Although It May Pain The Tablet to Say It…

With h/t to the Ordinariate Portal, this little note appears in The Tablet,

Priests to face east at ordinariate Masses
21 October 2011

Masses celebrated by priests in the ordinariate are likely to be ad orientem, according to one of its leaders. While the liturgy for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has yet to be approved by the Holy See, Mgr Andrew Burnham said the Congregation for Divine Worship "is likely to commend eastward celebration, when the dynamic of the building suggests it". Mgr Burnham also said that it may also recommend kneeling at mention of the Incarnation during the Creed.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

44 thoughts on “Although It May Pain The Tablet to Say It…”

  1. It has been 40 years since Vatican II, and there are almost two generations of people who know nothing of postures during Mass prior to that. Thus what is old is now new again. For many, young and old alike, the traditional postures feel like home.

  2. To put this in context, even though the rubrics say to, most people in my local RC parish do not strike their breasts during the confession, bow their heads during the creed, or bow before communion, and they sometimes give you wierd looks when you do even these simple acts, or make an extra sign of the cross—not to mention wearing a jacket and tie, which one usher recently told me me was inappropriate and too formal. Things at churches on the New Jersy shore are even worse. So I suspect to many ordinary RCs, including Tablet readers, what is proposed must seem quite radical.

    1. Mike, Wait until folks in New Jersey and elsewhere in the American church are told that Mass facing the people in the Latin rite is ending for them as well. Facing liturgical east, striking the breast, and kneeling at the "et incarnatus est" for the Ordinariate is just a portent of things to come for Latin-rite Catholics.

      Pope Benedict is fighting the clock of life. He knows if he's to make his mark on the liturgy, he's got to do it soon. So, I think we may be learning more about the liturgy for the Ordinariate sooner rather than the rumored three years from now.

      On some blogs there is continuing talk of a "Missal of Benedict XVI" being in the works. His magnum opus and to be the most definitive work on the Roman liturgy since Pius V's missal of 1582.

  3. Mike,

    In my parish, many people know I am a former Anglican Priest. What you describe for them, as one told me, "Must be what you Anglicans do….need to forget that here."

    But then I go to Compline with a group of young catholic men, I am the only one over 30…..they call me pops….I am only 47! They know their faith, the ritual. the meaning behind the liturgy, why we do what we do. They love their Church and faith so much.

    I have hope in the young. As a young catholic girl told me, "we want what our parents discarded." In my area, I am see the young catholics "getting it." Hope I can keep up.


    1. Mark,
      Actually, hope comes from the most unlikely sources. Our "new" pastor, who is good-hearted and faithful, very recently made a point about bowing before communion, and dressing better for church (which was especially encouraging to me given my experience with the usher). He has also done a brilliant job of renovating the church, and it is now really beautiful. See New Church Shines with Historic Treasures. So things are getting better in some places, certainly in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and I think we are beginning to see an increase in preistly vocations. However, we still have a long way to go: the membership of the Archdiocese is still going down (much more than can be explained by the population decline in some areas), mass attendance is going down even faster (St. Bede's is in the lower 20's of percent), the ration of women to men is not good (with significantly more of the former), and young men tend to quit church altogether when they leave for college, with more and more of them never likely to return, if the statistics are to be believed. We really are facing a crisis.

  4. If I might be permitted to parphrase the article so that not only Tabletistas but readers of THe Fishwrap who also watch Masterpiece Mysteries might understand …. "Eo mi Gawd!! They have their backs to the PEEPULL!! Call Inspector Lewis!, They've murdered Vati Cantu!"

  5. This suggestion that the proposed Ordinariate liturgy will be angled ad orientem is not "news" for A-C readers as it is part of Mgr Burnham's fully reported address a couple of entries below.

    The TABLET is merely reporting the fact, without comment. Why is that occasion for a sneer?

    1. because Mary, the Tablet (in common with most viewspapers) doesn't just do things. Everything is there for a purpose. This was 'to make the flesh creep'!

  6. It would be great to see these things brought back. I, too, receive funny looks when I profoundly bow for the words of Incarnation at the Creed.

    Anglicanism has much to offer the Catholic Church. Can I tentatively suggest that English Ordinariaters use the new-improved AU over the OF? The first generation of priests and laity will bring their distinctive Anglicaness with them because they have been living and breathing it all of their lives. What of the Ordinariate parishes of 50 years from now?

