Trying to revive a corpse

frankensteinI was slightly amused on reading YF’s posting on the new Ordinariate missal, The ordinariate missal and more. We see the handsomely bound book and one of its pages. All rather exciting, one would think. I haven’t had access to the texts of the ordinary and the proper, and I am not in the Ordinariate, so I have no intention of treading on their toes. Fr Hunwicke’s spot is a better place to go to get the latest titbits.

I don’t expect any different from YF’s comments, based as they are on lay Roman Catholic apologetics as well as the experience of his life.

What becomes apparent on reading the various things that have been written about the Ordinariate missal (I imagine the book will be impossibly expensive to buy, and I’m not interested in acquiring it) is that it is a patchwork made up of the old Roman rite via the English Missal, bits of the Novus Ordo and the Prayer Book. I would be curious to know whether Septuagesimatide has been restored, or whether the Sundays after the feast of the Trinity are “after Trinity”, “after Pentecost” or “Ordinary Sundays”. It is possible that there may be a Sarum fragment here and there.

What did amuse me is that someone wrote a comment suggesting that the Ordinariate should have adopted the Sarum missal in English (of which two translations are available). YF answered “Not heretical but it would like like trying to revive a corpse“. Perhaps, but it is a rite without “options” and “tweaks” to reflect the diversity of liturgical usage in English Anglo-Catholicism. I assume the Ordinariate priests will simply toe the line and use what’s in the book.

Either way, you have a rite that has only been in occasional use since 1549 or you have another new missal that will hardly reflect what most Anglo-Catholics who went over to the Ordinariate had in their last Anglican parish (Church of England or TAC). Interestingly, the Sarum Use didn’t originate in Dr Frankenstein’s lab!

Anglican patrimony is indeed an ambiguous terms, when it is out of the context of the Established Church and parishes that have not gone “modern” in their usage. We in the ACC (at least in my Diocese) tend to use the Anglican Missal as preceded the use of the Novus Ordo in “advanced” parishes. My Bishop often uses the 1549 ordinary as is a choice in the Anglican Missal. My use of Sarum is unofficial and tolerated on the basis of it being a traditional Catholic rite among many others. I don’t have many people coming to Mass, which would be the same whatever rite I used, but I have no more idea of “reviving a corpse” than if I used the Tridentine rite as I used to or the Anglican Missal with its fusion of the Roman rite in English and the 1549 Prayer Book.

All the same, YF has some interesting reflections to share with his experience of the Eastern Church, both in communion with Rome and not.

Then again, by now, just about every Anglican who really wanted to be [Roman] Catholic now is.

Granted. I don’t think we’ll read the rhetoric of 2010 to about 2012 portraying a spiritual analogy of Syrian refugees arriving in Germany. I appreciate being far away from “true church” claims and cows enjoying the greener grass.

If Sarum is a “stiff” laid out for burial, then Anglicanism is hard to define in today’s world. Some of the Americans have tried it with “Classic Anglicanism” in its Arminian and Calvinist versions, which is odd considering that English bishops were sending priests to prison for “ritualistic” practices like wearing vestments or using the “eastward position” as late as the 1860’s. Had the deal of November 2009 simply been one of straight conversion to Roman Catholicism, only a few would have gone for it. Everywhere we look, there only seems to be lots of round pegs and square holes, plenty of cognitive dissonance and attempts at self-justification.

Perhaps there is no justification. We just continue as best we can in an imperfect world. There is no need to play other people’s games in places where we have never been. Life in this world is too short. Some of us have got together for the purpose of doing the work of Christ’s holy Church, however imperfectly or unworthily, but with the intention of refusing to bow down to evil and human sin.

YF is a good fellow. He likes old cars in the same way as I like old boats. He writes well, since writing is his job. We do need to be committed to Christ and the Christian way of life without worrying whether everyone else is doing it too. I wish him a holy Advent.

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18 Responses to Trying to revive a corpse

  1. Imposing a service new to a community, even a good set of services such as Sarum, needlessly disrupts the community’s life, thus risking spiritual harm, much the same problem when Rome imposed and enforced using the Novus Ordo. But there would be nothing wrong with giving Sarum as an option for a community that wants it. (My commenter was wrong to imply Sarum as the only way for the ordinariates.) Better if Rome issues a missal, etc. with existing traditional options than cobbling together a compromise service blending them all, which is foreign to all involved. (Reminds me of why Esperanto never became popular.) The corpse analogy: the new mixed missal’s not heretical but it’s like Frankenstein’s monster, only with its parts transplanted from living donors. Despite that, I don’t dislike it, high-church halfway between Novus and the Tridentine Mass (or like high-churched Novus but “libretto mostly by Cranmer,” approximating the Anglican missals) better than Novus in most parishes.

