What is Anglo-Catholicism?
Anglo-Catholicism describes the theology and practice of any number of parishes worldwide which were either a part of, or inspired by the Catholic Revival which occurred in 19th century England, whereby a renewed focus was placed on the Catholic heritage of the Anglican church. This manifests both ritually and doctrinally: Anglo-Catholic ceremony incorporates Mass vestments, incense, reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the use of holy water outside of Baptism, and other practices, and the doctrine reflects a more Catholic understanding of the faith, including prayers for the dead, devotion to Our Lady, and an understanding of the Eucharist which goes beyond the symbolic. The Anglo-Catholic tradition is one which places a great deal of emphasis on beauty in worship, not just in the physical surroundings of the church, but in the music and serving as well. The Anglo-Catholic tradition of S. Clement’s is an important aspect of the parish, for it is the result of generations of faithful souls who fought against the prevailing tendencies of the historically protestant Diocese of Pennsylvania, for the privilege, often at great personal expense, of the practice of the Catholic faith. Each improvement to the church, each piece of art, each element of ritual, stands as a testament to that struggle to which S. Clement’s is eternally indebted.
Is S. Clement’s a liberal or conservative parish?
While an individual's faith can certainly inform or shape their political views, the concerns of the political sphere are often different from those of the church. As such, S. Clement’s cannot be said to have a definite politics. Members of S. Clement’s have a vast array of political views, but are bound together by their love of the Catholic faith and desire to worship in the beauty of holiness. Regardless of political inclinations, all who wish to come and worship at S. Clement’s are truly welcome.
Am I welcome?
Yes. All are welcome at S. Clement’s, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, place in life’s journey, or churchmanship. S. Clement’s is honoured to be one of the few Episcopal parishes in the Philadelphia which never discriminated based on race, and has continued to welcome all of God’s children. Although deeply committed to the practice of the Catholic faith in the Episcopal Church, S. Clement’s maintains ecumenical relations with other Christian churches in the area, and all baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion. The S. Clement’s community is comprised of people from all walks of life who wish to grow in love of our Lord, and practice the Catholic faith.
Why doesn’t S. Clement’s use the Prayerbook?
Mass at S. Clement’s is drawn from the English Missal, an attempt from the early 1900’s to render the traditional Latin Mass into English, but which also contains various elements from the Book of Common Prayer. Before the 1960’s, the English Missal was widely used by Catholic Revival parishes throughout the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican communion, but the adoption of a new Prayerbook and the changes to the mass made by the Second Vatican Council lead to a decline in its use. The English Missal contains both the Prayerbook consecration and the Gregorian Canon, the traditional Roman Catholic Eucharistic prayer. While detractors criticize the Gregorian Canon for being insufficiently British, this could not be farther from the truth. The words prayed by the celebrant at S. Clement’s are the very same words brought across the sea by S. Augustine of Canterbury to Great Britain, almost a millennium and a half ago, words which have nourished countless generations of English saints, and are foundational to any comprehensive notion of Anglican patrimony.
Why is so much Latin used at the Mass?
Most of the Mass at S. Clement's is in English, including the epistle, the gospel, and most of the responses made by the congregation. However much of what is heard at the Mass is not the voice of the Celebrant, but the singing of the Choir. Mass settings from a variety of composers are expertly rendered by the Choir, settings which are more often than not in Latin. Many of these Mass settings had their American debut at S. Clement’s, as the performance of the works of composers such as Mozart and Haydn during the Sunday service was not the norm within the Episcopal Church in the early days of S. Clement’s. Additionally, the English Missal provides for some elements of the Mass in Latin. Most, but not all, of the responses the congregation makes are in English, while most of the Proper chants and the Ordinary of the Mass are in Latin. Parishioners enjoy a wide variety of levels of Latin comprehension, but nevertheless find spiritual fulfillment in the rich and prayerful worship at S. Clements, which attempts to walk a quintessentially Anglican via media, eschewing neither the edifying English vernacular, nor the Latin, the historic language of the Church.
Is S. Clement’s a Catholic parish?
While S. Clement’s is catholic in the sense that it’s faith and practice follows that of the universal church, S. Clement’s has no affiliation with the Roman Catholic church. S. Clement’s is a part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania within the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, which itself is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. While detractors periodically attempt to spread rumours about a potential break with the Episcopal Church, this has never been the case: S. Clement’s continues, and will continue, to testify to the Catholic faith within the Episcopal Dicocese of Pennsylvania.
Why is the priest silent during the Canon of the Mass?
“While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from heaven from Thy royal throne.”
Introit, Sunday within the Octave of Christmas
Historically, silence has always been a part of Christian worship, particularly at those times of elevated reverence such as the Canon of the Mass. As a, ‘...prime factor in creating that thrilling atmosphere of rapt adoration which has been the distinctive feature of Catholic worship throughout the ages…’, the silent recitation of the Eucharistic prayer orients our minds and focuses our attention on the miracle of the Mass. The theology of silence is rich, and the practice of the recitation of the Silent Canon is a mystically fulfilling and spiritually edifying part of communal worship at S. Clement’s. As one of the practices for which the parish once fought and struggled, holy silence within the Mass is an aspect of Catholic practice treasured by parishioners and visitors alike.
Where do I park? Is Childcare provided? Where exactly is Coffee Hour?
Parking is available on Sundays and Saturdays in the parking lot across from the Church on Appletree street. S. Clement’s is accessible by public transportation, particularly the 48 and 33 bus routes which stop very near the church. Currently, the church doesn’t provide childcare during Mass, but welcomes families with infants and young children to come and participate in the Mass. Should you require it, an area with toys and children's books is set up in the rear of the church near S. Catherine’s Shrine, which allows for parents to remain for the service while offering a reprieve for the young. Coffee Hour is held in the first floor of Eddie’s House, which can be reached by exiting the church on Appletree street and re-entering through the Rectory door, or by passing through the Church office.
Should you need any assistance, our Ushers will be happy to assist you.
A more complete collection of information regarding visiting S. Clement’s can be found here.