FROM THE RECTOR: NOVELTY IN RITUAL
By the beginning of the thirteenth century, looking at the bread at Mass had replaced eating the bread and drinking the wine at Mass as the focus of worship. The Eucharist was no longer understood or experienced as food that nurtured and sustained life in Christ. Rubrics begin to appear that required the celebrant to receive at Mass—because Masses were being said where not no one, not even the celebrant, ate and drank. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 required all Christians to receive Communion at Easter so that they would receive the Eucharist at least once a year. It took a long time for the ritual of the Eucharist to catch up with this understanding of the Eucharist.
In 1210, the bishop of Paris decided to deal with people adoring the host before the celebrant had said the words, “Hoc est enim corpus meum,” that is, “This is my body.” The ritual in Paris had required the host to be shown (elevated above the head) before the priest said, “This is my body.” The ritual was altered so that the bread would be seen only after these words. Concern about spilling the small amount of wine in the chalice—small since only the celebrant received—held back a similar gesture for the cup for centuries. Genuflections surrounding the words over the bread and cup come later as well. (For a detailed account see: J. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite , vol. 2, 202–17.)
The thirteenth century also gave the Western Church the “Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ,” commonly called by the Latin Corpus Christi. The texts that authorized the feast in 1264 remembered that the Eucharist is both meal and sacrifice (A. Adam, The Liturgical Year , 170). That said, I think the death and sacrifice of Christ is what most Christians—Anglican, Protestant, and Roman Catholic—think of when they share the Lord’s Supper. And I think it’s fair to say few Christians experience or understand the Eucharist primarily as food. Yet, from the beginning of the biblical narrative, God is very concerned about what people will eat and whether people have food to eat. God still feeds us, and God expects us to feed others (Matthew 25:37, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?”).
Founded in the wake of the Oxford Movement, Saint Mary’s has celebrated Corpus Christi since Thursday, June 8, 1871—the first occasion after the opening of our first church on December 8, 1870. The new Prayer Book doesn’t mention the feast by name, but provides a collect and lessons for an optional celebration “Of the Holy Eucharist” (BCP , 252, 927).
After the calendar reforms of the 1970s, Saint Mary’s joined the practice of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of having this celebration on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday, instead of on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. (Again, following the practice of the Roman Catholic Church, it used to be celebrated here and in other Anglo-Catholic parishes both on the traditional day, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and also on the following Sunday—but that is a story for another day.)
As I write on Friday morning before Corpus Christi Sunday, the weather forecast is very good. The 11:00 AM Solemn Mass will be celebrated, then continue with a procession of the Sacrament through Times Square. Eucharistic Benediction will be given when we return to the church. It’s one of my favorite services of the year. More than on Palm Sunday, when the 11:00 AM congregation processes through the square, the music for our procession, Amazing Grace, proclaims Christ in a gentle way. I hope you can join us this Sunday to worship God, to share in the fellowship of the people of God, and to eat and drink the food that is given to us to nurture and sustain the life in Christ we have received and now proclaim. —Stephen Gerth
A NOTE ABOUT MUSIC AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Corpus Christi is the last Sunday until October when the full parish choir sings. I want to thank all of our singers and Mark Peterson for a wonderful “year.” We have asked a lot of Mark over the last two years, and I am very thankful for all he continues to do. We will celebrate Mark’s ministry following the Solemn Mass on the Eve of the Assumption, Friday, August 14, when he will conduct and play. It will be a very special night—and, as is our custom, the choir will be back for this great feast of Saint Mary the Virgin. To all of our singers and to Mark, again, thank you for a wonderful year. —S.G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR John, Thomas, Judi, José, Iris, Sam, Victoria, Catherine, Lisa, Iris, Joe, Kurt, Mazdak, Trevor, Andra, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Deborah Francis, RELIGIOUS, Pamela, RELIGIOUS, Paulette, PRIEST, and Harry, PRIEST; for the repose of the soul of Donald Raverty; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 7: 1884 Lydia Ann Pancoast; 1919 Sabrina Glynn Knowton; Pauline Lewis Groesbeck; 1950 Agnes Schuster Paltz; 1957 Floranelle Waugh.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, June 7, The Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Corpus Christi . . . Thursday, June 11, Saint Barnabas, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . On Saturday, June 6, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth. On Saturday, June 13, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith.
