Sunday, February 8, 2009

The T.A.C. at Prayer

Pursuant to my ecumenical endeavours (!), after attending my usual Sunday Novus Ordo Mass at Carmel (Fr Kene again the celebrant), there joining in singing the chant for the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, plus hymns, and making my communion, Deo gratias, I went along and took a back seat at the liturgy of the T.A.C.'s parish of the Annunciation here in Launceston.  I must say I felt sorry for them and the sacrifices they have made in setting up a place of refuge away from the reigning illiberal and unchristian liberalism in the Anglican mainstream: they perforce have Sunday worship in a room at the Harry Abbot Scout Centre, and apparently otherwise (on Wednesdays, that sacred day to Anglicans) their rites are performed at their minister's home.  

Their pastor is their local bishop also, David Robarts, with whom I had a very long and interesting conversation afterward.  It's a small world: he knows many of the people I do (Bps Jarrett and Elliott, Dr Tracey Rowland, my mate Justin et al.), and was able to fill me in about the miserable way that liberal or rather modernist Anglicans, in their quest to depart from faith and ramroad through the pretended ordination of women, made use of all manner of underhanded tactics: as usual, "scratch a liberal, find a fascist".  I hadn't realized, but for most of the eighties Robarts had been Dean of the Anglican cathedral in Perth, and more recently was in charge at Christ Church, Brunswick; he retired at 70 but was prevailed upon by Hepworth, the T.A.C.'s primate, to be made as it were one of his auxiliaries - though, courtesy of being still licensed as a clergyman by the Anglican Bishop of the Murray (!), he remains technically a minister in good standing as an Australian Anglican, yet at the same time, to the chagrin of the powers-that-be, is a T.A.C. prelate.  

I must say I find Anglican ideas of ecclesiology rather peculiar.

As to the worship I attended: I arrived about five minutes before the start of the service, "Mass" as they term it, to find one reasonably-sized room at the scout centre (its walls hung with ancient photographs of scouts, and a portrait of Baden Powell) set up with three rows of chairs (with cushions) facing a table up against the wall, dressed as an altar with a green frontal and white altar cloth.  Behind it hung a curtain, which I later discovered was only temporary, and employed to conceal a blackboard.  On this makeshift altar were two candles burning in silver candlesticks, a wooden crucifix with a corpus depicting Christ the High Priest in vestments, a missal on a stand on the epistle side, sundry sheets of paper (answering to altar cards), another book (a hymnal?), and a veiled chalice and paten in the middle.  There was a chair facing forward either side of this altar.  Over on the gospel side up the front there was a lectern facing the people (in the corner behind it was a vase with a few flowers in it, an icon of the Trinity and a little bluish light burning), while far over near the door on the epistle side was a credence with cruets, lavabo bowl and finger towel.  As I had come in, I'd taken a copy of the order of service (originally used at Christ Church, Brunswick), and a New English Hymnal (of which I have a copy at home on the third-nearest bookshelf).

The congregation consisted of eleven worshippers (including, as it turned out, Robarts' wife and stepson), plus yours truly.  Robarts, in green Roman vestments (but without maniple), with a pectoral cross under his chasuble, and a purple zucchetto on his head, came in and began the liturgy, first briefly welcoming us, and especially "our visitor, Joshua..."!  Then he said "The Lord be with you" (to which they replied, "And with thy spirit"), and thereupon turned to face the altar: being without a server, he then recited, all in English of course, the traditional Roman prayers at the foot of the altar: "In the name of the Father...", Psalm 42(43) with antiphon and Glory be (we joined in the "As it was"), "Our help is in the Name of the Lord...", the Confiteor (complete with all its saints), then straightaway the Indulgentiam (presumably not having servers to respond with the Misereatur, nor to say their Confiteor - none of this part was in the order of service), and the versicles following exclusive of "The Lord be with you" (as already said?) - then he said what was the start of the B.C.P. service: an Our Father, which he said softly; and the Collect for Purity, in which all joined.  (In passing, I observe that he recited these prayers, as nearly all the rite - even the Gospel! - with hands extended in the oriens position, which struck me as curious.)

Next, he had us sing the first hymn, "All my hope on God is founded" (N.E.H. no. 333, by Robert Bridges based on the German of Neander, to the tune "Michael" by Howells) - all five verses.  I was unfamiliar with both the hymn and tune; being Anglicans, the twelve of them sang up very well!

