Sometime ago a friend was rebuked by his bishop for saying the Corpus Domini nostri .... and the Sanguinis Domini nostri ... before receiving Holy Communion at a concelebrated Mass. He had to show the bishop that it was in the Missal, the bishop had obviously never bothered to read the texts of the Mass he said daily, let alone read the rubrics! His ignorance is perhaps a reason why one hears from those who should know better that Liturgical Law is somehow less binding than the rest of Canon Law. For those who believe Lex Credendi, Lex Orandi, Liturgical Law is the safeguard of what we believe, when the law breaks down so inevitably will the faith, so Liturgical Law obviously must have a certain primacy.
The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Raymond Cardinal Burke recently underlined this in the conclusion to an address to the Kenya Canon Law Convention:
[L]iturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred realities in the Church. It is interesting to note that in his first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, Blessed Pope John Paul II confronted the abuse of general confession and general absolution, of the essentially personal encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, reminding us both of the right of the penitent to such an encounter and the right of Christ Himself,[xlvii] and that, in his last Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he urgently addressed abuses of the Church’s discipline regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.[xlviii] In Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he declared:
I consider it my duty, therefore, to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. The Apostle Paul had to address fiery words to the community of Corinth because of grave shortcomings in their celebration of the Eucharist resulting in divisions (schismata) and the emergence of factions (haereses) (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34). Our time, too, calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the one universal Church made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church.[xlix]
As is always the case, knowledge and observance of canonical discipline frees us from the false impression that we must make the Sacred Liturgy interesting or stamp it with our personality, and frees us to be the instruments by which the presence of Christ, the Good Shepherd, among His people is rendered more visible, and the action of the Sacred Liturgy bears His stamp alone. ....