APPLYING THE LITURGICAL PRESCRIPTIONS OF THE
CODE OF CANONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES
for the Eastern Churches
An adapted summary of texts from the document
1. The Mystery of salvation in history and in liturgy. The liturgy of the Church is first of all celebration, by means of the Holy Spirit, of the mystery of our salvation, accomplished in the Passover of the Lord Jesus, in obedience to the eternal will of the heavenly Father. In the sacramental mystery, the risen Christ offers himself, rendering us fully conformed to his image through the gift of his Spirit, so that for us "life means Christ" (Phil. 1:21).
In the complexity of these mysteries, the earthly liturgy already unites the earth to heaven, and thus to the divine and perfect liturgy celebrated there, until the time when, upon the return of her Lord, humanity will be allowed to see God as he is and to unceasingly adore the most holy Trinity.
2. Liturgy in the Eastern Churches
John Paul II invites one to listen to the Churches of the East, "living interpreters of the treasure of tradition they preserve," These elements are capable of giving a more complete Christian response to the expectations of the men and women of today.
"With what love the Eastern Christians celebrate the sacred liturgy,"
The lengthy duration of the celebrations, the repeated invocations,
everything expresses gradual identification with the mystery celebrated with
one's whole person.
"Everyone should realize that it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve and foster the rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern Churches.” (Vat II)
The Meaning and Nature of the Instruction
3. The Second Vatican Council and the liturgy
The Council noted that to revive and restore the liturgy must be considered "a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, and as a movement of the Holy Spirit in his Church," because the liturgy daily builds up those who are in the Church.
4. Conciliar and post-conciliar principles and norms
for the Eastern Churches
The principles and norms of liturgical nature which directly concern the Eastern Churches are found in various conciliar documents, most importantly in “On the Eastern Churches”. These exalt the inalienable value of the specific, and thus diversified, traditions of the Eastern Churches. After the Second Vatican Council, the most important collection of norms for the Eastern Churches is constituted by the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
5. The present Instruction for the application of the liturgical
prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
The liturgical laws of all the Eastern Churches…, being distributed among various texts, risk remaining ignored, poorly coordinated and poorly interpreted. Therefore, it seemed opportune to gather them in a systematic whole, completing them with further clarification.
The Instruction poses the following objectives:
—to lead to a more profound understanding of the immense richness of the authentic Eastern traditions, which are to be scrupulously maintained and communicated to all the faithful;
—to arrange the liturgical norms valid for all the Catholic Eastern Churches in an organic summary and to introduce recovery, where necessary, of the Eastern liturgical authenticity, according to the Tradition which each Eastern Church has inherited from the Apostles through the Fathers;
—to exhort a permanent liturgical formation to be organized on a solid basis, for both the clergy—beginning with seminarians and formation institutes -, and the people of God through schools of catechesis;
—to list the principles in common for the elaboration of Liturgical Directories for the individual Churches sui iuris.
6. Elaboration of the local Liturgical Directories
The present Instruction… limits itself to the formulation of principles and rules valid for all the Catholic Eastern Churches. The authorities of the individual Churches sui iuris are invited to receive them with full open-mindedness and insert them into the prescriptions of their own liturgical laws.
At the end of the process, the Liturgical Directory of each individual Particular Church will be presented to the Holy See.
The Inalienable Value of the Particular Heritage of the Eastern Churches and the Urgency of its Flourishing
7. The heritage of the Eastern Churches
The conciliar documents, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and the repeated authoritative declarations of the Magisterium affirm the inalienable value of the particular heritage of the Eastern Churches. In these [teachings] shines the Tradition derived from the Apostles through the Fathers, which constitutes part of the divinely revealed, undivided heritage of the Universal Church.
Within the unity of the Catholic Faith, each one of these heritages expresses the variety of its manifestations. The fullness of the Mystery of God reveals itself progressively according to the historical and cultural circumstances of peoples and expresses itself in each of the Eastern Churches' manner of living the faith.
