Kudos to the author of this picture!

The Episcopal Church had rapidly gained attention in the USA for being liberal. Sometimes we see extremely liberal and rationalistic theologians who take out all the major tenets of Christianity, and so the more conservative Christians tend to deride the Episcopal Church because of this.

Even though I’m not (officially) Episcopalian and identify more with the Anglo-Catholic elements thereof, I think a hallmark of the Anglicanism is that there is a variety of opinions that people have theologically, both public and private, and the major difference between people in the Episcopal Church and other denominations is that they’re encourage to vocalize those theological opinions.

Now, I think people in the Roman Catholic Church would be surprised to find out that there’s a huge difference between 1) what the hierarchy teaches and 2) what a lot of individual Catholics believe. Roman Catholics who “pick and choose” what to believe out of the Church’s teachings are accused of being “cafeteria Catholics,” something frequently levied against the Episcopal Church as well.

The Episcopal Church, and certainly the Anglo-Catholic movement if I understand anything about it, is much more geared towards the solidity of the Sacraments and the Liturgy; this is known as orthopraxy. That isn’t to deny that there is the role of both the Bible and human Reason (as per the three-legged stool model) to inform Anglicanism.

I think in many cases (including my own), people who are drawn to the Episcopal Church are those who don’t care for the fundamentalist conservatives trying to propose ignorance and outright stupidity as the One, Sole Truth but also don’t care to be burdened down with the equally cumbersome obsession with rules and regulations on theology that you find in the Roman Church. And yes, I just said “the Roman Church,” so those of you who may take offense can just get over yourselves.

Oddly enough, I’m extremely conservative liturgically. The more smells and bells at Mass, the more I like it. I even refer to the service as “Mass.” Typically the Episcopal Church lists the Mass as being called the “Holy Eucharist,” but that’s also because the ritual itself is referred to as such, and Mass is an equally acceptable term.

I cross myself. I cross myself at Mass, I cross myself at home, I cross myself before I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning, and I kneel in prayer. Let me say that if you have never kneeled on a wooden floor to pray, then you don’t know the meaning of kneeling.

Anyway, I read a number of articles and views on Catholicism and Anglicanism online- blogs, forums, what have you. I’m always irked to see the level of ignorance that exists on all sides of issues. Contrary to how many well-meaning individuals like to list the differences between the Eucharistic theology of the Catholics and Episcopalians, I think they’re incorrect- a good number of Episcopalians would defend the Holy Eucharist as being transubstantiation, and the 39 articles that so many like to refer to about the Holy Eucharist is more of a historical document than a guaranteed, everybody believes it, defining aspect of the Episcopal Church.

The problem with defining things such as “transubstantiation” and “consubstantiation” has do with the actual philosophical meaning of the change in substance and such- it’s a very subtle thing, but if you actually read through the Eucharistic philosophy, transubstantiation can appeal to the reasonable faculties as well.

The OFFICIAL position (and Lord knows there aren’t many of those) of Anglicanism is this: “The bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ- but how, and in what sense, is a Mystery.” This is known as the Mystery of the Real Presence, and making this as the official position is probably the wisest thing anyone has ever done with regards to Eucharistic theology.

There are Episcopalians who would say that the Eucharist is merely a symbol. They are few in number, I’m pretty sure.

But that isn’t to say that their opinion doesn’t matter or isn’t wrong- a number of Protestant denominations hold that the Holy Eucharist is, indeed, a mere symbol.

My feelings on the idea that the Holy Eucharist is a mere symbol is that it devalues it as a Sacrament and devalues the Sacramental system as a whole, and it also makes Christianity not make as much sense. What’s the point of going to a church just to listen to a man in a suit preach a sermon? There isn’t really any point in that, at least not for me.

In the Catholic Traditions, the sermon is a commentary, most often on the daily Scripture readings or on the particular Feast of that day. It relates somehow to the present moment, and it isn’t the main reason you’re there. You’re there to take the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of your living GOD.

That’s another odd thing. People freak out at the notion of being cannibalistic vampires who worship a zombie sorcerer as their God. They say things like that as though they’re disparaging- but tell a teenager that’s what your religion is, and see how fast they convert. It’s the making of a great novel and movie, and it’s exactly what Christianity is.

I naturally have far more reverence than that. I’m not pulling a “holier than thou” card here, but I am under the impression that I take my spirituality incredibly serious and have the utmost devotion to God. So when I talk about how interesting it sounds when someone makes disparaging comments like those mentioned above, I really am impressed with them.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t been to Mass in four Sundays or so. So much for my devotion, but the weather’s been just terrible, on top of my erratic sleeping habits.

Many people who worship liturgically have the same impressions that I do- the religion becomes something more. You use your whole body in the religion, not just one mental faculty of think this, think that, believe this, believe that. Christianity comes to life. The mytho-poetry of the Bible is something that we bring into every moment of our life. Crossing myself isn’t a superstition- it’s an act of devotion, an act infused with meaningfulness and holiness, an act which completes me as a person, reminds me of the Sacrifice and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, and reminds me to love as He loves, to seek to be One with Him even as He is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Wow, that sounded so nice, I think I’ll end my blog there.

Beaux

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