The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 50


During the past year, a man who works in the neighborhood has joined us off and on for Morning Prayer.  He’s a young man, young to me, at least.  He’s in his late thirties, I suppose.  He’s not yet comfortable enough to sit with us in choir, but he comes right to the front of the church and sits in the first row.  This week, when we sang Morning Prayer on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, there he was, singing softly out there in the nave.  I suspect that plainsong is a bit mysterious to him, but he’s figuring it out, joining in, adding his voice and prayers to ours, praising God at the beginning of the day.

On All Souls’ Day, we read from Romans at Morning Prayer: “If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?...For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Afterwards, when I went out to say hello to our friend, he came out of his pew and walked right up to me.  I noticed that he had a pad and pencil in his hand.  He said to me, “What was that? What did the sister read just now?”  He didn’t need to explain.  I knew what he meant.  I said, “That was Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  Chapter 8. Pretty good, huh?” He said yes.  He wrote down what I’d told him and asked me to check it to make sure he got it right.

This is an amazing and a wonderful thing.  Saint Paul, a first-century Hellenistic Jew, “a Hebrew born of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5), a man once hostile to the followers of Jesus Christ has his life completely and utterly turned around by this same Jesus, and he begins to believe.  Some years later, he writes a letter to the Christians living in the imperial capital, Christians whom he knows only by reputation.  His letter is received and read and treasured and handed down, first to the Roman church and then more widely.  Decades later the Church realizes that this precious letter is Holy Scripture and preserves it as part of its canon; and we’re still reading it two thousand years later.  It hasn’t lost its power to touch and move and heal us, to give us hope, and to turn our lives around.

The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin sits in the middle of a busy neighborhood at the center of another urban capital.  Our church building is a treasure.  Week after week I talk with visitors from around the world who are amazed that the church is here, in the middle of the block, so close to the hustle and bustle of Times Square.  Whenever I have those conversations, I am glad that we are here -- that our beautiful building with its glorious acoustic is here, an oasis in Midtown Manhattan; and I thank God for the generosity of our ancestors in the faith who have handed down this treasure to us.  However, in those moments I am grateful, not just for our building and the things that are in it, beautiful though those things are, but for other things as well.  Mostly I am grateful because here at Saint Mary’s we have inherited a sacred space in an amazing location, where the Word of God is read, proclaimed and heard; where the sacraments are celebrated; and where prayer is offered, a great multiplicity of prayer – liturgical prayer, silent prayer, prayer with words, prayer on the run, prayer that takes a good long while to emerge, sung prayer, and musical prayer, prayer that is pure sound, prayer with no words at all.  I am glad that we are here, because by grace, through the power of Word and Sacrament, we are strengthened for mission, inspired to serve, and given hope in a hard and difficult world.  I am glad that we are here so that God can continue to work on us and with us, turning our lives around.

To have hope is to imagine a future.  I think of this time of year, as the Stewardship Campaign gets underway, as a time of hope.  The members of the Stewardship Committee work hard to plan the Campaign and to prepare and send out the mailing; and then we wait.  And almost immediately pledge cards are returned, each one individual and unique, each one standing in for a person or a family; and as we pull those cards out of their envelopes, I think about how precious they are, each card representing thought, prayer, planning, commitment, and sacrifice.  It occurs to me that each card says that as individuals we are part of something great, for we are all members of the Body of Christ.

As I write this, early on the morning of Friday, November 4, the Campaign is off to a good start.  We have received 32 pledges so far, 4 of them new pledges.  Our goal for the Campaign this year is $425,000.00.  Nearly $80,000.00 has been pledged to date, which is just short of 20% of our goal, not bad for our first week.  We know that we have a ways to go and, of course, we remain energized and vigilant.  We expect, of course, to hear from the clergy and the lay leaders of the parish, as well as from the members of all of the parish’s guilds; but we also depend on all the members of the parish, and our friends in places near and far, to help us reach our goal.  Last year, 177 households made pledges to the parish.  It would be a wonderful thing if we could increase that number this year by 25, or even 50, pledges.

If you have questions about the Campaign or about making a pledge, please speak to Father Gerth, to me, or to one of the members of the Stewardship Committee: MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels; and remember, every pledge counts, every pledge matters, every pledge says, “We have a future. We are a people of hope.”  James Ross Smith


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jeffrey, Maria, Arpene, Gilbert, Linda, Julia, Mary, Lee, Thomas, Jim, Sylvia, Janice, Peggy, Donald, Bob, Julia, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, Carlson, priest, and Paul, priest; for the repose of the souls of Taylor, Lou, Brent, Reed, Daniel, Robert, Mary, Walter, John, Marie, Carol, and Philip; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Mark and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 6: 1880 Thomas Herring; 1902 Robert Lee Miller; 1915 Lulu Laverty; 1918 Cornelius McMillin; 1928 Emile Hector Pierńe; 1934 Helen Kathleen Pennefeather; 1988 Beatrice Emily Clark.


IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Mary L. Merz, the mother of Father John Merz, died on September 15.  A memorial service for Mrs. Merz is planned for Sunday, November 6, at 4:00 PM, at the Church of Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity, on the corner of Montague and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn Heights. The church is easily accessible via the 2, 3, 4, 5, and R trains.  Mrs. Merz’s obituary may be accessed here.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Jeffrey Buchanan of Washington, DC, and Maria Espinosa of Clifton, New Jersey.  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 second time of asking.  James Ross Smith


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is “The Peace may be exchanged” from Rubrics (1988) by Dan Locklair (b. 1949). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis (1977) by Jackson Hill (b. 1941), professor of music at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. This setting for unaccompanied choir was written for Louise Basbas and her choir at Corpus Christi Church, New York.  The piece reflects a variety of moods, and the composer shows himself remarkably sensitive to the texts of each movement.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet “Love is life” by Jackson Hill.  Drawn from Medieval Lyrics, a larger work for choir and brass quintet, this unaccompanied version was adapted by the composer in 1987 for the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge.  The text is a poem by Richard Rolle, an English writer, Bible translator and hermit.  James Kennerley


NEW AND PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS RECEPTION . . . On Monday, November 14, at 6:30 PM, in the “rectory” – the building in the church complex where the “rector” lives.  The reception is for all those who are new to the parish and those who would like to find out more about Saint Mary’s.  The reception lasts about an hour, and refreshments will be served.  If you would like to attend, please contact Father Jay Smith.  The rectory entrance is at 144 West 47th Street.  (Reminder: you are invited to join us for Evening Prayer in the church; Evening Prayer begins at 6:00 PM.)


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 6, 2:00 AM.  Please turn your clocks back one hour . . . Sunday, November 6, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Adult Education: Bible Studies–An Introduction to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.  Led by Father Pete Powell . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on November 9 at 7:00 PM, after the Evening Mass. Please note the later time.  The class is reading the Letter to the Ephesians and is led by Father Jay Smith.  Newcomers are most welcome . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, November 5.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, November 12.


PARISH REQUIEMS . . . Friday, November 4, Parish Requiem, Mass at 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM (Letters A-G); Saturday, November 5, Parish Requiem, Mass at 12:10 PM (Letters H-M); Tuesday, November 8, Parish Requiem, Mass at 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM (Last Names N - R); Wednesday, November 9, Parish Requiem, Mass at 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM (Last Names S - Z).


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you so much to all those who worked so hard this past week to prepare for and to celebrate the liturgies on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day: to our faithful and very able acolytes; to our talented musicians, who played and sang so beautifully; to Will and Scott Ivers, whose generous donation allowed us to have instrumentalists at the Solemn Mass on All Souls’ Day; to the members of the flower guild, who created the beautiful arrangements for the altar, the shrines, and for Saint Joseph’s Hall; and to our patient, capable, and friendly ushers, who greeted our visitors.  A sincere word of thanks is due to Heather Peskin and Violet Greene, who prepared confections and other treats for the All Saints’ Day reception; thank you also to Jim Dennis, John Delves, and Jon Bryant, who were hosts at the reception.  We are also grateful to the donor who made the reception on All Saints’ Day possible.  Thank you to Wayne Mahlke, who has worked long and hard here in recent weeks on a number of projects – in the gallery, in the parish office, and in the sacristy.  Thank you to Dick Leitsch and Scott Holman, who worked extra hours this week preparing, editing, and proofreading the lists for the parish Requiem Masses.  Thank you to Daniel Craig, who spent a day at the parish polishing brass in preparation for All Saints’ Day.  We are grateful to all those who give of their time, treasure, and talent to support Saint Mary’s.  We couldn’t keep our doors open without you! . . . Julie Jarvis and Peter Thompson are planning to run in the NYC Marathon on Sunday. We wish them much success! . . . We are looking for donors to sponsor the receptions on the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and on Epiphany (January 6).  Please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith if you’d like to make a donation . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish on vacation from Thursday, November 3, through Wednesday, November 9.  He returns to the office on Thursday, November 10 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 196; All Saints’ Day 224; All Souls’ Day 170.


ADULT EDUCATION ON SUNDAY . . . On November 6, 13, and 20, Father Peter Powell will be leading a discussion of Genesis 12-50,  which includes the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel and Joseph.  This portion of Genesis is crucial to the understanding of God’s Promise and our response in Faith.  It is used frequently in the New Testament especially by St. Paul (Faith) and Hebrews.  Joining any or all of the classes will help us understand the biblical stories as narratives that brought hope to people who wondered how God was acting in their time as we wonder today how God works in ours.  Genesis introduces us to God's radical freedom to do new things and the importance of our responding faithfully.


DOORS AND TABERNACLES . . . The repairs to the West 47th Street doors have been completed.  The newly restored doors have been installed and access to the church is again possible via 47th Street.  Thank you for your patience . . . The lock on the high altar tabernacle is broken.  One locksmith has been unable to fix it.  It will not be an easy repair.  The tabernacle is an important part of the fabric of the altar.  It is as much a question of conservation as of repair.  I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Lady Chapel.  Stephen Gerth


PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, November 14, 6:30-7:30 PM, New and Prospective Members Reception, in the Rectory, after 6:00 PM Evening Prayer . . . Sunday, November 20, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Commitment Sunday.  Pledge cards are offered . . . Wednesday, November 23, Eve of Thanksgiving, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Wednesday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM and Legacy Society Reception 7:00 PM . . . Thursday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception 7:30 PM.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During November and December, we will be collecting new and gently used coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive.  The deadline is December 31.  If you would like to donate a coat, please speak to Father Smith or bring the coat with you on Sunday . . . We are also collecting toys and gifts, including gift cards, to donate to the New York Foundling Hospital.  The Hospital, located on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea works with children, teenagers, and families in need.  The deadline is December 16 . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry.  Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  You may make a cash donation as well.  If you would like more information about how the Food Pantry works or if you would like to volunteer, please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or Father Smith . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday.  All proceeds are used to benefit the Food Pantry and others who are in need.


THE ARTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . American Globe Theatre (AGT), October 28–November 19:  Hamlet.  Directed by John Basil, AGT’s Artistic Director.  Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM.  For tickets and information, call 212-869-9809 . . . Sunday, November 6, 8:00 PM, Choral Spectacular: The Tenebrae Choir, Nigel Short, director . . . Saturday, November 12, at 7:30 PM. The Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel, artistic director, presents “Medieval Apocalypse,” works by Perotinus, Machaut, Cicona, and Matteo da Perugia, and anonymous works from England, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.  This event is part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival . . . Sunday, November 13 at 8:00 PM, Organ Concert, Giampaolo di Rosa, soloist.  Works by Liszt and Bach, in addition to improvisation on submitted themes.  Admission is free . . . December 1 and December 2 at 8:00 PM, and December 3 at 3:00 PM, Holiday Concert by The Choral Society, John Maclay, conductor.  Works by Gabrieli, Bernstein, Pärt, and favorite audience carols.


AWAY FROM SAINT MARY’S . . . The Peccadillo Theater Company at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s presents a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s classic and very funny play, The Man Who Came to Dinner.  Limited engagement, November 25-December 18.  Directed by Dan Wackerman.  Dan is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and often worships with us on Sunday mornings.  For reservations and tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.thepeccadillo.comThe Theater has very kindly offered Saint Marians and their friends discounted tickets.  When ordering tickets, use the following code in order to get the discount: PTCCH.