Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Primacy of Liturgical Law

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. ....


Anonymous said...

Last sunday I printed that address by cardinal Burke and gave it to the local sisters convent where I was celebrating Mass in absence of their chaplain. I thought it fitted in with the Readings so I left a copy for each sister and said they could read it after Mass as th second part of the homily!
Will it do any good? I have my doubts!

Anonymous said...

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. ....

Amen. Yesterday, when our priest began the Mass, he started riffing about how he is tempted to make everyone switch where they sat ostensibly to get us out of complacency. Thankfully, he resisted the temptation and didn't do it and proceeded with Mass which was ok apart from the jokey homily and the cult of the banal Haugenesque music.

Physiocrat said...

Where does that leave the use of Protestant hymns and, for that matter, the vernacular?

As far as I can make out the use of the vernacular is permissive and not normative. There are very good reasons for not celebrating the mass in the vernacular except in particular circumstances where it might be appropriate. The universal use of the vernacular is beginning to look like another abuse.

As regards the music, there is this

"59. Priests shall take great care that the faithful and particularly the members of religious organisations for the laity also know how to sing or say together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the mass that are rightfully theirs. They should be taught especially the use of the simpler melodies."

(Instruction on putting into effect the constitution on the sacred liturgy)

gemoftheocean said...

So Cardinal Burke evidently disagrees with Mediator Dei. Pius the XII said in Mediator Dei:

"46. On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise. Hence the epigram, "Lex orandi, lex credendi" - the law for prayer is the law for faith.

47. But this is not what the Church teaches and enjoins. The worship she offers to God, all good and great, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity, as Augustine puts it tersely. "God is to be worshipped," he says, "by faith, hope and charity."


Much as I admire Cardinal Burke, Pius XII ranks higher in my pantheon. I should think an encyclical ranks a Cardinal's musings.

Fr Ray Blake said...

And Gem the contradiction is what?

Fr Ray Blake said...

And Gem the contradiction is what?

GOR said...

As an old pastor of mine once declared about women opining about Sacred Theology:"Vix rationabilis!"

Qui legit, intelligat"

JARay said...

Please, Oh Please, Physiocrat, why do you put in print the word "mass" when you mean "Mass"?
A "mass" is simply a collection of like things. The "Mass" is a Sacred Liturgy. The two are quite distinct!

John Nolan said...

Father, I would love to know the identity of the textually- and rubrically-challenged bishop. Give us a clue - north or south of the Thames?

Anonymous said...

Well, while we are quoting Mediator Dei:

59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof. It has pained Us grievously to note, Venerable Brethren, that such innovations are actually being introduced, not merely in minor details but in matters of major importance as well. We instance, in point of fact, those who make use of the vernacular in the celebration of the august eucharistic sacrifice; those who transfer certain feast-days - which have been appointed and established after mature deliberation - to other dates; those, finally, who delete from the prayerbooks approved for public use the sacred texts of the Old Testament, deeming them little suited and inopportune for modern times.

gemoftheocean said...

Let me highlight it for you " Hence the epigram, "Lex orandi, lex credendi" - the law for prayer is the law for faith.

47. But this is not what the Church teaches and enjoins

In further paragraphs he illustrates why Lex Orandi, Lex credendi is NOT what the church teaches. I only quoted the key statements and not the explanation, which is why I gave the link to Mediator Dei, so anyone can see for himself/herself.

I know Fr. Z and others go on and on about it, but that doesn't necessarily make it so.

gemoftheocean said...

GOR, I am not the one 'opining.' Can you read? I was quoting an Pius XII's encyclical. I read Fr. Blake's blog, because it tends not to be infested with men being allowed to freely take potshots at 'wimmin' quite unlike another blog I could mention whose men get snippy if the 'wimmin' get a little too close to the water bowl.

Fr Ray Blake said...

He is simply saying that the liturgy is there to worship, before it teaches, it is not the totality of the Church's teaching.
I do not see that the Cardinal and the Pope are at odds.

Omphalomancer said...

