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Professor Clare Johnson said Vatican II called on the Church to recognise that Christ is present throughout the entire liturgy (ACU)

It’s arguably the Second Vatican Council’s most contested and misunderstood constitution, but six decades later Clare Johnson says the Catholic faithful have a way to go to fully grasp the central vision of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Source: ACU.

As the first constitution of the council promulgated by Pope Paul VI, Sacrosanctum Concilium addressed a common yet inadequate understanding of the real presence of Christ throughout the divine liturgy.

Professor Johnson, Director of the ACU Centre for Liturgy, said the council called on the whole Church, not just the clergy but also the lay faithful, to recognise that Christ was and is present throughout the entire liturgy, not just in the reception of Holy Communion.  

“The liturgical vision detailed in Sacrosanctum Concilium called on the whole Church to recognise the numerous modes of Christ’s real presence in the liturgy we celebrate – in the Word, sacraments, presider, assembly’s prayer and song, and the Body and Blood of Christ – and to engage with him fully – that is with our whole selves – consciously, and actively as we offer praise and worship to the Father in union with the Holy Spirit,” Professor Johnson said.

The ACU Centre for Liturgy will mark the 60th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium with two special public lectures in November and December.

In a live online lecture on November 6, Professor Teresa Berger from the Yale University Divinity School will imagine the possible futures of Catholic liturgy beyond Sacrosanctum Concilium, including what liturgy will have to become in the 21st century.

The Centre will also host Professor Fr John BaldovinSJ in Melbourne for a free public lecture on December 3, examining the reception of the Constitution and whether the vision of liturgical reform is in peril.

Professor Johnson will also deliver a lecture at St Mary’s Cathedral on November 29 as part of a new series in Sydney on the liturgical maturation of Sacrosanctum Concilium during Pope Francis’ pontificate.

“The sixtieth anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II marks a significant historical milestone but also provides an opportunity for the Church to consider ‘what we have done and what we have failed to do’ in terms of how we celebrate liturgy,” Professor Johnson said.


Sacrosanctum Concilium still a work in progress 60 years later (ACU)