‘Magnum Principium’ and the Inculturation of the Liturgy after the Council

Issue 1801

18 January 2018

God and the assembly: the surprise of speaking the same language

The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium proclaimed a “great principle” in article 36, recognizing the right of each liturgical assembly to pray to God in its own language. Historians remind us that the problem of liturgical language had already been faced and successfully resolved in the middle of the ninth century thanks to Saints Cyril and Methodius. Responding to those who limited to only three the languages “in which it is licit to praise God, specifically Hebrew, Greek and Latin” – those used for the inscription on the cross – the two brother saints listed liturgical language among the goods that belong to all, like the rain “that God lets fall on all humans,” the sun “that shines on all in the same way” (cf. Mt 5:45) and the air “that everyone breathes.”[1]

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