The Prayer Book Reason Why
A Text Book of Instruction on the History, Doctrines, Usages, and Ritual of the Church
By Nelson R. Boss
Revised and Enlarged by Marshall M. Day
Fifth Edition. Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1963
Author’s Preface to the Original Edition
The design of the following work is to furnish for parochial distribution, and especially for schools, a text-book of instruction on the contents and use of the Prayer Book. The writer’s endeavor throughout the work, aside from familiarizing the reader with the meaning of the Church’s liturgy, has been threefold: (1) To furnish concise and ready answers to the popular objections so commonly raised against the Church and her services by those not familiar with her ways; (2) To bring out clearly and concisely some of the principles of historic Christianity which distinguish the Episcopal Church from all other religious bodies; and (3) To convey, in the briefest space, information on the history, doctrines, and usages of the Church, which every layman, and especially every teacher, ought to have. The Appendix, on the meaning of the colors and symbols used in churches, is not strictly a part of this work, but has been added for the benefit of those who wish to know what these things signify. From the expressions of interest and commendation which the work has elicited from those who have examined it, the writer is led to believe that it will prove a substantial help in parochial and Sunday School instruction.
N. R. B.
Author’s Preface to the Original Edition
Forms of Prayer
Origin of the Prayer Book
Daily Morning Prayer
Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion
Nature and Purpose of the Lord’s Supper
The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels
The Ministration of Holy Baptism
The Offices of Instruction
Visitation of the Sick
Unction of the Sick
Communion of the Sick
Burial of the Dead
Preface to the Ordinal
Ordering of Priests
Consecration of Bishops
The Litany for Ordinations
Consecration of Churches
Church Seasons and Holy Days
Furniture and Ornaments of the Church Explained
Books on the Doctrines and Usages of the Church
Index (omitted for web)
Forms of Prayer
What is the Book of Common Prayer?
A book for the use of clergy and people in public worship.
How old is the Prayer Book and what does it contain?
It has been in use more than 350 years. It consists of Prayers and Praises and selections of Holy Scripture for use in public worship, and directions how to use them.
Why is it called Common Prayer?
Because all the worshippers use it in common and because it is adapted to the common needs of all.
Why is it proper and necessary to have the prayers and praises used in public worship composed beforehand?
In order that the congregation may take part in the service.
How long have precomposed forms of prayer and praise been used in Christian worship?
From the earliest ages. St. Ignatius, a writer of the generation immediately following the Apostles, speaks of the “common prayers” and the “constituted prayers” used in the Christian assemblies, and these expressions would only be applicable to prayers written and established beforehand.
Is the custom of using set forms expressly sanctioned anywhere in the Bible?
Yes; Numbers 6:22–27; II Chron. 29:30.
How did our Blessed Lord sanction the use of forms in public worship?
(1) By being present, “as was His custom,” in the Temple and in the Synagogues, where “books of forms” were always used. (2) By composing a form of prayer for His disciples to use (St. Luke 11:2).
Is this a form of prayer to be repeated verbatim, or is it only a model or pattern of what our prayers should be?
It is both, as we see by comparing St. Luke 11:2 with St. Matt. 6:9.
Is it possible to have common prayer without using a form?
No. The only question is whether the form shall be composed at the time or beforehand.
What authority have we then for using forms of prayer and forms of praise in public worship?
1st. The example and teaching of our Blessed Lord; 2nd. The authority of the Bible; 3d. The universal practice of the Christian Church from the earliest ages.
Objections to Forms of Prayer
What objections do people sometimes urge against using precomposed prayers and a form of worship such as we have in the Prayer Book?
They say it destroys earnestness in devotion to pray out of a book.
What answer can you make to this objection?
1st. Experience teaches us that if we know the prayers and the praises beforehand we can enter into their spirit with greater earnestness and devotion than we can when the minister makes up a new prayer of his own at the moment.
2nd. The hymns which everybody uses and the psalms which our Lord Himself used are forms of prayer and praise; and if precomposed hymns do not destroy the earnestness of our praises neither will precomposed prayers destroy the earnestness of our supplications.
Can you give another answer to this objection against using forms of prayer?
Yes. The Lord’s Prayer is a precomposed form which everybody uses. If we can use that without destroying the earnestness of devotion, we can, of course, use other forms with equal earnestness.
What four reasons can you give in favor of forms of prayer?
1st. They are sanctioned by the practice and precept of the Saviour.
2nd. They have always been used in public worship in both the Jewish and Christian Churches.
3rd. They have been used habitually, both in public worship and in private devotion, by large numbers of the wisest and holiest men, which would not be the case if they were either wrong or useless.
4th. Many have not the gift of extemporaneous prayer, and therefore they need this help.
What two great objections are there to using extemporaneous prayers in public worship?
1st. There is necessarily a novelty of expression and of ideas in extemporaneous prayers which is often a hindrance to the devotion of the hearers; but if they have it before them printed in a book they can make it their own prayer by repeating it in their hearts with the minister.
2nd. Extempore prayers are often unwise, rambling and irreverent, as not all have the gift of prayer.
Is it wrong then ever to pray extemporaneously?
Certainly not: there are times and circumstances which make it both necessary and edifying to do so.
Did the Apostles use prayer books and a liturgy, as we do, when they first preached the gospel?
At first they had only the Lord’s Prayer, but from the earliest times there seems to have been an agreed outline of the service. The fixing and growth of the prayers, etc., used in this outline is a process still going on. But at the first they probably adapted themselves to circumstances, just as any sensible missionary to the heathen would do today.
Where is the earliest form of Christian worship mentioned in the Bible?
Acts 2:42; cf. I Cor. 14:15–16.
Where do we find the earliest account of the form of Christian worship outside of the Bible?
In the Apology for Christianity written by Justin Martyr to the Emperor Antoninus Pius about A.D. 140.
Of what does he say Christian worship consisted?
Meeting together on the Lord’s day, reading the writings of the prophets or the Apostles, a sermon or exhortation to holy life, prayer, and the Holy Communion.
Origin of the Prayer Book
When and by whom was this Prayer Book set forth and established?
In the year 1789, by the Bishops and Priests and Laity of the Church, in convention assembled in the city of Philadelphia. See Act of Ratification before the Preface.
What Prayer Book was used by Churchmen in this country before 1789?
The Prayer Book of the Church of England.
Why did they not continue to use the Prayer Book of the Church of England in this country after the war of the American Revolution?
Because it contained prayers for the King and Royal Family and other things which were only appropriate for English subjects to use.
How did the Church in the United States obtain this Prayer Book, which was set forth by the Convention in 1789?
They took the Prayer Book of the Church of England, which had always been used, and altered it in a few particulars, to suit the altered circumstances of the Church in this country.
Twice since then, in 1892 and 1928, the American Prayer Book has been revised to keep it in accord with the changing circumstances and spiritual growth of the Church.
Where did the Church of England get her Prayer Book, and how old is it?
It was set forth substantially in its present form about 350 years ago (1559) and was compiled from service books which had been used in different parts of England for hundreds of years. [Note 8 in Notes at end of this book.]
Is the Episcopal Church in America then a new Church which came into existence after the American Revolution?
No; it is a daughter of the Church of England, from which it derived its ministry and doctrine. As we speak of England as the mother country of the United States, so we speak of the Church of England as the Mother Church.
Origin of the Church of England
What was the origin of the Church of England?
Eusebius (A.D. 270) tells us that St. Paul traveled to the farthest limits of the West, and, in the time of Eusebius, this may have included the British Isles. More probably Christianity came very early to Britain through travelers, soldiers, etc. We hear of an organized Church in Britain as early as A.D. 314.
Was not the Christian Church first planted in Britain by missionaries sent by the Pope?
No; when Pope Gregory I sent Augustine with forty monks as missionaries to Britain, A.D. 596, they found the Church with a valid ministry, and sacraments already established.
What other evidence have we that the Church existed in Britain before the Pope sent his missionaries there?
There was an important Council held at Arles in France A.D. 314, also at Sardica 347, at which a number of Bishops were present from the Church in Britain.
If the Church already existed in Britain why did the Pope send missionaries there?
Because the heathen Saxons had conquered the country, and driven the Christian Britains from their homes and churches.
The greater part of England was therefore heathen, and the British Church, isolated in Wales and Cornwall, had lost touch with the rest of Christendom.
Did the British Church make any attempt to convert heathen Saxons?
Not directly, but its daughter, the Church of Ireland, had been carrying on a mission on the West Coast for a generation.
What did these Roman missionaries do?
They labored, first alone and afterwards in union with the Irish clergy, to convert the Saxon conquerors to Christianity.
What was the result of these labors?
The Saxons were converted; the Roman and Irish clergy working together and holding substantially the same faith, the two Churches became united in one, and by degrees the Pope gained a controlling power over the whole.
Was the Roman Church at that time corrupted by error?
No; the chief errors of the Roman Church are the outgrowth of later times.
To what source then does the present Church of England trace her origin?
To the early British Church, which had existed in Britain hundreds of years before Gregory’s missionaries ever set foot on British soil.
Is it true then to say that the Church of England is a “schism” from the Roman Catholic Church?
No; it is contrary to all facts. The Church of England is the lineal descendant of the old British Church, which, though brought for a time under the domination of the Church of Rome, resumed, at the Reformation, her old position of an independent Church.
Suppose it were true, as some assert, that when Augustine came to Britain in 596, Christianity had become extinct, what would follow?
The present English Church would owe its origin to the Church of Rome.
Would this invalidate the claims or vitiate the character of the Church of England?
Certainly not. The Church of Rome, though at present in grievous error, is nevertheless a part of the Church founded by the Apostles, and any Church springing from that source is a branch of the Apostolic Church.
Through what great movement did the Churches of Rome and England become separated from each other?
The English Reformation.
What is meant by the English Reformation?
The long struggle of the bishops, clergy, and laity in England in the 16th century to free the Church from certain unscriptural doctrines and superstitious practices which had grown up during the middle ages.
Is the Church of England a new Church which came into existence at the time of the Reformation?
No; it was the same Church after the Reformation that it was before, only it was freed from certain false doctrines; and practices which had sprung up during the preceding centuries. The same church buildings were used, and the same clergy, with a few exceptions, ministered in them under the government of the same bishops.
Is the Church of England then merely an offshoot of the Church of Rome?
No; it is an autonomous Church. It sprang from its own root which was planted in British soil before the development of the Papacy which is the characteristic feature of the Church of Rome.
What caused the separation between the Church of England and the Church of Rome?
The refusal of the people of England (the clergy, the nobles, and the King) longer to acknowledge the Pope or Bishop of Rome as the supreme head of the Church of England.
How was this refusal expressed?
By the passage in Parliament of the famous “Act of Supremacy” (1532) declaring the King to be “so far as the law of Christ allows” the supreme head of the Church in England.
Was not this an act of schism?
Certainly not; it was merely an assertion of the Church’s right to manage her own affairs without foreign interference.
How was the communion between the two Churches finally broken off?
By a mandate of Pope Pius V, in 1570, commanding all the clergy and people of England who upheld the claims of the Papacy to withdraw from communion with the Reformers, and establish separate places of worship.
Was this mandate issued because of any false doctrine held by the Church of England, or any uncertainty as to the validity of her orders?
No; it was issued because the Bishops and Clergy and Parliament of England refused to acknowledge the Bishop of Rome as the head of the English Church.
On what facts do you base this statement?
Up to 1570, twelve years after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the clergy and people of England, both Reformers and Papists, worshipped together in the same churches. In that year Pope Pius V made overtures to Elizabeth, as his predecessor had done, looking to a reconciliation, and offered to accept the Reformation and approve the Prayer Book if the Queen and Clergy would acknowledge the Papal supremacy. On their refusal to do so, the Pope issued a bull of excommunication against them, commanding his adherents to separate from the Church of England and establish separate places of worship.
How many obeyed this mandate?
Out of the 9,400 beneficed clergy in England at the time, less than 200 gave up their livings. The rest remained steadfast to the Church of England and the cause of the Reformation.
What do these figures show?
That the Reformation was a general movement of the whole realm, and that the present Church of England is a reformed national Church, and not a mere schism or split from the Church of Rome.
Is there any truth in the assertion, often made, that the Church of England was founded by Henry VIII?
None whatever. It is an assertion that could only be made by one ignorant of history or regardless of truth.
What part did Henry VIII take in the work of Reformation?
His part was purely political and selfish. After his quarrel with the Pope, who refused to grant him an annulment of his marriage which, uncanonical in itself, had been solemnized under a dispensation granted by a previous Pope, Henry did all he could to free the realm and Church of England from the Pope’s influence and control; but in all other respects he was a Roman Catholic and held the doctrines of that Church, to the day of his death. [Note 1 at end.]
How long did it take to complete and finally establish this reformation of the Church of England?
Over a hundred and thirty years. It began about 1527, during the reign of Henry VIII, and was completed in 1662, after the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Was the Reformation accomplished peacefully and without difficulty?
No; it was only after a long struggle and bitter persecutions.
What relation does the Episcopal Church in the United States bear to the Church of England?
The Church in the United States was planted here by the Church of England, and fostered by her care until the American Revolution made it necessary for the Church in this country to have an independent government. The Church in this country is therefore the daughter and lineal descendant of the Church of England, having the same doctrine, ministry, and forms of worship.
The Episcopal Church
Why is the Church called Episcopal?
Because it has an Episcopal form of government, i.e., the chief ministers or rulers are Bishops. The name is from the Greek word “episkopos,” meaning an overseer.
What do you mean when you speak of a Bishop of the Church?
A lineal successor of the Apostles in the Episcopal office.
Are there any other Churches besides our own which have Bishops in this sense?
Yes; the Roman Catholic, the Russian, and Greek Churches.
Are the Russian and Greek distinct and separate Churches?
No; though composed of different nationalities, the Greek, Russian, and Oriental Churches stand to each other in about the same relation as the English, Scottish, and American Episcopal Churches and are generally classed together under the name of the “Greek Church.”
Who were the first Bishops of the Christian Church?
By whom were they appointed?
By our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Matt. 28:18–20; St. John 20:21–23.
Do the Bishops of the Church today hold the same office and authority that our Lord gave to the first Apostles?
They do; the office and authority which Christ gave to His first Apostles were handed down by them to their successors.
How were this office and authority transmitted?
By the laying on of hands in consecration to the Episcopate. I Tim. 5:22.
From whom then have our Bishops derived their authority?
From Christ, through His Apostles and their successors.
What do you mean then by an Episcopal Church?
A Church that is governed by a Bishop who traces his authority in a direct line back to the Apostles.
How long was this the only form of government in the Christian Church?
It was the only form of government known for the first fifteen hundred years after Christ.
How many of the Christian people in the world now hold to this Episcopal form of Church government?
About seventeen-twentieths of all the Christians in the world acknowledge the authority of this Apostolic Ministry.
Is there any other prominent religious body in the country which uses the name Episcopal?
Yes, the Methodist Episcopal.
What is the difference between a Bishop in the Methodist denomination and a Bishop in the Church?
The Bishops of the Church trace their authority back through a long line of Bishops to the Apostles. The Methodist Bishops trace their authority through a period of about an hundred years, to the Rev. Mr. Wesley, who founded the Methodist Society.
Was Mr. Wesley a Bishop?
No; he was a presbyter in the Church of England, and, not being a Bishop himself, could not confer the Episcopal office on others.
Did Mr. Wesley ever assume to be a Bishop, or to exercise the functions of the Episcopate?
No; he disclaimed the title, and severely rebuked some of his followers in this country who first allowed themselves to be called Bishops.
Did Mr. Wesley ever leave the Church of England, or encourage his followers to do so?
No; he lived and died a devout communicant of the Church, and, speaking of his society, declared that “They who leave the Church of England leave us.” [See note 10 at end.]
Were there any Bishops in this country before the American Revolution?
No; this country was a mission field of the Church of England, and the clergy were ordained by the Bishops in England.
Who were the first three Bishops of the Church in America?
Bishop Seabury of Connecticut, Bishop White of Pennsylvania, and Bishop Provoost of New York.
Where were they set apart for this office?
Bishop Seabury was consecrated at Aberdeen, Scotland, Nov. 14, 1784; Bishops White and Provoost, at Lambeth Chapel, London, Eng., Feb. 4, 1787.
Distinctive Principles of the Church
How does the Episcopal Church differ from the religious bodies around her?
In her doctrines, her ministry and government, and in her forms of worship.
(1) She differs from the Church of Rome in that she teaches nothing as an article of the Faith and necessary to be believed but what may be clearly established by an appeal to Scripture or by the practice of the primitive Church. [Note 2 at end.]
(2) She differs from the Protestant denominations in holding to the apostolic ministry and the whole body of Christian truth as held in the early Church and plainly taught in Holy Scripture.
Daily Morning Prayer
(Prayer Book, pages 3–20)
Why is this service called the office for “Daily” Morning Prayer?
Because it was intended to be said daily.
Where is it said daily?
In Cathedrals, Colleges, Seminaries, and other Communities, in some Parish Churches, and by many individual clergymen and laymen.
By what name was this office originally called?
“Matins,” from an old Latin word signifying morning.
What is the origin of this custom of daily Morning and Evening Prayer?
It is a custom derived from the Jewish Church, in which the daily Morning and Evening Sacrifice were enjoined by Divine command.
With what does the office of Morning Prayer begin?
A number of sentences from the Bible, to be read by the Minister,
What is the design of these sentences?
To encourage people to faith and repentance and to prepare the mind for holy worship.
How did this service originally begin?
With the Lord’s Prayer. But in 1551 these sentences, together with the Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, were inserted as a preparation of the hearts and minds of the worshippers for the service which follows.
May the service nowadays begin in this manner?
No; the Minister must say at least one of the sentences, but may then pass to the Lord’s Prayer (2nd Rubric) or to the versicles (3rd Rubric).
At the beginning of these sentences, and frequently throughout the Prayer Book, you find certain directions to the Minister and people in fine print; what are they called?
Rubrics, from the Latin word meaning “red.”
Why are they called “rubrics”?
Because to make them conspicuous they were originally written or printed in red letters.
How many of these sentences does this first rubric direct the Minister to say?
One or more.
Why do the people rise and remain standing while these sentences are being read?
Because they are messages from God, addressed to the people.
What comes next in the service after these sentences of Holy Scripture?
An exhortation to penitence and confession based upon the teaching of these sentences.
The General Confession
What follows this exhortation?
The General Confession.
How does the rubric direct this Confession to be made?
By the Minister and people, all kneeling.
Why are we required to say it kneeling?
1st. Because in addressing God, kneeling is the proper attitude to express humility and reverent supplication.
2nd. Because a devout manner helps to create devout feelings.
What authority have we in the Bible for kneeling when we pray?
The example of our Blessed Lord and His Apostles (St. Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60, 9:40, 20:36, etc. Also Dan. 6:10.)
Is there any example’ in the Bible of persons standing to pray?
Yes, it was apparently a common custom among the Hebrews (St. Luke 18: 11,13). [See Note 4 at end.]
Is it proper for people to sit during the prayers in public worship?
No, unless prevented by age or illness, they should kneel. Reverence as well as good breeding requires us to conform as nearly as possible to the rules and custom of the Church.
Declaration of Absolution
What follows in the Prayer Book after the General Confession?
The Declaration of Absolution.
By whom is this Declaration made?
By the priest alone. (See the rubric.)
When the priest makes this Declaration of Absolution, does he forgive sins by his own power and volition?
No; God alone has power to do that.
What then does the priest do here?
He is officially declaring the fact of God’s forgiveness.
If it is only the declaration of a fact, then why may not any one else besides the Priest or Bishop make it?
It is more than the declaration of a fact; it is the performing of an official act, which no one except the regularly ordained minister has received authority to do, and, therefore, if any one else does it his act is not valid.
How can you illustrate the difference between a valid act and an unauthorized act?
If a man has committed a crime and has been shut up in prison, the governor of the state may pardon him and set him at liberty. He may do this by going himself to release the prisoner, or he may send an officer to read the letter of pardon. If the message of pardon is brought by an authorized messenger, who has been sent by the governor, then the prisoner goes free; but if anybody else, whom the governor has not authorized to do it, should come and tell him he was pardoned and might go free, it would avail nothing. The prisoner would not be released. So it is with those who pronounce this absolution. Any Christian neighbor may tell us that God pardoneth, etc., or he may pray that God will pardon, etc. We may be very glad to hear it, although we knew it before. But we feel very differently when a minister comes who has been duly authorized and empowered. We know that when he declares our forgiveness he is doing so as an officer of God, who has been sent and empowered to do so, and if we have fulfilled our part of the conditions, i.e., if we are truly penitent and believing, we know that the official act of God’s minister on earth is ratified in heaven (St. John 20:21–23).
The Lord’s Prayer
What follows the Absolution in the Morning service?
The Lord’s Prayer.
Why is the Lord’s Prayer placed after the Absolution, instead of before it?
Because after we have made our confession to Almighty God, and have received the assurance of His pardon, we can address Him as our Father in a higher sense than before.
Why is this prayer to be found in every Office of the Prayer Book?
Because it is the prayer which our Lord told His disciples to use (St. Luke 11:1–2).
What does the expression “daily bread” mean in this prayer?
Not only daily food and all things necessary for the body, but also whatever is necessary for the daily needs of the soul (St. Matt. 4:4).
What are the sentences called which here follow the Lord’s Prayer?
Versicles, meaning little verses.
How long have these versicles been used in the liturgy?
Fifteen hundred years at least, and probably much longer.
The Gloria Patri
What is the following sentence called, beginning with the words, “Glory be to the Father”?
The Gloria Patri, or lesser doxology. It is an ascription of glory to God, and an expression of the Church’s belief in the co-equality and co-eternity of the three Persons in the Blessed Trinity.
What is the origin of this hymn?
It is said to have been first used by St. Polycarp, at the close of his prayer, when he was being burned at the stake.
What may be said immediately following the Versicles?
A short anthem called the Invitatory.
What is its purpose?
The purpose of these verses is to sum up in a single expression the spirit of the Church’s worship on the days for which they are appointed, and to start that worship in the proper mood.
What does “venite” mean?
It is a Latin word, meaning “O come.”
Why do this and other canticles in the Prayer Book have Latin titles?
The Prayer Book used to be printed in Latin, and when it was translated into English, at the time of the Reformation, these Latin titles were retained for convenience, just as the old Latin titles are retained in books of civil law. In each case they are the Latin equivalent of the opening words of the hymn to which they are attached.
How long has this canticle been used in the public worship of the Church?
It has been used in the Christian Church more than 1800 years, and by the Jews in the Temple Service from the time of the Second Temple.
Is the Venite always said in the same form?
No; Psalm 95 may be substituted for it.
Is the Venite always to be sung or said?
No; it may be omitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as being too jubilant in character for those days of solemn parting and penitence.
Easter Day and Thanksgiving Day have special canticles to be used in place of Venite.
What follows in the Morning Prayer after the “Venite”?
A portion of the Psalms or Psalter.
What does “Psalter” mean?
A Book of Psalms. It was the great Hymnal of the Jewish Church.
By whom were these Psalms written?
By various authors, extending over a period of several centuries. But as the Jewish Church regarded David as its greatest religious poet, the whole collection is called “The Psalms of David.”
How long have they been used in public worship
More than 3,000 years.
Why are they so much used in our Christian worship?
Because they contain a great variety of devotion, and every one can apply them spiritually to his own experience, and use them to express his own feelings and desires.
Why does the rubric direct us to say or sing the Psalter standing?
Because this attitude is expressive of the lively interest and earnestness which we ought to feel in our acts of worship.
Which are the seven Penitential Psalms?
Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.
Which are the Messianic Psalms, and why so called?
Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 41, 45, 69, 72, 110, 118. They are called Messianic because they are mystically interpreted as prophecies of Christ.
Were these Psalms written to be read or sung?
To be sung.
When is it proper to read them?
When they cannot conveniently be sung.
Why are the psalms followed by Gloria Patri?
To connect the praises written under the Old Testament revelation of the unity of God with the Christian revelation of the deeper mystery of His nature.
What follows in the service after the Psalter”?
The Lessons from the Bible.
How many, and what Lessons are appointed to be read at the Morning and Evening Service?
Two at each service: one from the Old Testament and one from the New.
Why should these lessons be read in public?
Because, as we learned from the “exhortation,” one object of our coming together in God’s house is to “hear His most Holy Word.”
Why are the lessons selected from both the Old and the New Testament?
Because both are God’s Word, from which we learn our Christian duty and God’s will toward us. Selecting the lessons from both Testaments enables us to see how the two Testaments display an essential unity of religious development, and how the prophecies and aspirations of the Old were fulfilled in the New.
What is the Old Testament?
A collection of sacred books showing God’s dealings with ‘men in ancient times and how He prepared the world for the coming of Christ.
By whom were the Canonical Books of the Old Testament written?
By many different authors, extending over a period of more than a thousand years.
What is remarkable about these writings of the Old Testament?
The unity of thought and purpose in writings by so many different authors, and extending over so long a period of time, is an evidence of their inspiration.
What is the New Testament?
A collection of inspired writings, which contains all things necessary to salvation.
Of what does it consist?
It consists of twenty-seven different writings on various occasions and subjects, by different authors, within a period of about 85 years after the Lord’s Ascension.
What are the four Gospels?
Four different accounts of the life of Christ.
How did the Gospels come to be written?
At first the story of the Saviour’s life was told orally. But as time went on and the Apostles were passing away to their death, it became necessary to have a written record of what He said and did (See St. Luke 1:1–5).
What does the Book of Acts contain?
A narrative of the wonderful events which attended the organization of the Church after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost.
What are the Epistles?
Letters written by St. Paul, St. Peter, and other Christian leaders of the first generation for the guidance and instruction of Christian believers.
What is the Book of Revelation?
An Apocalyptic Prophecy, intended to strengthen Christians undergoing persecution. It sets forth the final glory and triumph of the Gospel dispensation.
How much of the Bible is read in the public worship of the Church every year?
Almost the whole of it, and some parts of it several times.
What, then, may be said of the Episcopal Church?
That it is preeminently a Bible-reading Church, Apostolic in origin, historical in character, and Catholic in doctrine.
The Te Deum
What follows in the Morning Service after the reading of the First Lesson?
The Te Deum.
What does “Te Deum laudamus” mean?
“We praise Thee, O God.”
Who is the author of this sublime hymn of praise?
It is thought to have been composed by Hilary, a saintly Bishop in France, about 300 A.D.; some say even earlier than this.
How long has it been used in the public worship of the Church?
More than 1400 years.
What is the notable peculiarity of this hymn?
It is the loftiest in sentiment, the grandest in diction, and the fullest in doctrine of any Christian hymn.
Why does so large a portion of the Church’s liturgy consist of praise?
Because praise and thanksgiving are the loftiest exercise of the human heart. The more we learn to praise and bless God, the less we shall think of self, and the more bright and joyous life becomes.
The Benedictus Es, Domine
What does “Benedictus es, Domine” mean?
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord.”
Where is this found in the Bible?
It is part of the song of the Three Holy Children (cf. next section). [See Note 5 at end.]
What does “Benedicite” mean?
Where do you find this hymn in the Bible?
It is one of the Books of the Apocrypha, called the Song of the Three Holy Children.
Give an account of the Three Children – who were they, and how did they come to be in Babylon, and why were they cast into the fiery furnace?
See Dan. 1:3.
How long has this hymn been used in the Christian Church?
From the earliest ages, though we do not know when it was first used.
Was it used in divine worship before the Saviour’s time?
Yes; it was used in the Jewish Church several centuries before. [See Note 5 at end.]
From what part of the Bible is the “Benedictus” taken?
St. Luke 1:68–71.
What is the “Benedictus,” and by whom and on what occasion was it first uttered?
See St. Luke 1.
How long has this hymn been used in the public worship of the Church?
What does “Jubilate” mean?
“Be ye joyful.”
By whom was this Psalm written, and for what purpose?
It is one of the poems contained in the Psalter, probably composed to be sung at a public thanksgiving. It has been used in the Church’s liturgy about 1400 years.
Why do we sing this song after the Second Lesson?
Because the Second Lesson is usually taken from the Gospel, and this song of gladness expresses the feeling we should have when we have heard the Saviour’s blessed teaching.
What is the Creed?
A brief statement of the truths of Holy Scripture, upon which the Christian Church is built.
From what Latin word is the name “creed” derived, and what does it mean?
From “Credo,” meaning “I believe.”
How many forms of the Creed are there in the Prayer Book?
Two; the Apostles’ and the one commonly called the Nicene Creed.
Why is the first one called the “Apostles’ Creed”?
Because it contains the doctrines clearly taught in the writings of the Apostles, and is doubtless in substance the “form of sound words” and the “faith once delivered to the saints” spoken of by St. Paul and St. Jude.
From what source was the Creed derived?
It was the belief of the Christian Church, handed down by tradition from the days of the Apostles.
Where do we find the first statement of the Christian Creed or belief?
In the writing of Ignatius (A.D. 69) we find the greater part of the teaching of the Apostles’ Creed, though not worded exactly as it is in the Prayer Book.
Who was Ignatius and when did he live?
He is said to have been the third Bishop of Antioch (St. Peter being counted as the first), and to have been ordained by that Apostle to the Christian ministry. He was appointed Bishop of Antioch in the year 69, and was martyred at Rome in the year 107 or 115.
We read in books that the Churches of Jerusalem and Antioch and Ephesus and Alexandria and Rome each had a Creed; was that the Apostles’ Creed?
Yes; each Church had in substance the same creed, only in some Churches it was more expanded than in others arid therefore, owing to the want of frequent intercommunication and to the inexactness of oral tradition, the Creed in each Church differed slightly from that of the others.
How and when were these differences reconciled?
By action of the first General Council, held at Nicea in Bythinia, A.D. 325.
Is it true then to say that the Christian Creed was the creation of the Council at Nicea?
Certainly not. The Bishops who came to that council did not originate the Creed, but acted merely as witnesses, each one testifying as to the belief which had always been held in their respective Churches.
What is it that makes the Council of Nicea so important and interesting?
The fact that it was the first General Council of the Church, after the Apostles’ days, ever assembled, and that the most vital truth of the Christian religion, i.e., the divinity of our Blessed Lord, was here discussed and officially defined in accordance with apostolic teaching.
By whom was this council called and for what purpose?
It was called by Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, at the request of many Bishops and other distinguished men, to discuss and settle the dispute raised by Arius, a Presbyter of Alexandria in Egypt, who denied the true divinity of Christ; claiming that there was a time when He did not exist, that He was created by the Father, and that He was not of one substance with the Father.
How was the dispute settled?
By an appeal to Holy Scripture and to the universal belief of the Church; those who were present testifying to what had always been held and taught in the Churches to which they belonged.
How long did the Council remain in session and who attended it?
It remained in session nearly three months, and was attended by over two thousand persons, who came from all parts of the Christian world to bear witness to the faith. Three hundred and eighteen Bishops were present, besides a great number of other clergy, among whom were many who had suffered and been tortured in the heathen persecutions.
What is the necessity of having a Creed?
In order that everybody may know exactly what the fundamental truths of the Christian religion are.
Why do we repeat the Creed on every occasion of public worship?
(1) As an act of devotion and loyalty to God. (2) That we may always be familiar with the fundamentals of the faith, and so have a constant safeguard against error.
Why do we repeat it standing?
Because this attitude is expressive of earnestness and readiness to defend our faith.
Why do some clergy and congregations turn to the East when they say the Creed?
It is a very ancient custom, adopted by the early Christians to express their faith in Christ as the Sun of Righteousness. As the orb of day rises in the East giving light to the world, so it was believed that Christ, who gives light to our souls, would appear in the East at His second coming.
Why do we bow at the name of Jesus when we repeat the Creed?
(1) The Bible tells us that every knee shall bow at His name. Phil. 2:10.
(2) It is an act of reverence, by which we show our belief in His divinity.
(3) It has been the custom of the Church for many hundred years, and keeping up this custom shows our historical continuity with the early Church.
What does the word “Catholic” mean as used here in the Creed?
The “whole” or “universal.”
When you say “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” do you mean merely the Episcopal Church in the United States?
No; for this is only a local part of the Universal Church of Christ.
Do you mean the Roman Catholic Church?
No; for that is only a part or branch of the Universal Church.
Do you then mean the Greek Church or the Church of England?
No; for these are only parts of the one great whole.
What then do you mean by the Catholic and Apostolic Church?
I mean the one great world-wide organization of which these and all other historical Churches are part and of which all baptized Christians are members.
Why do you give your allegiance to the Episcopal Church in the United States or the Mother Church of England rather than to any other?
Because these Churches hold and teach the faith of the Catholic Church in its purity, and only teach the doctrines and maintain the practices which have the sure warrant of Holy Scripture and primitive custom.
What is the distinguishing mark of a Catholic Church?
The holding of the faith which has been held by all branches of the Church everywhere and at all times: (“quod semper, ubique, ab omnibus.”)
Why is the Church called “Holy”?
The Bible tells us that it is the body of Christ, and that the Holy Spirit dwells in it. St. John 15:1–5; 1 Cor. 12:4–14.
What is meant by the word “hell” as here used in the Creed?
It means Hades, or the place of departed spirits; not the place of torment set apart for the wicked.
What is meant by the “Communion of Saints’?
It means that between all true Christians, both on earth and in Paradise, there is a bond of fellowship and a community of interests, and that all have communion with Christ.
Are Christians called saints anywhere in the Bible?
Yes; repeatedly in the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, etc.
By how many is this Creed accepted as the standard of belief?
By nearly the whole Christian world, the Greek, Roman, Anglican, Gallican, Spanish, and Swedish Churches; by Lutherans and Calvinists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Dutch Reformed. Baptists, and all evangelical denominations.
If so many Christian bodies accept the Creed, why are they not all united together in one Church?
Because (1) they do not all agree as to the interpretation of some of the articles in it; and (2) because they differ on some point of doctrine or practice not mentioned in the Creed.
The Nicene Creed
Why is this second form of the Creed commonly called the Nicene Creed?
Because it is a paraphrase of the Creed set forth and established by the Council of Nicea A.D. 325. It was drawn up by the Second General Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, as a barrier against the doctrines of Arius and other heretical teachers.
Is this the same as the Apostles’ Creed?
Yes; the only difference is that the truths contained in the Apostles’ Creed are here set forth with greater fullness and explicitness, to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding, and the clauses following the one, “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” were added.
What does the word “of” mean in the expression “God of God, Light of Light”?
It means “out of.”
Has the formula of the Church’s belief, as expressed in these creeds, ever been altered or added to since the Council of Constantinople?
Never, except by the Roman Church, which adopted twelve new articles of faith at the Council of Trent, in 1565, and has added some others since.
When is the Lord’s Prayer to be said with the Versicles following the Creed?
When it was omitted at the beginning of the Service.
What follows in the Morning Service after the Creed?
The Collects and Prayers.
What is meant by the word “Collect”?
A short, comprehensive prayer, used in connection with some other part of the Church service.
What is meant by “the Collect for the day”?
The short prayer which is used in connection with the Epistle and Gospel for a particular day or season.
Why is it called “Collect for the day”?
A collect is a very brief prayer, normally containing a single address to God, a single petition, and conclusion. The name comes from the fact that in ancient times a prayer of this form was used as soon as the congregation was gathered for service.
The Collect for the Day usually in its address or petition sums up the devotional thought of the services of the day for which it is appointed.
Collect for Peace
What is the first Collect in the Morning Service after the Collect for the day?
A prayer for peace.
Why is this Collect placed first among the Collects for Morning Prayer?
Because peace is the greatest of earthly blessings, and without this all other things would be as nothing.
For what is this Collect distinguished?
Its combination of brevity with comprehensiveness.
How long has this Collect been used?
More than twelve hundred years. It is taken from the service book of Gregory the Great, about A.D. 590.
Why is the “Amen” at the end printed in italics?
To indicate that it is to be used heartily and by the people.
What does the word “Amen” mean?
It is a Hebrew word, meaning “so be it,” “verily.”
Collect for Grace
What is the origin of the Collect for Grace?
It comes from the Greek Liturgy, and is placed next to the Collect for Peace because grace and peace are joined together in the Bible, and because without grace we could not long enjoy peace.
Why is this collect especially proper in Morning Prayer?
Because we need God’s grace and protection to shield us from sin and danger during the day.
Under what conditions may Morning Prayer end here?
When the Litany of Holy Communion is immediately to follow.
What must the Minister do at other times?
He must use either the prayers following or other intercessions.
Why is this?
Because we ought always to pray for others whenever we worship.
Prayer for Civil Rulers
Why does the Church require public prayers to be offered for the President of the United States and all others in civil authority?
To teach her people the duty of loyalty and submission to the civil rulers, and to secure peace and righteous government. See 1 Tim. 2:2.
From what source is this prayer derived?
It is an adaptation of “The Prayer for the King’s Majesty” in the English Book, but was derived originally from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory.
From what source is the alternative Prayer for the Civil Rulers derived?
It was composed especially for the American Prayer Book.
A Prayer for the Bishops and Clergy
Why does the Church require public prayer to be offered for the “Bishops and other Clergy”?
To teach us the duty of love, loyalty, and obedience to our spiritual governors, no less than to our civil magistrates. See St. Matt. 9:38; 1 Thess. 5:12–13; Heb. 13:17–18; 2 Thess. 3:1–2.
Instead of praying for the Clergy, what do many people do?
Criticise and find fault.
What should we always remember?
That prayer helps both the minister and those who pray for him, and criticism injures both. We can never unkindly criticise one for whom we earnestly pray, whether it be our pastor or any one else.
Prayer for All Conditions of Men
For whom does the Church teach us to pray in the prayer for all Conditions of Men?
For the heathen, for all Christians, and for all who are afflicted or distressed by either trouble, sorrow, sickness, or poverty.
Why does the Church offer this prayer?
Because it is the teaching of Holy Scripture and an exercise of broad catholic charity.
For what do we “more especially pray” in this collect?
For the “Holy Church universal.”
Who are included in the Church universal?
All who are baptized with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (See St. Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:13, etc.)
What does the Church ask in this petition?
That all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace.
What then may this prayer be called?
A prayer for Christian unity.
What is meant by Christian unity?
Oneness of purpose, oneness of belief, and organic harmony; like that of an army in which there are different regiments under different leaders, with different dress and different tactics, but all organic parts of one great whole, moving in harmony with each other, for the accomplishment of one and the same great purpose.
Of what do the various religious denominations remind us in the present divided state of the Christian world?
An army in which each separate regiment is fighting independently for its own success without harmony of plan and without regard to the success or failure of the others.
How does the Church look upon Christians belonging to the various religious bodies not organically connected with her?
As all belonging to the great universal Church of Christ, by virtue of their Christian faith, but as holding erroneous or defective belief on some matter of importance.
Why does the Church place so much stress on the importance of Christian unity?
(1) Because Christ prayed for unity among His followers that the world seeing it might be led to believe in Him. [See Notes 3 and 6 at end.]
(2) Because nothing does so much to weaken the cause of Christ and delay its triumph and to encourage scoffers as divisions and lack of unity among Christians.
What is it that prevents unity between the various bodies of Christians?
(1) Difference of opinion as to the interpretation of certain historic facts and Scripture texts.
(2) Failure to understand each other’s feelings, and inability to see the truth from other people’s standpoint.
(3) Pride, and prejudice against unfamiliar customs.
