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Worship in June

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When Fr. Dunkerley arrived as priest-in-charge, it was agreed that we would use three sacred ministers for major days, and we did. Upon Fr. Daniel’s arrival, he said that we would use three sacred ministers for principal feasts of the church year, and we have.  For many in the parish, the three sacred ministers became “something new” that people were not accustomed to seeing, since it had been many years since the three sacred ministers were a part of the Sunday Mass at Atonement.  With that in mind, it might be good to do some teaching on the subject of High Mass, priest, deacon, and subdeacon. After some research, Derek Olsen, PhD, who describes himself as “a layman within the Episcopal Church with a Ph.D. in New Testament and an interest in most things medieval, monastic, and liturgical,” seemed to be a good source. As an aside, his wife is an Episcopal Priest.

Derek writes, “High Mass: High Masses aren’t terribly common around the Episcopal Church and are only seen at some Anglo-Catholic parishes. High Masses are always sung, not said. The difference between a Sung Mass and a High Mass is personnel. A High Mass has a subdeacon as well as a full deacon; a Sung Mass does not. You can be as tricked-out and smokey as you like but without a subdeacon, you’re doing a Sung Mass not a High Mass.

The Episcopal Church has formal ranks for priests and deacons—subdeacons, not so much. In the old days, subdeacon was one of the nine grades of ordination through which one traveled, and was the one in order right before deacon. The Liturgical Renewal Movement and therefore Vatican II didn’t like the nine grade system and tossed it out, officially abolishing the subdeacon.  Since no order for such an ordination exists, a subdeacon in the Episcopal Church can be a layperson but ought to have the training and qualities of life to fit the bill. If it were up to me—which of course it’s not—I’d think that officially licensed lay readers ought to be taught how to subdeacon, that being the closest thing to it these days.

It’s frowned upon but permissible to have a priest function as a deacon in a Sung or High Mass. Where there are deacons, a deacon ought to be used. Nothing annoys me more, however, than seeing a priest serve as a subdeacon. If it can be a lay position, than it ought to be one. In a church that puts a great emphasis on the ministry of the Baptized, a layperson serving properly as a vested sacred minister (i.e., not trying to usurp the priestly or diaconal roles) is a good reminder.”

It’s hoped that Derek’s explanation will be of help.

Pentecost Sunday is fast upon us, and it marks the end of the Easter Season. The Day of Pentecost is one of the seven principal feasts of the church year in the Episcopal Church. The liturgical color for the feast is red. Pentecost has also been known as Whitsun or Whitsunday, a corruption of "White Sunday." This term reflects the custom by which those who were baptized at the Vigil of Pentecost would wear their white baptismal garments to church on the Day of Pentecost. Trinity Sunday follows. This feast, also one of the principal feasts of the church year, celebrates "the one and equal glory" of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being" (BCP, p. 380). Celebration of Trinity Sunday was approved for the western church by Pope John XXII in 1334. This feast is associated with Thomas Becket (c. 1118-1170), who was consecrated bishop on Trinity Sunday, 1162.

Finally, on June 18, we’ll transfer the Feast of Corpus Christi from Thursday, June 15, to the Sunday. Since we have no “name” day, or Saints Day in our name, “Church of the Atonement,” Corpus Christi has long been our “name day” feast at Atonement. For those looking for the proper of the day in the BCP, don’t be frustrated. It’s not there. Roman Catholics, along with high church Anglicans and Lutherans will be celebrating Corpus Christi on the 15th. Traditionally, the feast of Corpus Christi is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. However, in many churches it is commemorated on the first Sunday after Trinity. At the end of Mass, an outside procession forms, often led by bagpipers. The Blessed Sacrament is placed in a smaller Monstrance for the outside procession, and is carried around the block by the Priest beneath a canopy that is held up by Parishioners. Usually, two thurifers walk in front of the Sacrament. The Monstrance is used by Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Episcopal Anglo-Catholic Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host, during Eucharistic Adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning “to show.” It is closely related to the English word demonstrate, meaning “to show clearly.” Both words share a common root. In Latin, a monstrance is known as an ostensorium, from ostendere, “to show,” and monstre/monstral (England). Once the outside procession has gone around the block … and back … the assembly returns to the Church for Benediction.

In the Service of Benediction, the Priest blesses the people with the Eucharist displayed in the Monstrance. This Blessing differs from the Priest’s Blessing, as it is seen as the Blessing of Christ, rather than that of the individual Priest.