FROM THE RECTOR: OUR PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
In my seminary years we learned that the sharp division between the Christian and Jewish communities, as reflected in most of the New Testament, arose after the Great Jewish Revolt (AD 66–70). It seems that for some time scholars have placed the hardening of this division toward the end of the period called “Late Antiquity,” AD 200–700 (C. E. Fonrobert, “Judaizers, Jewish Christians, and Others,” The Jewish Annotated New Testament , 555). So I wasn’t surprised to find, at the beginning of Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD (2012) by Peter Brown, that Professor Brown writes about commonalities in the earlier part of this period.
One example he cites is a shared understanding about giving by Jews and by Christians. He points to manuscript and archeological evidence. He thinks fourth-century Jews and Christians looked at building projects, that is, synagogues and churches, in much the same way. They shared a deep sense that giving to their religious community was about giving to God (Ibid., 40–41). He quoted a verse familiar to many of us from the Communion offertory of the 1928 Prayer Book, “All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14). It expresses a conviction that is obviously Jewish and obviously Christian.
He also draws our attention to the synagogue at Dura-Europos (now Syria, now reduced almost entirely to ruins by ISIS) built in the first part of the third century. The leaders of that new synagogue recorded their names on small tiles around the ceiling—twenty feet above the floor. The names were there to be read by God. One inscription reads that the builders had built “with their money . . . and in the eager desire of their hearts” (Brown, 41). On the Christian side he writes,
We moderns might see a difference between Christian charity to the poor and Christian support for the infrastructure of their local churches. Fourth-century Christians seldom made this distinction; all pious gifts were treated as equally significant. All were made to God from the good things He had given to humankind. All were thought of as springing from a single paradigm of giving—first to God and then to one’s fellows—that was summed up in the solemn offering of the Eucharist (page 42).
In the ancient world, as in our own time, the very wealthy often liked to see their names publicly inscribed on magnificent buildings. Brown’s Dura-Europos example reminded me of the inscription on the inside of the original tabernacle door at Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana. The tabernacle, with its inscription, was installed when the church served as the first cathedral of the diocese of Michigan City, later re-named the diocese of Northern Indiana. The inscription states that the tabernacle and other furnishings in the chancel had been “given to the Glory of God and in honor of the Holy Sacrifice.” A beautiful thing.
One can see the golden thread of God’s providence, as it were, running from the earliest days of humankind even until today in the lives and gifts of mostly ordinary women and men. The shrine boxes in our church bear witness that people want to make an offering to God for what God has done and what God can do for us. I think it is right for us to see in our gifts to God, those gifts known to others and those known to God alone, praise and thanksgiving. And as in the fourth century, the Eucharist is the place where the work of our lives connects with God and with each other in Christ the Lord, where we give and where we receive. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Linda, Clovis, Nancy, Joanna, Jason, Dolly, Melissa, Jean, Barbara, Philip, Sally, Juliana, Margaret, Heidi, Catherine, Donald, Sam, Burton, Arpene, Takeem; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Gaylord, and Harry, priests; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the soul of Paulette Schiff, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 25: 1895 August Albert Aye; 1905 James Brill Grosvenor; 1916 James H. Cranston; 1953 Lydia Thompson; 1972 Doris White Reuter; 2008 Donald Kevin Farley.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Reverend Paulette Schiff died last Saturday night at her home in Miller Place, New York, in eastern Long Island, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Mother Schiff served as an assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s between 1997 and 1999. She and her husband Walter remained friends of the parish and often worshiped with us on holy days. There will be a memorial service for Mother Schiff on Saturday, October 8, at 1:00 PM, at Saint Paul’s Church, 31 Rider Avenue, Patchogue, New York. Dr. David Hurd will play the service. Please keep Paulette, Walter, their daughter, 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 crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on September 28, at 6:30 PM. We are reading Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The class is led by Father Jay Smith. The class will not meet on October 5 . . . Thursday, September 29, Saint Michael & All Angels, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM. Father Jim Pace will celebrate and preach at 6:00 PM . . . On Wednesdays, the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Sung Mass; on Thursdays the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Mass with Healing Service.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Linda Bridges is now at the Mary Manning Walsh Home, 1339 York Ave, New York, NY 10021, where she will receive further treatment. Please keep her in your prayers . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, October 2, at 10:00 AM. Seminarian Matthew Jacobson will discuss his summer internship in Rome . . . Homeless Ministry: We are looking for donations of clothing for distribution to the homeless in our neighborhood: jeans and slacks in a variety of sizes for both men and women; packs of new underwear and socks for both women and men; sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets and coats; dress shirts and outfits suitable for job interviews, and other items. Sister Monica tells us this week that we are especially short of women’s underwear, in various sizes. Cash donations to this ministry are also welcome! . . . Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: October 16, 23, and 30; and November 6 and 13 . . . The Rector is away to visit family in Maryland this weekend and then to attend a Leadership in Ministry workshop in West Virginia. He returns to the rectory Wednesday evening, September 28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 152.