(4) The responsibility involved in realty holdings and investments which the trustees find it difficult to give up without betraying their trusts.
What steps did our Bishops take, in 1886, looking to the restoration of Christian unity?
They set forth a statement of four fundamental truths, as a basis on which it might be possible for unity to be restored.
What were they?
(1) The acceptance of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation, and as the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
(2) The acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed as the Baptismal symbol, and the Nicene Creed a, a sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
(3) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself, i.e., Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, ministered with the use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
(4) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
What is the chief obstacle to the acceptance of this overture by the Protestant denominations?
The acceptance of the Historic Episcopate.
Would it be possible for the Church ever to yield this point?
No; to do so would be to abandon the commission which Christ gave to His Apostles, and the very thing which connects the Church organically with Christ the incarnate Head.
What do people often say respecting the importance of unity among Christians?
That outward and organic unity is of little consequence so long as we have unity of spirit.
What reply do you make to this?
There can be no true unity of spirit where there is outward disunity. If we have unity of spirit, outward unity will follow as naturally as the blossom follows the bud. The one is the natural and necessary consequence of the other.
What else do people often say?
That “when we get to heaven it will make no difference what Church we belonged to,” or that “if we love the Lord Jesus Christ sincerely, nothing else is required.”
What reply do you make to this?
We say that love to Christ is undoubtedly the foundation of all true Christian character; but if we love Christ sincerely we shall be very careful to keep His commandments and to live in unity with His Church.
Does not our Lord sanction the division of Christians into separate and independent bodies or congregations, when He says, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”?
No; these words emphasize the importance of cooperation and unity among His followers in contrast to individualism and disunity.
What else is often said to show that God approves of divisions among Christian people?
“See how much good they do, and how they flourish. If it were wrong to separate from the Church, would God bless them as He evidently does ?”
What do we reply to this?
God blesses everyone who has zeal and piety and devotion, but the fact that God commends and rewards our character and life in general does not release us from the obligation to carry His will in corporate life work.
How do we know that Christian unity will ever come?
Because Christ Himself prayed for it, and Christian people everywhere are beginning to desire it.
What is the origin of the General Thanksgiving?
It was probably compiled and placed in the English Prayer Book by Bishop Reynolds, in 1662.
What may we learn from this prayer?
That gratitude is an essential element in prayer.
Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Why is the prayer following the General Thanksgiving called the Prayer of St. Chrysostom?
Because it was taken by Archbishop Cranmer from an old Greek Liturgy, believed to have been prepared by St. Chrysostom in the fourth century.
Why are all these prayers and thanksgivings offered up in the name of Christ?
Because Christ tells us that whatsoever we ask in His name, and in accordance with His will, we shall receive. See St. John 14:13–14; 16:24, Heb. 4:14–16.
What does it mean to ask in the name of Christ?
Through the mediation of Christ. See Heb. 7:25.
What is the origin of the Minor Benediction which follows the prayer of St. Chrysostom?
It is taken from one of St. Paul’s Epistles, and is found in almost all the ancient liturgies.
Why are these petitions placed here in the form of short and separate prayers, instead of being all combined in one long prayer?
(1) It is in accordance with ancient usage; (2) Giving a moment’s respite to the mind at frequent intervals helps to fix the attention more readily on the subject which follows.
(Prayer Book, pages 21–34)
How does the office of Evening Prayer differ from that of the Morning?
It has a different Psalter, different Lessons, different Canticles, different Versicles, and some different Collects.
By what other name is the Evening Prayer sometimes called?
Evensong or Vespers.
What does “Vespers” mean?
How does the beginning of this service differ from that of the Morning?
There is no restriction in the beginning of the service at the Lord’s Prayer or the Versicles. (See rubric and note on page 21 of the Prayer Book).
Gloria in Excelsis
What form of praise does the rubric permit us to sing at the end of the Psalms, instead of the Gloria Patri?
The Gloria in Excelsis.
What does “Gloria in Excelsis” mean?
“Glory be to God on high.”
What is the origin of this hymn?
The first part of it is the song of the Angels (St. Luke 2:14); the second part was added about A.D. 140.
What is the first Canticle appointed for Evensong?
The Magnificat so called from the first word of the hymn, as printed in the old Latin Prayer Book.
What is the Magnificat?
The wonderful song which came from the lips of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the visit of the Angel (See St. Luke 1:46).
Why is Mary called the Blessed Virgin?
Because God’s Angel called her “blessed.”
What should we learn from this?
Always to speak with reverence of her whom God has so highly honored.
What great truth does this hymn set forth?
The blessedness of being pure in heart, and God’s faithfulness to those who are meek and lowly.
How long has it been used in the public worship of the Church?
More than 1300 years.
With what feelings should it inspire us to think of the antiquity of the prayers and praises in this book?
With feelings of profound reverence for the Church which remains the same from century to century.
What do the words “Cantate Domino” mean?
“Sing unto the Lord.”
What is this song?
It is the 98th Psalm, and is one of the Liturgical Psalms used in the Temple service.
For what is it remarkable?
The striking boldness of its imagery, and its lofty sentiment of praise in acknowledgment of God’s faithfulness and mercy.
Bonum Est Confiteri
What do the words “Bonum Est Confiteri” mean?
“It is a good thing to give thanks.”
What is this Canticle taken from?
From the 92nd Psalm, which was anciently sung in the Temple service. It is an outburst of gratitude, and teaches “the duty, the time, and the manner of giving thanks for the works of God and the dispensations of His providence.”
What is the “Nunc Dimittis,” and on what occasion was it first uttered?
See St. Luke 2:25–32.
Why is it especially appropriate for the closing canticle at Evening Prayer?
Because the duties of the day are now over, and having seen and heard in the services of the Sanctuary what God has done for our salvation, we may depart to our homes satisfied, the hours of darkness reminding us that Christ is the light of the soul.
What do the words “Deus Misereatur” mean.?
“God be merciful.”
Where is this song found in the Bible?
In the 67th Psalm.
What is the peculiarity of this song?
It is one of the Liturgical Psalms used in the Temple, and is prophetic of the conversion of the Gentiles. (“Nations” here means “Gentiles.”)
Benedic, Anima Mea
What do the words “Benedic, anima mea” mean?
“Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
Where is this song found in the Bible?
In the 103rd Psalm.
For what is it remarkable?
Its fervent spirit of praise.
A Collect for Peace
What is the first Collect in the Evening Prayer?
A Collect for Peace.
How does this Collect differ from the Collect for Peace in the /Morning Prayer?
The Collect in Morning Prayer is for protection against external foes, which assail us more frequently in the day; the Collect in Evening Prayer is a petition for inward peace and tranquillity of heart, which none can know save those on whom God bestows it.
What words of the Bible suggest this prayer?
The words of David in the 4th Psalm, “I will lay me down in peace and take my rest, for it is Thou, Lord, only that makest me dwell in safety.”
For what is this Collect remarkable?
Its unsurpassed beauty and instructiveness.
Collect for Aid Against Perils
What are the two petitions in this Collect?
(1) That God will dispel the darkness of the night by bringing back the morning light. (2) That while the night lasts He will defend us from its perils.
What is the origin of this Collect?
It is derived from an ancient Greek Liturgy, and is an echo of the 13th Psalm, “Lighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death.”
What does the expression “our darkness” mean?
It refers not only to the darkness of the physical world, but also to our spiritual darkness.
Why does the prayer close with the expression “for the love of Thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ”?
This is a tender appeal to the love which God bears to the Son, and to us for His sake who took our nature upon Him; and we feel that what we ask in this way God will not refuse.
What does the next rubric provide?
That Evening Prayer may close here with (an anthem and) such other prayer or prayers taken out of this Book as the minister shall think fit.
(Prayer Book, pages 54–59)
What does “Litany” mean?
A solemn form of supplication for God’s mercy composed of short responsive prayers.
How did Litanies first come to be used in the Church?
They were first used in times of great public calamity or danger; the Clergy and people sometimes walking in procession through the streets barefoot and repeating the suffrages. Afterwards they were adopted into the regular services of the Church for days and seasons of fasting and humiliation.
When is the Litany appointed to be said?
After the Third Collect at Morning or Evening Prayer, before the Holy Communion, or as a separate service. The Prayer Book no longer orders it to be said on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but it is still more appropriately used on those days, especially in seasons of a penitential character, like Advent, Lent, and Rogationtide.
Why especially on these days?
Because these days are associated with especially solemn and important events, e.g., On Wednesday the compact was made for our Lord’s betrayal, on Friday He was crucified, and on Sunday He rose from the dead. It is fitting that these days should be marked by especially solemn and complete services.
How long has this Litany been used?
It has been used in England for about twelve hundred years, and parts of it much longer.
How was it altered at the English Reformation?
By leaving out the invocations to the saints.
Into how many parts is the Litany divided?
Four: the Invocations, Deprecations, Intercessions, and Supplications.
What may be said of the Litany?
There is no other part of the public service of the Church in which the congregation has so large a share, or which breathes a more ardent spirit of devotion.
For what is this Litany remarkable?
Its simplicity, comprehensiveness, and solemn grandeur.
Administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion
(Prayer Book, pages 67–89)
Why is the Holy Communion looked upon as the most important and most sacred service of the Christian Church?
(1) Because it is the only recorded act of public worship which Christ Himself instituted, (2) Because it deals with the most sacred and vital interests of our souls.
What is the design of the last two rubrics at the end of this office?
(1) To guard the Church from scandal, and the Sacrament from profanation, by the presence of notorious evil livers. (2) To prevent wicked or thoughtless people from adding to their sin by coming unworthily to the Holy Sacrament.
Why is the altar or holy table to be covered with a fair white linen cloth at the time of the Holy Communion?
(1) For decency and reverence; (2) To symbolize the purity of heart with which we should come to the holy feast.
How are the different parts of this office sometimes designated?
As “Ante-Communion,” “Communion Proper,” and “Post-Communion.”
What is meant by the Ante-Communion?
All that part which precedes the address to Communicants, i.e., the Lord’s Prayer and Collect for Purity, the Commandments, the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the day, the Creed and Sermon and Offertory, and the Prayer for Christ’s Church.
What is the Communion Proper?
The part beginning with the Address to Communicants, and ending with the Administration of the Elements.
What is meant by the Post-Communion?
All that part which follows the administration of the elements, i.e., the Prayer of Thanksgiving, the Hymn, and the Blessing.
Are there then in reality three separate parts to this office of Holy Communion?
No; it is one whole and complete office, and these different names are merely used for convenience, to designate the different parts of the one office.
With what does the office of the Holy Communion begin?
The Lord’s Prayer, said by the Priest alone. [See Note 7 at end.]
Why is the Lord’s Prayer especially proper to be used here?
Because the Lord who instituted this holy ordinance was also the author of this prayer.
Why is the Priest permitted to omit the Lord’s Prayer in this place?
Because he may have used it just before in Morning Prayer or the Litany.
What follows here after the Lord’s Prayer, and why?
A Collect for Purity, because the Bible tells us that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. If we would receive Christ into our hearts they should be cleansed and purified from all evil.
What follows the Collect for Purity, and why?
The Ten Commandments. They are placed here for two reasons: (1) Because we promised at our Baptism to keep these Commandments, and this promise we solemnly renew every time we come to the Lord’s Supper. (2) To secure the regular and frequent instruction of the people in the moral law of God, which is the basis of all right living.
Why are parts of certain Commandments inset, and the Priest permitted to omit them?
Because these portions are not essential parts of the Commandments in question, but explanatory additions.
What is the response called which here follows each of these Commandments?
The “Kyrie Eleison” (“Lord have mercy upon us”). It is taken from one of the ancient Greek liturgies.
What follows here after the Ten Commandments?
A brief summary of the Divine law, in which Christ condenses the substance of all these Commandments into two short sentences, setting forth our duty towards God and our duty towards our neighbor.
What is meant here by loving our neighbor as ourselves?
It means that we are to be just and unselfish towards them, and to desire their welfare as sincerely as we desire our own.
When Christ tells us here that we are to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, does it mean that we are to feel merely sentimental towards Him?
No; it means that we are to esteem God and His love above all else.
How may we know that we are loving God as Christ here commands us to do?
Not by the fervidness of our emotions, but by our conduct towards Him; when we make His will and His law the supreme law of our lives. (See St. John 14:21; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 5:3.)
Must the Priest always rehearse the Ten Commandments with the Kyrie?
No, at all but one Sunday Communion of each month he may use the Summary of the Law instead, followed by the Kyrie as at top of page 70 of the Prayer Book.
Collect, Epistle, and Gospel
What follows in the office of Holy Communion after these Commandments?
The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the day.
What are the people directed to say after the minister announces the Gospel, and why?
“Glory be to Thee, O Lord.” We say this to express our gratitude to God for the glad tidings of salvation which the gospel brings.
Why do the people rise and stand when the Gospel is read?
To express their reverence for the words of Christ, and their readiness to execute His commands.
What response may follow the reading of the Gospel?
“Praise be to Thee, O Christ.” This is to express our grateful worship to Him whose words or acts have just been read to us.
What follows the reading of the Gospel?
The Creed (unless it has been said in the Morning Prayer immediately before); after this comes the Sermon,* and after this the Offertory.
[* After the Creed and before the Sermon the notices are to be given out, and the people may be bidden to pray for any special persons or objects, using the intercession provided in the Prayer Book or authorized by the Ecclesiastical Authority.]
How long has it been the custom to make an offering at the time of the Holy Communion?
Justin Martyr, who lived 40 years after St. John (A.D. 139), says it was an invariable part of the service in his day, and it has been the custom ever since.
Why is it proper always to make an offering at the time of Holy Communion?
Because giving is as truly an act of worship and a part of our Christian duty as praying; and if we are not willing to give to God of our earthly things, we cannot expect to receive from Him of heavenly things.
What was required of the Jews?
That when they came before the Lord at the solemn feasts, they should not appear empty, but that every man should give as he was able (Deut. 16:16–17); and Christian people are required to do the same. (1 Cor. 16:2). The first rubric after the Offertory Sentences authorizes the receiving of offerings at other services and the use of these sentences at such collections.
What does the second rubric after the Offertory Sentences direct?
That the alms for the poor and other devotions of the people (i.e., money, jewels, titles to real estate, or whatever else the people desire to give to God at the time of the Offertory, for the benefit of His Church) shall be collected, and humbly presented by the priest and placed upon the altar or Holy Table.
Why is the collection placed upon the altar or Holy Table?
To show that it is given to God and consecrated to holy purposes.
Why do the people rise when the offerings are thus presented?
(1) Because it is their gift to God, and by rising they show that they join with the minister, who acts as their representative in presenting it. (2) Because it is the act of reverence and respect due from a giver to one whom he wishes to honor. In presenting our gifts to God we should not be less respectful than we would be in presenting a gift to an honored earthly friend.
What does the third rubric direct?
That the Priest shall then offer and place upon the Holy Table the Bread and the Wine.
What further ceremonies are provided for at the Offertory?
There is provision for the singing of a hymn or anthem, and just before the Prayer for the Church the Priest may ask the secret intercessions of the congregation for any who have asked for prayers.
Prayer for the Church
What prayer follows the presentation of the alms?
The Prayer for the Church.
What three divisions compose the whole state of Christ’s Church?
The Church Militant, the Church Expectant, and the Church Triumphant.
What does “militant” mean?
It comes from the Latin militare, to be a soldier, and means fighting, contending.
Why is the Church called a “Militant” Church?
Because all baptized Christians are soldiers of Christ, whose duty it is to fight against sin and to contend earnestly for the Faith.
What is meant by the “Church Triumphant” and the “Church Expectant”?
The “Church Triumphant” means those in Heaven; the “Church Expectant” means those in Paradise, who are waiting for their final reward. These two, together with the Church Militant, make up the one great Church of God.
For what is this prayer remarkable?
For its wonderful combination of definiteness with comprehensiveness.
What does it include?
Intercession for (1), the Catholic or Universal Church; (2), Christian Rulers; (3), Bishops and Clergy; (4), the people; (5), the sad and suffering; (6), a remembrance of those in Paradise.
What follows in the service after the prayer for the Church?
An invitation encouraging the people to come with faith, i.e., without misgiving, to the Lord’s Table, and to be comforted by the assurance of His love and goodness toward them.
What follows this invitation?
An earnest confession to God and prayer for His pardon and grace.
What follows this confession?
The Priest (or the Bishop, if he is present) pronounces the sentence of Absolution. After this we have the sentences of Holy Scripture called the “Comfortable Words,” because they bring us the assurance of God’s pardon and peace.
Why are these sentences read here?
To make the people feel and understand how great God’s goodness is toward them, and so to arouse their gratitude and love.
What are the Versicles called which follow the “Comfortable Words”?
The “Sursum Corda,” which means “Lift up your hearts.”
What is there remarkable about these words?
They were quoted by St. Cyprian as early as 252 A.D., and are found in every known liturgy in the world. Tradition tells us that they were used in the office of Holy Communion as early as the Apostolic age itself.
What follows here after the “Sursum Corda” and other Versicles?
An exalted hymn of praise, called the “Sanctus,” or “Trisagion,” meaning thrice holy.
How long has this hymn been used in the Church’s worship, and what was its origin? More than 1700 years. It was heard by Isaiah 700 years before Christ, and again by St. John after the Ascension. See Is. 6:3; and Rev. 4:5–11.
Prayer of Consecration
Of how many parts does this prayer consist?
Three: the Consecration, the Oblation, and the Invocation.
Whose words are used in this Prayer, and what are they called?
The words of our Lord, quoted by St. Paul (1 Cor. 11:23). They are found in every liturgy in the world, and are known as “the Words of Institution.”
When the Priest repeats these words with the Breaking of the Bread, what is it called?
What does “Consecration” mean?
The act of setting apart and devoting to a sacred purpose.
What is it that is here consecrated and set apart?
The Bread and Wine.
What follows in this prayer after the Consecration?
What is an oblation?
What is it that is here offered to God?
The Bread and the Wine which have been consecrated and set apart are here offered up as a memorial before God of the sacrifice of Christ.
What follows the Oblation?
What does the Priest here invoke God to do?
To sanctify with His Word and Holy Spirit the consecrated elements which have now been offered up as a memorial to God.
Why is God asked to do this?
That in partaking of them we may be partakers of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Where does our Lord teach us the necessity of partaking of His flesh and blood?
St. John 6:53.
Where is the Saviour’s body now?
Is it possible then to eat His flesh and drink His blood in any material or physical sense?
No; we can only do so after a spiritual and heavenly manner.
What other sacrifice is here offered up?
Our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
What is a sacrifice?
Something given or offered up to God as a religious act.
What other sacrifice is offered besides our praise and thanksgiving?
The Priest speaking in behalf of the people says, “We offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto Thee.”
Where in the Bible are we told to do this? Romans 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:20.
What follows in the service after the Consecration Prayer is ended?
The Lord’s Prayer
Why is the Lord’s Prayer preceded by a short preface?
Because this is the most solemn occasion on which it is used, and therefore its divine origin is fittingly emphasized at this time.
The use of the Lord’s Prayer at this point in the service and the use of some prefatory bidding is found in the earliest liturgies, and in liturgical fragments older than any existing liturgy.
The Prayer of Humble Access, so called because of the humble confession of unworthiness which the Priest here makes both for himself and as the representative of the people who approach God’s Table with him,
For what is the Prayer of Humble Access a preparation?
For the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore in the early English Prayer Book this prayer was used very properly the last thing before partaking of the consecrated elements.
What follows the Prayer of Humble Access?
A hymn may be sung, and the Priest, after partaking of the Communion himself, delivers it to the people with the words prescribed.
Why are people directed to receive the Holy Communion kneeling?
It is considered the more reverent way, and reverent actions are best not only to express but to deepen reverent feelings.
How should the consecrated elements be received by the Communicants?
