FROM THE RECTOR: SUMMER PASTORAL PROJECT
Last summer, after the death of her roommate (and third cousin!) Alice Manning, I asked Linda Bridges for contact information. By the end of August, Linda herself was seriously ill. Many will remember that she died on March 25, 2017, and was buried, in the church in which she was baptized, on Monday in Holy Week, April 20, 2017. It made all the difference in the world that I had pestered her for contact information in case she took ill and could not tell us whom to call. Very aware that many of our most committed and regular members and friends are, like Father Smith and me, getting older, we resolved that during the summer of 2017, we would offer to collect contact information for the local congregation.
We are not trying to be nosy. We aren't going to enter any information in our computer files. The one-page form we are going to send out this week will ask for a person's name and address and have space for two contacts, one of whom might be a person's primary care physician. We will leave that to you. The forms will be placed in a locked file cabinet in the finance office. Should an emergency occur, before an ambulance reaches a hospital, a member of the clergy should be able to call your contacts.
When I came to Saint Mary's in February 1999, the first hospital call I made was on a Sunday afternoon for a teenager who had had heart surgery. When I got there, some parishioners had already come and gone; others were still there. If there is less of this now, it is a result of shorter hospital stays. But I know parishioners who are helping other parishioners manage their recovery and rehabilitation. It's what Christ invites us to do: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). Many of us learned, when we were young, that to visit the sick is a "corporal work of mercy."
On Wednesday evening, January 6, 2010, the Feast of the Epiphany, I was in the pulpit and just beginning the sermon, when I heard something. Then one of the altar servers, Grace Mudd, spoke to me in front of pulpit, "We need you to ask if there is a doctor or nurse in the church." Dr. Leroy Sharer had sung the epistle. I replied, "Leroy's here." She said, "It's for Leroy." The first hero was MaryJane Boland. She had her cell phone with her. She immediately called 911. It was a Wednesday evening-the worst night of the week for traffic in Times Square (matinee day). The FDNY ambulance was here in less than nine minutes. Three people were able to step forward and help: Father Smith, Ric Miranda, and a nurse who was at Mass that night for the first time, and who had never done cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They kept Leroy stable. I knew whom to call, his now spouse, Mike Merenda. I did not return to the pulpit; we continued with the Nicene Creed.
Because of MaryJane's example that night, I always carry my cell phone at the altar-turned off, I hope, but immediately available if needed. We followed up with CPR training for a group of parishioners-and the training and equipment are maintained.
I am always humbled and proud as a Christian to see the care parishioners give each other. And I am always proud to be a New Yorker when, for example, someone stumbles or falls and is injured, New Yorkers stop what they are doing to help. After September 11, 2001, I'm sure I'm not the only one who heard from others, "Are you going to stay in New York?" I got used to replying, "If something goes wrong, there's no place I'd rather be." I feel blessed to be at Saint Mary's in the same way. I have filled my own form out, and it is under lock and key in the parish office. It has the names of, and the contact information for, the person with my health care proxy and for my primary care physician. I invite the members and friends of Saint Mary's to entrust your parish clergy with your information.
Finally, a personal note. I am a graduate of the University of Virginia. I have walked down Las Ramblas in Barcelona, a city I found encantada-enchanting. Many voices are commenting on the events of this past week. I want to share words of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who is commemorated in the church calendar on August 14, the day he was jailed. Daniels was valedictorian of the 1961 class of Virginia Military Institute. In 1963 he entered the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study for the priesthood. In 1965 he was a civil rights worker in Alabama. On August 20, 1965, his military training saved the life of an African-American woman who had been jailed with him in Hayneville, Alabama. He took the bullet intended for her. He was murdered. (For the record, and unbelievably, Lesser Feasts and Fasts fails to mention that he was a graduate of VMI. He is honored for his sacrifice at VMI.) These are words from an account of his work in Alabama that he wrote in April 1965:
We are beginning to see as we never saw before that we are truly in the world and yet ultimately not of it. For through the bramble bush of doubt and fear and supposed success we are groping our way to the realization that above all else, we are called to be saints. That is the mission of the Church everywhere. And in this Selma, Alabama, is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints (They Still Speak: Readings for the Lesser Feasts , 151.)
