From the Rector: Permissions
Yesterday I came across the two-sided sheet entitled “Some Notes for Mass Practice” that Louis Weil handed out to us seniors during our last semester in seminary. The first “general remark” was this, “The celebrant presides. He must be sensitive to everything going on in the area of celebration. He coordinates all ministries.” Well, this past Sunday was the second time in the last nine months that I have found myself leaving the altar area during Solemn Mass to deal with an urgent issue.
Last December, I was a concelebrant, sitting across the chancel from Father Matthew Mead who was celebrant. As the liturgy of the word began, there was a commotion at the 47th Street entrance to the church. Matt looked across to me and gave me a hand sign that said, “Get over there now.” To put it politely, there was someone confused about the location of the restroom. The woman pulled up her pants and left, but not without a string of colorful words addressed to me. I probably will never again hear a series of words quite like those while dressed in a rose-colored chasuble.
After the woman was gone, I realized that the simplest way to arrange for clean-up was for me to walk to the sexton’s lodge and tell the person on duty what to do. I know members of the congregation were distracted by seeing a concelebrant walk through the church during Mass, but I was able to deal with the issue in the simplest way. If the roles had been reversed, Father Mead would have done the same thing I am sure.
This past Sunday I learned just before Solemn Mass that our babysitter had not arrived. I was again a concelebrant. At some point in the middle of the service while I was sitting down, I noticed through the open doorway by the shrine of Christ the King, a father and two young daughters heading to the nursery. I knew no one was there. Going behind the altar, I left the chancel and found them in Saint Joseph’s Hall. I introduced myself and apologized for the lack of nursery attendants. It turns out the father was himself a rector and he was looking for the restroom. I explained about the nursery – he totally understood.
Father Weil’s instructions came from 1983 – notice the pronoun for priest is “he” not “he or she.” The church, like contemporary English usage, was in transition to a more inclusive vocabulary. I would like to suggest that in our time it is always appropriate for others too to notice a newcomer needing assistance during a church service – and to act on what they see.
The church is not a club, although to be honest, many churches feel that way to a newcomer. Sadly, that’s my experience as a visitor in most places I attend when I am away from Saint Mary’s. When a parishioner realizes someone might have a special need, it is always appropriate for him or her to speak up to see if he can help. For example, I think most parents of young children would like to hear something like, “Good morning. I want to make sure you know that children are really welcome in church for the whole service. We also have a great, professionally staffed nursery.” The clergy and ushers can’t begin to do it all.
Sometimes, people don’t welcome a welcome. That’s the risk of Christian hospitality, but it’s one always worth taking. Jesus himself said in one teaching, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). The Letter to the Hebrews admonishes, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). It’s not your clergy who give permission to all of us to welcome and to speak to those one does not know. Someone with a higher pay grade, so to speak, has already done so. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Roy, priest, who is gravely ill, and for Carol, Kevin, Frances, Linda, Benicio, Diego, Cindy, Rosemary, Autumn, Sándor, Margaret, Eva, Allan, Dorothy, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Marc, Benjamin, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 30: 1905 Mary Oakley Place; 1914 William deHertburse Washington; 1915 James Robert Adams.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Frances Burney Cappon Geer, wife of Hardy Geer, died on Tuesday, August 25, at the Jewish Home & Hospital in Manhattan. Funeral plans will be announced as soon as they are known. Please pray for Frances, for Hardy, and for all who mourn.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Sándor Márton and Autumn Martin of New York City. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the first time of asking. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish Thursday, August 27, and Friday, August 28, officiating at a family wedding in Rochester, New York. He will return to the parish on Saturday, August 29 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, August 29, and on Saturday, September 5 . . . The parish’s business manager, Mr. Aaron Koch, will be away from the parish Tuesday, September 1, through Tuesday, September 8. He will return to the office on September 9.
CONCERTS & RECITALS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . “The Baroque 4x4” ensemble, comprised of some of the finest early-music musicians in the New York area, will present two programs at the church, one on Monday, August 31, at 8:00 PM and one on Tuesday, September 1, at 8:00 PM. Both concerts are free – with a suggested donation of twenty dollars. For program details you may visit the following website: www.4x4baroque.com.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Saint Mary’s Guild will meet on Saturday, September 12, beginning with the 12:10 PM Mass. For more information about the parish altar guild and its work, please speak to one of the sisters or to Marie Rosseels. All are invited to come to spend some time with the guild’s members and to get a feel for what their work is like . . . Monday, September 7, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: The Parish Office is closed; the church opens at 10:00 AM and only the midday services are offered. The church closes at 2:00 PM . . . Hospitality: If you would like to sponsor the reception following Solemn Mass on Holy Cross Day, Monday, September 14, please contact Father Smith . . . Outreach: Once again this year we will be working with AIDS Action International (AIA) to collect gifts and toys for families in need, especially for those families affected by HIV and AIDS. AIA’s annual event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine will be held on Tuesday, November 17. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Father Smith . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 242.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this morning is the chorale prelude on Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (“Dearest Jesus, we are here”), BWV 731, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The cantor is Ms. Ruth Cunningham, soprano, and the organist is Mr. James Kennerley. Sanctus and Agnus Dei will be improvised to a setting by Mr. Kennerley and Ms. Cunningham. Improvisation results in a particularly powerful, exciting and direct communication of the text that is set. At the ministration of Communion, Ms. Cunningham and Mr. Kennerley sing the duet Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein reines Herz (“Create in me a clean heart, O God”), from Kleine geistliche Konzerte, SWV 291, composed by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672). The motet is taken from the first of the two volumes of Schütz’s Kleine geistliche Konzerte (“Little Sacred Concertos”), published in Germany during the 1630s. James Kennerley
LOOKING AHEAD . . . In September there are three weekdays with special services. Tuesday, September 8, is the Nativity of Mary. There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM in addition to the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Monday, September 14, is Holy Cross Day. In addition to the 12:10 PM Mass, Solemn Mass will be celebrated at 6:00 PM. At the conclusion of both Masses on that day, a relic of the True Cross will be offered for veneration. Following the evening Mass, there will be a reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Tuesday, September 29, is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. In addition to the 12:10 PM Mass, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . On October 4, the parish choir returns to sing on Sundays at Solemn Mass and Solemn Evensong & Benediction returns weekly through Trinity Sunday.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN & ADULTS . . . Saint Mary’s Church School will resume on Sunday, October 4, 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room, just outside the Sacristy. Please contact Deacon Rebecca Weiner if you would like more information, or if you are planning to have a child attend Church School on Sunday mornings. (Please consider inviting your friends who have children to come to Mass on Sunday mornings and to introduce the children to Deacon Weiner and the other church-school students.) . . . Adult Education will resume on Sunday, October 4, 10:00 AM. Father Smith will teach a three-part church-history series, “The Episcopal Church in the Post-World War II Era, 1945–1985” (October 4, 11, and 18). No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. All classes will include a presentation and an opportunity to discuss issues and relevant texts . . . Father Gerth will teach the Adult Education class on Sunday, October 25. The topic will be “The American Editions of the Book of Common Prayer, 1789–1979” . . . On October 7, 6:30 PM, The Wednesday Evening Bible Study will resume. The class will be led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B, and will meet on seven successive Wednesdays, 6:30-7:30 PM, following Evening Prayer. All adult classes are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House, 133 West 46th Street, east of the doors of the church.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, 651
Wednesday Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer. Childcare is available from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM all Sundays of the year.
Monday–Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer. The Wednesday Mass is sung. The Thursday Mass includes anointing of the sick. Holy Days as announced.
Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.
Confessions are heard on Saturdays 11:30-11:50 AM & 4:00-4:50 PM.