OUR SUMMER WORSHIP SCHEDULE from Corpus Christi through the last Sunday in September makes two changes: on Sundays 8:30 AM Morning Prayer is said, not sung, and at 5:00 PM Evening Prayer is said. Beginning Sunday, October 4, 8:30 AM Morning Prayer is sung and 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong, Sermon & Benediction resumes.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Our talented incense maker, Kenny Isler, was here this week, blending a new batch of incense, which, we hope, will see us through the next fifteen months or so. This is an important ministry and a laborious and time-consuming one. We hope that Kenny still enjoys this work. We certainly enjoy the result of his labors and greatly appreciate his making the long trip from Arizona in order to be with us. Thank you, Kenny . . . José Vidal had surgery on Friday, May 22. He has been at home, and his recuperation is proceeding very well. He wishes to express his gratitude for the many good wishes he’s received and for the community’s prayers . . . Hospitality Ministry: We hope to receive donations for the reception on the Eve of the Assumption, Friday, August 14. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Wednesday, June 10, is the twenty-sixth anniversary of Father Smith’s ordination to the diaconate at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Thursday, June 11, is Father Gerth’s thirty-second at the Cathedral of Saint James, Chicago . . . Attendance: Last Sunday
SAINT MARY’S IN CENTRAL PARK . . . The Annual Saint Mary’s Field Trip to hear the New York Philharmonic in Central Park will take place in two parts this year. There are two concerts, one on June 17 and another on June 18, and Grace Bruni has kindly volunteered to attend both and to help organize a field trip on both evenings. On Wednesday, June 17, Alan Gilbert is conducting and Joshua Bell, violin, is the soloist. On Thursday, June 18, Charles Dutoit is the conductor and the soloist is Renaud Capuçon, violin. On both evenings the program is eclectic and exciting. The concerts are held on the Great Lawn and begin at 8:00 PM. Grace plans to be “by the front-most speaker on the west side, just behind the VIP fence” from 5:00 PM until the concert begins. It’s a potluck picnic. All are welcome. Please email Grace for more information or to let her know you are coming (the latter is helpful but not necessary).
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Mass setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is the Messe a quattro voci da cappella of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). Monteverdi was an Italian composer, violinist, singer, and church musician. He is considered a pivotal figure in the history of music, not only in Italy, but throughout the world. It has been said that his work bridged the “old practice” and the “new practice,” thus enabling the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. Some musicologists would go so far as to assert that he was, in fact, the first “modernist.” During his long life, he produced eight books of madrigals and wrote forty operas, which can be classified in both old and new categories. Far less attention has been given to his Masses, motets, and sacred works, but these are also monumental compositions showing evidence of true genius. At a time when the world had yet to imagine what an opera house might look like, he composed La Favola d'Orfeo, still considered the earliest dramatically viable opera. Monteverdi was fortunate enough to enjoy fame during his lifetime, but his personal life was marked by the tragic loss of both his mother and his wife at young ages. His two sons entered the “professions” (one a physician, the other a lawyer), yet both are listed in the roll of singers at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice and performed under their father’s direction. Before the procession with the Sacrament on Sunday, we hear two motets from two French giants of ecclesiastical composition, Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) and Jehan Alain (1911–1940). Little needs be said about either work; they simply need to be heard and experienced in the glorious acoustic that is Saint Mary’s. —Mark Peterson
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . There is a new exhibition in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall: Photographs by Catherine Rehkamp. The photographs in the exhibit are portraits of New York City women who salvage cans and bottles for a living or to supplement their family’s income. Catia shows us these women, each one an individual, with great dignity.
LGBT PRIDE MARCH . . . The Committee on LGBT Concerns of the Episcopal Diocese of New York is arranging for a float and DJ for the 2015 LGBT Pride March. The march will take place on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Exact details of where and when to gather will not be announced by the march organizers until about a week before the March and will be added to the Diocese of New York’s website as soon as that information is available. The diocesan representatives have asked to be towards the end of the march so that those with Sunday-morning duties will be able to participate. It is not necessary to register separately. All you need to do is show up! All are encouraged to come and to join the march. The Diocese has provided some funding to support the diocesan contingent, but help is still needed to pay for the float, the DJ, and the march’s registration fees. A total of $5000.00 is needed! Checks should be made payable to: The Episcopal Diocese of New York, with the notation “LGBT Pride” in the memo section. Checks should be mailed to the archdeacon for mission, The Venerable William C. Parnell, The Episcopal Diocese of New York, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025.
AIDS WALK 2015 . . . The Walk took place on May 17, but you can still make a contribution to this important effort, since donations will be accepted up until June 12. You may make a donation online, or you can give a check to Father Jay Smith (checks should be paid to the order of AWNY). In late June, we will give a report of the final numbers and the details of our success. Questions can be referred to Father Smith or to co-leaders MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell. In the meantime, all the members of the Saint Mary’s Team would like to express their gratitude to all of you. —MaryJane Boland & Clark Mitchell
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Need help finding food or know someone who does? Call 1-800-5-HUNGRY (Why Hunger Hotline, Monday–Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM EST) or 1-866-3-HUNGRY (USDA National Hunger Hotline, 8:00 AM–8:00 PM EST) . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . If you would like to find out more about the work of Saint Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, please speak to Father Gerth . . . Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) is responding to immediate needs for food, shelter, and clean water in earthquake-impacted Nepal through the ecumenical ACT Alliance and is exploring further opportunities for action through other partners in the region. You can make a donation to ERD online.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Wednesday, June 24, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Sung Mass 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM . . . Monday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . June 26–27, 2015, 7:00 PM, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, Voodoo: A Harlem Renaissance Opera, by Harry Lawrence Freeman: “Rediscover the operas of Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869–1956). [Freeman was] dubbed the ‘colored Wagner’ by contemporary journalists. His music blends Western classical music with spirituals, popular dance music, and jazz. Voodoo tells the story of a love triangle between three former slaves on a Louisiana plantation during Reconstruction. A Harlem resident, Freeman gained acceptance in classical music between the 1920s [and the] 1940s. The opera is being produced by Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater, and the Harlem Chamber Players.” Tickets may be purchased online.