Does Traditionis Custodes pass Liturgical History 101 ?

Legislation cannot change historical facts. Nor can an act of legal positivism determine what is or is not part of the lex orandi of the Church.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller elevates the Eucharist during a Tridentine Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 15, 2011. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In the brouhaha following the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes on July 16th we have been treated to a torrent of commentary from the victors that often betrays such a distortion of liturgical history as to be comparable to the most unprincipled secular journalists crowing with their revisionist by-lines on the morning after ‘their’ candidate gains power in whatever election. Let us not now pretend that this is anything other than a political ecclesiastical war, howsoever disturbing that reality may be – even more so given that a liturgical tolerance if not peace had been taking root, growing and bearing fruit in many if not most dioceses, three weeks ago.

Pope Francis has gone back “strongly to what Vatican II said and upheld it”, we have been told. “Some of what Pope Benedict did was contrary to the Second Vatican Council,” it is said. “The entire church” will be “returning to the 1970 Mass,” it is trumpeted.  “The 1970 missal” is blithely said “in a sense to be superior, more faithful to the will of the Lord as understood by the Second Vatican Council.” “Active participation” in the liturgy and the liturgy of Vatican II “are synonymous,” it is asserted. We are to be relieved that corrupt “medieval” elements of the liturgy have been discarded once and for all.

So, too, the very first article of the Motu Proprio itself, which seeks to establish the modern liturgical books as the “unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman rite”, betrays a fundamentally defective understanding of the history of the liturgy, of the relationship of the lex orandi and the lex credendi and of the power of those whose ministry in the Church is indeed that of guarding her living Tradition.

Corruption of the liturgy?

A recapitulation of some basics of liturgical history is thus in order.1 Let’s start with the supposed medieval “corruption” of the liturgy – a theory quite fashionable amongst mid-twentieth century liturgists and propagated widely by their doyen, Joseph A. Jungmann, SJ. According to this theory the “pure” liturgy of the early Church was corrupted in the medieval period and overlayed with inappropriate elements. Based on this assumption twentieth-century reformers eagerly sought to remove the illegitimate accretions and to return to the liturgy before it was thus corrupted, which they made available anew through the liturgical reform of St Paul VI.

This theory, sometimes called “antiquarianism”, denigrates all liturgical forms growing up in the life of the Church from the fall of the Roman Empire through to the Renaissance – approximately 1,000 years – denying the possibility that the Holy Spirit could inspire legitimate developments in the liturgy in this period. It is staggering in its arrogance, but truly useful as a political tool. In the end even Paul VI resisted its harshest implications, refusing liturgists’ demands to abolish the Roman canon, the Confiteor, the Orate Fratres, etc. (In practice, one may argue, they were abolished nevertheless by becoming mere options, or by being mal-translated, but that is another issue.)

If Jungmann’s corruption theory was the fundamental error underpinning the work of mid twentieth century reformers, the “new clothes” of the liturgical Emperors of our own times are stitched together with the assumption that active participation in the liturgy and the liturgy of Vatican II (read the liturgical books promulgated by Paul VI) are coterminous. Well, no, they are not.

First, that the liturgy is “the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit” and that true participation in it was essential for all was asserted by St Piux X in 1903 and reiterated by his successors up to the Council. Furthermore, his 1903 assertion gave rise to what became known as the twentieth-century liturgical movement dedicated to promoting actual participation in the liturgy as it then was (that is, what is now seen as the older form of the Roman rite – the “usus antiquior”). Decades of work followed wherein pastors and scholars diligently led people to discover and drink deeply from that primary and indispensable source of the Christian spirit as the basis of their daily life.

It is true that in so doing some came to believe that this true participation could be facilitated by liturgical reform – a modest introduction of the vernacular, for example. Accordingly, some reforms were enacted, beginning in the 1950s. It is in this context that the Second Vatican Council – an unquestionably legitimate ecumenical Council of the Church – authoritatively judged it apposite to call for an organic development of the Roman rite, a modest reform so as to achieve the noble pastoral ends the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy sets out in its first paragraph.

It is also true that some voices at the time, and in the 1950s, betrayed a misunderstanding of the nature of the liturgy, seeking to adapt it almost completely to the image and likeness and supposed needs of ‘modern man’, thereby evacuating its very content and turning it into something more akin to Protestant worship. Some liturgists, numerous over-enthusiastic younger clergy, religious, and laity, and even one or two Council Fathers rode this wave of liturgical “creativity”. Such theories and practical “abuses” are less frequent today, but they did incalculable damage.

Vatican II and the implementation of reform

In the midst of this, the official group entrusted with the implementation of the Council’s reform (the “Consilium”) whether through enthusiasm, sheer opportunity or sincere conviction that it was for the good of the Church (or a combination of these factors), went well beyond the reform envisaged by the Council and produced rites that owed more to the desires of key players on the Consilium than they did to the principles of the Council’s own Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Where did the Council call for new Eucharistic Prayers? Where did it authorize the 100% vernacularization of the liturgical rites? One could enumerate further examples. The Consilium’s Secretary, Father Bugnini himself, boasts in his memoirs of exceeding the Council’s mandate.

