Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

Br. John Raymond
Jan. 22, 1995

	There is an old saying in Latin, "Lex Orandi Lex Credendi." If
 your Latin is like mine you probably don't have the slightest idea what
 that means! Fortunately I heard someone use this expression who gave its
 translation - we pray as we believe. Now, this may not seem like an
 earth-shattering revelation but many times such short, simple and concise
 expressions can really help us. How? Let me give an example.
	Once I was invited to attend a prayer session where a woman was
 going to teach everybody a "new" way to pray. I thought this would prove
 interesting and I was not let down. First, it is important to point out
 that everyone at the meeting was Catholic. The woman began to teach
 Buddhist techniques of praying with the closing one's eyes, breathing
 slowly, relaxing the body and emptying the mind by concentrating on a
 mantra (A short phrase or word which one repeats over and over again.) I
 asked the woman what the mantra meant, as it was definitely not a word in
 English. The word was in a language, which I have now forgotten, but the
 lady did not know what it meant so I definitely did not like her answer. 
	Some of the other people there were also worried - and rightly so.
 She was teaching a Buddhist form of prayer which may be good for Buddhists
 but not for Christians. It could be a wonderful technique for relaxing but
 not for praying. Also, it does not follow the Lex Orandi Lex Lex Credendi. It was totally devoid of the Christian Faith.
	I emphasize this little expression because in our present age we
 have people going around teaching Buddhist and Hindu forms of prayer to
 Christians - and some are swallowing it. There is a great fascination now
 with Eastern spiritualities in the West. I once met a young man who should
 have been Christian, given his background. Yet, when I talked with him it
 turned out that Our Lord for him was only a great guru or teacher and not
 the Son of God. He had totally lost his faith and had become a Hindu.
	A great inspiration to be Eastern, among Catholics, is the famous
 Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. Yet the story is told that when he was a
 young college student he had a question but the answer he received from a
 guru was to read the works of St. John of the Cross, the great Doctor of
 the Church on prayer. Many searchers in Eastern spirituality do not know
 about the rich spiritual heritage contained in their own Catholic Faith
 - the writings of the Desert Fathers and the saints, especially St. John
 of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux.
	The Church has the fullness of the truth. Other religions have only
 a part of the truth, some a very small part, as the Second Vatican Council
 reminds us. Let us pray for those who have become mixed up in other
 religions and their forms of prayer. With so much New Age out there, some
 of which is taken from Eastern spiritualities, we must be careful. We can
 learn all we need from our own Catholic Tradition. Let us remember for our
 own rule of discernment regarding books and techniques of prayer Lex
 Orandi Lex Credendi.