The Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert Morlino, on a recent visit to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, paid a visit to our parish of St Thomas More’s there and sang the praises of the Anglican ordinariate and our Anglican form of liturgy. Bishop Morlino gave an hour-long talk, which you can listen to at New Liturgical Movement, but it’s worth looking at some excerpts:
“Beauty in the liturgy is, it seems to me, the very best way to promote the new evangelization because God is the one worshipped. The motto for the liturgy should be ‘nothing less than beautiful ever’. Nothing less than beautiful, because the beauty of the liturgy should reflect, mirror the beauty of God Himself, in the music, in the church building, the artwork and so on, and especially in the ritual. Music, church building, ritual: nothing less than beautiful. Now when I’m talking to people in the Anglican ordinariate that’s not a problem. The beautiful Anglican tradition is the beautiful Anglican tradition: that beautiful plainchant; the language, that beautiful language of the liturgy that we spoke today; incredible.”
“But when I go around Madison, sometimes I still hear ‘All are Welcome’, or I hear ‘Let Us Build a City of God’, or I hear ‘Here I am Lord, Aren’t You Lucky Lord.’ That’s what I hear, all sorts of things. And then a lot of people still write their own prayers. And believe me, they don’t sound like what we prayed today. They sound more like something we might say informally in the cocktail lounge. The sacred, the holy, the beautiful: nothing less for the liturgy, for the music, for the church architecture – so beautiful here – and for the ritual.
“We took an hour today to rehearse. Some of you, if you’re really careful, if you’re really focussed on the liturgy down to the tiny details, you’re thinking to yourself “Bishop, you needed more than an hour.” But I did my best. All of the priests – so often in the Latin Church it’s just the servers, so often – but the beauty of the ritual demands the investment of the priests and the bishop. And it was beautiful today watching people move around pretty much on target as to where they should be going and what they should be doing. There were very few mistakes, and I made a number of them myself. Maybe you didn’t notice. But the ritual, the architecture, the music: the liturgy properly given to God, properly offered to God, brings us mystically into the heavenly sanctuary. That’s where the liturgy takes place. The great ‘lift up your hearts’ is not just poetry. It means the Holy Spirit is lifting us up into Heaven where the angels and the saints, thousands and ten thousands of them, are offering the One Eternal Sacrifice to the Father, and we get to be there. And that’s why in the Eucharistic Prayer we mention all those saints… We’re mystically lifted up to Heaven in the liturgy…”
“Beauty educates and forms human freedom. Well-educated human freedom is what makes democracy possible and joyful, rather than the mess we have now. And beauty really should culminate for us, as disciples of Jesus, in the Mass, in the liturgy: when the music, the architecture, the ritual, the language, all are never anything less than beautiful. I think we can use beauty to evangelize much more easily than any other path to Jesus Christ. I think beauty has that grab on people. When they’re freed enough from the pressure of culture and peer groups to appreciate it. A lot of people forget how much they enjoy beauty. So become missionary disciples who know the power of beauty and can bring other people into the sway of that power so that they too will get glimpses of the beauty of God, so that they too will get glimpses of the heavenly sanctuary, especially at Mass, more and more and more each day. For evangelization’s sake, beauty is where it’s at, I believe. And I’ve been working that way for about ten years in Madison. And because of the Holy Spirit, not because of me, because of the Holy Spirit it has borne great fruit. So I can’t recommend it to you highly enough.
“And a last practical note, money spent on making things more beautiful is always money well spent. So when it comes time to cough it up for something beautiful, feel strongly encouraged to do that, because that beauty will be the doorway through which people enter to meet Jesus Christ risen from the dead and to be changed and to be saved by Him. Thanks for listening to me. Praised be Jesus Christ.”
“…That language [in the Anglican Use missal] is so beautiful. It sounds, when I say those prayers, it sounds like I’m really talking to God.”
“…I hope the Lord continues to bless St Thomas More parish and the Anglican ordinariate with every, every generous and abundant blessing.”
May God bless Bishop Morlino in his ministry as well!