Things that do not make sense to this ex-Anglican
  • Grace and peace, everyone.

    I was received into the Church last year; it was definitely the best decision I ever made. There are a few things, though, that are still a bit confusing. I sometimes feel as though, having dried off from the frigid swim across the Tiber, I am trying to hack my way through a lot of tangled undergrowth on the shoreline. Mountains are visible in the distance, but I keep stumbling and tripping.

    Here is a sampling of possibly unspeakably stupid but to me thorny questions, in no particular order.

    1. Why don't Catholics bow as the Cross passes by? [Or use all the other gazillion gestures I learned in Anglo-Catholic parishes and had assumed were to be used in Catholic worship]

    2. Where are the coatracks? This isn't Lithuania. Our churches are heated---many poorly so, but still, I cannot get over the feeling that in wearing or carrying my coat into church I am slighting the Almighty by implying that a quick exit is imminent.

    3. Do American Catholic hymnals spontaneously mutate during the night or what? One would think there was a text somewhere proclaiming "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, seventy thousand hymnals."

    4. Why isn't the musical education of children a higher priority?

    5. The phrase "lack of resources" seems to come up rather a lot. Why don't Catholics see that our Church is rich because of all the people in it?
  • Welcome to the OHC&A, Anna! I'm a convert too (Cradle Lutheran, adult Wiccan, last stop Anglo-Catholicism before dodging the floating Pachamamas), and I'm not sure I have answers to your questions either. But I'll try. What is your experience with Ordinary Form vs. Tridentine Rite? Things are different in each group.

    1. TLM folks seem more attentive of mudra than OF folks, who do (alas!) Orans posture and the triple crossing before the Gospel, and that's about it. I'm usually up in the loft, so crosses seldom pass directly by, and only a couple times a year.

    2. They'd probably live in the narthex and take up valuable fellowship space.

    3. Just as Catholics reproduce more than Anglicans, so do their hymnals When you have a church with multiple musical styles, you need more hymnals. And when you have 3 major (and a bunch of minor) publishers dedicated to Catholic music, each one is going to produce at least 1 hymnal.

    4. We can't even teach our children CATHOLICISM. And MUSIC isn't a priority, for reasons explained by Thomas Day (he blames the Irish). So the combination of the 2 is a non-starter. Vatican II killed off a lot of boychoirs (I was just reading about Church of the Assumption in Mt. Healthy/Cincinnati, and that's when theirs died. Though there's a new guy in Cleveland, directing a new Latin Mass, who is starting one, and my church in the same D. was going to start one before Corona hit.) It's a pity we only have 2 US choir schools in the US, but what is there in ECUSA besides St. Thomas?

    5. It's not resources, it's where they're pointed to. Too many US Catholics speak the words of Judas, "This ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor."

    Now, my question:

    6. Why do US Catholics say AY-men? They aren't Southern Baptists.
  • All very good questions, Anna -

    As a cradle Anglican who grew to maturity in Anglo-Catholicism and is now a gladsome member of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, I can well sympathise with your consternations.

    1. Reverences and gestures - I was and still am dismayed, puzzled, astonished, at the lack of all the things you mention here. The ready answer is that Catholics are not taught these things and, therefore, seem to consider the practicing of them as eccentric.
    Some years ago I spent a few weeks at a certain monastery. At vespers on several occasions I crossed myself at Magnificat and was given a hard and deliberate stare for about ten whole seconds by the monk who was standing next to me. A monk, of all people, thought that such a gesture was bizarre and stare-worthy! Catholics don't bow the head as the cross passes by, they don't cross themselves at places at which you and I would think normative. Many don't even cross themselves thrice at the Gospel. They don't bow throughout Sanctus, nor cross themselves at Benedictus, nor at any of a number of other places. They not only don't genuflect during Incarnatus in the Creed, why most of them don't even bow - even though their missalette tells them to. Many of them don't even genuflect before entering their pews, and if the Blessed Sacrament is not on the altar they don't bow to the altar. And then there is that sloppy liturgy and the unbelievably deliberate blase, cultivated informality and hominess that characterises their celebration of mass in most parishes. It's all really quite strange. Is it any wonder that some studies have revealed that 60% of Catholics don't believe that Jesus is objectively present in the Blessed Sacrament, - a stance which would be shocking to any Anglo-Catholic. It is a commonplace that Catholics are incredibly poorly catechised.

