FROM THE RECTOR: A CLERICAL UNITY
On December 7, 2016, I was the celebrant for the Wednesday 12:10 Sung Mass. It's the day the church commemorates the life and witness of Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who died in 397. Preparing for a brief homily, I was surprised and appalled to discover that the date of his commemoration had shifted with the 1979 Prayer Book from the date of his death to the date of his ordination as bishop. He died on Easter Eve, April 4, 397.
Ambrose has been revered as a saint and as one of the four traditional "doctors," or teachers, of the Western church. He was born c. 339. Famously, he was an unbaptized catechumen in 374 when the laity and clergy of Milan elected him bishop. He fled, but later consented. He was then baptized and eight days later consecrated bishop. His commemoration on April 4 was included in the American church's first edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1963). (Unlike the Prayer Book of the Church of England and many other Anglican churches, our American Prayer Book did not list any "lesser feasts" until the 1979 book was adopted.)
Prayer Book Studies 19: The Church Year (1970) proposed changing the commemoration to December 7 stating, "This is the date of his consecration as bishop. His death date is April 4. The new Roman and proposed Church of England Calendars place him here, to avoid occurrence in Holy Week or Easter Week" (page 63). By contrast, Prayer Book Studies IX: The Calendar (1957), recounting the origins of saints' days wrote, "The Church paid no attention in its cult to the natural birthdays of its members-unlike the pagan religions which dutifully observed the birthdays of its heroes, emperors, and notable leaders. To the Christian mind, the only birthday of any significant religious meaning was "death and resurrection," effectively promised in Baptism, effectively realized in departure from this world" (page 19). In 1957, no particular significance was accorded to ordination dates. By way of contrast, our "Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar of the Episcopal Church" (2006) makes no reference to the ancient tradition of commemorating a saint's date of death.
Over time the dates of the movement of the body of a martyr or saint to a church would become important days of commemoration, along with dates of the discovery of relics. The anniversaries of a cathedral and other churches become important. Of course, a lot changes with the Protestant Reformation. Saints start to make a comeback with the Oxford Movement. For Anglicans, one of the most important fruits of the theological and liturgical studies of the twentieth century was the increasing awareness that "the church" is comprised of all the baptized, and not just the clergy. But clericalism was, and is, alive in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
If church leaders really needed another date on which to commemorate Ambrose, the obvious choice might have been the day of his baptism; but November 30 is the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. December 1 was available. What I still can't understand is the decision by the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church to discard the ancient and powerful tradition of remembering the day on which a holy man or woman died and entered into the nearer presence of God.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Wednesday, January 18, with our Feast of the Confession of Saint Paul the Apostle-I'm not sure, but I think the American Episcopal Church invented it as a kind of riposte to the Roman Catholic Church's Feast of Saint Peter's Chair on February 22 (Prayer Book Studies 19, 65). Even if Christians aren't always welcome to share the Eucharist with each other, it seems that the church leaders of different ecclesial communities can find ways to diminish the importance of baptism without even thinking much about it.
I was celebrant for the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Beginning that night and through Pentecost, at Solemn Mass we use Eucharistic Prayer D, adapted from the Liturgy of Basil the Great (The Book of Common Prayer , 375). Basil died in 379, but the earliest manuscript of the liturgy dates to the ninth century. Prayer D provides for the insertion of saints' names. Normally we use only one, "the Blessed Virgin Mary." I realized at some point during the vigil that there was a commemoration that we keep on April 4 at Saint Mary's. So I added, at the appropriate place, "with your servant Martin Luther King, Jr." If I had known that it was also the anniversary of Ambrose's death, I would have mentioned him, too-and I would have named him first, because he died first. The liturgy, and perhaps we, would have been the richer for it. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Paula, John, Jerry, Shawna, Andrew, Alexander, May, Claudette, Rocco, Krystal, Robert, Nicole, Heidi, Barbara, Jean, Catherine, Sharon, Donald, Linda, George, Burton, Takeem, Toussaint, Dennis, Abraham; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Carl, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Julie Sandri, Emily Philgren, Donato Callisto, and Julia Caroline Martin Betts . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 15: 1882 Elizabeth L. Kintzing; 1890 Maria Maduro Van Epp; 1903 Mary A. Glover; 1918 Beatriz Mallet-Prevost Murphy; 1983 Faith Trumbull Cleveland Booth.
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 resumes this week on January 13, 2017.
