Some photos of today’s Solemn Mass of Requiem, which began with an Act of Remembrance and concluded with the Absolution of the Dead at the Catafalque. The setting of the Mass was the Missa pro defunctis, in Latin, and we sang ‘O God our help in ages past’, ‘I vow to thee my country’, and ‘O valiant hearts’, as well as a verse each of the National (‘O Canada’) and Royal (‘God save the Queen’) Anthems. The Offertory motet was Richard Farrant’s ‘Call to Remembrance’. The Dies irae was sung in English, according to Burgess’ plainsong setting, and the Libera Me was sung in Latin. We were very grateful to have a bugler from the 5th (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery to play the Last Post and the Rouse for our Act of Remembrance. A very observance of Remembrance Sunday. The national celebration, tomorrow, of Remembrance Day will be kept with a Requiem Mass at 9.30 a.m.
O Lord our God, whose Name only is excellent and thy praise above heaven and earth: we thank thee for all those who counted not their lives dear unto themselves but laid them down for their friends; grant us, we beseech thee, that having them always in remembrance we may imitate their faithfulness and sacrifice; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
A joyful day yesterday as we kept, as a parish family, today’s anniversary of the promulgation in 2009 of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. By the direction of our bishop all parishes and parochial communities in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, with the gift of an indulgence attached, offered a Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost in thanksgiving for this occasion, concluding with a Solemn Te Deum. We were blessed to hear Hassler’s Missa Secunda for the Kyrie, Sanctus-Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, and an English setting of the Missa de Angelis for the Gloria and Credo. We also heard Palestrina’s Super flumina Babylonis, appointed for the Offertory for Trinity XX, and Attwood’s sublime Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire as our Communion motet. The Anglican patrimony was well represented with Come down, O Love divine for our opening hymn, Come, thou Holy Spirit, come for the Offertory, and O thou who camest from above as our final hymn. The Te Deum, sung in English following the Postcommunion Prayer, was according to the Ambrosian melody. An inspiring liturgical and musical offering to the glory of God, meaningful fellowship, and much hope for the future of the Ordinariate here in Victoria. We give thanks to God, and to Pope Benedict, for this great gift of communion now bearing fruit in our portion of the vineyard.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: mercifully hear our prayers, and grant to this Ordinariate all things needful for its spiritual welfare (priests and deacons to labour in this portion of thy vineyard; holy, learned, and zealous religious; churches complete in the beauty of holiness). Strengthen and confirm the faithful; protect and guide the children; visit and relieve the sick; turn and soften the wicked; arouse the careless; recover the fallen; restore the penitent. Remove all hindrances to the advancement of thy truth; and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within the fold of thy holy Church, to the honour and glory of thy blessed Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - St Gregory’s Prayer Book.
Today, the Feast of the Apostles Ss Simon and Jude, is a day of some personal significance. This was the day, in 1903, that the College of the Resurrection was founded by the Anglican monastic Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and this Foundation Day was always kept at the College with much rejoicing. Over the past hundred years a number of the men, myself included, who were formed for ministry in the Church of England at Mirfield eventually found their way into the full communion of the Catholic Church. One of the present members of the Community, Monsignor Robert Mercer CR (pictured above in a 1960s CR booklet entitled ‘Bread of Life’), the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, is now a priest of the Ordinariate in England. Today, I give happy thanks for the invaluable contribution that Mirfield – College and Community – made in forming me for pastoral and sacramental ministry, and further teaching me the Catholic Faith within the Church of England. It was, though I’m sure unintended(!), for myself and many others, a great impetus towards communion with the See of Peter and, as such, the Collect for today is particularly fitting.
O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone: grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine; that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Divine Worship is more than a collection of liturgical texts and ritual gestures. It is the organic expression of the Church’s own lex orandi as it was taken up and developed in an Anglican context over the course of nearly five-hundred years of ecclesial separation, and is now reintegrated into Catholic worship as the authoritative expression of a noble patrimony to be shared with the whole Church. As such, it is to be understood as a distinct form of the Roman Rite.
…Understanding what patrimony is and how it “works” is a necessary first step before we are able to articulate something more about the liturgical expression of that patrimony. From the outset, the Constitution itself articulates the necessity of the approval by the Holy See for any liturgical provision. This fact itself indicates that the Church is the ultimate arbiter of what is or is not to be considered patrimony. Let’s call this the first key to unlocking the concept of patrimony. It is not what you or I, or this scholar or that community says it is, but involves discernment by the Church, which is then confirmed by the exercise of ecclesiastical authority.
