Rorate Caeli

Lex orandi, lex credendi

From an interview with Msgr. James P. Moroney on the new translation of the 1970 / 2002 Missal:
Msgr. Moroney, can you explain the Latin principle, Lex orandi, lex credendi?

Both the Roman Missal and the instruction Liturgiam authenticam tell us that the Roman Rite is perhaps best defined by the rites and prayers of the Sacred Liturgy. This is a simple application of the ancient principle lex orandi, lex credendi, or, the practice of our prayer is the practice of our belief. How we pray best defines what we believe. This is one of the reasons why an accurate translation of liturgical texts is so essential to the life of the Church. We will never have a clear idea of what we believe until we have a clear idea of the texts we have prayed in the Sacred Liturgy for over a millennium
From the context of the interview it seems that the monsignor is implying that the texts of the Novus Ordo represent the millenial liturgy of the Roman Church -- a strange claim that is rather widespread. Nevertheless, the idea in the highlighted passage is, in itself, correct. Here's hoping that those who read it will realize its implications...


Anonymous said...

A "clear idea of the texts we have prayed in the Sacred Liturgy for over a millennium".
Isn't that the problem with the modern Roman Missal and Sacraments. They are the product of a committee. They have not been used for over a millenium. Many clergy and laity fail to grasp we are using a new liturgy that has removed ancient things, edited and twisted the liturgical expression of the Faith. The question is no so much the use of latin but the lack of continuity. Bugnini has given us a forgery which is now only 40 years old. Our tradition of Obedience to the Magisterium has for 3 popes been used to destroy the same tradition. How could this have occurred. Deception? The Papacy at war with the same depsoit of Faith that gives it authority? That is why we must resist.

Gideon Ertner said...

I did a rough estimate of how much of the new Ordinary of the Mass (not the propers) is taken from the old. If one splits the liturgy into individual, completed prayers, and if taking into account all legitimate options, the percentage of prayers taken from the old missal (either entirely or with only minor changes) is about 45%.

Not that high, and the fact that it is less than 50% should give pause for thought. Still, we may recognize more than glimpses of the traditional Roman liturgy in the new (to what extent depending, of course, upon which options are used.)

LeonG said...

Moroney admits that the NO service uses defective translations: something those of us who are immersed in liturgical studies have known since 1969 when we could see the whole liturgical nightmare as a whole.

How he can claim that the NO is in the millenial spirit of the Latin liturgy is either gratuitous mendacity or it is yet another attempt to resell the unsaleable. The vernacular language itself is not acceptable as the liturgical language of The Latin Rite Church. We do not require a thousand years to understand that the NO is responsible for feeding gtwo generations of new catholics with false beliefs about liturgical embodiment. The novel praxis is reflected in dangerous new catholic norms and values; dysfuntional liturgies; plummeting church attendance statistics and a commensurate shrinkage in vocations to the so-called "prebyterate". We do not a thousand years, Monseigneur, we can draw objective conclusions today that after 50 years of the NO nothing will alter its fundamentally flawed anthropocentric, protestantised and liberal modernist nature.

The more it is changed, the more it becomes self-evident that it is just not Catholic.

John McFarland said...

Dear Mr. Palad,

Perhaps Msgr. Moloney didn't say what he meant; that's happened to all of us any number of times.

But if he did say more or less what he meant, it looks to me like more hermeneutic of reform/ continuity: he is spinning the Old Mass and the New Mass as somehow part of a unified whole.

As regards lex orandi lex credendi, let me offer a few thoughts.

First of all, the maxim can not mean that prayer really "defines" faith. Faith comes first, and determines and judges prayer.

The maxim means that the liturgy of the Church helps us understand the faith of the Church. Those who know Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year" can see the maxim in action across fifteen volumes.

It also means that the liturgy guards faith, since it is the place where the faithful have the most public and common exposure to the faith.

But note that the maxim has been current for centuries, and so refers to THE TRADTIONAL LITURGY.

But what can the maxim mean when the liturgy has become something different from the traditional liturgy?