    What exactly will mark an Ordinariate Mass apart to a cradle Catholic who wanders in if he just finds a very reverent Novus Ordo (as worthy and beautiful as that would be!) There won't be anymore Anglicans left to convert so the priest will be celibate and there will inevitably be a lot of assimilation with the parishioners. The only way that the Ordinariates will have a long term future is if they use a distinctive style of worship–that means Elizabethean English and the works.

    Nevertheless, I warmly welcome Mgsr Burnham and all those courageous enough to follow him. God bless you all!

    1. Can I tentatively suggest that English Ordinariaters use the new-improved AU over the OF?
      I'd like to see some Latin rite churches given permission to use it too. A little Cranmer, Healey Willan, and greater use of the rich treasury of Anglican chant and choral music would do wonders for the OF and the EF.

    2. There's a LOT more to Anglicanism than 'Thees and Thous' English! The Ordinariate would be a complete waste of time, a superficiality, if it were only concerned with the linguistic style, rather than the substance of, the Book of Common Prayer. What would mark a parish out that followed Anlgican custom would be things "decently done" without excess, and, at Mass, the faithful kneeling at the Commuion rail to receive in Both Kinds.

  7. Yet the fact is that the majority of English Anglican churches from which members of the Ordinariate have come have been celebrating ad populum for many years, irrespective of architecture. Only the old members will remember celebrations ad orientem. Many see no need to change.

    From what I can see, a form of crypto Anglicanism is being proposed that has little bearing on the worshipping experience of most members of the Ordinariate. The irony is that this is what Western-minded Anglo-Catholics of the past used when they copied and applied Roman rubrics so meticulously. What is emerging is a form of conservative Roman Catholicism, done infinitelty better at the English Oratories.

  8. Another thought comes to mind, this one more germane to the American situation, and focused on the reception of Holy Communion.

    As regards the extensive and free use of lay Eucharistic ministers, there has already been an indication from Arizona, the diocese of Phoenix, I think, that the practice will be sharply curtailed and only utilized where there is not the perception that such people are, in fact, extraordinary ministers of the sacred species. Evidently the explicit permission to use lay EMs was provisional and has now expired.

    I don't really all that much more, but this I do know. In every truly Anglican – including most Episcopal – churches, nearly everybody kneels before an ordained minister to receive Communion at the rail,, and in both kinds. While it is true that theologically Christ is truly and completely present in either species alone, the sacramental sign is much richer with both available to everyone present in the worshipping assembly, and even relatively large Anglican congregations find a way to communicate everybody in both bread and cup and while reverently kneeling.

    Maybe this is also a bit of that patrimony for this side of the pond waiting to be more generally implemented when the Ordainariate is erected on these shores.

  9. Please pardon the logical error in the second paragraph and missing word in the third of the previous post. Some mornings I'm not the sharpest tack in the box. With regard to the former, I meant to say that utilization of lay EMs must be contingent upon recognizing that they are, in fact, extraordinary ministers (ie. they don't vastly outnumber the ordained clergy at Mass). What that will mean is that unless Arizona ordains a lot more deacons (or priests, of course) lay EMs may be a thing of the past.

  10. I would see this as simply a part of reclaiming the Anglican heritage. For so long, the attitude of Anglo-Catholics was simply "do what Rome does." That caused many to shun things "more Anglican" in favor of things "more Catholic" (and not perceive the full catholicity of those Anglican things). For example: Mass rather than Evening Prayer, lace rather than old English, Aquinas and popes rather than Jewel and Andrewes. Now that they no longer have anything to prove, I am glad to see perhaps signs of a beginning of reclaiming a fully catholic Anglican heritage in the English ordinariate–a return to Cranmerian language, East-facing, kneeling communion, a re-emphasis on the public divine office, the non-biblical office readings that include the Anglican divines, etc. My hope is that this would help all of us (on both sides of the pond and both sides of the Tiber) rediscover and re-embrace our heritage.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly! Anglo-Catholics no longer need to prove their Catholic credentials because for the first time, they ARE Catholic.

    2. If nothing else is accomplished, I'm hoping the Anglican liturgy approved by Rome will respect the tradition of holy communion under both forms and give encouragement and guidance to the celebration of Cranmer's Morning Prayer and Evensong before Mass. There is a great opportunity here which mustn't be missed where the Ordinariate can become the shining vehicle to a restoration of the beautiful , a dignified celebration of the Latin rite (vernacular and Latin), and the imparting of the Laudian principles repeated ad nauseum, but are strikingly true: the "beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty". So sorely needed in the Roman Catholic Church today.

