Archive for June, 2011

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.” -The second letter of St Paul to Timothy 4:1-5

Today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The Episcopalian Lectionary appoints the scripture above as the second reading for this Feast. These verses always strike me with so many different thoughts about just how relevant they were 2000 years ago and how they have never ceased to be relevant.

Our culture is rife with false doctrine created to justify greed, prejudice, hate, you name it. Let’s face it, many Americans question nothing that makes their lives easier, whether it be cheap meat sourced through unethical practices and processed by the same defenseless people that they want to drive out of the country or a justification for the perpetuation of the hate that was bred into them as children or the legitimization of why it is more than ok to kill their fellow humans.

Reading the news, listening to people talk, and encountering heresy at so many turns makes me want to throw up my hands and give up sometimes. Combine that sense of futility with the modern notion that being a Christian automatically means that I am the worst of all caricatures (all which can be seen on a regular basis on the TV and in print) and the perceived obstacles to “teaching sound doctrine” and having it be effective seem insurmountable.

However, as I have encountered many times in the recent past, patience, perseverance, and setting a good example are the key to being a good teacher. It is amazing how you can “teach” people without them even realizing that your actions are influencing them and can serve as a ministry in and of themselves. It is also very important to remember that your actions can have the exact opposite effect, and nullify any words that you may speak that conflict with your actions.

We have to realize that our calling to ministry is a life-long commitment as Christians. We can’t give up. We must enter through the narrow gate consistently and make our actions speak louder than our words. We must continue to work on our own soil, making it better by the day and thus making our actions more and more of a reflection of Christ. We must not use fear to propagate the Gospel as so many do. Loving God and our neighbor does not involve fear, it involves love, courage, and selflessness.

All that being said, I am going to drop a bombshell here. I truly believe that if American Christians would simply recognize and return to the principal of Orthodoxy as a starting point, the false teachers would wring their hands and gnash their teeth over their riches to rags situation. Taking advantage of fear and using choice selections from the Gospel to make money and bred hate and superiority is one of the greatest heresies of the last 300 years. Of course, it would be great if one of the prominent stalwarts of Christianity, the Roman church, would act in accordance with the Gospel rather than lending to the argument against the universal Church!

I leave you with the first reading appointed for today from the Book of Ezekiel:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.” -Ezekiel 34:11-16


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“Therefore we, before Him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here.
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes our inward vision clear.” -Therefore we, before him bending

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of events, emotions, and experiences ranging from high stress project micro-management to the beautiful simplicity of salads sourced from my wife’s garden to my return to high church Masses. Add in attending my rector’s wedding where the Bishop was the celebrant, attending a reading and talk by Neil Gaiman, two episodes of Fringe a night, many awesome walks with my wife and the dogs, and one massive realization at work. I have so much for which to be thankful!

Last week was a big week. As it was the third Sunday of the month, I normally would have assisted at the 8am said service at my church. For my readers who aren’t familiar with the term “assisting” in the context of a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is comprised of reading the lessons from Scripture, leading the Psalm, reading the Prayers of the People, and being the chalice server during Holy Communion. However, last Sunday was the beginning of the tri-church cooperative that my church is part of for the summer, in which each church will be holding one service for all three congregations for four out of the twelve weeks.

Now, I suppose I could have gone to the church that was holding the service for this tri-church collaborative, but as you probably have figured out by now, when it comes to the liturgy, music, and theology therein “new” and “different” are only good when they equate to “more traditional”. So I went to the 8am Rite I Holy Eucharist at my former parish and had a wonderful discussion with the priest afterward and set the church up with WiFi in the basement room for the kids who go to the church as part of the afternoon youth program there to study for finals. Later in the day my wife and I attended my rector’s wedding, and the turnout was Easter Sunday-esque! The service was beautiful.

Monday brought the normal Monday stress, although I was cautiously optimistic about the delivery of the project scheduled for Friday. I was still waiting for the “other shoe to drop” if you will, and lo and behold come late Monday and Tuesday morning shoes started dropping left and right. Tensions started running high Wednesday, and I leaned heavily on my practice of detachment to stay pragmatic in the face of increasing resistance seemingly fueled more by emotion than a desire to understand the means to the end.

