Powered by Blogger.
getLinks(); ?>

Liturgical ligature

Friday, August 30, 2019

If there's one thing that can be sure to raise heated discussion in various online fora it's the minutiae of the Liturgy. I find it all very tedious, especially when you have a zealot trying to tell you that you aren't celebrating the Mass properly because you have unfolded the corporal incorrectly.

In my experience, these zealots are former Anglicans who have taken up the Ordinariate set up by Benedictine XVI and turn upon their former church armed with Ritual Notes and/or Fortescue and criticise every little thing that is done wrong at the Mass.

There is something very sad about this because it turns Liturgy into Law.

The key thing to remember are Our Lord's words that the Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath. The Liturgy is a vehicle which allows people to express their worship of God within the context of a worshipping community. All say the words with a consensus or, at least, a desire for solidarity. The way we pray feeds the way we believe and vice versa. Common prayer is necessary, but how it is to be prayed is not set in stone.

The Affirmation of St Louis tells us how we are to put our worship into practice. According to our Constitution, the standard of worship is the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and those texts that conform to it such as the 1928 BCP and the English and Anglican Missals among others. What it does not do is prescribe a ceremonial. This means that it is just as licit in the eyes of the Anglican Catholic Church to say a Mass with the Big Six, Sacred Ministers and a Ritual Notes perfect celebration as it is in saying a Mass at the North End but with due reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

The Anglican Genius is that things should be taken to heart. This probably explains why the Continuing Anglican movement was born out of fire and has a reputation for anger. Given the dreadful changes which were imposed by those with less regard for the Catholic Faith, this fury is well-justified. Nonetheless what is more important to Anglican Catholic thought is the notion of progress towards Christ along the well trod narrow way.

The fact of the matter is that many Masses will fall short of the Ritual Notes ideal. Someone will read the wrong lesson at Mattins or intone the wrong antiphon at vespers. A priest might scrape the corporal before receiving the Precious Blood or afterwards before the first ablution. That doesn't matter.

We might need only reconsider our practice if we are concerned about using the Liturgy to become a vehicle for others to know Christ. The Mass has a great deal of symbolism attached to every ceremony in order to realise in the heart the One True Sacrifice of the Christ on the altar of the Cross. We are not just remembering but defying Time and Space at Our Lord's undertaking in order to share that one perfect sacrifice once offered for us. Our ceremonies are designed to help us become aware of this so that we receive the sacrament with as perfect an intention we can muster. But we must rely on the Grace of God to make that work perfect in us.

There are times when we are not able to make the Eucharistic fast. There are times when the Mass has to be said with a single tea light. There are times when Sext gets said at half past three and None at four. What matters most is the intention and desire always to do the best we can in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Our circumstances may not be common, but our prayer can be because the Church is One. We need, then, to be as generous as we can and make our own worship as excellent as possible to help those who are not able to offer their prayers in the way for which their hearts burn. Our Mass on the ironing board is the same Mass at the altar of any great orthodox cathedral.

Here in the UK, there stalks the ghost of those who would compel absolute ceremonial and liturgical uniformity. Such uniformity is disrespectful of personal circumstances. What we should do and what the ACC tries to do to bilk this ghost is to say our Masses and Offices in a way that would inspire people to give of their best in the prayer and the Faith which is common to all Catholics in liturgies which proclaim this Common Catholic Faith.

What truly matters lies in the heart, and it is from the heart that we truly worship God. Liturgical snobbery out, devotional zeal in!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Reading

Blog Archive

Blog Archive

Popular Posts