FROM THE DEACON: BREAK AHEAD
The above title sounds like a highway sign, but those usually tell exactly what's around the bend, while our life journeys rarely imitate that prescience, that certainty.
When we worship at Saint Mary's we profess a willingness to open ourselves to something mysterious, to the opposite of certainty: faith. We may be afraid to surrender to God guiding us when we can't see the next steps clearly, but Paul reminds us that, "we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen" (2 Corinthians 4:18). In November I wrote about, "Time Away & Back Again." It's perhaps an apt description of a new phase-how I'll deal with some realities of my life in New York City and subsequently at Saint Mary's.
Many of you are aware of the accommodations that have been made for me by the rector-for which I am extremely grateful-for the symptoms of my 9-11 induced sarcoidosis, a pulmonary and systemic condition, rarely life-threatening. Standing in clouds of incense or carrying a flagon in each hand while turning on the stairs are no longer good things for me to do. We all have to make adjustments in our lives. I work to accept and to put my energy into what I am able to do, rather than fretting about the losses. When I chant the prayers or the dismissal, perform other liturgical duties at the altar, visit the homebound or sick, or teach a class on Sunday, I feel blessed to have been called to become a deacon, especially your deacon, who I hope I will always be, as Saint Mary's is my true home.
Pastoral care of others is one of the ministries I treasure most. Now, for my own self-care I need to look at the bigger picture, particularly the difficulties of maintaining a healthy quality of life in the city, from air pollution and environmental factors, to less manageable transportation and other urban stressors. This semester I begin paid medical leave from teaching at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Right after Epiphany I'll travel to Nashville where my son and his family live, to be away from the city for a bit and get a sense of whether that's a healthier place overall, and if so, how I might structure my time between here and there. I will return briefly around Ash Wednesday, and then spend several more weeks away, during Lent, finally arriving back here before Holy Week.
I ask for your understanding and patience for my absence, and any necessary breaks further along. Despite its challenges, my health condition is stable, but I have reached a point of needing change and reconfiguration. In the next months, with God's help, I hope I will have more clarity about what that looks like.
Although many details remain to be seen, I hope as I put my unknown future into God's hands and keep my faith in those things not only seen, but unseen, you are able to do that with me. While I am away, I will continue to send reports to the newsletter, make pastoral phone calls, and prepare my Eastertide class on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry. There is unending work for us to do here at Saint Mary's as we follow the path of Jesus Christ; I intend to be here as much as possible to do that work on that road along with you. -Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FORAndrew, Jerry, Alexander, May, Claudette, Robert, Nicole, Dolly, Juliana, Heidi, Barbara, Jean, Catherine, Sharon, Donald, Linda, George, Burton, Takeem, Toussaint; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Gaylord, Harry, Jay, Louis, and Carl, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; and the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . 1883 Lils Plum; 1899 Elliot Daingerfield; 1906 Ada E. Loehrs; 1915 James C. Peabody; 1919 Franklin B. Miller; 1937 Frederick Potts Moore; 1941 Ada Oakley Rodgers; 1946 Mary Novak; 1973 Bradley Morrell Walls; 1983 Gertrude Schrage; 2013 Charles Cooper.
THE FRIDAYS OF CHRISTMASTIDE are not observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Traditional Friday abstinence resumes on Friday, January 13, 2017.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2017 . . . The church will open at 10:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM. Noonday Prayer at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:10 PM will be celebrated.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2017 is the Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On the morning after the New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, the church will open at 10:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM. There only be one service, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.
THE EPIPHANY . . . If one begins counting with Christmas Day, there are twelve days of Christmas, and the "Twelfth Night" is the eve of the Epiphany. But it is also common to count twelve days from the day after Christmas and to refer to the Epiphany as the "Twelfth Day." Our celebration of the Epiphany begins on Thursday, January 5, when Solemn Evensong will be sung at 6:00 PM. The canticles will be Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G minor by Richard Farrant (c. 1525-1580). The choir will also sing a motet, Hostis Herodes impie, by Pietro Pontio (1532-1596).
On Friday, January 6, Matins will be sung at 8:30 AM, Father Smith will be celebrant and preacher for the 12:10 Sung Mass. We welcome James Wetzel, director of music and organist at the Roman Catholic parish of Saint Vincent Ferrer and Saint Catherine of Siena, New York City, to play a recital at 5:30 PM. And we welcome our bishop suffragan, the Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, as celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. I hope you will be able to join us for one or more services-and to enjoy the great music of our celebrations. Merry Christmas. -Stephen Gerth
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN. . . Our pledge campaign continues. We have been making good progress. However, there is one statistic that we are very eager to change: only 60% of those who made pledges for 2016 have made a pledge for 2017. We urge all those who made a commitment to Saint Mary's in the past to renew that commitment for the coming year. We urgently need your help! Here are some additional statistics: $347,300.00 has been pledged so far during the Campaign. This is 81.7% of our pledge goal for 2017. In order to make a pledge for 2017, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; or place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, December 31, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM and Mass 12:10 PM. The church closes at 2:00 PM . . . Adult Forum: The Adult Forum has begun its Christmas Break and resumes on Sunday, January 15, at 10:00 AM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on January 4. The class resumes on January 11 at 6:30 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you so much to everyone who worked so hard this past couple of weeks to prepare for our celebration of Christmas. Your expertise, good spirits, commitment, and generosity are remarkable. We are grateful for all that you do . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, January 2. The church will be open on its regular schedule, but only the noonday services will be offered . . . The art exhibit, Water, Light, City: Paintings by Ricardo Mulero, continues in the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall. For more information, contact curator José Vidal. . . Attendance: Christmas 785.
