On Thursday, the Church marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. During this Year of Grace, we have been invited to revisit the constitutions of Vatican II. The first of these constitutions was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
After addressing general principles that were to underpin the constitution’s understanding of the liturgy, it began to articulate some general norms that were to be observed when implementing the liturgical reforms the constitution would subsequently propose.
The first was that the liturgical rites were to be marked by a “noble simplicity”, that they be clear and generally comprehensible. It should not, for example, be necessary for there to regularly be lengthy explanations needed during a liturgical celebration for people to understand that is taking place.
Another general principle was that of the importance of sacred scripture in liturgical celebrations. Sacrosanctum Concilium called for an increased use of a wider range of scripture texts. It emphasised the importance of good preaching, helping people to come to a better understanding of the scriptures and the liturgical rites. Finally, the constitution also encouraged an more frequent use of what it called “Bible services”, especially on more important occasions during the liturgical year, and in places and on occasions when a priest is not available.