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From the Rector: Easter Unbound

Volume 10, Number 18, April 6, 2008


From the Rector: Easter Unbound 
 
I’m old enough to remember going to church with my Roman Catholic grandparents when Mass in their church was still celebrated “in a tongue not understanded of the people.” For whatever reason, just recently this has hit hard in my analytical gut, as it were. I don’t have the vocation or time to begin to study, think and theorize about the developmental consequences of this for Christianity in Western Europe. I confess I have never had the urge to read widely or really to study Christianity in Eastern Europe. My sense is that I am only slightly aware of the consequences for us, today, of the Western Church in Europe being frozen in Latin for so long, before and since the Protestant Reformation.
 

But it wasn’t only the West. A common criticism one hears of Eastern Orthodoxy, in its many national forms, is that it can hardly agree to change anything. One wonders how much of this is due to the work of the Holy Spirit and how much is due to other factors, such as the political history of the eastern Mediterranean world since the advent of Islam.
 
One can wonder what ordinary Christian experience might be if our worship had not been bottled up in Latin for a thousand years. Would there have been a Protestant Reformation? Would private prayers be more important than public worship? Would almost everyone, Protestant or Roman Catholic, experience his or her presence at Mass as essential to the Body being One? Of course, it’s impossible to say, but I do suggest that Christianity would be different.
 
One might speculate that the lectionary of the Church would not have continued on a one-year cycle from the time of the Roman Empire until the late twentieth century. It is hard to know how Western Christianity might have reacted to the Black Death, a reaction that seems to have fueled the Eucharistic controversies of the late Middle Ages and produced a Christian experience wherein Jesus was more Judge than Shepherd, where Bread and Wine were considered more sacred than the Holy People of God, where palms and ashes became for so many more important than the Sunday Eucharist. In my head I know that Eastertide is the most important season of the Church year. Why then are Lent, Good Friday and All Souls’ so moving for me? What stone hasn’t been rolled away in my heart, my life?
 
This year the Church read the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44) on the Sunday before Holy Week.   Jesus says to the body of his friend who is dead and laid in his tomb, “Lazarus, come out.” And to those who see Lazarus walk, wrapped in his shroud, Jesus says, “Unbind him, and let him go.” May we be a parish community that knows how to listen to the Lord in our lives, corporate and personal, and to do the work of unbinding and letting go today so that new life can emerge. Stephen Gerth

PRAYER LIST . . . Robert, David, Hector, Storey, Eduardo, Linda, Demetrio, Mara, Pat, Peggy, Dawn, Thomas, Ovidiu, Philip, Richard, Robyn, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, priest, Charles, priest, and Robert, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Katharine, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the soul of Annaliese . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 8: 1964 Grieg Taber, priest & rector, 1996 Donald Lothrop Garfield, priest & rector; April 10: 1993 Edna Isabelle Matthews Craig; April 12: 1975 Violet Carolyn Cadney; April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson, 1992 George Edward Mueller.
 
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Robert Picken’s sister-in-law Annaliese Rychlowski died unexpectedly on Tuesday night. Please pray for Annaliese, for Bob and for all who mourn. S.G.
 
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, April 6, Sister Laura Katharine teaches “Saint Benedict & the Benedictines,” the first of our Sunday morning series for April. She will be talking about Saint Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–c. AD 547), monk, abbot, author of the most influential monastic rule in the West, and founder of Monte Cassino, the “mother church of the worldwide Benedictine Order.” The class is held in the Mission House at 10:00 AM . . . The Book Sale to support Father Smith’s Emergency Fund resumes this Sunday after the Solemn Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Father Mead’s Bible Study meets on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM in the Mission House for dinner and study. The class is reading the Letter to the Hebrews. Please join us! . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 5. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, April 12.
 
COMING EVENTS . . . Learn about the Lives & Thoughts of Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, the leaders of the Oxford Movement, and Dr. Joseph G. H. Barry at 10:00 AM, Sundays in April . . .  Dinner & Bible Study on the Letter to the Hebrews, Wednesdays in April and May at 7:00 PM . . . Ascension Day is Thursday, May 1 . . . The Parish Retreat, originally scheduled for the weekend of May 18, has been cancelled . . . AIDS Walk 2008 is on Sunday, May 18 . . . On Sunday, May 18, Trinity Sunday, we offer our final Solemn Evensong & Benediction until the Autumn . . . Organ Recital by Robert McCormick, with special guest Ruth Cunningham, soprano, on Monday, May 19, at 8:00 PM.
 
