Rorate Caeli

Liturgical Creed - The Principles of the Anti-Liturgical Heresy


I believe
that the Traditional Rites of East and West contain within themselves so many elements of Apostolic origin that it is impossible to separate these from the elements added by post-Apostolic ecclesiastical tradition.

I believe no man here on earth (Pastor Aeternus, IV, 6) can rightfully determine the complete abrogation, full substitution, or substantial derogation of any received Traditional Rite, of East and West, which contains inextricable Apostolic elements.

I believe Ecclesiastical History continuously proves that the rights of the liturgical rites "established by long and immemorial prescription" have always been respected by the Holy Roman Church, even in ages of great liturgical crises and heresies (Quo Primum; Quod a Nobis).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Please, also read the Principles of the Anti-Liturgical Heresy, an excerpt of Dom Prosper Guéranger's Institutions Liturgiques, one of the most shocking texts I read in my life. I still remember reading it for the first time, quoted in a book by Louis Salleron, and my horror was undescribable: any careless reader is able to see in this mid-19th-century text the unfolding events which led to the collapse of Catholic liturgy in the post-Conciliar age.

Its French original (L'Hérésie Antiliturgiste) is available at Salve Regina. You may find an abridged English translation here, from which we transcribe the essential words:

First Principle:

The first characteristic of the anti-liturgical heresy is hatred of Tradition as found in the formulas used in Divine Worship. One cannot fail to note this special characteristic in all heretics, from Vigilantus to Calvin, and the reason for it is easy to explain.

Every sectarian who wishes to introduce a new doctrine finds himself, unfailingly, face to face with the Liturgy, which is Tradition at its strongest and best, and he cannot rest until he has silenced this voice, until he has torn up these pages which recall the faith of past centuries.

Second Principle:

This, as matter of fact, is the second principle of the anti-liturgical sect: to replace the formulas of the Ecclesiastical teachings [with] readings from the Holy Scripture.

This involves two advantages: first, to silence the voice of Tradition of which sectarians are always afraid. Then, there is the advantage of propagating and supporting their dogmas by means of affirmation and negation. By way of negation, in passing over in silence, through cunning, the texts which express doctrine opposed to errors they wish to propagate; by way of affirmation, by emphasizing truncated passages which show only one side of the truth, hide the other the eyes of the unlearned.

Third Principle:

...having eliminated the ecclesiastical formulas and proclaimed the absolute necessity of making use only of the words of Scripture in divine worship and having seen that Holy Scripture does not always yield itself to all their purposes as they would like, their third principle, we say, is to fabricate and introduce various formulas...

Fourth Principle:

...all the sectarians without exceptions begin with the vindication of the rights of Antiquity. They want to cut Christianity off from all that the errors and passions of man have mixed in; from whatever is “false” and “unworthy of God”. All they want is the primitive, and they pretend to go back to the cradle of Christian institutions.

To this end, they prune, they efface, they cut away; everything falls under their blows, and while one is waiting to see the original purity of the divine cult reappear, one finds himself encumbered with new formulas dating only from the night before, and which are incontestably human, since the one who created them is still alive.

... Their preference for preaching antiquity led only to cutting them off from the entire past.

Fifth Principle:

Since the liturgical reform is being undertaken by the sectarians with the same goal as the reform of dogma, of which it is the consequence, it follows that as Protestants separated from unity in order to believe less, they found themselves led to cut away in the Liturgy all the ceremonies, all the formulas which express mysteries.

They called it superstition, idolatry, everything that did not seem to be merely rational, thus, limiting the expression of faith, obscuring by doubt and even negation all the views, which open on the supernatural world.

... No more sacramentals, blessings, images, relics of Saints, processions, pilgrimages, etc. No more altar, only a table, no more sacrifice as in every religion, but only a meal.

Sixth Principle:

The suppression of the mystical element in the Protestant liturgy was bound to produce, infallibly, the total extinction of that spirit of prayer, which in Catholicism, we call unction.

A heart in revolt can no longer love...

Seventh Principle:

Pretending to treat nobly with God, Protestant liturgy has no need of intermediaries. To invoke the help of the Blessed Virgin, or the protection of Saints, would be, for them, a lack of respect due to the Supreme Being.

Eighth Principle:

Since the liturgical reform had for one of its principal aims the abolition of actions and formulas of mystical signification, it is a logical consequence that its authors had to vindicate the use of the vernacular in divine worship.

This is in the eyes of sectarians a most important item. Worship is not a secret matter, they say. The people, they say, must understand what they sing. Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the hearts of all the enemies of Rome. They recognize it as the bond among Catholics throughout the universe, as the arsenal of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian spirit.

Ninth Principle:

In taking away from the Liturgy the mystery which humbles reason, Protestantism took care not to forget the practical consequence, that is to say, liberation from the fatigue and the burden of the body imposed by the rules of the papist Liturgy.

