Greetings! I have long been interested in starting a 'Liturgy corner' of the bulletin for the sake of continuing to aid all parishioners in learning about the Liturgy and, in a particular way, the Mass. A number of people that I have talked to have been very interested in the idea and I hope that they, and you all, find it helpful.
That being said, I can definitely understand why someone might say, "Hey, we are at the Mass every week. That's what matters. Why should I bother to learn all the little details, like why the priest ties his shoes a certain way?" While the preference of shoelace knot is of course meaningless, learning about the Liturgy, its mystery, its theology, its particularity, and its symbolism should be important to every single Catholic! One of the many reasons this is true is because of an idea titled "Lex Orandi Lex Credendi."
For today, we simply focus on this Latin sentence, which translates to, "The Law of Praying (is) the Law of Believing." This phrase has its origin from a theologian all the way back in the 5th century. The idea distilled in this phrase is that the teaching of the Church, the teaching of Jesus Christ handed down by the Apostles, is distilled, evoked, and displayed in the prayer of the Liturgy and how we do it. Essentially, the way that the Liturgy has in equal parts organically and intentionally developed over the ages expresses both particular doctrines of the faith and overall attitudes, expressions, and nuances of our beliefs.
So that's what it means in a nutshell, but why is that important? Why should we do anything more than acknowledge this fact and move on?
There are three reasons why this idea is important and why continuing to learn about and open up the book of wonder that is the Liturgy is important. First, if the way we celebrate the Liturgy, the movements we make, the phrases we say, the implements we use, are expressions of our faith, then learning about the liturgy is simply learning about this faith we say we believe in. Second, by learning about the Liturgy, we connect in a deeper way with 'the communion of saints.' The development of the Liturgy is rooted in the history of our faith, right down to the Apostles themselves.
We learn to pray in a deeper and more mystical way when we understand how what we do in the Liturgy today has been done, in essence, since the time of Jesus himself. Third, if what we do at the Liturgy reflects the very faith that we profess, if the things we do express doctrines and attitudes and beliefs that are central to the truth of our Church, then it is VERY important that we do our best to make sure that we are doing the Liturgy the right way. The way we choose to do anything, consciously or unconsciously, cements a way of thinking, a way of acting, a way of relating to that thing (in this case, God Himself). We should be attentive to how we 'do' the Liturgy because it can affect us and others in ways we may never precisely understand.
Thank you for reading. I hope that you will find these reflections and explanations I offer helpful. If you ever have questions or want to hear about a particular aspect of the Liturgy, don't hesitate to contact me through our website God bless!