Friday, 17 June 2011

I'm confused, again...

One thing I don't quite understand about this Ordinariate business is the idea, fondly supposed by the Roman Church and by the Traddies who go along with everything that church dictates, that the former Anglicans received into the Ordinariate will somehow enrich the liturgical patrimony of the contemporary Roman Church by some miraculous infusion of ''patrimony'' or the superb choral tradition of the Church of England, or something - akin, in the minds of some, to the reconciliation of the SSPX; a genius ploy of the ''Pope of Christian Unity'' (who is clearly a liturgical expert) to put an end to communion in the hand and such things. The Romans seem to think that the Ordinariate is a means whereby the Anglo-Catholics can come into the Roman Church, and be genuine Roman Catholics, and yet retain their unique Anglican identity and traditions.

Am I missing something here? I had thought that it was the almost universal praxis of contemporary Anglo-Catholics to celebrate the Novus Ordo of Paul VI, in English, which is exactly the sort of rubbish the Traddies are desperate to extricate themselves from! It may be the case with some in the Roman Church that they celebrate the Novus Ordo because they feel constrained to do so, but would rather not. With most it's because they know nothing else; with some, it is because they are Modernists; others because of some sense of Ultramontanism. Is the Novus Ordo something worthwhile in the Anglican liturgical patrimony? Is it in the Anglican liturgical patrimony at all? Or are the sort of Anglicans received into the Roman Church just like Modernist Romans? Rome is omniscient and benevolent, and what Rome does today (even if it is untraditional and aliturgical) is to be emulated by everyone, everywhere. Did the Traddies seriously think that the Anglo-Papists used the English Missal or the Prayerbook? They aren't all like the eminent Fr Hunwicke! If not, to what purpose is the Ordinariate? Why don't the Anglicans just convert en masse like they did 18 years ago?

I am supremely confident that the Ordinariate will fail. I don't wish anyone who has gone over to Rome ill. On the contrary I wish them well, and every blessing in the Lord; but they'll be back! The sort of artificial Anglican-style liturgy designed by Rome for the Ordinariate will be to nobody's taste, and nobody likes being dictated to by the Pope, about how to celebrate Liturgy, what to believe etc. Or maybe it will be the culture, or the people? What does the Pope know about the traditions of the Church of England? If the Traddies think that the new Anglo-Catholics will make their liturgical crisis magically go away (like the SSPX and other Traditionalist groups, who simply perpetuate Ultramontanism by their deluded adherence to the '62 Rite), they are sorely mistaken. If the Anglo-Catholics think that the astroturf is greener on the other side of the Tiber, they too are sorely mistaken. Lord grant that all concerned wise up and shake off the Ultramontane heresy. Rome is not home; Rome is an abode of dragons.


  1. I don't think the ex-Anglicans will go back, because on the whole they haven't converted for liturgical reasons, but for doctrinal ones. They have come to believe - slowly and late, but surely - that they need to be in union with the successor of St Peter to be in the church of Christ.

  2. Very intersting article, and I rather agree with your summations of the situation.

    It is indeed odd that the ordinariate was so quickly set-up in England, and I would venture to say that one of the reasons was that in England the liturgical use by the Anglo-Papists was indeed simply the novus ordo...complete with the altar made into a clergical power-desk and twanging guitars. Even in the states the supposed "Anglican Use" is really not very Anglican at all, but is the seriously impaired modernist 1979 American BCP melded with the worst sort of novus ordo dreck around.

    Even if one questions the reality or sustainability of the western rite in Orthodoxy, at least their Anglican use is actually based upon real Anglican liturgical usage of the more Anglo-Catholic missal tradition, coupled with Morning and Evening Prayer almost directly from the BCP. But of course, most honest individuals know that this Orthodox Anglican rite is only temporary until the Greek rite can be was the case in all of the Antiochian western rite parishes in England.

  3. I don't think it will fail, but in short term, the liturgy will be some 'NO-ified' Book of Common Prayer liturgy. I expect it to be better than the current Anglican Use liturgy.

    I think these convert Anglicans can help the Roman Catholic Church, but not in the way most traditionalists view it.

    In the long term, I hope to see the Sarum rite gaining a prominent place, but I fear only the Western-Orthodox will achieve this.

  4. I will agree with David. Although there will there be a trickle of Anglicans back to the Church of England, most will stick it out. They have no place else to go.

