FROM THE RECTOR: NO SEPARATION
This week I share the homily I wrote for the 12:10 Mass on All Souls' Day. It includes a reflection on the murders committed by a terrorist inspired by the so-called Islamic State in our city on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
The mother of one of my good friends died at the end of September. I had visited with them in April. Her death was unexpected, but it was a release from the suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In that sense, it was a blessing that many of us have prayed for when someone in our own families has had this terrible disease.
As I wrote a note to my friend, I found myself thinking about the real sense of separation and loss that we human beings experience when someone we love has died, especially our closest relatives, our closest friends. For whatever reason, as I was writing I began to think things are very different for those who are already in the nearer presence of God, for those who are alive in Christ.
I think and believe that Christ is never absent from us. So I hope it's true that those who rest in Christ don't sense any separation from us who are in this world, but not of this world. Those who have died have already passed from death to eternal life-and their lives include a relationship with us, in and through Christ.
Tuesday the evil of terrorism struck people in our city again. The burden of grief is very great for families when the terrible tragedy of murder occurs. Five men from Argentina were in New York to celebrate a thirty-year school anniversary-five families devastated. Two New York families each lost a son in the young adult years of their lives. A young Belgian mother of two boys, a three-year-old and a three-month-old, was killed. Her husband wrote in a statement that her death was, "unbearable and impossible to grasp" (New York Times, 2 November 2017). In the face of evil, we Christians can only ask for God's grace and help to look beyond the cross to the Risen Lord and eternal life with those we love.
One of the first funerals I did as a priest was of a newborn baby, the first child of a young couple who worked with me as youth group leaders. We were about the same age. I was out of town on the night the child was born, baptized, and died. The next day I sat with his parents. The funeral director had told them that they did not need to go to the grave. I refused to leave their home until they agreed to trust their faith and their church. In my homily at the funeral, I spoke of three gifts they had given their child: the gift of life, the gift of love, and the gift of faith. I am a Christian. I continue to believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the life of the world to come. I think I am beginning to understand in a new way how to answer Saint Paul's question for the early church in Rome, "
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35). Or if I may, "Who shall separate us from the love and life of Christ?" The answer is no one. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Michael, Eleanor, Wendell, José, Debbie, Sherri, Barbara, Mary Hope, Mike, Nicholas, Bobby, Gabby, Dick, Karen, Pearl, Eugenia, Indy, Babs, Peter, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Clayton, Mitties, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for those killed in the terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 5: 1897 Mary Elizabeth Bachmann; 1898 Anna Mary Magdalene Schineller.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Two weeks ago we kicked off our 2018 Stewardship Campaign, sending stewardship packets to nearly 1,000 members and friends of Saint Mary's. The Campaign has gotten off to a promising start. Some statistics: as of Wednesday, October 25, $129,400.00 has been pledged. This is 30.4% of our goal of $425,000.00. Nearly 21% of those who pledged for 2017 made pledges for 2018 during the first week of the Campaign. Between now and November 26, Commitment Sunday, we have set three goals: (1) to encourage all Saint Marians prayerfully to consider how they can offer their time, talent, and treasure to God here at Saint Mary's during the coming year; (2) to raise $425,000; and (3) to have all those who made a pledge for 2017 to fulfill that pledge no later than December 31, 2017. To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth, or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, November 5, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Sunday, November 5, 10:00 AM, Saint Benedict's Study, Adult Forum: The Gospel According to Matthew, led by Father Peter Powell . . . Monday, November 6, Parish Requiem (L-N), Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM. . . Tuesday, November 7, Parish Requiem (O-Q), Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, November 8, Parish Requiem (R-Z), Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on November 8, at 7:00 PM, after the Evening Mass . . . Friday, November 10, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor. Please enter at 145 West Forty-sixth Street, just west of the main doors to the church, and press buzzer 1 in the vestibule. Then climb up one flight of stairs, make a U-turn, and climb up another small flight of stairs. The Atrium will be on your left . . . Saturday, November 11, Veterans' Day (the church will be open on the normal Saturday schedule) . . . Saturday, November 11, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 8:30 AM-5:00 PM, Diocesan Convention.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On All Saints' Day, Wednesday, November 1, Sebastian Michael Saraceni and Rionagh Sloane Impey Harbut received the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Eliot Hahn was confirmed and Ricardo Reyes Gomez was received into the Episcopal Church. Please keep them all in your prayers . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital this week, after suffering a fall at home. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Thank you to all who worked so hard this past week as we celebrated All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. We are grateful to our altar servers, ushers, musicians, bakers of Communion bread, launderers of altar linens, sacristans, to the members of the staff, and to those who hosted the reception on Wednesday. We are grateful to all for their enthusiasm, commitment, and hard work . . . The parish office has received two tickets from a friend of the parish for a concert titled Christmas at the Court of Henry VIII, at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Here's a link that describes the concert. If you would like to have them, please be in touch with the parish office . . . Sunday, November 26, in Saint Joseph's Hall, Sister Laura Katharine's Final Candle Sale. Prepare for Advent and Christmas: Candles are being offered at a steep discount-40% off the original price, with an additional discount if you buy 4 or more candles of any size . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 165, All Saints' 178, All Souls' 105.
