Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part Two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
Section One: The Sacramental Economy
Chapter Two: The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery
1135 The catechesis of the liturgy entails first of all an understanding
of the sacramental economy (Chapter One). In this light, the innovation of
its celebration is revealed. This chapter will therefore treat of the
celebration of The Sacraments of the Church. It will consider that which,
through the diversity of liturgical traditions, is common to the
celebration of the seven sacraments. What is proper to each will be
treated later. This fundamental catechesis on the sacramental celebrations
responds to the first questions posed by the faithful regarding this
- Who celebrates the liturgy?
- How is the Liturgy Celebrated?
- When is the Liturgy Celebrated?
- Where is the Liturgy Celebrated?
Article One: Celebration the Church's Liturgy
I. Who Celebrates?
1136 Liturgy is an "action" of the whole Christ (Christus totus). Those
who even now celebrate it without signs are already in the heavenly
liturgy, where celebration is wholly communion and feast
The celebrants of the heavenly liturgy
1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church's liturgy,
first reveals to us, "A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the
throne": "the Lord God." It then shows the Lamb, "standing, as though it
had been slain": Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the
true sanctuary, the same one "who offers and is offered, who gives and is
given." Finally it presents "the river of the water of life . .
. flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb," one of most beautiful
symbols of the Holy Spirit.
1138 "Recapitulated in Christ," these are the ones who take part in the
service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly
powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and
New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one
hundred and forty-four thousand), especially the martyrs "slain for the
word of God," and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the
Lamb, and finally "a great multitude which no one could number, from
every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues."
1139 It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable
us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the
The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy
1140 It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head,
that celebrates. "Liturgical services are not private functions but are
celebrations of the Church which is 'the sacrament of unity,' namely, the
holy people united and organized under the Authority of the bishops.
Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole Body of the Church.
They manifest it, and have effects upon it. But they touch individual
members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their
role in the liturgical services, and their actual participation in them."
For this reason, "rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with
the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible
be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and
1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by
regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a
spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that . . . they may offer spiritual
sacrifices." This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest,
in which all his members participate:
Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to
that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations
which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the
Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
redeemed people," have a right and an obligation by reason of their
1142 But "the members do not all have the same function." Certain
members are called by God, in and through the Church, to a special service
of the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the
sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in
the person of Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the
Church. The ordained minister is, as it were, an "icon" of Christ the
priest. Since it is in the Eucharist that the sacrament of the Church is
made fully visible, it is in his presiding at the Eucharist that the
bishop's ministry is most evident, as well as, in communion with him, the
ministry of priests and deacons.
1143 For the purpose of assisting the work of the common priesthood of the
faithful, other particular ministries also exist, not consecrated by the
sacrament of Holy Orders; their functions are determined by the bishops,
in accord with liturgical traditions and pastoral needs. "Servers,
readers, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine
1144 In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly
that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the "unity of
the Spirit" who acts in all. "In liturgical celebrations each person,
minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and
only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and
the norms of the liturgy."
II. How is the Liturgy Celebrated?
Signs and symbols
1145 A sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols. In keeping
with the divine pedagogy of salvation, their meaning is rooted in the work
of creation and in human culture, specified by the events of the Old
Covenant and fully revealed in the person and work of Christ.
1146 Signs of the human world. In human life, signs and symbols occupy an
important place. As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and
perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a
social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others,
through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for his
relationship with God.
1147 God speaks to man through the visible creation. The material cosmos
is so presented to man's intelligence that he can read there traces of its
Creator. Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree
and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his
1148 Inasmuch as they are creatures, these perceptible realities can
become means of expresSing the action of God who sanctifies men, and the
action of men who offer worship to God. The same is true of signs and
symbols taken from the social life of man: washing and anointing, breaking
bread and sharing the cup can express the sanctifying presence of God and
man's gratitude toward his Creator.
1149 The great religions of mankind witness, often impressively, to this
cosmic and symbolic meaning of religious rites. The liturgy of the Church
presupposes, integrates and sanctifies elements from creation and human
culture, conferring on them the dignity of signs of Grace, of the new
creation in Jesus Christ.
1150 Signs of the covenant. The Chosen People received from God
distinctive signs and symbols that marked its liturgical life. These are
no longer solely celebrations of cosmic cycles and social gestures, but
signs of the covenant, symbols of God's mighty deeds for his people. Among
these liturgical signs from the Old Covenant are circumcision, anointing
and consecration of kings and priests, laying on of hands, sacrifices, and
above all the Passover. The Church sees in these signs a prefiguring of
the sacraments of the New Covenant.
1151 Signs taken up by Christ. In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes
use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of
God. He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical
signs or symbolic gestures. He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs
of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover, for he
himself is the meaning of all these signs.
1152 Sacramental signs. Since Pentecost, it is through the sacramental
signs of his Church that the Holy Spirit carries on the work of
sanctification. The Sacraments of the Church do not abolish but purify and
integrate all the richness of the signs and symbols of the cosmos and of
social life. Further, they fulfill the types and figures of the Old
Covenant, signify and make actively present the salvation wrought by
Christ, and prefigure and anticipate the glory of heaven.
Words and actions
1153 A sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their
Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a
dialogue, through actions and words. Admittedly, the symbolic actions are
already a language, but the Word of God and the response of faith have to
accompany and give life to them, so that the seed of the Kingdom can bear
its fruit in good soil. The liturgical actions signify what the Word of
God expresses: both his free initiative and his people's response of
1154 The liturgy of the Word is an integral part of sacramental
celebrations. To nourish the faith of believers, the signs which accompany
the Word of God should be emphasized: the book of the Word (a lectionary
or a book of the Gospels), its veneration (procession, incense, candles),
the place of its proclamation (lectern or ambo), its audible and
intelligible reading, the minister's homily which extends its
proclamation, and the responses of the assembly (acclamations, meditation
psalms, litanies, and profession of faith).
1155 The liturgical word and action are inseparable both insofar as they
are signs and instruction and insofar as they accomplish what they
signify. When the Holy Spirit awakens faith, he not only gives an
understanding of the Word of God, but through the sacraments also makes
present the "wonders" of God which it proclaims. The Spirit makes present
and communicates the Father's work, fulfilled by the beloved Son.
Singing and music
1156 "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of
inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main
reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and
words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy." The
composition and Singing of inspired psalms, often accompanied by musical
instruments, were already closely linked to the liturgical celebrations of
the Old Covenant. The Church continues and develops this tradition:
"Address . . . one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
Singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." "He who Sings
1157 Song and music fulfill their function as signs in a manner all the
more significant when they are "more closely connected . . . with the
liturgical action," according to three principal criteria: beauty
expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly at the
designated moments, and the solemn character of the celebration. In this
way they participate in the purpose of the liturgical words and actions:
the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful:
How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed
through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds
flowed into my ears distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of
devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face - tears that
did me good.
1158 The harmony of signs (song, music, words, and actions) is all the
more expressive and fruitful when expressed in the cultural richness of
the People of God who celebrate. Hence "religious Singing by the
faithful is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred
exercises as well as in liturgical services," in conformity with the
Church's norms, "the voices of the faithful may be heard." But "the texts
intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine.
Indeed they should be drawn chiefly from the Sacred Scripture and from
1159 The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ.
It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible God, but the
incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new "economy" of images:
Previously God, who has neither a body nor a face, absolutely could not be
represented by an image. But now that he has made himself visible in the
flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of
God . . . and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled.
1160 Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message
that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each
We declare that we preserve intact all the written and unwritten
traditions of the Church which have been entrusted to us. One of these
traditions consists in the production of representational artwork, which
accords with the history of the preaching of the Gospel. For it confirms
that the incarnation of the Word of God was real and not imaginary, and to
our benefit as well, for realities that illustrate each other undoubtedly
reflect each other's meaning.
1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ:
as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well.
They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest
the "cloud of witnesses" who continue to participate in the salvation of
the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental
celebrations. Through their icons, it is man "in the image of God,"
finally transfigured "into his likeness," who is revealed to our faith.
