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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Worship

Anglican Worship

Father Vernon Staley, an Anglican priest, wrote, “What we do and are greatly depends on what we believe.” How the Anglican Church worships is of primary importance because worship is the best way it expresses its beliefs. Carried further, “We become like that which we worship.”

The Church, particularly through her worship, has for two thousand years safe-guarded the mysterium tremendum – the tremendous mystery or awesome strangeness of God. With rich ceremony and symbolism, the mysterious rites and profound ritual, the Church has had a worship commensurate not only with the dignity of God but commensurate with His awe-inspiring mystery as well. At every Eucharist the Church gathers to do something unnatural and uncommon; we as human beings act differently and say things differently and do things differently. All of this goes to remind us that we are approaching a Being Who is different from us – God is not common or “natural” – He is God and we are His humble creatures. The worship of the Anglican Church goes to remind us of this important fact and keeps us always in a posture of awe and wonder, of holy fear and reverence.

As things are going, however, there is an emerging trend within Christian churches to try to make God completely “graspable” – to reduce Him to something common and ordinary. For example, in many churches today all you will hear preached about is “gentle Jesus… our common brother”; you rarely will hear anything of the awesome Trinity. As a consequence, many Christians are becoming less Trinitarian, and more Unitarian.

A lot of churches have also greatly watered-down their services due to this incomplete theology about God – you go to many masses or services of today and you feel you’re at a sporting event with cheers and hoorahs rather than a mystical approach by finite Man into the things eternal and super-natural.

One theologian speculates that the reason the contemporary churches are doing this is because they are trying to reject anything greater than themselves. Man feels uncomfortable with mysterious things and so instead of showing proper reverence and awe, he is always tempted to eliminate the mystery altogether; but if we abandon the dreadful mystery of God, then we are abandoning God Himself.

The seasons of the Church Year give us the means to daily rededicate ourselves to worshiping the God of Scripture, the Triune God, the majestic creator, redeemer and Sanctifier of the world.

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