Our Lady of Walsingham was born as the second Anglican Use Catholic parish within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
HOUSTON, TEXAS (Virtue on Line) - The words were familiar. The voice was familiar. But the voice saying those words was unfamiliar.
"Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit..." the familiar voice said.
"And blessed by His Kingdom, now and forever," came the thunderous reply.
The voice was that of His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston, who was celebrating a solemn pontifical Mass commemorating the 25th anniversary of Our Lady of Walsingham Anglican Use Catholic Church -- the second foundation of an Anglican Use parish in the United States -- and honoring the members of the Anglican Use Society who had gathered in Houston for their annual meeting, June 11-13.
Friday's (June 12) Mass was a carefully choreographed pageant of sights, sounds and smells that used the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship as the Book of Common Prayer. The gold leafed high altar simmered and glistened in the stained-glass filtered sunlight. There the Cardinal was joined in Our Lady of Walsingham's sanctuary by a host of other ordained clerics including the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, monsignors, priests and deacons, all elaborately vested in vivid red in honor of the Holy Ghost.
The Catholic Church of Our Lady of Walsingham belies it's Anglican roots and could easily be an ancient Church of England chapel nestled in the countryside of Great Britain. The walls are the palest of green. The floor is made from light colored shale. Massive gray stone pillars dot the sanctuary while stone arches highlight passage ways. The recessed stained-glass windows cast jewel-toned points of light that dance off the walls, floor and the altar's inset ornate reredos. The lectern is the classic Anglican stole-draped carved wooden eagle.
Quietly, Thomas Moore and John Fisher, two Catholic saints from the English Reformation struggle, watch over all liturgical proceedings. The two men are depicted in their distinctive 16th Century garb. Both men challenged King Henry VIII and were rewarded with death for their efforts.
Choir members are vested in red cassocks overlaid by long draping surplises with deeply pointed sleeves. The women wear traditional Anglican white neck ruffles. The choir's voices are perfectly matched for the challenge and the intricacies of the unique cadence of Anglican chant. It shows that many hours of rehearsal went into producing such a polished sound.
The choir interplays with the Cardinal, responding to him in song and chant, creating an angelic sound which is raised towards heaven on the smoky clouds of incense, making it a heavenly liturgy with angelic resonance.
Cardinal DiNardo inherited the Anglican Use parish when he became the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in 2006.
The Revs. James Ramsey and James Moore founded Our Lady of Walsingham as a Roman Catholic Parish of the Pastoral Provision of Pope John Paul II in 1984. Both were former Episcopal priests who had renounced their Episcopal clerical ordinations and accepted the dogmas, doctrines and discipline of Roman Catholicism embracing the fullness of Catholic faith complete with obedience to the Bishop of Rome as the Vicar of Christ and became practicing Catholics. After Catholic theological study, they were re-ordained as Roman Catholic priests. This was done in keeping with the newly minted Pastoral Provision instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1980 to embrace and incorporate beleaguered married Episcopal priests who were converting to Roman Catholicism with the hope that somehow they could recover their priesthoods.
The two Houston priests, along with other like-minded Episcopal laity, who could no longer remain in the spiritually self-destructing Episcopal Church, yet wanted to maintain some of the flavor of their Anglican heritage, liturgy, piety and ethos, set out into deep unknown waters to establish an Anglican-style worship Catholic community in Houston. So Our Lady of Walsingham was born as the second Anglican Use Catholic parish within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The first such parish, Our Lady of the Atonement, was founded the year before (1983) in San Antonio, Texas. A third Texas Anglican Use parish flourishes in Arlington as St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Use Catholic Church. All three Texas Anglican Use parishes honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The late Most Rev. John L. Morkovsky was the first bishop to take the fledging Anglican Use parish under his protective episcopal care. Shortly after the foundation of the parish, the good bishop retired and The Most Rev. Joseph Fiorenza became the ordinary of the Houston diocese and assumed episcopal oversight of the new but growing Anglican Use parish. For more than two decades, Bishop Fiorenza interacted with Our Lady of Walsingham. As bishop, he became familiar with the uniqueness of an Anglican Use liturgy which combines prayer elements from the 1928 and 1979 Episcopal Books of Common Prayer along with liturgical canons and rites from the 1973 Roman Missal which results in a hybrid liturgy.
Cardinal DiNardo was trying to keep one rubric ahead in his liturgical celebration of the still somewhat unfamiliar Anglican Use liturgy that is very similar in structure to the 1962 Tridentine Latin Mass. The priest faced the altar. He wore colorful ornate vestments. His Mass book had been moved from the Epistle side to the Gospel side for the Canon of the Mass. Acolytes moved in synchronized harmony. The choir gave background to the liturgy with chant. The lector intoned the readings. The Mass was enveloped in an air of reverential silence and mystery while the scent of incense filled the air. And all of it is said, sung, intoned or chanted in prayer book Elizabethan English rather than High Church Latin. Communion is received by intinction on the tongue while kneeling at an altar rail.
The Catholic Cardinal is multi-linguistic. He speaks American English, Latin and Italian fluently. However the Elizabethan Thee and Thou and the prayer book Thy and Thine did not flow from his lips with practiced ease. He kept his nose pretty well buried in the Altar book while reading the unfamiliar archaic language as Our Lady of Walsingham's deacon whispered helpful directions and hints in his ear.
After the Cardinal ascended the steps to the Anglican Use church's raised pulpit he was wearing the stole of a priest, the miter of a bishop, the pallium of an archbishop, and the scarlet zucchetto of a Catholic cardinal.
"I don't do the Anglican Use Mass often," he confessed. "I have the deacon whispering in my ear."
Cardinal DiNardo is profoundly deaf. He wears hearing aids in both ears, yet even with his hearing difficulties he enjoys intoning and chanting the parts of the Mass.
As a descendant from Italian stock, Cardinal DiNardo has very expressive dark eyes. Many times he eyes speak for him.
He praised his children of St. Augustine of Canterbury's full unity with the Catholic Church and himself as their local spiritual shepherd and then rejoiced in the Anglican Use Mass calling it a beautiful glimpse into the abiding nature of the Trinity with the Father and the Son.
"The Anglican Use Mass is an intense liturgy of beauty," he continued. "with the beauty of the Eternal Liturgy."
"Anglican Use is not just the icing on the cake," he said. "It is part of the batter. It is of substance."
Cardinal DiNardo is an unpretentious man. He clutches a plain wooden crozier with a simple crook. His miter would be indistinguishable from Bishop Vann's if it were not for the simple red band that denotes his high honor. He is at ease with the visiting priests, Our Lady of Walsingham parishioners and Anglican Use Society members as they are just as comfortable with him. He is a man of a quick smile, a soft word and an infectious laugh.
The Cardinal's Mass lasted about two hours. Occasionally he missed a cue, but for the most part he did an admiral job of being a bi-ritual Catholic priest celebrating a Eucharistic rite in an unfamiliar Anglican liturgical setting using unaccustomed chant in antiquated English.
"It's really wild doing an Anglican Use Mass," the Cardinal acknowledged following the Anglican-style worship experience. His familiarity with the Anglican Use liturgical style will increase as he interacts sacramentally as bishop with Our Lady of Walsingham.
Out-going Anglican Use Society President Joseph Blake was very impressed with the Houston Catholic Cardinal.
"He is a role model for everyone here," Blake said noting that the Cardinal surpassed his every expectation by 100 fold.
Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline
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