8. Articulations of the Eastern Churches
The ancient patriarchal Churches, as mothers in the faith, gave birth to other daughter-Churches, as it were, and down to our own days they are linked with these by bonds of a more intimate charity...." The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches makes the same affirmation when it speaks of the Churches sui iuris as a community of the Christian faithful united by a Hierarchy.
9. Particular aspects of the heritage of the Eastern Churches
These Churches have jealously retained the symbolic biblical theology, explained at great length by the Fathers. They preserve the sense of the awesome and inexpressible Mystery. In the texts and in their whole spirit, they maintain the sense of liturgy with formulas that are both rich and meaningful. These Churches boast of a spirituality drawing directly from Sacred Scripture and, consequently, a theology less subjected to strictly rational categories.
For historical and cultural reasons, they have maintained a more direct continuity with the spiritual atmosphere of Christian antiquity, a prerogative that is ever more frequently considered even by the West not as a sign of stagnancy and backwardness but of precious fidelity to the sources of salvation.
The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches explains the important areas, which articulate the heritage of each of the Particular Churches : liturgy, theology, spirituality and discipline. Such areas imply the idea of a history, of a culture, of conceptions and uses specific to each Church.
10. The duty to protect the Eastern heritage
Desiring that these treasures flourish and contribute ever more efficiently to the evangelization of the world, Orientalium Ecclesiarum and successive documents affirm that the members of Eastern Churches have the right and the duty to preserve them, to know them, and to live them. Such affirmation contains a clear condemnation of any attempt to distance the Eastern faithful from their Churches, whether in an explicit manner, or whether in a less explicit manner, favoring the acquisition of forms of thought, spirituality, and devotions that are not coherent with their own ecclesial heritage, and thus contrary to the indications so often emphasized by Roman Pontiffs.
The danger of losing the Eastern identity manifests itself particularly in a time like the present, characterized by great migrations from the East toward lands believed to be more hospitable, which are prevalently of Latin tradition.
These host countries are enriched by the heritage of the Eastern faithful who establish themselves there, and the preservation of such heritage is to be sustained and encouraged not only by the Eastern pastors but also by the Latin ones of the immigration territories, because it wonderfully expresses the multicolored richness of the Church of Christ.
11. The progress of Tradition
No Church, Eastern or Western, has ever been able to survive without adapting itself continuously to the changing conditions of life. Rather, the Church guards against every undue and inopportune precipitation, requiring that any eventual modification be not only well prepared, but also inspired and conforming to the genuine traditions.
12. Criteria for the interpretation of organic progress
The Council specifies that changes in the rites and disciplines of these Churches are not admitted except by reason of their own organic progress and adds that whenever they have fallen short, due to circumstances of time or persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions.
The organic progress, in every Particular Church, implies taking into account first of all the roots from which the heritage of these Churches was initially developed; and secondly, the manner in which such traditions were transmitted, adapting to the various circumstances and places but maintained in a coherent, organic continuity.
The Richness of the Liturgical Heritage
13. The Eastern heritage is more than just liturgy
The tendency to reduce the specific heritage of the Eastern Churches to just its liturgical dimension should not be encouraged. The attraction exerted by the sacredness of the rites, the intense emotion arising from the poetic dimension of the texts, has possibly led to an excessive emphasis of the exterior or emotional aspect, an easy place of refuge for those who deny the liturgy its necessary link with life.
This is what has sometimes led the same Eastern Catholics to perceive their own liturgical heritage, conforming themselves instead, for the other aspects of spirituality, to the Western sensibility, considered as common to the Universal Church. Rather, the value of Eastern theologies and spiritualities, understood as part of the undivided heritage of the Universal Church, is a fairly recent discovery.