What is crucial here is that a legitimate distinction can be made between the Council and the reform implemented in its name. Questioning the continuity of the modern liturgical books with liturgical tradition, and with the sound principles laid down by the Council is not denying the Council or its authority. It is, rather, to seek to defend the Council from those who distorted its stated intentions.

Nevertheless, as is evident from his public discourses at the time, Paul VI was personally convinced in 1969/1970 that these further steps in producing the reformed rites he promulgated – all of which he personally and authoritatively approved in their specific detail – were worth the sacrifice of the venerable liturgical rites. He sincerely believed that they would bring about a new springtime in the life of the Church in his day. The liturgical books he promulgated are unquestionably authoritative. The sacraments celebrated by them are valid. But, given that they went beyond the Council’s mandate, it is historically and liturgically true to say that they are the liturgical books of Paul VI, not of the Second Vatican Council. And on this basis it is legitimate to question their continuity with liturgical tradition.

The new, more recent use of the Roman rite (the “usus recentior”) is an innovation, judged apposite by the supreme authority. His competence to do this is another question, particularly in the light of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

No sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy. (par. 1125)

Later in his pontificate Paul VI had misgivings. His 1975 summary dismissal of the key architect of the reform (by then Archbishop) Bugnini, and his severe treatment of those who opposed the reform may be seen as symptoms of this. The expected new springtime in the life of the Church had not materialized, as statistics demonstrate only too well. To be sure, many sociological factors contributed to the gravity of the crisis, but the fact remains that the much-hailed “new” liturgy did not produce the results its architects had promised. Participation in the liturgical rites rapidly diminished for the very simple reason that the first and most necessary participation is physical presence at them. Increasingly, the people no longer came at all.

Reforms under St John Paul II and Benedict XVI

St John Paul II’s election in 1978 sought a stricter implementation of the reformed liturgical books – abuses were strongly denounced – and in 1984 a limited permission was given for the usus antiquior as a means of healing divisions that had hardened under Paul VI. This permission was widened in 1988 in response to Archbishop Lefebvre’s unlawful consecration of bishops, and, significantly, because the Pope recognized the “rightful aspirations” of those attached to the previous liturgical reforms. This recognition facilitated the formation of Institutes and personal parishes and other communities of which the usus antiquior was (and is) the lifeblood. The full, conscious and actual participation in the liturgical rites witnessed in these communities to this day – something of which the Council Fathers would be proud – has borne significant fruit ever since, particularly in attracting the young and in generating vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Recognizing this reality and understanding the larger question of the need to address the rupture in the Church’s liturgical tradition, John Paul II’s right hand man for two decades, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, undertook two initiatives. As a Cardinal and in the capacity of a private theologian he wrote and spoke often about the need for a new liturgical movement to recapture the true spirit of the liturgy. And he spoke about the desirability of a “reform of the liturgical reform”, to correct the liturgical books of Paul VI as it were.

The former was general enough to cause no concern amongst the partisans of the missal of Paul VI, but the concrete proposal to retouch and improve the usus recentior was too much for them. Even after his election to the papacy, talk of a possible “reform of the reform” was forbidden within the walls of his own Congregation for Divine Worship, effectively blocking its progress. The opportunity lost by the rigid insistence that the liturgical books of Paul VI are irreformable may not be judged well by history.

As pope, Benedict XVI acted on his convictions and in 2007 exhorted the Church to a more worthy celebration of the usus recentior in continuity with liturgical tradition (Sacramentum caritatis). Some months later he established that the usus antiquior had its rightful place in the liturgical life of the Church and freed it from the parsimonious grip of the bishops who had, in too many places, sought to strangle it (Summorum pontificum).

As a result, the growth stimulated by John Paul II accelerated. Peaceful liturgical coexistence augmented many dioceses. Some mutual enrichment between the uses began to grow. Visiting bishops encountered young, vibrant, apostolic communities – sometimes in stark contrast to others in their diocese.

Were these acts of Benedict XVI contrary to the Council? For those of us too young to have been there it is difficult to say. We did not work daily with its Fathers, nor did we help draft its documents. Benedict XVI did. And he has dedicated his theological and episcopal ministry to its interpretation in a hermeneutic of continuity, not of rupture – which is surely the only valid way to interpret its reforms. So too, the discourses and documents of Benedict XVI reference the Council constantly, far more than those of his successor. That is not to criticize the Holy Father, who has his own approach, but simply to observe that Pope Benedict’s teaching was thoroughly Conciliar, even though by no means warped by the ideological belief that the Church (or a new Church) started at Vatican II. If Benedict XVI’s acts are seen as contrary to the Council, it is because they challenged and corrected this ideological “Council” and its progeny with historical and theological reality.

What is significant – and this was unexpected by many – is that the pontificate of Benedict XVI revealed him to be a gentle and fatherly professor, quite generous to those of differing views. He did not harshly sanction those with whom he disagreed. Rather, he sought to teach them, often by example. Liturgically, whilst himself celebrating the usus recentior well, he recognized and respected the importance of the usus antiquior in the life of the Church of the 21st century, and in particular its attraction to the young. The riches of diversity in unity were a reality in many dioceses, and were valued.

At Pope Benedict’s resignation it was unimaginable that any successor could rescind Summorum Pontificum. And yet that has now happened. Why?

The virtual vs. the on the ground realities

The stated motivation is urgently to protect the unity of the Church which is threatened by Council-denying traditionalists’ attitudes and utterances. It is true that there are loud self-styled ‘rad-trads’ whose pontificating on any aspect of the faith and on the sacred liturgy in particular at times takes one’s breath away for its presumption, arrogance, or ignorance. And yes, there are the professional traditionalists who have never had an unpublished or unmonetized thought and who presume to dictate the media narrative, or even dispense from liturgical law, based on their own private judgement. And there are the laptop liturgists who should otherwise be in seminaries or monasteries but who, through their own or through others’ fault, find themselves only able to talk about the liturgy rather than to live it, and who end up living in a liturgical world of their own based on their personal and often quite eccentric preferences.

If there is division or denial fomented by these people, it is virtual – which is not to say that it is not serious, particularly given the capacity of virtual reality to influence minds. But, as many bishops worldwide have attested in recent weeks, this is not the on the ground reality in the communities who live a tangible liturgical and apostolic life centered on the fruitful participation in the riches of the usus antiquior. What is needed is not an edict ordering these peoples’ extermination, but the provision of centers of integral liturgical life that can draw these people from the fringes back into the heart of the communion of the Church, with mercy, charity, and, yes, when necessary, with correction. To overreact to this problem simply demonstrates one’s insecurity in the face of it. It also goes some way towards proving their point and further fueling their narrative.

Many bishops, including some who are no real friends of the usus antiquior, have been prompt to take a pastoral stance in respect of the measures enacted by Traditionis custodes. This may simply be because its provisions are untenable, or unworkable, in the judgement of diocesan bishops with real problems with which to deal. It has also often been because they know that the problem motivating this legislation does not exist in their dioceses. The widespread ‘non-reception’ of this Motu Proprio by the episcopate may itself turn out to be an important historical event in liturgical and papal history.

Seemingly, though, there are those in the Roman Curia who sincerely believe that Traditionis custodes will result in the disappearance of the usus antiquior from the Church. With all due respect to their Eminent, Most Reverend and Right Reverend persons, they are as out of touch with reality as they are with historical fact. Blind suicidal obedience is a thing of the past. They may rekindle liturgical wars and drive people underground or outside the ordinary ecclesiastical structures; they may well frustrate and even destroy Christian lives and vocations; they may increase division in the Church in the name of purportedly protecting its unity (and for all of that they shall have to answer to Almighty God), but this will only serve to underline the importance and crucial value of the usus antiquior in the life of the Church of today and of tomorrow. So too, the perceived need to resort to such drastic measures to ‘protect’ the usus recentior some fifty years after its promulgation is, perhaps, its greatest indictment.

Some prelates might take comfort in repeating the mantra that the Missal of Paul VI is “a witness to unchanging faith and uninterrupted tradition,” as an article of faith. But that is not actually true. The need to employ such language to assert continuity where it is so patently absent belies the propaganda such a statement in fact is. That the Missal of Paul VI contains theological and liturgical differences to that of St John XXIII which are substantial and intentional is something on which the post-conciliar reformers themselves, honest and intelligent protagonists of the usus recentior today, and its critics, all agree. Traditionis custodes itself, in its assumption that the usus antiquior has no place in the post-conciliar Church, implicitly affirms this.

If it is true that the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was a key player (or pawn?) in the production of this Motu Proprio, and if it is true that he boasted that his clique would succeed in annihilating Summorum Pontificum, then it is clear that this is part of an orchestrated campaign. Has the Holy Father been misled or even abused by some zealots? Or does he labour under a profound historical misconception in respect of these questions? We must redouble our prayers for him, and for the Church. The votive Mass for the Unity of the Church should not be ignored in these days.


As I have said many times, I am not a traditionalist. I am a Catholic. And as a Catholic I hold that the bitterness, fear, alienation, and growing division directly brought about by Traditionis custodes is a situation of the utmost grave concern. It is a source of scandal well beyond those whom it targeted and, pastorally speaking, is already a disaster – particularly amongst the young.

In the face of this, as a liturgical historian, I cannot remain silent. Legislation cannot change historical facts. Nor can an act of legal positivism determine what is or is not part of the lex orandi of the Church, for as the Catechism teaches, “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” (par. 1124) – of which the bishops, and first amongst them, the Bishop of Rome, are guardians, not the proprietors. For as one humble Pope taught when taking possession of his cathedral in Rome:

The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.

The same pope was a diligent student of theology and of liturgical history. This led him to conclude that: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” He insisted that “It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

Any other conclusions fail Liturgical History 101. They wouldn’t pass the theology or pastoral care courses either.


1 For more detailed examinations of these questions and relevant bibliographical references see my works The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius, 2005) and T&T Clark Companion to Liturgy (Bloomsbury, 2015).

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About Dom Alcuin Reid 8 Articles
Dom Alcuin Reid is the founding Prior of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, and a liturgical scholar of international renown. His principle work, The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2005) carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.


