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.
“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.