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to all who made the celebration of the Annunciation so glorious, and especially to our Presiding Bishop for being with us . . . There are new photos from the Easter Vigil and Annunciation online. If you took any “action shots” at any recent services or events, we are interested in putting them online. Please give a CD or flash drive with the photos to Father Mead . . . Our building mechanic, Hector Rojas, is recovering from surgery. We expect him to be back with us on Monday, April 21 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 327, Annunciation 402.
 
SUPPORT THE ARCHIVE PROJECT . . . The original newsletter of Saint Mary’s was called “The Arrow.” It was published by a group of parishioners, “The Sons of Saint Sebastian,” from 1891 until 1899. The only complete set of these newsletters that we know of is at Saint Mark’s Library at the General Theological Seminary. Dick Leitsch, our parish archivist, has researched what it would take to obtain computerized copies. The cost is estimated at just under $1,000.00. This project will enable us to make “The Arrow” available on our website, giving the whole parish community a wonderful record of the decade that saw the building of our present church and the death of our founding rector. Dick Leitsch and Father Gerth will both be happy to answer questions about the project. If you are ready to give, please make your check payable to Saint Mary’s and mark it for the “Arrow Archive Project.”
 
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Christ lag in Todesbanden (first setting) by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). The postlude is Christ ist erstanden, BWV 627, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe pour le samedi de Pâques (Mass for Saturday of Easter Week) by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645/50-1704). Charpentier, one of the greatest composers of the French Baroque period, left an enormous output, including masses and a large amount of other liturgical music (perhaps, most famously, the Messe de minuit pour Noël), cantatas, operas, and instrumental music. The motet at Communion is Christo resurgenti by François Couperin [le grand] (1668-1733) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is played by parishioner and freelance organist Dale Bonenberger . . . Saint Mary’s Evensong Choir sings this Sunday. Music includes works of Edward Bairstow and Anton Bruckner . . . The hymn sung throughout Eastertide at Sunday Evensong is the appointed office hymn for the season. The Lamb’s high banquet called to share appears in The Hymnal 1982 in a rhythmic version of the original chant by Dom A. Gregory Murray. Robert McCormick
 
NOTES ON OUTREACH . . . Just over $2500.00 was offered on Maundy Thursday.  Thank you to all who gave so generously.  That total is somewhat less than was donated during Holy Week 2007, so if you would still like to make a donation in order to support our “sister parish” in Honduras, please mail your check to the parish office and write “Honduras Mission” in the memo line     . . . A Saint Mary’s team will again participate in the AIDS Walk on Trinity Sunday, May 18. (Many are walking on Saturday as well.) Information is available at www.stmvirgin.org/missionandoutreach . . . Recently a parishioner asked Father Smith “why don’t we support mission projects here in the United States, in the South Bronx for example?  Actually, we do: our Diocesan assessment helps support the local and national mission work of the Diocese of New York; in particular, through the Congregational Support Plan (CSP), the Diocese supports important mission work in places such as the South Bronx. (For more information, please speak to Father Mead who serves on the CPS Committee and on Diocesan Council.)  If you have ideas for specific outreach projects, please send Father Smith a description of the project.  Please let us know why you believe the project is worthy of the parish’s support; and let us know what you yourself are doing, have done, or would like to do in this particular area . . . A number of people have responded to our query about volunteer work done away from the parish.  Thus far we have learned that there are Saint Marians who volunteer their time as: a docent at the Bronx Zoo; as an English Conversation Partner at Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries; as a volunteer for the New York Public Library; as an all-day, “all-purpose” hospital volunteer in suburban New Jersey; as a director of the volunteer program for the Swiss Benevolent Society; as a volunteer at the Bide-a-Wee animal shelter; as a volunteer at a Senior Center lunch program; and as a teacher of kayaking to children in need or at risk.  Of course, here at the parish our work and mission is supported by thousands of volunteer hours every year: in the office, at the altar and in the chancel, in the sacristy and in the smoke room, in the archives, in the kitchen, as ushers, with a needle and thread and a can of Brasso, with flowers, as readers, as singers, as mailers and publicists, with food and wine, in the Gift Shop and in the Gallery, as fundraisers, as managers and members of the Board of Trustees.  Such talented parishioners!  We give thanks for all this hard and holy work.  Do you do volunteer work?  Tell us about it.  We’d love to know what you’re up to.  J.R.S. 
 

The Calendar of the Week 

SUNDAY

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

MONDAY

Easter Weekday

TUESDAY

William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest, 1877

WEDNESDAY

Easter Weekday

THURSDAY

William Law, Priest, 1761

FRIDAY

George Augustus Selwyn, Missionary Bishop, 1878
No Abstinence

SATURDAY

Of Our Lady

 

Last Published: April 4, 2008 10:42 AM
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