Fr. Hunwicke, 1/14/15

Why the worship of the Ordinariate matters to everybody

Fr. John Hunwicke

Tomorrow being the Anniversary of the Inauguration, by blessed Benedict XVI, of the British Ordinariate, I venture to repeat the warmest of invitations to Traditionalist Catholics to experience the Ordinariate Rite of Mass. You will know that this Use is authorised by the Holy See; and when we had our great Ordinariate celebration in Westminster last year, with Cardinal Nichols there to show his enthusiastic support, Mgr Keith Newton, our Ordinary, emphatically urged as many of his clergy as possible to use our own rite and thus to display our distinctiveness. 'Our' Mass can be accessed in London at the Assumption, Warwick Street; go there! But I invite you also, if you can get to Oxford, to visit this splendid Rite as celebrated by the Oxford Ordinariate group for the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evenings at 6.00.Why not come? Why not book your flights from Rio or from Tasmania or from Samarkand?

For a Vigil Mass, you cry? I know what you mean. A Vigil Mass can (prescinding from the fact that the most blessed and august and holy Sacrifice of the Mass is always inherently a matter of joy to the entire Cosmos and to the Angels and to ourselves) seem, in its ritual and social expression, a rather sad event in which people are "getting it over with" as painlessly as possible so that they can "enjoy" their Sunday. Fine music and a 'traddy' atmosphere are not commonly evoked by the phrase "Vigil Mass". But with us, the music is of the best, and the heart of Archbishop Lefebvre himself would have been melted by the entire liturgical effect. I will stick out my neck by saying that the Oxford Ordinariate Vigil Mass is, as Vigil Masses go, unique.

And, as I hope you know, the Ordinariate Ordo Missae breathes new life into a venerable liturgical tradition. Until the majority of Anglo-Catholic clergy most unwisely decided, in many cases with great reluctance, that it was their duty to adopt the Novus Ordo in the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic Anglican worship in the Church of England was a marvel. Ignorant people sometimes used to say that "If one Sunday Fr Murphy down at the Sacred Heart happened to flick a fly from his shoulder, the gesture would instantly be mimicked in the local Anglo-Papalist church". Nothing could be more ridiculous, or further from the truth. It was Rome itself that we Anglo-Papalists "aped", not the church-down-the-road. O'Connell-Fortescue was, for us, the last and greatest book of the Bible, and sat comfortably on the Sacristy bookshelf. Heaven (really!) forgive our arrogance, we rather prided ourselves on being different from, and a distinct cut above, Fr Murphy at the Sacred Heart! High Mass, largely unknown among English Roman Catholics, was our Sunday norm.

The Ordinariate Mass gives us back a great deal of our lost ancient glories. The language is the Tudor English which Archbishop Cranmer and King James's Bible translators created to be the superb sacral dialect in which our worship commonly took place. It is a mirror image of the artificial hieratic Latin in which the Old Rite is written.  And, in the Ordinariate Use, we have recovered a vast amount of 'Tridentine' material which the Western Church so sadly lost when the Novus Ordo came marching in: most particularly, the Tridentine emphasis on the Mass as a true propitiatory Sacrifice, to be offered with awe and reverence rather than with folksy chumminess. We can start off humbling ourselves with the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar; we honour the Altar each time with a kiss before we turn away from it; we are able to use the Tridentine Offertory Prayers with their unambiguously sacrificial language; we genuflect both before after each Elevation and after touching the Most Holy; we are encouraged always to use the Roman Canon, and the Libera nos as it was before Archbishop Bugnini 'improved' it; we can end on the magnificently triumphal note of the Last Gospel to bridge that gap between the Incarnate Word and World He was incarnated to redeem. We all truly face God's East, and are not bullied by a laity which demands its rights to watch Father's thoroughly repulsive face at every moment in the Mass. There is a magnificent schola and much of what it sings is, as Vatican II encouraged, in Latin. Patrimonial early Tudor English Church music is one of our specialities.

'Nuff Said. 6.00 on Saturdays, at the Church of the Holy Rood just South of Folly Bridge in Oxford (jokes about this will be deleted). Angelus before Mass; Anthem of our Lady and wine afterwards.