Celebrating the Ordinariate liturgy – some initial thoughts

The season of Advent has been marked by many Ordinariate groups in the UK beginning to celebrate Mass according to the Ordinariate Use. We were no exception in the Ordinariate Parish of the Most Precious Blood at Borough, in South London. The Ordinariate Group has sung Evensong and celebrated Mass for some time on Thursday evenings, and it seemed therefore a most appropriate time for the new Mass.

Fr Christopher Pearson, our parish priest, presided, and Fr Peter Andrews and I concelebrated with him. We left the sanctuary as it was, with the Celebrant facing the people across the altar. The ceremonial followed the GIRM except where the rubrics of the new Use specifically state another practice. One example would be the Celebrant’s genuflexion both before and after the Elevation of the Host.

Sanctuary at Easter Most Precious Blood Borough

Sanctuary at Easter
Most Precious Blood Borough

For those of us over a certain age the language and the texts of those prayers from the 1662 Prayer Book which have been included are all familiar: one has to watch out for the slight changes! But even for me it involves reaching back quite a long way. By the time I left home to train for the priesthood in 1968 Series 2 was in use; apart from a year and a half at the beginning of my second curacy when we still used a book called the English Missal I have experienced only modern English rites; from 1994 – along with most Anglo-Catholics – I used the modern Roman Rite of the 1970 missal (very occasionally in latin).

I struck me  forcibly that I had never imagined using these prayers within the Catholic Mass. In the 1960’s it was the Prayer Book liturgy which united Anglicans across the spectrum, but which divided us most clearly from the Catholic Church of the West.

After the Introductory Rite (we avoided the option for the lengthy Prayers at the foot of the altar) the readings followed from the Catholic RSV. I doubt if any of the laity noticed as it was a weekday. The Penitential Rite included the clear direction ‘meekly kneeling upon your knees’, together with the long confession composed by Archbishop Cranmer when English was first introduced into the Mass in the reign of King Henry VIII, and after the break with Rome. For the Offertory the familiar prayers slightly recast into traditional English, and then the Eucharistic Prayer. A traditional language version of Prayer Two in the Missal is provided, but for this first celebration we used Prayer One – the Roman Canon. In traditional language it sounds rather fine (one person suggested better than in the Ordinary Form of the Mass). The Agnus Dei we sang to Merbecke’s setting, recited the Prayer of Humble Access and said ‘Lord, I am not worthy’ three times before Communion. A little uncertainty about whether the people should answer ‘Amen’ to the longer Communion formula, ‘The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee…’.

english altar 2

Communion over, we then prayed together what was the alternative prayer after Communion in the Prayer Book. One person praised it as a profound thanksgiving, though I do wonder if it will bear repeating at every Mass and said by all together; one wonders what was in the minds of those who devised the liturgy at this point. We did not use the option of the Last Gospel.

We celebrated with modern ceremonial, a moderately conservative and careful use of the Roman Missal rubrics, such as has been common among Anglo-Catholics for a generation. I wonder whether this quite fits? I know that there are some who would like to see the Use celebrated as a sort of ‘Ordinariate-Extraordinary-Form-in-English’, to give it the look of ‘Pictures of the English Liturgy’ with the Travers drawings. My own feeling is that this is now a bit decadent, with its faded baroque vestments and furnishings. In its heyday in the 20’s and 30’s of the last century it was designed to make the Anglican Communion Rite look as un-Anglican as possible! Is that what we are trying to do now?

Mass of St Martin

So perhaps a third way is what is needed, with dignified ceremonial, vestments and furnishings drawn from the English tradition, as might have been seen in the cathedral and parish churches up until the 1970’s. We shall see.


About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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18 Responses to Celebrating the Ordinariate liturgy – some initial thoughts

  1. Rhiannon says:

    As previously discussed in email, my concern is that Catholics I know, who have an imperfect understanding of the Ordinariate, will be further estranged by this liturgy – especially those whi have protested about the tne “clunky” translation we are now using, and have had little or no sympathy from their bishops. However, I’m much looking forward to experiencing it durong the r Christmas octave

  2. Harry says:

    Thanks for initial thoughts, I haven’t experienced the OL yet and I must admit to some misgivings, including the effect on cradle Catholics mentioned by Rhiannon. As you say time will tell.

    • Rhiannon says:

      Not only cradle Catholics, Harry – but thank you for seeing the point.
      I hope it’s clear that I’m not being completely negative about it – but have had some uncomfortable conversations about this

  3. Rhiannon says:

    I wonder what I did with my English Missal of 1960 – 1967 or thereabouts? Perhaps it fell to pieces after all that time

    • Harry says:

      Still got mine, bought in Mowbray’s (remember them?) sometime in the 1970’s.

      • Rhiannon says:

        How could I forget them? I worked in Portland Place for around four years – in there during many lunch hours. Now I think of it, I sold a lot of liturgical books to them in the 1980s – that might be where my English Missal went

  4. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    Sounds to me like you Brits are trying to avoid doing the new liturgy every way possible. Hope your Ordinary straightens you people out. If you don’t want to do it correctly, get out and move over to the Novus Ordo.

    • Rhiannon says:

      “See how these Christians love each other?”
      I said “uncomfortable”, but that ‘s just plain rude.

    • In what way did we not ‘do it correctly’?

      • Rhiannon says:

        Father Scott (see me beaming at saying that?), I think that he means, by “new liturgy”, the “new” translation. It’s a very clunky version that resembles the ASB version, and most people hate it. My own dear PP (who received us) has decided not to use it, although most bishops are unsympathetic to those who don’t like it

  5. Scott V. says:

    In Canada we are using the traditional options and the ad orientem position. Concelebration isn’t done except on those occasions when the rubrics call for it. At a Missa Cantata we will have a liturgical deacon and both deacon and subdeacon for high mass. Our parishes don’t use the Novus Ordo. We must use option 1 on Sundays and solemnities. I think the laity will prefer this for all celebrations. GRIM is not relevant to us.

    • James C says:

      Matthew the Wayfarer,

      I experienced the Oxford version this weekend, and they chose all the traditional options. The ethos was decidedly more “Vetus” than “Novus”.

  6. Harry says:

    A parting shot, when I begin to take things too seriously I find this site a great antidote http://lowchurchmanguide.tumblr.com/

    Warning some may find this site offensive, but I don’t think it’s meant to be.

    • Rhiannon says:

      I’d have found that site very funny, a few decades ago. Now, I think it’s rather a waste of energy- oh dear, I am getting old, aren’t I?
      Will you be at Mass at Precious Blood church on the 27th? We ought to meet IRL. Father Scott (beams), will you arrange it?

      • Harry says:

        I discovered it quite recently, but I can see that after a while it could run out of steam, but we digress, as far as the OL goes all I can do is quote Ps 141 v3 (King James Bible) until I’ve attended Mass in that form.
        It would be nice to meet, now sure when as I work part time and my local parish keeps me very busy. What’s happening on the 27th? I couldn’t find anything on PB web site.

      • Rhiannon says:

        I’ll be there, and Father Scott (beams) is celebrating

  7. Pingback: Examples of Anglican Patrimony in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Part 15 – A very “English” celebration of the Ordinariate Use Mass in its English Missal inspired form | Ordinariate Expats

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