Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 43

Vatican website translation:

F) The Promotion of Pastoral-Liturgical Action
43. Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the Church’s life, indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action.
So that this pastoral-liturgical action may become even more vigorous in the Church, the sacred Council decrees:

Latin text:

V. De actione pastorali liturgica promovenda
43. Sacrae Liturgiae fovendae atque instaurandae studium merito habetur veluti signum providentialium dispositionum Dei super nostra aetate, veluti transitus Spiritus Sancti in sua Ecclesia; et vitam ipsius, immo huius nostri temporis universam rationem religiose sentiendi et agendi, nota propria distinguit.
Quapropter, ad hanc actionem pastoralem liturgicam ulterius in Ecclesia fovendam, Sacrosanctum Concilium decernit:

Slavishly literal translation:

V. Concerning promoting pastoral liturgical action

43. Eagerness for nurturing and restoring the Sacred Liturgy properly is held to be both a sign of the providential dispositions of God upon our age, [and] to be a movement of the Holy Spirit in his Church; and characteristics proper to it distinguish its [the Church’s] life, indeed the entire rationale of religious thinking and acting in this time of ours.

Therefore, for nurturing this pastoral liturgical action further in the Church, the Most Sacred Council decrees:


As noted above, there seems to be a discrepancy between the Vatican website’s translation of the headings of Chapter One and the underlying Latin text. In the Latin text beginning at art. 21, Roman numeral three deals with the “instauratio” (renewal) of the Sacred Liturgy under four sub-headings: general norms (22-25), norms drawn from the communitarian and hierarchical nature of the Liturgy (26-32), norms drawn from the pastoral and teaching character of the Liturgy (33-36), and norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples (37-40). Article 41 begins a new section devoted to the “fostering” (fovenda) of liturgical life (41-42) with Roman numeral four, but the Vatican website’s translation seems to place this segment as one more example of the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy. Similarly article 43 begins a new section devoted to the “promoting” (promovenda) of “pastoral liturgical action with Roman numeral five, but the Vatican website’s translation seems to place this segment as yet another example of the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.

Following their usual pattern, the Council Fathers offer a short rationale before stating their decrees. In the case of promoting “pastoral liturgical action” (a formulation that is quite clumsy in English, but refers to all the methods by which the faithful are brought to deeper and deeper participation in and understanding of liturgical worship), Pray Tell readers might take heart that the Council Fathers declare that concern for liturgical life is not a peculiar and peripheral obsession, but a response to divine initiatives in the contemporary era.


  1. Father
    I wonder if this takes us much further than when we discussed paragraphs 1 and 2.
    My translation has “the encouragement and restoration of the Liturgy.” In none of these is “reform” or “change” used. In French “l’avancement et la restauration de la liturgie.” I think that Solesmes took the view that this included their work that “puts back into circulation certain authentic pieces which were not used for centuries while setting aside many inauthentic neo-Gregorian compositions of the 19th or early 20th centuries.”
    I suspect that most Pray-Tell readers would look for more change than that but submit that this is consistent with this paragraph.
    Please do keep up this series regardless of the colour of the Papal shoes.

  2. I have always understood this to be the council’s blessing on zeal for the liturgy. At the time, there was much sarcasm in the clergy toward anyone–cleric, religious, or lay–who was enthusiastic about the liturgy. There was almost a stigma.

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