    • Thank you, John, for your comment. I too would not impose Sarum on a community that didn’t ask for it. The understanding my Bishop and I have is that I would use the Anglican Missal for public services, for example when replacing a priest in England. Bishop Peter Eliott once mentioned Sarum as a possibility, but he is committed to the Novus Ordo and the 1962 rite for traditionalist groups. Your “re-write” of the Frankenstein story is interesting, that of grafting living body parts onto a living body. There was a flap in the news some time ago about a surgeon who plans to transplant the living head of his patient onto a donor’s body. Theology is full of analogies, especially biological. It is one argument for Sarum. It is a single rite with no more hybrid-ing than the standard Roman rite and sufficiently near what people are used to not to cause any real disturbance. Had it been up to me, I would have suggested Sarum in English rather than the new Ordinariate missal. I can see John Bruce’s point (Cold Case File) in saying that the only sincere converts give up Anglicanism like cigarettes or drugs, but it would be a tougher sell and is no longer Rome’s line. Real business is done with the Church of England and the Episcopalians.

      Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. Best to leave people in their own places. Most people are atheists and agnostics.

  2. Robert Stevens says:

    I believe it’s £300. but i’m guessing the print run is limited compared to other missals.

  3. The Missal does, for what it’s worth, restore Trinitytide, Ember Days, and Pre-Lenten Sundays. The liturgy itself closely resembles what the Anglican or English Missals look like with the Gregorian Canon, using the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, etc. It uses a few phrases that will throw some Americans, like “meekly kneeling on your knees,” vs. “devoutly kneeling” in the “Ye who…” These changes, all told, are fairly minor. I’ve seen some people grouse that it takes two hours, but most of those folks are firmly in the “We want a Catholic-zed Rite II so we can beat the Baptists to lunch” sort, and seem to think / rumor monger that the Missal requires Preparation, Asperges, etc. A pox on them.

    I don’t know whether the rubrics invite the entire congregation to pray the Prayer of Humble Access and / or the Thanksgiving Prayer following communion. A colleague of mine in a parish where the congregation says those prayers told me once, “If you’re in a parish where the congregation doesn’t say those prayers, don’t start! It diminishes the significance of the parts the congregation does say together — the Gloria, the Creed, the Confession, the Lord’s Prayer, etc.” It made good sense to me, and I’ve not ever introduced the practice.

    • Dale says:

      Does it retain the priestly private prayers of the Missal? Of have these, in novus ordo fashion, been deleted? Basically giving a skeleton service that one finds even in tarted up versions of the novus ordo?

      • From what I’ve seen, it has the priest’s prayers before the reading of the Gospel, the priest’s prayers during the Offertory, and all of the priest’s prayers during the Canon of the Mass. I’m not sure, however, whether it preserves the Secret Prayers.

    • Paul Goings says:

      But in what sense, apart from name only, does it “restore Trinitytide, Ember Days, and Pre-Lenten Sundays?” As far as I can tell, the modern lectionary is being used. Does one just have whatever random Sunday readings are appointed, but wear violet vestments?

  4. raitchi2 says:

    If I understand correctly from what little I can gather about the missal. I’ve always seen the propers to be part of a whole (propers and the office that accompanies it)–It’s not as if you can just slap any prayers and readings together and call it liturgy. From what I understand they’re using the 3+2 mass lectionary from the N.O. with BCP propers. That seems like a rather Frankensteinish creation.

    Finally, I love that it’s a copy righted text so that you can’t see without paying…quite a strange trend to copy right mass, but that’s a topic for a different post

    • I too am intrigued by the secrecy and the copyrighting. I recently read an article saying that some States in the USA are going to make the collection of rainwater illegal, because the rainwater belongs to the State and the person collecting it would be stealing! Perhaps they could make us all wear airtight masks and put a meter on them to make us pay for the air we breathe!

      There is a work-around. Someone with one of those expensive missals could write down the titles of the prayers and the order in which they occur. Then the prayers are copied from the Anglican Missal and the Prayer Book. I don’t know enough about copyright law to know if that would work so as not to have the Gestapo banging at the door.

      I like to be far away from all that nonsense. By the way, the texts of the Sarum Missal are public domain, and they can be reproduced and used – free.

      • Michael Frost says:

        When it comes to “the secrecy and the copyrighting”, I suspect the old saying “follow the money” applies? One merely needs to see the horrible New American Bible which is a product of the RCC and which the American RC churches are forced to use in their missals, etc. And for which they have to pay! The NAB is all about the money. (I do miss Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s complaints in First Things about the NAB. May he rest in peace.)

  5. For my part, I would agree with the YF that the imposition of the Sarum rite upon a community who neither wanted nor asked for it would be less than helpful.

