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Reflections on the Theology of the Divine Office 


The Constitution of Vatican II on the liturgy calls the Divine Office 'the voice o£ the Church' or 'the voice of the Bride addressing the Bridegroom', thus reiterating under yet another form the traditional expression, 'the prayer of the Church'. In this brief article we wish to reflect on this ex­pression, 'the prayer of the Church', in an attempt to define more accurately: its theological content. What is it that makes the Divine Office fundamen­tally ecclesial ? This is what we hope to determine. The problem is, basically, that of the ecclesial nature of the liturgy in general.           But in view of the sum total of the realities grouped together under the concept of liturgy, and the great variety of differences among them, there may be an advantage if we approach the problem with the help of a concrete case, that of the Divine Office.            Hence, after having stated with precision the problem underlying the present concept of liturgy in general, and after having rapidly described various attempts made to define 'liturgy', we shall deal more particularly with the Divine Office. In order to determine what makes it a 'prayer of the Church', we shall examine the texts of Vatican II, and most especially the dogmatic Constitution on the Church.


1. History of the use of the word 'liturgy' and attempts at definition

The profane technical meaning which the word has in classical Greek antiquity has left no trace in biblical and Christian usage. But even as early as the Hellenistic period, the word has evolved in the direction of a technical cultic meaning. And although it cannot be said that there is any depen­dence on this pagan cultic sense, the Septuagint also used the word in a technical cultic sense, above all for designating the levitical cult, but also under the spiritualizing influence of prophetical preaching-warship of a more spiritual sort : prayer, reading of the word of God, etc [1] . Following in the same direction, the New Testament designated Christian worship in general- whether ritual or otherwise- by the word 'liturgy.' Christian writers subsequently applied the word to certain specific rites of Christian worship, such as the Eucharist, baptism, psalmody, as well as to certain ecclesiastical functions. This usage has remained until our own days that of the Byzant­ine Church, but with this restriction, that it is practically only the Eucharist that enjoys this appellation [2] .

In the West, a new period in the history of the word 'liturgical' began towards the middle of the 16th century, when, under the influence of the hellenizing humanists, the historians who studied eucharistic texts and rites designated as liturgical those formularies and those rites which they had taken as the subject-matter of their historical investigations. These men were, among others, G. Cassander [3] , J. Pamelius [4] Bona [5] . As for Mabillon, he seems to have been the first to make use of the noun liturgy in the same sense [6] . This usage prevailed, and in the following century, it was applied not only to the Eucharist, but to all that was com­prised by the Church's worship in general. Just as Mabillon had spoken of the Gallican liturgy, and D. Giorgi of the liturgy of the Roman Pontiff [7] , people now spoke of 'Roman liturgy', 'oriental liturgies', etc.

In this new use of the word 'liturgy', from which present usage derives, it was no longer, as in the East and in the ancient Church, the reality itself of the worship and the cultic celebrations which was designated, but rather the material ensemble of formulae and rubrics according to which the worsh­ip was celebrated, and which formed the subject-matter of a new science, the science of liturgy. What strikes us in this whole process is the rather haphazard re-grouping of quite different cultic activities under one and the same concept of liturgy. Is there not a disadvantage in gathering together in this way, under a common denominator, realities as diverse as the cele­bration of the Eucharist, the consecration of a bishop, the recitation of the breviary, and the blessing of a bridge.The theologian must ask himself, then, whether this common denominator really corresponds to a specific nature possessed in common by all the realities henceforth called liturgical. And has the distinction between 'liturgical' and 'non-liturgical' a real basis ? If so, what is that basis ?

We ought not, of course, be put off because of the evolution of theolo­gical reflection in the direction o£ a greater precision in the concepts. Besid­es, such an evolution is, in any case, irreversible. There are in the life of the Church, as in the life of mankind in general, certain realities which have for a long time been lived before being conceptually perceived in their individuality and gathered under the same concept together with other realities of the same nature. Think, for example, of the idea of 'sacrament', The Church has always celebrated the Eucharist, baptism, confirmation, and, in one form or another, the other rites we call the 'seven sacraments'. It is not, however, until the period of high scholasticism that this ensemble of realities- realities quite distinct from one another- was grouped under a common denominator. There is, however, this important difference : the precision of sacramental terminology was the outcome of a slow process of theological maturation, whereas the present use of the word 'liturgy' arose simply out of the manner in which it was used by historians during the Renaissance.

