So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Divine Worship in the Ordinariate. Something beautiful for God.

Fellowship of Bl. John Henry Newman, Victoria, BC / CS2017

If brief encounters between liturgies in a shared parish amount to any indication, Catholics who attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass are somewhat perplexed by the Ordinariate. Often, it seems, cradle Catholics are not aware that Ordinariate Catholics are, in fact, Catholic.

Most cradlers are indifferent to any other rite or liturgical variant existing under the Catholic umbrella, which is comprised of four main liturgical traditions (Latin, Antiochian, Alexandrian and Byzantine) expressed in more than 20 distinct rites.

Within the Roman Rite there are commonly celebrated three forms of the Mass: the most common or frequently celebrated, the Ordinary Form (OF, the Mass of Blessed Paul VI, typically attended by most Catholics); the Extraordinary Form (EF, the older form of the Mass); and the Personal Ordinariate Form (POF, i.e., Divine Worship/DW). There are, of course, several other forms of the Latin Rite still celebrated. For example, the older Dominican form of the Mass, the Ambrosian form at Milan, Italy, the Mozarabic Rite in Spain, the Carmelite form and others.

The Ordinariate Form or the Form of the Personal Ordinariate, called Divine Worship, has been compared to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and with good reason. The two forms have much in common in terms of content and form. In both the EF and Divine Worship Masses, ad orientem worship and the Roman Canon are the norm. One typically witnesses the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar prayed during the Low or Said Mass of the Ordinariate, as one would also encounter in the EF Mass. Divine Worship restores a rich history of English chant and hymnody to the Church.

Divine Worship draws from the rich treasure trove of prayers and liturgical sensibilities of the Sarum Rite or Sarum Use originating at Salisbury in England, a use or form of the Mass which predates by centuries the reforms of Trent which gave us the form commonly called Tridentine, now known as the Extraordinary Form. The grandeur and unique flavour of Sarum continues in the Mass of the Ordinariate, which is prayed in sacred English.

Yes, there is such a thing as sacred English. Some call it hieratic English, or Prayer Book English, the language used in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer composed by Thomas Cranmer. Purged of Cranmer's heresy, the beautiful prayers retained from the Anglican liturgy and the older orthodox prayers drawn from the Sarum Use combine to produce a mellifluous liturgy that echoes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

For Thine is the Kingdom

What most Ordinary Form Catholics barely realize, or stubborn avoid admitting, is that they already pray in sacred English every time they pray the Our Father or the Hail Mary or the Glory Be or the Hail Holy Queen, etc.
Hail Mary, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Thee, thou, thine, thy—poetry, language so much more lyrical and intimate than stubbing your toe against a generic 'you' in a sentence.

Some describe the Ordinariate Liturgy as the way the Ordinary Form Mass should be. That is, the form or way of the Mass that was envisioned by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council. Those who so describe Divine Worship do have a point.

To God

There is no doubt as to Whom the Ordinariate Mass is directed. Divine Worship is directed to God. Given the many gestures, acclamations and responses that place one in the presence of God, Divine Worship is thoroughly Trinitarian, and one would have to be devoid of basic skills of observation to miss the fact that Christ is really Present and acknowledged in the consecrated Host and the Precious Blood in the Ordinariate Form of the Mass.

Full Body Workout

Catholics who attend Divine Worship make additional Signs of the Cross during Divine Worship. And, the repeated and nuanced gestures—various kinds of bows, kneeling—are not superfluous in any way. Rather, through the repetitions, God through His Liturgy offers an immersive encounter with the Cross, i.e., the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Quality Time

Like many eastern Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, Divine Worship is longer than your average Ordinary Form Mass, though only a little longer. That said, when musicians wax on during the Ordinary Form (OF), as is often the case, and the homily drones to 20+ minutes, the OF liturgy can be unnecessarily and tediously long. The typical Sunday Divine Worship liturgy of the Ordinariate lasts around 70 minutes, though because of its lyrical beauty, many folk tend to wonder where the time goes, so engaging is the ritual that immerses the community in the mysteries of God.

The various communities of the Ordinariate are scattered around North America, some gathered in pockets and others remotely placed. Like leaven in a very large loaf of bread, the Ordinariate, like the various communities which celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, is bringing reverence and dignity back to the celebration of Holy Mass.

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