08 December 2012

The Uniate Impulse

On the whole the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is very well done.  This posting of mine is about a problem to be found in it but should not be construed as a negative judgement of the book.  There is an enormous amount of laudable substance to the Customary and the labour taken to put it together is likewise praiseworthy.

My concern is for the Uniate impulse which is on display in this book and the approved liturgies of the Ordinariates.  As Pope John Paul II taught us clearly, the Uniate impulse to Romanisation is to be avoided, and each proper portion of the Church is to authentically live out its charism... returning ad fontes as necessary.  By way of example, it is a great tragedy to lose O Sapientia on December 16th -- which is established ancient English rubric -- and likewise lose "O Virgo virginum" in order to follow the Latin rite system beginning December 17th.  If you exist to preserve the Anglican liturgical heritage, then preserve it for heaven's sake.

Sadly, the Uniate impulse is on display elsewhere in these liturgical efforts.  After lengthy inquiry into why the Ordinariate has chosen to abandon the traditional Anglican wording of the Gloria Patri in favour of a form widely used by some English speaking Latin-rite Cathoics, I have repeatedly been told it is so that English speaking Catholics will be saying the same form of the Gloria Patri.  In other words, we are aping Rome albeit in English non-Anglican translation.

Rather ridiculous if the above were true. Were this a substantial principle then we would not have "And with thy spirit" but rather "And with your spirit."  There would be no need for an Ordinariate.

There are those who say the traditional Anglican form has not been abandoned but is permissible.  Although true it is also incredibly misguided.   The very heart of what Pope John Paul II began and what Pope Benedict has continued is that the unique character and essential forms should be brought into the Church without change from those outside the normative Latin rite.  No Anglican prayer book uses the Gloria Patri as translated in the Ordinariate texts and as such it is not Anglican in origin as a matter of text.

The issue appears to be that someone somewhere simply does not like the Anglican "Holy Ghost" and has systematically tried to erase it.  I have been told again and again that this is not the case.

So, if everyone is telling me the truth, then obviously this one Uniatish error is open for correction in future books.  The unique original Anglican forms must be used.  Variations from that belong in permissible rubrics.

For Anglicanorum coetibus to be taken seriously ... the Anglican Prayer Book forms must be used as they appear in the official books and texts held in common by those people called "Anglican" or "Episcopalian" if the claims being made for the Ordinariates are to be taken seriously by those outside of the Church (not to mention those inside the Church who are still debating whether or not the Ordinariate is for them).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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It really isn't possible to divine the agenda that would drive the elimination of an obvious traditional Anglican way of speaking about God and relegating it to the permissible rubrics.  It is, of course, insulting to anyone who claims this tradition in its traditional expression as their own living faith.  So what could be at work?

Others have observed that there is a generational issue at work in the avoidance of "Holy Ghost".  If one is 'older' sometimes there is a feeling that "Holy Ghost" references Caspar the Friendly Ghost or American "Halloween".  This is understandable but a mistaken concern.  The culture is obsessed with ghosts and ghost hunters.  It is actually the prime time to raise up the reality of the Third Person of the Trinity as the Holy Ghost -- who is more than able to drive away anything that goes bump in the night.

Second, the New Age teachers and movements speak of "Spirit" or "the Spirit" or "holy Spirit" all the time.  This is not the same as "Spiritus Sanctus"and it makes abundant plain sense to differentiate the claims of Catholic Christians from the terms and claims of the New Agers.  "Holy Ghost" is plainly the Christian deity. "Spirit" or "the Spirit" could reference almost anything, and it is a tragedy to give up unique and clear language for the Third Person of the Godhead because of misplaced concerns and a failure to think in terms of evangelical engagement of the terms being used in the culture.

"Holy Spirit" clearly means "Holy Ghost" when used by Catholics.  But non-Christians also speak of "holy Spirit" at times. As for Anglican identity people -- especially in North America -- "Holy Ghost" should not be excised or replaced in any traditional Prayer Book text.  I can only hope that the good folk of the Ordinariates in their private deliberations in crafting these new books and texts will reverse course on this, avoid the Uniate impulse, and return to use of the Anglican terms and forms as they are found in their traditional expression.

All that being said, there is good work in the Customary.  I am still praying that the first drafts of the marriage and burial liturgies will either be redrafted entirely or that they will add a simple rubric permitting use of the texts that appear in the current Book of Divine Worship.   Hope never fails, and seeing good work and good intent in the Customary, one can hope for better in the future as the texts develop.