Sidebar: I wouldn’t normally blog about work, but the context of the impact of the experiences outside of work would be lost if I didn’t. I do however want to point out that remembering to see God in all things goes a long way towards handling difficult times in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner.

It was fortunate that I had to leave early on Wednesday to be sure we would get to the Neil Gaiman author talk in Portsmouth. It was even more fortunate that we were attending this event at this point in the week. It was a great escape from what was potentially heading to a very bad week. Neil was delightful, witty and poignant, and my wife and I had a great time. Even the challenge of a very difficult drive home in the pouring rain in the dark was a gift, and finally getting off the highway exit home was a greater gift of grace.

Thursday saw a bit of a realignment in position by one of my colleagues. Perhaps this person realized that my decisions were not reckless, or perhaps the realization came that I wasn’t going to alter the direction. Regardless, there was a bit more of a harmonious vibe to getting to the finish line for the Friday launch. I knew that the Solemn Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi at the church of the Advent was exactly what God had ordered up for me on this day. I was so excited about the service and the fact that the music director (and friend) from my former parish was going to attend as well. Then came a bit of an odd exchange, as I off-handedly mentioned to my aforementioned colleague that I had to leave work shortly to attend this Solemn High Mass. The very fact that I was attending the service seemed to influence my colleague’s perspective. Mind you, I didn’t suggest that attending this service or any service should influence anyone’s opinion of me, good or bad. I am very open about how my return to the church has influenced my life, but I am not one to tell folks that they should follow in kind, at least not anymore.

The Solemn Mass was beautiful, holy, and reverent. My reflections on the service probably deserve a separate blog post! The service concluded with a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament outside with all of us singing the appointed hymns, and then returning to the church for the Benediction and The Divine Praises. To say the service had a significant impact on the core of my being would be an understatement. I can now, with the help of the rector of the Advent’s words, understand my deep seeded need for what I experienced. My reverence, thanksgiving, and repentance in worship is better described in the actions of kneeling, genuflecting, standing, and bowing than in any words.

Friday morning came with a deep sense of calm. A few unforeseen hurdles in the project delivery process were quickly resolved. I spent the day buoyed spiritually by the experience of the night before, and by the anticipation of the long weekend (I took yesterday off). I also looked forward to attending the High Tridentine Mass at St Adelaide Peabody on Sunday. I had never attended a Tridentine Mass (the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, in Latin).

I am sure a few of my readers are scratching their heads right now wondering why this Anglo-Catholic lad would attend a service of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I am also sure a few of readers are completely unfazed, recognizing my hunger for a deeper liturgy and my Roman roots. Sunday morning came and I almost changed my mind, having some desire to try the Sung Mass 9am service at the Advent as it has potential to be an option. That option was quickly taken off the table when rather than get out of bed at 6:40 I fell asleep not to wake again until 8:40! More concern came into my mind, the “what if the service is cancelled” concern. The service was at 1pm, so I wasn’t really left with any Sunday Mass options. Fortunately, my wife had already loosely planned the morning dog walk and lunch in preparation for my rather unconventional Mass schedule, so I dashed my concerns and went about the morning with eager anticipation.

The service was amazing! I can definitely understand now why folks are so vocal about this form of the Roman rite. The worship experience is completely different from the modern Ordinary form of the Roman rite, and it isn’t just the Latin. It is a very similar to the dichotomy between the Rite I and Rite II services of the Episcopal church, or perhaps more accurate the Solemn Mass as celebrated at the Advent and a Rite II Holy Eucharist as celebrated at most Episcopal churches. I was fortunate to attend this particular Sunday, as the Pange Lingua was sung during the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament for the transferred celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi!!! Finally! The Pange Lingua! It was an overwhelming experience indeed!

It was a week of realization and self-discovery. A week that could have gone very badly that did not. A week where I learned so much just by listening and praying. A week I hope stays with me long enough to get me over some hurdles that I have yet to conquer. That all said, I leave you with this scripture:

“Seek the Lord while he wills to be found;
call upon him when he draws near” -Isaiah 55:6

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Just a heads up, the Lectionary page has moved to http://www.lectionarypage.net from http://www.io.com/~kellywp. After June, the old link will be out of service.

