On the Traditional Latin Mass and the Ordinariates

Back when Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson was Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, he issued a directive that Ordinariate priests were not to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) on Ordinariate properties.

Ordinariate priests could celebrate the TLM for other communities, but the point of having the Ordinariate, at least in North American circles, was to promote Anglican patrimony.

At the time, there was a quite a reaction, with some wondering if Msgr. Steenson had the jurisdiction to make such a call, seeing as it went against, some argued, the spirit of Summorum Pontificum, in which Pope Benedict XVI made it much easier for priests to celebrate the TLM, even without permission of their bishop ahead of time.

I personally agreed with Msgr. Steenson’s call.

This section of Summorum Pontifcum did give him the jurisdiction to make the call:

Art. 5, §1  In parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal.  He should ensure that the good of these members of the faithful is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

I return to this debate, however, because of a comment left by Taylor Hall recently on the post Syncretism? Bait and Switch:

Here is part of Taylor Hall’s comment:

The only thing that concerns me is when some in the Ordinariate (key word some, not all) try to make the claim that the Traditional Latin Mass is somehow not appropriate for the Ordinariate. This is an unfortunate sentiment. Before the liturgy was vernacularized with the Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy in England was always in Latin. During the persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan times and after, the martyrs such as St Edmund Campion said the mass as codified by the Council of Trent. In my opinion, these martyrs are indeed part of the Anglican patrimony. If the TLM was good for them, it’s good for the Ordinariate. Why couldn’t the Ordinariate say the Book of Divine Worship mass and the TLM side by side?

Why shouldn’t it?

While I think all of us should attend a TLM from time to time and be familiar with it and it’s beauty, I would not want to see our Ordinariate parishes offering the TLM if it came at the expense of  Divine Worship: the Missal.  An Ordinariate parish could end up serving a much larger TLM-oriented community that has no background in the Anglican world, and no interest in it.

There is much to be said about discovering the pre-Reformation patrimony of the English Catholic Church as part of our Anglican patrimony project, but at this stage, I do not think introducing the TLM side by side with Divine Worship is the way to go.

Maybe others have different ideas. Your thoughts?

27 thoughts on “On the Traditional Latin Mass and the Ordinariates

  1. Taylor Hall is correct that the mass prior to the split was Latin, but the books in use continued to be the Sarum books for quite a number of years afterwards, and the Tridentine books did not immediately replace them. Notwithstanding the mid-twentieth century Anglican and English Missal developments, the Tridentine is not so much our Latin heritage as much as the Sarum is.


    • It should also be noted that there was indeed an official Latin language edition of the BCP issued in 1560 (the Liber Precum Publicarum) for the use of the universities in England. So, the use of Latin was still an official part of the liturgical landscape even after the Elizabethan settlement.
      Part of the problem with how Msgr. Steenson handled the whole question of the use of the TLM by those in the Ordinariate(s) is that it pitted DW:TM and the TLM against each other (and thus, those Catholics attached to each against each other). If there were an official Latin edition of DW:TM that he could have pointed to as being the “TLM of the Ordinariates” it would have defused the situation immediately in my opinion. It would have allowed him to say that, to those who are interested in the English spiritual patrimony as well as worship in the Latin language, they have an option for living within the framework of the Ordinariates. Most TLM folks would have understood and accepted this much better I think.


      • You wouldn’t even need a Latin translation of DW:TM. One could’ve allowed some variation of the actual Sarum liturgy in Latin as the “EF of the Ordinariate Use.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • In the context of this discussion, we need to remember that the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which is the reference for vernacular translations remains in Latin (with the Kyrie in Greek), and that no pope has ever forbidden the celebration of a mass in Latin according to the typical edition of the ordinary form, either in a parish of the ordinariate or any diocesan parish.

        Msgr. Steenson’s liturgical prohibition extended only to the Tridentine liturgical books, which Pope Pius X promulgated after the Council of Trent — and thus well after the Anglican Schism. The Tridentine liturgical books were never used by the Church of England or by any other province of the Anglican Communion, so there’s no way that they constitute part of the Anglican patrimony of the ordinariates. The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus specifically allows the ordinariate communities to celebrate the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, with no mention whatsoever of language. In the Roman legal tradition, permissive laws are always construed broadly.

