Saturday, December 14, 2013

William Oddie on the Ordinariate Liturgy

William Oddie was once an Anglican and he recently attended a Mass at an Ordinariate church and then wrote about it in The Catholic Herald:

I had never once felt, since my conversion, that I missed Anglicanism: the Church of England had become so awful, so impossible for anyone tending in a Catholic direction, that I was far more conscious, when I made my submission nearly 25 years ago, of how wonderful it was to be a Catholic. But I had forgotten, after my youthful atheism, how wonderful I thought so much of Anglicanism was, after the dry, dry desert of actual unbelief. One thing I loved was the setting of the Ordinary of the Eucharist (as I always called it before I discovered the excitements of Anglo-Catholicism) by the composer John Merbecke. This was Cranmer’s translation set to a kind of reformed plainchant (one note to a syllable), which though deriving from Gregorian chant eschewed its (I think wonderful) peripatetic longeurs. On Advent Sunday, I sang the creed to Merbecke for the first time in nearly 30 years: it all came back as though it was yesterday, and it was wonderfully moving. Another unexpectedly wonderful bonus I hadn’t anticipated was the entire absence of the suppressed irritation I so often feel at the debased English of the readings in the Roman Missal from the Jerusalem Bible: the readings, of course, were from the Authorised version, the King James Bible, now authorised afresh for liturgical use by our dear Pope Benedict.

I could go on about how splendid it all was. It was not just a voyage of rediscovery, however: it was also a realisation anew of how lifegiving a thing it is to belong to a Church which determines and teaches with authority what theological meaning actually is. Cranmer’s freshly composed prayers (as opposed to his translations from the Sarum rite, as with the Ordinary of the Mass and many of his collects) are sometimes written in deliberately ambiguous language, so as to be acceptable to a distinctly, even dangerously, various public, some members of it — then as now — radically Protestant but many of them still resentfully Catholic at heart. Again and again, you come across phrases which can be read in either a Catholic or a Protestant way. The authorisation of the use of such prayers by the Congregation for Divine Worship, quite simply removes the ambiguities.

Read the rest here.

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