Fr Hunwicke on our Ordinariate Rite

But the Ordinariate Rite constitutes a stage in that convergence for which Pope Benedict longed, and is thus of very profound significance not simply to members of the Ordinariate but to the whole of the Western Church. In many ways its basic structure is that of the Novus Ordo. But it includes ceremonial from the Vetus Ordo, perhaps most noticeably the double genuflexions at each Consecration. It includes optionally the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar, and the Last Gospel. Of doctrinal importance is its preference for the ‘Tridentine’ Offertory Prayers said by the priest, full as they are of the language of Sacrifice and Propitiation, and its restoration of the normativeness of the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer, as a movement towards the longed-for and essential phasing-out of the alternative Eucharistic Prayers which Vatican II never envisaged and, indeed, by implication excluded.

These are all factors which contribute powerfully to the resacralisation of the Roman Rite, surely one of the most pressing needs of our time … and I do not mean just liturgically.

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9 Responses to Fr Hunwicke on our Ordinariate Rite

  1. Rev22:17 says:


    From your quotation: … its restoration of the normativeness of the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer, as a movement towards the longed-for and essential phasing-out of the alternative Eucharistic Prayers which Vatican II never envisaged and, indeed, by implication excluded.

    Ah, this is not exactly an accurate portrayal of the Second Vatican Council. Although the council said nothing of introduction of alternate anaphoras, but it also did not exclude the possibility — which actually was a very serious subject of discussion during the debate of the sacred constitution Sacrosantum concillium on divine worship. Indeed, with the not infrequent celebrations of mass/divine liturgy at the beginning of council sessions by bishops of the sui juris ritual churches, each celebrating according to his own rite, the validity of other anaphoras was “front and center” during the whole of the council.

    Anecdotally, some of your readers may remember a Wednesday during the council when Pope John XXIII appeared on the balcony at noontime for the angelus and announced to the world that he felt that there should be an explicit mention of St. Joseph in the “canon” of the mass, and thus that he was adding the phrase “St. Joseph, her spouse,” after the mention of the virgin Mary in the list of saints therein — and everybody remarked how lovely it was that he pope had such a devotion to St. Joseph that he was adding the saint to the “canon” of the mass.

    But what really transpired?

    >> On Monday of that week, a bishop from a missionary country made a few brief and humble remarks in which he noted that the natives of his country did not relate to the “Roman Canon” of the Tridentine mass, and suggested consideration of other anaphoras of the church’s past to which the people of the mission lands might more readily relate.

    >> So on Tuesday of that week, Cardinal Ottovani, as Prefect of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, responded with an eloquent and rather protracted discourse in which he expounded that the word “canon” means “fixed” and that the “canon” of the mass was so called because it was “fixed” for all time and could never, ever, possibly ever be changed.

    >> Whereupon, on Wednesday, a rumor began to spread through the council chambers that the pope was going to make an important announcement during the midday Angelus. Thus, toward the end of the morning, many of the bishops and theological advisors began to drift out into the square to hear what the pope was going to say. And it was there, in St. Peter’s Square, that the pope announced to the world that he was changing the canon of the mass — thus settling once and for all the question of the possibility of doing so.

    The specific change — that is, the insertion of a mention of St. Joseph — was of no particular significance, and, more importantly, was so innocuous that there was no plausible theological basis for objection thereto. And it stands as yet another example of an how astute pope portrayed by his adversaries as a bumbling simpleton managed to outmaneuver all of them.

    With the issue of the anaphora this “front and center” in the conciliar debate, one cannot construe the lack of mention thereof to indicate as something that the council “never envisioned” and thus implicitly excluded. Rather, it’s a change that the council explicitly considered and chose neither to mandate nor to exclude. Pope Paul VI, who was present in the council at the time, however, saw fit to approve a missal with alternate anaphoras, the “Roman Canon” being one of four, when it came time to implement the reforms.


    • Tim S. says:

      The Eucharistic Prayer of the new rite was sloppily and hastily made in an Italian trattoria by bugnini and some protestants.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You said: The Eucharistic Prayer of the new rite… (boldface added)


        The missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 did not have only one “eucharistic prayer” so your use of the singular indicates a gross misunderstanding. Rather, it has four options, designated “Eucharistic Prayer I,” “Eucharistic Prayer II,” “Eucharistic Prayer III,” and “Eucharistic Prayer IV,” all of which remain in the most recent revision. And the first of these, “Eucharistic Prayer I,” is precisely the so-called “Roman Canon” of the Tridentine missal.

        But Eucharistic Prayer II is actually the most ancient anaphora in the present missal. It was taken from a treatise entitled The Apostolic Tradition by St. Hippolytus (170–235), who was railing against the reforms instituted by the pope, though it did receive some modifications in the process of editing by the members of the congregation. We know, with certainty, that this work reflects the established practice of that day.

