Joanna Bogle is enthusiastic about Most Precious Blood

Anglican Patrimony
Friday, March 13, 2015

At the end of Mass, we sing the Angelus, and by tradition we turn to face the statue of Mary in the Lady Altar to the side of the chancel.

Singing the Angelus - MPBThe Sunday School children know about this, and turn automatically, their young voices carolling out the responses along with the rest of us as the Rector begins “The Angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary…”

But sometimes there is a newcomer among the children who doesn’t know the form, and stands facing forward. However, these are South London children and the problem is tackled wiftly: last week a boy who failed to make the appropriate move found the hand of his neighbour firmly on his head and a fierce whispered instruction: “ You ‘ave to turn your ‘ead and face ‘er”.

This is the Ordinariate parish at the Church of the Most Precious Blood at The Borough, London Bridge. A fascinating corner of London: on this bridge (well, all right, on the old bridge that stood there at the time) a major battle took place between the pagan Vikings and the Christian Saxons, with the latter’s victory securing the Christian future of the land. Near the bridge, years later, a Saxon convent was built and, later, the great church of St Mary Overie which stands there to this day and is now the Anglican cathedral for this area.

249835_188579527952316_1110564839_nThe Catholic Church of the Most Precious Blood was built in the 1890s, serving what was then a largely Irish congregation associated with the local hop industry. The hops – the central ingredient in beer – arrived by the trainload from the Kent hopfields, and to this day the Hop Exchange at London Bridge is a noted landmark, a fine building dominating that part of Southwark Street. The Church of the Precious Blood stands next to a great railway arch – the rumble of trains blends with the words of the liturgy and the singing at Mass, and on winter evenings the sudden flashes from the electric rails bring splashes of light through the high windows.

When Pope Benedict XVI announced Anglicanorum Coetibus, inviting groups of Anglicans to come into full communion with Rome, bringing with them their traditions, their music, their patrimony, the parish of St Agnes at Kennington was quick to respond. And, after some weeks and months of homelessness and uncertainty, they were finally given this church at London Bridge – a parish where numbers were dwindling and a building which local gossip had said was destined for closure.

Since then, its been an exciting story: church cleaned up, sacristy renewed (and a fine old “lantern” ceiling discovered behind some modern tiles), new heating, the choir gallery restored to use, a shrine to Bl. John Henry Newman (patron of the Ordinariate) installed, a Sunday School started. There is a sense of continuity: the faithful priests and people who kept the parish going are the ones who made possible a welcome to the Ordinariate, and there is goodwill all round. Old parishioners and new fill the church in increasing numbers for Mass (an extra weekend Mass has had to be added recently) and the Parish Room in the Rectory is too small for the numbers that gather afterwards for freshly-brewed coffee. The Ordinary Roman Rite is used for Mass, but there is an Ordinariate Form that is used occasionally, and every Thursday there is Evensong in the Anglican tradition.

The parish held its Annual Meeting the other day – another part of Anglican Patrimony is the system of parish governance, with churchwardens (complete with staves on formal occasions!) and a Governing Council. Anyone and everyone was welcome. Ideas and plans were discussed – the building has been listed by English Heritage as Grade II listed.

1465227_385028001640800_1277966390_n - 2There is a street-shrine to Our Lady by the main door which is popular with passers-by as well as parishioners, and it is hoped that this can be fully cleaned up and restored over the next year. Along with the main front of the church, it will also be floodlit.

The church is well-placed for processions, and there is a Marian one each May, and a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament in June. They go down along beneath the railway arch, and then up towards the Borough High Street with its busy shops and traffic.

Blessed Sacrament ProcessiuonEach November, there is a gathering at the War Memorial in the High Street for the Act of Remembrance – this was especially poignant in 2014, the anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

But above all, there is a sense of mission. It’s all rooted in prayer. While numbers at Mass have grown, there is also a greater sense of depth in faith. People don’t talk loudly before Mass begins, or hurry away immediately after Communion. Recently-installed glass doors mean that the sanctuary, with its glowing lamp, is visible from the street and invites people to drop in to pray. There are plans for evangelisation and outreach, projects for the young and for teaching the Faith.

The Annual Meeting included a report with various practical details and ideas for discussion. It summed up what the venture is all about:

“The people of Most Precious Blood Parish are bringing new disciples to the knowledge and love of God, are being fed by Word and Sacrament so as to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, and, guided by the Holy Spirit, are serving the community and are working for the unity of all Christians so that the world may believe.”

by Dame Joanna Bogle on her EWTN blog
(photos from the MPB facebook page)

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21 Responses to Joanna Bogle is enthusiastic about Most Precious Blood

  1. Matthew Markovich says:

    I get very choked up when I read stories like this about Anglican Ordinariate groups. Living in the wasteland of the Southern California Inland Empire with nothing happening, well it Blesses me for other and saddens me because:
    “The Ordinary Roman Rite is used for Mass, but there is an Ordinariate Form that is used occasionally” WHY? It should be the other way around at this point. If you people keep caving in to the Ordinary form you are defeating your own purpose. Sorry. That’s just how I feel, think and believe.

