parts.
The first part consists of two beautiful Documents by the
First, the Apostolic Letter
Spiritus et Sponsa, from
which comes the title for the whole book; then, a Letter from the Pope to
the universal Church on the 40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Conciliuim.
In it, the Holy Father emphasizes the key importance of
this council Document, the need to be faithful to it and the usefulness of
an examination of conscience with regard to how the Church is carrying out
In the special Letter he addressed to me, dated 4 December
2003, the Holy Father entrusts to the congregation for Divine Worship and
the Discipline of the Sacraments the pleasant task of promoting knowledge
and acceptance of the above-mentioned Apostolic Letter, Spiritus et
The second papal Document in our volume is a Chirograph.
It was published on 22 November 2003 to commemorate the centenary of Pope
St Pius X's Motu Prprio on Sacred Music, Tra le Sollecitudini.
In this encouraging Chirograph, Pope John Paul II dwells
on the importance of sacred music in the public worship of the Church, the
historical pre-eminence of Gregorian Chant and the place of the polyphonic
and popular music that corresponds to the various cultures in the Church.
In it he takes up the wise provisions of St Pius X,
reinforced and applied to the conditions of our time by the Second Vatican
Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn.112-121) and the
subsequent Magisterium. Encouragement is given to choirs, musical experts,
and various institutes and associations specialized in the subject.
These two papal Documents guided and illuminated our study
day on 4 December 2003.
The second part of the volume that the Congregation is
presenting to you concentrates on three aspects. Sacrosanctum Concilium
is renewed and, with a retrospective look at what has occurred in
these past 40 years and an overview of what the Church ought to have done
with regard to the liturgy, Cardinal F. George, Archbishop of Chicago, and
Fr M. Augé,
Professor of Liturgy and Consultor to our Congregation, contribute some
Cardinal J. Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, then offers
thoughts on the liturgy in the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Other
contributions which reflect on its reception in Africa, Eastern Europe and
Latin America are provided by Cardinal C. Tumi, Archbishop of Douala;
Bishop S. Cichy, Auxiliary of Katowice; and Fr A. Aranda Cervantes of
The last part of this section is totally dedicated to
sacred music. Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Bombay; Dom P. Dupont,
Abbot of Solesmes; Mons. G. Liberto, Maestro and Director of the Sistine
Choir; and Fr J. Hermans, Secretary of the National Commission for the
Liturgy of the Netherlands, offer us abundant material for reflection and
Aims, hopes, prospects
In presenting this book to the Church, the aim of the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is to
witness to the validity of the directives of the Second Vatican Council on
the sacred liturgy. It gives thanks to God for the blessings brought to
the Church by liturgical renewal, which include greater attention to
Sacred Scripture in liturgical celebrations, a greater commitment to
making the liturgy easily comprehensible, initiatives designed to
encourage a more knowledgeable and active participation by lay people, the
promotion of sacred music and a better understanding of roles in the
At the same time, our Congregation also desires to
encourage an examination of conscience and to put into practice
initiatives to deal with abuses that have been introduced, contrary to the
intentions and directives of the Council and the Magisterium in the past
Our Congregation hopes that this will be a small step
forward in the promotion of the liturgical and pastoral formation of the
clergy, consecrated persons and all lay faithful, in line with the tasks
that Pastor Bonus assigns to it (cf. n. 64). The importance of this
formation becomes more obvious when one considers that "the liturgy is the
summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed", and "is also
the fount from which all her power flows" (Sacrosanctum Concilium,
These reflections should also be of help to those who at
times are tempted to lose confidence in the Church because of true or
suspected abuses, as well as to those who introduce their own
idiosyncrasies into the sacred liturgy or who reject on principle the
directives of the Second Vatican Council.
Our faith in the Church, founded by our beloved Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ, tells us that the Holy Spirit has always accompanied
the Church: at the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50 A.D.), the Council of Trent
(1545-63) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and that he will guide
her until the end of time.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of
the Sacraments therefore has the pleasure of making this book available to
Bishops, priests, teams and students at Seminaries and Liturgical and
Ecclesiastical Institutes, as well as to directors of Religious Houses and
Pastoral and Catechetical Centres. Institutes of Sacred Music and Choir
Masters will also find a wealth of guidelines in these Records.
I hope that for you, too, ladies and gentlemen of the
media, this book will serve to help you understand and appropriately
disseminate the Church's thought and guidelines on this subject.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino
Secretary of the Congregation for
Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
The saving action of Christ brings
the world redemption and is celebrated in the Sacred Liturgy
This book is intended as a commemoration, but in a certain
way it is also "a programme". This is not so much because it illustrates
initiatives underway, but because it reinterprets history with reference
to new challenges the Church must face and that affect the liturgy in our
History and 'traditio'
First of all, the horizon of history is outlined as it was
lived. It emerges from the two papal Documents, the Apostolic Letter
Spiritus et Sponsa and the Chirograph on Sacred Music, as well as from
the Congress of 4 December 2003 on the 40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum
Concilium. It is history sketched with a few essential strokes
but with theological sensitivity, that is, looking at God's work in the
Church of our time.
The sense of "traditio" stands out in it as the
journey of the Church through history, as she "consigns herself" (tradere)
to the new generations with the adaptations necessary in every age, but
always in full fidelity to the one deposit of faith.
All too often in the collective imagination, the Second
Vatican Council appears too startlingly new, at times with seemingly
different and contradictory, traditionalist or progressivist, judgments.
The rediscovery in this book of the connection between the conciliar
Constitution on the Liturgy and Pope Pius X's Motu Proprio Tra le
Sollecitudini, a Document that paved the way for it many decades
earlier, makes it easier to understand ecclesial tradition as organic
development, guaranteed by the transcendent action of God's Spirit.
The Congress of 4 December also brought into focus the
liturgical history of the post-Conciliar period, bringing to the fore in
particular John Paul II's work in the 25 years of his Pontificate. Various
accounts show how the liturgy has always played a key role in his witness
as a "pilgrim" Pastor in the world.
In looking at history, the challenges the Church must face
also emerge in symbol to the mystery that it calls to mind.
A second challenge is that of spirituality. At
first sight it might seem a counter-trend in comparison with the former,
but it is a fact that in our contradictory time the need for contemplation
This can be seen, for example, in the fascination
exercised by oriental methods of meditation. Does the liturgy succeed in
responding to this need?
The first impression is "no". The liturgy would seem to be
incapable of making any significant response to this need since by its
very nature it is "action". By encouraging the participation of the People
of God, the conciliar reform accentuated the dimension of action, although
we must remember that the Council did not fail to recall the role of
However, it is true that meditation essentially reduces
movement; it demands silence rather than words and concentration rather
In the face of this problem, it is urgently necessary to
purge this context of ambiguity: the liturgy is action, but before being
so in the sense of external movement, it is so because it is the saving
action that God brings about in history, an action carried out by Jesus
Christ who associates the Church with himself in the Holy Spirit.
If we go further and examine the meaning of this "action"
of Christ in greater depth, we realize that, at its roots, it is a
"contemplative action": it is Christ's turning to the Father, it is his
action of praise and thanksgiving from which redemption for us flows.
So this explains why, in the Apostolic Letter
Spiritus et Sponsa,
the Pope insists on the need to cultivate the
experience of "silence" in liturgical prayer. It also explains his appeal,
in full harmony with the Council, to link truly liturgical prayer with a
broader contemplation, which also develops in Christian life through pious
devotions and popular piety. The Year of the Rosary, by enabling us to
rediscover the Christological and contemplative character of this Marian
prayer, went precisely in this direction.
A third challenge is the
connection of the liturgy with
human life. The liturgical
problem, as Cardinal George's contribution in this book shows, is
connected with the anthropological dimension. Man is called into question,
with his basic constitution and his physical existence. It would be a
falsification of the liturgy to deprive it of its connection with human
life in the name of its belonging to the "divine", the "sacred" and the
The biblical God is certainly the God thrice Holy, but he
is also the God of the Incarnation, deeply integrated in human history.
The liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council retained a clear
awareness of all this, and was open to the legitimate needs of adaptation
Forty years after
the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments feels impelled to carry on the work
of the Second Vatican Council.
On Fostering the Faithful's Liturgical FormationFr Juan Javier Flores Arcas, O.S.B.
Pontifical Liturgical Institute of
St Anselmo, Rome
Liturgy is the first school of
spiritual life to grow in holiness
Forty years have passed since Pope Paul VI promulgated
Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
of the Second Vatican Council.
To mark that event, the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments promoted a Day of Study and
Reflection, highlighting the basic themes of liturgical reform.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the first
Document produced by the Council, desired by John XXIII, approved by the
Council Fathers and promulgated by Paul VI on 4 December 1963 at the
conclusion of the second Council session.
'First school of spiritual life'
On that occasion, Paul VI proposed a scale of values and
duties regarding liturgical life of the Church. He stressed that the
liturgy was the first source of life bestowed upon us; our first school of
spiritual life from which all Christians must draw benefit for their own
growth in holiness; the first gift we can offer the Christian people to
help them enter more deeply into the depths of the mystery celebrated.
This gives rise to a heartfelt "invitation to people in
the world that their mute tongues may be loosened in blessed and true
prayer, and that they may feel the ineffable regenerative power of song...
divine praise and human hopes, through Christ the Lord and in the Holy
Spirit" (Paul VI, Address at the Conclusion of the Second Session of
the Council, 4 December 1963).
These words reveal one of the Council's prime aims: "to
impart an ever increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful; to
adapt more closely to the needs of our age 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 all mankind
into the Church's fold" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 1). Hence,
greater attention is asked for, especially on the part of those
responsible for the formation of the People of God (Bishops, priests,
deacons, catechists, pastoral workers), in order that the faithful may be
initiated into a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the
divine mysteries contained in the celebration.
Remembering helps advancement
Much has been done in this regard since the Council to the
present. But much remains to be done to ensure that one of the goals of
the reform, that is, the actuosa participatio, is not
reduced to mere external participation but that the faithful are helped to
understand the Paschal Mystery of Christ through the celebratory rite,
gestures and prayers.
The purpose of the Study Day was not so much commemoration
but rather a time for reflecting on and verifying an important event in
the Church's history and progress: liturgical reform, the "first promising
start or underestimating its follow up.
To foster the faithful's formation
The liturgical apostolate demands the effort to respond to
the requirements of fidelity to the Constitution and to the new ordines
that ensued. Yet it is essential to explain from the outset that the
"scope of the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Sacred
Liturgy is not limited merely to the changing of liturgical rites and
texts. Rather, its aim is to foster the formation of the faithful and that
pastoral activity of which the liturgy is the summit and source" (First
Instruction on Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred
Liturgy, Inter Oecumenici, n. 5).
The Sacred Liturgy is the action that gives the Saviour's
redeeming work continuity. By gathering God's people from all the nations
into the unity of the one Spirit in the liturgy, the Church, faithful to
her mission, always shares humanity's joys and hopes and shows herself to
be the world's leaven and soul, to renew the community of peoples in
Christ and transform them into a family under one Father.
Christ is the first liturgist who acts in the liturgy in a
marvellous way. It is he who works human redemption and gives perfect
glory to God (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 5), through the
Paschal Mystery celebrated in the liturgical action. This primacy of
divine action must be continuously highlighted so the celebration does not
appear as mere human action, but as the action of the Father, worked
through the Son in the Holy Spirit.
These are the main points of the reflections set down in
this book that contains the records of the Day of Commemoration of the
40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium.
The book presents a realistic overview of the present and
looks to the future with confidence: the liturgy journeys on, keeping pace
with the Church and the Holy Spirit, who in giving life to the Church also
gives life to the liturgy.
The future of today's liturgy, however, lies in fidelity
to its roots. Forty years after the promulgation of Sacrosanctum
Concilium, we must rediscover the reform-renewal of the liturgy
without forgetting that the liturgy is an epiphany of the Church, its
The Holy Spirit guides the Church as well as her liturgy.
The same Spirit who inspired past Councils inspired the present Council
and has granted us a liturgy that expresses the same Church of the past in
our own day.
On the Renewal of Sacred Music
Mons, Giuseppe Liberto
Director of the
Pontifical Sistine Choir
Music must express the Mystery it
It is truly providential that the Christian community,
disciple of the Word and of the Holy Spirit who acts ceaselessly in the
Church, did not miss the opportunity, in commemorating the 40th
anniversary of the promulgation of the first conciliar Constitution
Sacrosanctum Concilium, to inquire
about the implementation of the prophetic insights it contains. Moreover,
we realized that Sacrosanctum Concilium,
together with Lumen Gentium, Dei Verbum
and Gaudium et Spes, has
strengthened a sense of community and freed sacramental worship from the
private, making it more luminous and accessible.
Recent growth of liturgical music
However, what is more important, since it embodies the
living legacy of the Council, is our obligation not to consider the
liturgical reform an event of the past. It is a reality on the move that
we must receive vitally, promote courageously and actuate prophetically.
For this very reason we warmly and gratefully acknowledge
the two Documents that the Holy Father John Paul II has presented to the
Church in recent months: the Apostolic Letter in honour of the 40th
anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the Chirograph on Sacred
Music promulgated on the occasion of the centenary of the Motu Proprio
Tra le Sollecitudini, of Pope St Pius X (22 November 2003; cf.
ORE, 28 January 2004, pp. 6-7). In them, in fact, the Church
is invited to reflect on the challenges that the initiative of the Council
still poses today in a cultural and social context which has radically
changed but continues to ask the Christian community to rediscover and
renew its identity.
Liturgical music has undoubtedly come a long way in the
past 40 years: after centuries of ritual rigidity and crystallized musical
forms, we have witnessed profound changes that have sought to respond to
ecclesial, extra-ecclesial, social and cultural changes.