In this age in which liturgical matters are more likely to be debated on blogs rather than in scholarly journals, the judgement of legitimate ecclesiastical authority becomes increasingly important. Indeed, the very affirmation that there is such a thing as an Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony, which enriches the whole Church as “a treasure to be shared” enters the Catholic lexicon in 1970. On October 25 of that year, Pope Paul VI canonised forty English and Welsh martyrs. In his homily, the Holy Father praised “the legitimate prestige and worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican” Communion, words that were viewed both as a crucial validation of the special relationship between Catholics and Anglicans and as a confirmation of the existence of an Anglican patrimony worthy of preservation. By his authority, Pope Paul articulated a principle: for whatever other ecclesial deficits resulting from the lack of full communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Catholic Church acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in this body of separated brothers and sisters so as to be able to say that the manner in which the faith was nourished, proclaimed, and celebrated in the Anglican Communion these past 500 years adds to the vitality of the Church and enriches the body Catholic. In Anglicanorum coetibus, we see Pope Paul’s insight framed in Pope Benedict’s concern “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church” not only “as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate,” but also importantly “as a treasure to be shared.”’
from the Hildebrand Lecture ‘The Worship of God in the Beauty of Holiness’, 21 June 2017
by Bishop Steven Lopes
Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants: and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Prayer is the effort we make to take advantage of the open-handedness of God. If the open ear and the open hand belong to God, the open mind must belong to us. We need to learn what kind of gifts we should ask for, and what sort of petition is better left unsaid. Therefore we must have a mind ready to receive instruction so that we can learn what things are most pleasing to him.
Solomon won his way to God’s heart by abstaining from any selfish petition and asking only that he might have the wisdom necessary for the good ordering of God’s people. We who belong to the Christian Church and have the revelation of Christ behind us are in still better case, for we can judge God’s character so much more easily and accurately through knowing Christ. “Let this mind be in you”, says St Paul, “which was also in Christ Jesus”.
If we must possess the mind of Christ, what is foreign to him will be impossible for us. We shall instinctively reject what is bad and cultivate what is good. We shall be guided to understand better our own needs, and so to ask for the things that are really worthwhile. We shall not be afraid to ask in the name, that is, in the person of Jesus. We shall know that what is important is not the manner of asking but the thing asked for. We shall have special confidence in our petition being answered because we shall be saying the right prayer, and shall thus be observing the protocol of heaven’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful: that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is a powerful petition in which we ask God to conform us, both internally and externally, to his righteousness (to what is rightful). Further, there is the honest admission that, in and of ourselves, that is in our wisdom and strength, we cannot please God by seeking to live what we consider to be the righteous and good life. (Note that this Collect is true to the meaning of the original Latin prayer, which is so terse that a literal translation of the second part would be, “that we, who cannot even exist without thee, may have strength to live according to thee”.)
Today we learn from our society and in our education and culture that each of us is an autonomous being. That is, I am in charge of my life and destiny and so are you! We think of the human being as being the centre of the universe and if we think of God at all in relation to the world it is as an Extra.
In contrast, genuine Christian thinking sees a person in total dependence upon God for his creation, his existence, his sustenance, his salvation and his eternal destiny. Whatever measure of free will and free determination a person possesses is itself from God and is only beneficial if conformed to the known will of God.
True freedom is not known in the exercise of personal autonomy and pursuing one’s own selfish will, but rather in thinking according to God’s ways and purposes and in doing his will, assisted and guided by his revelation and his Spirit. That is, the genuine life of righteousness and goodness is following the Way of Jesus Christ as his Spirit indwells the heart and mind and directs the will.
This Collect helps us to move from the mindset and spirit of the fallen world and evil age into the mindset and spirit of the kingdom of heaven and of God’s righteousness. And it presupposes that we are diligent readers of the sacred Scriptures where the mind and will of God is revealed to the Church’.
Peter Toon, 1939-2009
O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth: we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect, Epistle and Gospel [in the Prayer Book] still follow the old English order of the Sarum Missal and are of ancient origin.
We admit that God’s providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth. Some people may say, why then pray? Why seek to alter what God has wisely ordered? The answer is that the arrangements of God’s providence leave room for prayer and its answer, that we may have the joy of being “fellow-workers with God” (2 Cor. 6:1). In the Collect therefore we pray that God may put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things which be profitable for us.
…We pray, knowing that God’s providence will never fail. Each of us may need something different. What may be profitable for one may be useless to another, yet I think for all of us there are some things which will be profitable and which none of us can do without.
(a) Our Faith. Some people say that if God by His providence orders all things, then it is useless to try. That is foolish. God gave man a free will, so He limited Himself, and cannot force us to do His will. If man makes war, God cannot stop it, but He does bring good out of evil by His providence. Sin is war against God. Our faith in Him leads us to pray that He may give us things profitable for us, that our sin may not prevent Him from giving us these things.
(b) Our Hopes. When faced with difficulties or troubles, people lose not only their faith, but their hope. We hope for things unseen, not the things we can see. God will never let us down even though man may do so, because of His never-failing providence. That does not mean we shall not have to bear our troubles, which may be the Cross the Lord has called us to bear. Count your blessings, then you will bear your Cross cheerfully, knowing your hope is in God, and He will never fail us.
(c) Our Love. If we retain our faith and hope in God, then we are bound to love Him and for His sake we shall love others. Love begets love. The more love we give away, the more we shall receive in return, and so you see how God can give things profitable for us. We must use our free will aright, otherwise hurtful things may be our lot. God helps those who help themselves. Besides all this, we have the Church and Sacraments. They come through God’s never-failing providence, and they are profitable for us’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of thy Name; increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is surely one of the most lovely collects in the book. The beauty of its phrasing is matched by the depth and soundness of its religious feeling.
