Divisive Liturgy

Looking forward to full Communion
While re-reading a recent copy of the Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine produced by the LMS, I noticed an article entitled 'In Unity with Pope Benedict' by Fr John Hunwicke.

The ex-Anglican minister who has joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham writes, updating us on his journey towards full communion with the Successor of St Peter. Unfortunately, Fr Hunwicke, as the Transalpine Redemptorists report, has had his Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of the Catholic Church delayed, or deferred, for reasons which have not been explained. He has an interesting blog, which will serve and does serve as a marvellous document of his transition from Anglicanism, to the Ordinariate set up by Pope Benedict XVI.

I believe that the article is well worth posting in its near entirety and I do so below:

'At the moment, except for the overwhelmingly sad fact that I lack the fullness of communion with the Holy Father and with Catholics throughout the world, I have a very satisfying liturgical life.  In my church, the altar was never shifted around; Mass has always been celebrated facing the East. I say Mass every day; on Sundays the Mass is Novus Ordo but in a translation which is in the tradition of Anglican worship: "Vere dignum iustem est" becomes for example, "It is very meet, right...": Tudor English which - I trust you noticed - even reproduces the very sounds of the Latin. My people reply, when I greet them, "And with thy Spirit". I invariably use the First Eucharistic Prayer, the Canon Romanus, in an old English translation authorised for use in American ex-Anglican Catholic parishes.
And, on one morning a week, I say the same form as a Low Mass.  But on the other five mornings, I celebrate, in Latin, the 'Tridentine' Mass.  Standing at the foot of the altar and saying the psalm 'Judica Me' makes me a member of that great band of pilgrims who have gone up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice in the place the Lord has ordained: surrounded, often by enemies, but drawn ineluctably by the Light and Truth which shine from that Holy Mountain and the Tabernacles where the Lord dwells.
If I express my own human doubts and inadequacies, the server instandly tells me to stop whinging: "Spera in Deo"! But...did I speak about a "great band of pilgrims"? I should have referred to the One Pilgrim; the Incarnate Lord who went up to Jerusalem to offer the One Sacrifice of Himself which suffices for all time. As I say "Aufer a nobis" and walk up those steps, I act as Alter Christus and enter into the Sancta Sanctorum to make present the One Day of Atonement in which the Eternal Son offers Himself to the Father.
My anxieties? Will I be able daily to offer the Holy Sacrifice according to this august and wonderful Form when I have entered into full communion? Of course, being in communion with the See of Peter is a privilege (some of your fellow Catholics seem unaware of how great a privilege) which would outweigh even having to say Mass in a rite far more unhelpful than the ordinary form. I am quite clear about that. But...do you see just a little of what I mean? In Newman's time, Anglicans made their way into the Lord's Fold with a joyous sense that they were leaving an environment of faulty and marred worship and entering the place where the Lord received - as far as can happen in via - was fitting. Read, if you haven't already, the accounts of Catholic worship in Blessed John Henry Newman's semi-autobiographical novel, Loss and Gain. My apprehensions are that i shall indeed be entering a place where the Voice of Peter speaks loud and clear, but that the worship...need I [...] be more explicit?'

No, you need not be more explicit Fr Hunwicke and you have the sympathy and approval of not just LMS members who read Mass of Ages, but many Catholic clergy and laity within the Church. The good Reverend continues...

'I would expect some readers to be suspicious. If this man so proudly confesses his acceptance of the entire teaching of the Church and his love for the Mass of Ages, why has he lingered so long in terra aliena? I think you need to understand the history of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England.  It began as a movement which was anti-Papal...'

Hang on...Isn't there a movement like that within the Catholic Church?

'...and upheld the Church of England as the true Catholic Church of this land.  But many of its members soon saw how silly this idea of 'Branch Churches' was. Soon there was an unashamed 'Papalist Movement'. Why did it stay in the Church of England? Because of a trust in Truth as certain to prevail; a sense that if one stayed and prayed and fought, the day of a corporate unity between Canterbury and Rome would come. This trust was fortified by the ARCIC ecumenical process, which explicitly envisaged the full organic unity of England and Rome. The ordination of women has made it quite clear that this hope is now - permanently - frustrated. Such a 'reunion' can now never happen.'

Gosh. What breathtaking and refreshing honesty. I can imagine that such honesty concerning personal anxieties over whether a Priest will have the freedom to maintain regular celebration of the 'Tridentine' Mass, a comparison of the Church's liturgy now and in the days of Blessed John Henry Newman, laced with a sense of sadness, and finally sigh of lament that the ARCIC ecumenical process was, in the light of Anglican liberalism, doomed to failure, would offend some individuals among very senior members of the Hierarchy.

Well, Fr Hunwicke, I am sure I do not speak for myself alone when I say that you have my unequivocal support and that I am greatly saddened that, with the deferral of your Ordination, you have felt compelled to close down your blog and stop documenting your ministry in what should be days of joyful expectation, as you move towards your ordination and entrance into full communion with the See of Peter.

I hope and pray that whatever obstacles are in the way of your ordination are removed and may Blessed John Henry Newman intercede for you that this happen quickly. Be reassured that there are many of us who believe very much that your contribution to the Church, your ministry and proclamation of the Gospel online is now and will be in the future, of immense value, in terms of building up and strengthening the Body of Christ.

Celebrate Brighton: Standing up for Vatican II?
 'Celebrate Brighton'

I have called this post 'Divisive Liturgy', so let us finally take a look at some. Here is something that is going on at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in August. It is called Celebrate Brightona 'Catholic Charismatic Conference' which takes place annually. It is what I would call divisive liturgy, since it certainly appears to take the Sacred Liturgy of the Church and reshape it or remould it into something akin to a Pentecostal healing service. It appears to be a charismatic conference which is about taking God to ourselves as experience, rather than allowing ourselves to be taken up to God, by God, in the mystery of the Mass.

It is aimed at 'Christians and Catholics', rather than Catholics. It appears to be about having an 'experience of God', especially the Holy Spirit, which runs at variance with the Church's teaching on the Third Person of the Trinity. It appears to be rather Protestant in its vision. This kind of liturgy, in my opinion, is dangerous and divisive. Much more dangerous and divisive than the Extraordinary Form. It is the kind of liturgy that could put off many disaffected Anglicans from joining the Ordinariate. It is the kind of liturgy which has been condemned on numerous occasions by Pope Benedict XVI for placing man, instead of God, at the centre of the Church's liturgical action.  Time and time again the 'charismatic movement' has been shown to lack roots or give people faith that is anything more than surface level enthusiasm. It is the kind of liturgy that is so alien to the Sacred Tradition of the Church, that it resembles the Evangelicalism that Blessed John Henry Newman predicted would die out sooner, rather than later.

What I find particularly interesting about the promo video from 2008 is that none of the actual liturgy is present in it. There is this sense in which the video maker wants to show you pictures of waves crashing against Brighton's shore, rather than a school gymnasium with a hundred men and women waving their arms in the air as if they are in some weird US evangelical cult. There is a sense in which they know that if they actually showed you the liturgy, it would put you off. I am sure nobody will mind me saying that this is a great failure of such liturgy. It is unable to teach people the Faith. There has to be 'teaching' as well, because the liturgy doesn't do any teaching - it is all about personal experience. I think if the LMS were to do a video about a 'Catholic Charismatic Conference' (because everyone knows that Gregorian Chant is the charismatic music that won over England to the Faith) organised by them, there would be no need for waves crashing against the shore, because the best advertisement for the Latin Mass, is the liturgy itself, the beauty of the music, the beauty of the vestments, the beauty of the choreography of the Mass, the reverence, the devotion, the obvious emphasis upon the very centrality and dependence of everything and everyone upon God.

Let us be clear and speak boldly. England was not won over to the Catholic Faith by 'Majesty' or 'Shine Jesus Shine'. By the 600s the Mass celebrated by the missionaries sent by Pope St Gregory I the Great was recognisably a Latin Mass, celebrated Ad Orientem. The music of the Chuch was Gregorian Chant.

England came to the Catholic Faith because Benedictine monks went from town to town singing this chant, putting on Catholic Charismatic Conferences all over the land that was to become known as Our Lady's Dowry. Quite what St Augustine of Canterbury and Our Blessed Lady think of the divisive liturgy of Celebrate Brighton, is anybody's guess. Arm-waving liturgy like what I imagine takes place at this conference suggests not that there are two Forms of worship in the Church which can mutually enrich each other: Novus Ordo and Extraordinary Form, but two totally different ways of worshipping God in the Church - Evangelical and Catholic, because there the Novus Ordo is celebrated in such a manner as to make it unrecognisable from a regular Novus Ordo mass celebrated according to the laws of the Church. No. Liturgy like this suggests rather that there are not two forms of mutual enrichment, but two Churches. Would the priests and laity or even Bishops who endorse or attend 'Celebrate Brighton' have the same understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as Fr Hunwicke or an understanding of the Mass that is more than slightly different? It is very worrying.

