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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Another new rite at Blackfen

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Quietly, with just two members of the faithful and myself, we had a little piece of history at Blackfen last night with Mass celebrated here for the first time according to the Book of Divine Worship (BDW). This is the book produced for the Anglican Use parishes in the United States (they are in full communion with the Church). It is legitimate for priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to use this rite.

Fr Simon Heans is a great help to me at Blackfen, usually saying either Saturday or Sunday evening Mass and often assisting at other functions. He often says a quiet Mass on a Wednesday evening when his prison Chaplaincy duties allow, and I suggested that he might like to offer this Mass according to the BDW. With a small and friendly congregation it is a good opportunity for him to become accustomed to the rite. It is also a chance for diocesan Catholics in the parish to hear and pray some of the beautiful prayers of the English tradition.

The Mass begins in a different way with a greeting, and the prayer "Almighty God unto whom all hearts are open ..." said by the priest. The Liturgy of the Word is more or less as in the modern Roman Missal, though the greetings have "thee" and "thou" etc. After the Gospel (and sermon and creed if they are included) there are intercessions (set down, not newly-composed for each Mass) followed by a penitential rite in which there is an exhortation to humble confession followed by this prayer:
"Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
The sign of peace is exchanged after this confession, then Mass continues with the offertory, which is the same as the modern Roman Missal. The preface and the Canon are in an older English translation, but the order of the central part of the Mass is familiar.

After the Our Father, the fraction and the Lamb of God, there is the Prayer of Humble Access (I found out that it is known with affectionate irreverence as the 'umbly crumbly prayer because of the scriptural/patristic reference to the crumbs):
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
There is another traditional English prayer after Holy Communion, then the Mass concludes with the blessing "The peace of God which passeth all understanding ..." and dismissal.

Having heard these prayers as a student in the context of Anglican worship at Oxford, it is an amazing experience to hear and say them in the celebration of the Eucharist within the full communion of the Catholic Church. There is a great deal of learned discussion about what Cranmer did with this or that prayer in this or that edition of the Book of Common Prayer, to make the prayer book more Protestant. The BDW is a kind of reversal of what Cranmer did, moving some of the good bits of the Book of Common Prayer into a thoroughly Catholic rite approved by the Pope of Rome.

I'm not sure what the exact roadmap is but I think that there is to be a rite particularly for use in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, as well as a revision of the BDW in the light of some changes in the Roman Missal (for example the acclamation for the Mystery of Faith) but I expect that the basic form of the rite is fairly well established now.

Here is a link to the Order of The Holy Eucharist which is essentially the same as the above and here is a link to a pdf of the BDW which is, I think, the one that we used yesterday. (I hope that is enough disclaimers for liturgical snipers hiding in the bell tower.)
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