When Anglicans and Catholics attend Mass at each other’s churches, there are always some moments of awkwardness or slight conclusion. Unless one has a lot of practice, the Anglican is likely to waltz right on through to non-Scriptural, “for the kingdom, the power, and the glory” after “deliver us from evil” in the Our Father (always a grin-inducing irony that Catholics are more Scriptural in this instance that most Protestants; or maybe Protestants just find the Didache to be authoritative!). Similarly, Catholics are probably thrown for a loop when, after the intercessions, the deacon or priest bids the people to confess their sins.
But some of the differences are also at the level of pious ceremony. Some Anglicans will reverence the Sacrament and the altar with a genuflection or bow when they leave their pew to come forward for Communion (and maybe even when they return to their pew). The Catholic, practice, however, is not to reverence when leaving their seats to receive, but instead to reverence just before they receive the Sacred Body and Blood.
Another difference that will be stand out to high church Anglicans when at a Catholic church is that the sign of the cross is not used by the priest of the faithful when praying for the dead (whether during the intercessions or in the Eucharistic Prayer itself). This is something that has piqued my interest and after some searching of ceremonial, I still have not come up with a satisfactory answer. One answer I heard to the “why” question was that it is because of the cross that we can pray in hope for the faithful departed. But that, of course, could apply to a vast swath of the content of our prayers and would mean that we would be crossing ourselves every two seconds. I’ve heard the same explanation given for why some Anglicans cross themselves in the Creed in the second to last line (at “the resurrection of the body” in the Apostles’ Creed or “We look for the resurrection of the dead” in the Nicene Creed). But this practice is almost certainly the result of the overzealous who, anticipating the sign of the cross made by some at the conclusion of the Creed (like at the conclusion of the Gloria in excelsis and the Eucharistic prayer), retrofitted the practice with a pious but probably mistaken explanation.
My working theory on the origin of the practice by high church Anglicans of crossing themselves when praying for the dead is related to the principle behind the practice of making the holy Sign at the end of the Creed (which, I believe, is relatively recent anyway). A Western liturgical principal is that the Sign is made at the beginning and end of divine service: hence at the opening versicle of the Office and again at the conclusion. The Offices, particularly those before the Council, almost always had a prayer for the departed at the conclusion of the Office (though it is difficult to generalize since there were lots of variations in breviaries published at different time and for various religious orders). Nonetheless, my hunch is that pious Anglo-Catholics, especially the ritualists, as they adopted more and more ceremonial from the Latin rite, mistook the sign of the cross at the prayer for the dead at the Office’s conclusion as being connected to the prayer for the dead, and not because it is the conclusion of the rite. Add to this the concern and desire amongst Anglo-Catholics to indicate that they really are Catholics and that they believe in purgatory and prayers for the dead, would want to punctuate this practice by emphasizing it with the use of the Sacred Sign. That’s my theory. And if I’m mistaken, I’d love to know the real story.
[As an aside, when batting this around with my colleague, Fr. Alex Pryor, he proposed a very likely source for another peculiarly Anglican practice: making the Sign at the opening words of the Benedictus qui venit after the Sanctus. I’ve heard the explanation that this was a medieval practice that arose because, when Mass settings of the Sanctus were quite long and the Canon was said silently while it was sung, the elevations often came around the time that the Benedictus was beginning. But this assumes that was was a wide-spread Latin-rite practice, which doesn’t seem to be the case. My colleague’s theory, however, is that the Benedictus was interpreted as a Dominical canticle, like at the opening words of the Benedictus Dominus Deus at Matins, Magnificat at Evensong, and Nunc Dimittis at Compline. This seems quite logical to me. And, if you add again the Anglo-Catholic impetus to indicate that they are really Catholic, the Sign could also be a way of interpreted in the Benedictus qui venit in a rather literal way: the One who comes in the Name of the Lord is about to come now in sacramental form on the Altar.]