If the liturgy is being changed, then must it not be the case that the faith as professed in the liturgy is in some sense being changed?

Anonymous said...

Knowing the Monsignor Personally, though it was 15 years ago, I KNOW he was fundamentally opposed to the Adoremus people et al.

I have always been amazed at how he navigated the waters of both the Vox Clara Commission, while at the same time working for Troutperson.

He's a great politician. You must give him that.

John McFarland said...

Mr. Ertner,

Can you offer an estimate of what percentage of the "carryover" prayers (collects, secrets, postcommunions) are faithfully translated in the official English versions of the New Mass?

Anonymous said...

Father Zuhlsdorf is the expert on this. I saw a figure of only 17% of Prefaces have survived intact from the authentic Missal into the 1970 Missal.

Anonymous said...

But didn't Pope Pius XII reversed this maxim already, thereby allowing popes to tamper with sacred liturgy with impunity?


Anonymous said...

Is there any desire among the Pope and bishops to insist that as Vatican II teaches, steps be taken to ensure that the Faithful are able to pray in Latin the Ordinary of the Mass?

Anonymous said...

Some of the prayers in the NO not found in the TLM are taken from various ancient Sacramentaries, e.g the Gelasian Sacramentary. Are these counted in Gideon Ertner's estimate?

A tricky point, however, is that many of the NO prayers, even when taken from ancient Sacramentaries, the ancient prayers are 'edited' and cut/pasted. Does this make a completely new prayer, or merely a remixed one? I don't know

Jordanes said...

But didn't Pope Pius XII reversed this maxim already, thereby allowing popes to tamper with sacred liturgy with impunity?

Yes, he did reverse the maxim in Mediator Dei (where one may read his explanation of why both "lex orandi, lex credendi" and "lex credendi, lex orandi" are true).

However, popes have been "tampering" with sacred liturgy with "impunity" for a few centuries now.

the authentic Missal

Does the Church have an inauthentic Missal?

John McFarland said...

Dear Anonymous 15:22,

There are, I believe, eleven prefaces in the traditional missal, and 17% of eleven is about two.

But is the 17% figure from the traditional Latin to the Novus Ordo Latin? from the traditional Latin to the English translation? or from the Novus Ordo Latin to the English translation?

Father Zuhlsdorf should also have a good idea of the situation for the collect-style prayers of the traditional missal (collect, secret, postcommunion), since giving improved translations of them from the Latin was once his stock in trade. But here again, I'm curious whether there were significant changes between the Latin traditional Mass and the Latin new Mass.

John McFarland said...

"But didn't Pope Pius XII reversed this maxim already, thereby allowing popes to tamper with sacred liturgy with impunity?"

First of all, lex orandi lex credendi is a maxim, not a doctrine or a disciplinary regulation.

Secondly, lex credendi lex orandi is true, and in a sense truer than the original. One can imagine scenarios in which some element of the liturgy would need to be changed to make it consistent with the faith. It is unimaginable that the faith would be changed in order to conform to the liturgy.

Adam said...

"One can imagine scenarios in which some element of the liturgy would need to be changed to make it consistent with the faith."

Let's be careful. No doctrine can develop in its expression to the point where the liturgy of an earlier age cannot express the Faith. Revision for clarity? Yes. Essential need for revision? No, for the essential content of the Faith is always taught, known, and defended.

Anonymous said...

In terms of comparing new to old in the Mass, liturgiologists generally categorise change as follows:

additions (e.g restoration of the ancient Prayer of General Intercession, an act of the sort of archæologism that was condemned by Pius XII in Mediator Dei),

intrusions or insertions (a type of adding that alters the unity of a particular prayer, e.g. adding the sins of 'omission' in the Confiteor),

deletions (e.g. removal of the Placeat Tibi or of the Last Gospel),

substitutions (replacing one form with another, such as the complete replacement of the Traditional Offertory by that nauseating one in the N.O.),

alterations (small changes that keep to the function, if not the spirit, of the original),

re-orderings (moving or transposing prayers, such as the N.O. inversion of dismissal and Last Blessing),

rubrical change,

change in musical settings, keeping in mind that the sacred music is part of the Liturgy and not merely an accompaniment to it (which is why one cannot fulfil the Sunday obligation by attending Mass while wearing earplugs).

