Here at St. Stephen’s we get a lot of questions from visitors, both Anglicans, and non-Anglicans. Here are some FAQs and some responses.
What is Anglo-Catholicism?
Simply put Anglo-Catholicism is a branch of Anglicanism which emphasizes the Catholicity of faith, nature, liturgy, and heritage of Anglicanism. Anglo-Catholicism is traditionally dated back to the Oxford Movement within the Church of England in the 1830s. However, the true genesis started with the work of a number of Anglican Theologians in the Early 17th Century called the Caroline Divines.
Are you Anglicans or are you Catholics?
We do not believe the terms are mutually exclusive. We are Anglicans, and we are Catholics in the more general sense of the word.
If you are Catholics then do you follow the Pope?
As Anglicans, we recognize the general importance of the position of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) within Christianity we are not under his authority. We strongly believe that not all Catholics have to be under the jurisdiction of the Pope.
Which jurisdiction are you under?
We are proudly part of the Diocese of Edmonton within the Anglican Church of Canada, which itself is a member of the Anglican Communion.
Why do you use traditional English in Worship?
Tradition is at very core of Liturgical worship. Conversely, when praying and singing in more traditional dialect of English one tends to be more attentive and focus on what they are singing and saying.
Why do you call some of the clergy “Father”?
Within Anglicanism the normal form of Address is “The Reverend John Doe” or “The Reverend Jane Doe”, with the salutation of Mr., Mrs., Miss or Dr. depending on their sex, marital status and if they hold a doctorate. It is technically incorrect to refer to a priest as “Reverend John” as Reverend is not a title but an honourific.
Within Anglo-Catholicism, it is very common to call our Priests “Father John”. This is done via the tradition of recognizing Priests as being the Spiritual Heads, or Fathers, of the communities they lead.
Do you accept women as Priests?
While there has been a great deal of resistance by many Anglo-Catholics to the concept of women in the Priesthood we here at St. Stephen’s take no issue with it. Women have been ordained into the Anglican Church of Canada since 1976 and as Bishops since 1994. As well, both our previous and our current Bishops in the Diocese of Edmonton are women. However, we haven’t had a female Priest on staff ever at St. Stephen’s but we have had a few celebrate before including our present Bishop, the Rt Rev. Jane Alexander as seen here.
If, by some chance, you should run into a female Priest at an Anglo-Catholic Parish then the question of what you call them is left up to the Priest in question: Some might prefer to be called “Mother”, others “Father”, while others might be fine on a first name basis.
Can I take Communion at St. Stephen’s?
The Anglican Church of Canada allows any person who has been Baptized under the Holy Trinity to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Thus, if you are visiting St. Stephen’s for Mass, are Baptized and wish to partake you are more than welcome to do so. However, you are under no obligation to do so.
Would I receive the Bread only or both the Bread and the Wine?
As Anglicans, we strictly adhere to the principal that the Faithful should receive the Blessed Sacrament by partaking of both the Bread and the Wine. This is outlined under the 39 Articles of Religion
XXX. The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
However, if you do not feel comfortable receiving both then feel free to receive one or the other.
Please Note: If you are a Celiac or have a wheat allergy please let the Priest know so that they can provide you with a wheat-free host.
Why do you call Communion “Mass”?
We refer to the Service by which we receive the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion (the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper) Mass because it is the name used for the service in England before the Reformation in the 16th Century.
What is the difference between “Low Mass” and “High Mass”?
At St. Stephen’s we tend to have two types of Masses: High Mass and Low Mass.
Low Mass is generally a “Said” service, that is a Mass without any chanting, singing or musical accompaniment. There is no procession and the Priest is generally without servers but on some occasions may have one. Low Masses generally occur during Weekdays and on Sundays when a Choral Matins is our principal service.
At St. Stephen’s High Mass is almost always a “Sung” service, that is a Mass with chanting, singing and hymns. There will be organ music, a choir, and multiple servers with the Priest. On most Sundays, we attempt to have a Solemn High Mass so that there is also a Deacon and Sub-deacon for the service.
Do I have to come to Morning Prayer if I want to come to High Mass on Sunday?
No, absolutely not. You are more than welcome to join us for Morning Prayer, also known as Matins, but please do not feel obligated to come to Morning Prayer beforehand if you want to come to Mass.
What are the Chants you use throughout Mass?
There are a number of Chants sung at particular portions of the Mass that are unique for that particular day
The Introit, or Entrance Chant, is used at the beginning of the service and usually consists of:
- A portion of Scripture
- An Antiphon from a Psalm
- The Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father…), followed by
- the first portion of scripture being repeated.
The Gradual is a Chant directly after the Epistle reading and is usually composed of a Psalm or another reading. It is immediately followed by the…
Alleluia (or Tract)
The Alleluia is a Chant used directly before the Gospel reading. From Septuagesima Sunday until Holy Saturday the Alleluia is replaced with a Tract as it is a penitential time of the Church year.
The Offertory Chant is used before the offerings are collected from the congregation during the Offertory hymn.
The Communion Chant is used directly after the Prayer of Humble Access when the Priest is taking Communion but before the Communion is received by the Faithful.
Why do you use Incense?
Throughout history, we have seen the use of Incense in worship. The purpose of incensing and the symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification. The usage of incense does add some sense of solemnity and mystery to the service. It is used at the beginning of Mass on the Altar, during the reading of the Gospel, over the Offerings, Celebrant and Faithful before the Consecration, and during the Consecration Prayer.
Why do you read the Gospel from within the middle of the Congregation rather than the Pulpit or Lectern?
While many Christians like Roman Catholics will stand to listen to the proclamation of the Holy Gospel we Anglicans (not just Anglo-Catholics) do something in addition. The Gospel reading is conducted in the midst of the people to signify that the Gospel is brought to the people. At St. Stephen’s the Gospel is usually Chanted during High Mass.
Why do you use the Book of Common Prayer?
We almost exclusively use the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for our services. While regular use of the BCP has fallen it is still the de jurePrayer Book of the Anglican Church of Canada. Thus, we use it instead of the 1985 Book of Alternative Services (BAS).
Do you ever use the Book of Alternative Services?
On some occasions, we will use services from the Book of Alternative Services (BAS). Normally it will be for special days of the year when the service order from the BAS is more suitable to the Anglo-Catholic Tradition than the service order from the BCP or if we are doing a joint service with the Parish of St. Faith’s.
Do you use the Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary?
Since the 1970s many Christian denominations, including the Anglican Church of Canada, have moved away from the traditional lectionary to the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) with its three-year cycle of readings. This lectionary and a set of Collects and other prayers are set in the Book of Alternative Services (BAS). Many parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada that use the Book of Common Prayer will use the newer lectionary and collects from the BAS in their services. Here at St. Stephen’s we still use the traditional lectionary with it’s Collects unless we are using the BAS for a particularly special service.
Why do you Genuflect?
Normally at most Anglican Parishes the Faithful will normally nod or bow towards the Altar. However, as St. Stephen’s operates within the Anglo-Catholic Tradition we tend to Genuflect. Genuflection is an action which involves “touching a knee briefly to the floor while holding the upper body upright, and then returning to a standing position.”
We do not require that anyone, Parishioners or visits, Genuflect or Bow towards the Altar.
What is Morning Prayer/Matins?
Morning Prayer is one of the two Daily Offices within Anglicanism, the other being Evening Prayer. It was created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by combining the monastic offices of Matins, Lauds, and Prime. All Anglicans are encouraged to keep the Daily Office. Because of our Parish’s use of the Book of Common Prayer, we feel it is important to offer this service on Sunday mornings before High Mass. Due to being part of the Anglo-Catholic Tradition we will also refer to it as Matins as well.
What is Evening Prayer/Evensong/Vespers?
As mentioned earlier Evening Prayer is one of the two Daily Offices. It, like morning prayer, was also created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by combining monastic offices, in this case, Vespers and Compline. If this is combined with music with a choir it is referred to as Evensong. Again, due to being part of the Anglo-Catholic Tradition we will also refer to it as Vespers as well.
Why do you share a building with another Parish?
In 2009 St. Stephen’s was forced to abandon our former property due to foundation damage that was far too expensive for us to repair. Since then we have been co-located with the Parish of St. Faith’s in the building originally meant for them. They are also a Parish of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The fact we share a building with another Parish requires us to cooperate with our fellow Anglicans in St. Faith’s, which is a separate Parish with a separate identity operating as a local Parish within the community of Alberta Avenue.