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Divine Worship: The Missal expands Church's diversity in expression, unity in faith
The Holy See has gifted the Ordinariates with an early Christmas present.
Divine Worship: The Missal, a definitive book of liturgical texts for the celebration of Mass in the Personal Ordinariates around the world, has been approved and promulgated by the Vatican for use beginning the first Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2015.
The authorization of the new missal marks a milestone in the life of the Ordinariates. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life, and Divine Worship: The Missal provides a way for the Ordinariates to celebrate the sacred liturgy of the Catholic Church with an “Anglican inflection.” The missal uses Prayer Book English — language derived from the classic books of the Anglican liturgical tradition — that is fully Catholic in expression and content.
Drawn from various Anglican sources and the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the new missal is an authoritative adaptation of the Roman Rite. Over the past five years, the Vatican — guided by the interdicasterial Anglicanae Traditiones Commission — reviewed and winnowed centuries of Anglican texts dating back to 1549, then assembled the best of them together, in accordance with the Roman Rite.
The formal establishment of a missal that uses the great poetic language of the Anglican heritage is a nod to the gift the Ordinariate communities are being asked to pass on to their members and to the entire Catholic Church. Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution that gave a path for Anglican groups to become Catholic, asked the Ordinariates to maintain “elements of their liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions” as a “treasure to be shared” with the wider Church.
The promulgation of Divine Worship: The Missal also signifies a benchmark in the liturgical history of the Catholic Church. The new missal marks the first time that the Catholic Church has sanctioned liturgical texts deriving from the Protestant Reformation.
The Ordinariate Observer sat down with Msgr. N. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and Dr. Clint Brand, English Department Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and member of the commission that advised the Vatican on the liturgical texts, to discuss Divine Worship: The Missal. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Dr. Brand: It is a pastoral variation of the Roman Rite for the members of the Personal Ordinariates in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States. It is an adaptation of the Roman Rite for the sanctification of the faithful in the Ordinariates, to serve the liturgical mission the Catholic Church.
Msgr. Steenson: Divine Worship: The Missal fits firmly and squarely in the Latin rite. It is not a separate rite for an autonomous ritual church. This missal is firmly part of the Western liturgical tradition.
Dr. Brand: Let there be no mistaking: This is not an Anglican liturgy separate and distinct from the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. This is not an Anglican Use Rite. It does not reflect Anglican Eucharistic theology. It is not a Protestant service dressed up as a Catholic Mass. It is the Catholic Mass of the Western Rite, filtered through the Anglican experience, corrected and expressed in an Anglican voice.
Msgr. Steenson: Yes. Any Catholic can meet his or her Sunday obligation in the parishes and communities of the Ordinariate.
Dr. Brand: The [Vatican’s interdicasterial Anglicanae Traditiones] commission that I served on was constituted to advise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship on the implementation of the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. Article III of the constitution says that the Holy See will approve liturgical forms for the Ordinariate from the books proper to the Anglican liturgical tradition, in accordance and conformity with Catholic norms. So Divine Worship: The Missal is the first fruits of that provision in Article III of the apostolic constitution.
Dr. Brand: Anglicans have a tradition going back more than 400 years of adapting and translating Latin liturgical texts into English. It is a tradition that began with the translation of the Bible and continued with the development of the Books of Common Prayer. Anglicans pioneered a set of conventions and a memorable style for rendering Latin texts faithfully into English.
The Anglican tradition, then, created an impressive collection of texts which were, in effect, mostly translations and variations of ancient prayers from the Roman Rite. The [Anglicanae Traditiones] commission assessed this collection of texts going back to [the first English Book of Common Prayer of] 1549 and ranging through the Prayer Books of different countries — England, Scotland, Canada and the United States — to distill and assemble the richest, most faithful selections for this adaptation of the Roman Rite.
