Questions about Anglicans (Episcopalians)

(Note: I refer to Episcopalians as Anglicans throughout this. This is because Microsoft Word considering “Episcopalian” to be misspelled, and it drives me crazy to have that little red thing under a word. I always disconnect my computer from the network unless I am using it, which is why I was using Microsoft Word to write this post.)

Greetings!!

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.

  1. Do Anglicans pray the Rosary in the same method that the Catholic Church does?
  2. If so, do Anglicans omit the luminous mysteries, since Pope John Paul II instituted them long after the separation of Anglicanism and Catholicism?
  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?
  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?
  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.
  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.
  7. Do Anglican priests claim Apostolic Succession, and if so, how is that belief defended?
  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.
  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.
  10. Is there anything else I should know?

Thanks,
Zulfiqar

I also like the Episcopal Church. Their Book of Common Prayer is like a Roman Catholic Missil it is not emphasized over the Bible-it is a list of rituals with prayers

On the Eucharist- beliefs vary among those in the Episcopal Church some believe in the real presence some do not

You will find a variety of worship styles in the ECUSA

A few Anglicans pray the Rosary -those that are termed Anglo Catholic -there are Episcopal rosaries -different than the RC type

The ECUSA (Episcopal Church in the USA is definitely opening and welcoming -a bit fuzzy though in their Theology-they have really moved much further in the direction of the liberal protestant mainstream in the last 20 years. They use to be a via media but have moved away from Catholic tradition

Good luck

  1. Some episcopalians/Anglicans pray the rosary. Others use Anglican prayer beads. The decision to use it and how to do so is up to the individual user.
  2. See above.
  3. Anglicans generally let anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to take the Eucharist. Christ is present in the eucharist but the exact mechanism is not defined. Some low-church Anglicans believe only in a spiritual presence, whereas some Anglo-Catholics believe in transubstantiation. Others just consider it a mystery.
  4. Hmm. Well, the BCP is distinctly Anglican and it holds a special place as that. It contains prayers and orders for communion, Scripture readings, etc. Some parishes emphasize it more than others, I guess.
  5. Personal choice is the only difference.
  6. sigh… The ECUSA is increasingly tending towards the position that a person could marry their cat if they wanted to. As far as the episcopal church is concerned, gays can marry.
  7. Anglicans claim apostolic succession. To them, a break in theology doesn’t break the line of succession back to Christ. Thomas Cranmer, for example, was consecrated most likely by a Catholic, but even though he adopted Protestant theology, the apostolic succession through the laying on of hands is still valid.
  8. That depends on the parish. It’s not a religious issue, of course. As a woman I’ve shaken plenty of men’s hands.
  9. If you’ve been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, you’ve had a valid baptism. Same goes for confirmation. In fact there isn’t really a conversion ceremony if your already been baptized and confirmed.
  10. Anglicanism has a lot of freedom regarding what it considers non-essentials. This is actually kind of a weakness on their part, since what is and is not a non-essential is a topic for debate. Some Anglicans are completely accepting of any sort of sexuality, believe in the equal validity of all religions, even believe in things like reincarnation while denying the Resurrection. Some of their own clergy are even atheists - why they became clergy is anyone’s guess. Others, like those in the ACNA, are conservative and orthodox.

IOW, almost anything one might ask about Anglicans depends on which Anglicans one is asking about. Though most objections to Apostolicae Curae might be a little more sacramentally sophisticated than is suggested here.

A motley crew, they be.

GKC

I didn’t even know that they used prayer beads! I’m learing so much on this site. I was at a Cathedral the other day and I went into the shop there. I saw what I thought were rosary beads. I didn’t buy any because I have quite a few already. Glad I didn’t seeming as they don’t have a decade on.:confused:

I realize that Episcopalian belief is very eclectic, but how on earth can an atheist become a priest?? And why would she want to become one?:confused:

John Shelby Spong is the most famous atheist/humanist Anglican. He made it all the way to bishop. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shelby_Spong

What their motivations are in joining the clergy, I have no idea. I think a lot of them just like the traditional, ritual aspect. They like the ancient English heritage, the pretty churches and vestments, the Elizabethan language (depending on which BCP they use).