  1. I am enormously grateful to see this statement by Dom Reid, a Catholic priest who understands that tradition is a mark of Catholicism. In contrast, the voluntarism (i.e., willfulness) and mischief of the authors of Traditionis Custodes, like that of their predecessors Pope Paul VI and Msgr. Bugnini, continues to betray a staggering arrogance and ignorance. Such arrogance and ignorance is documented by Fr. Louis Bouyer, who witnessed the pathological pattern of deceit practiced by Msgr. Bugnini, in maiming and disfiguring the liturgy of the Mass, and in his memoirs described Bugnini as “a man as bereft of Catholic culture as he was of basic honesty.”

    Dom Alcuin Reid has justly described TC as an act of ecclesial war.

    It is thus a mark of Pontiffs, Cardinals, Bishops, and liturgical Jacobins who, in contrast to the truly “conciliar” Pope Benedict XVI, evince that the pathology called “the spirit of V2” is a malicious spirit of injustice, violence, arrogance and ignorance.

    At this juncture, the Pontiff Francis shows the utter impoverishment of the “spirit of V2,” having ascended to the top of a decadent cohort ruled by sociopaths like McCarrick and Danneels, who prove themselves contemptuous of the prior and transcendent authority scripture and tradition, and who have nothing more to appeal to but their own dwindling terms in office.

  2. Excellent article. It suggests to me a thought experiment. Suppose a valid ecumenical council were to make a pastoral decision that the liturgy should be divested of elements that might prove obstacles to restoration of Christian union with non-Catholics. Suppose a pope were to infer from this that the sign of the cross must be removed from the liturgy of the Church. Does canon law permit him to do so? Quite possibly the answer is yes. But is it permitted within tradition and the necessity of maintaining an element of the lex orandi whose origin is almost certainly apostolic? Certainly not. This contradiction — when legal positivism suggests the possibility that a constitutive element of the lex orandi could be discarded to gratify a papal whim — is an ecclesiological problem, an indication of something defective in our understanding of what the petrine ministry is for and does. In the first millennium, innovating bishops were run out of town for much, much less. Those were times when the laity desired salvation, and deeply resented anything that might put it in jeopardy. Their faith was active and engaged, in a way incomprehensible to Catholics of our time, even those who believe, who so rarely take ownership of their faith to the extent of demanding orthodoxy from clerics, taking seriously the question of whether or not their pastors truly possess the orthodox, catholic, and apostolic faith, and refusing to tolerate those who do not, as a public menace.

    • I agree…you have touched on a big problem. There is something very defective and dysfunctional about the governance of the Church, when the men who have long connived to attain authority finally snatch it, and now openly reveal their contempt for scripture and tradition, and expect men to revere nothing other than their own arrogant exercise of office, which is the lowest source of authority, and dwindled to mere tyranny in the hands of men who have contempt for revelation, and the faithfulness of those who preceded them in office and pew.

  3. What a disappointing article. The Council Fathers voted nearly unanimously to reform the liturgy. Celebrating the unreformed liturgy is incompatible with being a post-Conciliar Catholic. Even a tiny attachment to the TLM betrays a lack of full acceptance of Vatican II because it seeks to preserve and personally use a liturgical form that the Council decided no longer was in the best interests of the Church.

    • I hear the bell. You’re late for reading class. Maybe you’re forgiven for His failure to gift you understanding and knowledge. Hmmm…

    • Clarity is beautiful, as the poet wrote…

      V2 Bishops were only voting on SC, not the New Order of the Bugnini Committee.

      Voting for SC, as even Archbishop Lefebvre voted, is obviously not voting for Pope Paul’s project (the Bugnini Rite, as Laszlo Dobszay entitled it).

    • How could it incompatible if all the Pontiffs admitted its validity? If you intensely looked into the identity of the council fathers who thought that the TLM was not in the best interests of the church, you would realize their intent not to reform the church but to strip her of her sacrificial nature and make her more “acceptable” to protestants. They received something from their Fathers in Faith and they refused to pass it down to the next generation, causing the next generation to have to search for it on their own with little clerical assistance, wandering in the desert of Modernism. This is the highest form of spiritual abuse and the WORST abuse crisis in the church, the shunning of tradition and traditional morality and keeping it from the Faithful. Thanks for your persecution of those who reject all heresies anathematized and assent to all dogma defined in ALL councils, not just the most recent one.

      • And the irony is that if they really hoped that Protestantizing the Mass would make Catholicism palatable to Protestants and induce them back into the fold, it was not well thought out as virtually all of the one-time mainline Protestants are fully apostate now as are most of the people who were Catholic then, as well asr their children. It is odd that Carl King, supra, is ecstatic about this outcome.

    • Mr. King, show me where in the documents of Vatican II the Council calls for a wholesale change of the Mass.

      Is your middle name by any chance “Lemming?”

    • Hello Carl,

      But this begs the question of just what the Council Fathers actually called for in Sacrosanctum Concilium, doesn’t it? In fact, it is Dom Alcuin’s main argument that there *is* a critical difference between what they called for and what we actually got in the new rite:

      “What is crucial here is that a legitimate distinction can be made between the Council and the reform implemented in its name. Questioning the continuity of the modern liturgical books with liturgical tradition, and with the sound principles laid down by the Council is not denying the Council or its authority. It is, rather, to seek to defend the Council from those who distorted its stated intentions.”

    • Ummmmm. No. Clearly you have no credentials or competency in the areas of Theology, Sacred Liturgy, or Ecclesiastical History. What you posted is nothing more than your uninformed opinion.

