Excerpts on the Liturgy

Author: Pat Moore




Prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship Approved and Confirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II April 17, 1980


Following the letter that Pope John Paul II addressed on February 24, 1980, to the bishops and, through them, to the priests, and in which he again considered the priceless gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship is calling to the bishops' attention certain norms concerning worship of this great mystery.

These indications are not a summary of everything already stated by the Holy See in the documents concerning the Eucharist promulgated since the Second Vatican Council and still in force, particularly in the Missale Romanum,[1] [ Ed. Typica Altera, Rome, 1975. ] the Ritual De Sacra Communione et de Cultu Mysterii Eucharistici Extra Missam,[2][Ed Typica, Rome, 1973. ] and the Instructions Eucharisticum Mysterium,[3] [ Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 25, 1967: AAS 59 (19671, pp. 539-573 ] Memoriale Domini,[4] [ Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship,May 29, 1969:AAS 61 (1969), pp. 541-545. ] Immensae caritatis,[5] [ Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, January 29, 1973: AAS 65 (1973), pp. 264-271.] and Liturgicae instaurationes.[6] [Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, September 5, 1970: AAS 62 (1970), pp. 692-704. ]

. . . [W]e are face to face with a real falsification of the Catholic Liturgy: "One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification."[7] [ St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, 2-2, Q. 93, A. 1.]

None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are--and cannot fail to be--the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.

The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: < "No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority."> [emphasis added][8] [ Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 22, 3.] And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: "Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense."[9] [ Paul VI, address of August 22, 1973: L'Osservatore Romano, August 23, 1973.]

. . .

1. "The two parts which in a sense go to make up the Mass, namely the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic Liturgy, are so closely connected that they form but one single act of worship."[10] [Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 56. ] A person should not approach the table of the Bread of the Lord without having first been at the table of His Word.[11] [Cf. ibid., 56; cf. also Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, no. 21. ] Sacred Scripture is therefore of the highest importance in the celebration of Mass. Consequently there can be no disregarding what the Church has laid down in order to insure that "in sacred celebrations there should be a more ample, more varied and more suitable reading from Sacred Scripture."[12] [Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 35. ] The norms laid down in the Lectionary concerning the number of readings, and the directives given for special occasions are to be observed. < It would be a serious abuse to replace the Word of God with the word of man, no matter who the author may be.> [emphasis added] [13][Cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Instruction Liturgicae instaurationes, no. 2, a.]

. . .

5. Only the Eucharistic Prayers included in the Roman Missal or those that the Apostolic See has by law admitted, in the manner and within the limits laid down by the Holy See, are to be used. [emphasis added].

6. It should be remembered that the Eucharistic Prayer must not be overlaid with other prayers or songs.[17] When proclaiming the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest is to pronounce < the text > [emphasis added] clearly, so as to make it easy for the faithful to understand it, and so as to foster the formation of a true assembly entirely intent upon the celebration of the memorial of the Lord.

. . .

27. If anything has been introduced that is at variance with these indications, it is to be corrected.

. . .

It seems fitting to recall a remark made by that Pope concerning fidelity to the norms governing celebration: "It is a very serious thing when division is introduced precisely where congregavit nos in unum Christi amor, in the Liturgy and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by the refusing of obedience to the norms laid down in the liturgical sphere. It is in the name of tradition that we ask all our sons and daughters, all the Catholic communities, to celebrate with dignity and fervor the renewed Liturgy."[41] [Second Vatican Council, Decree Christus Dominus, no. 15. ] . . .

Rome, April 3, 1980, Holy Thursday.

This instruction, prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, was approved on April 17,1980, by the Holy Father, John Paul ll, who confirmed it with his own authority and ordered it to be published and to be observed by all concerned.

James R. Cardinal Knox Prefect Virgilio Noe Assistant Secretary FROM:

THE CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY Sacrosanctum Concilium, December 4, 1963

. . .

A. General Norms

22. (1) Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

(2) In virtue of power conceded by law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of bishops' conferences, legitimately established, with competence in given territories.

(3) < Therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. > [Emphasis added.]


CODE OF CANON LAW (Codex Iuris Canonici) (1983):

Can. 846 - 1. In sacramentis celebrandis fideliter serventur libri liturgici a competenti auctoritas probati; quapropter nemo in iisdem quidpiam proprio marte addat, demat aut mutet.

[ Can. 846 - 1. The liturgical books approved by competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them. ]


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