It will be found that, in every single category, the New Mass departs from the old and that, in most categories, the departure is radical. It is not merely a matter of changing 45% of the actual prayers in the Ordinary (and Lord knows what per centage in the propers), it also includes the revolutionary character of changes in rubrics and musical settings, which are both essential parts of Holy Mass.

This is why we can say that the New Mass and the T.L.M. are different rites of Mass and not merely different forms of one rite. If they are different forms only, how can the Ambrosian Mass be a different Rite, as everyone acknowledges it to be? It is far closer to the T.L.M. than the T.L.M. is to the N.O.M.


Anonymous said...

"Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it."

This is for clarification on this board as a few days ago, someone incorrectly posted that Personal Prelatures can only include clerics.

Anonymous said...

But is not liturgy the wellspring of faith? And is it not a better witness to faith than the decretals of bishops and popes which seem to change from time? In my poor opinion, had the faithful kept their sense of liturgy, those who would have wanted change could be rebuked since they are tampering with the witness of the apostolic church found in liturgy.

I hope I do not offend anyone. I'm agnostic by nature but I do tend to give attention to traditional liturgy East and West.


John McFarland said...

Dear Adam,

Let's indeed be careful. For current purposes, let's focus on the Mass.

The Mass is not a compendium of the Faith, nor a teaching aid, nor an apologetic exercise; and so "the essential content of the Faith is" not "always taught, known, and defended" in the Mass. That is not the Mass's purpose.

The issue is what to make of changes in the Mass that at a minimum represent a retrogression in the quality of its representation of its own nature, as infallibly defined by the Holy Council of Trent -- a retrogression that only the incurably naive and/or culpably stubborn can believe was not deliberate.

What Archbishop Lefebvre made of the Novus Ordo is that it is Protestant, and makes Protestants.

If that is accurate, then lex ordandi does indeed need to be corrected by lege credendi.

John McFarland said...

Mr. Perkins,

Permit me to offer a couple of quibbles:

1. Archaeologism, my clavicle: the General Intercession is Lutheran. Indeed, with all due respect to Pope Pius XII, the intent of most archaeologism is not misguided love of the past or the primitive, but the sly tarting up liturgical retrogression in the service of modernism.

2. The real point of the changes in the Offertory is what was taken out -- a perfectly clear account of what the Mass is -- and not whether or not its replacement is nauseating.

John McFarland said...

Dear Anonymous 21:48,

What 296 is saying is this:

Layman can join themselves to the prelature, BUT THEY ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE PRELATURE.

Opus Dei, the pattern for (and still the only?) personal prelature is a bunch of priests with whom layman agree to work.

Now that is in fact not what Opus Dei thinks it is, and certainly not how it operates internally. But that's what it is canonically.

But my real purpose is not to rap your knuckles, but to use your misunderstanding as an occasion to advise the denizens of this site given to amateur canon lawyering that the law is a a very complicated business. That's why a fair number of people make a pretty good living and it.

Anonymous said...


Well, yes, law is complicated, and I am not a lawyer. Point taken.

However, my liver "organically cooperates" with the rest of my body, and I don't consider it just tagging along.

I trust Opus Dei is paying some decent legal fees to iron this out.

The life of the Church often gets ahead of the laws of the Church.

You could ask St. Thomas Aquinas about that, please God, in heaven.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the NO is that, in itself, it is an experimental and fabricated liturgy. How can we expect to have an authentic interpretation on something that has been fabricated from the very beginning? Granted, the new translations are an improvement, but the NO will always be lacking in the richness that the TLM possesses. It always amazes me to hear from those people who abhor the TLM but stand for a conservative celebration of the NO to hear "I don't like experimentation in the Mass." Fact, the NO is an experiment in itself. My rant for the day is done.

Anonymous said...