    • You did not read the article and yet you comment on it and raise points that Fr. Reid doesn’t dispute. That makes you essentially a liar.

    • Dear Carl King,

      (1) Please show where Vatican II ordered: altar girls, lay ministers of communion, communion in the hand, removal of altar rails, Mass facing the people, making up new Eucharistic prayers, celebrating Mass exclusively in the vernacular, etc.
      (2) Do you accept the *dogmas* defined by the Council of Trent concerning the Eucharistic sacrifice to be infallible and irreformable and that Catholics are bound in conscience to accept? Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that one reason many people are ideologically opposed to the celebration of the old Mass is because in pratice they reject the teachings of Trent. (The Novus Ordo does not express a *different* theology of the Mass than the old missal but it does not express that theology with quite the same force. In other words, the Novus Ordo does not teach modernism and Neo-Protestantism, but a modernist or a neo-Protestant can stomach the New Mass in a way they cannot the old.)
      (3) Specifically which doctrines *defined* by Vatican II do you accuse “traditionalists” of rejecting?

  4. Awesome. For some bizarre reason, I prepared a lengthy grateful response which I somehow deleted.

    I’m grateful for the common sense, the reason, the clarity of your understanding and stating the problem. As a mourner for what we’ve lost by TC, I’m grateful for your pastoral concern. The explanation of active participation is an inspired display of hard common sense. Aquinas would be proud of such logic.

    May blessings abound and may some of those return to the Pope so he may see the good he’s undone.

  5. “The ban on celebrating traditional Holy Mass is inspired by the Devil who desires our spiritual death”
    -Cardinal Robert Sarah

  6. Pope Paul VI seems to have feared a new Reformation arising in, particularly, the Netherlands and those parts of Germany bordering it. (possibly also Northern France). That must be a part of the narrative, since it led directly to the multiplicity of Eucharistic Prayers being accepted by the Pope. It also lent great urgency to producing the revised Mass as a way of terminating wild unauthorised experimentation in that region.

  7. For the reader a reminder. Although Lex Orandi is regularly worded as preceding Lex Credendi, in point of theological sequence Lex Credendi what we believe, revealed in Apostolic Tradition precedes what we practice. Church teaching [lex credendi] is articulated and made manifest in the celebration of the liturgy and prayer [lex orandi]. “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” (CCC 1124). Pius XII clarifies this in Mediator Dei. “On this subject [46] 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, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity, as Augustine puts it. God is to be worshipped, he says, by faith, hope and charity. In the sacred liturgy we profess the Catholic faith explicitly and openly, not only by the celebration of the mysteries, and by offering the holy sacrifice and administering the sacraments, but also by saying or singing the credo or Symbol of the faith. For this reason, whenever there was question of defining a truth revealed by God, the Sovereign Pontiff and the Councils had in their recourse the theological sources”. In context then of a correct interpretation of Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, what Dom Alcuin Reid correctly alludes to is that the Traditional Catholic Mass practiced for 2000 years more amply conveys the mind of what the Church believes. That is consistent with Benedict XVI’s teaching in Summorum Pontificum, and the permanent retention of the TLM for continued practice and as a resource for enriching the Novus Ordo.

    • Yes Father, this is the problem with turning serious analysis into pithy aphorisms. We need liturgical prayer to express the belief of the church, so that it helps the faithful to grow in their understanding.
      What Prosper of Aquitaine wrote was :
      Let us consider the sacraments of priestly prayers, which having been handed down by the apostles are celebrated uniformly throughout the whole world and in every Catholic Church so that the law of praying might establish the law of believing [ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi]

  8. The most interesting thing I have read on Traditiones is this piece by “Canon Law Made Easy”. My understanding is that she is a rather ordinary Catholic, not an extremist traditionalist in any way. Yet, as a canon lawyer, she notes how Traditiones may well be invalid under Canon Law. She points out that there are so many mistakes in it, and contradictions, that it is very hard to implement. She notes that it appears to have been written by one person, probably not the Pope, and that person made a lot of mistakes, indicating the whole thing was rushed and was not reviewed by the normal process.

  9. In the very first sentence we read, “we have been treated to a torrent of commentary from the victors”

    Wow! So, it is a battle between two sides. Just what Pope Francis was afraid of.

    • To calm any heightening of the Pope’s fears, I offer him and his followers the prayers of the N. American Provincial of the FSSP, given on the occasion of receipt of Trad. Custo.:

      “…many of us are disheartened and anxious….We must strive to see this Cross as a means of our sanctification, and to remember that God will never abandon His Church. Our Lord Himself promises us the necessary graces to bear our Crosses with strength and courage. We must not, however, neglect to do our part as faithful Catholics; let us pray and offer sacrifices in our daily lives, and trust in the intercession of Our Lady, St. Joseph, and our patron, St. Peter.:

  10. This article and its author do not pass Church History 101. By critiquing the liturgical reform of Vatican II and by romanticizing the old pre-Vatican II this well known borderline schismatic and Lefebvrist friendly author is resisting the waves of church history. Karl Rahner famously outlined church history into three so-called “churches.” The First Church was the newly birthed church after Pentecost as it spread around the Mediterranean and Greek language was supreme, like the composition of the New Trstament. The Second Church was the longest period beginning when the church reached Europe and from there spread worldwide yet remaining Eurocentric and Latin, a European language, was the dominant language from the church’s culture to means of communication to the liturgy. This ended with Vatican II which manifested the church’s new global makeup and orientation and with the liturgy now celebrated in the people’s languages around the world.

