Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reflections on Anglo-Catholicism

Today, I visited Saint Paul's Parish on K Street, an Episcopal church in Washington DC that is known for being particularly Anglo-Catholic. The Ship of Fools has a Mystery Worshipper review of that church here. St. P's has been described as "about as high as high church can get." Indeed, the only way they could get any higher church would be to do the Mass in Latin.

The liturgy was particularly striking to me since I was raised Evangelical. Since then, I have learned some high church customs through being in the Episcopal Church. While my fundamental beliefs about ecclesiology (how the church should structure itself) are very Evangelical, I do like the occasional high church liturgy.

St. P's had a shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham, an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the UK. This apparition is celebrated by both Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics. To be honest, while I bowed while passing the shrine, I do not acknowledge that Mary was a Virgin, and I acknowledge no apparition of Mary except for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Evangelicals have traditionally maintained anti-Papist attitudes that condemn Mariolatry, some of which I suppose affect me. Mary is an integral part of the Christian tradition, but I really do not subscribe to the teaching that Mary was a virgin. It has been used in ways that are dangerous to human sexuality.

St. P's also addresses its priests as Father. I will not address any priest as Father. Unless they are a woman.

As an aside, K Street is a major thoroughfare where a lot of lobbying firms are located. It is a metonym for the US lobbying industry and its often malign influence.

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