The “bread” should be received in the palm of the hand, never with the fingers. The “cup” should be taken firmly by the stem or base with both hands.
Is it proper to receive the Blessed Sacrament with gloved hands?
No; it is a mark of reverence to remove the gloves, as we would do in receiving a precious gift from the hand of a loved and honored human benefactor.
What follows in this service after the people have communicated?
A Prayer of thanksgiving, and a hymn.
What hymn is generally sung here?
The hymn called “Gloria in Excelsis.”
What is the propriety of singing this hymn at the close of the Holy Communion?
By singing a hymn we follow the example of our Blessed Lord and His disciples, who sung a hymn at the close of the first Eucharistic feast (St. Matt. 26:30); and by using this hymn we welcome the Saviour to our hearts in the same words with which the angels welcomed Him into the world.
What does the last rubric provide?
That the people shall be allowed to depart with the blessing of the Priest or Bishop.
Of what does this remind us?
That when our Lord took leave of His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He blessed them, (St. Luke 24:50), and the blessing which He gave them was His peace (St. John 14:27).
How should this blessing be received by the people?
Kneeling, with all imaginable devotion, as coming from the Lord Himself.
Does the blessing really come from God?
Yes; the Minister is only the instrument of conveying it. The blessing depends not on man, but upon the ordinance of God. Num. 6:22–27.
What is noteworthy respecting the blessing at the end of the Communion Office?
It is one of the beautiful features of the liturgy of the Anglican Church, and is found in no other liturgy but hers.
What is the significance of the rubric before the Blessing?
It indicates that the service is not completed until the people kneel and receive the final blessing of God from the celebrant.
Nature and Purpose of the Lord’s Supper
When and by whom was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?
By our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night on which He was betrayed. (St. Matt. 26:26–30; St. Mark 14:22–26; St. Luke 22:14–20; 1 Cor. 11:23–26.)
By what names is the Holy Communion designated in the Bible?
(1) The Breaking of Bread (St. Luke 24:30, 35; Acts 2:42, 46); (2) The Communion of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16); (3) The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20).
By what other names has it been called in later times?
The Eucharist, the Mass, the Liturgy.
What does the name “Eucharist” signify?
A joyous thanksgiving or feast of gladness.
What does “Mass” signify?
It is probably derived from the Latin sentence, “Ite, missa est,” with which the congregation was dismissed in ancient times.
What does “Liturgy” mean?
It signifies the public service of the sanctuary. The name was probably given to the communion service because this was the principal office of the day.
Why was this Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?
“For a continual remembrance of His death and the benefits which we receive thereby.” (See the Catechism.)
Do you mean by this that the Lord’s Supper is nothing more than a memorial?
No; St. Paul says that it is the communion (i.e. communication) of the Body and Blood of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:16). If these words are true, it must be something more than a mere memorial.
What did our Lord say of the bread and wine which He blessed when He instituted this Sacrament?
“This is My body” and “this is My blood.”
How do we know that our Lord was not using mere figurative language here, as He did when He said “I am the door,” “I am the vine”?
There is no hint anywhere that He used these words in a figurative sense. When He said “I am the door,” “I am the vine,” His disciples manifested no surprise; but when He spoke of Himself as the living bread which came down from heaven, and said to them, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you,” they said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (St. John 6:60).
What then must we think of this Sacrament?
That it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Gospel, through which Christ, in some way unknown to us, imparts to our souls the life-giving efficacy of His broken body and His shed blood.
What is the Romish doctrine of this Sacrament?
That a miracle is performed in the prayer of Consecration, by which the bread and wine cease to be bread and wine, and are converted into the flesh and blood of Christ.
What is this change called?
What opinion does our Church hold respecting the doctrine of Transubstantiation?
That it is an attempt to explain a mystery which cannot be explained.
What is the teaching of our Church on this subject?
That no change takes place in the nature of the elements, such as Transubstantiation implies, but a change as to their purpose and efficacy, whereby they become to the faithful recipient the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ. In other words, the bread and wine do not cease to be bread and wine, but become to the faithful something more; so that in receiving the consecrated elements, we also receive spiritually the Body and Blood of Christ. (See the Catechism.)
What are the four principal uses of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
1) It is the memorial Sacrifice presented before God of the death and passion of our Blessed Redeemer. (2) It is the divinely appointed means by which our souls are nourished for eternal life. (3) It is a means by which we confess Christ before the world. (4) It is a means of honoring Christ by “showing forth His death till He come”.
How often should we come to the Holy Communion and why?
As often as we have the opportunity and are prepared.
(1) Because, it is an act of obedience to Christ’s command. (2) It is a safeguard against sin and temptation. (3) It is a pledge of God’s love and goodness towards us.
How often did the Christians in Apostolic days partake of this Sacrament?
Probably every Lord’s day at least. (Acts 20:7.)
What reason do people often give for not partaking of the Holy Communion?
That they are “not good enough.”
What reply does the Church make to this statement?
The question is not whether we are good enough or not, but whether we desire to obey Christ’s injunction and to be better than we are.
What other reason is often given by people for not corning to the Holy Communion?
That they do not feel the need of it.
What reply can you make to this excuse?
(1) If Christ has commanded us to do a certain thing, we ought to obey, whether we feel the need of it or not. (2) It is a selfish and unworthy thing for people never to come to God except when they need something. Gratitude for what Christ has done for us should fill us with a desire to give something to Him, and to honor Him by our willing obedience.
What other reason do people often give for not coming to the Holy Communion?
They will not come because they see so many unworthy communicants.
Is this a valid excuse?
No; other people’s failure to do right can never excuse us for neglecting our duty.
What does our Lord say to those who look to other people’s conduct rather than their own?
See St, Matt. 7:1–5; St, John 21:22.
What other reason do people often give?
They fear lest they should eat and drink unworthily, and so “eat and drink damnation to themselves.” (1 Cor. 11:29.)
What mistake do people often make in reading this language of St. Paul?
They do not distinguish between doing a thing worthily and being worthy to do it.
What is the difference in these expressions?
“Worthy” is an adjective describing the person; “worthily” is an adverb describing the act or manner of doing the act.
Does St. Paul say we must be “worthy” (i.e., absolutely holy), before we come to the Holy Communion?
No; if he did, we could never come. He simply says we must come worthily, i.e., in a proper manner and with right feelings.
What then is meant by “coming worthily to the Lord’s Supper”?
Coming with penitence, and having in our hearts a feeling of our unworthiness, and relying entirely upon the mercy of Christ.
What would it indicate if one should feel that he was worthy, i.e., “good enough;’ to come to this holy feast?
It would indicate that he was spiritually vain, and therefore unworthy.
Who are they that come to the Lord’s Table unworthily?
Only they who come unthankfully, or with an uncharitable and unforgiving spirit.
What is necessary in order that we may come worthily to the Holy Communion?
(1) Repentance for our sins past; (2) Faith in the saving efficacy of the death and passion of our Lord; (3) To be in charity with all men; (4) The sincere purpose to lead a godly life. (See Exhortation to Communicants.)
What are the great benefits of the Holy Communion?
(1) It gives us help to resist the power of sin and temptation; (2) It unites us to Christ; (3) It applies the sacrifice of the Cross to take away our sins and pleads that sacrifice for our pardon; (4) It gives us the assurance of everlasting life. (St. John 6: 51–56.)
The Collects, Epistles, And Gospels
(Prayer Book, pages 90–269)
What follows in the Prayer Book after the Order for the Holy Communion?
A Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for every Sunday and every Holy Day to be observed during the year, and for certain special occasions.
By whom were the Epistles and Gospels first selected and arranged?
Probably by St. Jerome, in the fourth century.
To what service do they belong?
The Communion service.
From what source are these Collects derived?
The most of them are found in the writing of Gregory the Great, who gathered them out of the old liturgies used during the first four or five centuries. Some of them were composed by Archbishop Cranmer and his co-laborers at the time of the English Reformation, and a few were composed afterwards when the English Prayer Book was revised and others at the times of revision of the American book.
Who was Gregory the Great?
A learned and saintly Bishop of Rome who lived in the sixth century, and by whose cooperation the Saxons in England were converted to Christianity.
What are the Epistles?
Selections from the letters written by the Apostles to the Church in different places. Sometimes a selection from one of the Prophetical books of the Bible is used for the Epistle.
What is the object of these selections?
To bring before us some special Christian doctrine or duty.
What follows the reading of the Epistle?
A selection from one of the four Gospels.
What do the four Gospels record?
The life and deeds of our Blessed Lord; an account of His birth, His words and miracles, His death, Resurrection, and Ascension, and His sitting at the right hand of the Father.
What is the object of making these selections?
To bring before us some special teaching of Christ, or some event in His life.
What is observable in the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for each day?
They all three harmonize in teaching some single truth, and each is connected with the other by some golden thread of thought.
For what days are these Collects, Epistles, and Gospels appointed to be used?
(1) For Sundays and all days commemorative of the principal events in the life of our Lord: the Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, Circumcision, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.
(2) Days which mark the Church’s holy seasons, such as Lent, and Holy Week, and Pentecost, Ember and Rogation Days.
(3) Days commemorative of Saints and Apostles.
(4) The National Holidays of Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
(5) The special occasions of the anniversary of the Dedication of a Church, Marriages, and Burials.
How long has it been the custom in the Church to celebrate these holy days and seasons?
Just when they were first observed is a matter of uncertainty, but we know they were solemnized as early as the second century.
Of what does this fact remind us?
That the liturgy of our Church is the richest and most ancient treasury of pure Christian devotion in the world.
The Ministration of Holy Baptism
(Prayer Book, pages 273–282)
What is Baptism?
(1) An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us.
(2) A covenant or agreement whereby one is made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the first rubric at the beginning of this office direct the Minister to do?
Admonish the people that they do not neglect to bring their children to Baptism as soon after their birth as possible.
Why is this direction given?
(1) In order that children may be brought into covenant relations with God, as He commanded in the Old Testament, Gen. 17:10–23. (2) Lest through sudden sickness the child die unbaptized.
What do we learn from this rubric?
That the Church looks upon Baptism as a matter of exceeding importance, and therefore takes every precaution to guard against its neglect.
Why does the Church look upon Baptism as a matter of such great importance?
Because Christ has declared that none can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without it. St. John 3:5.
What does the rubric next provide?
That, except for urgent cause, parents procure not their children to he baptized at home in their houses, but that they shall be brought to the Church?
Why is this rule laid down?
(1) Because the Church is God’s house, the place especially set apart and consecrated for the public ministration of His Sacraments; (2) In order that others seeing this sacrament publicly administered in the Church may be instructed by the service and be led to follow this Christian example; (3) Because greater decency and solemnity may be had than in any private house.
On what days does the rubric say that this service for baptism is to be used?
On Sunday or some Holy day or Prayer day, or, if necessity require, on any other day.
At what time in the service is the Baptism to be administered?
Immediately after the Second Lesson, at Morning or Evening Prayer, or at such other time as the Minister may appoint.
How many Sponsors are required by the rubric?
Three, where they may be had.
Why does the Church require Sponsors for infants to be baptized?
(1) Because infants are not able to act and answer for themselves. (2) In order that children may have the benefit of Christian care and training.
May Persons who have not themselves been baptized act as Sponsors?
No; the nature of the transaction is such that no one but a Christian believer could consistently fulfill the obligations.
What three promises are the god-parents required to make on behalf of the child?
A promise of renunciation, a promise of obedience, and a promise of belief.
Are the Sponsors or God-parents required to see that the children fulfill their promises?
Yes; so far as they reasonably may; but if children refuse to do so in spite of care and admonition, the Sponsors are not to be held accountable.
What does the rubric require when the persons to be baptized are older, and able to answer for themselves?
That they be instructed and prepared.
In what does the rubric at the beginning of this service say that people are to be instructed before they are baptized?
In the principles of the Christian Religion.
Where are these principles of the Christian Religion laid down and explained?
In the Catechism.
How are people directed by this rubric to prepare themselves for Holy Baptism?
By prayer and fasting.
Why by prayer and fasting?
Because prayer and fasting are both spoken of in the Bible as means of Christian grace.
Why does the Minister first ask whether the candidates have been already baptized?
Because no person may be baptized more than once.
Why may a person never be baptized more than once?
(1) Because Baptism is our new birth into the Church and family of God, and as there can be but one natural birth, so there can be but one spiritual birth; (2) To repeat it would imply that God had not fulfilled His promises at the first.
What is done if there is a reasonable doubt of the fact of the person’s Baptism?
He is baptized conditionally. See Prayer Book p. 282, and below.
What does the Minister next do?
He bids the congregation to pray for those about to be baptized.
What follows this prayer?
A lesson from the Gospels.
Why are there three different Gospels provided for Baptism?
The first (St. Mark 10:13) assures us of the right of children to a place and share in the Kingdom of God, and is therefore more appropriate for use when all the candidates are infants.
The second (St. John 3:1) is more appropriate when those to be baptized are adults.
What does this passage teach?
(1) The necessity of a new birth by water and the Spirit. (2) The necessity of an humble faith.
What does the Saviour say to Nicodemus in regard to the necessity of being baptized?
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Do we infer from the language of this text that all heathen people and those who die unbaptized shall be lost eternally?
No. It only applies to those who have heard the Gospel and understand it and yet from sinful motives of pride or stubborn self-will refuse to obey it.
What are we taught in the exhortation preceding the questions to the candidates?
That persons coming rightly to Holy Baptism receive three great benefits: (1) The remission of their sins; (2) The gift of the Holy Ghost; (3) The blessing of eternal life.
What must persons promise to renounce before they can be baptized?
The devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, etc.
What do you mean by the devil?
The spirit of evil, by whom we are enticed to do wrong.
What are some of the works of the devil?
Pride, malice, lying, blasphemy, slander, cruelty, hypocrisy, unbelief, and whatever is contrary to God’s Word.
Why are these called the works of the devil?
Because it is the evil spirit who entices men to do them.
What do you mean by the pomp and glory of the world?
Ostentatious display of dress or wealth or equipage calculated to draw away our hearts from God.
Is all pomp and display sinful?
No; only such as fosters human pride and selfishness.
What are some of the sinful lusts of the flesh?
See Gal. 5:18–21.
What else is required of persons to be baptized besides this vow of renunciation?
That they shall believe all the articles of the Christian Faith as contained in the Apostles Creed.
Why does the Church make this Creed the standard of belief for all persons desiring Baptism?
(1) Because it is the briefest and simplest statement of the fundamental truths of the Christian religion; (2) Unless we accept these truths we could not be baptized in this faith.
What else does the person baptized promise to do?
To keep God’s holy will and commandments.
Where do you find a summary of God’s holy will and commandments?
In the Church Catechism.
How can infants be asked to make such promises?
Their Sponsors make the promises for them.
Is not this unfair to the children?
No; nothing is given up but what is definitely harmful, and in exchange the children receive the great benefits coming from Baptism.
What promises do the Sponsors make in their own name?
To see that the child is properly taught the Christian religion, and that as soon as he is sufficiently instructed they will take heed that the child is brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him.
Why do not the witnesses make a similar promise at the Baptism of an adult?
Because the Minister, if he obeys the Prayer Book, will already have instructed the candidates sufficiently to entitle them to Confirmation.
What is the duty of the witnesses or God-parents to the persons baptized?
To call upon them to use all diligence to be rightly instructed in God’s Word, and to put them in mind of their baptismal promises.
Why does the Minister bless the Water?
Because the gift of Baptism comes not from water but from God, and this prayer asks God to ratify and make effective our act of obedience,
Why does this blessing contain the command “Lift up your hearts,” etc.?
Baptism is of equal importance with Holy Communion in the Christian life, and it is fitting that the outward sign should be dedicated to its purpose with equal devout recollection and attention.
Why is the person’s name pronounced?
Because he is entering into a personal relation with God in Christ.
What is the essential part of Christian Baptism?
The application of water to the person baptized, and the use of the words “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Where does Christ enjoin the use of these words?
St. John 3:5; and St. Matt. 28:19.
How does the rubric say the water is to be applied?
By pouring or dipping. (See below on Modes of Baptism.)
What sign is used by the Minister after he applies the water, and why?
The sign of the cross, to symbolize our allegiance to Christ.
What does the Minister say respecting the person after he is baptized?
That he is regenerate.
What does regenerate mean?
Reborn, or born a second time.
In what two senses may the baptized be said to be reborn or regenerate?
(1) As he is brought first by natural birth into the world to live and move among men, so by this Sacrament of Baptism he is brought into the Church, which is in a special sense God’s family, to live and move among the children of God; (2) As children receive from their human parents their physical endowments, so through this second birth they receive from God spiritual endowments.
After the candidate is baptized, for what does the Minister return thanks?
That it hath pleased God to regenerate this person with His Holy Spirit, etc.
What right have we to suppose that God has done this?
Because this is what we asked Him to do in the prayer used just after the selection was read from the Gospel. If we believe what Christ says in St. Matt. 7:7–11, we cannot doubt that the person baptized has received the blessing which we prayed for, i.e., the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What is directed by the rubric following the blessing?
That every adult thus baptized should be confirmed by the Bishop as soon as conveniently may be.
(Prayer Book, page 281)
Of what does this service consist?
The absolute essentials of Baptism, with no further ceremonies.
Why are the questions considered essential in the case of an adult?
Because anyone capable of doing so should express his faith and his penitence before being baptized.
By whom may this office be used?
By any baptized person, if an ordained clergyman cannot be procured in time.
What further duty has a layman performing such a Baptism?
To report the fact to the Minister, or if there be none to the Wardens or other parish authority.
The Receiving of One Privately Baptized
(Prayer Book, page 281)
What is provided in the rubric?
That if the child or person privately baptized live he shall be brought to the Church, where the required promises shall be made, and the omitted portions of the service be said as in the office of public Baptism.
(Prayer Book, page 282)
For what persons is this office intended?
For all in whose case there may be a doubt either of the fact of Baptism or of the sufficiency of the manner by which it was administered.
What procedure is directed?
The same as for public or private Baptism, but with the statement that the sacrament is administered only in case the candidate is not already baptized.
Why is this done?
Cf. p. 92 above.
What reason have we for knowing that God intends children to be members of His Church?
Because He directed expressly that they should be made members of His Church under the old covenant (Gen. 17:10–23); and says the new covenant is for children also (Acts 2:39).
What other reason?
The Apostles were commanded to go and baptize all nations, and children are as truly a part of the nation as older people.
What other reason?
The example of the Apostles, who baptized whole households and families (Acts 16:15, 33; 1 Cor. 1:16). It would not be true to speak of baptizing households unless the children were also included.
Is there any text in the Bible showing conclusively that children as well as adults are to be baptized?
Yes; our Saviour said to Nicodemus, “Except any one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Why do you say “any one” here, when in the Bible the language is “a man,”—“except a man be born of water and the Spirit”?
Because the word used by our Lord in the original Greek means “any one,” whether man, woman, or child.
Is there anything to guide us in this matter outside of the Bible?
Yes; in almost all the writings of the early Fathers, Infant Baptism is spoken of as one of the established customs of the Church.
Why do we look upon the writings of these early Fathers as authority on this subject?
Because some of them had been instructed by the Apostles themselves, and would certainly know what the Apostles believed and practised.
What does St. Clement say upon the subject of baptizing children?
He says, “Baptize your infants, and educate them in the knowledge and admonition of God.”
Who was St. Clement?
He was Bishop of the Church at Rome in the time of the Apostles, and is spoken of by St. Paul (Phil. 4:3).
What does Irenaeus say?
“Christ came to save all persons who by Him are born again” (i.e., baptized), “unto God, infants, and little ones, and children, and youths, and elder persons.”
Why would Irenaeus be likely to know about this?
He was a pupil of St. Polycarp, who says that he had conversed with St. John. Being so near to the Apostles he would know, of course, what they had taught.
What does Origen say?