So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:
Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the
tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes
from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full
certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and
life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and
Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the
venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of
mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy
churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in
houses and on streets.
1162 "The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow
delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God."
Similarly, the contemplation of sacred icons, united with meditation on
the Word of God and the Singing of liturgical hymns, enters into the
harmony of the signs of celebration so that the mystery celebrated is
imprinted in the heart's memory and is then expressed in the new life of
III. When is the Liturgy Celebrated?
1163 "Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving
work of her divine Spouse in a sacred commemoration on certain days
throughout the course of the year. Once each week, on the day which she
has called The Lord's Day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's
resurrection. She also celebrates it once every year, together with his
blessed Passion, at Easter, that most solemn of all feasts. In the course
of the year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ .... Thus
recalling the mysteries of the redemption, she opens up to the faithful
the riches of her Lord's powers and Merits, so that these are in some way
made present in every age; the faithful lay hold of them and are filled
with saving Grace."
1164 From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have observed
fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the astonishing
actions of the Savior God, to give him thanks for them, to perpetuate
their remembrance, and to teach new generations to conform their conduct
to them. In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already
accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the
liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the
mystery of Christ.
1165 When the Church celebrates the mystery of Christ, there is a word
that marks her prayer: "Today!" - a word echoing the prayer her Lord
taught her and the call of the Holy Spirit. This "today" of the living
God which man is called to enter is "the hour" of Jesus' Passover, which
reaches across and underlies all history:
Life extends over all beings and fills them with unlimited light; the
Orient of orients pervades the universe, and he who was "before the
daystar" and before the heavenly bodies, immortal and vast, the great
Christ, shines over all beings more brightly than the sun. Therefore a day
of long, eternal light is ushered in for us who believe in him, a day
which is never blotted out: the mystical Passover.
The Lord's Day
1166 "By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin
from the very day of Christ's Resurrection, the Church celebrates the
Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the
Lord's Day or Sunday." The day of Christ's Resurrection is both the
first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the
"eighth day," on which Christ after his "rest" on the great sabbath
inaugurates the "day that the Lord has made," the "day that knows no
evening." The Lord's Supper is its center, for there the whole community
of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his
The Lord's Day, the day of Resurrection, the day of Christians, is our
day. It is called The Lord's Day because on it the Lord rose victorious to
the Father. If pagans call it the "day of the sun," we willingly agree,
for today the light of the world is raised, today is revealed the sun of
justice with healing in his rays.
1167 Sunday is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical assembly, when the
faithful gather "to listen to the word of God and take part in the
Eucharist, thus calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glory of
the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who 'has begotten them again, by
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead' unto a living hope":
When we ponder, O Christ, the marvels accomplished on this day, the Sunday
of your holy resurrection, we say: "Blessed is Sunday, for on it began
creation . . . the world's salvation ... the renewal of the human race
.... On Sunday heaven and earth
rejoiced and the whole universe was filled with light. Blessed is Sunday,
for on it were opened the gates of paradise so that Adam and all the
exiles might enter it without fear.
The liturgical year
1168 Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age
of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance.
Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the
liturgy. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor." The economy of
salvation is at work within the framework of time, but Since its
fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and
the kingdom of God enters into our time.
1169 Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast
of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the
"Sacrament of sacraments" (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls
Easter "the Great Sunday" and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week "the
Great Week." The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed
death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is
subjected to him.
1170 At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter,
the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the
first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox. The reform of the
Western calendar, called "Gregorian" after Pope Gregory XIII (1582),
caused a discrepancy of several days with the Eastern calendar. Today, the
Western and Eastern Churches are seeking an agreement in order once again
to celebrate the day of the Lord's Resurrection on a common date.
1171 In the liturgical year the various aspects of the one Paschal mystery
unfold. This is also the case with the cycle of feasts surrounding the
mystery of the incarnation (Annunciation, Christmas, Epiphany). They
commemorate the beginning of our salvation and communicate to us the first
fruits of the Paschal mystery.
The sanctoral in the liturgical year
1172 "In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, Holy
Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is
inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church
admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully
contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and
hopes wholly to be."