14. The eminence of liturgy
The liturgy is the "summit and source" of Christian life and expresses it as in a synthesis; evokes and actualizes the mystery of Christ and the Church, presents it to the contemplation of the faithful and sings it, rendering thanks to the Lord "for eternal is his love".
15. The special pre-eminence of the liturgy in the Eastern Churches
The pre-eminence of the liturgical heritage is even greater in the Eastern Churches because they have maintained… the primacy of the liturgy as the summit of Christian life, remaining thus completely faithful to the spirit of the Church of the Fathers. The whole life of the Church wassummarized in the liturgy. This model should be the inspiration especially for the necessary revaluation of the "mystagogical" method for the formation of the faithful.
The contemplation of the divine mysteries and participation in them are realized through expressive forms which are also spiritual attitudes: doxology, which is grateful praise and pleasing adoration; anamnesis of the wonders of the economy of salvation and the action of thanksgiving which spontaneously; epiclesis, the invocation of the Spirit who brings to completion the whole reality of the Church and the Kingdom; and finally, the sense of unworthiness and finiteness before the inexpressible nature of the divine realities, presented to mankind as the "awesome mystery," surrounded by the veil of awe, by a sense of inadequacy and thus out of humble adoration: all this is expressed… also by surrounding the sanctuary with respect, separating and veiling it.
This multiformity of the Eastern liturgies does not harm the unity of the Church at all, but rather reinforces it, allowing it to sink its roots in the concrete reality of a determined time and space.
The prayer of the Churches of the East is strongly communitarian. In addition, the liturgical life remains more essentially in the center of ecclesial concerns, This has been made especially evident when many Eastern Churches, oppressed by persecutory regimes, were able to survive and even strengthen themselves despite having to limit the extent of their own spiritual and pastoral action only to liturgical celebration, from which the people in a certain sense drew upon the life-giving substance of their faith.
16. The liturgical heritage in the Eastern Catholic Churches as a source of identity
The Eastern Catholic Churches, although having been influenced by the weight of Western tradition, have maintained in the field of liturgy a more faithful conformity to their true traditions. It is precisely their liturgies, restored to greater authenticity and vitality by eliminating that which has altered them, that could be the best starting point for a growth of their specific identity, from which could be drawn words and gestures capable of touching the hearts and illuminating the minds of their faithful in the present time.
The preservation of the liturgical riches will be more fruitful the more they are determined also by the spontaneous and faithful adhesion of the Christian people, so educated by their pastors. It is important to recall that in these times pastors should be true models of the flock, so that its traditional fidelity may be maintained.
Of great significance will be the desirable presence of monastic communities, alive and attentive to relish and present the unfathomable riches of the heritage received from the traditions of their respective Churches: "In fact, in the East an intrinsic link exists between liturgical prayer, spiritual tradition and monastic life. For this reason precisely, a well-trained and motivated renewal of monastic life could mean true fruitfulness for them as well. Their pastoral ministry which in fact will be strengthened by such a vigorous spirituality, and thus will find once more its ideal place."
17. The importance of Tradition in the liturgy
Such a heritage of faith is received through Tradition, which guarantees its continuity and authenticity throughout time. It is received with open heart, maintained, transmitted, taught, confirmed, and clarified by the Holy Spirit. Applied to liturgy, Tradition has shown an extraordinary vitality in the Eastern Churches.
18. Liturgical reform and renewal
The first requirement of every Eastern liturgical renewal is that of rediscovering full fidelity to their own liturgical traditions, benefiting from their riches and eliminating that which has altered their authenticity. Such care precedes so-called updating. Although a delicate task that must be executed with care, so as not to disturb souls, it must be coherently and constantly pursued if the Eastern Catholic Churches want to remain faithful to the mandate received. It is once again John Paul II who declares: "Ifyou must trim extraneous forms and developments, deriving from various influences that come from elements foreign to your tradition, it is possible that you will have to also correct some popular habits."
