Flashback to 2010…

Things often swirl about in the mists of time and are forgotten. I was wondering about a passage written by Bishop Peter Elliott, a respected Australian Roman Catholic bishop who was once an Anglican. What is more, he lived at the Pontifical Nepomucene College in 1985 to 1986 when I was a first-year seminarian there. He was studying some speciality in moral theology with the Institute for Marriage and the Family and he was my confessor. He was also a chaplain for us seminarians and celebrated the Paul VI Roman rite Mass in Latin in a small chapel on the first floor of the College with a baroque style altar. His humour and humanity were a happy contrast to the dour ways of Msgr John F. McCarthy who was our superior. Something of his Anglicanism remained, though he had become far more Roman Catholic than I ever did! His article in The New Liturgical Movement, dated a few days before mine, is The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Considerations by Bishop Peter Elliott. I am happy that the text has been preserved in spite of the events as they panned out over the next couple of years.

Shawn Tribe, who was in 2010 in charge of The New Liturgical Movement, asked me to write an article about the possibility of Sarum becoming the / an official rite of the Ordinariates. This was at a time when it was believed that the TAC and Archbishop Hepworth were to be the stars of the upcoming Ordinariates, whilst the Forward in Faith bishops in England and America lay low. My opinion seemed to be of some value at that point, the same time when I was being interviewed in France by Radio Courtoisie and various traditionalist RC organisations staging conferences.

At the time, until August 2010, I was on Christian Campbell’s The Anglo-Catholic (since taken down completely) and was stimulated by the prospect of a whole uniate church in communion with Rome, accepted en bloc. It seemed reasonable to believe that Benedict XVI would have the originality of mind to dare something hitherto unheard of, including massive dispensations from canon law in regard to former RC clergy (though Archbishop Hepworth was divorced and remarried, with or without a cause for nullity). It happened a different way, and I think it was a good thing. I never made any application to Rome, and I don’t believe my file was sent there by my Archbishop either. There was no way of knowing, given the lies, fabulations and exaggerations coming from those quarters. At any rate, I heard nothing from Rome or any Ordinariate, so it was safe to believe that I had never applied or been refused. I did not correspond with Bishop Elliott either, for precisely the reason that I was completely distanced from his Church – and I had no inclination to be told the only thing he in his position would have been able to tell me. By late 2012, I was effectively “orphaned” and I applied to the Anglican Catholic diocese in England under Bishop Damien Mead in early 2013 and was accepted via the Board of Ministry. It seems quite surreal to look back on all that, but quite salutary…

This highly revelatory article appeared on 15th May 2010 – The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Why not Sarum? I was not the only one to be invited to give an opinion. Fr John Hunwicke was totally against reviving Sarum but rather adopting the English Missal reflecting an English “inculturation” of the Tridentine missal incorporating some features of the Prayer Book. You can search the blog under different keywords to find this period and theme.

Here is my piece as reproduced in that article. I use the Sarum liturgy to this day, though I conform to the Anglican Missal when celebrating for local communities in England, as I will do in Bristol next month the day after our Diocesan Synod. Frankly, I am likely to be dead before any Church generalises a revival of the pre-Reformation uses of England, Salisbury and York in particular. I have always had the same thought – throwing seeds onto the ground and putting messages into bottles and casting them into the sea.

* * *

The Future Liturgy of an Anglican Ordinariate: Why not Sarum?

by Rev. Fr. Anthony Chadwick, TAC – Patrimony of the Primate

In considering what could be liturgically possible in at least some of the future Anglican-Catholic Ordinariates, I was heartened by reading Bishop Peter Elliott’s ideas as he expressed them on this subject:

Considering its history and strong influence in the first editions of the Book of Common Prayer, the Sarum Rite might well be a major source. Queen Mary I published a national edition of the Sarum Missal to replace all those missals for the diocesan uses that went into the fire when the first Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1549. Therefore the Sarum Use was the last version of the Roman Rite in England before the universal Missale Romanum, Roman Missal, was authorised by St Pius V in 1570. At the end of the nineteenth century when Westminster cathedral was being built, it was proposed that the Sarum Rite be revived as the use proper to the cathedral. Nothing came of this project, lost I suspect in the cross-currents of liturgical controversies and an Ultramontane trend to standardise liturgy along Counter-Reformation lines, even down to the shape of chasubles.

