Appropriate/Polite Behavior in Episcopalian Church with Formerly Catholic Pastor


#1

(Note: This may be more appropriate in Non-Catholic Religions, but I wasn't entirely sure.)

My grandmother is Episcopalian. She is not particularly devout, but is really involved in the social activities of her parish and acts as the parish historian. Once, when my son (who was about 18 months at the time) and I were visiting her, she needed to put up some information in their church and we went with her to do so.

The pastor of her church is a former Catholic priest. He left the Church after being ordained and became Episcopalian (according to my grandmother, so he could get married). While we were at the church, I let my son explore and he wanted to go up into their sanctuary area. At first, I figured no big deal (my grandmother didn't care, and we were the only ones there) so we looked all around the vestibule, the choir area, and the altar. There was a tabernacle (built into the wall) and the sanctuary lamp was lit. I commented on how different it was than Catholic churches, and my grandmother said "Well, we don't make as big a deal out of it. The key's right under it if you want to look in!" :eek: (I refrained from doing so.)

I guess I have two questions:

1.) Was I acting irreverently/impolitely by exploring everything? (I would not have allowed my son to explore the sanctuary if we were in a Catholic church - I don't know that it would be forbidden, per se, but it would seem irreverent to me if it weren't for some "official" purpose such as religious ed.)

2.) Since the priest was validly ordained before he lapsed from the faith, was the Eucharist inside the tabernacle? Or do the rubrics of the Episcopalian liturgy prevent that from happening?

I suppose the answer to my second question might inform the answer to the first. :hmmm:


#2

[quote="silicasandra, post:1, topic:311625"]

1.) Was I acting irreverently/impolitely by exploring everything? (I would not have allowed my son to explore the sanctuary if we were in a Catholic church - I don't know that it would be forbidden, per se, but it would seem irreverent to me if it weren't for some "official" purpose such as religious ed.)

2.) Since the priest was validly ordained before he lapsed from the faith, was the Eucharist inside the tabernacle? Or do the rubrics of the Episcopalian liturgy prevent that from happening?

[/quote]

  1. In my opinion, what you did would not have been impolite or irreverent if you had not made the assertion that you would not have allowed it in a Catholic church. When we are guests in other houses of worship, they deserve our respect as much as Catholic churches do.

  2. Good question. I'm looking forward to some knowledgable answers.


#3

[quote="BettyBoop416, post:2, topic:311625"]
1. In my opinion, what you did would not have been impolite or irreverent if you had not made the assertion that you would not have allowed it in a Catholic church. When we are guests in other houses of worship, they deserve our respect as much as Catholic churches do.

  1. Good question. I'm looking forward to some knowledgable answers.

[/quote]

It's my understanding that Protestants, including Episcopalians, do not attach the same theological significance to the sanctuary that we do (indeed, many worship services in non-liturgical denominations have no concept of a sanctuary at all - there's just where the preacher is, and where everyone else sits to watch him, or her, as it might be). The "Real Presence" is not present (unless, of course, this particular pastor, having been ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, can indeed confect the Eucharist during Episcopalian liturgy). I certainly wouldn't have done so during a worship service. My grandmother did not think I was doing anything disrespectful (she encouraged me to let my son run around since that's what he does at this age), but she is not particularly devout - so I don't know what is considered proper etiquette. In a Roman Catholic church, I know that Jesus is there, and before I believed that Jesus was there, I knew that Catholics believed He was. I don't know what Episcopalians think or what they are supposed to think (though there could be a million "right" answers on that one! ;))


#4

[quote="BettyBoop416, post:2, topic:311625"]
1. In my opinion, what you did would not have been impolite or irreverent if you had not made the assertion that you would not have allowed it in a Catholic church. *When we are guests in other houses of worship, they deserve our respect as much as Catholic churches do. *

This. The question of the validity of the sacrament does not change our obligation to treat another's house of worship with respect.

Think of Pope Benedict meeting Anglican Bishops and clergy. He (the Pope) will of course accept Catholic teaching that their orders are not valid, but he does not show any less respect for them on account of this.

[/quote]


#5

[quote="silicasandra, post:3, topic:311625"]
It's my understanding that...

[/quote]

Understood. And as I said, I don't think your actions were impolite or irreverent. After all, you were taking your cues from your grandmother, who presumably knows more about how to behave in her church than you would. I guess I was just a bit disturbed by your insinuation that a Catholic church is more deserving of respect than any other house of worship. Even on that topic, even though I might not agree, I understand your reasoning.


