Anglican ordination and first celebration of the Eucharist

I grew up Anglican. I began attending Catholic worship aged 18 and was received into the Church aged 19. My husband is cradle Catholic. My family have been supportive of my decision, although it pains them that we cannot always worship fully together as a family.

I have a brother (my only sibling) to whom I am very close. He is a great person and a good Christian. He is an Anglican deacon and will be ordained a priest later this year. Shortly afterwards he will celebrate his first Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper). My husband and I have received an invitation to both of these. We are not sure how to handle the situation and it is one of the rare occasions on which I disagree with him. I am very loyal to my brother and love him very much and I am finding my husband’s attitude to be legalistic and uncharitable.

It goes without saying that I accept the Church’s teachings as regards the status of the Anglican Church (ecclesial community), the apostolic succession (non-existent), holy orders (null and void), and sacraments (mostly invalid, including invalid Eucharist).

My brother is not Anglo-Catholic. He is not one of those who believes that the CofE is the Catholic Church in England. He does not believe in the sacerdotal nature of presbyteral ministry. He does not believe in transubstantiation or the sacrifice of the Mass. He does not hold to a high doctrine of the church or episcopate, although he does believe as a matter of historical fact that the succession of laying on of hands took place. He is not an evangelical or anti-Catholic.

We went through this in a smaller way when he was ordained to the diaconate, but we feel that the presbyteral ordination and the celebration of the Eucharist is a much bigger deal. We are unsure about whether to attend, which parts to attend, how to congratulate him, and what to do about receiving Communion/a blessing.

My view is that we should attend the whole thing and congratulate him on becoming a priest since that is what he is becoming within his own denomination, just as I would congratulate somebody on becoming a rabbi, for example. Also, legally, the law in England says that C of E priests are priests. As for the celebration of the Eucharist, I accept that we cannot receive at Communion. That is the Church’s teaching. But I don’t believe there is anything wrong with accepting a blessing. People say “God bless you” all the time and they aren’t priests. My husband is taking a very tough line and would favour boycotting the whole thing. He has said some very unkind things such as that they are just playing make believe and wearing fancy dress costumes. He has also begun to object to my styling my brother “the Revd” on envelopes etc.

I am really suffering over how to handle this and also really upset that this is causing problems between my husband and me. Yesterday he opened a Bible at Ephesians 5 and pointed at it and asked me to read out from verse 22 onwards. This should be a joyous occasion, but it is turning into a nightmare. Any ideas? Thanks.

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First of all, if your husband does not want to attend then that’s his prerogative. So the only question is do you attend, without your husband.

If I were you, I would attend to support the immediate family member, but not receive Eucharist (you are already planning to not receive Eucharist) and not go up for any blessing.

We have had the debate about Protestant clergy doing blessings on other threads. My personal opinion is that lay people, which includes Protestant clergy, cannot bless directly, they can only say “May God bless you.” If your brother is going to use any other language than “May God Bless You”, in other words if he will frame it so the blessing is coming from him (as Catholic priests do) then I would not want to receive the blessing from him because it is invalid. Of course, if he blesses the whole group standing in the church, then it’s still invalid but it’s not like you specially went up to be blessed.

“The Reverend” is a courtesy title and I think it is rather petty to not use it. I’m pretty sure that if the Catholic bishop had a need to write to your brother the Anglican priest, the bishop would address him as “The Reverend” because it is good manners to do so. We recognize that he is a clergy person of his own denomination and entitled to be treated respectfully as such.

If you have further concerns about this I would suggest you discuss with your priest. Your husband and you should both respect the advice of the priest.

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I am not a fan of how your husband used the Bible like that.

My prayers are with you. I would suggest speaking to a priest on it.

I am so sorry you’re being pulled between your family and husband in this fashion!

What an awful place to be in!

As an Anglo-Catholic, with a healthy amount of respect for my former Roman Catholicism, I’d say you should attend your brothers ordination and refer to him in any fashion you wish!

Regarding communion, you have the right idea in heeding Roman Catholic teaching and not receiving it (although all baptized Christians are welcome to the Lord’s Table!)

Church teaching doesn’t prohibit either of you from attending the ceremony, or receiving a blessing so it sounds like, honestly, he’s just being mean for the sake of being uncharitable.

You could try pushing it further with him, but there’s no harm in you attending and your husband sits it out.

I think your husband is being somewhat petty about it, but that’s his business. If he doesn’t want to go, that’s fine. But, if I were in your shoes, I’d go simply to support my brother. I wouldn’t receive communion or participate in any individual blessings. But I’m sure your brother would be happy to see you there and would appreciate your support.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sacrementals

1669 “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.” 173 SC 60; Cf. CIC, can. 1166; CCEO, can. 867.


there are other blessings, like the ones contained in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, that can be prayed by anyone who has been baptized, “in virtue of the universal priesthood, a dignity they possess because of their baptism and confirmation” ( Book of Blessings , no. 18). The blessings given by laypersons are exercised because of their special office, such as parents on behalf of their children.

I recall the Pope asking the Archbishop of Canterbury for a blessing.


Of course I realise that what is open to the Pope may not be appropriate for everyone


Yes, this came up on the last thread where we discussed this. Someone brought it up as alleged proof that a Protestant minister (in that case it was a Lutheran pastor we were discussing) can bless.

It was moot there and it’s moot here because this doesn’t involve someone blessing his children or blessing food.

The consensus from the last thread is that a Catholic shouldn’t be going up and getting a blessing from the Protestant clergy person if it’s a case where you get in line and go up for an individual blessing. In that case, the Catholic Bishop was present and did not go up for the blessing. Catholics should follow the Bishop’s lead.


I don’t think he meant that his entire flock should run to the Archbishop for a blessing.