In point of fact, some uncertainty has likewise existed up to our own days as to exactly where the line of demarcation should be drawn between 'liturgical' and 'non-liturgical'. The problem may appear to have been solved in the concrete by the fact that the Magisterium recognizes as litur­gical certain forms of worship to the exclusion of all others, even though a special value is henceforth explicitly admitted for the pia exercitia of a local community [8] . But the theologian is entitled to ask himself whether a mere juridical determination suffices to confer a spiritual and cultic value on a particular form of worship. What interests him is to discover whether there is in the reality itself an essential distinction between liturgy and non­liturgical worship- a distinction which might serve as a basis for the juri­dical determinations made by the Magisterium.          A consideration of the various efforts made in the course of the last half-century to define the' nature of liturgy might enlighten us.

So long as the word 'liturgy' was restricted to the field of historical science, it enjoyed a usage that brooked no discussion. It passed without' difficulty to the domain of the canonists, who considered liturgy to be a branch of juridical science, and differentiated from other branches of the same science only by its material object [9] . The cross-over to theology was much more difficult and slow, because such a crossing over presupposed a veritable metamorphosis of the concept. In his reaction against the first efforts made by M. Festugière [10] to give a more theological definition of liturgy, Fr. Navatel could write : 'Taken in its more usual sense, liturgy means for everybody, the sensible, ceremonial and decorative part of Catholic worship' [11] . Unfortunately, this was only too true. The great controversy which then ensued was due to the fact that on either side, at­tempts were being made to define quite different things : whereas the theo­logians took for the object of their definition the actual realities of the worship, the historians and canonists tried to define under the same name of liturgy the formulae, rites, and rubrics according to which these acts of worship were performed.

Almost all the numerous theological definitions of the liturgy which were attempted amount basically to the following : the liturgy is 'the worship of the Church'. In general, they have this in common, that they proceed in a scholastic manner with a view to arriving at a rigorous technical defi­nition. Starting from a general notion of worship, this is distinguished into public and private, and then into natural and supernatural ; and so the idea of a public supernatural worship is reached and applied to the liturgy. The disadvantage of this method is that it does not explain what intrinsi­cally makes this worship public and supernatural. It appears as such only by the simple extrinsic fact that it is the worship of a supernatural society. And since the underlying notion of Church remains simply corporative, the only basis of the ecclesial character of the liturgical worship is, then, the juridical and hence extrinsic determination of the Magisterium [12] .

Among these efforts to construct a theological definition of the liturgy, there is, however, one worthy of special mention. It is that of Odo Casel [13] . Without going into the whole of the complex question of the Mysterienlehre, it must be admitted that Casel has shown that the liturgy is not merely the natural worship which man, raised to the supernatural order, owes to his Creator, but rather a re-presentation in the mysteries of worship (Kultmysterien) celebrated by the community of worship (Kult­gemeinde), of the paschal mystery of Christ (Urmysterium). In doing this, Casel was the first to link organically- by his notion of mystery- the litur­gical rites with the worship of the only Priest of the New Covenant, Christ.

The encyclical Mediator Dei, while it rejects the juridical and aesthetic ideas of the liturgy, according to which liturgy would be either the body of rubrics or a mere ceremonial apparatus, and while it brings out the part played in the liturgy by Christ Himself as Head of the Mystical Body, does not seem to have contributed any new elements which might further the solution of our present problem.

More recently, under the influence of the development of ecclesiology, two new approaches to the problem were attempted- those of A. Stenzel [14] and of J. A. Jungmann [15] . The former, in an endeavor to define the 'public' character of liturgical worship, establishes a parallel between worsh­ip and revelation. Public revelation does not depend upon the decision of the hierarchy, but on the contrary, the hierarchy proposes the revelation because it is public by its very nature. On the other hand, the recognition by the hierarchy of a private revelation does not prevent this revelation from remaining private. So it is with worship. It is by its very nature private or public. Public worship is that which derives from public reve­lation, whereby God constitutes His People ; and, in the concrete, therefore; it is that worship which the People of God offers in its capacity of People of God.

For J. A. Jungmann, there is a liturgy wherever there is an actualization of the Church in prayer. But he makes a distinction between the universal liturgy, which depends on the Pope, and the local liturgy, which depends on the bishop or the legitimate pastor of the local church. He admits, however, that the prayer of a private individual may be liturgical if he has been deputed to pray in the name of the universal Church. Jungmann thus had the merit of showing clearly the link connecting the liturgy with the local church. But in his explanation, as in that of Stenzel, it seems that the foundation of the ecclesial character would hardly be other than the juri­dical decision of the Magisterium. And then, in their efforts to revise cer­tain ideas held at present, they run up against current legislation.

