Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Catholics Lost Because of the English Reformation

I think that Devin Rose expresses these thoughts very well, after attending an Anglican Use Mass:

The Order of the Mass for the Anglican Ordinariate is what the English Mass should be: traditional, yet in the vernacular; accessible, yet reverent.

We’ve been to the Extraordinary Form (Latin) multiple times, and of course to the normal Ordinary Form (English) thousands of times, and the Ordinariate Mass captures the best of each Form in its own unique style.

What We Lost As English Catholics

In studying for many years the history of the Protestant Reformation, I have slowly realized the devastating loss that we as English-speaking Catholics have suffered due to King Henry VIII and the Anglican Protestant usurpation of Catholic England.

I know that sounds extreme, but it is the candid truth.

We should have had five hundred years of English Catholic music, culture, and life, but instead Catholics were hunted down and killed and the Church went underground there for a long time.

So Pope Emeritus Benedict showed great wisdom and brilliance in establishing the Anglican Ordinariate. He realized what we had lost, and he saw a way to retrieve some part of it, all while building a bridge to Anglicans (including Episcopalians) who have grown appalled at the fall of the Anglican Communion into unsalvagable heterodoxy.

He established the Ordinariate to include a reverent Mass, in English, of the Roman Rite, that also includes aspects of authentic Anglican patrimony. The result is a breath of fresh air: the accessibility of our English language with the reverence and tradition of the Extraordinary Form.

The only comment I would make is that Catholics in nineteenth century England, most of them converts from the Church of England, did work hard to revive the Catholic spirit of English literature through good translations of Latin hymns and prayers, and good original poems and hymn lyrics. I'm thinking of Blessed John Henry Newman, Father Frederick Faber, Father Edward Caswall--three Oratorians, and I'm sure there were others. Like Father Frederick Oakeley, who started out with Newman's community but then followed Cardinal Wiseman to Westminster. T.E. Muir describes this period in his book from AshgateRoman Catholic Church Music in England, 1791–1914: A Handmaid of the Liturgy? Perhaps here in the USA we did not receive the benefits of this revival, partially because of--as I have read and written about before--the Irish influence here. 

Read the rest there.

I wish that Pope Benedict XVI would have been able to live out the normal course of his pontificate instead of having to cut it short because he could not fulfill his obligations. His program of renewing the liturgy, saving it from banality and reviving the sense of reverence and mystery was developing in the Extraordinary Form, the Ordinary Form (new English translation, the "Benedictine" Altar arrangement, return to the use of the Propers of the Mass instead of hymns and songs), and the Anglican Use. What might have been: what might still be.

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