In its address it emphasises both the power and the goodness of God. It carries over from the last collect the thought of the good things God holds in store for those who love him. It reminds us that he can not only create such things but bestow them on whom he will. He is the author and also the giver of all good things, and we are therefore happy to repose on his power.
We ask… that he will graft in our hearts the love of his name. The name, as we know, stands for the personality. We ask that love of him may be so grafted in our hearts that it may grow there and become part of our very being as the twig becomes part of the tree into which it has been grafted.
We think of the glowing and tender hymns that have been written on this theme: Newton’s “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds”, Bernard’s “Jesu, the very thought of thee”, and Theodosius’ “Jesu, name all names above”, and we realise that such love of God is the very breath of adoration in the soul, without which all life would become void and meaningless’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee: that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance; that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Out of our confidence in God’s good providence arises our joy in the work he has given us to do. There is in fact no happiness in human life quite like that of feeling that we are doing the one thing God wants us to do. We feel that we are “in tune with the infinite”, that we are working in harmony with a universe which at the roots of its being, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, is essentially rational. There is a good purpose in existence, and we are working to bring it out.
Thus we are bold enough to think that all history is organised for the Church and for the accomplishment of its proper ends. We may suffer many disappointments and temporary setbacks but the ultimate denouement is secure. “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”. “Ye shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”.
The joy that this thought brings is not effervescent or easily dissipated. It is consonant with all godly quietness, that is, not a slothful lethargy, but an interior activity that preserves a perfect calm because it rests upon God.
…God’s governance of the world enables us to preserve that attitude of calm activity in perpetuity. We have lots to do, but we do it without fret or fuss, because we are really glad to be doing it and because we know that the issue is safe in the hands of God’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘[T]his initiative of Pope Benedict is a response to a holy desire - your holy desire - both as groups and as individuals; that its purpose is to open a new way for the unity of the Catholic Church, visible under the successor of Peter, to be enlarged. It is a generous initiative and one which has always expected a generous response.
…“Anglicanorum Coetibus” seeks not only to offer a new invitation to those seeking the full communion of the Catholic Church, but it also seeks to enrich the Church with “elements of sanctification and truth” to be found within what is called “Anglican patrimony”. “Anglicanorum Coetibus” seeks to release that “force” by which Catholic unity can be more fully and visibly expressed, its beauty made more evident and its appeal more widely appreciated. Here it is so important to note that mission and communion are inextricably bound together.
…It is never easy to do something new in total fidelity to something familiar to so many. The tension is clear: for some the newness appears to be outside the familiar, not truly belonging to what they already know and love; for others it is important to move beyond the familiar precisely so as to demonstrate newness. So the questions still arise in the minds of many: on the one hand, some will ask if members of the Ordinariate are really Catholics? On the other, those who have joined the Ordinariate will ask if they are being truly distinctive enough or whether absorption into diocesan parishes and structures will be the inevitable end? This is not an easy path.
…This, I believe, is your challenge: to make evident aspects of the truth and beauty contained in Catholic teaching and life in a way that may have a particular appeal to sensitivities fashioned by the Anglican tradition and influence. This, perhaps, is at the heart of the specific gift you bring to our Church and to our common task of evangelisation’.
from an address by Vincent, Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
to the first Ordinariate Festival, Westminster, September 2014
O how glorious is the kingdom in which all the Saints rejoice with Christ,
and, clad in white robes, follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
V. Let the Saints be joyful in glory. R. Let them rejoice in their beds.
O ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living; that through their intercession we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
from the Wednesday Commemoration of the Saints, St Gregory’s Prayer Book
1. I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
2. They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus’ sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
And there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn’t be one too.
3. They lived not only in ages past;
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.
Lesbia Scott, 1898-1986
In the Calendar of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Atonement. It is an observance rich in significance for the Ordinariate in North America since Our Lady, under this title, is the patroness of the first Pastoral Provision parish within the United States, Our Lady of the Atonement, in Texas, established in 1983 under the care of Fr Christopher Phillips.
The Pastoral Provision is essentially the precursor to the Ordinariate in the United States and Canada, provided for by Pope St John Paul II in 1981 to allow for the establishment of personal parishes, the ordaining of Anglican priests to the Catholic priesthood, and the retention of elements of Anglican liturgical practice, in a form which later came to be known as the ‘Anglican Use’. In 2017 the Vatican determined that those remaining parishes of the Pastoral Provision that had not yet entered into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter were to be transferred to its jurisdiction. It was at this time that Our Lady of the Atonement entered the fold.
The devotion of Our Lady of the Atonement has its roots in the life and work of an Anglo-Papalist priest, Lewis Wattson. In 1899 Wattson, together with a small group of Anglican nuns, founded the Society of the Atonement, referencing Romans 5:11 (“We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement”), and professed religious vows, with Wattson taking the name Paul James Francis. From its foundation the Society, though a part of the Episcopal Church of the United States, promoted corporate reunion with the Holy See and the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. Ten years later, in 1909, the Society - seventeen members strong - realised this goal for themselves with their own corporate reception into the Catholic Church. The process of canonisation for Father Paul, now Servant of God, was opened by Cardinal Dolan in 2015.