1173 When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints
during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those "who
have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to
the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ,
and through their Merits she begs for God's favors."
The Liturgy of the Hours
1174 The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we
celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates
and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the
Liturgy of the Hours, "the divine office." This celebration, faithful to
the apostolic exhortations to "pray constantly," is "so devised that the
whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God." In
this "public prayer of the Church," the faithful (clergy, religious, and
lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in
"the form approved" by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours "is truly the
voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very
prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the
1175 The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the
whole People of God. In it Christ himself "continues his priestly work
through his Church." His members participate according to their own
place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted
to the pastoral ministry, because they are called to remain diligent in
prayer and the service of the word; religious, by the charism of their
consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible: "Pastors of souls
should see to it that the principal hours, especially Vespers, are
celebrated in common in church on Sundays and on the more solemn feasts.
The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with
the priests, or among themselves, or even individually."
1176 The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only
harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper
"understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the
1177 The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the
prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expresSing the symbolism
of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated.
Moreover, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour (with the
subsequent responses or troparia) and readings from the Fathers and
spiritual masters at certain Hours, reveal more deeply the meaning of the
mystery being celebrated, assist in understanding the psalms, and prepare
for silent prayer. The lectio divina, where the Word of God is so read and
meditated that it becomes prayer, is thus rooted in the liturgical
1178 The Liturgy of the Hours, which is like an extension of the
Eucharistic celebration, does not exclude but rather in a complementary
way calls forth the various devotions of the People of God, especially
adoration and worship of the Blessed Sacrament.
IV. Where is the Liturgy Celebrated?
1179 The worship "in Spirit and in truth" of the New Covenant is not
tied exclusively to any one place. The whole earth is sacred and entrusted
to the children of men. What matters above all is that, when the faithful
assemble in the same place, they are the "living stones," gathered to be
"built into a spiritual house." For the Body of the risen Christ is the
spiritual temple from which the source of living water springs forth:
incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit, "we are the temple of the
1180 When the exercise of religious liberty is not thwarted, Christians
construct buildings for divine worship. These visible churches are not
simply gathering places but signify and make visible the Church living in
this place, the dwelling of God with men reconciled and united in Christ.
1181 A church, "a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and
reserved, where the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the
presence of the Son of God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial
altar for the help and consolation of the faithful - this house ought to
be in good taste and a worthy place for prayer and sacred ceremonial."
In this "house of God" the truth and the harmony of the signs that make it
up should show Christ to be present and active in this place.
1182 The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the
sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center
of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under
sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the
People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is
also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen).
1183 The tabernacle is to be situated "in churches in a most worthy place
with the greatest honor." The dignity, placing, and security of the
Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really
present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
The sacred chrism (myron), used in anointings as the sacramental sign of
the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is traditionally reserved and
venerated in a secure place in the sanctuary. The oil of catechumens and
the oil of the sick may also be placed there.
1184 The chair (cathedra) of the bishop or the priest "should express his
office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer."
The lectern (ambo): "The dignity of the Word of God requires the church to
have a suitable place for announcing his message so that the attention of
the people may be easily directed to that place during the liturgy of the
1185 The gathering of the People of God begins with Baptism; a church must
have a place for the celebration of Baptism (baptistry) and for fostering
remembrance of the baptismal promises (holy water font).
The renewal of the baptismal life requires penance. A church, then, must
lend itself to the expression of repentance and the reception of
forgiveness, which requires an appropriate place to receive penitents.
A church must also be a space that invites us to the recollection and
silent prayer that extend and internalize the great prayer of the
1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into
the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes pasSing from
the world wounded by Sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are
called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father's house toward which
the People of God is journeying and where the Father "will wipe every tear
from their eyes." Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all
God's children, open and welcoming.
1187 The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high
priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy
Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints, and the multitude of those
who have already entered the kingdom.
1188 In a liturgical celebration, the whole assembly is leitourgos, each
member according to his own function. The baptismal priesthood is that of
the whole Body of Christ. But some of the faithful are ordained through
the sacrament of Holy Orders to represent Christ as head of the Body.