The Constitution of Vatican II on the Liturgy, although it gives a defi­nition of liturgy which is almost word for word that of Mediator Dei, approaches the mystery of worship from another angle. Instead of starting, as the encyclical did, from a generic and natural idea of worship and of society, it starts by considering the unique worship of the New Covenant, that which the Son gives to the Father in the Spirit, and through which the sanctification of mankind is effected. Thus the link connecting the litur­gical rites of the Church with the only Priest and the only Sacrifice appears much more clearly. The liturgy is the re-presentation of the one and only worship, the actualization of the one and only Priesthood.

The Constitution on the liturgy has made singularly clear this indisso­luble connection of the liturgy with the priesthood of Christ. But it must not be forgotten with what insistence it underlines the fact that all Christian worship is an actualization of this same priesthood. This is true of that private prayer offered in the silence of one's heart- a form of prayer which is strongly recommended [16] . This prayer, too, is an actualization of the priesthood of Christ ; apart from this, it would be valueless. Hence, liturgy cannot be defined simply as an 'actualization of the priesthood of Christ'. That is why, when the Constitution asserts that it is the exercise by the Church of the priestly function of Christ [17] , the specific element of this definition obviously can be only 'by the Church'. Yet we are still at the same point of our investigation. Is there something intrinsic in liturgical prayer which makes it the prayer of the Church ?

It would be easy to point out in the Constitution on the liturgy all the elements needed to formulate a reply to our last question- elements pre­sented in a more or less implicit manner. But since these are of an ecclesiological order, it seems preferable to consult directly the masterpiece o£ the Council, the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. It was doubtless a grace for the Council that it began its debates with the liturgy- ; and there is no doubt that we find in the Constitution on liturgy some valuable elements of a renewed ecclesiology. But from the strictly ecclesio­logical point of view, this first Constitution still contained some hesitations later surmounted in Lumen Gentium. In our investigation of the theolo­gical basis of the ecclesial meaning of liturgical prayer, we therefore cons­ider it preferable to refer directly to the teaching of this second great Constitution, without prejudice to our returning afterwards to the earlier Constitution so as to appreciate all the better its doctrinal affirmations.


2. Theology of the Liturgy according to the Ecclesiology of Vatican II

The remarkable progress which Vatican Ii has caused Catholic ecclesio­logy to make by the publication of the Constitution Lumen Gentium, consists essentially in the rediscovery of certain basic facts of traditional ecclesiology, which in the course of centuries had in the West slipped gra­dually into the shadows, in consequence of a certain shift of accent. Once more the stress has shifted from the consideration of the hierarchical structure to the more fundamental one of the mysterious nature of the universal Church to that of the local church, the vital area of the agape and worship, where the Church is 'actualized' as an event in the History of Salvation. These fundamental notions of the ecclesiology of Vatican II are the necessary basis for the elaboration of a theology of liturgy.

In an excellent article, Fr. Congar has well shown [18] a few years ago, how the whole of the ecclesiological conscience of the Ancient East was centered on the mystery of the Church, manifested chiefly in the concrete reality of the local church. It is to this outlook that Vatican II returns. This mystery of the Church is that of the divine life which Christ, by His Incarnation, has restored to the whole of mankind. The work of the Holy Spirit, in the bosom of the church, is to reshape human nature as individ­ualized in ourselves, into the image of that of Christ.   Through asceticism on the one hand and the sacraments on the other, man- and with him, the whole of creation- is reshaped to the image of God by contact with that cen­tral radiation point of divinization which is Christ, whose direct rays of light create that sphere of divine life which is the Church. The East did not, as did the Latin West, elaborate an image of the Mystical Body in a corporate and sociological sense. Its thoughts remained above all in the sphere of 'mystery' : the unity of the members of the Church and the communal character of the sacraments depend not on the idea of a hierar­chically constituted society under a single visible head, but on the reception and sharing by all of the same supernatural reality of the divine life.

The reality which lies at the centre of this ecclesiology based on the mystery of Christ, is therefore that of Communion 18a. The divine life is essentially communion : communion of the Divine Persons in the bosom of the Trinity, communion of the divine and the human in Christ, communion of redeemed men in the divine life which is in Christ, and communion with their brethren in this same divine life. The Church is, during the time extending from the Ascension to the Parousia, the sacrament of Christ and of the salvific plan of the Father, because it is, in the midst of the nations, the realization and manifestation of this divine reality of com­munion.