      Hopefully, we'll see in the Latin rite a Mass within a framework of Lauds and Vespers using an Anglican Ordinariate model as an option, especially for Sundays and major feasts. A modified version of Sarum Matins and Vespers with Cranmerian elements added would almost immediately leave most NO liturgies we see in America and Britain today back at the starting gate, or should I say "in the dust". With all the other emblems of the 70s, the balloons, clowns, polyester vestments, and ironing board altars etc.

  11. Isn't is a matter of history for the first 350 years of Anglicanism , the officiating minister at Communion excluively faced the north end of the communuion table.

    It was ritualists copying teh Roman catholic Churchwho re-introduced the eastward position from the 1840s onwards.

    1. I attended an Anglican service in Bermuda many years ago where the celebrant did indeed preside from the north side. Very interesting. I'd never seen it done that way before.

  12. "Isn't it a matter of history that for the first 350 years of Anglicanism, the officiating minister at Communion exclusively faced the north end of the communion table."
    No it isn't. Next question.

    1. It would be hard to use the word 'exclusively' but it is a matter of fact that the rubric in the 1662 prayer book commands "the priest standing at the north side of the table shall say…."
      Many Anglican churches have always obeyed this ruling and at one time it was one of the marks of evangelical orthodoxy.

      1. The north-facing position is an integral part of the Anglican patrimony. Perhaps Little Black Sambo is recalling the liturgical caperings in Peterhouse Chapel, Cambridgs, during the brief Laudian interval, which were much resented at the time. As you say, the Prayer Book liturgical rubric stipulating the celebration of Holy Communion standing at the north end of the communion table is mandatory. The general adoption of the eastward position is entirely c19.

        The majotity of Evangelicals of the present day celebrate facing the people. Does islington, for instance, have any churches left where northward celebration still survives? Ipswich, where most of the patrons are the Simeon Trustees', would be another test case.

          1. I think they were concelebrating with the archbishop of Westminster. Quite a few churches have the concelebrants standing at all sides of the altar.

      2. Yes, but we are forgetting some things. Through the reign of Elizabeth and James I the Ante Communion was celebrated at the reading desk and the the communion was celebrated at the north end of the table with the people gathered around at every side, and the table was place so that the long part was east/west. It looked nothing like an altar. After the Restoration people went back to leading Ante Communion from a reading desk or a triple pulpit, and the communion was done at the north side of a table, with the people in the pews. A hundred years later fixed altar came back and the priests migrated from the north end to the east end.

        Every hundred years or the Anglican altar changed! Check out Addleshaws "Architecture of Anglican Worship."

        1. I actually think, as memory serves, that things were much more complicated than this. I do remember 17th century engravings showing Anglican clergy in scarf and hood, standing or kneeling in a "eastward" position, so "north-ending" cannot have been universal. I think that there has actually been more than one learned article written on this, but is has probably been 20 years since I read anything on the issue. But if memory serves, I think there was some variety of practice: that is, I do not think the eastward position died out entirely in Anglicanism, even if the only people doing it in the 18th century may have been non-jurors. Perhaps Dr. Tighe or someone else familiar with this period can chime in.

            1. The article certainly get it right about the north side of the "table" being awkward. I had to celebrate that way once it was hard to see and not knock everything over!

        2. Some of the double and triple decker pulpits can be found in some Presbyterian churches. Often called "Church of Scotland" pulpits.

  13. If you parse the language from the Congregation, their "commending" Eastward celebration does not sound like "masses will/must be said ad orientum." Rather, it sounds like "masses MAY be said ad orientum." If this is precisely what they said (and you have to pay very close attention to the may/must distinction) then it sounds like it will be left up to the celebrant to decide, but it will be optional. It won't be forbidden, but it won't be required either. I think the option is appropriate, given that there are a few generations of Episcopalians (and their priests) that have not experienced celebrating ad orientum, and they may prefer it the way it has been done for the past 40+ years.

    1. It is the case for the whole Latin Rite of the Church, that there is no requirement in any of the documents of Vatican II, or in those flowing from it, which would forbid celebrating the Mass ad orientem. In fact, the rubrics of the Mass of Paul VI would indicate that there are times when the priest is not facing the people, because he is instructed to do so at certain points in the Mass.

