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Catholic Dictionary




Encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII on the Sacred Liturgy (November 30, 1947). A historic document that summarized liturgical development in the Church up to that time and laid the foundations for the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. It clearly defined the meaning of the liturgy as the Church's official public worship; stressed the primacy of interior worship; insisted on the need for the liturgy to be under the Church's hierarchical authority; traced the development of the liturgy since the Council of Trent but emphasized that to be valid this progress cannot be left to private judgment; declared that the Eucharist is the culmination and center of the Christian religion; urged the importance of the faithful actively participating in divine worship, especially in the Mass; explained how the fruits of Holy Communion are increased by better preparation and a fervent thanksgiving; praised those who are devoted to the Real Presence and promote this devotion among the faithful; placed the Divine Office next to the Eucharist as part of the Church's liturgical life; indicated that the liturgical year should revolve around the mysteries of Christ's life, Passion, and Resurrection; and recommended extraliturgical devotions to increase the piety of priests, religious, and the laity.