FROM THE RECTOR: PRESENTING OURSELVES
This week we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. The celebration begins on the eve of the feast, Thursday, February 1, with Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM. On Friday, February 2, the daily 12:10 service will be Blessing of Candles & Sung Mass. The organ recital at 5:30 PM will be played by Dr. Claudia Dumschat, director of music, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City. Our principal service will be Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. Of course, a reception will follow in Saint Joseph's Hall.
The chronology of Luke's Gospel and his Acts of the Apostles have shaped the calendar of the church. Luke's chronology in Acts gives us the celebration of Ascension Day on the fortieth day after Easter Day (Acts 1:1–11). Luke's narrative in his gospel gives us the celebration of Jesus' presentation in the temple forty days after his birth (Luke 2:22–39). After December 25 became fixed in the Christian West as the day of Jesus' birth, February 2 became the date when Jesus' presentation would be celebrated.
In the Christian East, the feast is known as Hypante ("The Meeting"): "the five persons in the story symbolize a new community in Christ" (Bradshaw, ed. A Companion to Common Worship, vol. 2 , 78. "The Meeting" was already being celebrated at Jerusalem when the pilgrim nun Egeria visited sometime between A.D. 382 and 386. She wrote:
"Note that the Fortieth Day after Epiphany is observed here with special magnificence. On this day they assemble in the Anastasis [church over the tomb-cave]. Everyone gathers, and things are done with the same solemnity as at the feast of Easter. All the presbyters preach first, then the bishop, and they interpret the passage from the Gospel about Joseph and Mary taking the Lord to the Temple, and about Simon and the prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel, seeing the Lord, and what they said to him, and about the sacrifice offered by his parents. When all the rest has been done in the proper way, they celebrate the sacrament and have their dismissal." (Egeria's Travels to the Holy Land, trans. Wilkinson, rev. ed. , 128)
The Presentation spread from the East to the West. Pope Sergius I (bishop of Rome, 687–701) began outdoor processions with lighted torches in Rome for four feasts associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Presentation, the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Nativity of Mary. The blessing of candles and distribution of candles as part of the services in the church date from the eleventh century. These ceremonies will give the Presentation the additional name, in English, of "Candlemas" (Shepherd, The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary , 231–32).
The February 1892 issue of Saint Mary's first newsletter, The Arrow—the earliest parish newsletter that we have for a February—contains two notes that caught my attention. One was this notice, "According to a custom in this parish candles to be used at the Altar during the year are blessed on Candlemas Day (Purification, Feb. 2.) Offerings of candles (or money for their purchase) should be sent to the Rector at least the day before." Right below it on the same page comes this notice:
"There are many ways in which the charitably disposed members of a parish may help their poorer brothers and sisters, and the indication of any special need usually meets with a ready response. Just now gifts of cast-off clothing would prove most acceptable. The appeal is particularly for warm outer garments of all descriptions, suits of clothes for little boys, and shoes for women or children, but any kind of wearing apparel that may be sent in can readily be disposed of and will be given away to families that are known to be both deserving and badly in want." (page 2)
My soul smiled as I read these notes. Saint Mary's has always been about more than just worshiping in the beauty of holiness. Our common life is for ourselves and all others who see and need the healing and saving words of the gospel and those who need help. It is Christ himself who helps us present ourselves to him and to each other. I invite you to be here with happy and thankful hearts for the services of Candlemas 2018. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Bob, Augustina, Mary, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jon, Jerry, Mike, Dick, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, Woody, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Matthew, Horace, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of Catherine Bartoldus and Con Murphy.
GRANT THEM PEACE. . . 1874 George Edward Hand; 1898 John Siddons; 1917 Elizabeth G.L. Reamer; 1948 Charles H. Post; 1966 Grace Mary Maier; 1987 Wan Tang Jou.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Abstinence is not observed this week on Friday, February 2, in honor of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple.
CANDLEMAS . . . Thursday, February 1, 6:00-6:45 PM, The Eve of Candlemas, Solemn Evensong . . . Friday, February 2, Candlemas, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Blessing of Candles and Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, recitalist; Blessing of Candles, Procession and Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph's Hall 7:45 PM.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Our Stewardship Campaign made some progress this week, but we still have a ways to go. As of January 25, 2018, 80% of those who made a pledge to the parish for 2017 have made pledges for 2018. $368,784.00 has been pledged to date. This is 83% of our goal of $425,000.00. All of this is very good news. We hope to keep up the momentum in this New Year. To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
ALTAR FLOWER DONATIONS NEEDED . . . We are looking for donors for flowers for February 11, March 11, and for other Sundays and holy days in 2018. We are also, of course, happy to receive donations for flowers for Easter. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, January 27, 1:00-4:00 PM, Saint Benedict's Study, Seeing God in Epiphanytide. Please contact parishioner Ingrid Sletten for more information or see below . . . Saturday, January 27, 2:00-4:00 PM, The Mission House, 133 West Forty-sixth Street, Homeless Ministry Drop-in Day. Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer . . . The Centering Prayer Group will not meet on Friday, February 2 . . . Saturday, February 3, Saint Blase, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Said Mass and Blessing of Throats 12:10 PM.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . On Sunday, January 28, and on February 4 and 11, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Jay Smith will continue his series on The English Reformation and the Oxford Movement. The series is the latest offering in our year-long study of the Protestant Reformation, the role of Reformed theology and spirituality in the Anglican Communion, and the sometimes uneasy place of the Reformation in Anglo-Catholic thought and practice . . . Coming up: On Sundays in Lent (February 18 and 25, March 4, 11, 18, and 25), Father Pete Powell will resume his series on the Gospel of Matthew . . . On Wednesday, January 31, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Peter Powell will lead the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class. Father Jay Smith will return to lead the class on Wednesday, February 7. Father Smith is very grateful to Father Powell for teaching the class this month.
