Monday, November 16, 2015

Divine Worship - The Missal

With recent events still fresh in mind, other things have fallen behind. A number of book reviews are delayed, although they should be posted in due time.

I would be nearly negligent if mention was not made of publication of Divine Worship - The Missal. This is the missal featuring the liturgical observance of the Anglican Ordinariate. To say this missal collects the premiere elements English liturgical patrimony may be a stretch. Divine Worship, however, delivers by re-introducing classical liturgy into the Roman Church by way of the vernacular.

I have to state that I am not now nor have ever been involved with any of the controversies surrounding either a) the proper rite of a restored Catholicism in England nor b) the difficulties leading up to the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus.

I confess to have a cursory knowledge of the liturgical patrimony of England and I am often prone to see it through rose colored glasses. I have furthermore never been involved with the Anglican Church outside of attending liturgies here and there in Boston and Providence. My impression then as now was that this should have functioned as some sort of template when the Roman Liturgy was translated (thrice over) into English.

There are controversies on both points and, plainly, this post will not pretend to address any such concerns. This "preview" reflects the perspective of someone who spent the better part of his life in the Roman Church and devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort (some would say undue time and effort) to study it and earn the credentials for having done so.

The immediate concern, therefore, has little grounding in the preservation of the English liturgical patrimony as such, but rather the application of the English liturgical tradition to a larger context. In this respect, the "event" quality of Divine Worship is that it if the first credible offering of a liturgical book in English under the umbrella of the Roman Church. This is from the perspective of the quality of English utilized and the contents of the liturgy itself. While we can quibble with points of the missal's contents, it stands as a break of silver lining in the at times dark clouds of liturgical renewal, most especially at the parish level. This missal is evidence that genuinely elevated English and a classically Western liturgy CAN in fact function under the aegis of Rome in the current climate.

Praise has been coming in from the corners of the web that one would expect:

The CTS blog has more information and a host of photographs of the volume's interior. CTS knows how books ought to be bound and its liturgical editions have been the best in recent memory.You can get a good look at some of the texts - enough to make anyone familiar with the old liturgy long for the liturgy according to this book. In accordance with the "English" character of this liturgy, contents reflect the Latin liturgical tradition as it developed in England - this is not a mere translation of the so-called Tridentine liturgy.

What the future holds for this missal is any one's guess. The desire of any party to frame this liturgy as proper to Anglican groups only seems self limiting at best, or imposed isolation at worst. There is an argument to made that English speaking Catholicism ought to avail itself to the Ango-Catholic liturgical tradition. Where we hear so much talk of "inculturation," culturally speaking, the Anglo-Catholic tradition set the tone and terms for the liturgical expression of the English language. To that extent, one could argue the liturgy reflected in the contents of the Divine Worship ought to be a normative expression in the English speaking world.

In brief, this is probably the single liturgical book I would most like to review. I suspect review copies will be scarce to non-existent, which would be a shame. Latin Christianity desperately needs a vernacular liturgical expression of this quality. Realistically speaking, this ought to be the template if not the actual model for moving forward with a sensible vernacular liturgy in English speaking countries. Furthermore, it provides a canonical outlet for Roman Catholics to retrieve pieces of the Latin liturgical tradition from which they have been estranged since the Reformation.

In sum, I would like to see this book succeed on all accounts, both in terms of sales figures and in terms of the number of parishes using it as a legitimate option for liturgical observance.


  1. As someone who has had the benefit of 2-3 years worship as a layman with the text & rubrics of this Missal, I think that the enrichment of the Novus Ordo dialogue Mass might be its strongpoint (with prayers at the foot of the Altar, traditional Offertory, Last Gospel, and above all a clearly liturgical language).

    I am afraid that as Anglican patrimony it is not so successful, because (1) it doesn't treat the Anglican / English Missal tradition with integrity, as it is trying to combine this tradition with elements of the Novus Ordo, which ends up dictating the rite's overall structure; and (2) it is not structurally influenced by the Book of Common Prayer and its later revisions - the elements from the BCP are simply "stuck on", e.g. the Prayer of Humble Access just before the Non sum dignus, and bizarrely the Hippolytan(?) canon EPII was given as a ferial option rather than a version of one of the "catholic" revisions of the BCP Eucharistic prayers produced in the early 20th C.

    If one combined this Missal (without the purely Anglican "add-ons", and without EPII,) with a traditional calendar and lectionary, I think one would have something close to the Mutual Enrichment ideal of Benedict XVI: the best of both old and new.

  2. First, thank you for the extremely insightful comment. I am very much interested in any accounts of people who have experience with liturgy according to this missal.

    From what I can see of this missal, my hope is that it eventually exerts influence in Roman parishes, if not as the model for vernacular liturgy, then as at least a universally accepted option. My fear is that it will be locked in confines of "Anglicans in Communion with Rome" or, worst case, actively discouraged.

    Eucharistic prayer II does seem like an odd inclusion. One can only wonder if there is a backstory there.

    As cautioned above and as you noted, there is a fair bit of controversy regarding how well this missal captures the patrimony of the English tradition and I am woefully versed on the topic. This said, from the perspective of someone who does not have much background with the Anglican liturgical tradition, this volume appears to be significant step forward in the vernacular liturgy in English speaking contries. If the opportunity presented itself, it would quickly take top priority on my review list.

  3. Many, if not most Anglo-Catholic parishes in the UK have been using the novus ordo ever since the seventies. The use of Prayer II is quite understandable. Oddly enough the language of DW may be difficult for English worshippers. On the other hand the Americans and others have preserved more of the traditional prayer book.

    1. But those particular A-C parishes who used the modern Roman rite continue to do so in the Ordinariate, they already have EPII in the Roman missal, and they have by and large no intention of using Divine Worship. So the inclusion of EPII seems to me redundant.

      The groups who will use Divine Worship, on the other hand, do not use EPII, but might well have used a Eucharistic prayer from one of the catholic Prayer Book revisions on weekdays.

      In my judgment including EPII doesn't make a lot of sense in the real world, and an opportunity has been lost to bring in a significant piece of 20th C Anglo-Catholic patrimony.

  4. There is indeed a "backstory" to the inclusion of EP II. Very early on, Rome made it clear that it would not approve the use of any Anglican EP or anaphora (my own preference would have been for the Prayer of Consecration in the 1764 Scottish Communion Office, perhaps modified with some features of the 1929 Scottish one *), and a number of the persons involved in the creation of the Divine Worship Missal wished to have one, and only one, RP, the Roman Canon. Others, however, felt that it would be pastorally expedient to have a shorter EP for weekday Masses, at least as an option. It seems to me (and I was not involved in any way with the genesis of the Divine Worship Missal) that EP III of the "Pauline Rite" would have been the best: relatively brief, and presenting Catholic Mass doctrine clearly and explicitly. But there may have been some in Rome who were annoyed at the criticisms of EP II from some Anglicans as "Pseudo-Hippolytus," that is, as being not "pure 2nd/3rd century gold," but "5th century fools gold" and there is a tenuous case to be made for its having a tenuous "Anglican angle," which I will illustrate by some excerpts from an old long e-mail correspondence:

    (I) "The argument against EPIII and EPIV (except the tenuous connection of one or two phrases of the former in ASB EP3 and the fact that EPIV and Common Worship EP F are supposedly derived from Coptic Basil) is that they are not part of the Patrimony. EPII could be said to be part of the Patrimony not only because of its inclusion in the South African Anglican Rite but because of its alleged derivation from the Early Church, when everyone got on like a house on fire and no one was for Apollos and no one for Paul. It was always boasted of – by Catholics and non-Catholics alike – as having an ecumenical flavour. And we know what that kind of flavour is, and it is out of fashion……

    (II) The problem with EPII, as I see it, is that the anamnesis is scarcely sacrificial, and as Cardinal Ottaviani and his friends pointed out at the time, seems designed not to convey Catholic doctrine but to make peace with Protestants.

    The question then arises: ‘what kind of problem is this?’ I think it is a serious problem as regards Catholic formation, where EPII is almost exclusively used, and, working in an ordinary Catholic parish or two, I think the notion of sacrifice has almost disappeared from people’s understanding, even when there continues to be a lively sense of Presence. So the Catholic Church has created a problem for itself with a defective text and we do well to seek to avoid compounding the mistake.

    Personally, I would not have put EPII into the Ordinariate Rite, or, if I had, I should have wanted it to have the troped Anglican version of the Preface, so that it at least began as an extract from an Anglican (i.e. C of E here) )liturgical source. I should also have wanted to make that Preface otherwise invariable (so that the origins of the Prayer remained apparent) but I should continue to be worried by the defective oblationary content and therefore insistent that it be used only with the pious few on cold Monday mornings.

  5. (continued)

    (III) The Prayer of Hippolytus, thought to be 215AD, was enthusiastically embraced by Anglicans and Catholics half a century ago as the earliest, most authentic, and most widely used EP. It was the time when ‘back to the earliest form’ was the fashion and, for example, Early Music, with crumhorns and nakers, cornets and sackbuts, was discovered. The EPs of the C of E (Series 2 and Series 3, EP III in ASB and prayers A and B in Common Worship) were all defined as versions of Hippolytus. As, of course, was EPII in the Roman Missal. The South African Anglican Prayer Book even incorporated Roman EPII in Hippolytan zeal, recognising that any Hippolytan version in the C of E was much attenuated by Evangelical prejudice. Meanwhile Cardinal Ottiavani ranted about the Protestant EPs in the Novus Ordo, and he was obviously most exercised by EPII. I think it is some of this history which makes EPII in ye olde tea shoppe language an obvious choice for the Ordinariate Use (for weekdays, children &c). Certainly EPIII has no Anglican associations and EPIV (though echoed a little by Common Worship Prayer F, similarly inspired by Coptic Basil) is too long and not well-enough known or used (though, in my view, it is exceptionally rich as a catena of scriptural quotations and allusions).

    Nowadays we are sadder and wiser. Hippolytus is probably (says Bradshaw) fourth century, like almost everything else. It probably wasn’t especially widely used. The way it has been adapted by Anglicans and Catholics has not been very close to the supposed original and we are no longer charmed by people ineptly playing ancient instruments in the interests of authenticity. Indeed, despite our love of ‘heritage’, we now think that recovering the primitive is neither possible nor particularly desirable.

    I would defend EPII as a weekday prayer in that, that way, it is only the most catechised who get to hear it. Those who hear the Roman Canon (or have reason to believe it is being said….) or EPIII are given a more satisfactory (in more senses than one) account of what is going on. The scandal is that EPII is so ubiquitous, even on Sundays. What is urgently needed, I think, is the enforcing (ha, ha) of the Sunday rule that I and III should be used and the abbreviation of IV so that it is no longer unused at ferial masses for reasons of length.

    Bill knows that I don’t agree with him that the use of EPII should necessarily involve the invariable Preface. Common Prefaces I-III, and V all give us something of Geschichte. It may even be that the disuse of EPIV is not least because of its invariable Preface (though the prolix Post-Sanctus is the bigger problem).

    * See also:

    1. Thank you for taking the time to provide a very thorough reply. As I've said, I was not plugged into any of the discussions swirling this formation of this missal.

      Regarding the so-called Canon of Hippolytus, however, I am well versed in the material. It strikes me as odd that there are Roman circles going on the defensive for EPII. The scholarship seems pretty conclusive that the alleged original is neither second century nor from Hippolytus. Which leaves me to believe EPII is largely defended on the grounds of defending the pope who instituted it as liturgical praxis in the Roman Church - or there is still enough of the "old guard" running around the liturgical offices in Rome that anything distinctly Novus Ordo is going to be highly protected for the immediate future.

    2. I suppose you are aware of Louis Bouyer's *Memoirs*, recently published in English translation, which contain a devastating critique of the post-Vatican II "liturgical reform," with which Bouyer was intimately involved. He expresses a particular dislike of EP II, even though (as he reports) it was he and Dom Brenard Botte who composed the post-Sanctus portion of that anaphora (on the terrace of a Roman trattoria in Trastevere) once the desire of the "radicals" on the commission to remove even the Sanctus from what became EP II had been beaten back.

    3. I am aware of Bouyer's memoirs (particularly that episode), although I have not read them. This said, I was afforded many opportunities to become all too familiar with the liturgical reform and the many agendas and ideologies vying to influence it.

      The shame of the post-Vatican II reform is that it fostered this perception that the Roman liturgy must move forward in abandoning the traditional hallmarks of the Latin liturgical family.You could also argue that it desacralized it in the sense that the liturgy is hardly considered something sacred in the West - it is marred by instability and the pursuit of novelty. Towards the end of John Paul II's pontificate here was a movement towards stability and retrieval of the Latin Tradition (not necessarily by abandoning the Pauline liturgy), and this movement certainly pressed forward during Benedict's pontificate. The last two years have seen a quasi revival of the immediate post-Vatican II mentality (at least in the US).

  6. Note that EP II is permitted only as an option for weekdays and is explicitly prohibited on Sundays and Solemnities.