In the sixteenth century, we Anglicans had to suffer the imposition, made possible by the invention of printing, of liturgical deformations even worse than those with which S Pius V had to deal in his "Back to the Tradition" reforms. The history of Anglican liturgy since then, at least among Anglican Catholics, has been a long struggle to reconnect our maimed rites with the pre-rupture Tradition. We have lived out, for 450 years, the same processes and problems which the rest of the Latin West has now faced for less than five decades since the post-conciliar 'reforms'. It's Old Hat to us. What have we Anglican Catholics done?
Brave priests often moved fast and tactlessly. At Cury and Gunwalloe, in Cornwall, Fr Sandys Wason provided for his congregation, which a fortnight previously had worshipped at State Mattins, the full Tridentine Rite almost from his Day One. Most clergy, however, have tended to move more slowly and pastorally. It has been a matter of Brick By Brick - this was our Anglican Catholic game long before Fr Zed dreamed it up - with gradual changes such as step-by-step insertions of orthodox and traditional texts; as for the elimination of texts originating in sixteenth century Zwinglianism, but still dear to worshippers, well, that had to proceed even more gradually. This sort of thing is not smooth and it is not always logical. One has to think in terms of generations or at least decades rather than months.
I would like tentatively to suggest that we ought now to move beyond another Fr Zed mantra: Do the Red, Say the Black. This neatly sound-bited principle has served very well the campaigns that Fr Zed has waged over the last five years to restrain the liberalising corruption of the OF itself; but that is the point: it is essentially an ad hominem device aimed at restraining Fr Trendy. But, if it is to be even-handed, it requires also that the OF be not modified in a 'Traditionalist' direction. I suppose I am suggesting that, while still using the Zed formula in the campaign against the Trendies, we should deftly employ a double standard and ignore it in as far as it restrains the improvement of the OF.
Should the next step, Anglicanwise, be the gradual, tactful, pastoral introduction of EF elements into the OF Mass?
Some minute, even insignificant, examples which just happen to be in my mind. At his Inauguration Mass, Benedict XVI joined his hands at Gratias agamus .... And Fr Zed recently revealed that he - Z - signs the elements with five crosses at hostiam puram .... One of these usages is merely not ordered by rubrics; the other is actually contrary to a rubric. And I wonder how many clergy use, secreto, the EF Offertory Prayers in OF Masses.
At the end of the Vigil Mass of Christmas this year, I propose to have the Last Gospel, the Johannine prologue, sung after Mass, at the Crib, by the Deacon. This is actually proposed in Times and Seasons, a liturgical resource the use of which is encouraged by the Anglican hierarchy. The reasons for it, and its pastoral value, are obvious. In a tinkering and innovatory spirit which will convince many that, after all, and despite everything I have ever written, I am really just another Fr Trendy, I intend to place the Bambino in the Crib immediately after the words And the Word was made flesh ... But it constitutes a tactful and useful recovery, even if just this once, of a goody that was lost half a century ago.