AROUND THE PARISH. . . Thomas Jayne is a member of Saint Mary's and a former member of the board of trustees. He is the founder and principal of the Jayne Design Studio here in New York. His new book, written with Ted Loos, Classical Principles for Modern Design: Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses(Monacelli Press: New York, NY, 2018) is now available. Thomas often advises the rector and board on issues of design and conservation. Congratulations, Thomas, on the new book . . . Donations for the parish's Hospitality Ministry are always welcome. Such donations support an essential ministry here at Saint Mary's, since we welcome so many visitors to the parish. Our hospitality budget helps us to provide refreshments on Sunday mornings and afternoons, at holy-day receptions, and at such special events as Oktoberfest and Quiet Days. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . The new Saint Mary's 2018 Calendar of the Church Year and the newly designed Smoky Mary's mugs will be on sale on Sunday, January 21, in Saint Joseph's Hall. You may now purchase the calendar at the discounted price of $5.00, plus tax. The calendar is illustrated with color photographs of the High Altar, decorated with floral arrangements that were designed by the members of the Flower Guild. The commemorations found in the calendar reflect current practice here at the parish. The cost of the mugs is $20.00, plus tax . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 210.
SEE YOU SOON . . . Sally and Robin Landis began a move to New Haven, Connecticut, this week, where they will live in retirement. I can't help but be very happy for them. Sally and Robin met and were married here at Saint Mary's. Robin has been the regular Friday morning officiant at Morning Prayer for many, many years. He also has served faithfully at the altar. He served as a member of the board of trustees and been a source of wise counsel to me since I arrived. Sally, of course, brings a smile to everyone who knows her. Both have been active in the church through the course of their lives. My great-grand-aunt Teresa Brooks Demaris who lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, all her life, would never say "good-bye" to me and our family when we were headed back home to wherever. It was always, "See you soon." I look forward to seeing Sally and Robin in the near future. -S.G.
DAY FOR PRAYER, MEDITATION & ART . . . Seeing God in Epiphanytide-Do you have questions about God? Why did Jesus come as a child? Why did the Wise Men visit him? What difference does all of this make for you and for me? Why not try to use art to find some of the answers! Join us on Saturday, January 27, 2018, 1:00-4:00 PM here at Saint Mary's for meditation and art making. No experience required! All materials (and light snacks!) provided. Cost: $50.00. (Scholarships are available). Parishioner Ingrid Sletten will be leading this event. Ingrid has studied art and spirituality for nearly twenty years and is a practicing artist. If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Ingrid at this e-mail address.
PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND . . . You are invited to join the Reverend. Matthew Hoxsie Mead, rector of Christ Church, Pelham, New York, and a former curate at Saint Mary's, and the Reverend Randy Alexander, rector of Immanuel-on-the-Hill Church, Alexandria, Virginia, for a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land August 20–31, 2018. The pilgrimage guide will be Iyad Qumri. The tour is intended to provide a sense of history and connection with the world Jesus inhabited. It will also allow us to connect with Palestinian Christian congregations. Full details and registration are available by accessing the pilgrimage registration form and brochure online. You may also contact Father Mead for more information. Or you may visit the Christ Church website.
ABOUT THE MUSIC. . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday is Music for Celebration by David Hurd, Saint Mary's organist and music director. This setting was composed in 1976 for use at The General Theological Seminary in Manhattan, where Dr. Hurd served on the faculty for nearly four decades. Since the seating in the seminary's chapel was mostly choir-wise, the community was naturally divided into two equal choirs. This accommodated the alternation between sides in reading and singing, which is traditional in monastic and academic settings. Therefore, the Gloria and Sanctus of Music for Celebration exploited this antiphonal practice by presenting much of the text sung as canons in two voices to be sung across the aisle. The Mass setting's key center is E. The Gloria is in the minor mode. The Sanctus moves from the relative major of G to its conclusion in E Major, which is also the tonality of the Agnus Dei. Music for Celebration uses Rite II language, which at the time of its composition was relatively new to the church. Organ accompaniment is integral to the setting. Taste and See, a motet for four voices, also by David Hurd, is sung on Sunday during the administration of Communion. It was composed in 1995 for All Saints Church, Manhattan, where Dr. Hurd served as music director from 1985 until 1997. The text is Psalm 34:8. The first half of the psalm text "Taste and see that the Lord is good," functions as an antiphon, preceding and following the contrasting music for "happy are they who trust in him!"
