From the Rector: Easter Celebrations
Easter is the only celebration the Church really knows. All of our worship on all days of the year finds its origin, meaning and purpose in proclaiming the Paschal mystery: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians are people who celebrate Easter – on Christmas, on All Saints’, on All Souls’, in life and in death, we celebrate Easter. When the Church celebrates Baptism, Mass, Matrimony, Confirmation, Burial, Reconciliation or anything else, the Church is celebrating Easter. In a real sense, it is all Easter, all of the time, even in Lent.
As I write on Thursday morning, the church is abuzz with Easter activity. The organ is being tuned for Easter (the big stops can be heard very clearly in my office). The pews and floors are being cleaned with extra attention because tonight we wash feet. Preparations for the altar of repose in the Mercy Chapel are underway. Father Mead, Father Smith and a lot of others are helping to make sure that when we gather tonight to begin to celebrate the Easter Triduum details will not concern us. We enter into the familiar rite that helps us to renew and sustain our faith in Jesus Christ.
The Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper tonight at 6:00 PM, for the 12:30 PM Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve at 7:00 PM. The richness and unity of these rites is an extraordinary witness itself to the power of Christ. The rites reveal much about us as human beings. We come together to hear the story of who we are. We are washed. We are fed. We remember, but we live in the present, always looking to the future. Each service is rich but no service is overloaded, except perhaps with our thankfulness, our faith, and our joy.
On Maundy Thursday the Mass includes the Washing of Feet, in which all may participate. The other equally striking feature is the offering, all of which is given away for work with the poor. Bread and wine are consecrated for the Communion of the Church tonight and on Good Friday. Bells are rung at the beginning of Mass during the singing of Gloria in excelsis. Then, like the organ, they are silent until the resurrection is proclaimed during the Easter Vigil. Not surprisingly, the traditional offertory song of Maundy Thursday, Where true charity and love dwell, God himself is there, focuses not on the events of this night two thousand years ago, but who we are today: Christ’s Easter people. At Saint Mary’s this song is never a choir anthem; it belongs to the entire assembly.
The Sacrament consecrated for the Communion of the Church on Good Friday is reposed in the Mercy Chapel for prayer between the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies. People are invited to come to pray as they are able. The Transfer of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday is attended by ceremonies that originated in the Middle Ages, but when the Communion is returned to the altar on Good Friday, the more ancient practice of no ceremony is retained.
Good Friday moves many very deeply, and it should. The liturgy is one of the simplest and most direct of the year. There are four focal points: the proclamation of the Passion according to John, the Prayers of the People – offered in the most ancient form, now used only on Good Friday, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. Each of these elements is a proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection – pay attention to the rite on Good Friday if you don’t know this, feel this or believe this. This culminates in uniting ourselves sacramentally with Christ in Communion.
Of the Easter Vigil, what shall I say? It is the preeminent Easter celebration, where Christ still dies and rises among us as Holy Baptism is celebrated. The Easter Vigil is not the occasion for Baptism; baptism is itself the Easter event, in which those who are being called to faith die and rise in our midst.
I invite you to be with us tonight at 6:00 PM, on Good Friday at 12:30 PM or at 6:00 PM (the entire liturgy is celebrated twice on Good Friday so that all can attend), and at the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve at 7:00 PM.
Have I mentioned Easter Day? Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. Mass is celebrated at the usual times: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. At 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong takes a special form used only on Easter Day and includes a procession to the font. If there is only one day a year you attend Evensong, it should be Easter Day. Easter triumph and Easter joy await. Stephen Gerth.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for those preparing for baptism, confirmation, reception, and the reaffirmation of their baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil: Awilda, Elizabeth Marie, Charisse, Michael, David and Renate; and for Nadia, Lisa, Hazel, David, Robyn, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Theresa, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, PRIEST, and Charles, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the souls of William, Rae, Agnes and Naomi . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 24: 1952 Ida Mary Steife; March 26: 1966 Frances Duckworth Young; March 29: 1964 Robert Edward Cerra, 1997 Brice Linville.
COMING EVENTS . . . Easter Day is March 23. The Rector will celebrate and preach at Sung Mass, Solemn Mass and Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction. Father Smith will celebrate and preach at the 10:00 AM Mass . . . The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori will celebrate and preach at Solemn Pontifical Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation, Tuesday, April 1, at 6:00 PM.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . The 2008 pledge campaign is only $40,000 short of its goal – only 7%! There are still enough pledgers from 2007 that we have not yet heard from that would put us over the top, so if you haven’t yet sent in your pledge, call the office or pledge online. Every dollar counts during this historic and vital drive. Please take the time to tell us what your plan for giving to the parish will be this year. That’s all that pledging is – telling us what you plan to give – and that’s all we need to make our goal a reality. Steven Heffner, treasurer
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Maundy Thursday offering will go to support the work and ministries of the Church of San Juan Evangelista in Villanueva, Honduras . . . Please bring a hand bell to the Great Vigil of Easter! . . . The Fridays of Eastertide are not observed by abstinence! . . . Digital photographs for the parish website needed: Anyone who can take digital photos during the Holy Week services please speak with one of the priests. Thank you . . . The clergy do not sit for confessions on Saturday in Easter Week except by appointment . . . Saint Mary’s team will again participate in the AIDS Walk on Trinity Sunday, May 18 – many are walking on Saturday so they can attend Mass on Sunday. Information is available at www.stmvirgin.org/missionandoutreach or from MaryJane Boland (firstname.lastname@example.org) . . . Attendance: Stations 63, Last Sunday 410.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . “Transformations” by Lisa Denerstein will be on display in Saint Joseph’s Hall until April 25. Lisa says that she uses fabric, quilts and wall hangings to tell stories. “The…series was born from my determination to find the inner strength to overcome a devastating loss. As I began to work, it seemed only natural that butterflies – creatures born of transformation – would become the symbolic muse that helped me create this collection. The butterfly offered me comfort and reminded me that terrible change can be followed by tremendous growth and sometimes even by beauty. Through my work, I was able to gain insight into the power of transformation and a respect for the strength of the human spirit, even when confronting death. Stitch by stitch, we must learn to move on.” Please visit the Visual Arts Program’s section of the parish website to read more of Lisa’s statement and to view her work.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . After its Lenten absence, the organ returns at the Great Vigil of Easter. Voluntaries at the Easter liturgies include works of Howells, Tournemire and Vierne . . . At the Easter Vigil, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis, Opus 50, by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). Leighton was born in Wakefield, England, and his unique musical language (including lyrical melodies combined with chromaticism, and later in his career, use of serial techniques) earned him great respect as a composer. This striking setting for unaccompanied choir was written in 1968 for the choir of Liverpool Cathedral . . . On Easter morning at the Solemn Mass, the choral music is by Portuguese and Spanish composers. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Regina coeli laetare by the Portuguese Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650). A religious of the Carmelite order, Cardoso composed in the late- Renaissance style (which persisted later in Portugal than elsewhere in Europe). He published numerous books of masses and motets, and this mass setting is based upon a motet setting of the Eastertide Marian antiphon. Another little-known Portuguese composer, Filipe de Magalhães (c. 1571-1652), composed the setting of Vidi aquam, sung during the sprinkling of holy water. The motet at Communion is a six-part setting of Regina coeli by the great Spanish composer Cristóbal de Morales (c. 1500-1553) . . . The organ recital at 4:30 PM (please note the special time) is by associate organist Robert McDermitt, and includes works of Bach, William Harris, Marchand and Widor . . . The full professional choir sings for Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction. The setting of the evening canticles is Evening Service in D by George Dyson (1883-1964). Dyson, who enjoyed a successful career as composer and teacher, was far more than a musician: he also had a military career and wrote the official guide to hand grenade fighting used in World War I. His son is the famous physicist Freeman Dyson. The Benediction settings are by Sydney Nicholson (1875-1947), organist of Westminster Abbey, who today is best known for his hymn tune Crucifer (Lift high the cross), and as founder of the Royal School of Church Music. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Monday Monday in Easter Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Easter Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Easter Week
Thursday Thursday in Easter Week
Friday Friday in Easter Week No Abstinence
Saturday Saturday in Easter Week
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Christian Education, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Evensong & Benediction.
On Monday in Easter Week, the church will be open only from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The only services will be the 12:00 PM Noonday Office and the 12:10 PM Mass.
Tuesday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. The clergy do not sit for confessions in Easter Week except by appointment.