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Ritual and Beauty

St. Michael & All Angels

St. Michael & All Angels Church, or SMAA, is the only Anglo-Catholic church in Winnipeg. I came to be a parishioner by marriage, and have spent more than a decade being actively involved in this church. So what makes SMAA different from other Anglican churches? What does it mean to be Anglo-Catholic? Perhaps a better question to answer in this short article is “what does it mean to me to be Anglo-Catholic?” The shortest answer I could give to all these questions is to say that our theology is in line with the Anglican Church (Church of England), and our practices are more in line with the early church – the Nicene creed, the keeping of Feast days, the use of incense throughout the mass, icons, bowing our head at the name of Jesus, genuflection towards the presence of Christ in the sacrament. Our church continues to practice traditions dating back to early Christianity, that allow us to worship with all our senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

What brings further meaning to worship, for me, is the knowledge that we are practising a ritual that has been done for hundreds of years in the Christian church. From the moment when the sacristy bell is rung and we all rise, to the purging of the congregation through the asperges, the censing of the altar, the singing of the Kyries, the Gloria, the Bible lessons, everything through to the Angelus at the end of mass – I feel the presence of those who have gone before us and walked their faith through the centuries.

Speaking the Nicene creed together at every mass grounds us in the tenets of our faith. Surrounding ourselves with images of the saints (through icons and stained glass) ties us to our past. Lining the nave with the stations of the cross and walking those stations during Lent reminds us of the path Jesus took to the cross. Seeing the priestly vestments change colours and images to match the seasons visually reminds us of the story behind martyrs’ days, Advent, Lenten practices, and feast days.

Tanis Thiessen is a public school principal, wife, daughter, and aunt to 16 awesome nieces and nephews. Her passions are education, baking, marketing, and lake life.

When I asked Father Kevin to respond this question, he said, “‘Anglo-catholic’ means different things to different people. For me, the key word is ‘continuity’ – that the English Reformation did not throw everything out and start a whole new church, but simplified and realigned the already existing Church of England. In many ways, what happened in England in the 16th century was what happened in Rome in the mid-20th with Vatican II.

A second important concept is ‘beauty.’ What we believe about God is reflected in the way we worship.”

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