He says, “The Church received an order from the Apostles to give Baptism even to infants.”
If it was the will of Christ that infants should be baptized, why do we not find some express command on the subject in the New Testament?
Because at the time the New Testament was written it was already the established custom of the Church, and therefore there was no need of any command.
Do you mean to say that the Church existed before the New Testament was written?
Certainly. The Apostles and their co-laborers established the Church in obedience to Christ’s instructions (St. Matt. 28:20; Acts 1:3); but the writing of the books of the New Testament was occasioned by circumstances which subsequently arose.
Why are the writings of the Fathers accepted as conclusive on certain matters which the New Testament leaves undeterminate?
Because the Christian world receives the books of the New Testament on the testimony of the early Fathers of the Church, who certify that these books had been transmitted to their times by the Churches which had originally received them; thus, in settling the question of the genuineness of the books of the New Testament, all Christendom regards this testimony as conclusive. The same Fathers who testify as to the matter of fact regarding the New Testament also testify as to the matter of fact regarding the Baptism of infants. If their testimony is accepted as authoritative and conclusive on so important a matter as the genuineness of the Bible, it must certainly be accepted as authoritative and conclusive in other matters pertaining to their time.
What great Council of the Church settled the matter of Infant Baptism beyond dispute?
The Council of Carthage, about 264 A.D.
What do we learn from the decisions of this Council?
That Infant Baptism was the universal custom in the Church from the days of the Apostles. If that is true, there can be no doubt that it is in accordance with the will of Christ.
Some Objections to Infant Baptism
What objections do people sometimes make to Infant Baptism?
They say that according to the words of Christ (St. Mark 16:16) belief is necessary to Baptism, and as infants cannot believe, they should not be baptized.
How do you answer this objection?
If this text teaches that infants cannot be baptized, it also teaches that they cannot be saved; for it says “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Another passage (2 Thess. 3:10) tells us that “if any one will not work, neither shall he eat.” It is evident, therefore, that these texts which speak of believing and working do not refer to infants, but to adults.
What other objection is sometimes urged?
That there is no command in the Bible to baptize children.
Is this a valid objection?
No; if the absence of a direct command is equivalent to prohibition, it would be wrong to keep the Lord’s Day holy, or to have family prayers, or to admit women to the Holy Communion, for there is no express command to do either of these things.
What other objection do people sometimes make to Infant Baptism?
They say that they cannot see what good it will do, for a little water poured on the child cannot cleanse the soul.
What reply can we make to this objection?
No one claims that the water does this. Water is but the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace given to us through this act of obedience. It was not the water that cleansed Naaman, and yet had he not washed in the water of Jordan, as the prophet commanded, he would not have been cleansed.
What other common objection do people make?
They say that Baptism can do no good, because many persons baptized in infancy grow up to be bad or ungodly people.
What reply can we make to this objection?
(1) If it is a duty which God’s Word enjoins upon us, our business is to obey, whether we can see the good of it or not. (2) Many persons born into this world misspend their lives, but that does not prove that the gift of natural life to mankind is useless. If we say it is wrong to baptize children because some of them become bad, we might as well say that it was wrong for God to create mankind because some of the human race become bad.
What other reason do people often give for not having their children baptized?
They say that they wish to leave their children free to choose for themselves when they grow up.
What reply do we make to this?
(1) If it is God’s will that children should be made members of His Church through Holy Baptism, parents ought to see that it is done. (2) If parents choose and act for their children in matters of worldly interest, much more are they bound to choose and act for them in spiritual matters until they come of age to act for themselves. (3) If Infant Baptism was an Apostolic custom, and was universally practised in the Church for the first fifteen hundred years, it seems incredible that any Christian could object to it now as contrary to God’s will.
Modes of Baptism
Did our Saviour ordain any particular method of applying the water in Baptism?
He did not.
What may we infer from this?
That the quantity of water used and the method of applying it are matters of indifference.
What different methods have been used?
Pouring, sprinkling, and immersing.
Why is “pouring” the method now generally practised in the Church, instead of other methods?
Because in our climate and other circumstances it is most convenient and it appears to be in harmony with the language of Scripture, and has been the general custom of the Church in all ages.
Why does the Church not insist upon immersion?
(1) Because the Bible nowhere teaches that it is necessary; (2) Because the application of water is a symbolical act, and therefore the quantity of water used is not important; (3) If immersion were insisted on as essential to Baptism, delicate children and invalids who could not be immersed would be excluded from the Sacrament.
What passage of Scripture is often quoted to prove that immersion is necessary?
The passage in Acts 7:38, which speaks of Philip and the eunuch both going down into the water.
Why does not this prove that the eunuch was immersed?
(1) Because one may walk down into a stream without going far enough to be immersed; and (2) Because the Greek word eis, here translated “into,” frequently means nothing more than “unto,” as in St. John 20:4.
What other passage is sometimes quoted to prove the immersion theory?
St. John 3:23, where it is said that John was baptizing in Ænon, because there was much water there.
Why does not this text apply?
Because it is wrongly translated. In the Greek it is not “much water,” but “many waters,” i.e., springs.
Does not the expression “buried with Christ in Baptism” (Rom. 6: 2), imply immersion, i.e., a literal burial in the water?
No; the expression is figurative, like that which speaks of our being “crucified with Christ.” It does not mean literal crucifixion, but a mortification of our lusts, which is also the meaning here.
Does our Lord anywhere rebuke this tendency to rely upon the quantity of water used? Yes; St. John 13:10.
What may we infer from this?
That the use of water in Baptism is symbolical, an outward and visible sign and pledge of what takes place within, and therefore a small quantity answers the purpose as effectively as whole rivers.
Do not the words “bapto” and “baptizo,” in the original Greek, mean “immersion”?
The word bapto means in two or three instances to dip or immerse, but when the Saviour speaks of Baptism He almost invariably uses the word baptizo, which means either to pour or dip.
What do we infer from this?
That in administering the sacrament of Baptism it is proper either to pour or dip.
How was our Lord baptized?
We do not know, but the earliest known picture, and all Christian art since the third century represents Him as standing in the River Jordan, and John the Baptist pouring water upon His head.
Is there any place in the New Testament where the act of Baptism is described as to its mode?
Yes; our Saviour promised His disciples that they should be “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” When that promise was fulfilled, we read that the Holy Ghost was “poured out upon them” (Acts 10:45).
What then do we infer from these foregoing facts?
That the Church is wise and tolerant in allowing different modes of applying the water in Holy Baptism. It is not the manner which she looks upon as most important, but the matter. So long as one is baptized with the water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as Christ commanded, she is willing that every one shall exercise his liberty as to the mode.
The Offices of Instruction
(Prayer Book, pages 283–295 and 571–576)
What is the purpose of these offices?
To teach the children and candidates for Baptism and Confirmation the essentials of Christian faith and living.
Is that their only purpose?
No, the rubrics contemplate the use of these offices with the whole congregation.
Is it not unnecessary to use such a service with those already confirmed?
No; it is very wise to remind ourselves from time to time of the simple outlines of our religion.
What is this type of instruction called?
What does the word “catechism” mean?
A form of instruction by question and answer.
How long has this method of instruction been practised?
In all ages, both among Jews and Christians.
What does Josephus tell us concerning the Jews?
That they were above all things careful that their children should be instructed in the principles of their religion.
By whom was this duty imposed?
By God Himself (Deut. 6:7).
When was this Catechism set forth in its present form?
The first part was set forth at the time of the English Reformation, 1549; the last part, on the Sacraments, a few years later; and in 1929, at the last revision of the Prayer Book, the questions and answers on the Ministry were added and the Catechism arranged in these two services of prayer and instruction.
Is this Catechism set forth by the Church as a full and complete system of Christian doctrine?
No; it is only a brief treatise on the rudiments or great fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, in which every Christian ought to be instructed.
What does it contain?
(1) A brief explication of the Baptismal Vow, and the duties which it involves. (2) A summary of the teaching contained in the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. (3) A brief explication of the two great Sacraments. (4) A brief statement of the Orders and functions of the Church’s Ministry.
What is the peculiar excellence of this Catechism?
For clearness, conciseness, and practical worth it excels all other Catechisms in the world. It is so brief that a child can learn it, and so comprehensive that it contains all that is necessary to be known in order to secure salvation.
What does the rubric at the end of this Catechism require the Minister to do?
To instruct the children of his parish publicly in the Catechism.
What is required of parents and those who have the care of children?
To bring them to the Church to be instructed.
What does the third rubric further direct?
That so soon as the children are come to competent age and are sufficiently instructed in the matter contained in these offices, they shall be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him.
(Prayer Book, pages 296–299)
To whom is Confirmation to be administered?
To such as have been baptized and have come to years of discretion. (See title at the beginning, of this office.)
Who only are to be admitted to Confirmation?
Only such as can answer the questions contained in the Catechism and are willing, to renew and ratify the promises made at their Baptism.
What is the meaning of the word “Confirm”?
To make strong.
Who are the two parties engaged in Confirmation?
God and the person confirmed.
What does the person confirmed ratify and strengthen?
His baptismal promises.
When does he do this?
When he answers the Bishop’s first question.
What is the purpose of the Bishop’s second question?
To remind the person confirmed that his relation to our Lord is individual and personal, as well as corporate and official.
What does God do?
He strengthens the faith and moral purpose of the person confirmed, giving him additional means and assurances of grace.
Who acts as God’s agent in Confirmation?
How does the Bishop administer Confirmation?
By praying that God will give to these baptized persons the grace of the Holy Spirit and by laying his hands on the head of each one.
Why may no one but a Bishop administer Confirmation?
Because it is a function belonging to the Apostolic office alone (Acts 8:12–18).
What mistake do people often make respecting the matter of Confirmation?
They look upon it as joining the Church.
Why is this view not correct?
Because we were made members of the Church when we were baptized; and as Baptism is our new birth into the Kingdom of Christ, it can never be repeated. In other words, a person once a member of the Church is always a member (unless excommunicated), and therefore can never “join” a second time.
Do persons in Confirmation assume any new responsibility or obligation which did not rest on them before?
No; they simply accept and ratify and confirm openly before the Church the obligation that rested on them before.
What common excuse do people often make for not coming to Confirmation?
The excuse that they “do not feel good enough.”
Is this a sufficient reason to excuse them?
No. It is rather a reason why they should be confirmed. The question is not how we feel, but do we desire the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us to live godly lives. If we are honest in our desire to do God’s will and to be better than we are, we should use the means which God here provides for making us better.
What great inducement to Confirmation does the Saviour hold out?
St. Matt. 10:32, 33.
Is Confirmation a recent ordinance of the Church?
No; it is a custom and ordinance which has come down to us from the days of the Apostles.
Where do you learn that the Apostles themselves administered Confirmation?
Acts 8:14–17 and 19:6.
How does the New Testament speak of it in Heb. 6:2?
As one of the first principles or rudiments of Christian doctrine, and therefore cannot be regarded as anything else than a matter of grave importance.
What does the rubric say at the end of the Confirmation office?
That none shall be admitted to Holy Communion till he has been confirmed or is ready and willing to be confirmed.
How then may we regard Confirmation?
As the door admitting us to the Lord’s Supper, which is the highest privilege and duty of every Christian believer.
(Prayer Book, pages 300–304)
Read the rubric at the beginning of this service.
Why should marriages always be performed 1:3) a Clergyman of the Church, rather than by a Civil Magistrate, or by a Roman Catholic Priest? [Note 9 at end.]
Because marriage is a divine institution, and should therefore be solemnized by suitable religious rites.
Where does the rubric direct that marriages shall take place?
Either in the church or at some proper house.
Why is the church to be preferred?
Because it is God’s house, and vows plighted there before His altar have a sacredness that no other place could give. The service conducted there leaves a deeper impression on the mind.
Why does the man stand at the right hand of the woman?
This is the place of honor, and is proper, because the family as a social unit must have some head, and the Church recognizes the man as this head (cf. Eph. 5:23).
In what capacity does the officiating Priest here act?
As God’s agent or representative, and therefore the promises made by the contracting parties are made to God, and not to man.
Why does the Minister question the contracting parties?
In order that they may declare their intention of contracting a true Christian marriage.
What does “Forsaking all others,” etc., prohibit?
Adultery, polygamy, and divorce.
Why does the rubric direct that the Minister shall receive the woman from the hand of her father or friend?
Because the Minister is acting as God’s agent or representative, and when the man takes his bride he receives her as from the hand of God.
What is the meaning of the phrase “for better for worse”?
It indicates that the man and woman recognize marriage as a solemn contract, not to be abandoned merely because it may be found not to work out to his or her personal pleasure or advantage.
What does “troth” mean?
It is an old word meaning truth.
What does the ring signify?
It is the visible pledge and token of the covenant. It is the most precious of metals and therefore suggests the care with which the promises should be kept. It is a circle, which is an emblem of eternity, and signifies how enduring the affection should be. It is placed upon the fourth finger of the left hand because that finger is least used, and hence in a marriage is sanctified or separate from common use.
Why is there a prayer of blessing for the ring?
Because it is to be used as the sign of a sacred relation.
Why is the “name” of the Trinity used in the placing of the ring?
It is calling each person of the Godhead to witness the pledge which is given, and hence no language could make the contract stronger or more solemn.
Whose words does the minister use when he joins the hands of the contracting parties?
The words of Christ Himself (St. Matt. 19:6).
Who established the holy estate of Matrimony?
God, the Creator. (Gen. 1:28 and 2:18–24)
How did Christ give His sanction to the institution of Matrimony?
By teaching regarding it (St. Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:2–12. St. Mark 10:2–12), and by being present as a guest at the Marriage in Cana of Galilee (St. John 2:1).
Why should the parents, or some friends of the contracting parties, be present at the marriage?
To prevent clandestine and unlawful and unwise marriages.
What are the impediments in the way of lawful (canonical) marriage?
Certain degrees of affinity and consanguinity, mistaken identity, insanity, immature age, impotence, undisclosed sexual perversion, bigamy, concurrent contract (freedom to divorce, agreement against having children), fraud, coercion or duress, and such defects of personality as to make free consent impossible. (Canon 17, Sec. 2, Clause b.)
What is the Church’s teaching in reference to divorce?
That a person who has a divorced husband or wife living and marries another breaks the seventh commandment.
On what Scripture is this teaching based?
The words of our Lord in St. Matt. 5:31, 32, and 19:2–9; St. Mark 10:2–12; St. Luke 16:18.
What law of the Church deals with this subject and what does it forbid?
Canon 17, Sec. 5 forbids the clergy to officiate at the marriage of any persons who do not comply with all the conditions laid down in this Canon. No legally divorced person who has a husband or wife living may be married by a Minister of the Episcopal Church, unless he or she has procured a decree of ecclesiastical annulment, predicated on the existence of one or more of the impediments. Even then any Minister of the Episcopal Church has the right to decline to solemnize any marriage.
If persons marry contrary to God’s Word what penalty is imposed, and why?
They are refused the sacraments of the Church; i.e., are excommunicated, because they are living in willful violation of God’s law. [Note 11 at end.]
Why does the Church hold marriage to be indissoluble?
Because of our Lord’s teaching in St. Matt. 19:4–6, and other places.
Visitation of the Sick
(Prayer Book, pages 308–323)
What does the first rubric in this office say?
That this service is left to the discretion of the Minister as to its use in whole or in part.
What does the second rubric direct?
That notice shall be given to the Minister of the parish when any are sick.
Why are the sick to send for the Minister?
Because the Minister may not know of the sickness, nor at what time his visit would be seasonable.
What other reason?
Because it is a divine command (St. James 5:14, 15).
May not anyone who is not a Minister visit the sick and pray for them?
Certainly, it is a part of our Christian duty (St. Matt. 25:34–36). But the Minister who is God’s priest is especially commissioned to pray for the sick (St. James 5:14), to administer the sacraments and pronounce absolution, which a layman is not empowered to do.
What is the purpose of the Minister in visiting the sick?
Not merely to pray and read comforting passages of Scripture, but to examine the state of the sick one’s soul, to show him his sins, to aid him to repentance, and so prepare him for the Holy Communion and peace with God.
Why is the Lord’s Prayer directed to be used in this office?
(1) Because it is the prayer which Christ Himself has taught us to use.
(2) Because no other prayer expresses what we ought to feel, when in affliction, so fully and concisely as this. It is a prayer for both deliverance and resignation. By using these words sincerely and thoughtfully we place ourselves entirely in the hands of God.
What may we understand by the expression ‘Wally bread” in this prayer?
Not only food sufficient for bodily wants, but spiritual grace and nourishment for the soul, to enable us each day to bear up under our trials. It may also mean the Bread of Life in the Holy Communion (see St. John 6:51 and 54).
Of what does this service chiefly consist?
Of Psalms, Antiphons, and Collects.
What are Antiphons?
Short verses used before and after a Psalm to crystallize its meaning as used on any particular occasion.
Why are Collects used?
Because a sick person can hardly be expected to make the sustained effort necessary to attend to longer forms of prayer.
May this service be used by others than Clergymen?
Yes; omitting all absolutions and benedictions. These prayers may be used by any persons who attend on the sick or the dying.
Unction of the Sick
(Prayer Book, page 320)
What is the purpose of this service?
It is a solemn application by the Church to the sick, of the healing power of God.
What Scripture authority is there for this?
St. James 5:13–16; St. Mark 6:13.
Is Unction the only healing ministry of the Church?
No; the Prayer Book provides in the same service for the Laying on of Hands for this purpose.
Who should anoint the sick?
The Prayer Book does not specify clearly, but it is usually administered by a priest, using oil blessed by a bishop.
Who should lay hands on the sick?
The Prayer Book is not specific, but traditionally this may be done by any Christian man or woman.
Communion of the Sick
(Prayer Book, pages 321–323)
Why is this service appointed?
Because in time of sickness and peril we especially need the grace and comfort of Christ, which is given to us in the Blessed Sacrament.
Why is it specially fitting and important that those sick or in imminent peril of death should receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
(1) Because when sick and suffering we especially need this means of grace to make us patient and resigned.
(2) The peace of mind which comes to us through this act of devotion is often a help to bodily recovery.
(3) If we are about to die and to go into the Saviour’s presence, our last act on earth should be one of loving obedience to His word who said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
What other reason?
The Blessed Sacrament is the pledge of Christ’s favor and goodness towards us, and therefore should arm us against the fear of death.
What other reason?
Because this is God’s seal of forgiveness to all who receive it with true penitence and faith, and having received the pledge of forgiveness and this assurance of God’s favor and goodness, the sick may feel prepared to go into the Divine presence without fear or misgiving.
What does the rubric at the beginning of this office require Ministers to do?
To exhort their parishioners to the often receiving of the Blessed Sacrament when it is publicly administered in the church.
Why is there a special service for the sick?
Because their condition naturally requires a service shorter than that provided for the congregation in church.
May this service be used for other than sick persons?
Yes; for persons who by age or permanent disablement are unable to leave their houses,
Burial of the Dead
(Prayer Book, pages 324–337)
What does the rubric direct as to the use of this service?
That it is appropriate to be used only for the faithful departed in Christ.
What is that usually understood to mean?
That it is not to be used for suicides, or for those who die excommunicate, or for unbaptized adults.
What does the Prayer Book direct to be done for such persons?
That the Minister is to compose a special service to fit the case, using prayers, etc., taken from the Prayer Book.
Why is this rule laid down?
(1) Because persons unbaptized and those excommunicate are not members of the Church, and for them this service would not be proper, as it is suitable only for members of the Church.
(2) Those who take their own lives, if sane at the time, break the Sixth Commandment and go unbidden into God’s presence; for those who have the hardihood to do this the language in this service would be inappropriate.
Is there any direct command in the Bible requiring the dead to be buried rather than cremated?
No; but burial has been the custom observed by God’s people, both under the Old and New Testament dispensations.
