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