MUSIC NOTES . . . The cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is tenor Christopher Howatt. During the ministration of Communion he will sing “Love,” a setting of a portion of a poem by the English author Thomas Lodge (1558–1625), composed in 1953 by Ned Rorem (b. 1923) while Rorem was living in Paris. It is oddly marked—“Calm and Nervous”—as if at once to suggest both the peace and agitation which the experience of love can engender in the beloved. Ned Rorem, one of the most distinguished of contemporary American composers, has received numerous commissions, fellowships, and awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976. He is widely considered to be the leading American composer of the art song, with more than 300 songs to his credit. The roster of his teachers, mentors, and friends, colorfully documented in his published diaries, is a virtual Who’s Who of twentieth-century Western music and musicians . . . The organ voluntaries on Sunday, like last Sunday’s, are two of the eight “Little” Preludes and Fugues, a set of concise organ pieces traditionally attributed to J. S. Bach (1685–1750), but now commonly thought to have been composed by a pupil of Bach, very likely Johann Tobias Krebs (1690–1762), or his son Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713–1780). The uncertainty of the origin of these works notwithstanding, the eight Preludes and Fugues have proven themselves over generations to be especially effective in pedagogical and liturgical applications. Last Sunday the voluntaries were numbers 3 and 5 of the eight, in the relative keys of E minor and G Major. This week’s voluntaries are numbers 6 and 8 in the relative keys of G minor and B-flat Major. —David Hurd
A WALK TO FIGHT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE . . . Michael Reid is a Saint Marian and the assistant to the director at the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. He writes, “I will be the team captain for Mount Sinai at the upcoming Alzheimer’s Walk on Sunday, October 16. If any Saint Mary’s members would care to sponsor our effort (or walk with us), we would welcome their support, particularly if it’s honoring someone from the Saint Mary’s community who has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Our team is listed on the Walk’s team list as ‘ADRC and Loeb Center at Mount Sinai.’ We were one of the largest groups and largest fundraisers at last year’s walk, and we hope to surpass last year’s effort on both fronts.” Information about donations and volunteering to walk is available online.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Tuesday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, October 24, Saint James of Jerusalem (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, October 28, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold is the celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass. . . Wednesday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, 12:10 PM Sung Mass and 6:00 PM Solemn Mass . . . Sunday, November 6, Daylight Saving Time ends.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue at Thirty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10016, Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece, September 2, 2016, through January 8, 2017. From the Library’s website, “Completed around 1470 in Bruges, Hans Memling's Triptych of Jan Crabbe was dismembered in the eighteenth century and has never before been reconstructed for an American audience. Two panels from the altarpiece are among the finest paintings owned by the Morgan Library & Museum, where they have long been on permanent view in Pierpont Morgan’s Study. [The central panel is a painting of the Crucifixion.] This exhibition brings together the scattered elements of the famous triptych, reuniting the Morgan inner wings with the central panel now owned by the Musei Civici in Vicenza, Italy, and the outer wings from the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium. Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece is the first museum exhibition to explore the reconstructed masterpiece in context. It has long been observed that the donor portraits are the most outstanding aspect of the Crabbe Triptych, especially the portrait of Anna Willemzoon in the left wing, an extraordinary image of old age, and representative of the merging of the sacred and secular realms that is often present in the work of Memling and his contemporaries.