    In some respect, Orthodoxy might have been, for some, a preferred stopping ground, but the bigotry one finds there towards anything non-Byzantine is hardly any more conducive than fighting it out in the established Church (at least for those of us who do not feel the need to denigrate and turn on our own traditions), but for those willing to adopt to phyletism, cultural self-loathing, and are not bothered by being lead spiritually by a man noted for his pro-abortionist positions (google, "Not so pro-life Patriarch",) Byzantium might offer a hand, but do not expect too many of the laity to follow to exotica...they are often far more astute than their clerical leaders.

  5. Dale has hit the proverbial on the head... Mr Forster is, I think, rather naïvely wide off the mark! IF their conversion was simply about doctrine and "authority" they'd have done it long long ago (i.e. when the original "firstwave" left post 1992 after the ordination of priestesses... This lot only moved after the consecration of bishopesses became a probable certainty! Meanwhile, they were happy to be theoretically, if not in actual praxis, "communio in sacris" with females in the presbyterate?!

    I somehow doubt the "new BDW" will be an improvement on the old if reports of the "patrimonial" Evensong at Blackfriars was anything to go by (the officiant is, afterall, the Ordinariate's "leading" liturgist) and that utilised the current BDW "Evening Prayer" (much to the disappointment of convert witnesses) with a bastardised Latinate ceremonial to boot (as opposed to anything vaguely "original" historically re Anglican so-called patrimony or Sarum Use).

    A recovery of the Sarum Use would be about the only worthy aspect of a reclaimed historically "English" (but not really Anglican)patrimony the Ordinariate could effect. Sadly though, none of the present Ordinariate heirarchy are the slightest bit interested in resurrecting a historically bona fide rubrical Use when they've been given carte blanche to improvise their own interpretation!

  6. There are a number of traddies out there (I think their website is titled 'MLN', maybe) who wish nothing better than to translate the EF into faux-Elizabethan. I don't know if this is because many do not know Latin and don't want to learn, or perhaps because they are crypto-AC's. Many of these people who advocate for a faux-Elizabethanized EF are also vestment fetishists who have anointed solemn Mass with this Broadway-esque adulation. I want nothing to do with this. I'm American, of solidly Latin stock, and content with pietism. Leave Mass alone! I hope the liturgical theater types find a home with Ordinariates with similar affinities.

    postscript: The papal throne depicted above reminds me of Chairy from Pee Wee's Playhouse. Ugh, Paul Rubens. Need to bleach out my mind.

  7. Patricius, we differ in many respects with the issues you post here, but might you be able to help me with an entirely random and unrelated rubrical question?

    The rubrics of the TLM indicate that the Thurifer is to incense the Choir prior to the incensation of the faithful. However, if a lay liturgical schola (vested in cassock and surplice) is situated in the Choir Loft are they to be incensed separately from the faithful? If so, might you be able to show me a source for this rubric that I may print out and show to our parish Priest? Thank you and may our Lord bless you always.

  8. The Texan Traditionalist,

    Forgive the delay but I've been but I've been quite busy lately (nothing interseting).

    In the choir loft? Why would they be surpliced if they were in the choir loft? I would say no, incense them as if they were members of the congregation (and so just include them in the three simple swings of the thurible, which is all the congregation are entitled to if you follow the rubrics to the letter). If I had my way everyone in the church would be incensed - after the clergy and servers the thurifer would go out into the church and incense everyone - similarly the congregation would exchange the Pax (having received it from an Acolyte), but that's just my own view. I wouldn't want to impose that on anyone...

  9. Patricius,

    Excellent reply to a very valid question on the part of the Texan.

    The original rubrics would suppose a properly vested choir within the rood screen (if one wishes to take this to a logical extreme, they would also all be male). A mixed choir in a loft in the back of the church is a more modern development not really covered by the rubrics. Hence, you are correct, they would be censed as if members of the congregation, not as a liturgical choir within the quire.

    But having said that, if one does have a mixed choir, it should not be placed inside of the rood. and its proper place would be the loft. Why such a choir would be vested remains a mystery to me...fancy dress?

  10. Thank you, Patricius, for your response. Yes, it would appear also that Fortescue concurs in stating that if the liturgical schola is to be located in a choir loft (a modern peculiarity, yes) then they are not entitled to the ceremonial proper to a schola situated within the sanctuary.

