Unity from Diversity

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Until now, I have been pushing for the simple revival of the Use of Sarum and its being the Anglican Use. I have exaggerated to the same extent as those Catholics who would like to see the extraordinary use made the official Roman rite and the modern rite abolished - and millions of Catholics being told to get used to it as they were in 1969 as the new missal was imposed.

Pope Benedict XVI does not work that way, but has on numerous occasions, even as Pope, decried the ostracism against those who prefer the traditional rite. Truth be told, this Pope obviously wishes the two uses of the Roman rite (as he described them in Summorum Pontificum) to coexist and influence each other. Having lived in continental Europe and having known something of the old French and Belgian liturgical movements, I appreciate the need for a more balanced spirit in the liturgy, between the extremes of counter-Reformation rigid rubricism and the "heresy" of formlessness which all too often prevails in the celebration of the modern liturgy.

One example of liturgy we have overlooked is the European monastic patrimony, carefully restored and nurtured since the days of Dom Guéranger and the foundation of Solesmes. The Benedictine movement did more than anything else to get people to learn to sing Gregorian mass settings and begin to participate in the sacred action with some intelligence. The monastic liturgical movement simplified vestments and introduced flowing chasubles, copes, albs and surplices. In the 1990's, I spent six months as a working guest at the Abbey of Triors in France, a daughter house of Fongombault, grand daughter of Solesmes. I was able to live the liturgy (1965 Roman rite and Monastic Office) in its plenitude and solemnity. The processions in the cloister were very "pre-Reformation" rather than rigid counter-Reformation. Those monasteries kept a different spirit from the dioceses or the various religious congregations of priests founded since the sixteenth century.

The monastic movement was often applied in French and Belgian parishes after World War II and often before. One shining example was the parish of Mesnil-Saint-Loup under Father Emmanuel in the nineteenth century. Anglicans would do well to study the Liturgical Movement in the Catholic Church and be aware that only one tendency within it was in favour of a liturgical vision reflecting modern deconstructionism and secularism. Many other strands within this movement were noble and inspiring in their vision.

As the Holy Father seeks to create a situation in which there would be free interchange between the two forms of the Roman rite to influence each other for the better via a long process of organic development, the same could be possible with the Anglican Ordinariates. We could have Sarum in either Latin or English, or a combination of the two languages, alongside an improved version of the Anglican Use containing more familiar material from the post-Reformation Prayer Book tradition.

It is true that the Prayer Book was the "novus ordo" of its time in Anglicanism, and was imposed by brute force - on pain of a highly unpleasant death. As the centuries passed, it became the patrimony of "parish Catholics", people who continued to frequent their parishes as in pre-Reformation times without too much of a thought for church politics or the concerns of the clergy. In this way, a Catholic spirit did survive in spite of the radically Protestant regime in the English Church.

Concretely, I would see the Anglican Use Order of Mass as something very positive. I would proceed by removing the parts borrowed from the modern Roman rite which were in 1980 a sine qua non, but much more relative now. In their place, I would substitute the relevant parts of the Sarum ordinary. For example, the preparation of the chalice, the offertory prayers, the Roman Canon, the prayers after the Lord's Prayer for the Fraction (including Christ our Passover). I have a copy of the Book of Divine Worhip and David Burt's beautifully edited Anglican Use Gradual. I like the wealth of prefaces and prayers of the faithful, and this all comes in with the Pope's ideas of opening up the wealth of liturgical diversity, bringing both old and new from the treasure-house.

The Proper can be that of Sarum minus the sequences. In such a way, the Anglican Use and the Sarum Use could be perfectly harmonised, and would function according to the same calendar, temporal cycle and lectionary. I would certainly like to help Fr Phillips contribute to the future work of a liturgical commission - as he would be likely to be on it.

I am not in favour of borrowing to any great extent from the counter-Reformation Roman tradition any more than the rite of Paul VI. We should not refuse the Roman rite (either form) when pastoral ministry calls on us to do so, but within our own usage, we should be Anglican and English - or English-inspired.

Such a liturgical vision of an eventually converging dual rite would incorporate the treasures of post-Reformation times: the hymns of Charles Wesley and many other inspired Christian poets, the musical tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century Anglican cathedral choirs, Anglican chant for the psalms, settings for the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, the Versicles and Responses, the hundreds of choral anthems and much more.

I have every reason to believe that a "Sarum-ised" Book of Divine Worship alongside an optional use of the Sarum Use itself and the already explicit possibly of using the Roman Rite (either form) would not leave a single Anglican unsatisfied. The diversity is limited, but made very flexible by the use of a Book of Divine vastly improved by the removal of the "lame duck" Novus Ordo material.

I have read and considered Fr Hunwicke's arguments for the "Roman" Anglicanism of the Society of St Peter and St Paul, the Big Six on the high altar, churches like St Mary's, Bourne Street and a counter-Reformation ethos, though very different in spirit from the Society of St Pius X or pre-Vatican II continental Catholicism. Many do feel alienated by the "Roman" and baroque tradition in Anglicanism: baroque altars, baroque vestments (yes, I use them too), lace albs, cottas, birettas - all the things they have at Gricigliano! The only thing is that at Gricigliano, they are continental Roman Catholics.

I can understand the visceral attachment many have to the Prayer Book, and what in the Prayer Book needs to be kept and reused in a Catholic context. There is the Collect for Purity, the Summary of the Law, the magnificent prayer of confession, the absolution, the Comfortable Words, the Prayer of Humble Access, the Thanksgiving. All these prayers figure in the Book of Divine Worship, and would presumably be kept in a revised and improved version. Despite the wide use in England of the modern Roman rite, I think there is still a bedrock of Parish Catholics who would be attracted by a rite containing these prayers from the Prayer Book, and the whole rite being in the same style of English language.

I have said many things and I try to be positive, not to please the greatest number, but to find a way forward by comparing the issues in Anglicanism with the wider crisis in the Catholic Church over issues of identity and patrimony. We can tease out what is most characteristic of our liturgical tradition in a hermeneutic of continuity bridging the pre-Reformation and post-Reformation traditions. I'm sure the Holy Father is looking to us for inspiration, as we are certainly going to prove to become a laboratory for the regeneration of the entire Church. I see wider issues than the number of candles on the altar or buttons on the Vicar's cassock.