Robarts then read the Introit (again, all saying the "As it was..."), but I was confused - the Introit was not that of Septuagesima (I had wondered why the vestments were green).  Next, the Kyrie (in Greek, the only time English wasn't used), then the Gloria in the traditional Anglican version,  "The Lord be with you", "Let us pray" and the Collect - which was that of Septuagesima!  (How this works I don't know.)

Odder still - having all stood since the entrance of their minister, all sat - for the Collect!

One of the laymen then got up, made a tiny reverence when passing the middle of the altar (as the celebrant had done earlier), and read the lessons: which turned out to be, not the traditional ones, but the same I'd heard at Mass earlier, for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.  (By this point I was quite bemused.)  It must be said, though, that the version of Scripture used (I'm guessing it was the King James) was much more pleasant to the ear. There was no psalm read, so the reader proceeded from Job vii, 1-4 & 6-7 direct to I Corinthians ix, 16-19 & 22-23.  During these readings, the celebrant had sat at the chair on the epistle side; now he got up, and read the Gradual and Alleluia (unidentifiable as to provenance) from the Missal or whatnot, before carrying the Missal on its stand over to the gospel side, saying some private prayer, and going himself to the lectern, where he read the Gospel (all standing): St Mark i, 29-39.

After the Gospel (all making the Anglican responses thereto - there had been no responses given for the earlier readings), Robarts returned to the middle of the altar and then he and all recited the Creed (he genuflected at the Incarnatus est; as I much prefer to do so, and am used to it from the Trad. Mass, I did too).  Only then did he return to the lectern and preached the sermon, while of course we all sat.

He began by referring to a Roman Catholic friend, who had been bemoaning the current lack of priestly and religious vocations while meanwhile all sorts of busybodies run to and fro engaging in pseudo-ministry; and took the topic of vocation, what it really is for each and every Christian, as his concern to expound.  Of course, vocation is God's call to us to come nigh to Himself, solemnly made in the sacrament of Baptism and lived throughout life; he observed that those who seek to serve anything other than God, even the church or other people, are missing the basic fact of what vocation is.  He quoted from Cardinal Newman's famous prayer about God's call to us, both at the start of his sermon and, at length, at its end, and referred also to Leo Trese: so all his references were Catholic.  Next, Job: Job's cry shows us that very often our calling is to endure suffering; St Paul in the epistle spoke also of being all things to all men, but not in the sense of being smoothly changeable nor a Christian doormat!  Our Lord by His life of self-giving sacrificial love shews us what vocation is, and what its food - prayer, persevering prayer to the heavenly Father. And so, he quoted Newman ("Meditations on Christian Doctrine", I. Hope in God - Creator, (2) 3.):
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.


I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.
The sermon ended, the celebrant returned to the altar, with "The Lord be with you" and "Let us pray", then they sang the next hymn, very Eucharistic, "We hail thy presence glorious" (N.E.H. no. 310, by Richard Parsons), while we all stood; during this, the collection was taken up - I may have committed a faux pas by being rather Catholic and putting coins, not notes into the basin, which was passed to the celebrant at the altar for him to solemnly elevate (how very Anglican) before returning it to the collector.  Otherwise, during this time, he appeared to be saying prayers at the altar and readying the chalice and paten - I assume he was saying the Roman Offertory prayers.  (One of the laymen had gone over to the credence and brought him the cruets, I think, and when I looked over had the lavabo towel ready for him when he came over to wash his hands, saying some private prayer.)  He was bowed low to do at least some of this, so I suspect he did say the Suscipe sancta Trinitas as this is the rubricly prescribed posture for so doing.  However, the hymn ended, all sat down again, and he then said several of the Novus Ordo offertory prayers aloud, but followed them with the Veni sanctificator from the old rite!  (If as I suspect he had read the Traditional Roman offertory prayers secretly, presumably he felt the need to read a second set aloud that the congregation might join in.  And in the prayers to come the elements would be offered at least twice more!)  

