Decree Concerning the Manner of Living and Other Matters to Be Observed During the Council

Author: Trent


Session II - Celebrated on the seventh day of January, 1546 Under Pope Paul III

Decree Concerning The Manner Of Living And Other Matters To Be Observed During The Council

The holy Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost and presided over by the same three legates of the Apostolic See, recognizing with the blessed Apostle James that every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,[1] who, to those who ask of Him wisdom, giveth to all abundantly and upbraideth them not;[2] and knowing also that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,[3] has ordained and decreed that each and all of the faithful of Christ assembled in the city of Trent be exhorted, as they are hereby exhorted, to amend themselves in the evils and sins hitherto committed and to walk henceforth in the fear of the Lord; not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh,[4] to be instant in prayer,[5] to confess more often, to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, to frequent the churches, to observe, so far as each one is able, the commandments of the Lord, and to pray daily in private for peace among the Christian princes and for unity of the Church.

The bishops, however, and all others constituted in the sacerdotal order, who are participating in the celebration of the ecumenical council in this city, are to apply themselves diligently to glorifying God, to offer up sacrifices, praises and prayers, to celebrate in accordance with their duty the sacrifice of the mass at least every Sunday, the day on which God made the light, rose from the dead, and poured forth the Holy Ghost upon the disciples;[6] making, as the same Holy Ghost commanded by the Apostle, supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for our most holy Lord the Pope, for the Emperor, for kings and others who are placed in high stations, and for all men, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life,[7] may enjoy peace and witness an increase of the faith.

Furthermore, it exhorts that they fast at least every Friday in memory of the passion of the Lord and give alms to the poor.

Every Thursday the mass of the Holy Ghost shall be celebrated in the cathedral with the litanies and other prayers assigned for this purpose; in the other churches there shall be said on the same day at least the litanies and the prayers.

During the time that the sacred services are being performed, let there be no talking and idle conversation, but let mouth and mind be united with the celebrant.

And since it behooves bishops to be blameless, sober, chaste, ruling well their own household,[8] it exhorts also that above all things each observe sobriety at table and moderation in diet; and further, since there idle conversations are often won to arise, that the reading of the Scriptures be introduced at the tables, even at those of the bishops.[9]

Let each one instruct and charge his servants not to be contentious, given to wine, disrespectful, covetous, arrogant, blasphemous and lovers of pleasure; finally, let them shun vice and embrace virtue, and in attire, in behavior and in all their actions let them manifest decorum as becomes the servants of the servants of God.

Moreover, since it is the chief care, solicitude and intention of this holy council that the darkness of heresies, which for so many years has covered the earth, being dispelled, the light of Catholic truth may, with the aid of Jesus Christ, who is the true light,[10] shine forth in splendor and purity, and that those things that need reform may be reformed, the council exhorts all Catholics here assembled and who will be here assembled, especially those having a knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, that by sedulous meditation they ponder diligently within themselves, by what ways and means the intention of the council can best be carried out and the desired result obtained; how the things to be condemned may be condemned more promptly and prudently and those to be approved may be approved, so that throughout the whole world all may with one voice and with the same profession of faith glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.[11]

In expressing opinions when the priests of the Lord are assembled in the place of benediction, in conformity with the decree of the Synod of Toledo,[12] no one ought to be boisterous by immoderate shouting or create disturbance by stamping, nor contentious in false, vain and obstinate disputations, but let whatever is said to be so tempered with mildness that neither the hearers be offended nor the keenness of correct judgment warped by a disturbed mind.

Moreover, this holy council has ordained and decreed that if it should happen that some during the council do not sit in their proper places and also make known their mind by the word Placet, are present at the assemblies and perform any other acts whatsoever, no disadvantage shall thereby accrue to anyone, neither shall anyone thereby acquire a new right.[13]

Announcement Of The Next Session

After this the next session was announced for Thursday, the fourth day of the following February.


1. James 1:17.

2. Idem, 1:5.

3. Ps. 110:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Eccles. 1:16.

4. Gal. 5:16.

5. Rom. 12:12.

6. Acts 2:1 ff.

7. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:1f.

8. Idem, 3:2ff.

9. Cf. III Synod of Toledo (589), c. 7 (c.11, D.XLIV); II Synod of Reims (813), c.17 (Hardouin IV, 1019) and infra, Sess. XXV, chap. 1 de ref.

10. John 1:9.

11. Rom. 15:6.

12. Cf. XI Synod of Toledo (675), c. 1.

13. Cf. Sess. XXV at the end.