latin massWritten By: Lawrence Lam

A couple of months ago I was visiting with a friend in Houston and we attended Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham Church, which is the principal church of the Anglican Ordinariate, established by Benedict XVI as the structure for converts from Anglicanism. Like most communities which emphasize liturgical beauty, I was struck by the reverence and deep prayerful atmosphere of the mass, which luckily was celebrated by the Ordinary, a monsignor (who can’t be bishop since he is married).

The Ordinariate Rite is an adaptation of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer for appropriate Catholic use. It is celebrated Ad Orientembut is structured comfortably similar to the Novus Ordo such that both Roman Catholics and former Anglicans can feel at home with it. Note that the Book of Common Prayer itself draws its origins from the Sarum Rite, which like the Dominican Rite is one of the pre-Tridentine rites of the western Catholic Church.

It’s interesting to attend the various rites and allow oneself to be shaped by their practice as a directional influence in our own Roman Rite. Consider the “Comfortable Words”, which the deacon reads out in an elevated language from our Lord, St. Paul and St. John, which remind us of God’s mercy for us.

Or placement and tone of the penitential rite, situated after the prayers of the faithful instead of close to the beginning:

“…We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our

misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous; the burden of them is

intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most Merciful Father…”

In what appears to some to be a time of cultural darkness for the Roman Church, these diverse distinctions can lead us to a fuller appreciation for beauty in the liturgy and thus cultural renewal in our corporate worship. I already see the fruits of these in places like Holy Family Parish in Toronto or even the Brompton Oratory where I attended mass this past Sunday. Just as St. Benedict led a religious movement which sprung into a cultural renewal, I pray that we can count on his intercession to lead us further to a fuller and authentic honor of the Lord each Sunday.

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