New liturgical books for the Anglican Ordinariates

 — June 12, 201412 juin 2014

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, providing a structure for groups of Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church, says in Article III:

Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

In April 2014, the liturgical vision of Anglicanorum coetibus finds its first realization in the publication of Divine Worship: Occasional Services,a single volume published by the Catholic Truth Society, London (, which contains the approved rites for Baptism, Marriage, and Funerals for the Personal Ordinariates. These texts were prepared by the Anglicanae traditiones interdicasterial commission and approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Before passing to a brief presentation of these rites, it may be helpful to consider briefly the concept of Anglican patrimony itself. Article III of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus describes this patrimony as “a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.” This description bespeaks both an internal aspect within the Anglican communities seeking full communion with the Catholic Church (nourishing the faith) as well as an external aspect contributing to Catholic liturgical celebration (a treasure to be shared). Still, the Apostolic Constitution is rather less specific concerning what actually constitutes this patrimony and so further exploration on the basis for this is necessary.

The very affirmation that there is such a thing as an Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony which enriches the whole Church entered Catholic parlance in 1970. On October 25 of that year, Pope Paul VI canonized forty English and Welsh martyrs. During his homily, Paul VI praised “the legitimate prestige and worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Communion,” words that were viewed both as a crucial validation of the special relationship between Catholics and Anglicans and as a confirmation of the existence of an Anglican patrimony worthy of preservation. Pope Paul articulates a key principle: for whatever other ecclesial deficits which result from the lack of full communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Catholic Church acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in this body of separated brothers and sisters so as to be able to say that the manner in which the faith was nourished, proclaimed, and celebrated in the Anglican Communion these past 500 years adds to the vitality of the Church and enriches it. It is this insight which frames Benedict XVI’s concern in Anglicanorum coetibus.

Thus, the working “definition” employed by the Holy See to define “Anglican patrimony” has come to be understood as: That liturgical expression which has maintained and nourished Catholic faith among Anglicans throughout the period of ecclesial separation and which in these days has given rise to aspirations for full communion with the Catholic Church.

Divine Worship: The Order of Holy Baptism

In order to provide for the range of pastoral situations in the pastoral life of the Ordinariates, Divine Worship provides rites for the Baptism of adults and older children, for the Baptism of infants, for conditional, private, and emergency Baptism, and for the public reception of one who has been privately baptized. Perhaps particularly appropriate for Ordinariate communities, there is also a rite for the entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The baptismal rite begins with an invitation to prayer and an invocation that the fruits of Baptism be poured out on the one to be baptized. The preparatory rites include the consignatio (tracing the Sign of the Cross on the forehead), an optional imposition of blessed salt, and a prayer of thanksgiving said by the celebrant and people together. Following the Liturgy of the Word, the rite continues with the Promises which, in the case of infant Baptism, includes the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens and the profession of faith formulated as questions addressed to parents and godparents. Adult Baptism maintains an explicit renunciation of sin on the part of the catechumen who, in keeping with Anglican custom, then professes the faith by reciting the Apostles’ Creed. In both instances, the profession of faith is followed by supplications and the blessing of water.

One feature of Divine Worship: Order of Holy Baptism which warrants further comment are what is known as “The Duties” which, in the order of infant Baptism, follow the Lord’s Prayer, and immediately precede the final blessing. The Duties are exhortations to the parents and godparents concerning their sacred duty to provide for the religious formation of the child. Their specificity is striking, reminding the parents and godparents of their obligation to teach the child the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and to instruct the child in the Catechism so that the child may be presented to the bishop for Confirmation and admitted to Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. In addition to being a rather felicitous articulation of the role of parents and godparents in sacramental initiation, the Duties were judged to be integral to the Anglican tradition and therefore included in the current liturgical provision for the Ordinariates.

