First impressions of the Anglican Use

This author describes her experience visiting an ordinariate parish, the first time she had attended our liturgy. Her experience echoes that of many others who have had a chance to pray in the Anglican tradition of the Catholic Church, but I think there is a point that needs to be added to one of her conclusions.dec29-928522_237975739743512_1015715270_n

“I was grateful for the establishment of the Ordinariate, but I confess… that I did think sometimes… Why can’t they just become Roman…?

If you have the opportunity, I’d encourage you to worship with an Anglican Use community. Here’s what struck me about the liturgy:

The differences between this and the Roman Rite Mass were clear. I’m sure you can find discussions and comparisons online, perhaps even contentious ones. The structure is, of course, the same, but the differences are intriguing and expressive of a more explicit sense of humility as well as greater formality than your typical, contemporary Roman Rite Mass

What struck me most about the Anglican Use liturgy was the same thing that struck me about Eastern Rite liturgies – not the external postures so much as the internal posture of humility which it assumes and fosters. The emphasis is on supplication and humility. You don’t pray “have mercy on us” a zillion times as you do in an Eastern liturgy, but you do say it – or something like it – a lot more than you do in the Roman Rite.

You will say a lot more of everything in the Anglican Use liturgy. The post-Vatican II Roman Rite is quite stripped down and streamlined, that being, of course, one of the intentions of those who constructed it. There is a verbal richness about the Anglican Use that I found comforting and akin to a richly adorned physical space.

So, it was a great experience, and I finally ‘get it.’ I get the reluctance to leave it behind – it preserves much – not just in the Mass itself, but in the other traditions that the Anglican Use brings with it that were lost in the Roman Rite after the Second Vatican Council…”

This reaction highlights the internal Latin nature of the Anglican liturgical tradition. Since the Catholic Church didn’t begin the process of re-integrating the Anglican liturgy until the Pastoral Provision in 1980, and then greatly sped up post-2009, the more traditional form of the Anglican liturgy didn’t undergo the same dramatic rupture that affected the Roman Rite after the Council. So the Latin tradition has been preserved in Anglican liturgy in ways that it hasn’t in the 1970 Roman Missal.

That said, many people cherish the Anglican Use because it is more traditionally Roman in some respects than even the common form of the Roman rite itself. But this is not the principle raison d’etre of the Anglican Use.

Anglicanorum Coetibus gave Catholics in the Anglican ordinariates the ability to pray using our own traditional “liturgical books proper to the Anglican communion” as well as the “Roman rite” in either its Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.

The liturgical integration produced by the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission, that was setup to analyse the Anglican liturgical texts and secure the Holy See’s approval, is intended to establish the received Anglican liturgy in the Catholic Church, shorn of any Protestant elements and re-centred on its own integrity as found in its own history.

The work of the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission – excellent, but arguably incomplete – has been another step in the healing of two ruptures in the Anglican liturgical tradition, a healing that began with the work of a similar committee of the Roman Curia back in the 1980s. The rupture in Anglican liturgy wasn’t just synchronic vis-à-vis other Catholic liturgies extant today, but also diachronic vis-à-vis its own past and traditional origins prior to Cranmer’s works.

So what the liturgy of the ordinariates actually preserves is the inner Catholic integrity of the Anglican tradition, which itself reflects the intrinsic Latin logic of Anglican liturgy. It was not mandated by Anglicanorum Coetibus so as to be what the Second Vatican Council intended with the liturgical reform, even if that is what, in the end, it has actually come to resemble.

9 thoughts on “First impressions of the Anglican Use

  1. Respectfully, the Divine Worship liturgy (which is the proper name for our use, not “Anglican Use”–as you know, the latter is officially discouraged) is built on the Scriptural and Kalendar skeleton of the 1970 Roman Rite. It is, as Bp Lopes stated, situated within the liturgical ecosystem of the ordinary form. And sadly, it suffers from the same chronic optionitis, evident if you look at the actual Missal texts and rubrics — not to mention pathetically unnecessary concessions to the modern Roman Missal like the faux-Cranmerized “Alternative Eucharistic Prayer” (i.e. EP2).

