FROM THE RECTOR: TWO APOSTLES
This year the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, falls on Thursday, June 29. Evening Prayer on the Eve, Wednesday, June 28, will be for this feast. On Thursday, in addition to Morning Prayer and the regular noonday services, Noonday Office and Mass, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM in place of Evening Prayer. "In by six and out before seven" is my own slogan, as it were, for our "Evening Sung Masses." There's singing and incense, but not everything is sung that would be sung at Solemn Mass.
Until the adoption of the present Prayer Book, June 29 had been observed since the Reformation as the feast of Saint Peter the Apostle. But the celebration originated in Rome in A.D. 258 as a celebration of the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul in Rome during a period of persecution. Archbishop Cranmer kept the sixth-century feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on January 25 and dropped the commemoration of Paul with Peter in June. It isn't clear why the more ancient celebration was not continued. Massey Shepherd (1913-1990) wrote, "In any event [Paul's] conversion was of far greater significance to the history of the Church than was the manner of his death" (Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary , 228).
A month ago, I finally got around to begin reading a novel I bought when it came out in 2009, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It was not an easy read for me at the beginning. One has to keep track of pronouns and be aware of flashbacks. That said, once I got the hang of it, I'm enjoying it. It's really good historical fiction. The narrative centers on Thomas Cromwell (1485?-1540), the minister who helped his king divorce his queen and marry Anne Boleyn. Like her, Cromwell would lose his head.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) broke from the bishop of Rome in 1531, but the persecution of Protestants in England was real under this king. I did not know that while Thomas More (1478-1535), still revered by the Roman Catholic Church, served as lord chancellor six men were burned at the stake for heresy-so there is much more to his life story than one finds in Robert Bolt's (1924-1995) play, A Man For All Seasons (1960). (So, More didn't quit being chancellor because he would be required to facilitate the burning at the stake of Protestants, but he did quit because he couldn't accept the king as the head of the Church of England?)
I'm almost finished with the novel. Here's Cromwell speaking to his nephew about the power of the Bible in English. He says, again it's a novel, "You cannot tell people just part of the tale and then stop, or just tell the parts you choose. They have seen their religion painted on the walls of churches, or carved in stone, but now God's pen is poised, and he is ready to write his words in the books of their hearts" (Mantel, 478).
Peter is very much the leader at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, but he is no longer a part of the story after chapter 15. It is Paul who is in Rome at the end of Acts (chapter 28). In his Letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, "I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised" (Galatians 2:7). I believe it is still correct to say that there is no reliable historical evidence that Simon Peter was in Rome.
I will stick with what the New Testament tells us about these holy apostles in my sermon on their feast day. That's enough for me. We don't have to make things up. I continue to try to be faithful to the words I affirmed at the beginning of the service in which I was ordained deacon in 1983, "I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation" (The Book of Common Prayer, 538). -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Brian, David, Michael, Eugenia, Dick, Mary, Sandy, Adam, Caryn, Cookie, Irene, Brian, Karen, Ivy, Pat, Peggy, Vera, Cathy, Grady, Mike, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Jean, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Mitties, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, violence, and disaster; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the soul of Sidney Blake, deacon . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 25: 1891 William Carlyle; 1911 Herbert J. Williams.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Parishioner Eleanor Etheridge Dooman Pritchard died on March 29, 2017. She was ninety-six years old. She had lived since 2007 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Members of her family gathered at the Lady Chapel Vault on Friday afternoon, June 23, following the 12:10 Mass for her committal. May her soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. -S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . June 25, The Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7), Summer Worship Schedule: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evening Prayer 5:00 PM . . . Thursday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM.
FROM THE DEACON . . . Because of my year of comings and goings, many parishioners have asked me what my plans are, and so I give you an overview of the year ahead. Although I remain on medical leave from Manhattan Community College, my health condition remains stable and I have been able to serve in my usual capacities throughout the spring, for which I am thankful. After mass this Sunday, June 25, I will be away from St. Mary's and New York through July, returning the first week in August for a month.
After that I will be gone until the end of October, but back then and for November, with All Saints, All Souls, and Advent, along with the Diocesan Convention. This pattern of absence will most likely usually be from six to eight weeks, during which time I'll be with family in Nashville. I intend to be here with you, at the very least, for Christmas to Epiphany, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, Holy Week, and Pentecost (when I will begin a three-week class on the Holy Spirit which will go into June.) I will continue to be available for pastoral care via phone and email as I have in the past.
I certainly miss being here when I'm not here, but as soon as I walk back through the welcoming doors it is as if I've never left, and my having that feeling is thanks to everyone in the parish.
I am always grateful for the support, love, and understanding that my fellow clergy, the servers, and the members of the congregation give me, just one sign of many that shows our strength and unity as a community striving to live in the manner of Christ as we gather together to worship and share his Body and Blood. -Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Wednesday, June 21, the Rector gave a tour of the church to a group from the annual conference of the National Association of Episcopal Historians and Archivists that is being held this week at Saint Michael's Church, Manhattan. Most of the group had not been in Saint Mary's before and seemed delighted to discover this church . . . The green frontal is out for conservation. So, we will enjoy the beautiful altar for a few weeks on Sundays . . . Adrian Xavier Rochester, the son of Stephanie Rochester and the grandson of Abraham and Suzanne Rochester, graduated this month from eighth grade at Mount Saint Michael Academy, Bronx, New York. At his graduation, Adrian received the Excellence Award for both Mathematics and Computer Science. He has also won a Presidential Scholarship that will assist with tuition when he returns to the Mount in the fall to begin the ninth grade. Congratulations, Adrian, on these many accomplishments! . . . David Hurd will be away from the parish June 17-July 1. 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 183.
LGBT PRIDE MARCH . . . On Sunday, June 25, the Diocese of New York will again have a presence in the New York City LGBT Pride March, marching with a DJ and a float. We have received some useful information from the diocese for those who would like to walk with the diocesan group. Last year there were complaints about long waiting times at the staging area. NYC Pride has worked hard this year to provide more realistic meeting times: The diocesan group is in Section 11/Group 18. The meeting place will be East 39th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. Though the March steps off at 12:00 PM, the Episcopal group will step off much later that afternoon. Everyone should be ready to march at 5:00 p.m. However, marchers should not arrive before 4:30 PM, since the designated area will be used for another group of marchers. Group leaders will be wearing blue T-shirts and will have a banner . . . Sunday, June 25, Choral Evensong, 6:30 PM, The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields (corner of Hudson and Grove Streets). The service will be sung by the Saint Luke's Choir. The preacher will be Brother Aidan Owen, OHC. A festive reception will follow the service.
A FRIENDLY REMINDER . . . We urge all members and friends of the parish who have made a pledge for 2017 to try to 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.
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 23 and 30.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the four-voice Missa secunda of Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), who was born in Nuremberg, in northern Bavaria. Hassler's musical career bridged the late Renaissance and the early Baroque periods. His initial musical instruction was from his father, Isaak Hassler (c. 1530-1591). Hans Leo left home in 1584 to study in Venice with Andrea Gabrieli and became a friend and fellow pupil with Gabrieli's nephew Giovanni. Thus Hassler was 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. Hassler was recognized not only as a fine composer but also as an accomplished organist and a consultant in the field of organ design. Although Hassler was a Protestant, his early compositions were for the Roman church. His Missa secunda, first published in Nuremberg in 1599, is a model of efficient and concise text setting. The text is mostly set syllabically, and much of the musical texture is homophonic and rhythmically energetic. Often Hassler has the higher two voices and lower two voices singing phrases in playful alternation. These aspects all help to set forth the text with particular clarity. The motet, also by Hans Leo Hassler, sung during the administration of Communion, is a setting of a portion of Psalm 96. The cantor at Mass on Sunday is Elaine Lachica, who is a member of the Saint Mary's Choir.
The choral music at Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is offered by the Choir of All Saints' Church, Austin, Texas, under the direction of Gregory Eaton, who is also guest organist this morning. -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 . . . 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 deep and lasting interest in the visual arts and their profound impact on the literature [Henry James's] 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 . . . 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 . . . Sunday, August 6, The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mass 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM.