The “diocesan liturgist”, who was present, presumably, to make sure that no reactionary enormities were perpetrated, asked me at the reception afterwards about the Te Deum, of which (I’m not making this up) she (a supposed liturgist) had never heard. “Is that a typically Anglican prayer, would you say?”, she asked me, quizzically.
There will be no nonsense of that sort under the ordinariate, of course; but the incident was instructive, all the same. What it shows, apart from the necessity for a separate jurisdiction, is how much of the patrimony these Anglican converts are bringing with them derives from Catholic sources that we have lost or at least temporarily mislaid.
I thought of this incident when I saw, on an (English) ordinariate blog, the ordinariate Portal, another – to me – amazingly poignant news story:
Solemn Evensong & Benediction at Blackfriars, Oxford
Solemn Evensong & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be celebrated by the Oxford Ordinariate Group at Blackfriars, Oxford, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 June, by kind permission of the Prior and Community.
A very simple announcement: but what floods of memory it brought back! Evensong and Benediction was our version, of course, of Vespers and Benediction; it was all part of our attempt to Catholicise Anglicanism. When I became a Catholic 20 years ago, it all seemed to me suddenly a rather ridiculous thing to do. Evensong was profoundly Anglican and therefore Protestant: how could you Catholicise it by sticking on to the end of it a “Benediction” celebrated with a monstrance containing an invalidly consecrated host? The whole thing was an illusion, irredeemably defective (what an ecclesial snob one could suddenly become). But what has happened to Evensong now? Now, it is the ordinariate’s evening office: it has the Pope’s blessing and validation: now it is effectively a Catholic liturgy, duly recognised and authorised. What I looked down on, the Pope has now affirmed, making me feel suddenly very foolish.