Before, I returned the Church, I had no idea that there were different rites within it. Since my return, I have taken the time to attend churches that celebrate mass in something other than the ordinary form. I have had the pleasure of experiencing the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in a Ruthenian Church. I also went to a Maronite Church, which seemed identical almost to the Ruthenian Church. I have also attended the Extraordinary Form (both a low and a high mass).
I fell in love with the Extraordinary Form. I had never attended one. I was born after Vatican II took effect. To me it is like being in heaven. It is both majestic and reverent. After attending the EF, I really had no wish to return to the OF but my wife and children protested because they could not understand the Latin. I have nothing against the OF but in my experience the EF just touched my soul, not only because of the reverence but also the prayers were not only beautiful but catechistic. I have often wondered why, when the mass was reformed that it just did not follow the old form as opposed to the radical change that it resulted in. I asked myself, why couldn’t we have the EF in the vernacular. Surely this majestic liturgy could be celebrated in the English.
This weekend I had the privilege to experience an Anglican Use mass. This form of the mass was amazingly spiritual and beautiful. In short, it seems to me like it is the EF in the vernacular.
The mass was celebrated at the Blessed John Henry Newman Church, in Orange County California jhnewman.org/. The church does not have its own building yet and mass was celebrated in the beautiful St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Santa Ana. It is located at 727 North Minter Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701. If you never have been to St. Joseph’s, I strongly suggest that you go. The priests there are orthodox and the church building is gorgeous.
Fr. Andrew Bartus is the pastor. I am extremely thankful to the pastor who showed me kindness when I was exchanging emails with him regarding the mass. He actually came up to me after the mass to say hello. I guess he was able to guess who I was since my family and I were the only ones who seemed confused as to when to kneel and when to stand!
The number of the faithful was small …maybe about 20. The altar was set up differently than what I was used to. I counted 12 candles on the altar and it was set up ad orientem. The choir was very talented and so was the organist, they were up in the balcony area at the back of the church. There was also a cantor.
The services began the Asperges, just like the EF. I really like the prayers in the Asperges and I am sorry they were removed from the OF. The Asperges was slightly different than the EF mass but it was chanted in the English of the King James Bible. I think many of you will agree the King James English is majestic to say the least.
Fr. Bartus and the servers (is this the proper word?) prayed at the foot of the altar just like in the EF although unlike the EF many of the prayers offered by the Priest, we were able to hear. I could have sworn that I also heard Fr. Bartus pray in Latin, I am not sure but I am certain that that at least one of the Hymns that was sung was in Latin.
During the Liturgy of the Word the readings were chanted. The cantor was excellent when he did this. Fr. Bartus came down from the altar area into the nave to read the Gospel which was chanted. Before he read the Gospel I noticed that the bible was blessed with incense. The Nicene Creed was also chanted. There was a lot of chanting going on around here! I loved it. Many of the prayers are familiar but slightly different in the King’s English. During the Nicene creed, instead of praying that “ to judge the living and the dead” we prayed to “judge the quick and the dead”. And here I thought that was an Iron Maiden lyric!
One thing that I did notice is that the Confiteor (if it can be called the Confiteor in the Anglican use mass) was different and it was more toward the end of the mass as opposed to the beginning.
Nearly all of the liturgy of the Eucharist were spent mostly kneeling including the Our Father which was chanted as well using the same chant that is used in the EF. Communion was done kneeling and on the tongue and the Priest instead of saying “the Body of Christ”, he instead said it more like the Latin “May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul for eternal life”.
Communion was received under one species although I might be wrong, I noticed that communion was also given to very young children. I noticed this in the Byzantine rite as well, although in the Byzantine rite I noticed that even babies were given communion. At the end of the Mass, the Gospel of John was read and we also prayed the Angelus.
It is my hope that those that read this post and those that live close to Orange County will be able to celebrate mass at the Blessed John Henry Newman Church. Brethren, in my most humble opinion, the Anglican Use mass is a jewel, …a gift to the Western Rite. This mass is basically the EF in the vernacular. It was a complete privilege for me to witness. I think I have found my home.