Mr. McFarland, please do us a favor: think before you write. To claim that the general intercessions is/are "lutheran" is unclear at best, stupid in most instances. The Eastern Rites (and certain Latin Rites) have had general intercessions a saeculo.

Lex orandi legem statuat credendi, or variations thereof, is found so often in Papal Texts and solid authors that I would hesitate to call it only a maxim: an AXIOM, perhaps, but something stronger than a maxim.

It seems to me that no one answered fully the question regarding Pius XII - as Gregory DiPippo's articles on NLM have shown to my satisfaction, the trend was set long ago (St. Pius X, Urban VIII, et al.) and the Sede&$*%, SSPX, et alii seem to conveniently ignore this in their critiques: granted, we all see the Paul VI Missal as the most revolutionary, yet, the arguments need to met head-on and with perspective of the past, no?

Gideon Ertner said...

"This is why we can say that the New Mass and the T.L.M. are different rites of Mass and not merely different forms of one rite. If they are different forms only, how can the Ambrosian Mass be a different Rite, as everyone acknowledges it to be?

I believe this approach is a bit simplistic. If we were to compare the Roman Missal (with rubrics, music etc.) of 1920 with that used by Pope Gregory the Great (assuming we had it), we would also see enormous differences, particularly in the area of rubrics and music. Yet everyone acknowledges that they are merely two chronologically distinct menifestations of the Roman Rite. The private prayers, readings, rubrics and music of the Sarum Use of the Roman Rite was also markedly different from the Roman Use of its time, yet they are also commonly considered two uses of one rite.

Personally I believe that the distinction between different 'rites' in the final analysis cannot avoid being rather arbirtary. However if we are to speak of different 'rites' we must take into account that a 'rite' does not merely exist at a particular moment but its existence is extended in the temporal plane and thus evolves over time.

It is indisputable that the 1962 rite (itself indisputably a particular manifestation of the Roman Rite) was the point of departure for those crafting the 1969 rite. The 1969 rite also contains the same general structure that is characteristic of the Roman Rite, even if many rubrics, prayers and music is changed. Thus the 1969 rite could be considered a development of the Roman Rite. If that is so, it must nevertheless be admitted that it does not respect the traditional manner of development by which that rite had hitherto evolved. Whether that fact in itself is enough to make it certain that the rite is really new and not a development remains, in my opinion, to be positively established (and I cannot see how this can be done).

LeonG said...


There you have it - the liturgy is the key and Bugnini knew this so well that he persisted in his evil project for at least two decades in order to undermine Roman Catholicism and bring about an evolutionary protestant liturgy which would then suit the liberal modernist ecumenical and interreligious paradigms by "razing bastions" among which The Holy Mass in Latin was the most significant.

The NO is so subversive that it has poisoned the church in less than 50 years, with fundamental disunity; dysfunctional & widespread un-catholic norms & values and it has almost by systemic deceit replaced the true Catholic liturgical rite. When you work with it regularly and produce Sunday liturgies these salient facts stand out increasingly. Even if they add Latin to it here and there with a few genuflections and signs of The Cross it will remain as it was conceived: a fabrication totally out of step with Roman Catholic liturgical aspirations.

Janet Rocha said...

OT.please could you tell me fom which painting your banner is taken? I assume it is a painting of the Annunciation but I haven't been able to find it on google. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The Magisterium through Paul VI created this problem. Bugnini and Weakland were giving him bad advise and deceiving him .By changing such an essential sign of antiquity, continuity, credability it has communicated to the whole Church the methodology or repudiating the past in order to be "modern". That is why there is such division in the Church. Catholics have been applying the methodology to their lives since the 1960's. A new Mass, a new morality, a new belief all constructed in order to be opposite to what the Church has taught.Yes and it is all justified by saing it is a reform...but it is a deform!
Now even listening to the Magisterium is largely ignored. Why? Because that is the methodology in action. Because it through the episcopate has contradicted itself and been silent appointing bad bishops.
Thanks be to God we have Pope BenedictXVI.