San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

St. Peter's Basilica, in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, in Rome

Vatican II in St. Peter's Basilica
The bishops of the Second Vatican Council gathered in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Most Rev. Joseph Perry, episcopal vicar of region VI
Most Rev. Joseph Perry, episcopal vicar of Cardinal George, for region VI of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Constitution on the Liturgy

The 1963 Constitution on the Liturgy was the first document of the Second Vatican Council.  In this constitution, new principles were proclaimed as Church teaching, to help us to pray in the spirit of the liturgy.

God . . . when the fullness of time had come sent his Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to be a "bodily and spiritual medicine," the Mediator between God and man. For his humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. (5)

Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit . . . From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things "which were in the scriptures concerning him" (Luke 24:27), celebrating the Eucharist in which "the victory and triumph of death are again made present," 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. l:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit. (6) . . .

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," 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. 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).

Christ indeed always associates the Church with himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctifed. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the Eternal Father. . .

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses and is effected in a way which corresponds to 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.

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. . . (7)

The liturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed. At the same time, it is the fount from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons and daughters 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)

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. . .(11)

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)

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people is their right and duty by reason of their baptism. They are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people redeemed." (1 Peter 2:9; cf. 2:4-5).

IN THE RESTORATION AND PROMOTION OF THE SACRED LITURGY, THIS FULL AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY ALL THE PEOPLE IS THE AIM TO BE CONSIDERED BEFORE ALL ELSE.  It is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.  Therefore, pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, unless they undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. (14)

. . . With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy, both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God. In this matter, they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example. (15)

. . . Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church, which is the "sacrament of unity," namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops.

Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it. They concern, however, the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their differing rank, function, and actual participation. (26)

It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private.

This applies with special force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature. (27)

St Peter's Basilica in Rome, panoramic view
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution on the Liturgy, in late 1963.

In liturgical celebrations, each person, minister or lay person who has a function to carry out should do all (but only) those parts which pertain to his function, by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy. (28)

Servers, lectors, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function.  Therefore, they ought to discharge their task with the sincere piety and decorum  demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God's people.

Consequently, they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, each in his own measure. They must be trained to carry out their functions in a correct and orderly manner.  (29)

To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes.  At the proper times, all should observe a reverent silence. (30)

San Rocco Oratory

Home About Us Choir Coptic Rite Devotions Email FAQ Links Liturgies Ministries NEWS Processions ReligiousEd