#6

[quote="silicasandra, post:1, topic:311625"]

I guess I have two questions:

1.) Was I acting irreverently/impolitely by exploring everything? (I would not have allowed my son to explore the sanctuary if we were in a Catholic church - I don't know that it would be forbidden, per se, but it would seem irreverent to me if it weren't for some "official" purpose such as religious ed.)

[/quote]

If anything, it would be better to "explore" a Catholic sanctuary, with proper permission, so that your son better understands his own faith. Since you had permission in the Episcopal Church, it is not an issue.

2.) Since the priest was validly ordained before he lapsed from the faith, was the Eucharist inside the tabernacle? Or do the rubrics of the Episcopalian liturgy prevent that from happening?

I think it is very likely, but not certain. It is best to be reverent towards, but refrain from acts of worship towards the communion host in an Episcopalian Church. Jesus will understand that you do not wish to accidentally worship bread!

I suppose the answer to my second question might inform the answer to the first. :hmmm:


#7

If it was valid matter (a normal host, so pure wheat, though leaven would not make it invalid matter), and the correct form of words was used (HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM) and the validly ordained priest intended to consecrate or "do what the Church intends." then the Real Presence would have been present and must be treated with reverence, if not worship if that worship would cause scandal or misunderstanding.

As long as you don't think that it would lessen your child's reverence towards a real sanctuary and you made sure he knew the difference then it is not a problem as long as it did not cause scandal which in this case it has not, your Grandmother having been present and condoning. Though with the Real Presence being a factor, I would not repeat it.


#8

When the Priest lapsed and left the Church for heresy he lost his faculties. He is and always will be a Roman Catholic Priest, but until he is absolved from his automatic excommunication, he has no Priestly faculty so under no circumstances is that the Eucharist in their make believe altar. Unless someone stole our Lord from the Catholic Church during Mass to bring there (which is unlikely). So I wouldn't worry about it. An excommunicated Priest playing make believe Priest at a make believe Church. Don't stress over it. :thumbsup:


#9

[quote="SaintPatrick333, post:8, topic:311625"]
When the Priest lapsed and left the Church for heresy he lost his faculties. He is and always will be a Roman Catholic Priest, but until he is absolved from his automatic excommunication, he has no Priestly faculty so under no circumstances is that the Eucharist in their make believe altar. Unless someone stole our Lord from the Catholic Church during Mass to bring there (which is unlikely). So I wouldn't worry about it. An excommunicated Priest playing make believe Priest at a make believe Church. Don't stress over it. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Excommunicated or not, lack of faculties does not preclude this priest's ability to confect the Eucharist, assuming that as mentioned above, the matter is valid and the correct words and intention are present.


#10

[quote="SaintPatrick333, post:8, topic:311625"]
When the Priest lapsed and left the Church for heresy he lost his faculties. He is and always will be a Roman Catholic Priest, but until he is absolved from his automatic excommunication, he has no Priestly faculty so under no circumstances is that the Eucharist in their make believe altar. Unless someone stole our Lord from the Catholic Church during Mass to bring there (which is unlikely). So I wouldn't worry about it. An excommunicated Priest playing make believe Priest at a make believe Church. Don't stress over it. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

No facility is needed for a valid Eucharist, however it would be against Catholic law for an ex-Catholic priest to celebrate the Eucharist. You may be confusing this with the faculty needed by a priest for a valid confession.


#11

[quote="runningdude, post:6, topic:311625"]
If anything, it would be better to "explore" a Catholic sanctuary, with proper permission, so that your son better understands his own faith. Since you had permission in the Episcopal Church, it is not an issue.

[/quote]

This is a good point and one I hadn't considered. My son is a bit young yet, but I do take the time to point things out to him at Mass, different aspects of the church, etc. Right now, he loves to look at the windows. :thumbsup: While at my grandma's church, I wouldn't have brought him up to the sanctuary myself, but as soon as he saw there were stairs he wanted to try them (that was his "thing" at the time), and after that he wanted to look in all the accessible spaces (gotta love toddlers.)


#12

[quote="roadsend, post:9, topic:311625"]
Excommunicated or not, lack of faculties does not preclude this priest's ability to confect the Eucharist, assuming that as mentioned above, the matter is valid and the correct words and intention are present.

[/quote]

It's been a while since I've been to an Episcopalian service, and I have never received communion there, but the "host" does look similar, although I don't know what it's made out of, and the words of the liturgy are also similar. "This is my body" and "this is my blood" are definitely said. I guess the question would be one of intention on the priest's part - and I have no idea what that would be.

I guess it would be best to err on the side of caution and assume it is, indeed, the Eucharist, but at the same time not act in a way that would cause scandal. I know that my grandmother and other people at her church don't believe that it is, and think it's just a pretty ritual, but I don't know if that is Episcopalian theology or what the priest thinks.


#13

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