I can’t say I have entered strongly into the sorrows of Holy Week this year. I’m not sure whether I am still standing in the church at 6:00 PM on the Feast of the Annunciation, bringing up the rear of the procession through Times Square, or being absolutely unable to move in a packed Saint Joseph’s Hall following the Institution service. (Jim Dennis, however, did part the sea of people and bring me a full glass of wine.) The reality of the cross is certainly strong in my life, but not inappropriately this year so is the reality of resurrection. They are not separate mysteries. They are one.
The ushers’ count for the Annunciation was 415 persons, for Palm Sunday the total was 290. It seems to me that in addition to the great mysteries of the faith, we, the parish community of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, were celebrating something else. Saint Mary’s is rising again in new ways in our neighborhood and in our city. Saint Mary’s has survived here in Times Square, in our great church building, during a long and difficult period in our neighborhood’s history. We are ready for the new era.
I would have loved to have been on the street to see the reaction of people when the procession on Palm Sunday left the church through the 47th Street doors with four thuribles blazing the trail. I would have loved to have been able to observe the people on the street and the people in the procession. We were all having such a good time. I’m so very glad most people had palms to share. People asked for them along the way and it seemed so right to give them to others.
Walking at the end of the procession, I noticed that our procession was about the same length as the line across Duffy Square (the northern part of Times Square) at the “Tickets” booth (where one gets discounted tickets for the theater). It seemed to me that in addition to people taking our pictures, which they were doing, I sensed that there were people over there who realized they might want to be on the other side of the street at that moment, on our side, in our procession.
As Saint Mary’s begins the new millenium here on West Forty-sixth Street, Saint Mary’s has something wonderful to share with others, how to follow Jesus, to die with him and to rise with him. This has always been the heart of our vocation as Christian people, dying and rising in Jesus.
I hope you will be here for the Easter Triduum. And yes, if you come to the Easter Vigil you do not need to come back for Mass on Easter morning, but you may come and again receive Easter Communion. The richness of Christian tradition and the richness of the mystery of God’s love for us is celebrated no more powerfully any place else in the world. Some of the great celebrations of God’s love for people will be very simple, in simple buildings with simple rites. You and I are privileged to share in a great celebrations that could not be richer.
Every Holy Week, every Easter Triduum, like every day, is special and unique. There will be Easter joys this year for us that will be particular to the group of people who are able to be here at this time and this place. Wherever you must be, I hope you will be able to be a part of a community of faith dying and rising once more in Jesus Christ. I think our Lord will understand that here at Saint Mary’s this year the way of sorrows is inescapably for us a way of glory. I do know about his wounds; but I also know he lives and that you and I are already alive in him for ever.
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members our Armed Forces on active duty in Kosovo and for Charles Arthur, Robert, Catherine Rose, Thomas, Maxine, Michael, Louise, Barbara, Shirley, Tom, Mark, Donna, Maria, Ellen, Bernadine, Gloria, Louis, Karen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ken, John, Nina, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest and for the repose of the souls of Anthony and LaRue.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 4: 1987 Clara Lewis, 1992 Thelma Ingersol; April 5: 1964 Harold Libbey; April 8: 1964, Grieg Taber, priest & rector, 1996 Donald Garfield, priest & rector; April 10: 1993 Edna Craig.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:14-17,22-24, Colossians 3:1-4, John 20:1-18 . . . 9:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Choate, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Parker, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher The Rector.
FROM THE PARISH REGISTER . . . During the month of March a Letter of Transfer for Donna Zito was sent to the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, New York City. A Letter of Transfer was received for Emil Bretzger from Saint Matthew’s Church, Pennington, New Jersey. Other Letters have been requested and are still pending.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press we have just learned that Vera Guarino’s great aunt has died. Please keep Vera and her family in your prayers . . . Best comments reported to the Rector that was heard during the Palm Procession: A three year-old when the thuribles came around the corner, “Awesome!” . . . Most curious comment reported to the Rector from an older gentleman, “Protestants!” . . . Father Parker will be on vacation beginning Monday, April 5. Father returns to the parish on Monday, April 19 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 290.
ABOUT EASTER WEEK . . . It will be a quiet week at Saint Mary’s in some ways. Especially coherent conversation should not be expected from the clergy, but the usual daily round of offices and Masses will continue. There will be one change, confessions will be heard only by appointment. The Reconciliation of Penitents will resume on the usual schedule during the second week of Easter.
WORDS ARE NOT POSSIBLE . . . It is hard for me not to think of Saint Mary’s as a very happy place. Life is life and I am old enough to know there are tough times as well as easy times. But I am also old enough to know that life itself is the great gift and mystery. There is so much life at Saint Mary’s and so much joy. I know I was not called to Saint Mary’s to fix anything. Saint Mary’s does not need fixing. I was called to Saint Mary’s to help to shepherd its joy and its service. The Lord has brought together an amazing group of people here and an amazing commitment to serving him. The service of institution, the fellowship afterwards and all the work which contributed to the event before and after witnessed to the glory of God among us. I will never forget what it was like to stand in front of you just before the liturgy began. I will never forget standing in front of Bishop Grein and hearing him read to us the Letter of Institution. I will never forget kneeling in the chancel and promising to devote my life to the service of this parish. The richness of the day cannot be expressed in words. Our preacher transported me back in time and called all of us to look to Christ and to Christ’s future work among us. (Father McCausland’s sermon will be reprinted in the next issue of AVE.) He also had all of us, including Bishops Grein and Taylor, laughing heartily. I won’t forget the Te Deum. I will not forget Chuck Carson going over to help John Gillespie move out of the wall of smoke. I won’t forget either the tenderness with which Bishop Taylor took John beside him and had him so close. It was a super Mass, thank you, clergy and servers. The music was superb, thank you, choir, Chris and Ken. Jim Dennis, the reception was spectacular. Thank you and your team, Dale Bonenberger, Jon Bryant, Howard Christian, Celeste Conti, John Delves, Dean Driver, Steve Gilger, Herb Kirschner, Barbara Klett, Michael Merenda, Bill Riley, Robert VanVlett and, of course, Martin Cowart and the Bassett Café staff. thank you so very much for calling me to be your rector. I hope will always be worthy of your trust and your love. S.G.
Worship at Saint Mary’s During Eastertide
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
Except by appointment, confessions will not be heard during Easter Week. The regular schedule for the Reconciliation of Penitents will resume the second week of Eastertide.
The Fridays of Eastertide are not observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
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