FROM THE RECTOR: EATING AND SEEING
When I first started attending the Episcopal Church during my college years, my soul was captured by the beauty of the Prayer Book and with the reverence with which the words were prayed. Having been brought up Southern Baptist, I found that the prayers of the book and the place of the Eucharist in the life of the Episcopal Church offered a broader spirituality than I had known. When I think back about the journey of my adult Christian life, the Sunday Eucharist is at its heart. I think that would be true even if I were not a priest.
There continue to be unexpected theological challenges that I treasure. At some point in the early 1990s, I was at Nashotah House with a classmate, the Reverend John McCausland-he was preacher for my institution as rector of Saint Mary's. Speaking about the state of liturgy at Nashotah House at that point, he said something like, "Why shouldn't the liturgy at the seminary reflect the very best thinking about worship?" I remember laughing in agreement, but his point has stayed with me and pushed me to more study.
Ranking right up there with those words of grace are words that jumped out at me in an article by the late Patrick Regan (1938-2017). Father Regan was a Benedictine monk, abbot, and respected liturgical scholar. The article was "The Good Friday Communion Debate" (Worship 81, January 2007, 2-23)-who knew some contemporary Roman Catholic theologians wanted to return to the practice of only the celebrant receiving Communion on Good Friday, a practice ended in 1956 by Pius XII? In arguing for receiving the Eucharist on Good Friday, Regan quoted from a lecture given by the Reverend Dr. Paul Bradshaw at the Gregorian University, Rome, in 2007:
Good Friday communion represents the stubborn perdurance and official recognition on this one day of a stream of primitive tradition focused more on what Paul Bradshaw calls "feeding on the life-giving Jesus" than on celebrating the holy sacrifice. "This dominant emphasis," he continues, "explains why the reception of communion in separation from the eucharistic action proper . . . emerged so soon in the life of the church and became so widely established: they (the faithful) needed, not to celebrate the eucharist often, but to feed on Christ all the time" (page 22).
Some months later I read Bradshaw's article ("The Eucharistic Sayings of Jesus," Studia Liturgica 35 , 1-11) in the library of Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, but I didn't get a copy of it until August 2011-thank you, Mary Robison. I've been walking, as it were, with Bradshaw's words ever since, "feeding on the life-giving Jesus."
This Sunday Saint Mary's will continue its celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ. After Communion at the Solemn Mass, the Eucharist will be exposed in a monstrance for adoration. Then, as has been our custom since 1999, weather permitting, we will process the Sacrament to Times Square. A brass quartet and our choir will lead our singing of "Amazing grace!" When we return to the church, the congregation will receive a blessing with the monstrance. Then one final hymn and the dismissal.
B y the end of the first millennium of the Christian Era, in a time when Communion was rarely received, but Mass was celebrated often, Corpus Christi ("Body of Christ") devotions are spreading in Western Europe. In the eleventh century, Lanfranc (1005-1089), a Benedictine monk and abbot in Normandy who would become archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, had provided for an elaborate procession of the Sacrament on Palm Sunday (N. Mitchell, Cult and Controversy , 130-31). The feast itself began to be celebrated (without a procession) in the thirteenth century. Processions soon followed because the Eucharist was now all about seeing the Eucharistic Body of Christ (Ibid., 175-76). We will be invited on Sunday to "feed on the life-giving Jesus" and to adore his Eucharistic presence, a presence made possible by a congregation of baptized people, the Body of Christ. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sandy, Adam, Caryn, Cookie, Irene, Brian, Jim, Karen, Ivy, Ralph, Pat, Peggy, Vera, Rocco, Cathy, Grady, Mike, John, Rick, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Robert, Dennis, and George; for Scott and Robert James, religious; for Sidney, deacon; for Horace, Mitties, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, violence, and disaster, especially those injured in the shooting this week in Alexandria, Virginia; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 18: 1892 Frances Canning; 1911 John Willoughby; 1951 Harold Hosford Bowman.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Sunday Summer Schedule begins with Evening Prayer on Sunday, June 18, The Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi. The 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses on Corpus Christi will be celebrated at the high altar, but 10:00 AM Mass will be celebrated at Saint Joseph's Altar (Wedding Chapel)-this Mass will return to the high altar on June 25 . . . On Friday, June 23, The Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist will be celebrated with a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. The 12:10 PM Mass on Saturday, June 24, will also be for the Nativity of Saint John.
