DE PRINCIPIIS GENERALIBUS AD SACRAM LITURGIAM INSTAURANDAM ATQUE FOVENDAM
I. De sacrae Liturgiae natura eiusque momento in vita Ecclesiae
5. Deus, “qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritatis venire” (1Tim 2,4), “multifariam multisque modis olim loquens patribus in prophetis” (Hebr 1,1), ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Filium suum, Verbum carnem factum, Spiritu Sancto unctum, ad evangelizandum pauperibus, ad sanandos contritos corde (8), “medicum carnalem et spiritualem”(9), Mediatorem Dei et hominum(10). Ipsius namque humanitas, in unitate personae Verbi, fuit instrumentum nostrae salutis. Quare in Christo “nostrae reconciliationis processit perfecta placatio, et divini cultus nobis est indita plenitudo”(11).
Hoc autem humanae Redemptionis et perfectae Dei glorificationis opus, cui divina magnalia in populo Veteris Testamenti praeluserant, adimplevit Christus Dominus, praecipue per suae beatae Passionis, ab inferis Resurrectionis et gloriosae Ascensionis paschale mysterium, quo “mortem nostram moriendo destruxit, et vitam resurgendo reparavit”(12). Nam de latere Christi in cruce dormientis ortum est totius Ecclesiae mirabile sacramentum(13).
Vatican Website Translation:
GENERAL PRINCIPLES FOR THE RESTORATION AND PROMOTION OF THE SACRED LITURGY
1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church’s Life
5. God who “wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), “who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), 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. Therefore in Christ “the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us” .
The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passion, resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby “dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life” . For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth “the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church” .
Slavishly Literal Translation:
Concerning General Principles for Reforming/Restoring/Renewing and Cherishing/Promoting/Furthering the Sacred Liturgy
I. Concerning the nature of the Sacred Liturgy and its Import in the Church’s life
5. God, “who wills that all human beings be saved and come to the acknowledgment of the truth” [1 Timothy 2:4], “speaking in various and multiple ways in the past to our fathers by the prophets” [Hebrews 1:1], when the fullness of time came, sent his Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, for bringing good news to the poor, for healing the contrite of heart [cf. Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18], “fleshly and spiritual medicine” [St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians 7:2], the Mediator between God and humanity [cf. 1 Timothy 2:5]. For his humanity, in the unity of the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. For in Christ “the perfect offering of our reconciliation came forth and the fullness of divine worship was bestowed upon us.” [Sacramentarium Veronense (Leonianum) (the Verona collection of libelli missarum): ed. C. MOHLBERG, Rome 1956, n. 1265, p. 162]
Moreover Christ fulfilled this work of human Redemption and perfect glorification of God, on which the divine great deeds among the people of the Old Testament shed a forelight, especially through the paschal mystery of his blessed Passion, of his Resurrection from the lower regions, and of his glorious Ascension, in which “by dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life.” [Missale Romanum in use at the time of the Council: Paschal Preface] For from the side of Christ sleeping upon the cross arose the wondrous sacrament of the entire Church. [St. Augustine, Enarratio in Ps. CXXXVIII, 2 and the oration after the second reading of Holy Saturday in the Missale Romanum before the reform of Holy Week]
Articles 5 – 13 provide a general theological consideration of the nature of the liturgy and its efficacy (5-7 ) and its importance in the life of the Church (8-13). Article 5 announces the centrality of Christ in salvation history, foreshadowed in the history and prophetic ministry of the Jewish people and extended by the Church. I will quote here Cyprian Vagaggini’s commentary on a central theological concept in article 5 – the paschal mystery; as a peritus working on the document, his insights are, I believe, especially valuable in trying to determine what the Council Fathers intended:
“In order to understand what this paschal mystery means, the following have to be considered together as constituting the one process of salvation which God in fact willed in the historical order: 1) Christ freely taking on himself the passion and death willed by his Father satisfied for our sins, meriting that thence divine life should be communicated to us. 2) At the same time he merited for his own human nature through his glorification to conquer in himself death and the very form of a humbled servant which he had willingly assumed at the Incarnation as the consequences of sin. From that time forward in that same human nature (body included) he along could communicate to others the divine life of which he had the plenitude. He had indeed done this beforehand already in his mortal life but in the form of a servant and in view of his future passion and death. 3) Therefore from his resurrection onward the human nature of the glorified Christ, his body included, as an instrument of the Divinity in the perfect possession and the full glorious exercise of his rights, communicates without ceasing divine life to the world. In this manner he makes us ‘pass over,’ especially through the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, or he makes us always more ‘pass over’ from spiritual death to divine spiritual life and in principle also to physical life. So he makes us like to himself and in a way makes the whole world like to himself dying and rising until the process be completed in the glorious resurrection of our body and in the restoration of a new Heaven and a new Earth.” The Commentary on the Constitution and On the Instruction on the Sacred Liturgy (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1965) 64-65.