        And Eucharistic Prayer IV is the next most ancient, its source being the “Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil” of the Coptic tradition, which dates to the eighth century. Again, it received some modifications in the editing process, most notably in splitting the epiclesis of the original into two — one over the gifts and another over the people — with the latter moved into the supplications after the institution narrative and the anamnesis.

        Eucharistic Prayer III was indeed a new composition, but it is hardly something scrawled on a napkin during a meal. It is more likely that the incident that you describe was one of many mark-up sessions during the process of review.

        In any event, no secretary of a congregation of the Roman curia can simply draft a new liturgical book and present it to the pope for his approval. The process of preparing a new liturgical book is much more intricate than that. Theological experts employed as consultors to the congregation — NOT the secretary — prepare a draft, which is then sent to all of the bishops who are members of the congregation for their review and comment. The consultors and the staff of the congregation then review the comments, make the proposed edits, and sends out a new draft for another round of review and comment. This process repeats until there’s a consensus of the members of the congregation that the liturgical book is ready. At that point, it goes to the pope for his review, approval, and promulgation. Of course, the pope can direct further revisions if he deems it desirable.

        Your disparaging comments sound like you have bought into the babble of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), which unfortunately is rooted in gross ignorance and misconception that has landed them in schism.


      • Tim S. says:

        Oh? And you sound like you drank the modernist Kool-Aid, as you are already too deep into that mindset and internal logic to be convinced otherwise. Two can play the game of name-calling, sir.

        The fact that various Eucharistic prayers have been taken from all sorts of places do not make the Rite, less mutilated and Frankenstinian in character and construction. Hardly organic, like grafting trees, and more like sewing body parts to make a chimera, part Protestant, part Eastern, part Roman.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You wrote: The fact that various Eucharistic prayers have been taken from all sorts of places do not make the Rite, less mutilated and Frankenstinian in character and construction.

        Spoken by a true wordsmith!

        If you were to do an objective study of the structure of the various anaphoras of all rites throughout church history, you would discover a consistent common structure.

        >> 1. Opening Dialog

        >> 2. Prefacio (“Preface”), beginning the recounting of salvation history

        >> 3. Sanctus

        >> 4. Veri sanctus, Continuing the recounting of salvation history

        >> 5. Epiclesis (Invocation of the Holy Spirit)

        >> 6. Institution Narrative

        >> 7. Anemnesis (“Memorial”)

        >> 8. Intercessions

        >> 9. Concluding Doxology

        >> 10. Great Amen

        If you compare this structure with the so-called “Roman Canon” now also called “Eucharistic Prayer I,” it becomes clear that these very words are in fact a masterful description thereof.


    • Tim S. says:

      The unbelievable scene is not unknown, it has been mentioned elsewhere before, but now confirmed in the published recollections of one of the two men involved: during the mad rush to have the Novus Ordo Missae (the New Mass of Paul VI) ready as soon as possible, the Consilium, the 1963-1970 organization charged with the upheaval and destruction of the Roman Rite under the guise of “reform” and under the control mostly of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, had reached a new level of ignominy in composing a new “canon”. The draft was so bad and dangerous that the new Eucharistic Prayer had to be rewritten in a hurry and at the last minute during a late-night meeting by two men in a Roman restaurant.

      For one and a half millennium, the Canon of the Roman Mass had been almost completely unchanged (which is why it was called a Canon, a rule, unchanged and unique). Now, after the Council, and without a single mention in Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), the Consilium decided to offer new Anaphoras as if they were ice cream flavors. The new “Eucharistic Prayers” were released in the fateful month of May 1968, while Western youth was on worldwide revolt (therefore, theoretically, for the 1965-1967 maimed version of the ancient Ordo Missae, but in truth preparing the way for the New Mass introduced in 1969). Why the rush? As with everything in the liturgical revolution, Bugnini and his minions knew they had to get everything done as fast as possible before they could be stopped by a dangerous wave of common sense. They won. And the Church got an aggressively-imposed new multiple-choice rite stuck in 1968.

      The story of what would become the most popular of the new “Eucharistic Prayers” (Eucharistic Prayer II) is so insulting to the venerable Roman Rite that it beggars belief, and shows once again why the New Mass is the opposite of everything that is true and tested. It is a shallow committee-work of out-of-touch “experts” so proud and revolutionary that they thought they were entitled to pass judgment on the immemorial heritage of almost 2,000 years of organic development and sincere devotion of saints, priests and faithful, something so bizarre that wiser minds have called it “a banal on-the-spot product.”

