Monday, December 28, 2009

A Basic Difference in Attitude

In my experience, all but the most way-out and scarcely Catholic priests wouldn't dream of interpolating extra prayers into the Mass, or materially changing its structure by omitting items holus-bolus; the most they do is change a word here or there, which is annoying but hardly earth-shattering... and of course this only applies to the Ordinary Form - anyone offering the Traditional Mass wouldn't dare make changes (apart perhaps from following older rubricks, such as singing Benedicamus Domino not Ite missa est in Advent).  The only 'mainstream' addition I can think of is the happy one – an innovation due to the piety of an English bishop shortly after the Council – of having the people say a Hail Mary at the end of the bidding prayers, before the collect that concludes them.

Compare and contrast this with what prevails among our separated brethren of the Anglican sort: some very estranged indeed, some not to be separated for much longer...

Among Anglo-Catholics, it appears a sort of liturgical anarchy reigns.  Whatever of the official liturgical books, at the least these are tricked out with all manner of pomp and ceremony, and supplemented with all manner of extra prayers: some from modern and some from olden Roman books, some from mediæval Uses, and some from who knows where.  It is common, and in fact a clichéd joke, for folk to say "we're strictly Prayer Book Anglicans" when the sights and words of their liturgies would suggest otherwise!

(Don't get me wrong: as one bishop put it, Anglicans believe in salvation by good taste alone!  The High tend to be very careful about worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and in this are a blessed relief for Catholics too often experiencing philistine and minimalist worship.  Take the use of good music, of the eastward position at the altar, of incense - apart from Traditional Latin Mass circles and rare Reform of the Reform liturgies, and to a lesser extent some cathedrals, Catholics these days tend to be deprived of all three.  One could say they've the form and we've the substance...)

But back to my topic, via a concrete example: I have never heard of a Catholic priest using the old Offertory prayers at the modern form of Mass; at most, I've seen priests mix the chalice first, rather than after offering the host, or even offering both host and chalice together, which are strictly incorrect but actually quite well-precedented little changes; but I have seen with my own eyes an Anglican service, where both the Tridentine and the Novus Ordo Offertory prayers were used, sandwiched in between the BCP Prayer for the Church Militant and the Preface leading into an "Interim Rite" Prayer of Consecration and Oblation.

Do-it-yourself liturgy on such a scale (and I don't say it's unorthodox, rather the contrary, given that it is done to catholicize the rite) is to Catholic eyes rather surprising to say the least.  More seriously, it has to be said that it appears rather like a continual reinvention of the wheel.

As is well-known, Forward in Faith Anglicans in the C. of E. (who may or may not cross the Tiber in who knows what numbers come February the 22nd) tend to use the modern Roman Rite of Mass: it must be for them that Anglicanorum cœtibus mentions that the use of the Roman Rite is not excluded in the forthcoming Ordinariates.

Then there is the Anglican Use of the Catholic Church, Mark I - the Book of Divine Worship – which even those involved in drawing it up have described openly as not what they would have wanted, presumably because it follows the 1979 U.S. B.C.P. rather than the more classically Anglican 1928 U.S. B.C.P., and also because it has large inserts from the Novus Ordo (above all, the modern Roman three-year lectionary, and the modern "Preparation of the Gifts"), rather than following the Ritualist tradition of taking as much as possible from the older Roman liturgy done into hieratic English.

The Anglican Use Mark II, which is supposedly under final development, would I assume be a mixture of the best of the classic B.C.P.'s (the last of which was the Canadian book of 1962) and enrichments from the Roman Rite, largely if not wholly from its pre-Conciliar form, and even taking elements from the Sarum Rite.

But whatever options are given, Rome will intend that liturgical anarchy cease, and that the rites so thoughtfully provided be used as appointed.

Options already semi-officially available via the B.D.W. are the use of the so-called "Minor Propers", which are in fact the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Offertory and Communion – the classical Roman Rite's liturgical chants, done into English.  They are provided for by the innocuous rubricks at the start of the Rite of the Holy Eucharist, between its readings, at its offertory and at communion: "Here may be sung a Psalm, Hymn or Anthem".  This is elastic enough to permit of the use of a modern Responsorial Psalm or of a Sarum Sequence...

