How to market an Anglican Patrimony

What is the Anglican Patrimony which the Ordinariate is to offer to the wider Catholic church? This is a serious question that demands a better answer than has been available thus far. But soon, as the baby Ordinariate begins to find its voice, I think we will see this answer emerging. I also predict it will be more positive than many imagine. Furthermore this answer will be the key to our survival long into the future.

You see it might well be true that jolly good hymn singing, Eastward facing mass, the use of birettas and priest’s wives, etc, etc are all signs which point to an Anglican past. But they are manifestly not, in and of themselves, a unique or distinctive Anglican patrimony. After all one can easily find wonderful hymn singing in diocesan parishes. One can certainly find birettas in the Oratory in Birmingham where, yes, priests also offer mass facing East. And there are even a good number of priest’s wives knocking around due to the many clergy who swam the Tiber solo and pointed the way for us to follow.  And if these things are to be found outside of the Ordinariate, which they obviously are, then they can hardly be called definitive Anglican patrimony can they?

So what is our distinct Anglican patrimony? Perhaps the best answer to date is the use of Evensong and the Advent Carol Services that were hosted by Ordinariate clergy this year. For here we can locate actual texts quite different from what is found in the usual Catholic parish. Not much at present given how few bother with Evensong these days, but it is certainly here that we must focus attention. For the constitution of the Ordinariates makes  clear that what we are to bring to the table are liturgical texts flowering from our Anglican past and informed by that experience and process.

I think the whole question will be better answered then when the new Ordinariate Rite of Mass is given the green light by the Vatican and finally lands on our shelves. I am told this should happen sooner rather than later given the clear need and this is why we have not pressed ahead with the adoption of the Book of Divine Worship in Saint Anselm’s, as we had anticipated, but are choosing to wait and watch instead.

And that is the right move, I think, because we really do need to adopt something fresh and vital that speaks about our future as Catholics within the new Evangelisation, rather than something merely harking back to a bygone era- to a life we have left and which holds little meaning or value for the cradle Catholic. This is what we must find and market if we are to develop as hoped and offer something genuinely precious to Catholics the world over.

The Ordinariate must find a unique and beautiful setting of the Catholic Mass for use within the Ordinariate but obviously open to all. It will draw from Anglican treasures of the past and, here in the UK certainly, will reflect that very British spirituality. The rite of those prayer book folk who were separated from Peter at the time of the Reformation but who are now being called back home.

The key to success will lie not only in the drafting but also in the marketing. None of those who have left the Church of England for Rome want to be taken on a backwards journey and/or made to feel that we never left at all. The need is for something forward looking and very clearly and authoritatively Catholic and fresh. An Anglican patrimony for the 21st Century Catholic whose purpose is to speak to the whole nation in our day.

It is a huge ask and a huge task but I predict the Ordinariate will live or die depending on the outcome. For that reason I am very relieved to hear only good things from those who are involved. Keep watching this space folks for the Ordinariate is just beginning to find its feet and far from being a strange ghetto eeking out a life on the margins it is consistently punching above its weight and is engaging with Catholic life and culture at the centre. The signs are good but do keep praying for us.

9 thoughts on “How to market an Anglican Patrimony”

  1. Mr. Vincent Uher over at has a related post about a small part of Anglican Patrimony that may apply more to the North American Ordinariate than the U.K. because you folks unthinkingly abandoned the Book of Common Prayer/English Missal tradition after Vatican II but it is interesting none the less. It is an issue I wrestled back and forth with for some time.

  2. I would have thought that Maria Desolata was one of the definitions of the Ordinariate patrimony? (At the appropriate time of year, of course.)

  3. Having converted outside of the Ordinariate (living in the US), I am dubious about joining. It’s not that I especially like the rather dreary Novus Ordo masses, even post revision. They are the kind of services I would have gone lengths to avoid as an Anglo-Catholic: modern, musically poor, sadly choreographed, little sense that there is anything supernatural going on. I’d prefer to be at EF, but the parish does not offer one.

    But I don’t find the idea of going to bowdlerized, middle-of-the-road Anglican services (as it seems the Ordinariate liturgies are destined to be) a terribly attractive alternative. I spent 40 years frequenting spiky English Missal/E&B parishes. I know screeds of that liturgy by heart. It’s less annoying to have something entirely different than a familiar friend mucked about with in an uncongenial way.

    1. I wouldn’t say at all that ordinariate services, either in the US or in the UK, have a middle of the road feel. In the US, it’s (high in the sky) Prayerbook Catholic with a big nod to the English Missal (Roman Canon and last Gospel), and in England for now it draws mostly on the Anglo-papalist tradition of using whatever has been given an imprimatur by Rome, currently the 2000 Roman Missal-2012 translation, and hopefully someday the new Anglican Use liturgy.

      + PAX et BONUM

    2. Austin, have you tried asking for an Exeraordinary Form Mass in your parish or a nearby parish? Summorum Pontificum entitles any group of the faithful to do this. Your parish priest must respond, and if he cannot assist you, the matter can be referred to your bishop.

  4. Thomas Cranmer was probably the biggest single contributor to the Anglican patrimony. He was burned alive as a heretic, shortly after denouncing the Pope as Antichrist.
    Other contributors to the Anglican patrimony were, no doubt, less extreme in their views. The great majority of them, however, must have dissented from Roman Catholic teaching. When the author of the bidding prayer in the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols wrote of “the Church He came to build” he must have included the Church of England (or the ecclesial community of England, if you prefer) within it.
    Maybe Roman Catholics who value the Anglican patrimony will come to think that the ideas of those who created something so valuable have merit, and not only their words and music.

    1. The point is profounc. What did the Pope mean by “patrimony”, and what are his intentions about the Lutheran patrimony? He simply cannot have meant just words and music; he surely wishes to incorporate Reformation wisdom into the whole Tradition.

      1. There is a lot of ‘second guessing’ about what the Holy Father meant. Indeed, what does the Holy Spirit want the Ordinariate to be? A very wise nun said to me that, on this one, as with anything else it isn’t a good idea to try and box the Holy Spirit in. Those of us who are members of the Ordinariate need to be open to what God is bringing about in our groups. I think what we thought we would do has proved to be very different from the reality now. God has surprised us!

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