FROM FATHER SMITH:
TRAINING FOR THE KINGDOM
Julie Sandri died on December 20, 2016, after a year-long and very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Julie was a parishioner, who almost always attended the 9:00 AM Mass on Sunday mornings, and she was well-known among that small community of friends and parishioners who gather at that early hour to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together. Julie was many things--a Christian, a mother, a teacher, an artist, a potter, a friend, a Saint Marian, and a fiercely loyal, though not native, New Yorker. She was also, and very happily so, a resident of this neighborhood. For many years, Julie lived in a great apartment on Seventh Avenue, just south of Carnegie Hall. The apartment had a number of highly desirable features, including many windows and great light, not so common in Manhattan apartments. Last fall, Julie told me a joke--for me the joke was bittersweet --but she thought it was funny. In the joke, Julie arrives at "the Pearly Gates" and is invited in by Saint Peter. She pauses and says to the Apostle, "Hmmm, I'm not really sure. I'll have to think it over. You see, I have this really great penthouse apartment in Midtown." Julie faced the good night courageously but did not do so gently.
Julie was a teacher of music and, especially, of voice. She taught for many years at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. On the bookshelves of her apartment, one whole section was devoted to music. There were many musical scores and bound editions of well-known operas. If you browsed through that section, you couldn't help but notice that all of the music was extremely well-used, not to say a bit beat up and dog-eared. Seeing this made you realize that, for Julie, music was more than just a hobby. It was her work. Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini were not just fancy names used to impress. Those composers' music was alive to her, and it was her vocation to teach it, to hand it down, to some of this city's more talented teenagers.
I corresponded with Julie's sister, Sheryl Engbers, after Julie's death. I met Sheryl for the first time at Julie's funeral. She visited Saint Mary's a couple of weeks ago and did a very generous thing--she volunteered to be an usher at the Solemn Mass. She wanted to help out, here in her sister's parish. Afterwards, Sheryl and I e-mailed back and forth. She has given me permission to share with our readers something she told me in one message, "About a month before Julie passed, she asked me what would give me the most trouble to deal with after she was gone . . . My immediate response was her music. I loved the sight of it all about. I loved that she knew it all. I loved that I could look at the music and know who my sister was at her core--the music. Julie laughed when I told her that and said, 'Oh good heavens, Sheryl, it's the Internet age; just throw it all out. No, recycle would be better.' But, of course, I simply could not do that." And so, on her recent visit Sheryl, along with a close friend and Julie's ex-husband, Tom Sandri, who was with Julie when she died, dealt with the music. Tom took some, the rest is going to some Italian singers, and, much of it, will go to a school and a performing-arts group in Michigan, where Julie grew up. In the end, Sheryl believes, Julie would have been pleased with this manner of "recycling."
I thought a lot about Julie's music this week. Sheryl's e-mail also got me thinking about Lent and about Ash Wednesday and that day's stark words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." When I was younger, and newly ordained, I confess that as I inscribed the cross on people's foreheads using those words, I felt uneasy. I worried that those words were too grim, that it was my job somehow to downplay them, while accentuating the gospel's more joyous aspects. It didn't take me long to realize that people can take care of themselves and that, often, it's best to let the words of the liturgy speak for themselves. As I've grown older, I've also begun to realize that, if we are to prepare for Easter, if we are to take resurrection seriously, we must also take death--that "last enemy" (First Corinthians 15:26)--seriously as well.
But that task is not an easy one, and we don't always have a lot of time in which to do it. Julie lived for a year between her diagnosis and her death. She worked very hard during that time to recall and claim the blessings of this life, while trying to face death's inevitability. When I read Sheryl's e-mail, it suddenly occurred to me: that's one of the things that Julie had accomplished this past year. She was letting go of the things that were transient and impermanent so she could get to the heart of the matter. For her, the books and scores were not relics or keepsakes. It was the music that was important. That was what she wanted to hand over.