    On the other hand, I would object to the implication (which I do not believe that the YF is making here, or on his weblog) that the attempt to revive the Sarum rite in general is ‘like trying to revive a corpse.’ RC church history is replete with examples of dormant rites which have been revived and are now seeing use, such as the Ambrosian, the Mozarabic, the Gallican, and most recently, the Dominican rites. It is my hope that the Sarum rite will someday join that number. But that will only occur when a dedicated group works towards its restoration.

    • You seem to have a good judgement. Sarum has been used occasionally by some of the most respectable prelates and priests, both Roman Catholic and Anglican. There is no reason to single it out from the Ambrosian, Dominican, etc. rites. However, I don’t see much of such a dedicated group forming because of the geographical distances between us. Other than in our fragile little continuing Anglican churches, it’s globalism all the way round. I am not so deluded as to think that I as an isolated priest doing it on my own will make any difference.

    • Exactly, Bernard; thanks. I only meant it would be wrong to try to revive Sarum by making it the only set of services for the ordinariates, not knocking Sarum. It would be great if Sarum did “take off” somewhere. Just like it would be fine with me if, without coercion, American Catholicism were mostly Byzantine Rite.

      • William Tighe says:

        And there is a difference, I think, between Sarum, which was “dormant” – if that is the right word – for over 300 years, and the Mozarabic, the Ambrosian, and the Dominican rites (the “Gallican” – if one means by this the rite or rites suppressed by Charlemagne around 790, and not the various late Medieval and early Modern French diocesan variants of the Roman Rite as doctored by Alcuin and introduced by Charlemagne to replace the (Old) Gallican rites, and which, in their turn, did not fall out of use until the 19th Century, or 1974 in the case of its self-abolition by the Archdiocese of Lyons – really was “extinct” rather than “dormant,” since it was well over 1100 years between 790 and its attempted revival by the founders of what came to be termed the Eglise Orthodoxe Gallicane de France in the 1930s and 40s): the Ambrosian and the Mozarabic have had a continuous uninterrupted history (admittedly, in the case of the latter, confined to one chapel of Toledo Cathedral after it fell out of use in the last of the Mozarabic parishes in Toledo in the 1840s or 50s) until their “reform” and revival in recent decades (and their respective “reforms” are open to much the same sort of criticism as those of the Roman Rite in the 1960s, or at least that of the Ambrosian Rite is; that of the Mozarabic Rite appears to have been an austerely “archaeological” affair) while the Dominican Rite had, mutatis mutandis, much the same sort of continuity among Dominicans as the Tridentine Rite did in general between 1970 and 2007. In other words, I think it is really more accurate to think of the “revival” of Sarum, as also the revival of the “Old Gallican” rites, not so much as the “reawakening” of “Sleeping Beauties” with a gentle kiss, as with those other rites, but as – if the phrase “the galvanization of corpses” is too harsh – then the resurrection of a perfectly preserved body. And don’t forget the survival of the Carthusian Rite: nunquam reformata quia nunquam deformata!

        On the other hand – the thought just occurred to me – if what we are speaking of is the revival of the “unreformed” Ambrosian or Mozarabic rites, a case can certainly be made for the former, since its “reform” in the early 70s involved as much arbitrary innovation as did that of the Roman Rite (e.g., the introduction of not three, as with the Roman Rite, but five new eucharistic prayers into the “reformed” Ambrosian Rite). In the case of the Mozarabic rite, though, the unreformed form consisted of a kind of amalgamation of Mozarabic bits-and-pieces (a good number of them, in fact) into a Roman “framework;” and it is hard for me to imagine what sort of “coetuum” would be attached to such a rite, apart for a few venerable survivors of whatever “community” was wont to frequent the Mozarabic chapel of Toledo Cathedral in the “good old days.”

      • My question in all this is who decides the length of time has to elapse before a rite can no longer be used. Sarum has been in occasional use over all that time, so it can be argued that Sarum has only been obsolete in the Roman Catholic Church since the 1990’s, when it was celebrated with permission from the RC Archbishop of Birmingham in Oxford. That Mass was stopped by a layman “grassing” to Rome and having the CDW give the order to the Archbishop of Birmingham to withdraw his permission. Fr Sean Finnigan was the priest involved and his blog is Aspicientes in Jesum. Please see his essay on The Legal Status of the Sarum Use in the Catholic Church.

        All the texts and musical settings in Gregorian chant are intact, and being made that much more available to us by Dr William Renwick. This is unlike the “restoration” of old Gallican rites for western Orthodox use from fragments.

        The only valid objection would be, as we are all agreed, a priest foisting it on a congregation against their will.

        However, all this is academic given the general situation in the Roman Catholic and other mainstream churches that shows no sign of changing for the better. Indeed, these canonical questions concern the Roman Catholic Church of which I have not been a member for more than twenty years. So, forgive me for writing ideas as an outsider with only distant memories.

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