SOME WORDS OF THANKS . . . For several months there has been an encampment of homeless persons under the sidewalk shed across the façade of the church complex on West Forty-sixth Street. During this time we have been working with individuals to help them access needed social services. The issues around homeless persons are complex, but with growing concerns about the safety of our visitors and residents, we turned again to the Times Square Alliance. They have been marvelous. Not only are they concerned about visitors and residents, they have a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of the homeless. Among their recommendations was to enclose the scaffolding on the church side of the shed. And we have done that. A few persons remain, and our efforts to assist them will continue. But we are not a shelter, and the board of trustees, with my full support, decided we needed to act so that we can remain a place of welcome and worship. -S.G.
A FRIENDLY REMINDER . . . We urge all members and friends of the parish who have made a pledge for 2017 to try and remain current on their pledge payments, since we often experience cash-flow problems during the summer months. We are grateful to all those who continue to support Saint Mary's so generously.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Rami Eskelin was baptized at Saint Mary's this year at the Easter Vigil. He has been serving at the altar for some weeks now. His friend Helen Zhao often worships with us on Sunday morning. Rami and Helen recently went to Prom together. Rami graduates from the High School of the Future on East Twenty-Second Street on Friday, June 16. Helen will graduate from the high-school division of the Special Music School on the Upper West Side on Wednesday, June 21. This fall, Rami will be attending Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and Helen will begin her undergraduate studies at NYU's Stern School of Business. Congratulations to them both! Please keep them in your prayers . . . David Hurd will be away from the parish June 17-July 1. Dr. Timothy Pyper will play the Solemn Mass on Corpus Christi, June 18. Gregory Eaton will play the Solemn Mass on June 25, the Third Sunday after Pentecost . . . Father Jay Smith will be on vacation and away from the parish from Monday, June 26, until Tuesday, July 25. During that time, for administrative issues and to make additions to the prayer list, please call the parish office. For pastoral issues, please contact Father Gerth or Father Jim Pace . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 188.
SISTERS AND BROTHERS . . . Saturday, June 24, is the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John Baptist. On that day, Sister Laura Katherine and Sister Monica Clare will join the other members of the Community of Saint John Baptist at the convent in Mendham, New Jersey, for their annual Commemoration Day . . . Last week the brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross gathered at the monastery in West Park, NY, for their annual chapter. Brother Robert Sevensky's final term as superior of the order came to an end and the brothers elected Brother Robert James Magliula as their new superior. Brother Rob is a native New Yorker and a trained psychotherapist. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1983, he worked as a hospital chaplain until he was called as rector of the Church of Christ the King, Stone Ridge, New York, in 1989. He entered the order in 2006. He has lived and served at Holy Cross's house in Grahamstown, South Africa, and as the order's director of formation in West Park. In the 1880s, the sisters of the Community of Saint John Baptist provided crucial support to Father James Otis Sargent Huntington (1854-1935) as he worked to found the Order of the Holy Cross. We invite you to keep the two communities in your prayers.
SAINT MARY'S CENTERING PRAYER GROUP . . . A new Centering Prayer Group has begun here at the parish. The Group meets on Fridays from 6:30-8:00 PM, following Evening Prayer, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. (Entrance is via Saint Joseph's Hall or 145 West Forty-sixth Street.) Centering Prayer, "prayer without words," is a contemplative-prayer method that is intended to develop one's relationship with God. No experience is required to begin; if interested, individual instruction can be provided-simply contact one of the Group's coordinators. An introductory workshop will be held in the fall. If you do have questions or would like more information, contact co-coordinators Ingrid Sletten or Blair Burroughs. The Group plans to meet again on June 16 and 23.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Missa Brevis by Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586). Andrea Gabrieli, uncle of the even more prolific Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1553-1612), is credited with bringing international stature to the Venetian musical compositional culture, where the Netherlands school had previously been dominant. Andrea Gabrieli, composer and organist, is principally associated with Saint Mark's, Venice, where he was organist from 1566 until his death. It is in this post that his reputation as a composer soared, and he became known especially for his ceremonial music. Gabrieli's style included mediating the juncture of polyphonic and homophonic textures, use of voices and instruments together in choirs, and setting multiple choirs of musicians in vibrant dialogue with one another. The Missa Brevis is a relatively modest work in four voices. While much of the text of this setting is declaimed in rhythmic unison, imitative counterpoint and flowing melodic lines are also very much in evidence. The Agnus Dei has two independent tenor parts and, thus, the enhanced richness of a five-voice texture. After the administration of Communion at the Solemn Mass on Sunday the choir sings Ave, verum corpus, a Latin hymn written in the fourteenth century, which has been attributed to Pope Innocent VI (1282/1295-1362). During the Middle Ages, the hymn was often sung at the elevation of the host during the words of institution. It was also sung during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A number of composers have created musical settings for the text, including William Byrd (1543-1623), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), and Edward Elgar (1857-1934). Today the choir will sing the hymn to a setting by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594).
