By Benjamin Mann
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is preparing to publish its daily liturgical prayer book, as part of its mission to incorporate Anglican traditions within the Catholic Church.
Father James Bradley, communications officer for the jurisdiction, told CNA on June 5 that the “Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham,” which contains the order of daily prayer and readings, “shows a deep respect for the Anglican tradition, and gives it space to flourish” in the Catholic Church.
Announced in the ordinariate’s “Portal” publication on June 1, the book is due out “in a month or two” according to Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Assistant to the Ordinary.
The new prayer book draws heavily from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for its services of Morning and Evening Prayer. It also contains the traditional litany of intercession, along with the “minor hours” of the daily prayer cycle and the traditional night service of Compline.
In keeping with a decision of the Holy See, the text generally maintains the traditional language of Anglican worship – an older, more poetic English dialect that is widely regarded as both aesthetically rich, and spiritually valuable.
“The use of traditional English vocabulary and sentence structures reminds us that we worship a God who is at once intelligible and a divine mystery,” said Fr. Bradley.
“We lift up our hearts in thanksgiving and adoration by elevating our language – even singing the texts – to reflect our inward disposition,” he explained. “This is, in language, what kneeling is to posture: a visible expression of our deep reverence for the Lord.”
Notably, the book also includes selections from some Anglican authors in its Office of Readings. Fr. Bradley said the carefully-chosen selections showed how the English tradition could be truly “united but not absorbed,” in its reunion with the Catholic Church.
Changes were, however, made to some of the Anglican prayer texts “in order to ensure the Catholic credentials of the liturgy.”
“Where this has been necessary, the alterations have been slight and respectful of the overall sense of the original texts,” the communications officer said. “For example, the Versicle and Response for the Queen has been retained, but a prayer for the Pope has also been added.”
While the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is primarily intended as a liturgical book for the U.K. ordinariate, Fr. Bradley also stressed its potential value “to members of other personal ordinariates” in other countries, as well as “those with an interest in Catholic or Anglican liturgical developments.”
Catholic laity, whether or not they come from an Anglican background, may find it to be “a beautiful and prayerful means of celebrating daily prayer,” he noted.
“We very much hope that will help enable the development of the hopes of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, for a renewed and wider recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours by the lay faithful,” Fr. Bradley said.