Article 13 from Sacrosanctum Concilium strikes me each time I read it:
Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See… But these devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them.
When I teach the reception of Sacrosanctum Concilium, I always ask my students if the liturgical reforms after Vatican II have adequately attended to popular devotion. After giving my students some time to express their own thoughts, I always weigh in on the matter myself. I begin by noting my complete support for the reforms after the Council, especially the need to rebalance the relationship between the liturgy and popular devotion. But I always end by saying that as academics, liturgists, and ministers, we need to spend some time reflecting more intentionally on devotional practices and popular piety.
While the liturgy must always have primacy over devotions, Sacrosanctum Concilium reminds us that there is a proper place for popular devotions and popular piety in the church as long as they are derived from the liturgy and lead people back to the liturgy. This was reaffirmed in the 2001 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. The directory commended (and critiqued!) the devotional life of the church and its relationship to the liturgy, while at the same time calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church’s devotions.
While devotions and practices of popular piety are important to the spiritual development of the Christian, they are also intimately connected to our understanding of what it means to be Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, etc.
As a master’s student, I remember being struck by the work of M. Francis Mannion and his articulation of the various approaches to liturgical reform after Vatican II.  Speaking from a Catholic context, and in light of the “liturgy wars,” Mannion argued that what was needed to move the liturgical reforms forward in a way that would heal and strengthen the Catholic communion was an approach he termed “recatholicizing the reform.” He describes this approach as follows:
When the church is truly catholic, it is characterized by a high trinitiarian consciousness; it reaches into the very depths of the human soul; it engages profoundly the spiritual heritage of historic Christianity; and its vision is centered on the glory of God and the coming of the kingdom. 
This description struck me as a vision of the Church that all churches and Christians should strive for, something Mannion likely signaled by using a lowercase “c.” It is about being Christian – a re-rooting of the Christian in the common baptism we all share. But Mannion also recommended a few suggestions for what recatholicizing the reform would look like within the Catholic context. Concretely it would entail:
- A living into the reformed liturgy
- An allowance for inculturation
- The recreation of the ethos of the Catholic liturgy – “beauty, majesty, spiritual profundity, solemnity”
- Spiritual, not structural, changes – a renewal of “the spiritual, mystical, and devotional dimensions of the revised rites.”
- The recovery of the “numinous” against modern “sterility and rationalism”
- A turn to the aesthetics in worship
- A turn away from pure ritual-functionalism
- And finally, a respect for liturgical history
Ultimately, this approach “tak[es] the present rites and work[s] to celebrate them in a much more profound, dignified, and spiritually edifying manner than has generally been the case since the advent of postconciliar revision.”  This, Mannion felt, would also lead to a rapprochement between the progressive and traditionalist wings of the Catholic Church.
The last twenty years or so since Mannion published this piece has shown that he was probably too optimistic. Nevertheless, I still think Mannion was on to something. I have also always thought that Mannion could be taken further, and that his recatholicizing the reform must also include a call for the renewal of the devotional life of the Church.
In fact, I have always thought that a concerted renewal of popular piety in the Church – always derived from and directed back to the liturgy! – might do well to heal divides as well as help reign in misdirected devotions that have continued (or have popped back up) since the Council. But more importantly, it might also foster Catholic identity in a time when the Catholic Church could definitely use some (positive) communal identity.
So, what would it mean to reexamine Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 13 in light of a “recatholicizing the reform” approach to liturgical renewal? I think it would mean to re-enliven a number of traditional Catholic devotional practices and to connect them to the liturgical life of the Church. Here I am thinking especially of:
- Adoration, benediction, and the devotional practices that accompany them
- The practice of saying the rosary
- Fostering more pilgrimages
- The more frequent use of public processions
- Promoting a number of Marian devotions
- The recovery of certain novenas
- Fostering devotional practices around the cult of the saints
- Catechizing the faithful on relics
- Continuing to foster the use of the stations of the cross
- Re-enlivening the passion plays
- Ensuring there are votive candles in our liturgical spaces
- and much more!
Some of these devotions and popular practices are already being done well and are successful in our churches. A perfect example is the popularity of the stations of the cross during Lent. Others are somewhat easy to implement, like the presence of votive candles in our liturgical spaces. Still others, like adoration and benediction, require ongoing catechesis and reflection on best practices.
For each of these devotions to be re-enlivened and have their proper place as servants to the liturgy, the faithful will have to be properly trained in these devotional practices. This will have to include catechesis on the liturgy and each devotion.
Liturgists and ministers will also need to ensure that in the renewal of Catholic devotional practices, they remain rooted in the common baptismal identity we share with our Orthodox and Protestant sisters and brothers. Any practice that increases divisions within or between the churches is not “centered on the glory of God and the coming of the kingdom,”  and thus is not truly c/Catholic.
While this post has been light on the specifics, I have intended it as an invitation to myself and others on the blog to think through concrete ways the devotional life of the Church can be renewed today. Thus, I invite others to post on specific devotional practices, and how they think they could be fruitfully renewed. I hope to do that myself in a few planned blog posts. But if you have any particular devotional practices you think I should look at, please tell me in the comments below!
 M. Francis Mannion, “The Catholicity of the Liturgy: Shaping A New Agenda,” in Beyond the Prosaic, edited by Stratford Caldecott, 11-48 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998). Reprinted in M. Francis Mannion, Masterworks of God: Essays in Liturgical Theory and Practice (Chicago: HillenbrandBooks, 2004), Ch.9. Page numbers taken from Masterworks of God.
 Mannion, p. 214.
 Mannion, p. 219.
 Mannion, p. 214.