Within the Catholic Church the Society soon flourished - and flourishes still. Ten years after their reception into the Church the title ‘Our Lady of the Atonement’ was approved formally by Pope Benedict XV, with today’s feast day being approved by the Holy See in 1946. Given the roots of the devotion it was fitting that Father Phillips and his former Anglican community, now reconciled with the Holy See, should choose to dedicate themselves to Our Lady under this venerable title that is so expressive of that heartfelt desire - of Christ Himself - for his followers to be one with one another in Him. As Father Paul once said: “When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of ‘Our Lady of the Atonement’, we mean ‘Our Lady of Unity’”. Father Paul’s prayers, together with those of Our Lady, have certainly sustained the steady growth of her parish in San Antonio over the past thirty-five years, as it has sought to share the treasures of the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church as a way of fulfilling Our Lord's prayer that “they may be one”.
'[Our Lady] is necessarily “of the Atonement” since it was the will of God that she play a necessary part in the atonement or redemption. This is not to say that without her man would have remained unredeemed but that God’s plan gave her a large share in the redemptive work. When we address the Blessed Mother, as “of the Atonement”, we mean then, that there is some very close bond between the atonement and her, that she belongs to the atonement and the atonement to her. Mary, although her part is in no way similar in nature to that of her divine Son’s, cooperated with Jesus Christ, as no other creature did, in his work of reconciling man with God.
Her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become, and became the mother of the Redeemer; that she suffered with Jesus during the passion; and that all graces merited for mankind by Christ have come to us through Mary’.
Fr Paul of Graymoor, Servant of God, 1863-1940
O God, who dost gather together those that have been scattered, and who dost preserve those that have been gathered: we beseech thee, through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement; that thou wouldest pour out upon thy Church the grace of unity and send thy Holy Ghost upon all mankind, that they may be one; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us: and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘We pray that we may be defended and comforted, a typical doublet but with a more special point than usual, because it puts first negatively and then positively the benefit for which we ask. We wish to be defended against all dangers and comforted in all adversities.
After all, we are very like children. No man can ever be so supremely self-confident that he never wants to be protected, shielded from harm. It is said that Gladstone’s favourite hymn was the Latin version of “Let me ever more abide hidden in thy wounded side”. The need that so great a statesman was not ashamed to confess is surely common to all.
More positively we desire comfort in adversity. “Comfort” makes one think of a mother soothing a sick child. Something of that overtone hovers about the word. But in this instance it is probably used in a sense nearer to its etymological meaning of “strengthen”. We can catch the sense if we remember the precise meaning of the word “fort” in a military connection, a fortress or strongpoint. To comfort is to make especially strong.
It is no doubt in this double sense that the Bible speaks of the angels comforting Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and that Jesus could speak of his own Spirit as the Comfort (though in the latter instance there is the added thought of the advocate called in to help). In any case what we are asking for is not merely some help to relieve our pain but additional strength to enable us to meet and to bear it.
Dangers then may be taken to arise out of the changes and chances of this mortal life, and adversities may be taken to apply to our utmost need however and whenever experienced. If we are inclined to think that their prevalence is somewhat exaggerated and that we may quite possibly get along without encountering them at all, we should remember how many aspects of our life they cover. They may be either physical, moral, or spiritual… The toll of deaths on the roads warns us of our physical dangers. Temptations to get rick quick warn us of our moral dangers. While the materialism of modern society is a constant danger to our spiritual life.
All these we can face with a measure of equanimity if we rely on the defence and comfort supplied through God’s mercy’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘The first half of the ecclesiastical year is devoted to setting forth the great doctrines of the Christian religion, the second half to setting forth its practical duties. Neither would be complete without the other. Religion consists of credenda, things to be believed; agenda, things to be done; but belief is unreal unless it is made the basis of action; and action cannot commence without the stimulus supplied by belief. The Collects for this season [of Trinitytide] are prayers for the Divine help and guidance to enable us to bring forth the fruits of Christianity. The [Prayer Book] Gospels bring before us the teaching and example of our Blessed Lord; the [Prayer Book] Epistles exhort us to the practice of Christian virtues. The latter are all, with the exception of those for the first three, fifth, and twenty-fifth Sundays, taken from St Paul’s writings, and generally follow the order in which they stand in the New Testament. The Roman Missal counts the Sundays after Pentecost, not after Trinity. We follow the Sarum Missal in counting them after Trinity’.
from ‘The Prayer Book: Its History, Language, and Contents’, by Evan Daniel, 1837-1904
O God, who hast made thyself known to us as Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, in order that we may be informed of thy love and thy majesty: Mercifully grant that we may not be terrified by what thou hast revealed of thy majesty, nor tempted to trespass upon thy mercy by what we know of thy love for us; but that by the power of thy Spirit we may be forever drawn to thee in true adoration and worship; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen. - Euchologium Anglicanum.
Today, in the Ordinariate (in England & Wales, and Canada), is the Memorial of ‘St John the Apostle in Eastertide’. It was, until its removal by Pope St John XXIII from the revised General Roman Calendar of 1960, kept throughout the Catholic Church as ‘Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, before the Latin Gate’, a name that survived in Archbishop Cranmer’s Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer as ‘St John the Evangelist Ante Portam Latinam’. It also appeared in the calendars of the Anglican and English Missals of the early 20th century, and thus – in those places where that tradition was the practise – the feast continued to be celebrated long after it was dropped in 1960. As was once related to me by a certain Canadian monsignor (and this explains the Canadian patrimonial provision for today’s observance), the Anglican Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Canada kept today as their feast day, rather than the 27th December, because that date was both too close to Christmas and in Northern Ontario, too cold for much festivity!