As happens in every time of transition, this has resulted
in obvious imbalances, inevitable confusion and real perplexity concerning
the delicate reciprocal exchanges between
vetera et nova,
but at the same time numerous signs of new life and hope. For some, the
liturgical reform coincided with an uncritical openness to experimentation
with new styles and forms. Others, on the contrary, have firmly and
totally rejected the entire project of the Council.
Still others, in line with the new dispositions and
instructions for celebrations, did not respond with the same openness to
the demand for appropriate music for today's needs. Lastly, others, in
accepting the new ritual project, sought new musical forms with a
functional and dynamic vision of the new rites for an effective
participation of the assembly in its various ministries and within a
specific cultural environment.
As the Holy Father points out in his Chirograph (cf. n.
3), it is first a matter of reasserting the fundamental role and
principles inherent in music and song during liturgical celebrations.
Role of music in the liturgy
Paul VI, in a Speech on 4 December 1963 in which he hailed
the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, already expressed the
hope that liturgical reform would be an event of spiritual and pastoral
renewal and an incentive to Christians, so "that their mute tongues may be
loosened in blessed and true prayer, and that they may feel the ineffable
regenerative power of song... divine praise and human hope, through Christ
the Lord and in the Holy Spirit".
Liturgical music flows from the prayerful experience of
the Church at the moment when the People of God celebrate the Mystery.
Liturgical music and song fit into the Church's life as an experience of
prayer, and of that specific type of prayer: liturgical prayer. Only in
this perspective is it possible to understand both the aesthetic dimension
and cultural value of liturgical music.
As John Paul II also suggests in his Chirograph (cf. n.
4), in continuity with the teaching of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the
starting point is never "sacred music" itself, but the Mystery that the
Church celebrates as the event of salvation proclaimed, and therefore
sung. Music as an art form attains its truth if it expresses de facto the
authenticity of what it is celebrating, and if it encourages the active
participation of those who are celebrating. Music and song give life to
the ritus (celebratory gestures) and to the preces (ritual
texts) with a view to ministerial efficacy.
The ministerial munus, in fact, sanctions the art
forms in the liturgy in general and for music in particular (cf.
Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 112). Music and song are living realities
and not a codified repertoire to be performed passively and automatically.
Music and song are an "incarnation" of the Word revealed, or of words
substantiated by God's word in the saving dialogue; they are not the
vaguely mystical or aesthetic ingredients of any kind of religious
worship. Music and song are expressions of the experience of the prayer of
the Church which celebrates the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
Making `Mystery' alive in music
In practice, the ministerial munus of music for the
liturgy is a multiple service: to the Word of God, the Rites, the
ministers of the Liturgical Celebration and the musical accompaniment of
liturgical celebrations throughout the year.
The Chirograph justly emphasizes, with regard to the
development of this ministerial task of music for the liturgy, that "the
music and song requested by the liturgical reform
is right to stress this point
must comply with the legitimate demands of adaptation and inculturation"
(n. 6). And it adds: "It is clear, however, that any innovation in this
sensitive matter must respect specific criteria such as the search for
musical expressions which respond to the necessary involvement of the
entire assembly in the celebration and which, at the same time, avoid any
concessions to frivolity or superficiality" (ibid.).
Lastly, one aspect that the Chirograph accentuates is the
liturgical and musical formation of musicians in general and of composers
in particular. Indeed, the Holy Father writes: "Only an artist who is
profoundly steeped in the sensus Ecclesiae can attempt to
perceive and express in melody the truth of the Mystery that is celebrated
in the Liturgy.... Renewed and deeper thought about the principles that
must be the basis of the formation and dissemination of a high-quality
repertoire is therefore required. Only in this way will musical expression
be granted to serve appropriately its ultimate aim, which is 'the glory of
God and the sanctification of the faithful'" (n. 12).
The Supreme Pontiff then continued: "Also today there are
numerous composers who are capable of making their indispensable
contribution in this spirit, increasing with their competent collaboration
the patrimony of music at the service of a Liturgy lived ever more
intensely. To them I express my confidence, together with the most cordial
exhortation to put their every effort into increasing the repertoire of
compositions worthy of the exalted nature of the mysteries celebrated and,
at the same time, suited to contemporary sensibilities" (n. 12). This is a
hope that we ourselves express in the spirit of the conciliar project that
still lies ahead, especially in the field of liturgical music.
In brief, the goal of liturgical music is not so much to
produce and perform a musical opus as an end in itself, as to present the
Mystery in the form of sound by representing it. God sings his Word and
gives him, the musician incarnates the Word and sings him. This is true
spiritual art for the liturgy: this is "sacred" music as an
anthropological and theological revelation.