    However, I'm a little perplexed as to why being vested in cassock and surplice is bewildering to you and Dale. Our schola is not a mixed choir. The portions of choral music dealing with polyphony and motets do incorporate women, but the singing of the liturgical propers is a function exercised exclusively by the all-male schola. This function is, of course, one that pertains to the clerical state ... in the same manner as serving at the altar. While this role may not have historically constituted a Minor Order (such as acolyte) the singing of the liturgical propers was always the privilege of clerics. To this effect, Pope St. Pius X articulates this in his Motu Proprio, Tra le Sollecitudini:

    "12. With the exception of the melodies proper to the celebrant at the altar and to the ministers, which must be always sung in Gregorian Chant, and without accompaniment of the organ, all the rest of the liturgical chant belongs to the choir of levites, and, therefore, singers in the church, even when they are laymen, are really taking the place of the ecclesiastical choir. Hence the music rendered by them must, at least for the greater part, retain the character of choral music."


    "14. Finally, only men of known piety and probity of life are to be admitted to form part of the choir of a church, and these men should by their modest and devout bearing during the liturgical functions show that they are worthy of the holy office they exercise. It will also be fitting that singers while singing in church wear the ecclesiastical habit and surplice, and that they be hidden behind gratings when the choir is excessively open to the public gaze."

    The Pope here makes no distinction based on where the schola is located. I do not see how a schola forgoes its ecclesiastical character (and attire) when it is simply not in its proper proximity to the altar. Its function remains the same, and that function in inherently a clerical one.

  11. Hello Texan,

    The tradition, still followed usually only by Anglicans today, is for a "liturgical choir" to be placed in the quire. The rubrics govening such a choir, and its traditional position is such that the Pope does not need to make a distinction as to where the choir is located, it would be well known its place is between the altar and the people; taking ths same place, symbolically, that choirs of Angels have, standing before the Throne of God.

    To stuff the choir in the back of the church, but then to continue to insist on vesting seems very much part of the problem when traditions simply become pick-and-choose. If one no longer has the choir in its proper position in the church, then it makes, liturgically and symbolically, no sense to preserve the tradition of vesting.

    Of course, these are only my personal interpretations of the rubrics and the tradition.

    The development of the choir-loft came at the very low-point in the liturgical life of the Church, when the Mass often became very much a musical performance. If one, quite rightly, re-institutes the proper music of the liturgy, Gregorian, one should follow this by placing the choir in its proper liturgical space. I do know that in the States most, even older Catholic church buildings, do not have a quire at all, but this can be rectified by having the choir stand to the right and left of the altar (in front of the Joseph and Mary altars). Of course saying this does not make it easy to do!

    My last parish had a fit when I mentioned doing this and insisted on staying in the loft; but not vested. Of course for me the real fight was to get away from a low mass with hymns as the main Sunday parish mass and introduce sung mass with incense (not as easy to do as one would have expected).

  12. J+M+J

    Hello Dale,

    Thank you for your response.

    The state of the vast majority of Catholic Churches in this country, even those that were spared the jackhammers of the iconoclastic upheaval of the mid 20th century, are typically devoid of a proper liturgical quire within the sanctuary. This is, of course, a terribly unfortunate architectural trend in this country. The parish I currently attend has absolutely no reserve space within the sanctuary to give to a seated schola. If I had my way, I'd remove the front two rows of pews and push the altar rail back, so as to accommodate choir stalls. The chance of this happening? ... *crickets*

    Regardless, I see no reason as to why a liturgical schola forgoes its integrally clerical function simply due to a change in its location within the body of the Church. The ecclesiastical character of a liturgical schola (and its ecclesiastical attire) is not something had by virtue of its proper place within the sanctuary, rather, it is had by virtue of its function. This function is not altered in any way by being in a choir loft. Its place in the sanctuary is a rubrical manifestation of its clerical character, but it is not its cause. To say otherwise would appear, to me, as approaching the issue in a backwards way.

    As always, I am open to discussion as to my take on these matters!

  13. Hello again Tex,

    I very much understand your reasoning here, it is pastoral, and makes sense to me.

    On a more humorous note, my former choir, did not vest; but I think part of this was the problem of getting not only super-dupper sized cassocks and suplices, but the fact that all dressed up like that would have made heaving their biggie-sized bodies up the stairs (already difficult) virtually impossible!

  14. Ha! Yes indeed, Dale. I myself am certainly no victim of anorexia. With my light complexion, black cassock and white surplice, I might pass of as an orca!