vatican council ii left the implementation of its broad principles and decrees concerning reform of the Roman liturgy to the pope, as the Council of trent had done in 1563. Its plan was that the revision of liturgical service books should be undertaken by a postconciliar commission rather than by the Congregation of Rites which had had this function since 1588. The Council's 1963 constitution on the liturgy specified: "Experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world" (No. 25).
Organization and Scope. The commission was set up promptly by Pope paul vi through the apostolic letter Sacram Liturgiam of Jan. 25, 1964, and called the Council (Consilium ) for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Its membership included bishops from various parts of the world together with a few curtal cardinals; its consultors were largely from Europe. Continuity in members and consultors was preserved with the preparatory (1960–62) and conciliar (1962–63) commissions on the liturgy. The first president was Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, Archbishop of Bologna (later succeeded by Cardinal Benno Gut); its secretary was Annibale Bugnini, CM, who had served as secretary of the preparatory commission that had drawn up the schema of the liturgical constitution.
The Consilium's relation with the existing Congregation of Rites was defined in a compromise: the Consilium was primarily a study body, with its body of experts distributed by subject matter in subcommittees called coetus studiorum; its texts were submitted to the Congregation of Rites and then issued by that dicastery over the signatures of the prefect of the Congregation and the president of the Consilium. Thus, with few exceptions the Consilium did not promulgate the results of its work, but it did have authority to conduct or permit experiments looking to the revision of rites, and it was responsible for the Roman confirmation of decisions taken by episcopal conferences in liturgical matters, especially approval of translations by the conferences. In 1965 the Consilium initiated a monthly journal of information and brief studies, Notitiae.
The principal activity of the Consilium was the reform of the corpus of Roman liturgical books, since such revision was conceived as the primary means to achieve the reform purposes of the constitution on the liturgy, as distinguished from its doctrinal and educational purposes. Nevertheless, a certain priority had to be given to the preparation of several instructions, partly to provide an interim simplification of liturgical forms, partly to supplement formal changes with doctrinal guidance.
Instructions. The first of these instructions was dated Sept. 26, 1964 (Inter Oecumenici, instruction on the proper implementation of the constitution on the liturgy); it determined procedures for the introduction of the vernacular in the liturgy, enumerated responsibilities of national and diocesan liturgical commissions, and made initial, interim simplifications. This document was followed by a second instruction of implementation (May 4, 1967) and a third instruction, which recapitulated a number of cautions against liturgical excesses (Sept. 5,1970). A major decree, issued May 7, 1965, determined the rite and norms for concelebration of the Eucharist and Communion under both kinds.
Two lengthy instructions were prepared by the Consilium and issued by the Congregation of Rites in 1967. The first dealt with music in the liturgy (March 5, 1967) and attempted to foster excellence in liturgical music without detriment to artistic freedom; to encourage as much singing, especially congregational singing, as is appropriate to each celebration of worship; and to resolve some of the tensions between Latin and vernacular texts as the basis for musical settings. At the same time the Consilium readied for publication the Graduale Simplex (Sept. 3, 1967), which served as a model for similar simplifications of the Mass chants in other languages.
The second major instruction of 1967 was on Eucharistic worship (issued on May 25). It treated the Eucharistic celebration in principle and in detail and also gave revised norms for the Eucharistic cult outside Mass; these norms for Eucharistic reservation, exposition, and processions were simplified. Other instances of instructions dealing with concrete ritual questions for the interim period include: instruction on simplification of pontifical rites and insignia (May 21, 1968); instruction on Masses for special groups (May 15, 1969); instruction on the manner of administering Communion (May 29, 1969).
Revision of Service Books. Although these and similar documents include permanent material and norms, they are secondary in significance to the major work of the Consilium throughout this period, the revision of the service books. This project resembled in scope the work done after the Council of Trent when the modern Roman liturgical books were edited. The passage of four centuries, however, made available critical texts of ancient and medieval liturgies, the insights of the modern liturgical movement, a pastoral and popular dimension enhanced by ecclesiological studies, and a vastly greater measure of consultation and even experimentation. The process regularly included successive stages of drafts prepared by a coetus studiorum, examination by consultors and others, practical experimentation in many cases, review by a central body of consultors, and submission to the plenary session of members of the Consilium, in which both consultors and a small number of observers from other Christian communions participated.
The work of the Consilium was guided by the doctrinal, disciplinary, and liturgical principles of the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy. Because contemporary pastoral accommodation had to be taken into account, proposals for revision were sought and received from all parts of the Latin Church, in addition to the investigation of historical precedents. Because modern service books in Latin must serve the whole of the Latin Church—and serve principally as the basis of service books in the modern languages—they cannot envision all the potential needs of various cultures and countries; the Consilium therefore developed both a pattern of adaptations left to the discretion of episcopal conferences, bishops, and priests, and also an extensive provision of options and alternatives. Particular attention was paid to the introductions to the simplified rites; these praenotanda are doctrinal and pastoral as well as ritual and juridical. The most notable example is the general instruction of the Roman Missal issued in 1969.
The first result of this program was a section of the Roman Pontifical "revised by decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and promulgated by authority of Pope Paul VI." It included the rites for the ordination of presbyters, and deacons, and was promulgated Aug. 15, 1968. By 1973 the entire Roman Missal, almost all the Roman Ritual, the Liturgy of the Hours and some parts of the Roman Pontifical had appeared.
The Consilium ceased to be an autonomous body within the Roman Curia with the creation of the Congregation for Divine Worship (May 8, 1969), into which it was integrated.
[f. r. mcmanus/eds.]