But mystery (or sacrament) in the biblical and patristic sense of the word, means the realization and manifestation of a spiritual, invisible reality in a material, visible reality. This visible reality is the 'realizing sign', with which the invisible reality, in the final analysis, becomes identified. Now it is in so far as it is a visible communion of the baptized in the same faith, the same charity and the same hope that the Church is a sign of spiritual communion with God [19] and is salvation actualized [20] . This is why the Church, in so far as it is 'event' and actual manifestation of its mystery, is the local church and quite specially the community assembled for worship. The best manifestation of the Church, as the Council recalls, is the cele­bration of the Eucharist by the Bishop surrounded by his faithful and by his presbyterium [21] . Israel, the People of God of the Old Testament, was a people 'according to the flesh' ; it was identified in place and time with the sum total of its members, and even if it could be concentrated in a 'remnant' it could not be whole and entire in different places and at the same time. But the Church, because it is a People of God 'according to the Spirit', is whole and entire wherever its mystery is present in sign, that is to say, wherever the spiritual reality of communion with God is to be found manifested in a visible ecclesial communion. Each local church is not an administratively circumscribed area of the universal Church, but a complete realization of the total mystery of the Church [22] .

Entrance into the People of God is effected by baptism which confers that sharing in the priesthood of Christ which the Constitution on the Church calls the 'sacerdotium commune'. It is by virtue of this priesthood that all Christians, including those who have a special ministry, share in the worship of Christ and of the Church [23] . The worship of the New Covenant is not the worship of a privileged caste, it is that of the whole People of God. The ministerial priesthood, of which the Constitution next speaks, and which is grafted on the common priesthood, confers the capacity to fulfill a special function within the cultic activity which always remains that of the community in its entirety [24] , Since these hierarchical ministries pertain to the structure of the Church, it is easy to see that the ideal mani­festation of the Church and the most perfect one is the celebration presided over by the bishop. This is not, however, the only possible way in which the local church can `realize' itself. Such a realization or actualization takes place just as truly at the level of the parish celebration of the liturgy, presided over by the bishop's substitute. And even without the presence of a sacred minister there can be a real manifestation of the mystery of communion of the Church, and hence a real local church, even though the hierarchical aspect is not manifested [25] . This is why the common prayer of a religious community or of a community of laymen without vows, is really a 'prayer of the Church' [26] . It is the same in the case of a family : when a father and a mother, surrounded by their children, offer their prayer to the Lord, that is the prayer of what the Council calls an 'ecclesia domestica' [27] ; it is, then, the prayer of the Church.

Given all these points we may now state the conclusion to which they lead us. Wherever the faithful come together in community in order to manifest their communion in divine life, by entering into communion among themselves in the Breaking of Bread, in the hearing of the word of God, and in truly Christian prayer, there Christ is present under the very sign of their communion, and their worship is that of Christ expressing Himself by the voice of His Bride; it is the worship of the Church. In every authentically Christian prayer of a worshipping community the prayer of the Church is to be found, because this prayer itself is what makes of this community a church, a 'church-event'. Hence, the basis of the ecclesial character of liturgical prayer is the fact that it is the mani­festation and actualization of a local church, of the People of God as a community of salvation and worship [28] .

But immediately an objection will be raised. Would the Divine Office recited in private no longer be the prayer of the Church, no longer be litur­gical prayer ? In the first place it must be remembered with what insistence the Council recalls that liturgical prayer of its nature requires a common celebration, and how it exhorts priests to recite their office in common as often as circumstances permit [29] . It remains true, however, that even when a priest recites his office in private, his prayer is considered 'the prayer of the Church'.  It certainly is so in the general sense in which every prayer of a Christian is made in Christ, and therefore in the Church [30] . But if we consider as 'prayer of the Church' that prayer in which there is a visible (sacramental) manifestation of the People of God, it seems to us that no less from this point of view the private recitation of the office may equally be called 'liturgical'. In this instance, however, the ecclesial sign is reduced to its minimum.           The use of a traditional formulary and rhythm of prayer common to all the faithful of the universal Church or of a local church, may in this case be the sign visibly linking this prayer with the universal Church or a local church, for this visibility is required by the very nature of the sacramental order.