    The “upcoming” (LOL) Office will almost certainly be the same (30-day or 7-week psalter? Pick one of three sets of preces… etc.) The manifold options, plus the bloated modern 3-year Roman Lectionary (another drastic break with both Roman and Sarum/Prayer Book tradition) all but guarantees that there will never be a single, compact Book of Divine Worship containing Mass w/ lessons, Office, Litany, and supplemental services, in the actual Prayer Book tradition..

    The constitutive element of Prayer Book spirituality and “Patrimony” – having, you know, a Prayer Book — is already out the window.


    • You’ve made some good points that hit at what I was implying by saying the work of the ATC was incomplete.

      On the name issue, the Anglican Use has been so-called for almost forty years. That name has always been an instinctive and popular name, rather than the official name of the missal. So nothing has changed in that regard, which is why people still call it the Anglican Use. This name accurately identifies the liturgical patrimony at hand, and is thus the most useful shorthand descriptor available.

      On the substantive liturgical aspects you’ve mentioned, the ATC borrowed certain elements of the 1970 Roman rite, but situating the Anglican Use in the framework of the Novus Ordo is deeply problematic. To say that that is what the ATC did would be to admit that the ATC failed in its mandate to authorize a Catholicized version of the Anglican liturgical books.

      Rather, the ATC has done a good job of bringing more of the Anglican liturgical patrimony into the Church – making the BDW-era Anglican Use even more Anglican in the DWM era – but it supplemented that patrimony with elements of the common Roman liturgy. Yet even the modern Roman rite is not without its own rupture from the past.

      So what remains is a liturgy that is largely Anglican in character but with certain unnecessary concessions to the liturgical revolutionaries that will, God willing, be improved in future generations.


      • Christopher,

        There is no doubt that the term “Anglican Use” has been used unofficially since the erection of the Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas. However, the Vatican has never endorsed that term and, in recent years, has asked us to refrain from use of that term due to ecumenical sensibilities and the potential for confusion. The official designation of the liturgical rites approved for the ordinariates is Divine Worship.

        As to the revision of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite after the Second Vatican Council, the most prevalent changes came from ressourcement — that is, critical study and restoration of the earlier norms of the Roman Rite, essentially undoing a series of mini-ruptures that had occurred over the intervening centuries. Here, the anaphora known as “Eucharistic Prayer II” is a prime example — the commission charged with implementing the reform adopted an anaphora recorded by St. Hippolytus in a work entitled The Apostolic Tradition c. 215 AD with a few minor adaptations to the sensibilities of the present day. This is the oldest recorded anaphora of the Roman church, though there older anaphoras of other traditions are extant (most notably, the Assyrian/Chaldean Tradition still uses the Anaphora of Saints Addai and Mari as recorded in the first century).



      • Norm, as I said, it has been a popular term in use for the liturgy found in the Book of Divine Worship, Divine Worship: The Missal, Divine Worship: Occasional Services, and the other texts and musical sources that are used by Catholics of the Anglican tradition for almost forty years, which is why it continues to be used. It’s the best term out there that encapsulates the identity of our liturgical patrimony in the Catholic Church.

        As for your points about the reform of the Roman rite, pretty much every one has been debunked by leading scholars in recent years.


      • Christopher, Norm has a point about the term. Look, part of the development of the Ordinariate has included an official discouragement for future use of the term, certainly in writing and in official or semi-official channels. I’d think ACS’s blog is public enough and owes enough respect to our bishop and the Holy See to abide by this discouragement. The proud intransigence in refusing to do so is a darker part of the “Anglican tradition” perhaps best left to actual Anglicans and not brought into the Catholic Church.

        Norm, as regards your liturgical scholarship, you really need to update it by about 50 years. Almost no scholar believes the Hippolytan anaphora to have been his, for one. The oldest verifiable and authentic set Roman anaphora is the Roman Canon. And the idea that the largest component of the reform is a “careful ressourcement” is frankly laughable to anyone who knows anything about the details of the reforms, and about up-to-date scholarship on the same.

