Bishop Lopes’s Hillenbrand Lecture


On 21 June, Bishop Lopes delivered the Hillenbrand Lecture at the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois. The full lecture can be found here and is well worth reading.

His comments provide a helpful reminder that the Ordinariate Form of the Latin Rite is not a mish-mash of the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form with a dash of Tudor/Stuart English thrown in for a kind of traditionalist flavor.  He points out yet again that the roots of the Ordinariate Form pre-date the sixteenth century (going back at least to the eleventh century) and that its Anglican expression took shape before (about fifteen years before) the Missal of Saint Pius V, which became the basis of the venerated Extraordinary Form.  (Yes, elements of continental Protestantism had to be removed from the Prayer Book tradition for it to take its place as the Anglican patrimony in Catholic worship, but those adjustments were minimal.)

What this means is that—as I have pointed out before—the gravitational pull of Romanita, which could all too easily mean forcing Ordinariates communities to fit into either EF or OF “camps,” has to be resisted.  The Anglican liturgical patrimony has elements of both the EF and the OF but is a liturgico-spiritual tradition in its own right.  Both those who latch on to the Ordinariate Form as a means of furthering their agendas in the unfortunately-continuing EF-versus-OF controversies and those who dismiss the Ordinariate Form as a recent creation that doesn’t have a purpose are not only mistaken but presume to dismiss “legitimate ecclesiastical authority.”

Bishop Lopes’s address is also reassuring in his affirmation of two ideals from the English Reformation itself. The first is the ideal of emphasizing the proclamation of the Word of God.  For example, the Anglican tradition proclaims the Gospel in the midst of the congregation.  Moreover, the Divine Worship Missal follows the Anglican tradition in transposing the Penitential Rite to the end of the Liturgy of the Word as a response to hearing, and, I might add, reflecting on, Scripture.

Neither the EF nor the OF disregard the place of Scripture in liturgy, of course. But there is something about the ethos of the Anglican tradition—partly due to the liturgical reasons just mentioned—that somehow regards Scripture’s place in the liturgy as more venerable than functional, for want of more accurate terms.  This distinction tends not to make sense to a number of cradle Catholics with whom I have discussed it.  In their view, the fact that the readings are simply read, no matter how they’re read, means they are given their due.  My sense is that this is a reflection of what has been the Roman view of liturgy in general, which is to say that it’s more about making sure the texts are in order—which Rome tends to do very well—and not so much about cultivating and appreciating the liturgical spirituality in which those texts, both liturgical and scriptural, are proclaimed.

Which brings me to the second English-Reformational ideal the Ordinariate Form honors, which is an emphasis on liturgy as the prayer of the Church. (Given my pre-twelfth-century bias, or even a pre-Carolingian bias, i.e., reclaiming the Church’s patristic roots, I could suggest that the emphasis might simply be stated as an emphasis on liturgy, tout court.)  Those with strong EF sympathies will perhaps find this challenging, but Bishop Lopes states a candid approval of Cranmer’s “healthy disdain” for the “so-called ‘secret’ prayers of the Mass.”  In place of those “secret” prayers are the Penitential Act, the Prayer of Humble Access, and the General Thanksgiving.

But again, lest those engaged in the EF-versus-OF controversies chalk this up as a victory for the OF side, the DW approach isn’t one of dialogue. The priest and the people recite these prayers together.  (I believe the Prayer of Humble Access was originally recited solely by the priest.  I believe also that this practice didn’t last long.)  In other words, the “secret” prayers are not supplanted for the sake of “dialogue.”  Instead, they are common professions of Eucharistic/liturgical belief put into liturgical practice by the entire assembly.  Moreover, the nature of the hieratic language, which was perceived as hieratic even in Cranmer’s day, tends, of its very nature, to discourage the presentism (only this particular worshiping community in this particular place at this particular time) that continues to characterize (I almost wrote “bedevil”) OF liturgies.

Those who follow Ordinariate-related news in the blogosphere are aware that the Ordinariates and the DW Missal have their naysayers. Assuming Bishop Lopes is even aware of these criticisms, he not only doesn’t acknowledge them, he puts them in their place by his articulate defense of this liturgico-spiritual treasure, no matter how un-recognized and poorly understood it continues to be.  But, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

[The photo is of the reading of the Gospel at a Mass celebrated at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston in February 2015.]

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