Sometimes, like in Spong’s case, I have to wonder if they’re trying to take down the church to their level from the inside. Like they find religious beliefs preposterous and attempt to discourage belief in them by posing as a respected theologian. I do have to wonder if some of them have some sort of ulterior motive.

:thumbsup:
Well covered.

Also, Anglican is the more significant term of the two–or was until recently. Given the increasingly separatist attitude of the Episcopal Church’s leadership, we may yet reach the point where the dreams of splitaway conservative Anglicans come true and Episcopalians are no longer meaningfully Anglican. But we aren’t there yet.

  1. Do Anglicans pray the Rosary in the same method that the Catholic Church does?

Most don’t, some do. As other posters have pointed out, there is an “Anglican Rosary” which is more “ecumenically” acceptable, but many Anglo-Catholics have no objection to devotions to the Blessed Virgin, and some parishes have a regular Rosary group using the standard Catholic Rosary. My old parish in NC did.

  1. If so, do Anglicans omit the luminous mysteries

Anglicans only took up the Rosary in the late 19th century at the earliest–it isn’t a continuous survival from the days of the schism. But certainly Anglicans were saying the Rosary long before JPII’s revision. In fact, I have not said the Rosary in an Anglican context since the luminous mysteries were added, so I can’t answer the question.

  1. What are the beliefs regarding the Eucharist?. . . Do Anglicans hold the same Catholic belief that the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of the Saviour?

Well, in reading the work of, say, Thomas Aquinas, I do not find what I would describe as a “literal” view. I recognize that most Catholics think of it that way. Fewer Anglicans do, but again Anglicans vary. Some hold to a “spiritual presence” view; others hold to a view essentially the same as the Catholic view but are generally a bit wary of using the term “transubstantiation” (so that would make us basically the same as the Orthodox). When I was preparing for confirmation in the Episcopal Church (which I joined in 1998, while I was in grad school), I challenged my priest (who seemed to be teaching transubstantiation) by pointing out that the 39 Articles (our Reformation-era statement of faith, whose status varies from one part of Anglicanism to another) condemned transubstantiation. The priest said that the medieval definition of transubstantiation at IV Lateran was of higher authority than the Articles, because IV Lateran was a Council of the whole Western Church and the Articles were the product of a national church.

Regarding open communion: the official stance is that the Eucharist is open to baptized Christians (in fact, technically they’re supposed to be people who receive communion regularly in their own church, though that isn’t usually emphasized and in practice a divorced Catholic, for instance, would be welcome to receive in the Episcopal Church while still considering himself/herself a Catholic). Some Anglo-Catholic priests will add belief in the Real Presence as a condition. Repentance for your sins is certainly also a condition for worthy reception: the traditional invitation to communion says, "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbors. . . "

In recent years it has become increasingly common to invite the unbaptized to receive. This is not the official policy and some of the more conservative bishops, such as my own, actively oppose it and seek to prevent parishes from implementing it. But many priests see any restriction on communion as a denial of the free grace of God. It seems to be the growing trend in the Episcopal Church–an issue that has often been submerged by the question of homosexuality, although both trends stem from the same theology of “radical inclusion.”

  1. Why is the Book of Common Prayer emphasized more than the Bible? . . . 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?

I’m not sure why. We believe in “lex orandi lex credendi.” The BCP is based on the Bible as well as on Christian tradition generally. Anglicans historically affirm the supreme authority of Scripture, but we are certainly not “Bible alone” in the way fundamentalists are. (Some Anglicans hold to a kind of “high-church Reformed” view of the relationship between Scripture and tradition; others hold to a view that is indistinguishable from the Catholic/Orthodox position; others are in between–as on so many other issues!)

  1. 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.

You bow to the altar; you genuflect to the tabernacle. But most Anglicans don’t feel pressured to do things a certain way, and may simply copy what they see others doing–so you may see a certain variety of practice.

  1. 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.

Our most recent General Convention allowed for the blessing of same-sex unions, while allowing local bishops to opt out (which my own bishop has done). This is not a marriage ceremony, although it borrows elements from the marriage liturgy, and my priest told me that many folks suspect that the framers of the liturgy think of it as marriage but stop short of saying so explicitly–there’s an element of “wink-wink” about the whole thing, allegedly.

The problem with speaking of “unions” is that there’s ambiguity about what such unions are and just what is being blessed. I agree that redefinition of marriage to make it gender-neutral is an unjustified step; but blessing sexual relationships that are not marriage is surely equally problematic in a different way. The best way to justify such blessings is to say that what is being blessed is the faithfulness and commitment of the partners, so that non-sexual relationships could be equally blessed and in fact the Church would officially expect blessed relationships to be non-sexual. But that’s not how these blessings are functioning.

  1. Do Anglican priests claim Apostolic Succession, and if so, how is that belief defended?

The short answer is yes, but as always there’s considerable diversity. We claim “historic succession” as a matter of the historical record–our bishops have continuity with those of the pre-Reformation Church. Some Catholic polemicists have raised doubts about this–the question focuses on who consecrated Archbishop Matthew Parker and whether these people were themselves validly consecrated as bishops–but I think it’s generally accepted that yes, the people who consecrated Parker had themselves been consecrated as bishops. The Catholic rejection of Anglican orders is based on theological problems with the liturgy used, not on a lack of historical continuity.

Anglo-Catholics have a view of apostolic succession identical to that of Catholics, or perhaps I should say somewhat stronger, in the sense that they tend to regard apostolic succession itself as the primary criterion for the existence of the Catholic Church. More low-church Anglicans see bishops as a venerable historic institution but not necessarily essential to the existence of the Church.

  1. 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.

Be thankful you weren’t in a really friendly congregation where people hug each other!:stuck_out_tongue:

Anglicans tend to have a more tightly-knit sense of community than Catholics. This may be more the case in the Episcopal Church than in the Church of England, but it’s certainly the case here. It’s one of the practical things that has kept me Episcopalian. But many Catholics find it off-putting.

  1. 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 were confirmed in the Catholic Church, you would not need to be confirmed again. If you were not confirmed, you would need to be confirmed in order to be a full member–but as you note above, you don’t need to be confirmed to receive the Eucharist. (We used to require this but do so no longer.) We do put the “other five” sacraments on a lower level, but we practice them. However, confirmation in particular has a somewhat troubled theological status. Liturgical scholarship (across confessional lines) has indicated that confirmation is really part of baptism that strayed off and became its own thing (the Orthodox “chrismate” as part of baptism, and this was the original practice in the West as well). As baptism has come to be emphasized more, confirmation has come to look like a sacrament without much of a rationale. This emphasis on baptism over confirmation is one of the things traditionalist Anglicans criticize about the modern Episcopal Church, but it seems to me to be a development well founded in good liturgical scholarship and theology, even if it raises some difficulties.

Edwin

I don’t think it’s fair to call Spong an atheist, though I’ve probably been guilty of doing so on occasion (Spong can provoke one beyond the bounds of fair discourse, since he does not recognize such bounds himself!). He paints with such a broad brush that it’s hard to tell at times whether he’s attacking orthodox Christian theism or simply a caricature thereof held by many Christians. Does he deny the existence of God in the traditional Christian sense, or does he simply hold to a very apophatic, immanent understanding of God?

What their motivations are in joining the clergy, I have no idea. I think a lot of them just like the traditional, ritual aspect.

It’s important to bear in mind that Spong came to the views he holds now over time. He did not hold them when he was ordained–maybe not even entirely when he was consecrated bishop.

Sometimes, like in Spong’s case, I have to wonder if they’re trying to take down the church to their level from the inside. Like they find religious beliefs preposterous and attempt to discourage belief in them by posing as a respected theologian. I do have to wonder if some of them have some sort of ulterior motive.