        As to the permissions in Summorum pontificam quoted in the OP, there’s no way that any ordinariate congregation could meet the bar of “a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition” precisely because the Tridentine liturgy is not part of their patrimony in the first place.


        Liked by 1 person

      • Tom is correct that you could just use the Sarum books. Norm is correct that, unlike the Sarum, the Tridentine books are not proper to the Anglican tradition. That said, I have to correct Norm’s comment about Anglicanorum Coetibus permitting us the use of the Novus Ordo. What AC actually says is that we are not excluded from using “the Roman Rite” in addition to “the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition”. First of all, this thus includes both the OF and the EF, as the Roman Rite has two forms. It also suggests, given Sarum is proper to the Anglican tradition and history, that we ought to use that in the event we’d like to celebrate an older Latin liturgy.

        Liked by 1 person

    • True…but it could be argued that the Sarum Rite is more appropriately called the Sarum Usage of the Latin Rite. Either way, the Sarum Usage developed in the 11th century and gradually died out by the 16th century (it lasted 500 years or so). Secondly, correct me if I am wrong, but I am under the impression that the Sarum Usage was not used throughout all of England, but only in part of England. Nevertheless, the tradition of saying the liturgy in Latin with the Roman Canon and chant dates back to the earliest centuries of the Church. Let’s remember that St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent to convert England by St Gregory the Great, who did much to codify the Roman Rite in the 500s AD. St Augustine was most likely celebrating a liturgy that was similar to what St. Gregory the Great was celebrating back in Rome. To say that the “Tridentine” Mass is just Tridentine and not part of our heritage as Catholics of English descent makes it seem as if the Council of Trent merely invented the Tridentine Mass on the spot, when in fact all it did was get rid of abuses and mandate the saying of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel. The Mass was not drastically different in England

      I personally do not think that Ordinariate communities saying the Traditional Latin Mass contradicts the saying the Book of Divine Worship Mass. They have many similarities (such as prayers at the foot of the altar, Roman Canon). I see the Book of Divine Worship Mass as being an English equivalent to the Traditional Latin Mass, with a unique musical tradition and sets of prayers included in the liturgy.

      But if Ordinariate communities are willing to say the Novus Ordo ad orientem in Latin, why can’t they just go ahead and say the Traditional Latin Mass as well? I guess as someone who is a former Episcopalian and converted to Catholicism through the TLM, it’s just frustrating to see restrictions on Ordinariate priests in celebrating something so reverent and beautiful. And I know an Ordinariate seminarian who is very attached to the TLM, so hopefully he will be permitted to say it in the future when he is a priest.

      I’m thankful that St. Barnabas Church and Mount Calvary Church offer the TLM at least semi-regularly. Hopefully more communities will follow in the near future!


      • Taylor, use of the Sarum rite spread over time until it was used in places all over the British Isles, and throughout England in particular. By the time of Queen Mary’s reign it was the Catholic Latin rite of the realm (notwithstanding a few less widespread forms used in places like York and Hereford). Thus, when she restored the Catholic mass, it was the Sarum books that were imposed everywhere, although I think Eamon Duffy somewhere (in his Fires of Faith perhaps?) writes about how the Sarum rite as re-imposed across the realm by Mary accommodated some changes in recognition of the recent use of the first editions of the BCP.

        If we as Catholics of the Anglican tradition have an ancient, organically developed Latin liturgy proper to our own history, why would we switch from those books to books that didn’t come about until years later in another land? When the Tridentine books came about, there were still English priests using the Sarum books, which were thus perpetuated by Quo Primum.

        Sarum is proper to our Anglican patrimony in a way the Tridentine is not, and this can be seen not only in our history, but in the way the unique prayers of the BCP reflect their Sarum antecedents.


      • Taylor,

        Regarding the usage that St. Augustine of Canterbury brought to the British Isles, it is absolutely true that he was trained in Rome during the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great — but in travelling through France en route to England, he discovered liturgical practices that were different than what he had been taught. He immediately corresponded with the pope about this. The pope’s reply was very libertarian — “We taught you one way. If you have found other liturgical practices that seem praiseworthy, feel free to adopt them.”

