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Friday, December 5, 2014

Practical Questions About Liturgy at Our Lady of Hope


1. What is the church like?
When you walk into Our Lady of Sorrows Church where we worship, you get a distinct feeling of the presence of the Lord. Indeed He is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Upon entering one becomes immediately "worshipful" in manner and upon entering one is given to silence.

2. How is the liturgy celebrated?
Whether the congregation is small or large, everything is dignified, and reverent as the "Lord of Hosts is with us".  The vestments are rich and beautiful, often handmade.  Then the solemn manner in which sacred ministers, cantors, servers, altar guild and readers perform their part in the eternal drama, absolutely contributes to the piety of all. This tone and manner is shared by the congregation, who fully participate.

3. What kind of music is used?
Probably the most dramatic contribution to the Anglican Patrimony is its hymnody. Magnificent music planned and directed by Dr. Bruce Prince-Joseph our organist, sung in the most venerable traditions, shared by a congregation singing to the rafters literally lifts the soul to the heavenly throne.

4.  How do the people receive communion?
We receive communion in the traditional manner, kneeling at the altar rail.  Those who cannot kneel are welcome to stand. Some receive the sacrament on the tongue. But most make a simple, humble "throne" of the left hand for the right, whereon is placed the precious Sacrament. From there, the Body untouched is raised to the mouth of the communicant.

5. Are the people reverent?
Such things as bowing the head at Our Lord's name, making the sign of the cross at timely points of prayer, genuflecting at the Incarnatus in the creed, acknowledging the Lord at the elevation of the Host at the time of consecration - all these "engage" the faithful in the act of worship. The faithful are not only involved, but their participation lends to their understanding and their personal piety. They help us to present ourselves as a "living sacrifice." They help to shape a humble, contrite, awe-inspired heart when we come before Him. That reverent participation is also a part of the Anglican Way.

5. Why not use everyday English?
The language of the liturgy is Elizabethan English, as in most traditional parishes. Its formality, poetry, and beauty add a special dignity, and once again reverence, to the order of worship and contribute to the piety of the people. It helps to establish in a unique way, a humble, separate, not presumptuous, relationship between creature and Creator. It doesn't put off, but rather gathers together reverently. Formal expression can be inspiring. Therefore those prayers and hymns employing that formal language tend to put the faithful in a reverent attitude before the Holy of Holies.

6. How is the liturgy related to the Anglican Prayer Book?
The Book of Common Prayer is itself a work of great spiritual and practical genius, a rich gift to the faithful. Anglicans know it as well as they know their Bibles. Anglicans throughout the world can pick it up and know they are "at home.  All of those familiar with the prayer book tradition will be soon right at home with the Catholic “Book of Divine Worship” used in Ordinariate liturgies.  Catholics will immediately recognize the familiar structure of the Mass, enriched with historic Anglican devotion.

7. Who can receive communion?
Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law. . . . " 

(Many thanks to Marthat Eischen, "Anglican Patrimony or the Anglican Way," published in VirtueOnline, June 29, 2011.)