I don’t think that’s how Spong and others like him think of it. Spong has actually written quite a bit about why he continues to identify himself as a Christian. There is certainly some degree of “subvert from within” involved, but Spong doesn’t think of it as destroying Christianity but as saving it. He would say that he believes in the values represented by Jesus and in the importance of finding a way of speaking of God that doesn’t involve traditional, transcendent “theism.” One of his most famous books is called Why Christianity Must Change or Die.

Edwin

I’m not Episcopalian, so don’t have any answers for your, but I enjoyed your post, and it reminded me of how much I still don’t know about my own church (a traditional Anglican, 1928 BCP congregation I joined nearly two years ago).

If you haven’t already, I would suggest e-mailing your list of questions to the priest of the church you attended. As others have pointed out, there seems to be broad variability in teaching and practice among those who might label themselves as Anglican, and getting answers from your local priest should be very helpful.

Just a few interesting differences, or perhaps samples of ignorance, with my experiences at church:

1-2. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone at church praying the Rosary, and I had to look up the luminous mysteries to see what the term meant.

  1. Here is a blurb from the website of the Anglican Churches of the Northwest, of which my congregation is a part:

The Eucharist joins our offering of worship to Christ’s offering of Himself upon the altar of the cross. As He promised (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6; I Corinthians 11) Jesus is truly, spiritually present under the outward forms of the consecrated Bread and Wine, to infuse our lives with the spiritual strength of His life.

By receiving Holy Communion, we give our Solemn Assent, our “Amen,” to the entire Anglican Eucharistic Service. We express our belief that the Eucharist is a spiritual sacrifice which must be administered by a bishop or a priest whose ministry derives in succession from the Apostles themselves. We express also our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Because of the seriousness of these affirmations, this Church does not presume to invite those who in good faith cannot yet accept these beliefs to compromise their conscience by receiving Holy Communion at our Altar. It is for these reasons that we are not an “open Communion” Church. Those who do so believe, and who have been confirmed by a Bishop in Apostolic Succession, and who are spiritually prepared, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.

  1. My understanding is like Contarini’s above. The liturgy in the BCP is a lens, along with things like the creeds and decisions of early councils of the church, through which we interpret what the Bible says. However, the BCP is certainly not against scripture; there are different lectionaries in different versions of the BCP for daily reading, but generally if one follows the daily readings you’ll have read virtually the whole Bible every year, the gospels twice, and the Psalms every month. Here’s what one short article said:

If you haven’t figured out by now, this is a lot of Scripture reading! I think this goes to show how much Anglicanism is rooted in the Bible. Also, since it is the Book of “Common Prayer,” there is a communal aspect to our reading. While we each are reading the lessons on our own, since they are the same lessons, the Holy Spirit is speaking to us coporately as well. So let me encourage you to read the Scriptures, following along with Lectionary of the BCP.stgeorgephx.org/book-of-common-prayer-and-the-daily-lectionary/

  1. This is something I’ve been meaning to ask about at church. I see people crossing themselves and bowing sometimes, but I’ve never been schooled in what those actions mean or where and when they are appropriate.

  2. The Episcopal church’s practice of ordaining women and homosexuals was a major reason why I sought out a traditional Anglican congregation to attend. Their recent decision to also offer religious blessings to same-sex couples seems like another step away from traditional, orthodox, Christian teaching.

  3. This is likely a congregation-by-congregation difference. Feel free to find one you’re comfortable in. I’ve visited some churches where there is far too much touching for my comfort level (one Methodist church even concluded services with a hand-holding circular prayer time); I was fortunate to find a good church where even hand-shaking is rare.

RE: BCP

Most of the BCP is either directly from the Bible or a compiling of the concepts ofdifferent verses into a prayer. Many Roman Catholic prayers are too since they have similar heritage.

For example, the Apostles Creed is taken from Deut 6:4 / Matt 28:19 / Romans 10:8-10 / 1Cor15:3-1 / 2Cor13:14 / Jude 3

The General Confession
Psalm 119:176 / Isaiah 53:6 / Isaiah 65:2 / Luke 18:13 / Ephesians 4:24

Too bad the BCP generally does not list them. The only one I have that does is the trial BCP 2011 ( www.bcp2011.info ). It helps to see the scriptural derivation of our prayers as well as allowing conversation with those who ask “does your church preach form the Bible?” My answer is “you can’t get more Bible than our services…”.

Some Anglicans do not pray a Rosary. Some pray the Anglican Rosary and some pray the Catholic Rosary.

Also, keep in mind there are Monastic orders within Anglicanism, such as the Franciscans and Benedictines who are more inclined to pray the Catholic Rosary.

Beliefs about the Eucharist vary among Episcopalians.

Some adhere to a strict literal interpretation of Article XXVII from the Articles of Religion, and do not believe the Body and Blood of Christ are physically/materially present.

**Articles of Religion
XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.**


Other Episcopalians, myself included, believe in the Real Presence. In the Holy Eucharist, the true Body and Blood of Christ is consumed according to John Chapter 6. The Sacrament is reserved for the sick and home-bound, and a Sanctuary Lamp burns above the reserved Sacrament at all times in our Anglo Catholic Parish.

The Book of Common Prayer, which has gone through a number of revisions, is not considered more important that Holy Scripture.The Book of Common Prayer is based on Holy Scripture.

You will find extensive passages of Holy Scripture read in every service/celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Coming from a Baptist background, I was surprised by the amount of Holy Scripture read in every service, the focus on the Bible in classes and The Daily Office.

Both are considered respectful.

You found your way to a liberal Episcopal Church. Many Episcopalians are fighting for orthodoxy and are passionately opposed to the blessings of same-sex unions and the ordination of those in non-celibate relationships–both homosexual and heterosexual.

The 2012 Episcopal Church 77th General Convention passed Resolution A049, which authorized a provisional same-sex blessing rite, subject to the permission of the bishop. This is not binding upon Episcopalians, and there is passionate disagreement over the Resolution.

See:The Episcopal Church authorizes rite same-sex blessings; Diocese of South Carolina walks out of #GC77 in protest

See: Same Sex Blessings: What Did General Convention Do? Written by: The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz & Mark McCall, Esq. Friday, July 20th, 2012:
“We conclude: taken as a whole, Resolution A049 is not just a legal nullity and theologically incoherent, although it is that. It is also profoundly unconstitutional in that it purports to do something General Convention is not authorized to do and encourages clergy to violate the canons, the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and their vow to conform to the worship of the Church.”

Bishop James M. Stanton of Dallas is quoted in the article:
“God will do so and so. We are only authorized, however, to bless what God, in fact, blesses. And when we use these words, we had better have a clear warrant from Scripture or the theological tradition of the Church to back us up. No individual is competent to decide what God blesses, and no congregation or denomination is competent to do so either. Otherwise, we are merely guessing at best, and misleading people at worst.”

See: Communion Partner Clergy Advisory Board Support for the Indianapolis Statement
"As members of the Communion Partner Clergy Advisory Board we applaud and support the statement of the Communion Partner Bishops in response to the 77th General Convention resolutions A049 and D008. Like the bishops, we have also vowed at ordination that we “believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church” (BCP, p. 526). As stated in the Bishops’ statement, the actions approved in these two resolutions at General Convention in Indianapolis are clearly contrary to sacred Scripture and to the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church as we received them at our ordination."

See: CP Bishops’ Minority Report on AO49 and D008

Yes we do. There were valid orders in place when King Henry split with Rome and there has been an infusion of valid orders at other points in history. This is a complicated history. GKC is our resident historian who speaks well to this issue.

Catholics in Communion with Rome are bound by Apostolicae Curae, which declares Anglican Holy Orders invalid. Of course, Anglicans disagree.

You must be referring to Exchange of the Peace, which is an ancient sacramental greeting of the faithful in the Eucharistic Celebration, which expresses the wish that the peace of the Lord be always with you.

If you have not been Confirmed, you will need to take classes and be Confirmed.

Peace and blessings in your journey, :signofcross:
Anna

If you’ll check the back of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, there’s a short catechism which will answer this and some other questions. Worth a look, really.

[quote=Zulfiqar;9725785Greetings!!
]I’m not Episcopalian, but I attend with my boss once in a while whith he and his Significant Other. I have been involved in the local parish Spiritual Formation Group, and even led a few of them myself
[/quote]

.

  1. Do Anglicans pray the Rosary in the same method that the Catholic Church does?

There is an Anglican Rosary based on the Psalms. The prayer beads are different, divided differently. I took a class at the Regional Conference on how to make them and have made them for friends for Xmas and confirmations. At the Cathedral Bookstore they sell some very nice ones and while it’s not as common among Episcopalians as it is among Catholics, the practice is growing

  1. If so, do Anglicans omit the luminous mysteries, since Pope John Paul II instituted them long after the separation of Anglicanism and Catholicism?

Since the prayers are not necessarily based on the Catholic tradition, no it’s not. Some Episcopalians pray the Catholic rosary, and some may include it…I don’t know. But the “Anglican Rosary” is different as it’s based on the Psalms or another passage of scripture.

  1. 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?

There is a wide range of belief, some do…some don’t believe it to be the “literal body and blood”, but that somehow it is present in the bread and wine…most speak of “Mystery” similar to the Orthodox. As a Friend I have never undergone the ordinance of water baptism, yet I have been welcomed to participate in the eucharist when I attend, and do.

  1. 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?

It’s not, but it is the primary text in the liturgy as it contains the Rites I and II of the eucharist and the prayers used. The Book of Common Prayer is a great devotional tool, I have one I use at home and use it often. I also refresh myself before hand when I attend the eucharist with my boss.

  1. 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.

While there may be difference in the minds of some Episcopalians, generally the gesture is one of respect toward the alter or the sanctuary lamp. In the parish I visit it’s about 50/50…older people tend to bow as I assume, as it would be for me, it’s difficult to bend the knee and get up easily…a bow offers a similar gesture of reverance and is easier on the knees.

  1. 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.

The parish I visit has a same sex couple leading the choir. One of the partners is a full time music director and his partner plays the organ. There are conservative members of the parish who aren’t comfortable with same sex marriage, but it is generally accepting. My boss and his Significant Other are not married yet both of them are leaders in the parish. He is warden and she is eucharistic minister. They have made a stand for same sex marriage and until it is law and marriage equality is offered to all people, have chosen to not get married. They’ve been together over 13 years and are very active in Episcopal life.

  1. Do Anglican priests claim Apostolic Succession, and if so, how is that belief defended?

Yes they do, as a matter of historical record, they don’t base their apostolic succession on what Catholics believe or agree with, but on their own understanding and history that has remained unbroken with apostolic Christianity.

  1. 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 always a lot of handshaking and hugging, especially in the early service, which I usually attend when I go…I’ve been to the later service and it is a bit more restrained, probably because it is much better attended. Not nearly as much shaking of hands as in a Friends meeting, but it is a very friendly group of people at the early AM service.

  1. 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.

My boss’ Significant Other was raised Catholic, and rasied her children Catholic, but she chose to undergo Episcopalian Confirmation. I think it’s up to the priest and bishop whether it’s required for full membership.

  1. Is there anything else I should know?

Thanks,
Zulfiqar

Publisher,

It’s not up to the priest/bishop. If someone was confirmed as an RC, they will not be confirmed as an Episcopalian. Period. Possibly the person in question was not confirmed as a Catholic, or possibly what you take for confirmation was actually just reception.

Edwin

Perhaps, the bishop layed hands on her head and welcomed her into the church. She may not have been confirmed as Catholic…I really didn’t think to ask or question.

The difference between confirmation and reception (and reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which would typically be used, for instance, when a cradle Episcopalian who hadn’t been practicing their faith wanted to recommit to Christ and the Church) is often hard to spot. As you can see here, the liturgy is pretty much the same in all three cases except for the final prayers. The main thing that points toward this being a confirmation is the laying on of hands–notice that the prayers for reception and reaffirmation don’t include that rubric. However, I don’t think anything would prevent a bishop from laying his hands on someone being received or reaffirming their vows–it’s simply required in the case of confirmation and not in these other cases.

Catholic initiation practices follow a similar pattern–baptized Christians are often folded into the RCIA process even though technically they shouldn’t be.

Edwin

As a former Anglican I can try to give my honest answer-

  1. Some Anglicans are more comfortable with the idea of praying the rosary (or condoning others to pray it). There is still some deep undertone fear of the rosary in some Anglicans because they believe it to be false idol worship to Mary- even though it is not. At the Anglican Church I attended I overheard a conversation where a guy mentioned he prayed the rosary, and the rest of the group started to make fun of him and just told him he should just buy a book of common prayer. So do it at your own risk.

  2. Anglicans do not have a standard rule about the rosary. It is mostly a Latin-Rite Catholic tradition so they follow the norms of the Catholic Church (whichever one you choose) if they are praying the Dominican Rosary. There is also an Anglican Rosary- google it to know what I’m talking about. It isn’t the same as the Dominican Rosary.

3.The problem with the Anglican Church is that there is no magisterium to make a claim that “Anglicans all believe”. So the answer? Some do and some don’t. Some think it is a memorial, and some think it is consubstantiation like Luther speculated, and some go so far as to make the claim that transubstantiation occurs. You do not have to believe in any one of these to take communion at an Anglican Church.

4.In all fairness, that just may be the Anglicans you are surrounding yourself with. Most of the Anglicans I meet have respect for the BoCP, yet would be afraid to give it too much credit. They are very reverential to the scriptures, yet some Anglicans who consider themselves catholic are interested in church history and liturgy- so there is a balance. A good book if you really want to understand their mentality on that is by former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey “The Gospel and the Catholic Church”.

  1. The difference is that they are different things. At least in the Catholic Church, one genuflects towards the tabernacle before and after Mass, while the liturgy calls for certain parts of bowing. Some people have bad knees and cannot genuflect, so they bow.

  2. You have just discovered why many Anglicans are leaving the Anglican Communion and are forming Continuing Anglican Branches. This is traditionally a heresy, and has now caused conservative Anglicans to mostly leave the communion.

7.They claim it, yet the magisterium officially declared that apostolic succession is no longer present in all of Anglican Orders. So as a norm, the Church recognizes that they are absent in the Anglican Communion. The Eastern Orthodox Church isn’t as forward in their speculation of Anglicanism, but I think a general attitude would be that the answer is the same as from the Catholic perspective (read Timothy Ware’s “The Orthodox Church”).

  1. That is really how Americans greet each other. It’s our culture really. Evangelicals hug each other no problem, so handshakes are conservative from that stand point.

  2. You really are an Anglican as long as you decide to regularly attend an Anglican Church, but confirmation “seals the deal” really. Some Anglicans place high priority of all the sacraments, while others do not. Anglicanism is not a single intellectual unit.

  3. Yes, I would really encourage you to look into the Catholic faith. I was Anglican for a couple years before becomming Catholic and really there is no question that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of truth in the faith. The Anglican Church has some beautiful elements, yet their formation is in relation to trying to distinguish themselves from Catholics and Protestants, hence they are in the via media. I had a problem with that because the whole thing basically feels like a compromise, which it is. Yet the Anglicans I hung around spent all their time bashing “Roman” Catholics and Evangelicals alike. They are Protestants so I didn’t understand why they spent so much time bashing other Protestants. If you ever want some good book recommendations, private message me and tell me your story. Maybe I can recommend some books that may help you in your journey.

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.

    1. 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.

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