Divine Worship: The Order of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony

While Divine Worship attempts to preserve a consistency with the Prayer Book tradition, the process of elaborating and approving these texts for Catholic worship did require some modification of the marriage rite so as to ensure a closer conformity to Catholic doctrine and canonical form. The rubrical directory which introduces Divine Worship: Order of Solemnization of Holy Matrimony makes clear, for example, that the celebration of Marriage between two baptized persons ordinarily takes place during Mass because of the intimate connection of the sacrament with the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The self-offering of Christ for the Church actualized in the Eucharist is understood the shape and foundation of the marital covenant which is actualized in the consent of the spouses to give themselves to each other, a perspective underscored by explicit reference to The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The very first element of Divine Worship: Order of Solemnization of Holy Matrimony is the Admonition and Scrutiny in which the ends of marriage are rather forthrightly proclaimed and the persons to be married are publicly asked about any impediments to their marriage. Even when celebrated during a nuptial Mass, the rite begins with this Admonition and Scrutiny and only if no impediment is alleged does the Mass continue. The Rite for the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony follows the Liturgy of the Word and consists of the Profession of Intention, the Exchange of Consent, and the Blessing and Exchange of Rings. Mirroring the Roman Rite, the Nuptial Blessing occurs after the Eucharistic Canon and the Lord’s Prayer and is completed in the exchange of the Peace. The texts for the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony during Mass also include a Final Blessing of the couple and the congregation.

Divine Worship: The Order of Funerals

As is made clear in the directory which accompanies these texts, the Eucharist is the heart of the Paschal reality of Christian death, for in that sacrament the Church offers to the Father the saving sacrifice of Christ and commits to the earth the body of the dead person, the seed of the body that will rise in glory. In this way the directory underscores that the funeral of a baptized person is normally celebrated within the context of a Funeral Mass.

Whereas the Roman Rite speaks of the prayers for the Commendation of the Dead, Divine Worship celebrates the Absolution at the Bier. This title warrants some explanation, so as to avoid a misunderstanding of the term “absolution”. The ritual directory insists upon the fact that the prayers of Absolution at the Bier are a sacramental. This element is not to be understood as a purification of the dead, much less as effecting a remission of sins, but rather as the last farewell of the Christian community prior to committing the mortal remains of the dead to the earth. “Absolution” understood as purification and forgiveness of sins flows rather from the Eucharistic sacrifice.

When examining the texts themselves, one notes that they preserve the eloquent cadence of traditional English. The adjustments introduced into the text demonstrate the Holy See’s concern that this beautiful language also express the fullness of Catholic faith, particularly here in the expiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice as applied in the funeral liturgy to the specific soul of the deceased person. The Anglican sources often lacked explicit prayers for the soul of the deceased, preferring a first-person plural form of supplication, praying for the faithfully departed in general with almost a passing reference to the deceased. The commission sought to maintain the centrality of the prayer of supplication for the specific soul of the deceased without compromising the structure or literary integrity of the Anglican sources.


Much more can be said about specific examples of Anglican liturgical patrimony present in these rites for Baptism, Marriage, and Funerals. The preceding is merely an overview of Divine Worship: Occasional Services in order to highlight the richness of these texts and their conformity with Catholic faith and practice. The Holy See has made these rites available for the spiritual nourishment and sanctification of her sons and daughters coming into full communion from Anglican backgrounds. In doing so, the Church has also given eloquent expression to a fundamental principle for the ecumenical movement: the unity of faith which is at the heart of the communion of the Church does not require a rigid uniformity of expression. This insight of “unity of faith in diversity of expression” is the hermeneutical key to Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus and, in some manner, reflects the communion that the liturgy itself forges among the members of the Body of Christ. The incorporation of Anglican liturgical patrimony in the Catholic Church, an act historic in itself, offers a mutuality of enrichment which guarantees the authenticity of the faith, invests our liturgical expression with the sure authority of that faith, and redounds to the glory of God, the source of communion and focus of our sacramental worship.

Steven Lopes
Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Posted: June 12, 2014 • Permanent link:
Categories: Vatican NewsIn this article: Catholic, liturgy, ordinariate
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Catégorie : Vatican NewsDans cet article : Catholic, liturgy, ordinariate

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