11 October 2016

The US of A; and the Anglican Use Mass

It is kind of readers to wish me well; I have never been to those more Arctic parts of North America before. The last time I headed across the Herring Pond it was to the pleasantly cosy climes of the Lone Star State ... I think, my fourth visit there. I had already got to know the admirable Fr Allan Hawkins and the warm welcome of his people, not least when I preached a Lenten Course there; my next experience was getting to know Fr Christopher Phillips and the vibrant, growing church and school he had built in San Antonio. A school, incidentally, in which Latin is well provided for! The Commencement Addresses I was privileged to give more or less wrote themselves!

What particularly struck me and impressed me at our Lady of the Atonement was the large number of Hispanic worshippers at the Anglican Use liturgies. I wondered what poor Dr Cranmer would have thought if he could have had a vision (or perhaps I mean an audition), as he walked towards the stake in the Oxford city ditch outside Balliol College, of prayers he had composed flowing with such cheerful ease from the lips of Catholic descendants of the Spanish subjects of good King Philip (I of England and II of Spain)!

The Liturgy at the Atonement does not include the Extraordinary Form, but it is done in a traditional idiom which would would have made it instantly recognisable to the original worshippers at the Texan Spanish Mission churches I was taken to see, in the Northern part of New Spain. The Hispanic members of the Atonement congregation seemed at least as enthusiastic about the fare they were receiving as did the Anglo-Saxons; they were clearly going to Mass there because they sensed that it provided them with something hard-wired into their genes.

The Ordinariate form of Mass manifestly has a much broader appeal than merely to ex-Anglicans or merely to the English (and Scots and Welsh). This is, quite simply, because it taps back into the Great Tradition; it re-establishes links with the grammar by which Western and Eastern Europeans worshipped for a couple of millennia. And that style of worship, penetrated throughout by the numinous, lasted so long and spread so far and so wide simply because, for generation after generation, it measured up to one great cultural and religious test: Is this what it ought to be like to be worshipping the Christian God?

Members of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham sensed that vividly last Saturday in Blessed John Henry Newman's shrine in Birmingham; Fr Phillips' huge and devout congregations, gathered from every cultural tradition, sense it as vividly under the warm sun of San Antonio.


Claudio Salvucci said...

The War changed the world. My parents' generation in Italy learned French in school--but my cousins learned English. I am always amused this time of year to see my Roman cousins break out the Halloween decorations. They grew up very familiar with American/English popular music. The Anglo cultural complex has now reached every corner of the globe.

This is the time of Anglo cultural ascendancy. How long it will last, God only knows. Given current trends I am not optimistic. But likely the Church will remember this time in her liturgy and preserve its best bits for however long the earth endures: like she preserved Rome, Byzantium, Pharaonic Egypt, Axum, Syria and Babylon in her respective rites.

In the distant future I would imagine the Anglosphere to be something like Spain is now--with two coexisting rituals, the Roman and the "national liturgy," zealously preserved in certain churches, of which you all are the happy founding fathers.

Gil Garza said...

Very enthusiastic!