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I have posted previously about my experiences at the Church of the Advent in Boston and how much they impacted a number of subsequent decisions concerning worship experience. Ok, maybe not so much blogging on the latter, but the music and choir alone had a significant impact on what I look for in a worship experience now. I often visit their website and explore the vast array of content, and made a decision last month that I would attend the 6:30pm Solemn Mass service on June 23rd for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Not many of my Episcopalian brothers and sisters will find that Feast on their liturgical calendars, although the Church of England and some Episcopalian and Lutherans churches, including the Church of the Advent, celebrate it.

St Thomas Aquinas wrote the Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium (this blog’s namesake) as part of the liturgy he devised for this feast. That hymn is also used in Roman Catholic and other churches, including High Church Anglio-Catholic churches, on Holy Thursday for the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose, normally followed by a vigil watch.

Back to the Advent. I had noticed a while back that their 8AM Sunday said service used the liturgy from the Anglican Missal. I decided to hunt down the Missal online, and as I started reading through it felt an instant connection to the liturgy and instructions, much as I do to the Rite I liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer. A few days later I stumbled upon the Advent’s Liturgical Customary section, and my head exploded with quite the rush of emotion. The content is not reproducible without permission, but I encourage you to check it out on their site, it is quite an amazing series of work.

Continuing to dig around on the site, I found this wonderful Instructed Eucharist page. If you enjoyed or were intrigued by my post on the liturgy, you should most definitely check this piece out. If memory serves me correctly, the Advent held an Instructed Eucharist service on the 20th of February, so all of this content was spoken to the congregation present that day within the context of the service itself! How cool is that! I love this closing quote on the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass from Elizabeth I:

His was the word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it;
And what that word doth make it,
That I believe and take it.

For readers who don’t live in the Boston area, here is a tip on finding churches like the Advent if you are interested in experiencing High Mass in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Look for an Episcopalian or Anglican church with a Solemn Mass. If I am not mistaken, this designation will inherently imply a Rite I or Anglican Missal service with music and all the liturgical goodness that comes with it.  Just Google episcopal church solemn mass and you will hopefully find a Mass in your area or in an area to which you may be traveling. St Ignatius of Antioch in New York City uses Rite I exclusively! Brilliant!

Needless to say, I am super excited about the Feast of Corpus Christi service and will surely blog about it next weekend!  For now, check out the Advent’s site and the links that I have provided, you won’t regret it!

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“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” -Acts 2:1-4

About six weeks ago, I found out that I had been chosen to read the lessons at the principal service at my church for the Day of Pentecost.  It was an exciting honor and a terrifying assignment in the same moment.  It is hard to describe that feeling.  I have been a reader in church for over two and a half years, most of that time at my former church.  I once had a run of six plus weeks as a reader at one or more of the services during a particularly bad stretch of winter.  More than a few times I read at both services at my former church, and I was always more nervous at the second one, because I wasn’t a regular.

Yesterday I had more reason to be nervous, or at least so I convinced myself.  I have been reading at the early service at my new church once a month as of January, but we gather in the Chapel and we are a small crowd.  My first reading to a principal service was Ash Wednesday, and I practiced for 40 minutes prior to the service, and I nailed it.  My next reading was on the fifth Sunday of Lent, which you can listen to here.

My reading on the fifth Sunday of Lent was a bit of train wreck.  Despite a few lauds from the congregation afterwards, I knew I did everything wrong.  I didn’t speak through the readings enough beforehand, I consumed too much coffee that morning and I worked on a complex work problem intensely up until I had to leave for church.  Worst of all, I didn’t kneel and pray before the service, pray for peace in my being, aka the Holy Spirit, as I delivered the Scripture.  I was a crowd of one on this train wreck, and I was driving with that intent.  My heart raced at seemingly twice its normal rate, my right leg shook uncontrollably, and as luck would have it, there was no chair for me to sit down between readings during the Psalm.  I was trying too hard read ahead in order to deliver the reading whilst look out at the congregation.  Afterwards, I barely made it down the steps and back to the pew.

I prayed that I would do better on this day.  I honestly don’t know why I get myself so worked up before I am supposed to read.  I love to read, it seems so contradictory.  But I do, because I expect nothing less than a perfect delivery from myself.  And yes, I had my fill of the coffee yesterday morning, but I managed to avoid making some of the other mistakes.  I spoke through the readings (I have read on Pentecost Sunday before, so I did well with all of the geographical locations) beforehand, and I prayed for the Holy Spirit help me deliver the Scripture as it deserved to be delivered.

Indeed, my heart was again racing at double, maybe even triple, time.  For a moment I felt a bit dizzy as the processional hymn was being sung.  But I stayed steady in my breathing and calm in my soul.  I felt the presence of the Spirit, that “you will do fine if you focus and stay within yourself, don’t overdo it” voice in the front of my mind.  I was deliberate, reverent and steady in my delivery.  I stayed humble in my reliance on physical copy of the reading, looking up at the congregation at points of emphasis where I could (and should) pause afterward.  And I nailed it, at least I think I did. You can listen here, the lessons start at the 8:55 mark.

So much more was going on in my mind leading up yesterday’s lector duties.  Apart from the importance of Pentecost, this service was the last at the church for two months, as we are collaborating with two other churches in the area on a four week rotating single service schedule.  A decision that I am sure was made after much prayer and guidance from the Spirit.  I was also determined to wear red, but for my wardrobe, that meant my England football jersey.  My priest like it and one of the members of the choir, a British fellow, liked it as well.

All and all, a very emotional day.  So much so in fact that when I very mistakenly and quite clumsily hit my oldest chihuahua in the head with the screen door I broke down crying for about 15 minutes.  I was mortified by my clumsiness.  He didn’t seem to notice, but that didn’t matter.  Again I prayed, and again peace came over me.

May the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding keep our hearts and mind in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

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I have decided to post this primer with commentary on the liturgies for the Holy Eucharist in the current Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. I am a huge liturgy geek, so I figured it would be informative for the interested readers and cathartic for me. I am not a priest or a theologian, so any commentary is strictly my opinion and my preference.

This post serves as an introduction to the contemporary Rite II liturgy. I will point out where the Rite I liturgy is different apart from language to provide a comparison. The Rite I liturgy is traditional in both language and theology, the Rite II liturgy is contemporary in both language and theology. The Rite II liturgy is what you will hear at almost all principal services, and some churches also use it exclusively (at the early service as well). Full disclosure, I prefer the theology of the Rite I liturgy over that of the Rite II liturgy. I will be including the entire liturgy in this post, so it will be long, but if you are familiar with the parts, you can use the “skip this” links I have provided.

The Word of God:

The Proclamation of the Word of God is the first of the two distinct parts of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The celebration may begin with a hymn at a sung service. The Celebrant will then address the congregation and the people will respond with one of the following, unless the Penitential Order is used to open the service (very common in Lent, less so in Advent):

In Lent and on other penitential occasions (Advent depending on the church):

Celebrant: Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.
People: His mercy endures for ever.

From Easter Day to the Day of Pentecost:

Celebrant: Alleluia. Christ is risen.
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

On all other occasions:

Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

The celebrant then says or sings the Collect for Purity. Some celebrants will ask the congregation to join in this Collect. It will not be read in either Rite if the Penitential Rite is used to start the service. Here is the Collect:

“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The next instruction begins the noticeable difference (outside of the language) between the two Rites. In a Rite I service, the Ten Commandments may be said, or the following:

“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: 
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
 all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great 
commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt
 love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments 
hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

No such instruction exists in the Rite II liturgy. The use of the Penitential Order to open a Rite II service may however encompass this standard part of the Rite I service.

The next difference is the saying or singing of the Kyrie:

Celebrant: Lord have mercy upon us or Kyrie Eleison
People: Christ have mercy upon us or Christe Eleison
Celebrant: Lord have mercy upon us or Kyrie Eleison

or the Trisagion:

Celebrant: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One
People: Have mercy upon us

One of these two prayers is mandatory in the Rite I service, however it is only used in the Rite II service when the Gloria in Excelsis Deo or another song of praise is not used, and most notably in penitential seasons. In the Rite I service, the Gloria follows the Kyrie or the Trisagion during non-penitential seasons. In you are unsure of what the Gloria is, here are the words from the Rite II (the Rite I uses traditional language) (skip this):

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

You will often find the Gloria sung at a sung mass, and there are many adaptions of it, some with refrain, some without.