Personally, I would prefer that an Anglican Use be "Anglican", not just a strange hybrid of all the nicest bits of B.C.P. and Roman Missal (old and new) thrown together.  Here would be my very tentative suggestion, taking as its base the most Catholic of the family of B.C.P. rites – the Scottish – and supplementing it where necessary, but nearly always from Anglican sources:

  • Psalm, Hymn or Anthem / Introit Psalm with Glory Be
  • ["The Lord be with you..., Let us pray" & Threefold Kyrie (Nonjurors' 1718)]
  • [Lord's Prayer]
  • Collect for Purity
  • Decalogue / Summary of the Law, with Responses; &/or Kyrie eleison
  • [Collect for Grace and Strength to keep the Commandments (Scottish & U.S.)]
  • "The Lord be with you..." & "Let us pray"
  • Collect of the Day
  • [Lesson (for those who use three lessons at Mass, following more modern Lectionaries)]
  • Epistle with Title and Conclusion
  • Psalm, Hymn or Anthem
  • Gospel with Title and Responses
  • Creed
  • Notices & Sermon & Exhortation (if used)
  • Bidding Prayer (used here because the Prayer for the Church is used after the Consecration, as the form of intercession during the Eucharistic Prayer; the 1928 U.S. Bidding Prayer is admirable)
  • "Let us present our offerings to the Lord..." (Scottish)
  • Offertory Sentence / Psalm, Hymn or Anthem
  • [Mixing the chalice with wine and water; washing hands – nihil dicens]
  • "Blessed be thou..." (the Scottish Offertory prayer – see below, †)
  • [Would the Orate fratres and Secret be necessary importations from the Roman Rite?]
  • Sursum corda &c.
  • Preface
  • SanctusBenedictus
  • Prayer of Consecration (with a pre-consecratory Epiclesis, praying that the elements "become the Body and Blood", as in the 1764 Scottish formula)
  • Prayer of Memorial and Oblation (incl. "which we now offer unto thee" - Scottish & American, but removing the post-consecratory epiclesis)
  • Prayer for the Church (incl. "to accept our oblations and to receive these our prayers which we offer", so expressing the Sacrifice as impetratory; inserting the name of the Pope; and commemorating the Saints by name)
  • "As our Saviour Christ... we are bold to say:"
  • Lord's Prayer with Doxology
  • The Peace of the Lord be with you...
  • Invitation, General Confession, Declaration of Absolution (non-Sacramental, so changing "you" to "us", etc.), Comfortable Words [this could be put before the Offertory as in most other Anglican forms, and as the B.D.W. already does]
  • Prayer of Humble Access
  • Agnus Dei
  • [Ecce Agnus Dei &c.? - Roman but apparently much used; perhaps the 1549 "Christ our Paschal Lamb..." could be used also; the B.D.W. deleted the 1979 U.S. B.C.P. "Take them in remembrance..." formula presumably as altogether too Zwinglian]
  • Psalm, Hymn or Anthem
  • "The Body / Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ..."
  • ["Having now received..." / versicles (optional Scottish forms)]
  • Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Gloria in excelsis (in most modern Anglican forms moved back to its original place, but quite decent here as a thanksgiving; the B.D.W. has it at the start, but I don't think this would be absolutely necessary)
  • [Collect before the Blessing (vide infra, *)]
  • "The Peace..."
  • [Dismissal?]

This liturgy would almost wholly use elements common to the Anglican Prayer Book tradition, while being made perfectly orthodox, by reason of careful bolstering of its epiclesis and its expression of the offering of the Sacrifice for all ends.

My personal view is that, if one wants the Traditional Latin Mass, have a Traditional Latin Mass; if one wants the Novus Ordo, do it but do it properly; and if one wants an Anglican Use Mass, have one that is proud of itself, not a mish-mash of a few Anglican bits floating in a Roman sea.

(I would of course have no objections to, say, the Sarum Rite being revived, whether in Latin or done into decent English, but such a multiplicity of rites for a relatively small group of incomers, however welcome, may seem excessive.)


* Note that the South African 1954 B.C.P. (and its forerunners earlier in the century) proposed a very full-blooded reference to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, being transparently based on the Placeat sancta Trinitas, to use before the Blessing; apparently it excited quite some controversy among the Protestants:

LOOK with favour, most Holy Trinity, on this our act of worship and service; and may this sacrifice set forth before thine eyes be acceptable to thy Divine Majesty, and avail for us and all for whom we have offered it; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

What a nice prayer to use at the end of an Anglican Use Mass!

(As it is, I often use this as a private prayer at the end of the Masses I attend.)


† The Scottish offertory prayer, based on King David's prayer at the people's giving gifts for the building of the Temple (I Chronicles xxix, 10b-12a,14b), deserves to be better known; it is certainly more splendid than that tired pair of anæmic berakhoth used in the Novus Ordo ("Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation..."):

BLESSED be thou, O Lord God, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine: thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all: both riches and honour come of thee, and of thine own do we give unto thee. Amen.