    2. Coat racks? I must admit that this is something that doesn't concern me. I've never seen a coat rack in any church, Catholic or other - and if I saw one I would consider it an eyesore. If I'm wearing an overcoat I simply lay it next to me in the pew.

    3. There are not many, but a few really good Catholic hymnals whose contents are quite orthodox - but you won't find them in the average parish (whatever that is).

    4. Just because it isn't. - and they are not even ashamed of it!

    5. Lack of resources? This is a fig leaf. What it usually means is that we have the money (or can raise it) for most anything we want, but music and liturgy are not among those things. There are, of course, those parishes which hardly have the money to keep their doors open, but they are relatively few and deserve our prayers and donations.
    ______________________________________________

    Jeffrey -

    ...in ECUSA besides St Thomas?
    Well, there is the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul (aka 'National Cathedral') in Washington. This used to be, until some years ago, a full boarding choir school. Now it is a choir of men and boys without the full time boarding school - and they may have girls now - it just wouldn't be chic not to.
    There is also (I think) St John's Cathedral in Denver.
    There may be a very few others here and there - but, after all, this isn't England.
    ...say AY-men? They aren't Southern Baptists.
    I've very often wondered that and will forever think it highly eccentric. Before becoming Catholic I had all my life thought that only Baptists and Pentecostals and their ilk said AY-men. It passeth all understanding!
  • I thank God for this forum. Two responses and already there is so much to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

    (On reflection, I think that the aforementioned coat rack issue has nothing to do with my time in ECUSA and everything to do with my childhood in a Methodist church in the Upper Midwest. Now those were some serious coat racks.)
  • I can't answer all of your questions, but I can do a couple. On gestures of reverence, I don't think they are making somewhat of a comeback. My pastor makes sure to bow his head during mass whenever we say the names of Jesus or Mary, when the trinity is named, or at the name saint of the day. I've started doing the same (I wasn't introduced to this practice until meeting my current pastor). I will say that I don't cross myself when the cross passes since it is hard to do that while playing the organ.

    Pretty much every church in my area has a coat rack. This is both new and old buildings. This probably has something to do with the fact that I live in the northern part of the USA and our winters can be quite unfriendly.

    I have no idea why we say it Ay-men. I do hear it both Ah-men and Ay-men where I live. I know that I say it both ways and use them interchangeably. However, I always hear it sung Ah-men.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278
    I remember the Ay-men came after Vatican II and it seemed some liturgists were behind it. As a Byzantine we still say Ah-men.

    Multiple hymnals. We don't have a Catholic publishing house which may be kind of a good thing.

    Coat racks. We had them in the choir loft but not in the church proper.

    Money. Two things. Catholic schools have kept us poor for some time. Also, spendthrift pastors spending for pet projects.

    No one bows to the cross. Must be a Latin thing.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • We don't have a Catholic publishing house which may be kind of a good thing.

    We have as many Catholic publishing houses as the woman at the well had husbands. And the former are as Catholic as the latter were married.

    What would life be like if we only sang hymns published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,802
    Complex answer(s): see above.

    Simple answer: MYSTERIUM FIDEI.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 350
    Re 1)

    Prior to V2 there were no prescribed gestures that were binding on the laity. One still sees this piety to some degree at Extraordinary Form Masses – some kneel throughout the whole Mass, others pray the Rosary....

    The First Liturgical Movement of the 19th-20th c. invited the congregation to essentially mimic the priest’s actions (e.g. the sign of the Cross at the Benedictus, triple signing at the Gospel...) and what was mandatory red text in the Missal for him became Good Things Every Good Child Should Do.

    I get the sense that in those days, this was an easier sell to Anglo-Catholics: people who had already gone out of their way to join unusual parishes that were devoted to reviving ancient customs and really, truly grounded in the liturgy. For the majority of American Catholics who went to low Mass every Sunday, well, why would they do anything different than what they’d always done? It took many more years of cajoling, through the Dialogue Masses just before the Council, the interim Missals and upheaval of the 60s, and then finally what we have today, to convince people to say their responses and to do the actions required by the new liturgy, which are considerably less in number than in the Tridentine Mass from which Anglo-Catholicism adapted them.
  • I will add hastily to what I wrote above that, while engaging the whole body and all five senses in the act of worship through various ritual acts, no one should judge another's faith on the basis of these things. I do know many Catholics who are (there is no other word for it) extremely 'low church' in their attitudes and behaviors at mass (mostly because they have been taught, either directly or indirectly, or by poor catechesis, to be so); but I should never ever presume the depth or absence thereof of their faith. They are diligent in their attendance at mass, are seen going to confession, give to the Church, and practice a multiplicity of good works.

    It is sometimes difficult when for some reason or another I attend mass outside of Walsingham. I've been stared at and glared at for singing. I have been looked askance at for bowing or crossing myself; and, of course, the language, while a very great improvement over what it replaced, is different - it doesn't seem to be at all hieratic - though it does make an intended effort in that direction.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278

    What would life be like if we only sang hymns published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana?


    What would it be like if the bishop's conference published a hymnal and mandated that we all use it?
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Charles, it would all depend on who the appointed editors were - and they wouldn't likely be of the calibre of those who gave us The Hymnal 1940 or The English Hymnal of 1906, or even the Lumen Christi hymnal - would they? The chances would be those of snow in Houston.
  • What would it be like if the bishop's conference published a hymnal and mandated that we all use it?

    You're scaring me now, Charles.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    I confess myself totally baffled by the congregation reading the words of the Creed from a missalette and ignoring the directive All bow ...
    “The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual." C S Lewis; Preface to Paradise Lost; 1942
    That was 80 years ago, and from an Anglican.
  • Dear ex-Anglican, keep bowing!
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Thank you so much, CatherineS. (I'm actually an ex-Anglican. One would not know it, though, from my Christmas playlist....)

    Thanked by 1CatherineS
  • I'm a cradle Catholic, and until I started attending CMAA colloquia years ago, I had never known about bowing when the cross and celebrant pass by or bowing at the name of Jesus. The point is, faithful Catholics aren't doing these things because we haven't been taught.
  • How many here learned comportment in church from family members? how many from school teachers? how many from watching strangers in the congregation? other?

    I learned by imitating the ladies who prayed the rosary before Mass, and later by imitating the members of various devotional groups or religious orders where i spent time. I learned how to manage my long skirt by watch the altar servers.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • I never knew the hassles of trying to arise from a kneeling position in a „dress“ until I served at the alter.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    we haven't been taught
    and it seems seminaries don't teach it either.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores johnpb
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,128
    I would gently take issue with the notions that children are not being taught the tradition. As I work closely with Pueri Cantores and other groups in the country, I can literally name at least one place in each state in the US where children are receiving "good" and proper training in sacred music. In my own state in Florida there are almost a dozen places where children are being taught, including my own where I have a boys and girls choir and all the children in the school are taught solfege, chant and Latin. Yes, it still has a long way and yes we really only have two choir "schools" but there are many places where people are hard at work. TO that I say "bon courage" mes amis.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    1. *Traditionally*, body gestures by the faithful are simply local tradition. It wasn't until Vatican II that they became legal norms. And bowing at the Cross is not one of those.

    2. Coat racks may make sense in smaller Protestant communities that do not have a historical pattern of celebrating many liturgies in a given space of time. Whereas Catholic churches would typically have had packed Masses hourly for six hours on Sundays - prioritizing quick changing of pew shifts, and lots of folks not being well known to each other. Inertia is powerful.

    3. Good ol' Amurkan consumer capitalism.

    4. Irish Americans dominated much of the American church and prioritized the Low Mass and were very specially allergic to any notion that a church in England (or their cousins in Ireland occupying formerly Catholic churches) had anything positive to offer them by way of example. (German-speaking Catholics did have robust traditions of singing from the pew, and of childrens' song; they often had to form their own personal parishes to continue those traditions in peace.)

    5. Ditto, especially once the Great Depression taught Catholic pastors about economizing: liturgical music has long been considered a frill. Until the late 1960s, schools had to be built before churches.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • tandrews
    Posts: 104
    What would it be like if the bishop's conference published a hymnal and mandated that we all use it?


    Isn't that what the German Catholics do with Gotteslob?
    Thanked by 1ScottKChicago
  • @kevinf, a million thanks for your post. There is still so much that I am learning.

    The German history is particularly fascinating, as I am of mostly German descent with some English thrown in. No Irish to my knowledge, but I have, um, a friend who dreams of writing Catholic hymns that could take on Anglican hymns in a street fight.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • davido
    Posts: 516
    Please, please look at the patrimony of Anglican hymns before comparing them to “Catholic” hymns because the majority of them are either translations of Catholic Latin hymns, nineteenth century texts written by Oxford movement types (or even converts like Newman and Caswall), or translations from continental Catholic or Lutheran sources.

