Ordinariates Conclude 10th Anniversary Amid Pandemic Year With New Divine Offices

The imminent publication of two editions of Divine Worship: Daily Office are a triumph for the Ordinariates and a testament to Pope Benedict XVI’s ecumenical vision.

A processional for Choral Matins at the Nov. 2019 Conference on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church.
A processional for Choral Matins at the Nov. 2019 Conference on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church. (photo: Madison Giesbrecht / Anglicanorum Coetibus Society)

The 2020 pandemic swept away plans made by the Catholic Church’s ordinariates for the Anglican tradition to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being established by Pope Benedict XVI, but the conclusion of the jubilee year has marked their resiliency. 

The three ordinariates in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia (established by Benedict XVI’s Nov. 4, 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus) announced the imminent publication of their Daily Office, providing Catholics a new official form of the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours in traditional English.

“There is momentum coming out of this,” said Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, located in the U.S. and Canada, in an interview with the Register, saying the ordinariate’s communities have grown, rising to the challenge of thinking creatively about preaching the gospel and delivering the sacraments through the pandemic. “Our people believe in the mission and the work we’re doing.”

At St. Barnabas Catholic Church, an ordinariate parish in Omaha, Nebraska, the publication of Divine Worship: Daily Office is a highlight in a pandemic year that challenged the parish.

“It’s been tough. We made a concerted effort to do a lot of things through the pandemic,” Father Jason Catania, St. Barnabas’ pastor, told the Register. They held a Eucharistic procession, parking-lot confessions, and set up a 24-hour Eucharistic shrine to help people get through the darkest days of the pandemic.

The parish also has celebrated Sunday Evensong (the ordinariate form of Vespers or Evening Prayer), and the priest is looking forward to the increase of Morning and Evening Prayer services at the parish thanks to the publication of Divine Worship: Daily Office by this Advent.

“We’ve got a dozen instituted acolytes and a deacon, and I’m thinking of putting them in charge of that,” Father Catania said.

“It’s going to be a great thing for us,” Sean Reed, a longtime parishioner of St. Barnabas, told the Register. Reed helped transition the parish from jurisdiction of the Episcopal church to that of the Catholic Church via the ordinariate in 2012.

“We take the Office and Mass seriously,” he said. “And we’re looking forward to getting that synergy back once the new office book’s available.”


Divine Worship: Liturgical Books Complete

Bishop Lopes said the new Divine Worship: Daily Office completes the liturgical books of the ordinariates, which constitute a third form of the Roman Rite, approved by the Vatican, and draw principally from Anglican liturgical sources that reach back to pre-Reformation English Catholic liturgy.

The bishop added the ordinariate’s Daily Office emphasizes the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Liturgy of the Hours as “the prayer of the parish — not just the clergy but also the faithful.”

 “This is a regular feature of parish life [in the Anglican tradition] and should become again a regular feature of ordinariate parish life,” he said.

The ordinariates have developed two editions of Divine Worship: Daily Office. The North American edition for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, published by Newman House Press, is drawn from the Anglican patrimony’s development in the U.S. and Canada. The edition of Divine Worship: Daily Office for the U.K.-based Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the Australia-based Our Lady of the Southern Cross, reflects the Anglican tradition as developed in the U.K. and British Commonwealth countries. 

An advance look of Divine Worship: Daily Office (Commonwealth edition) to be published by the Catholic Truth Society in early 2021.
An advance look of Divine Worship: Daily Office (Commonwealth edition) to be published by the Catholic Truth Society in early 2021.(Photo: Courtesy photo)

“We have sought to preserve the riches of the Anglican tradition of the Office, whilst also where necessary conforming it to Catholic faith and practice,” said Father Christopher Lindlar of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and convener of the working group for the Commonwealth edition, in an interview with the Register.

Both the forthcoming North American and Commonwealth editions of Divine Worship: Daily Office are Vatican-approved versions of the Liturgy of the Hours of the Catholic Church. They are each single volumes, with all the daily offices complete with the Coverdale Psalter. This Vatican-approved psalter was translated into English in 1535 by Myles Coverdale, and formed generations of English-speaking Christians in its beautiful, poetic imagery. Both Office editions also use the second Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Bible for their lectionary, which covers most of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament books.

“There’s a biblical dynamism that shapes and fuels the rest of your prayer,” Bishop Lopes said of how the ordinariate Office engages a person with most of the Bible over the course of a year.

The “North American edition” follows a tradition of using a Bible for the readings at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, and has translated in traditional English office hymns drawn from the traditional Roman breviary. The “Commonwealth edition” follows a different tradition by including all the Old and New Testament readings, making it a heftier book, but is anticipated to have a more abbreviated selection of Office hymns.

Msgr. Carl Reid, the ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, which covers both Australia and the Pacific Rim countries, told the Register that he proposed the idea of a joint Commonwealth edition with the U.K. Ordinariate at St. John Henry Newman’s canonization in 2019.

“Right out of the blue, it struck me like a bolt of lightning,” he said.

Msgr. Reid said the arrival of the Commonwealth edition, expected in early 2021, will greatly help the ordinariate survive the lockdowns in Australia that have severely affected their ability to gather for worship and evangelize. Since the ordinariate in Australia has no buildings of its own, it is dependent on its host Catholic parishes and dioceses which are facing a financial crisis, and finding creative ways to nourish the faithful.

“We do know a lot of lay people are praying the Daily Office,” he said. The published office book will retire the draft office books people are using now to keep their faith strengthened at home. The Office will be a key feature in their future lay-driven evangelization strategy.


Mass and Office Together

While most Catholics think of the Mass when they hear “liturgy,” Bishop Lopes explained the Catholic Church teaches the full liturgical life is found in “Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Mass somewhere between.” 

“The beating heart of the Church is the Mass and the Office,” he said. 

“The [Second Vatican] Council talks about the office as a participation in the priestly office of Christ, and that priestly office is that in which we all share by virtue of baptism,” he said. “This is the liturgy, if you will, of the baptismal priesthood, offered with and for the entire Church, for and with the entire world.”

Most Catholic parishes, however, have not adopted the vision of the Second Vatican Council to have the Divine Office as a regular liturgical feature of parish life.

“The call of the Second Vatican Council in its constitution on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, is that the entire Church rediscovers the Divine Office as the privileged prayer of the whole Church,” he said. “And in many ways, that is anticipated in the Anglican tradition, and therefore is a treasure the Ordinariate brings to bear in Catholic life.”

Clint Brand, a professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, who  worked on the development of the Divine Worship: Daily Office edition for North America, said the Ordinariate has achieved a Daily Office that is “accessible and engaging to the clergy and people alike.”

“There’s built in pastoral flexibility,” he said, to pray the Office in diverse settings. The options allow a busy layperson to pray Morning or Evening Prayer in 15-20 minutes, or allow a church to provide an hour-long “full liturgical experience.” 

He explained that Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer lead a person to really know Jesus Christ in the Mass, just as Christ used the Scriptures to prepare his disciples on the road to Emmaus to recognize him in the “breaking of the bread” in Luke 24.

Brand said the ordinariate’s Daily Office is richly biblical, and as St. John Henry Newman noted about the Anglican prayer books on which it is based, is a powerful aid to grow in holiness and the Catholic faith through the liturgical year. Brand explained the ordinariate Office “allows people from an evangelical background, or Protestant tradition, to immerse themselves” in common prayer with Catholics that could be a “gateway” for them to embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith.

“At the same time, the Office is unambiguously, unapologetically Catholic,” he said. “And I’m delighted that it has come to pass.”