We are witness today to the diffusion of a mentality that tends to overvalue efficiency, excessive activism, and the attainment of results with minimum effort and without deep personal involvement. This attitude can also negatively influence the approach towards liturgy, even in the East. The liturgy continues to be a demanding school which requires an assimilation that is progressive, laborious, and never completely accomplished. Monastic communities are particularly sensitive to this dimension and can make an important contribution to the full comprehension and progress of the liturgical heritage.
These considerations do not take away from the rightful requirement to express the Gospel in a plain and clear way for the contemporary man and woman. Tradition, even in its literal expression—as is the case for Scriptures—contains unrenouncable treasures; Indeed, it is about words of fire, which is sharper than a two-edged sword and penetrates to the division of soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). The fact that they are constantly repeated in the liturgy should not take anything away from their power and timeliness.
19. Study and profundity prior to every modification
It is indispensable to remember the exhortation in n. 23 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "In order that sound tradition be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress, the revision of any part of the liturgy should occur only after careful investigation -theological, historical, and pastoral.”
20. Criteria for liturgical renewal
In modifying ancient liturgical practice, it must be determined if the element to be introduced is coherent with the context in which it is placed. Such a context should be understood beginning with references to Sacred Scripture, interpretations of the Holy Fathers, previous liturgical reforms, and mystagogical catechesis. It must be verified that the new change is consistent with the symbolic language, images and style specific to the liturgy of the particular Church. The new element will have its place if it blends within the celebration without contrast but with coherence, almost as if it had naturally derived from it. It should be ensured that it is not already present, perhaps in another form, in a different moment of the celebration or in another part of the liturgical service of that Church.
Every renewal initiative should be careful not to be conditioned by other systems, which may appear to be more efficient. From time to time, addressing the faithful of various Eastern Catholic Churches, John Paul II's vibrant and repeated exhortations refer to such caution: "Do not adhere with excessive improvisation to the imitation of cultures and traditions which are not your own, thus betraying the sensibility of your own people… This means it is necessary that every eventual adaptation of your liturgy be founded on an attentive study of the sources, objective knowledge of the specific features of your culture, and maintenance of the tradition common to all Byzantine Christianity."
21. The ecumenical value of the common liturgical heritage
Among the important missions entrusted especially to the Eastern Catholic Churches is the need to promote union with the Eastern Churches that are not yet in full communion with the See of Peter. The conditions are: religious fidelity to the ancient traditions of the Eastern Churches, better knowledge of one another, and collaboration and fraternal respect of persons and things.
In every effort of liturgical renewal, the practice of the Orthodox brethren should be taken into account, knowing it, respecting it and distancing from it as little as possible, intensifying efforts in view of eventual adaptations, maturing and working together. Thus will be manifested the unity that already exists from practicing the same common heritage.
Competencies and Components of Liturgical Legislation
22. Competencies for regulating worship
The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches indicates the competent authority for the regulation of public divine worship. In the patriarchal Churches, this is the Patriarch with the consent of the Synod of Bishops. That which is established concerning patriarchal Churches is also applicable to the major archiepiscopal Churches.
23. The role of the Bishop
“The eparchial Bishop is the moderator, promoter and guardian of the entire liturgical life of the eparchy." Similar commitment is asked, in other canons, of his collaborators: protopresbyters (, parish priests, and church rectors.
The task of the Bishop is to be vigilant that the liturgical life "be fostered as much as possible and ordered according to the prescriptions and legitimate customs of his own Particular Church". The Bishop does not act solely based on its own judgment nor based on the local customs, but refers to the specific heritage of his own Particular Church.
In exercising his mandate as moderator of the liturgical life, the Bishop should neither act arbitrarily nor give way to the behavior of groups or factions, but, together with his clergy, let him be an attentive guardian of the liturgical awareness present and operating in the living memory of the people of God entrusted to him.
