Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bishop Peter Elliott on the Liturgical Usage(s) of the Anglican Ordinariate

As our readers will be aware, the question of the Anglican ordinariate is one that interests us here a very great deal, particularly in relation to its liturgical aspect. Indeed, not only are we interested in this in its own right, but early in April we also considered the question of the potential interaction between the Anglican Ordinariate and the Reform of the Reform.

I say all of this by way of preface to an address which was brought to my attention, given by Bishop Peter J. Elliott (auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and author of The Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite and The Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year) at an Ordinariate information day at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories this weekend past.

His address touches on a variety of subjects, but of particular interest for our purposes are his considerations pertaining to the sacred liturgy; here he gives us a bit of an update as to the goings on in that area to date -- which is relevant given his capacity as the Episcopal Delegate of the Australian Bishops' Conference for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.

He likewise gives us some brief thoughts about the Second Vatican Council and the debate about rupture and continuity.

The Liturgy

People are asking about the progress towards a distinctive Ordinariate liturgy, an integral part of the offer of Pope Benedict XVI. The Roman Rite in its two forms is always there for the Ordinariate, but liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition are being prepared, subject to the approbation of the Holy See. The liturgy of the Anglican Use parishes in the United States is one model for developing a “use” for the Ordinariates. I recently visited the Anglican Use parish of Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, Texas, and was privileged to celebrate Mass in the beautiful new gothic church according to their usage.

Drawing on the Anglican patrimony and Catholic traditions, an Ordinariate liturgy is being prepared by an international commission, in which I have played a small part. The introduction of this usage happily coincides with the introduction this year of the richer and more accurate English translation of the post-conciliar Roman Missal which is much closer to Anglican liturgical language. The new ICEL texts reflect not only dignity and better style but a reverence before God and the mystery of Christian worship.

Here we also see what the Ordinariate brings to the wider Church. The liturgical use in the Ordinariates will contribute to the deeper and more spiritual renewal of liturgy that has quietly emerged in recent years, the fruit of the Eucharistic project of Blessed John Paul II and the liturgical wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI. I note that progress has aroused the interest of a most significant website The New Liturgical Movement, which I recommend to anyone who loves the liturgies of the Church, West or East.

The liturgy should embody those transcendentals that inform what is best in Christian civilization, that is, whatever is good, true and beautiful. I am sure that the liturgies of the Ordinariates will always represent these transcendentals.

Vatican II

The Ordinariates take shape as the whole Church prepares to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council in 2012. Those being reconciled in an Ordinariate are beneficiaries of the Council’s ecumenical vision, commitment and mandate. Let us never forget that. Moreover the Catechism of the Catholic Church embodies the teachings of this Ecumenical Council. In different ways we are all share the heritage of the Council and its richer understanding of the Church.

However, as half a century separates us from the Council events, much rethinking is taking place as to what the Council Fathers intended and particularly how the Council was applied across five decades. This takes the form of a vigorous conversation about how the Council should be interpreted, a “hermeneutic”. Pope Benedict invites us to understand and interpret the Council in terms of what went before it, that is through a “hermeneutic of continuity”, seeing the Council not as some break with the past but as resting upon all previous Ecumenical Councils and papal teachings, which are not to be negated but re-applied for our times, as Blessed John XXIII envisaged. We also bear in mind that the world has changed much since 1962.

The conversation about the hermeneutic seems to be polarised in Italy at present, apparently between those who see the Council as a necessary and radical rupture with the past and those who reject the Council as an unwarranted rupture. There is a need for balance here, to respond to the Holy Father’s guidance. I know that former Anglicans in the Ordinariates will have much to contribute to this conversation, helping to bring fresh insights and balance to the re-thinking that is emerging in the Church.

Read the entire piece on The Anglo Catholic.

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