This should lead us to reflect on another aspect of the question, that of the approval by the hierarchy of the texts and rites employed in liturgical prayer. In order that a prayer may really be a sign transforming sacra­mentally into People of God the assembly which offers it, it must obviously be authentically Christian. This is to say, that as regards its contents and the way in which it is performed, it must respond to certain objective con­ditions which make of it an adequate expression of the salvific reality, of the paschal mystery of Christ. It is not therefore the performance in com­mon of any kind of little devotion which will be 'liturgical'. That is why the Magisterium of the Church, conscious of its pastoral function, has al­ways watched over the orthodoxy and Christian authenticity of the prayer of the members of the Church. When the hierarchy recognizes and ap­proves a prayer in one form or another as 'liturgical'- and these forms have varied much during the course of the history of the Church-this means that it recognizes in it its authentically Christian character and its aptitude for expressing the paschal mystery of Christ, which is the very mystery of the Church herself. These prayers thus recognized by the pastors of the Church therefore acquire a guarantee which prayers improvised by the faithful independently of their pastors do not enjoy. This does not always imply that the prayers of the latter category cannot possess the same spiritual value and the same Christian and ecclesial character as those recognized officially. In other words, the approval of the hierarchy is, in this area, declaratory rather than constitutive [31] . A concrete proof of this may be found in the fact that at present certain parts of the liturgy are left to the choice of the participants, even when they are not clerics and cannot therefore enjoy delegated jurisdiction. So not only a deacon, but also a layman may, in the absence of a priest, organize a Liturgy of the Word. Similar permission has been given to superiors and superioresses in mission lands, to choose certain parts of the Office, in particular the readings at Vigils, etc. Moreover, in default of an explicitly approved for­mulary, the faithful may find an equivalent guarantee by using certain forms of prayer recognized by tradition as having the aptitude to express Christian prayer : the psalms, for instance.

It official approval of texts and rites is not constitutive of the prayer of the church, would deputation be so ? In the first place, it must be noted that every Christian, in virtue of his baptism and confirmation, is deputed and enabled to actualize the priesthood of Christ by the exercise of his royal priesthood in communion with his fellow-members in the Mystical Body ; every Christian, therefore, can celebrate the liturgy [32] . Further­more, certain persons or certain groups, by the very part they have to play in the People of God, are bound to this in a special manner. The Bishop and the priest, who is the bishop's minister, are by their very calling the sanctifiers of the People of God. So they have a special obligation ('intrinsic to their ministerial function) to 'edify', to build up the Church, first of all in the Eucharist as celebrated by their local Church, but also in the cele­bration of other sacraments and in the prayer which, of itself, ought to be common to them and to the People of God of whom they are in charge, and to their fellow pastors. By analogy, the case of religious is similar, especially if, as is true for the majority of them, they lead a common life. Since their vocation is ecclesial, they must, either by the simple existential witness of their asceticism, or by their active ministries, build up the Church. Their common life and their common ministry in the service of the ecclesial community must necessarily and by its very nature be crowned with a communion in the common prayer, since the liturgy is the summit to which all the Church's activity tends, and at the same time the source from which it draws its value [33] . That is why, long before canon law made it a juridical obligation for them, priests and religious have from the most remote antiquity recognized that they are bound (by the intrinsic demands of their vocation) to liturgical prayer, Evidently, the obligation under pain of sin now laid upon them cannot change the spiritual nature of their prayer [34] . In declaring that certain persons are officially deputed to offer the `prayer o£ the Church' according to specified formularies and rhythms, the Magisterium desires on the one hand to be assured that in these groups the ecclesial prayer to which their vocation deputes them is realized to the fullest extent ; and on the other hand it recognizes their prayer officially and publicly as an authentic expression of the prayer of the People of God. Here again we are concerned with a guarantee which the prayer of other groups does not enjoy, even if this latter prayer may possess the same ecclesial value.

Dom G. Lafond, in a communication to the conference of Monaco in 1965 [35] , has clearly brought to light how this idea of deputation was born, or at least was systematized, and finds its justification in an ecclesio­logical context quite different from our own. If the Church is considered as the assembly of all the baptized under the monarchical government of the Pope (a point of view in which the Church is something to be 'added to' rather than 'communed in'), there can be no possibility of the actualization of the whole Church in a particular church. Consequently, in order to explain conceptually the existence of a prayer of the whole Church, no other way was left than to have recourse to the idea of deputation : the Pope, supreme authority of the Church, deputes certain persons to pray in the name of all the members of the universal Church. In an ecclesiology of communion, like that of Lumen Gentium, which sees the realization of the entire mystery of the Church in each local church, this recourse to the idea of deputation is no longer necessary, even if it remains possible to find some explanation for such an idea of deputation.