Yes, Fr Hunwicke, Blessed John Henry Newman converted at a time when the Church was healthier and when liturgy reflected the Splendour of the Church and Her greatest Treasure - the Eucharistic Lord. We need you, Fr Hunwicke and many more like you. May Our Lady of Walsingham protect you and watch over you all the days of your life and your ministry in the service of her Divine Son.


shadowlands said…
As you know by now Laurence, we differ in our views in this area. However, it is important to say what the Church states. With your approval, I would refer your readers to the following:

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging and praising the work of the Charismatic Renewal in its commitment to promote communion.

The Pope affirmed this in a letter sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (Rinnovamento nello Spirito). The movement members are gathered near Rimini, Italy, for their 31st meeting. The annual celebration began Thursday and is focusing on the theme "Regenerated by the Word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).

More than 20,000 people are participating in the meeting. In Italy alone, the Charismatic Renewal has more than 200,000 members, among 1,900 groups and communities.

The papal letter stated that "His Holiness praises and encourages the commitment with which the Charismatic Renewal makes its own and carries forward the effort to promote communion and collaboration among the diverse realities that the same Spirit has brought about in the Church."

The letter emphasized that the Holy Father "always follows the journey of the ecclesial movements with special pastoral solicitude" and that he exhorts the members of the Charismatic Renewal always to "unite with prayer their effective attention to the world's needs and the good of men."
In another message, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, hoped that "the themes of the meeting and the days that you will spend together will be a leaven for your renewed presence in families, society and human history."


Brilliant video by the way. I particularly like the way God makes waves!

'shine Jesus shine!' ;)

for a wikki pikki bit of info, see here:
Sandy said…
Richard Collins said…
Great, great post and a tragedy that the Faith is deprived of Fr Hunwicke for the time being.
Martin said…
Tragic indiscretion more like, for an aspiring priest in the Church in the current climate.
Heard the one about the poodle?
Better he hadn't swum the Tiber.

"For the time being" is going to be quite some time.
You can delete, forgive, but nobody forgets a blunder on the blogosphere. Sadly,(or fortunately), it can reveal character.

Regards Laurence.
Good news about the temporary reprieve for the homeless couple.
Keep us updated on this.
RE Bones:

Amen brother!

Godspeed that noble man to the presbyterate.
The current climate? What has that to do with it? Do you mean the current most influential Catholics in the establishment?

Unless there is something I've not been told, Fr Hunwicke is not guilty of any crime.
Nor is there any stain on his character.
Matthaeus said…
So 'Celebrate Brighton' is aimed at 'Christians and Catholics'! This sounds like a quote from fundamentalist Calvinism! Are we not Christians, then? Surely for any Catholic, the terms 'Catholic' and 'Christian' are synonymous, since we claim to be the Church which Our Lord Himself founded, and to worship Him in the way He directed.

There are, of course, demominations, currenly not in communion with Rome, who are earnestly seeking Christ, and follow many of his teachings, have valid Baptism and can therefore properly be decribed as 'Christian'. I believe that many members of these denominations do, in fact, eventually reach Our Lord, being reconciled to Him through the Church Penitant, if not the Church Militant: after all, many of us who claim to be Catholics suffer doubts and crises of Faith, neglect prayer and worship, and frequently fall into sin.

Nonetheless, we should be trying to move towards Christ (or more correctly toward the Trinity), and not trying to foment division.

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is a great stride in practical ecumenism - providing a way for more Christians to enter into communion. I know that those who have entered the Ordinariate value there liturgical and sacramental life highly.

I pray that whatever difficulties exist regarding Fr. Hunwicke's ordination, these are soon overcome, and look forward to hearing about his first Mass in full communion with Rome.
georgem said…
John Hunwicke's blog certainly does reveal character, with a capital C; fortunately for some of us, sadly for some who are influential in the Church.
Funny how when the Church knew what it was and where it was going there was no need for charismatic renewal and all those other renewal movements.