Why does the Church follow the custom of burial rather than cremation?
(1) Because God Himself has set us the example in the burial of our Lord (St. Matt. 27:59–60).
(2) Our bodies while living are temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:19), and reverence forbids us to do them violence even after the spirit has departed.
Does cremation affect in any way the doctrine of the resurrection?
Not in the least. If God has determined to raise the dead, He will do so, no matter how the body has been destroyed. It is no more difficult for Him to raise a body that has been cremated than one that has been destroyed in some other way.
The Burial of a Child
(Prayer Book, pages 338–342)
For whom is this service to be used?
For children dying before they have outgrown their baptismal innocence.
What age is that?
The Prayer Book does not state, but traditionally it ends at seven years.
Why is a special service provided for burying children?
Because the penitential tone of the burial service for adults is inappropriate to those who have not committed deliberate or conscious sin.
Preface to the Ordinal
(Prayer Book, page 529)
What is declared in the first sentence of the preface which precedes the form for the Ordination of Deacons?
“It is evident to all men diligently reading Holy Scriptures and ancient authors that from the Apostles’ time there have been these three orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church – Bishops, Priests and Deacons.”
Who are meant here by ancient authors?
The Fathers of the Church, who lived immediately after the Apostles, and other Ecclesiastical writers following them.
Why are ancient authors referred to, and why is it not sufficient to study the Holy Scriptures alone to ascertain the customs and ordinances observed by the Apostles?
Because many things merely alluded to or mentioned incidentally by the writers of the New Testament are made clear and certain in the writings of the early Fathers who lived immediately after the Apostles, and who knew what customs had always prevailed.
Why is their testimony accepted as conclusive respecting the three orders of the ministry?
Because it is only on their testimony and the constant witness of the Church that we know that the books of the New Testament are genuine; and if we accept their testimony on so important a matter as the genuineness and authenticity of the Scripture, we are certainly bound to accept their testimony respecting the matters of fact relating to the ministry.
What then is the matter of fact as to the constitution of the ministry?
That from the time of the Apostles there have been these three orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.
Are these orders mentioned in the New Testament?
Yes, repeatedly; though sometimes called by other names.
What names are given to these different classes of Ministers in the New Testament?
(1) Apostles; (2) Presbyters or Elders, and Bishops; (3) Deacons.
If the Presbyters and Bishops were the same and held the same office in the New Testament times, why are they not the same today?
The group of Elders or Presbyters would naturally have an executive head. Very early the term Bishop began to be confined to this “president” and the full functions of the Ministry came to be confined to him, the other Presbyters exercising only part of these functions. In the New Testament times the highest office was held by the Apostles themselves. They ordained Elders and exercised authority over the Churches. But when the Apostles were dead, their permanently necessary functions naturally devolved upon the Bishops, thus still further marking the difference between Presbyters and Bishops, so that the Presbyters became a separate order; and the Bishops taking the place of the Apostles, the name Apostle was left to distinguish the original Twelve, and the name Presbyter, to the second order.
How is it that the Apostles sometimes called themselves Elders instead of Apostles, e.g., 1 Peter 6, and 2 John 1?
The greater of course includes the less. Every Bishop is also a Presbyter, though not all Presbyters are Bishops.
What mistake do people often make respecting the origin of the Church and Ministry?
They assume that the New Testament was first written, and that the Church was afterwards organized, and ministers set apart according to instructions there laid down.
What are the facts?
Our Lord established His Church by the call and authority given to His Apostles. After His Ascension into heaven, and after they had received the gift of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost, they began the work He had given them to do. They went everywhere, preaching the Gospel, and making disciples, and ordaining Ministers. While carrying on this work they and their co-laborers wrote the various books of the New Testament, as need required, and as they were moved to do by the Holy Ghost.
Which then is the older, the Bible or the Church?
The Church, of course; and hence the Church has always been looked upon as the witness to Holy Scripture, and as its keeper and the interpreter of its meaning, because it was written by the founders of the Church, and for the Church.
What else do we learn about the Ministry by reading Holy Scriptures and ancient authors?
That it has always been considered unlawful for any one to presume to execute the offices of Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon without first having been duly called and ordained thereto by those holding the Apostolic office.
What is the meaning of Ordination to the Sacred Ministry?
It means the conferring of authority to do what could not be properly done without it. This authority can only be conferred by those possessing it; and if they possess it, they must have derived it by ordination from those who preceded them in the office; and so on through the past till you come to Christ and His Apostles. Hence, it follows that there can be no other ordination to the office of Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, except by regular and unbroken succession from the Apostles.
(Prayer Book, pages 529–535)
Which is the lowest order or grade in the Ministry?
That of Deacons.
By whom and for what were the first Deacons ordained?
See Acts 6:1–6.
Do any other religious bodies have Deacons?
Yes; the Presbyterian and others.
What is the difference between a Deacon in our Church and those in other Religious bodies?
In the Episcopal and other branches of the historic Church (Roman, Greek, and Anglican), the Deacons belong to the consecrated Ministry; in other religious bodies they are merely laymen.
How do we know that the Deacons ordained by the Apostles were not laymen?
Because they preached and baptized. Acts 8:5, 13, 38, 40.
What are the duties pertaining to the office of a Deacon?
To assist the Priest in divine service, especially in distributing the elements at Holy Communion; to read the Holy Scriptures in the church; to instruct the youth in the Catechism; to baptize infants in the absence of the Priest; to preach (if he is licensed to do so by the Bishop), and to search for the sick and the poor and report them to the Priest.
What is a Deacon not permitted to do by the canons of the Church?
(1) He cannot preach unless licensed by the Bishop. (2) He cannot celebrate the Holy Communion. (3) He cannot pronounce the Absolution nor the Benediction. (4) He cannot be Rector of a Parish unless he has passed his examination for the Priesthood.
What is the essential part in ordination?
The laying on of the Bishop’s hands, with prayer. See Acts 6:6; 13:3.
Why are the words, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” used?
To indicate that the consecrator is acting by the authority and as the agent of the Blessed Trinity.
Are women ever ordained to the Ministry?
The Ministry, as the earthly representative of Christ, is naturally confined to men. (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12).
Does this mean that the Church does not in any way recognize the ministry of women?
No; this refers only to the liturgical or consecrated Ministry.
What ministries are there for women?
They have many possible ministries, as Deaconesses, Sisters, Teachers, Nurses, Parish Secretaries, and Social Service workers, and in numerous organizations within the Church.
Is there any authority in the Bible for allowing women such ministries?
Yes; Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:1, Phil. 4:2.
The rubric at the beginning of this office directs that Persons presented to the Bishop for ordination shall be “decently habited”; what does the expression “decently habited” here mean?
It is an expression taken from an old English canon, requiring the clergy to wear a distinctive, grave, and decent habit. Here it no doubt means that they shall have on the official vestments or robes peculiar to the clerical office.
Why do the Clergy of our Church wear a distinctive official dress or robes in performing divine service?
(1) To show that he who wears them is acting, not personally, but as an officer. (2) For the sake of dignity and uniformity. (3) “For glory and for beauty” (Ex. 28:2).
What is the origin of this custom?
It is lost in antiquity, but we know that in all nations of the world it has been the custom for their priests, who ministered in sacred things, to wear a distinctive dress.
Front what source did the Christian Church derive this custom?
From the Jewish Church and customs of the Temple, which were ordained of God, and which our Blessed Lord sanctioned by His presence.
Is there any authority for this custom in the Bible?
Yes; Ex. 28:2, 40.
What objection has been frequently raised against this custom in recent times?
That it is a popish custom and a mark of superstition.
What answer may we make to this objection.?
If it is a custom sanctioned by the Bible and by the universal practice of mankind, it is hardly becoming in us to denounce it as popery and superstition.
What then may be said in favor of this custom?
It is one of the marks by which the Church of God today is identified with the Church of the early centuries.
It not only has the sanction of the highest divine authority, but is in harmony with the feelings and customs of the wisest and best of mankind.
Ordering of Priests
(Prayer Book, pages 536–548)
What is the second grade in the Ministry?
That of the Priesthood.
What other word is equivalent to the word Priest?
Presbyter or Elder.
What other name or title is sometimes given to the Priest?
Rector, Minister, or Pastor.
What do these names signify?
Not an order of the Ministry, but simply an office: e.g., “Rector” comes from the Latin word rego, “to rule,” and means that he is the ruler of the parish. “Pastor” means a shepherd, one who feeds and cares for a flock. “Minister,” means one who ministers; he may be either a Bishop, or Priest, or Deacon.
What are the duties of a Priest?
To minister the Sacraments, to bless in God’s name, pronounce Absolution, preach the Gospel, and govern his parish, and shepherd that portion of Christ’s flock committed to his care, and to drive away false doctrine.
What is he not permitted to do?
He is not permitted to ordain, nor to administer Confirmation, nor to officiate as pastor in any diocese without consent of the Bishop.
When the Bishop lays on his hands in ordination to the Priesthood, what does he say?
“Receive the Holy Ghost for the work of a Priest in the Church of God. ... Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven: And whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained.”
Is it not presumption for the Bishop to use these words?
No; he is merely conferring an office and fulfilling the commission which Christ gave to His first Apostles, and through them to their successors to the end of the world. St. John 20:22.
What authority has the Bishop for using these words?
The authority of Christ Himself. St. John 20:21.
Do we understand that absolute power is here conferred to forgive sins?
No; but only in so far as the Minister acts in conformity with God’s will.
What then do these words mean?
They mean just what Christ meant when He said them to His first Apostles.
Do we understand that the first Apostles had power given them absolutely to retain and forgive sins, irrespective of the moral conditions in the case?
No; they could not retain the sins of penitent persons, nor forgive the impenitent. So today, when the Absolution is pronounced, it is efficacious only when the Scripture conditions have been complied with; i.e., it must be pronounced by one who has official authority, and the person receiving it must be truly penitent.
In what other sense may this conferring of the power of Absolution be understood?
As referring to the duty of inflicting or removing ecclesiastical censure, by which persons are admitted to or excluded from the privileges of the Lord’s Supper.
Consecration of Bishops
(Prayer Book, pages 549–559)
What is the highest order of the Ministry?
That of Bishops.
What office do the Bishops hold in the Church?
The same as that held by the Apostles.
Why are they not called Apostles?
Because the name Apostle has been left by common consent, and as a mark of reverence, to distinguish those mentioned in the New Testament.
What are the distinctive powers inherent in the office of a Bishop?
He alone has power to administer Confirmation, and to rule the Church, and to perpetuate the Ministry, by ordaining others.
What are the duties of a Bishop?
The Bishop of every diocese is its chief pastor, under the Good Shepherd himself. The diocese is his parish, and the clergy act under his authority and oversight. He is overseer and pastor of both clergy and laity.
How many Bishops must unite in the consecration of a Bishop?
Three, at least.
How long since this rule was enacted?
Ever since the Council of Nice, A.D. 325.
Was it not the rule and custom of the Church before that time?
It was, but it was then made a law universally binding.
Why was this law enacted?
To secure greater publicity and solemnity, and to prevent the possibility of failure respecting the validity of the Ministry.
How has this office been handed down?
By the laying on of the Bishop’s hands, with prayer, in ordination to the Episcopate.
The Apostolic Succession
What is this handing down of the Apostolic office called?
The Apostolic Succession.
Why is this continuance of the Apostolic Order and Ministry considered of such great importance?
(1) Because a true and valid Ministry is necessary to the existence of a true and valid Church. (2) Because it connects us directly with Christ, the Great Head of the Church, and shows that our Church today is identical with that which was founded by Christ and His Apostles.
How do we know that this succession or continuity in the chain of the Ministry has not been broken?
(1) Because for the first 1500 years after Christ we find no branch of the historic Church, orthodox, heretical, or schismatical, in any part of the world, without Bishops who had been ordained by other Bishops.
What precaution was taken, in early times, as a safeguard to the validity of the Ministry?
At the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, a law was enacted requiring that no Bishop should be consecrated without the concurrence of three other Bishops; so that if, by any chance, one of the consecrators was not competent to act, the valid succession would yet be secured through either or both of the other two.
How has this rule affected the matter of a valid and true Apostolic Succession?
It has placed it beyond all doubt. If three persons united in an ordination, and one, or even two of them were incompetent to act, the ordination would yet be valid through the third.
How does this make sure the Apostolical Succession?
It makes the supposition of its failure incredible, because the longer it continues the stronger become the chances against its failure.
How can you illustrate this to make it plain?
If three Bishops unite in every ordination, the Apostolic Succession becomes a network of interlacing cords, that cross and recross, and unite at many points. If you break one link in a chain the continuity is destroyed, but if you break one cord, or even many cords, in a mesh or net, there is still a continuity that remains unbroken between the top and bottom of the mesh. The wider the network becomes, and the more numerous the strands, the more difficult it becomes to break it.
What then do we infer?
That the unbroken continuity in office between our Bishops and the Apostles is a moral certainty.
The Litany for Ordinations
(Prayer Book, pages 560–562)
Why is a special Litany provided for Ordinations?
To give the people a larger share in the service by which their Clergy are ordained.
Must this be used at all Ordinations?
A Litany must be used; but the Bishop may direct the use of the general Litany with a special suffrage for the candidates instead of this special Litany.
Consecration of Churches
(Prayer Book, pages 563–568)
What is meant by “Consecration”?
Dedicating to God, or setting apart to holy uses, by a solemn religious service.
Who is empowered to consecrate a church or chapel?
The power lies in the Bishop alone, as Chief Minister and Overseer of the Church.
What instances are mentioned in the Bible of the consecration of a church?
1 Kings 8; Ex. 40:9–16.
Why are churches consecrated?
So as to guard them from common and secular uses. The church is erected for God, and things set apart for God’s service should not be used except for religious purposes.
What is sacrilege?
The taking of things which have been set apart for religious purposes, and treating them as if they were common things.
Is there any instance of this in the Bible?
See Dan. 5:23.
Why is it wrong to use churches for purposes of secular amusement?
Because it is taking things consecrated to God for holy uses, and using them for our own pleasure.
What principle should govern us in the erection of churches?
They should be made as costly and beautiful as our means will allow. They are not built for the pleasure of man, but for the glory of God.
With what feelings should we enter consecrated buildings?
With feelings of reverence and awe, as Moses stood at the burning bush, knowing that we stand on holy ground, and in the place where God has promised to record His name.
Church Seasons and Holy Days
Into what seasons is the Christian Year divided, and why?
It is divided into eight seasons, called Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Whitsuntide, and Trinity. It is so divided in order to bring before our minds the great events in the Saviour’s life, or the great doctrines of Holy Scripture which every Christian ought to believe and practise.
What result usually follows where people neglect to observe the seasons and holy days appointed by the Church?
The result is that many of the most important truths revealed to us in Holy Scripture are lost sight of and forgotten; and then people either become indifferent or are easily led away into error.
Is the observance of the Church’s seasons and holy days a custom which has sprung up in recent times?
No; it is a custom which has been observed from the earliest ages of Christianity.
What does this show?
It shows (1) that the Church of today is substantially identical with that of the first centuries, and is one in spirit with it; (2) that this custom meets the needs of human nature always and everywhere.
What would we naturally expect of a church or system that had received its origin from God?
That it would continue, essentially unchanged, notwithstanding the changing customs and fashions of merely human institutions.
(Prayer Book, pages 90–96)
What two great truths does the Church hold up before us during the Advent season?
The first and second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When and how did our Lord first come?
He came over nineteen hundred years ago, taking upon Him our nature and living for thirty years as a man upon the earth.
What is there remarkable about the first advent or coming of our Lord?
It was not only foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before it came to pass, but the time and place and manner of His coming, His character, and His death were all accurately foretold (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 53:3–9. Dan. 9:24–27. Zech. 12:10; Mal. 3:1; 4:2; Micah 5:1, 2; Ps. 22:7, 8, 17, 18; 69:21).
Are we to believe that these Prophets literally understood themselves to be foretelling the life and death of the Christ?
No; their messages had a literal reference to their own day, but like the prophecy of Caiaphas (John 11:47–53), later meditation and study shows them to be mystically applicable to our Lord.
What was the purpose of Christ’s first coming?
To redeem mankind from the power of sin and death and to teach us God’s will.
What will be the purpose of His second corning?
To judge the world and to distribute the rewards of eternal life to such as shall be found worthy.
What will be the time and manner of the Lord’s second coming?
He will come in glorious majesty, attended by angelic host, but the time of His coming is known only to God (St. Matt. 24:30–36).
When does the season of Advent begin, and why has it been set apart?
It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and has been set apart for two purposes: (1) that we may prepare ourselves by proper instruction and devotion to worthily celebrate the Lord’s nativity; (2) that by repentance and prayerful contemplation of the last great day we may be prepared to meet Him when He comes to judge the world.
How ought Christian people to observe the Advent season?
By attending devoutly to all religious duties, and by such a careful preparation of the heart and mind as we would wish to make if we knew that the Lord were coming at once to judgment.
(Prayer Book, pages 96–105)
What great event in the world’s history does the Church celebrate at Christmas?
The advent of the world’s Redeemer in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How long has this festival been observed?
Since the first ages of Christianity.
What facts can you mention to prove this statement?
We know that it was observed as early as the third century because the Emperor, Diocletian, caused the doors of a church to be barricaded and the congregation of Christians who were celebrating the nativity there to be burned. Besides this, the earliest Christian writers tell us that the festival was celebrated from the beginning of Christianity.
When does Christmas occur and how long does the season last?
The festival occurs on December 25th, and the season lasts till the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th.
How should the Christmas season be observed?
With feelings of gladness and gratitude to God for sending His Son to be the Saviour of mankind.
Why do we deck our churches with evergreens for the Christmas festival?
(1) Because evergreens have always been used as emblems of youth and rejoicing; and (2) because they symbolize the undying character of the Christian’s love and gratitude to God for His inestimable gift of a Saviour.
What reason is there for the custom of making gifts to each other, and especially to the Church, at Christmas time?
It is inspired by the gift of Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of mankind, God’s Christmas gift to all men. It is the natural impulse of the human heart, for the heart that is filled with joy and gratitude seeks to express its feelings in the bestowal of costly gifts.
Feast of the Circumcision
(Prayer Book, page 105)
What incident does the Church commemorate by the Feast of the Circumcision?
The circumcision of Christ, this being the rite by which Hebrew children were admitted into the Church and Covenant of God.
When and by whom was this rite ordained?
It was an ancient and widespread Semitic custom, but the Old Testament gives it this new meaning. See Gen. 17:1–14.
What does the circumcision of the infant Saviour teach us?
(1) That as He who came to be our example was obedient to all the divinely appointed ordinances of religion, so we must also be. (2) The bringing of the infant Saviour into membership in God’s Church is an example to all Christian parents.
How long has it been the custom to admit children into membership in the Church?
Ever since the days of Abraham.
What sacrament did Christ institute to take the place of circumcision?
The sacrament of Holy Baptism.
What name was given to Christ at His circumcision?
The name “Jesus,” which declared Him to be the Saviour of the world.
(Prayer Book, pages 107–118)
What is the meaning of Epiphany, and what does the Church commemorate by this festival?
Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth,” and the festival commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
Who are meant by the “Gentiles”?
All who are not Jews and who do not accept the religion and law of Moses.
To what Gentiles was Christ first manifested?
To certain “wise men from the East” called “Magi,” who came to Bethlehem to see Him (St. Matt. 2:1–11).
What did the Epiphany or the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles indicate?
That the Gentiles as well as the Jews were to enjoy the privileges of the Gospel and to share the salvation which God was about to bestow upon mankind through Him.
What prophetical significance was there in the gifts which the “wise men” presented to the infant Saviour? (St. Matt. 2:11.)
