Wednesday, November 11, 2009

T.A.C. B.C.P.?

Dominic, who is a T.A.C. member in Canada, commented on my post about the T.AC. at prayer; he wrote about my observation of the local T.A.C. liturgy that:

This is indeed curious. I'm a TAC member in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. If you can find the 1962 [Canadian] 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.

I thank Dominic for letting me know how the T.A.C. in Canada worships: "all things decently and in order" would seem to be their motto. (I note that the T.A.C. in the U.S.A. has the appalling motto "We're formal, and we're friendly" - !!!)

Now, to make some commentary on the Canadian '62 B.C.P. (shades of my preferred rite, the Roman '62 (or earlier...)) and its projected reordering to entirely conform it to Catholic truth - I make no reference to ritual actions, since Anglo-Catholics usually do the ceremonial extremely well:


The rite begins with the singing of an Introit, then an initial Lord's Prayer and Collect for Purity, followed by either the Decalogue or Our Lord's Summary of the Law (with response), and a threefold Kyrie may be added. All this, while very Anglican, seems entirely fitting and nowise contrary to Catholic faith. [Where's the Gloria in excelsis? See far below!]

(Even in the proposed 1928 English Prayer Book, provision was made for "a Devotion", which was the Roman Introibo with Psalm Judica me and all the rest; Anglo-Catholics would unblushingly add the Roman Confiteor with all the saints invoked therein, and go up to kiss the altar!)

Next, in English, Dominus vobiscum, Oremus, and the Collect of the day (plus any others appointed). The Collects, mainly good translations of the mediæval ones, are fine; obviously prayers for Catholic feasts such as the Immaculate Conception would have to be inserted, but they are all in the English Missal already, used by generations of Anglo-Catholics.

I note one thing that will have to be changed: before the Collect of the day, a Collect for the Queen may be read: it seems rather impertinently Erastian to read it first (though I suspect it is first simply for convenience, to avoid turning back and forth through the book), so it ought be moved to second place, and the fateful words "and Governor" (sc. of the Church of England) would have to be removed, as also probably "the whole Church", which smacks of the notion that Princes have authority over the Church. But obviously to pray for Her Majesty, Sovereign Liege Lady of Canada as of Australia and her other realms, is excellent and commendable piety toward she whom God hath pleased to set in power over us.

The Canadian B.C.P. then has the Epistle and Gospel (more or less as in the traditional Roman Missal, but slightly reordered, as in the Sarum Rite), with a Psalm or Hymn in between as desired - which is code for the Gradual and Alleluia, etc. Again, no worries here. Whereas in the 1980's Roman liturgists inflicted the Novus Ordo Lectionary on the U.S. Book of Divine Worship for Anglican Use Catholics, at the most this would now be made optional, not compulsory.

The Creed follows, then ecclesiastical announcements (e.g. what feast and fast days are coming up, not banal parish notices), and a sermon. Anglo-Catholic sermons are generally of admirable quality!

Offertory sentences are then provided to be read at the altar by the celebrant: several speaking of sacrifice, and various texts for the seasons of the Church year. Rubrics direct the collection to be taken up and presented (very Anglican this: solemnly offering up the monies given by the parish at the altar!), and also the bread and wine for the service may be brought up to the celebrant, if not with him already.

First important note: the Catholic Church will require that only unleavened bread be used, and that water must be mingled with the wine (with or without a prayer to accompany this action), as is the practice of all the Western Rites.

A formula (cf. I Chronicles 29:10,11,14) is provided as an offertory prayer for the bread and wine, which is frankly nobler and more pleasant than the Novus Ordo "Blessed are you..." boring bits:

BLESSED be thou, LORD God of Israel, for ever and ever.
All that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine.
All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

However, here Catholic Rome would require some interpolations be made:
  • the priest must wash his hands (with or without the usual psalm, Lavabo) as a gesture of purification;
  • he must pray the In spiritu humilitatis, directing his intention to offer sacrifice;
  • he will pray Orate fratres, and the people respond Suscipiat, involving all in the offering up of the great oblation;
  • there will be a proper Secret (Prayer over the Oblations), matching with the Collect of the day, as throughout the Roman Rite.
If, as I think is likely given the present temper of Rome and the T.A.C., the adoption of the full Tridentine Offertory prayers is desired, so be it: I'd not object! (Many Anglo-Catholics would sotto voce insert all that anyway already: "We're strictly B.C.P." can mean many things...)

