LONDON — The introduction of a new ordinariate-use liturgy for groups of former Anglicans is uniting some of their old traditions to the fullness of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican office responsible for adapting parts of the Anglican liturgy for use in the Catholic Church “has had the task of the scribe, trained for the Kingdom of heaven, the householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old,” said Msgr. Andrew Burnham.
The monsignor serves as assistant to the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
“We have had to examine just what it is in the Anglican liturgical books that can and should be brought fully into the life of the Catholic Church,” he explained during Mass on Oct. 10.
Established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, the ordinariate allows for entire communities to enter into communion with the Catholic Church, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices, such as the Book of Common Prayer.
Personal ordinariates — which have also been created in the U.S., Canada and Australia — function similar to a diocese, but generally with a larger geographical area.
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham covers England and Wales. It has adopted Blessed John Henry Newman as its patron, and it celebrated the first ordinariate-use Mass Oct. 10, the day after his memorial.
The Mass, celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in London, was the first liturgy to officially integrate traditional Anglican prayers into the Roman rite. The form was developed in Rome over the past several years by a special working party, which included the homilist Msgr. Burnham.
He explained that the ordinariate-use liturgy will not necessarily be used by all ordinariate priests for all Masses.
The blend of traditional Anglican and Latin-rite prayers that comprise the liturgy, however, are “part of who we are, our Anglican DNA,” and the prayers will join other Anglican traditions, such as Choral Evensong, in becoming “part of the treasure store of the whole universal Church.”
He noted that, while the ordinariate-use liturgy is a sign of the ordinariate’s break from the Church of England, it is also a means of discovering what Pope Benedict has called “a hermeneutic of continuity.”
The new form of the Mass joins together the “linguistic brilliance and feel for translation” of the Book of Common Prayer with “the ancient canon of the Mass,” the form of the Mass prayed since the early days of the Church that “continues to be prayed throughout the universal Church.”
As Msgr. Burnham stressed, “There’s continuity for you.”