Thursday, 16 January 2014

That Patrimony Thing Part I - Liturgical

The Ordinariate, established by the last Pope under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, was an attempt to bring Anglicans into the Catholic Church with elements of their gifts from the past, their Patrimony as it was called. Since that time, there have been diverse attempts at describing what this Patrimony might be. Principally, there have been two quite different opinions: what you might call the view of the Patrimony from outside, and the view from inside; the latter being the view of  those of us who have come from the Church of England itself.

For many, but especially those outside the Church of England, it has been largely a matter of liturgy, and especially of liturgical language. So, quoted in a recent edition of the Portal magazine, Mgr Steven Lopes of the CDF has said "the Anglican Liturgical Patrimony is that which has nourished the Catholic Faith, within the Anglican tradition during the time of ecclesiastical separation, and has given rise to this new desire for full communion".  That definition is helpful, and one with which I think many former Anglo-Catholics would agree. Where we might not agree, though, is when Mgr Lopes goes on to speak specifically of the Book of Common Prayer, in particular of elements of the Communion Service, as the repository of our liturgical patrimony. "I'm thinking" he is quoted as saying,"of the Comfortable Words, the Summary of the Law, the Collect for Purity, the Prayer of Humble Access - they have given beautiful expression to the truth! It is a truth of God that truly liberates us...." Oh, if only the Prayer Book had been allowed to liberate us. For some overseas that might have been the experience; it might have freed American Anglicans, for instance, from the stifling 'liberalism' that has gradually infected and killed their church. In England, though, the Prayer Book has been an instrument of oppression, and the attitude of many of us is very different from our overseas cousins .

Now Mgr Lopes acknowledges that Anglican Liturgical Patrimony "is not just 1549 or 1662". "You have", he says, "to look at the whole Anglican experience to see how that faith was nourished". Well, for many of us it came as a relief to have Series II and Series III and then the Alternative Service Book. All these took little steps in a more catholic direction - by reducing the recital of the Ten Commandments to the Summary of the Law of which Fr Lopes so approves, by allowing rather careful prayers for the departed, and even a little hint of Mariology. But we saw none of this as 'Anglican Liturgical Patrimony'. It was a reversion, rather, to our pre-reformation heritage; and the way we found to do it was through Roman Catholic models.

So then, is there a Liturgical Patrimony which we want to bring into the Catholic Church? For me, at least, there certainly is. First, there is the tradition of preaching at the Eucharist. Indeed, in the Prayer Book it is ONLY in the Holy Communion Service that the minister is instructed to preach. This ancient tradition is now recognised within the Catholic Church, but Anglicans, and especially Anglo-Catholics, have always valued preaching. In the 1980's it is a fact, surprising to some, that St Stephen's House, the last remaining Anglo-Catholic theological college in England, spent more time on homiletics than any of the other Anglican colleges.

Then again, Hymnody has been a valued element in Anglican Liturgy. Especially through the English Hymnal and its derivatives the hymns sung in worship have been from the great tradition, and have preserved much that Catholic worship has undervalued. "How marvellous" say some 'cradle' catholics when they join us for Mass: "You sing words written by St Bede and by Chesterton, St John Damascene and Gregory the Great!" And so we do, along with hymns by St Ambrose and the Wesleys, Sam Johnson, Bishop Ken, John Keble and so many others. These are not just little ditties, but profound vehicles of theological truth and holy worship. True Patrimony. Because they are given such good things to sing, former Anglicans really DO sing - and have been surprised at how many Catholics do not so much as open their hymnals.

The daily Offices of Morning and Evening prayer and the Psalter are a great part of the Patrimony. Again, it is not just a matter of the printed words, but the way they are used. On beginning in a new parish I was told that one lady who rarely came to church said to our Churchwarden "I am glad he is doing things properly". "What do you mean?" he asked. "Well, I hear him ring the bell each morning and evening before the Offices". Morning and Evening Prayer offered by the Vicar, often joined by some of his parishioners, on behalf of the whole parish - that is Patrimony, surely? Perhaps more truly Patrimony than the daily Mass (a fairly modern introduction in Anglicanism).

Above all, in liturgical celebration it is not so much the words you say as the way that you say them. The Missal can sound solemn and thoughtful, or as empty as a recital from the phone book. The same is true of collects from the Prayer Book, or chapters from the King James version of the Bible.

