Welcome to the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog

The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is the new name for the former Anglican Use Society.  The name change reflects our new international focus.  Our aim is to foster discussion and debate about Anglican patrimony inside and outside the Catholic Church.  For more information about the Society and its aims, see our website.

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Ordinariate Outreach to Seekers

IMG_20170423_140343I have often thought of my parish Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an end point for seekers—a “Finder’s religion.”  It has everything I searched long and hard for over many years: beautiful worship; wonderful priests and a bishop who believe what they pray and preach: great preaching and teaching; clergy open to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, and a real community of believers—truly the Cheers of Churches where everybody knows your name.   And!  it is fully Catholic so I am at home in any Catholic Church anywhere in the world.

Why aren’t people lining up around the corner to get in?

As someone who had to try many other religions and places of worship while I was seeking what I have contentedly found, I have often wondered how Annunciation would have affected me at earlier stages in my search.   Would I have run away in horror at the all male priesthood?  How would the reciting together of set prayers have affected me?   As a bunch of rote praying similar to spinning a Tibetan Prayer Wheel and as efficacious?  How would I have reacted to being told, “No, sorry, you can’t receive Holy Communion because . . .”   How would the unpolitical-correctness of it all have struck me say 30 years ago?  I might have been repelled because I was not ready yet.

In a conversation with a board member the other day, we discussed outreach to non-Ordinariate members and he said the best thing to do is look at what type of people predominate in your area and gear your outreach to meet their needs.  If it is in the South, maybe you are surrounded by Baptists—so what would appeal to them?  If you are in the Boston area, maybe you are surrounded by lapsed Catholics—how do you reach out to them?

One group that is growing in size are those who say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.”  They do not feel the need to go to church or to belong  but they pray from time to time, they believe in God, they believe in the supernatural, but their beliefs are all over the map, inconsistent and even contradictory. They certainly do not want to abide by any moral strictures handed down from some authority they do not accept.

Hey!   That was me 35 years ago.


I would love to hear what your parish or community is doing to appeal to the “spiritual but not religious” crowd out there probably right within walking distance in your neighborhood.

Here are a few things we do in Ottawa.

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Going against the flow to preserve our Anglican tradition


Yesterday, an interesting discussion arose on a social media thread about whether or not the observance of Ascension Day was being transferred for the Anglican Ordinariate in North America to the following Sunday, per the general practice of the USCCB.

As the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter’s 2016-2017 Ordo confirms, “Upon the recommendation of the Governing Council on 9 June 2016, Bishop Lopes has decreed that the following Solemnities will be observed as Holy Days of Obligation in the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter: …Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Solemnity of the Ascension (kept on its traditional date forty days after Easter, nine days before Whitsunday)…” On Thursday, May 25th, it lists “ASCENSION OF THE LORD. Solemnity. HDO”, leaving Sunday the 28th as the Seventh Sunday as Easter.

Many Catholics of a more traditional formation deeply resent the common practice of episcopal conferences in routinely transferring certain fixed feast days to the nearest Sunday, seeing it as one of the Church’s more lamentable concessions to the secular world’s low prioritization of religious observance. It is becoming more widely recognized, however, that this is not only a function of our loss of faith but encourages it.

As a result, there are some dioceses and regions where these feast days are not transferred but are kept on their traditional, logical, Biblical dates. The Feast of the Ascension, for example, was not arbitrarily set for the Thursday in the sixth week of Easter by a committee of episcopal conference functionaries, but was determined two thousand years ago by the Ascension of our Lord forty days after His Resurrection.

As this debate plays out on social media forums amongst Catholics of various rite and jurisdiction, it is of the Anglican custom that we in the ordinariates are to be mindful. Anglicans have traditionally marked Ascension Day on its proper Thursday, and have not been accustomed to its bizarre and anachronistic celebration on a Sunday. One Anglican custom is the singing of motets to the rising sun at dawn on the rooftops of cathedrals and collegiate edifices (as seen in the photo above taken atop Wells Cathedral a few years ago on Ascension Day morning – photo credit to Iain MacLeod-Jones). The unmistakeable symbolism is undermined and downgraded by its being moved to a few days later. Continue reading

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Mark C. responds to Shane on English Catholicism