The analogy to an legwork is particulary potent and persistent. In each oragism, even the smallest, there exist systems devoted to specific purposes: on the macroscopic scale there are organs such as the brain, the heart and the muscles. On the microscopic scale there is the nucleus, mitochondria and ribosmes. All are needed for the whole to function and indeed not merely for the whole organism to function but also for the wellbeing of that organism that it should be able to interact with other oragisms.
In each cell of every orgaism is a complete record of the instructions for producing another organism. But it is critical that each cell does only what it is required to do otherwise th at role is not done and the orgaism can fail. Alternatively the cell becomes autonomous and thereby starts the path to cancer and death.
An organism that is human cannot sprout feathers at will and if it did there would be grave concern. However, when the sacred liturgy sprouts dance everyone says this is a marvellous example of vitality! The trust is it is no more vital nor desirable than when the bronchus sprouts carcinoma, it grows quickly because the cells are vigorous but that growth is harmful and ultimately lethal. To grow is to change but only in the context of what is true and authentic. For a human to grow and change into a mouse is ridiculous so too for the Sacrifice of the Mass to grow into the the mass as makes no mre sense.

Anonymous said...

I do not see that the Cardinal and the Pope are at odds.

Especially when Mediator Dei is read in full and later you read:

203. But in all these matters, it is essential that you watch vigilantly lest the enemy come into the field of the Lord and sow cockle among the wheat;[181] in other words, do not let your flocks be deceived by the subtle and dangerous errors of false mysticism or quietism - as you know We have already condemned these errors;[182] also do not let a certain dangerous "humanism" lead them astray, nor let there be introduced a false doctrine destroying the notion of Catholic faith, nor finally an exaggerated zeal for antiquity in matters liturgical.

so it is hard to make a case that Cdl. Burke and Pius XII are on different pages.

Supertradmum said...

I recently stopped going to a Mass north of the Thames on a daily basis where once a week the order of priests who say the Mass do not follow the New Mass of the Novus Ordo. They have parts of it and then retreat back into the older version. It is so irritating. As one of the priests gives sermons a la Liberation Theology, I guess I should not be surprised. I have wondered as to the legality of these Masses.

As to lex orandi, lex crededendi, to get another woman in the fray, it is in the Council of Trent, the recent 2006 document from The Office of Papal Celebrations, "Returning to the Sources" quoted below and others, because this phrase deals with the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, changing us by the Liturgy, either as in the Mass or the Hours. The Church leaders can appeal to this phrase, as it is in the CCC and in the writings of the Fathers and other saints- here are a few links: from the CCC and Marini's document.

"The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition."



and if I can quote Marini:

Lex orandi, lex credendi

"However it is above all in the Liturgy that renewal cannot do without a sincere and profound return to the sources: sources of that which is celebrated and sources of that which is believed (lex orandi, lex credendi). Digging deep into the sources, the theologian and the liturgist aim simply to penetrate the profundity of the mystery of the faith as it has shown itself in the concrete life of the Church all through her history."

As a visitor only for a few weeks at that daily Mass, I did not feel like I had the right to stop and speak with one of this order. The people in the pew, most of whom are elderly, may not be spotting the aberrations and probably would not spot the Marxist dialectical language or the odd Christology of Liberation Theology.

Sad. However, I can go to Mass somewhere else. Where are the bishops?

John Nolan said...


I fear you are, by selective quotation, misrepresenting Mediator Dei. In Section 48 Pius XII explicitly defends the teaching 'legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi', the precise phrase used by St Prosper of Aquitaine (c380-c455) who was a disciple of St Augustine, and which is usually rendered as 'lex orandi est lex credendi', which taken too literally can be misleading. He then goes on to say that it is perfectly correct to say 'lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi' (reversing subject and object).

Inaestimabile Donum (1980) whereby John Paul II identified and condemned liturgical abuses, mentions "the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi" which is lost if unauthorized Mass texts are used.

gemoftheocean said...

" 'lex orandi est lex credendi', which taken too literally can be misleading."-- well, yuh ... precisely. Which is why the pope had the caveat in the first place. Some people DID and DO take it too literally. The pope was stressing the need for precision! Pius XII did not have a sloppy mind, but a very elegant precise one.

George said...

Yes, he had a very elegant and precise mind - one could say a very manly mind.

Anonymous said...

We all realize that "lex orandi, lex credendi" does NOT appear anywhere in Cardinal Burke's address right?

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