The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Daily Office; beginning with the Portal Magazine's essay on the Ordinariate Use liturgy

In the June 2014 issue of the Portal Magazine, Msgr. Andrew Burnham has a very comprehensive, yet concise, article on the Ordinariate Liturgy. He begins his essay with this story.

There is a story about Mgr Graham Leonard, formerly Anglican Bishop of London, being asked by Cardinal Hume what he valued in the worship of the Church of England and would miss as a Catholic. He replied that it would be the Prayer Book Offices of Matins and Evensong, and in particular the psalms in course, following the Coverdale Psalter, as set in the Book of Common Prayer.

There is no doubt that the daily services are the jewel in the crown and, when both Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI expressed their admiration for Anglican worship, it was the public celebration of the Offices that they had most clearly in mind. Small wonder then that the Ordinariate clergy in the United Kingdom particularly value the availability to them, as Catholics, of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Prayer Book tradition, as distilled in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham.

There is a wealth of material in the Customary, which I've been reading through again in recent weeks. And while Msgr. Burnham does not focus exclusively on the Daily Office in his essay (which you should go and read for all that it contains), I think that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the Daily Office as a truly daily experience of prayer in the life of Catholics, and particularly for those of the Anglican Use, for whom this is a particular heritage and tradition.

A recent post on the blog Gerry Lynch's Thoughts... asks "Why is Cathedral Evensong Growing and What Does It Mean?", and one of his answers is that he sees "weekday Evensong as ecumenical, interfaith and vital for a growing, healthy, Church." Evensong is ecumenical and interfaith, because anyone can participate, even those not yet baptized. While the Mass is undoubtedly important for evangelization, it also necessarily excludes some people from what, to many, will seem the central rite of the Eucharist, the Communion. But there is no part of Evensong (or Mattins) that I, as a confirmed, baptized Catholic, can do as a member of the congregation, that an unchurched seeker cannot do; whatever barriers there are to participation will be wholly interior, but that removes a modern complaint about erecting barriers; because in this service, we erect none.

And yet, as the author goes on to note: "Evensong is not necessarily undemanding. It gives tremendous space for daily study of Scripture, and disciplined prayer sustaining a life of Christian service."

For both reasons, evangelization and growth in Christian discipleship (and more), the Daily Office should be a key element of every parish, and particularly, every Ordinariate and Pastoral Provision's life.


  1. Really hoping for some clear and uniform guidance around the texts for the Daily Office across the Ordinariates. Agree that the appeal of Morning/Evening Prayer is that it is an offering of the Church that is open to all faithful people, regardless of tradition. As an RCIA candidate, it helped me bridge from the Episcopal Church to the Catholic Church, and now as an Ordinariate member living nowhere near on Ordinariate parish, the twice daily office prayers are my one way of connecting my prayer life to the larger spirituality of the Ordinariate. Hoping someone, somewhere is likewise praying it with me, and that we may get clear direction on what text to use in order to all be praying together. For now, it seems that we use the Book of Divine Worship here in the U.S. while U.K. members turn to the Customary of OLW.

    1. I, for one am praying it with you and will keep you in mind when doing so,

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