The fact that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) composed nearly a dozen organ settings of Allein Gott reveals the importance and popularity of this chorale-which paraphrases Gloria in excelsis ("All glory be to God on high")-in the liturgical culture of his time. In fact, long before Bach, the leading German composers had set this melody repeatedly, and, in our day, one finds this tune with its translated text in most major hymnals across denominational lines. Sunday's prelude is one of the three settings of Allein Gott among the "Great Eighteen" Leipzig chorales of Bach's later years. It is written for two manuals and pedal and features an ornamented version of the chorale melody in the tenor register. The postlude will be another setting of the same chorale found among Bach's miscellaneous chorales. In this short piece Bach separates phrases of the carol melody, stated in vivid harmony, with free fantasia passages sounding very much like they might have been improvised. —David Hurd
LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . On Saturday, February 17, Father John Beddingfield will return to Saint Mary's to lead a Lenten Quiet Day. Father Beddingfield is a spiritual director, retreat leader, and the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, East Eighty-eighth Street. Father Beddingfield writes, "Saint Bonaventure's Tree of Life is a meditation on the life of Christ imagined as a tree with branches and fruits, growth and produce. We will discuss the text, explore images of the Tree of the Life, and look for practical implications for our own spiritual growth. A good image, one of the ones I'll be using, is available online." The tentative schedule for the day is as follows: 9:30 AM Gathering. Light refreshments available; 10:00 AM First Address; 11:00 AM Second Address; 12:00–12:40 PM Noonday Prayer and Eucharist; 12:50–1:45 Lunch; 2:00 PM Third Address; 3:00 PM Final Prayers and Farewell. Lunch will be provided. A $10.00 free-will offering is most welcome. If you plan to come, please send an RSVP message to Father Jay Smith. You do not need to be a member of Saint Mary's in order to attend. We are very happy that some members of Father Beddingfield's parish may also join us for the Quiet Day.
LIFE IN TIMES SQUARE . . . The rather noisy stage of the work on the Forty-seventh Street work site across from the rectory continues. This noise is trying and often distracting, but it can't last forever. Please say a prayer for the safety of all those working on the site . . . One of our longtime neighbors here in Midtown is The Times Square Alliance. The Alliance was founded in 1992, and it works to improve and promote the economic and cultural life of Times Square. The Alliance's district covers most of the territory from 40th Street to 53rd Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, as well as Restaurant Row (46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues). In addition to providing core neighborhood services with its public safety officers and sanitation associates, the Alliance promotes local businesses and institutions and advocates on behalf of its constituents with respect to a host of public policy, planning, and quality-of-life issues. The Alliance, including its security department and its public safety officers, has been very supportive as we have developed our ministry to the homeless and faced some of the challenges involved in that ministry. The Alliance's sanitation associates often pitch in and help our sextons to keep our sidewalks clean. We are grateful to all the members of the Alliance staff for their support. For more information, you may visit the Alliance website.
LENT AT SAINT MARY'S . . . February 14, Ash Wednesday, Mass 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM, and 6:00 PM. Ashes distributed during the Masses and from 7:15 AM until 8:00 PM . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer, which begins at 6:00 PM . . . Lenten Quiet Day, Saturday, February 17, 9:30 AM-2:30 PM, Saint Joseph's Chapel, Saint Joseph's Hall, and Church. Led by Father John Beddingfield.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, February 10, 2018, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra. Program to include: Canning: Fantasy on a Hymn Tune by Justin Morgan; Martinu Cello Concerto No. 1, Kajsa William-Olsson, cello; Stenhammar: Symphony No. 2. Admission is free. A donation of $10.00 is welcomed and appreciated. For more information, visit the orchestra's website . . . Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University presents New York Polyphony: The Tallis Lamentations. The members of this very accomplished early-music quartet are good friends and members of this parish. For more information, visit the Miller Theatre website.
HOMELESS MINISTRY. . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our February Drop-in Day and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. As always, the number of those who are homeless who seek refuge in the church and who ask for assistance increases when the weather grows colder. In order to meet some of those requests, we are hoping to receive donations of the following items: blankets, razors, shaving cream; packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items will prove to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . 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.
ANOTHER OUTREACH OPPORTUNITY . . . The Episcopal Diocese of New York has created its own "Caribbean Recovery Fund" to pay for the work that the diocese is proposing, or hopes to support, in the region. This is distinct in nature and purpose from the activities of Episcopal Relief & Development, which directs funds toward the Episcopal Church's broader efforts in recovery. The Caribbean Recovery Fund will be available for individuals and churches in partnership to make requests for specific infrastructure and ministry projects, partnerships, and mission with the Diocese of Puerto Rico and other areas in the Caribbean. For more information, please click here. If you wish to make a donation online, please complete the form on the website.
CLICK HERE for this week's schedule.