Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 6

6. Ideoque, sicut Christus missus est a Patre, ita et ipse Apostolos, repletos Spiritu Sancto, misit, non solum ut, praedicantes Evangelium omni creaturae(14), annuntiarent Filium Dei morte sua et resurrectione nos a potestate satanae(15) et a morte liberasse et in regnum Patris transtulisse, sed etiam ut, quod annuntiabant, opus salutis per Sacrificium et Sacramenta, circa quae tota vita liturgica vertit, exercerent. Sic per Baptismum homines paschali Christi mysterio inseruntur: commortui, consepulti, conresuscitati(16); Spiritum accipiunt adoptionis filiorum, “in quo clamamus: Abba, Pater” (Rom 8,15), et ita fiunt veri adoratores, quos Pater quaerit(17). Similiter quotiescumque dominicam cenam manducant, mortem Domini annuntiant donec veniat(18). Idcirco, ipsa die Pentecostes, qua Ecclesia mundo apparuit, “qui receperunt sermonem” Petri “baptizati sunt”. Et erant “perseverantes in doctrina Apostolorum et communicatione fractionis panis et orationibus… collaudantes Deum et habentes gratiam ad omnem plebem” (Act 2,41-42, 47). Numquam exinde omisit Ecclesia quin in unum conveniret ad paschale mysterium celebrandum: legendo ea “in omnibus Scripturis quae de ipso erant” (Lc 24,27), Eucharistiam celebrando in qua “mortis eius victoria et triumphus repraesentantur”(19), et simul gratias agendo “Deo super inenarrabili dono” (2Cor 9,15) in Christo Iesu, “in laudem gloriae eius” (Eph 1,12), per virtutem Spiritus Sancti.

Vatican Website Translation:

6. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also He sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature [14], they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan [15] and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father. His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him [16]; they receive the spirit of adoption as sons “in which we cry: Abba, Father” ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks [17]. In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes [18]. For that reason, on the very day of Pentecost, when the Church appeared before the world, “those who received the word” of Peter “were baptized.” And “they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in prayers . . . praising God and being in favor with all the people” (Acts 2:41-47). From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things “which were in all the scriptures concerning him” (Luke 24:27), celebrating the eucharist in which “the victory and triumph of his death are again made present” [19], 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. 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Slavishly literal translation:

6. And so, just as Christ was sent from the Father, so he sent the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, not only that, preaching the Gospel to every creature [cf. Mark 16:15], they might proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection has freed us from the power of Satan [cf. Acts 26:18] and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Father, but also that what they proclaimed — the work of salvation through Sacrifice and Sacraments, around which that entire liturgical life revolves — might be engaged. So through Baptism human beings are immersed in the paschal mystery of Christ: made dead with him, entombed with him, risen with him [cf. Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:11]; they receive the Spirit of adoption as children “in whom we cry: ‘Abba, Father’ [Romans 8:15], and so they are made true adorers whom the Father seeks [cf. John 4:23]. Likewise each time they consume the Lord’s Supper, they proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes [cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26]. Therefore, on the day of Pentecost itself, on which the Church appeared to the world, “those who accepted the preaching” of Peter “were baptized.” And they remained “persevering in the teaching of the Apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers… praising God together and having the good will of all the people” [Acts 2:41-42, 47]. Never from thence has the Church omitted to come together into one for celebrating the paschal mystery: by reading those things “which were in all the Scriptures concerning him” [Luke 24:27], by celebrating the Eucharist in which “the victory and triumph of his death are represented” [Council of Trent, Session XIII, 11 October 1551, Decree Concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, c. 5], and simultaneously giving thanks “to God for his gift beyond all telling” [2 Corinthians 9:15] in Christ Jesus, “unto the praise of his glory” [Ephesians 1:2], through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Having considered especially the person of Christ and his redemptive work accomplished in his paschal mystery in article 5, article 6 continues the doctrinal foundations of the first chapter by considering the extension of Christ’s person and work through the Church, especially in the liturgy. The following topics might be of interest:

1) The article draws a parallel between the mission of Christ (sent by the Father and anointed by the Spirit) and the mission of the Apostles (sent by the Christ and anointed by the Spirit).  Presumably the text identifies the Apostles as more than “the Twelve,” certainly including Paul (and possibly Barnabas, Andronicus and Junias).  It may be helpful to note what is unique to Christ’s mission and what of that mission could be shared with the Apostles.

2) The article draws an implicit parallel between the words and deeds of Christ and the preaching and (liturgical) action of the Apostles. It may be helpful again to note what is unique to Christ’s words and deeds and what could be shared and manifested in the preaching and (liturgical) action of the Apostles (and their successors?).

3) An ecclesiological issue appears in the substratum of the first two points: Is the mission given by Christ to the Apostles entrusted to them as representatives of the nascent Church, or is the mission given by Christ to the Apostles given to them for the sake of the Church? I suspect that the Catholic answer will be “both,” but there are consequences both for our understanding of the Church and of the liturgy by our understanding of that mission.

4) While the formula “Sacrifice and Sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves” would seem to include the entire sacramental economy, article 6 privileges the so-called “dominical sacraments” of Baptism and Eucharist.

5) Note the three elements listed as foundational to the Church’s celebration of the paschal mystery: engagement with the Scriptures, celebrating the Eucharist understood as the re-presentation of Christ’s victorious death, and giving God (the Father by appropriation) thanks in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit (an assertion of a foundational Trinitarian structuring of liturgical prayer). Like the list in 4), I do not believe these three are exhaustive but foundational.


  1. I know it’s not a literal translation, but I love the imagery of us being plunged into the Paschal Mystery. As I said in my NPM lecture this summer, this seems to me like a clarion call to the Church. Dare we take the plunge? Can we die with Christ in order to be raised with him? Will we become part of the Paschal Mystery?

  2. The Trinitarian imagery here is vivid, but it feels incomplete to me. I get tripped up by questions like your parenthetical (and their successors?). The Father sends, Christ sends, do the Apostles send? Isn’t this an important issue later, on whether laity are sent, which is settled by the decree on the apostolate of the laity? I guess it comes down to how we value bishops; are they somehow sent by Christ through the Apostles, and we by them, or are we all sent by the Spirit in the Apostles (and their successors)?

    Of course, the Trinitarian unity blurs the distinctions. Is the Latin clearer that it is Christ, not the Father, who sent the Apostles? English just has “He.” Both Father and Son send the Spirit, no one has ever argued about that. So maybe it has a both/and resolution, as suggested in #3.

  3. As we advance the comments seem to be reducing in number.
    Paragraph 1 had 79, paragraph 2 had 20. paragraph 3 had 18, paragraph 4 had 8, paragraph 5, start of chapter 2, had 18 and this paragraph had only 2 before this.
    I suspect that this is in part the setting out of things that were not to be changed including our basic understanding of what the Mass is about. Later our understandings may diverge more. Humm.

  4. @Peter Haydon – comment #3:

    The little blurb which told about Article I was in English !!!!! It got a lot more comments than the rest of the articles.

    The Council declares that it judges that there is a particular rationale to undertake restoring/renewing (instaurandam) and cherishing/fostering (fovendam) the Liturgy.

    so that people knew immediately what the article was about in such a way that it likely induced them to want to study the article and comment about it. I thought the above blub was perfect for the article, and in fact led to my first comment.

    For Article II and thereafter the blurbs have been in Latin!!!!!

    So you have to click on the post, find whichever English translation you prefer, and find the suggestions for discussion. In fact it takes some effort to find out what the article is about!

    Article 6 is loaded with ecclesiological issues as was pointed out in the suggestions for discussion, perhaps an English blurb that would have pointed toward these would have provoked more discussion. Surely we have some people interested in ecclesiology.

    Cardinal Wuerl introduced the “New” Evangelization to the Synod of the same name by a presentation in Latin. No wonder the Church is 200 years behind the times. From the English translation evidently this New Evangelization is against secularism, materialism and individualism, much I guess as the Church was once against democracy and modernism. When the alternative is Latin rather than the Gospel, secularism, materialism and individualism are bound to win.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #4:
      Thanks Jack
      You may well be right. I suspect that most readers following this would know what to expect without reading the little blurb.
      Lack of time may be an issue as Fr Michael suggests but given the number of comments on tropes I suspect that this is not the only reason.
      I do not have confidence that I know the reason for the reduction in comments. I hope that we continue with this series.
      One other reason might be that commenters have nothing sensible to add to Fr Michael’s analysis. Even then there are sufficient combative people to find something to offer a view about. I try not to antagonise other people as there seems little to gain. I may be in a minority there!

  5. Speaking of ecclesiology, maybe we need a “prophet” for a Pope like the Mormons rather than an infallible one.

    At the Saturday morning session of the LDS Church’s semi-annual General Conference, Mormon leaders announced that the minimum age for missionary service is now lowered from 19 to 18 for young men and from 21 to 19 for young women, a change that is expected to significantly increase rates of missionary service among young LDS women.

    This simple policy change has subtle but far-reaching and potentially pivotal implications for gender relations in the world of Mormonism. It is the most significant LDS Church policy shift on gender in decades, exceeding in its potential impact changes to gendered language in LDS temple ceremonies two decades ago. And it was met with what may have been the greatest burst of acclamation and excitement since the 1978 announcement opening the priesthood to men of African descent.

    Minutes after the change was announced over the LDS Conference Center pulpit on Saturday morning, Mormon social networks thundered with status updates and tweets from 18 and 19 year old women declaring their intent to serve.

    See Johanna Brooks

    Perhaps the Church should become more concerned about Mormonism than about secularism, materialism and individualism. The Mormons appear to be moving away from patriarchy; the women do most of the work there too while the men run things.

  6. I suspect there may be multiple reasons for a decline in participants’ comments: lack of interest in the particular issue dealt with in the article, dropping off of interest in the general project of re-reading SC, lack of time (I’m presently in Chicago at some recording sessions and am thus away from my resources at home), etc. I’d be happy to change the way I post these texts, however, by putting the Vatican website translation first. That should clue people into the topic under discussion if the simple title “Re-Reading SC: Article ???” doesn’t give them enough information.

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