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Brian, Michael, Pearl, Dick, Cheryl, Joann, David, Sandy, Kristal, Dorothea, Jerry, Olutoyin, Eugenia, Mary, Cookie, Irene, Peggy, Cathy, Grady, Mike, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Mitties, Anne, David, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Seth Kasten, Arnold Toy, and Darrell Fox . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 20: 1916 Courtland Palmer Hull; 1921 Angela English; 1925 Arthur John Barrett; 1952 Mary L. Bull Boyd; 1958 Hubert Johnson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . We received some sad news this week. Seth Kasten, a great friend of this parish, died this past June. Seth was, until his retirement, the reference librarian at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Father Jay Smith knew Seth during his years at Union and remembers him thus, "Seth assisted thousands of scholars, seminarians, and students from Union, Columbia, Jewish Theological Seminary, and many other institutions over the years. He was a man of great intelligence, vast knowledge, and enormous generosity. He was Jewish and knew a great deal about his faith and his people's history, but he was also a boundless source of information about the history, customs, and beliefs of every Christian denomination. He knew how to direct a scholar to the exactly right and much-needed source. He was precise and logical in the way that he spoke. He was cool, calm and unfailingly polite in the face of demanding patrons and stressed-out seminarians.
Seth was a singer and a musician. He was faithful in his worship at a local synagogue, but he also knew a great deal about Christian liturgy. He often joined us for worship here at Saint Mary's. In recent years, he often attended Evensong and Benediction and loved chanting the psalms. He was always happy when I quoted Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in my sermons. He will be greatly missed. Please join me in being so bold as to pray a traditional Jewish funeral prayer for Seth and for the repose of his soul, "God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence's wings, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky's, to the soul of Seth . . . for a charity was given to the memory of his soul. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say: Amen." . . . Arnold Toy, the grandfather of Clint Smeltzer, died on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, at Good Samaritan Hospice in Cabot, Pennsylvania. He was ninety-one years old. Clint Smeltzer is the partner of parishioner Steve Ginther . . . Darrell E. Fox, the father of Brother Ron Fox, B.S.G., died on Saturday, August 12, in Morris, Illinois. He was ninety-two years old. Please keep Seth, Arnold, Darrell, Clint, Ron, Steve, 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 church is open and the regular services of the Episcopal Church are offered daily . . . Thursday, August 24, is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, August 25, 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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Monica Clare will be away from the parish Friday, August 18, through Monday, August 21. During that time she will be at the convent in Mendham, New Jersey, helping out with the Community of Saint John Baptist's August Search Program "for those seeking God's call in their lives, a live-in with the sisters to experience the religious life" . . . The rector will begin vacation on Friday, August 25. He will return to the parish on Saturday, September 9 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 132; Assumption 191.
OKTOBERFEST . . . The annual Oktoberfest Potluck Supper and Hymn Sing will take place on Saturday, October 7, from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM, in Saint Joseph's Hall and the Choir Loft. David Hurd, organist and music director, will play the organ at the Hymn Sing and will take requests from the assembled Saint Marians and their friends. Please join us. Bring a friend and a dish to share. All are welcome.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on September 20. This year we will be looking at a number of texts drawn from both the Old and New Testaments in order to study the different ways in which the Bible has been interpreted over the centuries. We will be examining texts that seem particularly hard or challenging to many modern people in order to develop ways of coming to terms with difficult texts. This is not a college or seminary course. Our approach will not be excessively academic. No preparation is necessary and no homework will be required. As always, there will be lots of time for discussion. We will begin the year by looking at some New Testament texts that deal with slavery . . . Inquirers' Class: Deacon Matthew Jacobson will be teaching a series of classes this fall for those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception and for all those who are interested in learning, or reviewing, some of the basics of the Christian faith and the history, theology, and spirituality of the Episcopal Church. All are welcome. If you are interested, please contact Father Jay Smith.
ABOUT THE MUSIC. . . The cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is Christopher Howatt, tenor. Mr. Howatt is a member of the Choir of Saint Mary's and the parish's office manager. During the ministration of Communion, he will sing "A Simple Song" from Mass by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Bernstein called the piece "Hymn and Psalm: A Simple Song." The text consists of verses taken from a number of biblical psalms, which have been adapted by the composer.
Stephen Rumpf returns to Saint Mary's as guest organist on Sunday morning. He has written the following about the organ voluntaries to be played: Alexandre Guilmant was the most well-known organist of his time, having made several concert tours including three of the United States. On his last North American tour in 1909 for the Saint Louis Exposition, he performed forty different recitals by memory on the organ built by the Los Angeles Organ Co. that became the basis of the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia. For thirty years he was organist of l'Église de la Trinité in Paris, where he was in command of the large Cavaille-Coll organ. He was also professor at the Paris Conservatoire and was a founding member of the Schola Cantorum de Paris. He taught many illustrious students, including Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupré, the Boulangers, Jeanne Demessieux, Marie-Claire Alain, among others, as well as dozens of American students. In 1909, William C. Carl, a student of Guilmant's, established a school here in New York, designed specifically to train organists. The Guilmant Organ School first met at the First Presbyterian Church on lower Fifth Avenue. It closed during the mid-1970s. Guilmant wrote more organ music than César Franck, Widor, and Vierne combined. Among his best works are eight large-scale sonatas. Today's prelude, Adagio, is from his Fifth Sonata, Opus 80, written in 1895. The postlude, Grand Choeur, Tempo de Minuetto, is from the Seventh Sonata, Opus 89, written in 1902.
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . The next Homeless Ministry Drop-in Day will take place on Friday, September 8, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Sister Monica Clare. Donations needed: For our Drop-in Days, we are looking for donations of basic lightly used or new clothing items of all sizes for both men and women-packs of new underwear and socks; T-shirts and blouses; jeans, chinos, and khakis; washcloths; toothbrushes; and individually packaged hand wipes or towelettes. Donations can be left in the parish kitchen (if you are able, tell Father Smith, Sister Monica Clare, or Clint Best that you have left items there for the Clothes Closet). We are grateful to all those who continue to support this important ministry . . . 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.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We are very thankful that flowers have been given for all of the Sundays in July and August. Thank you to those who are able to support this ministry! The flowers are seen by hundreds of people every week. Donations for flowers are needed for September 10 and 24; October 15, 22, and 29; November 1, All Saints' Day; and November 5, 12, and 19. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830 or by e-mail.
LOOKING AHEAD . . .Monday, September 4, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Friday, September 8, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM (the Reverend Dr. James C. Pace, celebrant and preacher) . . . Saturday, September 9, 10:30 AM, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Ordination of Matthew Jacobson to the Priesthood . . . Sunday, September 10, 10:00 AM, Father Matthew Jacobson's First Mass . . . Thursday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM (the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, celebrant and preacher) . . . Thursday, September 21, Saint Matthew the Evangelist, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM (the Reverend Matthew Jacobson, celebrant and preacher)
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . .
Dr. Alice-Mary Talbot will present the fourth annual Father John Meyendorff Memorial Lecture at Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary on Friday, September 15, at 7:00 PM. Dr. Talbot is the Director Emerita of Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. Her presentation is titled after her forthcoming book, Varieties of Monastic Experience in Byzantium, 800-1453. During her lecture she will highlight some of the findings of her research in two areas: (1) the many ways one could be a Byzantine monk, and (2) the continuing tensions in Byzantium between the eremitic (solitary living) and coenobitic (community living) forms of monasticism. The Seminary is located at 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707. Travel directions are available on the Seminary website.