Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Fr. Aidan Nichols on the Ordinariate Liturgy

While I have followed the formation of the Ordinariates and their nascent liturgical patrimony with great enthusiasm, I have avoided comment on the subject primarily because my own understanding of the subject tends to fall into the category of "a little learning is a dangerous thing." However, I think I cannot do too much inadvertent damage by passing on this intriguing article by Fr. Nichols on the subject, the conclusion of a three-part talk he gave at the recent Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference held in Canada.

I will restrict myself to two remarks: First, from what I can gleam from the comments, it appears that Fr. Nichols is speaking principally from the point of view of the Ordinariates in England; the situation in the other ordinariates, liturgically, may be rather different, to the point some are suggesting there may be two separate Ordinariate liturgies approved by Rome, derived respectively from the Prayer Book and the other from the Anglican missal tradition. This is the first time I have heard this, but it seems plausible. (Another post on the subject at The Anglo-Catholic can be found here, with some commentary by Bishop Elliott.) Not being an expert on the subject, I will only say we will only know for sure when the actual texts are approved--though in view of the persons involved and the general ambiance in Rome, I think we have much to look forward to, whatever is promulgated.

Second, Fr. Nichols closes with a prescient quote from the late Fr. Henry St. John, a Dominican ecumenist and former Anglican who died in 1972. It is worth repeating here in full:

Few Catholic priests can have had such concentrated Anglican antecedents and background as mine were. I can truly say that all the best things in Anglicanism are still in me at every human level, intuitive, affective and intellectual, integrated now into my Catholicism. These have been incorporated into my Catholic life, and I am very sure, perfected by it. But the roots of this composite are thoroughly Anglican, and I am deeply grateful for the ethos of the Church of England and its doctrine which had penetrated and built up the family, parents and brothers and sisters, in which I was bred. [...]

Our vision of the future must be that one day there will still be the Catholic Church, the same in its essential structure and truth. Towards unity with her the Churches now outside the Catholic Church will move. The Church will open wide its arms and accept all that is good and true in custom and in usage, in ways of thinking, worshipping and government that these Churches have practised and valued in their separated life. By this the Church of Christ will be greatly enlarged and enriched. All that that the Catholic Church now stands for will still be the substance of the Church’s structure. In less essential things, there will be a far wider variety of custom and usage, as there was in the early days of the Church’s history. As I look back over more than 50 years, during which history has been in the making, that must be the vision of our ecumenical hope and prayer.
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