The people must be faithful to the indications of the pastor and endeavor to understand them in depth and realize his mandate. To promote a better understanding and celebration of the liturgy, eparchial liturgical commissions of experts should be formed.
Of great importance will be authentic communities of Eastern monks and nuns where, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Mystery daily celebrated in faith is lived in fullness.
24. The role of the Apostolic See
The Apostolic See has intended to exercise an important role in the preservation and harmonious development of the liturgical practices in the Eastern Catholic Churches. The work of the commissions succeeded in safeguarding a major part of the Eastern heritage, often defending it against aggressive initiatives and publishing precious editions of liturgical texts for numerous Eastern Churches. Today, particularly after the solemn declarations by Leo XIII, the creation of the special Commission for the liturgy within the Congregation for the Eastern Churches in 1931, and above all after the Second Vatican Council and the Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen by John Paul II, respect for the Eastern liturgies is an indisputable attitude.
The care of the Apostolic See for the liturgical life of the Eastern Churches is also indispensable in the uncertain situations in which many of the Eastern Churches also find themselves today: it is a question of guaranteeing and defending the faith in one of its most important expressions, the liturgy.
25. Competencies for the approval of the translations of liturgical books
Within the Eastern territories themselves, the original languages have been slowly but profoundly transformed. In other cases, many of the faithful of the Eastern Churches have left their land of origin and established themselves elsewhere; with the passing of time, they have been inserted in the cultural context of the place where they were located. They have often lost the knowledge and use of their original languages, rendering the participation in the liturgy of their own Church more difficult. To prevent this difficulty, the Eastern Churches have often taken measures to translate their own liturgical texts into languages understood by the faithful.
The right to approve the versions of the books is up to the Major Archbishop together with the Synod, after having sent a report to the Apostolic See.
The multiplication of eparchies or Particular Churches of the same liturgical families that use the same language, sometimes within the same territory, normally requires that standard translations be used.
26. Components of liturgical legislation
Other norms of liturgical nature not included in the liturgical books, such as universal or particular regulations, prescriptions and liturgical laws have the force of law. The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches insists on the obligation to diligently observe them.
27. The complexity of particular liturgical legislation
For a wise and realistic interpretation of the particular prescriptions, it is necessary to take into account the fact that, they do not always constitute a totality that is entirely harmonized. Various norms have been adapted to the specific requirements of the different environments. The result has been that, diverse and even contradictory orientations can result. The competent authorities for regulating liturgical life have the duty to examine them closely, accounting for coherence with the original traditions and the new demands of the current context. It is a delicate task for which research and studies should be encouraged.
Custom is the best interpreter of laws. It is the fruit of the continuous and uncontested practice of the local community, precious because it is rooted in the life of the people. A wise discernment will be necessary to preserve that which is most valid and stimulating and to intervene in that which is superfluous or less suitable to the particular genuine traditions.
29. Liturgical books and ecumenism
The only books to be used in liturgical celebrations are those that have received ecclesiastical approval. Any unnecessary differentiation between the liturgical books of the Eastern Catholic Churches and those of the Orthodox should be avoided. Rather, common editions, in the measure in which it is possible, are encouraged.
30. Catechetical directories and liturgy: catechesis and mystagogy
Catechetical Directories that need to be elaborated in the patriarchal Churches: requiring that the special character of the Eastern Churches be taken into account in such a way that the catechetical teaching emphasizes the importance of the Bible and the liturgy as well as the traditions of each Particular Church. Catechesis cannot be separated from liturgy, since the former takes inspiration from the latter, as the mystery of Christ enacted.
It is expressed as "catechesis" for the catechumens and "mystagogy" or "catechetical mystagogy" for the initiates in the divine Mysteries.
By understanding what they celebrate, they draw a plan for life: mystagogy is the content of their existence, redeemed, sanctified, and on the path of divinization and, as such, is the foundation of spirituality and morals.
The Liturgical Celebration as an Icon of the Church
31. The Church, assembly at prayer
From the book of Acts emerges the communal aspect of an assembly gathered around the Apostles, ministers of the New Alliance, who reveal the fulfillment of the promises in the person of Christ crucified and risen.
The communitarian nature of prayer is nonetheless a fundamental aspect of Eastern spirituality: the faithful situates their spiritual lives in the liturgical activity. This characteristic should be maintained and revived in the heart of Christians, also to avoid the infiltration in the faithful of the search for spirituality which is often foreign to their own traditions and sometimes even to the Christian Faith.
32. The Eucharist makes the Church
Liturgical prayer conforms and perfectly expresses the authentic deposit of faith, according to the ancient expression commonly synthesized as lex orandi lex credendi. The Church understands herself in depth starting from her nature as a celebrating assembly. It should not be forgotten that, if the Church makes the Eucharist, the Eucharist makes the Church to the point of becoming the criterion of conformity for the same right doctrine.
33. The active participation of the faithful
To offer together worship that is pleasing to God through the Son in the Holy Spirit is both a right and a duty of the baptized. Thus, this participation should be complete and thus active, full, devout, intelligent and fruitful.
After an attentive historical examination of the rites, the parts which, in the course of time, have been inappropriately taken from the people are restored to them. Those who are entrusted with a ministry (presbyters, deacons, cantors, the choir, etc.) should not, substitute but rather guide the whole assembly, so that it can also externally and properly express its participation.
However, giving to the people parts which are specifically the competencies of the holy ministries (priests, deacons) is to be avoided.
34. The liturgical assemblies are hierarchically ordered
Liturgical assemblies must be ordered. This was a precise norm of the Old Testament, and raised to an apostolic precept by St. Paul: "Everything must be done properly and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40) when the assembly gathers for celebration.
All the Christian faithful participate in the priestly function of Christ, however, each of the faithful participates in the divine worship in a way proper to each: assemblies of worship are thus composed of different parts just as the body is composed of different members which constitute a single living being.
General Considerations on Divine Worship and the Sacraments
35. Elements of liturgical life
The liturgy "daily builds up those who are in the Church, making of them a holy temple of the Lord, a dwelling-place for God in the Spirit."
The sacraments are fundamental moments in the liturgical life. The daily Divine Praises have the function of making divine grace shine in every moment of the day.
Other elements include the sacred buildings, with the architectural arrangement, fixtures, furnishings, sacred icons, and the ceremonies of the various functions.
36. The liturgical year
The Easter Cycle and the daily (Christmas) cycle sustain each other, constituting a marvelous plan which renders the various moments of the history of salvation present and permeates the entire spiritual life of the faithful.
To constitute, transfer or suppress feast days belongs to the Major Archbishop with the Synod of Bishops, which is competent to establish particular laws, always taking into account the obligation to guard the proper heritage and not allow changes to be made except by reason of its organic progress.
There are more important feasts which are considered holy days of obligation, On these feasts, the Christian faithful are bound by obligation to participate in the divine worship (the Divine Liturgy, according to the particular law of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) and to abstain from the activities which might impede such participation.
In addition to feast days, and usually in preparation for their celebration, days of penance must also be observed, during which the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the fast and abstinence in the manner established by the particular law of their Particular Church.
If in recent times, feasts or fasts coming from the Latin liturgy or from other incongruous liturgies have been introduced in the calendars of the Eastern Catholic Churches, necessary steps should be taken, with pastoral prudence, to restore the calendar to its traditional structure, eliminating the elements incompatible with the spirit and features of the Eastern heritage.
Until the time in which all Christians reach the desired agreement of fixing one day for the common celebration of the Easter feast, Catholic communities living in countries of Orthodox majority will be encouraged to celebrate Easter on the day in which it is celebrated by the Orthodox.
In addition to being a sign of ecumenical fraternity, this practice allows the Catholic faithful to enter harmoniously in the common spiritual climate, which often also marks civilian life, avoiding inappropriate disagreement.
