Vatican Website translation:

34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

Latin text:

34. Ritus nobili simplicitate fulgeant, sint brevitate perspicui et repetitiones inutiles evitent, sint fidelium captui accommodati, neque generatim multis indigeant explanationibus.

Slavishly literal translation:

34. The rites should be radiant with noble simplicity, they should be of brevity, of clarity, and avoid useless repetitions, they should be accommodated to the power of comprehension of the faithful, and generally should not stand in need of many explanations.

The norms articulated in art. 34 have been rather fiercely contested in the past fifty years. What are the textual and gestural characteristics of “noble simplicity”? Is this principle to be extended from the rites themselves to the setting in which the rites are enacted, i.e., the music employed, the vesture worn, the objects employed, the architecture constructed or renewed? What characterizes “brevity” or “clarity” in ritual actions? On the basis of what principles are ritual repetitions to be considered “useless” (e.g., the 25 signs of the cross made during the Canon vs. the single sign of the cross made in Eucharistic Prayer I)? How are the rites to be accommodated to the faithful’s capacity to comprehend them so that they can “fully, consciously and actively” participate in the rites, i.e., how are the faithful to attain “ritual competence”?

Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss how the EF and OF of the Roman Rite embody these principles.

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