FROM THE RECTOR: ASSUMPTION & TRANSITIONS
Our principal celebration for the Feast of the Assumption will be on its eve, Friday, August 14. There will be an organ recital at 5:30 PM by David Macfarlane. I will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. We’ve been blessed with better weather lately, and I hope I won’t feel moved to begin my sermon on this evening, as I did one year, with the words, “Gentlemen may remove their jackets.” It’s a lovely Mass—and always a special one. This year it is also parishioner Mark Peterson’s last service as interim organist and music director. He’s done a great job for us, and there will be a special reception in his honor after the service.
Simon Whalley, our new organist and music director, has arrived from England. He’s already applied for a Social Security number—and is beginning the process of becoming a New Yorker. (He has added the verb “schlep” to his vocabulary.) He’s in the office a little. A few minutes ago I heard him on the organ. He’s started to look for an apartment. His first Sunday to play will be August 16, and we will welcome him more formally at coffee hour following the Solemn Mass that day. Simon, I think I do speak for everyone when I say, we are delighted you are here. Welcome to Saint Mary’s.
But that’s not all for Sunday, August 16. Sister Deborah Francis is now the sub-prior of the Community of St. John Baptist. She will be returning to live and work at the convent in Mendham on Thursday, August 20. She and Sr. Laura Katherine arrived at Saint Mary’s on March 15, 2007. She will be missed, and I hope we will see her again from time to time. If you haven’t been to the convent, it is a wonderful place. The sisters have an important ministry not only of prayer but also of hospitality.
Sr. Laura Katherine will continue to be assigned to Saint Mary’s. She will be joined in early September by Sr. Monica Clare, who made her first vows in May. Many of us have already met her. She brings her own gifts to the work here, and I am looking forward to her being very much a part of our parish.
On Monday, our annual letter asking our members and friends for a special contribution at Assumption will be mailed. It begins with thanks for gifts at Easter which were asked specifically for money to repaint the walls behind the Sacred Heart Shrine and the rector’s confessional in the church. Enough money was received to do the job. Thank you so much for your gifts. We expect the work to be completed sometime in September.
I don’t know how many different roofs there are Saint Mary’s. I do know that we regularly survey the roofs for ongoing maintenance. That said, there are just a lot of ways a roof can fail. When the leaks happen in the church, the plaster walls cannot be repaired and repainted for a year—the real damage to the plaster from water will continue to show itself through the change of seasons for that long.
People have written about the beauty of Saint Mary’s since it opened. The decoration of the church is formal, but very welcoming. The current design for the interior painting was taken from the underside of the tabernacle canopy at the high altar. The chief Christian sign of God’s presence among us are Christian people. Of course, there is no Eucharistic Body apart from the People of God, the Baptized. I think it can be said that the present design says something very important about how we understand God’s presence among us and our mission for Christ.
In the run-up to Simon coming to Saint Mary’s—and a new life in a new country, I mentioned Willa Cather’s (1873–1947) novel Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927). In it, one of the two priests leaving France for Santa Fe, New Mexico, can’t tell his family good-bye because if he does, he knows he will not be able to leave. So he goes where he believes he is called to go. I’m thankful for the courage of those who accept the call to new places, new work. I hope you will join me in deep thankfulness that the journey for all of us in Christ continues. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Jerry, Joe, Nick, Jacob, Kenneth, Yves, Heidi, Nancy, Rasheed, Toussaint, Linda, John, Thomas, Judi, Sam, Victoria, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Christopher, RELIGIOUS, Pamela, RELIGIOUS, Rebecca, DEACON, Paulette, PRIEST, Erika, PRIEST, and Harry, PRIEST; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 9: 1883 Catherine Louisa Van Cott; 1887 Howard James; 1896 Edward Farner; 1923 Arthur Clayton Searles; 1993 David Louis Taylor, PRIEST.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Friday abstinence is not observed following the celebration here on the Eve of the Assumption.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Feast of the Assumption: Friday, August 14, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM; Saturday, August 15, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM . . . On Saturday, August 8, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith. On Saturday, August 15, confessions will be heard by Father Jim Pace.
STAFF TRANSITION . . . Business Manager Aaron Koch has accepted a position as assistant verger at Saint Thomas Church here in the city. His last day with us was Friday, August 7. The position description for this job has been posted on the parish web page here. Please let anyone who may be interested in this position know about the job opening. Thank you. —S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, August 1, while on his way to Saint Mary’s to serve at the Vigil Mass, parishioner Dick Leitsch was jostled in Times Square and fell to the sidewalk. He sustained fractures to his right arm and leg. He was taken by ambulance to Roosevelt Hospital at Tenth Avenue and 58th Street. He had surgery on Tuesday, August 4. We expect that he will be in the hospital for several more days. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Sunday, August 9, is the fifty-fifth anniversary of the ordination of the Reverend Edgar Wells, rector emeritus, to the priesthood . . . On Friday, August 14, at the reception following the Solemn Mass, which begins at 6:00 PM, we will honor and thank our interim organist and music director, Mark Peterson, for his ministry here at the parish. Please join us as we thank Mark for all that he has done for the parish during this time of transition . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 148; Transfiguration 112.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847), German Romantic composer, conductor, pianist, and teacher, was born of Jewish parents, Abraham and Lea, from whom he took his first piano lessons. Together with his brother and two sisters, Felix was baptized in 1816 as a Lutheran, adopting the surname Bartholdy, following the example of Felix’s maternal uncle. Mendelssohn was an extremely precocious musical talent, writing numerous compositions during his boyhood, prior to making his first public appearance in 1818, at age nine, in Berlin. In its day, his music was held to be remarkable for its charm and elegance, and gradually he became the most popular of nineteenth-century composers in England. His music was held to be predominantly Victorian, and indeed he eventually became the favorite composer of Queen Victoria herself. His Symphony No. 3 in A minor or “Scottish” Symphony, as it is called, was dedicated to Queen Victoria. He also became known for his organ works, which were solidly fashioned on the compositional tenets of J. S. Bach, whom Mendelssohn greatly admired. Mendelssohn presented a full performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion in London, and by so doing, reintroduced the major works of Bach to the world. Later the popularity of his oratorio Elijah, first produced at Birmingham in 1846, established Mendelssohn as a composer whose influence on English music equaled that of George Frideric Handel. At the ministration of Communion during the Solemn Mass on Sunday, tenor Gregg Carder will sing, If with all your hearts, an aria from Elijah.
ASSUMPTION DAY POSTER . . . Dennis Raverty is a great friend of Saint Mary’s and is known to many of the members of the parish. Dennis is an art historian who has taught a number of our adult-education classes. He has also very generously volunteered his time and talent to help us publicize our holy-day liturgies by creating posters, which are always illustrated with striking examples of Christian art. For the feast of the Assumption, Dennis has designed a poster using an icon from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The image is complex, not only artistically, but also theologically. Dennis writes, “The icon of the Assumption used in the poster announcing the feast is a traditional Eastern Orthodox representation of the ‘Dormition’ (the “falling asleep”) of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Theotokos (the "Birthgiver of God"). In the lower portion of the image, Mary, surrounded by apostles and saints, has just died. Standing directly behind her, and apparently invisible to the disciples, Christ emerges from a divine portal and, in a strange and wonderful role reversal, cradles the soul of his mother in his arms, represented in the image as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, newly born in heaven just as he was once born here on earth. Above, surrounded by angels, Mary is carried off in a luminous aureola.
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.