At about this point, Bruce (one of the parishioners, and my contact) went to the lectern and read out a series of biddings to pray for those suffering bushfire or flood (there are floods in Queensland), for various parts of the T.A.C. worldwide and Australiawide (including the Church of the Torres Strait), for the sick, and lastly for the dead - for whom we prayed "Eternal rest".  Next, Robarts read the Prayer for the Church Militant, but I think in its 1928 recension (it included mention of Hepworth as primate and himself as an unworthy servant), then he turned to say the Invitation facing the congregation: all said the general Confession (he knelt), and he pronounced over his people the Absolution to which they responded Amen.  The Comfortable Words were not used - a pity.  Instead, at this point, he went Roman again, saying the Orate fratres (response and all) - next, he and they recited together the Prayer of Humble Access.  (I think he also read the Secret, but I forget exactly when: probably directly after the Orate fratres.)

"The Lord be with you... Lift up your hearts... Let us give thanks..." and the Common Preface with Sanctus and Benedictus followed.  (The Anglicans had split off from the Church over two hundred years before Pope Clement XIII in 1759 enjoined that the Trinity Preface be said at Mass on ordinary Sundays.)  As I had surmised, the Canon following was precisely Frere's Interim Rite, but including (as in my post below) the anamnesis from the 1549 B.C.P.  Each species was elevated, with genuflexions before and after - but during all this, all remained seated!   It was strange watching all this.  I noticed various rubrics from the Roman Canon somehow wandered into the Anglican, such as the bowing low and signing oneself at the Supplices te, and the making crosses with the wafer over the chalice at the end.  Nonetheless, I distinctly heard him break the wafer at the words "he brake" just before the words of institution, as the B.C.P. prescribes.  (Lutherans regard so doing as a dreadfully Reformed thing to do, I don't know why.)

"Let us pray.  As our Saviour Christ hath commanded..." followed, then all said the Lord's Prayer with doxology - to which the celebrant appended the Novus Ordo form of the embolism "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil..." but without its doxology!  Next, the Novus Ordo prayer before the sign of peace, "The peace of the Lord be alway with you", no sign of peace itself (all were still sitting), sotto voce the prayer at the commingling, and then the Agnus Dei, done responsorially.  While bowing low, the celebrant appeared to read to himself the Roman private prayers before communion, and those at reception thereof; he turned, holding a ciborium, and said, holding up a wafer, "Behold the Lamb of God..." to which his people replied "Lord, I am not worthy..." (once only).  They all then lined up, standing, in a semicircle around the altar as he gave them first communion under the form of bread, then from the chalice - he seemed to vary the words of administration, using the first half of the rather long Anglican 1662 B.C.P. forms for all, but quoting the whole thereof for some or at least at the end of administering each species.  (It seemed rude to watch too closely, so I prayed for spiritual communion, and for corporate reunion).

So far as I can see, this was how the Anglican forms of administration were used:

The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,...

was said to each communicant; every so often to this was added (completing the 1549 portion thereof, in turn based upon the former mediæval Catholic rite):

...preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. ...

And at the end was said the rest of the it (originally from Edward VI's second book of 1552):

Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee,
and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.

Likewise to each was said when delivering the chalice:

The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee,...

while sometimes was added: 

....preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. ...

And at the end of the distribution, all were admonished to:

Drink this in remembrance that Christ's Blood was shed for thee,
and be thankful.

I didn't observe the ablutions; after all had sat back down, Robarts read the communion verse back at the epistle side, "The Lord be with you..." and the postcommunion (which was definitely that of Septuagesima), followed at once by the long Anglican 1662 Thanksgiving Prayer.  Only then did we all stand and sing the last hymn, "O thou who camest from above" (N.E.H. no. 432, by Charles Wesley, to "Hereford" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley); neither did I know the tune of this, so I just listened in to its beautiful words.  It seemed odd to me that this wasn't sung earlier.

The T.A.C. Mass ended with "The Lord be with you...", the dismissal, and Robarts as their bishop first - rather anticlimatically - giving the parish notices ad populum, then (first ad orientem, then turning round to all) singing the B.C.P. blessing (more pontificio, with three crosses) "The peace of God...".  That was it: apparently the Last Gospel is not done (nor the Placeat, though I couldn't be sure).  I wonder why there was no recessional hymn?

The whole rite had been a curious amalgam of Traditional Latin Mass, Novus Ordo, and Anglican B.C.P.: it had a rather do-it-yourself feel, if I may say so.