Gold was in recognition of His royalty, as especially appropriate to a King; frankincense was in recognition of His divinity, incense being always emblematical of worship and adoration; myrrh, used for embalming the dead, was prophetical of His death; in other words, they brought gold because He was a King, incense because He was God, and myrrh because He was to die for mankind.
The Epiphany was anciently called the Epiphanies and commemorated also the Finding of the Boy Christ in the Temple, the Baptism, and First Miracle. These are still connected with it by the Gospels read on the Sundays which follow.
How long does the Epiphany season last?
It begins on Epiphany Day, January 6th, twelve days after Christmas, and extends to Septuagesima Sunday, which is the third Sunday before Lent.
(Prayer Book, pages 118–124)
What is the Pre-Lenten Season and what is its design?
It is a period of about three weeks between the last Sunday after Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. The design of this season is to direct our thoughts away from the feasting and joy of the Christmas time to the solemn subject of the Lenten Fast. The Sundays in this season are called respectively Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, because, counting back in round numbers from the first Sunday in Lent, they are approximately the fiftieth, sixtieth, and seventieth days before Easter.
Presentation of Christ
Or Purification of St. Mary the Virgin
(Prayer Book, page 231)
What incident in the Saviour’s life does the Church commemorate on the Feast of the Purification?
The bringing of Christ to the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord in obedience to the law of the Jewish Church (Ex. 22:29; Num. 18:15; Lev. 12:16).
When does this festival occur?
The second day of February, forty days after Christmas.
Why did our Saviour submit to these outward laws and ordinances of religion?
That he might be in all things an example of perfect godliness.
What do we learn from this act of Mary bringing her Son to the Temple?
(1) That parents should follow her example and dedicate their children to God in Holy Baptism; (2) that all should pay strict and willing obedience to the ordinances of God’s Church.
(Prayer Book, page 235)
What does the Church commemorate by the Feast of the Annunciation?
The fact of our Lord’s miraculous conception.
By whom and to whom was this fact foretold?
It was announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary by an angel. (St. Luke 1:26–35.)
What is the fulfillment of this promise called?
What, then, is meant by the “Incarnation”?
It comes from two Latin words meaning in the flesh, and signifies the act of Almighty power by which the divine and human natures became united in the offspring of the Virgin.
Who was the Virgin Mary?
She was a maiden belonging to the house and lineage of David, and was a descendant of Abraham, to whom the promise had been given nearly two thousand years before, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. (Gen. 22:18.)
In whom was this promise to Abraham fulfilled?
In our Lord Jesus Christ, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.
Why do we speak of Mary as the “blessed” Virgin?
Because God’s angel called her blessed, and because it is an act of reverence due to her who was so “highly favored” of God.
When does the Feast of the Annunciation occur, and what does it teach?
It occurs on March 25th, nine months before Christmas, and teaches us (1) to admire and emulate the modesty, humility, and faith with which Mary received the angel’s message; and (2) that as the Son of God for our sake became united to our nature, so it should be our supreme care to be spiritually united to Him and thus become partakers of His salvation.
(Prayer Book, pages 124–162)
What is the Lenten season, and why is it set apart?
It is a period of six weeks preceding the anniversary of the Saviour’s death, and is set apart as a special season of fasting, penitence, and prayer.
Why is it called Lent?
Because it always comes in the spring of the year, and the old Saxon word Lent means spring.
With what remarkable event in the Saviour’s life does the Lenten season correspond?
The forty days which He spent fasting in the wilderness.
Why is the first day of Lent called Ash Wednesday?
It is called so from the custom which prevailed in the early Church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents the first day of Lent, in token of humiliation and sorrow for sin.
Are there any examples of this custom mentioned in the Bible?
Yes; the example of Daniel and of David and the people of Nineveh, to which our Lord Himself refers (St. Matt. 11:21).
If Lent is only of forty days’ duration, why does it begin forty-six days before Easter?
Because there are six Sundays in Lent, and as all Sundays are feast days, kept in honor of the Resurrection, they are taken out; and to make up for these, six days are added at the beginning of the season.
How should the Lenten season be observed by Christian people?
As a special season for drawing near to God by extraordinary acts of penitence, charity, and religious devotion; by fasting, and abstinence from public places of amusement, and from all things that tend to draw away the heart from God.
What is the object of keeping Lent?
To deepen the religious life, to purify the heart from sin, and to unite us more closely to the Saviour.
Why does the Church require us to observe the Lenten Fast?
(1) Because repentance and humiliation are essential to growth in grace; and (2) because these duties are apt to be neglected and forgotten unless some special time is set apart for their observance.
What objection do people sometimes urge against the observance of the Lenten Fast?
They say that it is a useless and superstitious custom, and that Christ nowhere commanded His disciples to fast.
What answer do we make to this objection?
(1) Fasting was a common practice not only among God’s chosen people and His prophets under the Old Testament dispensation, but even heathen people practised it (e.g., Ex. 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; 2 Sam. 12:16; Joel 1:14; Jonah 3:5; Ps. 35:13).
(2) Our Lord fasted and so did His disciples; (St. Matt. 4:2. Acts 13:2–3; 10:30). And although Christ did not command His followers to fast He assumed that they would do so and gave them directions how to do (St. Matt. 6:17). No one can say therefore that the custom is either useless or superstitious, for it has the highest of divine authority.
(3) A few persons who accept the principle of Lent complain that the season is so long that people weary of its observance and relax its discipline. But it is intentionally made long, so that it must be kept by ordered rule and rational self-control, instead by impulsive actions and emotional devotions.
What is the effect of a Lenten season rightly kept?
It purifies the heart from greed and lust, breaks the force of evil habit, brings us near to Christ, and creates a closer bond of union between our souls and heaven.
How long has the custom of keeping Lent been observed by the Church?
We know that it was observed in the first century after Christ, and probably from the very days of the Apostles, though the season was not always forty days in length.
(Prayer Book, pages 132–162)
Why are the last two weeks of Lent set apart as a special season?
Because the emphasis of our preparation for Easter shifts from a commemoration of the forty days’ fasting to a memorial of the Lord’s suffering and death.
What are the principal days of Passiontide?
Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter-Even. As these days all come in the second week, that period is usually known as the Holy Week.
(Prayer Book, page 134)
What does the Church commemorate on Palm Sunday?
The Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.
(Prayer Book, page 152)
What does the name Maundy Thursday signify?
“Maundy” is a corruption of the Latin word mandati, meaning “of the commandment” and refers to the command “Do this in remembrance of Me,” by which our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and also to His word spoken at the Last Supper: “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.”
This day is a commemoration of the event and of the teaching of the Last Supper.
(Prayer Book, page 156)
What great event does the Church commemorate on Good Friday?
The crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is it called Good Friday?
Because of the great good which God accomplished for mankind by giving His only begotten Son to die on that day for our sins, and because of the Saviour’s goodness in giving Himself a ransom for our souls.
How do we know that Christ was crucified on this day?
We know it because the crucifixion occurred on the Friday in the week of the Jewish Passover, which is an anniversary at the Paschal full moon, and is kept by the Jews to this very day.
What feelings ought the death and passion of our Lord to awaken in us?
The liveliest emotions of love and gratitude to Christ, and the deepest sorrow for our sins.
How ought Good Friday always to be observed?
As a day of fasting and abstinence from all worldly occupation, to be spent in undisturbed devotion,
(Prayer Book, page 161)
What does the Church commemorate on this day?
The resting of the Lord’s body in the Tomb.
(Prayer Book, pages 162–177)
What memorable event does the Church commemorate on Easter Day?
The Saviour’s resurrection from the dead.
What is the meaning of the word Easter?
It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Eostre, which designated the month of April, in which this feast most commonly occurs.
What great facts are made certain by the Saviour’s resurrection?
(1) The fact of the Lord’s divinity; for while others were raised from the dead, Christ arose by His own inherent power. (2) The immortality of the soul, which before the Saviour’s resurrection was only a matter of speculation. (3) The truth of all that Christ claimed in regard to Himself, for His resurrection from the dead placed the seal of God’s approval on all that He ever said or did.
How should Easter Day be celebrated?
It is the queen of Christian festivals, to be observed always as a day of holy rejoicing, and solemnized in church by the celebration of the Eucharistic feast.
When does Easter Day always occur?
On the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on or after March 21st; and if the full moon happens on a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday after. (It can therefore never occur earlier than March 22d, nor later than April 25th).
How long does the Easter season last?
It lasts forty days, i.e., until the Festival of the Ascension.
(Prayer Book, pages 177–180)
What great event does the Church commemorate on Ascension Day?
The ascension of our Blessed Lord into heaven.
Why is this day kept just forty days after Easter?
Because the Saviour ascended into heaven just forty days after His resurrection.
What important truths are established by the Lord’s ascension?
(1) It was the last and final proof of His divinity; (2) it removed all future possibility of doubt and uncertainty from the minds of His Apostles; (3) it was the perfecting and completion of the work of the Atonement for which He came.
How long does Ascension-tide last?
Ten days, beginning at Ascension Day and continuing till Whitsunday.
Did our Lord lay aside His human body and His human nature when He ascended into heaven?
No; He went up with His glorified human body and His divine and human natures inseparably united.
What is meant by Christ’s “glorified body”?
The same body in which he lived before His crucifixion, but so changed that it was no longer subservient to the known laws of matter.
With what feelings should we commemorate the Lord’s ascension?
With feelings of joy and exultation, because the ascension was the triumphant completion of His redeeming work. Had He remained on earth or mysteriously disappeared instead of ascending up visibly into heaven, whence He came, His career would have been manifestly incomplete.
What do we learn from the fact that Christ ascended bodily into heaven?
It teaches us that since Christ, the man, ascended into heaven, we also may enter heaven and dwell there, not as disembodied spirits, but as men, with body, soul, and spirit.
On what do we base this belief?
On the plainest statements of Holy Scripture, which tell us that Christ is the Head, and that “where He is we shall be also,” and that “we shall be like Him,” for we shall see Him as He is (St, John 14:3 ; 1 John 3:2).
(Prayer Book, pages 180–186)
What wonderful event does the Church commemorate on Whitsunday?
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples (Acts 2:2).
Why is Whitsunday regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church?
Because the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was then bestowed upon the Apostles, filled them with wisdom and power for the work which Christ had given them to do, and they began to do it, and the old dispensation passed into the new, and the Church of Christ was born.
When did this miracle take place?
Ten days after the Lord’s ascension, on the Jewish Festival of Pentecost.
Why is it called Pentecost?
Because it occurs fifty days after the Jewish Passover, and so fifty days after Easter.
For what purpose was the Holy Ghost sent down?
To teach the Apostles and to bring all things to their remembrance which Christ had taught them (St. John 14:26).
Does this gift still abide with the Church?
Yes; “He shall abide with you forever” (St. John 14:16).
What is the office of the Holy Ghost in the Church today?
To guide the disciples into all truth, to be their Comforter, to strengthen the weak, and to purify our hearts.
How long does Whitsun-tide last?
Only one week, till Trinity Sunday.
What is the meaning of the word Whitsun?
It is a corruption of the German “Pfingsten,” which means Pentecost or fiftieth, and is so called because it occurs fifty days after Easter.
[(Prayer Book, pages 247–249)]
What great event in the Saviour’s life does the Church commemorate by this festival?
The Transfiguration of Christ (St. Matt. 17:1–8; St. Mark 9:1–8; St. Luke 9:28–36).
What was the purpose of this event?
It was to strengthen the faith of His disciples and to fortify them against the ordeal of His crucifixion and death, by giving them this convincing proof that He was the Messiah.
In what way was this promise fulfilled by the Transfiguration?
During our Lord’s sojourn on earth His divinity had been hidden beneath the drapery of His human nature; but in the Transfiguration He glorified His humanity, assuming for a short time the condition which would be His constantly in heaven.
What is meant by Christ’s glorified humanity, and when did it become glorified?
His glorified humanity is His human nature as it is now in heaven. It became glorified first for a short time when He transfigured Himself on the mount, and afterward forever when He had ascended into heaven.
What do we learn from Christ’s glorified human nature respecting our own future condition after the General Resurrection in the last day?
When our bodies shall have passed through death and the grave and have risen again they will be “changed,” St. Paul says, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and they shall become like Christ’s glorified body, and shall shine as stars with different degrees of splendor, as one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:52; Phil. 3:21; Dan. 12:3).
Why were Moses and Elias present at the Lord’s Transfiguration?
Moses represented the Law and Elias the Prophets, and both were here to give testimony to the Saviour.
What practical lessons are taught by this miracle of the Transfiguration?
(1) The presence of Moses and Elias talking with Christ shows that the saints who have died and passed away from the earth have not ceased to be, but still live and feel an interest in our welfare; (2) the mysterious voice which came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him,” teaches that we must give to Christ our unreserved obedience.
(Prayer Book, page 186)
What great doctrine of Christianity does the Church commemorate on Trinity Sunday?
The doctrine of the Trinity.
What is this doctrine?
That there is one God in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Why do we believe this doctrine?
Because it is one of the truths revealed to us in Holy Scripture, and much of the New Testament would be unintelligible without it.
In what way is this doctrine made known to us in the Bible?
The Bible teaches us that there is One only and true God, and yet it speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, each as God, possessing the attributes of deity and wielding the powers of deity, and it speaks of all these three as One.
What are some of the texts of Scripture by which these facts are established?
(1) That there is one God (Isa. 44:6–8; 2 Sam. 7:22; Deut. 6; (2) that the Father is God (St. Matt. 6:9 ; St. John 20:17; Rom. 9:25; 2 Cor. 6:18); (3) that the Son is God (St. John 1:1; 20:28. Heb. 1:1–8. 1 Tim. 3:16); (4) that the Spirit is God (Acts 5:3, 4; 1 Cor. 2:11; Ps. 139:7).
What do we conclude from these texts?
That there is one divine nature common to these three persons, who are incomprehensively united and yet ineffably distinct.
When does Trinity season begin, and how many Sundays does it include?
It begins one week after Whitsunday and contains from twenty-two to twenty-seven Sundays, according as Easter comes early or late.
Movable Feasts and Fasts
What are the days called which depend on the date of Easter, and why?
They are called “movable” feasts because they do not always come on the same day of the month, but are dependent on the date of Easter.
What are the immovable feasts?
They are Christmas, the Circumcision, the Epiphany, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, the Annunciation, the Transfiguration, and the Saints’ Days.
Why is Easter a movable feast?
Because the crucifixion of our Lord, which fixes the time of the resurrection, took place at the time of the Jewish Passover, which was dependent on the moon.
What are the Ember Days?
They are days set apart during the four seasons of the year for prayers for divine aid in the choice of Ministers of the Church.
When do they occur?
They are the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays occurring after the first Sunday in Lent, after Whitsun-Day, and after September 14th and December 13th.
What are the Rogation Days, and why are they so called?
They are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day; they are called “Rogation” days from the Latin word rogare, meaning “to beseech.”
Why are these days set apart, and how are they to be observed?
They are set apart for special prayers for God’s blessing on the crops, the flocks and herds, and the other means of man’s livelihood.
What are the Saints’ Days?
They are days set apart in honor of (1) the first martyrs, and those mentioned in the Gospel as most nearly connected with our Blessed Lord in the work of establishing His Church; and (2) as e.g. All Saints’ Day, in commemoration of all who have departed this life in the true faith of the Church.
Why are they set apart?
In order that we may be led to study their lives and emulate their virtues and thank God for their good examples.
When and how did the custom of observing Saints’ Days originate?
The first record we have of it is in the second century, though it probably existed earlier than that. It grew out of the custom among the primitive Christians of meeting at the graves of their martyrs on the anniversaries of their deaths to celebrate their virtues and to bless God for their pure lives and their heroic examples.
What great truth is impressed upon our minds by the observance of the Saints’ Days?
That the saints on earth are fellow-citizens with the saints in paradise, and all, whether living or dead, are members of one and the same great family and household of God.
Church Colors and Symbols
Why are different colors used about the altar and chancel of our churches during the different seasons of the Church year?
To bring before our minds certain great truths of the Gospel.
What colors are principally used?
Red, Green, Violet, Black and White.
What does Red indicate, and when is it used?
It symbolizes love and zeal. It is used on Whitsunday, as emblematical of the Holy Spirit, which, on the first Christian Whitsunday, descended in the shape of fiery, cloven tongues on the heads of the Apostles. It is also the color of blood, and is used on days commemorative of the Martyrs.
What does Green indicate?
It is the color of Spring, and is emblematical of hope. It is the general color of the year, and is used when no particular truth or doctrine is to be emphasized.
What does Violet symbolize?
Violet is emblematical of humility and self-abasement. It is used in Advent because penitence is the natural attitude of a world waiting to be redeemed. It is used in Lent, as most suitable for seasons of fasting and humiliation.
What is the significance of Black?
Black is indicative of profound grief and sorrow. It is used on Good Friday, as most suitable to the day which commemorates the crucifixion of the Saviour. It is also used at burials or memorial services for the dead because death is the last, most solemn, act of penance for our sins.
What does White indicate?
White is the emblem of purity and joy. It is used at Christmas and Easter, and all feasts of our Lord, and on days commemorative of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on days of saints other than martyrs, and at all services of rejoicing or thanksgiving.
Lights or Candles
What do the lights or candles mean which are sometimes placed in the chancel or on the altar?
They symbolize the divine presence in the sanctuary and the spiritual enlightenment which the Gospel brings. In particular the two candles or two groups of candles placed on the altar signify Christ in His divine and human natures.
What words of Christ suggest this?
“I am the light of the world.” See St. John 8:12; St. Matt. 4:16; St. Luke 2:32.
What was the origin of this custom?
Lights were first used by the early Christians for the purpose of illumination, when they were obliged, on account of persecution, to meet for worship secretly, in the night or before daybreak, and afterwards their use was retained, for the sake of their beauty and significance.
For what other purpose are they used?
To make our churches bright and beautiful, and to drive away darkness, just as the Gospel should drive away sin and sadness from our hearts.
Is there any authority in Holy Scripture for the symbolic use of lights in God’s house?
See Ex. 25:31; 40:25. Levit 24:2; 2 Chron. 13:11.
What do we infer from these texts?
Not that the symbolic use of lights is necessary in Christian churches, but only that what God commanded under the Old Testament dispensation cannot be sinful under the New.
Why are flowers often placed in the church?
To make God’s house beautiful, just as He has used them to beautify the world.
What do they symbolize?
(1) Their beauty and fragrance remind us of God’s goodness. (2) Their purity and beauty remind us of the graces and loveliness of the Christian character. (3) Their perennial bloom reminds us of the Resurrection.
What is the commonest symbol used in the church?
Why is this used so generally, and what does it mean?
The Saviour died upon a cross, and ever since that time the cross has been used as the symbol of the Christian religion and of our faith in Christ. It is the emblem of suffering and self-sacrifice.
I. H. S.
What do the letters I. H. S. mean?
They are the first letters of the Greek word Jesus; the H is not our h but the Greek E, and S is often shown in its Greek form C. Misunderstood as Roman letters they have been explained as the initial letters of three Latin words, Jesus Hominum Salvator, meaning Jesus the Saviour of men.
What do the letters X P. mean?
They are the first two Greek letters in the name “Christ.” They were used by Constantine on his banners, and hence the monogram is called the Labarum, or Standard of Constantine.
What does the “triangle” mean when used in Christian art?
It consists of three points equidistant from each other, and connected by three unbroken lines. It is used as an emblem of the blessed Trinity, and symbolizes the equality and oneness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
What does the “circle” mean?
It indicates completeness and perfection, and is an emblem of eternity.
What does the “corona” or “crown” signify?
It is the emblem of victory over sin and death. See Rev. 4:4, and 19:12. The crown or wreath of thorns symbolizes the sufferings of Christ.
The Alpha and Omega
What do the signs Α and Ω mean?
They are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and signify the “beginning and end.” They symbolize Christ, who calls Himself the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:13.
