FROM THE RECTOR: FEED ON JESUS
My thinking about the worship of Holy Week and Easter has continued to be shaped by a remark Jeffrey Lee made to me shortly after I became rector of Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana, in 1988. Jeffrey was then canon to the ordinary in the diocese of Northern Indiana. Since 2008 he has been the bishop of Chicago. One day, as we were talking, he wondered aloud what proclaiming the Passion would be like if the people took the role of Jesus. I heard the gospel in his words. We are not the crowd that cried, "Crucify him." None of us is Judas, Peter, or any of the rest of them. As we begin the fifth and last week of Lent on Sunday, I invite you to join me in reflecting on what it means today for us who have been "cleansed from sin and born again . . . [to] continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior" (BCP , 307). There is no better place to begin than the Eucharist.
It was in Chicago in 1977 that I first attended an evening service on Maundy Thursday. I think it was the first time I was part of a congregation that sang "Sion, praise thy Saviour singing," with its beautiful chant and powerful words, "what he did, at supper seated, Christ ordained to be repeated, His memorial ne'er to cease" (The Hymnal 1940, No. 193). These words still speak to me deeply, but I know that Christ wasn't "at supper seated." He was lying on a couch to eat, at least he was in John's gospel (John 13:25). At this point in my life, it's hard for me ever to eat bread or to drink wine without thinking about Jesus. Not a bad thing.
When I pulled out Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson's The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011) to scan my notes in the sections on Easter, I realized I tend to forget that recent scholarship has demonstrated that the original purpose of the Sunday that we call in English "Easter"-in most other European languages, some variation of the Latin word for Passover, "Pascha"-was a celebration of Jesus' death (page 51). In the second century, when persecution begins to spread, it is no surprise that this association, and this emphasis, emerge. This will change slowly, more than once, in the centuries to come.
In our age, few doubt that there was a man named Jesus who was crucified-for this there is reliable historical evidence (especially the Jewish historian Josephus, a witness to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70). I think for many people, the hard thing today is what people can believe, if anything, about the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. The radical incarnational faith of Christianity, that we humans are made in the image of God, is fundamental. We believe that the dead (a noun) live (a verb). We believe in the risen life of the world to come.
I invite you to organize your Holy Week around the great liturgies of the week and the celebration and reception of Communion. It was a reference to words of Paul Bradshaw by another liturgical scholar, Patrick Regan (1938-2017), also a Benedictine abbot, that also bring me back again and again to the Eucharist. He wrote, "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" (Worship 81 , 22). Feed on the life-giving Jesus. —Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Dennis, Bob, Randy, Mary, Mike, Kathleen, Jonathan, Kyle, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, Sandy, Barbara, and Burt; for Horace, Clayton, David, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 18: 1891 James Woodruff Romeyn; 1893 Justine Augusta Sutton; 1895 Emma Josephine Bailey; 1915 Carolus Augustine Boniface Nousis; 1931 Augusta Cross Eschert; 1953 Amanda Middleton; 1965 Marie Louise Barreaux; 1970 Isabel Wiedebein; 1998 Gertrude S. Butler.
DAYS OF SPECIAL DEVOTION . . . Ash Wednesday and the other weekdays of Lent and of Holy Week are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
COMING TO SAINT MARY'S ON SUNDAY MORNING? . . . The New York Roadrunners have informed us that there will be a half marathon this coming Sunday morning. The runners will come from Brooklyn, proceed up FDR Drive, west on Forty-second Street, and north on Seventh Avenue to Central Park. This means that at some point during the morning coming to Saint Mary's from the West Side could be a bit difficult, and one should leave extra time to get to church. Heading south to Forty-first Street and then over to Sixth Avenue is one alternative route. More information on the race is available online.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, March 18, The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Monday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on March 21 at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study, in the Parish House, 145 West Forty-sixth Street . . . Friday, March 23, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Friday, March 23, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium in the Parish House . . . Saturday, March 24,Eve of Palm Sunday, Blessing of the Palms and Vigil Mass 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, March 25, Palm Sunday,
Blessing of the Palms and Sung Mass 9:00 AM, Blessing of the Palms, Procession to Times Square and Solemn Mass 11:00 AM. (Please note: the Feast of the Annunciation will be celebrated this year on Monday, April 9.)