Very quickly afterward (Robarts going off to remove his chasuble and stole before returning), all was packed away: the seats stacked, the cushions stowed, the altar table stripped, the hanging behind taken down, and all popped away in a cupboard toward the back on the side of the room.  I was most amused to see that, where during the liturgy an icon of the Virgin and Child had hung above the altar table, now a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was returned to its usual place!


Anonymous said...

"The whole rite had been a curious amalgam of Traditional Latin Mass, Novus Ordo, and Anglican B.C.P.: it had a rather do-it-yourself feel."

Ah, the weird and wonderful world of Anglo-Catholicism! No doubt, if union with the Holy See is obtained, a single Rite will be worked out. Funny how Catholicism requires uniformity of them; something which, as Anglicans (even Trad Anglicans), they sadly lack.

Rob A

Joshua said...

Yes, certainly the Vatican would require a single Rite - as the already-approved Book of Divine Worship used in the U.S. for the Anglican Use parishes there demonstrates.

I was perhaps most surprised to hear the same Novus Ordo readings I'd heard at a Catholic Mass that morning being read - I had assumed that they would have used the old lectionary. I also can't work out why Mass was in green, with Alleluia, yet the Septuagesima collects and so forth were used!

A Catholic priest offering a Traditional Low Mass in the same circumstances - and I've served Fr Rowe's Mass in exactly the same conditions - would have a server to give the responses I should think.

Dominic said...

This is indeed curious. I'm a TAC member in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. If you can find the 1962 BCP online you will see what we use. The parish I attend just uses the BCP as is with chanted Introit and Gradual psalms (Willan's Plainsong Psalter settings and pointing). We too meet in a rented hall, but have somewhat more elaborate furniture to set up -altar rails, altar riser and footpace, etc etc - and we kneel to receive in both kinds, the priest uses the full version of the words to be said at the distribution repeating the whole thing over and over as he goes down the row. After the Sermon is the Preparation as the people sing a hymn, then that over, the priest turns to the people, announces his intentions and asks the people to remember those sickor what have you, then turns to back to face the altar and begins "Let us pray for Christ's holy catholic Church..etc" at which we kneel, and remain kneeling for the entire thing until we pray the prayer of Humble Access immediately followed by the Agnus Dei. We sit while the priest makes his communion, then he turns from the altar holding the paten in his hand and one of the hosts above it and says the "Ecce agnus Dei..." at which we go forward.

It is a bit spartan, but it is just a plain-jane Prayer Book Communion with no interpolations additions or deletions. It is my hope that the revised rites used in Ordinariate parishes will take what is good and necessary from the Tridentine forms.

When I read of the hybridisation of some anglo catholic ritual, such as the use of the Novus Ordo, it makes me cringe. Here in Canada, at least, we are Prayer Book worshippers. Mattins and Evensong too are straight up BCP in my experience. I think any movement towards contemporary English and such will be resisted by the laity.

Joshua said...

Welcome, Dominic! My prayers are with you and your fellow Canadian TAC members, that you will find the Holy Father's outreach acceptable - that we may all be one. I have known a number of ex-Anglicans, and Anglo-Catholics, and TAC members, and know something of the difficulties facing those hoping, yet fearing, coming into full communion with the Apostolic See. As you know, Catholics themselves suffer pedestrian liturgies and poor catechesis...

Mattins and Evensong first: even theologians such as the late Louis Bouyer agreed that these Offices are excellent; my former parish priest, Bp Jarrett of Lismore, NSW, himself a former Anglican, told a mutual friend (who had read Mattins and Evensong daily for many many years) that in his opinion there was nothing unacceptable in them; and the U.S. Book of Divine Worship, contains Mattins and Evensong almost word-for-word the same as the those services in the 1979 U.S. B.C.P., for example.

As for the Canadian BCP of 1962 - it was one of the very last BCP's in traditional language without strange modern innovations, was it not?

Having looked over its texts again, I can see that in many ways it would be quite acceptable.

The crucial issue is whether Rome will permit some Anglican Canon, or require that the Roman Canon (or another Roman Eucharistic Prayer) be used.

I have posted on this issue before.

All the other changes and rearrangements would be quite minor (e.g. inclusion of Pope's name in the Great Intercession; Lord's Prayer and Agnus Dei before Communion, etc.).

That said, we must all wait and see what other goodies Benedict is preparing for good boys and girls for Christmas!!! ;-)

Please feel free to email me or post further about all this - I certainly intend to go on discussing these issues.