During these summer doldrums, while most are able to take some vacation, your faithful webmaster has also had some time to travel (even if it was something of a working vacation). Happily, the privilege of celebrating a birthday in Orange, California, gave a good excuse to meet up with Fr. Andrew Bartus, pastor of Blessed John Henry Newman, Orange county. I was able to worship with their group this past Sunday (8/19/12), as well as have a number of conversations with the lay members after their service.
In humble submission to St. Paul's dictum, Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do, I wanted to give some account of my visit there, both to educate the larger world about what we Ordinariate Catholics of the English tradition actually do (or will do soon, hopefully), and also to encourage and praise that group in particular.
To put things in their proper order, I must first thank Fr. Bartus for giving me a ride to and from their mass, and showing a kindness to me. Every person I met showed great cordiality, and I hope our humble fellowship can meet the same high standard.
Although like most Ordinariate groups they are only just beginning, and have in fact only had about a half-dozen services, it was my impression that both the liturgy and the music were very well done, and were most importantly, prayerful and devout. I took a few pictures that I hope will give a flavor of the service.
Blessed John's has the good blessing of being able to worship Sunday afternoon at 3pm at St. Joseph's church in Santa Ana, which ministers to a primarily Hispanic congregation. The building itself is truly beautiful, complete with a pipe organ, wonderful stained glass windows, and several shrines.
Before the service began, the sanctuary was transformed, starting from a Byzantine-style square altar, and ending in a traditional "English altar", as you see in these photos:
The services began with the traditional Asperges, chanted (in hieratic English, naturally) by the cantor. Following the Asperges came the opening hymn, a great one, Come down, O Love divine, Down Ampney - Bianco da Siena.
What I found fascinating was that since the Asperges had already been done, Fr. Bartus and one of his acolytes said the prayers at the foot of the altar during the opening hymn. This was an interesting combination of the traditional English and Latin practice I hope we see more of - I had never seen this done before although it is clearly permitted in the rubrics of the Book of Divine Worship. If was, of course, Sotto Voce.
Fr. Bartus preached a fine sermon on the Proverb, Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars, as well as the gospel text, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. He also mentioned the divine energies of St. Gregory Palamas, which gets extra credit.
We then entered the liturgy of the Eucharist, and I managed to get some action shots of the censing of the altar:
Following the preparation of the gifts and the offertory (again, a nice hymn: When Jesus left his Father's throne Kingsfold, James Montgomery), came the Canon of the mass, which was naturally the Gregorian, hopefully the default Canon for all Anglican Use masses, happily preserved in traditional English in the BDW - thanks Fr. Phillips.
Now I know what you are thinking in your heart: Did this guy get a photo of the elevation? In response I can only plead that even I can only be so impious, and when the savior of the universe is raised in front of me I must put down my camera to worship and adore.
However, I did get a photo of the last of the communicants, who - following strict Anglo-Catholic practice - one that also happens to be endorsed by the Holy Father - received communion kneeling and on the tongue. Interestingly, the older Roman practice of receiving only under one species was adopted.
The communion hymn was one of my all time favorites, Let all mortal flesh keep silence, Picardy, from the Liturgy of St. James.
Finally, we had the recessional, Fr. Bartus donning his trusty biretta once again.
The recessional hymn was also good - I know, I know all the hymns were so good - more on that in a moment.
Lord of all hopefulness - Slane, J. Struther
Of course, following all right thinking people, the hymns were taken from the 1940 hymnal (there are a few more good ones in the 1982 but prudence demands a wide berth).
I must give praise to the organist, Dr. Sandra Fryling, who is a well known and talented musician. She also plays for Blessed Sacrament Episcopal church, which has the widely respected Fr. David Baumann for its rector.
We had a very pleasant "coffee hour" after the service, although it was more than an hour, and no coffee was in sight. That was perfectly fine with me however, since the wine offered was more fitting for the occasion, and since we were after all in southern California, it was hot. I was able to also meet a number of the parishioners and get a sense for their community in formation. Considering the fact that a number of the parishioners were on vacation in the middle of August (including half of the acolytes), they have a surprisingly large group for just starting, and I wish them many blessings as their groups grows. The liturgy was excellent and prayerful. I hope all of our Ordinariate groups can follow a similar trajectory.