3 October 2022


T Custodes Article 1:

"The liturgical books promulgated by S Paul VI and S John Paul II, 

in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, 

are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite."

Nobody has yet explained how this strange edict can be fitted into the existence of the Zairean, or Anglican, versions of the Roman Rite. But, before leaving this squalid little document behind, I desire to ask how the middle clause of this fits in. Does it go with the first or with the third clause?

If it is to be taken with the first clause, then special status appears to be given to liturgical enactments which are in conformity with Vatican II, to the disadvantage of papal requirements which are absent from (or a fortiori contradict) Vatican II. 

If it is to be taken with the third clause, the meaning would seem to be that Vatican II gave some sort of Carte Blanche to the as-yet unwritten liturgies destined to emerge from the Roman Committees.


Chris said...

Those books which, although so promulgated, are not in conformity with the decrees mentioned may be safely ignored?

Ben Whitworth said...

A strange edict indeed. As I wrote to the editor of "Latin Liturgy", the journal of the Association for Latin Liturgy: "Do we* not muddy the waters ... by bandying around the term lex orandi as if this referred to some subsection of the code of canon law? The root of the term is of course Prosper's lex supplicandi: the law of prayer in the sense of that which can be observed to be universally practised. It's a law akin to the second law of thermodynamics, rather than to the Seamen's and Soldiers' False Characters Act 1906. In its proper sense then, Benedict was making a reasonable point in referring to multiple expressions of the lex orandi – where more than one legitimate tradition of prayer exists, any one of them can be referred to as a touchstone of Catholic belief. Francis' use of the term in Traditionis custodes seems to have been put in purely as a gratuitous contradiction of Benedict, without any obvious relation to the historical use of the term and without (as far as I can see) any clear meaning at all."

*I am including Pius XII, Benedict XVI and Francis within this capacious pronoun!

Amanda said...

I suspect that if they succeed in suppressing the Tridentine Mass, then the Anglican Use, the last vestiges of the Mozarabic Rite, and any other rite that dares to cherish truth and beauty, will be targeted. The "unique expression" phrase will be the rallying cry.

I rather doubt they will succeed. It's not as if it were *their* Church.

Moritz Gruber said...

(Part 1)

The idea with the "lex orandi of the Roman Rite" is obviously bogus from the onset. Not only does it include the old Rite, but to be even more precise there really is no such thing worthy to speak of*.

There is only a "lex orandi of the Church"; the proper use of the word "lex orandi" is the adage "lex orandi lex credendi" (with, I believe, "lex agendi" sometimes added). The meaning is the Church believes as she prays and prays as she believes. A practical application of this might be a theologian who ponders the question "did the Blessed Virgin, immediately or so before her bodily assumption into Heaven, die?" The thing is that he will not only look into Scripture (which here happens to be silent on the matter), nor only into the Church Fathers, but he can also consult the liturgy. He then will find that the Secret of the Mass before 1950 said "quam etsi pro conditione carnis migrasse cognoscimus": so, the liturgy says she died indeed. (He will probably assign no higher note on that than "sententia communior", but that is a separate discussion.)

Case in point: This prayer was actually changed later, well before the liturgy reform, because in the joy that followed the dogma of the Assumption one felt one had to express that yet more clearly. (A thing which I, differing I believe from our reverend host, here am actually in favor of.) The thing is that this does not make the previous form cease to be lex orandi of the Church. Of course liturgy is not strictly speaking infallible, so there could be an actual error, which it would of course be wise for the Church to correct; but unless she explicitly says so the presumption is that not this is the case.

Moritz Gruber said...

(Part 2)

And in this sense, lex orandi of the Church is obviously all forms of the Roman Rite past and present, and, though my example was from there, obviously all other Catholic rites past and present, Byzantine, Antiochene, whatnot. In fact even the pious devotional services which the sensus fidelium judges orthodox and worthwhile, and which the hierarchy when they came around at least did not hinder, are in a manner lex orandi; the pious have apparently rarely ever ceased to invent those, be it the Stations of the Cross from the Early Modern period or the concept of "a Nightfever" from the wake of the 2005 World Youth Day, or a "prayer festival" from the uses of the Youth 2000 movement (which have actual peculiar liturgical gimmicks like "the Blessed Sacrament is to be exposed on top of a wooden pyramid with a lot of candles which represents the Burning Bush from the book of Exodus").

Arguably they have an even better initial claim on the title "lex orandi" than things devised by the Pope or the Congregation of Rites or its successors, that is until the things have been received by the faithful with something other than reluctant obedience. (I'm not saying that they aren't to be obeyed; I am saying that to say about them "this is how the Church prays" perhaps requires a bit more than "mere obedience".) To be fair though, many decrees have been received with thunderous joy, as it should be. (How often, e. g., do we have in Matins the words "and Pope ... extended the feast to the worldwide Church"...)

- The Rosary is certainly part of the lex orandi of the Church! (Well, in this case I like to believe, with a somewhat less than dogmatic belief, the legend that it was given by the Blessed Virgin personally to St. Dominic...)

Thus, the idea "the lex orandi of the Roman Rite and it's what the Pope decrees the liturgy to be" is utter nonsense.

[* It can be defended to artificially say "let's take the words lex orandi and add the restriction "in so far as the Roman Rite is concerned", and recognizing the fact that a Roman's faith will mostly be shaped by the Roman Rite because he happens to attend the Roman Rite. This is what Pope Benedict did, when he stated the obvious thing that the Old Rite does belong to it. Nevertheless, even here the construction while legitimate remains somewhat artificial; truths most favored by Easterners remain truths, and in general a Western Catholic may legitimately choose to focus on them as well - e. g., at least hypothetically setting aside the specific demands Our Lady made in apparitions, say the Akathist rather than the Rosary -, as long as he fulfils his Western-Church-law obligations.]

Chaswjd said...

There was an article on the internet within the past several months about the progress made on a new "Amazonian" Rite. Evidently some uses within the Latin church are more equal than others.

Perhaps if we consider the Vertus Ordo as a form of inculturation . . .