How fitting then, that such a day, no longer universally observed by the majority of Catholics, should find harbour and be celebrated (with the same old Mass propers) in the ordinariates; a practical illustration indeed of that call to ‘maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift’.
‘One day Salome presented her two sons, James and John, to Jesus, and with a mother’s ambition asked Him to grant them the highest places in his Kingdom. In reply, the Saviour spoke of the chalice which He Himself would have to drink, and foretold that these two disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Great, was the first to give his Master this proof of his love. John, the younger brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus’ divinity.
But the martyrdom of the latter Apostle called for a scene worthy of the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelised, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome, whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross, and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword, alone deserved the honour of seeing the beloved disciple march on to martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College.
In the year 95 John appeared before the tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew who had been crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was considered a superstitious and rebellious old man, and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was, therefore, sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death.
A huge cauldron of boiling oil was prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence ordered that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour had come for the second son of Salome to partake of his Master’s chalice. John’s heart leapt with joy. After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seized the old man, and threw him into the cauldron. But, lo! the boiling liquid lost all its heat; the Apostle felt no scalding. On the contrary, when they took him out again he felt all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him.
The praetor’s cruelty was foiled, and John, a martyr in desire, was to be left to the Church for some few years longer. An imperial decree banished him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God revealed to him the future of the Church even to the end of time’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, who with the oil of gladness didst anoint blessed John a companion in the tribulation and patience of the Lord Jesus: grant us likewise to rejoice in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Saint John the Apostle in Eastertide, Divine Worship: The Missal.
The following ‘Ancient Homily on the Lord’s Descent into Hell’ is found in the order for ‘A Liturgy of the Word for Holy Saturday’ as found in the Ordinariate’s Divine Worship: The Missal. It is attributed to Bishop Melito of Sardis, who died c.180.
‘Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
“I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity”’.
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: grant that, as the crucified body of thy dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - A collect for Holy Saturday, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Lent prepares us to commemorate the death of our Lord on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter morning.
But what do we mean by commemorate? Not just remembering an ancient story but finding how the death of Jesus can mean more to us than ever before, and how the risen life of Jesus is something in which we may actually be sharing. Start by putting our aim into a prayer: Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast won for me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me: most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.
Realising the meaning of his death, sharing in his risen life: that is our goal. Our way will include our prayer, our sharing in the Holy Communion, our reading… But this will not be in a vacuum, but in the midst of the world around us. In the terrible suffering of our time Jesus suffers. By the cruelties and evil of our time Jesus suffers. So, linking our Lent with the world around us, pray now for some who suffer whether near or far; and pray now for some near or far whose cruelty or callousness is wounding Jesus’.
A.M. Ramsey, Lord Ramsey of Canterbury, 1904-1988 (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961-1974)
Congratulations to my colleague Monsignor Carl Reid (second from right, above), who was yesterday named as the new Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross in Australia, in succession to Mgr Harry Entwistle (who, like myself, was once of the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn). Mgr Reid is presently the Administrator of Blessed John Henry Newman, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and will be installed as Ordinary at the end of August. I was privileged to be present for his ordination to the priesthood in Ottawa in 2013 and honoured to be asked to preach at his First Mass. Australia and its Ordinariate will be greatly blessed by this appointment.
O Lord, who has taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This most lovely collect was introduced into the Prayer Book in 1549 to set before us in the plainest terms our proper aim in the forthcoming season of Lent. We are to use this opportunity not in order to acquire some of the more rare and exquisite graces of the Christian life, but to make sure of our competence in the most fundamental virtue of all.
We are not left in any doubt about the unique importance of charity. Both the beginning and the ending of the collect assure us of that. Jesus himself has taught us that “all our doings without charity are nothing worth”, and we know that without it an otherwise healthy person is reckoned as dead in the eyes of Christ.
It would be difficult to find words that put more strongly the position that for Christians the law of charity is the primary law of life, the standard to which all other regulations must conform. No other success in the sphere of living is of any lasting value unless it is permeated by the spirit of charity.
…One would be terrified if one felt that this charity was something one had to acquire for oneself: the consequences of not attaining it are so disastrous. Happily, however, we are told that this is not something we must win for ourselves. It is a gift. All we have to do is to reach out our hands and accept it, and then let it have its way with us. And so we pray that the Holy Spirit may pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘Members of the Ordinariate… bring to the Catholic Church an experience and painful memory of what happens to a Christian community when clerical leaders permit a widening of the gap between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. It is sometimes joked that the only moral principle upon which all members of the C of E can agree is that a failure to separate one’s recyclable rubbish from the food scrapes bin is gravely anti-social behaviour. If the only thing uniting a community is the desire for the community to hold together regardless of the actual beliefs and values of those in the community, then that community may well hold together as a mutual social welfare support service for the weaker members who rely on social welfare, but it will lose its character as a church, as an ecclesial body, and it will hold no attraction for the stronger members of the community who don’t go to church for the free cup of tea and opportunity to pick over the goods on offer at the second-hand clothes stall. If the provision of social welfare, kindness, care and concern, rather than a common creed, becomes the glue that holds a group together, then the sacramental participation in the life of the Trinity will be very much occluded and ecclesial communities will become hard to distinguish from gatherings of secular humanists and political moralists. To Catholics who are tempted to go down that route, members of the Ordinariate can attest with some high degree of authority based on experience that it does nothing to improve the numbers of bottoms on pews on Sunday.