The Bidding and the general Intercession is next made - note that this is after, not before the Offertory. Perhaps this (and the Penitential Rite following) could be moved before the Offertory, but the order here is not materially important; the Eastern Rites have similar arrangements.

In the Intercession, improvements must be made:
  • the prayer for the nations and the Queen and all in authority moved to after the petitions for the church and clergy and people, to avoid the impression of Erastianism;
  • the Pope prayed for by name;
  • the dead explicitly prayed for;
  • the saints, especially St Mary the Virgin, explicitly commemorated.
(All this is as is done in the Book of Divine Worship.)

Next comes the Penitential Rite: Invitation, General Confession and Absolution (non-sacramental of course!), plus the Comfortable Words. All this is excellent; however, to avoid all confusion, the words "you" and "your" in the Absolution ought be changed to "us" and "our", as was done in the B.D.W.

The Preface dialogue and the Preface, with Sanctus, plus what must be made mandatory, the Benedictus, follows. Again, no trouble here.


Then the big issue - will Rome fix up the Anglican Prayer of Consecration? or substitute the Roman Canon? Having discussed this issue at some length, I believe that the Anglican text is fatally ambiguous, even if carefully amended. See my posts:

The Book of Divine Worship supplies instead the Roman Canon in traditional language (foolishly, inserting ICEL's poor version of the words of consecration, now being revised at last, and also those annoying Memorial Acclamations). I suspect Rome to-day will simply insert the Canon, without such silly overzealous 'corrections'.

So long "Blessing and glory and thanksgiving be unto thee Almighty God, our heavenly Father..."; hello, "Most merciful Father, we humbly pray thee, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord...": the Canadian formula, though beautiful, may have to be sacrificed.


Whatever of the Consecration in the Canadian '62 B.C.P., some rearrangement of its prayers before communion is necessary: currently, it postpones the Agnus Dei till communion time, and the Lord's Prayer till afterward, but here the Lord's Prayer must be put first, then the Pax Domini (already there) and the Agnus Dei next, with a rubric ordering the fraction of the Host (this is how the B.D.W. reorders things - note that the Roman embolism after the Lord's Prayer and the Prayer for peace are not inserted even there).

The Prayer of Humble Access, that moving and heartfelt devotion, precedes the actual communion. Here the Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine, non sum dignus should be interpolated - as it appears from Dominic's comment is already done.

Obviously, fitting hymns and anthems can be sung at the distribution of Communion. I would think, however, that the words "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life... The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life" are more than sufficient.

While susceptible of a Catholic interpretation, the additional sentences "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving" and "Drink this in remembrance that Christ's Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful" are of notoriously Protestantizing origin, appearing in Edward VI's ultra-low B.C.P., and are perhaps best gracefully retired. That said, the Apostle himself says more or less the same about the Eucharist! Maybe just amending "by faith with thanksgiving" (Zwinglian?) to "with faith and thanksgiving" would square the circle.

As in all Anglican services, but most bizarrely and improperly to Catholic sensibilities, provision is made in the Canadian '62 for a second consecration of one (!!!) or both species, amounting to a second Sacrifice! This was inserted when needed because Reservation of the Sacrament was not permitted. Obviously this strange practice of supplementary consecration will not be permitted, because Reservation will be.

There is a single quite beautiful Postcommunion prayer provided, which by its appearance in the B.D.W. is surely Catholic and orthodox. (I suspect that the proper Roman postcommunion is sometimes or always added to or substituted for this already.) Oddly to Catholics, but quite logically, the Gloria in excelsis is thereupon sung in thanksgiving for Holy Communion: while modern Anglican books nearly all move this back to its original place, it seems unobjectionable and quite beautiful in fact.

Finally, the liturgy concludes with the Anglican formula of blessing: "The peace of God...". To this may opportunely be added the Ite missa est, as I guess is often done anyway.

The only remaining items to note are that a rubric for reservation needs to be added, and the present rubric about reverent consumption of any leftover elements be amended to reflect this; and of course the wicked and heretical Black Rubric - "...It is here declared, that thereby no Adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental Bread or Wine there bodily received, or unto any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood..." - must be utterly denounced and abolished.


So, in short, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist according to the Canadian B.C.P. of 1962 could easily be tweaked and supplemented to make it fully Catholic: for that is a holy pastime undertaken by Anglicans since the days of the Oxford Movement!

I look forward to worshipping God after this manner, once the T.A.C. is in Holy Church united. Oremus ut unum sint!

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