By now you probably have a sense of the differences in the theology of the two Rites. The traditional Rite I is more penitential in nature.

Next up is the Collect of the Day, preceded by:
Celebrant: The Lord be with you
People: And also with you

Now come the Lessons and Psalm appointed for the day. The Episcopal Church uses the Revised Common Lectionary with some minor variations here and there. The first reading will always be from the Jewish Scripture (i.e. the Old Testament) with the exception of Eastertide, when a reading from the Acts of the Apostles is first. The Psalm comes next and the pattern for the Psalm varies; some parishes sing the Psalm, some read it in unison, some read it in unison with a sung antiphon, etc. The second reading will always be from one of the Epistles (Letters) in the New Testament, or on occasion from the Revelation to John. Both readings will end with the lector saying “The Word of the Lord” and the congregation responding “Thanks be to God”.

Next up, the Gospel reading. At a sung service, the Gospel reading will be preceded by a sequence hymn. In many churches the Gospel book will be raised by one of the people assisting on the altar and brought into the midst of the congregation. In other churches, or when no assistant is present, the Gospel will be read from the pulpit, but ideally it will be raised by the celebrant on his or her way to the pulpit. If a deacon is present, the deacon will read the Gospel. If not, the celebrant (the priest or bishop) will read the Gospel. The congregation should face the Gospel book and reader, even if they cannot actually see the book and reader due to distance or obstruction.

The Gospel will be introduced in this manner:

Celebrant/Reader: The Holy Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to St Matthew/Mark/Luke/John
People: Glory to you Lord Christ

During the introduction, the reader will sanctify the physical copy of the Gospel reading, as well as herself/himself with the sign of the Cross on the forehead, lips, and heart. This action signifies a sanctifying prayer to keep the Gospel on our minds, lips and in our hearts. You will often see some in the congregation do the same or make the sign of the Cross. Neither is required.

After the Gospel reading, the Gospel book will be raised and the following will be said:

Celebrant/Reader: The Gospel of the Lord
People: Praise to you Lord Christ

Next, the Sermon/Homily, not to exceed 20 minutes. Ok, that is my rule. 🙂 Ideally the sermon will be tied to the Gospel reading and other readings for the day.

Next, all present will profess their faith through the words of the Nicene Creed, facing the altar. (skip this)

The Nicene Creed


We believe in one God,
 the Father, the Almighty,
 maker of heaven and earth,
 of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
 the only Son of God,
 eternally begotten of the Father,
 God from God, Light from Light,
 true God from true God,
 begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation
 he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit
 he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
 For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again
 in accordance with the Scriptures;
 he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
 and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
 We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
 We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
 We look for the resurrection of the dead,
 and the life of the world to come. Amen.

There is alternate version of the Creed in the Book of Common Prayer using the singular first-person, but I have never heard it used. One important note to remember, it is ok and encouraged to use the Prayer Book during the service. I see most people young and old (including myself) reading from the Prayer Book even if they have the Creed or the Gloria memorized. Following this service is not as daunting at it may seem. You will receive (or at some early services, pick up from the table at the door) a leaflet with service instructions and announcements.

Next up, the Prayers of the People. The Prayers of the People will normally be led by a member of the laity, either the assistant on the altar or the lector (reader of the Lessons). In both the Rite I and Rite II services, the Prayers of the People can be taken from the Prayer Book or written by the priest or the laity with the priest’s approval. Here is the form that the Prayers of the People should adhere to:

Prayers with intercession for:

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission

The Nation and all in authority

The welfare of the world

The concerns of the local community

Those who suffer and those in any trouble

The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)

Normally the Prayers of the People will include an opportunity for personal petitions and thanksgiving from the congregation, either silently or aloud.

Next up, the Confession of Sin and Absolution, except when the Penitential Order is used to open the service, in which case, the Confession of Sin will have already taken place. During Eastertide, the Confession may be omitted. Not a huge fan of omitting the Confession myself. Now before you get all nervous about some sort of individual confession of your sins in a group setting, relax. We all say the same words, and we all say them in unison, and they cover all the bases. Our Confession is directed towards God. In the Episcopal church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation (i.e. Confession for my Roman Catholic readers) is available most often by request. However it is not required. One priest summed it up like this: Most don’t, some do, some should. There are two forms of the Confession in Rite I, and one in Rite II. I prefer the primary form from the Rite I, but staying in form, this is the form from Rite II:

Celebrant: Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

A period of silence should be kept.

All: Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Celebrant: Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

Now, here we come to another interesting difference between the two Rites. In the Rite I, we may hear the “comforting words”, one or more of the passages from Scripture, preceded by an introduction by the Celebrant below:

Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him.

Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and 
I will refresh you. -Matthew 11:28

God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,
 to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life. -John 3:16

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received,
 that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. -
1 Timothy 1:15

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our 
sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole
 world. -1 John 2:1-2

No such directive is included in the Rite II liturgy. I think that is a unfortunate. I have always found the “comforting words” in the Rite I to be exactly that, comforting. More than that actually, but it is hard to describe, perhaps spiritually refreshing and strengthening.

Okay! You have made it this far! And now may the Peace of the Lord be always with you! Yes, now the first part of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist closes with the Peace. All stand and

the Celebrant says: The peace of the Lord be always with you.
and the People respond: And also with you.

People then offer a sign of peace to each other. Some people leave their pews to do the rounds. The Celebrant will normally wrap it up with announcements.

Congratulations! You have made it to the second and most important part, Holy Communion!

The Holy Communion:

The Holy Communion begins with the Offertory (the collection). The Offertory begins with one of six verses from Scripture, but I have never heard any used apart from these two (I prefer the latter):

Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; bring offerings 
and come into his courts. -Psalm 96:8

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an 
offering and sacrifice to God. -Ephesians 5:2

At a sung service, you may hear the choir sing an Anthem prior to or during the Offertory. You will also see the Celebrant preparing the Altar (God’s Table). At a sung service, you will likely sing a hymn during or towards the end of the Offertory after the Anthem if an Anthem has been incorporated.

There are two Eucharistic prayers for use in the Rite I service and four Eucharistic prayers for use in the Rite II service. I have chosen the Rite II Eucharistic prayer B for this post. Eucharistic prayer A is the most common, but I prefer prayer B. Either way, the structure is the same.

At some sung services, some or all of the Eucharistic prayer will be sung. Most notably, the Great Thanksgiving, the Sanctus with Benedictus, and the Doxology. Enough commentary, let’s get on with it! Everyone stand up, the Holy Communion continues with the Great Thanksgiving:

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them to the Lord
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds with:

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

These words lead into what is known as a Proper Preface. The Proper Preface varies depending on the day/season, so you won’t see it printed in-line in the liturgy, but the instruction is there. Here is the Proper Preface for the Easter season:

But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious
resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the
true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and has taken
away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed
death, and by his rising to life again he has won for us
everlasting life.

The Celebrant continues without pause and says/sings:

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and
Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever
sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Now we come to the Sanctus with Benedictus:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The Sanctus (the first 3 verses) with Benedictus (last 2 verses) concludes and you will now see the most prominent display of different backgrounds. Most likely, some part of the congregation will stay standing and some will kneel (or sit down if unable to kneel). Honestly, I go back and forth. As a Roman kid, my tendency is to kneel, but as of late I tend to stand. Anyhow, just letting you all know either is ok!

And now we continue with the Eucharistic prayer proper (skip this):

We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love
which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling
of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the
prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your
Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from
the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy
to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error
into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it, or to lay a hand upon it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or place a hand upon the cup and any other vessel containing wine to be consecrated.

On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took
bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and
gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body,
which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given
thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you:
This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you
and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink
it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, according to his command, O Father,

Celebrant and People (known in the Roman rite as the mystery of faith)

We remember his death,
We proclaim his resurrection,
We await his coming in glory;

The Celebrant continues

And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you,
O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this
bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon
these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of
Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your
Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him,
being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In the fullness of time,
put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to
that heavenly country where, with [ and] all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation.