ADULT EDUCATION IN NOVEMBER . . . Father Pete Powell will begin his series on the Gospel According to Matthew on Sunday, November 5, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study. Father Powell writes, "In November we will begin a close study of Matthew's Gospel. As you are aware we are reading from Matthew this liturgical year and will be doing so until Advent 1. In November, I intend to cover the first 5 chapters of Matthew. This will get us from the Birth Narrative through the Beatitudes. We will explore the question of why a birth narrative and what are the implications for us today? In the Beatitudes we will look closely at what they really have to say about being a Christian. In them we will find that our faith is often in conflict with our religion. What in the world might that mean? Come and join us on November 5 and every Sunday in November to discuss this. We will resume the study of Matthew in Lent beginning with Matthew 6 and the Lord's Prayer. Once again the question will be What happens to us if we take the Gospel, and a prayer we say so often we may no longer hear it, seriously?"
FROM DAVID HURD: A WEEKEND IN LEBANON . . . Last week I traveled to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, to present a Liturgical Ministry Workshop and an organ recital there at St. Luke's Church. After a scenic three-and-one-half-hour drive into Pennsylvania Dutch country last Thursday, I arrived at St. Luke's where I was met by William Claxton, choir director, and introduced to The Reverend Dr. David Zwifka, Priest-in-Charge. Then I was taken into the striking 1880 Victorian Gothic worship space and introduced to the 1978 Austin organ. The workshop on Friday was essentially in three sections, opening with a keynote address which focused on the development of the Episcopal Hymnal into and through the twentieth century and its relationship to the Book of Common Prayer. Issues relative to current thoughts about Prayer Book and Hymnal revision also were referenced. The topic was clearly larger than the forty-five minutes allotted for its presentation, but effort was made to provide a useful overview. Most of the remaining two sessions were devoted to rehearsing choral pieces to be sung at Evensong the following day. These pieces included Anton Bruckner's motet Locus iste (to be sung in recognition of the parish's patronal feast), my own Norfolk Evening Canticles (commissioned in 2008 by Christ and St. Luke's Church, Norfolk, Virginia), and my Ubi caritas (commissioned by St. Paul's Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas). The gathered workshop group, about thirty in number, included members of St. Luke's and of its choir. Also several visitors from other churches were in attendance, including a number of clergy alumni of General Seminary, whom I was very happy to see. We concluded in the late afternoon. Sunday's Evensong featured the Festival Choir of St. Luke's, including several persons who had attended the Saturday workshop. At the service I shared conducting the choir with Mr. Claxton. Dr. Terry Heisey, the parish organist, was at the organ. In addition to the canticles and anthem, the service included two of my hymn settings: Mighty Savior and Compline (35 and 41 respectively in The Hymnal 1982). Following Evensong, the organ console was rolled to the center of the crossing, and I played an organ recital that included compositions by J. S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, and some of my own. At the reception afterwards, I was pleased to greet many members and friends of St. Luke's who had participated in the weekend's musical activities and to enjoy the generous hospitality of my hosts. I am grateful to Dr. Timothy Pyper, now music director at Holy Apostles Church, Chelsea, for returning to St. Mary's to direct the choir and play the organ in my absence. -David Hurd
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa O quam gloriosam est regnam of Tomás Luís de Victoria (1548-1611). It was published in Victoria's First Book of Masses (1583) and carried a dedication to King Philip II of Spain. Victoria, considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony, was born in Avila, the seventh of eleven children. He began his musical education as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral and his classical education at San Gil, a Jesuit school for boys founded in 1554. By 1565, Victoria had entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, where he was later engaged to teach music and eventually named maestro di cappella. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594) who was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romano at that time. During his years in Rome, Victoria held several positions as singer, organist, and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. There are twenty authenticated Mass settings of Victoria of which the Missa O quam gloriosam est regnam is one of several in the style of Missa parodia. In this case, Victoria parodies his own motet of the same title. That motet was composed to serve as the Magnificat antiphon for the Feast of All Saints. The full text of the motet may be translated as follows: "O how glorious is the Kingdom wherein all the saints rejoice with Christ; clothed in white robes they follow the Lamb wherever he goes, alleluia." Victoria's manner of parody resists the usual practice of beginning each Mass movement with a clear reference to the motet from which its themes are derived. Rather, he skillfully selects his borrowed themes and applies them where they best serve their new texts. The setting, perhaps the best known of Victoria's Masses, is for four voices.
Giuseppe Ottavio Pitoni (1657-1743) represents a Roman musical culture of more than a century later than Victoria. Pitoni was born in Rieti but was brought as an infant to Rome where he studied music and sang in church choirs. He served at various times as maestro di cappella-or in a similar capacity-at Monterotondo, Rieti Cathedral, and many churches in and around Rome. While at Assisi Cathedral, Pitoni devoted himself to studying the works of Palestrina, whose influence is apparent in his own compositions. However, Pitoni's large musical output also reflected the stylistic fashions of his own day and included elements of concertato and polychoral writing. His four-voice motet Cantate Domino, with text drawn from Psalm 149, is a modest setting written entirely in a joyful and energetic triple meter. The text is declaimed with clarity, almost entirely by all voices singing words together in chords.
The organ voluntaries on Sunday morning are by Jean Adam Guilain. Guilain's dates are not known, his national origin is in question, and even his real name was probably something more like Wilhelm Freinsberg. Nonetheless, he acquired a fine reputation in Paris as an organist, harpsichordist, and teacher, and in 1706, he published his Pièces d'orgue pour le Magnificat. This collection contained a suite of seven pieces for each of the first four church modes. While the French organ culture of his time is thought to have been in decline, Guilain's special contribution was to blend Italian elements into the highly stylized French genre. Typical of organ suites of the time, the movements are designated by the organ stops that the player was intended to draw. The prelude comprises the first two movements of Guilain's Suite on Tone II: a Prélude for the principal chorus of the organ, and a movement featuring a colorful melody in the tenor register. The postlude is the Suite's sixth movement, which calls for the powerful reed stops of the organ.
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for November 18 and December 6, our next two Drop-in Days. We need blankets, razors, and shaving cream. We also need packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; and very shortly we will need cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items are proving to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Attorneys from the New York Legal Assistance Group have volunteered to host a Legal Aid Day for our Homeless Ministry on Wednesday, December 6, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the Mission House. The attorney volunteers will dispense legal advice, along with clothes and toiletries . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, December 8, 2017, 5:30 PM, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dr. Keith Reas, director of music, Saint Paul's Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee . . . Friday, January 5, 2018, 5:30 PM, Eve of the Epiphany, Stephen Rumpf, New York City . . . Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:30, The Presentation: Candlemas, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, November 18, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents Vox Luminis: Royal Funeral Music Visit . . . Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents The Tallis Scholars: Heinrich Isaac at 500. Visit the Miller Theatre website for more information and to purchase tickets . . . Saturday, December 9, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, Program: Rosenhaus: Overture from "The Inspector General"; Kabalevsky: Cello Concerto No. 1 in G minor; Schumann: Symphony No. 3 ("Rhenish"). Visit the NYRO website for information and to buy tickets.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, November 22, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 23, Thanksgiving Day, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, November 26, Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King, Commitment Sunday . . . Sunday, December 3, The First Sunday of Advent.