Mark C’s comment in response to Shane Shaetzel’s post on The Rise of English Catholicism is too good to leave in the comments section in case some readers miss it.  So, I am copying and pasting it in full here:


First, Shane is right about Sacred English being an important element of English Catholicism. But it is far from the only one. Yes, the liturgy (if it is not to be said in Latin) should be said in a sacral, hieratic form of language – either a separate liturgical language, or a distinct, higher liturgical dialect of the usual vernacular. For reasons why, see this document from the Benedict XVI-era Vatican. Indeed, almost all liturgical traditions, within Christianity and beyond, accept this principle. Orthodox worship does not use (or did not until very recently) modern Greek or Russian, but Koine / Attic Greek and Old Slavonic. Orthodox Jewish worship doesn’t use modern Israeli Hebrew (and kept using classical Hebrew even when the vernacular language of the Jewish community was Aramaic or Yiddish or Ladino). Hindu worship uses Sanskrit, not Hindi. In English, the language of the BCP and the KJV is our sacred vernacular, and this is recognized well beyond the bounds of the Anglican communion (as evidenced by the common translation of the Our Father Shane discusses), even if it was better preserved in the Anglican Prayer Book tradition than in most other corners of the English-speaking Church. Therefore, one of the gifts the Ordinariate brings to the Catholic Church in the English speaking world is the opportunity to experience worship in the sacred vernacular, just as Summorum Pontificum and the Ecclesia Dei communities give Catholics the opportunity to experience worship in the Catholic Church’s universal sacred language of Latin.

But English Catholicism is about much, much more than the use of Sacred English. It is about the prayer book form of the daily office, both for private devotion and public celebration of Mattins and Evensong. It is about sacred music, including both the English choral and chant traditions of Byrd, Tallis, and Merbecke, and the later flourishing of English hymnody under the likes of J.M. Neale, Dearmer, and Vaughan Williams. It is about a patristic approach to theology and scholarship flowing out of Oxford and Cambridge. It is about the English medieval mystical tradition of Julian of Norwich, the Cloud of Unknowing, etc., later appropriated by Anglicans and Catholics alike.

It is also wrong to say, as Shane does, that English Catholicism “hasn’t existed since the 16th century.” If English Catholicism was simply about reviving something that had died out 500 years ago, there would be little point to it. It would be like trying to revive the North African Catholicism of St. Augustine’s day. The point is English Catholicism continued to exist, but in a broken, fragmented, often hidden state, within both High Church Anglicanism and recusant English Roman Catholicism, and that Anglicans and Catholics have continued to find much good in the English Catholic tradition that has nurtured their faith. The Ordinariate should be an effort to revive English Catholicism in its fullness, bringing together all of its strands and applying them to the mission of the Church today. That may begin with the Divine Worship form of liturgy and the use of Sacred English, but it would be a real shame if it stops there.

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Catholic in the Ozarks on English Catholicism

Shane Shaetzel has another great post over at Catholic in the Ozarks on the The Rise of English Catholicism

As is pointed out here, what we have embodied in the Ordinariates and Divine Worship is the authentic Anglican Patrimony as restored English Catholicism, as it has developed from the time of St. Augustine of Canterbury until now. It is, in a very real sense, the heritage of every English-speaking Catholic in the world. This may sound strange to some, but its not so foreign when we consider how much the Anglican Patrimony already plays into Catholicism in the English-speaking world, even outside the Ordinariates. For example; when we pray the Lord’s Prayer during the vernacular English Novus Ordo mass, this is how it’s commonly said or chanted…

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Take note of the Sacred English words “art” and “thy.” It’s exactly the same in Divine Worship. How very interesting that Rome saw fit to translate the Lord’s Prayer into Sacred English, even in the 1970s vernacular translation that uses Common English (or “modern” English). I mean, think about it. The words “art” and “thy” appear nowhere else in the English vernacular Novus Ordo mass. They only appear in this prayer, and that’s because it’s an appeal to our linguistic history and heritage — our Anglican Patrimony. English-speaking Catholics have been using Sacred English for this prayer, straight out of the Anglican prayerbooks, officially in the mass, ever since the vernacular English translation was commissioned in the 1970s.