Some translations certainly are more poetic than others. Compare two versions of the collect for the first week of the Church's year: "Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen..."  "O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to receive the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same...." The second, with its balanced phrases, is the more poetic - and therefore the easier to sing or say. The former is stilted and clumsy ('attend to the pleas' indeed! .. a little like attending to the washing up).   For my money, the prayer book collects give us masterly versions of the Latin originals. These do not depend for their effectiveness on language which has fallen into disuse - replacing  'thee' and  'thou' and 'which' with 'you' and 'your' and 'who' does no damage to Cranmer's collect. To me it seems rather a pity that the Use of the Ordinariate not only retains the archaisms, but copies and multiplies them ("not as we ask in our ignorance nor as we deserve in our sinfulness but as though knowest and lovest us.".&c &c) But if it keeps the Americans happy, I suppose we must stay with it. And it is what we have been given, so we must - until we can manage something better.,

So there is a liturgical patrimony; but it is not just a matter of words. Rather it has to do with our manner of celebrating, what might be summed up as "the beauty of holiness" - and this surely is something we all seek, whether cradle catholics or ordinarians? What is more, some of the words which Mgr Lopes finds so beautiful (he cites the prayer of Humble Access) will always have, for some of us, an element of their past history. Cranmer used that prayer in order to break up the Canon of the Mass, and turn people's thoughts from God to themselves. He also used it to stress the need for Communion in both Kinds against the then Catholic custom of reserving the chalice for the priest. However beautiful its words, the smell of where it comes from hangs over it.

So far I've been concerned mainly with Liturgy, since some seem to think this is the totality of our Patrimony. Besides liturgy, though, there is also an Anglican Pastoral attitude; the sense that everyone within a geographical area is the responsibility of the Vicar; a vision which derives from the Induction service where a Bishop says to the new incumbent "Receive the cure of souls which is both mine and yours..."  But this part of the Patrimony, which is to me its more important element, because its more clearly evangelistic, will need treating at length another time.


  1. Thank you Fr. for putting so clearly what I've been trying to say, not very well, on other blogs.

  2. In terms of Eucharistic liturgies there are surely at least three traditions that one could consider patrimonial. Each had a constituency in the Church of England:

    1. Restore and add to the BCP liturgy (as did the non-jurors, some early Tractarians, and the Percy Dearmer Sarum-style types). Features of Common Worship reflect this tradition.
    2. Create a hybrid of English and Roman rites (The English Missal tradition)
    3. Use the Roman rite entire (very rare pre-Vatican II)

    Each of these is part of the tradition, but which is patrimony? I cannot see any sound argument for option 3, frankly. It is of course true that a great many Anglo-Catholics took up the Novus Ordo and shunned Common Worship. But the liturgy to which they had become accustomed has been replaced by the revised translation, and no modern Anglican-flavour version is to replace it.

    The Ordinariate liturgy quite skillfully captures both options 1 and 2 -- the Prayer Book and Missal masses. Novus Ordo revised and the Vetus Ordo are an option for every priest (though the American Ordinary is unhappy about the Tridentine rite being used).

    These new texts, I would argue, provide something far more solid and reflective of history than the elements singled out here.

    1. Preaching -- Methodists and Dominicans have been pretty good at that from time to time. The distinctively Anglican contribution, in my view, may be the sermon replete with literary and Patristic reference. But I may be wrong.
    2. Hymns are only recently Anglican, being imported from the non-conformists and improved upon in the great A&M and English Hymnal traditions by the addition of older Roman material. But now Catholic churches use the same material and, in any case, hymns generally are being supplanted by worship songs (deplorable, but there you are). Seems a slightly evanescent thing to be central to patrimony.
    3. The public recitation of the offices is certainly Anglican, but not especially Anglo-Catholic. In the scores of parishes I have been to Mattins was replaced by mass on Sundays and weekdays or hardly attended if offered. Evensong was modified to become Evensong and Benediction and to look as much like Solemn Vespers as possible. And many priests used the Breviary. So yes, patrimonial of Anglicanism, but not especially of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. If the Prayer Book is to be left behind, how are the Prayer Book offices to be rescued? Of course Vatican II proposed that the office should be a central part of Catholic public worship, and we all know how that turned out beyond a few shrines.
    4. Style. Yes -- but again rather hard to put one's finger on or define, since there was such a variety of rite and local tradition. Does not the style of the Oxford Oratory, for example, feel rather familiar to a certain kind of Anglican? Does anyone in the Ordinariate feel comfortable with the style of Holy Trinity, Brompton or All Souls, Langham Place? Do not the Affirming Catholics have the style in spades?
    5. Pastoral practice. True. A result perhaps of combining small parishes (in terms of congregations) and large parishes (the same parish, counting everyone who lived there). This led to a combination of cosiness and openness that is unlike other churches. But I cannot see how this could transfer to the Ordinariate which is a tiny minority within a minority church. This is a point Philip North has made at some length, and rather persuasively.

