FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTIAN UNITY
This Sunday marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which sprang to life in 1968, as a joint effort of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s helpful to recall that its origins were here in the diocese of New York. The Reverend Paul Wattson and Sister Lurana White were Episcopal religious. In 1909, they and their communities (followed a decade later by their episcopal visitor, the third bishop of Delaware) became Roman Catholics. There are always many issues when people leave. One of the contested issues of the day was the decision of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1907 to permit ministers of other denominations to preach in Episcopal parishes. For Wattson and White, Rome was the locus of Christian unity. I think most other Christians would say the locus of Christian unity is Jesus Christ.
I don’t think I ever thought very seriously about Christian unity until I was in seminary. But near the end of my second year at Nashotah House, John Paul II visited England and worshipped at Canterbury Cathedral. For a long time I had a postcard from that visit on my prayer desk, showing him and Archbishop Runcie walking side by side. Roman Catholic scholars were a large part of the theological study that came my way at Nashotah. But across the years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI’s pontificates, whatever openness the Roman Catholic Church had at the Second Vatican Council has disappeared. And I’m not sure anything will change any time soon, even with the widely well-received pontificate of Pope Francis.
When I looked on the Vatican webpage to see if the annual service of vespers on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Paul was still being held in Rome, I was glad to see it was. The pope has usually presided at this service at which the leaders from the wider Christian community are welcomed. That said, I hadn’t looked at the Vatican website since its recent redesign. I was really saddened to discover a new feature.
At the bottom of the home page there’s a section labeled, “Supreme Pontiffs.” The first thing you see there is a picture labeled “Peter.” If you click on it, you discover Peter was the “1st Pope of the Catholic Church.” Of course, no one knew he was a pope when he was alive—the term would not be used by bishops of Rome for several hundred years. Peter was an apostle—he’s never described in the New Testament as anything else. If seeing Peter described as the “first pope” drives a sympathetic Protestant crazy, one can only imagine how Orthodox Christians react. Historical revisionism at this level is, I think, inexcusable.
As a seminarian at the beginning of John Paul II’s pontificate, I was hopeful about ecumenical issues—in all directions, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. There’s a new bishop in Rome, and one wants to be hopeful, but the change in direction to historical truth will be very hard for the leadership of the Roman Catholic ecclesial community to make. Last week on his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis reaffirmed Paul VI’s teaching on contraception. During his visit to Brazil in 2013, Francis reaffirmed John Paul II’s exclusion of women from ordination to the priesthood and episcopate. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church (1995) still teaches homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.”
As I write on Friday, January 23, I happened to be the reader at Morning Prayer today. We’re near the end of the Letter to the Ephesians. The passage appointed included this message for slaves: Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ (Ephesians 6:10). It took the wider Christian community the better part of two millennia to overcome the biblical tradition of slavery. I hope it will not take that long for most Christian communities to sit down with each other at a table where all who believe in the Risen Lord will be invited to share the bread and the cup. Even in the New Testament, Peter had a very hard time eating with others (Acts 10:1–15; Galatians 2:11–12). Maybe this was the real concern of the Risen Lord when he told Peter once to tend his lambs and twice to feed his sheep (John 21:15–17). —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Elizabeth, Vera, Amy, Dorothy, Abalda, Antony, Gerald, Penny, David, Linda, Rosa, Steve, Eric, Maureen, Barbara, Francesca, McNeil, Takeem, Arpene, Louis, Paulette, PRIEST, and Harry, PRIEST; for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the soul of Ioannis Eliopoulos . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 25: 1883 Isabella Esmeralda Malvania; 1890 Daniel Lewis; 1899 Johanna Schneiders; 1902 Henry Meyer; 1920 Stanley Matthews, Jr.; 1955 Marie Chibouk; 1969 Rose Ross; 1985 Phyllis Brackett; 1995 Giselle Klopstock.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Ioannis Eliopoulos, the father of Diane Eliopoulos, died on January 19 in Paris after a brief illness. He was ninety-two years old. Diane, and her husband, Father Ian Montgomery, are good friends of Saint Mary’s. Please keep Ioannis, Diane, their family and friends and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial, in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR 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, January 25, 10:00 AM, Adult Forum: “The History of Women’s Ministries in the Episcopal Church—Deaconesses.” Led by Mary Robison . . . Monday, January 26, The Conversion of Saint Paul (transferred): Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, January 28, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 24, by Father Stephen Gerth, and on Saturday, January 31, by Father Jay Smith.