AROUND THE PARISH . . . In the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall, Scenes from a Natural Bar, works by Matthew Fogarty . . . We are always happy to receive donations for our ministries of hospitality and floral design. If you would like to make a donation, place call the parish office at 212-869-5830 x 10 . . . The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church concluded its recent retreat meeting on March 9. Information about issues discussed and links to documents related to the meeting may be found here . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 164.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . On March 18 and 25, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Peter Powell will continue his series on the Gospel of Matthew . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on April 1 or April 8. The Adult Forum will resume on Sunday, April 15, at 10:00 AM. Father Peter Powell will introduce our series on the psalms . . . On Sunday, April 22, Brother Aidan Owen, OHC, will lead the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM in a discussion of the monastic practice of chanting the psalms each day as a form of prayer and contemplation . . . On Sunday, April 29, at 1:00 PM in Saint Joseph's Hall (note time and location), poet Chester Johnson will discuss his new book, Auden, the Psalms and Me, and the translation of the psalms used in the Book of Common Prayer 1979 . . . On May 13 and 20, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict's Study, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a two-part series The Dove Descending: bird, fire, wind, water, cloud, light, and other depictions of the Holy Spirit in readings from scripture and beyond (primarily poetry). This is a two-Sunday survey of symbol and significance, ending on the Day of Pentecost. . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on March 21. The class will be reading the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark, which we will hear this year on Palm Sunday. This coming Wednesday we will be reading the portion of the Passion Narrative dealing with Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning, Mass for Four Voices, as well as the Communion motet, Civitas sancti tui, are both compositions of William Byrd (c. 1540-1623). Byrd composed settings of the Latin Mass for three, four and five voices. The Mass for Four Voices dates from about 1592 and was probably the first of the three to be composed. The whole business of Latin Masses in post-Reformation England needed to be a somewhat clandestine matter to protect those involved from the possibility of arrest. This being the case, Byrd's part books were undated. They appeared without title page or preface, and the printer-Thomas East-was not identified. Fortunately, Byrd's settings survived the period in which their performance - if not their very existence - was illegal, and are now they rightly regarded as great treasures of Western music. Although composed with the Continental Tridentine liturgy in mind, Byrd's Mass for Four Voices was also influenced by the pre-Reformation Mean Mass of John Taverner (c. 1490-1545), particularly in the opening of the Sanctus. The older Taverner setting had already served as a model for settings by such English masters as Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c.1573), John Sheppard (c. 1515-1558), and Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585). Byrd's four-voice Agnus Dei ends with a particularly expressive Dona nobis pacem.
The first volume of Byrd's Cantiones Sacrae, published in 1589, included his five-voice setting of Civitas sancti tui, which is the second part of the motet Ne irascaris Domine. This second part of one of Byrd's great Lenten motets, with text taken from Isaiah 64:10, will be sung during the administration of Communion. —David Hurd
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . We are grateful to the Reverend Sonia Ketchian, who helped organize a clothing and toiletry drive for our Homeless Ministry at OneSpirit Learning Alliance . . . We 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. We delivered several boxes of canned goods to Saint Clement's this week . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our March and April Drop-in Days (Wednesday, March 21, and Wednesday, April 25) 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.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021. October 24, 2017 to March 25, 2018, Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored. This is a focused exhibition, organized by Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon, on two recently conserved and rarely seen paintings by the celebrated artist Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), Saint Jerome in the Wilderness and Saint Agatha Visited in Prison by Saint Peter. While the paintings are known to scholars, their remote location in a church in Murano, an island in the lagoon of Venice, has made them difficult to study. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for an international audience to discover these two masterpieces in New York.