    In the end, the solid patrimony is grounded in historical texts and a few distinctive practices (such as the carol services). If we are not prepared to use the historical texts, I really don't see the point of the Ordinariate enterprise except to provide a gentle, communal point of entry into the Church for a few bruised Anglicans. And that is not a recipe for long-term survival, in my view.

    1. Thanks for going to the trouble to respond;l but I think you are wrong in a number of respects.
      1. I don't think I am the only Ordinariate priest who has his sermons commented on by cradle-catholics who join us for worship; and favourably. I don't know what they are used to hearing.
      2. Hymnody is hardly 'evanescent' certainly not to those who worship with us in Bournemouth- and your "recent" goes back beyond living memory well into the 19th century ... rather longer than the English Missal and such.
      3. I speak (as the Prayer Book does) of the daily Office; and again in my experience (from a time when I was Area Dean in Hull, with 35 parishes) it was only the Anglo-Catholics who regularly said any office.
      4. You are right, it is hard to put a finger on "style" - but surely you know it when you see it? It is not about lace and birettas, but rather what I called 'the beauty of holiness'.And of course it is not only found in the Ordinariate; but it is a goal for which we strive.
      5. I don't think pastoral practice has anything to do with the size of parish; It is a readiness, however unrealistic, to see an entire geographical parish as one's responsibility, not just a gathered congregation. Again, it is a goal rather than something already achieved. Philip North would act on this assumption as a priest of the Ordinariate as effectively as he does within his Anglican parish.
      I happily use the historical texts (As a retired priest 15 miles from my Ordinariate church I shall soon be saying Evening Prayer on my own according to the Ordinariate use) But I think the converting of the Roman Canon into mock Tudor is regrettable.

    2. Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I do enjoy your blog entries.

      1. Yes, most Catholic homilies are dismal, no question. Your preaching is not, as I have heard. But there are plenty of dull and dreary Anglican preachers, even in Catholic ranks -- it was the chief complaint of my Evangelical sectarian kinsmen about our worship.
      2. In terms of liturgical tradition, the 19th century is pretty recent -- five percent of the sample, so to speak. The English hymn, as a genre, is something I love dearly, but it may not survive. I have met many young Protestant church goers, especially in America, who have never sung a hymn in their lives (and they go to church four times a week). My point is simply that to fix on a hundred-year-old habit as something that ought to be permanent may not work out. What may be Anglican rather than Roman is actually participating in the singing -- most Catholic parishes have dismal congregational singing. (Then again, the hearty Protestants think Anglicans do a feeble job).
      3. Well, if you mean the office, are not all Catholic priests bound to say it? (I know many don't.) What is the particularly Anglican ethos? I do like the Anglican Breviary, but have never seen it used publicly in any way.
      4. I'm all for bottling and selling the Anglo-Catholic style, since I find it moving and spiritually elevating. I just don't know how to concoct the formula. That would be a valuable exercise, and make transmission more likely.
      5. Perhaps this is only an English thing. The Vicar as a community fixture, like the old Bobby on the block or the corner local, I have not seen elsewhere. I have been part of several Catholic parishes in America, some in heavily Catholic areas, and there was not much sense of a duty to the whole community (hard to deal with the thousand families you have as members, let alone anyone else). Even less in Episcopal parishes, which are generally quite snooty and WASPy ethnic enclaves. In any case, it would be a fine ethos to spread about, and a real contribution. Could the English Ordinariate export it to other branches?

      I believe the Roman Canon version in the Ordinariate Use and the English Missal, whether or not it is Coverdale's actual translation, is of that era -- and so real, rather than mock, Tudor. Which rather makes the point that the pastiche makers of the 19th and 20th centuries were rather good at their job and able to mislead even a seasoned professional.