From Rome the Ordinariate initially received the gift of St John Paul II’s high sacramental theology of marriage which situates human sexuality into the context of the creative love within the Trinity. Arguably this is the intellectual antidote to the Church of England’s historic weakness in the field of moral theology. Where good and evil is concerned, the Anglican disposition of opting for the middle position is not always the best policy.
The fact that the Ordinariate has its own Divine Worship books is an assurance that the English heritage will be respected, that the principle of ‘unity with distinctiveness’ which avoids absorption will prevail. However realised ecumenism does not allow for unity of communion without unity of faith. The Ordinariate can therefore be a model of receptive ecumenism morphing into a realised ecumenism insofar as its members become the purveyors of both transcendent liturgical worship and sound catechetical preaching.
The Ordinariate is not however merely a model of successful receptive ecumenism, it is also potentially a model of re-weaving the tapestry ecumenism. Running through the tapestry as a central thread is a Christocentric Trinitarian sacramental theology that finds its highest expression in the liturgy. While common garden variety Catholics are re-weaving parts of the tapestry by recourse to the theological work of the ressourcement scholars, Ordinariate Catholics can help to re-weave other bits of the tapestry by recourse to the works of the Caroline Divines, members of the Oxford movement and writers like Coleridge and T. S. Eliot’.
from a paper entitled Ecumenism: What Future? given in 2017 in honour of the fifth anniversary
of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
by Prof Tracey Rowland
‘[T]he Ordinariate’s championing of elements of the traditions of Anglicanism can re-introduce Catholics in this country to their own Catholic heritage. There is a common assumption among English Catholics (it was certainly prevalent in my own Catholic schooling) that the Catholic faith disappeared in this country in 1536 and re-started again in 1850. There was simply an intermission, like turning your computer on and off. It was in no way acknowledged that the form of Catholicism restored in 1850 was in many ways unlike that of the middle ages, drawing its identity and spirituality from sources unknown to medieval English Catholicism. Accordingly, the names of Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, St Edith of Wilton, St Wilfrid, St Frideswide are virtually unknown to modern English Catholics. They are all there, in the Customary. The Ordinariate can help re-present a Catholicism whose spirituality, language, customs and music are grounded in these islands; whose mysticism draws upon not only upon St Theresa of Avila but also the Cloud of Unkowning; not only upon Francis de Sales but also Aelred of Rievaulx; whose piety, as well as Italian and baroque, is also forged in the mists and vales of England; who honours Mary not only at Lourdes and Fatima but also at Walsingham; whose liturgical seasons, as well as marching to the mighty beat of Rome, also recall the native footfall of Sarum. Of course, it is easy to be romantic and over-precious about this, and many have fallen into that trap. Moreover, Catholicism is vigorous because it is universal, and English Catholicism today boasts many cultural strands which enrich and strengthen it. But Anglicanism in particular has preserved something unique, a rich and distinctive flavour of Catholicism that was moulded in this land throughout a millennium, and which will enrich our national treasury of spirituality.
…[T]he Ordinariate has a rich potential for ecumenical endeavour which is only just starting to be realised. It has in particular a mission to bring to the fore, for both Catholic and Anglican audiences, those same Catholic elements within the Anglican tradition which were noted by Vatican II, elements within Anglicanism in which the Catholic Church sees itself and which are features impelling us to unity. These elements have a magnetic pull, drawing us together. The Ordinariate has a unique role in distinguishing these elements and, both directly and indirectly, encouraging, reminding and urging onward Catholics and Anglicans in their pilgrimage towards Christian Unity’.
from a talk given to the clergy of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
12 February 2015, by, Mgr Mark Langham
Though it will be transferred to Sunday in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, today is the Solemnity of the Chair of St Peter, the Titular Solemnity of the Ordinariate in the United States and Canada. Here follows a homily, preached on this day, during the Ordinariate’s 2014 pilgrimage to Rome, by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP.
‘According to tradition, the feast of the Chair of St Peter marks the anniversary of the day when St Peter, having borne witness to the divinity of Christ, was appointed by Our Lord to be the rock of his Church — quo electus est primus Petrus papa, as the very ancient Western liturgies have it. Peter is thus the first to be seated in the chair that then comes to symbolise the episcopal office of the pope as bishop of Rome.
…[T]here were at one time two feasts of the chair of St Peter. In the calendar in force until the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, 18 January marked the feast of the Chair of St Peter in Rome while 22 February that of the Chair of St Peter in Antioch. The second thing to notice is that there is actually a chair in the picture. The chair in question is associated with St Peter’s sojourn in Rome, and, in particular, with a chair venerated since ancient times as the cathedra Petri. Since the 17th century this wooden chair has been enclosed in the bronze of Bernini’s magnificent sculpture, enthroned above the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica and held aloft by the four Doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius and Chrysostom).
The fact that there were at one time two feasts of the Chair of Peter reminds us that Christ consigned to Peter a munus, a ministry, that he exercised first in Jerusalem, and then at Antioch, and only ultimately at Rome. This recognition offsets the danger that the theology of the papal ministry can become, in effect, a theology of the primatial character of the see of Rome. Then we are tempted to concentrate on the history of the exercise of papal ministry by successive bishops of Rome, on the relationship of the bishop of Rome to the college of bishops, on the canonical dynamics of the bishop of Rome’s universal jurisdiction, on the relationship of the bishop of Rome to other patriarchal — and primatial — sees and implicitly to the leadership of other churches and ecclesial communities. Now don’t get me wrong: these are indeed important issues.
But the munus petrinum entrusted by Christ to Simon Bar Jonah is in fact both temporally and logically prior to its location in or its identification with the see of Rome. Before there was a primatial see at Rome, there was the divinely instituted ministry of Peter within the “college” of the Apostles. The primacy of the see of Rome was immediately recognised because it was the see from which Peter and his successors — in the exquisitely apt design of divine providence — would come to exercise their ministry. It could have been Jerusalem where Christ suffered and died under Pontius Pilate, or Antioch where his followers were first called “Christians”. The prominence of Rome — not only geopolitical and cultural, but specifically Christian as the place where the blood of the martyrs was shed and where the Apostles Peter and Paul sojourned and gave their lives for Christ — is naturally not to be overlooked. But the munus petrinum — the office of guiding and teaching and governing the Church — was bestowed upon Peter by Christ before ever he came to exercise it from the cathedra of the bishop of Rome.
And this brings us to the second fascinating thing about this feast: there is actually a chair in the picture, however obscure its history and provenance. An instance of the remarkable concreteness of Catholic sensibility, the association of an existing episcopal cathedra to be venerated spurs our faith and devotion as we contemplate the grace of the petrine ministry. Not for nothing is the chair of Peter considered a sacramental in Catholic theology and practice. Here we touch on the fundamental Catholic conviction that God uses the tangible and visible things of earthly existence both to signify and, uniquely in the sacraments, to bestow his spiritual gifts.
Above all, he uses consecrated persons as instruments of his grace. The Holy Father, the cardinals, the bishops, the priests, and the deacons of the Church: they are the instruments through whom God willed to pour out his grace on us in the Church through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments. In this way, God adapted himself to our human nature — by sending his only Son who in turn commissioned the Apostles and their successors — so that we might receive his word and his grace from other human beings. The hand of another human being blesses us, pours the water of Baptism on our foreheads, offers the body and blood of Christ to us in the Eucharist, and is raised in absolution unto the forgiveness of sins. Through these persons — St Peter first among them — and through these actions and objects, God’s grace is bestowed on us’.
Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
O Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandest him earnestly to feed thy flock: make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same; that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘With the inclusion of... a liturgical provision in Anglicanorum coetibus, the Holy See acknowledged the legitimate patrimony of Anglican ecclesial communities coming into full communion. The presumption here is that an essential part of that patrimony must be liturgical since worship expresses in a most tangible way not only the ethos of a community, but also the faith that prompted it to seek full communion in the first place. Just as it would be unthinkable to describe the Catholic Church without reference to its liturgical and sacramental life, so it would in some sense be for every ecclesial body. The manner in which an ecclesial community worships uniquely expresses its inner life.
The publication of Divine Worship was of historic significance in that this is the first time the Catholic Church acknowledged the value of liturgical forms in use in communities that emerged in the sixteenth century reformations and, moreover, undertaken to incorporate them. To be sure, the Church over the years has drawn elements of the musical traditions of these communities — such as hymns, motets, and chorales — but never official liturgical texts or usage.
…It is remarkable that the Catholic Church should have undertaken a formal process such as the Anglicanae traditiones Commission to identify and incorporate the richness of Anglican liturgical practice. In constituting a body of authoritative texts duly approved and promulgated by the Holy See, Divine Worship is true to the fundamental character of a liturgical “patrimony”.
It is massively important to recognise that the liturgical books comprised by Divine Worship arise from an exercise of Peter’s authority over the churches that recognises the authentic faith of the Church expressed in Anglican forms of worship and confirms that expression as a treasure or patrimony for the whole Church. In other words, the universal Church recognises the faith that is already hers expressed felicitously in another idiom. The elements of sanctification and truth that are present in the Anglican patrimony are recognised as properly belonging to the Church of Christ and thus as instruments of grace that move the communities where they are employed towards the visible unity of the Church of Christ subsisting in the Catholic Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8). By further enriching those expressions through access to the Magisterium that authentically interprets the Word of God and preserves Christian teaching from error, the Catholic Church proposes this form of worship anew as an efficacious means of sacramental grace for future generations.
