The Liturgy of Holy Communion

And now, O Father, mindful of the love That bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree, And having with us him that pleads above, We here present, we here spread forth to thee, That only off’ring perfect in thine eyes, The one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.
(The Hymnal 1940 #189)

Good liturgical action is characterized by a sense of restraint, style; it exists to express the common needs of the family. The intensity possible in expressing individual worship is out of place in corporate worship. Each of the individuals involved in the Mass must sacrifice something of his own will, feeling, and preference; each must submit to the corporate movement of priest, attendants, and people. Liturgical worship, in its carefully crafted words (crafted over centuries,) its action, and its music shares much with a work of art.

This is an excerpt from, "The Liturgy of Holy Communion from The Book of Common Prayer, With Commentary," by Father Yates C. Greer. Significant labor went into preparing this work which offers invaluable instruction on each segment of the Holy Eucharist. Oftentimes people ask, "What is the reason behind what you do?". This clear, concise and easy-to-understand commentary on the basics of each segment of the Holy Eucharist will give you those answers.

The entire book is available for sale at the Church Bookstore for $10.00. Please contact the church office at frhines@stgeorgeanglican.org.

Christian Behavior Begins with Prayer

The beginning of discipleship is prayer. By nature we are sinners. As we said in session two, being a sinner means that the best of human effort falls short of divine perfection. It is only by grace that we are able to rise above the limitations of our fallen nature and do the will of God. The grace of God comes to us through the sacraments and prayer.

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Teaching the Faith

Archbishop Robert Morse has remarked that ignorance is our greatest enemy.  During Lent we shall be learning more about the Mass from excerpts of Fr. Greer’s commentary on the Mass appearing in these Sunday bulletin inserts. Fr. Greer’s commentary is intended to help worshipers grow in their understanding of the Holy and lead them into a deeper experience of worship.

A Note On Liturgy

Those unfamiliar with liturgical worship often object that it is repetitive and, thus, devoid of the spontaneity they desire. But repetition is precisely the point of liturgy. C. S. Lewis wrote:

Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best—if you like, it “works” best—when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. {Letters to Malcolm. Chiefly on Prayer}.

As we learn the words and actions of the liturgy and come to understand what they mean, we develop the ability to pray from the heart.

A Note On Language

Liturgical English is necessarily different from everyday language. There are words in the liturgy with a long history of theological meaning that cannot be translated into modern English. If a word is unfamiliar, look it up in a dictionary. It will help you learn the faith.

Liturgical English retains the “thees” and “thous” because they are poetic, reverent and more precise than “you.” The body of Christ is “given for thee,” meaning the particular individual.

While it is not necessary or desirable to use liturgical English in personal prayer, it is highly desirable and appropriate to retain a majestic, reverent and theologically accurate language for liturgical prayer. Liturgical English reflects the “beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9) and has the capacity to lift the heart, mind and soul to God in worship.

Book of Common Prayer vs. Prayer Book

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2nd Timothy, 3:5)

I was first introduced to the 1979 Prayer Book as a boy while worshiping with my mother and brothers at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Richardson, Texas. As I tried to familiarize myself with it, even at the age of twelve I knew something was missing, that my worship of Almighty God had been sapped of beauty and reverence. For a boy of twelve to come to such a conclusion, something had to be seriously awry. Like everyone else in the pews (and most clergy) at the time, I assumed that the Church’s goal was to make its newly revised prayer book “relevant” to those using it, and that eventually we would get used to it. But now as liturgists, clergy, and lay-people have had time to examine the 1979 Prayer Book these last thirty years, they have uncovered the troubling motives and, yes, conspiracy behind the crafting of the ‘79 Prayer Book. This conspiracy sought a fundamental theological change under the guise of linguistic reform.


The Rev. Urban T. Holmes, a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission, the entity responsible for crafting new liturgies, admitted as much in his book entitled, Worship Points the Way - - a celebration of the life and work of Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr. Holmes boldly asserted that “the 1979 [Prayer] Book, it seems clear, is a symbol of a theological revolution...”

For the Anglican Church the Book of Common Prayer is both the law of prayer and the law of belief. Lex orandi lex credendi: as we pray, so we believe. Within its pages are the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church. This principle is why every jot and tittle of the liturgy is so important. ‎Read more ...

Kalendar

The recurring seasons in the Calendar year are vital in the life of the Christian because they offer us opportunities for a fresh start. We would despair if our lives were never afforded a new beginning.

For much of the twentieth century, communist Russia had no celebration of Christmas only winter. We can see parallels between that atheistic society and that of C. S. Lewis’ fictional Narnia, where under the rule of the White Witch, it is always winter and never Christmas. ‎Read more…

Saints and the Holy Days

When we think of the Saints of the Church, we can form an unrealistic image of them in our minds. We may view them as perfect, spiritually self-confident, possessing an inner strength to resist sin--something we ourselves feel we can never attain. The great Saints of the Church, with their glowing biographies, seem unapproachable.

But the Saints are meant to be people with whom we can identify. We find St. Paul of the New Testament so endearing because he was humble enough to confess his own faults and human failings to his flock.Read more...

The Sacraments

The Creation and the Sacraments A SACRAMENT is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace" (BCP, p. 292). In the sacraments, God uses visible and tangible created things to communicate invisible and intangible grace. Grace is the divine energy, strength or gift that we need to rise above the limitations of fallen human nature and grow into the image of Christ. ‎Read more
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Why We Do What We Do

How to make the Sign of the Cross

Catholics in the West make the Sign of the Cross with the first two (or more) fingers of the right hand.
  1. Touch the mid-point of your forehead; then
  2. Touch the lowest point of the rib cage (where it joins in the center of the chest);
  3. Touch the left shoulder; then;
  4. Touch the right shoulder; then;
  5. Bring the fingers back to the center fo your chest. It is the last movement which distinguishes the Anglican usage
The Church of Rome completes the Sign of the Cross at the right shoulder or by kissing the right thumb

The Cross as Prayer

When we use words to pray, we are using only one form of the language capability with which God has imbued us.

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The Lay Ministry

The New Testament teaches that all four “orders” which form the government of the Church – laity, deacons, priests and bishops – are necessary to the proper functioning of the Body of Christ.

All four are clearly visible in St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy. This section will address the laity who are also called, “saints” (Rom 1:7; 2Cor 1:1; 1Tim 5:10), the “faithful” (Eph 1:1), and “brethren” (Col 1:2). The laity (GR. Laos) are the people of God, the “priesthood” (1Pet 2; 4-10). Technically, the term “laity” includes the clergy though in our day the word usually refers to those in the Church who are not ordained. It is from among the laity that the other three orders emerge.

from The Orthodox Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Press copyright 2008 St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology