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Bowing and scraping was interesting

So I visited the local ‘anglo catholic’ Church of England church today for the first time as part of my homework. It certainly was an interesting experience. The wife and I checked out the church yesterday to look for service times and the main Sunday meeting was described as ‘solemn mass’. Given that we didn’t know what the solemnity would involve, we agreed that she and the baby would not come with me so I went alone.

I have to say that I enjoyed some of it immensely and was not entirely sure about some of the rest.

Things I liked

  • I enjoyed signing myself with the cross at the appropriate moments. The thought of covering myself with the cross in that motion was reassuring and yet challenging me – I thought of how I am to live my life ‘dead to sin but alive in Christ’. I wasn’t entirely sure when to do it at first but noticed that the service sheet had little cross symbols at the right points so got the hang as we went along.
  • I enjoyed some of the liturgy… will come back to that.
  • I enjoyed the hymns which were all rousing old favourites… will come back to that too.

Things I thought were curious

  • The incense. What is that about?
  • A bell being rung during the Eucharistic Prayer. I thought at first that the phone was going and was on one of those ‘outside’ ring things that you find at stables and other places where you may be in the building but not at your desk. What is that about?
  • I tried the bowing of the knee as I left the pew. I can guess at the symbolism here but wasn’t entirely sure about it and felt uncomfortable although I guess that’s to be expected.

Thing I didn’t like

  • Praying to Mary directly after the close of the Mass. I felt unable to participate in all good conscience with that.
  • The liturgy was not Common Worship or BCP but the Roman Missal. I thought this was a Church of England church?
  • The congregation was not huge (I’d guess at 40), rattling around in a very large building and so the hymns were very timidly sung. Was disappoined by that.
  • Given it was the Roman Missal, there was mention of transubstantiation in the Eucharistic Prayer which, again, I found tricky.
  • Accessibility in general. It was Mass with an Infant Baptism. There were non-Christians there, there were kids there and very little seemed to be done to explain what was going on or to include the kids. The Eucharistic Prayer had a note in the service sheet even asking parents to make sure their kids were quiet, sat down and solemn during one particular part to emphasise it’s solemnity. Yeah, ok.

It’ll be interesting to see what the wife makes of it next week. In other news, the vicar wants to talk to the DDO to question this business of having to visit other types of churchmanships. He thinks it’s a big conspiracy against evangelicals since we never see anglo-catholics doing the reverse in our churches. I think it’s probably more to do with the number of anglo-catholic candidates coming through.

Anyway, I said if it was really bothering him, he should talk to the DDO but I saw no reason why he should mention me. Leave me out of it! I’m happy to do this exercise anyway and feel that I can be at home and worship in a number of settings so I don’t mind at all and wouldn’t want a fuss. If he wants a fuss aside from my situation, good luck to him.

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