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  • Divine Worship and the Liturgical Vitality of the Church
  • Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia O.P. (bio)

Liturgy and doctrine have intersected in a striking way in the development of the liturgical provision for use by the Personal Ordinariates erected following the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (2009). In 2011 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship established the Anglicanae Traditiones Interdicasterial Commission to undertake this task. Since that time, the commission has authorized a Lectionary for the Ordinariates based on the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Second Catholic Edition),1 and has produced two liturgical books. The first, which was published in April 2014, is Divine Worship: Occasional Services containing the approved rites for Baptism, Holy Matrimony, and Funerals for the Personal Ordinariates.2 The second, Divine Worship: The Missal, will be available to the parish communities of the Ordinariates for the celebration of Mass on the First Sunday of Advent 2015.

In providing a structure for groups of Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus affirms the following principle about the liturgical heritage of these groups:

Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been [End Page 109] approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.3

With the inclusion of such a liturgical provision in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Holy See acknowledges the legitimate patrimony of ecclesial communities coming into full communion. An essential part of that patrimony must be liturgical since worship expresses in a most tangible way not only the ethos of a community, but also the faith that prompted it to seek full communion in the first place. Just as it would be unthinkable to describe the Catholic Church without reference to its liturgical and sacramental life, so it would in some sense be for every ecclesial body. The manner in which an ecclesial community worships uniquely expresses its inner life.

Furthermore, the publication of Divine Worship is of historic significance in that this is the first time the Catholic Church has acknowledged the value of liturgical forms arising from a Reformation community and has undertaken to incorporate them. To be sure, the Church has drawn elements of the Reformation musical tradition—such as hymns, motets, and chorales—but never official liturgical texts.

In order to understand the context and orientation for Divine Worship, several elements merit attention here. Primary among these is the pastoral motivation for undertaking the project in the first place. Then, by examining the notion of English patrimony, we can better grasp the significance of its incorporation into Catholic worship for both the Church herself and the relationship with other Christian communities.

The Pastoral Project of Divine Worship

Naturally, practical concerns in part prompted the established of a joint commission. As we have seen, because the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus granted the Ordinariates the faculty of celebrating the sacred liturgy according to “the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition,” it became necessary [End Page 110] to detail concretely how those celebrations would be structured and the necessary texts composed.

But this practical motivation should not distract from the broader pastoral motivation: the salvation of souls through access to sacramental grace. This pastoral concern informed the English liturgical patrimony from its earliest beginnings. Many will undoubtedly be aware of the famous exchange between Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury (as recorded by St. Bede) regarding the structure and content of liturgical worship in newly-evangelized England. It is an exchange that loses none of its relevance in the present day and can be said to provide the theological structure of the Commission’s work. Indeed, Gregory’s response could serve as a “charter” for the...


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pp. 109-115
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