Approved Catholic Mass, with Protestant words

Something extraordinary is happening in English churches.

Imagine you arrived at an unfamiliar church just as the service was starting and you heard: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…” Right, you’d think, CofE, Book of Common Prayer.

But this is the beginning of a Catholic Mass, a Roman Catholic Mass.

It is a liturgy approved by the Pope, and it takes lumps of the Holy Communion service from the 1662 Prayer Book. I find the general effect pleasing but distinctly unsettling.

Two questions arise, depending on the direction from which one is coming. A member of the Church of England might wonder why Catholics should want to use the Book of Common Prayer compiled by Archbishop Cranmer (pictured here in 1546). A Catholic might ask: but is it the Mass?

The Catholics who already use it were once Anglicans and, since the beginning of 2011, have joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. About 80 have been ordained priests, and there are more than 1,000 lay people. Not many.

It is remarkable that the Vatican should have approved the service. (This is not technically a rite. It is, I think, a “use” of the Roman rite.) But on the question of its validity, it is to be noted that the “Eucharistic Prayer” is not the one in the Book of Common Prayer. It is a translation of the Roman Canon, but a different one from that in force in Catholic parish churches. Continue reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , ,