When I entered the seventh grade I began studying Spanish and continued to do so through my first year in college in Charlottesville, Virginia. In my first college year I took two semesters of Spanish Conversation, classes in which we could only speak and write in Spanish once we entered the room. But I never went to Mexico.
Spanish remains in some sense my second language. Even if I cannot understand it today the basic pathways are there in my brain. Sometimes when I speak it words from other languages I studied later, like Urdu, will come out. Perhaps if I had spent seventh and eighth grade in Mexico in a school where only Spanish was spoken I could speak the language today with near-native fluency. Still, I suspect if I worked at it, and especially if I were residing in a Spanish speaking country, that I could learn to think and speak in this wonderful language.
I’ve been learning to speak Christian, as it were, since I was a child. I cannot remember a time when I did not know about Jesus. As a child and largely through college the Christian language I learned and knew was not the language of the sacramental Christian tradition. I can still however remember the powerful impression the Washington National Cathedral made on me when I first saw it during a school field trip when I was fifteen. I would not have used these words at the time, but in retrospect I recognize that the building itself was speaking a language and I was responding to it. In particular I recall how it felt to walk down the steps into the Chapel of Saint Joseph of Arimathea, which is underneath the great crossing of the nave. I felt as if I were in Jesus’ tomb.
About a year or so ago I became aware that I was understanding the language of sacraments and liturgy in new ways. Words and gestures that I had been saying and doing for twenty years began to take on new meaning. The people at the Easter Vigil began to be for me the true and beautiful signs of Christ’s presence among us. When the gospel was being proclaimed at Mass I yearned really to know that Jesus Christ was present and speaking to us. Even more, I began to sense that the deacon at our High Mass was the vocal cords; it was the assembled congregation that was truly Christ’s Body. I began to wonder what it would be like if I ever thought about and sensed a true sibling relationship to the other members of the Christian community. What would Sunday Mass be like if everyone experienced his or her presence as fundamentally essential to the Eucharist? What would it be like if we really looked on each other as brother and sister? About a year or so ago I and a great deal of the parish community where I served began to move to Mexico, as it were. We had been in conversation class in Charlottesville almost too long.
Sunday morning at Saint Mary’s is special to me in so many ways. I already love this building, our music, our worship and our city. But I think I can honestly say that what I love most right now is falling in love with this new part of the Body of Christ. I know I am near Jesus in a new way. I know I am a part of Jesus in a new way. When he is present and when he is speaking I want to be able to recognize him and to understand his words. I think he is trying to help me speak Christian in a new way.
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Catherine Rose, Thomas, Maxine, Michael, Louise, Barbara, Daisy, Shirley, Tom, Mark, Donna, Maria, Ellen, Bernadine, Gloria, Louis, Karen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ken, John, Nina, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1989 Timothy Meyers; March 9: 1951 Leonore Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Allen; March 10: 1962 John Beach, 1989 Marion Campbell; March 11: 1994 Virginia Greene; March 12: 1961 Muriel Blaine.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Brain Brown’s mother, Demetra Leslie, died early Sunday morning, February 28, in Florida where she had lived. Plans for a memorial Mass here at Saint Mary’s are in process. Please pray for the soul of Demetra, for Brian and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95:6-11, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42 . . . CELEBRANT & Preacher 9:00 The Rector, 10:00 Father Parker, 11:00 The Rector, 5:00 Father Parker . . . On Saturday, March 6, Canon Garrison will hear confessions. On Saturday, March 13, Father Shin will hear confessions.
FROM THE PARISH REGISTER . . . During the month of February the following persons requested their Letter of Transfer be sent to another parish: Marie Postlewate, Will Craig Hutchison, Gary L. Williams, Bruce W. Alleborn and Martin K. Rook. Mr. Rook is now a member of the Church of Saint Luke-in-the-Field, New York City. The others are now members of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, New York City.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember Stations at Transfiguration on Friday, March 5! . . . Barbara Stettner had outpatient surgery on her shoulder last Friday. She is doing well and is looking forward to being with us again very soon . . . It was great to have Tom Cote serving as boat bearer last Sunday. It is hard to believe he had open-heart surgery on February 8. We are so thankful for his recovery . . . Sylvie Preston began serving last Sunday . . . Father Parker celebrated Mass at the AIDS/HIV Memorial's monthly service at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Saturday, February 27. The memorial is in one of the side chapels off the nave of the cathedral. It commemorates all those who have died of AIDS or HIV related illness. The Mass for the departed is celebrated monthly and is presided over by clergy from throughout the diocese . . . We were honored by the presence of the Presiding Bishop as celebrant for the 6:15 PM Mass on Tuesday, March 2, on the fourteenth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopate . . .. The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, March 8, in Saint Benedict’s Study at 7:00 PM. Members of the congregation are welcome to attend . . . Attendance last Sunday: 208.
A NOTE FROM FATHER WELLS . . . The following letter was sent to the Rector after he asked Father Wells on behalf of the Board of Trustees to accept the title “Rector Emeritus”
Dear Father, Thank you for your phone call today, and for the news that the Board of Trustees have voted to confer on me the title of Rector Emeritus of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. As I said on the phone, I am honored by this decision, and deeply touched. I would appreciate your extending to the Board my thanks for their action, as well as my continuing affection and prayers for all the people of St. Mary’s. God bless you all. Faithfully yours, Edgar F. Wells
FOOD AND GOD TALK! . . . If these two things touch your heart, you are a perfect person to check out the Alpha Course. Fr. Shin is organizing a group to conduct an initial study of the program with him for 2 to 3 evenings. A meal will be provided at each meeting followed by viewing of tapes and other materials and open discussion on the program itself. He needs about 8 to 12 people to join the group. Please talk to him during coffee hour or get in touch with him at (212) 716-6280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT THE FEBRUARY BOARD MEETING . . . At its meeting on February 22 the Board of Trustees passed motions (1) asking Father Wells to accept the title “Rector Emeritus, (2) setting the second Monday evening of each month as the regular meeting time for the Board, (3) asking the Rector to include the singing of Te Deum laudamus as part of the conclusion of the service of institution on the Feast of the Annunciation, and (5) passed a motion stating that the Board does not have an objection to a restaurant opening near the church having a liquor license. The Board heard a first reading of a motion to amend the by-laws to include the board’s vice-president along with the president (the rector), the secretary and the treasurer as members of the boards’ executive committee. The minutes of the January 19 meeting of the Board were approved and the January 1999 financial statement was received. The Rector spoke at some length about growth and what we might expect to happen as we grow. The Rector and Board also discussed parish staff issues for the future and the management of the 1999 operating budget.
The Parish Calendar
The Third Sunday in Lent March 7, 1999
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM and from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM and by appointment.
Stations of the Cross & Benediction
Stations of the Cross & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered on Friday, March 12, here at Saint Mary’s. This service is offered jointly by this parish and the Church of the Transfiguration. We alternate locations on Friday nights during Lent.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend William C. Parker, curate, The Reverend Allen Shin, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Paulette Schiff,
The Reverend James Ross Smith, The Reverend Horace Choate, assisting priests.
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.
The Parish Office Telephone 212-869-5830, Music Office 212-391-0877