At the center of our life at Holy Cross is the worship of Almighty God. At Holy Cross, we worship in the “Anglo-Catholic Tradition.” What this means is that when you visit Holy Cross, you will experience a rich and historic form of worship.
As Episcopalians, we use Book of Common Prayer with roots dating to the year 1549. The Prayer book envisions a life not of “worship events” but rather a “rhythm of life centered in worship.” At Holy Cross, we encourage a three-fold rhythm of life: Daily Office, Holy Eucharist, Private Devotion.
The Daily Office
The day begins with the Daily Office of Morning Prayer and concludes with Evening Prayer. At Holy Cross, we encourage participation in the Daily Office either by coming together corporately in the Church, or if time does not allow, to join the prayers and rhythm of the day from home.
The Daily Office is composed of Psalms, Scripture Readings, Corporate Prayers, and times for individual prayers of petition, intercession, thanksgiving. A lectionary provides a cyclical reading of the Holy Scripture, so that in the course of 2 years the Old Testament is read through once and the New Testament is read through twice. A choice of Psalter lectionaries allows for the recitation of the entire 150 Psalms in either four or seven weeks.
The Holy Eucharist
“Commonly Called the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or the Mass.”
The Holy Eucharist is the central act of our Worship Life here at Holy Cross. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word meaning “Thanksgiving.” The Eucharist is a time when we gather together as a parish family to offer our praise and thanksgiving, even our whole selves to God, for the wonderful gift of salvation which he has offered us through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.
In the Eucharist, we hear readings from the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments. These are followed sermon or homily is given to help us gain a deeper understanding of the teachings of our Lord. We recite the Creed, the fundamental statement of our Faith in God. We offer our prayers as family of petition, intercession, and thanksgiving. We confess our sins to God, and hear and receive the forgiveness which God offers to those who confess their faults to him. Aware that when the risen Christ came among his disciples in the upper room, he shared with them his peace, we share with one another signs of Christ’s peace. And finally, the great climax of the service, in response to our Lord’s teaching “to do this in Remembrance of me” we receive the bread and the wine and commune with God and in Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. And finally in one closing prayer, we offer again our thanks for giving himself to us in such an intimate and powerful way.
Some services of the Eucharist are what we call “Low Mass.” At these services, all the words are read and there is no music to accompany. There are times of silence and quiet in which to contemplate and pray. At other services, called “Sung Mass” we sing hymns and listen to music played on the organ in order to aid our devotion and praise of God.
We gather together for Holy Eucharist every Sunday of the Year and on other Major Feast days such as Christmas and Ascension Day. We also realize that the worship of God should not limited to Sunday and so the Holy Eucharist, the greatest worship which a Christian can make, is offered also on several weekdays.
Private Devotion and Study
Throughout the history of our Faith, we have recognized that each person must be in a deeply personal and committed relationship with God. God knows us better than we know ourselves and desires that we know him. No life of prayer and worship would be complete without spending time each day alone with God in personal prayer. Many people misunderstand prayer. They think that it spouting out a laundry list of things we wish God would do for us. Instead, prayer is a conversation with God. Yes, we offer up to him our hopes and desires, we tell him that we realize that we’ve messed things up in our lives and in the lives of others in confessing our sins, we ask things on behalf of other people. But we also must spend time listening to God. Waiting and looking and seeing his response to us, which is always out of his love for us.
Times of private devotion have taken many different shapes over the centuries. Some like to pray using beads and repetitive prayers, such as the Jesus Prayer (“Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”) or the Rosary (a series of prayers and meditations on certain events in Jesus’ life.) Others have preferred a slow and prayerful reading of Scripture called “Lectio Divina,” while others still have used the quiet forms of Christian Meditation known as centering prayer. Whatever form or shape the time of private devotion takes, the key is that is a Holy time, spent with God, growing ever closer to him.