    • The Council of Nicea in 321 declared in the Nicene Creed that the Church is one and universal. Karl Rahner’s dividing the Catholic Church into First, Second or Third Churches has no essential meaning. He was surely free to pronounce what language/s the one and universal Church did speak. He was surely free to pronounce in what time frames the one and universal Church exists.

      Catholics are under no obligation to agree with Rahner’s opinions, however learned and valuable we may think them to be. We are bound to a faith as formulated in the Creed and given through the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

      • Correction: The Second Ecumenical Council, in Constantinople in 381, added to the Nicene Creed the belief that the church is marked by its oneness and universality as well as its apostolic tradition and its holy foundation.

      • meiron: You confuse the nature of the church with church history. In its nature the church is one as Christ willed. I cited Karl Rahner to paint a big picture as a kind of map of church history and we are now in the stage he called the Third Church which is truly global in membership and outlook and the mass is now celebrated in the people’s languages around the world.

        • Kim,
          Rahner’s system of classification(based on history) is arbitrary though it may make sense. Classifying the church by historial period does not bind the essence of the Church whose marks exemplify her presence. There is no First, Second or Third Church just as there is no vernacular-speaking Church. The Church remains one and universal, whether Rahner classifies it differently or not.

          Classifying the Church by historial periods or by any other method fails to advance an argument for what language the Church ought to speak.

        • You confuse church history with the nature of the perennial Church.

          Karl Rahner was an historicist who, in ever nuanced ways, even harbored doubts about the Marian dogmas and the physical resurrection. The three-stages-of-history thingy goes back to at least the 14th century Joachim de Flora. Wingnut Joachim was never condemned personally, but his ideas were: the Amalricians, the Dulcinians and the Brethren of the Free Spirit. All of these were eventually declared heretical by the Catholic Church.

          A more recent trifurcator of the the Triune Oneness was August Comte (1798-1857), a founder of modern secularist Sociology, who at least had the decency of inventing his own parallel religion–in homage to his three-part historical chronology progressing from the religious, to the metaphysical to the unhinged age of logical positivism.

          Rahner’s Third Church, made into an ideology of globalism, is overstated and nothing new.

    • Dear Michael Kim, speaking of Karl Rahner did you ever read where he said that a pope who would abolish an ancient rite of the Church would be committing a mortal sin so grievous that even his own confessor could not absolve him until he retracted the decree?

      • Not doubting your recollection here, but if you can locate that Rahner quote and provide a citation or link, that would be much appreciated. I promise that it will get used!

    • Michael Kim,
      I fully agree with your post. The language of the people became the language of worship. Language and the culturally sensitive rituals were the tools used in the spiritual exercises, but they were not the objects of worship.

      • Mmmm, yeah, that’s why the Aramaic-speaking Jews at the time of Jesus insisted that all worship in the temple must be done in Aramaic rather in Hebrew.

  11. The essence of Catholicism is rooted in the recognition of the natural orientation of the human spirit. Strange as this formulation may sound to many, to be a Catholic means to be rooted in Jesus, where our spirits will find rest. But then where does “liturgy” fit in? Does it matter? Realistically, any liturgy will do if it faithfully reflects Jesus. A liturgy is a human creation that can do this only if the people participating in it recognize Jesus through it. By itself, a liturgy delivers nothing. So a liturgy cannot therefore be decided by theologians, academics or political figures in a top down to the people fashion. This would be to make the liturgy an upside down affair. Liturgists, if they are at all a justifiable group, must learn that their job is to seek what leads the people to Jesus. Extraneously imposed principles like insisting that the liturgy mirror peek-hole-views of either tradition or modern society may be a self-justification for some, but it is a Devil’s game that does not lead to Jesus. But no one, including liturgists, can design a liturgy from within their own understandings. By implication, what any generation held to be sacred for Jesus’s sake was so and remains so for us precisely because it led to Jesus. And, it follows, no one is justified in deriding Catholic liturgies of the past or the present for reasons other than that they misrepresent Jesus now. However, none of them do.

    • “A liturgy is a human creation”…only if it fails to acknowledge the First Cause of Creation and man’s striving toward God as our Final Cause.

      Sacrosanctum Concilium (Chapter I, section 7, paragraphs 3-4) describes the Catholic liturgy as “an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.”

  12. ‘ All things work well for those who love The Lord and are called according to His will ‘ – the deep trust in The Spirit , voiced in the above blessing words of St.Paul manifesting in what we are witnessing , in this year that is also dedicated for the intention of taking in more deeply what Love is , as His Holy Will …

    the debates around The Liturgy , the input from ‘teachers of the law ‘ – the Canon lawyers helping to explicate that there is more to the words , just as in the words of The Lord too – ‘cut off your hand , pluck your eyes ‘ etc : situations ..
    Those who knew Him , the goodness of His Heart would have taken in those words in the truth they are meant to convey ..