        Some years ago, I met a gent who told me that he was ordained Baptist minister but that he had operated a center for Christian servicemen sponsored by the Lutheran Church for many years. “Pete” was fond of a quote that he attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo: “In essential things, unity; in non-essential things, liberty; and in all things, charity.”



  2. Do you equally condemn any use of the OF of the Roman Rite by Ordinariate communities, a rather common occurrence?

    Also, it is really time to stop saying that the Mass of Pius V is “not part of our patrimony.” I’m sorry, but the rite that defined the liturgical life of the Latin Church for most of the last 500 years is part of EVERY Latin Christian’s patrimony, whether they like it or not, and whether it is their primary form of worship (or form of worship at all) or not.

    If a prodigal son returns home after many years, and finds that he has new siblings he had not met due to his long and self-willed absence, but who grew up in the bosom of the family, it would be both biologically untrue and incredibly arrogant for him to claim that, “well, they’re not really my siblings because I was away from the family when they were born.”


    • Tom,

      You wrote: Also, it is really time to stop saying that the Mass of Pius V is “not part of our patrimony.” I’m sorry, but the rite that defined the liturgical life of the Latin Church for most of the last 500 years is part of EVERY Latin Christian’s patrimony, whether they like it or not, and whether it is their primary form of worship (or form of worship at all) or not.

      The problem with this statement is that it completely ignores the historical fact that the Anglican Schism occurred about half a century before Pope Pius IX promulgated the Tridentine liturgical books, and thus that neither the Church of England nor any other province of the Anglican Communion ever used the Tridentine liturgical books.

      If a prodigal son returns home after many years, and finds that he has new siblings he had not met due to his long and self-willed absence, but who grew up in the bosom of the family, it would be both biologically untrue and incredibly arrogant for him to claim that, “well, they’re not really my siblings because I was away from the family when they were born.”

      There’s certainly no doubt that they would be biological siblings, but the familial relationship would be vastly different than that of siblings with whom he actually grew up. Experts in family systems say that there are effectively two separate families, with the functional roles of the siblings starting over, whenever there’s a gap of as little as five years between the births of consecutive siblings because the siblings born before such a gap are mostly away from the home for school and activities during their waking hours when the younger siblings come along. In the scenario that you describe, this would be even more pronounced — the siblings would meet as virtual strangers in spite of the blood relationship.

      And on the other side of the coin, adoptive, foster, and step siblings who are close in age typically develop the same bonds as blood siblings because of their affinity in the home.


      Liked by 1 person

      • You know very well, Norm, that Pius V’s streamlining and standardization of the Latin Rite to match that of the use of the Papal curia, does not mean that what we today somewhat inaccurately call the “Tridentine Rite” was in any substantial way anything “new.” The Canon, for one, dates in its current form to at least St. Gregory the Great, but in its essentials much earlier; virtually every other element, to before the Anglican schism (even such late additions as the offertory rite). If anything, Pius trimmed many of the most (then-)recent additions, e.g. drastically restricting Sequences to only four in lieu of the myriad late-medieval compositions. This was actually one of the weaknesses of my own sibling analogy, by the way, because the Mass of Pius V was not some new and revolutionary invention in any meaningful sense.

        In any event, anyone who wants to argue that the Mass of Pius V does not constitute a part of the “patrimony” and ought not be celebrated in the Ordinariate, should logically also militate against any Ordinariate use of the Novus Ordo. Unless one wants to do that and advocate for a consistent “Divine Worship-only” stance, one ought not unduly and arbitrarily discriminate against one of the two other forms of the Roman Rite, which is after all the universal rite of the Latin Church.


      • Tom,

        You wrote: The Canon, for one, dates in its current form to at least St. Gregory the Great…

        Well, not quite. There were a few changes over the centuries, and the most recent was by Pope John XXIII in 1962. The following text appears in the Wikipedia article on the subject (citations removed).

