This was my experience, too

A most interesting post by a Catholic convert who first experienced beauty and reverence in the liturgy through attending Anglo-Catholic services.  It’s entitled Masculinity and the Liturgy by Sam Guzman over at The Catholic Gentleman:

On the final stages of my road to Rome, I spent a good deal of time with high church Anglo-Catholics, regularly attending liturgies at a seminary and church near my home. These Anglicans took the liturgy seriously, and their services were conducted reverently and beautifully.

In fact, their services looked so Catholic that experiencing them led me to study further exactly why Anglicans weren’t Catholic anymore. The rest of the story is beyond the scope of this post, but the point is, I came into Catholicism with an experience of very reverent and dignified liturgy, kneeling to receive communion, and an atmosphere of sacredness.

Eventually, after months of studying Catholic teaching, I worked up the courage to attend a Catholic mass. I had no idea what a mass looked like, but at the very least, I expected it to be more beautiful and reverent than the Anglican liturgy. After all, the Catholics had the body, blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, while Anglicans did not have the real thing.

Interestingly, the other day I picked up our Canadian 1962 Book of Common Prayer (which largely are no longer in use in Anglican Church of Canada parishes which embrace the Book of Alternative Services) and looked at the Communion rite.  So interesting to see how much the Mass is a sacrifice in the BCP, not a meal.

That said, I am delighted with Divine Worship: The Missal.  It is everything we could have hoped for in a Mass that is fully Catholic yet respects the beauty of our Anglican patrimony.

 

 

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16 Responses to This was my experience, too

  1. EPMS says:

    While I respect the fact that former members of the Church of England who used the OF in their previous parishes feel they can reflect the Anglican Patrimony without embracing the language of Divine Worship, it appears that the Ordinariate is having an uphill climb in the UK and I have to feel that this is partly due to the lack of any felt need for a distinctive liturgy among many former Anglicans there. Especially in cases where the mass is at an inconvenient place or time, why would someone make the effort to attend a service that differs little from that available in a local parish? Those who came with a group may appreciate getting together with old friends, but it appears that this phase of Ordinariate-building is over. And the implication one sometimes encounters that an Ordinariate OF mass is reverent and tasteful while diocesan masses are sloppy and aesthetically inferior is no doubt one of the reasons that some diocesan bishops have been unwelcoming.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You asked: Especially in cases where the mass is at an inconvenient place or time, why would someone make the effort to attend a service that differs little from that available in a local parish?

      Here are a few.

      1. Reverence

      2. Good Preaching

      3. Worshipful Music

      4. Strong Welcome and Sense of Community

      5. Availability of Other Avenues of Spiritual Growth (Bible Study Groups, Etc.)

      6. Or maybe because the time that you perceive to be inconvenient actually works for those who can’t get to mass at more normal times due to other obligations

      You said: And the implication one sometimes encounters that an Ordinariate OF mass is reverent and tasteful while diocesan masses are sloppy and aesthetically inferior is no doubt one of the reasons that some diocesan bishops have been unwelcoming.

      If those bishops would fix what’s broken in their parishes, they would not have to worry. that should be their first priority!

      Norm.

      • Donna Kelsch says:

        I find all of Norm ‘s reasons to be valid ones ( i.e.” reverence, good preaching,worshipful music, strong sense of community,” etc. but not valid that they are found in only one place ( RC Church’s of the Anglican rite ). My RC parish practices all of these elements and our 400 or so member families are considered exceptionally welcoming to all. I’m sure not every Catholic family celebrates Christmas the same way…but does that difference make one approach lacking and the other good? I don’t think so. When I attend a Nigerian Mass there are elements that different in style, but not in substance. Dancing up the aisle with the Offertory Gifts was a bit of a surprise but dancing is a sign of joy in their culture. I hope I’m Christian enough to enter into their method of worshiping without condemning. Not all parishes are created equal in their talents and gifts but the essential sacrifice takes place in all. Are we there to to be soothed ourselves or to give praise to God even if some element of the worship is less than we desire? Perhaps God is testing us to see if our love of Him is given even in a “desert” experience.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Donna,

        You wrote: I find all of Norm ‘s reasons to be valid ones ( i.e.” reverence, good preaching,worshipful music, strong sense of community,” etc. but not valid that they are found in only one place ( RC Church’s of the Anglican rite ). My RC parish practices all of these elements and our 400 or so member families are considered exceptionally welcoming to all.

        The earlier comment to which I responded asked about reasons why members of an ordinariate congregation might make an effort to attend its mass, celebrated according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite at a seemingly “off the wall” time, rather than simply going to the mass of a nearby diocesan parish at a more convenient time and place, to which I responded with a list of plausible reasons — with no expectation that every reason would be applicable in every situation. In my experience, the manner of celebration and the parishioners’ experience of Sunday mass can vary considerably from one parish to another even within the same diocese, and what’s normative within a diocese can vary quite a bit from one diocese to another.