      1. I noticed the same thing when flicking through the new translation booklet. Phrases such as "the priest faces the altar" and "the priest faces the people" would seem redundant if he had actually been facing the people that whole time.

      2. While the rubrics allow it, doesn't the GIRM have clear preference for free standing altar with priests facing liturgical west?

        1. I remember reading that even the EF Caeremoniale Episcoporum calls for a free-standing altar, so that it can be walked around for incensation. The normative Latin text of the GIRM expresses the same preference for essentially both this reason and to allow for celebration versus populum, though without actually commending such celebrations per se. Indeed, according to the redoubtable Fr. Zuhlsdorf, the normative Latin text of GIRM 299,

          "Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit."

          actually reads as

          "The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out."


          It's worth saying, though, that the shared tradition of Christian West and East calls not just for a free-standing altar, but rather for a free-standing altar under a baldaquin (or at least a tester). This tradition, if but half-remembered in the West (e.g. in the theoretical requirements of the EF), is still vigorously maintained in the East.

          1. Of course, celebration of Mass/Divine Liturgy ad orientem is also part of the shared tradition (indeed, Tradition) of Christian East and West, and again, is something only half-maintained in the West, with the innovation of "liturgical East," and only fully maintained in the East.

      3. Fr. Christopher, my only point in this is that it is somewhat misleading (but not intentional, I'm sure) to say that masses are likely to be celebrated "ad orientem" (and sorry for my original misspelling) IF the Congregation used the language it "commends the practice." Vatican-speak is a particular form of language, and they are very intentional in their use. So yes, it is likely that Ordinariate parishes will be able to retain the option to celebrate the Eucharist ad orientem. But if the word the Vatican used is "commended" and nothing stronger, then it will likely be permitted but not required. It is a "may" not a "must" which is a very important distinction.

  14. There is plenty of bowing, knocking and crossing in my local RC parish. Then again, I'm in the South where everything is more formal and everyone is lost less hostile towards tradition.

  15. I have a question for the Holland Pa guy here. How is the Anglican Use group at St Bede`s going? Is it still around? (Very fitting name for a church to be so used.) And, yes I am impressed with your church renovation. I take it from the silence that we are not seeing anyone from St. Mark`s take it up, the ordinariate that is. Getting back to the archdiocese, keep in mind that Philly did not renew their churches as did other areas of the country. Places like Resurrection and St. Matt`s and St. Tim`s in Northeast Philly still have their sanctuaries still intact, railings and kneeling pads and alike. I suppose it would be easier to get a priest in their to renew a church in a more Catholic direction. Can you picture a church doing what yours did in Rochester or Albany New York? Of course we have 5th and Girard. They don`t. :-)

    1. We stopped having evensong last spring, due to a number of factors. That phase in the Church restoration meant that the church was not available. We had the parish hall, but the switch caused a little confusion. My chief helper is in the Guard, and is now TAD doing training and soon to be deployed. The folks who had come were so widely spread out that anything regular on a Sunday evening was difficult for them. So I had a talk with everyone involved, especially the rector of St. Michael's and the pastor of St. Bede's, and we decided to hold off, and wait until an ordinariate congregation is established. In the meantime, St. Michael's has settled in at Ivy Hall, and attendance seems to be back up, with some new folks who have shown up. The Newman Society also seems to be doing well, and I believe there is an ordinariate group in formation in the Allentown area.

      If there is someone close by, I am always glad to have someone with whom to do the office. When by myself, I sing vespers out of the Liber, but I am quite happy to say the BODW office if that's what people do.

      As for St. Mark's, or perhaps more pertinently, St. Clement's (and other Anglo-Catholic groups), my best information is that most those who would be interested are waiting to see what the ordinariate (in particular the liturgy) will look like. I do know that some of those who might have been interested have joined the Catholic Church already, but are presently attending the "EF" at St. Paul's in south Philadelphia or or Our Lady of Lourdes in Overbrook. I expect some, if not most, of them to settle in and stay there (but would of course be happy to be proved wrong and see them in the upcoming Anglican Ordinariate).

  16. In the Canadian BCP (1962) the rubric reads: "The Priest, standing at the Table, shall say…" Any reference to 'north end' is absent. West-facing celebrations were only introduced with the 1985 Book of Alternate Services. East-facing celebration became a sign of traditional Anglicanism, and certainly for Anglo-Catholics.

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