  3. I hope, Father, that in your future discussion of Patrimony you also include a mention of married clergy. The "vicarage family" is surely a central feature of Anglicanism, what I call the "domestic" model of priesthood as opposed to the "monastic".

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you, Fr Camillo,for this encouragement. You are not the only person to say I should speak about the elephant in the room (if I may use such a term f our beloved wives)..I have begun to address this in an article which should appear soon in THE PORTAL; - though I may return to it at more length in a second Patrimony blog.
      Incidentally, I hope anyone looking at this post will understand that I am trying to give an entirely English, Church of England, view of the matter; seen from America or Canada it will be quite different because their experience of the Prayer Book (and its derivatives) is entirely different from (in some respects even opposite to) ours.

  4. I am afraid I have not had time, as yet, to take you up on this discussion to the extent it deserves, but thank you for attempting to articulate your thoughts more fully than in your original comments on my blog and anglicanusenews. As you might guess, I am inclined to side with (the commentator above) austin, who, in his three options, makes an important point. I will try to say more, but leave you with a link in the meantime to the words of one Canadian priest and scholar who understood the Anglican tradition probably better than any of his contemporaries. This is no way a definitive piece; I link to it merely to illustrate that there is far more to the discussion than our initial, pithy, arguments touch upon.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you for that. It is good to be reminded of Fr Crouse. On my visits to King’s College Halifax (decades ago now) he was regarded with great affection, amounting almost to awe, among Anglo-Catholics in Canada. Looking at the article to which you refer, though, he is arguing for the 1662 Prayer Book and not its later derivatives, and for the 39 Articles, as providing Authority for the Anglican Communion. He could not be further from what Mgr Lopes was saying; ‘Anglican liturgical patrimony is not just 1549 or 1662, nor is it just 1928 or 1976. We can’t go back to a specific period and say “this is it”.’
      Now I’ve not made it clear enough, from some of the comments above, that I was attempting to write about the Church of England in England, and the attitude of Anglo-Catholics in this country to the Book of Common Prayer. The English experience of BCP could hardly be more different from that in North America. There, Anglo-Catholics would look to the Prayer Book to defend them against the liberal ascendancy. In England, Anglo-Catholics had the Prayer Book used AGAINST them.
      It is because of the very failure of the Church of England to find a reliable source of Authority that many of us have joined the Ordinariate. The Prayer Book and Articles only held the Church of England together when there was another (Royal) authority to enforce it. If Fr Crouse’s wish were to come true, the 1662 Prayer Book would be the standard for all Anglo-Catholics – condemning them, as Newman realised,to Cranmer‘s (at best) Zwinglianism and (more likely) Calvinism.

      Oh, and forgive my deletions of other entriesl I've pressed the wrong buttons!)

  6. Another elephant (I believe) is the Authorized Version of the Bible. To tell people they can't have it is Philistine, patronizing and repressive.

  7. "The English experience of BCP could hardly be more different from that in North America. There, Anglo-Catholics would look to the Prayer Book to defend them against the liberal ascendancy. In England, Anglo-Catholics had the Prayer Book used AGAINST them."

    Given those different histories, I wish the American or Anglican Missal (Tridentine/American BCP hybrid) were the norm for the American ordinariate. It seems to me the natural thing for the British ordinariate is simply to be conservative Novus Ordo but with married priests (itself a nice witness: nobody expects conservative Catholics to have that!), to keep doing what they've been doing for many years, ever since they were Catholic-oriented Anglicans.

    The paradox of the place of the BCP among British vs. American (former) Anglo-Catholics is like "Masterpiece Theatre" (TV historical costume dramas made in Britain but watched mostly in the United States): an old-fashioned British product that, with a few exceptions, only Americans want.

    The English Missal and Extraordinary Form should be allowed in all the ordinariates; after all, there were advanced Anglo-Catholics who used them.

    Hooray for Pope Benedict's reforms to English Novus. All the serious problems with the text are gone.

    I'm happy worshipping in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday (Sung Mass) but as I like to say, traditionalism is Not About Latin™. I think most Catholics would be fine with my Mass again if they didn't have to do it in Latin; thanks to Anglo-Catholics, we have the English Missal at hand for that.

    And yes to the Authorized Version.