Traditionis Custodes Cheat Sheet: Use This Guide to Navigate the Words, Phrases, and References – EpicPew

Traditionis Custodes Cheat Sheet: Use This Guide to Navigate the Words, Phrases, and References

On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pope Francis issued a papal document called a Motu Proprio that has since rocked some of the Catholic world. Cardinals, bishops, priests and of course bloggers have all been weighing in, giving their interpretations, instructions, and reactions to the document titled Traditionis Custodes.

Perhaps you’ve heard it mentioned by your pastor, read something from your Bishop, or heard about it on your favorite podcast or radio program. It can quickly become confusing to understand just what is being discussed; especially with all the acronyms and technical language involved. If it all seems Greek…er…Latin…to you, look no further. Below you will find an alphabetized cheat sheet of definitions and pronunciations for some of the most used words, phrases, and acronyms that you will find in the discussions surrounding the Motu Proprio. Okay, so just what is a “motu proprio” you say? Well, read on.

Alphabetized cheat sheet:

abrogate – to abolish by authoritative action; annul.

Apostolic See – refers to a “see” that is governed by a successor of one of the Apostles. When capitalized, it refers the seat of authority in the Catholic Church. People usually refer to the Apostolic See of Rome as “the Vatican.”

canon 87 – the place in canon law (the laws of the Catholic Church) where it says, “A diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful from universal and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the supreme authority of the Church. He is not able to dispense, however, from procedural or penal laws nor from those whose dispensation is specially reserved to the Apostolic See or some other authority.”

Extraordinary Form (EF) – properly understood, the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is a mass celebrated according to the Roman missal of 1962, before the reforms implemented after the Second Vatican Council. It is celebrated in Latin. Mass celebrated according to the reforms implemented after the Second Vatican Council is referred to as the “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.”

FSSP – an acronym referring to The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. A society created by Pope St. John Paul II in 1988. “Their priests serve in apostolates across the world, with the faithful celebration of the traditional Mass and Sacraments (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) at the center of their charism.” They are in communion with Rome.

ICKSP/ICRSS – acronyms that refer to the Institute of Christ the King the Sovereign Priest. “An integral part of the Institute’s charism is the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments.” They are in communion with Rome.

lex orandi, lex credendi – (leks orr-ann-dee, leks creh-den-dee) Literally translated it means “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words the teaching of the church (lex credendi) is manifested in the liturgy and prayer of the church (lex orandi) and the prayer informs the teaching. When lex orandi is used alone, it is specially referring to the prayer of the church and generally understood to be referring to liturgy in particular.

Moto Proprio – (moe-too pro-pree-oh) the literal definition translates to “on his own impulse.” A Motu Proprio is a document that the Holy Father issues on his own initiative. It can establish new customs, disciplines, practices, or laws. It cannot “undo” history or Tradition or Doctrine.

novus ordo (NO) – (noe-voos or-doe) See Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite – Mass celebrated according to the reforms implemented after the Second Vatican Council.

parochial church – a parish church (ie; not a Cathedral, Basilica, or Shrine)

Quo Primum – (kwoe pree-mum) An Apostolic constitution in the form of a papal bull issued by Pope Pius V on July 14, 1570 promulgating and defining the Tridentine Liturgy in light of the Tradition of the Church and understood to be “binding in perpetuity.”

rite – a rite is made up of “the diverse liturgical traditions in which the one catholic and apostolic faith has come to be expressed and celebrated in various cultures and lands” (CCC glossary). The Catholic Church includes 23 different rites. (To assist us in our goal with this article, let us further break down the Roman Rite. The Roman Rite has two forms: extraordinary and ordinary. See above: Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite)

Second Vatican Council – the 21st Ecumenical Council in the history of the Catholic Church announced by Pope St. John XXIII and concluded under Pope St. Paul VI. The council resulted in four Dogmatic Constitutions, three Declarations, and nine Decrees being published and promulgated with a focus on the Catholic Church in 20th Century.

SSPX – an acronym for the Society of Saint Pius the Tenth. They are not in full communion with Rome. SSPX says they are dedicated to the preservation of the Traditional Form of Liturgy. The most recent Popes have all worked to bring them into communion and to avoid a formal schism. (*It should be noted that if the faithful wish to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form, attending an SSPX church is not a valid option since full communion has not yet been restored).

Summorum Pontificum – (soom-orr-oom pon-tee-fee-coom) an Apostolic Letter given Moto Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. It stated that “It is therefore permitted to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed [sic] John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy” and gave the conditions for such.

TLM – an acronym referring to the Traditional Latin Mass (See also Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, Tridentine Mass).

Tradition – “big T” Tradition is one of the two sources of Divine Revelation recognized by the Catholic Church. (The other is Scripture). It includes the teachings, life and worship of the Catholic Church that have been passed down through history as the the revealed mystery of the faith and are considered to be Divine (of God) in origin.

tradition – “little t” tradition is of human origin and includes beliefs, practices, customs, even interpretations of the Gospel, that may sometimes be more relevant for a certain time and/or place in the history of the Church.

Traditionis Custodes – (trad -ee-see-oh-nees coo-stode -ez) The latin name of the recent Motu Proprio issued by Pope Francis. It is translated as “Custodians of Tradition.”

Tridentine Liturgy – (aka Tridentine Rite, Tridentine Mass) usually is a reference to Mass in the Extraordinary Form but in it’s strict definition refers to the Mass that was celebrated between 1570 and 1962.

Usus Antiquior (UA) – (oo-soos ann-tee-kwee-orr) another way of referring to the Traditional Latin Mass. It translates as “more ancient usage.” See also Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

 Usus Recentior  (UR) – (oo-soos re-chen-tsee-orr) another way of referring to the Novus Ordo. It translates as “more recent usage.” See also Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

vacatio legis – (va-ca-tsee-oh leh-gees) the time in between the promulgation of a decree or law and when it goes into effect. The purpose of the vacatio legis is to allow for bishops and their flocks to study, understand, and implement the new legislation.

Vatican II – (see “Second Vatican Council)

What words or phrases would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

**Featured image attribution: Attribution text by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, available from as found on Wikipedia Commons.