FROM THE RECTOR: CANDLEMAS
Egeria is the name of a fourth-century Christian woman, who may have been a nun. She traveled from Spain to the Holy Land between AD 381 and 384. We know this because she kept a travel diary about her pilgrimage. Copies of Egeria’s diary were circulated well into the medieval period. However, by the twelfth century all known manuscript copies of the diary seem to have been lost. In the late nineteenth century, a copy of the middle part of the diary, but only the middle part, was rediscovered (Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, 3rd. ed., , 1). The loss of the other sections of Egeria’s diary is regrettable, but, still, the surviving portion tells us a great deal about the worship of the church in Jerusalem.
Egeria was a witness to what becomes the Liturgy of the Palms in the wider church (Ibid., 151–52), as well as the Good Friday Liturgy (Regan, “Veneration of the Cross,” Worship 52 , 2–12). The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is already being celebrated in Jerusalem when Egeria is there.
After the legalization of Christianity at the beginning of the fourth century, the liturgy took on an enlarged role in the formation of the members of the growing Christian community. Eucharistic prayers gradually began to include what we call the Words of Institution, which take on a catechetical role (Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins , 140–42). Perhaps even more important was a gradual shift over time from an invocation of the Spirit over the assembly to an invocation over the Eucharistic elements themselves. A further development is the growing understanding of the Words of Institution as consecratory. The liturgical texts of the church in Milan provide the earliest witness to this development, since earlier Eastern texts do not understand the Words in this way. As this development takes hold, at least in the West, Dr. Bradshaw suggests that the church seems to have traveled some distance from the understanding of the early church, visible, for instance, in 1 Timothy 4:4–5, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (Ibid., 153–57).
The calendar of the church’s celebrations also moves beyond gathering on Sunday and begins to take on a catechetical element too. The celebration of Easter is joined by the celebrations of Pentecost, Epiphany, and Christmas. The next round includes Mary the God-Bearer on August 15, Annunciation, Presentation, and the Nativity of Mary on September 8 (Bradshaw and Johnson, Origins , 206–7, 211–12).
This is how Egeria described the Eucharist for the Presentation:
Note that the Fortieth Day after Epiphany is observed here with special magnificence. On this day they assemble in the Anastasis. Everyone gathers, and things are done with the same solemnity as at the feast of Easter. All the presbyters preach first, then the bishop, and they interpret the passage from the Gospel about Joseph and Mary taking the Lord to the Temple, and about Simeon and the prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel, seeing the Lord, and what they said to him, and about the sacrifice offered by his parents. When all the rest has been done in the usual way, they celebrate the sacrament and have their dismissal (Wilkinson, 147–48).
When the celebration of the Presentation was formalized in Rome at the end of the seventh century, the congregation assembled at the Church of Saint Adrian in the forum (demolished by Mussolini in the late 1930s). The congregation processed from there to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major carrying lighted tapers. The blessing and distribution of candles dates from the eleventh century. Neither Massey Shepherd’s Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary  nor Marion Hatchett’s Commentary on the American Prayer Book  address the historical development that led to the secondary title for the feast, still printed in the calendar of the church, “The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin.”
I’m glad Easter is not so very early this year, April 5—Ash Wednesday is February 18. On Sunday morning, February 1, we will still be in the first chapter of Mark. Sunday evening, February 1, is observed as the Eve of the Presentation at Evensong. With the snow and the cold, it still feels very much like Christmas and Epiphany for those of us who live in this part of the world. Candlemas is the nickname the feast acquires, but it’s really about Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Lord, our God.
I began my service as rector of this parish on Monday, February 1, 1999. I was celebrant and preacher here for the first time at the Solemn Mass on February 2. I will be celebrant and preacher, I trust, on Monday night this week for this liturgy. I am so thankful for the work to which I’ve been called and the loving support of the parish community, near and far.
I hope the candles we light at the Masses on Monday will remind us all of the Light we were given by being born to life, first by our parents, then anew and for ever in the water of Baptism. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR John, Robbie, Elizabeth, Charlie, Vera, Amy, Dorothy, Abalda, Antony, Gerald, Penny, David, Linda, Eric, Maureen, Barbara, Francesca, McNeil, Takeem, Arpene, Charles, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 1: 1903 Maria Worgitz; 1906 Austin Huntington Mitchell; 1916 Chauncey H. Crosby; 1925 Mary Elizabeth Brown; 1931 Mary Ayles.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial, in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . As of Wednesday, January 28, we have received pledges from 166 households. 99% of our $425,000.00 goal has been pledged to date. We are so very close! Please help us to reach our goal! If you haven’t yet made a pledge for 2015, we hope that you will do so very soon. If you have questions about pledging, please contact the finance office. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please help us to continue our mission and ministry in Times Square. Thank you so much to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so faithfully and so generously.
SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . The Super Bowl will take place on Sunday, February 1. We will hold our annual Super Bowl Party in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 6:00 PM, after Evensong that day. A donation at the door to help pay for food and beverages is requested. If you are planning to attend and are able to bring something to eat or drink, please contact or speak to Father Smith. We will also need help setting up the Hall on Sunday afternoon, before the Party begins, and cleaning up during and afterwards. Please let Father Smith know if you can help.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, February 1, 10:00 AM, Adult Forum: “The History of Women’s Ministries in the Episcopal Church—Women’s Ordination.” Led by Mary Robison . . . Sunday, February 1, Eve of The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple: Organ Recital 4:40 PM & Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. The recital will be played by Mary Copeley, assistant organist, Saint Luke’s Church, Darien, Connecticut. At Evensong, the Choir of Saint Luke’s Church will sing The Evening Service in G by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) and a motet by Charles Wood (1866–1926) . . . After Sunday Evensong, the annual Super Bowl Party will be held in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Monday, February 2, The Presentation: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Blessing of Candles & Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, and Blessing of Candles, Procession, & Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. Mark Peterson, interim organist and music director will play the recital. A reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall follows the Solemn Mass . . . Tuesday, February 3, Saint Blase: Mass & Blessing of Throats at 12:10 PM; Evening Prayer & Blessing of Throats 6:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, February 4, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 31, by Father Jay Smith, and on Saturday, February 7, by Father Jim Pace.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Monday, January 26, the church closed early because of inclement weather. On Tuesday the church did not open; but the Eucharist was offered for the intentions of the parish community by the resident clergy and sisters . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 192.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Sunday, February 1, the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) is one of the most famous, and certainly one of the most accomplished, of the classical musicians. With his father’s encouragement, he learned to play several instruments from a very early age, was composing by the age of five, and made his first public appearance at age six. Although he died at the young age of thirty-five, Mozart left behind a large number of works that are now regarded as masterpieces. Although Mozart was a prodigy, he still worked and studied hard throughout his lifetime, putting his very essence into the music he composed. It is for these reasons that Mozart is perhaps the most respected classical composer in history. Although he learned to play the organ at an early age, Mozart was never much attached to the music of the church, and it is assumed that the Mass settings he did write were part of his employment from 1774 to 1777 at the court of the Prince Archbishop in his hometown of Salzburg. This was an extremely creative period for Mozart, a period marked by violin concertos, various symphonies, Masses, and six piano sonatas, among other works. A falling out with the Archbishop brought this period to an end, and Mozart was only returned to the realm of the church one more time, with the creation of the magnificent, though unfinished, Requiem. A product of the Enlightenment, Mozart showed a natural order and balance along with a focus on harmony and unforgettable melodies. These things are all beautifully illustrated in the Missa brevis in G, KV 140, that we will hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. At the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday, we will hear a setting of Psalm 75 (Psalm 74 in the Vulgate version) by the Dutch composer and organist, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1611), another remarkable, if lesser known, composer. Listen for the bell-like sequences that punctuate his lovely motet. Two of Sweelinck’s organ works will be heard at the Prelude and Postlude of the Mass . . . Mary Copeley, assistant organist at Saint Luke’s Church, Darien, Connecticut, will play the organ recital on Sunday afternoon, at 4:40 PM. The Choir of Saint Luke’s Church will sing the canticles and a motet at Evensong . . . Monday, February 2, The Presentation: I will play the organ recital at 5:30 PM. My program includes works by Kenneth Leighton, Kenneth Meek, Henry Coleman, Harold Darke, Sydney Watson, and Healey Willan. At the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM, we will hear a Mass setting by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594). Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of great influence and considerable productivity. His catalogue of over 2,000 works in nearly every Latin, French, Italian, and German vocal genre known in his time places him among the most prolific and versatile composers of his time. His Missa Qual donna attende a gloriosa fama, for five voices, is modest in scope and traditional in writing. It is based on a madrigal by Cipriano de Rore (1515–1565), whose work also provided material for four of de Lassus's Magnificats and two other Masses. The Gloria begins very lightly, in imitation of plainsong. Here, the soprano line most frequently carries the melody, with the lower-lying lines grouped closely together to provide a harmonic underpinning. There are frequent imitative segments, often short phrases exchanged between soprano and bass lines that provide a strong and obvious contrast. The Sanctus also relies heavily on contrast, with the opening of each section utilizing suspensions and light textures, then bursting into exuberance with the Hosanna. The work demonstrates the craftsmanship of de Lassus, if not his highest level of creativity. At the ministration of Holy Communion, a charming motet by Dutchman Johannes Eccard (1553-1611) will be sung by the choir. The motet text depicts the presentation of the Christ child to the aging Simeon. —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, February 4. The class is reading the Book of the Prophet Isaiah this year. Next time, we will begin reading at chapter 19 . . . On Sunday morning, February 1, at 10:00 AM, parishioner Mary Robison will continue her two-part series on Women's Ministries in the Episcopal Church, focusing in particular on the ministry of deaconesses and the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops. Mary is an archivist and librarian at the General Theological Seminary. . . On February 8 and 15, Father Jay Smith will lead the Sunday-morning adult-education class in a discussion of the Essential Elements of the Christian Life, using Archbishop Rowan Williams’s book Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer as a source for the discussion. This class would be useful for those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception . . . On the Sundays in Lent (February 22 and March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29) Father Pete Powell will continue his series on The Gospel of John . . . All the Sunday-morning adult-education classes begin at 10:00 AM and are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. —Jay Smith
OUTREACH . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our friends and partners at the Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Cash donations are also most welcome . . . Helping our Homeless Neighbors: We also welcome donations of new white socks; new, unopened packs of underwear; toiletries; gloves; stocking caps; trail mix and granola bars for distribution to the homeless in our building and neighborhood.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . February 18, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Wednesday, February 25, Saint Matthias, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, March 8: Daylight Saving Time begins . . . Thursday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 & 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, March 25, The Annunciation: Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, suffragan bishop of New York . . . Saturday, March 28, Eve of Palm Sunday, Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, March 29, Palm Sunday, Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass 9:00 AM & Liturgy of the Palms, Procession to Times Square and Solemn Mass 11:00 AM.