1189 The liturgical celebration involves signs and symbols relating to
creation (candles, water, fire), human life (washing, anointing, breaking
bread) and the history of salvation (the rites of the Passover).
Integrated into the world of faith and taken up by the power of the Holy
Spirit, these cosmic elements, human rituals, and gestures of remembrance
of God become bearers of the saving and sanctifying action of Christ.
1190 The Liturgy of the Word is an integral part of the celebration. The
meaning of the celebration is expressed by the Word of God which is
proclaimed and by the response of faith to it.
1191 Song and music are closely connected with the liturgical action. The
criteria for their proper use are the beauty expressive of prayer, the
unanimous participation of the assembly, and the sacred character of the
1192 Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and
nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ. Through the icon of Christ and
his works of salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred images of
the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the
1193 Sunday, the "Lord's Day," is the principal day for the celebration of
the Eucharist because it is the day of the Resurrection. It is the
pre-eminent day of the liturgical assembly, the day of the Christian
family, and the day of joy and rest from work. Sunday is "the foundation
and kernel of the whole liturgical year" (SC 106).
1194 The Church, "in the course of the year, . . . unfolds the whole
mystery of Christ from his Incarnation and Nativity through his Ascension,
to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the
Lord" (SC 102 # 2).
1195 By keeping the memorials of the saints - first of all the holy Mother
of God, then the apostles, the martyrs, and other saints - on fixed days
of the liturgical year, the Church on earth shows that she is united with
the liturgy of heaven. She gives glory to Christ for having accomplished
his salvation in his glorified members; their example encourages her on
her way to the Father.
1196 The faithful who celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours are united to
Christ our high priest, by the prayer of the Psalms, meditation on the
Word of God, and canticles and blesSings, in order to be joined with his
unceasing and universal prayer that gives glory to the Father and implores
the gift of the Holy Spirit on the whole world.
1198 In its earthly state the Church needs places where the community can
gather together. Our visible churches, holy places, are images of the holy
city, the heavenly Jerusalem, toward which we are making our way on
1199 It is in these churches that the Church celebrates public worship to
the glory of the Holy Trinity, hears the word of God and Sings his praise,
lifts up her prayer, and offers the sacrifice of Christ sacramentally
present in the midst of the assembly. These churches are also places of
recollection and personal prayer.
Article Two: Liturgical Diversity and the Unity of the Mystery
Liturgical traditions and the catholicity of the Church
1200 From the first community of Jerusalem until the parousia, it is the
same Paschal mystery that the Churches of God, faithful to the apostolic
faith, celebrate in every place. The mystery celebrated in the liturgy is
one, but the forms of its celebration are diverse.
1201 The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be
exhausted by its expression in any Single liturgical tradition. The
history of the blossoming and development of these rites witnesses to a
remarkable complementarity. When the Churches lived their respective
liturgical traditions in the communion of the faith and the sacraments of
the faith, they enriched one another and grew in fidelity to Tradition and
to the common mission of the whole Church.
1202 The diverse liturgical traditions have arisen by very reason of the
Church's mission. Churches of the same geographical and cultural area came
to celebrate the mystery of Christ through particular expressions
characterized by the culture: in the tradition of the "deposit of
faith," in liturgical symbolism, in the organization of fraternal
communion, in the theological understanding of the mysteries, and in
various forms of holiness. Through the liturgical life of a local church,
Christ, the light and salvation of all peoples, is made manifest to the
particular people and culture to which that Church is sent and in which
she is rooted. The Church is catholic, capable of integrating into her
unity, while purifying them, all the authentic riches of cultures.
1203 The liturgical traditions or rites presently in use in the Church are
the Latin (principally the Roman rite, but also the rites of certain local
churches, such as the Ambrosian rite, or those of certain religious
orders) and the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian,
Maronite and Chaldean rites. In "faithful obedience to tradition, the
sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully
recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to
preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way."