First of all, no more fasting, no more abstinence, no more genuflections in prayer. For the ministers of the temple, no more daily functions to carry out, no more canonical prayers to recite in the name of the Church.

Such is one of the principal forms of the great Protestant emancipation: to diminish the sum of public and private prayers.

Tenth Principle:

Since Protestantism had to establish a rule in order to distinguish among the papist institutions those which could be the most hostile to its principle, it had to rummage around in the foundations of the Catholic structure to find the corner stone on which everything rests. Its instinct caused it to discover first of all that dogma which is irreconcilable with every innovation: Papal authority. ...The Latin language, the Divine Office, the calendar, the breviary: all were abominations of the great Harlot of Babylon. The Roman Pontiff weighs down reason by his dogmas and the sense by his ritual practices.
Eleventh Principle:

The anti-liturgical heresy needed, in order to establish its reign for good, the destruction in fact and in principle of all priesthood in Christianity. For it felt that where there is a Pontiff, there is an Altar, and where there is an Altar there is a sacrifice and the carrying on of a mysterious ceremonial.


  1. Wow. Everything in a nutshell.

    I can only say that we should seek Dom Gueranger's intercession ever more strongly, and that, once raised to the altar, he will fight even more fervently for us.

    Where are the monks? Why are they so few?

  2. Three cheers for the idea that Roman Catholics should have the right to celebrate Mass freely according to the old books.

    Dom Gueranger, whom I love and admire, provides a marvellous indictment of Calvinism and of radical Catholics who hate the liturgical spirit. But do you think his words have much application to this? Take a look:
    (you have to paste the upper and lower lines together to get the link to work.)

    I'm afraid that as an indictment of the Novus Ordo itself (if that's how you intend them to be understood in this context) Gueranger's words have only limited application.

    "Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself." (3rd Euch. Prayer.)

    "Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world." (ibid.)

    "[L]ooking forward to his coming in glory, we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world." (4th Euch. Prayer.)

    "For our sake he opened his arms on the cross; he put an end to death and revealed the resurrection. In this he fulfilled your will and won for you a holy people." (Proper Preface, 2d Euch. Prayer.)

    You will have a hard time persuading those of us who have been schooled in devotion on such beautiful and transparently Catholic liturgical words as these that they are devoid of mystery and represent an anti-liturgical spirit or an anti-sacrificial sacramental theology. They are full precisely of age old liturgical formulae from ancient texts.

    I am happy to entertain the argument that the old Mass is superior to the new. I certainly prefer the old to the new. But any argument that the new Mass itself (as distinct from its the all-too-frequent impoverished celebrations or many of the translations used) embodies an anti-liturgical spirit seems devoid of merit.

    There are just too many people who have first learned a deep love of the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass from these words given to them by Holy Mother Church.

    (Incidentally, Dom Gueranger himself was ordained by a bishop with Gallican liturgical sensibilities that were so pronounced that he completely left out the imposition of hands! "Disturbed to the utmost by this omission, which was about to render my ordination dubious," Gueranger had to break into the rite twice in order to get the bishop to do the imposition and succeeded only because his second rude interruption persuaded some other officiating priests to have a look at the Ordinal and so support him.)

  3. Lest anyone think I am an enemy of the Traditional liturgy here is my presentation of the legal and moral imperative for it at Amy Welborn's blog:


    Yes, Cardinal Ratzinger did indicate several times that he thought that Mass according to the old books has never been forbidden. For example, in the Raymond Arroyo EWTN interview in 2003: "The other [the question of the wider use of the Tridentine liturgy] is a different problem. I think generally, the old liturgy was never prohibited." He and all traditionalists do obviously understand that it was against the will of Pope Paul VI, as expressed in the allocution you cite. But allocutions don't themselves have canonical force.

    The canonicial argument usually used to establish the continued legality of the old form of the Roman Mass goes something like this (this is an amateur's rough approximation)--

    The New Mass is so substantial a change of the rubrics and texts as to amount to a complete abrogation of the traditional Roman Rite. Under the principles of canon law, in order to abolish a right based on an immemorial custom, there must be an explicit and overt legal act first recognizing and then abolishing that right. Such an abolition cannot be effected merely by revision and the statement that the pre-revision forms are now replaced, that's simply not explicit enough. This is because the original customary right does not simply stem from papal authority. St. Pius V didn't create it. It stems from the force of unbroken custom in the Church.

    Think about it this way: What would it take for the Pope to suppress the Byzantine rite in the Church? A heck of a lot, wouldn't you say? He has the right to do it, but anything other than the most solemn formulation and declaration that he was exercising that authority would be insufficient to effect such an extreme outcome.

