FROM THE RECTOR: GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE
I confess that I completely missed the commemoration for Genocide Remembrance on April 24 that Holy Women, Holy Men (2009) included when that volume was approved for “trial use” by the General Convention. In my defense, it’s a volume that proposed more than one hundred new commemorations, not including those added since the adoption of the 1979 Prayer Book.
As I wrote last fall, after attending a lecture given by the Reverend Dr. Maxwell Johnson at Saint Vartan’s Armenian Cathedral, the Armenian Church will recognize the victims of the genocide as saints. It will be the first canonization in the Armenian Church in 600 years. The formal service will be held in Armenia on April 23. Given the history of large-scale genocide in my lifetime (born 1954)—Communist China (in China and in Tibet), Cambodia, and Rwanda come to my mind—and the murder of Christians today in the Middle East, I think it’s important that we include this commemoration in our parish calendar and that we remain aware of what our government does and does not do in our names in response to tragedy unfolding today.
In its proposal, which the General Convention adopted, the church’s Standing Liturgical Commission on Liturgy and Music did not identify the victims of the Armenian Genocide as martyrs, but the Armenian Church will. Holy Women, Holy Men also does not name the perpetrators of the genocide, but I will: the Ottoman Turkish government in power during World War I, when Turkey was allied with the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
William Dalrymple’s From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium (1997) is the record of Dalrymple following, as he was able, the journey of the monk John Moschos (c. 550–619) from Mount Athos to the Coptic monasteries of Egypt recorded in Moschos’s The Spiritual Meadow. Moschos witnessed the beginning of the decline of Christianity in the Middle East. In 1994, Dalrymple thought he was witnessing its last act. He could not make the journey today that he made 21 years ago.
Almost daily we hear of horrors for Middle Eastern Christians, not unlike the horrors suffered by the Armenian Christians 100 years ago: countless acts of cruelty, including beheadings and crucifixions. The memorial church to the victims of the genocide at Deir-es-Zor on the Euphrates in Syria was destroyed by the Islamic State, together with the relics of the Armenian Christian victims preserved there, on September 21, 2014.
Another approach to the Armenian tragedy that has come my way is Peter Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir (1997). The Armenian Genocide is the unspoken tragedy that shapes the lives of all his oldest relatives, survivors of the horrors inflicted on the Armenians in the Turkish Empire. What is unspoken shapes his life. Black Dog of Fate is the story of his journey to uncover what his family could not bring themselves to remember.
The most important thing I took away from Dr. Johnson’s lecture was the observation an Armenian deacon had made that, once recognized as martyrs, the victims would no longer be victims, but victors. It remains hard for me to comprehend the evil we human beings can do to each other. At the end of the day, I hope in the resurrection of the just to eternal life and the resurrection of judgment for those who have done evil (John 5:29).
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Bill, Steve, John, Suzi, Willoughby, McNeil, Daniel, Mazdak, Trevor, Brayden, Andrew, Barbara, Penny, David, Dennis, Dee, Emily, Abalda, Linda, Eric, Takeem, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the repose of the soul of Benjamin Ginther; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 19: 1881 Wilbur Fisk Kirby; 1904 Louise Myers & Hannah Robertson; 1906 Pauline Rescousie; 1908 John Robert Mearns; 1914 Henry Clay Glover; 1950 Grace M.W. Fanning; 1965 Gertrude C. Yorke; 1977 Gudrun Lagergren.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Annual Meeting of the Parish will take place after the Solemn Mass on Sunday, April 19, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study class will meet on April 22, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 18, by Father Jay Smith and on Saturday, April 25, by Father Jim Pace . . . Saturday, April 25, is the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist: Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM . . . Friday abstinence is not observed during the Easter Season.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Reverend Dr. James Conlin Pace, Ph.D., M.Div., ANP, BC, FAANP, FAAN, has been appointed the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs of the New York University College of Nursing. He will continue to live and serve here at Saint Mary’s. Congratulations, Father Pace! . . . The rector will be away from the parish on vacation from Wednesday, April 22, until Saturday, May 2. He will be in church on Sunday, May 3. He will be attending the Diocesan Priests’ Conference from Monday, May 4 until Wednesday, May 6. He returns to the parish office on Friday, May 8 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 238.
REMEMBERING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE . . . The 100th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide will be held in Times Square on Sunday, April 26, beginning at 1:45 PM. This event will pay tribute to the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred by the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire and to the millions of victims of subsequent genocides worldwide. The Divine Liturgy and Times Square program will begin with church services at 10:00 AM at Saint Vartan Armenian Cathedral, Second Avenue at 34th Street. The procession to Times Square will start at 12:00 PM, and the program, which will feature speakers from the political, media, and scholarly fields, will begin at 1:45 p.m. Saint Mary’s parishioner Virginia Davies Taylor, whose family is Armenian, invites interested Saint Marians to walk to the square for the commemoration following our Solemn Mass and Coffee Hour.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1532–1585) was an influential composer and organist of the Venetian School. He was also the uncle and teacher of the better-known Giovanni Gabrieli, who edited and published much of what we now have of Andrea Gabrieli’s work. Andrea Gabrieli’s musical output consists of sacred and secular vocal music, as well as instrumental music, and much of it was composed for the unique acoustic environment of Venice’s Basilica of San Marco, where Gabrieli remained until his death. The Missa brevis which we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is an early and absolutely first-rate example of a work written to conform to the requirements of the Council of Trent, which stated that the music of the liturgy must be understandable and not “confused” by elaborate polyphonic writing. Two of Gabrieli’s Mass settings were popular during his lifetime, but there was also the large-scale choral and instrumental music for ceremonies of both church and state, all written for San Marco in Venice. At the ministration of Holy Communion we will hear the motet, Cantate Domino by the Venetian-trained German composer, Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612), a setting of the first verse of Psalm 96 (and the second verse of Psalm 149). Psalm 96 is a popular text. It is appointed by the Book of Common Prayer to be used on the First Sunday of Advent, the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, as well as the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity; and it is set as the Introit for Rogation Sunday in Eastertide . . . On Sunday at 5:00 PM, we will welcome a guest choir for Evensong and Benediction, the Parish Choir of Christ’s Church in Rye, New York, directed by Ruaraidh Sutherland. Evensong is preceded by an organ recital at 4:40 PM. On Sunday, the recitalist is Mark Sedio, cantor at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His program includes works by Gerald Bales (1919–2002), C. P. E. Bach (1714–1788), Nicholas Bruhns (1665–1697), and a work which he has composed, Prelude on “Hyfrydol.” The final Evensong of the season will take place on Trinity Sunday, May 31. We invite you to join us on these final Eastertide Sundays in order to sing the Evening Office. —Mark Peterson
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . An exhibition of work by Bruce Stebner opened Friday, April 17, in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Bruce and his husband, Jim, were married here at Saint Mary’s last year. From the press release for the exhibition: “Today, Bruce dedicates his energy to his painting studio, Patois by Stebner. His paintings entice the viewer to savor personal moments recorded with Bruce’s exuberant use of color and energetic brush strokes. Stebner canvases are inspired by the simple beauty the artist finds in his own home and garden as well as those rustic gems he inhabits in France several times a year. His ‘Artistic Adventures’ are designed for those interested in painting or simply traveling France at an artist’s pace. Happy painting en plain air, Stebner equally adores reliving memories at the easel in his studio.” You can see some of Bruce’s work here.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 22 . . . Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be leading the class in a discussion of the links between theology and the arts. Her class, “Be not afraid,” the angel said: God’s Ministering Messengers, From Scripture into Poetry, will begin by presenting the range and role of angels in the Bible, proceed to review some chronological artistic responses in the visual arts and literature in general, and then focus on the images and ideas in a selection of poems, from diverse writers, both obvious and unexpected. The reading, examination, and discussion will keep as its start, and subsequent thread, biblical depiction, while surveying the poetic vision and re-vision of that scriptural skein of thought . . . On May 10, Zachary Roesemann will give a presentation on icons and his work as a painter, or writer, of icons. —James Ross Smith
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, April 25, Saint Mark the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Wednesday, May 13, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 14, Ascension Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 17, AIDS Walk 2015 . . . Sunday, May 24, The Day of Pentecost . . . Monday, May 25, Memorial Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . May 31, Trinity Sunday . . . June 1, The Visitation (transferred) . . . Sunday, June 7, The Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Corpus Christi.