FROM DR. DAVID HURD. . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa Octavi Toni by Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594). Lassus, as he was also known, was one of the most prolific and admired European composers of his time. Born at Mons in the Franco-Flemish province of Hainaut, Lassus was well traveled, particularly in northern Italy, but was centered in Munich much of his adult life. His compositions include about sixty authenticated Mass settings, most of which are elaborate parody works based upon motets, often his own, as well as French chansons, and Italian madrigals from such composers as Gombert, Willaert, Resta, Arcadelt, Rore, and Palestrina. The Missa Octavi Toni is one of the more succinct of Lassus's Masses. It is in four voices throughout. Much of the Gloria is declaimed syllabically, and the polyphony in other movements is relatively restrained. Lassus shone perhaps with greater compositional distinction in his motets, but his compact Mass settings such as Missa Octavi Toni have demonstrated their liturgical suitability over generations.
During the administration of Communion during the Solemn Mass on Sunday, the choir will sing Verbum caro factum est by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). Hassler was a student of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1532-1585) in Venice and one of the first of a succession of German composers to experience in Italy the musical innovations that were shaping what would later be identified as Baroque style. Although he was a Protestant, his early compositions were for the Roman Catholic Church. Hassler's setting of Saint John the Evangelist's declaration of the incarnation is cast in six-voice texture and is suitably emphatic. The upper voices sing in alternation with the lower voices and then all join together in setting forth the text, phrase by phrase, largely in rhythmic unison.
The organ prelude is the third movement of the Te Deum Laudamus that I composed in 1981 for Larry King, who was at that time organist and music director at Trinity Church, Wall Street. It begins with an extended flute solo, after which the plainsong Te Deum melody for Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum ("When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin's womb") is heard. In its final section, the original solo melody returns, but now accompanied, and with Divinum mysterium ("Of the Father's love begotten") played slowly in the tenor register. -David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION. . . The Adult Forum on Sunday mornings has begun its Christmas break. Classes resume in January, when Dr. Charles Morgan will lead a three-part series (January 15, 22, and 29), Dealing with the Hard Stuff: Talking about Anger. Charles is a member of the parish and a practicing psychiatrist. Last season he led several sessions on dying, death, and grief in the Dealing with the Hard Stuff series . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class has begun its Christmas break. The class will resume on January 11, 2017, at 6:30 PM in the Nursery. The class will meet at 7:00 PM on January 18 and 25, after the Evening Mass, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The class will not meet on February 1, the Eve of the Presentation.
HOMELESS MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Plans are moving ahead for our first Drop-In Day. The plan is this. On a weekday afternoon in February, two or more volunteers will greet our homeless guests in the Mission House, and two or more volunteers are needed also to accompany them downstairs to our clothes closet. They will then have the opportunity to receive needed clothing items, as well as a bag with toiletry items, our recently designed book of prayers, as well as some information about the parish. At some point, if not in February, we hope to have a social worker or two present on these Drop-In Days to discuss other services. We hope also to have a chance to talk to our guests to hear more from them about the struggles they face in the Times Square neighborhood and to discover ways to shape our ministry based on the actual needs of the homeless in our area . . . Our Wish List: as the weather grows colder, we are looking for donations of socks, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, backpacks, gloves, winter hats, earmuffs, rain ponchos, and, most important, gift cards for McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. If you'd like to volunteer to help distribute clothing and other items, please contact Sister Monica. We are grateful to all those who have been supporting this ministry so generously. -Members of the Homeless Ministry Committee
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S. . . Saturday, January 21, 2017, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre at Saint Mary's, New York Polyphony, Palestrina's "Marcellus Mass." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 4, 7:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM), The Trident Ensemble presents "Crossroads: Music from Georgia." From the ensemble's website: "Surrounded by the Black Sea, situated between Europe and Asia, the nation of Georgia lies at a meeting point between West and East. Having survived occupations by the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and even annexation by Russia in the 1800s, the country maintains a completely unique language, alphabet, culture, and musical practice. Join Trident as we explore the rich history and polyphonic tradition of Georgia, from folk music to contemporary classical a cappella repertoire." Tickets may be purchased online.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins . . . Wednesday, January 25, The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends.