Friday, 29 December 2017

SACRAL LANGUAGE

Late this year (2017) Nathaniel Peters wrote a lament for sacral language in the Roman Liturgy.  He directed our attention to the latest English translation from the Latin of the Ordinary Form (OF) of the Roman Liturgy, what is known as the Novus Ordo.
I wrote at the time to emphasize the fact (all too widely unknown or ignored) that DIVINE WORSHIP: THE MISSAL (DW) approved by the Holy Father and published in 2014 provides for just such sacral English in the Roman (Western) Rite of the Catholic Church.  In fact DW is one of the several forms of the Roman Rite.
Moreover, DW may be used publicly by any Latin Rite (Western Catholic) priest so long as there is at least one member of the Ordinariate present. (This might mean himself alone or other Catholics).
Indeed, DW is used now around the world. Some priests use it for their private Masses since it is an approved form of the Roman Rite just as the Extraordinary (Latin) Form (EF) is approved for use by any and all priests since Benedict XVI.
Dr. Peters seemed to imply that DW was  isolated as something for the Anglican Ordinariate (sic) only.  
What needs to be acknowledged is that, yes, DW is used by the the several Ordinariates worldwide (none of which bear the name "Anglican"): The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Great Britain), The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (North America) and The Personal of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia, New Zealand and Asia).
However, all Catholics from West and East are welcome to fulfill their Mass obligations at any DW Mass and indeed those baptized but uncatechized and unconfirmed Catholics who prefer sacral English are more than welcome (thanks to the explicit instructions of the Holy Father) to become members of one of the Ordinariates through the Sacrament of  Confirmation.  This of course applies to the many Protestants and others who find the DW liturgy, music and patrimony to be inspirational and want to come into unity with the broader Catholic Church.
Though initially intended to respond to the requests to enter into full communion with Rome from Anglican bishops, priests and laymen, the Ordinariates now include former Lutherans, Mennonites, Copts, Adventists, Pentecostals and Protestants of many varieties who live in English-speaking countries and have come into unity through the Ordinariates.
Here is what I originally wrote to FIRST THINGS re. Dr. Peters' article and his initial response:
Nathaniel Peters (“Thus Saith the Lord,” November) seems unaware that his plea for sacral English texts for use in the Catholic Church and other ecclesial communities has already been answered. The Personal Ordinariates erected under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus have provided for precisely the elevated language Peters envisions by drawing on the cadences of the Book of Common Prayer. 
A full English rite for Holy Mass as well as texts for Baptism, Reception and Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, and Funerals are already approved by the Holy See and in use around the world. These rites bring the whole liturgical enterprise for English sacral language into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Fr. John L. Hodginscatholic parish of st. thomas more
ordinariate of the chair of st. peter
toronto, ontario, canada
Nathaniel Peters replies:
I have been aware of the Anglican Ordinariate since its inception, and I am glad to learn that the sacramental rites Fr. Hodgins mentions are now in use. My essay referred not to the Ordinariate’s particular liturgy, but to the translation of the Roman Rite that most Catholics use. Since sacral language exists in English, it should be easy and obvious to use its cadences in Catholic liturgy, Scripture, and hymnody, whether in continuity with historical Anglican practices or not. Use of sacral language in the Roman Rite would elevate the aesthetics and theology that the laity receive through it. The fact that the riches of Anglicanism are now a part of the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate gives us further reason to use them more broadly for the benefit of the faithful.
I might add that Christians of all stripes—Protestant and Catholic, traditional and progressive—have taken great consolation and joy in the beauty of English sacral language. We need not become Anglicans in order to adopt it. A friend’s grandmother has a saying for hard times: “There is nothing that a hot bath, bourbon, and the Book of Common Prayer won’t cure.” Give me that old-time religion, indeed. 

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