CANDLEMAS WEEKEND AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, February 1, Eve of The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple: Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. The Choir of Saint Luke’s Church, Darien, Connecticut, will sing The Evening Service in G by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) and a motet by Charles Wood (1866–1926), “O thou the central orb” . . . 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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, February 15 . . . Donations to defray the costs of the receptions following the Solemn Mass on Candlemas, February 2, and the Easter Vigil, April 4, will be received with great thanks. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 201.
STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . As of Monday, January 19, we have received pledges from 163 households. 97% 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.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594) 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 the era. His approximately 530 motets include many religious works and ceremonial pieces. Almost sixty Masses of undoubted attribution survive complete. Most are parodies, modeled usually on his own sacred motets or, occasionally, other composers’ works. The Mass setting we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is a five-voice Mass of just such origination entitled Missa “Veni in hortum meum” (from a secular work entitled, “Come to my pleasure garden”). Written in 1581, this work shows Lassus at the peak of his compositional abilities and shows the influence of the continental styles that he was exposed to on his travels. Lassus was choirmaster at Saint John Lateran in Rome, remaining only a short time before returning to his homeland and settling in Antwerp. His career from 1556 was centered in Munich at the court chapel of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria, as maestro di cappella. At the ministration of Holy Communion during the Solemn Mass, we will hear a motet, Expectans expectavi, also by Lassus. The text, taken from the first four verses of Psalm 40, includes the familiar line, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry” . . . David Macfarlane, director of music and organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Englewood, New Jersey, will play the organ recital on Sunday afternoon, January 25, at 4:40 PM. His program will include music by Alfred Fedak, (b. 1953), Gerald Bales (1919–2002), and Jean Jules Roger-Ducasse (1873–1954). —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 28. The class is reading the Book of the Prophet Isaiah this year. Next time, we will begin reading at chapter 17 . . . The Sunday-morning, adult-education class will resume on January 25. Parishioner Mary Robison will teach a two-part series (January 25 and February 1) on Women's Ministries in the Episcopal Church. The first class, on January 25, will focus on the work and ministry of deaconesses. ("Following the example of German Lutherans in the early nineteenth century, and later of English Anglicans, during 1885–1970 almost five hundred Episcopal women were ‘set apart’ as deaconesses to care for ‘the sick, the afflicted, and the poor.’ The 1889 General Convention passed a canon on deaconesses that recognized their ministry. This canon reflected the influence of Mary Abbot Emery and William Reed Huntington.") See the website of the Episcopal Church for more information—and come to Mary's class! Mary is an archivist and librarian at the General Theological Seminary. Here at the parish she serves in a number of ways. Among other things, she serves as an usher, a reader, and as the secretary of the Board of Trustees . . . 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 . . . On Saturday, January 10, we held a Saint Mary’s Community Potluck Dinner in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Our friends who spend part of the day resting in the church, some of whom are homeless, were invited to join us for dinner and many of them did so. The evening was a great success. We plan to repeat the event in the near future and we hope that more members of the parish family will be able to join us and bring a dish to share for dinner. If you would like to participate or if you have questions, please contact Father Jay Smith and Chris LaCass . . . 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.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH. . . At the Metropolitan Museum, 1000 Fifth Avenue (between Eighty-seventh & Eighty-eighth Streets), until March 8, 2015, in Gallery 304, The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art. “This exhibition features masterfully illuminated pages from two volumes of the magnificent, lavishly ornamented Winchester Bible. Probably commissioned around 1150 by the wealthy and powerful Henry of Blois (about 1098–1171), who was the bishop of Winchester (and grandson of William the Conqueror and King Stephen’s brother), the manuscript is the Winchester Cathedral’s single greatest surviving treasure. Renovations at the Cathedral provide the opportunity for these pages, which feature the Old Testament, to travel to New York. This presentation marks the first time the work will be shown in the United States. At the Metropolitan Museum, the pages of one bound volume will be turned once each month; three unbound bi-folios with lavish initials from the other volume—which is currently undergoing conservation—will be on view simultaneously for the duration of the exhibition.