Dr. Brand: Divine Worship: The Missal is representative of the Anglican tradition, as expressed in many different countries, conformed to the Catholic faith. It is not identical to this or that Book of Common Prayer or to any particular edition of the Book of Common Prayer. It includes familiar prayers, but it also offers expressions or elements that will be new to everyone.
Msgr. Steenson: Anglican patrimony can be defined by as many people that happen to be in a room at that time. The Holy See helped us to define what is genuinely Catholic in these Anglican texts. Left to our own devices, we could not have defined our patrimony, simply because it is too various and too diverse; every congregation has a definition of ‘what is’ the distinctive Anglican patrimony of those they represent. Anglican patrimony was principally expressed locally, not universally. The Holy See needed to come in and help us ‘see it.’
Dr. Brand: The [Anglicanae Traditiones] commission concluded that Anglican patrimony is that which has nourished the Catholic faith within the Anglican tradition and promoted aspirations to full ecclesial unity. The commission in effect said, ‘Anything within the Anglican tradition that nourished Catholic longings and shaped this desire for unity with the Church is legitimate.’ Any texts that didn’t do that were best left behind.
Dr. Brand: The Anglican tradition of worship derives from a language of prayer that has a distinctive idiom – a dialect, so to speak. It features a sacred vernacular in a “high” verbal register — with “thees” and “thous” — one that is both elevated and intimate and one that goes back to a time before the memorable phrases of the King James Bible. In the 1960s, around the time of Vatican II, a lot of Anglican churches started adapting their liturgies for expression in contemporary idiom. But the older Prayer Book language survived and continued in use, so you have two streams of Anglican prayer: one traditional and one more modern.
So when Rome faced the challenge of representing one liturgical voice for all the Ordinariates, the question of traditional versus modern language came up. The Holy See — understandably quite proud of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal as the new norm — said, in effect, that if you come from contemporary language in your worship, use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Why? Lots of contemporary texts [from the Anglican tradition] that seemed convergent with Anglican prayer books are no longer in sync with the Roman Rite. In some ways, the new English translation of the Roman Missal is actually more in tune with the older Books of Common Prayer than many Anglican texts in contemporary English.
So we have the Third Edition of the Roman Missal for those who have been shaped by contemporary language and worship and for whom that is evangelistic and sanctifying. Then we have this traditional, distinctive Divine Worship: The Missal that represents the language of the long Prayer Book tradition from 1549 through the 1960s and surviving yet today.
Msgr. Steenson: On the First Sunday of Advent, the Eucharistic texts in The Book of Divine Worship [the first ritual book used by the Ordinariates] will be repressed, and at that time, all of our loose-leaf binders that have served as the altar missal will be repressed. In the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, every public Mass celebrated in our communities will be offered from the newly published missal.
Msgr. Steenson: This is historic. This is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that the liturgical texts of a separated Christian community have been brought back into the life of the Church of Rome. This missal is now recognized by the Church as standing side by side with the Roman Missal.
Dr. Brand: This missal is the fruit of receptive and realized ecumenism. Ecumenism isn’t just talk anymore — it is a real movement. People who come into the Ordinariate are completely and fully Catholic, yet bring with them the gifts of their Anglican heritage and lay them at the feet of Peter. Peter has now given the gifts back to us and said, ‘Use this to make more Catholics.’
Msgr. Steenson: In Unitatis redintegatio [the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism], the Catholic Church specified what it would look like to bring Christians into communion. One of the points is that they would bring their own distinctive traditions to the Church; they would not be suppressed or absorbed. Our traditions are meant to mutually enrich each other.
Dr. Brand: With this missal, the Holy See sends a message to all the faithful within the Ordinariates: They are an enduring, permanent part of the Church, charged with the mission of evangelizing.
Divine Worship: The Missal was developed under the guidance of the interdicasterial Anglicanae Traditiones Commission, whose task has been to identify Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and to incorporate it into Catholic worship for the Ordinariates. Advising the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship, the commission included: