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Expulsion from Eden

SEPTUAGESIMA, SEXAGESIMA, QUINQUAGESIMA

The Church’s traditional liturgical calendar gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima to get us in training for Lent, our annual attempt at a forty days spiritual marathon.

We start our training by soberly recalling the essential facts of our existence and our destiny: our creation, the Fall, the promise of redemption, the life of grace, the cost of discipleship, the malice of the Evil One, the mercy of Christ, the offer of salvation, the hope of glory.

These three pre-Lenten Sundays have wisely been restored in the rite now proper to the Catholic Ordinariates (olim Anglicani).

The Ordinariate Mass book “Divine Worship – The Missal” is a magnificent and admirable piece of work. Apart from the Cranmerian elements that have been included, its various options permit a celebration which comes close to the liturgical preference that so many Catholics have asked for over the years since 1969 but have so far been denied: Mass in the old rite (the extraordinary form) but in a decent and dignified vernacular translation.

The orations in the Ordinariate missal are particularly impressive, and many feel that the quality and ‘tone’ of those prayers far surpass the equivalent texts in both the former and current ICEL missals. In the Ordinariate missal the liturgical English actually sounds intelligible, and reads and sounds like prayer – a splendid achievement.

The whole of the Ordinariate missal repays careful study. I hope that a smaller size version of it will be made available. Then the wider study of its contents could greatly illuminate the ongoing difficult situation which the ordinary form of the Roman rite finds itself in.

In this world our worship will never be perfect. But we must always strive to make it less imperfect. I respectfully suggest that when the time comes to revise the Ordinariate missal, the following improvements would greatly enhance it, and make it a most desirable additional option for all English speaking Catholics.

  1. To remove the Cranmerian elements.
  2. To restore the traditional version of the Roman canon (in the vernacular) with the silence, and all the manual gestures and genuflections sanctified by so many centuries of usage and still retained, thank God, in the 1962 Missale Romanum.

It’s dangerous to play the prophet, and we should never allow our life of faith to degenerate into obsession with single issue problems.

Notwithstanding, I do hazard a non-polemical prognostication: if the extraordinary form of the Roman rite were made available in a decent and coherent vernacular version for those who wanted it (with the option for Latin always remaining of course) there would soon follow a grace-filled and landslide renewal of the Church’s spiritual and liturgical life.

I am well aware that many people have their own pet theories, and that opinion greatly varies.

I.H.