        After the time of Pope Gregory I (590–604), who made at least one change in the text, the Canon remained largely unchanged in Rome. Not so elsewhere. The 11th-century Missal of Robert of Jumièges, Archbishop of Canterbury, interpolates the names of Saint Gertrude, Saint Gregory, Saint Ethraelda, and other English saints in the Communicantes. The Missale Drummondiense inserts the names of Saint Patrick and Saint Gregory the Great. And in several Medieval French Missals the Canon contained the names of Saint Martin and Saint Hilary.

        Pope Pius V’s imposition of the Roman Missal in 1570 restrained any tendency to vary the text of the Canon. According to one source, in 1604 Pope Clement VIII, as well as modifying some of the rubrics, altered the text of the Canon by excluding a mention of the king. In the early nineteenth century, the king was mentioned by name in England within the Canon. Although other parts of the Missal were modified from time to time, the Canon remained quite unchanged, apart from this variation, from 1570 until Pope John XXIII’s insertion of a mention of Saint Joseph immediately after that of the Virgin Mary.

        So the present text of Eucharistic Prayer I clearly does not match the corresponding text of either the Sarum missal or the Book of Common Prayer. Further, it’s the 1962 missal, rather than the missal promulgated by Pope Pius V, that’s authorized by Ecclesia dei and Summorum pontificam.

        Actually, the use of the term “canon” to mean the core of the anaphora (or eucharistic prayer) has always been a misnomer. The term “canon” means “fixed” — that is, invariant and unchanging — but several paragraphs thereof (the paragraphs that begin “Communicantes…” and “Haec igitur… most frequently, but sometimes others as well) have variations in wording on various feasts and in some ritual masses. As such, they were never truly fixed.

        You wrote: In any event, anyone who wants to argue that the Mass of Pius V does not constitute a part of the “patrimony” and ought not be celebrated in the Ordinariate, should logically also militate against any Ordinariate use of the Novus Ordo.

        First, the term “Novus Ordo” has no official use in any Catholic document or liturgical rite. The revised missal promulgated by Pope Paul V and revised by his successors is officially called the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

        Having said that, I tend to agree in principle with the gist of your argument but your argument ignores two very salient facts.

        >> 1. Many ordinariate congregations, especially in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, actually celebrated mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite while they were within the Church of England as an expression of the Catholic character of their faith. I see no reason to forbid such communities from continuing to do what they did as Anglicans because that is their recent heritage.

        >> 2. The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus clearly envisions that members of ordinariate congregations will participate in various programs and services operated by the local diocese, where the celebration of the liturgy would use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, because those are the resources that are local. Such programs typically include marriage preparation, formation for various ministries, retreats and revivals, days of prayer and recollection, joint functions of an ordinariate parish and a diocesan parish, and other special events. In addition, ordinariate members who cannot get to a mass of an ordinariate parish, either due to a schedule conflict with their community’s mass(es) or while travelling to an area where there is no ordinariate presence, must go to a mass of a diocesan parish instead. Thus, there’s an equally compelling argument that ordinariate congregations should use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite frequently enough so their members are sufficiently familiar with it to participate fully when such situations arise.

        Neither of these situations extend to any of the Tridentine liturgical books.



  3. As a parishioner at St. Barnabas I’m happy that there is a TLM offered, it’s just once a week but, I think it has the potential to bring folks through our doors that might not otherwise come. It’s another way to reach out and make folks aware of what we offer as a parish.

    As a cradle Catholic the old mass is something I had no exposure to growing up, and I feel an obligation to at least be familiar with it, and going at my own parish is much better than traipsing across town early in the morning. On the ground here it doesn’t feel like there is any risk of the Latin dominating the English at all.

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  4. In terms of liturgical texts, isn’t there a definitive list from the Holy See about what is considered patrimony and what isn’t? If so, how does that list enter this discussion?

    As much as I love it, I would not support the use of the Old Rite in our community until I was certain that every bit of Anglican Patrimony was appropriately squeezed into the parish’s liturgical and community life.

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that these discussions are with former members of the Separated Brethren who have found their way home, and not with Catholic Recusants. The patrimony of Catholic Recusants is their patrimony, but it is not the same as the commanded treasure to be shared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Troy,

      You asked: In terms of liturgical texts, isn’t there a definitive list from the Holy See about what is considered patrimony and what isn’t?

      If such a list actually exists (and I’m not sure that it does), it’s in the form of an internal working document of the Anglicanae Traditiones commission tasked with preparing the Divine Worship liturgical books for use by the ordinariates (and the only remaining “pastoral provision” community). My understanding is that the commission examined the liturgical books of the Sarum Use, the Book of Common Prayer, the English Missal, and perhaps several other sources within the context of its work. However, the liturgical portion of the patrimony that the ordinariates get to share with the rest of the church is precisely that of the Divine Worship liturgical books.



  5. As beautiful as the TLM is, let’s work on establishing parishes that make clear for our brethren— many of whom have no idea who or what the Ordinariate is—our identity as Catholics with a unique patrimony. The Patrimony preserved in the Ordinariate is “a treasure to be shared” with the entire Church (Anglicanorum Coetibus). It seems prudent that we concentrate on providing temples for Divine Worship (the Missal) where both Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form Catholics, all Catholics, can find a true via media to beauty, truth and goodness in Jesus Christ. Divine Worship is a magnificent liturgy. I say that as a relative newcomer who has served as a (trained cantor) in both OF and EF communities.

    I agree, DG, that Msgr. Steenson made the right call.


  6. I think all the fussing over liturgical provenance and patrimony in the comment thread misses Msgr. Steenson’s main point entirely: namely, that Ordinariate communities are first and foremost to be about evangelization, and to the extent that we are padding our numbers with traditionalist Catholics, we are letting ourselves off the hook from the Great Commission. I remember him stating specifically at an Anglican Use Conference that “we should not be fishing in Latin waters.”

    It is not too difficult to imagine that in many locales, neither the Ordinariate nor the TLM community is sufficiently populated in its own right to be self-supporting. In these circumstances, it must be very tempting for these groups to pool their resources so liturgy aficionados can have their cake and eat it too, without the patience and hard work required to evangelize the non-Christians and non-Catholics all around them. Msgr. Steenson’s directive forced those who might otherwise be so tempted to keep their eyes on the prize. The raison-d’etre of the Church is evangelization, not patrimony at the expense of evangelization.


  7. Good gosh, people the Tridentine Books were never used publicly in England. How about the Sarum
    Use in Latin or the York use even. Then those who never celebrated in Latin as Anglicans can have the novelty of all sorts of Uses instead of DW. Why are Ord. priests dressing with Latin birrettas, lace albs and suplices? Your tradition did not begin with the Oxford Movement. You have your own partrimony, us it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. The so-called English or Sarum style is very much our own thing, unique to the Anglican patrimony. We should indeed use it and cherish it.


      • Yes, and the Sarum Use was in fact one of the sources for the present Divine Worship liturgy.

        Of course, those who came to the ordinariates never used the Sarum liturgy as Anglicans….



      • Not entirely true. There are some Anglicans who did attend services in the Sarum rite either periodically or regularly, and there are Catholics who use Sarum from time to time too. Sarum Lauds was done (in a Catholic church) a few times last year in Toronto, for example, and both Anglicans and Catholics were in attendance.


  8. It appears there is quite a bit of difference about what is essentially a matter of opinion. What matters the rite as long as it is an approved one and meets the needs of the congregation. I would note that Orthodox Jews handled the matter by leaving the prayers in Hebrew as a sign of unity, and conducted all other matters in local languages. This also led to the evolution of Yiddish. Might be a lesson there for the rest of us re Latin.


    • English is now much closer to being a global common language than Latin ever was. In the present day, English is the language of international commerce, transportation and navigation, science and technology, medicine, travel and tourism, and pop culture, and one of two principal languages of international diplomacy (the other being French).



  9. Many people in this conversation seem to ignore that the Oxford movement reformers, who ultimately led the Catholic revival of Anglican liturgy to include things like incense, chasubles, altars, etc. were all inspired, not by some distant vision of the Sarum liturgy, but by the Roman Rite as it existed in the 19th and early 20th century. It is ridiculous, then, to propose that the Anglican Ordinariate, which loves to claim the riches of the Oxford movement and its eventual culmination in conversion to the Catholic faith, does not have the Tridentine Roman Rite as part of its liturgical heritage. PAX


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