However, it’s been going on a lot longer than that — unofficially. Pick up just about any copy of the Daily Roman Missal 1962 and what you’ll find is the old Tridentine mass officially in Latin on one side of the page, translated unofficially into Sacred English (not Common English) on the other side of the page. For decades prior to the Novus Ordo mass, English-speaking (Anglophone) Catholics learnt the “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and “Glory Be,” and scores of other prayers in Sacred English. The same is true of the first English translations of the Catholic Bible. I’m speaking specifically of the Douay-Rheims Bible, which is entirely in Sacred English, just like the Anglican King James Version. In fact all English Bibles, produced in previous centuries, used some variation of Sacred English, commonly found in Anglican prayer books, because that was THE standard for all English religious text. Every English-speaker knows this deep down inside. Sacred English is the language of poetry, music and theatre. It always has been. It is our most treasured vernacular, because it represents the highest and most precise diction the language has to offer. We offer God only our best, and that is why it’s called Sacred English, or as the Anglicans sometimes say “Prayerbook English.”

Go on over and read the whole thing!

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Catholic in the Ozarks responds to The Benedict Option

Shane Shaetzel,  a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society board, has a lengthy and interesting post at Catholic in the Ozarks responding to Rod Dreher’s latest book The Benedict Option.

He writes:

The problem is modern Western culture — Modernism — and this is what is discussed in the book The Benedict Option. Our Modernist culture is just too overwhelming for parents to be able to do their jobs anymore. It is virtually impossible for parents to raise godly children, in the self-sacrificial Catholic faith, when the message of the world (even the message of consumer Christianity) is that of self-gratification. Like ancient Rome, the culture is destined for collapse. It’s hard to say if or when such a collapse would be political, but it most certainly is cultural.

On a personal side note, living here in the Bible Belt of the United States, I am constantly hearing local Protestants refer to the November 2016 election of Donald Trump as some kind of “turning point” for the culture, and they fully expect things to get better now. I’m sorry to report to you that our Evangelical brethren are sorely mistaken on this, and will be in for a rude awakening sometime in the not-too-distant future. Politicians cannot solve this problem. Those who believe the election of Trump marks some kind of cultural turning point are sadly deceiving themselves.

So with a culture that is overwhelmingly Modernist, wherein Catholic parents have no choice, what is this Benedict Option in modern terms? No, it’s not what you think. It’s not about going out into the wilderness to live as the Amish do. I suppose that might be a viable choice for some, but certainly not for most. For the average Catholic, the Benedict Option heavily involves your local Catholic parish.

The Catholic parish must be revived, or rebuilt, to become a truly communal place, as it was originally meant to be. Catholics can no longer look at Catholicism as just one aspect of their lives. Rather, they must now look at it as their entire lives. Catholicism can no longer influence us. It must define us, and yes, the local Catholic parish is the key to making this whole thing work. Without it, any attempt at a Benedict Option will fail miserably.

Go on over and read the whole thing.

And while we’re on the topic of Rod Dreher, who writes at The American Conservative, and is always interesting, I came across this piece of his at the site.

It is a review of a book by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow   

Dreher writes:

Harari understands that modernity has a way of dissolving all inherited sacred stories. Here is a key paragraph that is incredibly important:

“Yet in fact modernity is a surprisingly simple deal. The entire contract can be summarized in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.”

Read that again. Think about it. What he’s saying is that ceasing to believe that there is fixed meaning in the universe leaves us in an unstable situation, but it gives us more agency to remake the world in our own image. Very few people are what Damon Linker calls “honest atheists” — that is, atheists who understand what it means to surrender the meaning that comes with theism. Most of them end up becoming sentimentalists of some sort or another — and that is the fate of Yuval Noah Harari, who is an incorrigible nostalgist for the future.

He believes that having been freed from the old myths is a very good thing indeed, because it liberates us to do what we like. Harari believes that capitalism is a force for good in the sense that it responds to human desires. Human desire is good. The desire to be free from pain, suffering, and death is good. Therefore, anything done in service of those goals is good. He eagerly anticipates the power of redefining what it means to be human that will soon be delivered to us via science and technology.

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Father Z writes “urgent” liturgy post

Whenever Father Z writes about Pope Benedict XVI’s contribution to saving the liturgy (save the liturgy; save the world, he says) through Summorum Pontificum, I want to ask, “What about Anglicanorum coetibus? and our Ordinariates’ Divine Worship: the Missal?”

