Liberal Rite

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The primary liturgical rite used by various denominations within the greater Liberal Catholic movement. Also known as the Mystical Mass and the Wedgwood/Leadbeater Mass, the Liberal Rite is the most widely used liturgical form found within the Liberal Catholic Movement. Like other liturgical rites, the Liberal Rite has grown and evolved over the past century.


The Liberal Rite was composed by Bishop James I. Wedgwood, with Bishop C.W. Leadbeater assisting on the Collects, Psalms, canticles, and readings. They based the Rite on Arnold Harris Mathews The Old Catholic Missal And Ritual first published on August 15, 1909. Mathew's rite was the old Roman Rite in the vernacular. In creating the new Rite, Wedgwood and Leadbeater focused more on the glorification of God, rather than the depravity of man.

In explaining how the Liberal Rite was developed, Bishop Wedgwood states:

"We set to work to eliminate the many features which from our point of view disfigure and weaken the older liturgies. References to fear of God, to His wrath and to everlasting damnation were taken out, also the constant insistence on the sinfulness and worthlessness of man and the frequent appeals for mercy. The services were made as clear and free from repetition in their structural sequence as possible. And every opportunity was given to the congregation to join in the worship with all the resources of mind and will and emotion and self-dedication they were able to command. The sentiments put into the mouth of the worshiper are such as those who are filled with the spirit of devotion and service can honestly and sincerely utter.... It stresses the idea of co-operation with the Divine Father rather than that of supplication, and being outward-turned in the service of God and His world soon enables a man to realize something of the boundless resources of his own being. They are his by right and not simply by grace."(Beginnings of the Liberal Catholic Church, 1937.)


LCC Liturgy Books 1st through 5th editions.

A total of five editions of the Rite exist today.

    • 1917 - Private printing booklet with the Liturgy of the Holy Mass (18 pgs).
    • 1918 - Two booklets containing the Liturgy of the Mass, a Form for the Administration of Holy Communion, Form for the Communion of the Sick, the Order of Vespers and the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament.
  • 1919 - The Liturgy was first published in its entirety. - Authorized by Bp. Wedgwood. Reprinted by St. Alban Press, San Diego, CA.
  • 1924 - 2nd edition published. - Authorized by Bp. Leadbeater
  • 1942 - 3rd edition published. - Authorized by Bp. Pigott
    • 1961 - 3rd edition published in Spanish (Partial). - Authorized by Bp. Vreede under Bp. Ballesteros
      • 1987 - 3rd edition reprint by the LCCI. - Authorized by Bp. Neth
      • 2002 - 3rd edition reprint by the LCCI. - Authorized by Bp. Finn
      • 2010 - 3rd edition published in Spanish(Complete). - Authorized by Bp. Bekken
      • 2017 - 3rd edition reprinted by the St. Alban Press. - Authorized by Bp. Bekken.[1]
  • 1967 - 4th edition published by the LCC (old synod). - Authorized by Bp. Sykes
  • 1983 - 5th edition published by the LCC (old synod). - Authorized by Bp. Von Krusenstierna

In 2004 the GES of the LCC (new synod) announced that they would issue a new 6th edition of the Liturgy which would "introduce invocations to Our Lady at the Ordination...of the Holy Orders", and introduce gender inclusive language. Also to be changed will be an invocation to Our Lady at the Healing Service, and the Shorter Form of the Eucharist will be taken from the 1967 edition.[2]



  • 1961 - The first Spanish version based on the 3rd edition English was printed in Colombia. It was missing the Gospels, Epistles and some other services.
  • 2010 - A complete version based on the 1942 and 1961 texts was issued by the St. Alban Press of San Diego, CA.


Shorter "pew missals" are available in Dutch, French, German, Latin, and Swedish. The missals generally contain the Full Form Eucharist with Proper Prefaces and Graduals, the Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Healing Service, and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament.


As of 2009, the LCC (old and new synod) use the 5th Edition.

As of 2009, the Liberal Catholic Church International, and the Universal Catholic Church use a reprint of the 3rd Edition (1987, 2002).

As of 2009, the Liberal Catholic Church Theosophia Synod allows the celebrant the use of either the reprint of the 3rd Edition, or the 5th Edition.

The re-print of 'The Liturgy' was revised when it was re-printed by the LCCI and has had some Theosophical content either removed or adapted. It made minor changes in the prayer of consecration and one collect. The Shorter Form remained unchanged. This can be seen when one compares an original 1942 edition to the current re-print.

The LCCI printed a booklet entitled: Supplement No. 1, which contains a Brief Form Eucharist, Lauds, Sext, Alternate Confirmation Rite, Private Healing Service, Blessing of Ashes, Mass of the Presanctified, Lauds, Admission of Deaconess, an optional wedding prayer, etc.

Other liturgies[edit]

  • Bishop Wedgwood worked on another rite based on the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This so-called "Eastern Rite" has not received much attention by the various Churches in the Liberal Catholic Movement, and there remain questions on its authenticity and authorship.
  • The LCC (old synod) created an "experimental" service entitled Services Of Our Lady in 1982.
  • The Young Rite uses numerous liturgies, including a Traditional Form of the Holy Eucharist, the Circle Form of the Holy Eucharist, and the Universal Eucharist, all of which are available for study on their church website.
  • In 2005, Rev. Jason Sanderson (LCCI) and Rev. Wynn Wagner (LCCI) compiled a breviary entitled Book of Prayers: Prayers, readings, and devotions for Liberal Catholics. This text contained the Holy Office, the Proper Collects and various other readings and devotions. It was not an official publication of the LCCI.
  • The Mission Episcopate of Saints Francis and Clare makes available modern, gender neutral excerpts from the LCC Liturgy on its website.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Rite, 3rd Ed. (2002 reprint) The St. Alban Press, 741 Cerro Gordo Ave. San Diego, CA 92102.
  • Cooper, Irving S. Ceremonies of the Liberal Catholic Rite. (2008)
  • Leadbeater, C.W. The Science of the Sacraments.
  • Msgr. T.J. Howard ed. The Collected Works of James I. Wedgwood
  • Sanderson, Jason & Wynn Wagner eds. Book of Prayers, (2005).
  • Van Alphen, M.F. (2010). The Pillars of the Temple. Inspiration Press.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Catalog of St. Alban Press, San Diego, CA
  2. ^ The Newsletter of the Liberal Catholic Church in the United States of America, Summer 2004 p.3

External links[edit]