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Published on Nov 1st, 2012 by Austin Keith | 0

Studies of the Vatican II Documents
The Constitution on the Sacred Litury – Part 1 of 7

By Erin McGeever

The Diocese of St. Augustine, through the Office of Christian Formation, is providing academic studies of the Documents of Vatican II during the Year of Faith. These studies are for anyone, ordained or lay, who is interested in developing a better understanding of contents of these documents.

There are three main types of documents found among the 16 documents of Vatican II:
Constitutions
Decrees
Declarations

A constitution is the most solemn and formal type of document issued by an ecumenical council (Code of Canon Law 337-341). For the most part, they deal with doctrinal matters, but they also may treat matters of discipline or of other great significance. Vatican II (1962-1965) promulgated four constitutions:
Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium)
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum)
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes)

A decree issued by an ecumenical council is a doctrinal or pastoral statement concerning a group of people or church matter, which frequently calls for reform or renewal. The Second Vatican Council issued nine decrees:  Pastoral Office of Bishops, Ministry and Life of Priests, Training of Priests, Religious Life, the Laity, the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ecumenism, Eastern Churches and Mass Media.

The Second Vatican Council also issued three declarations or a statement of less weight than a constitution or decree. A declaration indicates a current position of the church in regards to contemporary issues which may be further developed over time.  Declarations from Vatican II are on the topics of:  religious liberty, religious education and the church’s relationship to non-Christian Churches.

Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) was the first document of Vatican II to be published. The bishops decided to take up liturgy first, because of all of the draft documents that circulated prior to the opening of the council; the one on the Sacred Liturgy was in the best shape. The renewal of the liturgy, however, had been in the works for years.

During the years prior to the council, there were many efforts to renew the liturgy to gain the “full, active participation of the laity” within the Mass. Pope Pius X (1903-1914) saw the need for people to be more connected to the Eucharist and so lowered the age for First Communion.  Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) in Mediator Dei (Mediator of God) called all Catholics to full, active participation in the liturgy and said that all of the faithful constitute a holy priesthood, words echoed within Sacrosanctum Concilium. Pope Pius XII also noted that in addition to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, Christ was also present in the priest and in the people. Pope Pius XII relaxed the Eucharistic fast to encourage people to take Communion. And in the early 1950s, he reformed the liturgical rites for the Easter Vigil and Holy Week.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was promulgated on Dec. 4, 1963.

The study on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy will be led by the Diocesan Director of Liturgy, Father Tom Willis, M.A. It will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, in the parish hall at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1773 Blanding Blvd., Jacksonville. The session will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude about 3 p.m.  Participants need to be registered a week prior to the session to enable the organizing team to provide handouts and lunch. Participants should also bring a copy of the document, which can be downloaded for free from the Vatican website.  (See link below)

[Click here] for the Registration form
[Click here] to obtain a copy of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Peter 2:9) is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.”  ~Sacrosanctum Concilium 14

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