In point of fact, the Constitution on the liturgy has recourse explicitly to this notion of deputation in the chapter on the Divine Office [36] . Dom G. Lafond, in the article already mentioned, has stressed the fact that this idea of deputation as expressed in that passage does not square at all well with the constant teaching of the same Constitution on the liturgy, which sees in the baptismal character the deputation of every Christian to litur­gical prayer. Moreover, the Fathers of the Council clearly felt a certain 'malaise' [37] , and an addition was made to the text : not only the prayer of priests and others 'deputed' thereto by law is recognized as liturgical, but also that of the other faithful praying with the priest. This addition, which might not seem very important at first sight, shows that, for the Council Fathers, deputation is not constitutive of the prayer of the Church, because the prayer of others than those deputed is recognized as liturgical. J. Pascher, in his commentary, speaks in this case of a deputation non obligans ; but is this deputation non obligans anything other than bap­tism ? [38]

It can moreover be shown that the Constitution on the liturgy already contains, although perhaps less explicitly, the teaching we have deduced from the Constitution on the Church. It asserts expressly, in art. 14, that each o€ the faithful, in virtue of the royal priesthood received at baptism, is delegated (ius habet et of f icium) to celebrate the liturgy. And it is from this doctrinal basis that the pastoral necessity for active participation in the liturgical celebrations is deduced.  Similarly, when the Constitution wishes to recall the need intrinsic to the liturgy- that it be celebrated 'publicly' and not 'privately'- it bases this need on the ecclesial character of the liturgy. Now it sets this ecclesial character in direct relationship with the sacra­mental character of the Church, which is unitatis sacramentum [39] . The argument, then, amounts to this : The liturgy must be celebrated in a com­munity manner because it is, by its very nature, a manifestation of the Church as sacrament of unity or of communion. Finally, in art. 7, the Constitution explains how Christ is present in the assembly of the faithful united for prayer : 'Praesens adest denique dum supplicat et psallit Ecclesia, ipse qui promisit : Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum'. Hence, where two or three of the faithful have come together for prayer, Christ is in their midst to accomplish the work of glori­fying the Father and sanctifying men [40] , and, in this little group, it is the Church which 'offers supplication and sings psalms'.

We see, then, that the teaching of the Constitution on the liturgy is entirely in accord with what we found in a more developed form in the Constitution on the Church. And we may therefore consider that the following conclusions have their foundation in both these Constitutions.



a) A, prayer is authentically Christian and therefore the actualization of the one and only worship of the New Covenant when, in its content and its manner of performance, it is suitable for giving expression to the superna­tural reality of salvation, the paschal mystery of Christ, who is the one and only worshipper (leitourgos). (The subjective conditions for any superna­tural act are obviously presupposed.)

b) When this authentically Christian prayer is offered in external cir­cumstances such that they make of it a manifestation of the Church as a community of worship- in the concrete, when it is the expression of the prayer of the local church- it may legitimately be called 'the prayer of the Church'.

c) The hierarchy officially recognizes this authentically Christian and ecclesial character of certain prayers offered by certain persons, under spe­cified conditions, and from officially approved texts. This prayer, which thus enjoys a higher objective guarantee, is the one to which present usage reserves the designation 'liturgical'.

d) The basis of the ecclesial character proper to liturgical prayer, as well as that of other prayers which, without being actually specified as liturgical; possess the same nature of 'prayer of the Church', is the fact that they are not only an actualization of the priesthood of Christ, but also, and at the same time, a visible manifestation of the People of God as a community of prayer and sanctification.


Mistassini l Monte Cistello                         Armand VEILLEUX ocso.


Translated by a Monk of Gethsemani.

[1] On the biblical use of the word, see A. Romeo Il termine 'leitourgia' nella grecità biblica, in Miscellanea liturgica in honorem L. Mohlberg, T. 2, Rome 1949,  pp. 467-519.

[2] A short general study of the word is to be found in E. RAITZ von FRENTZ, Der Weg des Wortes « Liturgia » in der Geschichte, in Eph. Lit. 55 (1941), pp. 74-80.

[3] Liturgica de ritu et ordine dominicae coenae quam celebrationem Graeci liturgiam, Latini missam appellarunt, 1558.

[4] Liturgia Latinorum, Cologne 1571.

[5] Rerum liturgicarum libri duo, Rome 1671.

[6] De liturgia gallicana, Paris 1685.

[7] Liturgia Romani Pontificis, 1731.

[8] Const. Lit. art. 13 ; cf. J. A. JUNGMANN, L'Evêque et les  « Sacra Exercitla », in Concilium  2, 1965, pp. 50-56.

[9] For instance C. CALLEWAERT : 'Definiri potest liturgia : cultus publicus ab Ecclesia quoad exercitium ordinatus, seu ordinatio eccesiastica exercitii cultus publici' (Liturgicae institutiones Tract. 1, Bruges 1944, p. 6). 'Liturgy may be defined as : public worship regulated by the Church as to its exercice, or an ecclesiastical arrangement of the exercice of public worship’.

[10] La liturgie catholique, Maredsous 1913.

[11] In : L'apostolat liturgique et la piété personnelle, in Etudes 137 (1913), p. 452.