    Good to also recall the occasion of the famine as being what led the prodigal soon afterwards back to The Father ..
    interesting to read too that there had been concerns about practices that came in
    to The Church during the centuries that have not been exactly in line with her entrusted mission to be the Light to the nations ..

    Having read about such seemingly divergent practices , more among those who came under the forced oaths under Islamic powers , ? likely that the push to make changes in ‘ The West ‘ came also from the zeal to make reparations and compensations for the ? enforced ‘rigidity ‘ and its helplessness among these ‘Sisters ‘ , esp. after the hope filled steps in The Spirit , by The Fathers , to bring unity between the sides ..

    The debates and yearning among many to make more sense about T.C , to also help bring more clarity in all these areas in the related dialogues , thus a bit more charity too all around , towards all the Fathers too , among those who raise perennial doubts , insinuating sinister intentions even , against the Holy Father in his mission and role to bring mercy , esp. to those who are poor and needy in spiritual wealth ..
    FIAT !

  13. Methinks the insider/manipulators of Pope Francis are reincarnations of the courtiers of King Canute. The King sat in the waves to show that he had no power over the tide. Today, the insiders have attempted to (gradually) abrogate and exterminate the reality of Catholic Tradition, but only have tossed the pope into the mercifully unimpressed ocean.

    History repeats itself! The story of King Canute and the tide is an apocryphal anecdote illustrating the piety or humility of King Canute the Great, recorded in the 12th century…

    “In the story, Canute demonstrates to his flattering courtiers that he has no control over the elements (the incoming tide), explaining that secular power [or today’s ecclesial clericalism!] is vain compared to the supreme power of God. The episode is frequently alluded to in contexts where the futility of “trying to stop the tide” of an inexorable event is pointed out, but usually misrepresenting Canute as believing he had supernatural powers…” (Wikipedia).

  14. I think I will go for a walk in the bush today and spend time with my God. Then I’ll pick up my guitar and worship my lord. I’ll do some thinking and praying and
    maybe write a poem. I will spend some time with a few youn’gns and demystify the person of Jesus, try and remove a few obstacles, build a few bridges in their mind, find a bit of common ground like Paul when he spoke of the alter to the unknown god. Then on Sunday I will go to mass to pray and worship with my brothers and sisters in the unity of the spirit that has been gifted to us. Then I’ll go for another walk in the bush with my New Testament, do some reading and think about who Jesus is and how he responded to those who crossed his path….get to know him better than I did yesterday.

    • Do you speak with sarcasm or sincerity? To my Catholic way of thinking, your post describes some esoteric blend of kumbayatic Christianity a la naturel and/or Protestantism.

  15. A humorous respite from Robert Royal, “Ferragosto: that blessed time when most activity in Rome ceases until early September. Lately, it has seemed very good when the Vatican goes quiet as well” (Robert Royal in Summer Stillness TCT).

        • It cuts both ways Gary. With the link you posted you are like the man sitting on the limb of a tree sawing off the branch between yourself and the tree trunk……

      • It is precisely because I believe in Vatican II that I reject Traditiones custodes as mockery inspired by the devil. What happened to conciliar principles such as reaching out to the margins, dialog, presuming the good in the other, accompaniment, and transparent social communication (as Cardinal Zen and Cardinal Burke have noted, and as several bishops have confirmed, the survey of bishops the pope used to make his decision was not sent out to all bishops and there is secrecy about the data and how it was analyzed)? Pope Francis imperils the unity of the Church and undermines the papacy itsefl by abusing his authority.

  16. Meiron, no sarcasm intended. My comment is sincere. My faith in Jesus means everything to me and has done so since the age of 25. The comment, unapologetically a juxtaposition. Born in 55 I was an infant when the latin mass was the norm. I can’t remember the change but I was an alter boy in a country church and the greatest influence on my faith journey was my father, a devout Catholic who’s father had left the Presbyterian church to marry an Irish Catholic girl. Through having the father i did I came to know my heavenly father as the God of Love. In my boarding school years I was destined for the priesthood, attended mass during the week, and on Sundays playing the guitar. Yes My formative years were post Vatican 2. I was not a student of Catholic history to know much about the change. So yes I’m a post Vatican 2 catholic. My attitude to those who lament the passing of the Latin mass in those years as I matured was basically “their heart is in their worship and it’s not merely rote I have no problem with that”
    The journey continued and I came to realise I did not have the gift of celibacy as necessary for the priesthood, I went to uni searched for ownership of my faith rather than just inheriting it without a deep inner transformation. At 25 the transformation occurred one unforgettable easter. There is so much that can be said but for this present purpose one thing I left behind was an us and them outlook with respect to interpersonal relationships with people who thought differently to how did. This is important to my faith. I spent time and effort understanding my propensity in early adulthood to follow an us and them outlook and deliberately worked at putting aside such modes of thinking.
    Now on to what I see and read here:
    Merion your response to my post stated that, to your Catholic way of thinking, my post describes some esoteric blend of kumbayatic Christianity a la naturel and/or Protestantism.
    So I assume you are acknowledging my christianity, I am grateful, but not necessarily my Catholicism. Perhaps understandable as you do not know me. I regard myself as deeply Catholic by birth and intentionally as in adulthood, by maintaining my relationship with the Catholic tradition and fellowship.

