Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 27

Vatican Website translation:

27. 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 especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature.

Latin text:

27. Quoties ritus, iuxta propriam cuiusque naturam, secum ferunt celebrationem communem, cum frequentia et actuosa participatione fidelium, inculcetur hanc, in quantum fieri potest, esse praeferendam celebrationi eorundem singulari et quasi privatae.
Quod valet praesertim pro Missae celebratione, salva semper natura publica et sociali cuiusvis Missae, et pro Sacramentorum administratione.

Slavishly literal translation:

27. Whenever rites, according to nature proper to them, carry with themselves a communal [form of] celebration, with the presence and active participation of the faithful, it is to be stressed that, insofar as it can be done, this [form of] celebration is to be preferred to that which is individual and as-it-were private.

Which applies especially to the celebration of Mass (save the always public and social nature of whatever Mass) and to the administration of the Sacraments.


Article 27 makes even more explicit the principle announced in art. 26 that the liturgical form of celebration should embody and express the hierarchical and communitarian nature of the Church and its liturgy. Pray Tell readers may wish to continue the discussion begun at art. 26 about the practical consequences of taking this principle seriously in reforming/restoring/renewal the liturgy.

One comment

  1. In my work in a large parish, this presents me with more opportunities to pull off our balancing act. Take infant baptism, for example…. most of our families remember when “private baptisms” were the most common way. Then we went through the (unfair) period of “if you know the priest or deacon well enough to approach him and ask you can have a private baptism” and everyone else was included in our Sunday afternoon extravaganzas, sometimes with as many as 25 or more babies. Now we’re in an era of (almost) no private baptisms, and smaller (no more than 10) Sunday and Saturday groups.

    The problem is that we’re losing something by eliminating the intimacy of the service with one family. Unless the presider is very good, the families don’t leave feeling that they’ve been part of anything very special when they’re one of ten. With an individual family, they almost always would leave with positive feelings about the parish and how well we ministered to them.

    I expect this is the case because by far the majority of these families seldom attend weekly Mass. They haven’t developed a spirituality of church that includes celebrating liturgy as a community. When they have a good experience, that’s a opportunity for us to draw them closer. When they have a “just-OK” experience, we’re probably not seeing them again soon.

    My point, I guess, is that many (most?) of the parish hasn’t grown to the point that praying in community is a positive, rather than a negative. Maybe the Church is just too far ahead of them in this. Where will they get their one-on-one invitation?

    I realize not all parishes have over 7000 registered families, and maybe this is different elsewhere! Part of my job is to try to get a parish that does 250 baptisms, 220 funerals and 60 or 70 weddings a year not to feel like an assembly line.

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