        What part of early tradition was restored when good chunks of the psalter were cut out of the Office because they “do not align with the spirit of evangelical charity” (!) — the actual reasoning of the responsible coetus in the Consilium during the discussions?

        Or, there’s the idea of Mass facing the people (as a principle, as opposed to accidental, determined by occidented architecture like St. Peter’s Basilica), whose supposed “antiquity” was so thoroughly debunked, even Josef Jungmann SJ, the hero par excellence of the late Liturgical Movement, came to repudiate it as terrible scholarship. As did Louis Bouyer, the coauthor of EP2 with Dom Bernard Botte. You should read these guys sometime, Norm, especially Bouyer’s Memoirs. He was right there on the Consilium, and he co-wrote the dewfall anaphora. His own testimony conflicts with your views. You could also pick up works by Msgr Klaus Gamber, or the late Hungarian musician and liturgist Prof. Laszlo Dobszay. Or Prof. Lauren Pristas’s analysis of all the pre- vs. post-conciliar collects, and the provenance of the latter. Or Matthew Hazell’s recent, groundbreaking “Index Lectionum,” the comparative study of the old and new Roman Mass lectionary. Or look into the work of Dom Anselmo Lentini OSB’s coetus on Breviary Hymn reform. The vast majority of the supposedly “restored” hymnody was written by… Dom Anselmo Lentini OSB! (And even the actual “restorations” were mixed with new composition, more often than not guided by the ideology of the day. E.g. four lines of the authentic Ambrosian hymn to St Agnes were cut out because “they overemphasized the praise of modesty” [!!] And the Compline hymn Te lucis ante terminum? No more “nightly fears and fantasies,” obviously that’s too dark and medieval for a “mature, modern, post-conciliar Resurrection People!”)

        Norm, seriously, if you want to keep opining on the 1970 reform, you need to delve into the actual scholarship and history, and stop relying on facile 1970 myths, of which often their own originators have since repented.


      • Tom, I think this is rather a matter of principled consistency, and to suggest that this very recent dislike of the word ‘Anglican’ being used to describe anything current in the ordinariate is a ‘development’ of the ordinariate is not only strongly disputed but rather obviously undermines the continuation of the Anglican patrimony therein. If we can’t identify the patrimony that is ours to cherish and share as a treasure, then how on earth do we hope to form our future priests in that patrimony? How can we preserve it? How can we share it?

        In any case, this Society and this blog are meant both to promote the Anglican heritage and common identity and to be forums in which how to do so can be freely – and publicly – discussed. Our laymen (and clergy) continuing to speak as they have for forty years is not intransigence to an established judgement of the Holy See but a considered and prudent fidelity to what the Pastoral Provision and Anglicanorum Coetibus brought about for the good of the Catholic Church.

        Your points about the Roman liturgical reform are apposite, but your mention of ‘development’ prompts me to touch on how the language of Anglican identity came about in the Church. It arose naturally and organically in response to a long trajectory of Anglo-Catholic prayer and movement towards restored communion, the ecumenical discussions, the public statements of the popes to Anglicans, and ultimately the provisions of Popes Piux XII, John Paul II, & Benedict XVI.

        This long trajectory and development has culminated over the last forty years in the reception by the Church of the Anglican patrimony in stages. This process has included the authorization of an initial Anglican Use liturgy in the early 1980s, the promulgation of the Book of Divine Worship in 2003, the publication of The Anglican Use Gradual in 2006, the authorization of further variations of the Anglican Use between 2011 and 2013, the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham in 2012, the promulgation of Divine Worship: Occasional Services in 2014, and Divine Worship: The Missal in 2015, and continues in work to publish additional patrimonial texts such as the office, multiple updated graduals, and so on.

        This natural trajectory is the real development of an Anglican Use in the Catholic Church, a development that includes not just the current text of the missal but the entire corpus of Anglican patrimonial texts and musical sources that are used by Catholics for the worship of God.