    Now on to the issue of “us and them”. I have come across much in these web pages that is very much an us and them dynamic.

    I noticed some comments by other contributors also picking up on this:
    AUGUST 7, 2021 AT 3:12 PM
    It’s true. It’s not about being Catholic anymore – it’s about what team you support.

    AUGUST 8, 2021 AT 1:44 AM
    In the very first sentence we read, “we have been treated to a torrent of commentary from the victors”
    Wow! So, it is a battle between two sides. Just what Pope Francis was afraid of.

    With respect to this dynamic I wrote these words for my eldest son a week ago:
    “If a narrative becomes an us and them narrative it will eventually become toxic for relationships – us and them narratives are mostly an evaluation or opinion that is on the surface, relatively simplistic and not taking into account the many different issues at play. They are likely include or emphasise what suits your side and exclude what suits the other side. Alone they will never unite, they will always divide. This is equally true of both sides of the us and them relationship. It is ok for football but it is not ok for faith based relationships.

    In my meanderings as an evangelist I have thought much about how i can communicate the message of Jesus to my friends and whoever crosses my path. I have equiped myself to know them as best i can. Jesus It seems had an advantage of being able to see into the lives of those he met. My best hope is to grow in knowledge and empathy and meet them where they are. Like Paul who, when he was in Athens used the Athenian notion of the alter to the unknown god to draw his listeners in to approaching a knowing of who Jesus is I look for similar culturally relevant meeting points to reveal to my friends who Jesus is. You know the influences on my generation, Hinduism, animism, eclectic new age spirituality etc etc……there is no shortage of people seeking yet few are those who have equipped themselves to get out of the comfort of the church culture and assumed knowledge to go out and meet them where they are in humility empathy and love and remain authentic and true to our faith in Jesus. There is no place for an us and them dynamic in this work and nor is there room for an us and them dynamic in a healthy faith community. And for the young in faith where am I to bring them?
    Mathew wrote””he will not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick,”
    Matthew, 12 – Bíblia Católica Online
    So Merion perhaps it is this work I am drawn to that comes across as some esoteric blend of kumbayatic Christianity a la naturel and/or Protestantism. My hope is that you now have a better understanding of what my motivation is.
    Peace be with you.

    • You surely have achieved your goal of giving a better understanding of what your motivbation is. OTOH, you write that one of your evangelical goals is to “get out of the comfort of the church culture (I ask: WHAT IS THE COMFORT OF THE CHURCH CULTURE OF WHICH YOU SPEAK??? The comfort I find in my church comes from Christ, so why would you go outside of that?).

      To continue, you write: that you “go out and meet them where they are in humility empathy and love and remain authentic and true to faith in Jesus. There is no place for an us and them dynamic in this work.”

      Why, then, I wonder, do you point to certain posts in which you’ve discerned an ‘us and them’? What do you hope to accomplish by doing that?

      For reflection, I would like to offer VCII’s definition of liturgy as found in its Constitution on same:

      Sacrosanctum Concilium (Chapter I, section 7, paragraphs 3-4) describes the Catholic liturgy as “an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.”

    • but I was an alter(sic) boy
      used the Athenian notion of the alter(sic)
      I regard myself as deeply Catholic by birth and intentionally as in adulthood, by maintaining my relationship with the Catholic tradition and fellowship.
      My hope is that you now have a better understanding of what my motivation is.
      There is no doubt what your motivation is.

        • Gary Lockhart you link to a web page listing a collection of supposed insults uttered by Pope Francis, then defend your action
          as pointing out the double standards of both the Pontiff and his sycophants…..
          In reading and investigating the context of some of those supposed insults, quoted with no context, I came across one taken from Evangelii Gaudium ( The Joy of the Gospel )

          So I have been studying our Pope’s apostolic exhortation and it fills me with enthusiasm and joy. It’s a great read!
          Then searched these pages for articles on Evangelii Gaudium and came across this one by Russell Shaw:
          Evangelii Gaudium: Uniting Vision or Inciting Division?
          Mr Shaw’s final words in the article:
          “Early on, Francis makes the point that today’s instant communication and “occasionally biased” media create a “greater risk” that the Church’s message will be distorted. How sad, then, if a papal message with great potential for bringing Catholics together gets exploited to drive them apart. As he says of abortion, the defence of unborn human life is “closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right.” Surely we can all come together on that.
          While the issue most here are responding to is Traditionis custodes I am responding to the vitriole that is seen with overwhelming regularity here in the comments on CWR articles. The constant drive to de legitimise the Papacy of Francis, the constant spirit of criticism and division.
          As Meiron offered for my reflection Sacrosanctum Concilium (Chapter I, section 7, paragraphs 3-4) may I offer for reflection:


  17. If a non-Catholic was to read these posts, the person would, because of confusion, anger, hatred and overall disunity, stay away from this Church.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Does Traditionis Custodes pass Liturgical History 101 ? – Catholic World Report – The Old Roman
  2. “Traditionis custodes” fails Liturgical History 101 - JP2 Catholic Radio
  3. «Я не можу мовчати» – бенедиктинський літургіст – Una Voce Ucraina

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