[12] See, for example, the definition given by R. GUARDINI : « Liturgie ist der öffentiche, gesetzliche Gottesdienst der Kirche », (Vom Geist der Liturgie), 1934 13-14, p. 4. 'The liturgy is the Church's public and lawful act of worship', The Church and the Catholic and The Spirit of the Liturgy, Sheed & Ward, N.Y. 1953, p, 122.

[13] The most important works of CASEL on this matter are Das christliche Kult­mysterium, Ratisbon 1960, and Mysteriengegenwart  in Archiv f. Liturgiewissenschaft 8 (1928), pp. 145-224.

[14] Cultus publicus. Ein Beitrag zum Begriff und ekklesiologischen Ort der Liturgie, in Zeitschr. f. kath. Theol. 75 (1953), pp. 174-214.

[15] Was ist Liturgie ? ibid., 55 (1931) pp. 83-102 ; and Gewordene Liturgie, 1941; pp, 1-27.

[16] Const. Lit. art. 12.

[17] Ibid., art. 7.

[18] Conscience ecclésiologique en Orient et en Occident du VIe au XIe siècle; in Istina 6 (1959), pp. 187-236.

18a On this notion of 'communion', see, among many good works, M. J. LE GUILLOU : Église et «Communion». Essai d'ecclésiologie comparée, in Istina 6 (1959), pp. 31-82. The author there shows how, in spite of the divisions among Christians, this notion of «communion» has remained the common basis of all the ecclesiologies. See, by the same author : Mission et unité. Les exigences de la communion, Paris 1960. Cf. also J. HAMER, L'Église est une communion, Paris 1960.

[19] Cf. Const. on the Church, Ch. 1, art. 1 : « Cum autem Ecclesia sit in Christo veluti sacramentum seu signum et instrurnentum intimae cum Deo unionis totiusque generis humani unitatis... »

[20] Cf. the explanation given to the Council by the theological Commission : « Myste­rium Ecclesiae adest et manifestatur in concreta societate. Coetus autem visibilis et elementum spirituale non sunt duae res, sed una realitas complexa, complectens divina et humana. Quod per analogiam cum Verbo incarnato illustratur. » The text is quoted by Dom Olivier Rousseau in G. BARAUNA and Coll. L'Église de Vatican II, Tome 2 (Unam Sanctam 51b) Paris 1966, p. 40.

[21] Cf. Const. Lit., art. 26.

[22] Ibid. : « Haec Christi Ecclesia vere adest in omnibus legitimis fidelium congrega­tionibus localibus, quae, pastoribus suis adhaerentes, et ipsae in Novo Testamento ecclesiae vocantur. »

[23] Cf. Const. on the Church, are. 11 : « Fideles per baptismum in Ecclesia incorpo­rati, ad cultum religionis christianae charactere deputantur. » See also art 10. The same doctrine is explicitly affirmed in the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Ch. I, art, 2.

[24] This had already been clearly stated by Pius XII to the members of the Congress of Assisi in 1956: 'The contribution which the hierarchy makes and that which the faithful bring to the liturgy, are not added up like separate quantities, but represent the collaboration of the members of one and the same organism, which acts as a single living being... It is in this unity that the Church prays, offers, sanctifies herself ; and it may be said quite rightly, therefore, that the liturgy is the work of the whole Church.' Text in La Maison-Dieu 47-48 (1956), pp. 332-333.

[25] Cf, B. NEUNHEUSER, Église universelle et Église locale, in G. BARAUNA and Coll, L'Église de Vatican II... pp. 607-638.

[26] It will be useful here to make a distinction between the two ecclesiological ten­dencies which showed themselves in the nascent Church (cf. J. COLSON L'Évêque dans les communautés primitives, Tradition paulinienne et Tradition johannique de l'Episcopat, des Origines à saint Irénée, (Unam Sanctam, 21) Paris 1951). The tendency re­presented by St. John stresses singularly the part played by the bishop ; the community which deserves the name of church is that which celebrates the worship under the presidency of the local bishop. The other tendency represented by the writings of St.Paul, Clement, and Hermas, stresses the community itself. So Paul calls the community which meets at the house of one of the brethren to celebrate the Eucharist 'the church at his house' (e.g. Rom. 16, 5 ; Col. 4, 15). It should be noted that it is in this second tendency that the idea of the 'Monastery-Church' will develop in the East, and not, as later in the West, by a progressive assimilation of the monastery to the diocese and the Abbot to the Bishop. On this notion of  'Monastery-Church' see : E. von SEVERUS, Das Monasterium als Kirche, in Enkainia. Gesammelte Arbeiten zum 800-jährigen Weihegedächtnis der Abteikirche Maria Laach, Düsseldorf 1956, pp. 230-248 ; A. de VOGÜÉ, Le monastère, Église du Christ, in B. STEIDLE, Commentationes in Regulam S. Benedicti, (Studia Anselmiana, 42) Rome 1957, pp. 25-46 ; A. KASSING, Die Mönchgemeinde in der Kirche, in Geist und Leben, 34 (1961), pp. 190-196 ; S. BENZ, The Mon­astery as a Christian Assembly, in The Am. Ben, Rev., 17 (1966), pp. 166-178.

