Rorate Caeli

The Liturgical Creed and the Principles of the Anti-Liturgical Heresy revisited

[A "radical" blog? Well, this must have always been one. This post in another blog reminded us of the following post written in April 2006. It seems that the essence of this "creed" would be confirmed by the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter, issued some 15 months later.]

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.