      Cardinal Ratzinger was right to call the New Mass thus, as Sandro Magister makes clear below (translation from his Italian-language blog) when speaking of the memoirs of Fr. Louis Bouyer, one of the (later much disappointed) consultants of the Consilium. The memoirs were recently published in France by Éditions du Cerf:

      ‘Paul VI was seriously at the point of making him a cardinal, if he had not been held back by the ferocious reaction that the nomination would have certainly provoked among the French Bishops, led then by the Archbishop of Paris and President of the Episcopal Conference, Cardinal François Marty, a personality of “crass ignorance” and “devoid of the most elementary capacity of good sense.”

      To have missed out on the cardinal’s hat and branded his arch-enemy in such a way was the great theologian and liturgist Louis Bouyer (1913-2003), as we learn in his blistering posthumous work “Mémoires”, published this past summer by Éditions du Cerf, ten years after his death.

      Brought up as a Lutheran and later a pastor in Paris, Bouyer converted to Catholicism in 1939, attracted mainly by the liturgy, in which he distinguished himself before long as an expert authority with his masterpiece “The Paschal Mystery”, on the rites of Holy Week.

      Called to be part of the preparatory commission for the Second Vatican Council, he understood immediately and instinctively its greatness as well as its poverty, and he got out of it fast. He found the cheap ecumenism “from Alice in Wonderland” from that age unbearable. Among the few conciliar theologians spared by him was the young Joseph Ratzinger, who gets only praises in the book. And vice-versa, among the few high churchmen who immediately appreciated the talent and merits of this extraordinary theologian and liturgist, the one who stands out most is Giovanni Batttista Montini, who was still Archbishop of Milan.

      On becoming Pope and taking the name of Paul VI, Montini wanted Bouyer on the commission for the liturgical reform, “theoretically” presided over by Giacomo Lercaro, “generous” but “incapable of resisting the manipulations of the wicked and mellifluous” Annibale Bugnini, Secretary and factotum of the same organism, “lacking as much in culture as in honesty”.

      It was Bouyer who had to remedy in extremis a horrible formulation of the new Eucharistic Prayer II, from which Bugnini even wanted to delete the “Sanctus”. And it was he who had to rewrite the text of the new Canon that is read in the Masses today, one evening, on the table of a trattoria in Trastevere, together with the Benedictine liturgist, Bernard Botte, with the tormenting thought that everything had to be consigned the following morning.

      But the worst part is when Bouyer recalls the peremptory “the Pope wants it” that Bugnini used to shut up the members of the commission every time they opposed him; for example, in the dismantling of the liturgy for the dead and in purging the “imprecatory” verses from the psalms in the Divine Office.

      Paul VI, discussing with Bouyer afterwards about these reforms “that the Pope found himself approving, not being satisfied about them any more than I was,”asked him. “Why did you all get mired in this reform?” And Bouyer [replied], “Because Bugnini kept assuring us that you absolutely wanted it.” To which Paul VI [responded]: “But how is this possible? He told me that you were all unanimous in approving it…”

      Bouyer recalls in his “Mémoires” that Paul VI exiled the “despicable” Bugnini to Teheran as Nuncio, but by then the damage had already been done. For the record, Bugnini’s personal secretary, Piero Marini, would then go on to become the director of pontifical ceremonies from 1983 to 2007, and even today there are voices circulating about him as the future Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship. …

    • Tim S. says:

      For more on the origins of the made-up new Eucharistic Prayers, read, among others, this ( 1996 article by Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, who would later become the founding prior of the Monastery of Saint Benedict in Nursia (Norcia), Italy.

      • William Tighe says:

        Also well worth reading on the same subject, “The New Eucharistic Prayers: Some Comments,” by Geoffrey G. Willis, *The Heythrop Journal,* Vol. XII, No. 1 (January 1971), pp. 5-28. Willis (1914-1982), a Church of England clergyman and learned in the history of the Roman Rite (as well as an admirer of the Roman Canon), demolishes the assumptions behind the three new EPs promulgated in 1969, and sums up the “spirit” of the “reform” in two pithy Latin phrases: “In Tiberim defluxit Orontes” and “Omne ignotum pro mangifico.”

        Willis’ posthumously-published *A History of Early Roman Liturgy to the Death of Pope Gregory the Great,* ed. Michael Moreton (*) (London, 1994: Henry Bradshaw Society; Subsidia, I) is a model of concision (and of subtle witty observations and comments).

        (*) on whom, see:

  2. EPMS says:

    Without wishing to argue against Fr Hunwicke’s larger point, the elements he praises in the Ordinariate Rite seem to be mostly features of the English Missal, ie the EF in English, and thus unfamiliar to the vast majority of Anglicans. The BCP elements do not get a mention.

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