What does the “lamb” signify?
As the most usual sacrificial victim, and particularly on account of its connection with the Passover it became one of the earliest symbols of our Lord (cf. St. John 1:29–36).
The lamb is an emblem of meekness and gentleness, and hence has been used as an emblem of the Saviour (Is. 53:7).
What does the “dove” mean?
When Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, the Spirit of God descended upon Him in bodily shape like a dove (St. Luke 3:22). The figure of the Dove is therefore used as an emblem of the Holy Spirit.
What does the “pelican” signify?
The pelican was believed, by the ancients, to nourish her young with her own blood: hence it has always been a symbol of our Lord, in particular it was taken to symbolize the love of Christ for His Church.
The Evangelical Symbols
What figures are used as emblems of the four Evangelists?
The “Man,” the “Lion,” the “Ox,” and the “Eagle.”
Which is the emblem of St. Matthew?
The figure of the “man,” because the humanity of Christ is set forth in St. Matthew’s Gospel with special clearness. It begins by setting forth the human genealogy of our Lord.
What is the emblem of St. Mark?
The “lion,” because this Evangelist sets forth the royal dignity of Christ, who is spoken of as “the lion of the tribe of Judah,” and because his Gospel starts so abruptly with the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
What does the “ox” signify?
The “ox” is the emblem of St. Luke, because this Evangelist dwells especially on the priesthood of Christ, and the “ox” in olden times was the emblem of priestly sacrifice.
What does the “eagle” signify?
The “eagle” symbolizes lofty aspiration, and is used as the emblem of St. John, because this disciple rose to the highest flight of inspiration in his contemplation of divine mysteries.
The question is sometimes asked by ignorant persons, “Was not your Church founded by Henry VIII? Where was your Church before the Reformation?”
We reply that our Church before the Reformation was just where it is now. During the conquest of the country by the barbarian invaders the Church was greatly devastated, but not utterly destroyed. In the sixth century Gregory I sent Augustine (who afterward became Archbishop of Canterbury) with forty monks as missionaries to Britain. Conferences were held with the British bishops and clergy (many of whom had taken refuge in Wales) and the heathen conquerors were rapidly converted to the Christian faith. The later emissaries of the Pope succeeded gradually in establishing the supremacy of Papal authority over the island, but at the time of the Reformation this supremacy of the Pope was cast off, the clergy and people of England refusing longer to submit to Papal domination. They also discarded certain false doctrines and mischievous practices which had gradually grown up in the Church. But, with the exception of these errors, it was the same Church after the Reformation that it was before, just as a tree is the same tree, after the warts and dead branches have been cut off, that it was before. The Reformation was merely the lopping off by the Church of certain excrescences and unhealthy growths that had fastened themselves upon it; it was in no sense the founding of a new Church by Henry VIII, or anyone else. Suppose the Catholic Church in France, aided by the President of the French Republic, should secure legislation changing some of her present rules and practices, would that be the founding of a new Church, or would that make the President the founder of the Church in France? If not, then how can we say that the Church of England was a new Church founded by Henry VIII at the time of the Reformation?
“To say that the aid which Henry VIII gave to the Reformation made him the founder of the Church of England is just as absurd as it would be to say that Constantine was the founder of Christianity because he gave it his royal recognition.” (R. S. Barrett.)
The two witnesses to Catholic truth are the primitive Church and the Holy Scriptures, and any teaching which is contradicted by either of these witnesses is plainly a modern invention.
One of the greatest hindrances to the conversion of the world and the progress of the Church at the present time is unquestionably the sin of schism, which so many have unconsciously fallen into.
But the question is often asked, “Suppose the Church should become corrupt, as it was in the Middle Ages, would we not be justified in leaving it?” To this we answer, emphatically, no. Our duty would be to try to have the abuses corrected, but nothing could ever justify us in leaving it. We learn this from the example of Christ Himself. Never was a Church more corrupt than the Jewish Church when our Lord was on earth, but it was God’s Church, and, therefore, the Son of God did not leave it. He made no attempt to separate His followers from it nor to set up any independent organization. Instead of that He obeyed its laws and conformed to its ritual, and lived and died a member of it. He rebuked the wrongs and abuses in the Church all through His ministry, but nothing could drive Him out of it. Although the men themselves were corrupt, He said to His disciples, “The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.”
But, instead of following His example by remaining in the Church at the time of the Reformation, and striving with patience and loyalty to correct the evils and purify it of corruption, many withdrew from it and started new organizations. From that time to the present the evil has been spreading. Religious sects have multiplied; money and time and strength have been expended in the support of rival denominations which might better have been spent in sending missionaries to the heathen. What is more disheartening or discreditable to the Christian religion than the spectacle that confronts us in almost every village in the land of half a dozen churches belonging to different denominations, each struggling for existence, when all the Christian people of the town put together would not make more than one good, flourishing congregation? What a waste of resources it involves, and how discouraging it is to every minister and to every layman who has the cause of Christ at heart. When will Christian people wake up to the fact that these endless divisions are not only unnecessary, but a hindrance to religion?
If kneeling is the proper attitude in prayer, why, it may be asked, does the rubric in the Prayer Book at the beginning of the Communion Office direct the officiating priest to stand throughout the entire service, except when the General Confession and the Prayer of Humble Access is said? The reason is that the priest is here acting in his highest capacity, like the Jewish High Priest, when offering up sacrifices upon the altar in the Temple. He is offering up the great memorial sacrifice of the cross and, as St. Paul says, is “Ordained for men in things pertaining to God that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin” (Heb. 5:1). While doing this, standing is the proper attitude, both for the sake of dignity and convenience.
It is sometimes asked why these hymns, so full of jubilation, should be used so generally during the season of Lenten fasting and humiliation. One reason given is the traditional fact that it was used by the “three holy children” in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3), and, therefore, it is a proper hymn for Christians to use during the trials and discipline of the Lenten season. Another and more pertinent reason is that suggested by the saintly Herbert when he speaks of the “dear feast of Lent”; implying that Lent, though a period of fasting and bodily suffering and conflict with the powers of evil, may yet be a spiritual feast and a time of rejoicing to the soul. No one who has once kept Lent truly can be ignorant of what this means. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.”
It is claimed by those not holding Catholic views that this prayer of Christ that His disciples might “all be one” has reference merely to unity of spirit and, therefore, it has nothing to do with the matter of schism. But how can there he unity of spirit where there is not also unity of plan and harmony of action and oneness in organization? Christian people may all be of one mind in their desire to go to heaven, but that is not the oneness referred to in this prayer. The unity for which Christ prays here is not only unity of spirit, but an outward and visible unity, a unity of action and organization, a unity that men can see and which would be a convincing proof to the world that He came from God.
What is more idle and absurd than to talk about our unity of spirit when Christian people cannot agree even to worship or work together, but are divided into hundreds of conflicting sects. It is said by our missionaries in foreign lands that one of the greatest obstacles in the way of conversion among the heathen is the divisions and rivalries among the Christians themselves. They cannot understand how it is that there are so many different Christian Churches bearing different names, if they are all one and all have the same God. They say, very naturally, to the missionaries, “First be united among yourselves; decide among yourselves what is truth, and then we will reason with you.”
What a mighty, irresistible power the Christian Church would be if all the religious denominations in the world were united, as the States of the Union are united and bound together in one national organization. Where this unity and harmony do not exist, where Christians do not strive for both the outward and inward unity that Christ prayed for, how can anything be expected either at home or abroad, but waste of resources and failure and humiliation? What can be plainer than the sinfulness of schism, that separates Christ’s people into opposing sects, and weakens and retards His cause and is delaying the triumphs of His kingdom? Christian unity does not mean necessarily uniformity of ritual or modes of worship, but it does mean unity of organization and harmony of plan in carrying on the great work that Christ has given us to do.
It is to be noted that the Lord’s Prayer here is to be said by the Priest alone, while the rubric in the office for Morning Prayer directs that wherever it is said in divine service it shall be repeated with him by the people. This may seem at first like a contradiction; but it is not, as the office of the Holy Communion antedates the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, and is, besides, the most important of all the Church’s offices. Second, the prayer at the beginning of the Communion Office is said by the Priest alone as his personal act of devotion in preparation for the great office of Holy Communion; it is a proper priestly act of intercession for himself and the people to whom he is minister. Later in the service the Lord’s Prayer occurs again, and is said by the priest and people.
The service books used in different parts of England before the Reformation were only for the use of the clergy in conducting public worship. They were manuscript copies (as printing was not introduced in England till 1474), and were all in Latin, as that was the common language spoken by persons of education. Few of the people could read or write, and different dialects were spoken in different parts of the realm. Those few persons who could afford them, and could read, possessed books containing parts of the services, but the complete books were too large and complex for congregational use.
It was not till after the Norman Conquest (1066), and the fusion of the English with the Normans and the Danes, that the different dialects became fused into one language. The old service books had been in use many centuries, but there were five distinct forms of service and other usages in different parts of England. This Prayer Book was to bring about uniformity of worship. It was prepared by Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the most learned divines and scholars in the realm, and intended for both public and private worship. It was set forth by Act of Parliament, Bishops, Commons, King, and Nobles in 1549. It was twice proscribed by law, once under Queen Mary (1554), who repealed all the Acts of Reformation and restored the supremacy of the Pope, and once under Cromwell and the Puritans, who imposed a fine, and for a third offence imprisonment for life, on anyone found using it.
In Elizabeth’s time a severer penalty was imposed on anyone who should be found using any other. (This was to put a stop to the confusion and discord resulting from lack of uniformity.) But the book has remained unchanged in its teaching and in the essential composition of its services for more than 350 years.
For purity of style, majesty of diction, erudition, comprehensiveness, and adaptability to man’s spiritual needs, it is considered, outside of the Bible, the most wonderful production in the world.
How impressive is the thought that there has not been a day, possibly not an hour, in all these years when these prayers have not been going up to God from noble churches or family altars, or chambers of the sick or closets whose doors were shut.
Marriages performed by a Civil Magistrate (a Judge or Alderman or justice of the Peace) are mere civil contracts. They have no more religious solemnity or significance than any other business agreement. But Christian marriage is more than a mere business agreement. It is “an holy estate instituted of God” and regulated by divine laws. Therefore it should be solemnized by religious rites, and no Christian should be satisfied with a civil marriage by either a Judge or Alderman or Justice of the Peace. Everyone acting in the fear of God desires God’s sanction and God’s blessing on his marriage.
For this reason no Protestant Christian should be married by a Roman Catholic Priest, because in marrying a Protestant the Priests of the Roman Church are forbidden to use any religious service. They can only do what a Justice of the Peace can do. They are not allowed to marry a Protestant before the altar nor to wear their sacred vestments nor offer a prayer, nor pronounce the benediction* without first getting a dispensation from the Pope, or a representative of the Pope, which a poor person or one without great influence cannot do.
* By order of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore. Manual of Prayers for Catholic Laity, pages 449, 450.
Such marriage is therefore no different from a marriage by a Justice of the Peace. It is only a civil marriage, to which no Christian, and especially no self-respecting Episcopalian, should ever submit. The only proper way for a Churchman is to be married in his or her own parish church by a clergyman of the Church and so receive the Church’s Benediction.
During Mr. Wesley’s life no meetings of his followers for public worship were held during the hours of service in the parish churches. He prohibited everything that might look like separating from the established Church. The lay preachers appointed by him were not allowed to baptize or do anything that pertained exclusively to the office of a clergyman. Their business was simply to preach and pray and lead the people in their worship.
In 1785, forty years after Methodist Societies were established, Mr. Wesley declared, “I have no more thought of separating from the Church than I had forty years ago” (Wesley’s Works, vol. iv., p. 320). In a sermon preached May 4, 1789, on Heb. 4:4, he said to the Methodist preachers: “Did we ever appoint you to administer sacraments or exercise the priestly office? Such a design never entered our mind, it was farthest from our thoughts. To do so would be to renounce the first principle of Methodism, which was wholly and solely to preach the Gospel” (Wesley’s Works, vol. vii., pp. 277–280). Fifteen months before he died, December 11, 1789, he wrote: “I declare once more that I live and die a member of the Church of England, and none who regard my judgment will ever separate from it.”
When he heard that two of the “superintendents” of the Methodist Societies in America, Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, were beginning to assume the title of Bishop, he wrote them vehemently protesting against their conduct, imploring them to put a stop to it.
If this penalty seems severe it should be remembered that the sacraments of Christ are for those only who try to do His will. For any others they would be not only void of blessing, but a positive spiritual injury; for to receive the sacraments while impenitent or willfully disobedient would be to add the sin of sacrilege to all the others.
The purpose of this law is to safeguard the family and to keep society pure.
Divorce breaks up the family, brings misery to children, degradation to men, and untold suffering to womankind. By forbidding the marriage tie to be broken the Church is doing what she can to prevent the sin that destroys the purity of society and brings so much misery and degradation in its trail.
Parents should train their children to understand that “marriage is an holy estate instituted of God and is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly but reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in the fear of God.” If they would do this and discourage the frivolous, ill-advised marriages between young persons unprepared and unsuited to the married state, divorces would be less frequent, society would be saved from many scandals, and untold misery would be prevented.
Furniture and Ornaments of the Church Explained
The Chief Ornaments of the Church are the Font, which is used in the administration of Holy Baptism, and the Altar, which serves for the celebration of the Holy Communion. To these may be added the pulpit, and the seats in the chancel for the choir.
The Font is generally placed near the door to show that Baptism is the “door” by which we enter into the fold of Christ’s Church.
The portion reserved for the choir is marked off from the rest of the church, because, as the body of the church signifies the Church Militant, the choir is typical of the Church Expectant, and the sanctuary of the Church Triumphant in Heaven. There was, also, a division, similar to this, in the Jewish Temple.
The Altar is generally placed at the east end of the church, in token that Christ is the Sun of Righteousness; for which reason it has ever been the custom of the Church to worship towards the point where the sun rises.
The Altar is railed off from the chancel partly from motives of reverence; partly because the sanctuary is symbolical of the Holy of Holies, into which the Priest entered to plead for the people; or rather of that innermost Heaven where our Great High-Priest hath entered through His flesh and where He ever maketh intercession for us, pleading the merits of His all-perfect Sacrifice. The Altar is made conspicuous because it is the holiest part of the church. It is used in the highest act of Divine worship, the Holy Eucharist; in which, by the ministry of His Church, the Eternal Son of God offers His Death and Passion to His Father. It is raised because our Blessed Lord suffered on the Mount, and it is made of wood as representing the Cross; or of stone as symbolic of the rock of Calvary. The front of the Altar is covered with a veil or hanging from motives of respect, and in order to mark the various seasons of the Church by hangings of different colors. In most places in this country, the “colors” are White, signifying joy; Red, the blood of the martyrs, and the tongues of fire at Pentecost; Green, the color of all nature, at Trinity-tide; Violet, the “black and blue” bruises of our Lord’s Passion; and Black, signifying sorrow and sadness and gloom. A cross is placed above the Altar to remind us of the Death of Jesus Christ, which is especially shown forth in the Holy Eucharist. There are frequently two lights which burn at the time of the Celebration, to signify that Christ is the true Light of the world; and to represent His two natures, the Human and the Divine, both which He bears at the Right Hand of the Father in Heaven. The Altar is also decked with flowers, in honor of Him who is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. All these are not placed on the Altar proper (which is reserved for the sacred vessels directly employed in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice) but on one or more shelves or steps, called the re-table. There is also a covering of coarse linen, for protection, and another of coarse linen, from the front edge of which hangs an ornamental border of silk, usually crimson, called the super-frontal, and a fair linen cloth covering the top and sides.
The super-frontal is crimson as symbolic of the Blood-shedding of our Blessed Lord, or is of the color appropriate to the day. For a similar reason, the fair linen cloth, which represents the winding-sheet in which the dead Body of our Saviour was wrapped at His burial, is marked with five crosses as a memento of His five wounds.
There are also in the sanctuary the credence, and the sedilia or seats for the clergy. The credence is a table or shelf at which the elements are prepared. This is done partly for convenience, partly out of reverence, so that the Altar may be entirely reserved for the actual offering of the Holy Sacrifice.
There are other ornaments of the Church ordinarily used, viz: for the Altar, there are the book desk and service book for the celebrant; the paten, chalice, chalice veil, corporal, and burse; for the credence, cruets, ciborium, bason, napkin, and alms-dish; in the nave, pulpit, litany-desk, lectern for the lessons. In addition to these may be mentioned the processional-cross and banners, bier with pall for funeral, and the baptismal-shell.
Vestments.—We have already said that the chancel is symbolical of Heaven. Those who occupy it, as being more directly engaged in the services of God, are clothed in “fine linen,” which, as representing “the righteousness of Saints,” is described by St. John as the vesture of the Church Triumphant, the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:8).
The surplice is worn over the cassock, which is the distinguishing mark of all engaged in God’s service. The stole is also worn by the clergy and symbolizes the yoke of Christ.
The Eucharistic vestments or “ornaments” are the amice, alb, girdle, stole, maniple, and chasuble. These special vestments are assigned to the Eucharist to mark the dignity of the service, and as symbolical of the Passion of Christ, which is therein commemorated. The Church derived them partly from the ordinary dress of apostolic times (preserving, however, a Syrian type, out of reverence to the earthly life of her Lord), and partly from the symbolic dress of the Jewish priesthood.—The International Church Calendar.
Books on the Doctrines and Usages of the Church
General Books on the Church
Atwater, George P., The Episcopal Church. Its Message for Men of Today. Morehouse-Barlow, 1953.
Wilson, Frank E., What a Churchman Ought to Know. Morehouse-Barlow, 1921.
The Faith of the Church
Bernardin, J. B., An Introduction to the Episcopal Church. Morehouse-Barlow, 1940.
Damrosch, Frank, Jr,, The Faith of the Episcopal Church. Morehouse-Barlow, 1946.
De Wilfe, James P., Answers to Laymen’s Questions. Morehouse-Barlow, 1959.
Pike, James A., and Pittenger, W. Norman, The Faith of the Church. Seabury Press, 1951.
Wilson, Frank E., Faith and Practice. Morehouse-Barlow, 1939.
Wilson, Frank E., An Outline of the Christian Sacraments. Morehouse-Barlow, 1944.
The History of the Church
Dawley, Powel, M., Chapters in Church History. Seabury Press, 1950.
De Mille, George E., The Episcopal Church Since 1900. Morehouse-Barlow, 1954.
Hutchinson, F. E., Cranmer and the English Reformation. Collier Books
Manross, William W., A history of the American Episcopal Church. Morehouse-Barlow, 1959.
Wilson, Frank E., The Divine Commission. Morehouse-Barlow, Fourth Edition, 1940.
Wilson, Frank E., and Hardy, Edward R., An Outline History of the Episcopal Church. Morehouse-Barlow, 1949.
Preparation for Confirmation
Boss, Nelson R., Ninety Questions for Confirmation. Morehouse-Barlow, 1942.
Haughwout, L. M. A., The Ways and Teachings of the Church. Morehouse-Barlow, 1930.
Page, Herman, Manual for Confirmation and Holy Communion. Herman Page, 1927.
Young, Charles Herbert, Confirmation Instructions. Morehouse-Barlow, 1925.
Gavitt and Drake, Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book. Holy Cross Press, 1947.
Gifford, Frank Dean, The Christian Way. Morehouse-Barlow, 1961.
God’s Board, Morehouse-Barlow.
Knowles, Archibald Campbell, The Practice of Religion. Morehouse-Barlow, 1939.
Palmer, R. F., When Ye Pray. Society of St. John the Evangelist, 1944.
Post, W. Elwood, Saints, Signs, and Symbols. Morehouse-Barlow, 1962.
Wilson, Frank E., An Outline of Christian Symbolism. Morehouse-Barlow, 1933.
Home: Use "Back" button