The historic new liturgy, known as the Ordinariate Use, has been devised for the personal ordinariates – the structures set up by Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Pope, whilst preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican liturgical and pastoral traditions.
The Mass, at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, was celebrated by the leader – or Ordinary – of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Monsignor Keith Newton. It was offered in honour of the patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Newman, whose feast was on 9 October.
It began with words from the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, hallowed by generations of Anglicans: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy Name…”
Other passages from the Book of Common Prayer included The Comfortable Words and The Prayer of Humble Access: “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…”
Traditional elements of the Roman Rite, such as the Last Gospel and the preparatory Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, options within the Ordinariate Use, were also included.
The sermon was preached by Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Assistant to the Ordinary and a member of the special working party set up by Rome which devised the new Use.
In his sermon, Mgr Burnham said: “Have we, in the Ordinariate, dreamed up our very own ‘hermeneutic of rupture’? Certainly, we have broken away from the Church of England, in which most of us had spent most of our lives. We have broken away too from the trajectory of modern Anglican liturgical revision… But … we have most truly discovered in place of rupture ‘a hermeneutic of continuity’, that is we have found a way of joining together Cranmer’s linguistic brilliance, and feel for translation, with the ancient Canon of the Mass, prayed everywhere in England from the time of St Augustine until the Reformation, that is, a thousand years. And that Canon continues to be prayed throughout the Universal Church. There’s continuity for you.”
Mgr Burnham concluded his sermon with these words: “There are several contexts in which the Ordinariate Use will indeed be usual. There are others in which it will be celebrated seldom. But it is part of who we are, our Anglican DNA, and what we bring, and it will take its place, alongside Choral Evensong, and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, as something which was once merely Anglican and is now part of the treasure-store of the whole Universal Church.” The full text of the sermon is here.
Music, drawn entirely from the English tradition, included Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale. The hymns were “Firmly I believe and truly”, “Lead kindly light” and Praise to the Holiest”, all with words by Blessed John Henry Newman.
The Mass was followed by a media reception organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate.