From Sister Laura Katharine: Silence – A Problem or a Gift?
In many languages including Latin, Greek and Hebrew, there are two different words for silence. The first word points to the absence of sound or noise. “To experience quietness” captures the meaning of this first word. The second word points to something more active, to a more deliberate intention. It suggests actually keeping silent by deliberately refraining from speech. In some sense it simply means not talking! There are many impediments to both kinds of silence today.
The modern world is impatient with silence and it certainly doesn’t encourage it. As a result, those who yearn for more silence in their lives often have a difficult time of it. Whether they simply seek quietness or something more active, something like “true silence,” they face many obstacles. They must try to find adequate time and space to be silent; but they must also confront their own inclinations, habits, and experiences. They must deal with the mental, psychological, and spiritual obstacles to both quietness and silence. Some people, of course, come to realize that they actively choose to avoid silence. Quietness makes them uneasy and they feel that they can’t, or don’t know how, to be silent. Other people, however, discover that silence is an absolute necessity for them. Most people are probably somewhere in the middle. They try to cope with their noisy surroundings and they struggle with the constant intrusions of our modern technological gadgets and appliances – televisions, computers, cell phones, IPods and IPads. All these things take up both time and space. They distract us and keep our minds preoccupied and unaware.
Nevertheless, the quest for more silence is well worth it. It provides many rewards. Quiet and silence, like the regular experience of a good night’s rest, promote good health. (Though, of course, sleep does not count as a time of keeping silent!)
To spend even a short time in a silent place can be refreshing and revitalizing. This is just the first step. Seeking a place for silence must become a habit, a practice, a part of one’s “rule of life.” Of course, the outside world and our human frailty immediately put obstacles in our way. It is not easy to still the mind so that interior silence can occur. There are no simple tricks of the trade that can make this easy or automatic. It takes much patience, fortitude, and determination.
Those living the monastic or religious life do not have an advantage when it comes to this struggle. The ego and the brain are not easily corralled by anyone, no matter who they are. Religious life does create time and space for silence to happen. Most religious houses keep a “greater” or “grand” silence for about twelve hours each day. During this grand silence, speaking is not permitted, except to deal with emergencies. One might think that living alone would make some of this easier, but usually that is not the case. The temptation to surrender to noisy distractions lurks around every corner. There are many reasons for this. Some of them are practical. It is not always easy to find a place and a time to be quiet. However, there are psychological and emotional obstacles as well. Sometimes people tell themselves, “I just can’t do it.” However, persistence in this area really can pay off. Quiet and silence are things that need to be experienced first-hand, and one needs to keep at it, to try not to become discouraged. Guidance and assistance can be found, but there is no particular program or set of techniques that work for everybody.
Silence is a gift. It is more precious than gold. Silence can refresh and heal the body; and it is a necessary prerequisite for a vital spiritual life. It is in silence that we seek God; it is in silence that God seeks after us and finds us. Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Donald, Sharon, Bob, John, Julia, Dianne, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, Lorraine, deacon, and Albert, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Christine, and Rob; and for the repose of the soul of Brian McKernan . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 18: 1875 Lizzie Dale Jenkins; 1885 Louis Cecil Dash; 1886 Mary Rhinelander Higham; 1938 Margaret Maria Matthews; 1959 Marie A. Piehl; 1967 Arthur C. Hewitson.
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 . . . Monday, September 19, 6:30 PM, Meeting of the Board of Trustees . . . Wednesday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Father Gerth will be on vacation and away from the parish from Thursday, September 22, until Wednesday, September 28. He will return to the office on Michaelmas, Thursday, September 29 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, September 17. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, September 24.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 5, at 6:30 PM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. This semester, the class will be reading The Letter to the Ephesians. The class will be led by Father Smith . . . A convention to elect a bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of New York will take place on Saturday, October 29. The Committee to Elect a Bishop has scheduled several “walkabouts” at locations throughout the diocese so that delegates to the convention, as well as others who are interested, can meet the candidates. The Manhattan walkabout is scheduled for Friday, October 14, 1:00 PM, at Saint James, Madison Avenue. Other times and locations are listed on the diocesan website . . . 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 . . . Parishioner Julia Heard Miranda has begun a master’s program at the General Theological Seminary. As the fall semester begins, please keep her, and all who study, in your prayers . . . Parishioner Terry Carlson recently moved back to Minnesota, where he has opened a new art studio in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. We miss Terry and wish him well in his artistic endeavors. We are grateful to Terry for the countless hours he devoted to caring for and improving the lighting throughout our complex of buildings. You may visit Terry’s website www.mnartists.org/terry_carlson for more information about his work . . . Seminarian Mary Julia Jett has been chosen to lead the Guild of Chimers at the General Theological Seminary. The chimes are rung for ten minutes before every sung service at the seminary . . . Congratulations to Brother William Jones, BSG, and all the members of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory. The Brotherhood began its life in, and ministry to, the Episcopal Church forty-two years ago, on Holy Cross Day, September 14, 1969 . . . Many thanks to José Vidal, who oversaw the now-completed renovation of the Church School’s Atrium in the Parish Hall this summer. The space has been transformed, is quite beautiful, and is ready for the beginning of Church School on October 2 . . . Altar flowers are needed for September 25, October 9 and 23, and November 6. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office . . . The Ministry of Hospitality is an important part of our life at Saint Mary’s. If you would like to contribute to this ministry and sponsor a feast-day reception this year, please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith in the parish office. We are looking for sponsors for All Saints’ Day on November 1 and the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8 . . . Attendance: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 95; Last Sunday 233; Holy Cross Day 92.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Thursday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass at 12:10 PM and Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . Our annual Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing is on Saturday, October 15, 6:00-9:00 PM. Dinner is potluck. Please contact Grace Bruni or Father Smith if you think you might be able to bring a dish to share. Beverages will be provided. All are welcome! . . . Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 6, 2011, 2:00 AM.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Prière à Notre Dame from Suite gothique, Op. 25, by Léon Boëllmann (1862–1897). The cantor is Dr. Mark Risinger, bass. At the ministration of Communion, Dr. Risinger and I will sing the motet Oculus non vidit (“No eye has seen”) from Cantiones duarum vocum (“Songs for Two Voices”) by Orlande de Lassus (c. 1532–1594). Lassus (or Lasso or Delattre, as he was variously named) was born in Mons, now part of Belgium. Little is known about his early life apart from the fact that he was kidnapped three times because of the incredible beauty of his singing voice! He worked for several years in various parts of Italy before settling in Munich in 1556, where several composers, including both Gabrielis, visited to study with him. Cantiones duarum vocum, a set of Latin motets for two voices, was published in Antwerp in 1609. I will improvise a verset (a short passage of organ music, in the style of Lasso) as a centerpiece to the two sung sections. On Sunday, September 25 at 5:15 PM I will play an organ recital at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York City. It would be wonderful to see some Saint Marians there! James Kennerley
VERTICAL TOUR OF THE CATHEDRAL . . . The date of the tour has been changed. The tour will now take place on Sunday, October 23. The group will meet Dr. Dennis Raverty and Mother Kathleen Liles at the Cathedral at 1:30 PM. The vertical tour will begin at 2:00 PM. There are two places still available for the tour. Please contact Father Jay Smith if you would like to join the group. There is a fee of $16.00. Scholarship funds are available.
CATECHESIS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD . . . Church School for children ages 3 to 6 years old resumes on Sunday, October 2, at 9:45 AM, in the newly-renovated Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. The class is led by Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. Rebecca will be assisted this year by seminarian Mary Julia Jett. If you have friends, colleagues, or family members who are looking for a church-school program for their young children, please let them know about Saint Mary’s. You can contact Rebecca through the parish office at 212-869-5830.
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT (VAP) . . . Beginning this coming Sunday, September 18, and continuing on many Sundays this autumn, there will be a new exhibition in Saint Joseph’s Hall, The Vestments of Saint Mary’s. The parish has a rich history of commissioning and using beautiful vestments in its liturgies. Unfortunately, time and much wear have taken their toll on many of the vestments. However, one is still able to see the great skill, care and craftsmanship that went into creating these “works of art in fabric” by looking closely at the pieces that remain. Many Saint Marians have never had a chance to see some of these vestments. We invite you to come to Saint Joseph’s Hall each week to see the vestments (we hope to show new pieces each week). This will give us a chance to reflect on the parish’s past and to think about how we can support this rich tradition. We can do this by preserving what we own and, we hope, by filling in current gaps in the collection. The exhibition is being curated by Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., and parishioner Wayne Mahlke.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, October 22, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra (Admission Free), David Leibowitz, music director: Dvorak: Othello Overture; Patterson: Saxophone Concerto (New York City Premiere); Sibelius: Symphony No. 4.