It's harder, of course, for us survivors, for those of us who mourn the dead, and who think of our own deaths as distant and slightly unreal. We need our relics and our keepsakes, and sometimes we hold on too fiercely to things that, in the end, matter little, to things that do not give us life. We procrastinate and put things off. Change is never easy, but sometimes we think, wrongly, that it is impossible. It occurs to me that during Lent we are meant to be scribes, in training for "the kingdom of heaven . . . bring[ing] out of [our] treasures what is new and what is old" [Matthew 13:52]. I think this season gives us an opportunity to take a look at all of the old things in our life, to take hold of all those things that sustain us, and to give up--though surely not without a battle--those things, those habits, those sins, negligences, and ignorances that harm us and others and do not bring us life. This is not an easy task, but surely God is with us as we walk again and again to the foot of the cross, and, then, beyond to the risen life. -- James Ross Smith
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Gloria, Primi, Linda, Charles, Jerry, Kevin, Emanuel, Geneva, Elsa, Grady, Kelly, Alexander, Rocco, May, Robert, Nicole, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Donald, Dennis; Rafael, religious; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Peter, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; all those preparing for baptism and confirmation at Easter, especially Rami, James, and Jordan; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; all those who mourn; and the repose of the souls of Samuel Morgan and Eleanor Pritchard . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 19: 1911 Edward Washington Clarkson; 1951 Harold B. Newman.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Samuel Morgan, the brother of parishioner Dr. Charles Morgan, died on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Charles thanks the members of the Saint Mary's community for keeping Sam in their prayers for the past two years . . . Parishioner Eleanor Pritchard died on Thursday, March 16, 2017, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She was ninety-six years old and is remembered with respect and great affection by the clergy of the parish, and by all t hose who remember her here at the parish. Please keep Samuel and Eleanor, Charles, Eleanor's children, David and Hilary, and their family and friends in your prayers. May Samuel and Eleanor rest in peace and rise in glory.
THE ORDINARY WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are traditionally observed also by abstaining from flesh meats. In addition to the five Sundays in Lent, Monday, March 20, is the Feast of Saint Joseph (transferred) and Saturday, March 25, is the Feast of the Annunciation. Abstinence is not observed on these days.
FRIDAYS IN LENT . . . Stations of the Cross are prayed on Fridays in Lent beginning March 3 at 6:30 PM. Stations will not be prayed on Friday, March 24, when we will be celebrating the Annunciation on its eve at 6:00 PM.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, March 18, 9:30 AM-3:00 PM, Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will lead a Quiet Day here at the parish. The day's theme is "Keeping our faith and hope in the midst of fear and despair" . . . Sunday, March 19, 10:00 AM, Adult Forum: Acts of the Apostles, Arch Room, Mission House, Second Floor . . . Monday, March 20, Saint Joseph (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, March 22, 6:30 PM, in the Nursery, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class. On Wednesday, the class will begin reading at Romans 8:26.. . . Friday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph's Hall 7:30 PM. Because of the Solemn Mass, Stations of the Cross will not be offered on March 24 . . . Saturday, March 25, The Annunciation, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM and Mass 12:10 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . .
We have not yet reached 100% of our goal in our annual Stewardship Campaign. We need your help. If you have not yet made a pledge for 2017, but feel called to do so, please contact Marie Rosseels, the chair of the Stewardship Committee . . . Parishioner Kenny Isler was with us this week, blending a new batch of incense for use in the liturgy. It was very good to see him here at the parish once again. We are grateful to him for his creativity, commitment, and expertise. We will now be able to resume sales of our incense to parishes and individuals around the country . . . The effects of the snowstorm that began early last Tuesday morning here in New York were less severe than predicted. Still, there were major disruptions to the city's transportation system. Traffic here in Midtown is still not back to normal, and large piles of snow have not yet been removed from many a street corner. The church was closed on Tuesday. Father Smith, Sister Laura Katharine, Sister Monica Clare, and a couple of intrepid parishioners, including Kenny Isler and Marie Rosseels, gathered for the daily office, morning and evening, and for Mass at noonday. We prayed for those adversely affected by the bad weather. Sexton Jorge Trujillo made it in from his home in Queens on Tuesday afternoon to remove snow from our sidewalks, for which we were grateful . . . It has been a rough week for our deacons: Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins continues to deal with a number of health issues while in Tennessee. She had a number of medical tests recently. (However, Rebecca reports, more happily, that she had two poems accepted for publication in an upcoming number of the Seneca Review.) Deacon Matthew Jacobson slipped and fell on the stairs of his apartment building this past week. He sustained some cuts and bruises, but no serious injuries. He didn't hit his head. There's some chance that all this may affect the way he serves at the altar on Sunday. We shall see. Please keep Rebecca and Matt in your prayers . . . Last Sunday, we were able to use incense for the first time in many weeks at the Solemn Mass and at Evensong and Benediction. The renovations to the Smoke Room are coming along nicely. Photographic evidence thereof appears above . . . In last week's online version of the Angelus, parishioner Blair Burroughs was incorrectly identified in one of the newsletter's photographs. We regret and apologize for the error . . . Father Gerth has been away from the parish this week on vacation. He returns to the office on Monday, March 20 . . .Attendance: Last Sunday 187
MUSIC NOTES . . . On most occasions, the musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass at Saint Mary's are the work of a single composer or from a single source. At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, however, the setting is a composite from three different composers and sources
The Kyrie is from the Missa Brevis of Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707). Buxtehude is easily the most important composer for the organ in the generation before Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). His fame as organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck, in northern Germany, was amplified by his presentation of the pre-Christmas Abendmusiken. He is known to have composed substantial works, unfortunately now lost, for those legendary annual public concerts at the Marienkirche. Buxtehude's Missa Brevis, BuxWV 114, is described as in stile antico because, rather than reflecting the emerging musical styles of seventeenth-century Germany, it is fashioned after the imitative vocal polyphony of the Italian high Renaissance. The vocal writing is in five voices with two soprano parts. Although it would have been appropriate for instruments to double the vocal parts and provide basso continuo, Buxtehude's Missa Brevis can be rendered effectively a cappella.
In keeping with the norm for a seventeenth-century Lutheran Mass, Buxtehude composed only Kyrie and Gloria for his Missa Brevis. The Sanctus on Sunday, therefore, will be from another distinguished German source. J. S. Bach's collected chorales include a harmonization titled Heilig in one place and Sanctus in another. This setting bears the classification BWV 325, but lacks definitive and complete text underlay, either for the implied Latin or the German texts. At the Solemn Mass we will hear an adaption of Bach's BWV 325 with the complete traditional Latin Sanctus text provided.
The Agnus Dei setting on Sunday morning is from an English source--Thomas Morley's 1597 treatise A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music-where it was meant to stand as an example of his principles of composition. Morley's Agnus Dei appears in the treatise as a motet, rather than as a setting for the Mass, due to its slightly variant text. For our purposes today, Morley's liturgically irregular text has been conformed to the traditional liturgical Latin words.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594) is generally recognized as the composer whose work, more than that of any other single composer, defined the summit of Renaissance polyphony and established canons for evaluating appropriate church music that remain in place to our time. The motet sung during the administration of Communion on Sunday morning is Palestrina's Sitivit anima mea, which is the second part of his well-known Sicut cervus. Of Palestrina's more than three hundred motets, his Sicut cervus for four voices is particularly beloved for its elegant simplicity and accessibility, and the broad devotional appeal and liturgical application of Psalm 42. The less often sung secunda pars of this motet, Sitivit anima mea, continues two more verses into Psalm 42, amplifying the longing expressed by the psalmist in Palestrina's more frequently performed prima pars. -- David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION . . . On Sundays in Lent, at 10:00 AM, Father Pete Powell will continue his class on the Acts of the Apostles . . . During Eastertide, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes entitled "Rising / Rose / Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry" . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, March 22 and 29, and April 5, at 6:30 PM. Newcomers are especially welcome; no prior study or attendance is needed.
HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE . . .Saturday, April 8, Eve of Palm Sunday, Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, April 9, 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. Monday-Wednesday, April 10-12, Sung Matins at 8:30 AM & Evensong at 6:00 PM . . . April 13, Maundy Thursday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, The Holy Eucharist 6:00 PM. The Watch before the Blessed Sacrament . . . April 14, Good Friday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, The Good Friday Liturgy, 12:30 PM & 6:00 PM. Confessions will be heard by the parish clergy after both liturgies . . . Saturday, April 15, Easter Eve, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, the Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph's Hall, around 10:00 PM . . . Sunday, April 16, The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Said Mass with Hymns 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM,
Organ Recital 4:30 PM, Solemn Paschal Evensong 5:00 PM.
COMMUNITY OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST . . . The Third Annual "Nun Better Golf Outing" at the Spring Brook Country Club will take place on Monday, May 8, 2017. The event is designed to raise funds to support the community's various ministries and its convent buildings in Mendham, New Jersey. For more information, please click here for the invitational or speak to Sister Monica Clare. The community website is www.csjb.org.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Fridays in Lent, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM and Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM (except on March 24) . . . Tuesday, April 25, Saint Mark, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, May 24, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 25, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.