FROM FATHER SMITH: BACK TO SCHOOL
Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, then an Augustinian monk and a lecturer at Wittenberg University, published his Ninety-five Theses. Luther's manifesto was a protest against papal indulgences and other elements of the late-medieval Church's teaching on repentance, sacramental Confession, and Purgatory. Luther sent his theses to the ecclesiastical authorities, though it has long been claimed that he nailed them to the door of Wittenberg's castle church. Luther's originally local protest soon spread to other parts of Germany and beyond. Thus was born the Protestant Reformation.
The Church of England and the other churches of the Anglican Communion have a complicated, even ambiguous, relationship with the Continental Reformation. The title page of our Church's Constitutions and Canons suggests that we are not quite sure if we are a Protestant church or not. The page informs us--in fourteen-point type--that the Constitution and Canons have been adopted and revised "for the government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Otherwise Known as"--in twenty-eight point type--"The Episcopal Church." Here at Saint Mary's, local legend has it that, on a Sunday morning long ago, a staunch Anglo-Catholic parishioner hurled a Prayer Book from her pew to the crossing, shouting "Geneva!" in response to some change in the liturgy of which she disapproved. For her, "Geneva" meant John Calvin and "all his detestable enormities." She didn't mean it as a compliment.
The anniversary of Martin Luther's revolutionary manifesto has inspired much discussion in the wider Christian world of the Reformation and its impact. This seems like an opportune time to join that discussion. And, so, this year the Adult Forum (Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM, from October until June) will have a certain focus on Reformation history, theology, spirituality, and the artistic response to the Reformation's ideas.
On Sunday, October 1, parishioner and resident iconographer Zachary Roesemann will discuss his newly completed icon that was commissioned by a Lutheran parish in Washington, D.C. The icon includes portraits of a number of Lutheran saints, including Luther and Philip Melanchthon, and speaks to certain central elements of Reformation theology. On October 8, 15, 22, and 29, parishioner and teacher of history and global studies Grace Mudd will teach a series of classes on the Reformation. After talking a bit about the late-medieval background, the Ninety-five Theses, and early Lutheranism, Grace will help us to better understand Reformation theology and spirituality by discussing some of the music that the Reformation inspired--Luther's hymns, Bach's harmonization of the hymns, and some of the work of Felix Mendelssohn, particularly his Reformation Symphony.
In November, assisting priest Father Pete Powell returns to the Adult Forum, leading the class in a discussion of the Gospel of Saint Matthew. In the fall (November 5, 12, 19, and 26), Father Powell will be looking at the first five chapters of the gospel. Matthew is a long, complex, and exceedingly rich text. Father Powell will be focusing on certain central themes in Matthew, but he has agreed to help us understand the ways in which the first evangelist's presentation of such issues as law and Israel played a significant role in the development of Reformation theology, perhaps especially in contrast to Saint Paul's discussion of law and grace. In early December (December 3 and 10), around 1:00 PM in Saint Joseph's Hall, parishioner and musicologist Mark Risinger joins the discussion with a two-part series on a couple of centrally important works of J. S. Bach, the Saint Matthew Passion and the Saint John Passion. Bach is regarded as a saint by many Lutherans, and his work tells us much about the spirituality that arose out of the Reformation.
After the Christmas break, I will teach a five-part series (January 7, 14, 28; February 4 and 11) on the English Reformation. This is a large topic, and so my focus will be on the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (BCP 867-876) and the Oxford Movement's nineteenth-century interpretation of, and response to, that English "creed," in particular John Henry Newman's famous Tract 90, "Remarks on Certain Passages in the Thirty-Nine Articles." My hope is that this will help us to gain some understanding of the ambiguous Anglo-Catholic response to the Reformation heritage. On Sundays in Lent (February 18 and 25; March 4, 11, 18, and 25), Father Powell resumes his series on Matthew, beginning with chapter 6 and the Lord's Prayer.
The post-Easter schedule is still a bit uncertain, but this at least is clear. Beginning on the Day of Pentecost, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a three-part series (May 20, 27, and June 3) on the Holy Spirit in Scripture and literature. The provisional title of the series is "The dove fluttered down": bird, fire, wind, water, cloud, and light--depictions of the Holy Spirit in readings from Scripture and beyond. As always, Deacon Rebecca will seek to demonstrate the ways in which writers, especially poets, use the Bible to talk about religious ideas and emotions. In addition, the leaders of the new Saint Mary's Centering Prayer Group--Blair Burroughs, Renée Pecquex, and Ingrid Sletten--are working with me to find a time and a setting so they can talk to the parish about this exciting and increasingly popular form of Christian contemplative prayer.
On September 20, at 6:30 PM, the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes. This year, we will not be doing a close reading of a single biblical book. Rather, we will try do a close reading of a number of biblical texts that are often thought of as hard, difficult, or problematic. The goal is to grapple with passages that may seem opaque to us and, along the way, to learn some basic interpretive methods. This, I hope, will help us to listen to preaching and to read biblical commentary and interpretation in a new way. Finally, plans are still being made, but we hope to offer an Inquirers' Class this fall, led by soon-to-be Father Jacobson, for those preparing for Confirmation and Reception, and for those who would like to review the fundamentals of the faith.
Finally, a bit of practical news: beginning in October, the Adult Forum will normally meet, not in the Mission House, but in the Parish House. The Nursery has now moved to the Morning Room, near the Sacristy and the former Nursery has become, once again, Saint Benedict's Study. We've been using that Room since the spring on Wednesday nights for Bible Study. The room is light and pretty comfortable, and it is more accessible than the Arch Room, especially for those of us for whom the Mission House stairs can be a bit of a challenge.
I am so grateful to all those who have volunteered to teach in the adult-education program this year. We are blessed with teachers of great intelligence and much learning. Our classes are open to one and all. They are meant to provide a greater understanding of our faith and traditions. No preparation or homework is required. All of our teachers are eager to promote discussion and provide us with a stimulating and enjoyable way to learn. I hope that you will be able to join us. --Jay Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Michael, Dick, William, Audra Lee, Sarah, Vito, Maryanne, Josie, Karl, Cheryl, Joann, David, Sandy, Pearl, Donald, Patricia, Dorothea, Olutoyin, Eugenia, Peggy, Kathy, Mike, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Mitties, Anne, David, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for all victims of poverty, famine, violence, and disaster, especially the people of Houston, southeast Texas, and Louisiana; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the soul of Ann Mafield . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 3: 1890 Sarah Jane Camps; 1896 John Stark Newell; 1914 Alice Peabody; 1916 Henry Mullins; 1923 Nellie F. Knight; 1960 Charlotte Riis; 1965 Carol Jean Kearins.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Monday, September 4, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Friday, September 8, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, September 8, 7:15 PM (note later time), Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor. Please enter at 145 West Forty-sixth Street, just west of the main doors to the church, and press buzzer 1 in the vestibule. Then climb up one flight of stairs, make a U-turn, and climb up another small flight of stairs. The Atrium will be on your left.
THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY . . . The Standing Liturgical Commission's Prayer Book Studies IX(1957) called this feast, celebrated on September 8, "a major festival of both the Eastern and Western Churches" and it "finds a place in all the Anglican Calendars" (page 127), but not ours-a stance that our American church continues to this day. Jesus had a mother. Her name was Mary. The September 1892 issue of The Arrow, Saint Mary's monthly newsletter that was published from October 1891 through March 1899, lists the commemoration as "The Nativity of the B.V. Mary." As is our present custom, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM on Friday, September 8, 2017. It's also a special day for Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B. She made her life profession on this day in 1970. We will give thanks for her ministry, and her vocation, at both Masses on September 8.
A SPECIAL HOLY CROSS DAY . . . The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate, will be with us as celebrant and preacher for the Sung Mass on Holy Cross Day, Thursday, September 14, 2017, at 6:00 PM. In retirement, Bishop Griswold maintains a very active schedule of preaching, teaching, and giving retreats. He will celebrate his eightieth birthday on Monday, September 18. We're not celebrating his birthday on Thursday night, but I hope that many may be able to be with us to greet him after the service and to wish him the very best for the next decade of his life. --Stephen Gerth
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As many Saint Marians know, Forty-sixth Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenues is known as Little Brazil. Though the Brazilian presence in our neighborhood has grown somewhat smaller in recent years, the Brazilian community still gathers for Brazilian Day here on Forty-sixth Street every year on the Sunday before Labor Day in anticipation of Brazil Independence Day, September 7. The Brazilian Day celebration usually gets going after Solemn Mass is over, but please keep in mind that our block will be closed off to automobile traffic on Sunday and the sidewalks will be crowded in the afternoon . . . The rector is on vacation this week. He will return to the parish on Saturday, September 9 . . . Sister Laura Katharine will be on vacation until September 7 . . . Office Manager Chris Howatt will be on vacation through September 8. He returns to the office on Monday, September 11. During that time, coverage in the office will be provided by bookkeeper Kristie Raynor and parish volunteer Clint Best . . . Attendance last Sunday: 144.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is mezzo-soprano Martha Cargo, who has sung regularly in the choir of Saint Mary's for the past year. During the ministration of Communion, she will sing He shall feed his flock from Messiah by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). This aria, with its text drawn from the fortieth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, is as recognizable as almost any part of the famous oratorio from which it comes. It is set in the characteristic 12/8 meter and lilting rhythm of a Pastorale, clearly reflecting the caring-shepherd subject of the text. One unusual feature of Handel's He shall feed his flock is that it is, in effect, a double aria with consecutive sections intended for two different voices. The first section is a complete aria in F Major for alto voice, which will be sung this morning. However, Handel then transposed the same music up to B-flat Major for soprano voice, with the continuing text "Come unto him, all ye that labour."
Sunday's organ voluntaries continue a series, initiated on August 13, of the eight "Little" Preludes and Fugues," traditionally attributed to J. S. Bach (1685-1750). These pieces are now widely believed to have been composed by one of Bach's pupils, very likely Johann Tobias Krebs (1690-1762), or his son Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780). Of these eight preludes and fugues, four are in the major keys of C, F, G, and B-flat, and the remaining four are in their relative minors of A, D, E, and G. The standard ordering of these eight pieces begins with BWV 553 in C Major and progresses up the scale to BWV 560 in B-flat. This morning's prelude will be BWV 559 in A minor, and the postlude will be BWV 553 in the relative Major key of C. BWV 559, for the prelude, is probably the most dramatic of the eight preludes and fugues, displaying elements of the stylus fantasticus ("fantastic style") of north-German Baroque keyboard music. BWV 553, numbered first in the collection and played for the postlude, is a bright and innocently straightforward piece. Both preludes and fugues have stylistic similarities to larger works, BWV 543 and BWV 545, in the same respective keys and more certainly authentic J. S. Bach. --David Hurd
A FIELD TRIP TO THE MET . . . On Sunday, September 17, at 3:00 PM, Father John Beddingfield, rector of Holy Trinity Church, East Eighty-eighth Street, will be leading a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue to view the exhibition,
Cristóbal de Villalpando: Mexican Painter of the Baroque. Father Beddingfield has very generously invited Saint Marians to join his group from Holy Trinity. From the field-trip flyer, "We'll begin by looking at the massive
Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus, recall the biblical stories, notice some of the symbols, and talk about some of the interesting religious dynamics operating around the painting. Then we'll look at some of Villalpando's other paintings, including the recently discovered Adoration of the Magi, on loan from Fordham University, and
The Holy Name of Mary, from the Museum of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Because we have received a nonprofit discount, the cost is only $5.00 per person, but we are limited to 25 people, so RSVP is essential. We will meet at the 81st Street, ground-level entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 2:45 PM. RSVP at email@example.com.
