quote="Zulfiqar, post:1, topic:297301"
I visited an Episcopal Church today for the first time that I have chosen to go. I was baptized into the Episcopalian Church as a baby, and I went at least one time with my father when I visited him last (6 years ago). Well, today I woke up around 3 AM which I NEVER do. I need my sleep. Anyway, I kept thinking about the Episcopal Church over and over. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. So I caved in. I got up, showered, dressed in nice clothes, got permission from my mother, and visited the same church I was baptized in 17 years ago. There was a lot that I really enjoyed, and I am really happy with going today. I think that I will make an effort to go next Sunday as well. But, I do have a few questions. I didn’t get a chance to have a long discussion with the priest or anyone else to ask these questions. (There wasn’t a lack of socialization, everyone was VERY friendly, I just didn’t interrogate anyone about their faith.) So I will post my questions here, and I hope that someone who is well versed in the Episcopalian Church can answer them.
Hi, I'm a TEC (The Episcopal Church) member, though I'm relatively new at it. TEC and ECUSA are the same thing, though ECUSA is the older name and TEC is the name currently in use. :wave:
There's nothing wrong with calling us Anglicans, since Episcopalians are the official American branch of the Church of England, so we are Anglicans. The only way it might cause confusion is that there are some groups that have broken away from TEC over various doctrinal issues and have taken to calling themselves Anglican to distinguish between us and them. But if they are affiliated at all with the worldwide Anglican Communion, they are Anglicans and so are we, so it doesn't distinguish all that well.
Now, I'll take a stab at your enumerated questions:
1. Do Anglicans pray the Rosary in the same method that the Catholic Church does?
Some Anglicans pray the Rosary. It's entirely optional, a personal devotion, and I believe there is a distinct Anglican variant of it. I know I've seen Anglican versions of it for sale, but I'm not sure how they're different.
2. If so, do Anglicans omit the luminous mysteries, since Pope John Paul II instituted them long after the separation of Anglicanism and Catholicism?
I can't answer this one. I'm not sure what that means.
3. What are the beliefs regarding the Eucharist? I asked this, actually, and I was told that it was open communion (I partook) as long as the person confessed to God (no need for an organized confession with a priest?) before, which the congregation did as a whole. Do Anglicans hold the same Catholic belief that the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of the Saviour?
In my parish, we practice open communion. All are invited, which is generally understood to mean all baptized believers, though it isn't explicitly stated. Our pre-Eucharist confession is part of the liturgy. Confession to a priest is available, but not expected. (The general Anglican saying is "All may, some should, none must.") Anglicans generally believe in Real Presence, though not exactly in the same way that Catholics do: rather than defining it as Transubstantiation, we generally say that Jesus is really present, but the exact workings of that are a holy mystery that should be left that way, without any attempt at a theological theory.)
*4. Why is the Book of Common Prayer emphasized more than the Bible? I’ve heard Protestants that Catholics discourage reading the Bible, and that they rely entirely on the Catechism. I have found this to be false, however it does seem to be the case with Anglicans. Every pew had a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, but I couldn’t find a single Bible. Also, starting next Sunday, there is going to be a monthly discussion about this book called “Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation through the Book of Common Prayer”. Shouldn’t it be “through the Bible” instead?
Well, the BCP is the liturgy, *though our faith is based on the Bible and to some degree on tradition. In my parish, we don't actually read from the BCP during the service. We have a committee called a Liturgy Guild that makes our liturgies, based on the BCP and other traditional Christian sources, including materials from the Benedictines and Franciscans. I agree that the Bible should be the primary source for spiritual formation.
- 5. What’s the difference between a bow and a genuflection towards the altar? Is one more respectful than the other? I saw around half the people bowing and half the people genuflecting before taking their seats.
*I can't really answer this one either. In my parish, we mostly don't do either one, and I'm not sure of the difference.
6. The sermon was about why Homosexuals should be accepted and not condemned. The priest, after explaining why he believes that homosexuality is okay, said “this is why the Episcopal Church is moving towards blessing homosexual unions”. Do Anglicans make a distinction between unions and marriage? I can probably accept unions, but I don’t think I could ever accept homosexual marriage, as the very definition of marriage is the union of a man and woman.
TEC is generally accepting of homosexuals, though that will vary from parish to parish. TEC has officially approved a blessing for same sex unions, but doesn't require that any church use it. I think that approved blessing could be used for either a civil union or a marriage, though either would be at the priest's or bishop's discretion, and they would be free to make that distinction.
7. Do Anglican priests claim Apostolic Succession, and if so, how is that belief defended?
We do claim valid Apostolic Succession. I'm not familiar with the arguments for or against that in any detail.
*8. Is there ALWAYS so much handshaking? Perhaps my family was just very conservative, but I was taught never to touch a woman, even for a handshake. Today, I shook around 20 women’s hands. At first I was REALLY uncomfortable with it, but I couldn’t exactly turn it down either. *
There is generally a lot of handshaking, a phase of the service (in my parish at least) called "exchanging the sign of peace". We don't distinguish theologically between men and women. I suppose if you didn't want to shake hands for whatever reason, some pleasant gesture to that effect and just saying "shalom" or something like that would be an acceptable substitute.
9. Hypothetically, if I decide to be Anglican, must I be confirmed or am I already considered a “full” member because of my baptism? As far as I am aware, Anglicans do not place as much emphasis on the other sacraments (besides Baptism and Eucharist) as the Catholics do.
If you're a regular participant in the community, you will be treated as a full member for nearly all purposes. However, confirmation is required if you're seeking to serve in an official capacity, such as for example discerning ordination. That will require completion of a confirmation class and the participation of the bishop, so will generally be a scheduled rather than impromptu event.
10. Is there anything else I should know?
I'm sure there is. But I can't really think of what right at the moment.