I have been asked a lot of questions in my years of ordination. Some are simple and some almost seem like “they should know that”. But all have been important to those who asked and everyone deserves an answer. I have said many times that if you cannot explain why you do something, then you should not be doing it. I have answered several questions in my recent articles and I pray a few more might be helpful for some one.
As a bishop I have been asked why I take off my hat, whether the purple zucchetto ( small skull cap) or my miter, when I am at the altar leading the Eucharistic Prayer. First, it is a prayer and Miters are removed for prayer, but I do not put it on until after Communion. But the zucchetto is also removed at the Communion. The second reason that a head covering is removed here, for a clergy person, is humility and reverence. I also remove my bishop’s ring at the Altar. I hate to disappoint some, but it has to do with the ring getting in the way and invariably hitting the metal that is used. There is nothing like a loud bang in the middle of things. So I take mine off. Sorry, no sound theological reason.
Also concerning the Communion, I also say, “Jesus Christ was made known to His disciples, in the breaking of the bread.” before the Fraction anthem - “ [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]”. The phrase is a paraphrase of Luke 24:35 in Scripture that I picked up from Bishop William Stevens, Bishop of Fond du Lac in the 1980s. For me, it always was a good explanation of why we break the bread. And Christ is shown to us in the Communion.
In a recent article I talked about why I do not say, when speaking, the Great Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. But, if you notice, I rarely, if ever, say the words in italics either. They are almost always a rubric (instructions which are not said out loud, except in teaching), or they are a response for the congregation gathered, to the action or words proclaimed.
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