    One might reply that the Pope is the head of the Latin Church and thus has a more immediate and ordinary authority over its liturgy than he does over those of the East. But even as head of the Latin Church, the Pope has no such rights over the Roman Liturgy. He is only the custodian of the traditional liturgy. The Melkite Patriarch has no right to abolish the Melkite rite, nor does any synod of the Melkites. Such a legal act in either East or West, abolishing a traditional rite of the Church, would be absolutely unprecedented because it is virtually unthinkable.

    In essence: There was an attempt to forbid the old liturgy which still appears on the books as a proscription. But the attempt to effect such an egregious change was canonically insufficient, so the right remains. This right is in tension with the principle of obedience to the Pope and Bishops. This tension has created a liturgical crisis and a way must be found for the two principles to be brought into harmony again in the Church.


    To show how Cardinal Ratzinger viewed the importance of the continued vitality of the old liturgy, here is an excerpt from his most recent interview book, God and the World:

    "For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of the liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS IN HISTORY; IN DOING THIS WE ARE DESPISING AND PROSCRIBING THE CHURCH'S WHOLE PAST. HOW CAN ONE TRUST HER PRESENT IF THINGS ARE THAT WAY? I must say quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church. (My capitalization for emphasis)"

    -God and the World, 2000, p416.

    I think one can tell from this excerpt the strength of the Pope's feelings on this matter. I don't think he regards it merely as a Ratzinger "opinion" to be submitted to curial or episcopal vote, but rather a matter of fundamental justice which pertains to the very structure of the Church and its worship. The continuing manifest injustice brings the message and life of the Church into disrepute among the Faithful and creates the impression that the life of the Church is "up for grabs" and at the mercy of any impulse of tyrranical abuse of authority that comes along the pike.

    Consider those words again:

    THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS IN HISTORY. (Count three and let it sink in.)


    HOW CAN ONE TRUST HER PRESENT IF THINGS ARE THAT WAY? (One--two--three... Exhale...)

    Now do you see why people think something is up with the old Mass and Pope Benedict?

  4. while most people drop the "that" in conversation, it's still very much a part of German (I think). So, in my very obnoxious way, I'll request that you edit your post to state that "I believe THAT..." instead of "I believe..."

  5. More defense of Traditional Liturgy by the Devilish Jeff. From Amy Welborn:

    "Another illustration to make the principle of the argument that the old liturgy is not abolished clear:

    Could the Pope abolish the Rosary? Could he forbid Catholics to say the Rosary on pain of mortal sin?

    Clearly, he could.

    But suppose the Pope said: "We are now revising the Rosary. There will be no more beads, but the Faithful will place their hands on their knees instead while seated on the ground. Then they will repeat the following formula ten times: Jesus, Jesus, you are true; Mary, Mary, we love you. They will meditate on the Beauty of Creation as they will. Oh, and the new Rosary completely displaces the old." Would that do the trick? Would the right of the Faithful to do the old fashioned bead-gabble be gone?

    Now, the parallel is inexact; the Rosary is not an official act of the Church's worship. And I exaggerate for effect; I myself love the New Mass when properly celebrated. But you see the point? To do something like abolishing the ROSARY, for crying out loud, and forcing all Catholics to recite what is essentially another prayer, the Pope would have to be mighty forceful and explicit about what he was doing. See?

    Now which has the greater sanction of Tradition? The Rosary? Or the Liturgy of the Mass? Which would be a greater injustice? To forbid the traditional Rosary? Or to forbid the traditional liturgical forms of the Mass?"

  6. I believe it is already clear, but just to make it clearer, so that there is no false attribution: the "Liturgical Creed" is mine; the second part of the post, the Principles of the Anti-Liturgical Heresy, are by Dom Prosper Guéranger

  7. New Catholic: Thank you for reminding us of that wonderful passage from Dom G., and for your own credal formula.

    Jeff: Thank you for reminding us of that passage from God and the World. Let's pray that Benedict may soon lead his brother bishops to submit to the rule of tolerance.

  8. Amazing, and eerily prophetic.

  9. I agree, it is much more proper in English to say, in this case, "I believe that" than to say "I believe x,y or z", because it is the subsequent proposition which follows the that, which is believed as a true proposition; not the proposition as an object itself.

    However, at the same time, I would caution any Catholic writing a creed which states "I believe ...." that is not excerpted from the writings of the Saints, Fathers or Doctors of the Church, because we should never confuse what we hold to be true with what we are oblidged to believe by the Faith; for we receive what we are to believe; we do not infer it by own own estimation.

    For this reason I believe such creeds can be an occasion of falling into the protestant error of private judgement, unless they are thought over with much counsel from learned and saintly men.

