The Anglican Patrimony Returneth

anglicancatholic1We are starved for mystery.  We hunger for silence and beauty, and, as Catholics who have been force-fed guitar Masses and happy-clappy Masses and so forth, we often don’t know where to turn.  There is the sacred mystery of the Extraordinary Form, and, while I highly recommend hearing the Tridentine Mass and reading the English translation of the prayers, the fact remains that, for most of us who don’t speak Latin, this holy Mass can seem a little too foreign.  A little too other.  Please hear me, I don’t mean to denigrate the Tridentine Mass, but I confess that it is not a form that I feel comfortable hearing every week.

Enter the Providence of God and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Wallsingham and Pope Francis.  In case you have not heard, Pope Francis last week inserted a paragraph into canon that essentially serves to open the new “Anglican rite” to any baptized Catholic who has not received Confirmation.  This is awesome!

I think it is awesome for the following reason, namely, it offers to sacred-starved American anglicancatholic2Catholics a liturgy that has beautiful sacred music, prayers rich in erudition, and beautiful vestments, and it is in English.  If you have ever read John Seniors’ “Restoration of Christian Culture”, you will recall that he bemoans the fact that so many great books in English are non-Catholic or anti-Catholic; he avers that we simply must bear it as best we can because one can’t not read “Robinson Crusoe” or “Little Women”, but he wishes that there were a corpus of good English Catholic literature.  I think of him, therefore, as I write about this new missionary mandate for the Anglican ordinariate, and I feel happy.

Here is an English Catholic Mass that retains the mystery and beauty and silence that we have generally lost in English-speaking Roman Catholicism.  Amazing!  You know, Pope John Paul II wrote the following in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”, and I think of it today: “The more positive [analysis of all the divisions in Christianity] is inspired by trust in the One who is capable of bringing forth good even from evil, from human weakness.  Could it not be that these divisions have also been a path continually leading the Church to discover the untold wealth contained in Christ’s Gospel and in the redemption accomplished by Christ?  Perhaps all this wealth would not have come to light otherwise…” (p. 153)  Isn’t it interesting that the Holy Father surmised that, perhaps, Our Lord allowed all the divisions within Christianity in order to make more full and more deep the richness of Catholic doctrine.  Could it be that Our Lord allowed the schism between the Church and English Anglicanism in order to one day bless the Church through England? Like this.

If you’ve ever seen “A Man for All Seasons” you will recall the scene in which the Catholic bishops assemble and, to a man, excepting St. John Fisher, repudiate their allegiance to the Holy Father.  Who would have ever imagined that, Our Lord, in His perfect mercy, would bring about the very opposite, and, in so doing, bless the entire English-speaking Church?  Blessed be His Holy Name.  Check out this video of the epic Catechism-signing.

10 thoughts on “The Anglican Patrimony Returneth”

  1. I remember my dad telling me how hard it was for him to get used to going to Masses that were in English. He always had a soft spot for the Latin Mass.

  2. I don’t understand this. You say this news “offers to sacred-starved American Catholics a liturgy….”

    First, how many churches anywhere in the US will be hosting this liturgy? I guess fewer than 50.

    The new rule says people who were baptized Catholic but not Confirmed do the other sacraments can join the new Ordinate. I’m guessing that the really active people in US Catholic churches have mostly been confirmed, so they are out.

    Further, I don’t know why the Masses in this ordinate should or will be more mysterious and beautiful and silent than Masses in other Catholic practice. Who is to say they won’t have guitars in the Anglican Ordinate masses, too?

    1. Dear Dan, thanks for your question. You are right that the devout Catholics tend to already be confirmed, but I am thinking about the many people who are coming into the Church, either from Protestantism or who are Catholic reverts. Many Protestants with whom Devin (my husband) corresponds express a desire for greater mystery and are drawn to Eastern Orthodoxy, even when they know that the Catholic Church is the unbroken historical reality of the Body of Christ. My joy is that, now, this Personal Ordinariate will begin to bless the Roman Rite with just such mystery and beauty.

      And, you are right that they may have guitars at Personal Ordinariate Masses, but that is not something that I have encountered or seen yet. I understand that what I said may sound hyperbolic because, yes, perhaps there are fewer than 50 personal ordinariate parishes, but I am looking at the big picture and see with delight what may come.

      Peace to you, and joy.

    2. Agree entirely. I’ve attended Mass a number of times at St Mary the Virgin and I can tell you that it is very solemn and worshipful. Low Mass is simpler and High Mass is sung. The altar is in the east and the celebrant and people face the altar. The people kneel for most of the prayers, including the Our Father, Confiteor, Agnus Dei, and the final blessing. I never have understood why we stand then. Communion is under both species, but kneeling, at the rail, sometimes by intinction. Most of the communicants are serious about their faith and understand the rubrics, why they are there and the Presence of The Lord in the Eucharist. The music tends toward very traditional. Btw, in the Anglican Use, all Catholics can fulfill their Sunday and Holy Day obligations. They can also go to Confession. There are not a lot of parishes, but there are a lot of communities, many that meet in Catholic parishes. If you have never visited, go. It is easier to meet people than at a mass of 600+ like my parish and you might really learn something. Btw, there are lots of Anglicans and Episcopalians who have “crossed the Tiber” including myself. We came for the fullness of the faith, but many offer an appreciation of the traditions of the Liturgy and the Church.

  3. Surely there are Eastern Rite Catholic Churches around that retain the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, are there not? Is that not to your taste, or have you not been exposed to it?

    If your part of the country does not have any Eastern Rite Catholic Church nearby, you could drop in an Orthodox Church and observe that ancient rite celebrated any week of the year. Come and see!

    1. Dear George, great point about the Eastern rites. Devin and I especially love the Maronite rite and participate in that Sacred Liturgy as often as we can. But, the prayers are in Aramaic and, while it is beautiful, we on feel a little too Anglo for the primarily Lebanese parish.

      That is why I am so excited about a super-sacred English Mass. It offers the transcendent beauty of an Eastern liturgy but in English.

  4. Hey Devin, even though we can’t “join” the ordinariate, we can attend the Masses, can’t we?

  5. I find the Catholic Mass very beautiful. I don’t feel force fed guitar Masses and happy-clappy Masses and so forth,….. In fact, I have attended many Churches in the United States and the guitar masses I’ve found have mostly been in the Spanish community. Nor did I feel an absence of the Holy Spirit because of it.

    I don’t feel sacred starved in the Roman Mass. I live very close to Our Lady of Walsingham and I’m a homeschooling parent in this community, so I know the Mass there is also beautiful, but it is not superior to the Roman Mass.

    Please, if you believe you are a devout Catholic and you can’t find the Sacred in the Catholic Mass celebrated in the Roman rite, perhaps you ought to search within yourself. I always find it strange that purportedly devout Catholics find it necessary to cast barbs at another part of the Catholic Church or at other Catholics. It was on this same blog that a new convert was gloating of his holiness and judging virtually all other Catholics as mortal sinners.

    Could you not find some way of praising the beauty of the Anglican rite without disparaging the rest of the Catholic Church?


    De Maria

  6. I love this! Shared on my FB page.

    I didn’t realize this was an option for us. That being said, this past Sunday marked the announcement that my next-door parish will be beginning the Extraordinary Form. *Girlish grin* That means I actually get to experience the fullness of this Mass, but it’s nice to know there are options out there for others, too.

    And we’re able to receive absolution from these priests, too? I didn’t know that!


    As always, I've learned something new here. Thank you!

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