    • Matt C says:

      I have to agree that the Ordinariate should be using its own liturgy. I mean, really, if the Extraordinary Form is a no-go for the Ordinariate, the same should go for the Ordinary Form. The AOs have a distinct spirituality from the Ordinary Form that’s expressed in large part through the Liturgy. It’s part of the appeal of the AOs. Just my 2 cents.

      • To be fair, the situation in the UK is not static – there is a distinct movement towards the Ordinariate Use. In fact several UK groups use only Divine Worship. But most of the Anglo-Catholic parishes in the UK have been using the Ordinary Form for 50 years and they feel it rather artificial for them to be asked to demonstrate their Anglicanness by reverting to the traditional language of the Prayer Book which they had consciously left behind them in order to demonstrate their Catholicity. So please show a little more patience towards them – the more these Ordinariate members encounter the Ordinariate Use and discover its beauty, the more I believe they will begin to feel completely comfortable with it.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Matt,

        You wrote: I have to agree that the Ordinariate should be using its own liturgy. I mean, really, if the Extraordinary Form is a no-go for the Ordinariate, the same should go for the Ordinary Form. The AOs have a distinct spirituality from the Ordinary Form that’s expressed in large part through the Liturgy. It’s part of the appeal of the AOs. Just my 2 cents.

        Most of the congregations of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham used the ordinary form of the Roman Rite for over three decades as Anglicans. It’s not appropriate to expect that they will change to a different form upon reception into the Catholic Church.

        Also, there is compelling reason for all ordinariate congregations to use the ordinary form of the Roman Rite with sufficient frequency so their members become familiar with it. When they participate in events sponsored by their local dioceses, that is precisely what they will encounter — and it should not be something totally foreign to them.

        Norm.

    • Scotrhodie says:

      I quite agree. Use the Ordinariate Rite and quit whining.

      Those who bang on about “all these people used the novus ordo for decades” forget how the modernized liturgy was introduced all those years ago. I don’t. In three parishes I attended, we had English Missal or modified BCP one week and the next Roman Missal di Bugnini with ritual mutilations. If you didn’t like it you could lump it.

  2. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    So sick and tired of hearing this “used the ordinary form of the Roman Rite for over three decades as Anglicans”. GET OVER IT ALREADY! You have had 3 years and that’s plenty of time.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Matthew,

      You wrote: So sick and tired of hearing this “used the ordinary form of the Roman Rite for over three decades as Anglicans”. GET OVER IT ALREADY! You have had 3 years and that’s plenty of time.

      Rather, for better or worse, the ordinary form of the Roman Rite is the patrimony of those groups. Thus, I think that you need to get over your desire to make them into something different and instead welcome them as they are.

      Whether you like the fact or not, the bottom line is that the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus gives the communities of the ordinariate the faculty to celebrate the liturgy according to either the approved “liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition” or the ordinary form. Thus, ordinariate communities that choose to use the latter are fully within their rights.

      Norm.

      • THAT(!) is not “Patrimony”.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Matthew,

        You wrote: THAT(!) is not “Patrimony”.

        It might not be your concept of Anglican patrimony, and you might even be able to make a case that it is not Anglican patrimony at all. It is, however, their patrimony, their heritage, whether you, or I, or anyone else on this planet like that fact or not.

        And under the ecclesiastical law set forth in Anglicanorum coetibus, these groups have the canonical right to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, if they wish. It is their decision — not yours, and not mine.

        That said, the situation is very different in North America and in Australia. My impression is that the liturgy of Divine Worship is the norm in the English-speaking congregations of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. The liturgy of Divine Worship is not yet available in other languages, so ordinary form of the Roman Rite remains the only option available to congregations that worship in languages other than English.

        Norm.

    • It’s been seventeen months actually! And personally I don’t feel like shooing everyone off into diocesan parishes merely because they are not (yet) comfortable with the Ordinariate Use. So might I suggest that you should try to get over your sickness and tiredness.

  3. Matt C says:

    First, I’m amused at all the Matthews responding to this post! I do understand that some places have used the Ordinary Form for some time and a sudden switch would be challenging. However, the AO has its own Liturgy given it by the Holy See. If a group doesn’t want to use it, fine, but perhaps the AO isn’t the place for such a parish? Also, I seem to recall reading on an earlier post on this blog that MPB is not an Ordinariate parish. Rather, that it’s a diocesan parish with a pastor from the Ordinariate. If so, that’s also fine, but it would be misleading in that case to put MPB out there as an AO success story per se.

    Regarding the fact that the Ordinary Form will be seen if someone from an Ordinariate parish goes to a diocesan event, I have to ask, “So what?” As an Extraordinary Form devotee who is also eligible for membership in the Ordinariates, I generally avoid such events. I know the Mass will be a circus in many cases with ill-suited music, lousy preaching, altar girls, communion in the hand, etc. Why worry about being familiar with that? I’m sorry to be harsh as I know it’s still the Mass, but seeing such things doesn’t help my Faith. Does not having the Ordinary Form in a parish exclusively using the Extraordinary Form or Byzantine Divine Liturgy hurt these people if they were to go to a diocesan event where the Ordinary Form is used?

  4. EPMS says:

    For a Catholic to prefer to use the Roman Rite he used as Anglican in preference to the Ordinariate Rite created to encourage Anglicans to become Catholic is perhaps understandable on the human level but it is perverse nonetheless and undermines the credibility of the project at a time when its long-term success is by no means assured. Let him go to a diocesan parish and encourage them to do the things MPB is doing: cleaning the place up, and offering hospitality after Mass, for example. Anglicans do not have a monopoly on such things, and any implication that energy, involvement, and good taste are somehow exclusive elements of the Anglican Patrimony would be rather offensive.

  5. EPMS says:

    No, I think it is exactly the right word. AC is about bringing the treasures of the Anglican Patrimony into the Catholic church. Cranmer’s prose is the jewel in that crown. Now one may disagree with the entire project from a Catholic perspective; we have seen many articulate expressions of this point of view. But reducing the Anglican heritage to freshly-brewed coffee and churchwardens’ staves is a contradiction of the spirit of AC, IMHO, and one with an unpleasant classist undertone. Now, as others have pointed out, MPB is actually a diocesan parish so it could be argued that it is in fact an example of investing time and money into a failing inner city parish with good results that owe little to Anglicanism, as such, in which case Matt C’s comment about MPB as an “AO success story” is pertinent.

    • Matt C says:

      I had one more thought about this. The line of thought I’ve peen picking up reading the posts and (some) comments on this blog seems to want to limit in priciple the Anglican Patrimony in use in Ordinariate parishes to only what has been experienced within recent memory of these Anglo-catholic congregations rather than the totality of Anglicanism since its inception. The Ordinary Form really isn’t an expression of the Anglican Patrimony despite the fact that there are aspects in it that echo the 1549 BCP and it having been used for some time by some parishes (some argue convincingly that it’s not really Roman Partimony either!). From having attended the Ordinariate’s Mass this past year, I would argue there are more spiritual riches to be mined from embracing a Liturgy that encompasses the best of Anglicanism grafted back onto the Catholic vine instead of the Ordinary Form.

      • I did say that I would hold my peace, but feel that I should comment again, this time in my own right. As anyone who reads this blog will know, I am one hundred per cent in favour of the Ordinariate bringing in as much of the Anglican patrimony as possible, not only the personal experience of Anglo-Catholics, as I believe that was also the intention of Pope Benedict XVI. I have experienced the Ordinariate Use three times and tears have welled in my eyes.

        However, my comments above refer to the sensibilities of many of the faithful (and some priests) who have lived a very different liturgical life than the Prayer Book and who are probably in favour – like me – of the ecclesiological and ecumenical mission of the the Ordinariate but need some time to become acclimatised – (and perhaps might have preferred a modern-language OU liturgy option, too).

        David Murphy

  6. William Tighe says:

    I agree with David Murphy’s final comment, and in response to Matt C’s immediately preceding reference to “the totality of Anglicanism since its inception” I should respond that for many of those who were involved in the creation of the English Ordinariate “since its inception” means since 597 AD, not 1559 – including, that is, the whole patrimony of pre-Reformation English Christianity as well as what may usefully be salvaged from the period subsequent to 1559.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Professor Tighe,

      You wrote: I should respond that for many of those who were involved in the creation of the English Ordinariate “since its inception” means since 597 AD, not 1559 – including, that is, the whole patrimony of pre-Reformation English Christianity as well as what may usefully be salvaged from the period subsequent to 1559.

      If so, wouldn’t that argue for a restoration of the Sarum Use/Rite for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham?

      Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        It might. In fact, I know for a fact that a proposed Mass rite for the English Ordinariate was submitted to Rome which blended bits from the Sarum Use Mass (in a “Tudorese” English translation) with bits from more than one Anglican eucharistic rite (both English and “colonial”), a submission which was, in the end, not approved because (a) it was deemed “too hybrid” and (b) Rome made it clear, as had not been done earlier, that what it desired was a single “Ordinariate Use” Mass rite that would be employed throughout the world – not one for English Anglicans and another for Anglicans elsewhere.

    • Matt C says:

      William, going back to 597 instead of just 1559 is ok by me

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