Dr. Timothy Pyper will play the service and conduct the choir on Sunday morning. The organ voluntaries that he has chosen to play are Le Banquet Céleste by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) and Prelude in C by Edward Bairstow (1874-1946). -David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . Drop-in Days are now being planned for July 28, August 18, and September 8. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Marie Rosseels, José Vidal, or Father Jay Smith . . . We have begun a new partnership with Saint Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. This week, they sent us a significant donation of supplies for use in the go-bags that are distributed to those in need. The supplies included soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and hand sanitizer. We are very grateful for this assistance. We also received a donation of toiletry items this week from one of our neighbors, The Field [Social], an advertising, marketing and communications firm here on Forty-Sixth Street. The folks at The Field tell us that they are also planning to give us cold-weather clothing in the fall. We are very grateful to them for their concern and their help.
CONGRATULATIONS, FATHER JONES . . . Father Vern Jones is a great friend and supporter of Saint Mary's and its ministries. Every year he sends a message of support to the parish's AIDS Walk Team, along with a donation. Father Jones will be celebrating a number of anniversaries this summer. He will turn ninety on July 19. He celebrates the sixty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Friday, June 16, and the ninetieth anniversary of his baptism on August 21. Father Jones tells us that Saint Mary's was a spiritual home for him when he was studying at the General Theological Seminary 1949-52 and again during the years 1963-64. He visited Saint Mary's, and preached here, while serving on the Seminary's Board of Trustees in the 1970s. Father Jones has had an extremely active and interesting ministry. He served as a missionary priest in Oklahoma in the 1960s and 1970s. He re-founded the Whirlwind Cheyenne Mission in Watonga, OK, in 1961 and served there as vicar until 1969. He then served as a rector in the Diocese of California between 1977 and 1992. Since what he describes as his "retirement" in 1992, Father Jones has continued to serve the church in a variety of ways. His energy, commitment, generosity, and strong faith are inspirational to many of us here at the parish. In a recent letter, Father Jones writes, "I would not have changed my vocation for anything this world might have offered." We give thanks for Father Jones's ministry. Please keep him in your prayers.
HOMELESS MINISTRY: DONATIONS NEEDED . . . Our new Clothes Closet for the homeless and others in need has been quite successful, so successful in fact that we hope to receive donations of new or lightly used clothing items for distribution. Warm-weather items are particularly needed at the moment, but we are happy to receive winter clothing as well. We also welcome donations of the following items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand wipes, wash cloths, blankets, socks, and unopened packets of underwear for both men and women. Thank you so much to all those, both near and far, who have been supporting this ministry . . . We continue to receive donations of non-perishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please leave those items in the basket near the ushers' table in the back of the church before Mass. We will deliver them, and some clothing items, to Saint Clement's. -Sister Monica Clare
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue, between Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Streets-Henry James and American Painting, June 9-September 10, 2017. From the Library's website, "[This] is the first exhibition to explore the [Henry James's] deep and lasting interest in the visual arts and their profound impact on the literature he produced. Offering a fresh perspective on the master novelist, the show reveals the importance of James's friendships with American artists such as John La Farge (1835-1910), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), and James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). While the author decided early on that the pictorial arts were not to be the arena in which he would work, the painterly quality of his writing has enthralled readers for over a century. Co-curated by acclaimed novelist Colm Tóibín and Declan Kiely, head of the Morgan's Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, the exhibition includes a rich and eclectic selection of more than fifty paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculptures, photographs, manuscripts, letters, and printed books from two dozen museums and private collections in the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland. Together they weave an evocative story of fascinating artistic intersections.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays and holy days: July 9 and 23, August 6 (Transfiguration), August 20 and 27, and all the Sundays in September. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830 or by e-mail. We are grateful to all those who support the ministry of the Flower Guild so faithfully.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Thursday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Saturday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Tuesday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.