And now the final Doxology:

By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and
for ever. AMEN.

Some churches, when the Great Amen is sung after the Doxology, will sing it three times. Just follow along, you’ll be fine.

And now the Lord’s Prayer, which I would imagine almost all of you are familiar with, so I will simply include the Celebrant’s instruction for your benefit:

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

At the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, the Celebrant will break the bread, this is the Fraction. More often than not, the following Fraction Anthem will be said/sung, the Alleluias are omitted during Lent and at other times outside of Eastertide:

Celebrant: [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
People: Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]

Now, here is another notable difference between Rite I and Rite II liturgies. At this point, the Rite I liturgy explicitly suggests the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) be said or sung, or another suitable anthem. The Rite II liturgy contains no such instruction, apart from providing provision for an additional anthem or a substitution to the one above. Some parishes will use both, some use only one. Here is the Agnus Dei from the Rite I:

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

And now the invitation:

The Gifts of God for the People of God.

and the Celebrant may add: Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

I prefer that the Celebrant add those words.

Again we encounter another difference between the Rite I and the Rite II liturgy. In the Rite I liturgy, we now have the Prayer of Humble Access. Below is the prayer in contemporary language from the Church of England’s latest liturgy:

We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

During Communion, if you wish to receive Communion (I encourage you to go to the rail) you will approach the Altar Rail, kneel if you are able or stand if not, and receive the Body of Christ. If you do not want to receive the Blood of Christ, cross your arms over your chest to receive a blessing (ideally, not all Lay Eucharistic Ministers are trained to do this) or just simply return to your seat. At a sung service, a Communion hymn or two will be sung. If you are lucky, you will hear my favorite Communion hymn, I Am the Bread of Life.

After Communion, the following prayer or the alternate prayer is said by all.

Celebrant: Let us pray
All: Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Celebrant will bless the people with one of these blessings (I prefer the former):

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep
your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of
God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be
amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.


The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.

A hymn may be sung here or after the following dismissal:

Celebrant: Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
People: Thanks be to God.

A closing organ piece may be played here.

Congrats! You made it to the end! Thank you for reading, and I hope you will be inspired to visit an Episcopal Church or ask questions, or even post comments on the liturgy in general.


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“All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.” – Acts 1:14

“And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” – John 17:11

Over the past week or so, I have been working on a forthcoming blog post that will serve as a primer and commentary on the liturgies of the Holy Eucharist from the Book of Common Prayer. The idea started as a comparison of the two liturgies, but then I was inspired by a fellow blogger’s post to expand it into a primer. As I have been commenting on the liturgies, I started to question whether my strong preference for the traditional Rite I liturgy and the resulting pointed commentary in kind were not more of a romantic memory than an opinion formed from the experience of worship. If you have read some of my earlier blog posts, you know that I primarily attended the Rite I said service at my former parish. However, I have not been to a Rite I service for the better part of 7 months, as my current parish uses the Rite II liturgy at both the early and principal services.

I have also found myself in a bit of a spiritual rut if you will, as job stress seems to derail my practice of detachment and prayer. When I get into a spiritual rut, I tend to look for ways to shake myself out of it. Another fellow blogger’s posts about her experience in the Orthodox church fascinated me, and she was kind enough to provide me with a wonderful reference for people interested in exploring the Orthodox church. While I do plan on attending a service of the Divine Liturgy at some point this summer, today wasn’t going to work out, as I will need to attend an early service at an Episcopal church to receive Holy Communion before I visit the Orthodox service (read the reference and you will understand).

So, the interesting full circle of these events convinced me to attend a Rite I service this morning, as it would shake up my worship experience and confirm the authenticity of my memory. Now the only question was where to attend the service. While I didn’t leave my former parish on bad terms, I was concerned about whether it would be awkward to return for a visit. At the same time, I wanted the worship experience of the Rite I at my former parish, so the decision was made.

Fortunately, the memories were authentic. The service was exactly what I needed today. The sermon focused on the importance of prayer and listening to God in the silence. Yes folks, another one of those tailor made “God brought you here because that is where you needed to be” experiences.

And I thanked God and continue to do so for all the blessings and gifts of grace He has bestowed upon us all.


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