Sarum What?

I recently talked on the phone with a fellow clergyman, with whom I went to seminary, about Percy Dearmer and the Sarum Use. (It was not technically a separate Rite, but was a regional use of the Roman Rite.)  While he is doctrinally and morally in line with the Magisterium, strangely he is a Dearmerite and wants a full-blown revival of the Sarum to be a part of our patrimony.  Or rather, he believes it is already and we must simply awaken to this fact.  I've run into other liturgical academicians here and there who argue for the same thing.  There's one of them running amok on the Anglo-Catholic blog, who ironically enough is an expat English priest running a small Anglican mission in France!  He and three other parishes in the world use the Sarum liturgy.

(Sarum Use)

To those people I've met, I've tried to explain why not only this path should not be pursued for pastoral reasons, but also it should not be pursued because it's not real.  I cannot fathom the immense disconnect they create between theology and liturgy, and frankly neither can the liberals; this is why more often than not, the mainstream inheritors of Dearmer are today's Affirming Catholics (Aff-Caths).  Dearmer and those who want to reinstitute the Sarum Use are what I term archeologians.  This is the practice of taking some belief or practice from a unique place and time in history, and bringing it back into existence separate from that place and time.  It is deconstructing something old and reconstructing it in the now (but of course with some modifications, as it is now not then!).

 (An Aff-Cath clergyman)

This practice of modern archeologians, of which Dearmer was their chief liturgical founder, is a prime example of how the hermeneutic of disruption can creep into the life of the church, as the theology is subtly separated from it (for those who believe the doctrine and morals of the Church).  It is clearer with those who are actually consistent with their archeology: the Aff-Caths, or even the so-called 'classical' Protestants, who've changed their various liturgies to reflect their various theologies.  But I'm not addressing those today.  I'm addressing those who are Ordinariate-bound but who want to reinstitute the Sarum Use in their parishes.

The Sarum Use died.  Elements of it survived due to Cranmer, of course, and Elizabeth, and the English Missal and the Book of Divine Worship, et al.  But the Prayer Book is the successor to it, though flawed as it is with vaguenesses.  Rome has, and is, restoring it back to its proper Catholic identity to greater or lesser degrees (we wait and see).  But the point is continuity.  The hermeneutic of continuity is fundamental to the establishment of the Anglican Use (what the Sarum has become) and its place in the life of the Ordinariates.  This must be based not only on the Sarum but also on what post-schism Anglicans have used (but obviously corrected).  This reflects our whole story, not just one segment of it. It reflects not just our past, but also our present stage of unity, and our future as a complete and full part of the Catholic Church, sacramentally and locally and doctrinally.


This is why the English Missal is the best choice to base an Anglican Use traditional liturgy upon, because it is essentially an English translation of the Latin Mass, and to add in the Cramnerian collects, Coverdale Psalms and the like only enhances and formalizes it.  It demonstrates that we (soon-to-be former) Anglicans (soon-to-be Anglican Catholics) are praying the exact same mass that the Roman Rite prays and has prayed all along, though we have our own use of it--no vaguenesses.  What will happen to the Book of Divine Worship remains to be seen, of course.  Will it be abolished in favor of the Third Edition of the Ordinary Form (new Novus Ordo), or will it be updated to be the Anglican Use parallel of the new Novus Ordo?

But the point is, the Sarum Use died.


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