Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Devoutly to be wished

The Catholic blogosphere is buzzing, and has been all day, with this news:
In a bid to attract disillusioned members of the Anglican Communion, the Vatican announced yesterday that it would establish a special arrangement to allow them to join the Catholic Church while preserving their own liturgy and spiritual legacy, including married priests. [...]

In establishing the new structure, Pope Benedict XVI is responding to "many requests" from individual Anglicans and Anglican groups -- including "20 to 30 bishops," said Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, according to the Catholic News Service.

Under the system, the Catholic Church will create "personal ordinariates"-- separate units within Catholic churches headed by former Anglican priests or bishops. While married Anglican priests would be permitted, married bishops would not because they are not in keeping with Catholic tradition.

These former Anglicans would be considered theologically Catholic but with their own traditions, such as use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The plan is not without precedent. The Catholic Church has long permitted married Anglican priests to join, but only under certain conditions. For centuries, the church has had a similar arrangement with Eastern rite Catholics, who maintain their own traditions.

The Anchoress has a good roundup of many of the posts and much of the commentary that's come out so far about all of this.

The New York Times quotes Cardinal Levada:
A new canonical entity will allow groups of Anglicans “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here.
What, exactly, does "...preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony..." mean?

Well, for one thing, it means progressive Catholic liturgists had better start quaking in their eco-friendly boots: Catholics in America are about to get a crash course in what an elegant and reverent English-language liturgy can look and sound like. In fact, just because it's fun, I've compiled a list; and I'm going with the phrase "Anglican-use Catholic Parish" for now, though there may be new terminology coming:

The Top Ten Differences Between a future Anglican-use Catholic Parish and a Progressive American Catholic Parish of Today

10. Anglican-use Catholic Parish could not under any circumstances be mistaken for a shopping mall or pizza parlor;

9. There are no greeters at an Anglican-use Catholic Parish, but there are ushers clad in dark suits and ties (though cuff links remain optional);

8. There is no "pre-liturgical Rite of Asking if Anybody Is from Out of Town," before the liturgy officially begins;

7. There is an organ. And a choir. Who know what they're doing. And don't sing or play dreck. And have never heard of Marty Haugen or the OCP;

6. There is no "Rite of Sending All the Children Out to Go Color Things" before the Liturgy of the Word;

5. The homily is delivered from the altar, from behind the pulpit. It is not delivered from the middle of the altar, from the middle of the church, in a peripatetic manner, or as if from a comedy club;

4. There is no clapping;

3. There is no hand-holding during the Our Father;

2. There is no Sign of Peace;

1. There are: reverence, respect for the act of worship, beautiful music, sacred art and architecture, lovely English translations of the prayers of the Mass, and liturgy as it ought to be celebrated by grownups who shudder at the thought of felt banners, tie-dye vestments, or the whole absurd notion of "singing a new church into being."

'Tis a consummation, as the Bard might have said, devoutly to be wished!


freddy said...

Amen! and what a hopeful occasion!

Magister Christianus said...

I was overjoyed when I read the news mid-day today. What an exciting time! Imagine...being alive at this historic moment in the body of Christ! I pray that this is but a preparation for other such ecclesial reunions. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

LarryD said...

What Magister said. It's exciting to be Catholic!

Anonymous said...

from Scotch Meg:

Well, you're a little astray on the Rite of Sending Children Off to Color. In the parish of my childhood (old-style Episcopalian before the nuttiness set in), this Rite was known as the Sermon Hymn, which liberated to Sunday School those of us old enough to escape the (mandatory) nursery for infants and toddlers. How well I remember counting the hymns and prayers listed in the weekly program (over and over), awaiting the Sermon Hymn! And how I detested Communion Sundays (i.e., those when the Lord's Supper was celebrated), on which the Sermon Hymn offered no relief. Now, it may be that my parish was already far gone down the path of unrighteousness, far from the purer strains of Anglicanism. But I doubt it.

Otherwise, you've got the list about right. My family and I visited an Anglican Use Mass a couple of summers ago. It was lovely, and I felt as though I'd come home... but it was foreign to my husband and children, so we didn't return. The parish was too small for Sunday School, but fortunately my kids are blissfully unaware of the Rite of the Sermon Hymn!

eulogos said...

I am trying to remember, as I have attended the Anglican Use mass many times. I think they might have a handshake of peace but it comes earlier in the rite, after the general confession, so it is not nearly so disruptive. And there is no milling about in the aisle.

I have been to the Scranton Anglican Use mass maybe 6 or 7 times and to the one in Boston twice. They use the 1940 Episcopal hymnal. Everyone sings. Celebration is ad orientem. Communion is kneeling, at an altar rail where there is one, and where it should be if there isn't. The priest intincts the host in the wine and everyone receives on the tongue. That way you get communion in both kinds as is the Anglican tradition, but also communion on the tongue as per traditional Catholic practice.

The Anglican Use liturgy is partially the Book of Common Prayer service, but the canon of the mass is the old Roman rite canon, translated into English of a style contemporary to Cranmer (who wrote the Book of Common Prayer liturgy) in fact by someone contemporary to Cranmer. Nevertheless, there is a disjunct in the two styles, which I find a bit disconcerting. Also for some reason they have "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith/ Christ has died etc" thrown right in there, in modern English. I am guessing the reason for that was is that back in the 1980's when they did that, traditionalists were not looked well upon, and they hated this, as they said that 'Mysterium fidei" referred back to the Eucharistic mystery which had just taken place. I think they put it in there to keep traditionalists away, sad to say.

The TAC does not like the Anglican Use liturgy. Some of them use the "Anglican missal" which is an English translation of the Tridentine rite. Some of them use one of the older, and least Protestant versions of the Book of Common Prayer service, with minor changes to eliminate deliberate Protestantism-and only minor changes are necessary. I understand that some use the Novus Ordo, celebrated ad orientem, along the lines of what you would see on EWTN. What liturgy will be used is one of the things which still needs to be worked out.

Susan Peterson