Professor Stephen Bullivant’s excellent article on Ordinariate worship and the “the real spirit of Vatican II” has been well-received by those of us involved with the Ordinariate. It is gratifying to read of his enthusiasm for an experience of the Roman rite that is at once numinous and faithful to the Western liturgical tradition, and at the same time open to authentic participation on the part of the faithful.

It’s also encouraging that Prof Bullivant has found in Divine Worship, the liturgical form proper to the Ordinariates, a manifestation of the sort of liturgical renewal articulated by Vatican II. In their codification of Anglican liturgical texts and ritual practices, the Anglicanæ traditiones commission was inevitably guided by the council’s principles for liturgical reform.

But I would take Prof Bullivant’s argument a stage further. Divine Worship follows Vatican II in more ways than one. It not only embodies the council’s liturgical principles, but also its teachings on ecumenism and church structures.

Firstly, then, the ecumenical vision of the council. As I have argued elsewhere, the chief purpose of Divine Worship is the maintenance of the Anglican patrimony in the Catholic Church. The Divine Worship missal, in its own words, gives expression to and preserves for Catholic worship the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity”.

This is, to my mind, an embodiment not of liturgical but ecumenical principles. And a close reading of the conciliar documents shows that these two ideas are often held in tandem. For example, the decree on ecumenism has numerous references to the sacred liturgy. Of ecclesial communities separated from the full communion of the Catholic Church it states: “The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation” (UR 3). CONTINUE READING