OKTOBERFEST . . . The annual Oktoberfest Potluck Supper and Hymn Sing will take place on Saturday, October 7, from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM, in Saint Joseph's Hall and the Choir Loft. David Hurd, organist and music director, will play the organ at the Hymn Sing and will take requests from the assembled Saint Marians and their friends. Please join us. Bring a friend and a dish to share. All are welcome.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on September 20. This year we will be looking at a number of texts drawn from both the Old and New Testaments in order to study the different ways in which the Bible has been interpreted over the centuries. We will be examining texts that seem particularly hard or challenging to many modern people in order to develop ways of coming to terms with such difficult texts. This is not a college or seminary course. Our approach will not be excessively academic. No preparation is necessary and no homework will be required. As always, there will be lots of time for discussion. We will begin the year by looking at some New Testament texts that deal with slavery . . . Inquirers' Class: Deacon Matthew Jacobson will be teaching a series of classes this fall for those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception and for all those who are interested in learning, or reviewing, some of the basics of the Christian faith and the history, theology, and spirituality of the Episcopal Church. All are welcome. If you are interested, please contact Father Jay Smith.
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . The next Homeless Ministry Drop-in Day will take place on Friday, September 8, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Sister Monica Clare. Donations needed: For our Drop-in Days, we are looking for donations of basic lightly used or new clothing items of all sizes for both men and women-packs of new underwear and socks; T-shirts and blouses; jeans, chinos, and khakis; washcloths; toothbrushes; and individually packaged hand wipes or towelettes. Donations can be left in the parish kitchen (if you are able, tell Father Smith, Sister Monica Clare, or Clint Best that you have left items there for the Clothes Closet). We are grateful to all those who continue to support this important ministry . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We are very thankful that flowers have been given for all of the Sundays in August and September. Thank you to all those who continue to support this ministry! The flowers are seen by hundreds of people every week. Donations for flowers are needed for October 22; November 12, and 19; and December 17 (Gaudete Sunday). Donations for Christmas flowers and decorations are also gratefully accepted. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830 x 10 or by e-mail.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Saturday, September 9, 10:30 AM, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Ordination of Matthew Jacobson to the Priesthood . . . Sunday, September 10, 10:00 AM, Father Matthew Jacobson's First Mass . . . Monday, September 11, 12:10 PM, Requiem Mass: For Those Killed in the Attacks of September 11, 2001 . . . Thursday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM (the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, celebrant and preacher) . . . Thursday, September 21, Saint Matthew the Evangelist, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM. The Reverend Matthew Jacobson is the celebrant and preacher at 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, October 1, 2017, Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, academic-year Schedule begins: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass with Choir 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . The Peccadillo Theater Company, at the Theatre at Saint Clement's, 423 West Forty-sixth Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), September 21-October 21, George Kelly's 1924 comedy The Show-Off, starring Annette O'Toole. From the theater's website, "Notable for its masterly blending of comedy and drama and meticulous attention to the ordinary details of everyday life, The Show-Off revolves around a working-class Irish family in North Philadelphia in the mid 1920s. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher and their three adult children are thrown into a state of turmoil when Amy, their middle child, brings home a preposterous suitor named Aubrey Piper. A compulsive liar with delusions of grandeur, Aubrey meets his match in Mrs. Fisher, the crusty, no-nonsense matriarch of the family. A battle of wits ensues and the outcome is a vindication (of sorts!) of the American con man. Penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, George Kelly, The Show-Off has earned its reputation as one of a handful of classic American stage comedies that continue to 'hold up' decades after being written." Special Preview: Monday, September 25 at 7:00 PM. Opening Night: Thursday, September 28 at 7:00 PM. Tickets may be purchased online. The artistic director of The Peccadillo Theater Company is Dan Wackerman, and its managing director is Kevin Kennedy. Dan is also the director of The Show-Off. Dan and Kevin often worship with us on Sunday mornings.