Saturday, May 15, 2010

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

As recently introduced by way of an excerpt from Bishop Peter J. Elliott's paper on the Anglican Ordinariates, the NLM as well as The Anglo-Catholic are jointly hosting a discussion involving Catholic and Anglican clergyman on the subject of what liturgical form (or forms) might or might not be used within that context.

Today's contribution comes from Fr. Anthony Chadwick of the "Traditional Anglican Communion." In this piece, Fr. Chadwick considers the liturgical lay of the land within Anglicanism, and proffers why he believe the Sarum use in an English translation might offer the best option for an Anglican Ordinariate. He also considers the difficulties he perceives in other possibilities.

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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.

Title page of a 1555 Sarum Missal
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”.