As I posted below, in the last example of this that was posted on the threads a couple weeks ago, a Catholic Bishop was invited to a service at which a Protestant minister (I think Lutheran Pastor) gave blessings, and the bishop didn’t go up to be blessed.

However, I’m just curious, is this particular Archbishop one of the ones who we have discussed might actually have valid apostolic succession? I know there have been some Anglican clerics mentioned who have that.

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I’m linking the other thread I mentioned here so people can read that one too

If I were you I would go without your husband. It would be supportive of your brother.

His lines will include Old Catholics to be sure, but then all CofE priests have Old Catholics in their lines (except, of course, those who were ordained as Catholic priests and have moved home) since Old Catholic bishops began taking part on the consecration of CofE bishops fron 1931. Nonetheless Rome is firm that their orders are, as you know, null and void.

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I think you may be right. :slight_smile:

@ScouseGirl, Tell your husband to read from verse 25 onwards. That scripture passage places a whole lot more burden on him than you. And I hate to judge, but in this case he seems not to be living up to the task St. Paul lays out for him.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to your brother’s ordination and first mass, as long as you do not go to communion. It would be rude not to go. Does you husband refuse to go to non-Catholic weddings? If your husband loves you as much as Christ loves His church, he will trust you to make up your own mind with regards to this matter.

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I got corrected on this here a while back by clergy. Apparently the “Dutch touch” isn’t really all that common in CofE lines (I had thought it was fairly common).

btw, the Old Catholics lost orders themselves fairly recently, as they have so lost the understanding as to their nature as to attempt to ordain women . . .

Similarly, any CofE bishop that was ordained in a valid line that thinks he can ordain a female is incapable of any ordination . . .


Wow, so many great replies. Thank you.

@Tis_Bearself @Episcopalian @CTBcin @amazingcatholic I think you are all quite right. I cannot force my husband to go but equally I don’t think he can force me not to go, although I think he would like to. I don’t think that he is used to my questioning his judgement or defying his wishes. My brother is somebody towards whom I feel a sense of closeness and loyalty that would make me feel prepared to disagree with my husband, and he possibly does not like that fact.

@Tis_Bearself I think you are quite right. Certainly it would seem rude to refuse to use a style that is accorded to a minister of another religion just as it would be rude to refuse to address my MP as a dame.

Various of you, including the above, plus @Vico and @PickyPicky, mention the blessing. Perhaps under the circumstances he would be kind enough to offer a blessing in a form that I could accept in good conscience. I know that the Church of England does have some provision for lay people to offer a blessing, and perhaps as an act of generosity my brother would include me in this important day by using an alternative form of words that we could both accept. I know that this would seem like rejecting his ordination, but he is a very kind person and would understand that I just can’t in good conscience accept a blessing from somebody who isn’t a validly ordained priest according to my own Church while recognising that he is in his. This would be more like praying together, which is fine, rather than pretending to accept a priestly blessing.

@Dolphin @tafan2 Thank you. I am going to think about that passage. In general, my husband does rather expect me to defer to him on these kinds of matters. I have always respected his intellect and his erudition. Also, he is a cradle Catholic and played an important role in bringing me to the Church, and even after many years as a Catholic myself I suppose I still expect him to have a superior understanding of the faith. Also, he always encouraged me to accept the idea of male headship, so I suppose I came into the Church and into our marriage with that expectation. I can see that it is more complicated than that and that in this instance he may be misusing that position.

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I agree with you. Let God decide the merits of the blessing. In would accept such a blessing from my brother and God would want you to IMO!

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I’m a bit troubled by the approach your husband has taken to the faith given that you view him as a superior? We are all equal in the eyes of God.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- Galatians 3:28



I emphasised “we” because it seems to me that your husband is sure and that you are effectively going behind his back in getting a second opinion. That is not a criticism - I can understand that this situation is very painful for you and you are almost desparate for some advice. But can we be clear about this please? Do you think your husband has made up his mind, or that the advice given here may be heard by both of you?

This difficult situation reminds me very much of similar situation with my ex-wife and her Anglican family. Before going further I should emphasise that our marriage only lasted ten years and there were other problems, so I’m not saying any of my experience necessarily applies - if anything fits then please find it helpful, otherwise ignore it.

For my (ex-) wife’s family their Anglicanism was synonymous both with Christianity and family. They couldn’t handle having a Catholic in the family (me) or their daughter becoming a Catholic. You say your family have been supportive, but has there been an undercurrent of disrespect and superiority on their part? Such is very common with Protestants who a confident of an intellectual high-ground versus Catholics, who they regard as simpletons. This happened with us, and also we felt excluded from the family fellowship - which was sometimes quite deliberate, such as preferring the company of their parish “family” to us.

My reason for asking these questions is to try to understand your husband’s point of view. As these things did happen to us it had the effect of hardening my own attitude to my wife’s family. Where I started out respecting their beliefs and Anglicanism I grew more antipathetic as time went by. If I had been in your current situation I may well be taking your husband’s stance.

I didn’t ask my wife to defer to my every religious opinion and decision, but I did ask her to clearly side with me against her family when they made these things divisive. She wouldn’t do that, and it was a deep rupture. :frowning:

Also, as a man I can relate to the feeling that one gets sick of arguing. Is he your primary breadwinner (you don’t have to answer, just think about it please)? For myself, over the ten years of marriage the various Protestant arguments from my wife’s family (inter-communion, women’s ordination, divorce and remarriage, etc, etc…) just wore me down. I got fed up with the whole lot and wanted nothing to do with them. Again, I would have been happy to live and let live, but it was them who were persistent in making religious arguments a staple of family life.

There are many more layman blessings that can be done than children and food. For example the Advent Wreath.

With hands joined, the leader says:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

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