He has an “Urgent” post up  on Pope Benedict’s preface to the Russian edition of his collected works.  He writes:

For years I have contended that if we do not revitalize our sacred liturgical worship, every initiative we undertake as a Church will wither and face.  Everything we do must start in worship and must be brought back to liturgical worship.  We must reorder our efforts, prioritize if we truly want renewal.

This is one of the reasons that I pound my head on my desk when I read about conferences about “New Evangelization” that lack a strong liturgical component (other than the de rigueur vanilla Novus Ordo Mass with concelebration with some bishop or other for the attendees).

Booked to attend the third New Evangelization Summit here in Ottawa in May, I find I do not entirely agree with Father Z that “every initiative we undertake as a Church will wither and fade. ”  I think renewal needs every possible effort to appeal to as many different Catholics as possible, some who are not ready to be reached through traditional liturgy.  Whether it’s through evangelistic appeals through preaching the Gospel and inviting people to ask Jesus into their hearts (don’t knock it—because it can be the beginning of a fruitful journey for people); or through revival of Marian devotions such as the Rosary, consecration to  Jesus through Mary and so on, we need every possible arrow in the quiver. But back to the post on liturgy.

Father Z then goes on to quote from his translation of the preface Pope Benedict’s words.  Here’s part of it:

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, I became aware once again of the priority of God and of the divine liturgy. The misinterpretation of the liturgical reform that was widely diffused in the Catholic Church led to putting in the first place more and more the aspect of instruction and of one’s own activity and creativity. Man’s “doing” almost led to forgetting God’s presence. In this kind of situation, it becomes ever clearer that the Church’s existence lives from the proper celebration of the liturgy and that the church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy and, therefore, in life. The most profound cause of the crisis , which has disturbed (sconvolto – “upset, shocked, ‘freaked out’”) the Church, rests in the obscuring of the priority of God in the liturgy.  All of this brought me to dedicate myself more extensively than in the past to the theme of the liturgy because I knew that the true renewal of the liturgy is the fundamental condition for the renewal of the Church. The writings that are collected in the present volume XI of the Opera Omnia were born on the basis of this conviction.  But, in the final analysis, even with all the differences, the essence of the liturgy in the East and in the West is one and the same.  And so I hope that this book can help also the Christians of Russia to grasp in a new and better way the great gift that is given to us in the Sacred Liturgy.

Your thoughts?


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Anglican musical patrimony–some thoughts

Brother John-Bede Pauley has a great website called Music and the Anglican Patrimony.   Though aimed at musicians, there’s a lot there for those who merely appreciate good music and it role in true worship.

He writes:

English choral music was originally meant for worship and would be heard in a state of quiet meditation. Indeed, this music would have been performed (and often still is) by a choir divided in half — facing one another, rather than the congregation. In my own practice writing this sort of music, this is an important distinction: It is an observed private ritual. Nobody is meant to clap, and the music is not presented to an audience for approval; rather, it is meant to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths. It was not originally intended to happen at 7:30 at night for the pleasure of an audience coming from work, with just enough time for a rushed Chablis before the warning gong goes off, quickly checking ticket stubs and crawling over other patrons’ coats.

When I compose, I find myself returning to this tradition, particularly as it relates to creating musical drama without a Romantic sense of ebb and flow leading to a climactic moment. You can have a thrilling 90 seconds with roller-coaster harmonies focusing on two words only, followed by a single line of plainchant, followed by counterpoint outlining harmonies completely at variance with what we would understand to be the rules.

One of my favorite memories of the one time I traveled to England was attending Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford.  I could hear the choir praying together before they came into the church.   The music was sublime, but it was worship and not a performance.

Brother Pauley also has an update on the progress the gradual for Divine Worship: the Missal.

An update on the news reported here last December concerning a gradual for the Divine Worship missal (DWM).

The gradual is in the proofreading stage. It follows the DWM outline of minor propers for the Sundays after Trinity.  But it will include an index that cross-references the Graduale Romanum’s chants according to the Ordinary Time sequence.

The post contains some detailed notes from Clint Brand, one of the members of Anglicanae Traditiones.

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