This prayer is intended to be recited when the host and mixed chalice are readied: the priest "shall then offer up, and place the bread and wine prepared for the Sacrament upon the Lord's Table" – custom was to hold the paten and chalice a little above the altar, and at the final phrase to lift them up a little, as a gesture of oblation.


While writing of ideal liturgies, the Nonjurors' 1718 Communion Office included the following prayer at the end of the offertory directly before the Sursum corda, being abridged from St Basil's Liturgy; while too exotically oriental and too long to really fit in a Western rite, it is noteworthy for what it says about their understanding of what the priestly ministry is:

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast created us, and placed us in this ministry by the power of thy Holy Spirit; may it please thee, O Lord, as we are ministers of the New Testament, and dispensers of thy holy mysteries, to receive us who are approaching thy Holy Altar, according to the multitude of thy mercies, that we may be worthy to offer unto thee this reasonable and unbloody Sacrifice for our Sins and the Sins of the People. Receive it, O God, as a sweet smelling savour, and send down the grace of thy Holy Spirit upon us. And as thou didst accept this worship and service from thy Holy Apostles: so of thy goodness, O Lord, vouchsafe to receive these Offerings from the hands of us sinners, that being made worthy to minister at thy Holy Altar without blame, we may have the reward of good and faithful servants at that great and terrible day of account and just retribution; through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Could not this serve as a suitable prayer of preparation before Mass for a priest?


Mark M said...

Australia must be some bastion of tradition, Joshua; I have found far too many 'novus ordo' Priests here willing to change the Mass.

Interesting what you say about Anglo-Catholics, though, having previously been one... I think at the end of the day, I broadly agree with you. I just wish we could take a leaf out of their book of 'taste'!

I saw an episode of 'Songs of Praise' last night from St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral here in Edinburgh. It was lovely and they sung with great gusto; sadly, I can never foresee such a thing in our Cathedral for we never seem to (a) attract enough; or (b) know how to sing in tune/harmony/more than one part.

I must be feeling cattish; forgive me. You'll find I'm not that mean. Hopefully we can find time for a nice quite pint, or a wee dram, and discuss all of this?

God bless, Josh. Please pray for me, and of your charity a prayer for a special intention.


P.S. What is the significance of February 22nd? What have I missed!?

P.P.S. Re the BCPs, I do wish everyone would steer clear of the American ones; they are ugly and banal. Use the Scottish Prayer Book of 1929 - not just because I'm Scottish, but because it was beautiful...(reads on, ah, as you acknowledge!)

Joshua said...

Well, one does see changes - I have two horror stories of Masses, one as said by some Jesuits, one as said by a Maltese charismaniac -but by and large these are not largescale alterations to the Mass, just really irritating nonsensical modifications here and there (you know what I mean).

But the level of liturgical diversity among Anglicans is far, far greater than among Catholics - it is on an entirely different level. I've seen Low Church Anglicans celebrating some amorphous made-up rites...

Catholics can't sing, alas...

I look forward to a pint!

Will remember you in prayer.

February 22nd is the day the FiF people are hoping to come to a decision about what to do regarding Anglicanorum cœtibus...

And yes, I'm thinking of buying a copy of the Scots 1929 B.C.P., as a useful addition to my liturgical library.

Anonymous said...

You are entirely wrong to suggest that 22nd February is decision day for FinF people regarding the Ordinariate. It is (merely?) a day of prayer called for by the Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough.

Fr Anthony said...

It has always been my conviction that the Sarum Use should not be seen as one more of a whole list of Anglican usages and interpolations but rather as a typical reference from which "pastoral" adaptations may be made.

This was the principle of the Novus Ordo, a fixed norm in Latin to be adpated for different languages and cultures. The application as we have known it is far from convincing (understatement), but the principle is of interest.

Otherwise we are left with a plethora of Prayer Book variations and the natural reaction is "clean it all away" and adapt the Roman rite.

There are lots of lovely things in the eastern and western liturgies, but as Fortescue once said, it would be very bad to try to mix them all up.

Anglican liturgy is Sarum!

Joshua said...

I thank Anon. (could we not give a name?) for correcting me, albeit with some asperity!

I had been under the impression that the 22nd of February was the date set by one of the "Flying Bishops" for deciding what course to pursue...

The young fogey said...

Again on the un-Catholicness of DIY liturgy I hear you but 1) the West had many local variants through the 1800s and 2) I like the American Missal, the US 1928 BCP fitted into something resembling the Tridentine Mass, the old American Anglo-Catholic standard now used by a slight majority of Antiochian WRO. A blend but it works because for all his problems Cranmer shared a 16th-century Godward worldview with the Catholic Church.