|The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite|
Celebrated here at Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church
in San Antonio Texas
A superficial study of these things is required of course, and even encouraged, but one shouldn't spend too long delving into these topics if one wants to remain an Evangelical. Not me! I guess I'm a rebel. Because I dove into these topics head first, and the deeper I got into them, the stronger my desire to learn more. As a result I found my experience within Evangelicalism lacking, and I could no longer support doctrines that Calvary Chapel required to maintain affiliate status. So rather than cause a problem within my local affiliate, Penny and I quietly left. I had discovered that the early Christians, indeed the early Jewish Christians, were far more "catholic" than I was comfortable with. So I decided we should explore these Catholic customs in a "good safe" Protestant environment. Thus, Penny and I entered a local Episcopal (Anglican) church.
I'm not sure how to put this, but there are so many historically "Jewish" elements to catholic worship that I don't know where to begin. Suffice it to say that catholic liturgy offers a seamless connection between ancient Jewish worship and present-day Christianity. It was the connection I was looking for, but more than that, the beauty and solemnity offered in Anglican catholic worship was the hook. I have never seen this connection between the Jewish roots of Christianity more clearly played out than in the Anglican liturgy.
Now I'm not sure why this is exactly, but I have some theories. I suspect the Church of England was mindful of this, in creating a liturgy that was universal (catholic), ancient and yet uniquely English. A great deal of thought went into designing a liturgy that would connect with English-speaking people in a profound way. The Anglican mass was essentially modeled on the old Roman Catholic Latin mass, now known as the "Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite," but it was modified to incorporate older forms of the Sarum Rite, and it was translated into a form of English that was well understood, but not common to the average street language used in England at the time. Thus the language of the liturgy is both comprehended and sacred simultaneously. It's hard to put one's finger on it, but there really is something there. This was the linchpin, so to speak, the hook that pulled us into the Catholic Church. Through the Anglican liturgy we were able to put nearly all reservations about the Roman Catholic Church aside. Within two years time, from 1998 to 2000, we were in full communion with Rome.
The purpose of this short little essay is to simply point out that the Anglican liturgy is a valuable tool for bringing Protestants into the Catholic Church, not only for Anglicans, but for Evangelicals as well. As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the notes that accompanied it, this liturgy is to be viewed as a gift to the Catholic Church, designed to enrich its heritage, and I believe it can do even more than that. It can also be used as a great tool of evangelism for English-speaking Protestants of nearly all denominations. I want to encourage Catholics to get familiar with it, and I want to encourage priests and bishops to promote it, whether through the ordinariate or through a diocesan structure. The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite is the official Anglican Catholic liturgy approved by Rome. It is a gift to the Catholic Church and it does bring in converts -- even Evangelicals! This may be hard to understand, but it does seem to be the case. My wife and I are living proof.