Were this idea to be taken seriously by Rome and actually implemented, at least as an option, it would be the fulfilment of a dream that goes back many years. Though all Catholics are bound to assent to the doctrines, we do well to recover some of the products of organic development in the various dioceses and religious orders. I believe a reasonable diversity of traditional and legitimate liturgical rites could be most helpful. This diversity is intended to some extent in Anglicanorum Coetibus, in which it is said that the Roman rite (in both forms) should not be excluded even though Anglicans would be allowed a special liturgical usage. That leaves three rites, of which two may be in English following two different types of translation.

On the other hand, I see the prospect of there having to be what some have called a liturgical elephant, a fabricated liturgy based on the Prayer Book and the Anglican Missal, with a considerable amount of reworking to contain elements like a three-year lectionary and other features typical of the modern Roman rite. Either way, we seem to be looking at a liturgy that is not totally familiar to Anglicans because it is too obsolete or too new.

I will begin my discussion from a pastoral point of view, that of conservative Anglicans feeling that their spiritual life is built up on the basis of a single book, other than the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer. Historically, the Prayer Book provided a sense of unity and identity in Anglicanism at times when there was little agreement about anything else. On the other hand, as the Anglo-Catholic movement began to capture the popular imagination, the Prayer Book was no longer able to satisfy the changing lex credendi. Priests began to import material from other sources into the Prayer Book rite to flesh it out, to bring the law of prayer into line with a more Catholic structure of belief. Within the Anglican sense of identity is a conviction that a Catholic bedrock survived the Protestant vicissitudes of history. For some, this survival is owed to the Prayer Book, and to others, in spite of the Prayer Book. Paradoxically, many Anglicans are viscerally attached to the Prayer Book, but don’t use it! The Prayer Book has been a stumbling block for many Anglo-Catholics, who, as a result of the early ecumenical movement, cast it aside to adopt the Roman rite, and have since turned to modern Roman usage. I fear that reforming the reform of the Prayer Book would be far more problematic than doing the same thing with the modern Roman rite!

I am very afraid of the prospect of an eclectic and manufactured rite containing a number of options, alternative preparation prayers, penitential rites, offertories, communion rites. There is talk of a three-year lectionary, but it has to be made to work with the traditional temporal cycle. Otherwise we will have to miss another chance at restoring the temporal cycle, the Septuagesima season, the Ember Days and the Sundays after Trinity. Many are unaware that the Sarum lectionary contains proper feria readings for Wednesdays and Fridays, exactly like the Parisian Rite. What causes me particular anguish is that a hybrid missal will meet with as much opposition as the modern Roman rite in the 1970’s!

The other alternative would be to promulgate a Catholic edition of the 1928 American Prayer Book with a minimum of theological corrections. That might happen, but I know of very few high church Anglicans who use the Prayer Book without importing foreign material because the Prayer Book is too bare. I doubt Rome will go down that avenue.

Would reviving the Sarum Use be the right thing? Surely, celebrating according to a rite that has not been in regular use for about 450 years is not on? This might be so in the English Catholic context, since the 1570 Pian missal was introduced very early on by the Jesuits and was adopted by the Vicars Apostolic and the Hierarchy of 1850. The question is asked differently in the context of the Ordinariates, since Benedict XVI makes specific mention of a special rite alongside the Roman rite.

This notion of local and spiritual identity is what motivates my choice for the Use of Sarum. It is a pre-Tridentine rite that is characterised by a rare beauty and harmony, but which is quite “untidy” is other ways. The basic structure of the Mass is remarkably similar to the Dominican rite and some of the French diocesan uses of before their mutilation at the hands of Jansenist or Gallican bishops of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fact that Sarum became obsolete preserved it from tampering hands at that time. The full ceremonial is very ornate and reminiscent of Byzantine splendour, with the use of flabellae and scores of men and boys apparelled in copes and dalmatics. That kind of liturgical life, of which I witnessed some of the dying embers in Normandy in the early 1980’s, is quite a contrast from the Counter-Reformation sobriety of the Roman rite in its extraordinary form.

The Sarum Use in an Anglican context would provide the sense of unity people found in the Prayer Book, and would also form the lex orandi that would form and consolidate our profession of faith we have made in regard to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a traditional rite that had centuries of use behind it, even though it is been out of general use for about three centuries. In time, it would form the same basis of local identity as the Ambrosian Rite for the Catholics of northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Translated into English (two excellent and complete translations exist), much of the desire for the Prayer Book on cultural grounds could be “transposed” back to the old rite. Sarum would be no more or less an innovation to Anglicans, but it would have the advantage of not having to be fabricated from the basis of liturgical scholarship that has always proved to be short of infallible. Like the Book of Divine Worship, reviving Sarum would be a “graft”.

Would it be necessary to make modifications to Sarum over and above the English translations that respectively date from 1868 (Pearson) and 1911 (Warren)? (The 1911 Warren translation of the Sarum Missal is available here: Part 1 and Part 2)

The more I study liturgical issues, the more I am convinced that liturgical use needs to depend less on legislation and codification than on use in the Church and organic development. If Sarum were brought in tomorrow, I would suggest using it exactly as in the days of Queen Mary for at least twenty of fifty years before deciding that a three-year lectionary of something of that kind might be useful.

There are practical difficulties to overcome, like for example learning the ceremonies and republishing the liturgical books. There are canonical difficulties on account of the Use having fallen out of continuous custom for several centuries. Rome can innovate canonically and re-promulgate it, or simply say that it is assimilated to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite.

From a pastoral point of view, a Sarum Use in English would be more suitable for Anglicans than the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite which under present legislation is always in Latin. Though some Anglicans would be happy to adopt the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, others aspire to a more traditional liturgical expression and experience. It would bring unity to a situation intrinsically divided by a fundamentally Protestant (or at best ambiguous) Prayer Book. It would reduce or even eliminate the gap between different “tendencies” within Anglo-Catholicism. I feel that it would, at a stroke, remove the angst of trying to tamper with rites (the jibes about there being as many Anglican liturgies as parishes is often too true) to make them both Anglican and Catholic.

Finally, Sarum would make it possible for priests to stop “doing their own thing” and “say the black and do the red”.

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7 Responses to Flashback to 2010…

  1. Little Black Sambo says:

    “…liturgical use needs to depend less on legislation and codification than on use in the Church and organic development.” Instead of which, the Ordinariate has incorporated the Roman principle of “everything is either compulsory or forbidden”. If only priests and parishes had been left to exercise their judgement while usages and preferences settled down, without banning the BCP and the various Anglican versions of the missal, the world would have gone around a great deal faster than it does.

    • I could adapt Winston Churchill’s saying about various countries and say: In Anglicanism, everything is allowed unless its forbidden (or discouraged). In the RC Church, everything is forbidden even when it’s allowed and compulsory even when it’s against custom and tradition. In the Orthodox Church … ? I have studied the Pius V reform of the Roman missal, and noticed how everything had to be so “codified”, nothing left to human judgement, everything governed by positive law and authority. “How horrid” as Cordelia Marchmain would have said! One extreme to the other…

      • Ryan says:

        In the Orthodox Church, everything is allowed until the babushkas start pelting you with potatoes.

      • Borscht for brains! … 🙂

      • Your comment rings true. It seems that when you start relying on legislation, tradition loses it’s pull, even though you codified that same tradition.

        If we approached the liturgy as we did doctrine (as we do in theory), we would leave it alone until some malpraxis appears, exterminate the malpraxis and carry on. But no.

        Instead we had to have rubrics as if they were written for mentally impaired people:

        “When this is done, he approaches the paraments, which shouldn’t be ripped or cut, but whole and decently clean and of the bishop, or from another who has the faculty, blessed. He[the priest], thus, calced feet, dons the vestments which are proper to him (…). Then he dons the alb, lowering his head and putting the right arm into the right sleeve, and the left in the left sleeve.”

      • This reminds me of a James Bond film:

    • Dale says:

      Marko, how true this is! I was trained in a Russian seminary, where the study and following of the type of rubric you have mentioned was considered a divine duty. The offices were completely choreographed. Everyone bowed in unison, made the Sign of the Cross etc. perfectly, well almost, as outlined in the rubrics. Later, when attending services in a Greek church I was shocked, it appeared, compared to the Russian services, to be an every man for himself. Yet if one really paid attention, the spirit of the rubrics was very much followed, not simply the letter of the law.

      So, I think that much of this is ethnic. The same can be discerned between those who follow western rubrics who are German, and their, at least traditional Latin liturgies, are just as choreographed as the Russians; whilst the Italians seem to have an aversion to slavishly following the rubrics. Yet the Italians, like the Greeks, seem to have a certain grace that is lacking amongst the Germans. A professor of mine once declared, “The laws are made in Rome and enforced in Germany.” The same seems to apply to laws made by the Greeks, and followed by the Russians.

      But, given the choice, I would rather have the rubrics for idiots than what transpires in too many modern places of worship; which is simply the personal invention of the chap in charge at any given time and place.

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