From the Rector: Finding the Forty Days
Last week I realized that the 1979 Prayer Book kept not only the traditional twelve-day Christmas Season, but also a full forty-day season of Lent and Holy Week—except in the years when the Annunciation, March 25, occurs in Lent. If one begins with Ash Wednesday, omits the Sundays in Lent and the Sunday of the Passion, and then counts the weekdays through Holy Saturday, one has forty days of Lent and Holy Week. This reading of the Prayer Book’s section called “Days of Special Devotion” (page 17) is confirmed by the section called “The Titles of the Seasons” (pages 31–32).
What doesn’t appear in our Prayer Book is the Latin word “triduum”—three days. Beginning in 1969, Roman Catholics have used, first, “Paschal Triduum,” and now, “Sacred Paschal Triduum,” as a title for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Day. For them, since 1969, Lent has ended with sunset on Maundy Thursday—which they call in English, “Holy Thursday.” We Episcopalians could have followed the lead of the Roman Church in our 1979 Prayer Book, but we did not. It’s worth noting that the Church of England’s Common Worship (2009) also avoids the phrase. Although we, too, have used the word “triduum” at Saint Mary’s in recent years, I’ve come to believe that there are good reasons for us to follow the Prayer Book and avoid using the word and the concept.
Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson’s The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011) recounts the development of a “triduum” in the church in Jerusalem in the fourth century (pages 60–68). Elements of what developed there would spread to other Christian communities—but not quickly or universally (pages 64–65).
In Rome, Patrick Regan writes, “[Good Friday and Holy Saturday], like Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year, were days of strict fast but without any liturgy” (“The Good Friday Communion Debate,” Worship 81  2). Eventually, Good Friday was observed with a service of the word that included the passion according to John (Origins, 65 n. 22). The veneration of the cross on Good Friday spread to Rome by the end of the seventh century (P. Regan, “The Veneration of the Cross,” Worship 52 , 4). In the early eighth century, the pope and his attendants attended this Good Friday liturgy that included the veneration of the cross, but they left before communion. Thus, the pope and his entourage preserved the older tradition of no communion on Good Friday (Worship 81, 3–5). Again, a “Paschal Triduum” is a new idea.
For us, Holy Week is one of the seven seasons of the church year in the Prayer Book. It begins with “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday” and concludes with “Holy Saturday.” The Easter Season begins with Easter Eve.
Last year, after telephone and e-mail conversations with Louis Weil, I dropped the current Roman Catholic titles for the services on Maundy Thursday (“The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper) and Good Friday (“The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord”) that I had used since becoming a rector in Indiana. Father Weil had been my teacher at Nashotah House. From 1988 until his retirement in 2009 he taught at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In response to my question of what to call the services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday he wrote:
I looked at the way the BCP rites for both Thursday and Friday of this week are laid out—and I found, as you already know, a wonderful understated simplicity . . . the rites speak for themselves with enormous power. And so I am inclined just to let the rites do their work, and that all the programs need to do is offer simple titles, plus, of course, the liturgical materials which the people need for full participation. So, if it is not too late, I would simply use the titles: ”Maundy Thursday” and “‘Good Friday.”
My respect for the liturgical scholars who led us to the 1979 Prayer Book continues to grow. They got so many things right. In the case of Lent, Holy Week, and the Easter Season, they kept the fundamental importance of the Christian week—which begins on Sunday! Every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. That said, the liturgies of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday have come to have new significance for most Episcopalians, something they have always had here at Saint Mary’s since it doors first opened in 1870. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Connie, Lily, Daniel, Kris, Mary, Sylvia, Sally, Sam, Jean, Heidi, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Takeem, Arpene, Mazdak, Sidney, deacon, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 13: 1872 Thomas Richardson; 1893 Catherine Swart, Christiana C. Marston; 1916 James Dunn; 1924 Thomas William Meadows; 1925 Selden Blakeslee; 1930 Harriett Breslin; 1943 Frederick Charles Schmidt II; 1956 Jane White Blinn.
FRIDAYS IN LENT . . . Stations of the Cross will be prayed weekly on Fridays at 6:30 PM. You are invited to join us.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, March 13, Daylight Saving Time begins. Clocks are turned ahead one hour . . . Saint Mary’s on Sunday: March 13, the Fifth Sunday in Lent: Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Adult Forum 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will continue on March 16 at 6:30 PM. The class will not meet on March 23 or 30 . . . Friday, March 18, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Saturday, March 19, 10:00 AM, Acolyte Rehearsal for Palm Sunday . . . Saturday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM . . . March 19 and March 20, The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, The Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Vigil Mass on Saturday at 5:00 PM. On Sunday: Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass at 9:00 AM. The Liturgy of the Palms, Procession to Times Square, and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. There will be no 10:00 AM Eucharist on Palm Sunday.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Since Tuesday, March 15, 2007, two members of the Community of St. John Baptist have been in residence and assisting with the work and life of our parish. We are very thankful for their witness and their ministry . . . On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week we will sing Matins at 8:30 AM and Evensong at 6:00 PM. These will be simple services without sermons or Eucharistic Benediction. The morning and evening canticles are sung to congregational settings. Each service will take about twenty-five minutes. We invite you to come and pray, sing, and praise God with us as we prepare for Easter . . . Flowers are needed for all the Sundays in Eastertide. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . If you would like to make a donation to help pay for the reception after the Easter Vigil (March 26), please speak to Father Jay Smith or contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 192.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED . . . On Saturday, March 19, at 10:00 AM there will be an acolyte rehearsal for Palm Sunday in the church. Immediately after the rehearsal, at around 10:30 AM, volunteers are needed to help prepare palms for distribution during the procession to Times Square the following day. Volunteers are also welcome during Holy Week when the Flower Guild makes preparations to decorate the church for Easter. If you would like to help, please contact Scott Holman, or speak to a member of the Guild after church on Sunday.
MUSIC ON SUNDAY . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday the Mass setting will be Mass for Lent by Rick Austill (b. 1955). Rick is a member of Saint Mary’s and is very involved with the work and ministry of the parish’s flower guild. He earned a double BFA in piano performance and composition in 1977 from Carnegie-Mellon University. For most of his career he worked with dancers, both as an accompanist and a composer. His Mass for Lent is the third of his works that has been sung at Saint Mary’s. It is a setting of the Holy Eucharist: Rite II for men’s voices. As with many of his works, the setting was inspired by the qualities of plainchant, in this instance by the steadiness of rhythm and a sense of simplicity. The only break with this is the chromaticism of the Benedictus. Its style was inspired by the Crucifixus in the Creed that is heard in many Mass settings. In Latin, “benedictus” means “blessed.” In this case, the Benedictus looks toward Calvary. This is the Mass setting’s first performance. During the administration of Communion, we will hear the anthem Have mercy upon me, O Lord by Thomas Tomkins (1572–1656).
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, March 13, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House, Father Peter Powell will continue his series on The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11–20; 1 Kings 1–2. This class has continued throughout the season of Lent. The final session of the class will take place on Palm Sunday, March 20 . . . Next up: Beginning on Sunday, April 3, Matthew Jacobson will begin his four-part series, Reading the Fathers: An Exploration of the History, Spirituality & Theology of the Early Church. A notice about the class has now been posted on the parish website. Take a look at the icon there of Saint Polycarp, who was martyred around AD 155. An early and important account of Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom will be read during this series . . . On Sunday, May 8, Stephen Morris will give a presentation on his new book, When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality (McFarland, 2015) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on March 16, at 6:30 PM. The class will begin reading at Isaiah 60 The class will not meet on March 23 or 30.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves) for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street. —Jay Smith
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . March 21–23, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday in Holy Week, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, March 24, Maundy Thursday, Matins 8:30 AM, Holy Eucharist 6:00 PM, Watch before the Blessed Sacrament 7:30 PM until the Good Friday Liturgy at 12:30 PM . . . Friday, March 25, Good Friday, Matins 8:30 AM, Liturgy of Good Friday 12:30 PM & 6:00 PM. Confessions are heard by the parish clergy after both liturgies . . . Saturday, March 26, Holy Saturday, Matins 8:30 AM, Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM. A reception follows the Vigil at around 10:30 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Monday, March 21, 7:30 PM, The Peccadillo Theater Company presents a staged reading of It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis & John C. Moffitt, adapted from Lewis’s novel, starring Greg Mullavey and directed by Dan Wackerman. The reading is part of “The-Plays-You-Should-Know-But-Probably-Don't-Reading Series.” At The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South. Admission is free. Reservations must be made in advance via e-mail. Dan Wackerman, and his husband Kevin Kennedy, are good friends of Saint Mary’s and often worship with us on Sunday mornings.