Jonathan Day has kindly agreed to provide the “slavishly literal translation” for our article-by-article reading of Chapter Two the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and we welcome his contribution starting with today’s installment.
Vatican website translation:
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator , they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
48. Itaque Ecclesia sollicitas curas eo intendit ne christifideles huic fidei mysterio tamquam extranei vel muti spectatores intersint, sed per ritus et preces id bene intellegentes, sacram actionem conscie, pie et actuose participent, verbo Dei instituantur, mensa Corporis Domini reficiantur, gratias Deo agant, immaculatam hostiam, non tantum per sacerdotis manus, sed etiam una cum ipso offerentes, seipsos offerre discant, et de die in diem consummentur, Christo Mediatore, in unitatem cum Deo et inter se (38), ut sit tandem Deus omnia in omnibus.
(38) Cf. S. CYRILLUS ALEX., Commentarium in Ioannis Evangelium, lib. XI, capp. XI-XII: PG 74, 557-565, praesertim 564-565.
Slavishly literal translation [Jonathan Day]:
48. Therefore, the Church exerts anxious pains to this end, lest the Christian faithful be present in this mystery of faith as strangers or as mute spectators; [she seeks] rather that, thoroughly understanding the rites and prayers, they should participate in the sacred action, aware of what they are doing, devotedly and actively; that they should be instructed by the word of God, nourished at the table of the Body of the Lord; that they should give thanks to God, offering the immaculate Victim not only through the priest’s hands but also as one with him; that they should learn to offer themselves, and that day by day they should be brought to perfection, through Christ the Mediator, and into unity with God and among themselves , so that in the end God may be all in all.
 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book IX, chapters 11 – 12: Patrologia Greca volume 74, columns 557-565, especially 564-565.
The Council Fathers continue their teaching on the mystery of the Eucharist as a foundation for the practical decrees appearing in SC 50-58. They emphasize the participation of the faithful in the liturgical action: negatively, by quoting Pius XI’s 20 December 1928 document Divini cultus (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 21  40) that they are not to be present at the liturgy as “strangers or mute spectators”; and then positively, in a series of prescriptions of what actions and attitudes the faithful should bring to the liturgy. It seems to me that these prescriptions fall into two great categories: cognitive (understanding the liturgy) and spiritual (praying the liturgy), although these categories are not set in opposition to each other. Cognitively, the faithful should have a good/thorough understanding (bene intellegentes) of the actions and texts (ritus et preces) of the liturgy; their participation should be conscious/aware (conscie), devoted (pie), and collaborative/active (actuose); and (although this engagement will be more than simply an intellectual encounter) they should be taught by the word of God, presumably in the context of the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Word. Spiritually, the faithful should give thanks to God, a recovery of the etymological meaning of “Eucharist”; they should offer the Christ’s sacrifice actualized in the Eucharistic liturgy through and with the ordained priest presiding (a specification of how the Eucharistic Sacrifice has been consigned to the Church as noted in art. 47); and that the spiritual consequences of participation in the Eucharistic liturgy should be deepened self-sacrifice leading to union with God and with the other members of the Eucharistic community in anticipation of the eschaton.
I think the importance of this article for the reform of the celebrational structures of Roman Rite Eucharist (and by implication for the other Catholic rites) cannot be overestimated.
From the distance of fifty years, it now seems clear that the Council Fathers could have chosen to enact these aims without calling for changes in celebrational structures or the use of the vernacular in Roman Rite Eucharist. The focus of the works of Gueranger and Parsch was not so much to CHANGE the celebrational structures of the rites as to make them INTELLIGIBLE to their participants, whether monastic/clerical or lay. By the mid-twentieth century the liturgical movement encouraged concerted efforts by the faithful to UNDERSTAND the rites as they appeared in the liturgical books, but also to PARTICIPATE in the rites in new ways by: 1) following the texts of the Mass by means of hand missals; and 2) reciting aloud or chanting the responses of the Mass along with the servers or choir; and 3) more frequent reception of holy communion (from the time of Pius X on). The reforms of the Roman Rite Holy Week liturgies in the 1950s moved beyond UNDERSTANDING the rites to actual CHANGES in the rites themselves, with these changes articulated in liturgical books still standardized in Latin.
But as we will see, the Council Fathers authorized the extension of the use of the vernacular and changes in the celebrational structures of the rites in Roman Rite liturgical worship, so that the faithful “would not be present as mute or silent spectators” but would have a “good/thorough understanding of the actions and texts of the liturgy,” in which they would participate “consciously, devotedly, and actively.”
It may be of interest to Pray Tell readers to try to identify the various stances people have taken toward the Council Fathers’ initiative over the past fifty years: from those who hold that even the 1950s Holy Week liturgical changes are illegitimate and will only celebrate with the 1954 Latin Missale Romanum; through those who hold that the reforms authorized by the Council Fathers are illegitimate and will only celebrate with the 1962 Latin Missale Romanum; through those who hold that the liturgical reforms authorized by the Council Fathers are legitimate but judge that the Fathers were mistaken in authorizing these reforms, holding that the cognitive and spiritual values articulated by the Fathers are better served with a return to a non-vernacular Latin-language liturgy without any change in celebrational style; through those who hold that the liturgical reforms authorized by the Council Fathers are legitimate and by means of a vernacular liturgy with changes in celebrational style better serve the cognitive and spiritual values articulated by the Fathers; to those who hold that the liturgical reforms authorized by the Council Fathers are legitimate but that the values of cognitive and spiritual participation by the faithful in Roman Rite liturgy have been undercut if not betrayed by documents such as Varietates legitimae and Liturgiam authenticam, the change in the competence of territorial bishops’ conferences with reference to vernacular liturgical translations, and ill-advised extensions of the use of the unreformed Roman Rite.
At the level of pastoral practice, Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss what responses they would make to those of the faithful who claim that it is their right to be present at the liturgy as “mute and silent spectators,” that their personal prayer is disturbed by the demands that the liturgy makes upon their understanding and action, that knowing about the liturgy conflicts with praying the liturgy for them.