        I have had respectful conversations with the bishop, with officials at the Holy See, with members of the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission, and with the other ordinaries about this matter, and not one of them has told me I must cease and desist. It is only people online in certain blogs and forums who accuse me of proud intransigence.

        For quite a while, the objection to ‘Anglican Use’ was expressed as ‘but it’s not a use’. But then these same people will call it ‘the ordinariate use’. Or if you accommodate that argument by switching to ‘Anglican form’, they will still object. Ultimately you will discover that the objection is to ever using the word ‘Anglican’ to describe it. And that is precisely why we in the ordinariates must remain consistent in our use of the word. That word, ‘Anglican’, defines our patrimony. It defines what makes us distinct from other Catholics. If we lose the word ‘Anglican’, we lose our common identity, we weaken our bonds with and witness to our brethren still in Anglicanism, we lose our distinctiveness in the Catholic Church, and we will ultimately lose our patrimony.

        The fact is many of our laity, and I certainly include myself in this, continue to recognize in the development of an Anglican patrimonial church inside the Catholic Church over these past decades the answer to the prayers of generations of our people for an ‘Anglicanism united not absorbed’. This is an expression of fidelity to those prayers and to what God has given us in answer to those prayers.


      • Christopher: Thanks for your extensive and well-considered response. You make good points, and forgive me for seeming to ascribe malice or pride to your intentions. It was an ill-considered expression; consider it withdrawn.

        I maintain my skepticism about the survival of anything like integral “Anglican tradition,” absent an actual equivalent of the Prayer Book. I also maintain my reiteration that Divine Worship is not a text “proper to the Anglican communion” that’s now authorized for Roman use, but a form of the Roman Rite cobbled together from various Anglican and non-Anglican sources, and “situated within the ordinary form.” The lectionary (1970 Roman), kalendar (1970 Roman with a few emendations) and anaphora (Roman Canon + alternative Cranmerized EP2) — the three things that make up the core of a rite — absolutely bear this out. Whether you use “thees and thous,” or throw in a few Cranmer prayers, Wesley hymns, or allowance for certain ceremonial options, is of secondary importance when it comes to the objective essence of a rite or a use.


      • Thank you for your kind consideration, Tom. I think you make some excellent and fair points.

        I alluded in a comment earlier about how the work of the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission is “unfinished” for this reason: Anglicanorum Coetibus mandated us to use “Anglican liturgical books”, but we’re in a sort of mid-way state (or ‘via media’, if I can make a patrimonial joke). The DWM is in a sense closer to the Anglican liturgical texts in many ways (the Prayer of Humble Access alone is more complete in the DWM than it was in the BDW) but still borrows from the Roman rite more than is necessary. One example is in the BCP collects that Fr Hunwicke has expressed a desire to see included in a future edition. Another is the lectionary. Also, I’d point out that “situated within the ordinary form” isn’t exactly what has been said about it writ large; rather I think that was one person’s comment about the “rubrical context” of the DWM, which, given it literally prints the GIRM, is not wholly inaccurate. So that’s another thing that we should “Anglicanize”, by harmonizing the Rubrical Directory with the other applicable rubrics and putting them out as a GIDWM.

        That being the case, I don’t think we should accept that our liturgy is either the “final” expression of an Anglican patrimonial liturgy for Catholics of the Anglican tradition or that it is, or ought to be, simply a concessionary form of the Roman rite for Romans who used to be Anglicans. Rather it is a partial fulfillment of the intentions of Anglicanorum Coetibus. So I think you’re absolutely right in identifying some of the remaining weaknesses in our liturgical provision, but I prefer situating it in the context of what Anglicanorum Coetibus set forth.

        It wouldn’t be that hard to publish already-approved patrimonial texts in a sort of pew missal as a Book of Common Prayer: Catholic Edition. In any case, this is an important conversation that needs to happen over time.


  2. How. Is the BDW Liturgy any different than the NO Liturgy in that neither come from organic growth? What other than a few collects come from the Sarum Use in the the BDW? Can Cranmer romanised?


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