REQUIEM MASS . . . A Requiem Mass for parishioner Julie Sandri will be offered in the church on Saturday, January 21, at 2:00 PM. A reception follows in Saint Joseph's Hall.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Our pledge campaign continues. We have been making good progress. However, there is one statistic that we are very eager to change: only 63% of those who made pledges for 2016 have made a pledge for 2017. We urge all those who made a commitment to Saint Mary's in the past to renew that commitment for the coming year. If you are new to the parish and have not pledged before, we hope that you will do so this year. We urgently need your help! Here are some additional statistics: as of January 11, $355,200.00 has been pledged so far during the Campaign. This is 83.6% of our pledge goal for 2017. In order to make a pledge for 2017, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; or place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online.
OUR ALTAR SERVERS . . . January 22 is the feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. For somewhat arbitrary reasons, Saint Vincent is the patron of this parish's Guild of Acolytes. As all who worship here soon realize, the ministry of acolyte is an essential one here at Saint Mary's. The expertise of our acolytes and the care with which they fulfill their ministry helps us all to worship. Take a moment and thank your local acolyte this month! And please keep our acolytes in your prayers. If you think you might like to serve at the altar, please speak to Father Gerth.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S. . . Adult Forum: The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 15, at 10:00 AM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. Dr. Charles Morgan will lead the class in the first part of his three-part series on anger
. . . Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The parish offices are closed. Only the noonday services are offered, and only the noonday AA meetings gather in the Mission House . . . Wednesday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM. This is the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on January 18 at 7:00 PM in the Nursery, following the Evening Mass.
SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . Super Bowl 51 will take place on Sunday, February 5, 2017, beginning at 6:30 PM EST. Once again, we will mark the occasion with a party in Saint Joseph's Hall. Beverages will be provided. Dinner is potluck. Please contact Father Smith or Grace Bruni if you are planning to come to the party and are able to bring a dish to share. We will not have an oven available for warming dishes up, so we would ask you to plan accordingly. Cash donations at the door will be accepted in order to cover the costs of food and beverages. Please be generous! The hospitality budget needs your help! Remember: you don't need to know anything about football to come to the party. Come for the fellowship, the comfort food, and the half-time show!
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Charlie Walsh had a surgical procedure this week to solve a persistent back problem. He is already at home and tells us that he is up and about. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Father John Merz and his wife Tara Anderson were at Mass on Wednesday. It was good to see them. They were accompanied by their son, Vito, who was born last October. They also have a daughter, Phaedra, who is two and a half years old. Father Merz is the vicar of the Church of the Ascension, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He was an assisting priest here at Saint Mary some years ago, while he was serving as a chaplain at New York University . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on retreat from Thursday evening, January 12, until Sunday, January 15 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 150.
FROM DR. DAVID HURD . . . The choral setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Mass in the Dorian Mode by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). This posthumously published work of Howells was his first to receive a professional London performance when it was sung at Mass in Westminster Cathedral in November 1912 under the direction of Sir Richard Terry, just six months after Howells became a student at the Royal College of Music. Over the next four years Howells composed several more pieces in Latin for the liturgy at Westminster Cathedral, all of which soon slipped into obscurity, and none of which was published in his lifetime. Fortunately these remarkable earlier pieces subsequently have been published and are taking their place along with Howells' many later beloved settings for Anglican services. Howells' Dorian Mass is clearly a product of the resurgence of Renaissance polyphony that the papal Motu Proprio of 1903 had encouraged and that Dr. Terry's work at Westminster Cathedral had anticipated. Almost a decade later Ralph Vaughan Williams's Mass in G minor (1921) would similarly reflect the inspiration and influence of Renaissance church music in early twentieth-century England.
Melchior Franck (c. 1579-1639) was a German composer who bridged late Renaissance and early Baroque styles, and also transmitted Venetian musical styles north into Germany. His association with Hans Leo Hassler in Nuremberg provided a key connection to the Venetian influences that became part of his own compositional style. His setting of Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam, sung today as the motet during the administration of Communion, sets a stanza of a German chorale text from Martin Luther in the manner of a four-voice Renaissance choral texture. The text in this case is Martin Luther's great baptismal hymn. The chorale melody with which Luther's words became associated by the mid-sixteenth century provides the source for Franck's imitative counterpoint throughout. This melody, paired with F. Bland Tucker's paraphrase of Luther's text, is found at 139 in The Hymnal 1982.
The organ prelude is a chorale fantasia on Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern by Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707). This chorale, associated with the season of Epiphany, is found in two melodic versions in The Hymnal 1982 at 496 and 497. Buxtehude's fantasia begins by quoting the melody literally, although cloaked in varying accompaniments. The second variation is more stylistically uniform and in the manner of a gigue.
ADULT EDUCATION. . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 15, with Dr. Charles Morgan leading a three-part series (January 15, 22, and 29), Dealing with the Hard Stuff: Talking about Anger. Charles is a member of the parish and a practicing psychiatrist. Last season he led several sessions on dying, death, and grief in the "Dealing with the Hard Stuff" series . . . Coming Up: On February 5, Father Smith will lead a session, following up on Dr. Morgan's series on anger. After that, Dr. Matthew Jacobson will teach a series of classes on the development of hagiography-the lives of the martyrs and other saints-in the early church. In Lent, Father Pete Powell will continue his class on the Acts of the Apostles; and, during Eastertide, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes entitled "Rising/Rose/Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry."
THE COMMUNITY OF ST JOHN BAPTIST . . . Many religious orders, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox, have developed close ties with lay people who wish to support a religious order and who wish to participate in the life and ministry of an order in some way. One of the ways to do that is to become an Associate of a religious community. This often involves developing and practicing a "rule of life." The Community of Saint John Baptist, two of whose members are in residence here at the parish, welcome such Associates. For more information, speak to Sister Laura Katharine or Sister Monica Clare, or contact the community's superior, Sister Eleanor Francis.
HOMELESS MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Plans are moving ahead for our first Drop-In Day. The plan is this. On Friday, February 3, two or more volunteers will greet our homeless guests in the Mission House, and two or more volunteers are needed also to accompany them downstairs to our clothes closet. They will then have the opportunity to receive needed clothing items, as well as a bag with toiletry items, our recently designed book of prayers, as well as some information about the parish. At some point, if not in February, we hope to have a social worker or two present on these Drop-In Days to discuss other services. We hope also to have a chance to talk to our guests to hear more from them about the struggles they face in the Times Square neighborhood and to discover ways to shape our ministry based on the actual needs of the homeless in our area . . . Our Wish List: as the weather grows colder, we are looking for donations of socks, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, backpacks, gloves, winter hats, earmuffs, rain ponchos, and, most important, gift cards for McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. If you'd like to volunteer to help distribute clothing and other items, please contact Sister Monica. We are grateful to all those who have been supporting this ministry so generously. -Members of the Homeless Ministry Committee
LIFE IS A CABARET . . . Chris Howatt is our parish business manager. He is also a member of the parish choir and a very talented musician. Last fall, Chris performed his cabaret show, "Hear My Song," at Don't Tell Mama, right here in the Times Square neighborhood. From the show's flyer: "Long known as a music director for theater and cabaret, Christopher Howatt steps out from behind the piano and into the spotlight in this hour-long show, including the music of Stephen Schwartz, Steven Sondheim, Jerome Kern, Jason Robert Brown and others." Chris has been asked back to do an encore of the show on Sunday, January 22, at 3:00 PM. Don't Tell Mama is at 343 West Forty-sixth Street, between Eight and Ninth Avenues. The cover charge is $15.00, with a two-drink minimum. Cash only. A review of the show is available online.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S. . . Saturday, January 21, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre at Saint Mary's, New York Polyphony, Palestrina's "Marcellus Mass." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 4, 7:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM), The Trident Ensemble presents "Crossroads: Music from Georgia." From the ensemble's website: "Surrounded by the Black Sea, situated between Europe and Asia, the nation of Georgia lies at a meeting point between West and East. Having survived occupations by the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and even annexation by Russia in the 1800s, the country maintains a completely unique language, alphabet, culture, and musical practice. Join Trident as we explore the rich history and polyphonic tradition of Georgia, from folk music to contemporary classical a cappella repertoire." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 11, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Program includes music by Pfitzner, Ravel, and Bruch. Admission is free. A donation at the door is encouraged. More information is available online.
ORGAN RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Thursday, February 2, 5:30 PM, Gregory Eaton, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Austin, TX; Friday, March 24, 5:30 PM, Richard Robertson, Church of the Holy Ghost, Denver, CO; Sunday, April 16, 4:30 PM, Timothy Pyper, Williamstown, MA; Thursday, May 25, 5:30 PM, David Hurd, organist and music director.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY . . . The Budget Committee and the Board of Trustees expects that we will need to raise around $4,000.00 in 2017 in order to supplement the funds allotted in the budget for hospitality. Our hospitality efforts include Sunday Coffee Hours and Evensong receptions, holy-day receptions, and special events such as Quiet Days, Oktoberfest, the Super Bowl Party, and birthday and anniversary celebrations. Since we welcome so many visitors to the parish, the hospitality ministry is crucial to what we do and who we are. If all our members and friends were to make a regular donation to this ministry, we would easily cover our shortfall. No donation is too small! If you make a donation by check, please include the words "Hospitality Ministry" in the memo line. We are grateful to all those who continue to support this ministry.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins . . . Wednesday, January 25, The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends . . . Wednesday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, February 2, The Presentation, Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM and Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, February 3, Saint Blase, Blessing of Throats 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . March 1, Ash Wednesday . . . Sunday, March 12, Daylight Saving Time begins.
Click here for this week's calendar.