To be sure, the sources are Anglican, and many of the liturgical texts in Divine Worship have their origin in a situation of ecclesial rupture. Yet there is a powerful dynamism at work in the reintroduction of these texts in communities now in full communion with the See of Peter. It is not just that they are given a “new lease on life” in a new context or successive generation. These liturgical forms “return” to the Church having been purified and transformed in Catholic communion. Words pronounced at other times and in other context are no longer simply Cranmer’s poetry or an English assertion of independence from Rome, or now merely the eloquence or piety of the priest celebrant who speaks them, but rather the words of the Church and her faith’.
from a talk entitled Anglican Patrimony: A Perspective from the Holy See
given at a conference The Gospel and the Catholic Church: Anglican Patrimony Today
Oxford, April 2018, by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
‘Am I grateful for my Anglican heritage? Yes, I am. Where did I first learn the Catholic Faith? At home, in the vicarage. Therefore I rejoiced when news of the Ordinariate came from Rome. I have been hoping for something like this for years.
…The Pastor of the nations is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed - that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.
Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces). In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical “use” as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region.
There is no “hidden agenda” here, no popish trap!... This is a step of faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves accepting all the teachings of the Church on faith and morals. Such a personal assent of faith needs to be formed and informed. To use an Anglican expression, please “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This summarises the Faith “once given”, embodied in one Word of God that comes to us, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, through Scripture and Tradition.
There will be sacrifices, but humility and suffering are parts of a faith journey - and many of you have already suffered much for the sake of conscience.
Yet you do not come to the Ordinariates with empty hands. As I learnt forty two years ago, you will lose nothing - but you will regain an inheritance stolen from us four centuries ago. That heritage was largely recovered by the giants of the Oxford Movement. I believe they smile on us now. In these early days, let us keep praying with them, so that together we may patiently work out how Pope Benedict’s project can be achieved’.
Bishop Peter Elliott, 2010 (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2007-2018)
‘Among the opinions we can be sure to encounter is a certain uneasiness with our Missal’s use of traditional language and even the snarky charge that Divine Worship is really just a “Tudorbethan fantasy, an exercise in mock-Tudor nostalgia, or a Cranmerian pastiche with limited appeal and prospects only for evangelising a small set of gin-sipping anglophiles.” I exaggerate for effect, but only slightly – just wait until the blogs light up and start smoking with both sharp criticism and misplaced praise for the linguistic register of Divine Worship. Criticism of our sacral dialect is to be expected and is in fact quite understandable, given what we’ve lived through in the general linguistic confusion of the last fifty years and given the unfortunate politicising of liturgical expression, but I would suggest too that such misapprehension can be an occasion to rediscover and rethink the evangelising potential of Catholic worship in our distinct sacral idiom.
First observation: Liturgical language is not primarily a means of description or information; it is not and has never been the diffuse idiom of everyday communication and commerce; rather it is the Church’s focused, concentrated instrument of mediation to effect, to incarnate our participation in the saving mysteries of our faith and to immerse, to wash the faithful in the figural meanings of Holy Scripture.
Second observation: Liturgical language is stylised, enacted speech with its own kind of intelligibility, and far from excluding archaic elements it welcomes a modicum of traditional expressions and some ritualised conventions that “reach to the roots”, resonate in the auditory memory, and habituate an experience of worship wider, deeper, older than ourselves, transcending the gathered congregation in time and space to represent and configure our incorporation into the Communion of the Saints.
Third observation: Liturgical language is recursive and immersive; it bears and demands repetition, day by day, week by week, season by season, year by year, without ever exhausting its capacity to stimulate meditation and work ongoing conversion of life; its words are “poetic” in the sense of being athletic, even ascetic, by gently, insistently stretching the limits of expression in order to exercise, train, tune, and elevate our faculties that we might lift up our hearts to God and open out our lives in love and service.
Along these lines, recent decades have seen some new appreciation of the function of liturgical language, though it’s been an appreciation forged in fires of controversy and some ashes of compromise - as well you know. Still the ecclesial context is vital – what a difference it makes to be fully, unambiguously Catholic! Words, of course, signify their meanings in context, according to their arrangement, occasion, and purpose, the time, place, and attitude of their utterance (ad placitum ab suppositio as medieval grammarians were fond of saying). When we recite the familiar words of the Nicene Creed, I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, those words must mean something very different to us as Catholics than when we said the same words as Anglicans (with our fingers crossed!). It makes a profound difference to pray the Mass with the Collect for Purity at the beginning and the Prayer of Thanksgiving at the end, clustered now not around an equivocal Prayer of Consecration (one not altogether clear about what exactly it’s doing), but irradiating from the confidence of the Roman Canon and the power of the Holy Sacrifice. Such a context can literally transfigure the significance of familiar words. Yet we also know from our Anglican experience that the rich words of the Prayer Book can fall flat and ring hollow when an otherwise lovely lex orandi gets detached from an authoritative lex credendi and leaves lex vivendi prey to the zeitgeist of “lifestyle politics” and sets souls adrift.
It seems to me, then, that we have to learn to read our own Anglican history and to examine our habits and affections in a new key, a new context, not so much for the defensive retention of a “goodly heritage”, but to discover in its resources a new impetus for transfiguring mission’.
from a talk entitled Very Members Incorporate:
Some Reflections on the Sacral Language of Divine Worship
2 February 2015, by Dr Clinton Allen Brand KSG
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox