FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER CHOICES
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking some time to wrap up our lectionary preparations for Holy Week and Eastertide. There are many choices to be made, which is largely, I think, a good thing.
In the original 1979 lectionary, found in the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 888–931), with the exception of the gospel for the Easter Vigil, there is a choice of gospel readings for every celebration from Palm Sunday through Easter Day. Sometimes it is simply a matter of length; for other services it’s a choice of passages from different gospels. The three-year cycle just makes a lot possible. Let me take you through the Easter Day choices, since the Sunday of the Resurrection is the most important day of the year.
In the 1979 scheme, one can always choose to hear all or part of John’s account of Easter morning (John 20:1–18). In John, Mary Magdalene goes first to the tomb. Then Peter and the disciple known as the Beloved Disciple race to the tomb, though they leave before the Risen Jesus makes himself known to the one who remains, Mary Magdalene.
Note that the 1979 book does not require that you and I ever hear the Risen Jesus speak on Easter Day—the verses in John which recount Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene are not required by the ’79 book. However, we are not required to read any of John on Easter Day. The ’79 book allows one to read Matthew 28:1–10 instead of John in Year A, Mark 16:1–8 instead of John in Year B, and Luke 24:1–10 instead of John in Year C on Easter morning.
If you are still with me, the new Prayer Book lectionary still doesn’t require anyone to hear from the Risen Jesus on Easter morning—something that is hugely problematic, I think. But if you do read John on Easter Day, you can no longer leave him and Mary Magdalene out of the picture. The significant innovation for this lectionary is that Matthew is no longer required to be read every year at the Vigil; it’s now Matthew, Mark, and Luke in successive years.
It’s been our practice to follow the 1979 lectionary pretty closely. Maybe this is one reason it took me so long (until Easter 2014!) to realize that, until the new lectionary came along, Western Christians never heard from the Risen Jesus on Easter Day. So, this year we will have Matthew at the Vigil and Mark on Easter morning.
Each of these Easter gospels proclaims Jesus Christ in powerful yet different ways—and I have no patience with anyone who tries to ignore the differences among them.
As I write on Thursday afternoon, my office on West 46th Street has suddenly been filled with sunlight—usually nearby buildings block the sunlight for most of the day even when the sun is shining in the right direction. This sunlight is bringing with it most welcome warmth. I’ve even had to crack the window open. All this reminds me that our word “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word for “spring.” I know in a very few minutes the sunlight will be gone—and the window will close. It’s not warm yet in New York City.
This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the liturgical color is rose. There will be more organ music during the hymns—but no traveling music. The text of the entrance chant at the Solemn Mass catches the character of the day: Rejoice, O Jerusalem; and gather round, all you who love her. We will rejoice at all the services this Sunday. I invite you to join me in looking forward to the great day, Easter. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Gerald, who is gravely ill; and for Lawrence, Penny, Vanessa, David, Dennis, Larry, Angel, Anna, Dee, John, Emily, Ben, Charlie, Vera, Abalda, Linda, Eric, Barbara, McNeil, Takeem, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the soul of Kay Porciello . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 15: 1876 Samuel Stevens; 1895 Robert Cochran; 1940 Pauline Dunn; 1969 Peter Chan.
THE ORDINARY WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. The Fridays of Lent are also observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats. Abstinence is not observed on Sundays in Lent (or on the Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, or the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, March 13, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Sunday, March 15, 10:00 AM, Adult Forum: Father Peter Powell continues his class on the Gospel of John . . . Monday, March 16, Meeting of the Board of Trustees . . . March 18, 6:30 PM, The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Thursday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Friday, March 20, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 14 by Father James Pace, and on Saturday, March 21, by Father Jay Smith.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sunday, March 15, marks the eighth anniversary of the arrival of the sisters of the Community of Saint John Baptist to Saint Mary’s. We are very grateful to the superiors of the community during this time, Sister Barbara Jean Packer, C.S.J.B., and Sister Eleanor Francis Reynolds, C.S.J.B., for their support of this ministry; and we are particularly grateful to Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., and Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., for all that they do here at the parish. Please keep them and all the members of their community in your prayers . . . Parishioner Penny Allen is now at home, where she is continuing rehabilitation therapy and is making excellent progress. She looks forward to returning to Saint Mary’s soon . . . The Flower Guild is beginning to make plans for Holy Week and Easter. If you would like to volunteer to help decorate the church for Easter, please speak to a member of the Flower Guild . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 210.
CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The new Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series in Saint Joseph’s Hall has been a great success this year. We’ve discovered the acoustical qualities of the room. We’ve been able to use our beautiful new piano; and we’ve been able to hear a wide range of music, both vocal and instrumental, serious and light-hearted, old and new, and all in an intimate setting before enthusiastic audiences. Please join us on Monday, March 16, at 7:30 PM, for the next offering in the series: Music for Two: Robin Frye & Robert Motsby, with Douglas Drake at the piano, in a program of music by Schumann, Finzi, Montsalvatge, and selections from the musical Carousel. A donation at the door to support our music program is encouraged. For more information, please contact Mark Peterson.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Jean Langlais (1907–1991) was born in La Fontenelle, Brittany, France. He became blind at the age of two and was sent to the Paris National Institute for the Young Blind in 1918. There he studied piano, violin, harmony, and organ with blind teachers, including the great Albert Mahaut and André Marchal. Langlais later entered the Paris National Conservatory of Music, was placed with the renowned Marcel Dupré, and obtained a First Prize in 1930. In 1931, he received the “Grand Prix d’Execution et Improvisation des Amis de l’Orgue,” after having studied improvisation with Charles Tournemire. He ended his studies with a Composition Prize in the class of Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory in 1934. Langlais became a professor at the National Institute for the Young Blind, teaching there for forty years. He also taught at the Paris Schola Cantorum from 1961 to 1976, influencing a large number of students, both from France and from around the world. In 1945, he became the successor to César Franck and Charles Tournemire at the prestigious organ of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris, maintaining that position until the age of eighty. A great recitalist, he played more than 300 concerts in North America. Langlais was also a prolific composer, writing some 254 works for organ, voice, and choral ensembles as well as instrumental music. The Missa “In simplicitate” a moving work for unison choir and organ, was written in 1952, and will be sung by the women of the choir at the Solemn Mass to mark Laetare Sunday. At the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday, we will hear an unusual Latin motet by the great German romanticist, Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) on a traditional text. —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class: The class resumes on March 18, and will begin its reading at Isaiah 25. This section of the book appears to be relatively late (c. 300 BC) and contains some striking apocalyptic language. In chapters 25 and 26, we will read some powerful, and well-known, verses in which the prophet foresees the resurrection of the dead (25:6–9 and 26:19) . . . On the remaining Sundays in Lent (March 15, 22 & 29) Father Pete Powell will continue his series on The Gospel of John. Part of the discussion in the class will focus on discipleship and the ways in which the Gospel of John helps one to understand the life of the disciple . . . During Eastertide (April 19, 26, and May 3), Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be leading the class, once again, in a discussion of the links between theology and the arts: “And the angel said, ‘Be not afraid’ ”: God’s Ministering Messengers, From Scripture through the Arts and Literature. All the Sunday-morning adult-education classes begin at 10:00 AM and are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. —Jay Smith
HOLY WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . March 28 & 29, Palm Sunday: (Saturday) Liturgy of the Palms & Vigil Mass 5:00 PM; (Sunday) Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Liturgy of the Palms & Sung Mass 9:00 AM; Liturgy of the Palms, Procession to Times Square &, Solemn Pontifical Mass 11:00 AM, Sermon by the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold; Solemn Evensong, Litany & Solemn Benediction 5:00 PM . . . April 2, Maundy Thursday: Sung Matins 8:30 AM; The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper 6:00 PM, The Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, celebrant, The Very Rev. Andrew McGowan, preacher; The Watch before the Blessed Sacrament . . . Friday, April 3, Good Friday: Sung Matins 8:30 AM; The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord 12:30 PM & 6:00 PM. Confessions will be heard by the parish clergy after both liturgies . . . Saturday, April 4, Easter Eve: Sung Matins 8:30 AM; The Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM; Sunday, April 5: The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Said Mass with Hymns 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Organ Recital 4:30 PM; Solemn Paschal Evensong 5:00 PM.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Wednesday, March 25, The Annunciation, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan of New York.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Frick Collection, Wednesday, March 18, 6:00-7:00 PM, Live Webcast of a sold-out lecture by Dame Hilary Mantel, The Road to “Wolf Hall.” From the Frick website: “Dame Hilary Mantel, two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize for her best-selling novel Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, is currently at work on the third installment of her Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, The Mirror & the Light. At the Frick Collection, the home of Hans Holbein’s iconic portraits of rivals Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More, Dame Hilary will discuss the concept, research, and writing of the novels, their adaptation for stage and screen, and the historical figures they so vividly bring to life.” Hilary Mantel’s novels provide one interpretation of the period in which the church in England severed its ties with Rome. Her lecture should be of some interest to New York City’s Anglicans. It appears that the webcast can be accessed here.