|Divine Worship Mass at Westminster Cathedral on January 11, 2016|
Photo: Ordinariate Expats Blog, used by permission.
Let me begin by articulating something of a thesis statement. I would like to state at the outset that our Ordinariate liturgy is often misunderstood and therefore not described correctly.
Because our liturgy shares many traditional elements and gestures in common with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is thought to be a type of “subset” of that form: “the Extraordinary Form in English” as it is sometimes called. But this is neither accurate nor, honestly, helpful. For one thing, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, a principal source for the Ordinariate Missal, is older than the Missal of Saint Pius V, and has its own origins in the Sarum Missal, a variant of the Roman Rite going back to the eleventh century. My first goal today is for you to understand Divine Worship on its own terms, to see the historical and ritual context out of which it develops, and in that light to recognize how it might contribute to the ongoing renewal and development of the Roman Rite.
And so my thesis: 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. Further, while Divine Worship preserves some external elements more often associated with the Extraordinary Form, its theological and rubrical context is clearly the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. That I situate Divine Worship within the context of the Ordinary Form becomes a fact more discernable when one considers the dual hermeneutic of continuity and reform, which informs the project.
Personally, I prefer the term "Ordinariate Form" over "Anglican Form," not only because Bishop Lopes appears to prefer it, but also because it reduces confusion, not among Anglicans but among regular diocesan Roman Catholics. For some reason, whenever the word "Anglican" is mentioned, the thought "Protestant" registers in their minds. Immediately what follows is a myriad of questions such as...
- Well, is it Catholic or Protestant?
- Is this really Catholic at all?
- What? Now their letting the Anglicans in without becoming Catholic?
- Shouldn't these Anglicans just convert and become Catholic?
- Is this liturgy just for Anglicans or can Catholics come too?
- If Catholics go to this mass, do they become Anglicans?
I think the problem here is that the words "Anglican" and "Protestant" have been too closely associated with each other for far too long in the Catholic collective consciousness. This is why I go with the more innocuous term "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite."
It's a shame really, because I do like the word "Anglican" and to me, it sounds more descriptive of what Divine Worship really is. So while I still do think the terms "Anglican Form" and "Ordinariate Form" are technically interchangeable, my experience dealing with diocesan Roman Catholics tells me to go with "Ordinariate Form" for the time being. It lowers resistance, reduces questions and breaks through the communication barrier.
So Divine Worship really is the third form of the Roman Rite -- the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite, written in Sacred English and containing therein the specific prayers and rubrics particular to the Anglican Patrimony for the last 1,000 years. These are based in the 11th century Sarum Missal, a Catholic liturgy used exclusively in England for 500 years prior to the English Reformation. In fact, the original 1549 Book of Common Prayer (a Protestant text) was based heavily on this medieval Catholic liturgy. So what we have in Divine Worship is the Catholic Church reclaiming a form of liturgy that was rightly hers to begin with. It is a form of liturgy that is in fact older than the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) in its origin.
I think its important for us to get a proper understanding of this. The Roman Rite now has three forms...
- The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (always in Latin)
- The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (many vernacular translations)
- The Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite (always in Sacred English)
Now that being said, who would appreciate Divine Worship? Traditional or Contemporary Catholics? I think its a mistake to assume one or the other. In fact, Divine Worship has a little in there for both groups. I think anyone who is Catholic would have good reason to appreciate Divine Worship. The truth is, I've seen Contemporary Catholics both like it and dislike it. I've also seen Traditional Catholics both like it and dislike it. It's really a matter of taste, and in truth, its not for everyone. Nevertheless, anyone is free to look into it and find out for himself.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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