        That said, I live in an archdiocese where the celebration of Sunday mass has been pretty shoddy for a long time. As a result, I routinely drive to a Benedictine abbey about ten miles from my home, passing five or six parish churches along any of several reasonable routes, to assist in the abbey’s liturgy — and so do a couple hundred other lay folk who habitually worship there. The items in my list reflect the deficiencies that persist in many of those parishes.

        I’m thrilled that your experience of your parish is so positive, but you probably do not live in my archdiocese!

        Norm.

      • Donna Kelsch says:

        Thanks – got your point as I did not see previous post. I don’t live in your diocese so can only comment on my own limited experience. As you know, as long as you belong to a parish and support it ( so you can be married and buried, etc. ) you can attend where you want. I’m happy you have an Abbey to attend. To each his own. I grew up with the Latin Liturgy and vastly prefer the more participatory Novo Ordus Mass.

    • Donna Kelsch says:

      EPMS states “and the implication one sometimes encounters…an Ordinariate OF mass is reverent and tasteful while diocesan masses are sloppy… and aesthetically inferior…”. I believe your view is valid. It seems that we easily forget that regardless of the quality of music, homily, vestments, bells and whistles that as long as the essential elements of the Eucharistic celebration are present, and the priest is legitimate, the sacrifice that takes place unites us with Christ in an intimate way, especially through the receiving of the Eucharist. Nothing else is very important. It is up to the individual to open their heart, ask Christ to enter, ask the Spirit for His gifts, and unite himself as best he can, with the Divine. I seldom hear, in these blogs, of the spiritual. All of us have been at masses where the music didn’t suit us, the altar servers were”off”, whatever. But can’t we offer up these little trivial things we dislike as a gift to our Redeemer who gave His life for us? Is that not a small sacrifice to make and a step towards conforming our will with His?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Donna,

        You wrote: … regardless of the quality of music, homily, vestments, bells and whistles that as long as the essential elements of the Eucharistic celebration are present, and the priest is legitimate, the sacrifice that takes place unites us with Christ in an intimate way, especially through the receiving of the Eucharist.

        That is true.

        You continued: Nothing else is very important.

        With that, the Second Vatican Council disagrees in very unambiguous terms. Note the following paragraphs from the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium on divine worship (internal citations removed; boldface added).

        11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

        24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.

        The celebration of the entire mass in a manner that is reverent and worshipful, and especially the proclamation of the Word of God in a manner that allows people to hear it effectively and be nourished spiritually by it, are of utmost importance — by these norms, just as important as ensuring the validity of the sacrament!

        All of us have been at masses where the music didn’t suit us, the altar servers were”off”, whatever. But can’t we offer up these little trivial things we dislike as a gift to our Redeemer who gave His life for us? Is that not a small sacrifice to make and a step towards conforming our will with His?

        Yes, we all are human — and things sometimes go awry during mass because a liturgical minister makes a mistake, or because those in charge make a poor choice of music. The occasional mistake is to be expected, and is easily forgiven.

        But there is a world of difference between an occasional mistake and the complete slop that arises week after week from a lack of effort that stems from attitude of indifference or, even worse, complete ignorance of the liturgical rites. When readers habitually race through the readings at a pace that nobody can comprehend, when the “homily” is consistently a bunch of spiritual platitudes or a lecture on a hot political topic having nothing whatsoever to do with the readings or the feast of the day, etc., the people of God are deprived of the spiritual nourishment and formation that is rightfully theirs. If you have never experienced such things in a Catholic mass, you are indeed very blessed!

        When we encounter such deficiencies, we have to discern God’s call very carefully. God may be calling us to be part of the solution in one way or another — perhaps by bringing the matter to the pastor’s attention or to the attention of a visitation committee, or perhaps by serving on the parish liturgy committee, or perhaps in some other way. But it’s also possible that the canonical “pastor” (?) doesn’t want to hear it and really doesn’t care, that there’s no open door to make a difference, and that we need to look out for our own spiritual welfare by seeking out a place where the mass a proper celebration of the mass provides the spiritual nourishment that we need for our own spiritual survival. I have yet to find anything more gut-wrenching than to be praying for one’s parish, which is having this sort of problem, and hearing the Lord respond, “Leave the dead to bury their dead.” Nevertheless, it really is a matter of life and death — in the eternal sense!

        Norm.

      • Donna Kelsch says:

        Yes, Norm…much has to do with the dispositions of the faithful, and good liturgy helps. No argument there. But it really does come down to one’s heart and desire to unite with Christ. Again, unlike Anglican tradition from which you come, most Catholic churches, except very large ones, use volunteers for music and lectors, etc.. Some are more gifted than others. Most parishes would rather spend what discretionary income they have on charity initiatives, and spiritual or community building events than on professional musicians, and most parishioners would agree with that. This is a part of our spiritual culture which you are not going to change.

  2. EPMS says:

    I meant that the bishops in question may think that diocesan masses are generally just fine thank you, and former Anglican clergy are howling snobs. I have commented before on an appearance of “classism” in certain posts about the OOLW (not here, of course).

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: I meant that the bishops in question may think that diocesan masses are generally just fine thank you…

      I rather suspect that most of the bishops in question are well aware that such problems are rampant in their dioceses, their ability to fix the problem is another matter. A bishop simply cannot remove all of the incompetent pastors from active ministry because he does not have replacements available and he has to sustain sacramental ministry and other pastoral services in all of the parishes of his diocese. It’s also difficult to find time slots when pastors can break away from their parishes for training — and those who need it the most inevitably will find some reason not to participate. The best for which one could hope would be some sort of pastoral program in which every priest goes back to a seminary on sabbatical every few years, between assignments, to update his training. A bishop also can strengthen a diocesan seminary or, in dioceses that don’t have seminaries, send candidates for ordination to seminaries that provide good training and formation, but it takes fifty or sixty years to flush clergy whose seminary formation was lacking out of the system so this is a long-term solution.

      Of course, there’s another reality here: incompetent and overstressed clergy tend to be ineffective in fostering vocations, thus exacerbating the shortage of clergy. Thus, the problem is somewhat of a “chicken and egg” situation: you need better clergy to recruit more and better seminarians.

      Norm.

  3. Donna Kelsch says:

    EPMS – I totally agree with you on everything you said.

  4. EPMS says:

    I certainly agree that bishops often have to put up with pastorally incompetent clergy because no replacements are available. I was referring, however, specifically to liturgy, and music choice, where the issue is not competence, but taste. There is often an implication that Ordinariate masses are “a cut above” in these areas, and thus will be attractive to people of taste and tone. The potential for offence is clear.

    • William Tighe says:

      “There is often an implication that Ordinariate masses are “a cut above” in these areas, and thus will be attractive to people of taste and tone. The potential for offence is clear.”

      Those that are offended without cause must be pleased without amends. (Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, ca. 1596)

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: There is often an implication that Ordinariate masses are “a cut above” in these areas, and thus will be attractive to people of taste and tone.

      That undoubtedly is true in some places, but not universally. Where it’s true, however, it’s not surprising that those who have this experience are quite willing to say so in public fora, including web sites.

      That said, most former Anglicans who came into the ordinariates do seem to care about the quality of their liturgy and their liturgical music. Thus, I doubt that you will find very many places where the reverse is true; that is, that diocesan parishes have better liturgy than ordinariate communities.

      Norm.

  5. Donna Kelsch says:

    Again, I agree with EPMS and the comment ” an implication that Ordinariate masses are … I disagree with Norm’s comment on the “incompetent “pastors. Have you been through seminary training? I have never met an “incompetent” pastor in my life. I’ve had some as pastors that I personally did not warm up to, some who were a little too formal for my taste, and some who required the congregation to followed liturgical norms that were allowed but not practiced in this Diocese. There are some liturgical things that are required and others that are optional. Standing throughout Communion, from the Our Father until the last person received, singing throughout and THEN having a minute or two for private Thanksgiving comes to mind. It took some getting use to. But he was the priest and pastor. We are not. We conformed to his desire to do it this way and though most of us would have preferred our custom of kneeling and Thanksgiving immediately after receiving we understood the historical, and logical reasons that he gave. Some visitor did complain to the Diocese that he conducted an “illicit” Mass, the Diocese looked into it, found it to be not the custom around here but there was nothing improper about it. So we continued and I believe it was a good experience for us to, if nothing else, conform our will to that of Christ as given through the Pastor…expand our horizons regarding worship. Now our new pastor , though much younger, is of a more traditional mindset liturgically so we are back to kneeling at communion. Our pastors are very overworked, offering usually personally three or more Masses on the weekend and several during the week. In this Diocese I’ve never heard a bad homily in the last 20 years…most priests spend a great deal of time on the very spiritual sermon they give. I always learn more of Christ and my responsibilities as a Christian. Most priests also do one or more volunteer Masses at schools and nursing home during the week, funerals, which seems to come in clusters…occasionally twice a week, weddings, baptisms, celebrated immediately after one of the Sunday masses, confessions at least twice a week, Annointings of the Sick, offered both at church ( in our case once a month after every Mass ) and in hospitals, nursing homes and the home of the sick or dying person AS REQUESTED, counseling, and attending to various parish meetings and committees…and the pastor is suppose to be concentrating on Liturgy? No…the pastor…my pastor is sacrificing to be Christ to the people, and is lucky to have one day off a week. Seminaries vet the applicants…much like West Point because they need dedicated and holy men to undertake this sacred and difficult life. Better to have a few that have true vocations to take up this cross for the sake of the Lord and the Church than to have many that would lead the Church astray.

  6. EPMS says:

    Priests do receive additional stipends for “volunteer” masses, weddings, funerals, etc, although I am not suggesting this is their motivation. If you have not heard a bad homily in 20 years you are very lucky, but realistically not every priest possesses all the gifts this vocation needs in equal measure. And just like doctors, or West Point graduates, some who met the standard in their formation fail to continue to do so. There are treatment centres which work exclusively with Catholic priests and religious who are addicted, for example. They’re not running out of clients. I have argued that it is unhelpful to contrast Ordinariate liturgy with the alleged poor taste of typical parish worship, but I also think that asserting that every Catholic priest is a tireless paragon of sanctity and wisdom puts an intolerable burden on them, not to mention our credulity.

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