  10. Do you believe that the Traditional Roman Rite can be completely abolished, Brother?

  11. Someone in a forum called "Ship of fools" (self-explanatory name) called the creed "liturgiolatry"... As he also called me a "SSPX fringe man" -- which reveals great ignorance of the SSPX, of the meaning of fringe, and of my opinions, expressed for months in this blog -- I should leave this without an answer...

    However, as I do not want to cause scandal, let me be clear: it is a declaration of principles, shaped as a creed. It should be pretty obvious, and that is also an answer to Brother Alexis' objections, that I have no (canonical) competence to establish an actual creed, that is, an enforceable set of beliefs.

    However, I felt the need to state in a simple formula this clear statement of love and respect for the Traditional Rites of the Church, inspired by Dom Guéranger's principles (he was the one who defined that there is a clear "Anti-Liturgical Heresy", dear self-described fool), by the severe limitations on papal power over what has been received (Tradition), as set in the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (that's Vatican I, for those who live as if the Church had been founded in 1963), and especially by the words of one man, then-Cardinal Ratzinger in his "The Spirit of the Liturgy":

    "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the given-ness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not 'manufactured' by the authorities. Even the pope can
    only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity."

    It is a discussion which one day will have to be definitively defined by the competent authority: does the Papal power in matters of discipline allow him to completely abolish a Traditional Rite, of East or West? Or is it a matter of the "Tradition of faith", as Cardinal Ratzinger said, which severely limits the Papal powers? It is my understanding, and that of several theologians, that the definitions of Vatican I already limited the Papal powers in the field of the liturgy: he may establish completely new Rites, but not abolish Traditional Rites, of East or West, which he received not to abolish, but to uphold.

    As of this moment, it is certainly a matter in which I can declare these principles, even in a personal credal way. And, if you are bothered by it, send a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, denouncing this creed...

  12. Dear New Catholic,

    No I do not think that. At the same time, I think the Liturgical Creed as it stands need to be rewritten, because it is hobbled by a great deal of theological and linguistic imprecision.

    Take for example the first proposition:

    "I believe that the Traditional Rites of East and West contain within themselves so many elements of Apostolic origin that it is impossible to separate these from the elements added by post-Apostolic ecclesiastical tradition."

    This really does not go to the essence of the matter. To speak of elements of Apostolic origin, is to speak of the matter of the liturgy. If the liturgy is only of Apostolic Origin concerning the matter, or primarily concerning the matter, then it would be licit to alter the form, and hence the rearrange the matter. You cannot have fidelity to the matter of anything, since matter in and of itself holds itself to non-being, while everything that pertains to fidelity, inasmuch as it is the cause of stability, holds itself to being. So this proposition errors by the error of materialism, raised to the level of the sacred liturgy.

    Rather, it is because the Sacred Liturgy was instituted by Christ and the Apostles, and grew entirely and purely from those principles, within the Bosom of the Church, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through saintly Popes and Doctors of the Church, that It represents in form and matter that form of Apostolic worship which Christ Himself willed in principle to be the only form of worship for the Church until the end of time.

    Any other liturgy that arises after the Apostles must have this organic connection to the earliest of rites, through their living organic forms.

    To use a simile: it is like cloning a living animal. You cannot go back to the DNA and bring out of nothing a new life form. You have to combine the DNA with a living zygote, to clone a new individual. And even when this is done, there are tell-tale signs that it is not a natural being, but an natural being that was manufactured by an artificial process, for its telemeres are that of an older individual, and hence the clone will suffer from many diseases.

    And this is what happend with the NO. Granted that to some extent there was an intention to retain the form of worship in its most essential parts (the consecration and offering, for example); but since it created an entirely new context of worship (that of congregation centered, rather than God centered; and that of the vernacular, rationalistic, rather than the liturgical languages and the mystical) it created not an authentic form of worship (authentic here in the Latin sense of the word as meaning derived from the true "author"), but a certain sort of monstrosity, which for the most part and for the vast majority of priests, bishops, religious and laity, has not sanctified or promoted their santification, but has led them astray from the supernatural.

  13. If you BELIEVE that, Brother, then you believe with me, we communicate of the same belief... This is the kind of discussion this was meant to generate -- and the awareness of the limits of authority regarding the Traditional Rites of the Church.

    I also refer you to my last comment.

  14. I was previously unfamiliar with this work of Dom Gueranger. Thank you for posting about it!

  15. I have a question for all the wise folks on here.

    If one lives in a diocese which only has the indult once a month, there is a novus ordo the other weeks which is celebrated according to the rubrics. There is no other TLM options, or Easter rite masses within a reasonable distance.

    Is it possible that one's Sunday obligation is remitted under these circumstances? Would it be sinful to stay home?

  16. Regarding the so-called Papal Coronation Oath, attributed to Pope St. Agatho: I have seen no credibile citation that this oath was used in the last 800 years.


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