Liturgy and culture
1204 The celebration of the liturgy, therefore, should correspond to the
genius and culture of the different peoples. In order that the mystery
of Christ be "made known to all the nations . . . to bring about the
obedience of faith," it must be proclaimed, celebrated, and lived in all
cultures in such a way that they themselves are not abolished by it, but
redeemed and fulfilled: It is with and through their own human culture,
assumed and transfigured by Christ, that the multitude of God's children
has access to the Father, in order to glorify him in the one Spirit.
1205 "In the liturgy, above all that of the sacraments, there is an
immutable part, a part that is divinely instituted and of which the Church
is the guardian, and parts that can be changed, which the Church has the
power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of recently
1206 "Liturgical diversity can be a source of enrichment, but it can also
provoke tensions, mutual misunderstandings, and even schisms. In this
matter it is clear that diversity must not damage unity. It must express
only fidelity to the common faith, to the sacramental signs that the
Church has received from Christ, and to hierarchical communion. Cultural
adaptation also requires a conversion of heart and even, where necessary,
a breaking with ancestral customs incompatible with the Catholic faith."
1207 It is fitting that liturgical celebration tends to express itself in
the culture of the people where the Church finds herself, though without
being submissive to it. Moreover, the liturgy itself generates cultures
and shapes them.
1208 The diverse liturgical traditions or rites, legitimately recognized,
manifest the catholicity of the Church, because they signify and
communicate the same mystery of Christ.
1209 The criterion that assures unity amid the diversity of liturgical
traditions is fidelity to apostolic Tradition, i e., the communion in the
faith and the sacraments received from the apostles, a communion that is
both signified and guaranteed by apostolic succession.
Rev 4:2, 8; Isa 6:1; cf. Ezek 1:26-28.
Rev 5:6; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Anaphora; cf. Jn 1:29; Heb 4:14-15; 10:19-2.
Rev 22:1; cf. 21:6; Jn 4:10-14.
Cf. Rev 4-5; 7:1-8; 14:1; Isa 6:2-3.
Rev 6:9-11; Rev 21:9; cf. 12.
LG 10; cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5.
Cf. LG 10; 34; PO 2.
SC 14; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9; 2:4-5.
Cf. PO 2; 15.
Cf. Wis 13:1; Rom 1:19f; Acts 14:17.
Cf. Lk 8:10.
Cf. Jn 9:6; Mk 7:33ff.; 8:22ff.
Cf. Lk 9:31; 22:7-20.
Eph 5:19; St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 72,1: PL 36, 914; cf. Col 3:16.
SC 112 # 3.
Cf. SC 112.
St. Augustine, Conf. 9, 6, 14: PL 32, 769-770.
Cf. SC 119.
SC 118; 121.
St. John Damascene, De imag. 1, 16: PG 96: 1245-1248.
Council of Nicaea II (787): COD 111.
Cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Jn 3:2.
Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.
St. John Damascene, De imag. 1, 27: PG 94, 1268A, B.
Cf. Mt 6:11; Heb 3:7-4:11; Ps 95:7.
St. Hippolytus, De pasch. 1-2 SCh 27, 117.
Cf. Jn 21:12; Lk 24:30.
St. Jerome, Pasch.: CCL 78, 550.
Fanqith, The Syriac Office of Antioch, vol. VI, first part of Summer, 193 B.
St. Athanasius (ad 329) ep. fest. 1: PG 24, 1366.
SC 104; cf. SC 108, 111.
Cf. SC, Ch. IV, 83-101.
SC 84; 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18.
SC 100; Cf. 86; 96; 98; PO 5.
1 Pet 2:4-5.
2 Cor 6:16.
Cf. DH 4.
PO 5; Cf. SC 122-127.
Cf. SC 7.
Cf. Heb 13:10.
Cf. GIRM 259.
Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei: AAS (1965) 771.
Cf. SC 128.
Cf. Paul VI, EN 63-64.
2 Tim 1:14 (Vulg.).
Cf. LG 23; UR 4.
Cf. SC 37-40.
Cf. CT 53.
John Paul II, Vicesimus quintus annus, 16; cf. SC 21.
John Paul 11, Vicesimus quintus annus, 16.