    Regarding coat racks, keep in mind that Catholic Churches didn’t have pews until well after the reformation. Pews, coat racks, etc just aren’t related to the sacrificial, temple nature of a church, at least in traditional thinking
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    The liturgical culture of American Catholicism may have been rather different if Germanic Catholics had dominated the American Catholic church as much and as long as the Irish did:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXVt5ScQSqA

    Germanic Catholicism is formal - but in a different way from Anglicanism. And vice-versa. Ditto for choral traditions of centuries' standing. (Hint: Anglican choral traditions are not an unrivalled ne plus ultra.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278
    Many of us easterners still do not have pews. You need pews for pampered behinds at holy liturgy? Was it pews in 19th century Russia? It was not. Is outrage.
  • Liam - do you know what the occasion was of the link you put up just above. If my memory is correct it was the Austrian requiem a few years ago for a beloved member of the Austrian royal family - I can't remember just who right now.
  • @CharlesW laughing.so.hard.



  • Mr Hawkins -
    Many thanks for the quote from Lewis.
    That more or less sums it up.
    Those who are unceremonious seem to consider it their duty to cast aspersions upon and poison the atmosphere for those whose worship is total and who loose themselves in the adoring ritual acts.
  • The Requiem was by Johann Michael Haydn. It was used for the funeral of Otto von Hapsburg, who died in 2011 at the age of 98. He was the last claimant to the throne of the former Austrian empire. A reminder that the First World War, while it happened just over a century ago, wasn't really all that long ago.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278
    The only recent Austrian royal funeral I remember is the one for Empress Zita and that was in 1989. Was there someone else more recent?
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 514
    Happy Anniversary Anna.

    The ecumenical movement of the Catholic church in America which began in the late 60s had serious repercussion that still plaque us today. Catholic hymns suffered greatly as well as many devotional practices which stopped almost overnight. Catholic Church architecture also suffered and as a result so did gestures and holiness. Catholics who are in their 50s or older were either raised in a parish that favored traditional Catholic values or in parish's that did not. In these parishes that had schools, Catholic education suffered. You can easily see the results today. Anyway that's my two cents worth. It probably doesn't help much but its true.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    CharlesW - sorry if they didn't invite you Otto was Zita's son, and crown prince from 1916 to 1919. His funeral took place at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on 16 July 2011; he was entombed in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278
    I forgot about Otto. There was a movement to beatify Zita. I haven't heard much about it in recent years.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    Don9of11 - the collapse of organized popular devotions took place earlier, when the eucharistic fast was reduced to three hours it was possible to celebrate Mass after noon (1955?). Clergy quickly saw that afternoon and early evening Masses were much more popular than Vespers &or Benediction.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    Because Otto had been (Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit) Kronprinz, it was a quasi-state requiem. It concluded with the Kaiserhymne:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMMhfR5i9wA
  • Wearing coats in church vs. hanging them up was a Catholic/Protestant difference I noticed as a very young Roman Catholic. I really think it was a habit from the days of the Sunday Masses every hour on the hour in the church and on the half-hour downstairs, so there just wasn't room for all the coats to be hung up nor for people to move through a coat room. Not enough room and/or not enough time. And there was to varying degrees a sense of meeting one's Sunday obligation, many of the faithful hoping it wouldn't take too much time, rather than hanging up one's coat and settling in for a 45-minute sermon and lusty hymn-singing.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • Thanks for those links to the Hapsburg requiems, Liam. I found that after your links had ;played through others showed up and one could see the entire requiems of both Otto and Zita. They made this monarchist weep with great sadness over what has been lost - very largely due to that Presbyterian twit Wilson.
  • I'm a convert who saw a rather large variety of low-church/evangelical churchgoing until I joined the Catholic Church.

    I still recall days where I was keyboardist at one church for a year and, together with the drummer, would help punctuate the pastor's points with music that didn't really stop for more than a handful of minutes at a time over the course of the whole service.

    The smaller the church, the louder we would sing. I once regularly attended to a megachurch, only there did you start to get mumblers. Otherwise it was full-throated all around. Absent the Holy Sacrifice and the Real Presence, singing (and music-assisted public prayer) was essentially their replacement for the sacraments.

    And so the North American Catholic aversion to singing, regardless of legitimate historical reasons, remains completely baffling to me, as well as the baffling suspicion of all things formal and beautiful.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 514
    And so the North American Catholic aversion to singing, regardless of legitimate historical reasons, remains completely baffling to me, as well as the baffling suspicion of all things formal and beautiful.


    I think this "aversion" to sing as you call it is a direct result of "poor" hymns both in musical form and text along with "poor" mass settings for the same reason. I can remember as a cantor introducing new hymns or new mass settings when the congregation was just getting used to last mass setting. You have to wonder why when the PIP picks up the hymnal and they want to sing but end up putting the hymnal down and not singing. What's wrong? When you have a steady diet of this "pattern of change" or steady diet of poorly composed hymns, many just give up.

    It wasn't always this way. Catholics can sing! if they are are given good hymns and mass settings to sing.
  • Around 2008, when I was sure again that Jesus had died for me, but not sure I was a Catholic, I went to this ELCA church. And their final hymn was this African thing, call and response, I don't even think it was English. And it flopped horribly. Pastor gets to the back of the church and said, "We'll have to work on that one."

    It's a miraculous and powerful thing when you can stop Lutherans from singing. Don is right.
  • Catholics CAN sing... when they want to. My previous parish made me cry on more than one occasion. I was literally playing a hymn, and they started belting with such conviction and bravado I had to stop cantoring and just play because I was too choked up to sing. It’s a beautiful thing.
  • Catholic aversion to singing is also baffling to me. I have always enjoyed singing when I attended a "chant camp", where some seminarians spent two weeks with us going over how to sing some easy chant, and at the conclusion of the class, we were able to sing the introit for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "Cogitationes". That was our first introduction to chant and they emphasized the importance of young men/boys participating via singing. Our next major goal was singing all the propers for Christmas Midnight mass a few years later. We eventually got a director to relocate to our chapel who got us to sing all the propers of the Sundays throughout the year, and major feast days, and various other vocal pieces, harmonization of hymns, and a few polyphony pieces. He told us the secret to getting parishioners' participation in singing is to spread the singers throughout the pews every time we had mass, and eventually others would catch on.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    Re: The plethora of hymn books
    For English Methodists the offical hymn book is their eqivalent of the Roman Gradual (or Liber Usualis?) their hymns are liturgical texts. I imagine several other large denominations take a similar stance. English speaking Roman Catholic hierarchies were too divided at the start of vernacular to support/develop any such thing.
    Ray Repp felt the need to plunge in to do what he could, his later comments deploring the unsatisfactory result are very telling. Any British parish would have youths who were keen to perform †. Any port in a storm.
    † It has been estimated that in the late 1950s, there were 30,000–50,000 skiffle groups in Britain. [R. D. Cohen, Folk Music: the Basics (CRC Press, 2006), p. 98]
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    /eɪˈmɛn/ is the original pronunciation, but the /ɑːˈmɛn/ pronunciation came about by the first part of the 20th century, and it fits really nicely into Received Pronunciation, which has /ɑ/ in the first syllable of quite a few words. I do admit to saying the second one, even though I was certainly raised with the first one, and I've thought about going back, but I like the thought of saying it identically to Latin even when the liturgy is in English…

    As to the Irish… I like to blame the Irish, but anyone trained at Maynooth ultimately was schooled in the Hiberno-French tradition, which valued solemn Mass and offices in choir, done properly. That's one reason why the pro-cathedral of Dublin does things right to this day; the Palestrina choir is worth your while if you're ever in Dublin, even if you're like me and don't normally go to the NO, preferring the TLM. I remember reading a story about a founding pastor (or someone there in the early days at any rate) of my mum's home parish in the Northeast, an Irish parish, who nevertheless sang solemn Mass on the major feast days as demanded by the church.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 514
    "AY-men" come now, we are just practicing for the day when we visit the Bahama's and the Virgin Islands.
  • WGS
    Posts: 264
    As to "AY-men", I relate it to Sydney Poitier and the 1963 movie "Lilies of the Field". It so happens that a lot of things were changing in the Catholic liturgy at about that time.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 CharlesW
  • I still bow when the cross passes, as taught me by my father's example. I also make the triple cross at the gospel, again as taught by my father's example. Then, again, I wear a suit when I go to Sunday Mass, unlike the vast majority of the congregation of my parish
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,278
    I bow my head when the cross passes and at my eastern liturgy, also when the gospel book is processed.