37. Directed toward relation with the Lord Jesus
In the study of the sacraments, the principal norm is always to find the indispensable connection with Christ the Lord. In the various moments of the liturgical year, the principal events of the history of salvation are evoked: those of the Old Testament which find their fulfillment in him, those of the New Testament which cover the whole life of Christ while he lived among mankind, and those of the time of the Church during which the Lord continues to accomplish marvels in his Saints.
38. The relation between liturgy and devotions
The Eastern Churches have always known how to integrate into their liturgies various elements which respond to the sensibility of the spirit of the peoples. They have their own devotional forms and formulas, more individual and easier, such as exclamatory prayers, celebration of the Divine Office, veneration of the most Holy Cross, of icons, of relics, of sanctuaries, the use of candles, incensing; but these manifestations of piety have usually remained linked with the liturgical life.
The Eastern Catholic Churches, nevertheless, have received quite a number of devotions specific to the Latin Church, thus not belonging to the traditional structure of Eastern worship. It is not good that the particular devotions, which contribute to the spiritual life of the faithful, turn out to be unrelated to the heritage of each Church: if they develop independently from this heritage, they could give rise to "parallel" forms of spirituality. But since these devotions are by now much diffused in the Eastern Catholic Churches and, in fact, feed and comfort their faithful, it would be seriously imprudent and a sign of pastoral insensitivity to believe that they must simply be eradicated.
The authorities of the Particular Churches are to promote an authentic mystagogical formation of the ministers and of the faithful toward a spirituality that flows from their own liturgical traditions. Enriched by a better formation, the faithful will gradually become more capable of living and rediscovering the riches of their own liturgy. Such pastoral action should take inspiration from the recommendation in n. 13 of the conciliar Constitution on the sacred liturgy: "Popular devotions of the Christian people ... should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them."
39. Conciliar prescriptions on the sacraments
Concerned for the preserving and flourishing of the precious Eastern traditions, "the holy ecumenical council confirms and approves the ancient discipline concerning the sacraments which exist in the Eastern Churches, and also the ritual observed in their celebration and administration, and wishes this to be restored where such a case arises."
The Council, in particular, is not satisfied to just confirm and praise the ancient discipline enforced by the Eastern Churches but desires it to be re-established in the places where it has weakened or fallen away. Therefore, in reviewing their own law, the different Particular Churches must take into account this desire and courageously undertake, even if cautiously and gradually, the recuperation of the elements that have been lost; changing, if necessary, the most recent practice and laws, in such places where these may be in conflict with the principles established, even if it means modifying decisions made by their Synods or, in other times and for various reasons, by the Sacred Congregations of the Apostolic See.
40. The sacraments, actions of the Church
The Church constitutes, in some way, the sacrament from which the individual sacraments are derived.
It is important that this participation of all the members of the people of God in the dynamic of the celebration always be accomplished and manifested in the celebration of the sacraments, which are the culminating actions of the life of the Church.
41. The creation as sacrament
The Church has the obligation to dispense the sacraments "so that the mystery of Christ is communicated under a visible sign. The sacraments communicate the mysteries of Christ, which means all that he accomplished on earth. The mysteries of Christ are communicated to us through visible signs. The human body above all; then water, oil, bread, and wine; the instruments such as the Eucharistic cup; the sacred building with all that it represents and encloses within it, especially the cross and the holy icons; sacred places and times. Such elements are taken up by the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit and entrusted to the Church as instruments of salvation. In fact, the grace of the Holy Spirit makes use of these for the redemption and sanctification of mankind and the cosmos (cf. Rom. 8:16-25) and for rendering the Father worship that is worthy.
It is in this context that the liturgical gestures and benedictions acquire all their meaning. In the theology of the liturgy, and thus in the mystagogy of the people, all these are necessarily important material for reflection and explanation.
The remainder of the summary is in preparation