[27] Sec K. RAHNER's remarks on this subject in his Thesen über das Gebet « im Namen der Kirche », in Zeitschr. f. kath, Theol. 83 (1961) pp. 307-324.         The author, after having explained how all prayer in common is, of its nature, an act of the Church, adds : « Mit Recht gilt also dieses gemeinsame Gebet als Akt der Kirche zum Nutzen der Kirche. Da sich dies aus der Natur der Sache ergibt, ist dazu nicht nötig, dass dieses gemeinsame (und zwar legitim geschehene) Gebet ausdrücklich von der kirchlichen Hier­archie aufgetragen wird. Wenn also (über diese Sache brauchen wir hier nicht zu sprechen) Liturgie nur jene gemeinsame Gottesverehrung der Gläubigen genannt wird, die ausdrücklich von der höchsten Autorität angeordnet und gesetzlich geregelt wird, darf man schlicht behaupten, dass auch das « ausserliturgische » gemeinsame Gebet der Gläubigen Akt der Kirche heissen kann und muss. » (p. 317). The same text is also on p, 484 of his Schriften zur Theologie, Band V, Benziger Verlag, Einsiedeln-Zurich-Koln 1962, pp. 471-493. The following translation is from p. 431 of his Theological In­vestigations, Vol V, « Some Theses on Prayer 'in the Name of the Church' », Dalton, Longman & Todd, London, & Helicon Press, Baltimore, 1966, pp. 419-438 : 'Hence, communal prayer is rightly considered as the act of the Church beneficial to the Church. Since this follows from the very nature of things, it is not required that this communal (and also lawfully performed) prayer should be expressly commissioned by the Church's hierarchy. Hence if (we need not speak about this here) only that communal worship of God by the faithful which bas been explicitly ordered and juridically regulated by the highest authority is called 'Liturgy', then it may be maintained quite simply that even the 'extra-liturgical' communal prayer of the faithful can and must be called an act of the Church.'

[29] Const. Lit., art. 99 ; cf. also arts. 26-27.

[30] In the article referred to in Note 28, K. RAHNER explains the different modes ac­cording to which a prayer may be 'an act of the Church.'

[31] The thesis according to which the intervention of the Pope would be constitutive has recently been again expounded systematically by J. H. MILLER, Fundamentals of the Liturgy, Notre Dame (Indiana) 1960, pp. 24 and ff. See the severe criticism by J. A. JUNGMANN in Zeitschr. f. kath. Theol. 83 (1961), pp. 96-99.

[32] Cf. Note 23.

[33] Const. Lit., art. 10.

[34] Cf. K. RAHNER, article quoted in Note 28, p. 317 (Eng. p. 431) :  « Diesem Akt der Kirche fügt ein ausdrücklicher liturgischer Auftrag der Kirche keine höhere Wurde vor Gott hinzu, da es keine grössere gibt als jene, die der Heilige Geist mit seinen unaussprechlichen Seufzern dem Gebet verleiht. » 'This act of the Church is not given any higher dignity before God by an explicit liturgical commission from the Church, for there is no greater dignity than the one given to the prayer by the Holy Ghost with his unutterable groanings. »

[35] Liturgie et ministères dans les Communautés baptismales. We owe our acquain­tance with this text to the kindness of the author, since the acts of the Conference have not yet been published.

[36] Const. Lit., art. 84.

[37] See the explanations given in the commentary by J. A. JUNGMANN on the Consti­tution on the Liturgy, in Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil, T. I (Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche), 1966, pp. 76-77.

[38] In Eph. Lit. 78 (1964), p, 339. The author believes, however, that it is the juridical deputation which confers on prayer its liturgical character : 'Non obligatio facit actionem liturgicam sed vocatio Ecclesiae' (ibid, p. 338). He had defended the same position against K. RAHNER in his own Thesen über das Gebet im Namen der Kirche, in Liturgisches Jahrbuch 12 (1962), pp. 58-62.

[39] Const. Lit., arts. 26-27.

[40] Cf. the whole of arts. 6 and 7.