Lex orandi lex credndi

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by Mark Sparks, Feb 20, 2024.

  1. Mark Sparks

    Mark Sparks New Member

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    This little Latin phrase is giving me quite a mental fit this week. I am really trying to understand the causal relations contained within.

    I recognize that the Latin here certainly allows variance in the subject-predicate relationship. However, lets suppose that the typical ordering is reflective of the subject - predicate relationship.

    The law of prayer is the law of belief, implying that the law of prayer is in some way prior to the law of belief.

    For whatever reason I am having a really difficult time understanding what is being communicated here and the language of liturgical theologians is often too creative for me to really digest what they are getting at here. I'm looking for a more technically precise understanding of this relationship.

    Is the phrase supposing that:

    The law of prayer is that from which we get that which we believe

    The law of prayer is that which internalizes beliefs

    I'm essentially trying to understand if the relationship is derivate or if it is merely formative.

    I'm trying to understand what it means so I can try to understand its implications but for whatever reason my brain can not wrap my head around this concept.

    Please send help.
     
  2. Pub Banker

    Pub Banker Member Anglican

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    An excellent question and will ask my Bishop. He is a frequent user of this Latin phrase, is incredibly smart, and may some good insight. I will pose your question to him and see what he says. That okay?
     
  3. Spiritus

    Spiritus Active Member

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    To understand the intended meaning behind 'lex orandi lex credendi' the best place to start is with the phrase's origin. It was first used by Prosper of Aquitaine in a longer form "ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi" generally being understood to mean "the law of praying should establish the law of believing". Prosper established the importance of liturgical practice (prayer, the work of God) in maintaining the apostolic faith as it was handed down.
    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.

    It doesn't just apply to liturgy though. Prosper of Aquitaine was one of the original Augustinian monks so he would have understood prayer and action as being inseparable from faith. How we pray, what we say, what we think, and the physical actions we make all directly impact our spirits (we are both body and spirit after all).

    This idea takes a few forms within Prosper's work and the understanding of the Church.

    In the liturgy, the actions and words we say matter. If we are irreverent in action or allow major errors in the prayers of the Church it will influence the people. It will change their thinking which will over time affect their faith.

    In communal prayer, the way we each pray affects those around us. If we are just going through the motions or acting in a flippant or irreverent manner it not only can hurt our understanding of God which then can break down our faith, but it can damage the understanding and faith of others.

    If we are lax in our personal prayer it will spill over into other areas of our lives, weakening our resolve to live out the Christian life, leading to sin and damage to our relationship with God (faith).
     
  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Leading intercessions in public worship requires training, for the precise reasons you have pointed out. It is also important though to note that feigned piety and 'teachyness' should also be studiously avoided in public prayer, because they are as damaging to congregations as any other form of insincerity. Those who worship and pray must do so in spirit and in truth. This is not restricted to reciting the erudite prayers of others, it also applies to the extemporary prayers from our own hearts, however simple and unimpressive they may be, they must be sincere.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2024
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  5. Pub Banker

    Pub Banker Member Anglican

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    @Mark Sparks, my Bishop sent a wonderful response to your very thoughtful question. To the layman, it is rather theological so I will cut and paste the highlights:

    "For Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the theological axiom lex orandi, lex credendi transcends the issue of derivative or formative – the truth is prescriptive and ontological.

    The reason why the Church uses the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical texts in the offering of divine worship and Christian instruction is really very simple: the Liturgy, meaning 'the work of the people,' the formalised structure of worship by which the clergy and people render to God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is Apostolic in origin and traces itself directly back to the worship of the first generation of Christian believers......The Liturgy is fundamental to the handing-down of orthodox Christian doctrine called in Holy Scripture 'the Tradition,' the paradosis, the passing-along of the Faith. Every Christian church has a tradition .... [for our] Holy and Apostolic Tradition, which is the content of the preaching and teaching of the Apostles, preserved and handed-on by the Apostles and their Successors in the Catholic Church through the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

    The Liturgy also preserves orthodox Christian doctrine and protects the Church from falling into novelty, heresy and false doctrine: [thus,] an ancient axiom of the Faith is lex orandi, lex credendi, the law of prayer is the the law of believe, as we pray so we believe....Christians worshipped with and through the liturgy before the New Testament was written, and developed through worship the expression of doctrines that would only later be defined by the Church in Scripture, Creed and Ecumenical Council, most especially the dogmas of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation and Deity of Christ....Thus, the Holy Scriptures, the Liturgy and the Church are inseparable for Catholics, for they are three modes conveying the one and same Christian revelation.

    The Liturgy unites all Christians across time and space in the common action of the People of God in prayer. It enables us to pray with all those Christians who have gone before us in the Communion of Saints and with all Apostolic Christians in Apostolic Churches today. The Liturgy is the action of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, to whom we are united as members of the Body and His members in His own great act of prayer and intercession.

    ...The Book of Common Prayer contains through worship the practical expression of what the Anglican Church teaches and believes....Our doctrine is pre-eminently found in Scripture as it is ordered, organised and incorporated in our liturgical worship....[and] the Book of Common Prayer is our teaching office, our magisterium. It contains and embodies the Great Tradition of the Undivided Church, the living dynamic doctrinal inheritance of the whole Church of Christ shared by all Christians during the first millennium."


    As I mentioned, these are the highlights of a much longer missive. His full response was very deep and hierological. His Grace is a wonderful man and thankful he took time to address this question. I am grateful he is my Bishop.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    That was a particularly nice and helpful explanation. :thumbsup: I think I can now summarize the phrase in my mind as: the law of our liturgical prayers is the law of our beliefs.
     
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